Other Popular Posts:          DIY Media Buying Or Use A Pro?          Twitter PR Gem     Email Scoop

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(Read time = 2 minutes)  Core contributor and longtime PR professional, Chuck Byers, weighs-in with his pointed take on the 2.0 world, and a need to be mindful of fundamental core principles when executing on a public relations strategy.  Enjoy, and don’t hesitate to add your own comments to keep the dialogue going.

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PR - Talking Hydrant smSometimes we have to go backwards before we go forward, and that is becoming particularly true within the practice of marketing public relations.

It’s my observation that product promotion has largely replaced the beneficial activity of relationship building. This is a sad consequence, especially since social media has focused intense attention on community and trusted relationships.  Promotional bombast has replaced relationship building.  There are plenty of players involved in this sad affair.  No one is blameless.  Not the public relations agencies, not the corporate marketing and corporate public relations departments and not the reading public who accept such drivel.  

Take the humble news release as a ghastly example

Grab a random handful of technology news releases.  Where is the relationship building?  Instead of providing a bridge to fulfilling needs … a sort of how can I help you offer … there’s hyperbole of the basest sort. When defining quotations PR people worry not about what will  motivate the target audience to evaluate a product or service … another critical step in relationship building … but rather whether person quoted from “our” company is the same rank as they person quoted from “their” company.  In the name of Edward Bernays, where’s the customer motivation in that? Instead of figuring out what can be done to help the target audience solve their problem, the news release has become one more arrow to fire at the competition in the war for market share.

Today’s B2B purchasing influences are focused on two things: price and relationships.   Hard-driving price negotiation clearly shrinks margins.  Building relationships not only influences repeat purchase and develops barriers to exit but also creates added value that justifies improved margins. 

There is no risk involved here.  Substituting benefits for braggadocio never upset any customer. 

It is time for all of us to pause, revisit the most basic element of public relations … relationships …. and ask , particularly at this time when reaching out to our key constituencies is so critical in jump starting our economy, am I really building bridge to my constituencies?  Am I practicing public relations principles or press agentry?  I submit that it will be the practitioners of public relations and those companies and institutions … not-for-profits, special interests and others … who will lead us out of the recession.

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questionmarkMedia Buying: DIY (Or Not?) (Read time: 6-7 minutes) With budgets tight, companies are looking for every way possible to shave pennies. Is “Do-It-Yourself” a viable option? This isn’t actually a new conversation. Two plus decades ago when I was working in the automotive segment with an ingredient brand company, we discussed this multiple times. I’m Marcom in the high-tech sector now and my senior director just tossed the topic on the table this week.

Media VP, David Rowe, and I sat down over a virtual cup o’ Joe to discuss the ins/outs of a question that faces many marketing managers today. I also reached out to several Client-side friends, all to pull together a framework for additional thinking as it seems many are debating the question. Answers will always vary but we’ll offer up here at least one example of considerations to work your way thru.

Hoping others will add comments/thoughts.

* Complexity and Scale: Think more about the complexity of the media buy than the $$ size of the buy. $ million placed in a single I/O with a handful or less publishers/sites is a far different management challenge than a $300K buy spread across 3 geos, 10 pubs w/rotating creative. Evaluate complexity, even if the client core competencies exist at face value. Media agencies with an international presence have more in-depth knowledge of local language media vehicles. Those buying from the US tend to gravitate to publications/sites with US sales representation. Smaller, niche trade titles/sites without US representation can be overlooked.

* Tools: Beyond the negotiation and analytics are the day-to-day administration and management of a media buy. Do you/does your company have the right tools to manage the creative placements, rotation schedule, I/Os and logistics. This checkbox is very related to complexity/scale… if it’s a narrow, simple buy, it may be possible to admin/manage the buy manually. Be very wary, your time (or someones) as the complexity and scope change. Most online schedules are now trafficked and monitored through third party tools like Atlas DMT or Doubleclick DART. If a site serves the banners itself, you are relying on their reporting and have no independent source to use for verification. In terms of print, make sure the publications you consider have audited circulation through a service like ABC or BPA. Some titles are now dropping their audits to save money.

* Client Competencies: Could have listed this first. Very risky to run your own media campaign if you’ve never done it and been successful at the scale/scope of the current plan being considered. Can you do the analytics… the negotiation…With the explosion of new social media, diminished traditional publisher circulations, diverse online options… are you current/comfortable… a realistic evaluation of proven skill set, emphasis on “proven”. Even if you have the core skills, how current is your knowledge set?

* Media Buyer/Agency Competencies: Gotta have equal time here. Good media buyers can bring process to the task… the best also bring category knowledge. If you elect to hire a pro, include in your search criteria some level of category knowledge. This will save time, ultimately save money. Having a pro with experience buying in your target category is invaluable. Yes, a media pro can learn – but if you have the choice, go looking for existing knowledge about your space and audience communities.

* Cost/Value v. Client Time/Value: Even if you have the skill and knowledge, ss DIY really worth it v. other use of client scarce resources? Media IS something that you can buy. May be a far better use of client time to engage w/a professional service, negotiate to a fair rate and then move on to tasks equally important but less able to be purchased outside. Media buyers can also pay for themselves through aggressive rate negotiations and the addition of added value elements to a media plan (eg merchandising options, etc.).

* Analytics: Need ‘em, or have ‘em in-house? With much of media being bought as on-line, many companies have tracking tools already deployed that can provide at least some level of metrics. Will take use of unique coding behind each creative unit/each placement – but easily can be done in-house if your web/IT guys will support. Think hard about how you will measure success and then make sure you have metrics behind the advertising campaign to show whether it worked or didn’t. Remarkable how often this step is skipped.

One Compromise To Consider

 

If you don’t want to go full-boat the Agency route, consider a freelance media buyer. They are plentiful and (these days) often are the resource Agencies turn to if media buying isn’t a core deliverable. Nothing wrong w/the freelance route at all. Clients can easily shift the negotiation, I/O and placement logistics to a freelancer while retaining significant hands-on control and learning opportunities. Again, go looking for a pro with experience in-category as best solution. A key decision here is the scope and duration of the engagement with the freelancer. Do you only need help in the creation of the media plan or also in the implementation, monitoring, and optimization of the plan? Creating a plan can be accomplished in 2-3 weeks. The implementation, monitoring, and optimization can extend for several months.

* On Price: Tough topic to address, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t try. Back in the day, Agencies routinely took 15% off the media gross as media placement/management fee. Those days are mostly gone, depending on Agency contract and medium. Commission fees are negotiable. I’ve seen deals struck for flat fees, for commissions, for time at an hourly rate, bargained down to get the creative assignment… all sorts of variations. Strive for something fair. Be a good buyer, but a partner… don’t squeeze for the last nickel. Large media buys can be had for just a few points because the dollars are large; small buys will cost you a higher % because a media buyer’s time/trouble isn’t tied fully to the size of the media buy. The specific percentages often differ by media. Network TV typically carries the lowest commission (under 2% of the media budget) while online, due to the time-intensive nature of the medium, can run as high as 15%. As with most things, you get what you pay for and the client will always want more than anticipated.

* On Social Media: The new frontier. Here’s a case where hiring a “specialist” really may pay off v. your existing media “generalist”/existing Agency. Trouble is, particularly for B2B, where to you find one, how do you evaluate competency. Everyone gives social media lip service but very few Agencies have successful case histories that incorporate the use of social media. Certainly this will change over time. David and I will tackle this topic in more detail in an upcoming post.

Scoop’s Take:  Personally, I don’t like buying media and try to outsource to a pro whenever possible – for a negotiated price, to be sure. My time is better spent focused on the strategy, the creative, the metric side. I learned media buying while a client working with FCB/Chicago (since merged and now Draftfcb). I met David Rowe/Doremus a few years back when my company needed to execute on a Channel advertising campaign. Great experience, great teachers.

When I owned my own Agency, clients put us into the media buying business because they didn’t want to separate ad strategy/creative from the media step. I solved it by working w/freelance media buyer talent. I made money on the strategy/creative and passed thru the media fee as a service. Clients seemed to like the approach at the time.

Your solution depends on your situation. Hopefully, this framework was helpful. Let us know, please comment freely.

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Other Popular Posts:   DIY Media Buying Or Not??     ScoopDog’s Blog Home Page       Email Scoop: CarlsonCOS@gmail.com      

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ScoopDog’s Collection of Factoids and Trends Tracking Resource List

amazement(Read time:  2-3 minutes to scan; hours, if you want to play with the linksCalling all copywriters, marketing execs, Agency directors, and business -fact junkies of all flavours and kinds.  Here’s a go-to list when you have to dig out obscure information, get creative with copy and/or just want to win beers at the local bar.  If you have a favorite site, please let me know.

 THE JULY COLLECTON


Data.gov A searchable data catalog center providing access to US federal agency information. Includes ranking list for information sets.  EPA, National Science Foundation, spending statistics, etc.

TrendHunter Free newsletter and for sale reports. Frequently the source content for Economist magazine, Financial Times, news broadcasts; read by big ad firms and tech giants.  An innovator in the use of crowd-sourcing as a means for trend identification.

BUBL – a catalogue of internat resources. A UK source for original article links, traffic reports, web server and web site surveys, geo trends and web characterization.

FClickZ Stats.  One of the web’s richest sources for studies, trends and data.  An aggregator for other-published material. Recent reports available include:  C-level exec Twitter and blog use, Sticky brands, Census data on US household internet access,  May cost-per-click data.

Federal IT Dashboard. Reporting and analytics on over 7000 information technology investments.

conversationprismThe Conversation Prism.  Way cool,  by Brian Solis, principal of FutureWorks PR, blogs at PR2.0, and JESS3. A living representation of Social Media and evolves as services and conversation channels emerge, fuse and dissipate. An evolution of Scoble’s starfish diagram.

Library of Congress Ask A Librarian. One of my all time favorite. Reference Librarians are at your service on-line to field any/all questions. This service is usually also available at local libraries.  Befriend a librarian, it can be the gateway to nearly real-time QA results.

Internet World Stats. Usage and population statistics.  A country-by-country comparison of population base and internet users. Year 2000 as a base with data comparisons up thru 2008 yearend.  Is also a reference center for many other resource links.

Science Facts.  Searchable database, random fact generator. From FirstScience, a community of ~1/2 million from professionals to students to the just intellectually inquisitive. 

 MIT.edu: research news and the the MIT labs, centers and programs You can get totally lost wandering this rich site and resource repository.

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Measurement: It’s not just about the numbers, it’s also about measuring the effect. One site that tackles this discussion is MeasurementCamp.

Reminder regarding the sourcing: this is just a collection of sites with data. I’m not endorsing nor commenting on validity of methodology or process. I’d welcome any further site recommendations and/or data links if you’d care to submit a URL to the comment section.

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