About a year ago, Bridge Global Strategies was acquired by integrated communications company Didit. The timing was good. There’s been a major shift in the PR agency world over the last five to 10 years towards multi-discipline communications, and Bridge wanted to be able to access more expertise in other communications disciplines, especially digital marketing, which Didit has. The driving factor in this shift has been the Internet, which has drastically changed the way the business world communicates.Read More
The PR profession has experienced more changes in the last 10 years than the previous 30.
- Digital communication has influenced every aspect of the profession.
- Online media isn’t only part of the media relations mix, in many cases it trumps print and broadcast in importance.
- Social media is now a standard (and very important) communications channel in PR programs.
- Content marketing, always a PR skillset, has been given new prominence as a key component of digital marketing.
- An understanding of search engine optimization, previously only necessary for people in digital agencies, is now a must in PR.
The launch of a new product is a one-time opportunity and new product launch marketing is crucial. To let it go by without a proper media announcement is a public relations and marketing sin. Below are five tips on product launch public relations for making the most of a new product announcement to the media.
Many public relations practitioners ignore search engine optimization (SEO) in their work. Perhaps some don’t know enough about SEO to incorporate it into their work, others don’t think SEO is that important, and yet others feel it’s up to someone else to optimize content for search engines.Read More
I kept looking at my iPhone until I started hearing the music. On the little screen in front of me, Virgin America was showing a video with singing, dancing – break dancing even – and rap, featuring a cast of at least a dozen fresh young entertainers. Could this be – is it really- yes, it’s the Sir Richard Branson version of the safety instructions!
I watched as a cast of over a dozen dancers cavorted across the screen, with music and rhyming lyrics spelling out the safety instructions. The characters were refreshingly irreverent, ranging from a gorgeous young woman dressed as a nun, whose smart phone was ripped out of her hands by the dancing crew members, to a little boy warning his fellow passengers they’d better not even think of smoking on board. I later discovered that the video featured former contestants from the TV hit, "So You Think You Can Dance."
Richard Branson is known to be an adventurer, never one to play it safe. It’s somehow ironic that Virgin American has taken this big leap forward into integrated brand experience territory with its safety video.
Maybe I’m easily entertained. But I must say I actually watched the whole thing and listened to every word. As Mary Poppins has been known to say, a spoonful of sugar sure helps the medicine go down. Play it for yourself and I think you'll agree.
When I looked online to find the video (which, of course, was on YouTube), I discovered that I must have been hiding under a rock over the last month, because the video had over six million views. Page one of my Google search turned up media coverage of the video from Forbes, The New Yorker, CNN, USA Today and TechCrunch, among others.
What a perfect example of an integrated marketing communications hit: here was a piece of video that was attracting the eyeballs of many thousands of Virgin American passengers, entertaining them while reinforcing the company's trailblazer brand experience, buzzed about online by social media, attracting many millions of impressions, and covered enthusiastically by top-tier media outlets. There's even a digital billboard version of the video in Times Square in Manhattan.
This "...Shockingly Brilliant Customer Experience," as the Forbes headline called it, is not just happening on Virgin American flights. It turns out that Virgin is only one carrier to have launched safety-as-entertainment videos over the past couple of months. According to Forbes, Air New Zealand wins hands-down on the comedy front, with a video starring Betty White. Domestic Japanese carrier StarFlyer has painted its planes on the outside with black ninjas and now shows a safety video featuring animated ninja warriers plucking cigarettes out of passengers' mouths.
Creative marketing and communications professionals have always hidden sales messages in entertainment, and they’ve helped savvy public health organizations and educators develop engaging and educational messages with their help for many years. I remember an HIV prevention message about 20 years ago that was delivered via a serial soap opera-like illustrated love story about the relationship of a young Hispanic couple and the sad consequences of unprotected sex. It was placed on ads in subway cars and had half of New York waiting with bated breath for the next episode. The Virgin America safety video is another example of what can be done when creative communicators are put to work to solve a problem.
Just think of the other mind-numbing but important announcements and directions we’re subjected to that could benefit from a Richard Branson-style production treatment. How about the online video instructions on how to assemble the new gadget you just bought? Or the government tax form with four pages of instructions to read so you can fill it out and pay what you owe? Would we enjoy filing our income taxes any more if the IRS developed an all new customer brand experience with some musical intertainment and dancing? OK, I know the answer to that question!
By: Lucy Siegel
Bridge Global Strategies LLC
About 10 years ago, the big communications conglomerate I worked for was pushing everyone very hard to sell integrated marketing communications to clients. I can understand top management’s thinking on this: they wanted to cross-sell services across the holding company’s different companies. The agency leaders called this “holistic” rather than integrated marketing communications, which sounded to me as if we were supposed to show up with stethoscopes and thermometers at meetings with prospective clients, but that’s neither here nor there.
For example, if you’re the CEO of a startup or other small business, and you’re the one who is going to approve expenditures for marketing and communications, you’d better learn a little about what the new marketing and communications services options are and what they’re being called.
My favorite way to pass the time while driving is to listen to NPR’s excellent shows, including their interview show “On the Media.” I caught a fascinating interview last week with New York University computer science professor Christoph Bregler, conducted by show host Bob Garfield, about the ways that technology will soon enhance the ability to search and analyze video. I realized right away that this has interesting implications for marketing communications (since I’m always thinking about things from a marcom point of view), but also for the effectiveness of surveillance methods used by the police and FBI.
Ten years ago when I was working for a large multinational communications conglomerate, integrated communications was the holy grail for the company’s senior management. They used the words “holistic marketing,” "integrated marketing communications" or "integrated communications" in every other sentence and in each new business presentation. They pulled all of the various subsidiaries in New York into one big office with the intention that people in the direct marketing, advertising, PR and other divisions would learn to love each other and work together. Despite those efforts, the success of the integrated communications agency was a pipe dream at that time, not just for the company I worked for, but for most companies.