The Ever-Evolving Marketing Industry

“Whatever happened to traditional marketing?”

If you’ve been working in marketing and advertising for more than a decade, you’ve probably asked yourself that question once or twice. The simple answer: data sophistication. Several decades ago, businesses and organizations had access to a short-list of techniques that could help them promote their businesses. However, today’s marketing industry is constantly evolving with data sophistication, and in order for clients to achieve success, individual agencies must do the same.

There was an era when advertising agencies merely matched a radio or TV station’s ratings with their demographics and then placed the ad schedule for their clients. As the industry evolved, media buying became super-categorized by market share, programming, demographics and more. With buyer profiles and habits, household incomes, and so much more, marketing professionals began to have the capability to tally quantitative and qualitative data for use in their clients’ marketing plans, strategies and campaigns.

The industry is currently experiencing the power of the internet, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which can help marketing professionals target a diverse audience for clients. We now can learn about our audience’s online searching and buying habits, as well as social and engagement trends. These outlets have opened communication channels between brands and their audiences, keeping them totally connected 24/7.

Compared to all the data and statistics available these days, marketing research back then could be considered “cut-and-dried.” And over the next decade, even our current marketing strategies and techniques may seem ancient. That could seem a little intimidating, but there’s a reason why agencies like Yearick-Millea offer services to help businesses and brands make sense of this information in order to craft a successful marketing or public relations campaign. The industry is changing by the minute, and we are responsible for changing along with it.

5 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

It’s no secret that public relations, marketing, advertising and other communications professionals write a lot. Here at Yearick-Millea, we work on a variety of writing assignments for clients, whether it’s in the form of press releases, social media posts, proposals, website content, blogs or slogans.

However, a writing assignment for a client could turn into a stressful experience if writer’s block hits. Instead of panicking, follow these five tips to help your ideas flow:

  1. Write down ideas—Carry a small notepad and pen with you so you can jot down notes and ideas as they come to you throughout the day, and be as detailed as possible. If you don’t want to carry anything extra, type ideas into your phone. When you’re ready to start writing, you can reference them. You might think an idea is too good to forget, but don’t risk it.
  1. Step away or sleep on it—If you don’t have an immediate deadline for the assignment, set it aside for a little bit. Eat your lunch or take a short walk break to clear your mind, or go to bed and start fresh in the morning (don’t forget to take note of ideas you might have during this time). The concept of stepping away should not be used as an excuse to procrastinate, though. Remember you’re taking a small break to help propel you in the writing process rather than simply trying to put it off until later.
  1. Organize your thoughts/ideas—Make an outline of the thoughts and ideas you’ve managed to compile. You might find that some are more cohesive while others don’t seem to fit. Focus on those that mesh well and start to build on them. However, you shouldn’t immediately discard the ideas that aren’t blending well. They might come in handy later on in the planning process when you have a better grasp on what you’re going to write about, or they might even be something you can work off of for a future project/assignment.
  1. Write—It might seem silly to tell someone to write when they’re having trouble writing, but this step can help get you into the practice of it. Start by writing freely about whatever comes to mind. Because these words aren’t intended for a client or publication, don’t worry about a specific topic or your grammar. You can also find other writing exercises online that can help get you in a creative mindset.
  1. Unplug—When you start writing, put your phone away, shut off email notifications and close all other tabs on your computer. A good writing streak could easily be broken by a minor distraction, which could bring back that writer’s block. WordPress and other applications have “distraction-free” features that block everything but your written words from the computer screen. Take advantage of similar functions if you find that you have a hard time focusing.

 What do you do when you have writer’s block? Share your ideas with us in the comments!

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things: Downtown

The City of Pittsburgh is no stranger to receiving accolades—whether it’s being named the most livable city, one of the most affordable cities or one of the best cities for recreation.

This week, Livability’s 2015 list of the top 10 best downtowns in America revealed what we at Yearick-Millea already know—Pittsburgh is No. 1. Livability applauds Pittsburgh’s low vacancy rates, its walkable neighborhoods and its high concentration of cultural amenities, including many that have made our own favorites list:

We’re proud to work in this city! As always, continue to check back for more posts highlighting our favorite Pittsburgh things.

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How to Advertise on Facebook

Advertising on Facebook is now an essential part of a brand’s strategy to get their message out on the social media platform, due to the way Facebook’s algorithm has impacted organic reach (the number of people who see unpaid brand content). If you aren’t already using Facebook advertising for your brand or business, you may be wondering where to get started.

Here at Yearick-Millea, we have a few recommendations for brands that we help to effectively advertise on Facebook:

• We generally recommend using two types of ads—a page likes ad and web traffic ad—but that essentially depends on what your business goals are. For example, if you are an e-commerce site, your goals could be tied to pushing a specific product instead of general website traffic.

• Use eye-catching creative and interesting, informative copy to encourage people to click on the ad – your ad only has a brief period of time to grab the attention of your targeted audience.

• Monitor ads and make necessary changes to images, copy or target audience if the ad is not performing well enough. However, let ads run for at least a month before making hasty changes. Also, keep in mind that your ad performance will depend on your ad budget – Don’t expect to double your audience size with a small budget.

Facebook ads are a relatively cheap way for companies to advertise online compared to other services such as Google Adwords. A budget of $200-$300 a month for a smaller business can provide a decent return for the chosen business goals.

Contact Yearick-Millea to learn more about how we can help with your social media strategy. 

Understanding the Difference: B2B vs. B2C

As we begin a new year, we’re incorporating many new yearly public relations plans for our clients. Those plans vary from client to client, especially depending upon whether the client is considered business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C). Today we focus on the differences between the two and how that impacts marketing and public relations efforts.

 

B2B

B2B marketing involves the sale of a company’s product or service to another company. Typically, the marketing techniques of a B2B plan focus on relationship-building based on logic with the goal of developing prospects into customers.

Plans focus on the features of the product or service to educate the target audience. This can often include many different steps, involving in-depth marketing materials. For example, in an attempt to reach out to a target customer’s sales representatives, we may incorporate a photo gallery that showcases the product that our client is selling. Through that gallery, the target audience is able to view samples of a product and learn more about how that product can be implemented for their own use.

B2C

B2C marketing involves the sale of a product or service to the end customer. While the marketing techniques of a B2C plan focus on relationship-building, too, the plans are often based more on emotion with the goal of developing a shopper into a loyal buyer.

Consumers don’t necessarily have to always spend a lot of time to understand the benefits of a product or service, so they expect those benefits to be presented in a clear and direct manner. Rather than a photo gallery that showcases just the product that our client is selling, we might suggest implementing more techniques through social media, which is a great way to connect and continue to build a relationship with the target consumer. For example, a Pinterest board is a great resource to connect with a target audience while sharing valuable product information and driving traffic to the website and other social networks. A client can share a variety of visually-friendly information such as infographics, videos, articles, and possibly even coupons and contests, with its target audience.

As you can see, B2B and B2C marketing techniques are certainly based on the same principles, they are just executed in different ways.

Four Ways Public Relations & Social Media Should Work Together

It’s no secret that public relations and social media are (or should be) a crucial part of a company or brand’s strategy for success. Though both areas are different, they share the common goal of positively communicating on behalf of a company or brand, and both are becoming more and more intertwined.

Here are a couple of ways that they can work hand in hand:

  • Public relations professionals work hard to pitch ideas and content to media outlets on behalf of their clients. If pitches are successful and clients/products are featured in a news article, magazine, TV spot or blog post, share those successes on social media. Not only do you maximize exposure to that content, but it’s a way to make a connection with the media outlet that published it.
  • If your client has an online newsroom, share links to distributed press releases on their social media profiles. If you want to take it a bit further, repurpose the content in the press release. For example, if you distribute photo caption sheets, take some of those stellar images and post them on Pinterest while linking back to the release.
  • If your client is hosting an event, chances are that you’re distributing press releases, fliers and calendar postings to alert the masses. Consider creating an event on Facebook and inviting fans. You can gauge how many people are interested based on the RSVPs, and it’ll give your client, as the host, an opportunity to engage with the audience and answer any questions people might have. If your client is gearing up to attend an important industry event—like a trade show or expo— your press release might announce their attendance, but this is a great opportunity to make the announcement on LinkedIn or encourage them to join an existing event/thread on social media to make connections before they even get there.
  • Great engagement on social media profiles can lead to amazing public relations opportunities. Having a real conversation with someone and creating a relationship is what public relations is all about. These days, reporters and other media outlets can generate an entire story based on the conversations and communication they see on social media sites. Don’t be afraid to issue statements on your profile, and don’t be surprised if a media outlet highlights it in an article.

How else do you use public relations and social media together? Feel free to share in the comments section!

Yearick-Millea Acquires SWZ Design, Adds Design Capability

Yearick-Millea is pleased to announce that Kristi Schaefer and Scot Wallace, formerly of SWZ Design, have joined our staff following our acquisition of that firm.

As long-time collaborators and neighbors in our building, Kristi and Scot have furnished their creative talents to several Yearick-Millea clients, and independently to Eat ‘n Park Hospitality Group, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, DRS Architects, Cleaveland/Price Inc., Elliott Group, the American Heart Association and other well-known organizations.

Over the next few months, we will be working with Kristi and Scot to integrate their design, creative and strategic capabilities, as we chart an exciting new direction for our firm.  We’ll post more news to our social media feeds, website, blog and e-newsletter as progress continues.  In the meantime, we invite you to see samples of Kristi and Scot’s work at their website.

Our Favorite Super Bowl XLIX Commercials

Super Bowl XLIX is in the books, and though the New England Patriots came out on top, so did a lot of the commercials.

The Yearick-Millea staff has compiled a list of some of our favorites. Here’s a look:

Budweiser’s “Lost Dog”

Lauren: I enjoyed the Budweiser lost puppy commercial – for the way that it evoked emotion. It was obviously pretty cute, too!

Stephanie: A cute puppy works every time.

John: You can’t go wrong with the puppy and the Clydesdales.

Esurance’s “Say My Name”

John: As a “Breaking Bad” fan, I got a big kick out of the Esurance commercial starring Walter White (Bryan Cranston).

Discover’s “Surprise”

Heidi: I’ve watched YouTube videos with screaming goats because they’re so funny! Even though this commercial aired pretty early on in the night, it was definitely my favorite.

Loctite Glue’s “Positive Feelings”

Ian:  I liked it because the last thing I thought I’d see on Super Sunday was a hilarious glue commercial with a catchy beat and fanny packs.

NO MORE’s Domestic Violence PSA

Jay: This is a sensitive subject, but it was very well done.

However, not all commercials–serious or funny–are getting the thumbs up from viewers. Nationwide Insurance’s “Make Safe Happen” spot has received a lot of criticism for being too dark and depressing for the Super Bowl, and some viewers were confused about the insurance company’s intent. What do you think?

In your opinion, what were the best and worst Super Bowl XLIX commercials? Let us know in the comments!

Confused About Using ‘Further’ and ‘Farther’?

Today, we are talking about the differences between further and farther, as we continue our series on commonly confused words.

To be fair, both words mean “at a more distant place” and are commonly used interchangeably in most English-speaking countries, with farther being rarely used. However, if you’re a stickler for grammar, they should be used in different situations, at least in American English.

Fear not though, there’s a simple distinction between the two words. Further is used when talking about figurative or metaphorical distances (more time, more effort, etc.), while farther is used for physical distances (more miles, more inches, etc.).

Need a tip for when to use farther? Take the stem word—far—and think about the opening line of Star Wars IV: “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” Here, this imaginary galaxy is farther—not further—away than the coffee shop down the street. Why? Because we are talking about the physical distance to the other galaxy, whether it is 100 feet or 100 parsecs.

If you’re in a pinch and can’t decide which word to use, go with further.

Are there other grammar questions that you’d like us to explore further?

The Importance of Accuracy in Public Relations

As public relations and marketing professionals, we spend a lot of our time distributing information to the public on behalf of our clients—whether it’s via a press release, print collateral, website content, social media or other outlets.

But it’s important for that information to be accurate. As we’ve covered in a previous blog, accuracy is a crucial aspect of ethical behavior within the industry, and distributing false information could ruin the credibility of your firm or client.

In 2010, BP’s credibility took several blows as statements issued to the public addressing the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill were challenged and proven to be wrong.

However, the distribution of false information isn’t always an intentional action. Working with clients in a variety of industries, public relations and marketing experts are tasked with learning about those industries—whether or not we’ve had previous experience with them or knowledge about them in the past—in order to assist with communications efforts.

If you’re working on a project for a client and you don’t understand something, ask them for clarification. For example, if you’re working on a press release about a new product launch, but you don’t comprehend what the product is or what it does, reach out to the client before you start writing. If you don’t, you might be sending the client a draft of copy full of inaccuracies, and you’ll have to start from scratch once they’ve reviewed it. The client should appreciate your desire to get the information right much more than your ability to “wing it.”

Similarly, your relationship with journalists could be negatively impacted if they discover multiple inaccuracies in your content or if they publish the wrong information directly from the release you sent—even if the mistakes were not intentional.

Luckily, most organizations have an approval process in place before any type of information is distributed or published on their behalf, but there’s always a chance for incorrect information to slip through the cracks.

Avoid making careless mistakes by proofreading your content, asking the client for clarification if you need it and checking your facts—especially names, dates, statistics and even basic facts. Remember that not all sources are credible, reputable or up-to-date when you’re verifying information online.

Do you have any other tips that help promote the distribution of accurate content? What tools do you use to check your facts? Let us know in the comments!