Communication is the Pulse of Life!

Advertising

Breaking: Bad News!

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Delivering bad news is tough in any business. Whether it’s having to tell your vendors that you can no longer retain their services or informing an employee that he is being made redundant, or shutting down a project, often the “messenger” tasked with delivering the final blow would go to great lengths to delay or avoid the situation due to fear of confrontation, turning a bad situation into an even worse one.

Let’s face it – nobody wants to hear bad news. Disappointment, frustration and even anger come to mind. It’s certainly no mean feat when it comes to reconciling and managing orders from upper management with the interests of employees, vendors and clients.

So how can we avoid shooting the messenger? We share some tips on how you can deliver bad news (someone’s got to do it!) with grace and tact.

Be Prepared

Make sure that you’re familiar with every piece of information before speaking to your target recipient (employee, colleague, client). More specifically, you need to understand the reasons why, who are the parties involved, and any other considerations in the lead up to the final decision. Don’t hesitate to ask for more information before delivering the bad news.

Time and Place

When you deliver bad news, be sure to do it in a private setting and at a time when he can hear the bad news. If it’s not urgent, don’t approach the person at a stressful time in the middle of a project. Be mindful of the setting, and switch off your phone and email alerts – avoid interruptions at all cost to put the person at ease.

Create a Buffer

Before communicating any bad news, always start with a buffer to reduce the shock or pain. An effective buffer helps the recipient to keep reading or listening, and essentially provides a smooth transition to the bad news proper.

  • State the best news first
  • Compliment the recipient
  • Thank the recipient for his past contributions
  • Listen to what the recipient has to say (shared viewpoint)
  • State key facts of the case
  • Express empathy (show concern)

Be Direct

People are more receptive to listening and accepting bad news when it’s delivered thoughtfully, sincerely and confidently. Body language is key. Make sure your body language conveys the right message in the right way and is in line with what you’re saying. Some examples of non-verbal cues include avoiding eye contact and fidgeting. These are sure to send the wrong signals. Also, do not sugarcoat and beat around the bush. Be direct and tactful, and most of all be kind.

No Time for Jokes

When bad news is being delivered, be considerate of the recipient’s feelings. Do not joke around as this may come across as being rude and insincere. While you may want to lighten the mood and reduce the impact of the news, always be respectful and sensitive.

Explain the Why’s

Research shows that people are more willing to accept bad news if they believe the decision-making process was reasonable. Therefore, provide them with ample reasons as to why the bad news is necessary and give them details about the decision-making process.

Show you Care

After delivering the news and explaining all the necessary information, give the individual some space to absorb the information and be ready to listen to his concerns. Ask him how he’s feeling. Do your best to be understanding and answer any questions as best as possible.

Moving Forward

When closing, do it in a way that promotes goodwill and helps the individual or team move forward. You should provide your support and let them know you’re there for them. Instead of focusing on the “can’ts”, focus on the “cans”. Go a step further and suggest a compromise or alternative option based on what the individual wanted in the first place.

Posted by Chloe Tan, CorpMedia

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Ethical Advertising: Does It Pay to Do Good?

 

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Advertising is an important facet of business. Businesses are in the game to earn profits and advertising helps with just that – bringing the products to a wider reach by capturing the interest of target audiences. Advertisements have a heavy responsibility – they affect the daily lives of people who watch or read them. However, businesses need to be ethical in their advertising. An ethical company is likely to be viewed more positively. That’s because they have to keep an ethical promise to their customers.

Missing The Mark?

Even though businesses know what it means to be ethical, there have been cases of renowned companies making blunders in their advertising efforts.

Deceptive Advertising and Misleading Claims

If any advertisement makes unsubstantiated claims, then the intention is to mislead the public, and it becomes unethical. Such an advertisement usually creates or takes advantage of, or substantially interferes with the ability of people to make rational consumer choices.

Of course there is a fine line between exaggeration and deception. When an advertisement claims that “You’ll be walking on heaven”, it obviously does not expect readers to take that literally because the rational individual is able to discern the truth.

However, if an advertisement pitches your pill as one with “No Cholesterol!” but the ingredients listed on the back leaf show high sodium content, then that is considered deceptive advertising.

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An example of deceptive advertising would be that of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. The brand came under fire in 2010 for misleading consumers about the product’s immunity-boosting properties. The Federal Trade Commission stepped in and ordered Kellogg’s to stop all advertisements carrying the immunity-boosting claims. As a result, Kellogg’s had to pay $2.5 million to affected consumers and donate another $2.5 million worth of Kellogg’s products to charities.

Kelloggs .pngKellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats

Kellogg’s got into trouble again in 2013 when it falsely claimed that its Mini-Wheats “improve(d) kids’ attentiveness by nearly…20%.” As a result, the company had to settle a $4 million claim for false advertising.

Irrational Persuasion

It is the manipulation of feelings or interests of a target audience.

Advertisements push our buttons with celebrities, sex and success. They disable our rational mind and appeal to our feelings and emotions. They exploit deep-seated emotions the target audience might have: the need for security, acceptance and self-esteem.

McDonalds Ad.pngMcDonald’s Advertisement UK

McDonald’s seemingly harmless Filet-O-Fish advertisement caused massive backlash and debate online when it was launched. In the advertisement, a mother tells her son about his late father and to his disappointment, they shared little in common. It was only after his mother took him to McDonald’s and he ate a Filet-O-Fish burger that he found out he shared the same taste as his father (it was his father’s favourite burger). McDonald’s was taken to task for creating an advertisement that exploited child bereavement. The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK received about a hundred complaints and only then was the advertisement withdrawn.

Fear As a Motivator

Advertising agencies frequently use fear tactics. It becomes unethical when it is without proper justification. If fear is used for the good of the consumer and society at large, then the use of fear is justifiable.

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In the case of anti-smoking campaigns, a label carrying the words “Smoking Kills” on the box uses fear as a tactic to motivate smokers to stop smoking, for their own benefit and health.

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Also in the case of anti-drinking and driving campaigns, the use of fear is meant to stop or condemn drink driving, while highlighting the possible risks.

Many companies, however, employ fear tactics for the wrong reasons.

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The Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company released an advertisement in 2015 which features a boy reciting all the things he would not be able to accomplish in life and goes on to say “I couldn’t grow up, because I died from an accident.” The advertisement shows horrific images of accidental child death scenes like poisonous chemicals and shattered TV screens. It goes on to say, “At Nationwide, we believe in protecting what matters most… your kids. Together, we can make safe happen. #makesafehappen”

This is an example of unjustifiable fear, wherein the advertisement induces people to buy the insurance by depicting how horrible the lives of their children would be if left uninsured.

Promoting Unethical Behaviour

Unethical advertisements are also those that promote unethical and immoral behavior. An advertisement by Reebok had a headline that read “Cheat on your girlfriend, not on your workout.” People were unhappy that the advertisement was unethical as it encouraged infidelity.

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So… What?

Ethical Advertising

Ethical advertising is critical. Consumers are more socially aware and increasingly demand for businesses and products to be more ethical in production and advertising. When any company is perceived to lack in ethics in any aspect of their business, they lose credibility from consumers, resulting in a tarnished brand reputation.

Be Honest

As obvious as it sounds, to be ethical in advertising, one needs to be honest and promote a given product or service without lies or deception. Ethical advertising tells the truth and never hides any of the product specifications or its defects. Ethical advertising is also free from any deceptive or misleading claims, irrational persuasion and using fear as a motivator.

Social Consciousness

To be ethical in advertising is to avoid appealing to deep-seated emotions and unavoidable needs of the target audience. It is objective and unbiased, and does its best to live up to its social responsibility mission.

Environmental Consciousness

Ethical advertising also comes in the form of protection of the environment and preventing harm to the environment. Unethical advertisements do not show consideration for the environment and also promote environmentally destructive behavior.

Posted by Chloe Tan, CorpMedia

 


Real-Time Marketing: Make or Break?

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Imagine a world without marketing. Brands would cease to exist, and the economy would probably collapse in no time. The world would be completely different.

Businesses today all speak marketing.

It’s all about developing brand awareness and utilizing different marketing channels to disseminate information to the public. With the advent of the Internet, digital marketing has shaped the marketing world greatly.

But real-time marketing is the new game changer.

What truly sets it apart from the rest is that it is opportunistic – marketers seize the opportunity to generate content that ties the brand to the latest trending topic of relevance, ensuring that it is not only pertinent, but felicitous too.

The tastes and preferences of consumers constantly change as well. The marketing industry is obsessed with the now, and consumers these days seek instant gratification, placing pressure on brands to be more forthcoming and transparent than they have ever been.

As real-time marketing continues to grow, brands are also keeping up with the trends by engaging the public with shareable, bite-sized content.

Leveraging the love for cheese fries amongst consumers, McDonald’s stepped up their French fries game with the launch of its Cheesy Loaded Fries just last December. Featuring its all-time favourite golden and crisp fries, topped with chicken bacon bits and drenched with nacho cheese and sour cream sauce, this limited edition side had garnered much hype.

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But, alas, dissatisfaction overwhelmed fry lovers who flocked to various chain outlets with great anticipation for the Cheesy Loaded Fries, and when the dish did not resemble anything as advertised, they vented their cheese-deprived anger on the fast food chain’s Facebook page.

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While McDonald’s expressed sincerity and was swift in responding to the complaints regarding the disparity between the advertised Cheesy Loaded Fries and its actual presentation, their efforts were evidently not adequate to satisfy cheesed off customers!

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Oops. Shots fired.

Instead of Cheesy Loaded Fries, all they got was Fully Loaded Disappointment… perhaps, with a miserable drizzle of cheese?

Expectations vs Reality Cheese Fries Macs

In light of this big hoo-ha, KFC Singapore cleverly turned the tables around as they identified this situation as a marketing opportunity and jumped on it to produce a timely and relevant piece of content, gaining both acknowledgement and commendation from the public.

KFC simultaneously introduced its new, improved cheese fries as “the real deal” using the hashtag #KFCRealCheeseFries. Indeed, what a timely post to remind Singaporeans why they love KFC’s cheese fries!

Now that’s what you call real-time marketing.

KFC Real Cheese Fries

Social media real-time marketing can make or break a brand. For KFC, it evidently made the brand, but it was clearly the contrary for McDonald’s. Another case in point: Cheerios.

When music legend Prince passed away in April 2016, Cheerios responded by tweeting a purple “Rest in peace” sign, replacing the dot above the letter ‘i’ with a cheerio, and tagging the tweet with the hashtag #prince.

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What started out purely as an innocent condolence message over the loss of an iconic musical legend in Minnesota on the part of Cheerios turned out to be a seemingly exploitative marketing gimmick in the eyes of the public, especially Twitter users.

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Compared to McDonald’s and Cheerios’ fiasco, KFC proved how real-time marketing, when used brilliantly and appropriately, can make the brand.

Here’s why their strategy worked:

  1. Timeliness

Consumers today care less for slow and disconnected experiences. Quick response time is a crucial factor they look out for in a brand. Brands should be able to respond to customers appropriately, by creating the right content that appeals to the right people, at the right time, and appropriately.

  1. Relevance

Context is equally important as content. Lacking in either one will not make the strategy work. In real-time marketing, brands often fail when they force themselves into conversations or trends that they have unfortunately little or no relevance in. What’s vital is to ensure your brand can be tied to what’s happening, with sensitivity and transparency. Failing which brands risk the wrath of the social media army!

Posted by Shermaine Sim, CorpMedia. 


The Mighty Millennial

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Caricatures have often represented Generation Y as a cohort of contradictions – the millennial is plugged in, yet notoriously distracted; engaged, but mostly in the realm of social networks; self-involved, yet can be enthusiastic advocates of social causes.

These multiple stereotypes, while not adequate (or entirely wrong!), highlight the broad tendencies of a group that makes up over a quarter of the global population. Understanding Gen Y’s unique experiences not only allows companies to better market their brands to this powerful target group, but can also help build meaningful, long-lasting connections.

But first, who are the millennials, what fuels them and what habits do they share?

Born between 1980 and the mid-1990s, Gen Y was bred on a diet of technology and grew up in a culture dominated by change, which largely explains their adeptness at embracing everything new and exciting. Socially liberal, experimental, and incredibly tech-savvy, the millennial cohort values being engaged, staying in the loop and immersing themselves in exceptional experiences.

This group of consumers is already reshaping the economy with their purchasing power, preference and influence. So how can businesses and marketers capture the millennial imagination? Here are some tips:

The Digital Natives

With technology as the pulse, it comes as no surprise that Gen Y thrives on virtual transactions and digital communications. Comfortable with using social media to broadcast their concerns, foster connections and educate themselves on products and services, millennials see social channels as repositories of “wisdom”, connecting them to peer reviews and trusted endorsements while allowing them to share opinions before committing to any form of purchase.

To effectively reach out to millennials, brands have to meet them where they are – this means operating across a multitude of social platforms with dexterity. Businesses need to actively engage millennials by responding quickly to queries and posting feedback on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the like; regularly upload multimedia content that can be easily shared (short, captioned videos are best at hooking viewers!); and leverage user-generated content to build brand awareness and loyalty.

Given Gen Y’s affinity for technology and interactivity, a static digital presence is no longer sufficient. Marketing that optimises the word-of-mouth culture, exciting interfaces and visual languages, and mobile-friendly promotional media is key to capturing and sustaining the attention of  millennials.

Provide the Ultimate Experience

While the generation that preceded them was more focused on living in preparation for the future, millennials are generally associated with living for the now. Gen Y favours spending money on experiences rather than material possessions. In their search for great experiences, millennials often forego some of the basic luxuries to get the most value out of their dollar.

Millennials’ spending habits have since given rise to the sharing economy, resulting in the growth of businesses like Airbnb, Grab and Uber. These companies, through their shared products and services, remove the burden of ownership, and simultaneously help users save on expenditures.

With information, reviews and cost comparisons at their fingertips, millennials are inclined to trawling online resources before deciding on products or services that promise incomparable experiences at the best prices. Brands can deliver special deals and product trials on social channels and apps to appeal to this consumer base. Events or offerings that seek the involvement of millennials will also make it easier for brands to resonate with this group.

Sell Your Purpose

Millennials are known to take up or advocate a plethora of social issues, and expect brands to do the same. Companies should look beyond marketing products that enhance lifestyles, but seek to connect with Gen Y on an emotional level. Millennials care about content that speaks to them, and if brands similarly promote values that they uphold. Immune to most traditional sales pitches (they’ve seen it all!), millennials are likely to use their buying power to support businesses that stand for more than their bottom line receives.

Above all, marketing messages have to be authentic. Many businesses have seen how a forced relationship with a cause or the lack of genuineness can backfire. Take a leaf out of Patagonia, TOMS and Heineken’s books – all great examples of brands that have successfully delivered impactful cause marketing campaigns.

Businesses have to first invest in understanding millennials before they can take advantage of their immense social clout. By directly addressing the millennial generation and recognising what they truly care about, brands will be able to spark a connection and effectively sustain consumer-centric conversations.

Posted by Rahimah Amin, PR Executive, CorpMedia


Hit Me with Your Best Shot!

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Instagram recently surpassed the 700 million user mark and that deserves a huge “Wow!” If you’re wondering about who, what, when, where, why and how, then you only need to look to Mark Zuckerberg. No one gets it better than Mark. By investing heavily in Facebook products such as Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and Instragram, he’s created an ecosystem where millions of people get to connect and share their stories online every day.

But enough about Mr Zuckerberg, let’s get back to the Wow. With more than 700 active million users per month, Instagram offers a large gathering of followers that can benefit your business. These followers could very well become your customers, so they’re worth pursuing. Especially since Insta users have shown that they’re ready to engage with businesses within and outside of the app. More than 80 percent of users follow at least one business, and over 120 million users visit a website, get directions, call, email or direct message a business every month from the app.

Instagram is all about being seen, and which business wouldn’t want to increase their visibility, right? More visibility means new users finding, following and engaging with you, and yes – eventually buying from you. The key to increased visibility is to expand your reach.

 There are three basic elements to bear in mind when looking to increase reach and promote growth: content, caption, time.  It’s all about creating a voice behind the brand, producing engaging content, and building a relationship with your followers.

Engagement on Instagram is not so easy as it’s a rather isolated space, compared to other platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, where interactions happen publicly. If someone were to comment on a Instagram post, chances are you won’t see it unless you’re following that brand or if they tag you.

If you’re planning to use Instagram to grow your brand or business, it’s important to develop a good marketing strategy that will help keep you on track along the way. You will soon realize that follower engagement plays a vital role in growing your Instagram account as well as your brand. While there’s no magic formula to getting more followers, here is a list of tactics that will be helpful along the way.

  1. If you want a massive Insta following, you need to be posting high quality content (photos and video) ALL of the time – not just post randomly or once every week or so.
  2. Write descriptive captions. Storytelling will help generate engagement and sharing.
  3. Interact with top influencers; aim to become one of their favourite people or brands.
  4. Promote your dedicated hashtag on your other social media profiles, on your website, and your email blast.
  5. Get creative with your hashtags. Be funny, be outrageous. Be different but not boring!
  6. Scan for relevant topics and trending hashtags. Join these conversations to get in front of more people.
  7. Emojis are becoming a universal mode of expression. Nearly 50 percent of all captions and comments on Instagram now have an emoji or two. Make sure you use the right emoji to convey your message.
  8. Cross-promote your Instagram account and content on other social channels.
  9. Use your weblink to drive traffic to your newest or most popular content.
  10. Use the call-to-action buttons such as Shop Now and Install Now, as people will be able to learn about a product or service and take action directly from an ad to sign up on a website, buy a product, or download an app.

Many businesses still struggle on Instagram or avoid it entirely, because they don’t find the site intuitive and they aren’t sure how to actually build a list of active, engaged followers. Not utilizing the network could be a huge mistake for a business as an established Instagram profile with a lot of followers can open up opportunities to establish your brand as a trusted authority within your industry, promote your business and increase sales. So give it a shot!

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia


The Rise of the Influencers

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Just last year, Instagram hit an incredible milestone of 600 million users. Combined with the recent launch of Instagram Live and the wildly successful Promoted Posts in 2013, Instagram’s strategic focus on Influencer Marketing is making waves in the world of digital marketing.

Over the past three years, Google Trends observed a steady decline in print advertising. Within the same period, influencer marketing has steadily grown in popularity and is quickly narrowing the gap with video advertising. To date, AdWeek reports that 94% of marketers believe in the strategic effectiveness of influencer marketing, with most spending between USD25,000 and USD50,000 for an influencer campaign.

Why?

The Rise of AdBlock

In December of 2016, Apple released the iOS 9 for its chain of devices. With the new software came the added support for AdBlock – a program to block banner advertisements on websites and social media platforms alike. In the same year, Digital News reported that 47% of online consumers used ad-blocks. What was once a program solely used by experts in the field had now become mainstream, throwing marketers into a frenzy of re-evaluating their monetizing and advertising strategies.

Growing Immune to Traditional Advertisements

Traditional marketing strategies have also spiralled downward in terms of actual effectiveness. In the past, brands paid an average of USD5 million for a 30-second commercial between breaks of primetime telecasts. Today however, consumers are rarely glued to the screens of their TVs, with only 14% remembering the last ad they saw, reports Leverage Marketing.

Rethinking and Realigning Content

Navigating through these changing tides of marketing, brands recognize the need to adopt strategies that incorporate their products into popular content that is being consumed on social media. In this day and age, it’s all about “integrating a customer’s attention organically with a product or a service” and fortunately for most brands, influencer marketing offers the solution to all their problems.

Word-of-Mouth 2.0

In 2015, a study by Nielsen revealed that 84% of consumers perceived recommendations from friends and families as the most trustworthy factor in their purchasing decisions. Influencer marketing similarly uses the age-old Word-of-Mouth strategy, except that recommendations extend beyond people within our social circles to include influencers – key individuals on social media who are recognized as experts within their specific fields.

To put it simply: “People listen to the people they trust, and the people they trust are relatable people”.

Traditional celebrities are removed from their audiences. Whether on stage or on movie screens, celebrities present carefully constructed caricatures from behind glass walls. Therefore, many idolize and admire them from afar, but very rarely are celebrities relatable to the average Joe.

Comparatively, influencers appear to present themselves as they are, making them more approachable, relatable, and trustworthy. Before selling a product, brands in the modern market are selling trust.

Strategic Marketing

From garnering higher click rates to conversions, it may be tempting to jump on the bandwagon of influencer marketing. But before you do, here are some tips:

  1. Understand Your Audience
    If you are operating in a niche market, working with the most popular influencers may not be your best bet. Instead, look for experts in your field to garner a higher level of engagement as a result of hyper-targeting loyal audiences.
  2. Allow Room for Personal Creativity
    Influencers have amassed large followings because of their unique content and voice. Dictating and limiting them excessively results in just another “advertisement.” Listen to them because they know their audience better.
  3. Fostering Long-term Relationships
    From an audience’s perspective, it becomes harder to believe someone who switches teams regularly than someone who frequently posts about the same brand. When done well, audiences are less likely to see it as product placement, and more of the influencer’s personal brand.

Posted by Roselynda Afandi, CorpMedia


The Art of the Roast

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Meet Amy Brown: The absolute genius who catapulted the Official @Wendy’s Twitter account into overnight fame. Amid the growing political tension, Amy Brown may not have been the hero we expected, but she certainly became the hero that we all needed; unifying us over our universal love for sass and witty clap-backs.

Navigating through these rocky waves of political divisiveness, brands typically opt for political correctness and template replies when responding to customers online. With just a single tweet however, Amy Brown changed the game forever – and social media managers from all over called into question their age-old strategy.

The Art of the Roast

@Wendy’s tweets are a breath of fresh air, unconcerned with diplomacy or appeasing their customers. Brown made this abundantly clear with a sassy response that ended the earliest Twitter beef of 2017. In January, Twitter user @NHride challenged @Wendys claims of serving “fresh, never frozen” beef in its hamburgers. Within minutes, @NHride was schooled. And the Internet went wild. #win.

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But Brown and her team did not stop there.

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Unsurprisingly, @Wendys was not the only one serving up sass and wit this year. Celebrity chef @GordonRamsay earned himself quite the reputation on Twitter for dishing out some savage burns, much to the delight of his now 5.52 million followers. If you can’t handle Gordon’s sass, then get out of his mentions.

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Here’s why their strategies work:

  1. Authenticity
    Brands today are far too concerned about stepping on toes. Interactions on social media are less social, often laden with feigned sincerity and careful calculation. It’s a mundane cycle that distances a brand from its audience; and throwing shade breaks this routine. It’s refreshing, it’s novel, and most importantly, it reflects a very human response. Or as the kids would say, #relatable.
  2. Consistency
    Speaking to Simply Measured, Brown explains that “Wendy’s voice is a ‘challenger with a charm’. Having a strong sense of our brand and what we should sound like ensures that we come across consistent in our communications, whether we’re handling a specific complaint or gently roasting some of our followers.” Brands that participate in online roasts are willing to risk controversies to create more attention for themselves; and that, is a good lesson for all businesses looking to set themselves apart.

At the end of the day, both Brown and Ramsay have achieved – in a short time – what many have set out to do. Their perfect recipe? A dash of funny, a hint of sarcasm, and a spoonful of pop culture references. But every brand is different. For more serious brands, this may just be a recipe for disaster. The best online strategies begin with a good understanding of your brand’s voice and identity. Find that, and the rest will follow naturally.

Posted by Roselynda Afandi, CorpMedia


Activism – The New ‘Sex’ that Sells

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It’s out with sex and in with activism; marketing and branding specialists alike have dubbed 2017 as the year that “activism comes of age”.

Following a series of polarizing elections and debates, it’s clear that the world is now more divided than ever. Demonstrations, protests, and marches fill our streets and dominate the conversations on our social media feeds – there simply is no avoiding the topic of activism. Fuelled by millennials – who see themselves as active agents of social change – this wave of social activism has set off new ripples in the marketing world.

It’s gone beyond supporting a cause – audiences are now demanding that everyone else does the same. And while this may present a risk of alienating segments of their consumers, brands are beginning to dip their toes into politics. The potential virality of brand activism in the era of social media marketing has helped brands gain more exposure, attract new customers and cement old loyalties. In most cases, the benefits far outweigh the harm.

No longer excused from sidestepping conversations about pertinent socio-political issues, it does little good for a brand to remain sitting on the fence. Take Uber for instance. Earlier this year, the company suffered a major setback after the hashtag #DeleteUber trended worldwide on Twitter. Close to 200,000 users deleted or deactivated their accounts within minutes, following allegations that the company was endorsing Trump’s controversial immigration policies by remaining neutral during protests. Meanwhile, in announcing its $1 million donation to the American Civil Liberties Union, Lyft (Uber’s competitor) received high praise for its denunciation of Trump’s outrageous executive order. By the thousands, angry consumers began switching their allegiance to Lyft and within hours, the company saw a drastic expansion of its user base – exceeding the numbers of Uber for the first time.

Riddled by heightened emotions and drastic political changes, consumers want to be more involved – associating themselves only with brands that share the same ideologies and values. Consumers are making their voices heard with their wallets: every purchase is a political statement. Thus, explaining the biggest rise in brand activism observed in the history of marketing and advertising. But riding this wave seems a lot easier said than done. While brands like Heineken and Dove have successfully crafted campaigns around the importance of unity and feminism respectively, others like Pepsi have completely missed the mark.

Heralded as “The Great Pepsi Shakeup” the three minute Ad was quickly pulled following the global #boycottPepsi on Twitter. Commentators on social media were understandably aggrieved – accusing Pepsi of appropriating imagery from the real protests and completely undermining the dangers and frustrations of these group of people. In attempting to resonate with the millennials, Pepsi completely neglected the most important aspect of brand activism: sincerity. Attempting to “join the conversation” (as preached) without discussing real issues, portrays the brand as opportunistic and more detrimentally, offensive.

Following this fiasco, Heineken, on the other hand, made a political statement of their own with a video titled “Worlds Apart: An Experiment.” Six strangers, each with diametrically opposed socio-political views were paired and encouraged to foster an understanding and open friendship despite their differences. Where Pepsi enraged, Heineken pulled at the heartstrings of its viewers. In this, there are two key differences:

(a) Heineken’s Ad discussed real controversial issues concerning transgender rights, climate change, and feminism while Pepsi adopted a more generic claim for unity and peace – whilst appropriating the imagery of real protests.

(b) Heineken proposed an actual, practical solution of encouraging discourse and fostering understanding despite our differences, instead of portraying themselves as the miraculous solution to all problems.

Gone are the days where sex was enough to sell. In the advent of progressive political changes, consumers and audiences alike have become more politically engaged, often interacting on social media where reputations are made or lost within a matter of minutes – aka the age of the millennials. Ultimately, as much as consumers love thought-provoking ads that tackle the real-world issues we face today, brands should always remind themselves that sincerity and authenticity should underlie all efforts geared towards harnessing the power of brand activism.

Posted by Roselynda Afandi, CorpMedia


Event Success: Steering Conversations into New Spaces

conference-engagement“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit

Behind each successful event is the ultimate vision to deliver value to a target audience from start to finish. This usually begins before the marketing campaign kicks off, and continues well after the exhilaration surrounding the occasion has subsided and the dust has settled. Event marketing may make for an arduous journey, which nevertheless, can bear fruits when done right – be it in fostering brand awareness, generating leads, or establishing market positioning.

Embracing the efficacy of social media, marketers are increasingly bringing their events closer to their audience by taking the dialogue online. In centring takeaways around engagement and empowerment, they’re letting members access, as well as share content with minimal effort. Shareable assets from blog posts and clips, to media updates and infographics, enable online users to tell others about you – usually in the quickest way possible.

Make it Buzz-Worthy

Set up a website? Check. Send out the requisite promotional flyer or email? Check. Time to sit back? Not just yet. As American entrepreneur and marketer Seth Godin points out – long gone are the days when the mantra for marketers was “Build it and they will come.” Instead, sustained nurturing of community on social media is essential to create truly buzz-worthy events.

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with good old direct mail. But publicity is best done on platforms which your audience frequents and actively circulates content, especially the ones that you put out. Engaging prospective attendees with visually stimulating and interactive material is likely to keep the hype around your event lasting for much longer, seeing as how each retweet, like or download is an invitation to discover, discuss and disseminate news about your event.

Sneak peeks and teasers (articles, videos, audio, photos, etc.) posted on your social channels also build anticipation, helping to publicise event highlights, key speakers or unique offerings, while not being viewed as pesky or harassing reminders. Regularly update your promotional material and make sure your content is interesting, shareable and of value to individuals who have signed up, as well as to those who remain undecided (and might need a little convincing!).

In short, potential participants value being given a heads-up on what they can expect. Nothing beats letting them feel like they’re making an informed decision before committing themselves to the event. Add a little intrigue to the mix, and you’re on your way to building and growing a community that readily tunes in, and feels like it has a stake in your event.

“Great Execution is the Ultimate Differentiator”

Beyond drumming up hype, attention should go into providing quality experiences during the event as well. Among these, real-time social updates are important, not only in capturing the excitement of a live event, but also in sparking and keeping conversations going. By publishing thought-provoking questions online, the space for substantive exchanges is no longer limited to the event floor, program book or website – instead, your wider community of followers is now included in the discourse, bringing with them more perspectives and more of their own audiences.

Make joining the conversation easy by using hashtags that are created specifically for the event and used across all social platforms. These go a long way to help your audience search for information that you are sharing, and at the same time, allow you to monitor mentions from attendees or affiliates. Having your ear close to the ground keeps you in the loop of what’s being said, and allows you to be more responsive to the suggestions, comments or enquiries being made.

Meanwhile, featuring and tagging participants in your visual updates will boost emotional connection with those present, letting them know that you acknowledge and appreciate their attendance. A gallery of photos or a series of video clips can also serve as a recap of each day’s activities and highpoints, effectively encapsulating the core message and spirit of the event – all of which can be shared repeatedly with various groups of friends and followers online.

Harnessing Word-of-Mouth

Even as the curtain closes on your event, your work isn’t done yet! Capitalise on the high of your attendees and have them continue the dialogue by drawing them to platforms where they can further share about their experiences. A good example would be a blog post that nicely summarises the event, provides worthwhile (and downloadable) content, and encourages participants to leave their inputs or feedback.

Captured statements about particular programs, presenters or your event in general – accompanied by compelling visuals – can also be shared on your social channels. These testimonials (duly attributed, of course!) help lend credibility to your event, and provide positive word-of-mouth for your brand.

Quite simply, by empowering and giving a voice to your community at each stage of event planning and management, immense opportunities for engagement and exposure are to be had. Event success lies in your hands, as much as it does in the conversations of your followers!

Posted by Rahimah Amin, Corporate Media


Recycling Originality: Content Marketing’s Paradox?

reduce-and-recycle-blog

“Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.”

If the quote by Voltaire is anything to go by, then originality must be a moot concept.

Originality is often understood to mean thinking or acting in an independent, inventive, or individual manner. But considering that we live in a world that requires us to be connected and responsive, it is inevitable that our thoughts and actions are inspired and shaped by our experiences and the environment in which we live.

So then, can there truly be an original idea – free from influence and imitation? Facing this very challenge are content marketers, in their exacting search for continually creative content. But given the industry’s propensity to churn out ideas every single day, only for some to be cast aside, marketers have taken to reusing once-rejected material for new clients. Should recycling creativity be always seen as doing more harm than good? How can the credible creative recognise the right times to reuse old, yet amazing (and possibly profitable) content?

Here are some tips to consider when deciding to breathe new life into an old idea while waiting for your next spark of genius:

Exercise judiciousness

A look at the marketing landscape will show that influences abound. However, be aware of the differences between mere reproduction, and careful revision of ideas. Recycling creativity goes beyond reusing old content, and should see the marketer conscientiously reworking ideas such that they fit the brief and product of any new client. While the eventual concept may draw inspiration from different sources, it should essentially be work consisting of inputs which have been modified into, and presented as something fun and fresh.

While taking creative liberties with recycled ideas, it is also important to stay connected with their origins or how they came to be, so that marketers can better appreciate the new, improved versions and retain the authenticity in their communication with consumers.

Manage the creative ego

Creative minds are often afflicted by the fear of banality, and sometimes, unnecessarily so. Recognise that moments of brilliance are not always readily conjured, and that recycling creativity can mean letting a previously shelved idea – with the necessary tweaks made – take flight and live out its potential.

And even if concepts perceived to be new are discovered to have been delivered before, it should not weaken marketers’ belief in their ideas. After all, our thoughts bear a degree of unique, personal influence and are never exactly the same as some familiar version of it. Moreover, there has been plenty of evidence pointing to consumers taking pleasure in, and responding to recognisable structures and cues. Gain emotional leverage with familiar models while making sure that these ideas are able to deliver some form of value to consumers.

Do not be too obsessed with breaking the mould

In an industry fixated with being trendsetters in creativity, content marketers may get too carried away with wanting to consistently break tradition. In truth, however, the mould-breaker does not come by as frequently as we think. Marketing is no stranger to recycling concepts, with a large majority building upon or reworking existing thinking.

Opting to work on the tried-and-tested may allow marketers to make the most of their versions as they focus instead on improving the execution of their works. By obsessing less on originality as the ideal, marketers can channel their efforts into achieving content excellence as opposed to creative excellence. When brilliantly delivered, time-worn concepts can always come across as new and exciting.

Go the extra mile

Recycled ideas should ultimately be converted into insights-driven content. Effective concepts understand the client’s business drivers, address their points of concern, and create and sustain brand awareness. Sure, there’s nothing wrong in presenting a used idea to another client if the solution meets the brief, but make sure it is reworked and tailored to best serve the client’s business.

That being said, recycling creativity cannot be a marketer’s first instinct or his or her last resort – it should never be the easy way out, where the same idea becomes the persistent solution for different problems.

Expand the definition of originality

Let’s not restrict ourselves to only striving for total originality (if that is possible any more), but also find inspiration in successful and tested formulae, and then fastidiously improve on them. The creative ego should not stifle the many possibilities that recycling creativity presents!

At the end of the day, content marketers look to put out work that may not always be revolutionary, but is importantly, expressive, engaging and which resonates with consumers.

Indeed at times, the process of creativity can be made simple. As Marcel Proust sees it, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

Content marketing may have found a new meaning for originality.

Posted by Rahimah Amin, PR Executive, Corporate Media