Posts Tagged ‘ ethnography ’

How to Be Worth a Journalist’s Time

Public Relations (PR), at its core, is a special type of communication used to gain earned media in broadcast, print and online channels. When proven professionals are leading the charge, PR is an invaluable component of any full-service agency and a crucial element to an organization’s professional engagement. At times, it can make or break campaigns and is often the best resource in times of crisis, lending itself to third-party credibility.

Many companies develop their own PR in house, some by typing up random contact lists for journalists at publications they’ve never read and sending out press releases through email blasts. Remember, it takes grit to harness the power of persuasion and finesse to win someone over.

To get your news published, you must be worth a journalist’s time. Here are a few pointers when considering taking on the public relations role internally.

  • It’s more time consuming and costly than you’d think. Even a mid-sized company with a 60 +/- employees and a marketing department of less than five, could spend $75,000 +/- per year in salary, benefits and overhead in a mid-sized market, plus approximately $1,000/mo. in management software such as Cision or Vocus, if done right.
  • Personalize – That means no more email blasts. Each email, letter or fax  sent needs to be personalized to the receiving journalist. Get to know their position, what they write about, and take the time to read some of their recent articles to get to know their writing style. Become a resource to the journalists, not a spammer.
  • Be worthy – If you don’t read their publication, your company probably doesn’t deserve to be in it. When corresponding with journalists, show that you know their publication and understand its value.
  • Know their and your audience – Even though many companies can’t accurately pinpoint their audience’s ethnography, the extra effort will need to be made if you want to do your own PR. Does your audience align with viewers of a particular news program or readers of a particular magazine? How do they consumer it? When? Where? Know where your audience is and take the steps to reach them “where they live.”
  • Foster a good relationship – Ruining a relationship can be easier than you may believe. In some cases, all you have to do is refer to your journalist contact by the wrong name, send them something of non-interest to their audience, fax a news release to the wrong department, misspell a word or pester to see if your release was published – and presto, you may have just lost a contact. Their time is very limited, and they look to seasoned professionals to focus the message, especially since the inundation of social media.

Although the pointers above are not inclusive of all that you’ll encounter, it’s time to move on to “your” story. Even if you have the perfect journalist at the perfect publication, do you have the perfect story? Don’t miss the mark.

  • Impact – The facts and events that have the greatest impact on the greatest number of people are, simply, the most noteworthy. Include numbers, indisputable facts and figures in your release. Without a tangible frame of reference for the media’s readership, the context may not be fully recognized by the journalist gatekeeper. They want to write about what their readers want to read. Demand is supply.
  • Timeliness – Events that happen recently are more noteworthy. Newspapers are already competing for readership with electronic media, so know when their deadlines are and work to be in front of them with a timely story, not last week’s news.
  • Proximity – Events that happen near the readers or viewers are generally more interesting. Again, context. The reader or viewer has to see or feel the impact of the release, or it may not be newsworthy.
  • Relevancy –Attempt to find a common thread between your company’s news and a current issue. A little hint is to look in the national publications and find a local angle for your company.
  • Human Interest – Stories that play to human emotions may be noteworthy. Remember to target only those writers who have written human interest stories in the past and follow their style.

Public relations is an investment that can yield significant results, yet is often the first to be cut from a marketing budget and taken “in house”–unhealthy for the organization. “Hey doctor, … cut right here?”

Put Ethnography Science Behind Your Strategy

We are sure that most of you out there have said at one time or another, “I would love to be a fly on that wall!” There’s no denying our inherent desire to know what other people are really saying and thinking—without having to admit you are just dying to know things you shouldn’t or couldn’t. Whoever said that ignorance is bliss, might rewrite that common cliché and replace “bliss” with “blind.”

Well, now being noisy can be a good thing, in fact, it can be very insightful and rewarding. As strategic marketers and brand builders, the team at EVOK knows that the more research you use to create a message, campaign or idea, the better success rate you will have. It’s too risky to put all your eggs in an “I had this idea, who knows, it might work” basket. No, there’s too much competition and influence. You must have an arsenal gleaned from a recon mission. So, how do we search for this useful information in the field? How do we conduct a detailed survey of the characteristics of a specific market segment? It’s not a secret and you don’t have to be incognito to benefit from this tuned-in, on the wall approach. The writing on the wall points to ethnography.

Ethnography is a qualitative research method often used in social sciences but has shown great value to the world of marketing. It goes beyond the normal settings of the traditional focus groups by taking research to the core where it matters most, an individual’s everyday life. Ethnographers observe, interview and videotape people in the their everyday lives: where they work, live, shop and play. And the reason it has such value is because it overcomes the artificial nature of surveys and their standard Q&A format, which depend on self-reporting, skewed grouped results and the researcher’s frame of reference. And, ultimately, ethnographic research reveals the unspoken cultural and social patterns that shape consumer behavior. Wow, dare I say, “That’s something to buzz about? Well, at least that’s what the fly said.”

Knowing how to provoke the desired behavior is key to building a brand…and that specific brand’s following. It is the consumer’s behavior as to whether or not they decided to choose your brand over another. What Ethnography can do is provide insight into how a consumer interacts with your brand – how they feel about it, when they use it and why did they chose it. These findings can lead the way to a communication strategy that can incorporate traditional and non-traditional tactics. These tactics allow the consumer to experience and embrace your product or service when and where it is relevant to them.

Not all Ethnography marketing studies are created equal. Nor are they for everyone. It is an ideal approach to use when:

  • Launching/developing a new product
  • Developing a brand position
  • Creating up-front exploratory work (when the objective to is renovate, revive or reposition a brand)
  • A guide to understand how a consumer uses a product or service in the context of his or her daily life
  • Observing consumer behavior first-hand is critical versus asking for recall after-the-fact
  • The audience is hard-to-reach (e.g. teenagers, moms with babies, the affluent); or as a complement to more traditional qualitative (focus groups) or quantitative (usage and attitude studies) approaches.

Still not exactly sure when or how to use ethnography? How about in the morning on an empty stomach? EVOK uses the following example from General Mills.

When breakfast is and isn’t breakfast anymore.

General Mills understood that the paradigm of the family breakfast was shifting, but didn’t know where it was going or how to respond. Researchers arrived at consumers’ homes at 6 a.m., armed with video cameras and the tools of ethnographic research, ready to study families during their morning rituals. “Breakfast” has become an individualized and intermittent series of snacks eaten up to 11:00 a.m. Yet it is still perceived as the most important meal of the day, so parents struggle to find the right foods for their children. Go-GURT portable yogurt for kids was just the answer. The product is healthy enough for moms to give to their kids any time of the day and is “cool” enough for kids to eat during their morning recess. In just two years, it captured 7% of the $2 billion yogurt market.

Since then, the total U.S. yogurt market has ballooned to more than $4 billion and Go-GURT has become a ubiquitous kid food product with a slew of imitators.

Ethnography can help marketers and brands overcome all language, age and geography barriers; just ask the fly on the wall, he’s scaled ‘em all.