Melissa Mauldin

In the midst of a public health crisis, people expect and rely on factual and timely information. Our national opioid crisis is a perfect example of the growing need for accurate data and scientifically backed tips and treatment methods.

Most of us go to the web as a first step to find information, making it even more important that top search results provide relevant, factual information.

In a rare move, Google recently began restricting ads served when visitors used the search engine to search for addiction treatment centers. With so many people experiencing the disease of addiction, drug treatment has grown into a $35 billion market. Too many businesses paid for ads to direct those seeking information on recovery centers to their sites. A person typing “drug rehabilitation near me” was directed, in many cases, to businesses with only a tenuous connection to professional drug treatment.

Professionals in the drug treatment field praised Google’s decision, which Google officials made in consultation with recovery experts. Google’s decision followed a story by The Verge explaining how unethical businesses, and even fraudulent enterprises, use AdWords to direct the public to their sites.

The issue highlighted the importance of sharing good, substantiated, public health information to the growing audience. It not only helped remove untrustworthy information from Google searches, but it also removed much of the visual clutter, allowing critical messaging to reach the people who need it.

Recently declared a national public emergency by President Donald Trump, the opioid epidemic represents one of the deadliest public health crises to face the nation, resulting in more than 64,000 deaths—half of which resulted from legally prescribed opioids.

Like any crisis, strategic, timely and effective communication plays a critical role. For decades, public health organizations have long understood medical science and communication are essential to protect the public’s health.

At A. Bright Idea, our passion, not only for cause marketing, but cause communication, runs deep, particularly when it comes to public health education and treatment on drug and alcohol abuse. Our work with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Bel Air Center for Addictions applies the latest scientific knowledge to our communications and outreach. Those federal and private sector clients recognize getting their message out to the public requires both sound public health science and policies, coupled with effective communication strategies. It is essential to communicate scientific information in ways the public can understand and learn from, helping to make changes in their lives or to help loved ones.

When crafting a message, whether that be public service announcements, editorial columns, speeches or fact sheets, you must understand not only the goal of the message, but the audience. What will make this resonate? How will they respond? What do you want them to do next? How can they take that message and share it further? In some cases, that involves using spokespersons with social media influence, or developing information graphics to demonstrate key data points in a highly visual way, or sharing personal testimonials to help the audience form an emotional understanding or connection.

With the death toll rising from the misuse of opioids, the public needs that partnership of treatment experts and communicators more than ever. We’re proud to support great organizations in the fight and help to educate those in need build stronger communities. Helping people find their way is one of the most emotionally rewarding work we can do.

Shawn Nesaw

One of the top tools of the social media trade we implement for both clients and our internal usage is the content calendar. Perfect for staying on track and proactive planning, a content calendar keeps your content creation streamlined and efficient, yet flexible. Although content calendars may seem like one more thing to do, the planning conducted in advance makes strategy implementation a lot easier.

Content calendars are great for keeping track of all your communication tools, including blogs, PR pitches, press releases and social media. It’s a central place where every piece of content is developed and archived. For creative teams, it’s a collaborative exercise that keeps the whole team involved. For individual social media managers, it’s an organization tool to help with time and strategy management when working with integrated content.

Need more incentive for content calendar use? Here are more of our favorite benefits:

  • Organization – The content calendar’s main draw is in its organizational structure. There’s no set way a content calendar should be created and organized, it allows customization for a given need. Columns you may set, for example, are things like “platform” (where something is posted), “contributors” (who is helping develop the content) and “deadline” (completion date). The content calendar provides a clear path for what is happening, establishes goals as well as roles and responsibilities for the team.
  • Lessons learned– By finding common themes in different posts and looking at analytic data that tracks post engagement (most platforms offer this capability for free), you’ll be able to see what resonates with your audience. Understanding what your audience needs and likes helps you target those needs and likes in future posts.
  • A look ahead – A key factor in social media and content development, in general, is making sure you are consistently posting, staying top of mind with your audience while also expanding your reach to new audiences. Using a content calendar allows you to look a few weeks to a few months ahead for notable milestones such as company and client anniversaries, birthdays, local events, awards, relevant historical events and social media holidays, just to name a few. Additionally, proactive planning allows more time for development of videos, photos or events.
Sample content calendar

Once you start using a content calendar you will see a nice variety of diverse content. That’s great, but keep in mind, it’s ok to deviate from the plan. A content calendar keeps you organized; it’s not meant to shackle you to the content you’ve developed. Social media is inherently “in the moment” so when something interesting is happening around the office your audience would appreciate, post it.

Who doesn’t love cute puppy pics?

When Edison comes around, it’s cuteness overload.

Here’s an example: A co-worker brings in their new puppy. It’s bound to get your office talking and if that’s the case, your audience will probably enjoy a cute puppy face in their news feed as well. Who doesn’t love cute puppy pics? Social media is driven on situations where you can capture the “now” to show the human side of your brand.

Tell us how you organize your content. How do you see a content calendar fitting into your process? Share with us in the comment section below.

 

Katie MacNichol

Whether you are a small business, nonprofit or large entity, developing a creative campaign can be a challenge. You may be thinking: How can I stand out among the competition? How can I make sure my brand is represented well? Will the campaign effectively support my goals? How can I get my audience to respond? What do I want them to know about my business?

Let us break down the elements that go into making a strong, strategic and measurable communication campaign.

Based on the Dragonfly Model, we categorize campaign elements into four sections:

  1. Focus
  2. Grab attention
  3. Engage
  4. Take action

When you consider all four pieces (or wings) of the model, your campaign will come together to work at peak efficiency and remain rooted in meeting your end goal. Like when a dragonfly flies – it needs all four wings to work in tandem in order to get where it aims to go.

To start, we focus your campaign on a single concrete, measurable goal. This will ensure tools and tactics implemented through the campaign remain grounded and focused on one thing. So – what do you want to accomplish?

Next, we grab the attention of your audience. To do this, we make sure to incorporate a personal and visual call-to-action to engage your audience and make them focus on your brand.

Take Whirlpool for example. The brand’s most recent advertising campaign organically grabs the attention of their target audience by making a personal appeal, visually.

(PS – If you’re not on the verge of happy tears right now, you should be.)

Now, time to engage. When planning tools and tactics to most effectively engage your audience, empathy toward your audience helps to increase engagement – so long, of course, as the empathetic message doesn’t appear forced. (Faking empathy can make your audience feel betrayed, so, if you’re going to use empathy as an engagement tactic, always make sure to come by it naturally!)

And finally, it’s time to take action. One of the best tips for getting your audience to take action – less is more. Keep your messaging obvious but clever, telling your audience exactly how, when and why to take action toward what you want them to do. Make it easy for them!

When you’re ready to embark on your next creative campaign, A. Bright Idea is ready to help you fly to new heights!

Marketing businesses using Facebook and Twitter has become a growing tactic in marketing plans across all industries. Social media platforms serve as an effective tool for circulating branded messaging, but Internet usage and trends continue to change every day.

In a recent article, Bulldog Reporter found that 90% of all Internet traffic and 50% of mobile traffic is now made up of photos and video. For growing visual media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, this means an opportunity for continued expansion. Instagram’s more than 200 million users make up an attractive market of young people for PR and marketers. Digital media reporting site Mashable has also found that 1 in 5 U.S. adults are now using Pinterest. These large groups of users of both platforms are at the ready to receive visual content that could ultimately lead to better connecting and capitalizing on consumer and brand relationships.

With the expanding use of visual media, it is more important than ever to control your brand’s messaging. People make decisions based on trust and brand promise. Using photos and visuals helps create another tangible connection to brands. As we can see from these recent statistics, it is becoming a greater means of communication – that old adage “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” Having a strategic presence in visual media can serve as a key tool to further brand development as part of an integrated marketing approach. Everything you do or say influences what people think about your brand, so providing them with a visual example of what your brand promises also helps demonstrate that your brand delivers on this promise.

No matter the medium, the ability to connect users with your brand is crucial to developing brand loyalty, and will ultimately lead to a better consumer experience. It’s important to assess your own brand strategy as it compares to trends, as not all trends serve brands equally. With the expanding use of visual media, now is an opportune time to analyze your own brand and consider the most strategic uses of visual media and how it can potentially become part of your integrated marketing approach.

Cari Ashkin

By: Meg O’Hara, A. Bright Idea Marketing Intern

As a rising college senior and current A. Bright Idea intern studying communications and public relations, I have the opportunity to compare the information I have learned as a student with the firsthand experience I have gathered at A. Bright Idea. One interesting recent event had me comparing just that– the academic perspective of what I’ve learned about branding and the real-life importance of protecting a brand.

In the past several weeks, America has tuned into the Paula Deen controversy, a well-recognized and seemingly friendly TV personality, under fire for making derogatory comments in the past. Such events have put Deen’s brand at risk, causing many of her supporters, fans and sponsors to cut ties with Deen and her organization. While she certainly isn’t the first to face a brand crisis, as many athletes and political figures also endure such struggles, it is an important lesson to learn from and topic to address – what measures can be taken to prevent a brand crisis and protect a brands reputation? For certain, strong public relations tactics are necessary to maintain the image of the individual or company including developing a crisis management plan prior to incidents, enabling a proactive response and controlling an organizations message.

Here is a quick list of general do’s and don’ts:

1. Speak early and often. This does not necessarily mean that you have to take the blame for something you didn’t do just to settle the storm, but if you’re in the middle of a PR crisis it is important to remember there is a reason why the situation came about in the first place.  For example, if a brand is being threatened because of an offensive comment that a representative may have made and it wasn’t intended to be construed in that way, apologize for the way it was interpreted and for being unclear.

2. Be clear. Nothing is more important than strong communication. If a statement was misunderstood the first time, reword and explain the points. Preparing a statement prior to notifying the public is critical.

3. Control your message. While it is important to be sincerely apologetic, it is also crucial that a representative be poised, well spoken and have key messages rehearsed and ready. When an image is being repaired, consider that the public needs a reason to rebuild the trust that was lost. If the owner of a company or brand cannot keep their emotions intact on camera, viewers might wonder if they are truly professional and fit for representing a company.

4. Stay consistent. Along with sincerity, the public seeks honesty. When a representative changes a story to repair the image of the brand, it can generate more harm than good. Flip-flopping creates doubt and distrust, further tarnishing the relationship between the company and the public.

5. Keep points concise. Dragging an issue on longer than needed is detrimental to the brand. Every issue settles with time and continuing to harp on the mistake simply prolongs the matter.

Though many companies have faced extreme PR challenges, countless come out successfully. New stories arise diverting the media attention away from the issue, and by taking control of the situation wisely with a plan in place, it is more likely a brand or image can be repaired and rebuilt.

The planning season is upon us – who are we kidding; we actually begin planning for next year in October or even earlier! However, as we inch closer to the new year, there are still a great number of opportunities for businesses to get ready and tackle their goals with a strategic advertising plan.

First things first, an advertising plan is only part of a business’ larger strategic marketing plan. The marketing plan should outline the organization’s goals, objectives, stakeholders, key messages and tactics – one of which could be advertising.  The marketing plan is essential for businesses to keep on target as they work toward accomplishing goals, and lays the groundwork for the supporting tactics (like advertising) to be effective and measured for success.

Effective advertising comes from good planning and research, proper budgeting, utilizing key messages, including a strong call to action, and of course, commitment. Here are some tips to think about when planning your advertising strategy for 2013.

1. Know your brand – What makes you unique? How are you, your products or services different than the competition?  Review your brand when thinking about your advertising focus for the year.

2. Identify your focus – Will it be branding, highlighting a product or service, or developing a promotional offer? How and why are you planning to focus your advertising on this messaging? How is what you are promoting, different than the competition?

3. Set your goals – A step that goes right along with identifying the focus, establishing realistic and measurable goals is essential to an advertising plan. Is the focus of the advertising in line with your overall business goals? If not, why is it the focus? Don’t advertise for the sake of advertising if your messaging isn’t going to support your business’ goals.

4. Set your budget – Seemingly simple, but truly one of the most important to focus on. Don’t simply say, “let’s do what we did last year.” Work with your agency and take the time to review and analyze your advertising budget and what your goals for the coming year include. Is the amount dedicated to advertising right to support your goals?

5. Identify the appropriate medium – Considering your goals, focus and target audience, work with your advertising agency to identify the proper media mix.

6. Look at the calendar – Is any part of your advertising focus seasonal? Plan your advertising calendar along with your business cycle. Take advantage of down times to brand yourself.

7. Monitor the impact – Keeping tabs on the results is important, but you should also remember that advertising takes commitment. Don’t pull the plug because you didn’t get a call in the first week. Some marketing statistics say a person needs to hear an ad three times before retaining the information, while others say seven and so on. Plus, a person may not need (or think they need) what you’re offering right at that moment. The key is that they think of you when they do realize they have a need.

8. Make changes and learn from the results – This can be done over the course of the campaign, or year. Is your current campaign getting the results you intended and impacting your marketing goals? Maybe there needs to be a change in the key message, product or offer? Or, how can the current messaging be altered to breathe new life into the campaign and build off its success?

Looking for more help? Working with a professional is a small investment that can lead to big results. Call us to see how we can help you get started.