Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Marketing Lessons Learned from Taylor Swift and How to Apply Them to Your Business

Many know Taylor Swift as a music star and international personality.
When she speaks young people listen. Then they buy her music, in droves.

Her latest album, 1989, sold over 1 million copies in its first week. It is the top selling album of 2014.

What many don’t know is the marketing genius behind the Taylor Swift “brand”. Ms. Swift may be as good a marketer as a she is a singer, and that is saying a lot.

The strategy behind the release of 1989 provides an outstanding case study of marketing techniques.

Many can be applied to nearly any business wishing to build a public relations campaign that creates awareness, builds momentum and separates them from the competition.

These include…

1. “Influencing the Influencers”. Ms. Swift told David Letterman that she held private parties at her residences in advance of the album release. The goal was to let some true fans hear the music  gain some feedback, and create pre-release buzz.

This technique has been used by large innovative companies such as Apple that have been known for sending laptops, iPhones and other devices to the media and other influential individuals in advance of their public launch.

Almost any business can do the same. They can send their products to key well-known clients, the media and even influential bloggers. The result can build excitement for your product and a lot of chatter about your company.

2. Spread your message creatively across a variety of social media channels. Swift is said to handle her own social media posting. This includes connecting with fans on a personal level with individualized messages as well as using different channels for different purposes, all reaching a variety of audiences in a variety of ways.

 Creating one message and putting the same thing on a pre-planned board that hits five outlets with exactly the same thing is not the answer. Instead create a video specifically for YouTube, create an Infographic for LinkedIn, generate an engaging photo for Twitter, and post other more personal photos on Facebook. Generate comments and respond to feedback.  Business should take some time to understand their audience, analyze how their clients use social media, and determine the best channels to reach them in the most creative way possible.

3. “Partner Up”. It helps to have friends in high places and Swift’s friends Lena Dunham (HBO Star), Lorde (music star) and other A list type celebs used their social channels to talk about the album. One would expect the favor to no doubt be returned.

A business could do something similar by hosting an event with a company(s) that provides complimentary product offerings. All firms could work their list and invite their customers to attend. At the same time, all could use social media to not only send out information about the happening but also promote their partners’ products as well.

The end result raises the awareness level for all concerned while at the same time helps each firm reach new potential groups of clients.

4. Utilize all facets of traditional media. As an international celebrity, Swift was easily able to appear on every national talk show and sing highlights from the new album. While most businesses can never pursue this type of exposure, nor, in most cases, should they, even small businesses can obtain media coverage in a daily newspaper, business journal or trade publication.

Many firms have products or services well suited for TV news coverage or radio interviews. As you send out email newsletters, marketing pieces, and attend trade shows, keep in mind the power of the press and the value of a few well placed articles that can reach hundreds if not thousands of key prospects.

5. Focus, engage and execute. Once Swift launched her album, she seemed to appear everywhere. As mentioned earlier she was a guest on network talk shows, day and night, and featured in newspapers and magazines. This was in addition to constant connections with her fans on social media. She even put together a deal with Target for additional exposure.

When launching a new key product or service, a business should muster all their marketing muscle and deliver the message across all pertinent channels, all at the same time. Whether it involves email, newspaper coverage, or special events, running these efforts concurrently will help your business reach greater levels of awareness and speed the effort to reach your marketing and sales objective.

For more information visit Solomon Turner Solomon Turner PR or call 314-205-0800

Monday, September 29, 2014

Could Your Firm Create a Viral Event like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

              President Bush Takes The Challenge-USA Today

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been a PR campaign for the ages.

By now you have participated in your own challenge or at least seen one on video.

The Challenge consists of a friend, associate or colleague asking you to dump a bucket of ice water on your head within the next 24 hours or donate $100 to the ALS Foundation.

Many who take the challenge also donate to the charity. What started out as a small idea has turned into a nationwide movement. Everyone from a-list celebrities to former presidents to corporate executives has endured the ice bucket dump.

Most have even taped their challenge and posted it for viewing on YouTube, Facebook and other social media outlets.

The campaign has reached unparalleled levels of success.

Over 3 million have donated since the campaign was launched and over $100 million has been raised to combat ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

From a marketing and PR perspective, this is probably one of the great campaigns of the last 20 years.

Here’s why this worked…

A short analysis indicates the Challenge had five key elements that all worked seamlessly together.
1. It benefits a worthy cause, even if many never heard of Lou Gehrig or ALS.
2. Timing was perfect. It took place during the hot summer months when people are looking to cool off.
3. It’s easy to execute. Dumping an ice bucket on your head is an easy task that nearly everyone can do.
4. It’s fun. Sure you get a jolt from the icy water but everyone gets a good laugh watching you get soaked.
5. It’s visual. Perfect for social media, and, in the case of celebrities, television news. The high visibility enabled the Challenge to gain momentum and generate a life of its own.

Business owners and marketing executives would love nothing more to create a virtual event on-par with the ALS effort, and surely many are spending numerous hours thinking about something they can create that can go viral. Yet, the chances of developing something with this type of reach and momentum is extremely rare.

Instead, businesses wishing to create a highly memorable campaign should utilize their time more efficiently by focusing on their core audience. What it is that truly inspires their customers?

Once you have ascertained what it is that drives your customers to do business with you and your firm, you can plug-in the five key elements that made the ALS Challenge a success.

Your campaign should focus on…

1. Who will benefit? It should be something of value that helps your customers know that their participation contributes to the greater good.

2. Timing is everything. Schedule your campaign during peak buying times and when awareness is heightened. After all, would the Ice Bucket Challenge have worked in the winter?

3. Keep it simple. Your customers don’t have time to go on a scavenger hunt or spend hours trying to decipher something overly complicated.

4. Make it fun. People like being challenged as long as they can attain results in a timely fashion.

5. Make it visual.  If you can create a campaign that can be taped and played out on social sites, or at the very least photographed, the chances of creating a memorable event will increase tenfold.

Steve Turner is a Principal with Solomon/Turner PR in St. Louis, a firm that specializes in media relations and publicity for businesses and organizations throughout the Midwest. For additional information visit

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Are You A Marketing Lion or A Gazelle?

I recently attended a motivational seminar in St. Louis. One of the speakers featured was a fast rising motivational star, Eric Thomas.

Eric told the story of the lion and the gazelle. He recited an often quoted refrain. The original one may have be penned by Christopher McDougall in his book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.”

Thomas went on to use this as a sales discourse. Paraphrasing, he said as the anointed hunter of his family the lead lion realizes his family will not eat until a gazelle is brought back to the den. The lion will chase his prey from sun up to sun down until the job is done. He does not care how hot it is, how many miles he has traveled, or how fast the pack of gazelles is running. Unless that lion can apprehend their prey, he realizes his family will starve and he will have let them down.

Meantime the gazelle’s goal is only to avoid the lion. Once the gazelle realizes he won’t be caught, he can relax. He can eat some plants, drink whatever water he can find, and spend the rest of the day lounging, waiting for the next sunrise.

Thomas related this scenario to those in the selling world. Are you a lion? Do you get out of bed early with a game plan in tact ready to pursue the next deal? Will you push away common every day obstacles and let nothing stop you in pursuit of your goal, realizing you are responsible for feeding your family?

Or… Are you a gazelle? Happy to just survive, kick back and avoid trouble to last another day. A relatively average existence.

This thought process can also apply to business owners and those responsible for building their brands and marketing their companies.

What is the difference between the marketing lion and the gazelle?

The marketing lion is the one is driven to succeed. He or she is an innovator, not afraid to step out the box, try new strategies, new tactics, and utilize out-of-the-box thinking to outpace competitors.

The marketing gazelle, on the other hand, is happy to just maintain the status quo. They do things because their company has always done them that way, with hopes they can just hang around and survive another year until the economy gets better.

Marketing lions tend to dominate their industry. Marketing gazelles tend to get eaten alive by the competition.

Which one are you?

For more information on PR and marketing trends visit Solomon/Turner PR





Wednesday, April 9, 2014

5 Keys For Writing A Successful Business Blog

Here are five simple rules to follow for anyone thinking about writing a blog for business.

1. Create a goal of what you would like to achieve.
Like any other business or marketing tactic, a blog should be part of an overall strategy that helps you connect with your targeted audience. Rather than just blogging for blogging sake some thought should be given as to the intent of one’s writing. Will the blog be used for general branding, thought leadership with key executives, or a method of moving a prospective customer further down the sales funnel. Once a goal has been established you can use words and phrases specifically designed to generate the desired result.

2. Write what you know.
A blog for business is exactly that, an outlet to communicate with your audience from a business perspective. If you are an engineer write about engineering. If you are an accountant write about tax tips or ideas to help someone save money. If you are a plumber you can write about preventative maintenance to avoid clogged sinks and drains. Though you may have strong opinions on a variety of subjects this is not a place to opine about politics, religion or movies.

3. Keep it short and succinct.
A business blog is not a whitepaper or an elongated essay. A good rule of thumb is to error on the side of brevity. In most cases 300-500 words should suffice. Sentences should be succinct and the message clear. In most cases one should start with an overriding lead in of what you are trying to convey then follow it up with facts, examples or supporting information.

4. Maintain Consistency.
Many businesses begin a blog then abandon it a month or two down the road. The challenge and time constraint of generating usable content can become problematic, especially for a small business where staff members are already juggling multiple projects trying to meet customer demands. Determine your comfort level for completing blog entries whether it be once per week, every other week or once per month. Outsource this task if necessary. Your goal will not be reached if you do not maintain some type of consistency with your writing.

5. Use a visual(s) to engage the reader.

Nearly all research now points out that any type of article, blog or written piece generates more readership with a visual attached. Check out Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Do you even care to read any material that is not accompanied by a graphic, photo or video? The proper use of visuals, in line with the intent of the article, will help engage readers and encourage them to stay with your blog from start to finish.

For addition PR and marketing tips visit

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Is Your Bad Elevator Speech Killing Your PR?

I had the opportunity to watch a friend and speaker, Fred Miller, deliver a great talk recently on how to craft an elevator speech.
The elevator speech, as defined by Wikipedia, is a pitch, speech, or statement used as a short summary to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organization or event and its value proposition.
It says the name "elevator pitch" reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.
The term itself comes from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator is interesting and value adding, the talk will continue after the elevator ride or end in exchange of business card or a scheduled meeting. If not, the two will go on their way.
In most cases today the elevator speech is commonly used at networking events, chamber of commerce meetings, and other business functions. 

Those of us who attend dozens of these events on a regular basis hear hundreds of these introductions per year. Some, who may use Fred’s model or something similar, do a good job of explaining what they do and communicate their value proposition. Others sort of stumble through it and don’t really create a hook or reason to elicit further conversation.

Then there are those who really don’t have an elevator speech at all. Instead they are more apt to introduce themselves, hand you a business card, ask what you do and walk away. Nothing is really communicated. No follow-up action is prompted.

Savvy businesses should make “Networking 101” part of their basic sales training. The objective is to carry over the firm’s mission and unique selling proposition into a nice 30-60 second conversational package.

This can be accomplished by analyzing your web site, standard sales pieces, and marketing materials.

These materials can yield some nice nuggets of what makes your business unique and why clients hire your firm.

Then you can meld in that information with your name and your own personal expertise.

Once you feel comfortable make sure to write it all down. Then time it for length. A standard rule in broadcast copy writing is that about 7 to 7 ½ lines equal 30 seconds. 15 Lines should equal around sixty seconds when spoken at a normal pace.

Once you are pleased with the end result make sure to test it out. You can role play it a few times with a colleague or close business associate. This gives you a chance to fine tune your speech before taking it public.

As companies spend thousands of dollars per year on brand building efforts they should also ensure their team is adequately prepared for short but valuable introductions with prospective clients.

The goal is to maximize the selling effort and communicate value no matter when, where and how long these golden opportunities occur.

Feel free to visit Fred’s website for more information and for PR Tips visit

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

4 Quick Lessons Learned From PR Students

I was honored to host a series of roundtables with other public relations professionals at PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) Career Development Day in St. Louis.

Each PR professional was asked to facilitate a small roundtable with area college students seeking a career in public relations or communications. The goal was to gain an inside look at the public relations business from a variety of different perspectives.

Students rotated from table to table every thirty minutes. They were able to ask questions from those in corporate communications, in non-profit communications, with large public relations firms and with small public relations firms.

The roundtables revealed a few interesting perspectives from the students at my table.

1. Selective social media plays a key factor in the students’ lives. No surprise here but contrary to recent studies many of the students utilize Facebook to a great extent. This contradicts some recent research that indicated teenagers and young adults were abandoning that medium for other sites. Some, closer to graduation, are starting to utilize LinkedIn. Instagram was also mentioned along with YouTube and Twitter.

2. Internships are crucial to securing a job. The students realize they need to have work experience in public relations to enhance their chances of finding full time employment. Some indicated it is important to have two to three internships just to be considered by larger more selective PR firms.

3. Pursuit of a master’s degree is becoming a necessity. Several of the students commented that a master’s degree is almost like the equivalent of what a high school diploma was in the past. Companies have a large pool of candidates to select from and a master’s degree places the student on at least equal footing with others. In some cases it can elevate them above the pack.

4. Students realized they have to make their own breaks. Most understood they have to take an aggressive approach in their pursuit of job opportunities. We were asked repeatedly about potential job openings and internships at our firm. Many of the students have even followed-up with us with connections on LinkedIn.

Overall I was impressed with the background and aggressive nature of most of the students. It left a positive imprint with at least one PR pro that the future of the public relations profession will be in good hands.

For more information on public relations visit Solomon/Turner PR

Monday, February 24, 2014

5 Marketing Lessons Learned From Generation "Like"

The PBS Frontline program “Generation Like” was one of the most revealing documentaries on marketing we have seen in years. While its main focus was on today’s teenagers and social media, many of the marketing strategies and approaches can apply across a wide range of age group segments. While some of the program’s insights are known to most marketers, so much is not. This is what you should know…

1. Today’s teens, and probably a multitude of adults, have become empowered through the use of social media.  Programs like MTV’s TRL once told kids what songs and products were “hip” and “cool”. They communicated what you should listen to, wear, and see in order to be “popular”.  But that has changed and replaced by a new kind of online currency of likes, re-tweets, comments and YouTube viewership.
These likes define today’s teens as who they are. Where once a t-shirt and a bedroom poster where what really mattered, as the program said, “Today you are what you like.”

2. Teens love to interact with their favorite brands, movies, film stars and recording artists through various online methods. Many youngsters are quick to jump to these fan websites where they can compete for online badges and virtual prizes. Other sites encourage them to simply sign-up and get discounts and first-to-know news about their favorite products. Corporate marketers have taken note. They use these type of games and contests to amass large amounts of information on each individual and the teens are anxiously willing to give it to them.

3. Savvy marketers are actively designing campaigns based on your personality profile comprised of your likes and your friends’ likes. Most online consumers are watching this evolve before their eyes. Once you like a brand the marketing experts can decipher what other types of products you like and send you messages pertinent to your age and what you find important. “Like” skateboarding for example and you may get messages and offers from helmet manufacturers, athletic shoe and sporting goods companies. “Like” a certain clothing store and you could get messages from jeans companies, cosmetic firms and jewelry shops.

4. Brands are increasingly using social media created celebrities to communicate messaging and move product. You may not have heard of Tyler Oakley, but if you have a teenager chances are they have. Oakley is an Internet sensation whose views on life are watched by millions of youngsters on YouTube. Speaking of likes Oakley has 1 million+ likes on his Facebook page. As the documentary pointed out brands like Taco Bell are jumping on the Oakley bandwagon and finding ways for him to incorporate product into his videos. These YouTube segments have not only created a sense of empowerment for Oakley but also a nice source of income for the social media star. Marketers have realized that a positive endorsement from Oakley can carry a lot of weight in the shopping aisle.

5. Teenagers use the same marketing techniques used on them to use on each other. While teenagers are bombarded by ads on TV, radio and Internet they don’t mind shouting out some of those same messages to their online friends. Get a message on social media about the launch of a new of athletic shoe, a new movie, or a new fast food burger and surely you want to enjoy the empowerment of being the first one to tweet it to all your online friends. Those friends suddenly begin re-tweeting that news as well and the brand keeps extending its reach infinitely. In essence teens are not only the target of the marketing message they become major players in the campaign.
The benefit of all this to the marketer of course is that they can watch it take place in real time and study analytics to measure the success of their effort.

This information rich documentary is valuable viewing to anyone in advertising, branding, marketing or public relations. To watch the entire video visit PBS Frontline Generation Like

For more public relations and marketing insights visit Solomon/Turner PR Solomon/Turner PR