I can’t get enough of the new pope, and apparently I’m not alone. Google “pope-francis” and you get 656 million results about someone who has been going by that name for just a few weeks. And whether or not Pope Francis is able to take the Catholic Church in a new direction, he’s already demonstrating how a damaged brand can be protected — even enhanced — by focusing attention on initiatives that counter objections to the brand in new ways.
The Catholic Church’s problems are well-chronicled, led by the painful clergy-sex scandal, its lingering effects, and more recently the tales of stolen records and Vatican misconduct. But these days, the Church’s problems are mentioned only in passing, as in this story from Reuters:
The 76-year-old former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina has inherited a Vatican rocked by a scandal in which documents leaked to the media spoke of alleged corruption in its administration and depicted prelates as fighting among themselves to advance their careers.
But that’s the fourth paragraph of a story that focuses instead on something new. Here’s the lead:
Beginning a busy program of Easter events, Pope Francis on Thursday urged Catholic priests to devote themselves to helping the poor and suffering instead of worrying about careers as Church “managers.”
That’s just marketing manna from heaven: The pope is busy. He’s telling priests to help the poor and suffering. (Who can be against that?) And he’s telling priests to get out there and help people instead of sitting around in “introspection,” which is a nice word for squabbling.
Idea Grove is a finalist for a big award, the Marketer of the Year Award from the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the American Marketing Association. The 16 finalists include other Dallas marketing firms and some familiar names in Dallas-area business circles.
The Marketer of the Year will be announced next month along with the Collegiate Marketer of the Year and the CMO of the Year. Kent Huffman of BearCom Wireless, an Idea Grove client, is one of two Chief Marketing Officer finalists. Idea Grove is a finalist alongside other agencies and the likes of Alcatel-Lucent, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers.
Idea Grove’s nomination was for its work for ShopSavvy, the leading mobile shopping application. Idea Grove President Scott Baradell put together a public relations program leveraging news releases, media pitches and video and culminating during retailing’s most-visible period: the kickoff of the holiday shopping season well known to consumers as Black Friday.
Inbound marketing agencies like ours have heard from plenty of clients facing a common dilemma: “I need to get the word out about our product or event, but I don’t have enough contacts to justify an email marketing campaign.” Often they say they have been offered a “highly targeted” list of contacts in a specific market or vertical for the seemingly low price of 50 cents to $3 a contact, and this will create for them a fresh and relevant audience. Right? Wrong. So wrong.
Unless you’re planning on emailing an entire purchased list from your personal email client (which we don’t recommend), you’re going to be hard pressed to find an email marketing tool or marketing automation platform (MAP) that tolerates the use of purchased lists. The less-expensive email marketing tools such as Constant Contact and Mail Chimp have been known to force entire email lists into the “do not mail” category if an email campaign gets a suspicious amount of spam complaints or even if the size of the list triggers a red flag.
Most companies that invest in public relations and marketing services are passionate about their businesses, but that excitement can blur the line between what is newsworthy and what isn’t. As an account manager specializing in technology public relations, I help clients identify which announcements warrant a press release or media pitch – and which don’t – and develop compelling story angles around them. I’ve learned that as excited as you are about your company’s decision to begin targeting a new vertical, that doesn’t necessarily mean the media cares. Three tests will help you determine whether your company’s story belongs in the newsroom or in the break room.
My favorite part of John Hughes’ buddy comedy “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” comes when the Steve Martin character finally reaches his wits’ end with the annoyingly chatty travel companion played by John Candy. Not only is the scene an example of great writing, but it also offers valuable reminders about great writing that our Dallas marketing firm applies as it works to engage audiences.
In the scene, the Martin character, Neal Page, berates hapless Del Griffith for his “boring stories” about himself, full of pointless and irrelevant anecdotes. “Didn’t you notice on the plane when you started talking, eventually I started reading the vomit bag?” Neal screams. “Didn’t that give you some sort of clue, like maybe this guy is not enjoying it? Y’know, not everything is an anecdote. You have to discriminate! You choose things that are funny or mildly amusing! You’re a miracle! Your stories have none of that! They’re not even amusing accidentally!”
Then comes the final, humiliating kick in the gut for poor Del: “And, you know, when you’re telling these little stories, here’s a good idea: Have a point! It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!”