Quinnipiac Assignment 08 – ICM 527 – Communication Tactics
As Smith says on page 227, “A communication tactic is the visible element of a strategic plan.”
Smith mainly talks about more traditional means of communicating with publics, dividing the methodologies and strategic communication tactics into working with organizational media, the news media, or utilizing advertising and promotional media. Some of this applies pretty seamlessly to social media, whereas other aspects do not.
With organizational media, the questions are of the type of organizational control and ties, e. g. is the media internal like a company newsletter, and is it controlled? Is it for a targeted media (targeted buyer personae) or the mass media? Is the communication via popular media (e. g. The New York Times) or trade media (Variety)? Do the communications go only one way, or are they interactive (the hallmark of social media)? Is the media publicly or privately owned, and what type is it, e. g. print, electronic, or digital?
The question of popular versus trade media applies well to social media. Is a message intended for Google or a mainstream blog, or is it being disseminated in a closed forum or a specialty Facebook group?
Smith goes on to bring up planning and various events for communications, such as special events (an art exhibition’s opening, for example) or contests. Planning involves putting together print publications such as press kits, electronic communications like podcasts, digital media like websites, and social media, like blogs or wikis.
One tactic deserving of special mention is creating a ready to broadcast bit of media for a news outlet, such as a news fact sheet or a video B-roll. Smith explains, on page 276,“One of the most frequently used categories of news media tactics is direct information subsidy – information that is presented to the media more or less ready for use.” For news producers facing deadline pressure and needing to fill a ravenous 24 hour news cycle, ready-made media is most welcome.
Applying These Tactics to the ILSC
Putting together ready-made press information would be a great way for the Institute for Life Sciences Collaboration to get more positive press. A reporter looking to prepare a piece on the HIV crisis in Ghana is not necessarily going to have the time to gather the best images and most articulate patients for a story focusing on the ILSC. Even if the ILSC just provides names and contact information, that can make the difference between a story not being written at all, versus one that is not only written, but shows the ILSC in the best possible light.
The same is true for the Small World Initiative. Rather than making a reporter dig to find the contact information for educators, why not provide it for them? It’s up to the reporter, of course, to decide whether to pursue the story at all. But why not lower one of the hurdles?
Case Study Tactics
We looked at three case studies this week, “Giving Tuesday”, “Cans Get You Cooking”, and “Search for Amazing Women”.
Giving Tuesday was all about a campaign to take advantage of the spending momentum that annually swirls around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It dovetailed well with increased giving impulses that tend to coincide with the holiday season and the end of the calendar year. The 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation found the following from their research: (Page 2) “Our initial secondary research showed us that in 2011, Americans gave almost $300 billion to favorite causes, but total dollars donated had yet to rebound to pre-recession levels. People were spending, though: Holiday retail sales were increasing at a rate of 3.3 percent a year. And we know that people are willing to give if asked.”
The campaign, which was communications on social media which spread the word, was a success. According to the case study, “on #GivingTuesday, nonprofits raised amounts up 63 percent over 2013 on five major donation-processing platforms. Based on initial results from Blackbaud, U.S. online giving was up 36 percent among its clients, compared with #GivingTuesday 2013 (to $26.1 million), and it saw a 15 percent increase in the number of nonprofits that processed online donations.”
For Cans Get You Cooking, the idea was to increase awareness of cans’ use in cooking via cooking shows and blogs. It was a well-coordinated online marketing campaign in particular, which (Page 3) “implemented campaign’s Search Engine Marketing initiative, targeting consumers on Google already searching for ‘what to make for dinner’ or ‘easy recipes,’ among hundreds of other key word/phrase triggers, driving them to CansGetYouCooking.com, where they were exposed to campaign messages, the 30-minute special with Kelsey Nixon, canned foods recipes and much more.”
After reading the case study a few times, the thing I could not find was anything about sales. There was more interest in buying canned goods, but there’s nothing in the study about any actual increase in purchases. I was able to find a survey online (A Look Inside America’s Cantry) but still nothing about dollar figures.
I was also able to find a survey about the sales of canned fruit from 2011 through 2014 inclusive, and the numbers did not fluctuate significantly. And according to Companies and Markets, the purchase of canned goods declines because of improvements in the economy. When consumers have more discretionary income to spend on foodstuffs, they steer away from canned goods – no matter how well-crafted a campaign is used. It seems that Cans Get You Cooking was least effective where it really counted.
The Search for Amazing Women was an effort to draw a defunct competitor’s customers to Christopher & Banks; a clothing store catering to women aged 40 – 60. The campaign included using Facebook to target key demographics (age and gender) such as military wives and professions traditionally dominated by women, including nursing, teaching, and dental hygienists. Competitors were also targeted, as were mentions of breast cancer (men can get breast cancer, too, but women make up a good 99% of all diagnoses). A look at the Christopher & Banks website reveals that the campaign is ongoing, which fits in well with page 3 of last week’s Vocus article, which mentions creating and maintaining a steady and consistent presence and not just dabbling.
Did it increase sales? According to the campaign, not only did sales go up, but the number of qualified leads increased. On page 3, the campaign notes its results were, “Created new brand-loyal customers through the contest: 2 grand prize winners and 6 runners up were non-customers. Since being named Amazing Women, the winners have posted pictures of themselves and friends at CB stores and shared CB promotions on Facebook. • Added 4,656 qualified prospective customers to the CRM database for future marketing efforts, with the goal of converting them to active customers. With this group added prior to the critical 2014 holiday season, the company achieved their holiday sales goals.”
Unlike the Cans Get You Cooking campaign, the Search for Amazing Women showed demonstrable and actionable results.
Applications to Other Coursework
In most of our other ICM coursework, we talk about reaching buyer personae and even about identifying them, but the nuts and bolts often seem to be left out. This week’s readings detailed not only plans, but how they were executed. The Search for Amazing Women targeted its key demographics with real out of the box thinking. After all, women posting on Facebook about breast cancer might not be seen as a viable market, but of course they need clothing. The Cans Get You Cooking campaign went in a different direction by working with Kelsey Nixon and adding some celebrity appeal and the kind of authority behind messaging mentioned in last week’s Vocus reading. The less than successful nature of that campaign seems more to do with the improving economy than any fault on the part of the strategic planners responsible (sometimes a great campaign just falls flat or has unexpected results). And the Giving Tuesday campaign piggybacked on its public’s natural generosity impulses to create a successful campaign.
My other courses have outlined theory. This week’s readings, in particular, demonstrated practice. The road map has arrived.