In the Loop
Crossroads of PR, Integrated Marketing and the Midwest.
Chicago Art, in the Eyes of the Beholder by Diana Rostkowski
If you are a Chicago resident who frequents the loop, you may have noticed that a new blonde rolled into town. She’s quite glamorous, and she stands above all the rest of us. If you haven’t experienced her presence yet, you can find Marilyn Monroe standing tall on Michigan Avenue. She stands on Pioneer Court and has been here since mid-July. Why is this singer, actress and American sex symbol standing tall, her skirt blowing, in our Windy City?
Art is certainly a subjective topic, and the city residents have expressed their take on the new guest. A resident comments in the Washington Post that her giant lace panties are “intrusive.” According to the Chicago Tribune, some have noted Marilyn as “a giant, silent avatar of nonconsent.”
Whatever the city’s opinion may be, Marilyn’s here to stay till next spring.
Perhaps it’s just a way for women in dresses to channel their inner-Marilyn in the Windy City? I personally see her as an art piece, symbolizing an inspirational American icon. Her presence adds to the fine art that makes Chicago a place of expression and courage.
When I moved to Chicago over a year ago, I immediately fell in love with the art that makes this city unique. The clash of skyscrapers with gothic-style architecture that crowd our downtown is eye-catching and magnificent. The Picasso sculptures in the corners of the city streets showcase the individuality that is Chicago. The art in this city is brilliant. Our skyline is like no other. Our sculptures cause you to stop and wonder. Chicago, like its people, has character. Our art expresses that.
In Marilyn’s biography, Marilyn: Her Life In Her Own Words, she stated “imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it is better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” Marilyn’s presence enhances our city’s expression of boldness.
What do you think of the statue? Do you have a favorite piece of Chicago artwork?
2011 Recognition Recap by Jen Tatro
It’s been a busy summer for our office in many ways. Our account teams and our clients made a great showing this awards season, and we’re very excited to announce the full results:
· PRSA Silver Anvil, Reputation and Brand Management
· American Business Award, Communications/PR Campaign of the Year
· Platinum Hermes Awards, Communication Campaign and Company Branding
· Publicity Club of Chicago Golden Trumpet Award, Marketing
· IABC Chicago Golden Quill Award of Excellence
Kellogg School of Management
· PRSA Chicago Skyline Award, Events and Observances (Seven or Fewer Days)
· Publicity Club of Chicago Silver Trumpet Award, Special Events & Observances category
· PRSA Chicago Skyline Award, Blogger Campaign
· Gold Hermes Award, Social Media
· Publicity Club of Chicago Silver Trumpet Award, Marketing
Delta Faucet Company
· PRSA Chicago Skyline Award, Research/Evaluation category
· Gold Hermes Award, Research
As we’ve mentioned before, we’re very proud of the work we do at MSL Chicago. The awards we’ve won across our consumer and corporate teams illustrate how every single person in our office contributes to our success—and the success of our clients.
Congratulations to all our client winners and account teams for all of the national and regional awards won this year!
Getting to Know Chicago Through WOM by admin
As a student coming to Chicago for the summer from a small college town, I was immediately awe-struck by the innumerable options of summer festivals, events and concerts that I could choose from. Although I read about different events each weekend in local papers and on advertisements on the train, as a new-comer to this great city, I was unsure of which festivals to try.
I began opening my ears in the MSL Chicago office and asking my co-workers what their weekend plans were. I discovered the best source of information about Chicago’s abundance of events was right in front of me.
For example, Geralyn, our office manager, was my inspiration to attend the Chicago Blues Festival. She informed me it was the largest free blues festival in the world and located in nearby Grant Park. I was amazed at the huge number of event attendees, the many talented performers and the fun and energizing atmosphere.
I realized if I was relying on my co-workers and Chicago friends to find out the best summer festivals to attend, other people were probably doing the same. This got me thinking about the important of word-of-mouth marketing plays in promoting and creating successful events.
After doing some research, I found I am not the only person more likely to attend events my peers recommend than the events I see in advertisements. According to Adage.com:
- Up to 92 percent of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations, but only 24 percent trust online ads.
- A recommendation from a trusted friend conveying a relevant message is up to 50 times more likely to trigger a purchase compared to another recommendation.
Ultimately, I feel very lucky to be spending the summer in city with so many events to talk about and share with my friends. A few coming up I am looking forward to include:
- Sheffield Garden Walk and Festival: July 23-24
- Randolph Street Market: July 30-31
- And, of course, Lollapalooza: August 5-7
What are some of your favorite Chicago summertime events? What do you think about the growing importance of word of mouth marketing in today’s world?
Going into my senior year, I know my university has partly prepared me for the real world in PR. The question that comes to mind is: am I really prepared by my university degree alone? In all of my communication classes, the same messages were delivered, “Take all the internships you can for experience.” This is good advice by my professors, but aren’t classes supposed to be the main supplement of learning? I understand it is valuable to know theories and history of communication, but is it applicable during a brainstorming session or media pitch?
A large percent of what I apply to my internships I learned previously from past internships. Even though I do love my communication curriculum at my university, only a handful of the information is put in storage. The pertinent skills I learned in classes such as how to write a press release, use AP style, or pitch to the media have stuck with me when I walk into any internship.
However, I’m not just pointing fingers at the university I currently attend. Many public relations programs are set up similarly. The cookie cutter programs are hard to set up for an evolving field and students aren’t the only ones feeling the heat of change. Some professors may have a hard time keeping up with the new technologies and media programs available in agencies, but my professional peers taught me how to use the software programs I currently work with in my internship. Not only are they knowledgeable of the programs, they can teach me how I can best utilize it for clients I work with. That is why internships are (almost) required to be successful in a PR career. University programs miss information that is crucial for a recent college graduate that real-world professionals can teach effortlessly and quickly.
Senior Account Executive, Stephanie Lewis, at MSL Chicago gave her input on internships and university training:
“One minute you are running to bind presentations before a client meeting, and the next you are crafting a media list for a nationwide product launch – these intern tasks helped give a foundational understanding of all the boxes that have to be checked to execute a successful communications campaign, deliver excellent client service, and hone your skills as a professional.”
A focused PR student should know they can’t be fully prepared without a few internships under their belt. Classes alone really are not enough. I’ve found that students can also reach out to the Intern Queen, Lauren Berger, to gain advice on internships and even find them around their area.
What are the resources you use to learn more about internships and gaining real-world experience?
Search Advice: “Awesome Finds Awesome” by Jeffrey LeFevre
As you may recall from our search blog post back in April, Google has introduced a new social search platform: Google +1. With the recent public launch of Google +1, it undoubtedly became a topic of great discussion driving Social Media Club Chicago’s latest event on search and SEO. One comment from the night that really struck a chord with me was, “Start thinking less like a marketer, and more like a search engine”. As a marketer, I am perhaps a little overprotective of my craft; however, I firmly believe that that statement could not be farther from the truth.
As readers are shifting from consuming information through print outlets to online sources, search results and online readership has become arguably more important to media publications than even their print readership. PR practioners and marketers are now readily accounting for search as a daily responsibility, hiring staff with search and digital expertise; and regularly analyzing keywords and search results for their clients. Many agencies are now using this data on a daily basis to tailor press releases and messaging; and are producing digital press releases embedded with links and multimedia to help propel their clients to the top of the search results in their given categories.
The next big question then, is how social media will factor into this search evolution. With the incorporation of social media and Google +1 into search results, it seems like a natural progression that a user’s social media connections will have a hand in search algorithms. My personal belief is that a user’s network will soon directly affect a how a user’s search results are configured, delivering a set of search results specific only to that user.
For instance, if a consumer is searching online in a particular category – let’s say, mattresses – and his/her connections have recommended specific mattress brands over others; the user’s search results will then be rearranged to account for this information, rather than maintain a fixed sequence of search results with perhaps some Google +1 annotations, as search functions now. If this is indeed the case, companies will no longer be simply encouraged, but forced to engage in two-way conversations online, and take accountability for their brands. Otherwise, they will fall into the dreaded page two of Google’s search results (or worse).
To my earlier point, marketers and search engines are not separate, competing entities, but mutually beneficial, working to connect consumers with compatible results and brands. As described by panelist and BARBRI director, Sean McGinnis, “Be awesome; awesome finds awesome”; and brands need to recognize this (if they do not already) to remain relevant and engaged with consumers. Consumers expect brands to be genuine and connected with them, and search engines are taking notice.
So brands, “be awesome”, and awesome will find you.
Attracting Media to a Night of Glamour in the Name of Charity by Diana Rostkowski
In PR, you are often tasked to ensure that media show up to an event. Fortunately for me, getting media to the Glamorama launch party for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana (RMHC-CNI) was pretty straightforward since it was such a well-run event!
The launch party kicked off Glamorama 2011: an unforgettable night of high fashion and fierce performances to be held August 12 at the Chicago Theatre with performances by Cee Lo Green, known for the chart-topping hit “Forget You,” and the electro-pop quartet Far East Movement. Following Glamorama is an official after-party on the 7th floor of Macy’s at State Street. The best part? If you purchase your tickets online, 100 percent of the proceeds will go to RMHC-CNI.
As for the launch party, it went into the wee hours of that warm June Thursday. Hosted by Chicago Now’s Candace Collins Jordan, the launch event was hosted at Room 1520 and put together by the leadership of RMHC-CNI’s Christina Thomas. Guests, models, and media crowded the floors throughout the night enjoying the entertainment provided by the “Hip Hop Connection” dancers and musical guest, up-and-coming Chicago group “blah blah blah.”
RMHC-CNI did it right—they held a great launch event and really generated a lot of buzz for Glamorama 2011. Here are some elements to keep in mind for sure-fire ways that media will be in attendance at your event:
• Glamour: This was an exclusive event that made both the mainstream media and bloggers feel privileged to attend.
• Timing: The event was held in the evening, not at a prime morning news media hour. Fortunately, there was also no breaking news coverage in the local area happening at the time.
• Treats: Like any event, good munchies guarantee better attendance.
Grassroots Marketing: Changing Perceptions, One Person at a Time by Dawn McKenzie
How do you convince a consumer who doesn’t have your brand on their shopping list to take a second look? When the brand shifts from irrelevance to consideration, or even better, purchase, you know you’re making a difference. That is how our team feels as a result of the “Our Town, Our Heroes” grassroots campaign we launched with General Motors.
The program encourages the community to nominate someone who inspires them, the public votes, and the local hero with the most votes, and the nominator, receive a small prize package, including a one-week loan of an all-new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle. The team goes out of our way to make it about the hero, his or her story, and the success depends on the details.
At MSLGROUP, we talk about real-time engagement and the always-on conversation. We really harness that powerful energy here to remain vigilant, flexible and relevant. We connect with personal stories and even provide the finalists with an online toolkit to help them get the word out. They go on to generate their own online voting movement from status updates to creating Facebook events and blog posts. Media is interested too and helps spread the word. Once we have a winner, we make his or her first in-person experience with the vehicle extra special, often involving many of the key people who voted. Stories, photos and video are collected and shared, and more often then not, one positive experience leads to another.
One of our winning heroes, Estrella Rosenberg, recently published a post on her blog titled, “Our Town, Our Heroes: What Authentic CSR Feels Like.” She said the Heroes program works because there is strong brand alignment, it’s personal and it isn’t a heavy PR campaign. The finalists’ stories, the email feedback and the comments online demonstrate consumers are engaging with GM in ways they never have before. The survey results prove we’re moving the needle when it comes to opinion and consideration, and the requests for vehicle discount codes show we’re influencing purchase decisions.
Are you capitalizing on the power of grassroots? Here are some things to keep in mind:
• Have a good content strategy
• Give your community the tools to evangelize your brand
• Encourage rich member interaction
• Let the community drive their own course
• Give the community reasons to talk
What other pointers do you have to add to this list?
In Social Media, Nice Guys Don't Always Finish Last by Jeffrey LeFevre
At Social Media Club Chicago’s most recent event, I had the opportunity to meet New York Times best-selling author and former Yahoo! executive, Tim Sanders. As Sanders described to the crowd (see Today We Are Rich: Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence), rich is the belief that “you have enough to go around, enough to share. And when we share, we are worth something”.
In this Information Age of social media and the web, we not only have access to a wealth of information; but we also have a multitude of channels to share this information. Although Sanders comically admitted that “snarky people” get the most online traffic (to the amusement of the social media-savvy audience); in the long-term, he said it is only through genuine confidence and living positively that you can attain ultimate success in business and life.
Use your existing long-term friends, colleagues and supporters, and open up your work and knowledge to others. Overtime, you will be seen as a person of valuable insight and a rich source of information, (see Love is the Killer App). In the process, you will attain new knowledge from others and develop your network of personal (not to be confused with superficial) relationships: a philosophy that has equipped Sanders to rise above both personal and financial losses throughout his life.
I think social media can indeed be a powerful tool, but, “with great power comes great responsibility”. It is important to not lose sight of your technological wealth, harness your confidence, live life positively and share your knowledge; because, nice guys don’t always finish last.
New Facebook Update Potentially Replaces Need for Multiple Pages for a Single Brand by Matt Koppelman
First reported last week by Brian Honigman of Mashable, Facebook now features functionality for Page admins to better target posts for specific subsets of fans.
… in other words, only certain fans will see particular updates on the Page’s wall or on their own news feed.
… in other-other words, no longer will a brand need to have separate Pages for each campaign or geographic region (at least in theory).
Many brands have an international audience, some with language other than English, and accordingly, brands will split up their total audience to avoid peppering their fans with unusable or irrelevant information.
After all, one of the main rules of Fight Club… err, marketing (sometimes I get the two confused, true story) is relevant content to the right audience, and this has never been more true in the age of Like/+1s.
Fan Pages by language or location meet that a particular audience’s needs makes audiences very happy – though it requires an immense amount of coordination and time (which equals money no matter what industry you are in) to execute– and execute well.
With the enhanced post-targeting allowing Page admins to post geo- specifically to countries, states, provinces and cities, the need for multiple Pages could reduce so that a smaller amount of community managers can efficiently manage the same volume of updating.
Just off the cuff, the aggregate audience for posts regarding contests, competitions, sweepstakes and promotions – even couponing and grassroots initiatives and local events can now be housed under a single brand page instead of across multiple networks, cutting down on repeat work and increasing the ability to draw more data from fans.
… in theory.
On paper this makes sense on the brand side – the Social Habit 2011 report by Edison Research and Arbitron estimates social Media now reaches the majority of Americans 12+ , with Facebook profiles accounting for over half (51 percent) the total profiles- but how does this impact the agencies who manage a piece, but not all of a brand’s social media presence?
Central piece to the puzzle may be less about the agency’s willingness to manage the social media presence and more about the brand – do they see value in the decreased duplication of efforts managing multiple Pages when the net-net is that multiple agencies or organizations have to play nice in the same sandbox?
The nerd POV (we prefer “data-driven,” thank you very much) offers a secondary concern – what does this mean for the data that comes through these pages? Most of Facebook’s user data is not available to the multitude of third-party tools the way Twitter does, so will Facebook Insights keep up to speed in their ability to dissect an individual’s impact on traffic, engagement, etc.?
Facebook already allows individual pieces to splinter off based on the old-Tab-new-sidebar, so hopes are that the geographic-specific pieces can be housed here, thus be measured individually AND ladder up to the whole of the platform… but these big questions don’t matter unless functionality and buy-in meet up along the way.
… I believe an academic would call such an advance a function of innovation due to demand, so here’s hoping someone along the way calls for it, assuming Facebook hasn’t already thought of this prior to rolling it out.
How Important Is Online Privacy To You? by MacKenzie Burnham
I would say a large percentage of the social media population is addicted to its services. However, it is Facebook that we would blame if our boss saw a picture of us heavily indulging in a Bulls’ win the night before a pitch or we would certainly blame Foursquare if a creepy cube mate joined us for lunch after discovering our check-in location. We consume social media but we are the first to complain when our lack of privacy tends to affects our personal lives.
For example, Location Based Services (LBS), the mobile technology that leverages geographical positioning, are one of the most used technologies in the ever-evolving world of social media. Useful services such as GPS navigation, weather alerts, traffic updates, restaurant info, and of course, check-in games, all fall under the title LBS. While researching for our office’s recent Digital Power Hour, I came across some interesting privacy concerns regarding LBS and turned it into the following quiz question:
Q: Rank the concerns of LBS users in order from most to least concerning.
The correct answer (which stumped all of our attendees) is as follows (note the #1 concern):
A: 1. Privacy/Stalking
2. Not enough Deals/Coupons
3. Mobile Battery Drain
4. None of My Friends Use it
5. Waste of Time
Another privacy issue that really struck the office employees was in regards to a presentation on Google +1: Our audience initially thought Google +1 would show everyone what websites an individual had viewed, airing all of our Google-searching secrets. Our AE, Matt Koppelman, calmed the employees’ concerns by explaining that for Google +1 to work, an individual must make a Google profile and voluntarily select +1 so one’s friends can view their recommendation.
The results? Only 1 percent of contributors to the poll said they wouldn’t mind their search history to be viewed by others.
Google, Apple, Facebook, And Microsoft are no strangers to concerns regarding privacy safety, frequently appearing in the media over legal infringements. Facebook recently went as far as trying to hire a PR firm to draw attention to Google’s privacy practices (yeah- it didn’t go so well). Even the FCC and FTC are actively addressing LBS by holding a June forum amid growing concern about security and privacy for users of those applications.
Though we consumers believe we always have a right to our privacy, the evolution of technology will forever challenge the limitations to these rights.
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