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Ads surviving and thriving

Some 90% of smaller businesses plan on increasing their budgets for this year, according to a new study. While the widespread and increasingly effective role of semi-autonomous influencers focused on special media platforms continues growing apace, and more and more customers get their information on products and services from peer reviews, the direct messaging of ad campaigns remains very relevant for spearheading and reinforcing the key messages streaming in from a dizzying variety of sources.

 

Making a name for yourself

 

Over half of the firms surveyed reported allocating less than $US50,000 on ads. Industry experts aware of new trends maintain that the benefits of advertising remains high in order to stand up and be noticed in an era marked by diminishing consumer loyalty. In terms of age differentiation, while both Millennials and Baby Boomers stated support of ads, Baby Boomers, who were less saturated with ads as children, were somewhat less likely to find them necessary.

 

Social media is where it’s at

 

In terms of placement, preference was by far strongest for placing ads in social media, with buying ad space on Google search pages, banners and retargeted advertisements also being popular. The dramatic growth of online shopping helps fuel the trend for the increasing relevance of traditional ads placed in new places, via the Internet. At the same time, traditional – and expensive – means of advertising such as on billboards and at bus stands shows only modest usefulness in terms of the much greater dividends paid for ads placed online. Despite the growth of big data and potential for specific sales and cashback pledges, ads online and everywhere remain based around the fundamental concept of generating greater brand awareness.

 

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PR ethics for competition and communication

In this final edition in a short series of blogs on how the Public Relations Society of America’s Code of Ethics relates to online-based PR today, the concepts of furthering communication and competition are looked at. On the face of it, the nature of digital realities today make ‘competition’ and ‘communication’ rather synonymous and symbiotic, seemingly forever feeding each other in an endless round of healthy if at times barbed exchanges online, with no communication-inhibiting monopolization in sight thanks to the competitive nature of posts and counter-posts on Facebook, Trip Advisor and the like…

 

Beyond tit for tat

 

…Only that these social media platforms can become self-serving pedestals and alter the nature and purpose of communication carried out on them. The PRSA’s stated commitment to a free flow of information, are checked by societal forces that have always worked to crush competitive forces, for better or worse, which often links with the idea of limited or at least dramatically curtailed communication. Worse, the go-to biggies of the digital age like Google, Facebook and Mircosoft, while officially espousing free expression, have all come up into trouble for hindering the freedoms they claim they stand for. These three titans have faced, and fought, for example, enormous fines from the European Union, and have become accustomed to operating with few to no rivals. The democratizing forces of the Internet have come up against firewalls protecting multinational institutions, which are often the ones setting the new standards.

 

Is there still room for privacy?

 

While Facebook’s CEO famously derided the idea of privacy in the future, and censorship, facial recognition technology and other digital forces coalesce to serve the consolidation of power, signs of counterbalance are found in new messy norms which champion the peer reviews of the little guy and the growth of the next big-time Gen Z influencer. But as long the Information Age police are the information providers themselves, the whole point of digitalupgrades’ are called into question.

 

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Loyalty and fairness in the digital age

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) lists the noble but sometimes nebulous ideas of loyalty and fairness among their professional values in its Code of Ethics. Loyalty sounds (and is) great. But loyalty to what? And can or should loyalties be ranked? Broadening the issue, we see that brand loyalty has taken a hit in recent years, as the Information Age comes of age and generates more competition and price awareness. Fairness also has relative qualities as well, to be fair. The PRSA spells out loyalty as a quality to demonstrate both to clients represented by PR professionals and to the public interest. Only that the “public interest” may be more open to interpretation that loyalty…

 

Quantifying fairness

 

Fairness is defined as treating various parties that PR teams come into contact with “fairly”, and respecting different opinions and freedom of expression. A free flow of truthful information is also valued. In terms of effectively and fairly advocating for clients today, publicists have to be smarter and on message with excellent networks of contacts to retain what’s left of their influence, as they find it increasingly necessary to become “content marketers” and more analytical.

 

Integrity-based relations

 

The Code of Ethics references the need to have good relations with reporters (along with government officers and the public). These days, bloggers and posters are everywhere. Maintaining ethical, effective relations with such a growing pool of individuals coming from increasingly varied backgrounds and on an enormous scale presents new challenges. Indeed, by many measures today, most of us are members of the “media”, if we count posting on Facebook or Twitter. The nature of living up to the ethics espoused can become all the more challenging when considering how so much of the public is sharing their experiences with products and services. Just as the values that the PRSA are called on more, they can become more challenging to make sense of in terms of functionality, case by case and moment by moment, in an age where potential ethical dilemmas are constantly played out on social media platforms.

 

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PR at its core

The values listed in the Preamble of the Public Relations Society of America (PSRA) continue to provide timeless advice that can prove useful for navigating the uncertain seas of today’s world. Far from old-fashioned, they represent ideas that can provide clarity for professionals caught up in the spin cycle or find themselves outpaced by the digitally savvy or hyper-networked among rising influencers. For every move in which IT-focused, AI-enhanced protocol and big data threatens to disrupt traditional business patterns, the more innovations can arise for those prepared to take risks, if tethered to some of the most essential of key messages listed in the Preamble, a few of which are addressed here…

 

Advocacy

 

Advocacy often seems these days to have been subcontracted by default to influencers, customers writing peer reviews, social media platforms, and a Gen Z getting a feel for their algorithm-assisted moral compass and wanting companies to focus more on, for example, CSR and taking better care of the environment. PR firms increasingly need to up their game to remain relevant advocates for clients, by harnessing big data to analyze and accurately project spending patterns and the behavior of potential customers, and maintain and update better lists of new-gen publishers and persuaders with a finger on the pulse of today’s trends.

 

Honesty & Independence

 

Facts are everywhere these days, oftentimes therefore cheap, and yet in other instances harder to confirm thanks to the fake news phenomenon. The deeper and more meaningful facts will be carefully cultivated, not copy-pasted, and based on critical reasoning and analysis. And, needless to say, enticingly presented. As always, decisive and discreet selected sharing of information remains appropriate. Another listed PSRA value is the independence to provide counsel to whom one choses. As always, it pays to represent clients who are aligned with your own mission and have messages worth amplifying.

 

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In pursuit of wellness

A new report on leisure spending indicates that wellness tourism is growing more quickly than most other sectors in the hospitality industry. For PR professionals, the potential for cashing in is significant, particularly in the Asia-Pacific.

 

More income, more trips

 

A focus on wellness now accounts for about 6.5 percent of all holidays. This represents a growth rate of 15 percent since 2015, or a raw total of about 830 million trips worldwide. Significant growth in particular is being experienced in Asia. As money becomes more available and the region’s share of the global pie grows, lifestyle upgrades are becoming more affordable and the quest for downtime grows. This is led by the great economic expansion in China over the last 20 years. Yoga, Ayurveda, medical tourism, tai chi, temple-stays, swimming pools, cultural tours and massages are all part of the trend, in addition to entire venues exclusively dedicated to making one feel more balanced and in better physical and mental health.

 

Chinese-led growth

 

Tourists from China are expected to add up to almost a third of the global travel market within 10 years. Chinese are already the planet’s largest group of spenders, infusing some $258 billion each year to the global economy. On the receiving end, China is also anticipated to the top destination country for travelers within a few years. China’s dominant “9-9-6” work culture, in which employees are expected to work from 9am – 9pm, six days straight, fuels the need for vacations that are relaxing and then return you to work in tip-top condition.

 

Girl power, magnified

 

Women are leading the demands for more relaxation. This includes time away from the annoyances and pressures of men on female-only vacations, which have grown in popularity by 200% in recent years. Women are wealthier, less likely to marry and have kids, and thus more likely to pamper themselves than ever before, as socio-economic shifts lead to more lifestyle-friendly travels. This ties into traditional market forces (think 500 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets) appealing to women in spa settings and amplified retail therapy, with wellness products and services in increasing demand.

 

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Reinforcing the PR side of PR

Everyone appreciates praise. Yet the art of flattery and persuasion, even in the age of influencers, often seems to have taken a hit. There’s a distinctively impersonal, IT/AI feel to social media, due to its basis on connectivity which takes place without face-to-face interactions. Publicists proud of their lists of and links to influential people would do well to take a pause and ask themselves what their philosophy on relating to people is based on.

 

Online, but not all the time

 

Genuinely glowing reviews often bring in more revenue than well-placed advertisements. Persuading customers and potential buyers to leave behind a few heartfelt words helps generate future sales and better ROI. Money can’t buy this. Prospective buyers are more influenced by peer reviews and storytelling than ever before. So by all means, get your stories out there, spread and shared not just via algorithms and “Likes” but at water coolers and dinner tables.

 

Relating to the public

 

When negative reviews come or damage control is needed these soft or people skills are all the more essential. Getting people to write or otherwise share nice words about you is more of something friends do for each other, not clients of colleagues, no matter how financially valuable the relationship. Goodwill is largely based on other values, even when the bottom line factors in.

 

Online more of the time

 

That being said, do be practical and digital, of course. Maintaining a strong online presence is something PR firms should do and should ask their clients to do as well. It’s an ideal way of spreading good vibes and messages these days, of course.

 

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Trust generally, verify occasionally

Consumers in the US are concerned about the quality of food they are eating, but not going out of their way to look into production practices of agribusinesses — not that it was ever easy to discover the truth about food safety, of course.

 

Gluten-free? You tell me

 

Opinion was split about half and half over whether consumer food guidelines were useful and practical, or confusing and not having much relevance to the average investigative eater. Most consumers reported putting at least some small effort into trying to figure out more about food safety, but a full third did very little to no research at all.

 

Second opinions valued

 

The classic approach of consulting informed non-stakeholders into what insight they have on the matter was valued by around 80% of consumers, who were much more likely to trust key third-party certifying bodies or governmental agencies than the producers of food products themselves. Just under half of respondents threw caution to the wind and bought and consumed a product they felt they had doubts about in regards to safety, health or nutrition. Only a third of respondents thought much about the validity of claims made by celebrities or influencers.

 

You are what you eat

 

Compounding the issue was that even though most consumers reported general trust in the safety of what they were eating, it can be challenging to truly know what you are eating, since the potential of big data has done little so far to help trace the multiple origins, production histories and assemblage of the various components going into the foods we eat.

 

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Millennials maximizing their online shopping potential

Reacting with gusto to the dramatically evolving patterns for spending money via the Internet, Millennials are spending like no other generation before them. New research indicates that those born in the ’80s and ’90s are outspending any other age group – both in stores and online.

 

Letting go of money

 

The study show that Millennials are the most likely of generations to drop $50 in the US or 50£ in the UK when they have a chance to so, no matter if shopping at home online or in person in the actual store. Generation Xers and Baby Boomers are not spending quite as much as the latest generation to have fully evolved into adulthood. Most likely, once Gen Z fully comes of age, this fully digital native batch will lead the pack in spending as well, as indicated by statistics on those born in the new century who have already joined the workforce and are spending like it.

 

Brand loyalty

 

By a small margin, young people of the Millennial generation are also most likely among the age groups surveyed to support particular companies when they felt their products, services and mission were aligned with their own. Millennials are also more likely to add more items into online carts when they are satisfied by the services provided by a company they like.

 

Subscription box boost

 

In the US, more subscription box business models for starting online income generation based around a particular niche were more popular than in the UK. The trend carried through for all generations. This popular multi-step model outlines how to go from idea to income, based on one’s Internet connectivity and networking skills for finding customers and giving them what they want.

 

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Welcome to your home away from home

Accepting new employees into the work culture of your office is a test of if a company to apply core beliefs fairly to everyone. Does the mission statement really reflect the higher reality or do cliques and corruption have more clout? The answer can be found in instances like when new employees are onboarded. Here are a few ways to show how welcoming newcomers can help enhance commitment to the right kind of corporate values.

 

Keep it stylish

 

A sense of fun can do wonders, as offices become more homes and coworkers like family members, in ways where overlapping is possible, depending on the organization. Examples of infusing casual rhythms of relaxation can come, for example, through encouraging freedom of expression through allowing employees to decorate and personalize their office space as they like. Making the home away from home closer to home itself can boost morale and productivity.

 

Bond with me

 

Company evenings and outings allow members from different departments to mingle and engage in ways based on light-hearted conversation and entertainment in memorable points of connection that create deeper relations and a sense of trust.

 

Hear my voice

 

In meetings and in consultations with work teams, and clients too whenever possible, ask new employees for their feedback and opinions. Encourage them to speak out and share what they think and have personal sessions to further prove the point.

 

Meet the family

 

Bosses who make the effort to go over and meet new employees at their homes or invite them to theirs show in dramatic ways that newcomers are very much a part of the family. This attention to detail and high level of personalization of course also can pay dividends in cases where the personal touch can go far in impressing clients as well.

 

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How to maximize your megaphone

Congratulations on the publication of your article! Is your PR placement online, in print or both? Have you emailed it to the right people and broadcast it far and wide on social media? PR placements play a vital role, but limited bandwidth and a greater number of competitors facing the same concerns means that audiences are smaller, so you’ll have to push more buttons to have the same effect as yesteryear.

 

Resend, and make it resendable

 

The go-to way of spreading messages for PR firms and just about everyone else who want to be heard is of course online, and that of course means efficiently using the right social media platforms. Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are the key places to focus on. Make sure to tap the right influencers for enhancing your key message in your placement, so a wider range of followers and potential customers can be reached. Both quality and quantity matter in terms of platforms for effectively dispersing matters whenever you are extending the reach of an article, advertorial, advertisement or other campaign material with a message people want to hear or you want them to hear.

 

Go ahead, paraphrase

 

Short and effective rewrites are easy ways of enhancing main messages with a minimum amount of work that goes far, and maximizes SEO potential, while drawing a greater range of data seekers to your article. Just about everything except for the link can be worded differently. Similarly, original 1-2 sentence summaries with a link to the original article can be placed on various social media sites to boost readership.

 

Your good work on display

 

In a world logged on, an unplugged, classic and professional approach stands out in unique and powerful ways. Easels, frames for walls and portfolios are just a few ways of enhancing easy and elegant access to attractively presented PR placements, without needing to open your smartphone or laptop.

 

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