Events

Share Your Company’s Untold Story

In Case You Missed It… An Overview of our March Networking Luncheon!

A C-level exec I used to work under recently posted this question here on LinkedIn:

WHY? What are some reasons you go to a cybersecurity company? My marketing team asked me that question. I said “to get better at being secure.” Apparently that is not the right answer – so I am asking you – why do you go?

The responses were logical: Because they don’t know what they don’t know. Because of fear. To compensate for weaknesses in their business model. To mitigate risk.

My response was a little different – because my professional focus is communications and engagement, and because I had just attended Doug Busk’s presentation at IABC Atlanta’s March luncheon.

I sketched a story about scary people who work every day to get the information an organization holds about its amazing customers. And how the awesome people at the cybersecurity company do cool, innovative things to protect that information from the bad guys so that the organization’s customers are happy and can read stories to their kids at night.

I hope that Doug, who’s Managing Director at MSLGROUP in Atlanta, would approve.

“Discover your company’s untold story.”

Doug explained to attendees that every company, no matter how big, boring, simple or predictable, has an interesting brand story. Today’s successful communicators and marketers draw out and broadcast the story, making the audience want to be part of it. That relationship is what converts marketing metrics (impressions and likes) into executive metrics (engagement and corporate reputation) that drive the company’s mission.

“Move the ball of corporate reputation by telling stories.”

Real, true stories that reflect a company’s priorities also humanize it. They make it likable. And people want to buy from companies that they like.

Doug encouraged us to experiment with fun and new ways of sharing the stories. Document “the story behind the story.” Try out an emerging social platform. Go into the company’s team to source ideas. While some strategies may prove ineffective, Doug [who is clearly king of the marketing quips] reminded us that we must “test and fail to learn and scale.” A useful method for testing is to couple a small, strong team with smart freelancers who know the tool or process being tested. This enables quick iteration without commitment.

Companies also must bravely partner with the outside world to share the story. Create a web page with timely, ready to use content and images. Give journalists ideas, content, breaking news. Encourage employees to brag about your company. Document your process for quickly responding to breaking news about your company or industry.

Remember the C-level who asked the question at the beginning of this article? The reasons a customer might turn to a cyber-security are multi-fold, but, in the end, not nearly as interesting as the story that draws them there. As Doug pointed out, what matters is the journey there. With that in mind, a smart marketer on my colleague’s team might have responded with: “Because I lost my last job when 1,000 employees’ personal data files were hacked.” That is a story.

Author’s Note: Suzanne O’Brien works with businesses and organizations to design and execute informational, inspirational and educational initiatives that promote stakeholder experience and satisfaction. Her work is grounded in the conviction that collaborative and creative design yields effective and sustainable solutions.

IABC Atlanta Golden Flame Award Winners Share How to Win!

In Case You Missed It… An Overview of our February Networking Luncheon!

There’s a simple recipe for winning a communications project award:

An award-winning communications project entry describes a complete strategy with defined objectives that were measured early and often and then achieved or exceeded.

While simple to define, naturally, the execution is the challenge. And that’s where IABC Atlanta’s February luncheon attendees received not just a few tips, but a wealth of great information. Eric Berrios, VP of Professional Recognition for IABC Atlanta and Director of Strategic Planning at Realm, facilitated a panel of 2017 IABC Atlanta Golden Flames Awards winners as they briefed us on their companies’ award-winning projects and shared entry creation tips.

Andrea Dempsey from Newell Brands presented the strategy for her team’s social media management of the 2017 Bassmaster Classic, a three-day fishing tournament.

The team’s success was rooted in extensive planning (and contingency planning). They prepared video, image, and written content based on anticipated scenarios. During the event, the content was deployed and recycled according to real-time changes.

“Just because your event will be unpredictable doesn’t mean you should plan less,” said Dempsey. “If anything, you should plan more.”

Newell Brands also found high value in leveraging platform tools such as geo-targeted Facebook and Twitter ads to personalize communication with interested audiences.

Lee Birdsong presented Southern Company’s creation of an updated corporate brand. Their objective was to develop a contemporary brand that is tied closely to company strategy and recognizes the company’s recent and future growth along with its energy sector leadership.

The team interviewed and surveyed stakeholders, evaluated and questioned the answers, summarized what they had learned, and shared it with the design team. Birdsong emphasized revisiting project and company objectives as each project decision is encountered so that the project remains on target.

After many iterations, the Southern Company team landed on a brand and logo that, even to a layperson, clearly met the objectives defined at the beginning of the project.

A comprehensive internal and external rollout solidified the project. Their primary focus was on internal audiences, though. “When you get employees to be ambassadors of your brand, they will be ambassadors to your community,” said Birdsong.

Swati Joshi of GE Power and Thom Gonyeau of Mountain View Group partnered to create the Golden Flames Best in Show award winner, an anthem video for GE’s Power Services.

“Our goal was to capture the hearts and minds of our customers and employees,” said Joshi. That meant creating a video that appealed to and reflected the company’s global presence. So the team traveled across the world for footage and included all types of stakeholders in the video – employees, customers, and end users of their services.

Joshi and Gonyeau emphasized the value of high production quality and creating an emotional connection with the audience. They agreed with the rest of the panel that a clear strategy, message, and measurable objectives are key to success.

For more about the luncheon panelists and 2017 IABC Atlanta Golden Flame winners, visit the IABC event page.

Photos by Leland Holder of Leland on Location.

Author’s Note: Suzanne O’Brien works with businesses and organizations to design and execute informational, inspirational and educational initiatives that promote stakeholder experience and satisfaction. Her work is grounded in the conviction that collaborative and creative design yields effective and sustainable solutions.

In Case You Missed It…

Define a Company’s Cause to Build a Powerful Pitch

About the Author: Suzanne O’Brien works with organizations seeking stronger customer relationships to increase satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. Visit evergreenc.com.

Corporations face significant challenges in communicating their message: verbose complexity, lack of differentiation, and mixed messages. But distilling an entire company’s offerings into a succinct message is challenging.

Enter Ben Reed, Partner and Co-Founder at PitchMaps. At IABC/Atlanta’s monthly luncheon on March 28, Ben presented Find Your Message: How To Drive Growth With Better Sales & Marketing Messaging. Or in short, “how to get the words right” for your business – words that resonate with existing and prospective customers on a gut and emotional level.

So often, complicated problems are most easily solved by applying a simple but sound framework. A PitchMaps solution derives from an excellent example: the “Company/Cause Framework” in which you “know your ‘Cause’” to “create your pitch.”

First, identify the company’s Cause: the rally cry, purpose, stake in the ground that describes why the company exists. Drill down in discussions with the full range of relevant stakeholders: employees, customers, prospective (and even lost) customers, and vendor partners. Look at competitors’ offerings and conversely, industry whitespace.

Determine the key challenge that the company is addressing in an inspirational way.

Then build a creative yet direct company tagline or themeline that reflects the Cause. Think “Just Do It” from Nike: authentic, inspirational, and enduring but also informational.

Finally, build the company pitch around the Cause. It starts with a simple, jargon-free definition of what the company does. Then comes an eye-opener: a startling, memorable piece of information about what’s going on in the customer’s world. Follow with the solution pillars: the company’s key differentiators, framed from a customer, solution-focused perspective. Give a reason to believe: proof that company can deliver on its promise. Close by suggesting a next step to continue the conversation.

PitchMaps has found the process of carefully determining a company’s Cause and incorporating it into its messaging creates a powerful, effective pitch. To learn more, visit pitchmaps.com.


Thank you to IABC/Atlanta member TrueLanguage business translation services for sponsoring the luncheon.