Poor Kazahkstan. Another Public Relations Blunder.

At a recent medal ceremony,  the host country, Kuwait,  played the national anthem of Kazakhstan. Except, oops, it wasn’t the true national anthem it was one done by actor Sasha Cohen as his character Borat.

Here is the real Kazakhstan National Anthem

The Borat anthem was accidentally played by organizers at a medal ceremony at the Arab Shooting Championships. Gold medalist Maria Dmitrienko stood on the podium looking bemused at the mix-up, which was described as a “scandal” by Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Ilyas Omarov.

The false anthem – which extols Kazakhstan’s potassium and prostitutes and memorably contains the line “Kazakhstan – greatest country in the world, all other countries are run by little girls” – was played in the 2006 movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

Quote from The Atlantic.

Former Soviet Kazakhstan is Central Asia’s largest economy and hopes to become one of the world’s top energy exporters by 2020.

 

Reason Rally. Poor Reason in The Decision to Invite Westboro Church.

The Reason Rally has been self-billed as “the largest secular event in world history.” Atheists gathered yesterday in Washington D.C. to rally in support of  secularism.  I am all for their freedom to do this and even encourage it. I am always for someone bringing their “beliefs” into the light of day for those beliefs to be examined.  (I say “beliefs” because several of my atheist friends would rail against it this term, though it holds).

However, I cannot respect the Reason Rally’s proactive invitation of Westboro Baptist Church to be the face of Christianity. The decision to invite Westboro Baptist Church was not done in ignorance, but utterly disingenuous. It is akin to doing a multi-faith conference and saying, “We need someone to represent Islam, but who could we call to we make sure it is not seriously considered? Let’s call Al Qaeda.”

The decision to invite Westboro reveals a degree of fear or a lack of commitment to reason. Are the Reason Rally not confident their belief system will stand up to the best philosophical thinkers within Christianity? Why wasn’t William Layne Craig, Alistair McGrath, or other faith “heavyweights” invited? Anthony Flew would have been delicious had he still been living. I have lots of atheist friends and others with whom I interact. When dialoging with them, I want them to put forward their best thinkers, even if those thinkers responsibly assail my belief system full force. The Westboro crowd neither thinks nor acts responsibly.

The invitation was admittedly done as a publicity stunt. It is unfortunate that the conversation between those of faith who utilize rational philosophical argument and those rationalists who claim to eschew any need of faith was not better fostered. Maybe the Reason Rally was not the best public square in which to have this conversation, but inviting Westboro Baptist ensured it would be even less so. If the atheists want to change their image, they should engage the best Christian thinkers, not the worst.

So, my atheist friends, let us have the best possible dialog possible in the the arena of the civil public square. Please feel to comment.

Why the Different Headlines?

Ten sources chose very different headlines in response to a recent medical study. Which headline you read could, in this case, be a matter of life or death. Read the article I authored at Miller Public Relations.

Writing your headlines matters. Get it concise, accurate and yes, attention grabbing.

How Are People’s Brains Experiencing Your Brand?

Is your brand dopamine friendly? Read my recent article for Miller Public Relations and find out.

Creative Cover Letter Gets Results

Click to open in your web browser. Click to magnify if necessary.

The job market is still tough. You must do something to break through the drudgery a hiring manager is experiencing as he goes through cover letter after bland cover letter. (Trust me, I just read through 80 resumes for a position we needed filled).

My recent job landing came through unique efforts and opportunities. It all started with my creative cover letter.

I was determined to have a unique, humorous approach to my job search. I started a temporary Facebook account in which I loaded in the content I wanted, did a screen capture. I then edited the screen capture with Photoshop mock-up of a Facebook wall and used humorous status updates that reflected the true value I could bring as employee. After converting this to a pdf, I then attached this creative cover letter to my traditional cover letter, and my resume and began launching it out. I made sure the title on the pdf file of the creative cover letter had a catchy title. I experimented with different titles including Whacky Cover Letter, Unorthodox Cover Letter, Funny Cover Letter, Facebook Cover Letter,etc. on different launches.

The Results

I had for some time sent out a serious cover letter and resume into the black hole of monster.com. Five days after creating the cover letter, I, on a whim, decided to check craigslist for some freelance copywriting opportunities. I came across the opportunity for a social media manager position at a mid-cities public relations agency. I shot my creative cover letter out on a Saturday  morning and within 15 minutes had a call back from the company COO. He asked if I could come into their boutique public relations firm for an interview for their social media manager position. During the interview, it didn’t take long for me and the COO to realize I was a “wee bit” overqualified for the position. As we ended our interview, the COO mentioned that he felt for some reason, I really needed to meet his wife, the company CEO. Two days later that meeting happened, and she led off the conversation saying the creativity visible in the cover letter compelled her to meet with me. Her staff had vetted me and she was impressed. I was made an offer on the spot to become Senior Account Executive.

Lessons to draw upon.

Be creative. Do something to set yourself apart. Consider an add-on to your traditional cover letter.

Be willing to use atypical channels (yes, craiglist even).

Don’t fall into the myth that you have to know someone within the company. While it does help, it isn’t always necessary. I had absolutely no connections to anyone within the public relations firm.

Keep up your hope with hope (help one person everyday while you job searching).

Take the interview even if it is a company you’d like to work with but not the exact position you desire. On the other hand, if it is the exact position you want but in a company you’d never want to work for, skip it, unless you merely want to practice interviewing. Get in the door of your preferred companies or businesses, shine in the interview, and trust God with the details.

Marketing Math–Are You Using It?

(or How To Stop Believing Marketing Gibberish)

Use this  Marketing Math Made Simple chart to improve your marketing efforts by bringing them into the real, harsh world of P&L, expenses, and cashflow. The mere mention of these terms gives marketers the willies, yet this is what keeps business owners up at night.

Here is Marketing Math Made Simple:

Profits, Revenue and Expenses

The goal of business is to make a difference in the world while earning maximum profit. I know some forgo the “make a difference world” piece; they shouldn’t. The only way to increase profit is 1) increase revenue or 2) decrease expenses.

Marketing is not an investment.

While many marketers will use the term return on investment when referring to marketing, in its truest sense, this is incorrect. In an investment, you place principal into things–stocks, businesses, oil wells–that return dividends on the leverage of your principal. At the end of the investment, you earn back your principal plus dividends (unless it all went south, of course).  The object invested in can be sold if necessary to get a return of principal–house, oil well, stocks. This is not how marketing works.

Marketing is an expense.

When you buy a print ad, radio spot, or Facebook ad, your “principal” is forever gone. You cannot resale the ad or spot. Good business owners realize marketing is a necessary expense of doing business–like a computer, or staff, or stationery. It is tempting for marketing people to try to sell their services as an investment. “Would you like to invest in your business?” sounds like a much better selling point than, “Would you like to incur some new expenses?”But better-pitch-point does not equal true.

Some expenses are good expenses.

Buying  new computers when your old ones won’t compute the task at hand without smoking, sputtering and wasting time, good expense. Spending money on new staff when your current staff is overloaded and you’ve tried less expensive efficiency tools (project management software, shock collars, etc.), good expense. Staying in a five-star hotel on business trips, bad expense. Good expenses open up the funnel of potential business growth and reduce the bottleneck of inefficiency. Bad expenses are silly.

Profit is the true measure.

The crux of Marketing Math Made Simple is that profit should increase at a greater rate than the associated marketing expenses. Granted it will take time for marketing to have affect. Some marketers and business owners will allow marketing expenses to accumulate ad infinitum without ever seeing a increase in profit. If so, marketing becomes a bad expense.

How We Use Marketing Math in Our Approach at Jordan P. Fowler Consulting

If you spend any time around us, you will quickly pick up on our evidenced based business development and marketing approach. While we may use the terms “brand awareness,” “increased followers” and other marketing speak, we realize they are never the end game.

The only measure of successful marketing is INCREASED PROFITS resulting from a growth of revenue that outpaces marketing expenses incurred. 

1. We conduct a BeFogFree exercise.

This provide incredible clarity of your unique core values and make key business model adjustments before amplifying your core uniqueness through marketing. (Read more on BeFogFree).

2. We establish a clear “You are Here” profit metric.

We determine your present metric of profit, revenue, and expenses. If this is not known, progress cannot be measured.

3. We conduct an efficiency study to reduce expenses and eliminate headaches.

We assess your current business systems and processes, making efficiency recommendations to reduce operating expenses and ready you for increased growth as a result of your marketing. This helps eliminates those nagging business headaches.

4.We set marketing budgets together.

We sit down with you to determine what market expenses you can incur that make good sense based upon our marketing research (consumer, competitor, etc.) allowing us to finance the best marketing strategies possible.

5. We share your comprehensive strategic report.

The results of 1-5 are presented to you in our Comprehensive Strategic Report including our BeFogFree findings, Headache Eliminators, and Value Amplifying marketing strategy. At this time we set an official date for a formal progress review to see if your Marketing Success Ratio has increased and by what degree. Rest assured that we are monitoring this throughout the process

6. We execute the marketing strategies, amplifying your value.

Upon your approval we create the need marketing products (ads, website, social media sites, etc) measuring and tracking results in partnership with you and your staff. We take your unique, distinct value and crank it to 11 for the world to hear.

7. We do our formal review.

This is where the evidence that your marketing is working becomes empirically clear . We analyze your initial Marketing Success Ratio versus current Marketing Success Ratio versus our goal for improvement in the ratio.

a. If the desired improvement in the ratio is not achieved, we check to see if more leads have been generated. If they have, we work with you to close the breakdown gap on your end with customer service staff training, additional operations analysis, etc.

b. If you haven’t received more leads, we can adjust or marketing strategies or we invite you to fire us! Not many marketing agencies will give you that invitation–we do.

8. We repeat steps 3-7.

We invite you to call us at 817-889-1487 to set up a free consultation to see how our proven business development and marketing process can increase your profits and provide you more peace of mind and sanity.

Why Marketing Folks Are Often Discounted as Flakes

Read this article via fournaisegroup.com in which 73% of CEO’s think their marketing people are a bit flaky. As someone who bridges the marketing and business development gap, I concur to a large degree, preferring an evidenced outcome based assessment model versus a brand awareness model of measurement on the expense of advertising. Here are a few of their findings:

The top issues CEOs have with their Marketers are:

(1) They keep on talking about brand, brand values, brand equity and other similar parameters that their top management has great difficulties linking back to results that really matter: revenue, sales, EBIT or even market valuation (77%)

(2) They focus too much on the latest marketing trends such as social media, because they believe they represent the new marketing frontiers – but can rarely demonstrate how these trends will help them generate more business for the company (74%)

(3) When asked to increase their Marketing ROI, they tend to understand it as cost cutting through better economies of scale or negotiations with their third-party partners and agencies, instead of top-line growth generation: more revenue, more sales, more prospects, more buyers (73%)

(4) They are always asking for more money, but can rarely explain how much incremental business this money will generate (72%)

(5) They bombard their stakeholders with marketing data that hardly relate to or mean anything for the company’s P&L (70%)

(6) Unlike CFOs and Sales Forces, they don’t think enough like businesspeople: they focus too much on the creative, “arty” and “fluffy” side of marketing and not enough on its business science, and rely too much on their ad agencies to come up with the next big idea (67%)

The worrying part: while 73% of CEOs think Marketers lack business credibility and are not effectiveness-focused enough to generate incremental customer demand, 69% of the Marketers Fournaise talked to feel their strategies and campaigns do make an impact on the company’s business, even though they can’t precisely quantify or prove it – confirming the great CEO-Marketers disconnect.

We prefer a the CEO’s measurements and demand for outcome based results but believe in using as much creativity as possible to achieve those results. Profits are the 0x and creativity is the cart (or horse and carriage if you roll that way). The fact that the company has profits allows marketers to use a portion of those profits to fund their creativity. Oftentimes, marketers think of this in reverse order. It can become tempting to think that a product or service exists because we market it. In actuality, we can market because their is a product or service that exists to be promoted. Thus, marketers should speak and measure in these terms as well as traditional marketing terminology:

 1) Profits and sale. Profits are to be the first line of evaluation at all times (or outcomes for nonprofits). Always track company profits versus marketing efforts. Even if direct causation cannot be tracked, strong correlation should be seen.

2) Qualified leads increased and delivered to sales force. If you are not finding out the media in which captured the people calling sales, you are failing in a huge part of your marketing responsibilities.

3) Forward moving conversions (example, increase of x% of number of Facebook friends who made purchases).

4) Referrals generated resulting in new qualified leads. Are any marketing efforts resulting in making our existing customers more prone to refer.

5) Specific revenue generation vs. expense from specific mediums, even better specific campaigns and ads

6) Hard metric profit/sales increase goals. You need to be judged and critiqued like every other operating sector within the business. Theses should be specific, bound in time and number and outcome rather than output based.

Second to this are things like consumer brand awareness, social media follower counts, page visits. Three hundred new Facebook friends who never convert to purchasers do  little good in convincing your CEO that their marketing expenses are valid expenses.

So marketers, learn business-ese and you’ll find your CXO’s will view your department as less flaky and be willing to increase your budgets.

Should Walmart be Your Primary Care Doctor?

A link to the article I wrote on the Miller Public Relations’ blog reacting to the news that Walmart is desiring to be a giant in the primary healthcare provider game.

A Christmas Video of Hope: Don’t Miss This

Taking a break for all the strategic marketing talk to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas! I want to share this video with you as a true reminder of the meaning of Christmas.

Jesus Christ left the riches of heaven to come to the squalor of earth, lived a life in perfect obedience and union with the Father. He was crucified to undo the sinful affects of the Fall and our own failures, was buried, and resurrected from the dead. He now sits at the right hand of the Father as our advocate. He will return to establish a new earth. (If this all sounds farfetched see tomorrow’s post on great reads on the rationality of Christianity). This was not merely to perform an act within history, but so that you and I could be ADOPTED into a new spiritual family. If you are a Jesus follower, celebrate your radical adoption like Meredith, with overflowing gratitude.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of iadoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ… The Apostle Paul Romans 8

Church and Public Relations Challenges — Some Questions

Churches are filled with people. People who fill churches are imperfect. Their is only one perfect person. His name is Jesus. Yet those outside the Church seem to think that those inside should be perfect or near perfect, an impossible task. This is not the Gospel the church preaches. Followers of Jesus are to strive, empowered by God, to press toward the high calling of Christ Jesus but they will never arrive anywhere near perfection in this lifetime. (Philippians 3:12-14) Thus, the potential for a true public relations challenge when these people, who trust in Jesus’ vicarious sacrifice for their perfection, fall short–especially when it is the staff member of a church. How does the church communicate in a way that is true, beneficial, and necessary?

A Case Study

Recently a prominent mega-church had to terminate their student pastor for improper conduct. It was alleged, and strong evidence produced, that he had an inordinate amount electronic contact with a woman other than his wife. He denied that anything other than that the e-correspondence had occurred. I will not go into more detail, as it is not crucial to the argument. I also will name neither the church nor the individual staff member as it is unimportant to my point, and in fact could be contra-biblical.

What was the Public Relations response of the church?

This church terminated the staff member. They then chose to hold a meeting with its students and their parents where the lead pastor clearly outlined the case for dismissal. He did this tactfully yet providing clear evidence for the firing. This called meeting was the right move in both the biblical and public relations sense. As the staff member in question, according to church, had not yet fully acknowledged and repented of his behavior, denying it for a long period of time even at direct confrontation, the church family rightly was made aware of the reasons for termination. If he had come forward, himself, with a repentant heart, another tact in the disclosure could have been taken while maintaining the biblical instruction in this regard. (I am not commenting on the point of dismissal here, but the nature of its disclosure.)

The message the lead pastor made that night to the church family that night was on target, and thoroughly lined up with the biblical mandates given the situation.

Did this church go wrong PR wise?

Did this church make a biblical and public relations mistake in what it did with that message? It posted a video of the message for open, public viewing on its website. Then at least one of its staff members tweeted the link to the video, announcing its presence to his numerous followers outside their inner church family. While I am not for subterfuge or opaquing, was this  an inner-family dialogue that should not be on the open internet?

What if?

What if a full disclosure could have been made to the church family by emailing out a private link to the video for those unable to attend the meeting requesting they view the link rather than public tweets and notices? What if a more general statement could have been made to the press if there was inquiry? While the link could have made its way public by any of its receivers, it is obvious that the hearers listened to request of the pastor, as the internet is not full of gossip regarding this situation. This private invitation would also line up with Matthew 18 where the church is told to bring it before the church family and the spirit of I Corinthians 6.

Would this be comparable to the Catholic Church’s public relations debacle? No, a full disclosure would have been made to pertinent and necessary parties, the church membership. This is in stark contrast to the unwillingness of the Catholic Church to acknowledge their serious problem to even their own parishioners.

Would not making this announcement public have stopped those outside the church seeing the Gospel at work? Perhaps, as the lead pastor did an excellent job explaining how grace works. His prime emphasis did not appear to be “we were right in all that we did, so ‘take that’ any who would dissent from our actions.” This, unfortunately, is often the motive of the imperfect people, including leadership in some churches, resulting in the public flagellation of its staff for only covering-our-butts reasons. Not the case here. The Gospel was present.

What if the staff member would have made the initial approach to lead staff  with full disclosure and a repentant heart? A much different announcement could have been made to the church family, much less specific in nature.

Can this individual ultimately return to ministry? This individual is not exempt nor pardoned from ministry now, as that is simply not an option for a Jesus follower. This is true for whatever reason he or she leaves full-time ministry–for personal sanity, moral issues, or otherwise.  It will simply look different in that he or she won’t earn a paycheck from the ministry that God has called them to. One of the best ways to heal is to continue to reach out to others, specifically the hurting even when you are yourself, with the good news seen in Jesus. Nor does it mean that he or she will never be able to be in full-time ministry again.

What other actions should be taken? If the church chooses to leave the video posted for viewing, it should be for a very limited period of time. (I have no clue as to whether this is their intent or not.) To leave it up ad infinitum is not necessary or beneficial for the church or the former staff member.

Concluding Thoughts

All in all, this church did an excellent job communicating a difficult circumstance. This especially considering that they were not sure of the response of the released party, as it outwardly appears he never fully admitted to the behavior in question. The church is full of imperfect people seeking to have the perfection of Jesus credited to them through His death, burial and resurrection. No one in the church will ever be perfect. As such, our communication and public relations as Christians will never be perfect either.

Do you agree or disagree with these thoughts? I am open for dialogue. (Notice: If you name names, your comment will not be approved.)

 

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