What Strategists Might Not Have Taught You About Insights

by KGBTexas Admin on August 7, 2014

When I first started out, strategists, called account planners back in the day, were defined as the finders of the golden nuggets/piercing insights/human truths.  We were taught to judge our insight discoveries as something akin to discovering the meaning of Stonehenge.

These insights, we were told, were only good if they drastically changed people’s understanding of the world around them, their own self-perceptions and/or their perception and understanding of your client’s product.  With all due respect to those who taught me (or my own youthful naiveté), YOU LIED!

While these insights do exist and we find them every once in awhile, these types of insights are like really great albums—most artists only have a few in them over the course of their career.

I’m not saying that as a profession, strategy fails miserably daily.  Instead, I’m saying that while we should always strive to find those Holy Grails, we should also recognize that there are also other judging criteria to assess our insights.

Here are a few of mine:

1. Does it turn your head?

I had a dog once that would go crazy every time I’d ask her if she wanted to go for a walk.  Before a complete tail wagging frenzy, she’d always cock her head to the side to signify “Did I just hear you right?  A WALK?!?!?!”

got-milk-logoIf an insight causes a human to respond similarly, go with it.  You’re probably on to something.  These insights cause us to think, “Hmmm, I never thought about it that way” or “What?  Did I hear that right?” <insert slight turn of the head>.  While maybe not revolutionary, these insights make people see things in a different light.

They may seem small at the time, but who knows where they may ultimately lead?  One that comes to mind is the insight that drove the Got Milk? campaign in the 1990s.  Everyone accepted that milk did a body good.  But, the insight that really got them thinking (and buying) was “milk is really important when you don’t have it.”

2. Is it hiding in plain sight?:

Some insights we know to be true, usually experience everyday, but never actually recognize and/or articulate.  They usually are dismissed because they don’t seem big enough or they aren’t supported by research.  Sometimes, research can actually help bring them to bear.  Years ago, I worked on a personal electronics client whose main revenue came from car stereo systems.  In an early briefing, we were told that their research-defined target was men, 35-54, with household incomes of more than $75,000.

Having been a teenager who spent plenty of time careening around my hometown in cars that were completely decked out with “nice systems”, I knew that this target was not right.  Yes, it was a gut feeling, and after much discussion, the agency all recognized the obvious truth:  we needed to talk to teenage guys who would go hungry to afford “nice speakers”.  Luckily, the client agreed to this strategy and let us go in a that direction.  This insight wasn’t hidden deep in our collective psyche, but to that client it was hiding in plain sight.

3. Does it just need publicity? Some insights are recognized by many, but for whatever reason, they’ve never been deployed.  One of my favorite ads as a kid was a perfume ad for Enjoli—“the 8 hour perfume for the 24 hour woman.”

Truth be told, not a good ad, but I loved the song.  Looking back though, I realize it was based on an insight that the female experience in America had changed.  Women were regularly the mom, the wife, the breadwinner, and the vixen.  At the time, I’m sure everyone knew that, but this ad leveraged that insight into our culture for one of the first times.  I think a similar thing is starting to happen to fathers in America.  Recent campaigns by Dove for Men, Clorox and Tide have diverted their attention away from the usual Mom themes and opted to highlight Dad’s roles in taking care of the family.  As someone who is watching my male friends take a more active role in the household than our Dad’s did, I know these communications to be a true reflection of something happening at the moment.  It’s nice to see it getting some publicity.

I know that many insights fit all of these criteria, which is my point.

Judge your insights by a variety of factors. Strive for the unknown, unrecognized and/or mind-blowing ones, but don’t throw the others out. They may be the beginning of something much bigger than you can imagine at the moment.

-Randy King-

VP of Strategic Planning

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Are You a Partner or a Parasite?

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by KGBTexas Admin on July 17, 2014

Most people understand the concept of creating win-win scenarios.  But, to clarify, it means that both sides of a partnership find positive value in a relationship.  This is an important way of managing relationships in every facet of life, but especially when looking at an agency/client relationship. Assuming each side of such an effort keeps in mind the fact that everybody needs to find success; such beneficial relationships can last a very long time and build the client to levels beyond what they originally hoped for.  An atmosphere of trust and mutual desire for success is built.  This also tends to create an atmosphere that is an assumption of trust.  This holy grail of relationships allows for collaborative teamwork to build and learn success paths together.    Treat your efforts like a master/servant relationship on either side and you are on the path to failure.  In a biological sense, we look at symbiotic vs. parasitic relationships, but both types of relationships exist in the business world as well.

As business leaders have extended the analogy of the symbiotic vs. parasitic relationships, they start to look at business eco-systems when making decisions.  This extends outwardly the need for mutual success beyond just two partners to include other affected businesses in a community that are either helped or harmed as well as the end consumer.

Understanding where you fit as a company and corporate citizen in the landscape can lead to both reputational and sales success, but it requires a “long-view” of where a market is headed and an understanding of what a company believes in and stands for.  Sometimes it requires a decision that may see a slightly diminished short-term profit margin in order to grow the long-term organization.   Without this broader awareness and effort, many executives and companies tend to lose sight of their eco-system and over time face a degraded brand that results in decreased sales and ultimately mere sustainment or in the worst cases, closure.  The perception becomes that these entities are just “out for themselves” and don’t care about their customers or anyone else.

You can look at the US Automotive industry prior to its collapse or the collapse of AIGUS in the insurance industry as large examples.  While it is a complex issue, in both cases, these organizations and industries became so insularly focused that they forgot about a wide range of external stakeholders and consumers throughout their eco-system.   Their ongoing short-term obsessions became, over time, their demise.  They stopped focusing on the eco-system and just focused on a few aspects of their business equation.  We can hope that those most closely involved learned from the experiences.

On a more consumer centric level, the interconnectedness of our society as well as the tendency of people to amplify challenges and successes via social media, call-in talk shows, blogs, and even “Reality” TV has made the understanding of your eco-system even more important than it has been in the past.  And, it makes the discipline of reputation management more critical than ever.     In my little utopian world that exists only in my head, people do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.   In reality, the world is mostly grey as opposed to the black and white distinctions that people often pretend exist.   This means that managing your organizational reputation is a marketing discipline and investment that extends well beyond the number of stars you have on Yelp or TripAdvisor.  It is the conglomeration of public relations, community outreach, and your complete digital footprint tied with how you behave in your sales process.   It is ever changing based on trends, perceived social norms, and other ambient factors that require ongoing monitoring and adaptation.

For companies looking to be the leaders in their industries, it’s time to stop looking at reputation management as a reactionary process that clicks in when someone complains.  But rather, shift to an eco-system management model that encompasses where you fit within a community or industry.   While slightly more complex and initially often appears to be a sunk cost instead of an investment, it is a more accurate way of approaching consumers and how we interact as people.   This insures that challenges are met head on and the long term value proposition of your organization remains intact for your customers, your employees, vendors, and your brand.  All in all, it makes you a valuable partner instead of a parasite.

-Chris Day-

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Using Coverage to Get Coverage

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by KGBTexas Admin on July 10, 2014

Every PR person knows the difficulties associated with pitching. Nothing is more discouraging than when you hear crickets regarding something you think is interesting and relevant. But, pitching is the “bread and butter” of the PR world and as PR professionals it’s our job to come up with fresh ways to grab the media’s attention. I’ve found one of the best, and often overlooked, ways to garner coverage is by using other coverage.

When you score a notable piece of coverage – maybe it’s an article in Travel + Leisure, or an “honorable mention” on The TODAY Show – leverage that press to garner additional press for your client.

Send the Travel + Leisure article to broadcast stations and pitch it as a “hot topic” or use it to support your pitch and drive home the relevance of the topic. One thing to keep in mind, though, is don’t send media hits to competing outlets. For example, you wouldn’t want to send the Travel + Leisure article to a Condé Nast Traveler reporter.

Using coverage to get coverage works especially well if you’re pitching a client who’s an expert – use the previous media hits to showcase the credibility of your client’s expertise.

-Emily Wells-

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PR Lessons From Beyoncé and Jay-Z

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by KGBTexas Admin on July 7, 2014

The Drunk In Love power couple has taught us a lot about public relations in the last twelve years.  Between keeping details about their relationship private, to dealing with the elevator fight that shook the world, these two have a great team and know how to make and bury headlines when needed.

Recently, Beyoncé and Jay set off on their highly anticipated, majorly sold-out “On The Run” world tour to serenade audiences with their awesomeness and us PR people with some good advice.

Have Something for Everyone

My husband is alright with listening to Beyoncé every now and then, but he would never agree to attending a Beyoncé concert with me, until the “On the Run” tour was announced, because this tour gives him access to one of his favorite musical acts and we’d both have a good time.

If you’re hosting an event or pitching a reporter, keep in mind that each media outlet has different needs.  Broadcast outlets need access to great visuals that tell a story on TV, whereas radio needs to be able to obtain quality soundbites.

Keep Your Stakeholders Informed and on Message

It’s been argued that the elevator fight between Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s little sister Solange was staged in an effort to generate buzz for the “On the Run” tour, but it’s also a lesson in what happens when someone isn’t on the same page as the rest of the team.

Having a cohesive message and keeping your stakeholders informed of your media plan of action is essential.  You don’t want your major announcement to get lost because someone leaked a story or changed the talking points.

Empower Each Member of the Team

Forbes named Beyoncé the most influential celebrity of 2014, more than doubling her husband’s earnings; he ranked number six on the list.  Nonetheless, Beyoncé and Jay-Z support each other’s careers and aspirations.

A successful PR team is one in which each member of the team is working hard and supporting one another.  Give credit where credit is due and empower one another to get the job done.

Approach public relations with these tips in mind and you might not even need Beyoncé’s glam squad to maintain your positive public image.

-Laura Elizabeth Welch-

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Transparency should eliminate social media trolling

by KGBTexas Admin on May 7, 2014

@nflcommish took one in the Twitter teeth this...

Social media sure has been scary lately. There was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s recent spin on Twitter. A few weeks ago, NCAA President Mark Emmert encountered similar vitriol with a Twitter chat.

Stuff like this terrifies some organizations. They see the Twittersphere or Facebook as an angry mob of pasty-faced trolls ready to pounce. But why are they ready to pounce?

Read more about how transparency helps

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