For nearly a decade, we've helped businesses expand by preparing them to sell franchises as well as providing marketing services to franchisors and franchisee cooperatives (coops). In one case, we played a pivotal role in doubling the size of a leading franchise in a major market and in others, we helped to establish complete franchisee marketing systems.
By Guest Blogger Tammy Cancela, General Manager, Marketing Executive - Franchise Marketing, Marketing to Women,B:B/B:C
This post originally appeared on LinkedIn
My colleague Rich was Director of Strategic Planning at a large telecom company that had experienced a variety of competitive threats and technical challenges that unnerved employees, irritated (at best) customers and led to a lot of negative press. Ultimately, subscribers began to flee.
What Rich knew, however, is that there was a relatively simple way to fix the issues in the short run while the big structural changes happened in the background.
He worked with the Finance and Planning departments to build a beautiful strategy. The team took into account sector dynamics, the economic outlook of the company’s markets, technology trends, competitive factors and their own company’s capabilities. The strategy was perfect.
The executive team loved it. The board approved. And the Internal Communications team planned a fabulous rollout to employees, complete with all the bells and whistles.
Everyone waited expectantly on the first day the new strategy went into effect. They were expecting a huge decrease in customer complaints and shorter call times.
And then…nothing changed.
It was as if the new strategy didn’t exist at all.
Eventually, the team worked out the kinks and the strategy fell into place. But the implementation took three times longer than expected and didn’t achieve all of the results Rich promised in his pitch to senior management.
In retrospect, Rich realized that the people who would have to shoulder the job of implementation were left out of the strategy development process. And even though he included training in the rollout, no one told him that the new process was incompatible with some current system requirements and downstream process inputs. In short, Rich violated one of the Ten Commandments of strategy implementation:
- Thou shall not develop strategy in a vacuum. Rich thought he was including all the affected departments and had read call notes from hundreds of disgruntled customers. In the end, however, he discovered that the strategy lacked a few vertebrae in its backbone.
Yes, I mentioned that there are actually Ten Commandments. Here are the rest of them:
- Never underestimate how long it can take to implement effectively. There will always be hiccups in implementation. If you’ve done all your homework, they will be small ones that won’t cause terrible delays. My personal rule is to create a reasonable plan and then expect it to take fifty percent longer. If the strategy is related to a new product or service introduction, double your first estimate. And if the product or service is new to the world, triple it. No, this isn’t a scientific standard, but after managing dozens of rollouts over the years, I’ve found it to be pretty accurate.
- Set up formal and informal channels of communication with every affected employees. Find out who the thought leaders are. Listen to them.
- Always be selling. Your strategies can be perfect, but if everyone is not on board with the approach, they will stall at best and sabotage at worst.
- Always include customers in the equation. They can tell you whether the new strategy will solve their needs and can also provide a real life test environment with your front line team.
- Make sure you understand the nature of the problem/opportunity before trying to fix it. If Rich and his cohorts had spent an afternoon listening in to calls, they would have understood the three issues that were causing ninety percent of the problem so they could be addressed first.
- Measure everything. Good metrics are worth their weight in gold. When implementing, more is better. Once you have a lot of data, you can decide which metrics are most important and develop a shorter daily update to ensure everything is proceeding on plan.
- Teach the organization to expect course corrections. Good strategy development is a war of ideas. You gather data, make sense of it, draft a few test strategies, test them in a safe environment and then select the ones you think will address your challenges most effectively. Sometimes, despite following all the commandments (best practices), we make a mistake. Some element of the strategy or its implementation didn’t work. Address it immediately and explain how the change is going to make the strategy more successful.
- Over-communicate. Tell customers what to expect. Report progress and missteps alike to employees. Let them know how things are going. And give praise where praise is due. If a front line employee stands out as a great implementer or problem solver, tell their story to all your internal audiences.
- Appoint an implementation team. Sure, not all strategies are mission critical. But for those that are, implementation could mean the difference between success and failure. An implementation czar with a cross-functional team that is incented to shepherd strategy rollouts internally can greatly improve success.
In the end, implementation woes often cause strategy architects to revise their strategies slightly to make them work inside the organization. This is a good thing, as long as the organization learns from it.
My friend Rich went on to develop and implement many more successful strategies. Today, he consults with the management of large and mid-sized companies to make their strategies more impactful.
If you have additional “commandments” to add to the list, please let me know!
By Jeff Cheatham, Senior Account Manager at TrizCom PR
If you’re like most PR professionals, you have your own Twitter account. Presumably, if for no other reason, to tweet out your most recent media wins to your distant aunt and uncle. But Twitter also has the potential to become a powerful weapon in your arsenal when it comes to keeping up with trending news on behalf of your clients. If done correctly, Twitter can be your ultimate newsjacking tool.
Newsjacking? Yes, it’s now a thing, and it was born right out of the 24/7/365 news cycle. What it amounts to is injecting your client and message into a breaking news story, gaining a foothold in the voice and commentary of a developing story.
While you may still spend copious amounts of time polishing a quarterly PR action plan to execute on behalf of your clients, newsjacking offers you the ability to strike fast, strike hard, and rack up worthwhile media wins, often on a weekly basis.
According to one of the foremost experts on newsjacking—he literally wrote the book, “News Jacking”, author David Meerman Scott says, “The traditional PR model—sticking closely to a preset script and campaign timeline—no longer works the way it used to. Public discourse now moves so fast and so dynamically that all it takes is a single afternoon to blast the wheels off someone’s laboriously crafted narrative.”
Take a look at one of Scott’s bell curve graphics, which displays the art of newsjacking:
Using Twitter to Newsjack
Here are some helpful suggestions for weaponizing Twitter to aid your own newsjacking efforts. First, if you use your personal Twitter account to keep up with friends and family, you may want to consider establishing a separate Twitter account using your work email address to register. That way, you can begin following only work-related content, delivered in 140 characters or less. Immediately follow the key reporters and industry news sites that cover your market. Repeat this exercise for each client you represent.
Once you’ve established a healthy list of key influencer accounts, check this work Twitter account one to two times daily in the pursuit of a newsjacking opportunity. If you find a suitable breaking news story, update or opinion that you feel your client should be in on, write up a quick pitch and start emailing key media contacts.
Here’s a real world example. I represent Dillon Gage Metals, an international wholesaler of gold, silver, platinum and palladium. In turn, I use Twitter to follow breaking industry news from clearinghouse sites such as Kitco News, The Gold Report and Streetwise. If I happen to note that gold prices have reached a 6-month high, I can then craft a quick pitch, asking reporters if they’d like any commentary from my own esteemed experts. At times, this approach works like a charm.
Let’s not get too hasty, though…
A word of caution, however. Newsjacking can be a tremendous tool to insert your client’s opinions into breaking news or otherwise. But the blade can be sharp on both ends if you’re not careful. Never—and I mean NEVER—send out a tasteless, craven attempt to gain your client some attention just for attention’s sake. The PR firm that attempted to use the tragic 2014 suicide of Robin Williams to advance their causes should still be smarting from the backlash they justifiably received. Be tasteful. Keep it professional. If you’re in doubt, seek a second opinion.
Twitter is my absolute favorite social media platform. Not only does it keep me entertained, but it also keeps me sharp and focused on breaking news opportunities from which my clients can benefit.
Jeff is a senior account executive at TrizCom PR
From national industry leaders and Dallas-Fort Worth’s largest companies to startups and growing enterprises, TrizCom PR provides public relations and social media services to a wide variety of businesses encompassing startup, healthcare, lifestyle brands, B2B, energy, tech, entertainment, food/beverage and beyond. TrizCom PR has a dynamic track record of local, regional, national and international media placements on behalf of its clients that, if monetized, would equal hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2014 and 2015, TrizCom PR has been named in the top 25 of PR Firms by Dallas Business Journal. TrizCom PR is a Certified Woman Owned Business Corporation (NWBOC). For more information on TrizCom PR call 972-247-1369 or visit www.TrizCom.com.
It’s been said that when the economy or sales are good, don’t bother with public relations. The thinking is that when times are flush, that’s when businesses should either spend money on expensive advertising or don’t spend any money at all because – Hey! – things are great.
Am I the only one who read about the ant and the grasshopper?
By: Martin Stein, Pitch PR Powered By TrizCom PR
Telling other people about stuff: that’s essentially the stock in trade of public relations. And telling other people about stuff should be an entrepreneur’s top concern.
Build a better mousetrap, but don’t tell anyone, and see how long it takes for the world to beat that path to your door. It won’t happen, not without PR. But it’s more than simply telling potential customers that you exist. As every early stage entrepreneur knows, there are two factors that are as important – if not more – than customers and that’s employees and investors. In both cases, having news stories written by a third party about your startup is crucial. That media presence will attract both a better quality of worker (i.e., someone excited by your project versus someone who just needs the money) and give early-stage investors a greater sense of security.
However, getting that much-valued press in the beginning can be extraordinarily difficult for entrepreneurs. Leaving aside that they are getting a company off the ground (and often working at their “day job” while they do so), PR isn’t as easy as I made it out to be at the top. Skill enters the equation when it comes to deciding which stuff is worth telling, who best to tell that stuff to and what the best method is to tell people about said stuff. These are all problems that a professional publicist is best suited to handle.
Entrepreneurs suffer from the same sort of pride that possesses new parents – there has never been a more beautiful, intelligent and charming baby, and everything Junior does is a miracle. As friends of new parents can tell you, this is simply not true. That’s why entrepreneurs need to enlist the help of an objective person who has an understanding of how the media works and what constitutes news value. Your new website isn’t news, and simply blasting a press release into space rarely accomplishes much.
In addition to having that knowledge and tactical understanding, a PR professional will have a strong sense of strategy. She or he will know which outlets to approach first; how to split your story into different, newsworthy angles; and even when it’s the best time for your particular story to break.
The results of a PR effort in the hands of someone unskilled in the trade can be disastrous. The entrepreneur may burn a reporter (i.e., annoy or anger them), possibly to the point where a company is blacklisted from coverage. The story may get some press but be buried in the back pages – which is still considered “covered” from a news perspective. A poorly written release will give everyone a bad impression of the company and actually scare off employees and investors.
The stakes are simply too high for a fledgling startup. Being an entrepreneur and launching a company should not be a solitary occupation. Entrepreneurs need teams to make their visions a reality, and a publicist should be occupying a center spot.
Martin Stein is vice president of Pitch PR Powered by TrizCom PR
Pitch PR, a division of TrizCom PR, was created in partnership with The Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC) to assist startups & small business with their public relations needs. Through a unique partnership with the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (The DEC), Pitch PR is able to shepherd the communications objectives necessary for any PR strategy. Pitch PR admits that they are not one-size-fits-all; they can right-size according to the trajectory of the life in a startup environment. Pitch PR knows that media placement draws new customers as well as garners the attention of influencers, stakeholders and investors. Public Relations can shorten the awareness curve for brands. Pitch PR is geared for companies that have completed their initial funding round and believe in the possibility for high growth driven by powerful messaging in the media. From a simple PR 101 workshop, to a retainer-based strategy and action items to increase a brand’s public exposure, Pitch PR is ready to pitch and win. Ala carte services are available as well. For more information on Pitch PR call 972-247-1369 or www.PitchPR.co.