Thursday, November 11, 2010

A blog about blogging: Part 1

NOTE: I'm turning over the reins a bit here. As we work through our list of social media topics, we're going to be covering over the next few weeks, I'm letting Sara (our assistant writer and PR specialist) weigh in on the topic of "blogging" for this particular post. Please feel free to leave comments for both of us here!

Blogging is perhaps one of the oldest forms of social media. A blog can be a great tool for sharing knowledge and building relationships with family, friends, consumers and other businesses.

This entry is part I of a series about blogging that I will be linking to various articles/blogs on the subject.

What is a blog?

Blogging is writing a few paragraphs every few days or so and posting them online and hoping that someone will stumble upon it, read it, and find themselves interested in your business, or at least your expertise, right?

WRONG! There's a lot to blogging that a lot of beginning bloggers (and some veterans) don't consider. Some of it is technical--they don't know how to use the tools that their blogging platform provides for them to reach out to new readers. That, I will cover later. Right now we are going to consider the most basic blogging blunder, which in addition to terrible alliteration, is publishing unfocused content.

The articles you publish on your blog are what your readers come to read. But it is important to recognize that you want to attract a faithful audience that will return to your blog frequently to read and comment on posts. To do that, you need to focus on a specific audience that you want to attract the attention of, and gear your content toward their interests and needs.

What questions are they asking on Twitter? What topics are they most interested in? Write about it. Even if you are hoping to attract a broad and diverse audience, you need to start small. If you get a group of followers that are regularly reading your blog, rely on them to spread the word and link to your posts.

Also, remember that blogging is as much, if not more, of a learning process for the blogger than the reader. Constantly be looking for new information to share. The more you read, the more of an expert you will become on a topic and the easier it will be to establish yourself as one.

Thirdly, create boundaries. These boundaries will keep you from publishing articles outside your area of expertise, and keep your blogs short and reader-friendly. One rule I like to follow: The mini-skirt rule. Make sure your blog entries are long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep it interesting.

For more info, check out this blog from buildabetterblog.com:
http://www.buildabetterblog.com/2010/09/3-secrets-of-great-content-creation.html

You can contact Sara and Elisa at: bigideas@kearley.com for more information.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Social Media Policies - Getting Started

Before you to get in the game of social media, my suggestion is to spend some time as an organization discussing strategy and policy behind these initiatives.

Here's a good starter list I found on mashable.com that will give you some ideas as you begin the process of defining a social media policy for your particular organization.

1. Introduce the purpose of social media
"...All policies need to address what’s in it for the reader/user — what should the reader take away after reading the policy?"

2. Be responsible for what you write

"... Your organization and its representatives need to take responsibility for what they write, and exercise good judgment and common sense."

3. Be authentic

"...Consumers buy from people that they know and trust, so let people know who you are."

4. Consider your audience

5. Exercise good judgment

6. Understand the concept of community

7. Respect copyrights and fair use

8. Remember to protect confidential & proprietary info

9. Bring value

10. Productivity matters

I've condensed the list for this post, but click here to read entire article.

Start by defining your purpose, then take steps to set up a social media policy for the organization. Because social media is a relatively new arena for some industry sectors, I think a good approach is to have some stuff defined and clearly articulated, but to recognize that your policy is subject to develop organically in reaction to situations.

I mentioned mashable.com previously - it's a great resource for web and social media news and info. You can also do a quick search on "Social Media Policy" and find a number of resources as well as view a variety of organizations' policies.

Lastly, try and establish a policy that echoes your brand. Tom's TOMS shoes would probably approach differently than an American Airlines. So you want to ensure your policy, and therefore your social media efforts, are in-line with your brand and your brand messaging.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Look at Social Media from Two Different Perspectives

A friend of mine sent this to me. I actually hear comments along these lines from people not too much older or younger than myself, so I'm not sure it's generational as much as personal preference. I think a number of people share this view.




The flip-side of that view: I thought this video was a cool way to explain the role that social media plays for consumers.






A couple thoughts on social media for those looking to enter this area. When choosing what social media you want to use, consider how you would use it. Only use as many as you have the resources to keep updated, and only use the ones that best serve your purposes. Are you looking to network with other businesses or business people? Try LinkedIn. Are you looking to interact with consumers? Try Facebook. Are you looking to share knowledge or keep consumers aware of what's going on within your company? Try blogging or Twitter. But you want to appear active and involved no matter what social media outlet(s) you choose, so do not overextend yourself.

Tell us - How are you using social media for yourself or for your organization?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Silver Medal Luncheon video honoring Ruth Ann Kearley

Enjoy a look at the video we put together to honor Ruth Ann at the AAF-Fort Worth Silver Medal luncheon on 7/21.




For pictures from the event, click here to visit the Silver Medal luncheon photos on our flickr page.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

AAF-Fort Worth Announces Ruth Ann Kearley as the 2010 Silver Medal Award Winner


We are proud to share some exciting news! The American Advertising Federation of Fort Worth has selected Ruth Ann Kearley as the recipient for the 2010 Silver Medal Award.

The club will honor Kearley with the Silver Medal at their monthly luncheon event on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 11:45 a.m. at Joe T Garcia’s restaurant. The event is open to the public, and tickets can be purchased through adclubfw.org.

Kearley said she was both surprised and flattered by the honor.

“I am so thrilled about the Silver Medal award. It's something I've always thought was a wonderful testament to folks who have done so much for Fort Worth and for the local advertising community," Kearley said. “I never dreamed I would be included in such impressive company - it's truly an honor.”

About Ruth Ann

Kearley, an area native, is a former Miss Teen Fort Worth and a Paschal High School and Texas Christian University alumna. Recognized nationally as a leader in the Credit Union industry, she started one of the first marketing departments for a credit union in the state of Texas while she was working for Educational Employees Credit Union in Fort Worth during the early 1970s. She left EECU as vice president of marketing in 1981 to start Kearley & Company, Inc. She is currently serving as special advisor to the board for Kearley & Company, Inc.

Ruth Ann's Civic Involvements
In addition to her commitment to Kearley & Company, she is very involved in numerous civic organizations. Through the years, she has served as President of the Northside Chamber of Commerce, President of the Board for the Lighthouse for the Blind, Board member for Jubilee Theatre, and has been an active member of AAF-Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. Currently, she serves on the Executive Board for the Lighthouse for the Blind. In 2007, the Business Press honored Kearley as one of Fort Worth’s Great Woman of Texas honorees. Kearley was also the 2008 honoree for her work at Jubilee Theatre

About the Silver Medal Award
The Silver Medal Award recognizes a man or woman who has made contributions to the advertising industry that have helped to raise industry standards of creative excellence and social responsibility. According to AAF—Fort Worth, Kearley was chosen based on her contributions to her company, the credit union industry, the advertising community, and Fort Worth.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Staying relevant with Gen Y & Gen Z

Businesses targeting their products and/or services towards youth are facing an ever-changing market. At the tail end of a recession, and in the middle of a generation-shift, how does a company stay relevant to the younger audience?

Because Generation Y (Gen Y) is getting older (now making up consumers roughly aged 18-30), marketers will begin focusing on the emerging Generation Z (Gen Z), as their buying power within the youth market will increase rapidly over the next several years.

Even so, a few things remain the same. As with Gen Y, the two biggest factors driving purchasing decisions are still:
• Can this product or service help me belong?
• And, can it help me be significant?

Social currency is what is most important, and successful marketing will be based in recognizing that it is not a product or service being sold, but what that product or service is doing for the consumer. Word of mouth is still the most powerful influence on youth. They are far more likely to trust products and brands if a friend uses or recommends them.

Graham Brown, founder of What Youth Think, has published a presentation to SlideShare.com that outlines research into the youth market and his projections for what to prepare for in the 2010 economy.

Brown suggests that companies commit 100 percent of their budget to consumers already sold on their product and provide them with tools and social currency to spread the word. “Grassroots” and “beachhead” marketing schemes that are focused in this way seem to win out, according to Brown, and he points to youth market kings Red Bull and Apple to prove it.

Today’s youth grew up bombarded with advertisements and other propaganda, so they are even more skeptical of traditional marketing campaigns than Gen Y. As a result, authenticity is now more important than ever. Rather then controlling the conversation, companies have to earn their right to participate in the conversation, and should be actively listening to what consumers are saying.

Marketing is no longer something you do to your audience, but with your audience. It seems the message moving forward is that successful marketing will engage in a two-way conversation with Gen Y and Gen Z – a prospect that scares some organizations.

My perspective is that two-way dialog is an opportunity to learn more about your potential consumers than marketers ever could before – and therefore offers the potential to be more laser-focused in your efforts to forward your brand. What do you think?

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Green business" sense?



Nike made an interesting choice when they decided to keep their 'closed loop' business policy quiet. 'Closed loop' means that they hope to one day reduce the amount of waste they produce to zero, and according to this video on CNN, they seem to think they will one day accomplish just that. It's a marketable concept, making pro-soccer uniforms out of recycled bottles and playground surfaces out of old shoes. They even use their own factor scraps to make a rubber they call 'Nike Grind,' and have their own unique recipe for what they call 'green rubber' that uses 96 percent fewer toxins and annually eliminates a significant amount of toxic waste.

'Going green' is not only a growing business trend, but, with the rebounding economy, a factor that consumers are looking for in the products that they buy. In this video, it is clear that maintaining a 'green business' isn't just a Nike policy, but the way they do things. Nike made the conscious choice to not advertise that fact. But why?

It could be said that Nike sometimes favors controversial advertising. Nike was criticized in 1993 for a commercial featuring Charles Barkley in which Barkley professed that it was not his job to be a positive role model for America's youth, but instead to "wreak havoc on the basketball court." In 1995, Nike carefully walked the line between associating the Nike brand with the spread of HIV and the strength of will of an athlete with HIV, in an ad featuring HIV positive marathon runner Ric Munos. Just this spring, the TV spot featuring Tiger Woods and the voice of his dead father was met with overwhelming disapproval by many critics and consumers alike, and Brand Week reported that it scored low compared to other ads in the apparel footwear category. Interestingly enough, the most recent ad to score that low was also a Nike ad, featuring Serena Williams last September.

If any company can afford to be risky with their advertising, a company like Nike can. Nike is a well-established brand: almost anyone can recognize the infamous swoosh and "Just do it" slogan. Nike has a strong consumer base, and in addition to their risky ads, sound product placement and contracts with teams and athletes that wear only their products. During the 2010 football season, TCU was one of ten NCAA teams chosen to wear Nike's new Nike Pro Combat uniforms, which garnered a lot of attention and press in Fort Worth.

But why so many risky ads? Why not capitalize on what is good about Nike? A bold creative spot about high performance shoes made from recycled goods would probably resonate well with consumers. But it seems that their strategy is to be memorable, and strike the viewer in a way, good or bad, that will spur a reaction. And in today's world of search engines, and at-your-fingertips media, it makes sense. The most watched commercials on YouTube are probably the ones that have generated controversy and discussion. If an ad is the subject of a blog, or a topic that is widely discussed, someone who hasn't seen the ad will likely search for it on the web. It's a good way for Nike to reach consumers both inside and outside their target audience.

And it might be working for them. Market Watch reported that Nike shares have risen 15 percent this year. This can be attributed to many things, a growing action sports market for instance, and not just advertising. The point is that they aren't hurting as a result of their controversial ads. Shares did fall some recently, though, because investors are skeptical about Nike's five year plan to increase profits by 40 percent. Will they be able to? I think so, as long as they continue operating with good business sense, expand apparel retail and strengthen their appeal to female consumers. And because women by and large seem to be more likely to respond to green marketing, now could be a good time for Nike to use its green business practices as a hook in their advertising.

Even so, Nike chose not to allude to the fact that the Nike jerseys for World Cup 2010 are made out of 100 percent recycled materials in their newest "Write the Future" spot out May 17. The ad tries to illustrate the Nike brand as a life-changing cultural phenomenon. Again begging the question: Why not advertise that Nike is green? You would think that recycling would have a more obvious impact on the future than an athlete wearing Nike sneakers.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kearley client, author Jerry Craft, talks about his new book

Almost every fan of baseball, or student who has studied the civil rights movement, recognizes the story of Jackie Robinson: the first African American player to swing his bat across the plate in the major leagues. But in Texas, we have our very own story of crossing racial boundaries in the game of baseball.

In the summer of 1959, Jerry Craft was invited to join a semi-pro ball club. When he showed up for tryouts, he discovered he would be pitching for a team in the West Texas Colored League. Despite his concerns of being the only white player on the team, he went on to play two seasons for the Wichita Falls/Graham Stars, and learned about more than just baseball.

From his incredible story comes his new book, "Our White Boy." The title of the book was inspired by the racial slur that turned into a nickname given affectionately to Craft by his teammates on the Stars.

To learn more about Craft's story, watch the video below, and visit www.ourwhiteboy.com.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I want to speak to a real person!

Sometimes, in the course of daily business, we learn important lessons. Recently the Kearley team learned a valuable lesson about our corporate culture through a poor decision we collectively made.

For years the phone would ring at EVERY desk when someone would call, and any one of us would answer the phone. The clients might get the part-time intern, or they might get the agency president, depending on who was available to answer the phone when it rang.

After the first of the year, we decided that we should change our phone system to a phone tree with an automated message that would answer and the caller would then enter an extension to reach one of the team members directly. We thought this new process would be a welcome change to many as it would save time for the caller - they could go directly to the desk of the person they are trying to reach.

We were clearly not seeing the forest through the trees.

I was sensing some negative response from the switch, and I did an informal pole of all my twitter and Facebook contacts, and 99.9% said they want to speak to a real person when then make a phone call. I was kinda surprised, but I still left the automated system in place.

Finally. A long-term client gently complained, and we switched the phones back immediately. We're back to the phone ringing at everyone's desk, and whoever is available will answer the phone. It's what we've done forever, and it's really not a problem for us, but it seems to make callers to Kearley much happier.

I recently attended a conference and one of the sessions discussed the need to have robust, interactive online tools for your consumers. But the point was also made in that session that you also can't neglect your high touch areas.

Direct contact is really a great opportunity to grow your relationships. (DUH!)

People expect a robust online experience - particularly your younger clients and potential clients. But you also have to be there - face-to-face or via phone - when they need you.

I think we've learned from our mistake, and hopefully you will too. Don't invest all your resources in electronic and online communications and neglect your high touch opportunities.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

AAF-Fort Worth honors TCU Football with this years Dateline Award

This year, AAF-Fort Worth will be presenting the TCU Football Program with their annual Dateline Award for bringing positive media attention to the Fort Worth Area.

As the 2009 season wore on, TCU garnered more attention for the Mountain West Conference and the Fort Worth community than any season since 1938 when Sammy Baugh led the HOrned Frogs to a National Championship win. Lee Corso, an ESPN College Gameday host, donned the HOrned Frog mask twice on national TV last fall, and names like Jerry Hughes and Andy Dalton were familiar to any well-versed college football fan. The Horned Frogs topped off their undefeated season with a first-ever invitation to a BCS bowl game, Tostito's Fiesta Bowl. Though it was a loss to Boise State, they finished the season ranked sixth in the nation.

TCU's MWC schedule won't be released until later this spring, but Head Coach Gary Patterson just announced the Horned Frogs' nonconference schedule on Monday. Two of the games will be againsts teams from BCS automatic-qualifying conferences. Also, the Horned Frogs will keep Fort Worth in the spotlight next year, as two of the four nonconference games will be syndicated nationally by ESPN.

Here is just one of the many highlights of TCU on ESPN last season:



About AAF-Fort Worth's Dateline Award:
The Dateline Award is given to a person, organization, or event that was successful in bringing positive national media attention to Fort Worth during the previous year. Previous Dateline Award recipients include celebrity the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Chef Tim Love, the North Texas Speedway, the Van Cliburn Competition and Downtown Fort Worth, Inc.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tuesday, the New York Times said that the FDIC has now named 702 ‘problem banks’ at the end of 2009. There were only 252 banks on the list at the beginning of last year. 140 banks failed in 2009, the highest number of bank failures in 17 years. Credit unions may be suffering, but because they are non-profit organizations, they aren’t seeing anywhere near the same kind of losses that banks are experiencing. It’s not hard to see why many Americans are switching from big banks to smaller credit unions.

But with the new credit card holder’s bill of rights, which took effect Monday, many more Americans could be driven to make the switch.

In the clip below from the CBS evening news, credit cards, the “2 inch piece of plastic” that has been driving our economy, and our citizens into debt, could draw more people to join credit unions.

Many credit unions don’t issue credit cards, and the ones that do have lower rates, and have eliminated many fees that banks are charging.

The benefits of being a member of a credit union are stacking up, and even more obvious in these trying economic times. Are you convinced yet?


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kearley helps launch InTouch Credit Union


After working with Kearley and Company, Inc. on their name change/re-brand initiative for several months, EDS Credit Union became InTouch Credit Union on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.


The name InTouch was meant to align with the credit union’s approach to its members, while keeping the ‘I.T.’ of EDS Credit Union’s roots in information technology.

In addition to a new name, Kearley developed a new logo, support collateral, and in-office retail merchandising for InTouch.

Click here to view the press release.

The logo, shown above was created by Daniel B├╝enger, senior designer at Kearley.

“I wanted to keep with EDS Credit Union’s existing brand, while also incorporating more active, engaging elements,” he said

What do you think? Please take a moment to answer our poll on the right, and let us know what you think about the new logo.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

AAF-Fort Worth Celebrates 100th Anniversary

The American Advertising Federation's Fort Worth chapter just celebrated its 100th Anniversary, and there was a video created for the event. I got to help with the project, but another local, TCU Alum (who prefers to be anonymous) is the genius behind the production.

Kind of a cool retrospective of Fort Worth and the advertising community here over the last 100 years.