Posts Tagged coverage

Another Indicator of the Changing Agency Landscape…

A recent article in Advertising Age discusses Coca-Cola’s industry-wide push to a “value-based” compensation model.  Under the model agencies only reap profits if they perform to Coke’s standards.  If the agencies’ work meets or exceeds those standards, they can generate as much as 30 percent profit margins – otherwise they only get recouped costs.  Coke plans to implement this model across all of its ad and media agencies by 2011.

Several questions around this model immediately come to mind– two of which have been heatedly debated for some time; how do you define value?, and how do you determine ROI?  Additionally, if a company is only being paid on results, are companies less likely to be creative and go down a safer route that they know will generate targeted results?

According to the article, Sarah Armstrong, Coke’s director of worldwide media and communication operations and the driver behind the company’s move, that’s not a concern.  However, I’d have to think that an agency faced with the decision of doing something radically new and innovative with the possibility of delivering mediocre results, over a pretty creative idea that promises more targeted results, might go with the safer path – especially in this economy.  One poor showing could not only cost them a large client like Coke, but also give them a bad rep for potential future clients.  Under a traditional retainer model, agencies have more leeway to take those creative risks.

Coke’s move is just another indicator of a trend we’ve been seeing for some time now:  PR and advertising are no longer what they used to be – and I don’t mean that in a bad way – merely just the fundamentals of them have changed.  Between the groundswell of social media applications and their rapid adoption, the decline of print journalism and the demise of traditional advertising, we’re seeing them change every day before our eyes.

Despite my questions about the model, I can definitely see the benefits.  For one, it would force agencies and their clients to design more targeted campaigns.  Additionally, as the economic downturn continues, it gives companies a way to guarantee their “bang for their buck.”  What’s more, it would make competition between agencies much hotter, quickly identifying the agencies and individual employees that can’t cut it.

It’ll be interesting to see how this model plays out, as well as the continually changing landscapes in these industries.  Regardless, I think compensation models are – and will continue to be – different for each client and each agency depending on the objective, resources and company awareness.  It’s all about setting expectations appropriately and defining beforehand what constitutes as value.

More thoughts on the topic from my colleague Liz Caradonna here.


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March Communications in PRWeek


March Communications appeared in the March 30th issue of PRWeek!  Martin Jones recently spoke with Nicole Zerillo on the growing use of webcasts and online tactics to reach global audiences. 

We’ve found it to be a very successful tool for providing visual components to news announcements and supporting tradeshows.clip_image0022

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Are the Facts Being Left Behind?

The latest shift in how we consume information – blogs, online pubs, Twitter, etc. – brings up an interesting question: is the rush for info coming at the expense of facts? Even the Wall Street Journal is having issues with their online content. There are sites that track discrepancies, although they’re few and far between. Regret the Error. Accuracy in the Media. Maybe more but who’s heard of them?

These focus mainly on politics, national or global affairs – the big stuff. What about the tech industry? Who’s monitoring and looking out for truth in tech reporting? The responsibility of truth and diligence is of course on the reader. Does the reader have time to really do this?

The overall theory that blogs, forums, Twitter, etc., are all social in nature and in a good position to find errors, correct them and when everyone has finished adding their 2 cents, readers can find the truth in the middle. This theory requires a lot of time and effort on the reader’s part to keep up with the discussion.

I for one feel the traditional media shakeout is creating a vacuum of journalistic principles and the drive to tell the story correctly and accurately. Facts are less important than people’s opinions and getting those opinions to the masses before the next guy. This is great for PR when clips are the key metric – bad for PR when influencing is the key metric.

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Forums are Worth the Time to Monitor

A few years ago I overcame the frustration of sorting through all the junk Google Alerts, Yahoo Alerts and other search emails that are billed as making life easier by monitoring the web for me. Like most people, I would wait until the end of the week to sift through it all (who has time to peruse them as they arrive?). At the bottom of most were listings that appeared to be junk, however they really were forum postings.

Since, I’ve paid close attention to these and click them first, by-passing the PC World, InformationWeek, Network World and other assorted ‘client clips’ that show up. Why? Most of my client’s customers / prospects / partners and other targets are hitting the forums with problems, looking for information they need. More often than not, this ‘peer-sourcing’ is the first step in the buying cycle. Take a look: Tom’s Hardware, Windows Seven Forums, PlanetAMD64, TechArena, Overclock, Computers Groupsrv, SQL Blog,

Now a staple recommendation for clients, paying attention and interacting with full disclosure, diving into forums has produced great results. We’ve caught customer service issues, competitor weaknesses, several hundred people ready to lay down money for a solution, and on and on.

Keep an eye on ’em and you might just find an open door to influence your target audience directly. Helpful, educational and friendly is the key – check the sales / marketing mumbo jumbo at the door or the forum admin will kick you right out.

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Don’t Want to Talk? That’s a Mistake.

If you have something cool, you should let people see / touch / hear / interact with it. Everyone in your company is working their butt off to create a widget better than all the other widgets out there – and everyone in the company is fired up about it (or they should be). If you have IT and know it, you should TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT. Compare to what’s out there. Defend your blue widget’s superiority over the green one. Criticism is not bad. Yes, there is fact in ‘bad press’ however that’s why you have (or should have) a PR team.

Great sentiment on this oh so common PR rant from Bad Pitch Blogger:

Don’t worry about the competitors-anyone and everyone should know you did a good job. Scare the crap out of them too. Everyone talks about competitive advantage and losing market share; in this case you are the first mover and I hope the best one. Let them try and copy you; no one will be better. It’s up to you to be resolute. Pump your chest out and stand behind your evolving, beautiful thing!

Full disclosure: I took this quote out of context and used it for my own selfish purposes. Laermer’s intent for penning this piece of good advice was originally focused on his own belief that the ‘Launch Campaign’ is extinct (you’ll have to read the whole post for the rest).

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Revealing (not pushing) an Agenda to the Media

A good PR person views themselves as the eyes and ears of the media – not a salesperson. We exist to help the media do their job better. We’re granted access to the most sensitive views and positions of a company, as well as research, technology and often customer experiences from our clients – a privilege for sure. Our position is coveted by journalists whose job depends on getting access to this very information. And they work really hard to get it on their own! When we share what we know rather than ramming it down a journalist’s throat, clients get the opportunity for ink.

Case and point from our client Exigen Services. These guys have a vision to transform the application outsourcing industry (and they really do have something special). Unfortunately, every journalist in the space has heard this story before and is rightfully jaded. Our approach? Share what we know and help the journalist find a new angle to an old story.

InformationWeek listened (scroll down to read customer comments). ZDNet’s IT Project Failure’s blogger listened. TechTarget’s and both listened seperately. blogger videod (and posted to Financial Times’ magazine, Direct Foreign Investment listened. Financial Services Outsourcing asked Exigen Services to explain it (so did Bank Systems & Technology). Projects @ Work thought the company was on to something. IT Business Edge thought they had one, an ‘edge’ that is.

We’re not done helping journalists see the industry through Exigen Services’ eyes, however if Inc Magazine’s Fastest Growing Private Companies in America is any indication that Exigen does have something special, we’re living up to our end of the PR / journalist relationship.

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Tideway’s CMO Named Best Business Executive by the Stevie® Awards For Women in Business

Kelly Wenzel, Tideway’s Chief Marketing Officer, was named the 2008 Business Executive in a Computer Software and Services company with up to 2,500 employees by the Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

The 2008 Stevie Awards for Women in Business is an international competition recognizing the accomplishments of outstanding women executives, business owners, and the organizations they run. The awards are produced by the creators of the prestigious American Business AwardsSM.

As CMO, Wenzel drives Tideway’s go-to-market strategy and oversees product marketing, lead generation and marketing communications, sitting at the hub of the company’s sales, communications, product management, and engineering activity.

Congratulations Kelly for all of your achivements!  Well deserved.

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