Behind The Hashtag

Behind the HashtagYou may have heard that businesses are using branded hashtags within their advertising and social media campaigns. You see them on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and even Facebook. But what exactly does that mean? More importantly, what is a hashtag?


Let’s start at the beginning. What is a hashtag?

Simply put, a hashtag is a word or a phrase prefixed with the hash character, #.  A hashtag allows the grouping of similarly tagged posts, and also allows a search to return all messages that contain it. Hashtags make it easier for people to find and follow discussions about brands, events, and promotions.


Why are brands using hashtags?

It is a great way to introduce your brand to people and get involved in the conversation. Hashtags can amplify a brand’s reach, build a community of followers, improve SEO, and help build content.


How do brands develop a hashtag?

Come up with a unique hashtag that fits with your particular brand or campaign. Use your hashtag wherever possible: press releases, blog posts, social media posts, on your website, and at events. Get moving and introduce the hashtag into your marketing strategy!





‘Tis the Season to be Jolly

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‘Tis the season to be jolly – and that means retailers decking their aisles and online storefronts with Christmas-related offerings to appease shoppers filled with holiday cheer. It may not seem like rocket science, yet an amazing amount of research has been conducted to validate that Americans are, by and large, a melting pot of sale-happy consumers who feed on the rush of scoring a great deal. I mean, who can refuse a $99 32” flat-screen TV with Wi-Fi built in?


Many companies bank on (pun intended) the Christmas season to “make” their year. And, as a way to hedge those bets, corporate America continues to push for new ways to expand the season.


One can go to almost any big box store post Labor Day and find colorful lights, holiday home décor, and Santa lawn inflatables mixed right in with the back-to-school closeouts and Halloween costumes. This is certainly not a new phenomenon, yet in 2014 the commercialization of Christmas seems to have climbed to unprecedented levels. Forget about Black Friday being held solely on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year it didn’t even start on “Turkey Day.” It’s now “Black Friday week” and runs a full seven to 10 days for some retailers. The only reason Black Friday specials end is to make room for “Small Business Saturday” and “Cyber Monday.” This year I even saw a few “Green Tuesday” sales for those who missed any of the previously offered discounts.


Consumers are conditioned to believe these are the best times to buy and that prices cannot get any lower until, ultimately, they do during the “12 Days ‘Til Christmas” holiday countdown sales.


But what about the “true meaning of Christmas?”


My wife and I are volunteer elementary aged Sunday school teachers. Among other things, the current curriculum suggests that we ask the children why we give gifts on Christmas. We’ve now posed this question to kids of varying ages during the last four weeks. I’ve been surprised by the answers, and not because we’ve heard anything crazy. On the contrary, it’s because the children seem to get it. We’ve heard responses such as “to let the people we love know we care,” or “to remind us of the gifts of the wise men,” or “because giving to others makes us feel good,” or “so we can help others.”


I’m reminded of Linus in the closing scene of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” – and urge others as they dive into the various holiday sales and race down the aisles to get their hands on a “doorbuster” deal – remember WHY they’re fighting the crowds.


Finally, for those who think they’re late to the game in getting the best deals around, fear not. Inevitably, there will be the post-Christmas sales … New Year’s sales … followed by sales for President’s Day, the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, the start of spring, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day … and by then, it will be time for the Christmas sales again!



Internal and External Communications


We at DeeterUSA have always subscribed to a “core out” management philosophy. It is like dropping a pebble in a pond. When you do that, you create rings. We see each of those rings as an important “target audience” we need to reach. The closer to the center, the smaller the ring, and as you move outward, the rings get bigger and bigger.


So for us, our employees are the closest to our center. They need to be communicated with first and most frequently if we hope that they both receive and understand our messages – whether they are rules and regulations or theories and philosophies. For us at DeeterUSA we see employees as family members and ambassadors. They can only do their best if we provide good direction and counsel.


And so it goes. From employees we move to suppliers and business partners. From those two groups, we move to other groups with customers and potential customers, as well as the general public somewhere on our continuum.


Interestingly, the way we counsel our clients on marketing their goods and services mirrors our pebble in the pond model. The challenge is to prioritize each target audience and enlist them as ambassadors who can help you reach and impact the next target on the list.


The bottom line is that both internal and external communications are keys to success in any marketplace today. That said, we have found that working from your core is the fastest, most economical way to meet and/or exceed your business objectives. The best cheerleaders your company has are standing all around you.




How PR has Changed

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As an industry, public relations is constantly evolving. Since the birth of social media, traditional media outlets such as television, radio, newspapers have seen a decline in readership. It’s important to be able to reach your audience in their daily activity, which means incorporating digital PR into your strategy. Digital PR brings brands online and creates a valuable relationship with your target by integrating traditional PR with content marketing, social media, and search.


What does Digital PR exactly add to traditional PR?


  1. Massive reach. Digital PR opens the PR industry up to a much wider audience, as there are more than 254 million Internet users in the U.S. alone.
  2. Social media allows brands to broadcast information in real time. Get your message out as quickly as you can hit send.
  3. Enjoy a dialogue, not a monologue. Social media is about engaging users to provide feedback.
  4. Become an online newsroom. Journalists and bloggers have embraced digital PR with open arms. Your information essentially becomes an online repository that needs to be searchable and easy to navigate.


Digital PR should be used to complement traditional PR and should not be used alone. Each channel should have its own purpose and strategy. Be creative in how you tell your story and embrace the change!



Crisis Management

Crisis Mgt. Blog PhotoUnfortunately, crisis management is no longer a topic corporate managers can just talk about. It requires action. There are just too many things that can happen to corporations today for managers to sweep the idea of preparation under the rug. In fact, for all those who read this blog, I am going to tell you that it is not a question of if you’ll face a business crisis. The only question is when you will face a business crisis. Business crises come in all shapes and sizes. For planning purposes, we at DeeterUSA see them falling into three categories. They are “simple situations” that are easily managed and often do not require a lot of staff involvement. These seldom have lasting impact and costs are negligible. Then there are “issues.” Issues tend to require more thought and action and they can impact sales and profits if not managed effectively.


Finally, we look at an issue that escalates into a life and death situation as the “ultimate crisis.”


Nothing you do as a corporate manager is more important than protecting the lives of your employees, suppliers, and customers. Everything else that you deal with in managing a crisis is secondary to life itself.


No two crises are ever the same. There are no hard and fast rules for managing a crisis. Simple situations, issues, and crises all start with one or more problems to be managed. How you manage these problems will determine how long they last and how much they cost you.


If you are smart, you will form a crisis management team.  You will establish appropriate crisis guidelines.  And you will periodically run mock crises to be sure that when it counts most, you will be prepared.


– Bill