Bruce Springsteen

 

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As I was driving to work this morning, I was listening to Mojo Nixon guest DJ on E Street Radio, the Bruce Springsteen channel on Sirius/XM. As Nixon was describing his motivation for including the songs he was playing in his mix, he explained how Springsteen’s first few albums (“Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.,” “The Wild, the Innocent, & the E Street Shuffle,” and “Born to Run”) did an amazing job of speaking to the people of New Jersey and New York. The songs were mini-stories about characters from that specific region and/or gave the listener a clear understanding of what it was like growing up in that area at that time. I would expand Nixon’s geography to also include people in Eastern Pennsylvania, as many of us who grew up here spent many summer days and nights “down the shore” and can easily identify with Springsteen’s lyrics from these early albums. Listening to “Spirits in the Night,” “4th of July, Asbury Park,” “Thunder Road,” or “Jungleland” definitely makes me feel like Springsteen was talking to me.

 

Interestingly, while Nixon (a North Carolinian) appreciated those early records, it was Springsteen’s fourth record, “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” that made him feel a strong connection to the Boss’ lyrics. His rationale was that on “Darkness,” Bruce was no longer singing stories about where he grew up. The songs now were broader in scope and told tales of characters Springsteen met or conjured up after touring and having the opportunity to see the world outside of Asbury Park, New York, and Philly.

 

I would venture to suggest that Springsteen’s next two albums, “The River” and “Nebraska,” each expanded Springsteen’s ring of fans and popularity so that by the time “Born in the USA” was released in 1984, there were literally millions of people poised and ready to receive that album and help make it the incredible commercial success that it was. Without question, the quality of the songs on “Born in the USA” played a large part in its success, as did Springsteen’s legendary live shows and relentless touring schedule. Yet I submit that the foundation that was established by Springsteen’s earlier work was equally important to how well “Born in the USA” did on the charts and commercially.

 

Now, what hit me right between the eyes as I listened to Nixon this morning was that we “preach” the same concepts day-in and day-out at DeeterUSA as we work with our clients to develop strategic marketing and communications plans:

 

  • First and foremost, build a strong foundation with your communications activities. It may not be the most exciting and/or glamorous tactical items that you will do, yet these items are the things that will set-up your successes moving forward

 

  • Identify all of your target audiences, prioritize them, and then work “core out” to convert them to be advocates of your brand or company. Start with those closest to your company and work to influence them one at a time. More often than not, what you will find is that when you get to the outer rings of influence, the people in the inner rings will serve as cheerleaders for you – making it easier to “win over” the people in the outer rings

 

For Springsteen, his earlier albums set a strong foundation that paved the way for his critically acclaimed album “Born to Run” and his commercially huge “Born in the USA.” Further, the songs and stories shared on each of his albums became more geographically expansive with each release. In essence, he worked “core-out” lyrically, speaking first to the people in New Jersey, New York, and Eastern Pennsylvania, and then building out from there until he became the global icon that he is today.

 

DeeterUSA cannot promise your brand or company the same success that Bruce Springsteen has realized, yet our experience with core out marketing has repeatedly resulted in outcomes that exceeded both ours and our client’s expectations!

 

─ Drew

The Latest Crop of “Designers”

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I am on the board of trustees for an area university. While in conversation with the dean of academic affairs and a fellow trustee over lunch at a trustee retreat last week one of them mentioned starting a new course at the school in advertising design or something similar and it was the perfect entre for me to confide in them that I have been less than impressed with the young design graduates I have interviewed and had to work with over the past few years. The sad fact is that none of them could draw a picture freehand. I’m talking about scratching out simple “thumbnail” sketches to demonstrate they understood what I and others were talking about. What I have seen is so bad, in fact, that if you took these “art directors/designers” Mac away every one of these people would be completely helpless. What does that say about those schools who have awarded those “fine arts” degrees? Maybe they should be “find arts” because the kids I have interviewed wouldn’t know good art if it hit them. When I shared my frustration with the dean, she appeared to being shocked, yet upon reflection said that she could see where I was coming from. What makes this all so terribly sad is that this new breed of art directors/designers is completely lost without their computers and sadder still is the fact that they are limited by what their computers can do. They have long since forfeited their own creativity and ingenuity. I wonder what Da Vinci and Michelangelo would think of this. Forget about carving David out of marble “I don’t want to get any blisters and as for The Sistine Chapel, I think an off white ceiling would be just fine.”  Who wants to get a kink in their neck … painting on their back. You’ve got to be kidding me!

– Bill

It is your responsibility

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I was just writing a note to our team about a client decision to rebrand a product in the middle of that product’s national roll out. While I fully support the client’s right to make the decision to make the change (they pay the bills) and I do believe it will be in the best interest of the company involved to create a global brand, I also believe it does open up an interesting question about responsibility or accountability and authority.

 

It is my humble belief that if I expect to hold someone on staff responsible or accountable for achieving expected, required, or anticipated results, I must then arm them with the authority they need to be successful. Implied in that authority is the fact that I have enough confidence in my staff member to know that they will not abuse the authority I give them and they will use all of their professional talents to meet the goals or objectives I and/or others on my team have set and they, as the project/program manager, have agreed to.

 

All of this is pretty clear-cut for me. I believe that if I do not empower the person I have assigned the task with the authority they need to do the job at hand, I have no right to hold them responsible or accountable for the results. It amazes me to sometimes see very bright people miss this point. I do not want to be held accountable for someone else’s decisions. It is just that simple. It goes back to an earlier blog I posted about hiring artists to paint pictures and then micromanaging them to the point that the finished product is a reflection of the micromanager and not the person assigned to the task.

 

If you want a happy and heathly work force, give them the freedom to put their background and skills to best use. If they succeed, then by all means praise and thank them. If they fail, try to educate them and set them straight realizing that failure is a part of learning and growing. If they fail repeatedly on the things you have already corrected, then you need to have the courage to cut your losses and move on.  My experience has been good people can do great work with the proper encouragement and just the right amount of direction. It really is just that simple.

 

–       Bill

The Making of a Masterful Media List

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When pitching a story for a client you don’t want to throw it out into the unknown, you want to make sure it gets into the right hands at the right time. A well-thought-out media list is something that every client/company should have. Targeted lists have the greatest impact and get the maximum reach. Below are some tips to hone in on your ideal media list:

 

1. Research, research, research. Once you have narrowed down the target audience for your list, research all publications nationally or within a specific region and find the best fits. Within each of these publications there are multiple writers on staff – from these staff members find the individual reporter/writer that covers the topic you’re researching, whether it is healthcare, lifestyle, regional news, sports, or something else.

 

2. Remember to add additional outlets that you wouldn’t normally think of. Think outside the box when it comes to certain publications. You should already have TV, print, and radio on your list, but after those look into blogs that cover the topic you’re creating the list for. Also remember to look into certain social media outlets that correlate with your client/company. Some Twitter and Facebook pages garner multiple views per day. Having a Facebook or Twitter account share or like your story helps it to reach a much larger audience.

 

3. Quality over quantity. This phrase has been used before, yet it is vital when creating a media list. You need to be careful of who you’re adding onto your lists. The last thing you want to do is send a reporter/writer a story that is irrelevant to what they standardly cover. These publications receive hundreds of new press releases each day and don’t have time to read one that is not the right fit for them. It’s not to say they won’t pass your story along to the right person, yet they shouldn’t have to because you should already be sending it to the correct people. Having a targeted list may be smaller in appearance, yet will make a bigger impact in the long run.

 

4. Once created, make sure to keep the list current. Reporters/writers come and go quickly. They may have switched to another paper or changed topics they cover. Whatever the case, you need to be aware of these changes and apply them to your media lists. Certain services update these staffers automatically when they change positions, yet it doesn’t hurt to call and check to be sure you are sending your news to the right person. Every couple of months you should look at your media lists and see if changes need to be made.

 

5. You should have multiple media lists and one master list. Sometimes you will send a release for a very targeted audience, while other times you will be sending it to a much broader target audience. This is why having different lists separating areas/topics is helpful. You do not want to have to look into your master list each time to pull out specific publications. You know your clients/company and should know what micro-lists they could benefit from. You could have a “Philadelphia” media list highlighting publications only in that specific region or a “food and wine” media list that only covers those topics.

 

6. Don’t be afraid to use an online service. Creating a perfect media list can be daunting, yet there are services out there that make it easy. Companies like Meltwater, Cision, and PRnewswire enable users to search through large databases to find the best contacts. These services also incorporate press release distribution, extensive release reports for clients, and social media tracking. While they can seem pricey, they can be very efficient and can help you make your media list the best it can be.

 

At the end of the day, you want to make sure you get the most coverage for your client. Having a very fine-tuned media list will help you do just that. DeeterUSA is in the business of reporting and sometimes making news coverage happen. We try to spread the word to exactly who needs to hear it. Over time you will build relationships with reporters and editors. This will increase your visibility with the media. Be smart and take your time when creating a media list. Hopefully you will get the pickup your release – and your client – deserves.

 

– Rachel