VIRTUAL REALITY, INTEGRATED MARKETING & PR

Loa Fridfinnson – tips

  • Every single company has something special about them and has a story to tell.
  • You only have one chance truly to make a good first impression, so first, all the branded material has to look and sound really good.
  • Social media is a great way to get traditional media coverage
  • Augmented and virtual reality is poised for explosive growth. How can you get onboard?
  • Assess what your goals are, what you want to achieve, and then do something. Just get started!

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Doug: Well, welcome to the show. Did I miss anything or leave anything out in your bio?

Loa:  No, I think you just about covered it.

Doug: Well, there we go. So, let's talk about marketing. You're a marketing consultant. I'm a marketing consultant. We help people grow their businesses and earn more money through our various tactics. Do you wanna share some of the tactics or breakthroughs that you've had with your clients.

Loa: Okay, sure. Well, in my last 17-year career of working as an integrated marketer, which means I basically cover … I'm dangerous enough in all areas of marketing to be able to help my clients understand all the ways that they need to reach out in order to attract their target customer.

So, one of the ways that I'm really a fan of is, it really helps a company to raise its public profile to get in front of its target market very quickly, and also to form that third-party credibility that is aligned with trusted brands, and that's through public relations. And of course, an offset to that is social media because any time that you have people reading about you in the news, or hearing really good things about you online, that's going to really give your business reputation a lift. And it's going to, as I said, help you get in front of the people that matter most and make you look really good.

Doug:    Well, that's good. Whatever I can do to look better, I'm sure will help the business. So, how do you specifically do that for the clients you work with? Is there a secret sauce, or a formula that you have to help them accomplish this.

Loa: Yeah, thanks, Doug. That's a really good question, because one of the biggest myths that a lot of companies have, especially small business, is that they think their story is not exciting enough for the media to want to cover them. And as it is true that there's a lot of companies that are trying to get media attention all at the same time, and the media is inundated with a lot of different story ideas, but if you know what you're doing in terms of you have a unique angle to your story, so …

And every single company has something special about them. Doesn't matter if you're making screwdrivers to being a mammoth company, like Apple. There's always going to be something that you can … A story you can tell, whether it's your people, your processes and systems, a feel-good story, a rags-to-riches story, and entrepreneurial story … So, there's a lot of ways that you can really dig into the nuts and bolts of your business, and the people that are your staff and their expertise, and the experiences as well as your own, as the business owner, and there's going to be some really juicy stuff that you'll be able to put together. And as long as you're going to the right reporter or editor to cover your industry, then you have a really … And the story's angled in a way that they're going to most appreciate. If you make their job easy, then you have a higher likelihood of getting coverage.

Doug: Sharon, I guess, like you said, most business-owners, or entrepreneurs, or solo-preneurs, regardless of the size of the business often thinks, “Well, hey. Everybody knows this.” But then, often it's just everybody in their industry knows it, and the general public or their customer might not know.

Loa: Right, absolutely. And it really is about thinking from the end-user in mind. So, if you're going to a business in Vancouver, for example, and wanting to speak with one of their writers or editors and pitch a story, if you can think about, from their perspective, they want to put out stories that their audience is going to appreciate and find … Whether it's helpful, or informative, or insightful … So, if you can think with the end-user in mind, and consider how you can make that reporter or editor's job easier by giving them a really great story, then that's going to put you up there in terms of getting their attention, and potentially getting coverage.

And same within social media too. I mean, if you can go to bloggers that cover your particular industry and you're able to get on their radar, then that's certainly going to help to give you that awareness and that third-party credibility.

Doug: Well, walk me through the process then. So, I'm a business owner, and you're gonna help me to develop an integrated marketing plan, and part of that plan, or the cornerstone, is gonna be public relations. So, I'm assuming you're gonna work with me to help me craft a story.

Loa: Right! Yeah, exactly. So, it all … I mean, of course, as you know, any marketing plan starts with the goals in mind of what the business owner wants to achieve, and in what timeframe. And then, well sit down together and look at the different aspects of growth that the company has gone through, that the original story of how the business-owner started the business, and what his or her passion is, and why they're in that business. Also, look at their processes, and any … Anything that they happen to be doing uniquely in the industry and see if there‘s any feel-good stories. Maybe they're really involved in charitable work, and … There's usually something that we can find that makes a company special and stand out, and be able to use that in a way to introduce the company to various media, and that's both at the national level as well as at the local level. And of course, bloggers are … They're everywhere online, so it's just a matter of finding out who is it that … You know? Who is your target audience? And what blogger writes for them?

Doug: Sure, that makes sense. Now, digging a little bit deeper … So, are you gonna work with the company and help them create a media kit, and make sure that that's congruent with [inaudible 00:05:46] on their website, so if somebody from the media does go do some surface background, they're gonna get a feel for who they are?

Loa: Yeah. Well, typically it doesn't really matter whether it's a PR campaign, social media, a direct marketing, or advertising. First of all, the website has to just tell a really, really strong story. So, no outdated websites that are not mobile-friendly. If somebody's going to hear about a company, the first thing they're going to do is pull up the company's website, so the writing better be really strong and capture the attention of the target audience. Same with the visuals.

So, in this day and age, we only have one chance truly to make a good first impression, so first, all the branded material has to look and sound really good. And then, once that's in place, and the story … We've figured out together what angles work for what publications or broadcast networks. And then, we would … I would go to the editors and reporters on behalf of the company, and make an introduction because we have to do first, what's known as a pitch email, and then it's a typical sales effort.

It's getting in touch with a reporter and editor, and introducing the story verbally as well as by email, and then staying … A lot of times, a reporter may be interested in a story, but already has a line-up of stories that are scheduled to be published, so he's going to be … He or she may be busy for a few months, but they liked the story. They may circle back, and there's a very good chance that, if you keep in touch with them, or if I do on the client's behalf, that we're going to get some sort of coverage. So, there's that, and then also reaching out, as I said, to bloggers and again, making sure that we're keeping in touch with them, and telling the story in a way that's going to appeal to them and their audience. And then, it's the typical follow-up.

Doug: Now, with your experience, do you find that the bloggers are more receptive to having someone like yourself approach them on behalf of a client, or do they want to hear from the individual themselves?

Loa: I think, at any time, it's always great if the reporter or editor hears from the business owner. But let's face it. Entrepreneurs are busy people, as you and I both know.

Doug: Yeah.

Loa: So, it's a very standard practice for the media to hear from people in PR positions that are representing a company. So, it's … I don't think that they're going to frown upon it if they hear from a PR person that talks about a particular company that they think they're going to have an interest in. It, again, is all about how is that relationship being built? And are you bringing something to the person that is in their area of interest and is going to be of interest to their audience?

Doug: Yeah, fair enough. And I think, for me at least, what I've experienced is, the biggest opportunities that we've realized have been just paying attention to what's going on in the community and what's going on in the news.

Loa: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, that could … You could very easily get a … No, not easily, but you could get a trend story too, right? It depends. So, maybe there's … For example, ARVR. Sorry, I should say what that is. Virtual reality, augmented reality. If you happen to be in that space, that space is super hot right now, so if I was representing a company that was doing something really cool and unique in that space, and I went to the media with some stories … Like, maybe they were doing something really neat for a charity, then that's kind of a two-in-one, because you've got the charitable feel-good aspect, plus you have a new technology that's really going to explode from a consumer, as well as a B2B standpoint. So, you've got some really good material to work with there.

Doug: Yeah, fair enough. I mean, I think the best example I ever had with a cold pitch was heading into the city on the train, hearing a story about a plane crash. It had a tracking device in it, a satellite device. I was working with a local company in Victoria that had a similar type of advice for boats, and I just simply got into the office, called the reporter, said, “Hey, I heard your story about planes. I have a client that's making these things for boats,” and he said, “Oh, why don't I send a photographer over?” And put us in the front cover of the Providence newspaper, did a whole story.

Loa: Nice! Yeah, absolutely. It's doing … Whenever there's … If it's something that's trending, or it happens to be a new technology and something that is really creating waves in the marketplace, then they're gonna have a lot more of a interest in it than if you just call with some kind of self-promotional pitch.

I was working with a commercial construction company awhile back, and let's face it. Trying to make construction sexy, not the easiest thing to do. But luckily enough, this company was very innovative, and they had created a technology internally to make their systems run more efficiently. And so, we thought it was a pretty interesting aspect to be able to go to the media with, and that's both … We went to everybody basically. We have the trade media, as well as The Financial Post, and The Globe and Mails, and Vancouver Suns, and we ended up getting probably in equivalent advertising value, way over 150,000 dollars in equivalent exposure, so it was pretty successful, but it was all about innovation, and the fact that a company that was in a fairly traditional, old-school industry was innovating and doing something really cool and unique. And the cool thing about what happened with this particular situation, is they ended up getting so much attention from the media and from their industry, that they were able to spin out the technology and it is now it's own company. So, that was a pretty cool success story.

Doug: Wow, that's really cool. Okay. So, let's say we walked on this path a little bit. So, you've helped put together a marketing plan and we've got some earned media, so how do you leverage that once you've got it?

Loa: Well, of course, you wanna have everything displayed on your website so that when people go there, the first thing … Cause basically, that's third-party credibility, and anytime you have something like that, whether it's reviews on Google, or being covered by the media, you wanna make sure that's front-and-center and easy for people to see because that's gonna speed up the sales process. So, you could put your media articles on your website as well as make sure you've got great reviews in Google, and you're answering customer comments in your social media channels. And also, you could take hard copies of your media coverage, and I've had clients that have framed them and actually put them on the wall in the entrance way for when clients are first walking in, because it looks pretty impressive to see that they've received all this recognition, and awards, and yeah.

Again, it just … It really increases the trust factor between the customer and the company, and it also helps to enhance its reputation.

Doug: Now, if … Looking at doing this as part of a plan, would you start with … And I don't wanna say “smaller,” but I mean, would you start with maybe a smaller-reach publication, and then, as you get coverage, be able to scale up? So, you start with maybe local, and then regional, and then go to national? Or does it matter?

Loa: You know, it really depends on the story, and the audience that the company is targeting, and where they're at in their development as well. I mean, if you have a start-up that is really bricks and mortar, they better be doing something pretty spectacular to go national with that, so you'd probably start with local trade media for … Because you don't have as much competition there as you would with the national. And same with getting on the radar of bloggers. You wanna start off with maybe a blogger that isn't super duper popular, or not popular, but with hundreds of thousands of followers. But yeah, they still have some influence and some reach. And then, you could … So, you can start getting coverage there, and then build.

Doug: Well, it's interesting because I see this huge trend and this move to marketing, in terms of using influencers specifically where you … In this case, this isn't earned media where you actually pitch them and pay them, and then they disclose properly, and then they promote your product.

Loa: Oh, sure. Yeah, that's been around for quite awhile. A lot of the financial writers have been doing that for some time. Yeah.

Doug: Yes they have, and –

Loa: Yeah.

Doug: A few of them [inaudible 00:14:49].

Loa: Yeah.

Doug: We won't mention who's [crosstalk 00:14:51] those rocking rocker guys.

Loa: Yeah!

Doug: So, what are some of the biggest myths? So, we've got people listening, going, “Okay, yeah. That sounds good, but…”

Loa: Some of the biggest –

Doug: So, what's the but?

Loa: Well, I would say the biggest but is that people don't have maybe as much belief in the uniqueness of their own story, so they may think that there's no angle there. But there usually is always something that you can find. And, so that would be … The first myth is, “Oh, I don't have a strong enough story for PR.” The second one is that it's going to cost thousands of thousands. I would say a PR campaign is … You do have to have some sort of a budget, and it's gonna be probably more than 500, but maybe under 2,000, because it's really an outreach effort per month and it does require some hours. So, to be prepared and be able to be in a situation to be able to invest in it, because it really is what you put into it, you're going to get out of it.

Doug: And I guess, have realistic goals too. I mean, you don't hire someone for PR and think that next week you're gonna be … Oprah's gonna be recommending you in her buy-list.

Loa: Yeah, isn't that the truth? I actually … I had a client one time, and this just goes back to not really fully understanding how PR works, and I had a client that was a start-up, and he wanted me to get him in Forbes magazine, and he was pretty confident that his company had what it took. And I said, “You're a six-month-old company, and you haven't even built your sales yet.” Like –

Doug: That's funny.

Loa: Like, yeah. You're a great technology, and you have a cool story, but you've gotta crawl before you walk. It's … Yeah. The expectations need to be definitely aligned with reality.

Doug: Now, what about the owner or the spokesperson who's gonna speak to the company? Do you typically … Are they gun-shy? Are they going, “Oh, I don't want to talk to somebody,” or “I'll mess up,” or “I don't wanna be on TV. I don't know what to do,” or what do you generally find?

Loa: Well, I think there's definitely going to be some media training involved. Some of the businesses that I've worked with … The CEOs … They do a fair amount of public speaking, and we're talking about more the medium-sized companies than the start-ups, but even the start-ups. I mean, a lot of entrepreneurs these days … If you've got the gumption to be an entrepreneur, you typically are … Even if you're deathly afraid of getting up in front of a group of people or being on TV, you've got the ability to take a risk, and to believe in yourself, and to go for it. So, I would say that that hasn't held me back with any of my clients at this point, and if they do have a little bit, I give them some media training so that they are prepared for the questions, and they know what the angle of the story is, so they don't go in completely cold.

Doug: Oh, that's really cool. I mean, it's helpful. I've taken some media training as well, and it didn't matter how much training I took, I'm always nervous when the camera turns on.

Loa: Yeah, well who isn't? I mean, I think we all are to some degree, right?

Doug: So, in terms of marketing, what else would you offer clients or what would you suggest they do in addition to trying to get earned media and have good public relations?

Loa: Well, absolutely a social media presence, and that's … Even if you're doing … I think a lot of entrepreneurs, especially when you're wearing so many hats and you've got so much to do already, I think a lot of entrepreneurs shy away from social media because they see it as something that is just another thing to do. And although, yes it is, we can no longer avoid it. If we're in business, we need to have some sort of a presence, even if we just do a minimum of half an hour a day. And that's a minimum, but you can still get a lift for your brand off at least having your toe in the water. So, I would say social media is very important, and also, having … You know about this, Doug, an email newsletter where you can keep in touch … Well, you know about a lot more than just an email newsletter, but you know what I mean?

Doug: Yep, I do.

Loa: You can keep in touch with your audience on an ongoing basis, and it's a push, rather than a pull. So, I mean, of course, content marketing and putting out great information in social media is gonna attract people back to you, but it's also really key to have an established email list of people that you want to work with and that you do work with, so that you're getting them attached at least once every couple months so that when they're ready to make a buying decision again, you're there. Cause right? I think that we can all relate to the fact that we live in a very noisy, busy consumer and business-to-business buyer environment. So, we typically will, in many cases, do what's right in front of us in the moment. So, if you're not keeping in touch with your customers on a regular basis and your prospects, then chances are, someone else is, so it's really important that we continue to maintain that relationship through email because email is direct right to the person.

And through programs like MailChimp and Constant Contact, we can also track it and see what people are opening, and what they're most interested in, and just be able to really develop that relationship further.

Doug: And it's a way to share the media coverage that you've got and –

Loa: Yeah.

Doug: Your additional content if you're interviewed on a podcast, or you're on a webinar or something, you can show that as well.

Loa: Absolutely. Share it all.

Doug: Our pastor … He says, “If you're not bringing your wife roses, somebody else will.”

Loa: Your pastor is a smart man.

Doug: So, I'm thinking that totally makes sense. It's the same with business, and it's funny cause you mentioned social media in terms of media relations and public relations, and we were in the UK at an event just a couple weeks ago, and one of the PR people over there … They use a … They have a hashtag that they use.

Loa: Yeah.

Doug: And it's called [Journo Request 00:21:04].

Loa: Okay.

Doug: And it's all … Not all, but it's a number of their reporters over there post stuff with that hashtag looking for people to interview.

Loa: Hmm. Yeah.

Doug: So, it's a list of journalists. Here's one. It says, “Looking for anyone that has experience with problems getting flexible work hours for a short radio interview.”

Loa: Yeah.

Doug: “Looking for a man who feels his life has been negatively impacted by feminism.” You know? And the list goes on, and on, and on, and on. So, I mean, there's an opportunity in social media of reporters that are posting, saying, “Hey, I'm looking for someone to interview for radio or print for an article, for a series.”

Loa: Oh, absolutely. And actually, social media's a great way to get traditional media as well, because most of the reporters are in social media looking for story ideas. I had … Actually, one of my students … Because I teach entrepreneurs how to market and sell their products as well as help them actually do it, and I teach every spring and fall. So, one of my students had posted recently that he's the first indigenous food truck in Vancouver. He posted it on Twitter, and next thing you know, he's being covered by The Georgia Straight through that post.

Doug: Wow.

Loa: So, the reporter saw it, and yeah. It's definitely another channel for us, as entrepreneurs, to be able to tell our story, and even if we think nobody's listening, people are. And in many cases, if you're targeting, as well, the reporters and editors that are in your industry, then you could match up with them, and voila! They're looking for a story idea, and there you are.

Doug: Yeah, and I've also found it's a good way to reach out. I've never really had … Not never really. I've never had anyone complain about sending them a direct message on either Instagram or Twitter with a request for an interview or to have a conversation.

Loa: Absolutely, it's the way we do business now. Yeah, it's accepted.

Doug: But it's personalized. I mean, to do the blanket stuff, the spray-and-pray stuff where you just put the same [inaudible 00:23:09] message –

Loa: Yeah.

Doug: Out to everybody is not gonna work.

Loa: Yeah. Not at all. It's all about personalization and building relationships. Absolutely. And that's why too, if somebody was to think about doing their own PR and contacting media … So, whether it's a reporter, or editor, or assignment editor, just make sure that you do not do the spray-and-pray. You do not … You do the same message to a number of reporters without … You need to really personalize it to each person, and understand what it is that they cover. What their area of coverage is, and send an email directly to them, and make a point of letting them know that you understand what beats they cover, so what areas they cover, and what is important to their readers or their viewers. Because if you do the spray-and-pray, then it's … They won't even pay attention.

Doug: Nope, I get that. It's always tempting though. Hey, I'll just hit the go button and we'll hit 500 people at once and someone will pick it up, but the truth is that they just throw it out.

Loa: Isn't that the truth? Yeah.

Doug: So, what are you most excited about with regards to marketing in the next six to 12 months?

Loa: Well, I would have to say the augmented and virtual reality space are … They're poised for explosive growth, and as far as a marketer's concerned, I think we really need to be there, because this is going to be a new way that buyers experience using a company's product or service, and this is going to really create a lot more of an emotional response as well, because augmented reality, for example, is like Pokemon Go, and if we look at how that could be used from a consumer perspective …

Say, for example, you're looking at a furniture store, say Ikea, you see a chair that you look. Well, you'll be able to now bring that chair … You know? Upload your own image and bring that chair into your image to see how it would look in your own living room. So, things like that are coming down the pipeline.

And then, virtual reality too, being able to actually walk into a store and look around and have that almost be … Like, feel like a real experience. So, I think that that area is going to just be phenomenal, and it's right around the corner as far as wide consumer adoption.

Doug: Well, and I guess trying that, because it's such a hot topic right now, to your existing company, your brand, if you're in an industry where you don't believe you've got anything unique, so even go back to the building, for example. And you think, “How cool would it be if I bought a custom home from a builder and I could see updates at the end of the week by VA, so somebody walks through the house, and you can see what's happening.

Loa: Yeah.

Doug: So, very simple construction industry, but take that twist and guess what? Now, you've probably got a press release.

Loa: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there's so many cool things coming down the pipeline, it's mind-blowing. So, yeah. I think, as marketers, we definitely need to be in this space. And same with … If you wanna use it to give your brand that oomph and excitement that … You wanna deliver a really amazing experience to your customers. If you can figure out a way to deliver it and just make it that much more real for people, then you're going to come out on top.

Doug:    That's really cool. You've given me a couple of new ideas.

Loa: Yay.

Doug: Which I may share later.

Loa: You can tell me!

Doug: What advice would you give our listeners who have hesitated to pull the trigger and haven't made that next step?

Loa: I would say, just take one small step, because as soon as you start … Think about what it is you want to achieve, whether it's in going after traditional media, bloggers, or even putting together a small social media presence online, just take that one step. Assess what your goals are, what you want to achieve, and then do something. Doing something is better than doing nothing, so it's … And then, once you put your energy into that, and it starts to kind of open doors, and things will flow, and people will show up to help as well. If you start to tell people what it is you're doing and what it is you want to achieve. So, I think that taking action is really, really important.

Doug: Yep, I totally agree. Yep. Better to do something. I call it, “Get messy.” Do some stuff that's not exactly right, but get something started.

Loa: Isn't that the truth, yeah. Learn as you go. For sure.

Doug: Yep. So, what's the best way for people to find you.

Loa: Well, they can certainly visit my website, which is wwwactiv, spelled A-C-T-I-V, no E, with the number eight, and then I-N-C for Inc. dot com. Or, they can also call me at 604-687-2004. And of course, all my social media links and my email is on my website too.

Doug: There you go. That was awesome. Hey, well thank you so much for sharing. I'm a huge fan of PR and earned media, and I totally agree with you that it's a huge opportunity for businesses, regardless of the size to get out there and to leverage that, and not necessarily to replace their paid advertising, but a way to supplement it, and increase their brand awareness, and get some more customers in the door. I'm thinking that's likely what people's goals really are, unless they're dealing with a crisis. So, who's on-

Loa: Abs-

Doug: Sorry, who's one guest that I should have on my show?

Loa: I think that you should give David Ian Gray of DIG360 a call. Not only is he a brilliant retail analyst and knows everything about what's happening in the consumer space right now, and what makes us buy, but he is a very funny guy, and you'll enjoy speaking with him, and your listeners will enjoy hearing from him.

Doug: Well, I will take your recommendation, and I'll tell him that we had a great chat. I'll send him to listen to your podcast episode, and see if we can convince him to come and join us on the show.

So, thanks so much for taking time out of your day today.

Loa: It was my pleasure, Doug. Thanks for asking me to be on your show.

Doug: Thanks a lot. Take care.

Loa: Oh, you too. Bye.

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Resources mention in this episode:

Activ8 | Integrated Marketing Agency

Tel: 604-687-2004

activ8inc.com

facebook.com/Activ8Inc

Activ8 LinkedIn

google.com/+Activ8

Activ8 YouTube