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Friday, May 27, 2011

Marketing and Neuroscience - a Match Made in Heaven

Imagine that you're walking through the grocery store snack aisle and you pick a bag of tortilla chips over the bag of pretzels. You chose the tortilla chips because you like the taste better than the pretzels, right?

That may have been your conscious decision, but your brain was busy making a million other subconscious observations while you were debating which product tastes better. You probably picked the chips over the pretzels for a reason you weren’t even consciously aware of, but marketers spending big bucks to analyze your brain waves, blood flow and eye movements sure are.

Our brains process 11 million bits of information every second, and only 40 bits of that information is processed consciously. Conscious deliberation really is the exception rather than the rule. With unrelenting competition in the marketplace, companies are anxious to find out exactly how to get consumers to choose their products and are teaming up with neuroscientists to get to the root of the matter.

Neuroscience is the indirect measure of a person’s response, either about things people don’t want to reveal or to factors people aren’t aware of or don’t realize have influenced them. The various tools measure attention, emotion and memory, and marketers are applying the scientific findings to branding, product development, packaging design, advertising and in-store displays.

The presenters shared some “neurological best practices” for advertising, and since I don’t have access to the funds it takes to hook up our target audiences to brain wave machines, I found the tips to be particularly helpful.

General audience: 

  • Images on the left and text on the right are easier for our brain to process
  • Minimize visual clutter
  • Use interesting fonts and font treatments, but none that are too difficult to process
  • Lead with emotion
  • Motion, novelty, error, ambiguity and simple puzzles capture attention
  • Use as many senses as possible
  • Emphasize your product’s link to the natural world
  • Embed the product
Women . . .

  • Are attracted to images of women in groups, especially when they are shown enjoying a shared activity
  • Engage faster with faces that are looking directly at them
  • Process language more fluently then men, so text-based ads work
 Men are . . .

  • Impulsive shoppers, so short and focused messages work well
  • Attracted to images of advancement and success
  • Attracted to spatial imagery
 ~ Nicole

Friday, May 20, 2011

What Drives Me Crazy About Clients in PR

When someone retains a PR firm they do so because they want to get attention for themselves, a product, their organization or an issue . . . right?

Here are some real life cases that just make a PR professional want to scream. 

1)       I opened up a trade magazine to a section devoted to a particular sector of an industry. I looked for my client, a leader in that sector, and they were nowhere to be found. I called up the editor to ask what gives, why did he leave my client out? He tells me that we called and left several messages with my client, but that my client never returned his calls. So I get on the phone to my client and asked about the calls, thinking to myself that there must have been a breakdown in communications and he never received the messages. It turns there wasn’t a breakdown, my client had received the messages, but he was ‘busy’ (yeah right, for over a week!) and just didn’t get around to returning the call. OMG – You’ve got to be kidding!!

2)     A client is holding a special event for underprivileged children and wants to get some publicity. I told them that I’ll send out the release listing them as the contact and to expect to get phone calls. The next day, I asked how many calls he had received. He says, “One.” I say, “Only one? That’s odd.” And he says, “Well, after the first call I didn’t feel like talking to anyone else so I turned off my phone.” AHHHH!!!

3)     I did a little pro bono work for a charter school whose charter was up for renewal so they wanted to get some publicity before their hearing. So I send out a news release that draws the attention of National Public Radio. They contacted the principal because they wanted to come to the school and do some interviews with teachers. The principal's response, “Oh, I can’t have that! It would be too disruptive for the students.” JUST SHOOT ME NOW!

     Unfortunately, these are just a few of my stories like this. For all the good work that PR pros can do for their clients, the clients can still be their own worst enemy and in just a few seconds take all your good work and flush it right down the drain. So if you’ve ever had something like one of these happen to you, you are not alone. And when it happens to you the first time, rest assured, it won’t be your last.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Who Needs PR When You Have Mom?

It isn’t uncommon to see a blank stare when I respond “Public Relations” when someone asks me what I do for a living. Yes, I know. It’s an all-encompassing word and for most, they either have a negative perception of what they think it is or they simply don’t know what it is. So here’s how I’ve explained it.

Think of your mom. She is the ultimate multitasker and communicator. She’s able to do dishes, have a conversation and flip through her planner, all while soothing a crying toddler from a fall. She is your cheerleader and your biggest fan. But all too often, she’s the one backstage making things happen while you’re in the spotlight. No one blinks at the dinner she puts on the table or when she stays home to take care of you when you’re sick. And let’s talk about how she made you feel about that project you excitedly brought from school because well, of course, it’s the most amazing piece of glued pasta ever made!

Public relations is exactly like that. You have to have a whole toolbox of skills, build relationships and not to mention, do crisis communications on the fly. You’ve seen them – PR folks on TV (or moms everywhere) with their hair a little messy because their day has suddenly turned into a hectic series of events. But it takes skill to be able to take control and get everyone calm and doing what they’re supposed to do.  It’s complex and filled with many deadlines. But the rewards can be great and satisfying. It’s why I love PR – and why we all love our moms and what they do.

A tribute to moms everywhere.

Happy Mother’s Day!