Tag Archive for: marketing

Paying for brand ambassadors: worth it or not?

In our last blog post we touched upon how your employees were your best brand ambassadors. However, many brands also pay high profile celebrities to endorse their products and/or services such as Brumby’s, who has recently announced its partnership with Matthew Hayden.

While many brands have successfully leveraged a celebrity relationship to their benefit, a large number have failed to engage their core consumer with the new ‘face’ of their business.

Why so?

Brand ambassadors must be picked carefully. Just because someone is famous doesn’t mean your target consumer will instantly warm to them. What’s key here is to ensure your brand ambassador is relevant to your products and services and, in turn, your customer.

The main aim of having a celebrity brand ambassador on board is to transfer the equity of said person to your business, resulting in enhanced preference and a heightened perceived credibility for your brand. They should be instantly recognisable and aligned with your proposition.

Target has recently demonstrated a great re-positioning campaign using the services of fashion guru, Gok Wan. This has worked brilliantly for them as Gok is well-known – and, importantly, liked – by consumers from all walks of life. He is neither too ‘fashion-forward’ nor hyper-critical, meaning the average Target customer feels assured that he – and therefore Target  –  really does have their best fashion interests at heart.

Linking with a public figure who is known for their brilliant charity or community work can also be an effective way to ‘piggy-back’ your messaging. Our client, Poolwerx, recently did exactly that, joining forces with Kids Alive founder, Laurie Lawrence, to promote swimming pool safety this summer. You can see more about that here.

Of course, it can go horribly wrong. Affiliating yourself fully with a celebrity means that if they fall from a great height, so do you. Think Kate Moss and the cocaine scandal – hugely embarrassing for the likes of Chanel and Burberry.

On the flipside, some great crisis PR can rescue your brand and even turn a disaster into a success. Rimmel stuck by Moss and some have argued that it actually boosted its profile and helped Moss obtain even greater international appeal. Her rock ‘n’ roll goddess status certainly didn’t take a hit – it just added to her ‘bad girl’ persona, which Rimmel evidently thrived upon.

But in truth, does anyone really want their brand to be associated with such negative connotations, regardless of the outcome?

In summary, there is certainly a place for celebrities in marketing and PR campaigns. Just be sure to choose someone who will reflect your company’s ethos and values, and who will bring more than just their name to your brand.

Finding your Perfect PR Partner

Public Relations is a cost effective way to ignite your brand with the right audiences and it should be part of every marketing communications plan. But when is the right time to hire a PR agency and when and how do you find one that matches your brand?

Ask yourself this. Does your business have the capacity to fully manage PR efforts internally? Or, are you ready to take your brand to the next level by putting it in the spotlight?

The marketing function specifically is a specialist area and not all entrepreneurs or managers understand it fully, nor should they need to. This is why many look for supporting agencies.

How do I find a PR agency? Google search using key words relevant to your company like franchising, retail, pr agency. Or, research companies you admire or that are similar to you and look at who is doing their PR through their online press releases. 

But outsourcing to the experts is a tough decision to make. The PR agency becomes an extension of your operation. It speaks with media on your behalf and represents your brand. How do I pick the perfect PR match? Two words: experience and communication.


Are you a coffee franchise? Look for PR agencies who have worked with other coffee franchises before. They understand your needs, understand the market and will hit the ground running when they learn your brand. Look to see if they have hit results similar to what you’re expecting with your brand. This could be coverage in national newspapers or consumer magazines.

But don’t look past an agency that isn’t heavily experienced in your respective industry. The key to good PR is the ability to forge relationships with editors and broadcasters for your company and any agency with a good PR account team can do this well. Look for client testimonials from brands similar to yours, and see what they say about the prospective agency.


Good PRs have exceptional communication skills, so you be the judge. How did you feel the first time you spoke or met with an agency? Do you feel comfortable with them and excited about potentially working with them or do you feel like you’re being “sold”? If this is how they represent their brand, it’s probably how they’ll represent your brand.

Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about how they work. How often you can expect communication from them, particularly when it comes to activity and results. Ignite PR & Marketing sends weekly wraps of PR activity to all of our clients as well as monthly or bi-annual PR reports. We meet with clients monthly to discuss successes, challenges and any upcoming opportunities. We find that consistent communication with clients gives us the best opportunity to ignite their brands.

Our Director, Trina McColl, is always available to answer questions about how we can help ignite your brand. 

Ignite PR & Marketing is an established and experienced firm with a strong background in both franchising and retail services.

Hashtag Highjack – Lessons from the #Qantasluxury Fiasco

You’ve heard the story of Pandora’s Box: Zeus gives the trinket to Pandora as a gift and tells her never to open it, but curiosity gets the best of Pandora and she does anyway.  In doing so she unleashes untold evils into the world, which can never be put back in the box.

Enter #Qantasluxury, stage left.

Just in case you missed it here’s how it went down. On Tuesday November 22 Qantas kicked off a competition on Twitter to win a set of its first-class pyjamas:

It wasn’t long before #QantasLuxury was the top Twitter trending topic in Australia with over 14,700 mentions. Unfortunately for Qantas almost all of them came with a double helping of either sarcasm or outright anger:

#QantasLuxury is getting from A to B without the plane being grounded or an engine catching fire

#QantasLuxury is a complimentary cheap hotel room because your airline left you stranded in Adelaide, of all places. Adelaide.

#QantasLuxury is a massive executive bonus while your workers starve and your former customers choke

#QantasLuxury is more than 3mins notice that the whole service has been grounded

My #QantasLuxury experience would be no matter what time or duration of the flight a proper meal is served a cookie is not a meal it’s a joke

#QantasLuxury is flights that leave on schedule because Management doesn’t arbitrarily shut down the airline

#QantasLuxury is planes that arrive intact and on time because they’re staffed and maintained by properly paid, Australia-based personnel.

#Qantasluxury is not being told you can apply for refund online & finding out they only refund via a phone that no one answers for 4hrs

And my personal favourite

#Qantasluxury Somewhere inside Qantas HQ a middle aged manager is yelling at a Gen Y social media “expert” to make it stop

So what went wrong and what can we learn from the Qantas Luxury fail.

Like comedy, in social media timing is everything

What’s puzzling is that a consensus could be reached in the Qantas marketing ranks that this was a good idea. Qantas simply should have known to be more cautious about dipping their toe in the murky waters of social media so soon after the grounding of the Qantas fleet in October. Alicia Kennedy of online monitoring service Meltwater puts it beautifully.

Had the thousands of people who were inconvenienced by the recent lock out moved past the issue?  Were the public ready to talk about the positives of the company yet again? Judging from a social media analysis, the answer is a resounding no .In the three days after the Qantas grounding, the brand received over 37,000 negative social media mentions and that alone should have sent warning signals to Qantas’ social media team.”

Should have, but didn’t.

Any publicity is NOT good publicity

Some observers will swear this was a deliberate ploy from Qantas to re-engage with customers.

Make no mistake, the grounding of the Qantas fleet has tarnished the brand significantly and this gaffe has rubbed salt into an open wound. The once untouchable flying kangaroo has battled a string of issues that have affected customers, then turned around and given them a public platform to publish their grievances for all to see, share and compare. There’s just no up-side to it.

Bad campaigns = bad news

How is it that Australia’s largest airline, with its multimillion dollar marketing budget, couldn’t come up with a better social media campaign than a pair of pyjamas and a self-serving hashtag. The fact is #QantasLuxury was ill conceived to begin with. Toss in the existing negative sentiment and it goes from being a poor campaign to a nightmare one that achieved nothing beyond highlighting a company out of touch with customers.

Respond – especially if you started it

Twitter facilitates conversations which don’t occur in our day-to-day lives and these are often between customers and brands. As in a real-life chat, you can’t always control the direction of the conversation. It’s a two way street, but you can respond, and you must respond if you initiated the dialogue in the first place.

After announcing the competition and being hounded with complaints, Qantas tweeted the following – “Some very creative tweeps out there. Keep the entries coming”, along with the hashtag “QantasWeHearYou”.

They deserve to be commended for this at least.

Even if it will probably be ignored, a considered, empathetic response which reaffirms your core brand values is always best.

Don’t despair and don’t give up

Whether Qantas handled the saga appropriately is an open question, but ultimately what #QantasLuxury does is highlight the importance of taking full ownership of your brand presence online.

If your brand is being trashed on social media, you must address it. If, instead, you disconnected from your social media platforms and simply choose “not to get involved” you will be viewed as silent and uncaring.

Giving up on social media after bad feedback, or even a campaign as poor as #QantasLuxury, is the worst thing you can do.

If you find yourself totally overwhelmed I recommend revisiting Pandora. Re-read the story and you’ll find that after the contents had escaped, one thing remained in the bottom of the box – Hope!

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The Power of WOM

Word of mouth (or WOM) is one of those true marketing mysteries.

It’s also a topic that can easily bamboozle business owners into believing it can only be doled out by highly paid WOM gurus (closely related to social media gurus) and that the ensuing buzz will be a magic bullet to business success.

So what is WOM-marketing and how can you cut through the hype and use it drive your business?

To get started let’s get some WOM marketing buzzwords out of the way. Word of mouth marketing encompasses a variety of subcategories including buzz, blog, viral, grassroots, brand advocates, cause influencers social media marketing and ambassador programs to name but a few.

Ultimately all of the above concepts hinge on the idea that the personal nature of the communications between people is more credible than advertising and that people are therefore more likely to apply information received via word of mouth.

Think about the last time someone recommended a great restaurant to you and you tried it out based on that recommendation. That communication and subsequent action is one complete word of mouth transaction.

These referrals are given to us, and handed out by us, almost subconsciously all the time.

Here’s the kicker though – the success or failure of word-of-mouth marketing depends on two crucial factors:

1. The extent of customer satisfaction with the product or service, and

2. The perceived value of the product or service

Below are two case studies covering the largest and the smallest ends of the business spectrum, followed by some important questions to ask yourself before jumping into the wonderful world of WOM.

1.     Amazon.com 

In 2003 online retail giant Amazon scrapped its television  advertising strategy (US $100M) and used the money it saved to invest in its now famous free shipping policy (purchases over $25 are eligible for free shipping anywhere in the world).

Amazon still loses money on shipping, but this is more than made up for by the incredible word of mouth support generated by the decision.

Amazon also spent a great deal of money ensuring they had an unbeatable range of stock, including over one million books, many of which are not best sellers, simply to ensure customers can always find what they are looking for.

Further, when Amazon launched its Kindle E-Reader it relied on word of mouth marketing in order to sell units. The website invested in its “See a Kindle in your area” message board where customers interested in purchasing could locate existing Kindle owners in their area, meet with them, and try out the product for themselves.

Today Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer and is expected to announce $9.37 billion in revenue this quarter.

2.     Chompers

But it’s not just the big end of town getting in on the WOM act. This month local Brisbane independent fast food outlet ‘Chompers’ launched its OMG Double Double Burger: Two meat patties, two slices of cheese, bacon and lettuce, and two Krispy Kreme doughnuts instead of burger buns.

Chompers Owner Chris Bowe admits the burger was created for the sole purpose of generating WOM interest.

‘‘At first, we aimed to get attention via social media including Facebook,’’ he said.

‘‘We had people come in and take photos of it on their mobile phones and that’s how word spread initially.

‘‘We obviously don’t have the marketing budget of a bigger chain … and people always want to try something different.’’

So size is no barrier to successful WOM marketing. But before you start masterminding your own 6000 calorie burger, ask yourself these five word of mouth questions – and good luck!

1. Are you doing something dramatically different in your market or do you have a truly original product? For Amazon it’s a service: free shipping. For Chompers it’s a product: the OMG Double Double Burger

2. Does your product or service appeal to a relatively wide audience (are you WOM-able)? Amazon and Chompers are general consumer businesses. If you’re business is niche or business-to-business WOM may not the most effective option

3. Is your customer service and delivery experience top shelf? If Amazon’s products did not arrive on time or in perfect condition all of their hard WOM work would be undone. The Chompers’ burger must be tasty as well as attention grabbing.

4. Are you ready to WOM? If Amazon did not have the capacity to deliver, or if Chompers ran out of Krispy Krème donuts every time someone asked for the burger, their WOM could easily turn negative. You need the capacity to deliver on your WOM promises.

5. Do you have a plan beyond WOM? Like all marketing, WOM should be part of broader strategy. It is not a marketing plan on its own, but as seen in the case studies, WOM can be a powerful and cost effective tool in your marketing arsenal.

Images courtesy of www.chompers.com.au and www.amazon.com

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Why businesses should consider outsourcing PR

When it comes to marketing your business, there are a number of specialist areas that need to be looked at including graphic design, marketing and public relations. Whilst you might be able to do the basics in-house, there is expertise attached to these specialist areas. Here are a few reasons why it’s worth investing in your PR rather than DIY-ing it:

1)      We’ve got years of experience and expertise: chances are we’ve done it all before, we’ve written the press releases, we’ve done the media training, we’ve spoken to the journalists, we’ve pitched the stories – we’re doing the job day in, day out, for a varied client list.

2)      We can bring something new to the table: coming from an outside perspective we can put forward new ideas, different ways of doing things and challenge the way you do things ‘just because’. We’re there to make your business grow so we can grow too.

3)      You can get results without another ‘mouth to feed’: the breadth of our experience means that we are often more cost-effective than it would be to get the person/ people necessary in-house to cover all the tasks we can undertake.

4)      We can react fast: if something needs turning around quickly, if you need more hands on deck, an outsourced company should have the extra resource and capability to turn that around for you.

5)      We can help upskill your team: working closely side-by-side should mean that your in-house team learns more and more about PR and what it can achieve for your business.

Outsourcing is an investment and it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before taking that step otherwise you may end up resenting the company that is working for you, rather than using them to their maximum potential and allowing them to work with you and integrate with your team.

The best time to get in the PR experts is if you’re running out of ideas, if you don’t want to make a long-term commitment initially and dip your toe in the water, if your in-house marketing team is overworked, if your head office and marketing function is overseas, if you’re a start-up business and focussed on the core business, if you want to inject fresh ideas and new skills.

But if you choose to go down the path of outsourcing you must be very clear about the objectives and how you will measure success, i.e. what the desired outcome is. It’s important for you to meet the team who would be working on your ‘account’ – you should get on with them and they should have the enthusiasm and skills necessary to deliver.

The best PR agency-client relationships are partnerships where the business is open and honest with the PR consultancy – being up front about business objectives, praising good work, working alongside the agency team and keeping them informed of everything happening in your business.

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How to write award entries

Entering awards may be the bane of your life – it always takes longer than you think to write the entry so it’s usually a stressful rush at the last minute. So why bother?

Well, it’s very flattering to be nominated or asked to enter an award; if you get shortlisted or win it’s a fantastic boost for the company and the team; you usually get to go to a great party; it can help with new business; enhance your profile in your industry; give you a great opportunity to generate some publicity – both internally and externally; and the logos look great on the letterhead/ email signature/ website homepage.

Here we give our top five tips for writing award entries and some advice on how to go about finding awards to enter. (But rest assured we can do the hard work for you as well if necessary!)

1)      Enter the right award: This might sound a bit obvious, but award entries take a lot of time and effort so it’s important to make sure that the award you’re planning to enter are worth it and that you genuinely think you have a good chance. Have a look and see what and who has won in previous years, if you can get examples of previous entries to work from do that too, but always make sure you put your own stamp on it. The process of actually entering an award can sometimes cause you to have a really close look at your business, your goals and what you’ve already achieved. The process itself can sometimes be beneficial.

2)      Check the format: Another obvious one, but something that can easily be overlooked – do they want it written in the first or third person? Is there a word limit on the responses? Would it be advantageous to have your entry designed by a graphic designer to give it more impact? Do they want attachments? How do those need to be formatted? Does the entry need to be submitted in a specific format? Does it need to be posted or emailed – this could impact the amount of time you have and how you write it up?

3)      Gather evidence: As well as you telling the judges that you’re great, you deserve the award and how could they possibly give it to anyone else, it’s probably a good idea (and most awards require it) to gather evidence to support your answers. Examples of documents, testimonials from colleagues or clients, presentations, press coverage… whatever fits the bill, make sure you use it to strengthen your case as the future award winning company or individual that you are.

4)      Proof-read: You’ve come this far, you’ve decided which award to enter, you’ve agonised over the words, you’ve edited everything to within an inch of its life and now you’re almost ready to enter (well within the deadline of course) so don’t let a ‘smelling pistake’ or stray apostrophe or speech mark get in your way. It may sound small, but some of these judges are hard people to please!

5)      Be prepared: You may be called upon to have a face-to-face interview as part of the awards process, this could turn out to be the interview of your life. Be prepared so you can enjoy it! Think you might enter a particular award next year, start preparing for it now, if there are particular criteria you need to fulfill what can you do between now and then to make sure you’ve got it covered? Always be one step ahead and you’ll find it much easier when it comes round to the entry writing process.

Where can you find out about awards to enter? There are lots of places to look – try your local Chamber of Commerce, local newspaper and council. Also look at industry bodies and associations, for example in the franchising industry the Franchise Council of Australia runs an annual awards scheme – every year we work drafting and editing entries for clients. Quite often industry and business magazines run awards schemes as well. And have a look to see what your competitors have won before and enter those too. Using a search engine such as Google is a great way to find information or register for a website such as AwardSync, which is a free service that lists awards across the country according to sector.

Good luck!

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Creating media magic – the importance of appropriate photographs

One area I have discovered a lot of businesses will overlook is the way their company is visually represented in the print and online media. And I’m not talking about websites, design or logos – I’m referring to photographs.

It never fails to amaze me how much money companies will spend on improving their online presence, or various other aspects of their business, yet quality photographs of staff and products won’t get a second look.

Many regional newspapers, magazines and online sites will only have one or two photographers. These photographers are often freelance photographers (contract) who will only work at the media outlet part-time.

What this means when you are pitching to media is that the chances of a regional/small media outlet setting up a fresh photograph to go with your story, or product, is pretty slim. This doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It just means you are competing with the thousand or so other stories which also need photographs. Editors need to fill space. They also need to meet a quota of stories and have appropriate photographs to go with them.

If you are on a deadline – your photographer is already booked out – and you have a choice between a story with a photo versus a story with no photo the chances are the story with the photo will win out every time.

Of course saying that, the larger media outlets will always want to own copyright and have their own pictures…

If a company does have images for media a lot of the time these images will be old or outdated. You know the ones – the fresh faced CEO who looks about forty but when you meet them in person they are really sixty and look nothing like their official media photograph?

There is nothing the media hates more than a (pr) company sending them pictures to accompany stories which represent their clients -or products – in a falsified manner. Media outlets don’t want old images or ones which look dodgy and outdated. It reflects on the quality of their publication. Media outlets want a variety of quality images which accurately portray whoever or whatever it is they are writing about.

They also don’t want to print the same thing as all of the other media outlets you’ve sent your story to.

It is crucial your brand aligns with images which accurately represent the business products and which fit the overall brand strategy. If you are going to push products, staff and employees of your business in the media its important to make sure they are presented in a way which fits in with the overall marketing strategy of your business. Social media also needs to be addressed in this regard but that is a whole other topic altogether.

Depending on the size of your business and what is being promoted in the media realistically you should be looking at indulging in professional photography shoots at least once a year. If you can’t hire someone it is still easy to update your media images. All it involves is finding an amateur photographer and allocating time and resources to make it happen.

The best part about professional media shoots is that your company will own all of the images afterwards – you can reuse these images in marketing material, or online, as you choose.

Quality photographs are an excellent business tool and will always help to enhance your media coverage.

Claire Kelly – Media Relations Manager, Ignite PR and Marketing

Navigating the murky waters of professional PR measurement

In 2010, we’re utterly obsessed with measurement. This obsession hasn’t been a quantum shift, a grand epiphany, or a light bulb moment, it’s been a slow build, a snowball culminating with the global financial crisis.

Today business owners must be able to produce proof at a moment’s notice to substantiate any spend.

Gone are the ‘good’ old days when a crisp suit, lunch on the agency and the whisper of expensive cologne were enough to reassure clients of campaign success (think Madmen).

Today, we’re pay-per-click, we’re analytics, we’re tangible results, we’re figures, reports and metrics, except of course when it comes to professional public relations. The reason for this is a fundamental lack of any uniform measurement platform for PR and marketing agencies in Australia to use, by which all can be judged.

The fact that such a system remains nonexistent in 2010 almost beggars belief.

The elephant in the room is highlighted all the more by PR agencies who flout this lack of regulation by presenting clients with reports boasting hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars worth of positive PR. These often ludicrous figures are reached by a not-so-clever multiplication of AVE figures.

AVE, meaning Advertising Value Equivalent is the closest thing PR and marketing agencies have to adequate measurement tools. AVE is calculated by PR professionals literally sitting down with media clippings, a ruler and a calculator and determining the size of any given media clipping. Based on the size we are able to establish what the equivalent advertising price for the space would be.

But here’s where it gets messy. Some agencies will then add a multiplier to the total value, on the assumption that editorial is more credible than advertising. Many agencies consider 3 times AVE to be acceptable, however some use 5 times AVE or, heaven forbid, even more.

It may be partly due to these measurement disparities that the Public Relations Institute of Australia actually discourages the use of AVE figures and also states in its code of ethics:

‘Members shall refrain from proposing or agreeing that their consultancy fees or other remuneration be contingent entirely on the achievement of specified results’.

However, like it or not, clients are increasingly asking for these figures and agencies which refuse to produce them may be seen as disreputable.

Recently the director of a large Sydney agency told us she was now being asked for AVE figures by clients for the first time, even though the practice has been commonplace in Queensland (at least for our agency) for many years.

So here’s the punch: When two different agencies can deliver the same level of media coverage, but value this coverage wildly differently, how can clients adequately compare ‘apples with apples’ when it comes to PR?

The establishment of a viable evaluation platform for professional public relations and marketing, which is accepted by a majority of service providers and backed by the PRIA, is one of the most vital steps in the maturation of the industry in Australia.

Agencies who consistently deliver strong results for their clients will welcome this new age of measurement and transparency.

Internships – Are they really worthwhile?

The importance of internships is discussed frequently at university by lecturers but is it really that important to undertake one?

I believe it is. I have just started an internship at Ignite and already I can see the advantages. 

There are so many benefits to be gained from internships but the most important is the real world experience you garner.  Everything I am learning will help me with my studies and when I enter the workforce I will be more prepared than other graduates. 

Taking on an internship allows you to decide if a job is suited to you and if it is the career path you really want to follow, which is especially important to decide before you finish your degree and obtain a job that you might not enjoy. 

Internships allow you to finally apply all the knowledge and practical skills you’ve had drilled into you during lectures in a real work setting. 

Nothing can beat the experience and reference you gain during an internship and as a bonus it looks excellent on a resume.  In addition, employers are more likely to employ a graduate that has practical experience over another who simply has a degree. 

Internships are also a great confidence booster.  After gaining real world experience in the industry and the skills and knowledge that follow, you’re immediately going to be more confident when you graduate and go through the process of finding a job.  Just knowing you have some relevant experience behind you gives you an edge.  Internships also become great networking opportunities. 

I’ve only been at my internship for a couple for weeks, but I’ve already had the chance to undertake activities which if I was working in the industry I would be responsible for on a regular basis.  For example I have written media releases, business appointments and undertaken pitching and following up.  I have gained real word experience on public relations activities and I have observed how a standard day would operate for a practitioner. 

My experience is strictly from a public relations field but I believe that internships are valuable in any industry. No university degree can give you the same experience an internship can. 

If you have the time and get the opportunity while at university to undertake an internship I highly recommend it, I promise you that you will see the benefits.