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Comments Off on Superbowl Grabs The Advertising Spotlight Every Year. This Year It’s Grabbing It Earlier Than Ever.

Superbowl Grabs The Advertising Spotlight Every Year. This Year It’s Grabbing It Earlier Than Ever.


The advertising community feasts on the spectacle we call Super Bowl Sunday.  Their creative juices flow.  Their audiences are hungry for the show.  And, the post-game analysis rivals those of the sportscasters on the big game.

To invest over $3 million on a spot that runs once magnifies the scrutiny of all of us in communications.  Just what kind of return on investment could justify such an expenditure?

We start by figuring out what our top 10 spots were.  And, we ask ourselves along the way “what were the objectives” and “did the spots achieve them?

By promoting the spots prior to the Super Bowl is not only smart, it makes economic sense.  Public and media relations along with social media costs much less and yet they take some of the sting out of the big ticket ads that were run.  You get both pre- and post-game exposure.  All of sudden you are getting a multiplier effect that various research companies peg at four to ten times the investment in PR.  We’ll have to ask the researchers to tell us exactly what is generated.

If you have been watching the pre-game hoopla about the most innovative and controversial spots, you probably couldn’t wait to check out the Doritos, Coke “you choose the ending,” GODADDY, the Volkswagen Jamaican and the rest of the great television tease we witnessed.

So having said all of this, just why do you spend so much money for a Super Bowl spot?  You’re right.  It’s the 111 million viewers who starve to view them.  Often I ask myself, which is the bigger spectacle?  The game or the television spots?

Let me know what you think.

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Comments Off on Think Twice, Post Once: Are You Creating Good Content?

Think Twice, Post Once: Are You Creating Good Content?

Uncapped Fountain Pen

The phrase “content is king” seems to be pretty popular these days.  When you consider how many hours people spend on their smartphones and other mobile devices, it’s understandable. But, there’s a bit of confusion in discerning what in fact is content.

Is a video of someone’s cat falling in the toilet content? How about a drunk person jumping out of the back of a pickup truck? Or, maybe content is a 50-page white paper on accounting principles. The point is that just because you post something does not qualify it as content. It’s sort of like art—throwing a few blotches of paint on a canvas doesn’t make it a painting.

So much of what I see posted on social media, websites and blogs is a superficial waste of time.  And I’m not just talking about personal sites; it happens on corporate sites as well. Take video. Too often the video is dull and uninteresting. The production value is non-existent.  Again, is this content?

You have to remember that every word, image, video, etc. that you display is a reflection of you and your organization.  A talking head set against a ficus plant telling you why you need to buy their product is not the answer.  As the lines between broadcast TV and web TV further meld, companies that think twice before posting content will win. It’s not that hard to post something that is truly interesting and helps further build your brand.

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Comments Off on Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!


As the holidays unfolded, you think about how great life really is. You reflect on the gifts that God has given us.

You consider what you can do to become a better person. Will it come in the form of education? A new experience? A different way of doing things?

It dawns on me that religion is really “continuous improvement” in motion. How can we improve ourselves in the eyes of the Lord and our fellow man? Think for a moment.

No matter what religious denomination you embrace, the main thing is that it can carry you through the good times and the bad times. And, it tells you to apply your talents in the service of mankind.

That’s good stuff!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Ed Stevens, APR – President of Stevens Strategic Communications

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Comments Off on Content Marketing: Keep Your In-bound Marketing Message Positive at All Times

Content Marketing: Keep Your In-bound Marketing Message Positive at All Times


More and more bloggers and content marketers are relying on negative posts, articles and website content. Using negative content may attract attention in the short-term, but long-term, it builds up resentment, erodes trust and can create a crisis situation. Don’t sacrifice your hard-earned online reputation by succumbing to negativity.

The first time you see a headline that contains a negative phrase, such as “five reasons why you aren’t fulfilling your potential”, it may make you curious enough to read on. As you receive more and more negative-style content, you start to resent the senders. This sort of content is designed to prey on insecurities, and make readers feel inadequate. It may grab attention in the short term, but leads to resentment over time. It is highly unlikely to make anyone feel positive about the content provider.

A further concern with in-bound marketing content is that bloggers need to post content frequently, and time constraints or other reasons are contributing to the presentation of re-hashed information, or tired ideas as genuine solutions. Content that makes you feel bad about a problem you didn’t know you had, but fails to solve it, is the worst possible kind. It is almost guaranteed to have your whole audience reaching simultaneously for the unsubscribe link.

Avoid negative headlines completely and your social media audience will thank you for it. Instead of negative phrases such as “five reasons why you aren’t making enough money”, rewrite your headlines in a positive way. Use feel-good titles, such as “five ways to make more money”, instead.

Back up your positive headlines with original content containing genuine insights, fresh ideas, and memorable tips. Successful inbound marketing is all about building goodwill and trust. If your content makes a positive impact on your audience, and actually helps to improve their work, you are in a much more favorable position to engage them. Positive content that provides your social media followers with genuine value inspires trust, and trust leads to conversions and sales.

In sum, in-bound marketing is powerful because your potential customers give you consent to interact regularly with them. Negative content is a breach of that trust and associates your product, service or brand with negativity. The last thing any marketer wants to do is to make an audience feel inadequate or prey on insecurities. Avoid the potential backlash and image crisis by keeping your content helpful and positive.

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Comments Off on If You Think You Don’t Need Video…Think Again!

If You Think You Don’t Need Video…Think Again!

YouTube Logo on TV

According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than four hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV watching per year). Four billion videos are viewed on YouTube every day! That is a 50 percent increase since 2010. Cheaper, high-speed internet service rates, better computers and smarter phones are the reason for the boost in streaming video viewership. This trend is destined to continue as technology continues to advance and become more affordable.

What can we summarize from this information?

– People are accustomed to and enjoy watching videos.

– Internet users are watching more videos than ever.

– This is a trend that will continue

Clearly you can see how a business could benefit from having a video produced to showcase their company, products or services. Or, better yet, businesses should regularly produce videos to add to their website and social media outlets. What a great way to stay in touch with customers and highlight new products and services!

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Comments Off on What You Can Learn from Social Media Experts

What You Can Learn from Social Media Experts

2012 Midwest Social Media Summit in Mayfield Heights, Ohio

2012 Midwest Social Media Summit in
Mayfield Heights, Ohio

The 2012 MidWest Social Media Summit held at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights, Ohio was a fantastic event sponsored by Smart Business and Blue Technologies.

Experts gathered to share knowledge and useful tips on how social media can help businesses prosper and potentially bring in additional revenues. Representatives from organizations such as the Cleveland Clinic, the American Red Cross, the Cleveland Cavaliers and General Electric were great panelists for this event. A plethora of helpful information was shared amongst the panelists and the 400 summit attendees.

Here are some quotes from the panelists:

From Jim Kukral, best-selling author and professional speaker for University of San Francisco – discussing “social media is business” –

            “Create amazing content and get it shared. Win. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.”

From Amy Neumann, CEO of Good Plus Tech and contributing writer to Forbes magazine – discussing “strategy and branding” –

            “Social media does a great job of making the pie bigger. How can we reach a larger number of people? By showing a little personality, solving a problem and entertaining people, you can reach a whole new audience.”

From Matt Smith, senior talent acquisition leader for JCPenney – discussing “researching candidates through social media” –

            “LinkedIn is the place to be in social media during a hiring process. We use it every day…Social media helps you point out key people in companies and can help with your job search.”

From Thom Fladung, managing editor for the Plain Dealer – discussing “social media and the media” –

            “Social media is not a threat – it’s an opportunity!”

From Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital – discussing “management and measuring” –

            “Remember to look at quantitative information. Not everything that counts can be measured and not everything that can be measured counts. Get a feel for the results you’re getting.”

From Roger Lowe, senior vice president of communications for the American Red Cross – discussing how the Red Cross uses social media –

            “Social media is having something to say when people are listening… it’s not just about having the tools or technology; it’s having the right thing to say when people are in need.”

From Mike Maleski, vice president of digital sales, marketing and operations for the Cleveland Cavaliers – discussing “big data and social media” –

            “We do engage our fans during events. We have a team dedicated to monitor the social channels, specifically Twitter, during events. We want to be able to respond quickly. We take real-time questions and comments very seriously. We have a social media response team. If there is a seat broken in a specific section, we need to fix that.”

From Jon Hyman, partner at Kohrman Jackson & Krantz P.L.L. – discussing “legal ramifications of social media policy and use” –

            “Employees need to understand what is private and what is public, but that divide is no longer there…The issues aren’t new. The method of communication is.”

And, lastly, a quote from Kelly Waite, marketing and database manager from one of the summit’s sponsors, Blue Technologies – discussing “strategy 201: what do I do now?” –

            “Encourage your sales force to share your company’s social media initiatives with their networks to increase reach.”


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Comments Off on Safari and Firefox and Chrome! Oh, my! – Why you Should Install More than One Web Browser

Safari and Firefox and Chrome! Oh, my! – Why you Should Install More than One Web Browser

Four Browser Logos and Internet Explorer src=

Internet Explorer might be the only web-browsing program installed on your computer, but there are several alternative browsers available. Why switch from your tried-and-true browser? Another browser might load pages faster, have a better user interface or have the customization you need to make a task easier.

The category of web browsers is one of the most competitive in the software industry. Developers are constantly adding features and beefing up security. The best part is that browsers are free, meaning you can have multiple browsers installed and ready with bookmarks of your favorite websites.

Google Chrome is the rising star. That’s because it’s fast and, like Maverick in Top Gun, we all have “the need for speed.” One reason Chrome is fast is because it runs fewer security checks than say, Internet Explorer. In other words, you might want to check its security settings.

Firefox is noted for its flexibility. Downloadable add-on applications can customize the functionality and appearance of Firefox. One add-on Stevens Strategic uses is for capturing a web video into a file.

Internet Explorer is the veteran of the bunch. If a website is incompatible with just one browser, it will probably be Internet Explorer. IE is more compliant with web standards than previously, but can have some quirks with some websites.

When a website just doesn’t act the way you expect it to, try another browser. That’s the biggest reason for having more than one browser installed!

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Comments Off on The Power of Focus Groups

The Power of Focus Groups

Circle of Seven Chairs

Getting 12 people into a room, any room, usually provides the opportunity for individuals to share their feelings about a topic or situation. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a meeting, a family gathering or even a focus group.

If you have ever experienced an intervention, you know the power of a group with a vested interest.

When it comes to focus groups, I feel the same way. Kinda…

It’s because I and our clients hear things we may have never heard before. We look at things through the eyes of others. The power of important stakeholders is right there on the other side of the one-way glass. Wow.

For the price of a one-page ad in a trade journal, you can learn a lot about your company, your product, your competitors and your customer. More than you could ever imagine. Consider these actual outcomes:

– For a healthcare system, we learned that patients would prefer to go to a local community hospital rather than go downtown to the main campus of a major network.

– For a manufacturer, we learned that their product would sell better with a few design changes.

– For a new franchise, we learned that the ad copy points worked, but the graphic treatment needed some changes.

– For an energy company, we learned that consumers had great ideas on ways to communicate to them—and when.

– For a non-profit, we learned how to get major donors to give more.

Often, a focus group will indicate whether more research is needed, how to frame the questions for a survey or which job titles need to weigh in.

Focus groups aren’t for everyone, but you always walk away with more information than you expected when the lights go out in the conference room. The video of a focus group meeting also becomes a great reference as you move forward with your marketing, product or business decisions.

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Comments Off on Research, and that Gut Feeling

Research, and that Gut Feeling

Research in the Dictionary

In the military, we learned the more intelligence we had the better we could fight the battle and ultimately win the war. The same holds true in business.

We need to track what competition is doing, what they are saying, what they are featuring and what people are saying about them.  We also want to track how our companies stack up in the marketplace.  How do we do this?

THE MARKET STUDY.  How are we perceived when compared to competition?  What is your SWOT situation (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)?

AWARENESS STUDY.  Do target audiences know your company, your products and your position in the market?

FOCUS GROUP.  Sit 12 people in a room and test creative, messages, product ideas, feelings about the competitive landscape and more.

MYSTERY SHOPPER.  Banks, hospitals, restaurants and retail stores can learn a lot when we check out how things are going right on the premises.

DID-YOU-BUY STUDY.  What happened when you got a sales lead?  Did you get the sale?  Did your competitor?  How was the sales experience?  Does the lead still want to talk to your company?  How did your sales rep do?

COMPETITIVE TRACKING.  By tracking your competitors, you can get a sense of what they are featuring in the news and through social media.  That information can help you sell, discover acquisition possibilities and create your own messages to position you in a better situation than you might have been without the information.

I know what you’re thinking.  This research stuff is expensive and we really know the answers to the questions you might ask.  Are you sure?

With the availability of services such as Survey Monkey, research can be very cost-effective.  If you shop around, you will find that there are professional firms available to do research on a cost-competitive basis.  And, when it comes to knowing the answers to the questions we might ask, we have found that there can be a big difference between what you believe the marketplace is thinking about you and what the marketplace is actually saying.

If you want to win the battle of the marketplace, get more information than your competition.

Ed Stevens, Stevens Strategic Communications President

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Comments Off on Social Media Rules the 2012 London Olympics

Social Media Rules the 2012 London Olympics

Olympics Rings filled with Social Media Logos

The superstar-studded opening ceremony. Michael Phelps becoming the most decorated Olympian ever. Gabby Douglas and the rest of the “Fierce Five” bringing home the gold. The list of highlights from the 2012 London Olympics goes on and on. But, for those of us in the communications field, we may remember the London Games most for demonstrating the enormous power of social media. Many are calling this year’s Olympics the first social media Olympics or “Socialympics.”

Sure, social media has been prevalent for some time now. However, the growth of sites like Facebook and Twitter in the four years since the 2008 Beijing Olympics has been astronomical. The numbers are impressive. Facebook has jumped from about 100 million users to approximately 900 million. Twitter is up from around six million to 150 million account holders. It’s also important to note the rise in smartphone usage. Today, the majority of U.S. cell phone users are operating smartphones, making it easier than ever to stay connected to friends, family and their social media networks to discuss hot topics such as the Olympic Games. With all of these elements at work, it’s no wonder social media played such a large role in the 2012 Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee even launched the Olympic Athletes’ Hub, a website that enables fans to find and follow their favorite Olympic athletes’ Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. Additionally, the IOC maintained its own separate Twitter and Facebook accounts. Olympic sponsors also got in on the action with endless social media promotions before and during the games.

The frenzy of social media activity was striking. Twitter reported that there were more than 150 million tweets about the Olympics. The Spice Girls stirred up an unbelievable 116,000 tweets per minute during their closing ceremony performance. Usain Bolt was the most tweeted about athlete, inspiring an average of 80,000 tweets per minute during his competitive events. Many popular Olympic athletes’ Facebook pages saw a huge spike in fans. For example, Gabby Douglas’ fan page jumped up by well over half a million fans in a two-week span.

NBC, the network on which the 2012 Games were broadcast, averaged 31.3 million for its primetime Olympics coverage. With more than 40 million viewers, the 2012 opening ceremony squashed all previous records for a Summer Olympics. The closing ceremony delivered 26.9 million viewers, up 12 percent from the 2008 Beijing Games. Undeniably, social media played a role in driving up Olympic viewership. Even more significantly, social media effectively kept us connected more than ever before to the action, making us all feel more invested and excited.

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