Cause Related Marketing

In today’s world where U.S. representative’s nude pictures are going viral and CEO’s plead to “just want their life back” when a major environmental crisis occurs, consumers feel comfort in knowing that the companies they support have a sense of corporate social responsibility and are built around values that strive them to better society.

As a result, more and more companies are engaging in cause related marketing, and more and more consumers are switching to brands associated with a good cause. By definition, cause related marketing is a mutually beneficial relationship between a company and nonprofit organization. The term “cause related marketing” originated with the American Express launched their Statute of Liberty Campaign, in which a penny was donated every time a cardholder used their card. Cause related marketing can increase visibility with press coverage, enhance a company’s image and differentiate it from competitors. It can improve employee morale and productivity, provide a higher purpose for corporations, and increase consumer loyalty and sales.

But cause marketing needs to be done right. Companies can’t just blindly choose nonprofits. The public needs to sense an honest synergy between companies and non-profits and have faith this isn’t solely a mission to gain consumers and enhance a company’s self-image. Further more, cause marketing isn’t only for large corporations like American Express or Chic-Fil-A. Cause marketing can benefit smaller companies who can partner with local charities. Becoming involved with the community, gives companies a more personal engagement with their audiences. Companies can get to know their audiences better, enabling them to generate more personalized ways on how to relate to their products to their consumers.

If the ideas behind cause marketing aren’t enough to convince you, let statistics change your mind.

72% of US consumers avoid purchasing products form companies whose practices they disagree with 2009.
BBMG Conscious Consumer Report

79% of Americans say they would likely switch from one brand to another, when price and quality are equal, if the other brand is associated with a good cause.
2008 Cone Cause Evolution Study

Crisis Communications and Management

Q: What’s worse than an unanticipated crisis?

A: A poor crisis response strategy.

The popular and chic W Austin Hotel and recent home of Austin City Limits Studios recently had an accident when two glass panels fell more than 20 stories from the balconies into the pool, injuring four guests.

McQuade, the hotel manager, wrote a letter to hotel guests stating, “we feel badly for those injured,” and said he felt fortunate there were not more people hurt. The reasons for the panels breaking are unknown and guests are advised not to use their balconies until further notice. But is this crisis response strategy enough? Is this even a strategy at all?

If a balcony panel fell 25 stories on you while swimming on your weekend get away, and you received a measly apology letter, what would you think?

What are the do’s and don’t of crisis management? How do you regain consumer trust?

Here’s a brief list of how to act in the aftermath of a crisis!

  • DO act with transparency and immediacy
  • DON’T be the second party to explain what happened, the 1st sets the stage
  • DO fully apologize—”It’s our fault”
  • DON’T shift blame
  • DON’T behave as the victim
  • DON’T offer excuses
  • DON’T justify what happened
  • DON’T disassociate your company from the crisis
  • DO declare the cause of the crisis the strategized steps you will take to resolve it
  • DO constantly keep your public informed with updated information
  • DO state how this event will affect the future behavior and improvement of your company
  • DO practice restitution—making amends by compensating the victims or restoring the situation
  • DO offer new incentives for consumers to remain loyal
  • DO go above and beyond in the affected community—show corporate social responsibility and practice strategic philanthropy by participate in services related to your crisis
  • DON’T practice strategic ambiguity—refusing to directly answer questions and taking a public stand, this will often raise ethical questions
  • DON’T attack the media
  • DON’T keep contact with affected victims minimal
  • DON’T forget that your employees are major PR reps

This article describes the June 10th glass panel incident and was written prior to two more disasters that occurred at various W hotels; at the W Hotel in Midtown Atlanta, two women fell through glass windows, and at the Austin location last week, three panels fell more than 20 stories into the street.

The W Hotel issued a statement that the “entire team couldn’t be more devastated,” but they “still do not know why this has happened.” The hotel has been open a mere 7 months and is closed in order to replace nearly 1,000 glass panels. Among a plethora of problems, the series of W Hotel incidents demonstrates weak systems of risk management and crisis communication that could lead to the failure of a $300 million high rise built in the last year.

This DOs and DON’Ts list of crisis communication provides the go-to basics of how to behave while resolving your crisis, but as we all know, one of the best ways to improve oneself is to learn from others’ mistakes. If you’re looking for a real-life example for guidance, look up the classic and successful crisis-response strategy of the 1982 Tylenol cyanide poisoning. Johnson & Johnson’s PR response epitomizes the ideal crisis response strategy and should serve as a leading example for companies to follow in the midst of a crisis.

How Social Media is Changing the Public Relations and Marketing Strategy

Happy Social Media Day! It’s hard not to see social media mentioned in the news these days. For example:

  • You may have heard about Representative Anthony Weiner’s Twitter fiasco that led to his resignation a few weeks ago. A similar social media scandal recently put a Chinese politician in hot water.
  • Tiger Woods used his Twitter account to announce he would not play in the AT&T National in Philadelphia. (link: a)
  • As the 2012 Presidential Election Campaigns begin, the Obama for America staff announced that President Obama will also do some of his own tweeting, signing his tweets with “BO.”
  • The FBI was also leveraging the power of social media…to catch a man who has been on the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list since 1999. They monitored his long-time girlfriend and spreading the man’s physical characteristics on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. He has since been caught.
  • The search for Lauren Spierer, a missing Indiana University student, went viral immediately after the search began. Official and unofficial Facebook and Twitter accounts, websites and the Twitter hashtag #FindLauren has helped the world keep up with the hopeful search.

Social media is changing the way our world interacts and is expanding our ability to reach and connect with people we haven’t been able to before – old acquaintances, clients, prospective clients, industry leaders and even celebrities and athletes. Social media gives a company more marketing and public relations options, but as you may see from the horror stories of accidently posting inappropriate things, close monitoring and double-checking is necessary to make sure you don’t have a public relations crisis on your hands.

Social media isn’t for every company. It depends on where your target audience is, and though more and more individuals are exploring social media, it may not be the most effective way to reach your audience. Social media also requires commitment. Relevant updates may take time to conjure up and consistent updates are needed to maintain active accounts. Do you or does your employee have time to accomplish this daily or weekly?

Similar to our recommendations about starting a blog, you and/or your company must have a plan before you create your social media accounts. Here are some pointers to starting your social media strategy.

1. What are your goals for your social media accounts?

Some possible goals could be to increase brand awareness and credibility, improve customer service, build loyalty with your customers, and/or to monitor the conversations about your company or in your industry.

2. What are your updating guidelines?

Decide how often you will post and the subjects you will post about. Is your employee posting on behalf of the company? If so, create guidelines of what they can and cannot say.

3. How will you measure your effectiveness?

Possible measurement tactics can include monitoring the number of fans, followers and/or comments.

Have more questions about social media and how it can benefit your company? Feel free to contact us!

Beef & Pie’s Featured Videos on the New AirForceMobile.com

One of our most creative and spunky clients Beef & Pie is responsible for shooting hundreds of videos showcased on the new AirForce.com Mobile site.

The new mobile site is a live recruiting tool that serves as resource for obtaining information about the Air Force including careers, lifestyle, and benefits for Enlisted, Officer and Healthcare Professional careers.

The site’s content includes in-depth info and videos, a recruiter locator feature, and a mobile lead form, allowing viewers to find information and resources, helping them make a decision to join without ever visiting the main site.

The new site is part of an effort to make Air Force information more accessible and appealing to a young target audience. The site hosts 121 videos, 6 ring tones, 819 images, and is already achieving success with twice the number of page views in the first two weeks that the old mobile site received in one month!

Check out the hundreds of AirForce videos Beef & Pie shot that truly make the new Mobile site come to life!

http://m.airforce.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cY19y98V1oY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf1PfZiqdeQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTIsQbLQBJc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jNLUk_7rjI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCMqOZB-hXo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_fJYzyiu8Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P83d1G2dAWo

Should Your Company Start a Blog?

When we develop social media strategy, a company blog is usually on the list of recommended tactics. The information you post on your blog gives more details than a sentence-long Facebook update or a 140–character tweet on Twitter, and when updated frequently, a blog can be a helpful tool for your clients, potential clients and others in the industry. Developing an engaging blog can take work and discipline, but in the long run, it can build your credibility, brand awareness and create effective communication with your audience. Here are some pointers as you start your blog.

1. Make a blog guideline
Before you start writing content for you blog, you need to decide a few things that will help give your blog structure. What is the goal of your blog? How often will you post? What kind of topics will you write about?

2. Write blog posts to fit your audience
Now that you’ve decided on your blog topics, draft some blog posts and make sure they are engaging for your specific audience. Are they relevant, interesting, and/or helpful? Is it too much about you/your company and not enough about your audience?

3. Respond to your audience
After your posts are live, monitor how your audience responds. Do they like the topics or do they need tweaking? Respond to comments posted on your blogs, especially if your topic is controversial. Listen earnestly and respond honestly. Look for ways to educate and inform your audience.

W2 Design Build

Check out our latest ad creation for our client, W2. We love its products and services!

Click the images to see larger versions of the ads

W2-Ad-Revised-2W2-Ad-Revised-1

Affordable Attorney Isn’t an Oxymoron

As a business owner, I am definitely familiar with the challenges a new venture can present. Our clients (normally small to medium-sized businesses) often face the same challenges and have the same legal questions about starting or expanding their business, daily operations, partnerships, risk management and litigation, etc. To save money, some business owners (guilty as charged – pun intended) will obtain legal advice from an attorney friend (even if this friend is a criminal defense attorney or a divorce attorney – both niches have nothing to do with running a business). Isn’t this the equivalent of seeing an optometrist for a knee injury?

I was pleasantly surprised when I was introduced to Cathleen Slack with Lloyd Gosselink Attorneys at Law. The firm offers a broad range of services and the Business Services Group there offers two fixed-fee packages that help businesses either get off the ground or continue their operations. One package is an initial consultation package that includes three lawyers/two hours/$600 to make sure your business entity is structured to achieve your goals, maximize returns, and provide future growth. We always advise our clients to be proactive and not reactive when it comes to their communications strategy. Shouldn’t everyone’s business strategy (including the legal aspects) be the same?

Here’s an example of some of the services offered to help businesses succeed:

  • Formation of business entities, such as partnerships, limited liability companies, other professional entities, and both for-profit and nonprofit corporations.
  • Assisting with negotiating real estate leases, purchases, sales and development agreements.
  • Drafting and reviewing contracts including real estate, employment and severance agreements, construction contracts, and sale and purchase contracts.
  • Assisting with employment activities, including drafting initial employment forms and policies, workforce training, advising on employment law compliance, and evaluating employment decisions and documentation
  • Litigation avoidance, risk management, and pre-litigation counseling to help businesses avoid disputes and to be in the best position to prevail should a dispute arise.

For more information about Cathleen Slack and Lloyd Gosselink Attorneys at Law, go to www.lglawfirm.com.

How to Become a Networking Pro

After a big networking event, what do you do with the stack of business cards you’ve collected? Do you have certain goals when attending or is it just a check off your professional to-do list? Before you rush into your next event because they say it’s important, think about the following things.

  1. Why are you attending the event and what do you hope to get out of it? If there are specific people you want to meet, research them online or start up a Twitter conversation with them ahead of time.
  2. As you network and collect cards, make notes on the back of cards about the person to help you remember them and include things you want to follow-up with that person.
  3. Bring your social network to the event. Snap and post pictures to Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn. Find and follow people on Twitter while you talk to them, depending on the atmosphere of the event.
  4. After the event, connect and follow-up with your new contacts. Add new contacts on LinkedIn, continue conversations on social media networks, and follow-up by email.
  5. Keep networking! It may sometimes feel like work to attend and converse, but networking with consistency and following-up genuinely can bring you to the right connections and you never know where the connections can take you.

Volunteer Spotlight: Retirement and Nursing Center

One of Wellington Group’s goals this year is to volunteer every month, and we recently spent part of our afternoon at Retirement and Nursing Center. Tucked in Central Austin off Burnet, Retirement and Nursing Center is a nursing center and rehabilitation health center for long–term and short–term residents. Staffed with an abundance of nurses, therapists and other important staff, the center is a bustling place, especially on game day! We enjoyed meeting, talking, and playing games with the residents, and spending some time away from the office for a change of scenery and great team building. It was also very interesting to hear stories about the patrons’ lives. The residents are sure full of character!

They love volunteers at Retirement and Nursing Center. If you would like to volunteer, visit their website to learn more about the place and to submit the volunteer form to find out more about opportunities. They have morning and afternoon shifts, and the staff is very welcoming to new faces.

We’re looking forward to returning to Retirement and Nursing Center soon!

Sculpt Your Body at Dancers Shape

We were recently invited to attend a Shape class at Dancers Shape in Austin off of Burnet Road and had the best workout experience! According to the studio’s website, Shape is the signature barre class at Dancers Shape where clients quickly sculpt their bodies through elements of tweaked ballet positions, pilates, yoga and weight training for a total body work out. Modifications are offered for all levels. According to me, it was challenging, fun, upbeat, and it was over in a flash (all classes are an hour long). Jennifer McCamish, a former Radio City Rockette with more than 30 years of dance experience, owns this local gem. She’s also the Director of Training and Lead Instructor at Dancers Shape. Ladies, if you’re looking to sculpt, shape and have some fun doing it, and men, if you’re brave enough or actually wise enough to attend a mainly woman-filled class, then take a class (or take several classes) at Dancers Shape. You’ll love it.

SIDE NOTE: The customer service is top notch!

CLIENT APPRECIATION MONTH! Bring a friend for free to any class, and if they sign up for our New Client Special-Monthly Unlimited ($100), you will get a free class on your account or a discount on your next auto debit!

WARNING: Not all barre classes are created equal. There are a few others in town, but only Dancers Shape is the real deal – local and lead by a professional New York dancer who decided to get back to her Texas roots (she’s holds a B.A. in Dance from the University of Texas at Austin).

All Technology Recovery Announces New Partnership with Leading Auto Finance Company

Facilitation and Management Company To Streamline and Increase Lender’s Recovery Rates

All Technology Recovery, a full-service facilitation and management company that serves collateral recovery professionals and financial institutions, today announced its new partnership with Regional Acceptance, a premier auto finance company.

With this partnership, Regional Acceptance is utilizing the collective talents of a national network of collateral recovery professionals to provide recovery facilitation to clients. All Technology Recovery will provide 24/7 support on LPR2.0 scans for Regional Acceptance. Through All Technology Recovery’s network, lenders are able to work with qualified and experienced agents with superior insurance, bond coverage and the latest technology.

By facilitating and managing work from the lending community, All Technology Recovery increases recovery rates, decreases recovery time and provides all-inclusive options from recovery to liquidation.

“All Technology Recovery is honored to be working with Regional Acceptance,” said Jim Hall, president of All Technology Recovery. “By efficiently using new and emerging technologies and attracting the best certified collateral recovery agents, we are able to provide Regional Acceptance with superior service.”

About All Technology Recovery

All Technology Recovery facilitates and manages work from the lending community to a national network of collateral recovery professionals. All Technology Recovery deploys real-time technology and partners with industry leaders, such as American Recovery Association (ARA), Digital Recognition Network (DRN), Recovery Database Network (RDN), Recovery Industry Services Company (RISC), Certified Asset Recovery Specialist (CARS) and OPENLANE, to serve collateral recovery professionals and financial institutions. For more information, call (931) 388-6545 or go to www.alltechnologyrecovery.com.

Sold Out 3rd Annual North American Repossessors Summit Unifies Hundreds of Recovery and Lending Professionals

Record-Breaking Numbers Help Participants Expand the Future of the Recovery Industry

American Recovery Association, Inc. (ARA), the world’s largest association of recovery and remarketing professionals, is proud to announce a record-breaking number of attendees and an astounding amount of money raised helped make its premier third annual industry event, the North American Repossessors Summit, a success.

This year’s NARS attracted the highest attendance of the past three years. Almost 400 people in the collateral recovery and remarketing industries, including collateral recovery professionals, clients and vendors from across the U.S., unified in Dallas this past weekend, March 5, 2011 to participate in open and collaborative discussions to address and improve the industry’s challenges and complexities.

The summit provided attendees with a full program of insightful, forward-looking topics lead by key industry leaders. Mark Floyd, CEO and Vice Chairman of Exeter Finance Corp., keynoted the event, and other industry leaders, such as Tom Hudson, consumer finance attorney and partner at Hudson Cook, LLP, also provided valuable information and discussions crucial to the success of the industry. Industry clients from Chase Auto Financial, CitiFinancial Remarketing & Recovery, Wells Fargo Auto Finance, Westlake Financial Services, Capital One Auto Finance, Credit Acceptance and Ally Bank also spoke on the panel A Client’s View: How Their Day-To-Day Operations Could Impact Your Future, which gave significant insight to participants.

“We’re thrilled with the interest and participation NARS 2011 garnered within the industry,” said Joe McOwen, president of ARA. “NARS allows industry professionals to come together to discuss the challenges our industry faces and work on finding solutions.”

ARA is also proud to announce $32,000 was raised at this year’s event. $18,000 of the money raised will go to the family of Will Rivera, an ARA member that was murdered on March 2, 2011 during a repossession and $9,000 will go to Delbert Charles Power Jr., Rivera’s fellow agent who accompanied him at the scene and is recovering from wounds sustained in the event, and his family. The remaining amount will go to Recovery Agents Benefit Fund (RABF).

On the Friday preceding NARS, ARA also hosted its Collateral Recovery and Remarketing Accreditation Program for lenders, ARA members and their employees. ARA partnered with nationally recognized industry leaders to create an industry-recognized certification program that featured the Certified Asset Recovery Specialist (CARS) program, the Collection Training Consultants program, classes covering industry topics such as business ethics, data security, skip tracing, online collateral remarketing, and a Best Practices session. The classes also sold out.

About American Recovery Association, Inc.

American Recovery Association (ARA) is the world’s largest association of recovery and remarketing professionals. ARA members specialize in locating and repossessing collateral on behalf of lending institutions including banks, savings institutions, finance companies, credit unions, rental/leasing companies, and auto, truck and equipment dealers. A non-profit association, ARA members serve 27,000 national and international cities. All members are certified independent business operators. For more information, call 972.755.4755 or visit the website at www.repo.org.