Relative Space – a Reinvention

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An industry leader in the flooring business, Relative Space, and Gotham PR client, is ready for the New Year. As an exciting brand relaunch takes off, the eco-friendly flooring company is ready to share their impeccable work via a new website and updated social media outlets.

With the reintroduction of the company newsletter and a genius reinvention of Relative Space branding, it is clear that expectations are high for 2017.

Visit Relative Space on facebook as well as their new site, here for a glimpse into the sustainable company’s news updates and revolutionizing work.

PR Troubleshooting: Anticipating PR Client Problems Before They Arise

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By Courtney Lukitsch, Founder and Principal, Gotham PR

The year 2016 will historically go down as one of the most challenging in PR for a myriad of reasons, all interestingly enough related to perception, image and communication on a global scale.

The weighty importance assigned to managing problems before they arise has become a paramount PR prerogative in a 24/7 digitally driven news cycle, aimed to constantly disrupt and pivot.

Some would argue that the artful dodging and changing stance by many in the world of media points to a crisis in PR, while those with actual experience in the industry view it as an opportunity worldwide to address how intelligent planning and strategy can actually anticipate and respond to potential problems before they arise.

A few salient examples are in order:

  • Internet propagated breaking news
  • Social media abuse by high profile/public figures
  • U.S. election
  • WikiLeaks

The New York Times, long considered the Stateside newspaper of record, recently published a piece entitled How the Internet is Loosening our Grip on the Truth positing the fact that with the emerging significance and use of various internet sources, voices and perspectives, arises the challenge to cut through the noise to verify fact from fiction.

While portending to become a boon to democratic ideals, the media is more recently being utilized as an arsenal of weapons being deployed against its own best intentions and interests. In an open society with the right to free speech, ability to gather in public and a healthy respect for protest, every well trained person in the media business knows a story when they see one.

There is an implicit code of conduct and journalistic standards that those not bound to adhere to them, take advantage by maligning the facts with ‘truthiness’—and often falsehoods. These become embraced and evolve through internet memes, various social platforms and ultimately back to word of mouth. It’s a self-perpetuating, subjective process that is now becoming the norm. In other words, objective criteria for validating a source, a truthful quote or set of facts can be thrown by the wayside to instead embrace spin, conspiracy theories and inaccurate data.

In an era where everything is documented, from dated broadcast footage, private and professional emails, social media promises not kept and so on, there is no safe hiding place but the truth. It is important for PR professionals for both the sake of their own team and agencies—as well as client-side to embrace fact-finding, reporting and expectation management upfront. It does not take long for a multitude of social media fires to come to mind, many stemming from the lack of truth.

On this topic, and considering the current media environment, comes a challenge that agencies strive to eliminate for clients and we as consumers face everyday. The test to overcome, sift and sort through fake news and the sea of information that exists be it true or false, that swirls within our reach is something of an overwhelming thought.

According to a New York Times article, dedicated to understanding the threat of counterfeit material, the challenge of weeding out the “fake” news from what is real and credible has become a daily task. In other words, the longing for factual and relevant information has never been higher. As Arthur Sulzberger, the NYT deputy publisher emphasizes with the rise of reliable reporting particularly within the digital realm, “It shows people are willing to pay for great, original, deeply reported and expert journalism,” that will allow great journalism to thrive.” In a world of uncertain sources and facts, this is of paramount importance to not only clients and agencies but also the general public.

One set of important tools to deploy when entering a new PR client relationship, one that might pose significant challenges in terms of potential blow-ups given the client’s stature or standing, is to establish both operational grounds rules but also mutual goals to work toward. The time-tested motto of under promising and over delivering never goes out of style.

Many in the world of client relations can relate to a PR Daily piece that rightly identifies that agencies are expended to drive the ideation agenda, message control and bottom line—and are often compromised by a need to please—or worse coddle or mismanage a client to appease potential outbursts or stalled business. A desire to look and act busy does not equate to actually accomplishing anything. Targeting an end goal that is both attainable and realistic is imperative.

Having spent immersive hours in planning, mapping, discussions, repositioning, branding, media training and strategizing news bureaus and proverbial next level roadmaps into the client future, it is important to take charge as the PR professional and agency team to tell the truth. With fact-based research, projections, monthly goals and results, a healthy campaign is born.

According to CyberAlert, highlighting how clients can attain more and better clients, there is a formula to success in this department. While there is no “best” agency, there is one that will prove to be a stronger match for clients needs. Show you are unique, do your homework, and a piece of advice that is quite obvious yet very understated, always sell results, not services.

It is best to always look forward, never back. Anticipate and understand the communication that needs to happen between client and agency and always take into account the advantages of solving problems well before they occur. Setting new standards of excellence should never fall by the wayside. As this recent MEDIUM article states, being entrepreneurial as a media leader in communication is a premise some may see as simply “the stars aligning.” However, this formula for success is rather a clear and concise method that can be taught. If one is willing to put in the time to go the extra mile for their clients, now that is the true test.

This news article was written by Courtney Lukitsch, Founder and Principal at Gotham PR in New York and London. It continues a thought leading series based on Agency and Client-side workplace issues, and ahead of the agency’s 15th anniversary, is the basis of a forthcoming coaching and mentoring book to be published in 2017.

Read the article published by Bulldog Reporter in full, here.

Here’s How to Build a Strong PR Team

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This is a guest post by Courtney Lukitsch, founder and principal at Gotham PR.

Building a great, solid team is at the heart of any business— whether you’re on the agency or client-side. While the term team is bandied about with tremendous frequency and import, it’s that rare firm that takes the time to identify the core values that each team member within the organization— and the team as a whole— possesses.

The idea of agility in our digitally-driven, always-on workplace assumes paramount importance and is explored in a bestselling book, Emotional Agility, written by expert Susan David, who effectively posits that internal behaviors manifest in the workplace, holding huge sway and impact within a team.

David identifies four main tenets to assist individual and group dynamics, offering a veritable compass for strategic planning and team building as we head into the 2017 business year:

  • Showing up to face challenges as a team, rather than ignoring problems upfront
  • Stepping out to detach from group-think or negative thoughts, to envision a chess board of new possibilities and outcomes
  • Walking your way to showcase core values to move the group forward, rather than relegating ideas to abstractions
  • Moving on to motivate the team to make a difference individually and collectively— finding a balance between challenge and solution

Silicon Valley veterans Bill Burnett and Dave Evans have taken the psychological concept of emotional agility and applied it to the framework of professional and personal development, educated by their creative minds and design backgrounds, in their Stanford University class turned published book on designing your life. They speak of ways to find your natural workflow by following your individual strengths, skills, and differentiators. Breaking down the system into basic parts, as a designer would, a series of ideas, tools, and prototyping decisions.

There is a certain team leader that will curate talent within a group based on individual skills, those that may be complementary to an agency client while existing outside of the normative media sphere. PRNews has gone so far as to say that diverse teams might be better prepared for the creative challenges posed, reflecting a focus on skill sets that become artful when a team is operating and is managed effectively— carefully identifying this balance of achievements as an art rather than a science.

Working in the realm of mentoring and coaching both agency and client-side, at Gotham PR, we have witnessed that team members with advanced degrees in journalism, business, marketing PR, art, design and architecture are the ideal internal partners to service client-side concerns.

By being inside the mindset of the media and client dually, we are able to communicate, anticipate, strategize, plan, and execute in real time with efficacy. Multi-lingual communication functionality and cultural awareness is also a huge asset for success within the agency world.

Entrepreneur cites that whether it be a Fortune 500 or an emerging brand, every business has the potential to tell a great story. Once a great PR team is in place, the agency may begin to help their client recruit talent and place qualified individuals into new positions to grow awareness and profitability.

In this manner, the PR team and client are woven together through strategic initiatives as trusted partners, aligned along the same goals, values and mission. Listening is perhaps among the most important assets to leverage while building the best team possible given resources— time and attention.

Another 5 things smart managers know about building teams according to Inc. can be heralded as “PR 101,” and bear repeating:

  • Play to individual strengths
  • Encourage transparency
  • Establish ground rules
  • Let them know you have their back
  • Provide an incentive

Sage advice from Forbes is the concept of operating as a harmonious team when a CEO is out of the picture. An effective team functions when targets are specified in advance and expectations are managed— both client and agency side. When one expects results without providing leadership, chaos ensues.

Perhaps the most salient aspect of team building is the actual experience of being a valued team member, doing the best work possible and being a part of something larger than the individual. By contributing to the agency or client’s overall mission— and its resulting success stories— is when a team shares in the glory.

There is nothing better than seeing clients’ names in lights, across a major headline or in national features. The halo effect of being able to position, train, launch, communicate and promote a new brand only drives success for all team members involved.

View the full article via PR Newser, here.

Courtney-profileCourtney Lukitsch is the principal and founder of Gotham PR, which was founded in 2002 and is a boutique Marketing PR firm based in New York and London, with a roster of high profile clients in 25 global markets.

You can find Courtney on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Client Relationship Perspectives: How to Hire and Fire a PR Client

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By Courtney Lukitsch, Founder and Principal, Gotham PR

September represents new beginnings in the world of PR and marketing around the globe, an exciting time for repositioning brands, launching new ventures and kicking off seasonal event series.

Many an annual retainer campaign is initiated in the month of September, for obvious, quarterly fiscal planning reasons. Leading up to and in tandem with this exciting timeframe, is the need to advance assess how and when to hire or fire an agency client.

This may be conducted through a system of reverse engineering and analysis based on desired outcomes for both the agency and the client and can be broken down into the following considerations:

  • Monthly Planning
  • Daily Communication
  • Weekly Parameters for Success
  • Tools to Achieve Goals
  • Defining Results

The smartest firms will budget accordingly—based upon billable hours and the inevitable over-servicing that goes into making most campaigns successful from a Marketing, PR, and new business development standpoint.

According to Growth Force, it is more cost effective to hire an agency, client-side. Likewise, it is most cost effective for an agency to fire a client rather than hire a new team member to carry the added workload.

The relationship is 100% correlated. The benefits can be measured on a 1:1 ratio. In fact, the impact a good PR partner will make can drive the business client-side for years, through high profile press coverage and marketing and partnership introductions, not to mention leads pre-identified toward new business development that result in contracts.

Conversely, when communication begins to deteriorate between client and agency, usually around the 6-month mark, it is time to evaluate what each team wishes to accomplish beyond that juncture—assuming there is an annual contract in place. It is important to frankly open the dialogue in meetings, rather than try to manage it over email communication. Given the intense pace of most workplaces, nuance, meaning, and tonality are often lost, unless the agency sits down with C-level executives or Principals client-side.

According to experts at both Entrepreneur and PR Daily, the 7 reasons PR professionals should fire a client include:

  • Micromanagement by a client that results in reductive agency outcomes
  • The PR team develops a visceral reaction to a mention of the client’s name
  • Clients never ask your professional opinion, even though that’s why they hired an agency
  • The agency-client relationship is not based in a mutual respect
  • Playing the blame game when it relates to budget when the issue usually stems from the client over spending, or not having a viable PR budget to begin with
  • The client is unresponsive for weeks, even up to a month, and then claims— via email rather than in person or by telephone—that the agency is “checked out” of their responsibilities or deliverables
  • Agency begins to hesitate when promoting the client’s service, product, or point of view with national media—due to lack of belief in client’s integrity or actual ability to deliver on results

As many agencies wisely plan their annual calendars long in advance, prospective clients are often surprised to learn, for example, that the following year’s roster is already confirmed four months before the new year. The smartest PR firms are highly selective in the manner they interview, pre-qualify and hire, or sign new client contracts. Clients are vetted in advance by an agency in the same way the agency must prove its merits, beyond reputation, for offering the highest level of service, value-add network of professional contacts, and global media coverage to the perspective clients.

It also comes as news to clients that they will need to dedicate a serious number of hours conducting positioning audits to help drive new business and storytelling strategies, hiring in-house talent, as well as undergoing media training and lengthy editorial interviews, photo shoots, and video work on camera.

This is to underscore that the Marketing PR relationship is a full time job, not an outsourced vendor relationship. A red flag scenario is one where a prospective client, that has not pre-researched a given agency’s specialization, calls to say, “We need your media contacts and will do the rest.” That is never true. If the skill set is already there, why would they have need of an agency in the first place?

Interesting insight is offered by First Round Review and an entrepreneur that heralds experience with 50 PR firms throughout her career. She hones in on the pressing PR concerns of today’s client looking for an agency partnership: finding the right firm and strategy to tell your story and drive the perception of the overall business.

Her knowledge and experience denotes criteria to consider when identifying and prospectively hiring a PR agency might include the following:

  • They are the right size for where you are today as an organization
  • The firm knows your industry and are deeply passionate about it
  • They have the ability to secure specific types of press
  • The firm’s locality is right (city, state, country, time zone)
  • The firm’s overall temperament and team personalities are a fit (this cannot be emphasized enough)
  • You both know what success looks like first (this goes back to reverse engineering)
  • Once you narrow your decision, client and media references support your decision
  • You are willing and able to collaborate with your PR team to establish metrics for success

An established and emerging mix of global clients on roster for 15 years allows us to offer the above insights from both the agency and client perspective. The art, or real “magic,” of the collaboration emerges when the relationship is healthy. Getting results is the easy part, the people management that happens in between is where the communication skills and educational value-add, truly reside.

View the complete article via Bulldog Reporter, here.

This piece was contributed by Courtney Lukitsch, founder and principal at Gotham PR in New York and London with clients in 25 cities globally. In 2017, the agency celebrates its 15th year in business. It represents Gotham Public Relations’ ongoing published series of articles and forthcoming book focused on Client and Agency-side challenges to provide evolving solutions inside the global workplace.

What PR Pros Can Learn From the Success of Pokemon Go

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This is a guest post by Joan Daly, junior account executive at Gotham PR.

If asked to predict a major unifying event for Generations X, Y and Z, most people would have been inclined to say something along the lines of a national crisis, death of an iconic musician or a presidential election.

It’s unlikely that anyone would’ve predicted that Pokemon Go would bring people of all ages together, and so quickly – unless you are late ’90s New York Times critic Anita Gates. Even Nintendo, the creative genius behind the brand, never thought they’d see Pokemon make a comeback as big as this.

Pokemon Go is the newest addition to the Pokemon franchise. The game is a free app available for smartphones. Players are able to create their own avatar and travel around their neighborhood, catching Pokemon at various, random locations. Yes, that’s right – their neighborhoods. Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game, where the location on the screen is exactly the scenery seen in the real world, with a Pokemon added on the screen, brought to life by the Google-spinoff Niantic.

One of the first reasons Pokemon Go is already incredibly successful – in just under 2 weeks since its initial release – is that it was launched at a crossroads for all three generations that it impacted in the late ’90s and early 2000s.

Generation X experienced the first wave surge of handheld gaming, via Game Boy. Generation Y embraced the television series, movies and card game component. And Generation Z has received the residual effects of both gaming and media, including games for Nintendo DS and 3DS and newer movies still being released once a year.

The release of Pokemon Go ties together the childhoods’ of Gen Xers and millennials, and the current realities of Generation Z kids. Hence why Nintendo’s market capital has increased to $42 billion since the games release, according to Fortune.

Aside from timing the release of Pokemon Go perfectly, Nintendo and Niantic have created a marketing frenzy for landmarks and stores around the world. Within the game, certain locations are dubbed “Pokestops,” where users can reload their Pokeballs, find other goodies and enter trainer gyms to train Pokemon against opponents and move up skill levels.

These locations are real, physical places, and for most, are causing surges in tourism (and unfortunately, even some accidents). Local coffee shops, restaurants, and monuments have seen an influx of visitors in the passed week alone, spiking sales for their products. Some are even offering special deals for Pokémon Go players, such as “buy one get on free” offers or discounts on meals, according to the New York Times.

Public relations professionals can gain some insight from this incredibly popular game.

  • As the game encourages players to step out into their neighborhoods, explore and meet people, the same goes for PR – network yourself constantly
  • Follow up on your goals, just as you would follow a Pokemon around to eventually capture it; besides, completing your goals will only help you “level up”
  • PR firms always like to be on the cusp of the new and now; take a note from Pokemon Go and keep tabs on the augmented reality industry, it appears to be the new frontier

In the future, more companies will look for ways to unite multiple generations, instead of aiming for just one target market. Public relations amongst games like Pokemon Go is just about to take off – company sponsorships of gyms and Pokestops are already being requested in hopes of increasing publicity, business and name recognition.

The viral nature of Pokemon Go has made businesses more interested in being a part of the game, leading to a desire to be featured in the augmented reality world, even hoping that Nintendo and Niantic will place a rare Pokémon near their location to draw large crowds.

Pokemon Go is just the beginning of augmented reality, which has been on the horizon for public relations professionals for a short while now. Last year, Google revealed it’s virtual reality “goggles”, Cardboard, a huge leap for them in terms of publicity. Virtual reality and augmented reality are the new frontier, and Nintendo and Niantic’s game is proving so.

As a millennial, I am a witness to the evolution of Pokemon (no pun intended). From playing the video games with my friends to going to the movies with my family to attend the premiere of Pokemon: The First Movie, I’ve seen the brand grow and also seen its fan base deduced to a cult following. With the recent release of Pokemon Go, it’s cult following has rejoiced, millennials can indulge in a blast from the past, and businesses are taking advantage of the game’s profitable side effects – viral lessons learned.

Curious, I downloaded the app sometime last week. Needless to say, the graphics are crisp, there is minimal buffering time, and it is designed for those already familiar with the Pokemon games, leaving the user with little instructions and leaving them to their own instincts, another reason it seems to resonate across the three generations the brand has affected most.

Pokemon Go has caused a phenomenon in less than two weeks of being available to the United States, Australia and New Zealand, with hopes to expand its global markets. What can public relations and marketing professionals take away from such a trending game such as Pokemon Go?

Businesses must constantly be forward thinking, aiming to utilize pop culture’s current and future trends before the competitor does. If they miss out on the opportunity, it will most likely be hard to hop on the bandwagon. Pokemon Go is still fresh and developing, giving businesses the opportunity to join in on the craze before it ends – if it ever does.

View the complete article via PR Newser, here.

This is a guest post by Joan Daly, junior account executive at Gotham PR

Architizer A+ Awards [via Architizer.com]

The Architizer A+ Awards break architecture out of the echo chamber to celebrate the world’s best structures, spaces and the minds behind them.

Film has the Oscars, the internet has the Webbys, advertising has the Clios. Don’t wait until you win a Pritzker to have your work celebrated by an award that matters. Enter work from the last three years to have it considered by a jury of 200 architects, thought leaders and the people who actually hire architects.

You can’t win if you don’t enter.

Enter Now! via Architizer.com or ArchitizerA+Awards.com

First Female Exec Editor at Le Monde: Ever.

Today’s New York Times does some reporting about how Le Monde, widely considered France’s newspaper of record, appointed a woman as executive editor on Monday, a first in its 65-year history. The new executive editor, Sylvie Kauffmann, 55, a former deputy executive editor and most recently a Southeast Asia correspondent, has been with Le Monde since 1988.

“Live In The Know” Beyond The Chatter

The Wall Street Journal just unleashed a new multimedia brand advertising campaign that attempts to attract new readers to its print, mobile and online editions. It’s called “Live in the Know” and its print ads and TV commercials will ask new readers to go “beneath the headlines” with the Wall Street Journal.

More Readers Skimming Google Headlines Than Going Directly to Newspaper Web Sites?

Editor & Publisher reports today about aggregator sites — especially Google — and how they really are hurting newspapers as more people increasingly simply skim the news headlines without bothering to click to linked newspaper Web sites.

This ongoing trend for newspapers is occurring as more people are getting their news online and through aggregators, according to the report from Outsell Research. In fact, just as many people turn to aggregators to get news first thing in the day as people who crack open a newspaper.

The “News Users 2009” study conducted by Outsell Research affiliate analyst Ken Doctor found that 19% of people accessed Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL News for news in 2009, up from 10% in 2006. For newspapers, 19% of those polled went there first, a drop from 23% in 2006.

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