Our Favorite Halloween Costumes & The PR Lessons We Learned

This Halloween, we wanted to share a few of our favorite costumes and the PR lessons we learned from them. Some of us loved the characters we dressed up as when we were just kids trick-or-treating, while others treasured the costumes from their college days or more recent years. Each of us took a trip down memory lane and realized our Halloween alter-egos taught us some key public relations philosophies.

Katie Dalmatian Costume

One of the 101 Dalmatians (Katie): I thought my 101 Dalmatians costume was the coolest thing when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure I wore it three years in a row. At the time, I didn’t think about how I was just one Dalmatian puppy out of 101! In PR, we often are one of 101+ pitches reporters receive. At Bottom Line, we go above and beyond to make sure our “spots” are just unique enough to catch the eyes of media. We tailor our pitches to each specific publication and reporter so our client’s story is THE ONE reporters choose to tell, instead of one that is overlooked among the hundreds. 

Elvira (LeeAndra): My favorite costume of ALL TIME was Elvira. It was the first Halloween after me and my now husband met. I remember winning second place at a costume contest—the prize was $100! I never won anything like that before, so it was quite exciting hearing people whistle and clap while being judged for the costume. The PR lesson I learned was no matter who you choose to become in life or in business, in the end you are always your own winner when you are true to yourself. We empower our clients to stay true to their brands and maintain transparency in their communications to employees and customers.

Margaret Madge CostumeMadge the Palmolive Lady

“Madge” the Palmolive Lady (Margaret): My favorite Halloween costume came to me in college, after I acquired the nickname “Madge.” At the time, there was a commercial for Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid, and Madge the manicurist had her customers soak their hands in a bowl filled with it and told them, “You’re soaking in it.” One trip to the local Goodwill and I had my costume—a blue polyester dress (with “Madge” written on in Sharpie), white shoes, a brown short wig and a bottle of Palmolive. Some 30 years later, Palmolive is still a successful brand. At Bottom Line, we don’t leave you soaking. We use tried and true strategy, and if needed, we’ll hold your hand throughout the process, to get great results.

Robot (Jeffrey): Think of the robot in the Lost in Space TV series… “Danger, Will Robinson!” I took two different sizes of card board boxes, painted grey: one for the body and a smaller one for the head. I wrapped my arms and legs in aluminum foil and painted a pair of my mom’s dress gloves grey as well. I thought the coolest part of my costume was the slot and chute I had cut into the body of the costume, which was connected to a paper bag I had taped to the inside. You pulled on the slot, and it opened to drop the Halloween treats into. The candy then slid easily down into the paper bag. This reminded me of how we always have an interesting package for the pitches we send reporters on behalf of our clients, and how we make it easy for the reporter to do his or her job.

Nicole Gypsy Costume

Gypsy fortune teller (Nicole): I loved my gypsy fortune teller costume! I got to wear a big flowy skirt and act all mysterious and wise, which as a kid, I naturally took WAY over the top. My favorite part was my crystal ball—made from an over-sized light-bulb and a black-painted shoe-box. My go-to trick-or-treat move that year was waving my hand across it as if I could see the candy-giver’s future. Our attention to strategy helps clients better predict what’s coming next and how to plan for the future. We might not be bona fide fortune tellers, but we are bona fide strategic planners.

What was your favorite Halloween costume? What PR lesson did it teach you? Don’t be scared to let us know in the comments below or send us a Tweet: @BLMPRmke. Be sure to check out the latest projects in our Portfolio.

Happy Halloween! 

Getting Employees to Talk About You

So, you’ve invested in a shiny new brand. Or, maybe, your latest ad campaign is getting ready to roll off the shelves. Do your employees know about it? And, more importantly, do they know how to talk about it with others?

These questions often get answered with a hesitant “no,” followed by a moment of panic, but don’t worry. There are two tools we use to empower your best ambassadors—employees—to speak consistently and powerfully about your company.

Message strategies
These are the guiding themes that help employees remember which factors to highlight when waxing poetic about your company. They demonstrate your key differentiators—operative word there being demonstrate.

Message strategies aren’t the nice succinct sound bites you hear (For that, see Talking Points below). Instead, they answer customers’ questions of “Why should I believe what you’re telling me? What proof do you have?” They identify HOW you will communicate the key points, but they don’t specify the exact messages or language.

For example, if your brand, positioning statement or ad claims you provide “compassionate, skilled professionals,” then two of your message strategies would be:

  1. Highlight the compassionate approach employees use during interactions with customers
  2.  Detail the schooling, certifications or skills-tests your employees are required to have.

Message strategies create powerful communications materials because they tell you what to DO to communicate your ideas to your customers. For example, if you want your customers to understand that you have compassionate, skilled professionals, then you need to follow both of the message strategies listed above.

You can use message strategies as a checklist for measuring the strength of your collateral materials. Ask yourself if a particular brochure or sales flier accomplishes each of the message strategies. If it does, the chances are that your customers will be able to more easily understand the messages you’re trying to get across.

Talking Points
Talking points are detailed statements that provide consistent, clear ways to talk about your business, and always tie directly back to the customer benefit. They also support individual message strategies. In the example above about “compassionate, skilled employees,” a sample talking point that fulfills message strategy #2 would be:

“Our customers have peace of mind knowing they’re in capable hands because all of our staff have attained the highest certification available in our industry. They also are required to complete 120 hours of continuing education each year.”

When we develop talking points, we carefully craft the most powerful language because this is what your employees will actually be saying and what your customers will actually be reading regarding your company. The talking points are a living document and likely will evolve over time as new research, data and stories are uncovered.

Since everyone is working off of the same talking points, your message will be clear and consistent no matter who is communicating it. Talking points also help in cross-selling because employees can speak about the values and benefits of an unfamiliar service line simply by knowing its talking points.

Talking points become the basis for developing collateral materials, including sell sheets, brochures, Web site, etc. They also become the sound bites that employees use during sales pitches. To make the talking points even stronger and more relevant, each employee can personalize them with their own perspective and stories.

Next time your company has an important message to get out, help your employees take the lead!

Client Spotlight: FEI Behavioral Health

Every once in a while, we like to give a shout out to one of our clients and showcase our good work together. This month, we’re featuring FEI Behavioral Health, a longtime client who has partnered with us on media relations efforts. FEI works in the full spectrum of workplace resiliency services—from large-scale crisis management to day-to-day employee assistance programs. Here’s a snapshot of our work with them.

Media Relations

On an annual basis, we meet with FEI’s leadership team to determine strategy for the upcoming year. The team shares insight with us on the trends and products they want to spotlight. With this information, we develop a media pitch calendar and look for opportunities to gain media coverage on behalf of FEI. We have a comprehensive list of trade publications and reporters relevant to FEI’s service industries, and pitch on a regular basis.

FEI’s team of experts has a robust line-up of speaking engagements, from conference workshops to panel discussions. These speaking opportunities provide us with a wealth of topics to complement our annual pitch calendar.

From Push to Pull

After five years of pushing out news releases and pitching reporters, media coverage has doubled, and reporters now proactively contact us for bylined articles and expert interview requests. Visibility at conferences has increased as well. A reporter from a trade publication mentioned she had an opportunity to introduce herself to our client at a conference after working with us to place a bylined article. Putting a name to a face and making a connection at a large trade show is a valuable asset and our media efforts were a direct result in making that happen.

The Bottom Line team is excited to continue our media relations relationship with the FEI team to increase their network of contacts through local and trade media. FEI is just one of many clients we support with media relations work. We’re happy to talk with you to discuss how Bottom Line can help grow and expand your media coverage