Making Sure Your Organization is Heard

Business groups and trade associations often focus much of their energy on public policy and regulatory issues. Laws, rules and regulations can be established on a local, state or national level. Influencing them requires active effort to express a clear and compelling point of view.

Our client (Rey Chavez, president & CEO of the San Antonio Manufacturers Association, right) talks about NAFTA with a WOAI News Radio 1200 reporter moments before a recent association program. 

Our client (Rey Chavez, president & CEO of the San Antonio Manufacturers Association, right) talks about NAFTA with a WOAI News Radio 1200 reporter moments before a recent association program. 

One way to do it is to engage with appropriate media outlets. Newsrooms and what they report still carry significant weight. Elected officials as well as the bureaucrats who work for them still pay attention and are influenced by the daily ebb and flow of news and opinion. 

And newsroom staffs are hungry for content. Their staffs are stretched thin, so when an organization makes it easier for them to report a story, that organization often has a great shot at making the news. 

How can you do that? Here are are few simple ways that can help make sure your business group's voice is heard when it comes to legislation, ordinances and regulations:

  1. Have a clear message that you can state as simply as possible in 10 seconds or less. Use easy-to-understand language and talk about how the issue affects real people.
  2. When your organization holds and event such as seminar, invite local reporters. For those who attend, make sure to introduce them to the organization's leader.
  3. Coach that designated leader to express your message to any reporter they encounter.
  4. For those media who don't attend, email them a short statement from your group's leader so they can include the quote in their coverage even without attending the event.
  5. For radio news outlets, send them a short (10 seconds or less) audio clip of your leader making the statement you want them to make.
  6. You don't have to wait to hold an event to do any of this. Send text and audio clips to your local news organizations anytime your trade group needs to inject its voice into a public policy debate.

Finally, once your material makes it into the news, be sure to share those news items with your organization's members. It will underscore to them that the organization is standing up for its members and their interests. 

- Eric Whittington



Twitter's New Calendar of Major Events: What it Means

Hear that?

That is the sound of social media managers celebrating the newest social media marketing tool released by Twitter.

Introducing, the calendar of major events! I know, it needs a catchier name.

It’s just a calendar. So what?

Au contraire, my friend. The calendar highlights major events coming in the next month, as well as the projected volume of tweets per event.

Now you know exactly when the best times to tweet and the major events that coincide!

While this might not seem like a big deal, the overall benefit to marketing and social media directors is massive. We all know reach is one of the biggest metrics, and Twitter just told us how to optimize.

Not every event is going to be right for your brand. Your audience (and desired audience) might not be engaged with every major event, but now it is much easier to identify the right ones.

Stay tuned for more updates!

- Casey Whittington

What Defines the San Antonio Brand? Hint: Don't Make Assumptions

When it comes to defining a brand, two fundamental questions are:

1.       How is our brand perceived now?

2.       How do we wish our brand to be                       perceived in the future?

A lot of work goes into answering each of these. But one huge mistake regarding the first question is to assume you know how your brand is perceived and believing that your customers see it the same way you do. 

You know what happens when you assume.

Case in point: I recently heard someone who is involved in marketing downtown San Antonio state with absolute certainty that “downtown is what defines the San Antonio brand.” Pretty bold statement.

I know this person sincerely believes that statement.  But I also know that he is so myopically focused on downtown that he isn’t the slightest bit objective. That he couldn’t imagine anyone disagreeing.

Defining a brand is partly about asking hard questions. Questions that challenge preconceived beliefs.  Questions that may be painful to address because the answers don’t fit our assumptions.

If our firm were working on how the San Antonio brand is perceived today, some of the hard questions we’d ask include:

How do the tens of thousands of people now living beyond Loop 1604 view downtown, given that many of them rarely if ever visit downtown?

         How greatly, if at all, do the following organizations define the San Antonio brand?

o   The Spurs

o   USAA

o   San Antonio Military Medical Center

o   HEB

o   Toyota

o   Six Flags and Sea World

o   The JW Marriott, La Cantera and Hyatt Hill Country

o   Fiesta and the Rodeo

o   The Pearl

o   University of Texas at San Antonio

          How do people who live 75 miles or more from San Antonio define the city?

          If downtown really does define a city – any city – is that a net positive or negative for                       that city?

          Is the idea that downtown defines San Antonio’s brand how things really are, or how we                   wish things to be?

          Is it even a good idea to pursue defining a city’s brand by its downtown if the vast                             majority of its residents neither live there nor work there?

Hard questions, right? The point isn’t to say downtown is unimportant. The point is to challenge dogma and assumptions.

The point is that when someone says, “Our brand is known as…” or “People love us because…,” they need to be challenged – to back up such assertions with proof.

Downtown San Antonio is a wonderful place. It is steeped in amazing history. It attracts visitors from around the world. But does downtown really “define San Antonio?” 

Says who?

-          Eric Whittington

Brand Exercise: How Choosing a Mayor is Like Choosing Detergent

Those of us who work with organizations to establish, protect and express brands often talk about differentiating. In other words, we need to figure out how to differentiate our brand from all the others, in a positive way.

Let’s say we’re talking about laundry detergent brands. Maybe our brand is better at cleaning stains and we have the data to prove it. Or maybe ours is cheaper, easier to use, more eco-friendly or something else that truly separates our brand from the rest. We need to determine why our brand of detergent is a better choice for the customer.  This is Brand Strategy 101 stuff.

Politics is the same. It’s easy for citizens to assume all politicians are alike. One talking head is as good – or bad – as the next, many believe.   

But election day is coming soon to San Antonio, and voters will have to choose one mayor from a field of three serious candidates. In some ways, those voters will face the same questions they face when selecting detergent, a hamburger or a cell phone company. 

The choice is all about the brand, baby! And how voters perceive each contender.

So, it’s a fun exercise to assign brand attributes that define each candidate for San Antonio mayor. In short, the qualities that define each each candidate and that differentiate each to some degree from the others.  Here’s how the big three stack up, at least from my point of view:

Manuel Medina

  • Fiery
  • Intense
  • Disruptive
  • Street smart

Ron Nirenberg

  • Tough
  • Unbending
  • Savvy
  • Driven

Ivy Taylor

  • Studious
  • Methodical
  • Business-like
  • Reliable

Without a doubt, anyone paying attention to this race could easily add a dozen more descriptions to each candidate. And many would surely disagree with my choices.

The real question is: Which bottle of detergent will get the most votes on May 6?

- Eric Whittington