Archive for the ‘Public Relations’ category

CVS’ $2 Billion Marketing Gamble

February 18th, 2014

'Cigarette Packets - Chesterfield, Peter Stuyvesant Extra Mile, Dunhill Superior Mild, Lambert & Butler Special Mild, Dunhill,  Royal Standard, Embassy Number 1 King Size' photo (c) 2011, Sludge G - license: I was amazed to learn about CVS’ $2 billion tobacco gamble. Is it financial gain or financial ruin?

CVS will no longer carry cigarettes and other tobacco products effective October 1, 2014. Analysts have estimated that the loss of revenue will be $1.5 Billion in tobacco products plus $500 million in impulse sales from smokers choosing other tobacco outlets.

Is the Decision Good or Bad?

Let’s take the decision in the proper light of day. $2 Billion represents about 3% of retail pharmacy sales. And retail pharmacy sales are less than 50% of CVS Caremark annual revenue. Call it 1.5% of overall revenue.

  • For all intents and purposes CVS Caremark is a healthcare company. Is selling tobacco is contrary to good health?
  • There is a definite halo effect. The free publicity must be worth tens of millions of dollars.
  • CVS can redesign how the area behind the cash registers appears, especially compared with other pharmacy chains.
  • About 18% of adults now smoke, down drastically over the last 30 years.

On balance, I applaud the CVS move. The Surgeon General has told us since the 1960’s that cigarettes cause cancer. Raising taxes has helped diminish the sale of cigarettes. Could CVS start a trend toward limited availability of cigarettes?

If I was a marketing executive at CVS I would be jumping for joy at the news.  Stay tuned to see how it ends.

The Takeaway

Bold marketing decisions can be nerve wracking. Big risks lead to big rewards.

Those are my thoughts. Over to you. Please comment below.

1. Do you think other pharmacies like Walgreens and Rite Aid will follow suit?

2. Is CVS really improving its corporate image with this change?

3. If you were a CVS executive, would you have made the same decision?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Does Your Business Utilize Hyper-Local Social Media Marketing?

November 19th, 2013

'Local / organic depot produce flow diagram' photo (c) 2008, Nick Saltmarsh - license: Traditional tools like print advertising and direct mail are great tools for a small business owner. However, they can cost significant amounts of money and be hit or miss with your target audience.

Many businesses have a local trading area where most of their customers come from or where you would like most of your customers to come from.

Are you using these techniques?

Twitter Search

You may have dipped your toe into the Twitter river. The flow may be amazing and hard to tackle. Change that paradigm by using Twitter Search. Use the “Advanced” search button. You can drill down to your local area and find Tweeters tweeting about topics relevant to your business. Then, you can engage them in real-time.

Improve Visibility

If you have a physical location, then traffic will pass you each business day. Are you alerting them to specials, new services, etc? You can draw them in with sandwich boards at the street. A banner hung on the building, a mascot or employee waving to passersby, search lights and cold-air balloons on your roof. Promote your social media links. ‘

Email List Only Specials

Invite those on your email list to receive a special discount, extra goods or services or a sample to drive them into your operation. Make sure you shape your social media links to prompt clicks.

Be A Good Corporate Citizen

If you serve food like pizza or ice cream, then you can donate a percentage of sales on specific days and times to go to a local charity or PTO. Those organizations all publicize the event and drive visitors to your location. The same technique works with a toy store where a share of sales is shared with the non-profit.

Create A List Of Influential Bloggers Or Tweeters In Your Area

Twitter search as described above, and a search on a major search engine will find help identity these folks. Ask them for a one-on-one meeting on the phone or in person. They might use your company as an example in a post or feature some of your practices as positive practices in tweets.

Location Based Services

Geo-location services and applications like Foursquare make going local easy. However, the customers of potential clients may need to be educated that these services exist and how to use them. The key is to focus the social media activity to be where the customers are, especially if you have multiple locations.

Filling out complete profiles is paramount. There can be specials only for those who check in using the LBS networks. Extra rewards are offered to those who check in the most, they are known as “Mayors”.

Location Specific Social Media Communities

Location-specific LinkedIn Groups or regional Facebook pages allow you to target customers within your desired geographic area.  Additionally, LinkedIn allows you to place a targeted advertisement


Meetup’s purpose is group together people with shared interests within a geographic area.  You can start your own meet-up on a specific topic for less than $100 per year. Members who have interest in your topic will be notified of events and your group. Hosting meetings will show your company’s expertise. Members will gain insight into how your firm helps clients.

Look for Meetup groups in adjacent geographic and product spaces. Hold events jointly to expose the members to a larger audience.

Alternatively, instead of starting a Meetup, target groups that would be of interest to your prospects. The member profiles will have Facebook, Twitter and blog information. Contact them to engage, not pitch them. Look for spots where you can contribute to the Meetup such as sponsoring activities, providing door prizes, guest speaking or providing a meeting venue.

The Takeaway

Local marketing has endless possibilities. Don’t limit yourself to the old standards. Engage with social media to spread your message.

These are the ideas. Over to you. Please comment below.

  1. What other local social media marketing techniques do you employ?
  2. What has been your most successful social media strategy?
  3. Has Social Media allowed you to expand your area where you draw customers?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Not Your Father’s Press Release

October 1st, 2013

'Free Press Release Submission and Distribution with integrated Linkbuilding and Directory Listing - For Free.' photo (c) 2010, Heidi Mueller - license: Those of us who have been around a while know the value of Press Releases. There are many reasons to issue them.  If you work with a Publicist they are likely to tell you about Online Press Releases.

Why would I want to put my Press Release Online?

  • build links back to your site
  • build your online brand
  • help position you or your company as experts
  • searchable on news wire services forever
  • the content is indexed by search engines
  • published within hours of submission
  • can embed links, videos, podcasts
  • show pictures in the document javascript and HTML feeds
  • RSS can spread the release for and wide
  • Allows you to include the keywords that you are focusing on

There are many Online Press Release Services available. 

Michael Hartzell, a blogger compiled a list of over 60 press release websites online.

Tips for writing The Online Press Release

  • determine what your key words are
  • use photos, video, etc
  • have a hook in the story to grab attention
  • focus on one message for each release
  • know your audience – speak to them in the right language and tone
  • be relevant – your content should be relevant and timely
  • satisfy customer demand – create content on hot topics for those viewing the Press Release.
  • alt tag all images to make them searchable
  • include a link to your website home page
  • include a link to the product or service page that you talked about in the release
  • include a link to a blog post that is relevant to the topic
  • put key words in the URL string

The Takeaway

Online press releases should be part of your marketing mix. They reach a different and broader audience than your offline press releases.

That is the information. What do you think? Please comment below.

1. Do you use online press releases?

2. How effective have you found them to be?

3. What other advice would you add?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Why Should I Bother with a Press Release?

August 5th, 2013

'WebRTC Announcements Week' photo (c) 2012, Tsahi Levent-Levi - license: Releases must work or else there would not be millions of them each year.  I am reminded of the old saying attributed to John Wannamaker.  “I know advertising works half the time, I just don’t know which half.”

If you are not swayed by my general point about Press Releases working, then consider these benefits of Press Releases.



1.    Search Engine Optimization

Build links back to your site to bring new visitors.  Links help with your credibility as a website.  Thus, the more credibility the higher you arrear in search results.

2.    Provide News on Social Media Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook

We are constantly looking for status updates.  A Press Release is a perfect opportunity to briefly describe the situation and provide a link.

3.    New Content for Your Website

Spiders on search engines like Google and Bing are always looking for new content.  Oblige them by adding the press release to your website.

4.    A Quick Way to Touch a Customer

Send the press release to a customer to keep them current on your firm’s activities.

5.    Send it to Top Prospects

Similar to the idea of keeping customers in the loop it may be even more important to let prospects know your good news.  Prospects are still forming opinions about your firm and whether they should take a leap and partner with you to meet their needs.

6.    Create and Reinforce the Habit of Writing Press Releases

The Takeaway

Press Releases are beneficial.  They have many uses which might just land you a coveted interview or press exposure.

Over to you.  What are your thoughts on these questions?

  1. What other ways to you use Press Releases?
  2. What has been your experience with Press Releases?
  3. What advice would you provide to someone just getting started with Press Releases?Why Should I Bother with a Press Release?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Should Companies Donate Goods and Services For Fundraising?

April 26th, 2011

Sainsbury's local charity of the year nomination cardphoto © 2009 Howard Lake | more info (via: Wylio)
Many businesses are approached multiple times per year to donate products, services or cash to support various causes. Schools, PTOs, non-profits, religious organizations, scouts etc are looking for help from the business community. Civic-minded businesses are interested in helping, but are confused about how to proceed. Companies would like to assist while also creating a positive marketing and branding opportunity.

Here are some guidelines to use in the decision making process.

1. Set a percentage of sales, profits or a fixed amount available to donate to worthy organizations.

2. Determine if you will donate cash, goods, services or a combination thereof.

3. Create a written policy governing your approach.

4. Designate which personnel are authorized to offer donations to organizations.

5. Document what types of organizations with which you will and will not get involved.

6. Draft wording you would like used as attribution for your donation.

7. Create a plan for what organizations you will proactively contact about making donations.

8. Create a plan to generate positive word of mouth and publicity for your contributions to the organizations.

9. Consult with your accountant about your policies, procedures and documentation to ensure the tax deductibility of your donations.

10. Require a written request on organization letterhead to help authenticate the validity of the request.

The Takeaway

Businesses should always be seeking positive marketing and branding opportunities. One great opportunity is through making donations to non-profit and charitable organizations.

Those are the guidelines. Over to you. Please comment below.

1. Do you make charitable contributions?

2. Do you have a written policy?

3. Have you received additional revenue or positive PR from your donations?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

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