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Party Hats Required

I sent an email yesterday welcoming customers of a company we just acquired. It included a staff photo welcoming these customers (see below). I followed up today with an email asking for customer feedback. I got it.

Welcome to the eReleases Family

Welcome to the eReleases Family

Paula Raeburn CAE of Florida Aviation Trades Association wrote:

    I did receive it and it is difficult to take you seriously. Our professional association expects more from the folks we deal with. No need for suits and ties, but would I want any of these folks writing a press release for me? My answer: no. I understand you were trying for the humor, but it was lost on me.

 

I called Paula and spoke with her briefly. She immediately recognized me. That’s important. Just yesterday, Paula didn’t know who I was in the world. Today, she knows who I am just by saying this is Mickie Kennedy. I don’t want to discount her opinion. Her email was an honest response and I respect it. I used the time on the phone to get her perspective and share my own.

This is the email I didn’t get to send her as we discussed many of the details. I asked her if I could send her email and my response to my own lists. She agreed. Here’s a secret: I like Paula and believe that in time, I might turn her around. If not, she remains a great person who just happens to disagree with how I market.

My response:

    Thanks for the comments Paula. I strongly disagree but understand where you’re coming from.Our humor and humanity has been the thing that has helped us reach and keep customers. We’re real people, trying to establish real trust over a distrustful medium — the Internet.

    The staff photos with funny hats reach people in a way that a website, a pamphlet, postcard, and even email have not. We send a funny staff photo personally welcoming each new customers.

    At times, we receive reply emails from more than a third of our new customers acknowledging or thanking us for the welcome. You cannot buy those numbers or metrics. They only come from one person being genuine and engaging to another human being.

    We don’t have Amazon dollars for branding and need to differentiate ourselves in a marketplace in which many uneducated customers believe press releases should be free and can be generated using an automated script. For us, these pictures and emails work. We will rub some people the wrong way. That’s inevitable. However, in the end, these gestures — including my blog — have helped eReleases establish trust.

Playing it safe and professional is great if that is what is acceptable in your industry. However, how do you stand out in a crowd, especially in an industry where you are expected to engage with people (media and clients) and make an impact at the same time?

If you’re looking for safe and professional, the yellow pages are filled with struggling PR firms ready to spend tens of thousands of dollars. eReleases has and will always be about giving clients the biggest bang for the buck. No apologies — fireworks and party hats come with the job.

What is the image you want projected to prospects and clients? Is eReleases going too far? Comments welcome below.

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.

7 Responses

  1. I sort of agree with Paula. I don’t like “hype.” Frankly, it turns me off. However, I do appreciate sophisticated humor.
    I’m in the process of making up my mind about working with EReleases for my new book coming out in Sept-Oct 2009, and I certainly wouldn’t want something like that for my project. Even tho it may get attention, it leaves a “bad” taste all-way-round, I truly believe. It questions credibility.
    Furthermore, I think it tends to “seed” some doubts about professionalism on EReleases part. Have I said enough?

  2. Cindy Novak says:

    Mickie,

    I love it! I think it’s a great idea. Whenever there is a merger or acquisition, tensions can be high. What a great way to relieve the tension and get someone to smile! I would love to be of an organization that wants their employees to smile!

    You’re the best!

    Cindy Novak

  3. Paul Fanning says:

    Keep the hats.
    Lose the clients who don’t get it.
    It amazes me that there are still so many people who maintain such rigid definitions of “professionalism.”
    If I ever need erelease services, you will get my call.

  4. Shirley Mott says:

    Wow! Interesting response(s) I write press releases on a freelance basis (amongst other things.) and take my work with a client very seriously. And I believe you do, too, Mickie. However, when you are working under a deadline for numerous clients, stressed out about trying to please everyone, sometimes you need to take a break and laugh. I see what you did as more of an ice-breaker, not ‘hype’.

    Unfortunately, non-creative types do not always understand how the creative mind operates. Serious when need be; but able to think out of the box when you’re coming up with attention-grabbing articles, headlines or whatever. (I was just at a networking session where we did an exercise with mundane headlines and brainstormed as small groups how to make it appealing to editors and readers – creativity was definitely necessary!)

    Take your job seriously, but have a little fun with it, too! I’m guessing your employees enjoy the spontaneity.

    Shirley Mott
    @writeword

  5. TL Birdwell says:

    The real proof is always in the pudding. When I contract with a business for any kind of service, I only care about one thing – RESULTS!!! Since your people do their work mostly “behind the scenes” I don’t care if you show up to work in your pajamas with a 3-day beard!! As long as the press release you write for me looks professionally done, is error-free and most-importantly: gets the results I expect!

  6. Amy says:

    It’s an amazing idea. We’re considering using eReleases, and will be disappointed if we don’t receive a welcome letter complete with party hats!
    To RT Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh…
    Following “best practices” is a great way to stifle innovation & ensure that your business is average and behind the times.

  7. Hugh Cole says:

    Wow … Some folks just don’t get it do they? This is not your mama’s media machine. I love the hats and all the quirky stuff. But you know what? I love “bang for my buck” more. Long before I handed Mickie my first release, I knew who Mickie was .. from Twitter to email to Facebook, he was there with good content. I knew he had my philosophy about link building and social media visibility. He walked the walk and talked the talk. You know what else? Every release I have sent has been spit polished and brooded over like a mother hen. These folks work with me like they say they do. They deserve to be the eccentric non conforming crew they are. They are entrepreneurs in the best sense of the word and the results speak for themselves.

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