One day, long ago, I was raking leaves next to a busy road in Maine. Yes, there are such things. A car stopped, and the passenger asked me how to get to a certain park. I gave them such clear and concise directions that pride welled up in me as they disappeared down the road. Then it occurred to me that I had given them excellent directions, but to the wrong park. What’s worse, they would need to drive right past me again to get to the right park. So, as I figured how long it would take them to drive back to where I was, I stopped raking and hid inside the house.

In marketing, it’s rare to give your agency’s team members direction that is exactly opposite to what they need. But even the best marketing managers or directors find themselves giving direction that can almost do more harm than good. To help you help someone else (who definitely isn’t you) give better direction in creative projects, here are twelve quick steps.

1. Relax

Relax! Of course you don’t have time to relax when a big, threatening deadline is looking over your shoulder. But you also won’t have the time—or budget—for later corrections caused by giving vague or ambiguous direction right now.

2. Read

Take the time to review any materials being used as background or input for the new creative project. Missing key elements now will likely be harder to fix later on. Don’t just read the current version of the project; also read the overall project direction and guidelines occasionally to make sure you’re still on track.

3. Timing is Everything

If you’re responsible for setting delivery deadlines, be realistic. Whether your team is in-house or an outside agency, everyone is juggling multiple projects and deadlines already. So, setting an unrealistically short deadline is often counterproductive. When unnecessary time pressure takes over, that’s when mistakes get made.

4. Think CTA

Including an effective call to action (CTA) is just good marketing. Using the CTA as a focus will help you produce more effective direction, because it’s harder to stray from precision when you know exactly what you want your reader/viewer/prospect/customer to do next.

5. Get Your Specs On

Whether the end product is digital, video, print, radio, or whatever, it will need to follow all necessary specifications. Designers, for example, will need the exact dimensions of the image size and restrictions on file size. For copy, it’s normally word count. Every organization should have a brand guide that specifies proper usage of logos and colors in all applications, too.

6. Include Everything

They say editing is the hardest part of writing, but this step is actually about including all the elements required for the project. Little will frazzle a designer more, for instance, than adding an image or logo element they’ll need to include in the design after they’re already halfway finished. It’s similar for writing copy, too. In short, try to get everything to the project team at once, before they get started.

7. Copy That

Provide clean copy whenever possible. True, adding comments and marking up copy changes within a PDF can be expedient. And placing the comment exactly where the change needs to happen, that’s a good thing. But providing clean copy in a separate document is still the best way to make sure nothing gets lost in translation. After all, it’s very easy to miss or misunderstand copy changes when they’re embedded in comment blocks instead.

8. Mark it Up

I just gave some love to marking up PDFs for a reason. Whether you use Acrobat, Preview, or another tool to proof and indicate necessary changes—or use the “Track Changes” within Word—aim for clarity in your markups. Having marked-up versions along with clean-copy versions will make it much easier to backtrack at any point, if necessary.

9. Re-read

Sorry, just when you’d started forgiving me for asking you to read project materials more thoroughly, here I am asking you again. But investing a bit more of that time you don’t have will pay project dividends. Be empathetic and as much of a mind reader as possible: if there’s anything that might still be unclear when a project is approaching perfection, now’s the time to fix it.

10. Version Control

Software companies learned long ago that being very specific about versions—though painstaking—would help avoid confusion in the long run. For example, MacOS Catalina is actually Version 10.15.2 (19C57). Establish and stick to a straightforward system for tracking versions as changes are made. This holds true for copy and artwork.

11. Finally FINAL

As much as possible, avoid including the word “final” in the names of project files. This is extremely tempting, and much too common. By the way, capitalizing “FINAL” never prevents making changes later, either. It’s all about version control, so if you’re not using a meta-tag or filing system to identify status later on, at least use meaningful terms such as “print ready” or “with so-and-so’s markups” to distinguish among the many iterations you and your project team have created. As with version control, the goal is to avoid confusion for now and for later.

12. Distribute Wisely

Just as important as the specific direction is how it’s communicated to the project team. Take care to avoid ambiguity regarding who needs to do what. So, if you’re copying several people at once, parse the tasks and call out the team member responsible, in order to make it extra clear.

There are certainly worse habits to kick that giving less-than-perfect direction. But you (I mean your friend) will be pleasantly surprised by the improvements that can be made to creative marketing projects by following these steps.

I recently spoke to the Florida Public Relations Association on “Building and Nurturing High Performance Teams.” In preparation, I polled a number of seasoned marketing communications professionals and senior executives, asking for their expertise, candor and insights into building and nurturing high-performance communications teams.

My questions were couched in the key assumption that high performance goes well beyond traditional communications skills or technical marketing acumen, as well as in acknowledgement that we’re talking about people with a lot on their plates, both professionally and personally, from unrelenting deadlines to family obligations.

Still, something this important must get done. And it’s well worth the effort – for everyone involved – as employees are inspired to do their best work and stay in place, contributing to the bottom line for overall business sustainability and success.

To build anything, however, you have to know what it should look like. And that’s what my respondents provided, with their advice culminating in 10 traits that define a high-performance communications team.

  1. An Environment of Trust. Trust is the foundation for every functional team and must flow across the business continuum among peers, clients, subordinates and colleagues. Successful marketers actively guard this characteristic, as broken trust is almost impossible to restore.
  2. Self-Awareness that Challenges the Status Quo. This requires staying involved without over-managing.While you need processes in place to ensure accuracy and compliance, you don’t want to become the team proofreader or a bottleneck. It’s also important to develop input sources with multiple points of view including customers, prospects, lost clients, sales team members, etc.
  3. A Culture of Learning. Those who truly excel at their craft foster continuous learning, both formally and informally. Be sure to stay open minded about new technologies and new ways of doing things — and learn to do them yourself instead of deferring to the early adopters. That said, never let go of your professional past experience — your wisdom may be indispensable.
  4. A Willingness to Move Beyond Labels. If someone is better than you in a particular discipline, think of them as a complement to your talents rather than a threat.Teams should be a well-rounded mix of energetic and savvy younger talent, coupled with the wisdom of tenured industry experts.
  5. A Passion for Excellence. High-performing teams have a profound passion for excellence. They champion each initiative with a drive toward greatness. They neversettle for average, but strive for the next level of success. They also are self motivators. The most successful members of any team are the ones who don’t wait for the request – they’re the ones who think about the objectives and look for both new and tried-and-true ways to achieve those goals.
  1. Celebration of Failures. Really? Yes. Let go of the small things and move on from mistakes. You can’t control everything, so focus on big-picture ideas to achieve team success. Don’t dwell on your shortfalls; use them as a springboard to your next level of achievement.
  2. Willingness to Share Risk. Your team needs to stay on top of the plan to make sure the ball doesn’t get dropped. That’s why it’s imperative that you help them understand the strategy, not just execute on it. Teams are always more effective if they understand the “why.”
  3. Sense of Humor. A shared sense of humor must be present. The demands of any profession are serious; however, there needs to be room for appropriate hilarity.Laughter is essential – if we can’t take the time to laugh, something is damaged at a basic human level.
  4. Mentorship is Integral. Seek mentors outside your group and completely different than your team members for an alternative perspective. Mentor even the more experienced team members to help them stretch and move toward their career aspirations.
  5. Embrace Success. Do not succumb to cynicism. Be authentic in your journey and attract the team members and business colleagues who share your values. Above all, don’t be afraid to take risks.

Here are a few direct quotes that are well worth remembering as we strive to foster performance that drives excellence.

“True professionals understand that communications is a discipline — it’s not glad-handing or a creative think tank.”

  • “If you inherit a team, give yourself time to trust their insights before changing up everything.”
  • “Self-awareness means keenly understanding your individual and collective strengths and weaknesses.”
  • “To survive in marketing communications, you need to re-invent yourself twice a decade or more.”
  • “Your failures will always have more information than your successes.”

This past week I spoke at the Digital Summit Charlotte on “Amplifying Thought Leadership through Content Creation.” I want to share the key points from my presentation with you here. In a world of too much information, quality information is gold. Being the source of that gold is an advantage in the marketplace and an opportunity not to be missed.


That, basically, is what Thought Leadership Content Curation is all about—gathering relevant, engaging, fact-based information, then adding value and sharing that information with targeted audiences. It involves tapping into the talent, experience and passion inside your business, or from your community, to answer the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience.


This is done with the goal of establishing yourself, your organization or the position you represent as the “go-to” for credible, sustainable and powerful content, enabling you to enter the conversation early in the consumer journey. Such thought leadership also creates an affinity for your brand and develops a new level of intimacy with your audience. It’s also extremely cost efficient.


When I say “thought leaders,” I’m not talking about self-appointed pontificators. Instead, I’m talking about informed opinion leaders who are trusted, inspirational and aspirational.

Ready to raise your visibility (a.k.a. amplify your thought leadership) in your space? Here are 10 steps to guide you in launching a sustainable Thought Leadership Content Curation program for your organization:


  1. Get Buy-in From the Top.Thought Leadership Content Curation requires high-level support and impetus to create and maintain a viable effort.


  1. Build Your Thought Leadership Platform.

A few points to consider:

  • Do not “curate” images that you don’t have the rights to. Be aware of copyright issues.
  • Link back to the original source. Provide appropriate references – make it a win-win.
  • Make it your own. Don’t just copy, put it in your own words.
  • Start with content that is of the highest value. Curate content of interest that is shareable.
  • Elevate the conversation. Dare to be bold.


  1. Identify Your Sphere of Influence. This is done by asking three simple questions: Whom do you want to reach? What will resonate with your audience? How will you do it?


  1. Move Beyond Influence and Create a Conversation About Your Brand. Tell your story, aligning your leadership message to your brand, in a consistent and ethical manner.


  1. Build an Arsenal of Thought Leadership Assets. These “weapons” include infographics, blogs, facts from trusted sources, case studies, social media posts, white papers, executive briefs, etc. Remember that the same information can be used different ways; make the most of your content.


  1. Stand Out in the Crowd. Curate thought leadership content that drives results by identifying topics that align with your brand, maximizing the opportunity to gain share of mind and adding value to existing content that is memorable, shareable and sustainable.


  1. Select the Optimal Channels. Know your audience and choose the appropriate channels to move your message forward.


  1. Always be Strategic.Thought Leadership Content Curation is goal-driven. Each single effort should add to the whole.


  1. Measure your Results.Perform routine audits to measure results including online metrics, response rates and monitoring formal and informal conversations about your brand.


  1. Communicate your Success. Remember to share your results with your team.


And throughout it all, remember:

  • Seek to showcase excellence.
  • Create engaging, thought-provoking content.
  • Be authentic, concise and fact-based.
  • Attract the appropriate audience for your message.
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks.


There is a wealth of thought leadership content that is never promoted to its full potential. Make yours work for you and your brand.

If we can help with your next thought leadership initiative, please contact us, We can be reached at 941.544.2765 or by email. For more information about all of our capabilities, view our Online LookBook.

Marketing research has one primary purpose: to fortify decision-making. Marketing Research should always fit within a larger scheme of strategic intelligence. This enables you to gain a knowledge base that is comprised of data, ideas, and business drivers. Within each are specific information sources useful and vital for decision-making. It is one of the most profound ways to listen to your customers.

It can support a very specific question or it can be a “compass” pointing your organization in the right direction. Whether you want to measure client or employee satisfaction, identify attributes for a new product or generate new ideas for your business, here are ten points to consider:


  1. Begin with the End in Sight– When initiating any research project, it is critical to consider your long-term business objectives before starting any project. Be as specific as possible.


  1. Be Strategic– Marketing research may very well be your most important support tool in developing your strategic plan. Use the intelligence gained to support your long-term strategic goals.


  1. Objectivity Matters– Remove all biases when conducting research studies. Most research is conducted externally to ensure objectivity.


  1. Use Leading-Edge Methods– The marketing research arsenal is filled with powerful comprehensive analytical tools to support your research project. From conjoint studies, online surveys to focus groups, among a multitude of others. Familiarize yourself with a wide range of choices in supporting your research program.


  1. Quantitative or Qualitative– Understand the important difference between securing quantitative versus qualitative information. Both are critical in your success. Each study should provide a balance of both.


  1. Do it Yourself?– There are numerous online tools that are easily accessible for marketing research. Although they can be very helpful, remember marketing research is a science that cannot always be satisfied with quick techniques and spontaneous answers. Be cautious in using these online tools. Although useful, they may not provide the comprehensive approach your business may demand.


  1. Consider the Continuum– It is important to understand that marketing research should be part of a continuum of analytical activities. Although one research method may satisfy your needs, it is sometimes best to integrate a range of research tools at different phases of your research plan.


  1. Maximize Your Metrics– Numbers matter. Establish measurements to track your marketing research effectiveness and direction. This will allow you to benchmark results.


  1. Do the Analysis– Gathering data is only one aspect of a marketing research initiative. It is critical to analyze each phase of your research initiative. Conduct intuitive and detailed analysis to interpret the results of your study and analyze the data gathered.


  1. Communicate the Results– Perhaps the most important aspect of any marketing research project is communicating the results of the study. This is an important opportunity to share critical insights and establish a platform for objective discussion within your organization.


The Next-Mark team has conducted a wide-range of marketing research studies including brand research, employee and client satisfaction, product research, pricing analysis, among others. We creatively design and execute market research engagements to deliver insight, experience, and highly reliable marketing research results.


If you are considering a marketing research study, contact us and learn how we can assist, Please give us a call at 941.544.2765 or email us to get in touch. For more information about all of our capabilities, view our Online LookBook.




Essential Elements for making more effective videos

Whether it’s online, corporate, YouTube, a trade show booth or kiosk—whatever the device—your company should be using videos to further its cause. For business, videos can take many forms and serve a wide range of purposes. Live action, motion graphics, interviews, whiteboard animation, voiceover, and music can be used to communicate stories that move your brand forward with video.

Here are 10 tips to help your business develop more effective videos, ones that will function as valuable strategic content.
  1. Be Strategic!

As with anything in business, starting from a strategic standpoint will always pay dividends. Some videos will need to sell a vision, others must explain a product concept or teach essential skills. Still others will leverage capturing live events in a way that can be shared and extended to maximize their value. Always start with a clear idea about what each video is supposed to accomplish.

  1. Tell Your Story with an Impactful Script

It’s all about the story, and writing the script professionally is the all-important stage when the story really starts to take shape. All the elements—words, sounds, motion graphics, animation—must be ordered and presented in a way that effectively communicates what the finished video will be. Next step: storyboarding.

  1. Create a Storyboard that Visually Embodies Your Message

Videos are built one sequence at a time, and the best (and most cost-effective) way to visualize the whole story is through a storyboard. Walt Disney Studios developed the concept in the 1930s to help bring its ground-breaking animation work to life. Storyboarding is just as important for live-action and explainer videos, as it forms an important bridge between the script and the screen.

  1. Let Your Sound Choices Resonate

Sound must be an integral part of every video. Choose music, voiceover, and any other sound sources based on how to best tell the story and stay true to your brand. Also, though we’re about a hundred years into the sound era for film, many viewers still watch video on mobile or desktop without the audio turned on. Consider adding closed captions during the editing stage. Plan ahead, though. Captions should be handled during the scripting phase as well.

  1. Minimize Text to Maximize Impact 

Viewers of news programs have become used to a deliberate overload of text elements on screen. In most cases, this is the exact opposite of the approach to take when producing a video for business. Viewers process images and infographics much more quickly than they do text, so keep text to a minimum and make sure that every bit of text earns its keep by delivering or at least reinforcing your key messages.

  1. Leverage Infographics for Dynamic Content

If any part of your video needs to convey data, use infographics, never simple numbers. From a two-colored pie chart to stylized people and objects that move and change, your video will communicate with more clarity and power with infographics. By the way, as a client, you won’t need to supply the infographics; your agency will create them for you.

  1. Let Video Empower Your Brand

Of course, every aspect of the video should follow brand standards regarding use of logos, fonts, and other design elements. Not so obvious, but just as important to consider: the new video will become part of your brand. Make sure that it has the correct tone and production values it needs to fit in.

  1. Time is Everything

That’s not a typo. Timing is important, too, but the point here is to keep it short—but not always. YouTube considers four minutes as the limit for a “short” video. Shorter videos are more likely to be shared, too. But never rush a story. If the script runs longer because you’re covering lots of territory or the topic is complex, then the length of the video will have to stretch as well.

  1. Parse it Out

You can increase the value and ROI of every one of your videos by planning them to be parsed later on. Modular videos can be repurposed for kiosks, trade show exhibits, and social media. For training videos, for example, consider breaking a longer video into several smaller ones, each with a step or two in the process. Take advantage of the video platforms’ playlists to organize the videos for viewers.

  1. Power Up Your CTA (Call to Action) 

In most cases, you will want your video to inspire viewers to take action. This can take the form of a call, a visit to a website, or sharing the video on social media. There are even ways to add interactivity such as polls or quizzes to your videos. Especially for longer videos, include a call to action well before the end. It’s related to the old sales warning to “never talk past the close.” If the viewer has already grasped the value of your video’s message, they should have the option to take the next step already.

At Next-Mark, we help clients develop powerful videos, taking them from concept to completion and beyond. If you’d like help creating videos that work effectively as strategic content, please give us a call at 941.544.2765 or email us to get in touch. For more information about all of our capabilities, view our Online LookBook.

No matter what your business, the basics of quality client relations are the same. Admittedly, these are not necessarily novel ideas. But unfortunately, they’re not always applied. 

The following are the actions and attributes we believe are important for healthy, effective client relationships – and the way we commit to doing business each and every day.

  1. Strong Communications

When working with our clients, we find it’s best to be fully informed; that is, as much as you want to be. Some clients need regular updates to be comfortable with communications plans; others prefer to just see results. As we consider ourselves part of your team, it’s important to meld into your workflow to make the process seamless and smoother.

  1. Strategic Understanding

We hate to waste time. That’s why we frontload our process, learning as much as we can about a client up front to create a strategic messaging strategy to fuel ongoing, dynamic communication. Our clients find this invaluable, especially when they see that they have grown beyond what they once were – but often are still communicating.

  1. Honesty/Candor

As “hired hands,” we ultimately will do what you want. As a trusted, collaborative partner, however, we will never waiver in first giving you our advice on the best and most cost-effective ways to reach your marketing and communication goals.

  1. Trust/Integrity

In an era of “fake” almost everything, trust can be difficult to earn. For almost 15 years now, we’ve managed to achieve it, however, matching our goals with client needs, meeting deadlines, delivering consistently high-quality work and instilling confidence.

  1. Collaboration

We believe collaboration with our clients is essential to success; both our success and the success of our clients. Your input and guidance fuels our success and provides synergies throughout every engagement.

  1. Transparency

We always encourage our clients to be perfectly honest with us, as it’s difficult to address issues we are unaware of, and false claims could be made that make matters worse. Such trusted full disclosure can be painful, but it can save a great deal of time, resources, embarrassment and even more serious consequences.

  1. Mutual Openness

Wait! Isn’t this the same thing as “transparency” above? Not quite. Though often used interchangeably, there is a subtle but important difference. Transparency is a clear view of the present in order to adapt to a reality or improve it. Openness is about human interaction and receptivity to things different from the traditional or one’s own. In our business, that means never saying, “we’ve always done it this way.” New ideas and ways to do things come along every day! Some are even worth becoming the new norm. That’s why we urge clients to join us in keeping minds open to the new and different.

  1. Fairness

Fairness in this context means treating people with a standard of performance that is consistent, and giving clients fair value for their hard earned money. Fairness is concerned with actions, processes and consequences that are morally right, honorable and equitable.

  1. Loyalty/Respect/Courtesy

These are big words here. They’re also a vanishing art in some places. Loyalty, respect and courtesy are vital to creating relationships that are healthy and an atmosphere that inspires creative thought.

  1. Managing expectations

In past times, some clients expected a banner headline for the simplest action. Today, it’s a million hits for a pithy quote. Neither was, nor is, likely to happen. When expectations are not effectively managed, it can result in disruption to a strategic plan. That’s why we always will share what you can reasonably expect at each stage, building on it to create a cohesive communications whole that can be every bit as good as that highly coveted “splash.”

If all the above seems obvious – good! It means you put these principles in place at your shop, as well. It also means that you are exactly the kind of client that fuels our enthusiasm for what we do. Thank you to our existing clients who inspire us every day and a hardy welcome to those who wish to join our fold.

We welcome the opportunity to learn more about your marketing challenges and share our capabilities. Give us call any time at 941.544.2765.

It’s no secret that the success of most companies is influenced heavily by its connection, communication and trust with its community. Whether a group is connected through physical location or through digital mediums, successful community relations can enact change, boost employee accountability and engagement, lead to positive publicity and even increase revenue. Here are a few tips for developing a successful relationship with your organization’s target audience:

Be genuine

Can you imagine Philip Morris sponsoring a walk to end lung cancer? Of course not. While most cases aren’t as clear as this example, you do need to find charities or organizations that align with your company’s core values. In an ideal world, your employees should be involved in any outreach efforts, so make sure they are able to genuinely recognize and speak naturally about the connection between the business and the cause.

Be consistent

Effective connections with your community are not developed in a day; this takes time. Thus, gain trust through continued effort year after year. In doing so, you’ll also establish a culture of giving within your organization, which can lead to increase employee engagement and retention.

Be transparent

Any decision or issue that impacts the community should be openly communicated. This may take the form of town halls seeking feedback on a decision, events where local members can mingle with company representatives, social media outreach, or any other ways your company can reach out to target audiences. Change is inevitable and crises happen, but you’re sure to garner a more understanding response if you’ve built good will with the community through effective, transparent dialogue.

Community relations is more than simply sponsoring a race or volunteering a leader for a board member position. It’s a sustained and strategic effort that will elevate the company and enact good within the communities it serves. Wondering where to start? Give us a call.


Our team at Next-Mark is excited to announce that we were recently presented with an FPRA Image Award for an integrated marketing campaign executed for international theatre company, CMX Cinemas. FPRA (Florida Public Relations Association) annually recognizes select communications professionals and companies for their outstanding public relations tools and programs through their Image Award program. All qualified entries must demonstrate excellence in marketing and/or communications and incorporate sound research, planning and evaluation.

Campaign Assets

Our winning campaign – titled “Make Movie Night EPIC” – was created for the launch of CMX Cinema’s new luxury theatre in Tallahassee, FL. During this engagement, we implemented an extensive marketing communications built around theme of “EPIC” that was blended into every aspect of the campaign. We also executed a comprehensive public relations and digital plan which led to coverage in multiple high-profile publications and generated significant exposure for the new theatre.

Joseph Grano, President of Next-Mark at award ceremony

In addition, our team was in charge of the creation of all of the print and digital marketing materials for the theatre company’s paid media campaign, which furthered interest as well as generated significant website traffic. Lastly, our team at Next-Mark had the privilege of implementing a high-profile grand opening celebration that was attended by more than 350 people from Tallahassee and the surrounding areas. Guests strolled down a red carpet into the theatre lobby, which was adorned in eye-catching decorations and floral displays from local vendors. Every aspect of the event highlighted differentiating features of the theatre, from a lavish spread of food made in the theatre’s gourmet kitchen to the exceptional service

Our team is thrilled to be recognized for this “epic” campaign. The CMX team was a fantastic partner, enabling us to create an innovative, strategic plan that exceeded their expectations and produced exciting results.

Prior to the Tallahassee opening, we also had the privilege of assisting with the company’s theatre openings in Daytona and Saint Petersburg Florida. All culminated in successful media campaigns and communication initiatives for the luxury theatre company.

Let’s be honest – even the mostly highly trained communications professionals still get nervous before an interview or a media relations appearance. Positive, “earned” media is as good as gold in the marketing communications world, but a fumble, an off-color joke or an out-of-context statement can quickly shift the conversation to uncharted territory. So what happens when you’re contacted by a reporter armed with hard-hitting questions? Here’s how you can make the most of the media interview/public relations opportunity you’re given.

Don’t go off the cuff

If you get an unexpected call from a journalist, don’t feel pressured to answer their questions right away. Politely ask the topic of the story and the timeline, then schedule the interview for a later date. Even if you know the topic well, you need time to research the news outlet and prepare. The reporter should respect your request. And if they don’t, simply say that you don’t have time to discuss the topic at this time but would be happy to follow up with an email response when you’re able.

Stick to message

Before you head into your interview, make a list of several points you want to get across in the interview. These should be simple, direct and relevant to the topic the journalist is covering. Be aware of trying to sneak in comments that are irrelevant or seem too “promotional”. If it’s an interview for a print news outlet, the journalist simply won’t include the comments; if it’s a TV or radio interview you might appear self-serving or desperate.

The messaging should also be free of jargon. Practice elaborating on your notable points without using industry lingo. This way, journalists are more likely to quote you rather than interpret your comments themselves.

Finally, remember that reporters love human-interest stories readers can easily relate to or connect with. So whether you’re addressing a crisis situation or simply sharing the history of your company – always focus on people!

Prepare several “no response” answers

There may be certain questions you simply can’t answer. Depending on the situation, consult with your legal and policy experts, as well as your marketing communications team, about what you’re allowed to address and what you need to avoid. Don’t allow reporters to pressure you into giving up information, even if they say they won’t attribute it to you. Additionally, never say “no comment”! Unfortunately, those two seemingly harmless words often imply guilt and can lead the journalist to make assumptions or fill in the blanks. Instead, have a few other canned responses prepared.

Respect the reporter

Finally, the journalist contacting you is probably on a tight deadline. Respect his or her time by responding in a timely manner and sticking to the topic at hand. If it’s applicable and relevant, suggest that the journalist utilize other sources from your organization to round out the story, and don’t be afraid to give them background information on your company’s internal processes (just know that it’s probably all on the record!).  And don’t forget to finish the interview with a warm “thank you!”

Media relations is an important part of growing your brand’s presence. And it’s one part of our many services here at Next-Mark! If you have a story to tell, let us know – we can help find the right news outlet, set up media interviews and hone your talking points.


In sports, a playbook is a dynamic document that outline’s the team’s strategies and schemes throughout the duration of a game, and is then practiced over and over again. When you think of a playbook, you might think of a football team whose coaches refer to this book religiously. And so when they’re confronted with certain scenarios and situations, they can respond accordingly. It serves as a helpful guide so teams can make smart, coordinated decisions – even under pressure.
If you think about it, managing the digital marketing initiatives for your brand is like playing a sport. It requires strategy, teamwork, and a large degree of focus in order to be successful. So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a marketing playbook that can help you navigate the fast-paced world of digital and to ensure you harness the right tools and strategies to meet your brands objectives. This playbook should contain your goals, strategies and tactics that you can deploy for different situations.
So what are five essential components of your brands digital marketing playbook?
1. #1 Digital Asset: Your Website
Gone are the days when websites were simply “nice-to-have.” If your customers cannot find you and get what they need from your website, then you haven’t taken advantage of having an online presence and you better catch up – and you better do it fast. Your digital marketing playbook should outline a specific plan for your website; from how you convert visitors into qualified leads, to the protocols in place when introducing a new campaign or making changes to your brands look and feel. Your playbook should also summarize the specific KPI’s you are measuring for your site and how you plan to achieve your web-related goals.
2. It’s all about searchability: SEO (Inbound/Content Marketing)
 Although related to web, this is such an important component of digital marketing it deserves its own category – and it’s something that requires constant attention. SEO today is not about attracting as many visitors to your site as possible, but more about attracting high value traffic that is genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Your digital marketing playbook needs to specify who you are targeting through keywords, an overall plan for developing external links to your site, how you plan to measure your SEO efforts, and your ongoing content strategy for providing focused, high quality content to your visitors.
3. The modern digital playground: Social Media
Using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to reach your audience? Great! You should be. However, for some social media can be overwhelming, but with the right strategy, content plan and platform management, your brand can reap great benefits. Your digital playbook should include a strategy that aligns with your overall brand objectives as well as your plan for meeting your social media specific goals. What is your brands personality? How do you want it to be portrayed on social platforms? Rolling out a new campaign? How will you integrate social media and utilize cross channel promotion? How much do you want to spend on Facebook Ads? These are all questions you should be answering within your digital marketing playbook in the section on social media.
4Reaching the right people with the right message: Digital Advertising (SEM/PPC)
Online Advertising can be a very effective lower cost solution that allows you to target specific customers based on their location and behavior. If you plan on utilizing pay-per-click advertising and search engine marketing tactics as a part of your digital marketing strategy, your playbook should answer how much you want to spend on online advertising, who you are targeting, what you want your creative to look like, what specific landing pages are you driving traffic to and how will you measure the effectiveness of these initiatives.
5. It’s not dead yet: Email Marketing
Email marketing is alive and well. It remains a great way to cultivate existing relationships with your customers as well as engage new prospects. Thus, it should still remain an important component of your digital marketing playbook. This section on your playbook should outline your key strategies for delivering fresh content to your existing loyal customers, and your prospects. It should answer the following questions: how frequently are you sending out emails? What type of subject lines and pre-headers seem to receive the best open rates? Do all of my emails contain a clear, concise call to action? Is my design clean and congruent with current branding? How am I measuring the results?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the avenues and ways you can market your brand online. Remember this: you don’t need to do everything. What’s more important than being everywhere at once is that your digital marketing efforts are done properly and efficiently. Continue to refer back to your playbook and you’ll be able to take advantage of the digital marketing tactics that are best suited for the growth of your brand.