On Main Street: Thornton Wilder and the Mythology of Small Town America

freelance writing regarding arts and culture
Photo by Chris Bair on Unsplash

Please feel free to check out my curated piece regarding the power of the myth of small towns in America on Medium.

Be the Authority

Demonstrating authority to customers often means they will trust you more with their business.

Psychology has recognized that when the same information is presented by someone with a position of authority and by someone without a position of authority, the information is more likely to be believed when presented by someone in a position of authority.  For example, Stanley Milgram, in his landmark study of obedience, was able to use authority to persuade multiple test subjects to engage in what they thought were the administration of dangerous electric shocks to others.  See Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority, (Harper & Roe, 1974).  What does this human trait of relying on others in authority have to do with marketing?

Authority is a tool that can be used to persuade people in advertising, just as it is in any other field.  For professionals that offer intangible services, such as lawyers and accountants, demonstrating that they are the authority on a particular topic, whether it be men’s rights in custody disputes or valuation of closely-held corporations, means that potential customers will trust them more with their business than they would others.  This is why it is increasingly important for professionals to not only seek formal authority, such as industry awards, but also to seek informal marketing authority.  Professionals need to focus on creating content that demonstrates they are an authority not only because they are knowledgeable, but also because their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts put them on the front page of a Google search.  Professionals need to ensure they are being linked to by others writing about their field.  Finally, professionals need to create content that gives off those subtle, subconscious clues that they are authorities in their field.  

If you’d like to know more about how authority works for persuasion, here’s a link to a fantastic 2001 Harvard Business Review article by Robert Cialdini, entitled Harnessing the Science of Persuasion. Cialdini, author of the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, is one of the leading experts on the subject, and is regularly taught to interrogators and crisis negotiators in the military intelligence community.

Ad Equivalency: How the Press Can Work Just Like Paid Advertising for Businesses and Non-Profits

Team Rubicon members taking part in flood relief operations

One of my passion projects is working on the marketing and public relations needs of Team Rubicon, the veteran-led disaster response organization. I manage this department for the Northwest United States, from Alaska to the Dakotas. 

In particular, I focus on using the media to spread Team Rubicon’s message, to recruit volunteers, and encourage donations.  This past month, Team Rubicon has been actively engaged in responding to wildfires in Utah and Colorado.  Working with media outlets in both states, I was able to generate press coverage for Team Rubicon equivalent to paid advertising in the amount of approximately $2.1 million dollars across online news, blogs, and television news.  

All for the price of a few emails and a few hours of drafting press releases.

Small to Mid-Sized Businesses can use the same tactics, particularly when engaged in charitable work, to market their products.  A business can – and should – reach out to media outlets to encourage others to join in helping at a homeless shelter, to offer matching donations to help in response to a local tragedy, or to encourage others to work with larger charities, such as local chapters of Habitat For Humanity.  The act of helping others, in itself, generates goodwill for businesses, and the postive media exposure provides the sort of attention that paid advertising does not – and cannot – generate.  By spending money on working with non-profits instead of on paid advertising, businesses can also benefit from the tax savings related to charitable donations.  

Click here to schedule a meeting for us to discuss how you can use media relations and non-profit work to market your business.

To Hell With The Slow Season

The Carbon River, just outside Mount Rainier National Park, WA.

Summer is – supposedly – the slow season for businesses. “Everyone’s on vacation,” newspapers tell us. This is nonsense. While customer behavior may change, regardless of whether your business is a B2B or B2C enterprise, your business’ operational tempo shouldn’t change. Slow times are great opportunities to reflect on strategy, review social media analytics for patterns or outliers, or develop a new marketing campaign.