Don't call me Fluffy!

If I had a penny for every time I’d heard someone refer to marketers and PRs as ‘fluffy and weak’, I could have bought myself 10 of those lint removing machines and hired a personal trainer.


To make matters worse, The Value of Marketing Study, which was commissioned by Marketing Week and Econsultancy at the end of 2014 found that only 39% of CFOs have confidence in their Marketing Director’s ability to make sound commercial decisions.


I’ll admit, back in the early naughties before I’d made the transition from journalism and programme making to content marketing and PR it was a belief I mistakenly shared with many of the 171 senior finance executives surveyed.  In my first couple years as a film and media ‘PR girl’ (another term that makes me cringe) I seldom admitted to anyone that my career had segued into the unquantifiable and fluffy world of marketing.

Don't call me Fluffy!

Ironically, the moment I felt I could finally hold my head high amidst a roomful of fluffsayers came with the demise of the traditional offline marketing and PR model.  I was working for a company that specialised in marketing data and intelligence, a far cry from the film, content and commercial media projects I’d worked on before.  Prior to my arrival, the company had found it difficult to infiltrate their desired vertical press or the mainstream marketing press. 

Data wasn’t seen as being BIG or SEXY back in 2010 and I knew that a reactive approach to PR wasn’t going to affect the bottom line. ”

 

With the words ROI ringing in my ears (what the hell was ROI??), I wrestled with how I was going achieve all this. 

 

At the time financial institutions, government and leading entertainment companies were facing large fines for losing sensitive personal data and Charities were coming under fire for spamming and mismanaging customer data.  


The eureka moment came when I decided to go back to my roots and use strong, relevant content to talk to specific sectors about these business critical challenges. Key to the process was intelligence – we had to identify what consumers really thought about a chosen sector’s marketing and their perceptions about how their precious personal data was being handled.  Working alongside the highly organised and talented Head of Group Marketing (forgive the gratuitous compliments – she’s my business partner now), we devised a content marketing and PR strategy that would enable us to place great PR stories in the trade and national press, funnel leads into the sales pipeline and track campaign metrics for us to report back to the board proving we were not fluffy! 


Having decided to use Charities as our first sector we presented the concept to the MD of the company who assumed responsibility for our marketing endeavours – after wrapping things up and gaining the necessary buy in he barked the threat “this better work Rappoport or else”  before leaving the room. 


And so we conducted the research, wrote the report, planned an event with a leading charity trade body to exclusively launch the research to their members and booked a couple of inspirational brand speakers, also our clients, to talk to the assembled about how charities could optimise fundraising using their supporter data.  Following the event we drip fed content to charities across social media and a series of e-shots.


The campaign was a huge success, I didn’t lose my job and it radically changed our marketing and PR model thereafter.  Our department spend went down at a time when the economy was in crisis and we could visibly track incoming leads from sector campaigns through to conversion.  We repeated and benchmarked the charity research 18-months later and smashed it again, charities were signing up in their droves and the company became something of a specialist in the field. 


Finally we’d proved we weren’t fluffy…or so we thought.


Before leaving the company and setting up shop, our magisterial CEO was heard to exclaim during a board meeting with some disbelief “but why do we have SO many charity clients these days?”.  If a cynic is “a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”, I guess I’m fluffy!