BGPR in China! Because China Arts – Creatives Exchange Trip 2015

Group on the Great Wall

I was fortunate enough to be chosen to take place in Because China Arts’ Creatives Exchange Trip to Beijing, China from June 12 – June 20, 2015.

Because China Arts’ mission is to foster relationships, facilitate actionable international collaboration, and promote cultural diplomacy in the arts between China and the US. My group was made up of 6 mid-career, artists and arts administrators from Los Angeles. We visited many cultural organizations, both large and small, including the 798 Arts District, Beijing Dance Theatre, Ping Pong Productions, Chinese National Peking Opera, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and more. We were also able to meet with and learn about administrative structure and programming priorities in Beijing, from the folks at the Chinese Cultural Ministry, Beijing Creatives, the United Stated Department of Cultural Affairs in Bejing and the Central Academy of Fine Arts. We also saw the exhibits of controversial artists Ai Wei Wei and The Gao Brothers.

China is an amazing country, filled with amazing people and inspiring artists creating really poignant works.

We enjoyed the delicious local food, walked through Tiananmen Square, visited the Forbidden City and hiked the Great Wall. In the picture above, I’m the one in the black bandana. Before reaching that point on the wall, we had traveled about 3 miles and hiked from the unrestored wall (overgrown trails, thick bushes, displaced bricks and huge biting ants) to the nicely renovated Wall you see in the pic. It was one of the hardest and most special things I’ve ever done.

Words can’t explain what an amazing experience this trip was. This trip was literally a dream come true.  It was always a dream of mine to go to China, but to be able to experience China and its art on such a specific and unique level, was more than I could have imagined. I was not just a tourist. I was able to speak with, learn from and connect with Chinese artists in an authentic and honest way.  I learned so much about the Chinese arts scene, what it means to work in the arts in China, and what Marketing and PR looks like to them. I also experienced the significance of cultural exchange and how important it is for us to get out of our American bubbles and experience the world.

This trip was truly invaluable. Thanks so much Jillian Schultz and Brandon Turner of Beacause China Arts for selecting me for this trip and for sharing with me this wonderful culture.  Check out Because China Arts’ website for more info and to learn more about future exchange trips – www.becausechinaarts.com.

 

Photo credit: Because China Arts

Size Matters: The Benefits of Working with a Boutique Agency

Size Matters updated

The decision to hire the right PR agency is important and many factors, including budget and scope of work, should be taken into account when making your decision.

It is common for most organizations to first look towards the national firms.  These mega agencies generally have a large, global workforce and focus on broad campaigns that revolve around international and new media.  While a boutique agency like BGPR is small in size, it packs an equally powerful punch when it comes to results.  Here are some major benefits of working with a boutique agency.

  • You get direct access to the CEO of a boutique agency and you always know who is working on your PR campaign.  Rarely will the CEO of a large agency be involved in a campaign.
  • Boutique agencies have more flexibility and are able to customize their services to fit your needs.  Rarely will a boutique agency use a standardized, “one size fits all” project template.
  • Boutique agencies provide real value for organizations with limited budgets.  With smaller staff and less overhead, the savings are passed on to you.  The costs of services from a boutique agency will always be significantly less than a large global firm.
  • Specialization is the key to the success of boutique firms.  They offer targeted services in the fields they know best. Using specific industry expertise to drive results.
  • Smaller agencies’ flexibility fosters innovation and creativity.  Being outside of the constraints of bureaucracy promotes learning, fast responses to market changes and the development of unique and targeted strategies.

Photo Credit: Death to Stock

Social Media = ROI

Social Media = Return on Investment

“Social Media drives engagement, engagement drives loyalty, loyalty correlates directly to increased sales.”

I found this spectacular (and anonymous) quote that really says it all about the importance of social media in your marketing campaign.

An effective social media strategy with strong messaging and interesting and engaging content, leads to long term increased sales and return on investment. It is important to remember however, that this is not an immediate result of a single social media post, but a result a strategic plan, focused on cultivation that takes time.

 

Image courtesy of SumAll.com

Remember Why You Started

Remember Why You Started

I woke up this morning after a wonderfully, lazy weekend a little bummed to get back to work (and my full email inbox). I decided to make a cup of tea, (which pretty much always smooths out my funky moods) and try and fix my crappy attitude. Tea is my calm and my focus. I take a a couple of sips and, like magic, I’m reminded that life is good. This is what I do. PR & Marketing is my passion. It is a big part of who I am and what I love. I chose this work because I could not imagine myself doing anything else.

It’s important to take time out of our busy schedules to remember why we started and why we do what we do. Of course, if memory serves us right we chose a path that would make us happy. On the other hand, if we started for a reason that does not seem to make sense (or make us happy) then it’s time to re-evaluate. For me, the reason why I started is the reason why getting up after a long weekend, to tackle a full inbox is the least of my problems. It’s just one component of my grand scheme for a life full of adventure, passion, love, and happiness.

Photo credit: Jason Long, Unsplash.com

The New Public Relations

The New PublicRelations

To say that Public Relations is more than just sending press releases and pitching media is an understatement.  A PR Professional must not only be media savvy and an effective communicator, but also a Spokesperson, Event Planner, Image Consultant and Writer.  This traditional role of PR however, is currently in flux as the internet and social media are now such large parts of human communications.

At our fingertips are new tools and outlets for reaching the press and audiences.  This ability to target niche groups and reach into the immense digital world to engage and cultivate, puts forth a number of unique opportunities for Publicists.  We are now creating digital content, managing social networks, analyzing data, writing blogs and working closer than ever with the Advertising and Sales teams.

The New PR forces practitioners to evolve and…

1. See the Big Picture:How does a company’s overall business strategies effect public relations? Where does PR fit into larger company objectives? What effect do PR efforts have on the whole?  Seeing the Big Picture means being able to develop strategies that compliment and cooperate with all departments (sales, marketing, advertising, legal, R&D) and accomplish organizational goals.  It also means using all the tools available to us, which includes apps, social media, analytics, research and new technologies.  PR can no longer stay within its own secluded box of activities.

2. Create PR plans that encourage engagement & interaction:  PR plans should be balanced between the traditional methods of media relations (sending releases & pitching) and utilizing the new tools (video, social media, blogs, etc.) that encourage interaction with potential customers and the media.  Engagement and interaction help in understanding the needs, wants, and concerns of your audience, while building and fostering customer relationships and brand loyalty.

3. Track & Measure Results, then Make adjustments:  Technology has also given us ways to track and measure the performance of our campaigns.  We can go beyond collecting media clippings to counting clicks, favorites, followers, retweets and likes; website views and shares.  All this, in addition to press coverage, should be used to indicate the success of our public relations efforts.  We must learn to use the technology available to us as reporting tools.  These reports and measurements will allow us to understand what aspects of our plans are not working and how to make successful future adjustments.

“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”  Never has this quote by John F. Kennedy been more true than it is now.  Change is here whether or not we like it, so we must either go with the flow or risk drowning.

Photo Credit: Life of Pix, Damien Zakeski