Somehow. Some Way. It Ain’t Over.


Man, who knew this season would be more painful than last season? And who knew that after all the craziness, we would still be in it with just a handful of games to go?

I’m guessing me and this guy, Terry Francona.

We all knew Detroit was going to give us a run for our money. And, of course, after 29 years, Kansas City is finally making a serious run at the postseason. And anyone who knows anything about baseball can tell you that these two teams are absolutely loaded compared to the Indians roster.

Still, here we are. After last night, the Tribe finished the regular season with the advantage over the Kansas City Royals (yeah, Kevin, we beat them more times than they beat us). But they are ahead of theTribe in the standings. And even though they couldn’t take down the division, they are three games ahead of the Tribe for the Wild Card Game.

But you know what?  The season ain’t over yet. And no one is calling it quits. There are only three games to go, and the Tribe has to win them all, while the Royals need to lose all four of their games. So what I am saying is, “There’s a chance.”

83 down, 3 to go… we won’t make it to 90, but we can still make the post season.

ExeQnAtion has Moved!

It’s taken a while, but we’ve finally launched our new website and are now hosting our blogs at

It’s a timely occurrence as we celebrate our 25th anniversary throughout 2011. If your hunger for marketing and public relations knowledge persists (as ours does) we encourage you to go directly to our blogs… and offer your comments and criticisms at will:

Strategies for Launching a Product

We are launching a new consumer product in the health and fitness category.  What marketing strategies should we consider?

By Jennifer Manocchio

When launching a new product or service, we recommend always taking the long view and complete approach. To achieve success it is critical to consider all relevant strategies, to determine the proper integration of all strategies and to establish the appropriate timeline for execution.

It is essential to start with a marketing plan that identifies your strategies, tactics, measurement/analysis, budgets and timelines.  This will help you stay on track during the launch and avoid making knee jerk reactions.  It is certainly okay to test, assess and revamp campaigns along the way, but you need to develop a road map before starting the journey.

Following are strategies you should consider as part of your product launch plan.

Stage 1: Market Discovery
Market research
Strategic planning
Distribution channel development

Stage 2: Business/Product Branding
Brand name development
Logo development
Brand strategy
Positioning and messaging
Product design
Product labeling and packaging
Stationery, business forms, signage
Company/product collateral
Web Site design and optimization

Stage 3: Business Pre-Launch
Publicity and media relations
Trade show marketing
Internal communications
Sales training and support
Retail POP support

Stage 4: Business/Product Launch Marketing
Publicity and media relations
Social media marketing
Direct marketing
Web and search engine marketing
Guerilla marketing and Events

Stage 5: Measurement and Analysis
Web analytics
Media and blog coverage results
Traffic and sales results

Stage 6: Post-Launch Marketing
Publicity and media relations
Direct marketing
Social media
Consumer engagement
Web marketing

Launching a new product and don’t know where to start?  Contact me at jennifer at or 910.772.1688.

Five Must Consider Marketing Strategies for 2011

Whether your organization is “flying high” or “getting by,” it is unquestionably in your best interest to always evaluate minimum-investment, maximum-return marketing strategies as key components of your marketing plan. Following are Sweeney’s Top 5 “Must Consider” strategies for 2011 – strategies we believe cannot be overlooked and whose value should not be underestimated:

Publicity & Media Relations. Though a standard in the world of public relations, publicity and media relations have never held more potential for organizations seeking to increase awareness through traditional and online media outlets. Publicity and media relations 2.0 allow you to secure print, broadcast and online media coverage to reach target audiences with both company and product information in a cost-efficient manner. In the process you are also creating valuable content that can be used to enhance your web site and enhance your search ranking.

Online Advertising. As an addition or alternative to traditional print and broadcast advertising, online advertising (both display and PPC) can help you will build awareness while also driving traffic to your web site – traffic that you can monitor and evaluate. You can control costs, messaging and placement in both a test and campaign environment.

E-mail Marketing. The regular distribution of email to existing or rented databases is an effective, fast and efficient strategy for staying in front of and engaging target audiences (customers, prospects, distributors, retailers, etc.). E-mail marketing allows you to monitor, measure, evaluate and respond to recipient actions almost immediately.

Social Media Marketing. The use of social networks, online communities, blogs, wikis or any other online collaborative media – allows you to produce and share content, generate and participate in conversations and establish a trusted presence among target audiences. As with the other strategies, you can manage your involvement and costs while achieving desired results.

Creative. The difference between a good and great campaign is often determined by the creative. The ad that gets responses, the brochure that gets read, the business card that elicits calls, the e-mail that gets opened and clicked… they all have one thing in common – an impactful creative design and compelling creative message. This is one corner you don’t want to cut.

Need help implementing these marketing and public relations strategies or others?  Contact me at jennifer at or 910.772.1688.

The Impact of a Consumer Reports Review

My product is expected to be reviewed in Consumer Reports. Should I be prepared both online and with retailers for a big influx in sales? Also, assuming a positive review, how can we market this information to our retailers and consumers?

By Jennifer Manocchio

If you are expecting a Consumer Reports review to be the tipping point for your business, your expectations are probably set too high. While a positive Consumer Reports review will certainly benefit your brand and your product that is tested (assuming a positive review), it is unlikely Consumer Reports will have a similar effect as “Ophra’s favorite things”.

The response will really vary by product type. If you have a high value product, like a car, flat screen television, video camera, etc., these are planned purchases people tend to research before buying. Therefore, you will not likely see a big spike in sales with a higher value, non-impulse buy product.

If you have a product that is more of an impulse buy or a product that has a shorter life cycle (e.g. a cleaning product, detergent, etc.), you could see a slight bump in sales from the review. But again, don’t expect any miracles here.

We did reach out to two consumer packaged goods companies who were recently featured in the Consumer Reports December 2010 issue and both reported not seeing a major spike in sales. Keep in mind that consumers tend to use Consumer Reports as a resource and save issues for future use. So the impact could occur in small increments over time.

With that being said, you still should be prepared online to handle an increase of sales and let your retailers know you expect your product to appear in Consumer Reports. This will help ensure they are prepared.

It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that Consumer Reports has very strict guidelines about the commercial use of Consumer Reports content. The publication’s website clearly states:

Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our permission. Consumers Union will take all steps open to it to prevent commercial use of its materials, its name, or the name of Consumer Reports®.

Therefore, it is in your best interest to not advertise or market your Consumer Reports review unless you have spoken with the publication first.

Looking to secure quality and high volumes of media coverage in 2011, contact me at jennifer at or 910.772.1688.

Beware of SEO Hijacking

I received an email from a source I don’t know telling me a link was broken on my website and recommended we link to a new site. What is this all about?

By Jennifer Manocchio

We highly recommend you do your homework first and don’t automatically change the link to the site the email is recommending. This is a very clever SEO approach that is on the rise, according to SEO expert and co-founder of David Edelman.

There are tools available on the web that SEO experts can use to find broken links, like a link checker or broken link tool. The SEO expert identifies a reputable website he or she wants linking to their site (or a client’s site), finds a broken link and recommends their site (or client’s website) to help increase their organic search engine rankings.

Edelman provided a good example to highlight how this approach is working. “A reputable site like Harvard changes its site structure and breaks some old incoming links. A clever SEO expert searches for all high-quality sites linking to that page and emails them: Hey, your page has a broken link. Here’s the updated URL. They provide a link to their client’s site (or their own), which is hardly as credible as Harvard. This is a great way to get links from reputable sites.”

This is just one clever approach SEO experts are using to increase website rankings. Simply being aware of these approaches will help ensure you don’t fall for the trap.

News Wire Release Distribution Doesn’t Guarantee Results

I sent my news release out on the wire and I have only seen a handful of media results. Why is that?

By Jennifer Manocchio

There could be many reasons why you are not achieving the results you expected.

First, it is important to understand the different “wire” services out there. There are the traditional wire services like Business Wire and PR Newswire that distribute your news release to newsrooms across the country. There are online wire services like PR Web that focus on distributing your news release to online news sites, blogs and websites. Finally, there are free distribution sites where you can post your release; however, you get what you pay for with these and in most cases your release is not distributed at all. Rather it just sits on that particular website.

Therefore, you need to select the type of wire distribution you want based on the goals you are trying to achieve. If you are simply writing the news release for organic SEO purposes, then an online wire service like PR Web will be suitable and the free distribution sites can provide a little value as well. If you are looking for media coverage, then you want to be using a traditional service like Business Wire or PR Newswire.

Secondly, the quality of your news release is important. If the release is an advertisement or poorly written, it is not likely to get covered by the media. You may find it on a few blogs or “sblogs”, but that is about it.

Thirdly, while wire services are valuable, your efforts should not stop there. You should still distribute the news release to your media list. This is because the person monitoring the wire for news isn’t likely the reporter you are trying to reach. Also, as with any successful publicity and media relations campaign, it is necessary to pick up the phone and call the media.

A wire distribution service should not be the end all be all to your publicity strategy. A campaign requires much more time and attention to be successful.

Need support getting media coverage? Contact me at jennifer at or 910.772.1688.