January 31, 2018  |  Brianna McKinney

Past Reflections, Full-Speed Ahead

This month, Bloom Communications celebrates its six year anniversary.  It is with great pride and accomplishment that I reflect back on how far we’ve come as an agency – and look ahead in eager anticipation of the work to be done as we continue to grow and evolve, partnering exclusively with organizations that are making an impact in their communities.

The core values on which I built the company six years ago are unwavering.  As a team, we are strongly committed and hold accountability to the quality of our work, personal relationships with our clients, fiscal responsibility, and our shared belief in serving the greater good.  

I believe my focus on people – my employees and clients – is the strongest contributor to the success of the agency.  I founded Bloom for many reasons, but ultimately, I wanted to demonstrate that a viable and profitable business could be built based on the premise of being nice and helping others, as opposed to simply being “tough.”  Bloom’s success proves that leading and serving from a place of kindness and genuine care not only works, but works well; we are growing every day.

In addition, Bloom’s success has largely depended on the ability to constantly identify and evaluate shifting trends within the industry. Understanding what those mean for the agency, our employees, and clients has enabled us to be nimble, adjust as necessary, and remain strategic for the organizations we serve.  Moving into 2018, I see the following as being the most impactful to the communications landscape and the way we do business:

The communications environment continues to increase in complexity

As technology increases the speed of communications, the way brands interact with the media is also changing.  We have become accustomed to having information at our fingertips that is personalized, relevant, and quickly accessible. As of August 2017, two-thirds (67%) of Americans report that they get at least some of their news on social media – with two-in-ten doing so often, according to a survey from Pew Research Center. This has forced traditional print publications to shut down or shift to digital versions to be more in line with how people get their information, as well as keep up with the news cycle.  With the increasing number of digital channels, reporters have been replaced with freelance writers which makes targeted outreach more difficult.  Additionally, social media has created a new era of influencers with massive followings of people who trust what they say and the brands they recommend.  

Simply distributing press releases using a newswire service and casting a broad net is no longer effective.  Strategic communications planning and execution requires specialization and experience to develop an effective channel strategy to gain maximum exposure among target audiences.  

The nonprofit market is becoming increasingly more competitive

With the huge increase in nonprofits over the past decade, organizations are having a difficult time competing for donors and volunteers – or even staying relevant.  According to a 2016 report by PNP Staffing Group, the nonprofit sector has grown by 20% over the last 10 years, in contrast to a growth rate of about 2-3% in the for-profit sector. The increased competition has even greater impact for smaller organizations with more limited budgets.

The nonprofit leaders we work with are hugely passionate about their work.  That energy drives us to do the best we possibly can to evangelize their cause. As a nonprofit, people need to hear and be conscious of your mission in order for you to be successful, but it’s also important that you stand out from your competition.  It is critical for nonprofit leaders to not only have a clear understanding of what their organization does, but be able to articulate the unique value proposition the nonprofit brings to those outside the organization (donors, volunteers, advocates, and board members).  

Agencies with a specialization in nonprofits and an understanding of the unique challenges they face can help organizations identify the most influential and passionate audience members, streamline important messaging, and tailor outreach to stay ahead of the competition.

Social media best practices continue to evolve

Developing a social media content strategy is a time and resource-intensive process that is absolutely critical to the success of a business. An Ascend2 survey found 49% of digital marketers say social media is the most difficult type of marketing to execute.  But it’s important to know that 43% also believe social media is the most beneficial.  Given the mass of websites and applications that fall under the term “social media,” not to mention the content creation that goes into a social media strategy (branding, messaging, video… even virtual reality) it is easy to see how it can be overwhelming, particularly to smaller businesses. That, coupled with core channels like Facebook suggesting major changes ahead for brands, can leave one’s head spinning.  A big budget may help you launch a channel you’re not yet on, but it might not be the best to reach YOUR audience.

Quantitative and qualitative data provides information on target audiences and customer insights that can ensure organizations are making the most efficient use of their marketing budgets.

With these trends in the market, Bloom is doubling down to ensure we are equipped to provide our clients the best and most strategic communications planning and execution.  How do we do that?

1.  Data-informed marketing

Market research provides a path to the most effective and efficient communications strategies. Understanding where your customers/donors get their information and what motivates their buying/donation decisions is key in developing a more informed channel strategy.  This enables companies to focus budget on the PR/marketing activities that are most impactful for your targets and your category – and truly move the needle for your organization.

Like traditional market research firms, we provide clients with deep insights into consumer behavior and preferences, but we take it a step further.  We gather and utilize target audience and customer insights to not only help you understand the most effective channel strategy, but to help clients solve specific organizational challenges.

2. Integrated Communications

Truly integrated planning and execution are necessary to achieve the best returns.  Operating in silos is inefficient from both a time and budget perspective.  As you solidify your brand and message, communicating an integrated message in one voice across all given channels is extremely important. I founded Bloom to bridge the gap between marketing and public relations disciplines, and develop strategies that deliver long-term results.

3. Team of specialists, working as one

Unlike many agencies that leverage junior staff working behind-the-scenes on accounts, I have staffed Bloom with senior-level marketing and public relations professionals. In similar regard, our hand-selected partners are industry specialists as well.  This benefits not only our clients, but me as a small business owner.  Having a team of specialists provides peace-of-mind because of the trust and confidence I have in them and the work they do for our clients.  Additionally, remaining a boutique agency has enabled us to work collaboratively, harnessing all of our team members’ greatest strengths and experiences, sharing best practices and brainstorming ways to better service our clients.  I pride myself on providing clients the best staff and partners to ensure a meticulously developed and executed process that achieves the best results possible for the budgets our clients trust us with.

Cheers to 2018 and cheers to six years.  Thank you for contributing to our success and allowing Bloom to contribute to yours.

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