Expert Q&A: Renee Blodgett, CEO and founder, Magic Sauce Media

Renee Blodgett founded Blodgett Communications, rebranding the agency as Magic Sauce Media in January to integrate social media, viral marketing, branding, and PR. She speaks with Erica Morris about integrating media and gaining exposure for start-up clients.

Renee Blodgett founded Blodgett Communications, rebranding the agency as Magic Sauce Media in January to integrate social media, viral marketing, branding, and PR. She speaks with Erica Morris about integrating media and gaining exposure for clients.

PRWeek: How can you best advise clients on what type of technology or media will work best for their company?

Renee Blodgett: As with any solution, there's never a one-size fits all, so it depends on a client's situation, their budget and their needs. Many technology solutions are too complex. The result is failed attempts, conflicts with existing systems and lost productivity. I look for solutions that simplify the process rather than try to accomplish everything.

PR has never been about just targeting media. Along the way this became the main focus, which only gave the media more power. It's important to focus on all constituencies that matter: customers, analysts, employees, partners, media, government if relevant, and your community, which is now predominantly online. First, we identify where the client's customers spend their time and look for patterns on what they care about, which influences how they make decisions. This determines how and when we reach them, whether that be through a traditional media platform, or an alternative one, like a niche social network, YouTube or Twitter.

PRWeek: We've seen an incredible interest in incorporating social media into strategic communications. How easily can social media be integrated into a general communications plan?

Blodgett: Social media is merely another distribution vehicle, just as e-mail was a new means to distribute a message after fax and phone. Unlike the choices we had a decade ago, we now have hundreds to choose from and many are either free or inexpensive to test out. If one solution isn't effective, we can try another until the balance is right. In addition, because of the rich vertical market social media tools available, we can craft even more targeted messages to those audiences. It's a digital gold mine for the taking and the PR industry is primed to leverage it.

PRWeek: Working with a startup, what are some of the initial challenges in getting that client exposure?

Blodgett: New startups sprout every day, particularly in Silicon Valley. Most of them have a name that is not only unknown but hard to remember and pronounce. People inherently buy products from companies they trust and feel good about, so it's important to build that trust through community, great service (i.e., Zappos) and brand recognition, which the not-long-ago unknown startups of YouTube and Wikipedia have now achieved.

One core challenge is obviously the unknown brand and trust factor, and getting people to try out the product or service when they're being bombarded with hundreds of similar pitches. There's more noise than ever and garnering interest and traction is increasingly difficult in an always-on world.

Another challenge is how easy it is for a brand to get a negative hit. Today, anyone can vote thumbs up or thumbs down on a brand in a matter of seconds simply by pushing a button on their phone or PC. Lastly, a key issue working with startups is limited budget, particularly pre-funding.

PRWeek: How do you meet those challenges?

Blodgett: First, no one is going to believe your pitch if you're not aligned with your product or service. It's important that the world hears an authentic voice they can resonate with, as well as a clear, concise vision, whether that vision is simplicity and great design (Apple) or fresh, healthy, and organic (Whole Foods).

We start with alignment and getting the message right, and then craft a compelling and authentic story that lights up customers and prospects. It's amazing how many companies forget the value of a memorable and human story.

We also work on “the corporate voice” and engagement. I've seen a number of startups spend too much time fixated on numbers. If you have loyal users who are in it for the long-term, you can then build from a solid base. The quality of the conversations with those customers matter, so we work with clients to ensure we consistently reach out and have top-notch, targeted conversations that will create a loyal fan base over time.

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