Tuesday, January 13, 2015



Why are you still here? We left.

We'd love for you to join us again, though.

Find us at taftmatney.com to see what we're saying and doing now.

Friday, April 04, 2014

We're Looking For Talent To Be Part Of Our Team. Are We Looking For You?

Thankfully, TMPR's business is growing – more clients with more needs.

To meet those needs, we want to add the right resources to the right projects, and we want to give you the opportunity to possibly be a part of what we're doing.

We're looking for freelance graphic designers and artists, web designers and developers, and copywriters who can -- on a contract basis -- help translate concepts in to their final executions for printed and interactive/digital production.

The "musts" we're looking for are simple.

We want people who are good at what we're looking for, who are responsive when we need them, and who understand that when projects begin to move, they move quickly and that meeting deadlines is imperative.

Does this sound like you? Does it sound like someone you know? If so, tell us. We want to know.

To be considered, send a resume, a portfolio link or work samples, and your hourly rate to files@taftmatney.com with "Team TMPR" in the email's subject line.

NOTE: TMPR is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Nothing in this posting constitutes any promise or guarantee of contract or other employment with or by TMPR.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Tale of Two Surveys.

It was the best of surveys. It was the worst of surveys. OK. Maybe that’s a little overstated, but still…

Anyway, I recently received two emails, and while these would normally be the types of things I’d immediately delete, as a PR/marketing/branding/research/advocacy wonk, I opened them just to see if there was something beneficial. There was, but the “beneficial” I found probably wasn’t what the survey companies intended.

You have a product, service, or message and want to know how to improve it for your customers or audience. What’s one of the first things you do to find out?

You have an idea for a product, service, or message and want to see how people feel about it or if they would support it. What’s one of the first things you do to find out?

The answer to both is simple. You ask.

Sure. There’s the front end work that goes along with it like fleshing out the idea, defining the audience or target market/demo, and establishing measurement benchmarks, but when all of the prep work is done, you get your answers by asking questions.

To quote a friend who frequently mixes his clichés, “It ain’t rocket surgery.”

You may organize an in-person focus group. You may commission a telephone survey. You may get really creative and do something out of the norm (although the results may not be as reliable). You may use an email list and conduct web-based research.

All of these are valid ways to ask the audience, but how do you maximize responses to increase your research accuracy?

For now, let’s focus on web-based research and how to initially engage your audience.

Let the recipient know up front why he or she is receiving the email. This includes being transparent in the “Subject” line. Tell recipients the invitation is for a survey and why they are a part of the survey group (a past or current customer, a voter, a supporter of a certain issue, a consumer of a certain product, an enthusiast of a certain lifestyle or activity). Don’t go for a bait-and-switch where recipients may believe the email is for one purpose when it’s actually for something else entirely. If you bait and switch, at best you’ll irritate recipients and at worst, you’ll lose their support/business. If you’re honest with them about the research, they may be more inclined to share their opinions – depending on how you ask.

Spell check is a great tool, but it doesn’t serve as a substitute for proofing your invitation or survey. When Boston-based Chadwick Martin Bailey, an independent market research firm, wrote that I was “randomly select to participate” in a survey, I cringed. When Ipsos Research said I would be “entered into a draw” for a possible prize, I cringed again. The companies that retained CMB and Ipsos made significant financial investments for customer data collection, and while mistakes do happen, simple things like misspellings can quickly take away from an audience’s perceived professionalism of marketing firms AND the companies they represent.

Time is a valuable commodity. How much is your time worth? You juggle work and a personal life, and the demands of both get bigger over time, not smaller. If you expect target audience members to engage in your web-based research – research that requires them to make the effort as active participants (clicking links, clicking buttons, typing answers responding to “Other”) – make the survey as easy, non-intrusive, and time-respectful as possible. If you receive two survey invitations where one reads, “This survey will take approximately 25 minutes to complete, on average; however, you may take as much time as you would like,” and the other reads, “The survey should take about 5 minutes to complete,” which is more likely to receive responses?

Again, time is valuable. It seems like nobody has enough of it. “Where did the time go?” “There aren’t enough hours in the day.” There’s a reason people say these things. People feel overwhelmed. If you invite someone to participate in a survey, make it worth their while. People are giving time they don’t have to help with research. The least marketers can do is provide the chance that recipients will get something out of participating and sharing their knowledge and experience. If you receive two survey invitations where one offers no hope of compensation for your time and the other reads that “you will be entered into a draw (TMPR Note: Yes. That should be “drawing” instead of “draw.”) for a chance to win one of four $200 prizes,” which is more likely to receive responses?

There are a number of additional things to consider, especially within the survey itself, but the survey becomes useless if nobody clicks through the email to take it.

In a tale of two surveys where one will take half of an hour and give me nothing versus a survey that will take 5 minutes and maybe get me $200 in return, as a consumer, which one am I more likely to at least click and explore?

The term “strategic” is overused when it comes to branding/marketing/PR/advocacy/research, but that’s only because so many people use it incorrectly with no meaning, plan, or action behind it. When there is meaning and a plan of action and a designed set of measurable objectives, strategic means there is an identified set of goals and a methodical way to achieve them. In other words, there is a strategy that has been crafted and implemented.

Be strategic in planning invitations to web-based research and how to provide your survey campaign the best chance for participation and success.

Remember. “It ain’t rocket surgery.” It just takes time, thought, planning, and a team who understands what it takes to pull it all together.

Taft Matney is a partner with TM Public Relations, a strategic communications and governmental affairs firm in Greenville, SC. Follow him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/taftmatney) and "like" TMPR on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TMPRGA).

This op-ed may be reprinted/reposted in whole or in part upon written notification to and permission from taft@taftmatney.com.

Brand names, product names, services, companies, events, and publications are or may be trademarks or registered trademarks of, and are used to identify, products or services of their respective owners in the U.S. and/or other countries.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Who Oversees Your Communications, and Why? The Case for Not Hiring Someone.

A great piece in INC a couple of months ago (See: "11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn't Run Your Social Media") began with, "Just because you don't understand social media doesn't mean you should forfeit all common sense and hire your niece, nephew, or any other recent college grad (say, your best friend's sister-in-law's kid) because 'they're really good on Facebook'."

The same piece ended with, "Social media is not the be-all and end-all. It's a marketing tool--part of an ever-growing arsenal of ways to bring your company to your prospective customers' attention."

Both are valid points that we agree with and have shouted for several years.

Social media isn't magical and should only be a component of a comprehensive overall communications plan promoting your brand and reinforcing its image.

That understanding is vital to avoiding pitfalls of relying too heavily on social media. Frankly, it isn’t even the right tool for every situation.

Make sure you have someone representing your brand who understands you, your product (tangible or intangible), your target audience, and your goals.

Whether you staff an in-house senior-level executive or you contract to an outside firm, make sure that person or group understands the importance of integrated communications, controlled messaging, and when to use what strategies.

Taft Matney is a partner with TM Public Relations, a strategic communications and governmental affairs firm in Greenville, SC. Follow him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/taftmatney) and "like" TMPR on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TMPRGA).

This op-ed may be reprinted/reposted in whole or in part upon written notification to and permission from taft@taftmatney.com.

Brand names, product names, services, companies, events, and publications are or may be trademarks or registered trademarks of, and are used to identify, products or services of their respective owners in the U.S. and/or other countries.

Monday, August 05, 2013

It Was the Best of Logos. It Was the Worst of Logos...Well, Almost.

Where is the real money in college athletics? Ticket sales? Booster club contributions? No way.

As Mel Brooks reminded us in his 1987 science-fiction comedy SPACEBALLS, the money is is the merchandising.

When you license a product that promotes your brand, you want to: 1) have control over your brand image's or logo's use to make sure that the product doesn't dilute your brand's reputation, 2) make sure it positively promotes your brand or at least evokes positive feelings about your brand from the consumer who has become a de facto brand ambassador, and 3) ensure it is financially beneficial to your brand. That's where the windfall is in college athletics (that and broadcast rights), so gearing up for the 2013 college football season, Athlon Sports released its list of best and worst logos in college football.

How accurate were they in understanding the collegiate branded consumer market? Did they score a touchdown with their list, or was it more like a wide-right field goal attempt? Let's take a quick look.

The number two "Best" logo goes to Clemson, according to the list. "There are tons of Tigers, Wildcats and Bulldogs in college sports but none use their mascot quite like Clemson. The Tiger Paw print is synonymous with Clemson athletics and is utterly simple but still edgy and creative."

Number 3 in the "Worst" category (and frankly, we disagree completely) goes to the University of South Carolina where Athlon's team says, "It’s not the chicken, it’s the 'C.' A tweak to the hard inner angles and this logo is no longer in the bottom 5."

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, though.

Atlanta-based Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) is the company responsible for licensing "200 of the nation’s top colleges, universities, bowl games, athletic conferences, the Heisman Trophy, and the NCAA," and the company is responsible for nearly "80% of the $4.6 billion retail market for collegiate licensed merchandise." That's a big market.

According to CLC's rankings of the 75 top-selling colleges of last year, the Tigers roar in at number 24, while the Gamecocks crow at number 18.

It looks like the Athlon folks flubbed that kick...at least in terms of knowing what audiences prefer. That also goes to show how important it is to both understand your brand and your audience. These are marketing activities Carolina and Clemson understand and implement exceptionally well, and taking a page from their branding playbooks might be a smart thing for other marketers to do, also.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Business Development Manager Needed

276 MEDIA, a brand support and promotion firm and a unit of TMPR, is looking for a Business Development Manager to cultivate new relationships for the firm’s clients.

Salary is commission-based, and successful applicants must be motivated and be able to self-supervise.

To be considered for the position, applicants must be creative, have an understanding of sales and marketing, and should be well-versed in new and social media platforms and how to promote clients through various outlets.

Interested applicants should send inquiries or a resume with a cover letter to: employment@276mediagroup.com.

This job posting will remain open until filled.

Friday, April 05, 2013

TMPR Bats Cleanup for BuzzFeed Election Coverage

TMPR in BuzzFeed
Following this week’s special primary runoff in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, BuzzFeed talked with TMPR's Taft Matney about how divorces and candidates’ personal lives factor in to elections and campaigns in 2013.

It's too bad that more of what he said didn't make the piece, but his point was that in certain areas of South Carolina, social conservatism doesn't play the same roll it once did in voters’ decisions.

Taft told BuzzFeed's Ruby Cramer that with the state's changing electoral demographics, many of South Carolina's voters are social moderates but fiscal conservatives, so a candidate's economic policy and success promoting that policy may trump his or her social stances (depending on what those stances are).

He said that Sanford's name ID was undoubtedly an overriding factor in the former governor’s win, but his fiscal policy and success shouldn’t be discounted because that garnered critical support from fiscal conservatives. Still, Taft added that Sanford will have a challenge connecting favorably with female voters, and the Democrats will work to take full advantage of that.

Do you agree or disagree, and why?



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