Fresh off winning a national media relations award in New York, Natalie Ghidotti was reading the tea leaves for 2023 and hoping undercurrents in the national economy won’t steer her Little Rock marketing firm, Ghidotti, off its course of success.
The agency, based on the 29th floor of the Regions tower downtown, in December won the PR Daily Media Relations award in the video category for 2022. The prize, given by PR Daily and its publisher, Ragan Communications of Chicago, honored a key element of Ghidotti’s integrated campaign and content marketing for a group of McDonald’s restaurant owner-operators in five states, including Arkansas.
The winning video showcased positive employment experiences of McDonald’s workers in a time of fierce labor competition in the fast-food industry. For Ghidotti herself, the award also signaled that her nine-employee firm could hold its own with the big dogs, including rivals in the competition like Intel Corp., Ernst & Young LLP and Golin of Chicago.
In the video series, shot by Little Rock cinematographer and documentary filmmaker Jeff Dailey, McDonald’s employees talked about their personal and career growth while working at the hamburger chain.
The global chain specifically mentioned its marketing on Tuesday in reporting sales and profits that beat Wall Street expectations. Same-store U.S. sales were up 10.3%, and adjusted earnings per share were $2.59 against analysts’ expectations of $2.44.
“It’s particularly exciting to get a national award, and it’s great for our team to be able to say, hey, we’re right up there with the best,” Ghidotti said in an interview.
A Benton native, Ghidotti has made the concept of thought leadership — helping clients establish themselves as go-to authorities in their specialties — her guiding light for 2023. Business is growing, she said, but concerns are bubbling up.
“We’ve definitely seen some recession-type moves by some clients, lowering some of their budgets or delaying some projects until they have a better feel for how things are going to be this year. I’m curious to see what other firms are experiencing.”
She hasn’t really asked many of her peers, she admitted. “But I think there is a pervasive uncertainty that always affects marketing agencies quickly, because when it hits, what’s the first thing a company is tempted to do? Hold on to some of those marketing dollars. It’s not something that I feel comfortable pushing people on. But I do remind them of the age-old reality. You have to spend money to make money, and you don’t want to completely abandon ship on your marketing efforts.”
Right now, she said, the firm’s focus is on new business, and she means business-to-business business.
“We’ve always done a variety of work, B2B, B2C [business-to-consumer] and nonprofit work, but we are really strong in the thought leadership work we’re doing for B2B companies. We have many different strategies for clients like Mainstream Technologies, which we’re helping map out a strategic thought leadership platform that they can build on for years.
“Thought leadership comes down to a company positioning its people as experts in a specific industry, showcasing their knowledge and the true value they bring to their clients and customers,” Ghidotti said. “It’s showing that these experts know their customers’ pain points and challenges, and how vital that knowledge is in bringing solutions.”
Ghidotti also helps clients demonstrate what makes them unique. “If you’re a thought leader in your space, you also have to be putting out valuable and unique content that addresses what your customers need to know.”
A new video series, “Unboxing With Ghidotti,” emphasizes the firm’s B2B and thought leadership work. “It features me, Bethany and Joshua talking about thought leadership and reflecting it in your social portals and websites.” Bethany Siems is Ghidotti’s director of strategy, Joshua Cook its director of PR. “These videos are a lot of fun, and we’ve gotten great feedback. They’re on our website, ghidotti.com.”