Two co-workers recently debated how much a goldfish could see outside of its fish bowl. Can Dot see me? How much of me? She won’t stop staring at me. You know, groundbreaking questions. They didn’t resort to sticking their heads into the fishbowl to settle the matter; they headed online.
Amazed by the number of sites and forums devoted to this very topic, we started talking about enthusiasts and the importance of content. We often get asked why content is so important, and we found an easy way to answer this question as a result of wondering how much Dot the Goldfish can see outside of her tank. The best sites didn’t just answer the question, but also provided links, historical information and -- most importantly -- human participation.
People on fish forums love all things fish, so it made our search for answers all the more fruitful and enjoyable. The search was even better when we took out the science and details of it – goldfish eyesight (60,000 results) – and asked a more personal question: can my fish see me outside the tank? (265,000 results)
Creating and contributing online marketing content from a human perspective lets you solve a problem for your users. We also remembered this after reading a great post from Copyblogger about being a hero. Our fellow fish lovers were our heroes when they debated emphatically about how great goldfish eyesight is and that yes, it really does depend on the size and thickness of the tank and each fish. And finally, we learned that we’re not really that crazy for searching for this term, because look at all the other likeminded and curious individuals out there on the Web.
While you may feel that you have the best software or offering on the market, you have to prove it. One way you can support these efforts is to create content that helps YOU relate better to your audience. By actively discussing and writing about what you do, offer and love most, you create a level of conversation that no static press release or product data sheet can provide.
Your content may strike such a chord that readers share and post it on other blog sites. People may come back to you to learn more and download your free offering or e-book. Folks may then subscribe or purchase your service. Then they might talk about your service to a friend. Perhaps, yes, they will subscribe to your newsletter or attend your webinar.
If you love what you make and love helping others succeed, then you should commit to writing and blogging about it. Pressed for time? Tweet about it. Create a video. Participate in a forum. Answer a question. Act like a real person and not some marketing or entrepreneurial superBOT. Do it right, and visitors will swim to you.
As the regular season heats up for the Boston Red Sox, I can’t help but think about some of the parallels between success on the baseball diamond and success in the PR office.
Personally, I failed miserably in my dream to be a professional baseball player, but I did spend 10 years in the game as a player and two more covering the Cape Cod Baseball League. Here are three principles I’ve taken from my career around the diamond to my career in the PR office:
Hitting a good curveball is something with which I, and a lot of professionals, had trouble. It’s about waiting, perceiving the spin, and being content with a single to the opposite field. Patience is paramount, and the same applies to PR. It pays to calmly assess the situation, see what the best plan is, and go from there. The approach has to fit the circumstances.
Mixing up your pitches
As a pitcher, throwing the same pitch over and over again is a great way to get run from the game. Different players have different strengths and weakness that have to be taken into consideration. Literally, a PR pro can’t write the same pitch every time either. But in a broader sense, each of your clients requires a personalized approach. They aren’t all the same.
Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork
Baseball is a team sport. Every player on the field is involved over the course of a game, which is no different than a quality PR approach. A well-rounded campaign involves contributions by the whole team, for which everyone is held accountable.
Home runs don’t have to take place at Fenway. How have you hit one in your own profession recently?
Once in awhile, a person comes into your life, and you realize she is there for a reason. She brightens up your day and makes coming into work a lot easier. No, I’m not talking about that cube mate who sits closely beside you and watches your every move and listens to your every conversation. I’m talking about the ideal client contact or internal marketing champion.
Let’s evaluate the description of the ideal client contact. She:
- Is friendly, personable, responsive
- Realizes that to be successful, she needs to deliver
- Understands PR and marketing initiatives
- Can make decisions on her own without getting approval from an entire committee
- Knows what she wants and how to communicate it to you
- Doesn’t come to you with a one-time need -- sees the quality of your work and the results, and continues to send work your way
- Knows her market and craft
- Doesn’t throw you under the bus and works fast to help you correct any mistakes
- Doesn't ask you to do her job
At Metis, we’re happy to be surrounded by many of these ideal client contacts. We're the better for it.
(This blog is dedicated to Kirsten Foon at Embotics. She knows why.)
Have you noticed the increase in webinar invitations in your in-box lately? I receive several a day from various companies, my clients, their competitors and media groups. However, promoting webinars with the media and analyst communities is a little different than your traditional marketing efforts.
The initial purpose of a webinar might be to introduce a new partner integration, or launch a new product or service, or to educate the industry via a method that provides everyone with the same information at the same time. For news announcements, webinars save valuable time over individual briefings and help avoid the risk of a media outlet breaking a story before other publications. For example, FalconStor Software (our client) launched an automated disaster recovery solution, RecoverTrac, through an online event with a short product demo.
Webinars are also a great way to demonstrate market and thought leadership. Take Eze Castle Integration (our client); the company offers webinars frequently to educate its market about due diligence, cloud computing and how to launch a hedge fund, to name a few topics. The partners and experts that Eze Castle secures for the webinars are always top notch and full of insight for the audience.
In cases of product launches or industry education, the goal is to drive attendance. How can PR promote these events?
- Personalize your invitation to each reporter, editor or analyst. And don't invite them to every single webinar you have.
- Target only those who have a clear interest in the topic.
- Give plenty of notice. Send the invitation at least a week before the event.
- Build on a client’s reputation and leadership. Eze Castle, for example, has a track record of high-quality, informative webinars, and industry and vertical markets know it.
- Turn refusals to your advantage. If a target turns you down on a webinar invitation, offer a one-on-one briefing.
- Make the webinar work for you even after it ends. Post the presentation to the company website, YouTube and other social media sites.
- Follow up with those reporters who attended with a link to the recorded event as they may use it for background in future articles.
If your company were to have a webinar, how would you promote it? What are your methods for driving media and analyst attendance?
Let me start off by saying there is nothing admirable about the downward spiral that is the Charlie Sheen saga. We do not condone using drugs—especially the drug “Charlie Sheen.” It will melt your face off.
And while the words that come out of Charlie’s mouth are altogether nonsense, he does drop a few nuggets that can be useful for those of us in PR. Those of us without tiger’s blood, that is.
“Losing is not an option.”
A PR professional can easily apply this Charlie quote to his or her work. As my colleague Kathryn recently pointed out, editors will often refuse pitches just to see your reaction. But a PR pro can’t just lie down and accept the first denial he hears; getting that story requires you to fight and be persistent. Don’t accept losing as an option, and there’s a good chance your client will get in that story. “Uh, Winning!”
“You must love, or you must hate, but you must do so violently.”
Well, it’s probably best to not pitch editors violently; one might end up getting called out publicly, or worse. Not the best approach to building relationships with editors and reporters.
But there is something to this. As my coworker Melissa noted, a PR worker who is passionate about her craft will succeed. Passion shows in the final product. So we recommend love and nonviolence, but being passionate is a lesson we can take from Charlie.
“Newsflash: I am special, and I will never be one of you.”
No, I am not advising you to have a monstrous ego. But a unique approach is an asset. Reporters and editors sift through hundreds of pitches for their stories, and to get noticed, a pitch has to stand out. It has to be special. A good pitch refuses to blend in with the rest.
Thank you, Charlie, for all you have taught us. It’s been radical.
Welcome to the technology reading corner.
My latest obsessions: new business ideas from young entrepreneurs and start-up companies. My fascination stems from the simple fact that anyone, anywhere can create something powerful and life-changing, quickly. The world of technology moves faster than a Google search. I want to keep up.
Here are my latest, favorite reads from around the Web:
Former RealNetworks Execs Want You To “SocialEyes” With Video Chat - Video chat has been tried countless times on the Web and mostly failed, but a new startup called SocialEyes is giving it another shot. It’s interesting to learn how SocialEyes is tackling video chat differently from its competitors.
Facebook Display Ad Revenues to Surge 80% This Year - eMarketer forecasts Facebook will effortlessly overtake Yahoo in display advertising revenue during 2011, despite Yahoo's display ad revenues increasing by double digits. Is Facebook taking over the world?
Using Infographics to Take Your SEO Campaign to the Next Level - Infographics provide online businesses with the opportunity to supply viral content that builds brands, educates users, and returns hundreds (if not thousands) of inbound links. If you want to learn more about connecting infographics and SEO, read this article.
Be Prepared — Don’t Be Caught Out When the Cloud Fails - Google apparently accidentally deleted some 150,000 Gmail accounts. What would you do if you lost everything?
Blogs and news outlets such as TechCrunch, GigaOM, BizReport, The Business Insider and ZippyCart.com are oozing with the latest industry happenings.
What did you read today?
Upon hearing that one of my favorite childhood authors, Brian Jacques of “Redwall” fame, passed away on February 5, I found myself musing on the ways in which great PR is similar to great literature.
The following adjectives seem to apply to both successful PR campaigns and well-written literature:
Didactic — My 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Leahy (and every instructor since), told me that great literature “teaches and entertains.” The same goes for public relations responsibility. As a PR professional who works with many startups, I run into a lot of, “What’s a Twitter?” Part of our job is to educate our clients in the use of social media, just as great literature educates the reader.
Creative — The writing that we remember stands out from the crowd; it takes a new and different view on things. Brian Jacques thought that gallantry was disappearing from today’s society, so he portrayed it in the quests of mice and shrews in the “Redwall ” series. Not your typical approach to chivalry.
The same is true in PR. You want to stand out from all of your competitors by taking an innovative approach and getting stronger results. Impressions are made by creativity; being content with “the usual PR tactic” leads to mundane outcomes.
Readability — With great literature, every time you read it, you find something new and worthwhile. Novels written a hundred years ago are still around because each reader can relate to them differently. Every time through, a reader catches a symbol or commentary previously missed, which unfolds a whole new layer of meaning. The same must apply to PR. A successful PR approach is personal and versatile and has longevity. Good PR consistently yields results every time you turn to it.
So next time you pick up Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the fourth time, think about why you keep reading it. If your PR campaign were a book, would it be worth re-reading?
A few weeks ago, I went back to my old stomping grounds at Falmouth Academy in Falmouth, Mass. and participated in some roundtable discussions with high school juniors and seniors on writing and journalism.
Most of the students with whom I spoke were interested in creative writing and becoming the next best-selling author. (Admittedly, my high school goal was to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism, so I wasn’t much different.) I tried to give them a sense that writing is just one aspect of the larger world of communications, and they don’t have to get a degree in English to write. In fact, writing is essential in fields as wide-ranging as business, engineering, information technology and public relations.
I know some of the students looked at me and thought, “Who is this crazy person talking about the value of business writing, blogs and freelancing?” I hope by the time I left, these messages came across loud and clear:
- Take advantage of the social media revolution. Build a portfolio by creating your own blog or contributing articles to other blogs.
- Grow a thick skin. Editors will not always impart suggestions in the gentle tone of your teachers.
- Explore different types of writing. How can you make the topic of data protection for a virtualized environment funny and interesting?
- Intern, intern, intern. The field of communication is wide and varied. Take the opportunity in college to try out all areas of communications. I did an internship as a reporter in college and found out I hated it, but I loved the PR internships I had.
At the end of the morning, I was happy to drive off the campus and say that I never have to go back to high school. But I felt good, too, hoping I had given the students another viewpoint on the world of communications and writing.
If you were heading back to your high school or college, what advice on writing, journalism or PR would you impart?