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    News Rules For Marketing & PR, According To David Meerman Scott

    March 7th, 2010

    Back in 2007, when David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing & PR blasted off to bestsellerdom, online social networking was just beginning to generate mainstream buzz.

    Facebook was only available to people with a .edu web address, Twitter was barely a twinkle, and YouTube though bubbling up, hadn’t truly blasted off.

    All three sites are now social media stars. They’re changing ways we communicate amongst ourselves, and with companies.

    Those changes are so dramatic Meerman figured his book needed substantial revision to stay current, hence the recently issued The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, 2nd Edition.

    The release of this second edition seems like an ideal time to check in with Meerman. He was kind enough to offer a phone interview. Here are excerpts from our conversation:

    Interview with David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR

    I’ve heard it said the foundation of marketing and PR is same as it ever was; which is to reach out to your public and persuade people to buy your goods, and that the only thing different now with social media and web 2.0, is the tools. Do you agree?

    David: I think it’s changing in a profound way and we’re going through a revolution. Prior to the web, we as communications people, PR people, marketers, whatever you want to call it, we had these three ways to reach people. You could do it with paid media advertising… another way was to try and convince someone from the media to write about you… and the third way was you could hire a sales force. Those three ways still exist. I’m not suggesting those old rules are wrong, or bad, but we are going through a revolution in that someone can publish content on the web for free, and that’s new and different. There was not that tool 16 years ago. I use 1995 as a line in the sand [in terms of influence of the web].

    The reasons I feel there’s a fundamental shift is, people who want to use that channel can’t be thinking in the way they used in those old ways… Now the way to reach people is, an organization has to think like a publisher and adopt the skills to tell a story in text or in video, or whatever it is, but to literally become brand journalists and to create content and get it out there. That is a fundamental change. And a lot of companies are resistant to that change.

    I think what they’re getting at, when saying the foundation is the same, is the ultimate goal hasn’t changed, just to tools for accomplishing that goal.

    David: The ultimate goal is to generate attention and that’s not changing. But the ways we get people to do that has radically changed.

    You pay a fair amount of attention to search, search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Yet that’s an area a lot of PR people resist, because SEO strategy may not follow AP style.

    David: Right. There is a lot of truth in that. Fundamentally, every person on the planet who has an internet connection is using search. And the last number I heard is two billion people are connected to the web. So being visible in search engines is critically important.

    But one of the things I like to point out is search engine marketing, at its core, is about creating the content that people want to find…. It’s understanding your buyers really well and creating content that allows them to solve problems in the words and phrases they would use.

    That’s more important in my mind than worrying about the nuances of meta tags and where the text should be placed. Granted those are important, but in my experience a lot of search engine experts will focus way too much on those technology aspects of search and not that much on understanding that people are trying to reach amazing stuff that will then be indexed by search engines.

    Let’s talk about your suggestion to create an online media room, but for buyers rather than just the press. From my own experience, this is a tough sell with many PR people. You can explain how when a release is on the web anyone can see it, and while they understand this as a concept, they can’t make the shift. What is your most persuasive pitch for this one?

    David: I think the biggest stumbling block is that many public relations people who I know mistake the superset of public relations with the subset of media relations.

    In other words, public relations is really just about reaching your public, and there’s tons of different ways to do that. Going through the media is not the only way.

    But I think what a lot of public relations people want is for the world to be the way is way 20 years ago, They just want to be able to have lunch with reporters and send out press releases. It’s just a nice comfortable little world and the web is kinda screwing things up.

    I think if our job is to reach our publics, it’s essential to understand there’s multiple ways to do so.

    For example you hit on the online media room. When they first came out about 15 years ago it was basically an online version of a press kit… and well, guess what? It’s not just going to the media. Everyone can look at that stuff. So are you only interested in 200 journalists, or are you interested in 200,000 potential customers? And I think, without being rude, if you think your job is to only reach 200 journalists, then you shouldn’t have a role in the website. Let other people get on with the work of the media room.

    I do think this job of media relations is still a critical job… that will be their specialty. But I hope people start to realize it’s not the only way.

    You also write about how the media itself has changed. When you consider bloggers, for instance. Then you say you’re surprised, when at speaking engagements and you ask PR and marketing pros if they write or read blogs, only a small percentage are doing so. You would think at this stage more people would realize we’ve gotten past the point where it’s just the cranky blogger out there.

    David: The other point that’s critical to know is that when a journalist is working on a story guess where they go? They go to Google, They go to your website. And if you have a blog, a journalist is more likely to read that then your press release.

    I think it’s important to recognize the way journalists are doing their research is changing because of the web as well.

    In the book you get into how to generate viral marketing. Yet sometimes when a company sets out to create a viral video it seems like they’re trying to hard, and it feels false.

    David: Well most of the time it doesn’t work. The way to create great viral content is to do 10 things and assume nine of them will fail. And that’s a different way of doing marketing than most people are used to. Most people are used to creating one campaign and you expect that it will be successful.

    You believe people should experiment with marketing. Nowadays you can do that with video, because the costs are so much lower than in the past.

     

    David: That’s part of it. The other part is a failure isn’t visible. If you do a TV commercial and it’s terrible lots of people will see it. If you post a video on YouTube and it’s, terrible few people will see it, No one will spread it. So it’s not, “Oh they failed. Look at that.” You know, you just quietly delete it.

    6 Comments "

    The Facebook Era: A Practical Guide for Tapping into Social Networks for Business

    February 11th, 2010

    Books about social media are currently popping up like tulips come springtime.

    I’ve read a fair number of these titles. Many offer useful information and advice, though others look to be hastily dashed off by someone just wanting to catch a wave while it’s cresting.

    A few truly shine above the rest. The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products, Reach New Audiences, and Sell More Stuff by Clara Shih is among those gems.

    Especially for corporate types

    Anyone with an interest in social networks may learn from and enjoy this book, however, it’s aimed at folks looking to leverage social networks for business purposes. In particular, it’s a got a wealth of information pertinent to the corporate enterprise.

    Shih is imminently qualified to write from this vantage point, because she created a successful Facebook business application (Faceconnector), and her C.V. includes stints at salesforce.com, Google and Microsoft.

    In The Facebook Era, she goes deep with details, to include informative case studies and a plentitude of screen shots that help make things crystal clear.

    About plenty more than Facebook

    FYI, the content encompasses a lot more than Facebook. Shih delves into other social networks as well as associated tools and applications. In fact, it’s a real eye-opener in this way.

    Shih covers corporate-centric tools like Hoover’s Connect, which helps sales reps understand complex organizational structures, and Yammer, for intra-enterprise microblogging. Much attention is paid to saleforce.com offerings — Shih was working at the company she wrote the book. If portions of The Facebook Era read like an ad for that company, well, it’s hardly the first marketing title to feature self-promotion.

    Adios anonymous web

    The book begins with an explanation of how the online social graph — the world wide web of interconnected people — fundamentally changes ways we relate, both personally and professionally. It examines the intricacies of how and why social networks operate, including sociological factors that come into play. This is fascinating stuff.

    As Shih rightly notes, “We are moving from technology-centric applications to people-centric applications that conform to our relationships and identities…  It is the death of the anonymous Web.

    Leveraging social networks for business processes

    Shih breaks down how online networks can be a boon to the sales process. For instance, a sales rep can use LinkedIn to search out qualified leads and mine all kinds of information available on that site, as well as on Facebook, in order to prepare sale calls that are personal and relevant to individual prospects. In doing this background research a rep may discover similarities with a prospect; such as having attended the same university. This may seem a minor touchpoint, however as Shih observes, “shared personal experiences, even if they are small coincidences, can go a long way in establishing rapport and differentiating your deal.”

    Other sections cover how to leverage social media for recruiting and product innovation, and again, Shih clues you into handy enterprise tools, like Connectbeam, a collaborative platform for building employee expertise profiles.

    Step-by-step Facebook guide

    Online networks dramatically change how we interact with brands and Shih asserts, “The new mantra is don’t advertise to people, advertise between people.”

    That’s the heart of the matter when it comes to social marketing. Here’s where Facebook takes center stage. Shih shines a spotlight on the platform, via a step-by-step guide that digs into strategies, best practices, methods of engagement, hypertargeting, and more.

    Facebook applications get a fair amount of attention. “Apps are the new ads,” Shih writes. “The idea is people tend to spend more time on apps — such as playing games, looking through slideshows and taking surveys –than traditional advertising, so apps might provide more memorable and lasting interactions with your brand.”

    Shih cautions that creating your own app from scratch is risky business. You may be better off with sponsorship opportunities offered by existing apps that are popular with your target audiences. To help determine what these might be Shih conveniently mentions Lookery —a directory of ad network publishers, including Facebook apps, with analytics, demographics and other useful data.

    In all, Shih covers a tremendous amount of ground detailing how to gear-up your business’ social media presence with a clear plan of action.

    Now, if you want additional info, visit The Facebook Era’s Facebook page.

    What are your thoughts on The Facebook Era? Do you any stories to tell about using social networks in the corporate enterprise environment? Comments welcome.

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    If a Picture is Worth 1000 Words How Much is a Video Worth?

    January 28th, 2010

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video on your website worth?

    Plenty more. Or maybe a lot less.

    It depends on the video. And the website.

    If you’re a personal “citizen” blogger you may be fine with something that’s  homemade. People will often give you a pass. They’ll accept that you’re not a big operation with deep pockets to invest in high-end video.

    If you’re a business, people may still give you a pass. But for a different reason. They think, “Gee, what a cheap looking video.”  You turn viewers off, and so they’ll pass you on by.

    A slapdash video is a poor reflection of your entire company: the expectation of quality is higher.

    Melissa Shusterman, director of digital video and web communications at D4 Digital, a division of the Philadelphia-based D4 Creative agency, knows a heck of a lot about internet video.  Formerly a producer who’s works with MTV, VH1 and FX, she’s also noted as an innovator of episodic web video.

    Melissa and I had a chat about video and its use on corporate websites. Here are excerpts from our conversation.

    Use of video online is getting a lot more popular. How do you see that trend going forward?

    Melissa: YouTube is the fastest growing audience online. And its audience is far beyond the under-21 age group… Yet YouTube is filled with crap. There’s a lot of nonsense. You’re seeing a dog sit, or a baby cry, or a person rant. It’s amazing because people watch it. The power of receiving your information through someone’s mouth, or moving pictures, is incredible.

    Why is that?

    Melissa: Because we are human and we like to feel like we are spoken to directly and that we’re connecting with someone’s body language. Their eyes. Their opinion. It almost feels like a conversation, even in a video that doesn’t have a person looking right at you. Take that guy who talks about wine but screams at you. He’s a prime example. Why would people want to listen to that? Because instead of reading a PDF about the top four wines with picture of a wine bottle, which is highly impersonal, you suddenly got to connect with a person who is as passionate about wine as you are. And who gets down and dirty about wine. So it increases people’s passion.

    With certain clients you advocate the use webisodes; a series of short episodic videos. How does the impact of that differ from a TV commercial?

    Melissa: With a commercial you have the constraints of 15, 30 or 60 seconds. It’s a more traditional medium to convey a very specific message. When you have webisodes, it’s organic. It can be a continual message that can be woven into something that’s entertaining and informative.

    When you watch a commercial it’s an assault at you. They’re great and some are highly entertaining, but they’re very quick. Sometimes you don’t even really know what you are seeing.

    When you have a personality, or a character, or a storyline, that’s in two-minute increments for 10 days; or a lifetime; you are getting to know the brand better. You are getting the added value of a longer format and the information that can unfold.

    Companies often go with a “talking head” approach on their homepage. Do you think that can still be effective?

    Melissa: In the past you would have a talking head and it was only about two inches wide and one inch tall.  The players are much broader today. So now maybe it’s taking up a third of the homepage and it’s taking away some of the space you used to have for your messages. So instead of having the CEO speak, that video should encompass your messages.

    The CEO could tell the messages. What’s the difference with what you’re referring to?

    Melissa: Graphic pictures, voiceover and music can convey a compelling message and it can guide people further into your website. Video messaging is now multi-layered and engaging. … I can talk about this for hours but the simple thing is, people Google your company. They land on your page. Do they understand what you do, or do they go to the competition?

    It’s one of the components of integrated media that’s going to be essential for being current. People do not read, people watch… If it’s people’s first impression of your company, the message doesn’t have to be long. But there should be entertainment value and it needs to be authentic… Pick a genre that fits your company. Possibly documentary style. Or like a sitcom. Whatever fits your clientele.

    Are there any common mistakes that you can identify with corporate videos?

    Melissa: Things that are too long. People are busy. Keep it short. Even if it’s got humor; because after someone laughs they’re ready to move on.

    It’s always about the consumer or the potential consumer. It’s not necessarily about the company. That’s true of all good marketing.

    What if a company says they’ll just repurpose commercials? They’re short. What do you tell them?

    Melissa: Don’t repackage what you do for broadcast for the internet. People are savvy. The minute they know it’s a commercial you’ve made a mistake. You’ve turned them off… You have a captive audience. If someone is sitting at their computer it’s different than watching TV where they may be on the phone. Walking around. Feeding the kids. Doing sit-ups.  They’re half listening. When someone opens up something and it’s speaking directly to them and you haven’t captured the audience, shame on you.

    Do you have ideas about what does or does make a good corporate video? What is your reaction to Melissa’s thoughts on the subject? Please share. Comments welcome.

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    7 Blogs About All Things WordPress

    January 7th, 2010

    One of the fun things about being a blogger is there’s always something new to learn regarding what you can do with your blog. Plug-ins, themes, design elements — there’s just lots of great new stuff cropping up all the time.

    WordPress — which is used by many a fine blog, including The Bloggers’ Bulletin, and my blog, The Communications Strategist — is a popular platform. Consequently numerous websites are

    devoted to serving its fan base. Here are some of my favorites:

    Lorelle on WordPress

    Lorelle VanFossen calls herself a “blog evangelist” and here she spreads the good word on WordPress. She knows her material, and in fact helped develop WordPress.org Codex. Aside from being a good source for WordPress tips and techniques, Lorelle offers general blogging advice and she has an ear to the ground — if there’s a WP alert, she’s on the case.

    ThemeLab

    If you’re looking for a free theme be sure to take a gander at ThemeLab. It features in excess of 100 selections. If you’re a one-of-a kind person, the site offers a custom service for a fee. There’s also a tutorial section with easy to understand step-by-step articles.

    We Love WP

    We Love WP goes by the tagline “Showcasing WordPress powered sites.” That’s about right: Its content is comprised of links to blogs built on the WordPress platform. A great source for design ideas and inspiration.

    wpbeginner

    If you’re new to the game wpbeginner is a goldmine of information for how to pick a host, select a theme, recommended plugins and more. Meantime, even if you’ve been at it for a while, you can still learn from the many articles and resources here.

    WPCandy

    WPCandy contains a deep cache of information on the latest themes, plugins, plus tutorials and tips. The gents behind it have also launched two related sites: WPCoder for developers, and WPInspiration (which like We Love WP, showcases blogs from around the internet).

    WPShout

    A design development blog by Alex Denning, who has created a number of WordPress themes. The content runs from beginner to advanced levels while the writing style is friendly and down- to-earth.

    WordPress.TV

    A bevy of how-to advice, presentations, interviews, tutorials and support videos by the people responsible for WordPress.org.

    What do you think of these WordPress blogs? Are there others you’d like to recommend?

    7 Comments "

    Two Books To Boost Your Social Media Marketing

    December 26th, 2009

    ‘Tis the season to set goals for a new year, and if you’re like many a blogger, one of your goals is to attract more eyeballs to your content (which is, of course, king).

    So you need a marketing plan. It can be simple or complex, depending on how deep you want to go with it; but in any event, it’s a good idea to put something down in writing to follow through on.

    Prior to making that plan you’ll want to read up on different options to gain a better idea of what best serves your purposes and fits your schedule. Because some strategies and tactics take more time to manage than others.

    There are plenty of books to help you out — here are two of my current favorites:

    The New Community Rules: Marketing On The Social Web

    The New Community Rules book coverIf you’re looking for comprehensive nuts and bolts information on how to leverage social networks to boost your brand or blog The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web is your guide.

    The author Tamar Weinberg is an active blogger as well as being Director of Community for Mashable. She understands the ways and means of beaucoup social sites, which if don’t already know, have different forms of etiquette and best practices. To succeed, you need the inside skinny, and that’s what you get here.

    The book provides an excellent overview for how to develop and maintain a social web marketing plan, to include setting goals, brainstorming and monitoring your success. It covers various tools and platforms — blogs, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, wikis, photos, videos and podcasts — and delves into bookmarking services such as StumbleUpon, delicious and Mahalo.

    Weinberg’s discussion of how social news sites operate — digg, mixx, reddit, Slashdot, sphinn, Tip’d, Yahoo! Buzz, and others — is a true revelation. This is an area gaining in adoption that can help drive significant traffic to your blog/website, however, it’s tricky business: There’s a boatload of do’s and don’ts that can make the difference between wasting your time or having a big hit.

    Including illuminating case studies, Weinberg covers a tremendous amount of ground. She makes the point that “social media marketing is a comprehensive effort,” and the same goes for this book.

    Six Pixels of Separation

    Six Pixels of Separation (book cover)The author Mitch Joel writes a successful blog and has a popular podcast series, both of which are also titled Six Pixels of Separation (and of which I am a fan).

    With those digital avenues, and with this book, Joel is an astute observer of human behavior. He understands how people think and react and knows how you can connect and contribute in order to get people to care about the same things you do.

    Joel also runs a digital marketing agency called Twist Image. He’s an enterprising entrepreneur and a fair portion of his book offers insights into how self-starters can become their own media channel through the social web.

    His book Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone. explains how to create a credible personal brand by integrating blogs, social networks and interactive content; along with offering ways to make that brand come alive in the real world via offline activities.

    There’s a fair amount of business strategy that’s beyond the scope of an individual blogger, even so, you’ll glean information that transfers over. The basic concepts work on many levels.

    Joel has tremendous enthusiasm for digital marketing and this seeps though his writing. His book is a lively read. It inspires you to develop your brand and blogging activities with a spirit of adventure.

    Have you read either of these books? If so, what’s your take on them?  Do have other book tiles to recommend?

    8 Comments "

    How To Truly Engage With Social Networks

    December 17th, 2009

    Two_hands_reaching (image from Big Stock Photo)As a blogger you’re into engaging with your audience, right?

    You enjoy getting comments because it means you’ve inspired someone to interact. You reply back to establish an even more meaningful relationship.

    Being social, at a distance

    Social networks enable still deeper connections. Here’s where you can reach any number of people who share similar interests. You tweet, send Facebook messages, get involved in LinkedIn discussions, and so forth, to engage with followers, friends and readers.

    How very nice. You’re being social.

    But it’s all at a distance.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Even so, I propose making a resolution for the coming year to get even more social with cyber acquaintances. Have an honest to goodness conversation and meet, in person, some of the people you’ve come to know online.

    Get social, in the real world

    This idea sprung to mind yesterday, after I had a nice long chat with a Twitter pal named Avi. We’d been following our respective public tweets, retweeting one another and occasionally direct messaging. Avi lives in the Middle East, I’m in the United States. We’re both into web 2.0/social media, the internet and technology in general. That’s what the bulk of our tweeting is about, though we’ve shared personal musings on a friendly basis. From just those 140-character messages it’s clear that Avi is an insightful, warm and thoughtful person.

    Our conversation came about after I’d tweeted Avi letting him know I’m working on a post about communications trends for 2010. I asked if he had any thoughts on the topic. He quickly tweeted back; yes, he’d be happy to share, and did I have five minutes for Skype?

    I was pleasantly surprised by the offer. Of course I’d love to talk to my faraway friend.

    But first I had to get hooked up with Skype, which as it turns out, is quick and simple to do.

    Soon we were chatting up a storm. About communications trends, and plenty more. It was immensely enjoyable.

    We’re still far apart geographically, however, Avi and I now share a closer connection. He’s not simply a face I see in a photo, but rather a real live person that I can, from time to time, speak to in real repartee.

    Make an effort to create truly personal engagement

    Avi is one of several individuals I’ve originally encountered through social networks and have subsequently spoken to over the phone. I’ve also met some cyber pals in person. It’s great fun and adds another dimension to our relationship.

    I highly recommend reaching out to some of your web-only acquaintances in 2010. If they’re an international call, check out Skype — as noted it’s snap to use, not to mention, free.

    Make a New Year’s resolution to have your networking be even more social through authentic personal engagement.

    So what do you think? Do you plan to get more personal with your social networks? Is it a good idea? Comments welcome.

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