Media coverage is not a given

NewspaperRoll_optI have the opportunity to review many business plans and one thing that always causes me some concern is that every business owner believes that they can generate a significant amount of marketing exposure by getting media coverage.

They pepper it throughout their plan because to them, it feels free and easy to get.

I  hate to tell you, but media coverage is not a given.

My concern comes from how unrealistic business owners, non profit directors and business leaders are about the type and amount of media coverage they’re going to be able to garner.

Here’s the reality check most need:

  • Most of what is newsworthy to you, is not newsworthy to the rest of the world.
  • Most reporters/editors are bombarded with news releases – yours has to stand out to even catch their attention.
  • Blinding sending your release to everyone is a sure to annoy most of them and reduce the likelihood of receiving any coverage.
  • Good manners go a long way.

Let’s dig into each of those reality checks to see if we can identity some best practices that will increase your chances of getting the coverage you want.

It has to actually be newsworthy: Earning media coverage can be daunting. Journalists have a finite amount of space/time and they have to decide which stories are going to be of value to their audience.

As you consider pitching a story, ask yourself – how would the reporter sell this story to his editor? What benefit or value would the reporter’s audience get? What could make this story so compelling that someone would share it with someone else who hadn’t seen the news coverage?

If these questions have you stumped, odds are the story isn’t newsworthy and you shouldn’t risk damaging your credibility by pitching it.

You have 3 seconds to peak their interest: Reporters and editors get buried in pitch phone calls, emails, faxes and snail mail releases. They can’t possibly read all of them thoroughly. They’re going to read the headline and scan the release, so you need to write it with that in mind.

Your headline will make or break you. If it doesn’t grab the editor’s attention, you’re headed for the “thanks but no” pile in a hurry. Make sure your headline makes them want to read more and tells them exactly why this is something their audience needs to know about.

Don’t let your laziness or ignorance cost you coverage: Because of my blog, I get pitches from PR pros and business owners every day. I’m often embarrassed by their efforts. They clearly got my contact information from some list – but have no idea what I write about.

Before you hit send be sure you’re sending it to the right reporter and the right publication. Take the time to review the last few issues/shows and get to know the kind of content they routinely cover. Don’t embarrass yourself or irritate the reporter by waving your laziness under their nose.

Say please and thank you: Never forget the importance of having decent manners. Be helpful, be available and be grateful if they tell your story.

More important than just simple good manners – don’t be a pain. Don’t call them incessantly to see if they got your release or if they’re going to use it. Don’t get ticked when they tell you “thanks but not this time” or it will be the last time. And if you really want to earn their appreciation and trust – you might give them a story or two that don’t involve you or your clients.

Earning media coverage takes some time, some preparation and some forethought. But most of all – it requires you take an objective look at your “news” and only pitch it when it’s worth pitching.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Use social media to drive traffic to your business’ website

Social media is an ever-increasing facet of everyday business. Companies large (Starbucks) and small (your local car shop) are using social media to expand their exposure and reach a broad base of prospective consumers.

B2B marketers are now spending 30% of their budgets on social media programs, trying to reach, among others, the 21 million+ Twitter users  (per eMarketer). There are big audiences on social media for your company, and using some strategies are more effective than others.

Here are five strategies you can employ to promote your business website through social media.

Engage Directly with Consumers

To generate online conversations, businesses can engage customers and fans with photos, links and more from their blog or website. That conversation can lead to new product insights and customer service issues.

Maintain and Develop Visibility Among Your Consumer Base

Be visible with social media. Post links, pictures and video clips on social networks for your current and prospective customers. Your steady use of social media can help keep your business relevant and known, while gradually expanding exposure.

Target specialty audiences online with a microsite, which refers traffic to your main website. Create SEO marketing materials for direct sales through your primary domain via a website like MyHosting VPS hosting.

Generate Sales Referrals Through Social Media Platforms

Provide links to products or other pages that are likely to prompt consumers to make a purchase. The links you use, and the way you present them through your social media profiles, will have an impact on your business’ performance. Helpful tip: send tweets on your company’s various white papers, articles and case studies to encourage consumer interest in your company.

Data Collection and Analysis to Improve Operations Efficiency

When it comes to data, social media is a gold mine. Data analysis informs you of the size of your social media following, its growth rate and levels of engagement. You can also track total referrals to determine which social networks are most effective in generating new business. Look at these numbers for the percentage of referrals that lead to sales.

Use Feedback to Guide Future Efforts

As you gain insights from comments and data analysis, your internal teams should start to identify areas for improvement. Then you can implement solutions in your day-to-day operations.

By establishing a basic social media marketing approach, you can set yourself on the course to increased revenue and a much greater return on the investment into your website.

Enhanced by Zemanta

We have to earn our audience’s attention

Listen Vs. Ignore - Toggle SwitchWe have to earn our audience’s attention.  Let’s see how you’re doing at that.

If you own or run a business, I’d like to you take this little quiz.

  1. Would you ignore your business phone 30% of the time it rings?
  2. If a customer was standing in a crowd of your best customers and complaining loudly, would you ignore them?
  3. If you had the chance to have the attention of your best customers and your best prospects for about 3 minutes uninterrupted, would you talk incessantly about yourself?

I have to believe that all of you passed this quiz by answered “good golly no!” to all three questions. After all you hustle like crazy to capture the attention of your customers and potential customers, right? Only a fool would squander the opportunity once they earned it.

And yet…that is exactly what’s happening online every day.

  • 30% of customer questions and comments on Facebook, Twitter and company blogs go unanswered.
  • 71% of complaints on Twitter are ignored.
  • 89% of corporate blogs only talk about themselves, their products, promotions and awards.

No wonder so many business people say that they can’t measure any ROI on their social media efforts. If anything, their ROI should come up as a negative number!

Too many businesses believe that social media networks are simply places they need to put a placeholder in. Like a flag that says, “Look, we exist here too” and then go to some autopilot shout into the abyss mentality. The core idea behind Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or any of the other networks out there is connection.

Real, human connection.

It’s why people share photos, stories of their day and get fired up about politics, religion and what their kid’s school is up to. And into that very personal and very meaningful conversation – most brands just blunder in and shout that they are having a sale.

Ugh.

Businesses spend thousands (and some millions) of dollars putting on elaborate dog and pony shows, with the hopes of capturing someone’s attention for a millisecond. So the assumption would be that they would actually value the attention, once they’d earned it.

But the truth is, most businesses think of social media as the newest necessary evil. They can’t get out of their own way enough to see the potential in it or that they need to approach it with humanity for it to work.

So what would that humanity look like?

Real interactions: When someone talks to you, it’s polite to reply in a reasonable amount of time. If you can’t monitor and react to a social media stream – don’t be there. Every social media tool out there has a way for you to be notified if you’ve actually started or were mentioned in a conversation.

Conversation, not monologue: No one enjoys being talked at. Your goal should be to spark conversation, not spit out rhetoric. Conversations are started when we care about the other person and ask questions, offer helpful information and listen to what they need from us.

Consistency: Just like all of our other relationships – we grow connections partially because of frequent exposures. You can’t get to know someone very well if you only communicate once or twice a year. It’s better to be fewer places but be in the places you’ve chosen more often. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

Having a heart: If you don’t actually care – then don’t be there. If you genuinely care about your customers and what’s going on with them, then show that by asking questions, reaching out and being very human.

You can create an amazing referral source and client base with your online presence or you can alienate those who already have you on their radar screen. All it takes is a little humanity to make it work.

 

 

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

What have you learned lately?

Screen Shot 2013-02-08 at 7.04.02 AMOne of the sure signs of a person who is going to be successful is that they wholeheartedly behave in lifelong learning. I didn’t say believe in life long learning because I’ve found just about everyone believes in it. But few actually act upon that belief.

If you are someone who gives lifelong learning more than lip service (waving to all the “believers” but not behaviors out there!) then I have a conference I want to tell you about.

I don’t know about you — but I learn best by doing.  Yes, I can read about something or hear a presentation — but I’m much more likely to retain the information if there’s some hands on aspect to the training.

BlogHOT (HOT = hands on training) is designed to be a very different kind of learning experience. Which you know it would be — since it is Mack Collier’s creation. Rather than two days of people talking at you — this is 2 days of people talking and doing WITH you.

Here’s how much I believe in this conference — I am speaking there on my own dime. I’m not getting paid and I am buying my own plane ticket. (I am getting a hotel room, which I greatly appreciate). You all know how busy I am. As much as I would like to, I just can’t afford to speak anywhere for free, except for college classrooms.

Mack has gathered an amazing group of people for you to learn with.  (scroll through the list here) Best of all — there not going to be there to talk at you and run.  They are there to teach/learn with you.  There will be tons of time to connect with these folks before and after their scheduled presentations and because this is a new event — the crowd will be manageable and you will score plenty of one on one time with everyone.

BlogH.O.T. (H.O.T. stands for Hands-On Training) is a conference for anyone that wants to improve their blogging efforts, especially if you are blogging for a business. The goal of BlogH.O.T. is to not only provide instruction on how to improve your blogging efforts but also show you how to be a better blogger.

Since I am speaking at this event, event management has enabled me to extend to you a special offer to attend BlogH.O.T. at a $100 discount if you register by February 15! To receive your discount, you must use this special registration link and enter the special Promotion Code BHS113. This is the only way to take advantage of this special offer. Your total savings will be $200 off the regular price – $100 savings plus $100 early-bird savings but only if you register by February 15!

I’d love to see you there!

 

P.S.  Nope — I am not making a dime on this conference and other than the fun of meeting you — I don’t get anything if you attend.  But YOU will get a lot.  So please consider it.

Enhanced by Zemanta

JWT Intelligence — Trends for 2013

The end of the year = predictions for the upcoming year.  All of them are interesting but the one I really put stock in is JWT‘s annual trends report.  They invest a huge amount of time and money to explore and investigate our culture and I’m always impressed by the line-up of experts they reach out to, before they release their report.

Check out their trends for 2013 in this 2 minute video and then you can read a little from JWT’s Director of Trendspotting, Ann Mack as she answers a few of my questions about the trends and how they impact you.



The ten trends for 2013 are: (buy the complete 177 page report here)

  1. Play As a Competitive Advantage
  2. The Super Stress Era
  3. Intelligent Objects
  4. Predictive Personalization
  5. The Mobile Fingerprint
  6. Sensory Explosion
  7. Everything Is Retail
  8. Peer Power
  9. Going Private in Public
  10. Health & Happiness: Hand in Hand

I had a chance to ask Ann Mack (JWT’s Director of Trendspotting) a few questions.  Here’s what she had to say:

What trend surprises you the most?

It’s hard to pick, as I’m so close to these trends and find all of them interesting and significant in their own ways. However …

One trend I find really interesting is what we call Going Private in Public. In an era when living publicly is becoming the default, people are coming up with creative ways to carve out private spaces in their lives. Rather than rejecting today’s ubiquitous social media and sharing tools outright, we’re reaping all the benefits of maintaining a vibrant digital identity while gradually defining and managing a new notion of privacy for the 21st century.

Consumers are quickly coming to realize that ultimate control of their online privacy is out of their hands—even for those who diligently tweak the privacy settings on their profiles. With a few lines of code, Web titans can destroy carefully walled gardens, turning the task of maintaining the desired degree of privacy into an onerous chore. While Facebook users have periodically taken to posting privacy or copyright notices under the mistaken impression that these declarations will protect them, users remain subject to the social network’s terms of service.

It’s not just the Web powers-that-be that can toy with a person’s public persona, however—it’s also tag-happy, share-happy friends who don’t realize that just because something is public information or done in public doesn’t mean people want it publicized.
So the social-media savvy are finding ways to put some privacy back into their public lives, pruning friends lists, hosting photo-free “dark rooms” at parties to deter social media–sharing and creating Facebook pseudonyms to avoid the prying eyes of employers and others.

This is a compelling opportunity for brands, as they can amplify these existing behaviors. Argentina’s Norte Beer, for instance, found a clever way to ensure that “What happens in the club stays in the club” with an amusing innovation: a beer cooler that keeps drinkers safe from paparazzi-in-training. Distributed to various bars around Argentina, the Photoblocker emits a bright light when it detects the flash from a photo, making any images unusable. Nearby drinkers can safely party without fear of wide exposure.

If you were advising a business owner — which trend would you call to their attention first?

One trend we look at for 2013 which is important for business owners to consider is the rise of Peer Power. As the peer-to-peer marketplace expands in size and scope—moving beyond goods to a wide range of services—it will increasingly upend major industries, from hospitality and education to tourism and transportation. This is a culmination of a number of developments we’ve spotlighted in our Things to Watch over the years—from Couchsurfing in 2008 to Crowdfunding in 2009 to Micro businesses like Airbnb in 2011 to Crowdsourced Learning and P2P Experiences in 2012.

As P2P companies begin to disrupt major industries, many established players will turn to existing laws and regulations to limit their growth. But there are alternative (or parallel) paths that big brands can take that are less knee-jerk and more forward-thinking. For one, they can use the emergence of this new competitive set as an opportunity to rethink how they operate or position their B2C businesses in this growing P2P economy. And they can examine what kinds of new behaviors and expectations the P2P model is creating among consumers and start delivering against those.

Rather than fear or fight the encroachment of this new competition, established brands can embrace this development through a variety of means. Perhaps the easiest is to partner with peer-powered businesses in the same or related categories. BMW, for instance, took a minority stake in ParkatmyHouse through its i Ventures venture capital arm, which aims to extend the company’s range of products and services over the long term by investing in innovative mobile service providers.

Taking it one step further, brands can add a P2P element to their business or launch a business line that addresses a newly created demand or challenge to their industry. For instance, high-profile universities including Stanford and Princeton are participating in MOOCS (massive open online courses), via new ventures like Coursera, rather than fight the tide of free or low-cost online courses, many taught by amateurs.

In partnering with these upstarts or launching their own version of a P2P service, established brands can infuse freshness or modernity into their persona, broaden their appeal and/or get an existing consumer segment to look at them in an interesting new light. Initiatives such as this also provide the opportunity to learn more about the audience, inner workings, and strengths and weaknesses of P2P enterprises.

Looking at the trend list as a whole — what do you think it says about the last few years?

New technology continues to take center stage, as we see major shifts tied to warp-speed developments in mobile, social and data technologies.Many of our trends reflect how businesses are driving, leveraging or counteracting technology’s omnipresence in our lives, and how consumers are responding to its pull.


Looking back, which of the 2012 trends do you think fell flat or didn’t really come to fruition the way you expected a year ago?

Any trends with real significance can’t be assigned to just one calendar year. The trends we explore on an annual basis have significant weight and momentum, and indicate shifts that are likely to be with us for a while. That is why we track our trends from past forecasts on an ongoing basis. As for our 2012 trends, we continue to see them play out in new and numerous ways.

“Celebrating Aging” is one of those trends. Last year, we observed: “Popular perceptions of aging are changing, with people of all ages taking a more positive view of growing older. As demographic and cultural changes, along with medical advances, help to shift attitudes, we’ll redefine when ‘old age’ occurs and what the term means.”

This year we saw that development reflected in product development, marketing and entertainment. Earlier this year, for instance, MAC cosmetics launched a collaboration with 91-year-old style standout Iris Apfel. The collection is inspired by colors favored by Apfel, a longtime interior and textile designer who’s come into the spotlight in her twilight years. We also saw the critically acclaimed movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel—described by Time as “a charming celebration of aging”—become a surprise box-office hit. The film by director John Madden follows a group of British retirees moving to India to live in an old hotel and features acting heavyweights Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, both of whom turn 78 this year.

Another trend from our 2012 forecast, “Objectifying Objects,” continues to gain momentum. As objects get replaced by digital/virtual counterparts, we’re seeing more people fetishize the physical and tactile. This is giving rise to “motivational objects,” or items that accompany digital property to increase perceived value, and digital tools that enable creation of physical things.

This past year, for instance, we noted an increase in a range of new services that allow people to get to grips—literally—with their social media output, turning it into real-world items. MOO Inc. offers business cards created from Facebook users’ Timeline images and data, using the same fonts and layout; it includes the person’s Facebook URL. The Twitter Poster re-creates the customer’s profile picture using his or her tweets. And Stitchtagram is a service that crafts handmade pillows using fabric printed with the customer’s Instagram shots.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta