Make Marketing More Affordable with These Cost-Cutting Ideas

March 6, 2009

Yesterday I overheard the 6AM broadcaster on NPR talking about what the venture capitalists would be looking for at the business show going on in San Francisco this week. The point he drove home, no big surprise, was that strategist who were coming up with ways to businesses do more with less would be the ones most likely to get funded. This is a common mantra among many service providers, especially among those in the IT industry. But if you had to actually detail HOW you help your clients do more with less, could you do it? Take 5 minutes and come up with 3 ideas. Now what do you get?

This is a conversation we have regularly with clients, in our efforts to help them figure out how to get more from their marketing budget. Our answer typically revolves around looking for as many possible different ways to re-purpose content so that the cost of a single project is spread out over multiple deliverables. Here’s my list:

1. Press Releases used to be just for press but the truth is that your customers, partners and investors want to read them, too. After you pitch a release and put on the wire, don’t forget to place it on your website. Next consider linking to it from your monthly newsletter. Print out a few copies and place them on the receptionist desk (if you have foot traffic in your office), print out a few more copies and hand them to sales reps (if they are likely to become foot traffic someplace else) then consider emailing a copy to the prospect you spoke with yesterday, the guy who won’t take your call and your banker (it is always good to elevate your self-worth with your banker).

2. Don’t limit the recipients of your postcard to the folks on the mailing list that you just rented. Seed your list with customers, too. Carry them in your briefcase or purse when you go to meetings this week and hand them out INSTEAD OF business cards. Get a PDF version of the card and share with your sales force. Show them how to add it as a thumbnail to their autosignature.

3. Newsletters should live all month long. Whether you email them or direct mail them, don’t assume that because we’ve passed the first of the month that they are no longer newsworthy. Keep hard copies in an acrylic display in your conference room. Add the current issue to your press kit. Upload the articles individually to your on-line knowledgebase. Post them in an archive to your on-line newsroom.

More ideas coming later. It’s lunch time now so I’m going to practice these ideas on the folks at my lunch meeting.


Press Releases for the Masses

September 10, 2008

The reason that subscription rates for daily newspapers are dropping is not because people are opting to read them for free online. The reason that subscriptions are dropping on everything from the New York Times to the Atlanta Journal Constitution is that we, as consumers of news, are no longer waiting for the dailies to dictate for us what is newsworthy. Instead we’re out using our own aggregators and media filters to select our own news.

It used to be that AP and UPI decided what was newsworthy, based on what their reporters saw that day and the thousands of press releases that came across their wire. Subsequently they would filter news to the dailies and voila today’s news appeared on your doorstep by 7AM. Read the rest of this entry »

Finding Value in Participation

June 11, 2007

Hold on tight. That breeze you are feeling is being created by the thousands of people leaving the subscriber rolls of traditional dailies as they start using aggregators and tools like Google News to select and identify their own news. No longer content to let the Associated Press and the New York Times define what is newsworthy, these individuals are heading straight to the web. With RSS they can pull your news releases directly into their mailbox or reader and respond to or publish your news faster than any major communications company has ever been able to put things on a printed page. These so-called citizen journalists are the powerful force behind the growing blogosphere.

Having felt the changing winds of social media while working in a Web 2.0 world, business owners and PR professionals alike are feeling pressured to respond. But I’m finding that more often than not these same pros are faced with some level of uncertainty as to how and where to get their feet wet. When I bring up the subject of blogging with clients and prospects most respond that they don’t have time for that level of commitment or lack something to say. My friend Sherry Heyl, founder of Empowering Concepts and social media consultant extraordinaire, is quick to point out that the one doesn’t need a blog to contribute to the blogosphere. Instead, she has helped me explain to my clients the value of participation.

Just today I rec’d a link to an article from a client that was spot on his message. “How can we take advantage of this?” he asked. We could certainly compose a similarly-subjected press release but as the stats in the reports were already old news the immediate opportunity for him was simply to comment on the post, thereby sharing his expertise with an already-interested market and possibly cultivating a relationship with the authority who had published the piece. The value in that relationship? This new media reporter might reach out to my client in the future as “a subject matter expert” or better yet, allow him to appear as a “guest columnist.” Suddenly my client who didn’t have time for social media has recognized “participation” as his gateway.

Online Newsrooms Using Blogging Technology

May 31, 2007

I found one! Several months ago I mentioned my interest in businesses using blogging applications as a host for their on-line newsrooms as opposed to the CMS tool that they are using for the rest of the website. I immediately ran into some push-back from social media purists who were concerned about abuse of the technology, from web designers who were confused about why I would introduce another tool and from clients who thought I was telling them that they were going to create a blog.

Once I had this audience reassured of my pure intent, I still had a hard time uncovering live examples of my idea. But today I had coffee (tea actually) with a graphic designer who showed me his newsroom and guess what? He’s using wordpress! I was thrilled to find someone else embracing this concept and while I think there is still room for improvement (I sent him to the SHIFT presentation for ideas), I wanted to point you to his efforts and see how seamlessly he’s been able to integrate his newsroom with his website.

How PR Pros Should Use and Not Abuse Social Media

May 22, 2007

Shortly after I left Microsoft a few alumni friends introduced me to LinkedIn. I didn’t really understand it to begin with and have to admit that I have not taken full advantage of the opportunities that it presents. But over time as I periodically receive invitations from people I know (and some that I don’t), I’ve become more intrigued with the opportunities inside. I see how LinkedIn is going to play an important part in not only referral marketing (can you connect me with…?) but also in establishing credibility (wow, look at all the people you know). 

LinkedIn has also secured a position for itself in the new social media newsroom. I think that is a great thing. Unfortunately it appears to be opening the doors to spam. Check out the pitch that Todd Defren recently received from Malibu Rum.

I share this with you as example number 1 of how PR Pros Should NOT use social media tools to engage bloggers.

Are PR Professionals Finally Going to Treat Bloggers Like Traditional Press?

May 7, 2007

One of my favorite internet radio hosts shared with me a posting by Duncan Riley of TechCrunch entitled PR Newswire and Umbria Team Up for Blog Tracking. The gist of it is that PR Newswire and Umbria have come together to offer a service for tracking blogger comments about your business. (This is a neat service!) Riley questions the need for such a service when you can get the same info from Technorati.  He goes on to question whether people are just lazy.

This service and others like them will be popular because people are busy. Truth be known, corporate communications departments and PR firms have been using clip services for years (companies like Bacon’s that actually cut your articles out of newspapers and magazines and mail them to you). This is just the web 2.0 equivalent of a clip service.

But the more exciting point here is that a fairly significant industry player has brought a service to the mainstream market that monitors blogs. Why? Because it would appear corporate communications folks are finally starting to pay attention to bloggers and are now demanding services that will allow them to monitor them like other mainstream media.

The addition of bloggers, or so-called citizen journalists, to the target media lists of clients presents both problems and opportunities but the upside far outweighs the downside. With an increasingly fragmented media, small and niche organizations have far more opportunities to gain exposure to very targeted markets in their back yard and around the world. I’m pretty excited about the prospect.

Baby Steps Towards Social Media Newsrooms

April 10, 2007

Sometime earlier this spring Shift Communications launched their Social Media Newsroom template.  I missed the announcement but laughed to find that their first client was ironically the manufacturer of a neat tool I just bought (neatreceipts, more on my experience later but you can read about Todd Defren’s pitch here now).

I’m glad to see this finally in action because to date Google was really the only one marching forward with this idea. The main difference between the Google solution and everything else that had been unveiled thus far was that Google is using Blogger to create their newsrooms while other newsrooms were still being created by web designers who were simply incorporating social media tools.

Shift’s solution is a little better. It looks more like a Blog (friendlier for citizen and professional journalists). If you dig around you’ll see that they are using a CSS/HTML template called Mollio available from the Daemen Pty Ltd, something that more small businesses could take advantage of when building their newsrooms.

I still think there is an opportunity here to make this even simpler using standard blogging applications to create rooms like the one on Google which, BTW, has gotten much more sophisticated in the last 60 days. But even at Google where they own Blogger, it seems they haven’t fully grasped the idea of individuals are consumers of their own media (as opposed to the 1980s version where we waited for AP to tell us what was newsworthy). Notice that their news site (not the place where you look for today’s news but the place where you read about Google news) is still called a Press Center and not a News Room. How much longer do you think it will take before they drink their own KOOL-AID(R)?