Recommended Marketing Reads: Shankman’s Outrageous PR Stunts Not Just About the Stunts

June 18, 2009

I spent an extraordinary amount of time reading last month — between sitting in doctor’s offices  and riding on planes — and thus managed to get through three books, including this one that one I read during the MRIs of my foot:

Can We Do That?! Outrageous PR Stunts That Work–And Why Your Company Needs Them — Popular text by the now even more popular Peter Shankman. If you’re using HARO, you need to read his book, too. It’s not all about stunts, either. There are some grounded ideas in here about how to improve the power of your writing.

Pull this book out the next time you need to write another press release and I guarantee you that it will change the way you write.

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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 »


My Christmas Reading Recommendation: The New Rules of Marketing & PR

December 15, 2007

Each year for Christmas I give a few of my top clients a book — call it homework disguised as a gift. This year those favored clients are receiving David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing & PR. I’ve selected this book because his message really parallels some of the things I’ve been advocating to clients all year — from the use of social media to reach and monitor the buzz about your company to regular press release distribution to ensure that you sustain and feed that buzz — and is filled with really great examples.

I passed my copy around at a recent team meeting to a roaring response from my graphic and web designers.

The New Rules of Marketing & PRBest pricing I’ve seen on the book comes from Amazon although you can buy the books directly from Scott and he has offered to do a teleseminar for companies that purchase 100 copies (an idea I believe he borrowed from Seth Godin).


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.


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.


Using RSS to Capture News vs. Distribute News

March 21, 2007

I was sharing lunch with a few colleagues at Maggiano’s in Buckhead today when the subject of my ongoing effort to create virtual newsrooms for clients came up again. After much explanation the question was raised, “How much content do you need to be creating before you can add an RSS feed to your site? Is it reasonable to create an RSS if we’re only posting news releases once a month?”

 Fair question, I thought. While I’ve been focusing more on how to distribute she really wanted to know why and when. What I see people getting caught up in lately is using aggregating content from places like Google and the New York Times that publish data daily or more. In her mind, if we weren’t creating content that often, why would we need an RSS feed?

I tried to help her understand how once we captured the interest of a prospect , they might want to continue to monitor our efforts. By placing an RSS feed on our website or,  better yet, in our virtual newsroom, we could alert them to changes in our products and organization. Even if those notifications were distributed as press releases as infrequently as every 4-6 weeks, this would still be helpful information for that prospect who would most likely be seeing our feed in their aggregator along with dozens (or perhaps hundreds) of other feeds that they monitor.

I think we’re still on a slow learning curve here so I went in search of an answer to her “how much is enough?” question. I haven’t found any research to support my thoughts on this yet but I did uncover a fabulous and fun explanation of RSS that I think I’ll start sharing with clients.