Posts Tagged ‘Seth Godin’

Social Media: Stop, Look and Listen

Thursday, March 7th, 2013
Flickr: Paul G - the|G|tm

Flickr: Paul G - the|G|tm

Every day, my Google Reader is chock full of “how to” and “must do” articles especially when it comes to social media.  We read about how important it is to “engage with our audiences.” We hear that we must be “in the conversation.” We’re told that our brand will die if we don’t have a Facebook page – just kidding, but you get the idea.

I’d like to take a step back—back to the basics. I believe many of us got onto social media sites because we thought that was the thing to do. While that may be somewhat true, some may need to re-think why they are there; and, surprisingly (to those of us in the biz), there are a whole lot of businesses and organizations that are just now getting into social media. So, let’s talk about what you should do before making that leap (or if you want to re-evaluate why you’re there).

One thing it seems a lot of folks miss is that before you start posting, purporting, and professing in social media, you should stop, look, and listen. Just like we were taught as kids before crossing the road.  Here is a partial list of things to look and listen for:

Track your competitors.

  • Who is saying what?
  • What platform(s) are most popular in these exchanges?

Observe industry issues/trends.

  • What is being talked about?
  • Where are they talking

Monitor your own company/organization/issues

  • Who’s talking? Are these people in my target audience or are they influencers of you target audience?
  • What are they saying?
  • Where are most of the conversations happening?
  • When are these dialogues taking place?
  • What does your company want to achieve in social media?

Once you have the answers to these questions, then you can make an educated decision about whether you need to simply have a passive presence or need to be actively involved and on what platforms. In this way, you are able to create a plan of action and decide how to best allocate resources.

As Seth Godin says, “It’s a process, not an event.” Social media is not something you should just jump in and “wing it.” It takes time, commitment and resources to be done right.

What tips would you offer someone who feels intimidated or tentative about using social media channels?

Media Pitching: How to Get Past the Clutter

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

This article first appeared on The Agency Post 6.19.12 and is cross-posted with permission.

You’re probably thinking, “Of course I know how to pitch the media.” But do you really? The days of simply pulling a media list from a media directory service and blasting out a press release to hundreds (or thousands) of media contacts are over.

Of course, some of the basics haven’t changed:

1. Stay on top of breaking news. Know where your client may fit in, so you aren’t pitching at an inappropriate time.

2. Put yourself in the reporter’s shoes — understand, appreciate, anticipate.

3. Act with integrity and respect — never lie.

4. Be accessible and straightforward — deliver well thought-out responses and never “ad lib.”

Like other professions, journalists are now doing more with less. They’re covering more beats/subjects, writing more stories (and in many cases also writing blog posts), and doing so with shorter deadlines.

You’ve no doubt heard the adage, “If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.” This really applies here! We must be diligent in digging deeper — looking at past stories, reading the journalist’s or outlet’s blog, virtually getting to know the person so we’re confident our news is a good fit.

Marketing thought leader Seth Godin hit the nail on the head when he said, “Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention. More clutter isn’t free. In fact, more clutter is a permanent shift, a desensitization to all the information, not just the last bit.” He was talking about digital media marketing, but it applies in modern media relations as well.

Here are five questions you can ask yourself before pitching a story:

  • Is the content pertinent and fresh (aka newsworthy) — not too far past, but not too far in the future?
  • Have you stated actual facts in your news release — products, services, events, people, projects, while avoiding jargon or specialized technical terms?
  • Do you have facts, statistics, photos, quotes, backup stories, video or audio, and experts available where you need them?
  • Have you tailored the pitch to the specific interests of the targeted journalist/ blogger?
  • Are you capable of presenting your pitch — complete with the significance of the story, the unique angle, the connection to their readers, and its relevance — in 30 to 60 seconds? (Note: It’s not a bad idea to practice your pitch with colleagues or friends.)

This isn’t intended to be an all-inclusive checklist, but if you answered “yes” to all five it certainly stacks the odds in your favor.

Is Your Press Release Guilty of Information Overload?

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Working Hard resizeBranding and advertising messages can be both offensive and defensive – which may be why they seem to be everywhere these days.  Added to the barrage of news and posts coming in to your RSS feed, newsletters you’ve subscribed to, social news streams, your email inbox, not to mention your personal communications and – you’ve got information overload.  

According to a video based on the book Socialnomics™ by Erik Qualman, we no longer search for the news but the news finds us or, at least, it tries to reach us. I’ve heard there’s an average of 5,000 attempts to get our attention every day.  That was back in 2006 – the figures are probably even higher by now. But even so, 5,000 messages? Per day? Yikes!  No wonder we feel overwhelmed sometimes.

That’s the “average” person. Imagine how a journalist must feel. Journalists must be masters of information management. According to a Journalistics post, they are receiving hundreds of pitches a day. (Makes my head swim just thinking about it!) As The Media evolves, newsrooms are also switching to more hyperlocal formats and journalists are finding that they are wearing other hats, besides that of journalist, including business person and manager.

Seth Godin recently wrote on his blog that, “Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention. More clutter isn’t free. In fact, more clutter is a permanent shift, a desensitization to all the information, not just the last bit.”

To stop issuing press releases isn’t really an option, so how do you keep yours from being lost in the thicket of information and simply adding to the fatigue of digital overload? 

  • Craft the perfect headline. It should clearly epitomize what your press release is about while including keywords (for SEO). Try to get it down to 10-12 words or less.
  • Lead with the hook. The lead (first sentence or “hook”) should be clear and concise.  The news in your news release has to be obvious.
  • Skip the fluff.  State actual facts – products, services, events, people, projects. Avoid jargon or specialized technical terms.
  • Set word limits. In a recent PRSA Tactics article, Ann Wylie writes, “The recommended length for the average press release has dropped from 400 words in print to 250 words online, according to Internet marketing strategist B.L. Ochman.”  The press release should not tell the whole story but simply an idea of what their readers need to know.
  • Timing is everything. The content should be relevant and fresh – not too far past and not too far in the future.
  • Target distribution. I’m not going to detail in this post, but if you want to revisit why this is so important, you can read about it here and here.

As Wylie states (in the above-referenced article), “The right length for each piece depends on the topic, audience, medium, budget and other factors.” The key is not “smothering your readers with information.”

How are you tailoring your media outreach to fit the ever-changing needs of journalists and bloggers? If you’ve given your press release a makeover, to keep up with the times, how successful have your efforts been? Please share your thoughts with the me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

24/7 Customer Service

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Is it possible to guarantee your availability to customers each hour of each day? Don’t your responsibilities end at 5 P.M. on Friday afternoon then resume at some point Monday morning? Perhaps at one time it may have been the case; however, as public and client relations increasingly rely on digital communication, there is less of a distinction between “on” and “off” business hours.Working_Vacation 24/7 Customer Service

Recently, I received an email from a client on a Sunday morning. It came in around 10 A.M. and was marked as “urgent.” This was not a new client, nor one that I would consider to be “high-maintenance.” Upon closer examination, it became clear that the issue was one that could not be solved until Monday morning. In short, it was a typical client inquiry on an atypical day. I debated how best to respond…

I only caught this client’s email because I have a Blackberry that I routinely check. Several years ago this would not have even been possible, but now I am unable to resist the urge to check it dozens of times a day. This affords me the option to respond and deal with issues both on my company’s time as well as my own.

While there may be some added stress caused by my involvement in customer relations on my own time, I’ve found that I like the “head’s up” it affords me. I’ve also found that clients appreciate the timely response. After all, clients are using the same technology I am and often for the same purpose.

In his blog post “Starting Over With Customer Service”, Seth Godin writes,

“The internet has taught us to demand everything immediately (and perfectly).” He goes on to say, “We expect instant results and undivided attention.”

So, not only are client’s using the same technology we are, but they expect us to be available whenever they are. Good, bad or indifferent, that’s how it is.

How then did I handle my client’s inquiry? By responding to their email shortly after receiving it, of course. I advised my client that BurrellesLuce was aware of the issue, that we will do our best to have it rectified ASAP, and to please let us know if there is anything else we can do.

How are you handling the demands of 24/7 customer service? Do you, your company, or team have an official plan in place? Or do your individual representatives act accordingly on their own time? As a customer do you expect your account managers to be on call every minute of every day?

Fair game or “Brandjacking”?

Friday, September 25th, 2009

1548293558_f14cc7020f_mIf you are a big brand name, you’ll want to hurry over to and see if you now have your own “dashboard” or “Unofficial Water Cooler” page on their server. If so, I definitely want to hear your thoughts.

Yesterday Advertising Age reported on Seth Godin’s new “Brands in Public” online aggregation system. It essentially takes Google content and some social media feeds (worth noting that all tweets and feeds do not disclose the screen name of the poster) and puts them into a dashboard. Seems harmless enough, right? Well, if you are one of the “hundreds” of brands now with an unofficial page – and Trader Joe’s is one – you may have a different opinion.

The Trader Joe dashboard was highlighted in the article so I naturally “had to see it.” The best I can tell, the real menace on the Trader Joe’s site is MeganCasey. As editor-in chief of Squidoo, she has commented in two separate areas of the Trader Joe page. Perhaps it’s because she’s an avid shopper and her feedback is sincere; I’m sure she does think: “This is a really cool dashboard of Trader Joe’s info and comments. Nice to see it all at a glance. Thanks for putting it together!” But isn’t that a bit self-serving since it is her company that created this unsolicited “dashboard” using the Trader Joe’s brand? The reality is each time this page is updated with a comment, including those by MeganCasey, the Google rank for this page increases.

I’d like to hear what Andy Sernovitz, founder of Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) thinks about the ethics of these dashboards. It would be interesting to hear from someone at TEKgroup, who could provide counsel to both Squidoo and the hundreds of affected brands about why RSS feeds aren’t always the best way to “showcase” of your coverage. And I’d like some of the great BurrellesLuce clients and PR minds to share how they would advise a client about a “ready made” dashboard. 

It’s also worth noting that if these dashboards are a great service to brands, why isn’t there one for “Squidoo” or “BzzAgent” (the two companies responsible for the concept and content)?

Has Squidoo upset the balance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as we know it? Or simply found a way to extort $4800.00 a year from public relations practitioners trying to be good stewards of their brand?

UPDATE: This morning Seth Godin sent out an “Adjusting as we go” post about the reaction to his “Brands in Public” idea. He stands behind the concept and positions it as a way to help brands and non-profits “be part of the conversation.” I’ve long been a fan of Seth Godin and respect him, so maybe this is just guerrilla marketing. After all, if he gets one hundred of the brands to send him a check that’s $480,000.00 to stream unfiltered RSS feeds. GENIUS!