Tag Archives: marketing

An e-shot across the bows – saying yes to the newsletter.

I am very excited about a new project, which is always a good place to be, but as with so much that is worthwhile it is taking me into areas where I simply don’t have all the answers. So I wondered whether you do? Or at least some of them?

I’m putting together a ‘communication’ for a friend which we are far too au courant to call a newsletter – let’s call it an e-shot shall we?

We are hoping to use it to encourage a group of people he knows professionally, to stay in touch in case they might need him in the future.

The totally scary thing is persuading them that they want to receive this communication. They have to be given the opportunity to opt out and therefore it is really important that we get it right with the very first mailing. No time to bed down and develop – they either like it, or they don’t.

For that reason we are going to be focussing very much on them and their needs. We can’t afford to turn them off by babbling on about the company’s virtues. The content, the style and the images also have to appeal straight away.

The recipients will all be career minded professionals and we want to offer them interesting and useful content that will help them to get to the next level in their careers. I plan to offer a mix of material that is both original – commissioned from scratch by us – and curated articles from around the web. Like all digests you can find it out there for yourself but it is useful when someone has done it for you.

So please do let me know about your experiences of persuading people to say yes to your content – the more experiences we can gather, the less scary it will be when we press send.

In search of the social media holy grail?

I’ve been at this social media marketing and pr a few years now, yet there are still times when I long for a quick fix, a universal panacea – an answer to all my problems.

Because, as I am sure you know, each social media project raises new issues and problems. This is not a one size fits all kind of game. Some clients need a dynamic Facebook presence while others are going to thrive on LinkedIn AND the landscape of social media itself keeps changing.

So every so often I go trawling the internet for answers. God what a frustrating business that can be! It seems that everyone today has become a how-to merchant and a ninja monger. At best you will find straight forward tech advice, at worst you will find badly spelled cut and paste jobs masquerading as top advice. It makes me wonder who I was taking advice from when I used to suck up all this stuff years ago.

Well it’s good to know that there are still some reliable refuges. Again and again I come back to The Social Media Examiner for a huge range of articles pitched at varying levels. I would also take a look at Social Media Today which aggregates thousands of articles from around the web and Hub Spot for a trawl through the archives. Next time you are stuck, try these resources and you are bound to find something of relevance.

What I’ve found is that even if you can’t locate the exact answer you’re looking for, you can get enough information here to set the brain ticking over and with a little thought, trial, error and effort the solution will come to you. Either that or you need to get a man/woman in!    

How to be more efficient with social media.

Everyone wastes time on social media, but if you are running a business or acting for a client, then efficiency is vital.

But how much time is too much and what are the dangers of not enough? I think we need to look at that.

Browsing a PR agencies blurb the other day I came across the proud boast that they would update their client’s social media across all platforms – wait for it – once a week! With the prices they were charging that amounted to a whole lot of cash in exchange for very little.

I update my client’s social media every working day and I know that this will take me 15 minutes each time if I am going to do it properly. What do I mean by properly – here’s a check list.

  • Posts should be well written.
  • Posts should be accompanied by an attractive photo, link or other media.
  • Posts should address an objective – whether that is simply creating a certain ambience or being helpful to a local business but don’t lose sight of your overall marketing and pr goals when you post.   

Surely you can get all that done in less than 15 minutes a day? If you post and go then maybe you can, but you also need to take time to look around. Post and go is not much different to broadcasting and maybe in those circumstances a targeted ad would be more effective?

I think you need to hang around social media a little to see what others are saying and while you do it you might perform these tasks;

  • Check your @ messages to see if people are talking about you.
  • Check your direct message to see if people are talking to you.
  • Check your new follows and decide if you want to follow back. Send them a message and maybe check out the people they follow if they look really good. 
  • Scan the tweet stream for conversations you would like to get involved with or use hashtag searches to home in on specific discussions.
  • Do a good deed – promote someone elses blog, or product but do it mindfully and with an objective – even if you simply want to be their friend or their products chime in with your vibe.

Now you need to get out before you waste too much time but don’t forget that you can make yourself more efficient by linking Facebook to Twitter or any other combination that suits you. You can try a pre-planned schedule and automated tweets but I prefer to use those with a light touch – being present, relevant and flexible is much more important. Journalists know that if a better story comes along you must ditch the plan and make a new one.  

Now I’m out of here.

Why is PR and marketing a valuable use of journalism skills?

An ex BBC colleague e-mailed me a few days ago to ask me this question.

She’d been asked to deliver a lecture to 3rd year journalism students and wanted  quotes from people who had made the switch. So I sat down to ponder exactly why PR and marketing are a valuable use of our precious journalism skills.

This is what I came up with;

I should start by saying that all the PR and marketing I have picked up since I left the BBC has been of the ‘social media’ variety. This is apparently a good thing! So many industries are being re-made in the wake of social media that it has been an advantage to come in at a time when I really didn’t know what it was like before.

Journalists are needed in marketing and PR right now because we know about creating and curating content.

Social media marketing is all about content – creating original bits and pieces to pull in your audience, which can range from writing posts on Facebook and Twitter to longer blog posts through to selecting pictures and making video. Knowing how to get someone’s attention, story selection, structure, headline writing are all essential for this kind of content creation and they are all skills which I learned as a journalist.

Even when you are picking out other peoples’ work to retweet or re-blog, you are using your journalist’s eye for what works.

I know very little about recruitment, but one of my clients is a recruiter so I often have to sift through trade blogs and websites for interesting stories about the Fast Moving Consumer Goods sector for his LinkedIn group. I know that if a story interests me then it will probably also appeal to the group’s members because however specialized, a good tale is still a good tale.

 Good journalists don’t need to be frightened of the areas that PR and marketing might take them into because it has always been the job of the generalist journo to grasp a brief quickly and make it accessible to a mass audience, however complex.

Other things worth mentioning are the direction being taken by companies like Boden, who are effectively creating their own online communities – online magazines with an interactive element – which should not faze anyone who has worked for a woman’s magazine or supermarket publication. In the same way, other big companies are deciding that instead of trying to get their positive pr stories placed “out there” in the random world of newspapers and magazines, they will write them themselves on their blogs – look at this example from the food company General Mills http://www.blog.generalmills.com/category/life/ which has video interviews and articles.

 I hear some business types criticizing journalists in PR and marketing because we have a rather cavalier attitude towards things like Return on Investment and metrics. It is worth having some kind of smart answer to this but I don’t know what it is!  

So there you have it – journalists really are the best people to turn to when you need some social media marketing and PR and be sure to pick one with a sense of humour.

Tinsel & time wasters

At this time of the year there are very few of us not busy taking stock, reflecting and making plans. So here are my thoughts – for what it’s worth.

This was a year in which working relationships were strengthened and new ones forged – which is brilliant. Some clients who started off sceptical but were prepared to give social media a chance are now expanding what they do online and socially which is fantastic.

I also met some complete chancers who promised the earth and delivered very little…will I ever learn that if it sounds like bullshit it probably is? On other occasions I met lively interesting people to discuss exciting new ideas which sadly didn’t work out – maybe next year? But overall I’d say I had experienced a bit of everything.

The best thing about this year was tapping into a whole new layer of people who are only just discovering the way social media can enhance their industry. Much nicer to chat to them than to feel depressed in yet another forum about how social media is just for kids and will never give return on investment.

Talking to new people takes you back to first principles and the things that were so exciting a few years ago – the feeling that we were forging a new and better way to do business. Now I am one of those people who is both cynical and an idealist – in fact I think I am cynical because I am an idealist. But do you know what I mean about the transparency of blogging and social media and the way it offers the chance to be upfront, honest and friendly while still doing good business?

Well I hope you do – because that will be what sustains me into 2012 – Merry Christmas!

Twitter biographies – no modesty required?

I’ve been thinking about image and personal branding all week after writing that post about CVs. As I said then, the words you write about yourself have got to be good – you can’t afford to squander the chance to control your own publicity.

But this has led to some interesting cultural differences. Take, for example, Twitter biographies. Without being too sweeping – American tend to have less problems than we do with self-promotion. An American accountant is “the best in the Tri-state area” – round here he may just be “good with figures”.

We feel the need to down play ourselves, to turn down the volume, when of course what we should be doing is turning it up to be heard through the melee.

But take care – cautionary tale approaching.

Do you know the racing pundit Brough Scott? He is a face and voice from my childhood when  inexplicably, I watched a lot of racing on TV. I remember him looking rather dashing in a hat and a Barbour jacket although I should imagine he had other clothes. Apparently when he first took to Twitter he decided that modesty was not required and sensibly decided to use his brief Twitter bio to say exactly what needed to be said and I quote;

Brough Scott is one of the best known figures in racing and sport.

This did not go down well.

His peers ribbed him mercilessly, introducing him as “Brough Scott one of the best known figures in racing and sport” whenever they got the chance. After an initial stab at standing his ground he was forced to back down and now writes under a much reduced bio (in bragging terms at least.)

One time ghost writer for Lester Piggott. Presenter of TV shows from the Derby to Books by my Bedside. Still active – on the page at least.

We Brits like modesty much better than braggadocio and the challenge is to self-promote in a way that is going to do us justice without leading to ridicule from our peers. Dry humour helps, but I think you have to be well-known and brilliant to pull off the really self-deprecating.

Part-time Radio 4 Presenter

British actor, writer.

These are the bios of broadcaster Jane Garvey and all round treasure Stephen Fry (you’re a treasure too Jane.) I think both can be confident that we know they are more than that – and their bios go on somewhat flippantly to reference poor motherhood and swimwear – you guess which is which.

So don’t oversell, don’t undersell, be funny but not flippant, have fun and make yourself heard. Simple!

One really sound piece of takeaway advice?

  • If you want people to offer you work – add a URL to your LinkedIn profile.

Why owned really is the new earned.

Have you heard the buzz phrase – PEO is the new SEO?

Do you think it’s portentous nonsense and another example of appalling jargon? Me too. But there is something really important we can take from it.

If P is paid for and represents advertising and E stands for earned, which is what old style PR was all about ie. getting clients in the newspapers or on TV – then it is the O that we really want to look at.

O stands for Owned and is a key marketing development to emerge from the internet maelstrom.

Advertising and PR experts were all about getting exposure for a brand. They took the established media, whether that was billboards, tv spots or magazine editorial and worked hard to get their clients some space there in order to showcase their wares.

But the internet turned the world upside down and made space, which was scarce and expensive, into an infinitely available commodity. Anyone can publish content on the internet. You want a blog post? – Have ten. You want to show me your beautifully shot arty photos? Have an account with Flickr.

The O part of PEO – the Owned bit – looks at all that cheap space and says – ok, we are going to use this freedom – we are going to become our own publishers with our own community of readers and viewers, with our own agenda, which we OWN.

This is a marvellous opportunity for brands with a strong following to step off the treadmill of someone elses agenda to make their own and the kings of this, in my view, are Boden.

This upmarket clothing label didn’t even have a blog a year ago, now they have an entire community. It’s a hive of activity with hosted discussions and guest ‘columnists’ talking about style and kids parties and Christmas…..there are places to post photos, to chat and ask questions. It is, in short. a brilliant use of the owned space.

Would it work with a smaller community for a lesser known brand? I think this is basically what we all need to be aiming for and the medium is the Facebook page. It can be hard to get a community going when people are reluctant to comment and get stuck in, but if we don’t start engaging people then I think the consequences are serious.

Pages with low levels of engagement simply won’t show up in people’s news feeds. If you want your page to thrive you are going to have to start creating the kind of content that people want.

If you build your own buzz, nurture it and develop it you may find that the O part of PEO turns into more than just jargon.