Monthly Archives: June 2012

Guerrilla Marketing: Do YOU Deserve to Die?

Guerrilla marketing often aims to offend people in order to gain their attention.  It’s not for every organization, but it can work.  Officials at the Lung Cancer Alliance seem to have a good understanding of the concept.  The group recently launched a campaign that includes posters saying things like: “The tattooed deserve to die” and “Cat lovers deserve to die.”

What the..? Hey! I love cats!


Upon visiting the group’s website, you see a countdown clock until the big reveal of a mysterious disease that doesn’t discriminate: lung cancer.  The clock has been removed and replaced with:

“Many people believe that if you have lung cancer you did something to deserve it. It sounds absurd, but it’s true. Lung cancer doesn’t discriminate and neither should you.  Help put an end to the stigma and the disease.”

The American Lung Association has always been the top dog when it comes raising awareness/funding for lung cancer research.  But this guerilla marketing campaign really put the small Lung Cancer Alliance on the map.  I had honestly never heard of the group until recently.  Many angry comments posted across social media sites prompted me to check it out.

Well done.  I see what you did there, Lung Cancer Alliance.  You let the ticked off people do your dirty work for you.  Here are some excerpts from the Lung Cancer Alliance Facebook page:


Some would argue for the end of this campaign. It’s certainly not appropriate for all issues or groups.  But for a small, cash-strapped non-profit trying to raise awareness about a deadly disease, I applaud the effort.




Let Me Weigh In on This


It’s amazing all the great new ideas really bright people keep coming up with to integrate social media into more aspects of our lives. Then there are some others that give me pause.

I just read about two new bathroom scales that will give you your weight and body mass index (your body-fat percentage) and offer other useful features such as keeping track of your daily weigh-ins on your computer or smartphone. So far so good.  But here’s the deal breaker for me — both have Wi-Fi capability that allows them to also post the results on your Twitter and/or Facebook accounts.

I don’t want my friends and business associates seeing that I didn’t resist those three huge meatballs with my spaghetti last night. And I think they don’t really care to watch me seesaw up (mostly) and down (occasionally) in the never-ending battle to maintain my weight. Public humiliation may work for some people, but not for me. My embarrassment will only cause me to eat more.

I’m not even sure even my immediate family members need to know what I weigh. Aren’t there still a few things about our bodies that we should only disclose to our doctors? How much of our private lives are we willing to share with close friends and passing acquaintances?

Nice try guys, but I’ll settle for a scale that keeps my weight private.

– JD

Follow me on Twitter @jdaum

Hopefully, We’ll All Make These Changes

Most media and public relations people look to the Associated Press Stylebook as the final arbiter of word usage, terms, punctuation and other rules regarding how we write our news, photo captions and the like. I always keep one inches away from my keyboard.

So when the AP provides an annual update to its stylebook, it’s a big event to those who use it daily. The 2012 edition was recently released. And, as usual, it set off at least one debate between traditional and more colloquial language advocates.

The commotion was over the acceptance of the word “hopefully” to mean “it is hoped.”  Most of us use it this way on a routine basis as in “Hopefully, the next Congress will be more congenial than the current one.” Grammarians are upset since hopefully is an adverb and doesn’t modify a verb in that sentence. But English is a living language that regularly incorporates changes in use, new words and spellings on a regular basis. The AP editors just reflect our evolving culture.

A few of the other 270 changes to the stylebook that I like are the addition of fracking, modified tweets and Velcro. I know Velcro’s a brand name, but what else do you call those ubiquitous hook and loop fasteners?

In any case, if you do the external writing for your organization or employ an outside agency, make sure to stay up-to-date with the AP Stylebook.  Editors expect it.  And every year there are new surprises.

— JD

Twitter: @Jdaum

PR: There’s an App for That

Almost everyone has a smart phone, most likely compete with tons of downloaded apps.  I recently sat in on a discussion about which mobile apps are most useful for PR industry pros from Cision.  Here is the top ten list:

1.     Bump

Bump is like a virtual business card that allows you to swap info with people just by launching the app and then physically “bumping” your phones together.  It’s perfect if you’re on a time crunch and want to make a quick connection.

2.     CardMunch

This app allows you to take pictures of business cards and convert them into contacts right into your address book. The top perk to this app is that it will also show you LinkedIn profile information as well as any connections you have in common.

3.     Dropbox

This is a very popular and free service that lets you store/access your photos, docs and videos anywhere and share them easily. It’s so convenient to pull files your Dropbox account from your phone and share with others on the go.

 4.     Evernote

The Evernote app helps you remember your ideas, projects and experiences across all the computers, phones and tablet platforms you may use.  It captures text, photos and audio and then synchs it via the cloud.  These files can then be shared, edited and used to collaborate with your co-workers.

5.     TweetDeck and HootSuite

Either of these two apps are a great way to keep track of journalists’ feeds and also handy when you need to manage your Twitter/Facebook presence while travelling.  As far as layouts go, it’s really a Coke vs. Pepsi thing.

6.     Yammer

Yammer is an enterprise social network service and is used for private communication within organizations and pre-designated groups. This is a private way to collaborate with your co-workers and send them messages.

7.     Google Analytics (mobile)

This app gives you instant, mobile access to your Google Analytics.  It’s perfect if you’re travelling but still need to report back to the office about how a post is doing.

8.     Word Press

This app is compatible with almost every operating system.  For this reason, it’s a great way to update any blog on the go.  This is awesome if you are blogging from a trade show and want to share timely updates.

 9.     Tripit

If you travel frequently, this app is a lifesaver.  It basically takes and organizes all of your trip details (flight, car rental, reservations and anticipated weather) and puts them in one place where you can share those details with others and print out your tickets.

10.  Media Database Apps

If you need to look up a media contact and you aren’t by a computer, it’s helpful if the media database service you use has a downloadable app.   MyMediaInfo, CisionPoint and Vocus are among those that have them. Great for a last-minute pitch.

Do you have any good apps to add to this list?

Follow me @saraalisia




Twitter: It’s Not All About You.

There’s no question, social media (primarily the “big three” networks: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) is integral to a successful, comprehensive PR campaign. However, as corporations get more comfortable with social media, we’ve noticed that many of them still have a “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha…” approach to Twitter. To those organizations I say, “Newsflash: it’s not all about you.”

That may sound a bit harsh, but what I really mean is that social media, Twitter especially, should not be used as corporate air horn – only for broadcasting company news, white papers, case studies or executive accomplishments. Twitter is capable of much, much more. That is IF you take the time to step back, think about what interests your followers, engage with them and share relevant news and stories – even if they’re not about you.

I’m not recommending a complete kibosh on sharing corporate news and marketing content. I am however, endorsing restraint when it comes to tweeting corporate news. Take your average enterprise Twitter handle: with 3-6 original tweets per day, no more than half of those tweets should be self-promotional.

What else should you tweet if your not sharing news about your company?

Great question. Twitter is perhaps the fastest way to directly connect with potential customers and even members of the media – they’re all there, and if your talking about a subject that interests them, you just might open the door to your next sale or major feature story.

In order to do that, you must share your knowledge with the ‘Twitterverse.’ No corporate news or product launches this quarter? No problem. What’s going on in your industry? Do you see a major industry challenge on the horizon? Have you noticed an interesting trend in customer buying preferences? These are just a few of the things you can (and should) be blogging about.

Draft a quick blog (100-200 words) and tweet it out. If you’re interested in the topic, chances are, the people following you (including influencers) are interested in it as well. If you regularly share your knowledge, you will be repaid in spades on Twitter. You’ll gain a) Credibility as a thought-leader; b) Trust of customers who are used to being bombarded by marketing messages c) The interest of members of the media looking for expert sources.

Finally, a point on engagement. It’s simple really – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That means, thanking someone for a retweet or for following, responding to tweets in which your brand is mentioned and asking questions.

When you learn that Twitter is “not all about you,” you’ll gain the social media respect you deserve.

– Marrissa (follow me on Twitter: @marrissam)

Stop the Madness: Spray and Pray

As a general rule, before I pick up the phone to pitch a media contact, I know their name, have researched the outlet, skimmed through recent stories the journalist has written and have an idea of why they would want to hear my pitch in the first place.  This ladies and gentlemen, is the art of romancing the media.

It’s surprising how many PR professionals still operate with the old “spray and pray” method, thinking that quantity pitching rules over quality pitching.

In fact, I just read a great white paper by Cision When in Doubt that outlines the very reasons why we PR pros shouldn’t do that.  The most important lesson you can learn in this industry is to research everything you possibly can about the outlet/beat of the person you’re pitching.  In all honesty, those that skip this huge step really do damage to themselves and the company they represent. They also do big disservice to industry as a whole.

It just gives PR a bad name. We want the media to see us as a valuable resource, not as annoying spammers.  I’m sure it would be maddening for a real estate reporter to continuously get pitched to cover the latest beauty product.

Researching the details is more time consuming, but the paybacks are better quality and even quantity coverage.

Aside from doing research before you send anything to or contact the media I have a couple of suggestions I’ve picked up from my experiences for when I pitch and follow up on the phone:

  • Check out editorial calendars.  These can be a gold mine.  Even if they aren’t interested in covering your news now, it could be perfect for them at a later date.  Follow up.
  • When you call to follow up, instead of going straight to your pitch, introduce yourself and ask what they are working on. It could be in connection to what you’re pitching. Use your discretion if they sound hurried. By being natural, conversational and not just pushing your pitch, you earn their ear and respect.
  • But be ready to deliver the main points of your pitch in less than 20 seconds.   More often than not you will run into an editor that has no time for nonsense.  Prepare for that.

Of course don’t leave out social media as another avenue for media outreach. It offers valuable insights into what journalists’ are writing about and their interests.

Above all, know that if you continue to spray and pray, it may take a few reporters giving you a piece of their minds before you never again forget to research before you reach out.