Monthly Archives: October 2014

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Don’t Forget LinkedIn in Your Content Marketing Mix

Let me start out by saying that I don’t think advertising is dead.  There is a lot of talk out there that it’s limping along as content creation sprints forward leaving it in the dust.  But, let’s be real, good advertising still sells.  That said, content creation has been around for a while, but as a relatively newbie to the marketing tool kit it’s getting a lot of attention. There are some pretty compelling reasons for this. Study after study shows that people respond to informational content.  What catches people’s attention is useful content that provides some insight or understanding.  A good blog – one that tells your customers and potential customers something they need to know — is a perfect example of persuasive content.

The biggest challenge with a blog is consistency and providing useful information.  But, there is more to it than that. Once you have the blogs written and posted your work isn’t done. If you have spent the time and energy to put together a useful blog you have to market it to keep it alive and reaching as many targeted people as possible.  Good content is marketing gold, but only if you get people to see it.  You can create a great ad, but if you don’t place it, it doesn’t sell anything.

There are lots of ways to market content.  Social media like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ should all be part of the mix.  But, I think one of the most overlooked marketing tools for b2b communication efforts is LinkedIn.  We all know (or should know) that LinkedIn isn’t just for recruiting and job searches any more.  People use it to keep tabs on contacts, network with peers, follow industry groups and get company news.

According to reports, LinkedIn has 300 million worldwide users with 100 million in the U.S. alone.  And it’s estimated that 40 percent of those users check their accounts daily.  The average LinkedIn user has 150 connections and many have more than 500.  When you post something to LinkedIn it appears on the news feed of all of your followers (depending on your privacy settings).  If one of your connections sees it and likes it then it appears on the news feed of all of that person’s connections, if one of his/her connections likes it, it appears on the newsfeed of all of that person’s connections and if someone from that person likes it . . . well you get the idea.  The number of people who see your post adds up pretty rapidly and exponentially.  

If your post links back to your website, you not only get more visibility for your content but you also have the potential of driving more people back to your website.  And remember all of this is free.  All you have to do is assign someone (or your agency) to regularly post all blogs and news coverage to LinkedIn. It should be on the check off list along with posting to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.

LinkedIn works pretty much like Facebook, but I like it because it is a business platform targeted to professionals. Facebook is great for family photos, funny animal videos and personal opinions, but LinkedIn is for business. When you post on your company page that post appears in the news feed of everyone following your company. These are people who have shown an interest in you. Keeping them updated is important and should be a priority. These are your evangelists – people who will spread the word for you.

Airport PR: Art on the Go

If you travel a lot like I do you’ve probably experience that split second of confusion getting off an airplane.  That moment when you think “Where am I and which airport is this again?” I mean they all start to look a look alike – gray walls, blue carpets, big glass windows and lots of people.  If you’ve been immersed in a book, work or sleep for the last three hours and only fed pretzels and diet soda it’s easy to forget where you are. 

Some airports try to spruce things up with scattered art or colorful tile murals, but it’s really nothing that catches the imagination.  I recently made a trip to a large convention in Atlanta.  Now, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International is not my favorite airport.  It’s bigger than big, busy and crowded.  And it seems to be perpetually under construction. 

I typically take the underground tram to baggage claim. Usually an overcrowded mode of transportation where you have to jostle with other passengers just to find a spot to brace yourself for the jerky stop-and-start-ride. Instead, this time I decided to walk.  Well, I didn’t really “decide” to walk.  I got off too early because the electronic signage on the tram wasn’t working.  But, my mistake actually turned into an unexpectedly pleasant detour. 

Between T gates and concourse A I stumbled upon a gem of a little art exhibit.  Doing some quick research later I found that it’s called “Zimbabwe Sculpture: A Tradition in Stone.”  According to the airport website it’s a permanent collection of 20 contemporary stone sculptures from Zimbabwe.  Most of the pieces are large with simple lines and varying textures.  The artist do all of the work by hand – no power tools allowed – and then they hand sand and polish selected areas. 

The themes are universal with an emphasis on family, women, children and nature. I am not an art critic.  I appreciate it, but I really don’t know what I am talking about.  All I can say is that these pieces made me stop and look. I appreciated the size and simplicity of them and the feelings that each sculpture evoked.  The photos I took don’t do the works justice.  (Did I mention that I also have no background in photography?) I think you have to see these pieces for yourself.

So, I appreciate the airport’s efforts to make my journey a little more inviting.  It was a short respite, but fully appreciated.  I have a much better feeling for one of the busiest, if not the busiest, airport in the world.  Of course, the new free WIFI didn’t hurt.

Have you had the same experience?  Let me know if you have run into any unexpected pleasant surprises during your travels through airports.

 

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Common PR Myths

 

Myth

As a small business you want to promote your company in the easiest and most cost- effective manner possible. While we can’t all foot the bill for a PR firm be weary of these common PR myths.

1.Any press is good press

This age old saying only applies if you are celebrity. While Miley Cyrus’s career may be benefiting from bad publicity, your business won’t. Arguably an unknown, small business may see a slight increase in sales after a bout of bad publicity, but this is a losing strategy. You want to focus on putting out the best product and the best content for your business. Good press is good press.

2.All you need is a press release service

It is easy, albeit expensive, to put your press release on a wire service and watch it get coverage, but that doesn’t mean you are necessarily getting the right coverage. Even though you can customize who gets your release through services like PR Newswire of BusinessWire, the best coverage comes from pounding the pavement. Find out who the key influencers are in your industry and pick up the phone or send an email to get coverage for your business.

3.You don’t need social media

It is hard to measure social media ROI, which can deter companies from putting in the time and effort to grow their social media channels. Social media is a great way to gain exposure, increase traffic to your site and improve your website’s search ranking.

4.You don’t need to advertise.

PR is earned media, which means you aren’t directly paying for it. Advertising is still a great way to bring in new customers. Advertising is also a good way to build better relations with editors when it comes time to implement your PR strategy.

5.Good products don’t need PR

Just because a product is good doesn’t mean you should publicize it. PR can help expand the reach our your product whether it be in a niche market or a preexisting one. If you truly have a good product, the more people know about it, the more they will buy it.

It is also important to note that the cost of a publication plan designed and implemented by professionals often pays for itself. Choose an agency that will become a real partner, get to know you business and help you reach new targeted audiences.

PR Pitching 101

As a PR pro you want to find influencers, pitch stories and gain coverage for your client.

How Do I Find Influencers?

The best way to find influencers is to ask yourself what your end goal is. Are you interested in making a new connection? Are you pitching a story? Do you have a new client or are you expanding into a new industry where you don’t have any contacts? These questions should help guide you when looking for new influencers.

Take the Time to Know Your Influencers

Once you have narrowed down your search it’s time to learn a little bit more about your influencers. See what they have recently written. Start following them on Twitter or connect with them on LinkedIn. This helps them remember you when it comes time to pitch. Also, editors and reporters might tweet personal things like, “At my kid’s soccer game,” or “enjoying my vacation.” This is a good way to know that they probably aren’t going to have time to read or respond to your pitches. Interacting with an influencer on Twitter also helps when trying to achieve the elusive Twitter pitch. A Cision research survey of reporters and editors shows that, “Twitter pitches go smoothly when you have already engaged with the editor or reporter on Twitter.”

Pitching

After you have done your homework it’s time to pitch. When pitching, whether it’s be email, phone or social media try to be as helpful as possible. Offer to schedule any additional interviews with a client/expert, be able to answer any questions he or she may have or even offer to write or package content for them. You want to make it as easy as possible when pitching your influencer. Also, as a  rule of thumb, never send attachments. Send everything in the body of an email. Editors and journalists do not have time to open your attachments and large attachment files may slow down their email.

Organizing your coverage

Once you have pitched your influencer and they have agreed to place your coverage make sure you ask them when you can expect it to appear. Do this for every piece of content you place regardless of how big or small the coverage is. Gather the coverage and organize it neatly and concisely in a coverage report. This shows you client ROI.