Books

Recommended Reading: Real-Time Marketing & PR

Posted on December 13, 2010. Filed under: Books, Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Real-Time Marketing & PR - book coverYou know how they say time is money? Well, these days it’s your reputation, too.

With an always-on 24/7 internet, if you’re in the news in a negative way, you must respond immediately.

There’s little time to plod though a carefully measured crises communications plan while a story races across the web — where videos go viral and Twitter unleashes a torrent of messages in mere seconds.

It’s time for your marketing and PR to get real

If that thought puts you on edge, or you doubt it’s true, then you could be in for a rude awakening. Or, you can get up to speed by reading Real-Time Marketing and PR, the latest book by marketing maven, A-list blogger, David Meerman Scott.

Just as he did in his groundbreaking The New Rules of Marketing and PR, Scott’s new book helps you see how certain long-held practices are not merely obsolete, but dangerous to your livelihood.

How NOT to engage in real-time PR

Anyone with access to the web can publish content. This so-easy-anyone-can-do-it circumstance sets up a scenario where, Scott says, “consumers set the pace. Left to their own devices, they imagine all sorts of things. They take unpredictable initiatives.”

One example of an imaginative consumer initiative is seen in a tale Scott recounts about Dave Carroll, a musician whose guitar got busted up by United Airlines baggage carriers. Carroll tried to get United to own up to the misdeed, but the company wouldn’t budge. So Carroll took to the web, with a video he created called United Breaks Guitars. The video went viral, news outlets and the blogosphere jumped on the story and Carroll’s plight attracted international attention.

United took a huge public relations hit, all because it would not properly respond to one customer.

Scott gives a blow-by-blow run-down of how the whole thing played out. He fills in all kinds of side details and breaks down the trajectory of the various ways the story shot across the mediaverse.

Monitoring, mobile, and real-time guidelines

United got it wrong, however the book also provides ample examples of companies that got it right by thoughtfully engaging in real-time communications. Time and again, Scott reinforces how paying attention pays off.

photo of girl holding hand to her earOf course, you can’t react in real-time unless you readily know what’s being said. For that to happen you must monitor and analyze media outlets all across the web. With so many venues, in both traditional and ever-increasing new media spheres, this can be daunting. Scott clues you in on how to turn it into a manageable task and offers a handy list of free tools such as Google Alerts, Blogpulse, Technorati and Twingly, and service providers like Attentio, Brandwatch, Cision, Radian6, Sysomos and Visible Technologies.

There’s advice for how to leverage the fastest growing real-time market: mobile, where location-based services such as Foursquare, Layar, and Mobile Spinach enable you to provide customers with instant gratification exactly where and when they want it.

There are tips on how to engage on Twitter (the big-time in real-time), ideas for how to integrate real-time tactics into your sales and customer service efforts,  plus an in-depth section on how to develop effective real-time communications policies—also known as social media guidelines.

An insider tells it like it is

All of this comes from a guy who spent most of his career in the online news business. This is an insider, telling it like it is, in lively, and sometimes good-humored, fashion.

It’s all downright practical. When delving into how to responsibly respond to online stories and social chatter about your company, Scott says: “Some people are plain crazy, and you don’t want to get dragged into dialogue with a psycho.”

Even in the real-time world, you must exercise good judgment. Scott’s book provides plenty of ideas for how your good judgment can help grow your business. Now.

– Deni Kasrel

Comments anyone? Please share your thoughts.

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Interview with David Meerman Scott, Author Of The New Rules Of Marketing & PR

Posted on March 3, 2010. Filed under: Books, Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The web makes it easy for companies to communicate directly with consumers. A good thing, so long as you know how to work that angle.

Yet for a while, there weren’t any best practices on how to do it.

Then along came David Meerman Scott — veteran marketer, popular blogger, and author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

Overflowing with sage advice on how to leverage the web with new-style press releases, blogs, podcasts and other emerging media, the book became a bestseller.

New tools mean even more new rules

In the three years since that first edition social media exploded. Prompting Meerman to write a revised version, The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, 2nd Edition, covering even more tools, plus a fresh batch of case studies.

I thought it would be nice to have Meerman share some pearls of wisdom with readers of this blog. He was kind enough to agree and we enjoyed a lively phone chat. Here are excerpts from our conversation:

Interview with David Meerman Scott: Author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR

It seems one of the things you’re getting at with The New Rules is you have to understand how people find things, and be aware of what they do online, period. Then you fit your marketing and PR into that. But if you don’t get how the web works, you’re lost. Is that accurate?

David: The technology is a solvable problem. But the aspect that you can’t get wrong or you won’t succeed, has to do with the way that we have traditionally talked up our company, which is to hype our products and services. In the 4 P’s of marketing — one of the fundamental tenets of marketing — the first “P” is product. But people don’t really care about products and services, what they care about are themselves.

What happens is, a company will say, “Oh, I’ve got to start a Twitter feed,” or a blog, or whatever. And the first thing they do is exactly what they’re doing already to market their company. They build a blog and the blog is about their products.

There are some products that you can do that for. If you’re Apple and you start a blog about the iPhone, that can work. But for 99.9% of the companies out there, talking about your products won’t work. What you need to do is understand your buyers really well. Understand what their problems are and then create something interesting on the web that will appeal to them and that will help them solve problems. That’s the part that most people get wrong. You have to understand your buyer’s persona.

You pay a fair amount of attention to search, search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Yet that’s an area a lot of PR people resist, because SEO strategy may not follow AP style.

David: Right. There is a lot of truth in that. Fundamentally, every person on the planet who has an internet connection is using search. And the last number I heard is two billion people are connected to the web. So being visible in search engines is critically important.

But one of the things I like to point out is search engine marketing, at its core, is about creating the content that people want to find. And that’s exactly what we’ve been talking about. It’s understanding your buyers really well and creating content that allows them to solve problems in the words and phrases they would use.

That’s more important in my mind than worrying about the nuances of meta tags and where the text should be placed. Granted those are important, but in my experience a lot of search engine experts will focus way too much on those technology aspects of search and not that much on understanding that people are trying to reach amazing stuff that will then be indexed by search engines.

A lot of those highly search engine optimized pages that you see in the rankings at the top of the page; excuse my language, but they suck. They’re poorly written and the images are no good. Then conversely, you come across something and you go, “Wow, look at this. It’s exactly what I’m looking for.” In my mind, that’s what search engine marketing is. It’s creating amazing content that makes people go “Holy cow, that’s great.” That’s not really about the technology; it’s about the information.

Let’s talk about your suggestion to create an online media room — but for buyers rather than just the press. From my own experience this is a tough sell with many PR people. You can explain how when a release is on the web anyone can see it, and although they understand this as a concept, they can’t make the shift. So what is your most persuasive pitch for this one?

David: I think the biggest stumbling block is that many public relations people who I know mistake the superset of public relations with the subset of media relations.

In other words, public relations is really just about reaching your public and there’s tons of different ways to do that. Going through the media is not the only way.

But I think what a lot of public relations people want is for the world to be the way is way 20 years ago, They just want to be able to have lunch with reporters and send out press releases. It’s just a nice comfortable little world and the web is kinda screwing things up.

I think if our job is to reach our publics, it’s essential to understand there’s multiple ways to do so.

For example you hit on the online media room. When they first came out about 15 years ago it was basically an online version of a press kit… and well, guess what? It’s not just going to the media. Everyone can look at that stuff. So are you only interested in 200 journalists, or are you interested in 200,000 potential customers? And I think, without being rude, if you think your job is to only reach 200 journalists, then you shouldn’t have a role in the website. Let other people get on with the work of the media room.

I do think this job of media relations is still a critical job… that will be their specialty. But I hope people start to realize it’s not the only way.

You write about how the media itself has changed. When you consider bloggers, for instance. Yet you’re surprised when at speaking engagements and you ask PR and marketing pros if they write or read blogs, only a small percentage are doing so. You’d think at this stage more people would realize we’ve gotten past the point where it’s just the cranky blogger out there.

David: The other point that’s critical to know is that when a journalist is working on a story guess where they go? They go to Google, They go to your website. And if you have a blog, a journalist is more likely to read that then your press release.

I think it’s important to recognize the way journalists are doing their research is changing because of the web as well.

I can’t tell you, in my own case, how many times I’ve gotten amazing placement in a magazine, newspaper or radio, because somebody went to Google and typed in the phrase viral marketing. My content comes up on the first page. It’s number four or five, and I’ll get the call. Or they’ll type in online media room, and I’ll get the call. That’s not because I sent out a press release. It’s not because I hired an agency to pitch the media. It’s because the journalist went to Google and found me.

You believe people should experiment with marketing. Nowadays you can do that with video, because the costs are so much lower than in the past.

David: That’s part of it. The other part is a failure isn’t visible. If you do a TV commercial and it’s terrible, lots of people will see it. If you post a video on YouTube and its terrible few people will see it. No one will spread it. So it’s not, “Oh they failed, look at that” You know, you just quietly delete it.

You also suggest experimenting on a company website. I think there’s a hurdle there. People think they can’t put something up if they’re not sure if it will work.

David: They’re coming at that statement with the print mentality. It has to be perfect before it goes to print. Because if you print it and there’s a mistake, you have to throw the entire thing away and start over again. But the web is iterative. You can constantly tweak and change it.

–  Deni Kasrel

So what do YOU think of Meerman’s thoughts on the new world order of marketing and PR? Have you read his book, too? What’s your take on it? Please share. Comments welcome.

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Inbound Marketing: How To Get Found On The Web

Posted on February 16, 2010. Filed under: Books, Business Strategy, Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Here’s a tip to ensure you rank high on search engine results for a particular concept: make it up yourself.

Start a company, write a bunch of blog posts and offer webinars — all based on the concept. Once the idea gets some traction, write a book about it.

Do this and you own the keywords for that concept.

That’s the deal with inbound marketing, a term popularized by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah — the founders of Hubspot, an internet marketing company, and co- authors of Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media).

Present your message when people want to receive it

What is inbound marketing? Well, it’s the opposite of outbound marketing, a.k.a. traditional marketing, a.k.a. interruption marketing. Which is to say, the opposite of print, TV and radio ads, direct mail, telemarketing and any other way companies push a message in front of consumers.

All this is becoming less effective because we tune it out, either psychologically, or for real — via DVR, satellite radio, spam filters and do-not-call lists.

Meanwhile, we’re ever more inclined to shop, and do research on what we want to buy, through search engines, and by reading information and recommendations posted on social media sites.

Enter inbound marketing, where you create ways for people find your message when they’re amenable to receiving it.

How do I find thee? Let me count the ways.

It’s things like RSS feeds, opt-in email newsletters, blogs that are not simply about your product or service but are more broadly informative about the industry in which you operate, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising and having a presence on social media outlets.

All of which is addressed in Inbound Marketing, a guide for success with this 21st century marketing method.

Smart strategic advice

The book presents step-by-step plans plus strategies and tactics.  It explains the fundamentals; RSS, blogs, SEO, Twitter, etc. — to include how to track your progress. Halligan and Shah are data guys — hey, they’re MIT grads — sticklers for measuring results.

Smart advice supplements copious how-to material. For instance, a “Getting Found on Google” chapter notes the importance keywords play in search engine optimization while cautioning that choosing only the most popular relevant terms is not necessarily the way to go — because the most popular keywords are also the most competitive, making it harder to achieve high rank.

For sites just starting out the authors advise choosing keywords with low competition: “Then, as you build authority for your web pages, and start ranking for these keywords, you can move up to higher volume keywords that have more competition.”

If you’re hedging between several keywords, the suggestion is to “consider launching a small PPC (pay-per-click) advertising campaign to determine what your best keywords might be.”

A practical primer

Advice on how to drive traffic to a website is all well and good, however, Halligan and Shah realize the ultimate goal of all that effort is to drum up business. Once you figure how to get found, Inbound Marketing provides tips for turning interest into sales, with landing pages and calls to action.

Each chapter concludes with a case study plus handy to-do list for implementing an action plan.

Concise and straightforward, there’s no fancy theories or eloquent prose. This is a practical primer. Read it and learn how to be found on the inbound.

– Deni Kasrel

What are  your thoughts on Inbound Marketing? Do you think Halligan and Shah are onto something?

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Recommended Reading: The Facebook Era

Posted on February 9, 2010. Filed under: Books, Facebook, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

It’s so easy to set up an account on Facebook or Twitter pretty much anyone can do it.

Knowing how to effectively use those sites for business purposes?  That’s more complicated.

Different social networking sites present different opportunities — and challenges.

You can try and figure it out through trial and error. Or, if you prefer to minimize mistakes, read The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products, Reach New Audiences, and Sell More Stuff, by Clara Shih.

A cut above the rest & especially for business

Of course there’s an abundance of books about social media marketing. Why pick this one?

Well, few go at it so sharply from a corporate perspective, and fewer still are written by someone who has as much first-hand experience as Shih, who created a successful Facebook business application (Faceconnector). Her highly informative book goes deep with details, to include case studies and a plentitude of screen shots that help make things crystal clear.

It’s about more than Facebook

FYI, the book’s title tells but part of the tale. Sure, it’s full of tips on how to leverage Facebook — still, Shih delves into other social networks, too, as well as associated tools and applications. In fact, it’s an eye-opener in this regard.

Shih covers corporate-centric tools like Hoover’s Connect, which helps sales reps understand complex organizational structures, and Yammer, for intra-enterprise microblogging. Much attention is paid to salesforce.com offerings — Shih was working for the company when she wrote the book. If The Facebook Era sometimes feels like an ad for that company, well, so it goes.

The how and why of social networks

The book details how the online social graph — the world wide web of interconnected people — fundamentally changes ways we relate, both personally and professionally. It examines the intricacies of how and why social media works the way it does, including sociological factors that come into play. “We are moving from technology-centric applications to people-centric applications that conform to our relationships and identities,” Shih declares. ” It is the death of the anonymous Web.”

Building better business processes

Shih then breaks down how online networks can be a boon to the sales process. For instance, a sales rep can use LinkedIn to search out qualified leads and mine all kinds of information available on that site in order to prepare sale calls that are personal and relevant to individual prospects.

Other sections cover how to leverage social media for recruiting and product innovation, and again, Shih clues you into handy enterprise tools, like Connectbeam, a collaborative platform for building employee expertise profiles.

Step-by-step Facebook guide

When considering how online networks change the ways we receive information about brands, Shih writes, “The new mantra is don’t advertise to people, advertise between people.”

That’s the heart of the matter when it comes to social marketing. Here’s where Facebook takes center stage. Shih shines a bright spotlight on the site, via a step-by-step guide that digs into strategies, best practices, methods of interaction, hypertargeting and more.

Facebook applications get a fair amount of attention. “Apps are the new ads,” Shih writes. “The idea is people tend to spend more time on apps — such as playing games, looking through slideshows and taking surveys –than traditional advertising, so apps might provide more memorable and lasting interactions with your brand.”

Shih adds that creating your own app from scratch is risky business. You may be better off with sponsorship opportunities offered by existing apps that are popular with your target audiences. To help determine what these might be Shih conveniently lists Lookery — which provides a directory of ad network publishers, including Facebook apps, with analytics, demographics and other useful data.

This is mighty meaty material. Shih covers a tremendous amount of ground detailing how to power-up your business’ social media presence with a clear plan of action.

Now, if you want additional info, visit The Facebook Era’s Facebook page.

– Deni Kasrel

What are your thoughts on The Facebook Era? Have you read the book, too? If so, what’s your take on it? Comments welcome.

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Recommended Reading: Six Pixels of Separation

Posted on November 7, 2009. Filed under: Books, Business Strategy, Communications Strategy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Six Pixels of Separation (book cover) In Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone. Mitch Joel recounts the tale of how in the 1500s the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez captained 11 ships carrying more than 500 soldiers to Mexico on a mission to conquer the Aztecs. Many fell ill along the way and others were intimidated while in foreign surroundings. When worried soldiers asked their leader about his plan for returning home Cortez responded by burning the ships. There was no going back.

New channels, new ways

Today, entrepreneurs and business marketers must contend with foreign territory, in the form of new channels, new platforms and new audiences that are upending old ways. Mitch Joel believes you can either cling to the past (a surefire route to eventual failure) or you can burn the ships and learn how survive in the new world.

There is no going back

YouTube, Twitter, podcasts, blogs, user reviews and other online options enable anyone to create content that can be seen by everyone.

The challenge is for marketers to connect with consumers in these channels in ways that are honest and meaningful and that enable businesses to monetize their efforts.

Losing control is a good thing

Change occurs so rapidly in the digital era we can’t know where it’s all headed.

While uncertainty unnerves some, Joel adopts a seize-the-day attitude.

He believes a world where anyone can say whatever they want about your brand or business is a good thing. After all, he declares, “You will see and hear the types of insights and comments you never normally have access to.”

Convert consumers into marketers (for your brand)

Brands have many options for building communities and Joel stresses that in the end it’s the quality not the quantity of the relationships that matter. Focus on creating an engaged community rather than simply going for heavy traffic.

Successful communities instigate word-of-mouth that builds exponentially through the power of networks. This scares executives who are afraid of losing control of their brand.

Joel argues that while you can’t control the conversation “You can control whether or not you take part. You can control whether you will encourage your consumers to be so passionate they actually start marketing your company for you.”

Dare to be bold: Open up your brand assets

One of Joel’s suggestions for how to instill passion in consumers is sure to raise eyebrows from old-school brand managers — he advises to openly provide “the tools they need to change your brand.” This includes access to logos, text, audio and video.

The old way is to control all those assets. It’s dangerous to let consumers have at your brand willy-nilly. Joel reckons consumers are going to do whatever they want with your brand anyway, so you might as well be a part of the process. By freely giving your assets you send a message that you stand behind your brand.

Mitch Joel walks the talk

New market dynamics shift communications from mass media to mass content. Joel’s view on how to create effective content that clicks with consumers is spot on.

That’s no surprise considering he writes a successful blog and has a popular podcast series, both of which are also titled Six Pixels of Separation (and of which I am a fan).

With those digital avenues, and with this book, Joel is an astute observer of human behavior. He understands how people think and react and knows how you can connect and contribute in order to get people to care about the same things you do.

Joel also runs a marketing agency called Twist Image. He’s an enterprising entrepreneur and a fair portion of his book offers insights into how self-starters can become their own media channel; and not just in the obvious ways, like starting a blog (though he does cover that). He explains how to create a credible personal brand, and how you can make that brand come alive in the real world by leading offline activities, like a PodCamp, a kind of self-organizing “unconference.”

Engage with a spirit of adventure

Six Pixels of Separation helps you recognize how moving from mass media to mass content is like exploring a new world rife with opportunity. It helps you gain the confidence to evolve with a spirit of adventure.

It’s inspiring, and yes, contagious.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think of the ideas presented in Six Pixels of Separation? Do you agree with Joel’s burn the ships attitude? Maybe you have your own example of how you created a successful community and/or a personal brand. Please share. Comments welcome.

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Book Review: The New Community Rules, Marketing On The Social Web

Posted on September 18, 2009. Filed under: Best practices, Books, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

There’s debate about whether anyone can be deemed a social media expert because the field is relatively new, and continues to evolve so rapidly, that it’s too soon for anyone to claim that label.

Well, if you go by what’s currently happening in the social media sphere, Tamar Weinberg is an expert.

Book cover to The New Community Rules:Marketing On The Social Web

Steeped in social media

Weinberg proudly proclaims that she’s “a member of just about every social network that has a name.” Along with being a prolific blogger, she’s the Director of Community for Mashable and is an independent social media consultant.

She’s steeped in social media.

This comes through loud and clear in The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web, where she proffers observations that could only come from someone who understands the real intricacies of scores of social media outlets.

Acute insight

Wienberg’s expertise is trenchant. When discussing the topic of return on investment for social media (an oft-cited sticky widget) she reinforces and elaborates upon a comment by Social Media Explorer Jason Falls about how “The problem with trying to determine ROI for social media is you are trying to put numeric quantities around human interactions and conversations, which are not quantifiable.”

She covers how to properly engage in social media — the ol’ it’s a dialogue not a monologue — then digs deeper with knowledge and tips that provide true keys to success.

Throughout the book she drills home crucial aspects of effective social media practice, such as recommendations and the numerable ways these may occur, along with the unspoken rule that you need to discuss issues not only of your own interest, but also those of the community at-large. “Altruism rules above all,” she wisely writes.

Weinberg consistently explains how various elements relate to search engine optimization; the outcome of which can play a big role in the visibility of your web site and provide a powerful tool for reputation management, if you know how to work it right.

Delving under the radar

Discussion of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, videos and podcasts are to be expected in a book of this title. Though again, Weinberg’s perceptions are a cut above the rest.

With Twitter she advises not to dive in head first and instead begin by listening to conversations going on about your particular industry, to include seeing what your competitors are up to. She tells how Twitter is great for tapping into prospects and influencers and calls out tools to search for topics, trends and people.

Her attention to the assorted platforms includes outlining specific advantages; the “why should I care” proposition. With Twitter, she says, “One of the biggest benefits of using the service is the ability to get people to answer questions quickly.” She shows how it can be like an instantaneous focus group, not to mention an invaluable customer service tool.

More added value of this text comes in Weinberg’s coverage of topics that are somewhat under the radar. She delves deep into the bookmarking services StumbleUpon and delicious. She calls attention to Mahalo, a not so well known site that’s good to get a handle on because its results can achieve high rank on search engine results pages.

Her discussion of how social news sites operate — digg, mixx, reddit, Slashdot, sphinn, Tip’d, Yahoo! Buzz, and others — is a true revelation. Here’s an area gaining in adoption that can make a significant difference in attention to your brand. However, it’s tricky business: There’s a boatload of do’s and don’ts that can make the difference between wasting your time or having a big hit.

Injecting case studies to illuminate certain points, Weinberg covers a tremendous amount of ground. So much so that you might want to devour the material in bites.

Weinberg stresses that “social media marketing is a comprehensive effort,” and the same goes for this book.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think of The New Community Rules? Have you also read it? What’s your take on the book? Comments welcome.

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