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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8 Great Blogs All About WordPress

Posted on January 7, 2010. Filed under: Blogs/Blogging | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Ask a blogger what’s his/her favorite blog platform and the answer is probably whatever one he/she happens to use.

I use WordPress — guess what my favorite is?

Seeing as there are currently in excess of 18 million WordPress bloggers, I’m in good company.

This bountiful user base makes for a nice target audience, so it comes as no surprise that there are plenty of websites devoted to all things WordPress. Some focus on a particular aspect, such as coding, while others are more broad-based.

Here are my favorites — and seeing as I’m a non-geek, most are geared to non-techies:

Just Another WordPress Weblog

Might as well start at the source, right? Just  Another... is the place for news from WordPress.com and the WordPress Community. You get info straight from the people responsible for this powerful platform, as well as from folks who make apps, and other interested parties.

Lorelle on WordPress

Lorelle VanFossen calls herself a “blog evangelist” — here she spreads the good word on WordPress.  She’s got the inside skinny, and in fact helped write and develop WordPress.org Codex. Aside from being a primo source for WordPress tips and techniques Lorelle offers general blogging advice, and she has her ear to the ground — if there’s a WP alert, Lorelle is on the case.

ThemeLab

Looking for a free theme? Be sure to take a gander at this site, which has in excess of 100 selections to choose from. Should you prefer a one-of-a kind deal, the site offers a fee-based custom theme service. There’s also easy to digest step-by-step how-to articles.

We Love WP

We Love WP’s tagline is: “Showcasing WordPress powered sites.” That says it all. The site presents homepages with links to blogs built on the WordPress platform. A super source for design ideas and inspiration.

wpbeginner

If you’re new to the game wpbeginner is a goldmine of information on everything you need to know to get up and running with WordPress. Once you’ve figure that out, dig into articles about plugins and peruse a stash of educational posts.

WPCandy

WPCandy contains a deep cache of information on the latest themes and plugins as well as plenty of useful tips and tutorials. The gents behind it have also launched two related sites: WPCoder for developers, and WPInspiration (which like We Love WP, showcases blogs from around the internet).

WPShout

A design development blog by Alex Denning, who has created a number of WordPress themes. The content runs from beginner to advanced levels while the writing style is friendly and down-to-earth.

WordPress.TV

A bevy of of how-to advice, presentations, interviews, tutorials and support videos from WordPress.org.

– Deni Kasrel

Do you have a favorite blog devoted to WordPress? What’s missing? Comments welcome.

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Should Employers Ban Personal Use of Social Media While On the Job?

Posted on October 22, 2009. Filed under: Best practices, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Not Approved sign (Big Stock Photo)Did you know more companies are banning employees from using social networks while on the job?

Oh, really? Not one tweet, or a single Facebook comment all the live-long workday? Surely some folks will go into withdrawal. That stuff is addictive, you know.

Meantime, Iran tried to ban use of social media, and that didn’t work, so what chance does an employer have of making the rule stick?

Yet more businesses are adopting a no-if-ands-or-buts stance on the matter.

Outright prohibition

Robert Half Technology, an agency providing information technology professionals for both part-time and full-time needs recently polled 1,400 CIOs regarding company policy on worker’s visiting social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter while at work. Here are the results:

54% Prohibited completely

19% Permitted for business purposes only

16% Permitted for limited personal use

10% Permitted for any type of personal use

1%   Don’t know/no answer

A press release about the survey notes Robert Half Executive Director Dave Willmer’s sensitivity to employers: “Using social networking sites may divert employees’ attention away from more pressing priorities, so it’s understandable that some companies limit access.”

Willmer goes on to state, “For some professions, however, these sites can be leveraged as effective business tools, which may be why about one in five companies allows their use for work-related purposes.”

Why single it out?

Social networking for personal purposes is a diversion from work responsibilities. So is making a personal phone call, replying to personal email, engaging in small talk around the office coffee pot, taking a cigarette break, surfing the Net, and any number of other ways that individuals may not be 100% on the job while on the company clock.

And let’s get real; outright prohibition is impossible to enforce given the prevalence of smartphones, which offer ready access to the Internet, and hence all those social sites.

The trend is only going up

Social media is undeniably an ever-growing mode of communication. For many, it’s as familiar a way to converse and share information as the telephone and email. That goes for personal and business use.

Risks are real

Companies are wise to be cognizant of social media — to promote their own purposes, and as pertains to the potential for it to turn into a time suck on employee productivity.  Even if someone intends to jump on just for a quick jolt, it’s easy to get entranced on these platforms.

There are reputation risks. Workers may post comments that reflect badly on their employer, and perhaps themselves. Anyone can do the same offline. Bad judgment isn’t limited to the social media sphere.

Establish a policy

When change happens fast, and with force, it can be difficult to know how to handle the disruption.  That’s what’s going on here. Two years ago Twitter’s audience was limited — now, it’s where major news breaks. Facebook has in excess of 300 million users.

Companies do need to devise ways to deal with all that comes with this new circumstance.

But a ban? Well, that’s just plain crazy talk.

The sensible thing to do is to create and publicize a policy that establishes reasonable practical parameters for employee use of, and behavior on, these networks. I wrote a post about this in August. It spells things out nice and simple.

For additional resources and actual examples of social media policies, hit these two links:

Social Media Governance: Online database of social media policies

List of 40 Social Media Staff Guidelines (from blog of Laurel Papworth)

Companies are made up of people, not robots.

Bottom line: Organizations must be mindful about what is a realistic solution here.

Employees may be resources, but they are human resources.

– Deni Kasrel

Related post:

How To Create A Winning Corporate Social Media Policy

Do you think employers should prohibit personal use of social networks while on the job? Is it even possible to enforce such a policy? What do you think? Comments welcome.

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Four Great Blogs About Blogging

Posted on October 15, 2009. Filed under: Blogs/Blogging | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Have you noticed how many blogs are about blogging?

Clearly, the blogging community embraces the rule of thumb to write about what you know.

The upshot is; if you’re a blogger, or want to become one, there’s a plethora of free resources available on the web. Here are four sites that I find useful:

Copyblogger

Copyblogger lives and breathes the content is king mantra.

copyblogger logoIt’s serious about teaching us how to write great copy. As would be expected of such a site, it’s an entertaining read. Illustrations are frequently funny and you might want to visit it just for the grabby headlines (one example: How to Be Interesting).

Copyblogger posts are sharp and to the point — no fancy prose or hyper-pontificating allowed. While the big focus is on the art of writing, the site believes there’s little point to putting a lot of effort in this regard if no one reads your blog. To help ensure this doesn’t happen to you it includes marketing tips, too.

Considered tops in the biz, Copyblogger routinely winds up on lists for “best of’ and “most influential” blogs along with…

ProBlogger

ProBlogger logoThe big kahuna in the blogging-for-dollars space, it’s the brainchild of Darren Rowse, who figured out early-on how to make money from blogging and subsequently surmised he could make even more by creating a blog to help others do the same.

The site has several thousands of articles as well as a weekly video post. ProBlogger is chock full of practical tips and tutorials on writing, publicizing, search engine optimizing, analyzing and otherwise getting the most bang from your blogging. Leading by example, it’s got a heavy ad/sales component.

Daily Blog Tips

This one offers a daily dose of information on blog-related topics (though it does rest on Sundays). The content is wide-ranging and includes design, marketing, promotion, software, tools, strategy and plenty more — in terms of comprehensive coverage, you can’t beat it.

Daily Blog Tips logoEvery Friday Daily Blog Tips has a Q&A in response to queries from readers. Another recurring feature is the Bloggers Face-Off where two bloggers respond to a series of questions and readers can vote on the winner. Here you can readily see that there are many approaches for creating a successful blog.

Consistently offering good info, DBT is one of my go-to sources when I’m looking for articles to tweet.

The Bloggers Bulletin

A relatively new kid on the block, The Blogger’s Bulletin was launched to support members of a group on LinkedIn called The Blog Zone. The pool of contributors draws from this group though anyone can read The Bloggers Bulletin.

The Blogger's Bulletin logo (with border)Much like Daily Blog Tips, the site takes a big picture view of what all’s involved in blogging. It has a long list of contributors — one of its purposes is to help writers, including those just starting out, get placement outside of their own blog and to provide a link back to the writer’s blog as a way to help increase traffic and boost search engine optimization. This community-minded approach results in a nice diversity of writing styles, views and opinions.

– Deni Kasrel

What’s YOUR  take on these blogs about blogging? Do you know of other sites that should be added to the great blogs about blogging list? Please feel free to make suggestions.  Comments welcome.

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Trend Watch: What is Lifestreaming?

Posted on September 29, 2009. Filed under: Social Media, Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

sky in window (Big Stock Photo image)There’s talk about how blogs are soon to be deceased in lieu of lifestreaming.

The Doomsdayers believe the blog scene might as well be hooked up to a respirator: With notable exceptions given to big-shot bloggers and major blog sites that are already heavily entrenched in their respective market niches.

I don’t buy it. I think the prognosis for the persistence of blogs, in general, is excellent.

It’s not an either/or proposition. Still, this business of lifestreaming is intriguing.

What is lifestreaming?

The precise definition of lifestreaming elicits different responses depending on whom you ask.

I favor easy-to-digest explanations; so let’s go with this one from lifestreamblog:

“In it’s simplest form it’s a chronological aggregated view of your life activities both online and offline. It is only limited by the content and sources that you use to define it.”

Well, that sure narrows it down.

Just like life, it’s a lot of things

Let’s start with lifestreaming as a “chronological aggregated view,” big giant window, or however else you choose to describe uploading a bunch of information, in one place, where others can see it.

Next, it’s only limited by “the content and sources that you use to define it.”

So… blog posts, updates to your various social media sites — LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc. — links, tidbits, social bookmarks, emails that you float into the stream – basically it’s like creating a single network for all your different online channels.

Lifestreaming can happen in real-time. Hence, you can send a live video feed of what you’re doing at a given time.

Depending on your outlook, lifestreaming can be really cool, or TMI; as in too much information.

The stream scheme

There are numerous avenues for getting your life into the stream of things — some are more robust than others. Popular lifestreaming applications include FriendFeed, Lifestrea.ms, Posterous, Profilactic and Tumblr.

One obvious advantage to lifesteaming is that your friends and followers don’t need to visit many different sites to see your Tweets, Facebook entries, photos, videos, slideshows and all the rest of it. Now there’s a one-stop shop.

Conversely, a lifestreamer need not go to all those same sites to upload, or respond to comments on, his/her posts.

In any event, convergence is increasing. Facebook did buy FriendFeed, after all. You can post to Facebook from Twitter.  You can import your blog and other applications to WordPress.

There’s surely more to come down this particular pike.

To stream, or not?

Inputting and viewing everything all in one place is not for everyone. The stream can look like too much disorganized clutter to certain eyes.

However, if you truly want your life to be an open book, this is an easy way to go for it.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think of lifestreaming? Is it the next greatest thing, or way too much information? Comments welcome.

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Wonder Gals of Web 2.0

Posted on September 10, 2009. Filed under: Marketing and Public Relations, Outstanding Communicators, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

SuperwomanA Twitter pal recently turned me on to an article titled Wonder Guys of Marketing 2.0. The post highlighted five “marvelous people” who are responsible for popular blogs and big ideas.

The five guys are: Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, Chris Hughes, Brian Clark and Michael Arrington. All stand out in the world of Web 2.0. To find out why, read the Wonder Guys piece.

But enough with the boys club routine. Does Web 2.0 have a glass ceiling?

Me thinks not.

Sisters are doin’ it for themselves. They’re blazing trials and are true thought leaders whose ideas and opinions matter. And so I present the first installment of Wonder Gals of Web 2.0.

Toby Bloomberg

Toby Bloomberg Best known for Diva Marketing Blog, Bloomberg has been in the web trenches since the late 1990s. Savvy and street-smart with a down-to-earth attitude, Bloomberg helps demystify marketing and social media while having fun along the way. Her jaunty Diva blog consistently ranks among the top in its field and she makes things even livelier with Diva Marketing Talks , her podcast series, featuring chats with other media hotshots.

A staunch advocate for employing blogging as a means of personal empowerment, Bloomberg’s compelling Blogger Stories project compiled tales “of how the blogosphere has touched people’s lives and, in doing so, opened the door to new way of creating relationships and opportunities.”

This clever Wonder Gal created the first business book using Twitter as a distribution channel and content platform. An active organizer and speaker for multiple organizations, she also heads Bloomberg Marketing, a strategic consultancy.

Deirdre Breakenridge

Deirdre BreakenridgeBreakenridge wrote the book on public relations as applied to Web 2.0. Make that two books: She’s author of PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences and co-author, with Brian Solis, of Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: How Social Media Is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR. Both take a penetrating look at how social media and other emerging technologies affect the ways and means of public relations.

Breakenridge also penned The New PR Toolkit: Strategies for Successful Media Relations and Cyberbranding: Brand Building in the Digital Economy, plus she’s a university professor; so her knowledge runs deep. In writing, teaching, and speaking engagements Breakenridge is a thoughtful passionate force for “reinventing the PR industry.” She was among the first to call out the seismic shift in 21st century reporting and news distribution and the subsequent rise of direct-to-consumer communication.

Proving she can both teach and do, as president of PFS Marketwyse, Breakenridge leads a full-service enterprise that enables companies to bolster brands by integrating traditional and new media marketing.

Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington Whether or not you agree with her politics you can’t deny that Huffington has rocked the blogosphere. As co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post she pioneered the notion of blogs having a real seat at the news table and legitimized bloggers as authentic journalists.

The HP has grown into a powerhouse publication. It’s now one of the most widely read and influential media brands on the internet. Huffington’s clout enables her to attract an impressive array of contributors, making The HP an entertaining and stimulating source of news and views.

This noted political pundit keeps current with media trends: In mid-August her site launched HuffPost Social News which uses Facebook Connect to enable readers to create social news pages. The author of 12 books, Huffington was cited in 2006 by Time as one of the World’s 100 Most Influential People and named Media Person of the Year in 2008 by I Want Media.

Charlene Li

Charlene Li Recently making headlines for enticing web superstars Deborah Schultz, Ray Wang and Jeremiah Owyang to join her company, Altimeter Group, Li is an oft-quoted seer of the cyber scene. She’s co-author, with Josh Bernoff, of Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, a prescient and practical bestselling book on how businesses can benefit from social media.

The smarty-pants Harvard-grad honed her analytical skills at Forrester, a leading market research company; and as an early proponent of the power of the web, in the 1990s Li created the concept for and launched the internet publishing division of Community Newspaper Company, where she brought 120 community newspapers online.

Li’s into identifying and finding solutions to business problems: Having observed how certain companies have a tough time adopting a social media mindset, part of her current research revolves around studying and resolving a leading obstacle in this regard; corporate aversion to risk.

Li’s many kudos include being acknowledged by Fast Company as one of the Most Influential Women in Technology and being named Visionary of the Year by Society for New Communications Research.

Valeria Maltoni

Valeria MaltoniA marketer, consultant and prolific speaker/presenter, Maltoni advises CEOs on best practices for managing corporate image. Online, she’s recognized for the prodigious content of her uber-popular Conversation Agent. The multi award-winning blog is distinguished by its incisive interviews with individuals from all aspects of the business communications mix, as well as for Valeria’s viewpoints on subjects that veer from the big picture, to small yet important details.

Forthright and provocative, this Wonder Gal calls it as she sees it, often in a bright staccato style that lays out precisely what’s on her keen mind. For instance in a post about company blogs she writes, “Your blog WILL suck at first…. As you become more familiar with the space, and the tool, your efforts will improve.”

Fast Company snagged Maltoni for its Customer Conversation blog and she built one of the publication’s first online communities.  Her words of wisdom also appear in Marketing Profs Daily Fix, Marketing 2.0, Social Media Today and The Blog Herald.

Tamar Weinberg

Tamar WeinbergA web bio for Weinberg states that “Tamar is a member of just about every social network that has a name,” and that’s the truth. She’s also an avid blogger and opinion leader who currently contributes to Real Simple, Lateral Action, Mashable and Techipedia, the latter being her personal blog that explores and explains social media and internet marketing. This self-described “tech geek” knows the web from top to bottom, including pay per click, system administration and search engine optimization.

Besides blogging for Mashable, Weinberg is the site’s community and marketing director, where, she says, “my job is to make our valued members happy.” She finds time to be a media consultant for Say It Social, she’s an editor for Pistachio Consulting Touchbase Blog, and is an independent social media marketing consultant.

With that load only a Wonder Woman could squeeze in writing a book, and Weinberg has done that, too. She penned The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web. Released in July, it’s already a must-read guide for learning the intricacies of how to make the most of the many nodes of the socially networked web.

More Wonder Gals?

So that’s the first installment of Wonder Gals of Web 2.0. It’s a terrific group of individuals who’ve done great things to educate, innovate, build community and otherwise move the social web forward.

There are surely others worthy of the Wonder Gal moniker.  But I don’t have all the answers — let me know who you think deserves to be on the list.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think about these Wonder Gals of Web 2.0? Who did I miss? Comments welcome.

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Keep Your Blog A No Flog Zone

Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: Blogs/Blogging | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Many companies are now integrating blogs into their marketing communications mix. But just calling something a blog doesn’t mean it is one.

Or at least not necessarily one that follows best practices for business blogging.

A bleary blog
Exhibit A: The blog for Savings.com, an online discount and coupon service that recently revamped its web site to make it more community oriented.

savings.com coupon blog-screenshotPosts (on this date) include a story about airline bereavement fares; photos from the Savings.com relaunch party; the top 10 best deals for the week of August 10-16 (this list includes discount offers from Frederick’s of Hollywood and Crabtree & Evelyn); a story about how the recession is affecting baseball teams; an article titled “What to Look for in a New Laptop”; and a “Best Store You Never Heard Of” feature.

Here comes the pitch
Many of the posts are highly sales oriented. The one about buying a laptop is a “shopping advice” informational article where highlighted brands are all companies that market through Savings.com. Likewise, “The Best Store You Never Heard Of” piece is a direct pitch for a vendor that lists offers through Savings.com.

A lot of the links within the different posts lead to deals included elsewhere on the site. And yes, it is called the Savings.com Coupons Blog, but it would be more accurate to just say, “Here’s where we promote the heck out of whoever pays us to advertise their discounts.”

And then there’s just a basic standard that the content should add value to the reader, which, sorry to say, the erratically written post on baseball teams having difficulties selling tickets in our troubled economy, fails to meet.

Kindly do not flog the reader
Ladies and gentlemen, this blog comes dangerously close to being a flog. Meaning it’s a fake blog. The “f” refers to the term flack, which is slang for a public relations/PR person. So it’s a flack blog, get it?

The reason it’s not a full on flog is that flogs are deceptive and hide the fact that they’re just a marketing tool in disguise. With the Savings.com blog it’s pretty clear what the deal is (pun intended). Even so, despite a scattering of stories under the category heading “odds and ends” that may not specifically pertain to site merchants, it’s heavily advertorial—that is, ads dressed up as articles.

A better way to go
A corporate blog can include a promotional aspect. But best practice is that it’s not so heavy handed in this regard. Also, if there is any kind of quid pro quo involved between the company that benefits from being mentioned and the one that does the mentioning, this should be disclosed.

In any case, a good business blog offers useful content that helps the reader better understand a product, service or brand. It might also present the company’s (or a particular employee’s) point of view on issues relating to its industry.

The best blogs are geared to creating a meaningful exchange between the writer/company and the reader, to include obtaining opinion and feedback. Better still, there’s a sense of personality to the posts. The main thing is, it’s not firmly slanted toward making a sale. You can use other areas of a web site for that purpose.

OK, repeat after me: A blog is not an advertisement.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think of blogs that flog? Your comments welcome.

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(Baby)Stepping Into The Blogosphere

Posted on July 17, 2009. Filed under: About This Blog | Tags: , , , , , , |

Welcome to the Communications Strategist: A new source of ideas for creating communications strategies and tactics that can help you get the results you want, and maybe even more. The scope will include the traditional (such as print, which does still exist, at least for the moment, and the 4P’s of the marketing mix), current online practice (web design, usability, content strategy, social media, etc.) and emerging trends (web 3.0, web 4.0 and whatever else comes up).

FYI, part of the impetus behind this blog is my current status of being, ahem, between jobs.  Now, with extra time on my hands, I have been doing more reading than usual, to include poring through many articles, books, web sites and blogs relating to trends and practices in marketing and communications. I’ve also been networking a heck of a lot, and that often includes attending meetings for local groups that have something to do with communications, especially social media, as well as assorted other web-centric topics. I am constantly learning new things that I’d like to share, hence this blog.

Of course, as anyone who knows me well would expect, I did some research about blogging prior to making this first post. I figured it would be good to get a grip on the basics, and as it turns out, that’s all you need to know to get rolling in the blogosphere.

My main reference thus far has been the Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging.  I  recommend this book to other budding bloggers because it’s a pretty breezy read and it does a decent job of covering what goes into creating, maintaining and promoting a blog. So you know, the HuffPost guide  doesn’t really delve into nitty gritty how-to nuts and bolts details (refer to titles in the “For Dummies” series for that kind of thing).  Still the tone of the text conveys genuine enthusiasm and passion for blogging as do many sidebar comments by successful bloggers. I got a real sense of the satisfactions and benefits that can be derived from writing a blog. Also, one of the big things with having a blog is to be personable and write in your own voice. Easy to say but what does that mean? By including numerous sample blog posts The Huffington Post Complete Guide To Blogging  shows, not simply tells, how that may be accomplished. I am still learning the blog-speak part. It’s a work in progress here.

–  Deni Kasrel

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