I’ve been working in public relations for nearly six years now, and I am continually amazed at how much the industry has changed since I started out as a communications assistant at a non-profit in DC. From my perspective, this is how the media/PR industry has changed over the past six years or so:
If we go by buzz, we should probably rename social media “The Grim Reaper,” given how it signals the demise of everything in the communications world. Whether or not social media has successfully guillotined advertising/magazines/the world is another post for another time, but what’s evident is that the traditional media landscape has been heavily affected by the shift towards social platforms and the Internet in general. The failure of traditional advertising strategies to address Web content results in dozens, if not hundreds, of publications failing or folding only to re-launch as a new entity. A few that have struck a cord with me are:
- The Washington Post – Close to home with a powerful business and technology section, the Post changed direction in the blink of an eye, slashing dozens of staff and seemingly trying to become a policy-first daily. While the tech section still hasn’t recovered, the newspaper recently launched Capital Business, which should boost its prevalence in the DC business community once again.
- Red Herring – While still around and able to throw (some) weight in the venture world, Red Herring is no longer the vanguard of VCs and start-ups that it once was. The publication is now Web-only and has a very thin, nearly skeletal, staff – it doesn’t help matters that the publication was also evicted from their offices in 2008. RH’s heavy focus on start-ups and the venture community became it’s bane once (positive) venture news dried up right before the recession.
- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer – The Post-Intelligencer looked like it was failing, and badly at that. The 146-year-old paper lost $14 million in 2008 and announced that the print edition would stop printing after March 17, 2009. Rather than completely shut up shop, Hearst turned the paper into a digital-only news portal, making it the largest US-daily to go online only. Enlisting a small army of “citizen bloggers,” SeattlePI.com seems to be going strong today, proving that there is life after print for major dailies.
The point I’m getting at is that everything in PR, from our tactics to the very media outlets that we try to work with, changes on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. While the worst is past (maybe), the world of communications is still “evolve-or-die”…and not just for newspapers and magazines.
For those of you who arent familiar, the Washington Business Journal
recently launched an Executive Profile section, a Q&A-style feature that gives readers a look at some of our regions top executives from a variety of industries. Vandana Sinha from the WBJ
recently sat down with a SpeakerBox client, Adisa Bakari
, President of DC-based Dow Lohnes
Sports and Entertainment, and featured him in todays section
Adisa runs the firms sports practice, and as an NFL player agent, currently represents 18 athletes. His story is unique by location, particularly because the D.C. region isnt as well known as a hotbed for professional sports agents as other parts of the country. From Adisas time as a summer associate at Dow Lohnes, to his current responsibilities in the Sports and Entertainment
division, his story will compel you.
- Mary Evans
As Ive mentioned in previous posts, I recently read the book Get Content. Get Customers., a resource dedicated to educating readers about the ways to attract and retain customers by supplying relevant and useful content. Intrigued by its opinions, case studies and best practices, I decided I wanted to explore the content marketing topics in more detail. I ended up picking the brain of the books co-author, Joe Pulizzi, who is also the founder of Junta42 and is involved in other various initiatives.
Take a read through the conversation below I think youll find his ideas and strategies compelling.
- Mary EvansQ: Your book looks at ways to attract customers and retain clients with content marketing, but can you give us a quick overview of the ingredients that make up a good strategy? Whats the secret sauce?
1. What's different in a year? This will get you to focus on your business objectives.
2. Who is your target customer? You probably have many people in the buying process. Who is the buyer for this specific content strategy?
3. What are the informational needs of your customers? What are their pain points? Identify those through surveys, talking to customers, leveraging social media listening.
4. Where do you need to be the trusted expert to drive your business?
The intersection of your expertise areas and the pain points of your customers is the real secret sauce. That's where you start your content strategy and the development of compelling stories.Q: If you had to describe one common mistake companies often make in terms of their marketing plans, what would it be? Why do you think this is the case?
Too much focus on tactics and not enough on a real strategy. It happens all the time. Marketers focus on the bright shiny objects like blogs, e-newsletters, Twitter and Facebook, but often forget what they really need to do to be successful and the types of stories that will engage their audience. The other one is consistency. Quality content is first and consistency is a close second. Consistent content generation, promotion and integration is where the magic really happens.Q: In your book you referenced successful companies that have implemented various content marketing strategies. For companies looking to jump-start their own efforts, what B2B companies do you think they should mirror overall? Are there examples of impressive strategies built from the ground up?
I think we've done a pretty good job at Junta42. I would also look at Hubspot. Miller Electric is great in the welding field. Also, people forget that the video kings at Blendtec are 50 percent B2B. Q: Everyone is going social these days. In your opinion, how have social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. changed content marketing?
We can now communicate directly with our customers more than ever before. We also need to make sure that the content we want to spread through these channels is the very best. Social networks have taught us that it's less like marketing and more like a cocktail reception. We don't go around pushing products in peoples faces. We talk and get to know them. When the time is right, we have some helpful content. If we help them enough, they'll look to buy from us and possibly spread our message.
Social media channels help us get back to the basics of being human with our marketing.Q: In economic times like this, every dollar counts. What trends are you seeing in terms of budgets? How can B2B companies best maximize their ROI?
I see, more and more, marketers becoming publishers. More dollars are being allocated to the creation and distribution of content, which is where it should be. As interruptive marketing avenues become less and less effective, we need to develop our own channels and position our brands as real experts in our niches.
To maximize ROI, in-source the things you do really, really well. Everything else, I would outsource.Q: For piece of mind, how can companies evaluate their content marketing plan? How often should they re-evaluate?
Serious evaluation and change should take place at least quarterly, but honestly, this is a daily practice. Whoever the chief content officer is in your company needs to be constantly listening to the needs of the audience. When those needs change, we must change as well.Q: Anything to add?
Sometimes perfection is imperfection. For content marketing, the product is never perfect, although we strive to be. It's better to pick a path and go...then modify as you receive feedback. I see so many companies wait until everything, the content, the graphics, the timing, is perfect. It never is. Create a schedule and stick to it, no matter what. That's your content promise.
|Kerry Rea, president,|
was created in 2009 as a service to the government community so that government users, vendors, and event producers can go to one place on the web to find and post government-related events. The site provides in-depth information on hundreds of events, from major industry tradeshows, to government conferences, to agency-sponsored roundtables, and webcasts. Kerry Rea, president of GovEvents was kind enough to take some time to share some insights on this new service with alot of great buzz (and a little about her too). In addition to their website, you can also find GovEvents on Twitter
- Lisa ThrockmortonQ: Where did the idea for GovEvents come from, and what is its goal?
I was the VP of Marketing for a government reseller. Our marketing team was constantly looking for the right events to attend not only for us, but for our vendor partners. If youve ever searched for shows to attend, you already know there are a lot of places to look. Weve uncovered hundreds of sites so far and I am positive there are another hundred out there we havent yet discovered! So an off the cuff comment, Wouldnt it be nice if ALL government events were in one location became a viable business idea. And the goal of our company is simply thatto be the online resource for ALL government events.
We dont host any events of our own so we are in a unique position to help the government community as a whole and provide a neutral platform to promote every event company and vendor event out there.Q: Tell me a little more about Kerry Rea:
I love start-ups! GovEvents is the fifth company Ive been involved in starting from the ground up. I am an average but avid golfer. I still try to sneak away on Wednesday mornings to play golf with a few girlfriends (Ive had two hole-in-ones, or is it holes-in-one?!). Ive had the amazing experience of spending several recent winters in Maui....I am in awe of the whales. And, I like to cook, and more importantly, eat!Q: Can anyone post events to your site? Is there a fee?
Yes, anyone hosting a government-related event can post to GovEvents. And the best part is there is no fee! We do check out every event that is posted on the site to ensure it is legitimate and that enough information is provided. Just last week our member community added 46 new government events.Q: What value do the vendors receive when posting their events on GovEvents?
More publicity for their events! I had two companies call me last week to tell me that GovEvents is now on their list of top referring sites. So increased traffic to their sites, plus more registrants for their events. We also like to tweet about events during the week so weve gotten good feedback on increased walk-in traffic on the day of the event. Many of our vendors and event companies are also using GovEvents for planning purposes. They can check out other events happening that day, week or month and schedule their events accordingly. Q: How do you promote this to government event attendees?
We already have thousands of members that use GovEvents on a regular basis and we are fortunate that they have embraced the idea of our site and are helping spread the word! They are our biggest promoters. Social media and email marketing also play a key role in our efforts. And, we are developing reciprocal partnerships with companiesif you help promote GovEvents then well help further promote your event(s) with special placement, inclusion in our weekly email to our member groups, featuring the event on our home page, and so on.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Tierney Plumb, economic development reporter at the Washington Business Journal. Tierney gave me the download on the WBJs growing readership, writing for different forms of media and where she sees DC poised to exit the economic downturn. Q: You seem to have had your hand in a little bit of everything at the WBJ, can you tell us how your role at the paper has evolved since you started there?
I definitely have dabbled in just about every section! I started here as an intern in May 2007 and was promoted to a full-time reporter about a year later, covering news across all industries on our website. I then started writing more and more about real estate and economic development and am now covering those two topics exclusively.
Q: You currently write for three different kinds of media (print, online and social), do you see a difference in your writing style between them?
You always have to remain cognizant of the writing medium and adjust accordingly. For instance, its OK to have an informal writing style in the first person for blogs, but thats typically not OK for print. Its fun to be able to shift voices between the different media types. Twitter can be challenging when it comes down to condensing the gist of an entire news story and its hyperlink into just 140 characters or less.
Q: As I look at the media landscape in the area, the WBJ seems to be doing a great job of not only growing its print customer base but also incorporating online and social media. Why do you think the WBJs strategy for its print paper is working? Also, as technology advances where do you see the intersection of traditional and social media?
We have built up a loyal subscriber base over the years and we just keep growing. I think we remain popular due to the reputation of our product, credibility and the fact that many people prefer picking up a paper and reading it cover to cover over scrolling down an iPhone screen. I enjoy hearing our subscribers describe their Friday routines when they get our paper, whether its reading it at their desk, on the Metro or at home in bed! Subscribers that prefer the web over print can also log in online to access the paper. We have done a great job at building up a loyal group of Twitter followers and linking to our stories, driving traffic to our website.
Q: Some days it seems like you write a wealth of stories, with so much going on in the local business scene how do you decide where to spend your time? What types of stories interest you the most?
Its definitely all about time management. All of us reporters have come to terms with the fact that we cant feasibly cover everything on our respective beats, so we have to set priorities as to what news is most important to our readers. For example, when I hear a real estate deal is about to close or just closed, I want to make sure we scoop other news outlets by getting it on our website or in the paper first! I love those types of stories.
Q: What is your number one gripe about pitches? I think its important for PR people to think like reporters. What do they think is interesting? What isnt being covered? What would be a unique piece of news that appeals to many readers? If tips dont fit into those categories, they are a waste of a reporters time, as well as the PR persons time! Q: Since you cover a variety of beats, including economic development, whats your take on the economic downturn and how the Greater Washington is coming out on the other side? I think we have the upper hand in many ways. We are insulated by the federal government and that affects all aspects of the local economy, including commercial real estate and employment, in a positive way.
If you haven’t heard, last week a group of six public relations executives created a petition to change up the PRSA bylaws. Specifically, they want to remove the requirement that PRSA members must be Accredited in Public Relations (APR) in order to become a national officer or board member. The executives behind the petition, including Edelman CEO Richard Edelman, believe the current bylaws severely limit who can hold an office and therefore limit the PRSA. Only about 20% of PRSA members are accredited, meaning that 16,800 members would not be able to even run for an elective office.
The petition argues to amend the bylaws to say any PRSA member in good standing that is APR, or a Chapter, District, Section or Committee leader, or has more than 20 years of public relations experience would be able to run for Board. This potential change to the PRSA bylaws that are decades old, got me thinking about what it takes to be APR and if it is relevant to holding a PRSA board position today.
APR is the public relations industry’s only national post-graduate certification program and has been around since 1964. Requirements to become accredited include having at least five years experience, a bachelors degree in a relevant field, completing a Readiness Review – which is comprised of presenting a portfolio demonstrating competence in 16 areas of PR, and passing a 188 question test demonstrating knowledge, skills and abilities. After becoming APR, industry professionals must keep their skills current through volunteer work, continuing education or professional development activities in order to stay accredited.
While browsing through comments on an article about the proposed amendment, the primary sentiment expressed by supporters of the current bylaws is that the accreditation is a distinguishing mark of professionalism which takes dedication and commitment—traits the PRSA should want in their leaders.
In opposition, petition supporters argue that by requiring APR, fewer PRSA members have the opportunity to run for office and that democracy is not being served if all members do not have an equal opportunity to hold a position.
As of today, the committee has 105 signatures, with a goal of 5,000 before they have to present to the board next fall. In an informal poll that is currently being conducted on the issue, leaving the bylaws as they are is ever so slightly in the lead. So readers, what do you think-- should accreditation be necessary to hold PRSA national positions?
Know what they mean?
If so, you're probably already doing business with the government, so congratulations, but still keep that government dictionary
If not, you would have enjoyed this morning's event on contract vehicles for doing business with government. SECAF
(Small and Emerging Contractor Advisory Forum) had the honor of hosting four government contracting officers from GSA
(General Services Administration) as panelists this morning, each of whom communicated great value in the steps required to do business with the government as a small business.
From the ITS (Integrated Technology Services)
Office of Acquisition Operations, the panelists included:
Jim Connors, Network Services
Matt Verhulst, Small Business GWAC Center
Greg Roseman, IT Schedule 70
Mike Anastasio, Infrastructure Optimization
It was nice to shake hands, exchange business cards and hear straight from the source how contracts are put together in the government IT world and what opportunities there are for small business.
➢ Get ready for the alphabet soup: one thing even the panelists joked about was the preponderance of acronyms used to describe contract vehicles, government programs, special projects, you name it.
➢ Goal of ITS: Great Government Through Technology. Its mission is to excel at providing customers (government agencies) easy access to IT solutions and reduce total acquisition time, cost and risk. As for small businesses, according to Jim Connors, small business set-asides are a good thing and the right thing to do to help get our economy back on track. Translation: GSA/ITS has a vested interest in getting small businesses in the door, and providing opportunity!
➢ The primary areas of most interest to technology procurements today, are technology solutions in cybersecurity, sustainability, and wireless and mobility. The IT offerings that support those categories are computer systems and hardware, software and applications, data centers and storage, internet services, satellite services, communication networks and services, and professional IT services.
➢ Ed OHare, Assistant Commissioner for GSAs Integrated Technology Services, has made it his mission to connect with small businesses in his role, and has increased communication with other agencies through social media channels and through his blog
➢ Most likely youve heard this before, but yet again, a contract vehicle, or GSA schedule, is merely a fishing license. You cant expect to catch fish right away! Get involved, get to know the procurement officers, the agency program managers, and find opportunities to pursue.
➢ A GWAC
(Governmentwide Acquisition Contract) is a key component to GSAs Federal Acquisition Schedule. The track record for small businesses using GWACs are staggering these are numbers representing actual sales through these channels, not just ceilings. There is a lot of opportunity if you are paying attention and making connections:
o 8(a) FAST: 1998-2004, 150 firms sold $2B
o HUBZone: 2003-2008, 29 firms sold $36M
o 8(a) STAFS: 2004-2011, 200 firms sold $2.2B
o VETS: 2007-2017, 43 firms sold $433M
o COMMITS NexGen: 2008-2011, 40 firms sold $7.1M
o Alliant SB: 2009-2019, 73 firms sold $30.5M
o TOTAL impact on small business: 535 firms $4,706,600,000
➢ Greg Roseman shared several interesting statistics: An estimated 80% of all IT Schedule 70 holders are small businesses. Government agencies spend $15B-$16B on Schedule 70; however, the majority of this revenue comes from only 10% of schedule holders. Roseman suggested that more small businesses need to take advantage of their GSA Schedule.
So, anyone pass the acronym test yet?
- Elizabeth Shea @eliz2shea
Who doesn't love a good infographic? They present information and data creatively and compactly, and are typically über-engaging and educational. They're great for blog posts, presentation slides, or just to have on hand for quick references. What's not to love?
Over at Doug Haslam's blog
, I caught this post on social media infographics
, where he shared a collection of 70 (yes, 70! That's not a typo!) infographics compiled by LaSandra Brill
, Cisco's senior manager of global social media. It's a lot to flip through, but if you're looking for a graphic related to social media to help get your point across, I know you'll find it there.
If you're looking for other fantastic collections of infographics (social media-related or not), two of my favorite resources include The Infographics Showcase
and Randy Krum's Cool Infographics blog
. And I would be remiss if I put up this post without mentioning The Oatmeal
, whose comics (with topics like "How to use an apostrophe," "15 things worth knowing about coffee," "Five reasons pigs are more awesome than you,"
and "How to suck at Facebook"
) are just incredible - and hilarious.
Those are my personal picks, but I'd love to know - what are your favorite resources for infographics?
Heres a great lesson for how not to pitch an exclusive to a high-profile blogger and it comes to us from the PR machine of Fortune
. They offered an exclusive to TechCrunch
s Michael Arrington centering around David Kirkpatricks new book, The Facebook Effect
, which included excerpts
from the book. Only TechCrunch wasnt allowed to post the full text of the excerpts, only SELECTIONS teasers, if you will, which would then direct readers to the full text on Fortunes own site. The well-oiled PR machine of Fortune, however, forgot to mention this piece of information to Michael. Queue perfect storm
From the outside looking in, TechCrunch isnt in the wrong they didnt break an embargo
and, as far as the e-mail exchange went, Arrington acted well within the boundaries set by Fortunes PR team. It was obviously a miscommunication on Fortunes front, but rather than take the mistake for what it was, theyre siccing the big dogs on TechCrunch, including the publisher of Kirkpatricks book.
PR Lesson of the Day: Always, ALWAYS ensure that every detail is covered if youre offering an exclusive, especially under embargo. And if you forget some crucial point
own up to the mistake and take it on the chin. Otherwise, you might be on the receiving end of a similar thank you
Last weeks Smart CEO
Matrix event featured three CEOs that were recent winners of the Circle of Excellence Award. All the award winners are featured on the cover of this month's issue. Speakers included Mary Lynne Carraway, Dominos Pizza Washington; John Murray, Counter Intelligence
; and Dave Ehrhardt, Apptix
(a SpeakerBox client).
All three speakers shared turnaround stories. Carraway took over the company after her husband, the companys founder, passed away. Murray cut costs and launched into a new market to emerge from the economic downturn stronger than ever and Ehrhardt turned a hodge-podge of acquired companies into one efficient, profitable company with a unified vision.
As Dave pointed out, Success is not determined by Plan A but the ability to carry out Plan B and C effectively. Certainly each of these CEOs has lived by that tenet. Mary Lynne Carraway summed it up best when she said, You can do hard things, that you never thought you could do.Photos provided by Smart CEO.
Photo 1: Dave Ehrhardt, Mary Lynne Carraway, John Murray. Photo 2: The May issue of Smart CEO magazine announcing all the Circle of Excellence winners.
-- Katie Hanusik
Get our your test tubes, beakers and measuring sticks
its time for an experiment! Ok, maybe you can leave those tools in the science lab, but there is an experiment scheduled to take place next week that I think all communication professionals alike will be interested in. John Bottom over at Base One
, a European B2B marketing agency, will be leading a discussion next week at a London conference where he will put content marketing to the test, using social media as an aid to prove its power and business worth. To be more specific, John plans to create a piece of collateral and generate 1,000 clicks
all within the same day.
Just how does he plan on doing this? Easy. At the IDM B2B Marketing Conference
on May 19, John will deliver a presentation like no other. With input from his audience, John will create content for an e-book titled, Threats & Opportunities: The Future of Social Media as Viewed by the UK's Most Senior Marketers live in person, and promote it via Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. (Name the social network, and itll likely be there.) The idea (and hope) is that the content will generate 1,000 clicks that day, thus proving the capabilities of combining content marketing with social media.
So all you content marketing skeptics out there (and those of you who are just curious), take note and pay attention
to the results. It is worth saying, however, that the results generated from this experiment will likely be larger than what would be typical for any given business. After all, it is being promoted ahead of time, readers will download the e-book for the sake of the 1,000-click goal and the nature of the content is about the channels its being promoted on. With that said, I still think this test is exceptionally interesting and that it will show that social media attracts genuine interest in online content. Also, I see the number e-book clicks surpassing everyones expectations. If nothing else, it will prove that social media works and that it spread the word of the experiment (regardless of being premature or not). After all, thats what this whole idea boils down to in the end.
Unless this post comes back to haunt me, let me know if your attitude toward this business strategy has changed after the event. Oh, and dont forget to mention whether or not you downloaded the e-book.
Being an old school nerd, I have a passion for video games as well as hilarious “thinking man’s” sarcasm. I find both of these things in The Escapist
’s Zero Punctuation
video series, created by fast-paced and oft-vitriolic nerd extraordinaire, Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw
. If you enjoy video games, humor and don’t mind off-color commentary, you must watch these videos – preferably not at work.
“But John,” you say. “These videos are hilarious, but what do they have to do with public relations?”
Simple. These videos are product reviews – yes, obviously they’re reviews of videos games, but the concept is the same. And this, fair reader, is exactly the kind of worst case scenario that you need to prepare your client for when they are getting ready to test the waters of the reviewer world.
While it’s true that we can pick and choose which reviewers to send a (pre-launch) product to for a review, once it leaves your client’s warehouse, control is lost. All of the beautiful packaging, well-crafted reviewers guides and friendly phone calls from customer support just help guide the review – if the reviewer doesn’t like your product, that will be reflected in the review, no matter how smooth the process was.
So take precautions. Inoculate your client as to what can happen and get a mini-crisis plan in place for a bad review. It might look like this.
- Carefully check out the review – is the main complaint a feature that the reviewer misused or didn’t see? Could there have been any user error to cause the problem? If so, try and address this (very gently) with the reviewer offline, meaning try not to say “Hey. You didn’t use our product right, you moron.”
- Another alternative to contacting the reviewer directly is to point out simple inaccuracies in the comments section (if there is one). Under no circumstances should you get in a flame war – that goes beyond “worst case scenario.”
- Finally, if all else fails, try and address the review on your company’s blog, Facebook or other community platform. This is really the last ditch option – your client should be interacting with the reviewer to fix inaccuracies or problems first, commenting second and finally, getting their community involved.
So will your client’s worst case scenario product review be as bad as getting skewered by Yahtzee and his coterie of animated curmudgeons? No. But it’s still going to be bad – but hey, at least negative reviews
still generate sales…right?
Ali, your post is accurate in it's concepts, but the use of the word SEO really needs to be changed to "sharing" in it.
You have to have search engines for the SE part of SEO and Facebook is not a search engine, and there really isn't SEO for Facebook, just viral sharing (which is still a big deal).
It's also not completely true that Google doesn't have any access to Facebook. Their is an agreement in place for Google to index public content (not protected by privacy settings). "Likes" are for the most part not public and yes Facebook is likely not going to share that with anyone (they want it for ad targeting).
Search Engines would love to have access to personal "like" data to help them improve personalized search results and more importantly personalize their ad serving.
Right now Google Buzz and Twitter are giving them some of that - but aren't delivering any data about how loyal or passionate searchers are about what they share.
So I have to admit that I get a real sense of satisfaction when people “like” or comment on any link I post on Facebook. I’ve never really been into Digg but with its recent layoffs, the popularity of Facebook link sharing, the announcement of the like button for the web and the fact that Facebook is the second largest website in the US, it seems that link sharing sites are evolving to a point where Facebook and Google Buzz will be duking it out.
For client purposes, the new like button holds a promise of increased SEO especially in combination with a well-run group or page. While the button limits Google’s ability to search the web and decide what’s most popular, a “well liked” article builds SEO though Facebook itself bypassing Google. While Facebook has replaced “become a fan” with the like button, companies reaching customers through Facebook will still want to build “likers” but now will also want to add a “like button” to their blog (for each post) and site to increase SEO and eyeballs on Facebook while continuing to use links and traditional SEO methods for indexing on Google.
For personal use, I’m still a little skeptical about the like button sending the thing I like from the web back to my page and vice versa (ie: if I like a move on IMDB it will show up in my movie section) from a privacy standpoint. I’m hoping that the promise of more recommendations from friends on things we find on the web will help me get over the fact that I will end up with more borderline stalkerish targeted ads however, some people are abandoning the platform all together.
At Web 2.0 this year in San Francisco, Paul Buchheit talked about how the use of the like button on Facebook to make a little notation about a post without leaving a comment will expand on the web as well as the effect new technologies have on our interpersonal communication levels. He asserts that more frequent lightweight conversations actually help us to be more deeply involved in the lives of our friends.
Also, as a side note, I’ve noticed while writing this that along with the Facebook share button and retweet button there is now a Google Buzz button – I guess all we need now is a “dislike” button.
– Ali Smith
held a panel last week for the business owner community, entitled PR and Advertising: Trends for Todays Market. If you arent familiar with ThinkBusiness, its a digital interactive magazine that covers business topics: HR, finance, marketing and growth.
Fridays panel included yours truly
; Robert Deigh
, public relations consultant and author of How Come No One Knows About Us? and Pauline Lewis
, founder and CEO of oovoo design, a cool handbag company that has received national attention in Time Magazine and The Washington Post.
By bringing together an agency owner (me), a sole practitioner (Robert) and a business owner who has hired PR resources (Pauline), we were able to provide a range of expertise and counsel. A special thanks to Jen Sterling, president of RedThinking
for moderating the session.
About 50 business owners attended the event at the 2941 Restaurant
a venue not commonly on the conference track, but what a beautiful place!
But back to the content. The panelists shared a variety of tips that could apply to anyone who has to initiate a program on a shoestring budget or as a solo practitioner. The best ones are listed below:
- Sign up for HARO
, started by social media expert Peter Shankman
and read it daily! Reporters are always looking for sources, and this service is free.
- Narrow down your most influential reporters and bloggers by asking your customers what they read. Develop a Top Ten (the most important ones) and the Nifty Fifty (the second tier) and reach out to them.
- Follow the reporters or publications you really care about on Twitter. Often times reporters use Twitter to find last minute sources and it could be you!
- Consider calling a targeted reporter with your 20-30 second pitch. Practice your pitch and tell a story that is timely, interesting, and educational.
- On pricing: Pauline suggested that spending $5K a month to promote her company with a big New York PR agency did little to get results. They didnt share the same culture or expectations. Rob followed up with never be your agencys smallest client!
- The press release is not dead! It just has a different role today. Primarily, it helps to tell a story when people search for your company online and can contribute to your companys search-engine optimization.
While these might feel like PR 101 strategies for many people, its important to focus on the basics, especially if you have limited time and resources. Start small, experience success, then grow.
- Elizabeth Shea @eliz2shea
Technology Marketing Alliance,
|Left-to-right: Brian Reed, Kevin Burns, Sever Totia |
and Mark Levine
a DC area-based organization for senior-level technology marketers hosted a unique event on Wednesday: "Straight From the Board: What the Board Expects From the CMO." The second panel, of what is becoming a nearly-annual program offering from TMA, affords executive-level marketers the opportunity to hear from technology venture capitalists and have a dialogue on not only expectations, but strategy, reporting/analysis and bolstering visibility and perception of the marketing organization within a company. Brian Reed, CMO of Boxtone
moderated the discussion and attendees had access to the experience of Mark Levine
, Managing Director of Core Capital Partners
, Sever Totia
, Principal of Edison Venture Fund
and Kevin Burns
, Managing Principal of Lazard Technology Partners
- Marketing really has an obligation to market itself most functional areas of a business really dont understand the role marketing SHOULD play. Marketing has to help educate, and serve as a conduit between sales, product development, finance/ops, support, etc. In addition to relationship development, consider developing a one-pager tailored to each internal group that helps them clearly understand what marketing does for them.
- The chief marketer is in the best position, other than the CEO, to really see across the whole of the company, and help in the strategy. Few other departments will work to create synergy marketing can play an integral role in bringing functional areas together.
- Some thoughts on how to engage the board with the marketing organization: invite them to your user conference or regional customers meetings/forums, sales kick-off meetings, put your VC board member on the the customer e-mail distribution to help them get a sense of the persistence, quality and change rate of the company's story/communication
- One of marketings greatest contributions is to bring the external market forces into the company as data, insight, etc. What the board cares most about is "are we on the right track?" Watching the competitive landscape, the market forces, the sales/acquistions, strategy of competitors, are all important. One thing marketing can contribute to the executive team and to the board is to discuss topics that no one else really addresses with facts: who are we competing against now that never came up before, and why? Why did X company just sell for 10 times its earning, what does that mean? What are the analysts saying that are impacting our customer decisions? etc. Another suggestion was to provide an analysis of two winning transactions and two losing transactions for each board meeting.
- One out of 3 companies doesn't have marketing represented on the board. The panel thought this was shocking! One great analogy from the panel: the CFO is like the defensive coordinator of a football team, as they try to make sure nothing goes wrong, cash flow is strong, etc. Marketing is like the offensive coordinator, all about growth...marketing should be the one to decide the market opportunity for where the company is going, and how they will get there. Marketing should have the road map for the whole company.
- Product management should absolutely be a part of marketing, not a part of development, where it sometimes resides. Some companies have it as a part of sales, or dont have the function at all! Again, the board thought this was crazy as this product road map should be the basis for where the company is going.
- Kevin quotes Steve Jobs mantra that a brochure should technically precede product development. Make sure the product is worth buying, has a compelling value proposition, and ensure there is a market and appetite for it. Then you know you have something worth creating.
- Regarding how a CMO can grow into a CEO role: couple pieces of advice: 1) sit on a board of a smaller company so you can see all the aspects of a growing company from a unique angle and 2) spend a lot of time understanding the pain points, goals, challenges, etc. of each function within a company. Only a person with empathy and understanding across functions can serve as an effective CEO. 3) Transcend the stereotypically contentious sales/marketing relationship and build and play to your natural leadership by getting your company's "egos and big brains working in harmony."
Some ideas for best practices from the audience:
- A CMO should consider taking each functional peer (CFO, VP of Sales, CTO, etc.) to lunch on a regular basis, or consider meeting with them once a week to share updates on the market, products, etc. Typically the other functional heads dont engage in team development, but its imperative for a marketers success.
- Provide your team a weekly competitive update (could be a 15 minute verbal briefing). There will be something different in it for each department and it's a great way to build relationships and establish credibility.
- Meet with customers! Meet suppliers! There is nothing more powerful than information and data: brought back to the management team or the board and delivered in relevant terms.
- One way to engage with product development is through the production of white papers that tell a story. Marketing can work with the CTO or the development team to create content deliverables, and through the process of ensuring a compelling story, bring the two critical functions closer together.- Lisa Throckmorton
Last Thursday night was the Second Annual SECAF
what an event! Of course, I am biased since Im on the board, but Im not just paying lip service to this group. The spirit and the energy I personally experience with SECAF reflects that this is not your run-of-the-mill networking program.
There is something special about the SECAF community, which most likely starts with the leadership of Shiv Krishnan
, chairman for SECAF and CEO of Indus, Inc. You can always count on him to crack a joke at the podium, poke fun at other board members, and generally make others feel comfortable, even when hes on a stage speaking to 300+ guests. The ribbing, the kudos, and the familial exchange between SECAF members and the board are what makes these events a treat, rather than an obligation.
So, onto the results and the fun stuff: close to 100 nominations were submitted (enviable, if youve ever been involved in an awards program) and 22 finalists were selected in several categories.
Each finalist company received personalized recognition in the form of a custom video, thanks to the creative work of TalkingTree Creative
who pulled the production for this program together. The videos depicted whats in the heart of each company: their mission, growth trajectory and corporate values.
Then came the moment of anticipation, where a winner in each category was announced, and short speeches followed. More ribbing, more joking, and a stepped up level of roasting by other board members while on stage. Soon, coffee was served.
Please join me in recognizing the 2nd Annual SECAF Awards finalists and winners.
SECAF Contractor of the Year (under $6 million): Integrity Management Consulting, Inc. (winner)
Berico Tailored Systems
Credence Management Solutions
Link Solutions, Inc.
SECAF Contractor of the Year ($6 to $12 million): Culmen International (winner)
Dozier Technologies, Inc.
SECAF Contractor of the Year ($12 to $25 million): SENTECH, Inc. (winner)
Advanced Technology & Research Corp
Digital Management, Inc.
Morgan Borszcz Consulting
Technical & Project Engineering, LLC
Small Business Partner (Privately-owned greater than $25 million): LMI (winner)
Development Alternatives, Inc.
Small Business Partner (Publicly-owned greater than $25M) CACI International (winner)
The evening then ended with a special award: the SECAF board and the Galas judging panel selected a government representative believed to be a great example of serving as an advocate for the small business community. Kevin Boshears
, Director of the Department of Homeland Securitys Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, was recognized with a standing ovation as the Government Advocate of the Year. He received accolades for all the times he has talked to SECAF members, volunteered his time to speak to sold out crowds, and offered his advice to up-and-coming companies on how to work better with government.
Our friend at Tech Bisnow (@techbisnow), David Stegon
, captured some great photos
of the program, which ran in his column the next day. GovConWire
captured several folks on camera talking about the strength of the program and the opportunities available to companies today in the government market.
Of course, there will be a Third Annual Gala, so I hope youll join us there next year!
-- Elizabeth Shea