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Praise for The New Rules of Marketing and PR “The Internet is not so much about technology as it is about people. David Meerman Scott, in his remarkable The. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by Hardison for coaching and friendship beyond th. New. Rules of. Marketing. & PR. Strategic. Role of. Product. Management products . lesforgesdessalles.info pdf.
If the school targets a specific type of applicant, say student-athletes, they might build a specific buyer persona profile for the high school student who participates in varsity sports. Blogging provides experts and wannabes with an easy way to make their voices heard in the Web-based marketplace of ideas. Audio clips have been available on Web sites since the early days. The media are critically important for many organiza- tions. A significant number of people are also blogging for marketing purposes, some with amazing success. Peterson is very conscious of the words and phrases that he uses in news releases and crafts them to reach specific niche targets.
This is bril- liant stuff. The site is designed to work for a major and often-ignored audi- ence: Marketing on the Web is not about generic banner ads designed to trick people with neon color or wacky movement. It is about un- derstanding the keywords and phrases that our buyers are using and then deploying micro-campaigns to drive buyers to pages replete with the content that they seek. In fact, I think that online content in all of its forms is causing a convergence of marketing and PR that does not really exist offline.
When your buyer is on the Web browsing for something, content is content in all of its manifestations. And in an interconnected Web world, con- tent drives action.
On the speaking circuit, I often hear people claim that online con- tent such as blogs and news releases is really only good for technol- ogy companies.
Great content brands an organization as a trusted resource and calls people to action—to buy, subscribe, apply, or donate. And great con- tent means that interested people return again and again. As a result, the organization succeeds, achieving goals such as adding revenue, building traffic, gaining donations, or generating sales leads.
For instance, The Concrete Network4 provides information about residential concrete products and services and helps buyers and sell- ers connect with each other. The company targets consumers and builders who might want to plan and build a concrete patio, pool deck, or driveway—this audience makes up the business-to-consumer B2C component of The Concrete Network—as well as the concrete contractors who comprise the business-to-business B2B compo- nent.
As a result of all of the terrific content, The Concrete Network gets more traffic than any other site in the concrete industry, according to Peterson. He says that releases with headlines that are tied to holidays, releases that are on the humorous side, and educational releases work best. The headline, Concrete Furniture? Peterson is very conscious of the words and phrases that he uses in news releases and crafts them to reach specific niche targets. For example, Peterson chooses from dozens of photos just of concrete patios.
We see it as another component of our marketing. What is his advice to other company presidents and CEOs? For example, we created an entire series of buyer guides, because we knew that they would be valuable to the market. You need to think about how a series of one hundred news releases over two years will benefit your business and then commit to it, un- derstanding that nothing is an overnight thing. Get down to the essence of what your product solves and write good stories about that and publish them online.
If content sells concrete, content can sell what you have to offer, too! But the new rules do work—really well. Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars per month on a media relations program that tries to convince a handful of reporters at select magazines, newspapers, and TV stations to cover us, we should be targeting the plugged-in bloggers, online news sites, micro- publications, public speakers, analysts, and consultants that reach the targeted audiences that are looking for what we have to offer.
Better yet, we no longer even need to wait for someone with a media voice to write about us at all. With blogs, we communicate directly with our audience, bypassing the media filter completely. We have the power to create our own media brand in the niche of our own choos- ing. To succeed in long-tail marketing and PR, we need to adopt differ- ent criteria for success. Oprah is a longshot, but right now bloggers would love to hear from you.
Oprah must ignore books a day, but bloggers run to their mailbox to see what interesting things might be in there trust me, I know from experience. Sure, it would be great to have our businesses profiled in Fortune or BusinessWeek. The Convergence of Marketing and PR on the Web As I originally wrote this list and edited it down, I was struck by how important one particular concept was to any successful online strategy to reach buyers directly: In an offline world, marketing and PR are separate departments with differ- ent people and different skill sets, but this is not the case on the Web.
And when a buyer is researching your product cate- gory by using a search engine, does it really matter if the first exposure is a hit on your Web site, or a news release your organization sent, or a magazine article, or a post on your blog?
Yes, mainstream media is still important, but today smart marketers craft compelling messages and tell the world directly via the Web. Bryan and Jeffery Eisenberg are experts in understanding visitors in order to convert Web site traffic into leads, customers, and sales. They offer these services through their company, FutureNow,1 and its Persuasion Architecture methodology.
The brothers are also au- thors of Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?: In a fasci- nating tale of online marketing, direct-to-consumer news releases, cats versus dogs, and blogging, Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? How in the world did they do it? Sepa- rately, the authors sent advance-reading copies of the book to hun- dreds of influential bloggers even I got one and other people who might be in the position to generate early, prepublication buzz.
Then a campaign of multiple targeted news releases distributed through PRWeb5 kicked in, months before the publication of the book. The series of news releases state the ideas of the book in many different ways. We are trying to nudge people along by creat- ing funnels and entry points into the book through the news re- leases and online marketing. Let me repeat—they sent a news release every day for a period of several months. The purpose of the news releases was to get the ideas into the marketplace so that bloggers would find the infor- mation covered in the book and then write about it.
Note that the Eisenbergs did not send the daily releases to the media via e-mail; rather, this was a strategy to reach bloggers and consumers via search engines and RSS feeds through news release content. They were crafted with provoca- tive, newsy headlines such as the following: Some bloggers wrote about the book, developed conversations around its ideas, and helped push it along to many thousands of consumers via word-of- blog.
Some examples include: Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? No doubt about it. The people who are looking at the news releases are the bloggers. Jeffrey Eisenberg uses a farming metaphor to describe successful marketing and PR, noting that you will be much more successful if you forget about trying to get the huge article.
Big yields come from cultivating many small relationships rather than a focus on trying to get that one mega-success. Lots of bits and pieces of content added up to the big strategy and the payoff was a number-one bestselling book. Lots of small things added up make the difference. All these media allow organizations to deliver the right information to buyers, right at the point when they are most receptive to the infor- mation. The tools at our disposal as marketers are Web-based media to deliver our own thoughtful and informative content via Web sites, blogs, e-books, white papers, images, photos, audio content, and video, and even things like product placement, games, and virtual reality.
We also have the ability to interact and participate in conver- sations that other people begin in established blogs, chat rooms, and forums. What links all of these techniques together is that organiza- tions of all types behave like publishers, creating content that people are eager to consume. Organizations gain credibility and loyalty with buyers through content, and smart marketers now think and act like publishers in order to create and deliver content targeted directly at their audience.
TV ads make marketing people at larger companies feel good. When we had three networks and no cable, it was different. It might make you feel good, but did it bring in any money? Instead of deploying huge budgets for dumbed-down TV commer- cials that purport to speak to the masses and therefore appeal to no- body, we need to think about the messages that our niche audiences wait to hear.
Why not build content specifically for these niche audi- ences and tell them an online story about your product, a story that is created especially for them? Buyer Personas: I discuss buyer personas in detail in Chapter It can be daunting for many of us to consider who, exactly, is visiting our site.
But if we break the buyers into dis- tinct groups and then catalog everything we know about each one, we make it easier to create content targeted to each important demo- graphic. For example, a college Web site usually has the goal of keeping alumni happy so they donate money to their alma mater on a regular basis. So perhaps a college would have two buyer personas for alumni: Universities also have a goal of re- cruiting students by driving them into the application process. So the effective college site might have a buyer persona for the high school student who is considering college.
But the parents of the prospective student have very different information needs, so the site designers might build another buyer persona for parents. And a col- lege also has to keep its existing customers current students happy. The goal for the current student aspects of the site might be to make certain they come back for another year of studies and to answer routine ques- tions so that staff time is not wasted. By truly understanding the needs and the mindset of the five buyer personas, the college will be able to create appropriate con- tent.
As mentioned earlier, Web site content too often simply describes what an organization or a product does from an egotistical perspective.
While information about your organization and prod- ucts is certainly valuable on the inner pages of your site, what visi- tors really want is content that first describes the issues and problems they face and then provides details on how to solve those problems. Well organized Web content will lead your visitors through the sales cycle all the way to the point when they are ready to make a purchase or other commitment to your organization.
Understanding buyers and building an effective content strategy to reach them is critical for success. And providing clear links from the content to the place where action occurs is critical. Consider Mike Ped- ersen, who is widely acknowledged as one of the leading golf fitness training experts in the United States, having taught thousands of golfers the fitness approach to playing a consistently great game of golf.
Pedersen runs an online business providing products for golfers to im- prove their game by getting in better shape. The article might be targeted to a small aspect of the golf swing, for example, and the guys I write for know how it can help them.
Pedersen says that key to everything about his business is targeting his buyers directly with content specifically for them. His focus on his buyer persona of the older man who loves golf but is physically able to do less in declin- ing years is relentless. He also offers individual-topic DVDs and exercise supplies such as weighted golf clubs.
At the bottom of each article on the site, there is a clear path and a call to action. Get my Free Golf Fitness Ebook and find out! The ma- jority of e-mail messages he sends are alerts about new content and contain no sales pitch at all. Think Like a Publisher The new publishing model on the Web is not about hype and spin and messages.
It is about delivering content when and where it is needed and, in the process, branding you or your organization as a leader. When you understand your audience, those people who will become your buyers or those who will join, donate, subscribe, apply, volun- teer, or vote , you can craft an editorial and content strategy just for them. What works is a focus on your buyers and their problems. What fails is an egocentric display of your products and services. In order to implement a successful strategy, think like a publisher.
Marketers at the organizations successfully using the new rules rec- ognize the fact that they are now purveyors of information, and they manage content as a valuable asset with the same care that a publish- ing company does. One of the most important things that publishers do is start with a content strategy and then focus on the mechanics 13 http: Publishers carefully identify and define target audiences and consider what content is required in order to meet their needs.
Publishers consider all of the following questions: Who are my readers? How do I reach them? What are their motivations? What are the problems I can help them solve? How can I entertain them and inform them at the same time? What content will compel them to purchase what I have to offer? His company, Le Cache Premium Wine Cabinets, sells furniture-quality wine storage cabinets primarily to individuals, helping them showcase, protect, and properly age fine wine.
The bul- letin board gets millions of page views every month. We do our job to say how we think wine should be stored but then bring people back to the blog for more in- formation. It also helps that each blog post and forum comment turns into search-engine-marketing fodder to drive more traffic.
The effort is paying off. An effective Web marketing and PR strategy that delivers com- pelling content to buyers gets them to take action.
You will learn more about developing your own marketing and PR strategy in Chapter At successful organizations, news releases, blogs, Web sites, podcasts, and other content draw visitors into the sales-consideration cycle, then funnel them toward the place where action occurs.
The goal is not hidden, and it is easy for buyers to find the way to take the next step. Ultimately, when marketers focus on the same goals as the rest of the organization, we develop marketing programs that really deliver action and begin to contribute to the bottom line and command re- spect.
Content and Thought Leadership For many companies and individuals, reaching customers with Web content has a powerful, less obvious effect. Content brands an or- ganization as a thought leader. Indeed, many organizations create content especially to position them as thought leaders in their mar- ket.
See Chapter 11 for more on thought leadership. In the next chapters that make up Part II of the book, I will intro- duce blogs, news releases, podcasting, online forums, viral market- ing, and social networking.
Con- tent turns browsers into buyers. Since , my blog1 has been where I post my ideas, both big and small. My blog allows me to push ideas into the marketplace as I think of them, generating instant feedback. Sure, many blog posts just sit there with no feedback, no comments, and no results.
On the other hand, some posts have had truly phenomenal results, quite literally changing my business in the process. But the truth is that blogging really has changed my life.
The first time I shared my ideas about the new rules of PR, in a post on my blog that included a link to an e-book I had written, the 1 http: In the first week, thousands of peo- ple viewed the post. That one blog post—and the resulting refinement of my ideas after receiv- ing so much feedback, both positive and negative—created the op- portunity to write the book you are now reading.
And as I was writing the book during much of , I continually posted parts of it, which generated even more critical feedback—hundreds of com- ments—that made the book much better.
Thanks to the power of search engines, my blog is also is the most vital and effective way for people to find me. Every word of every post is indexed by Google, Yahoo! Journalists find me through my blog and quote me in news- paper and magazine articles without me having to pitch them. Confer- ence organizers book me to speak at events as a result of reading my ideas on my blog. As I write and talk to these corporate audiences and other profes- sionals about the power of blogging, many people want to know about the return on investment ROI of blogging.
In particular, ex- ecutives want to know, in dollars and cents, what the results will be. The bad news is that this information is difficult to quantify with any degree of certainty. The good news is that blogging most certainly generates returns for anyone who cre- ates an interesting blog and posts regularly to it.
So what about me? My blog has gotten my ideas out to thousands of people who have never heard of me before. It has helped me get booked for at least a dozen important speaking gigs around the world. Tapping Millions of Evangelists to Tell Your Story 45 or from purchasers who cited the blog as important to their decision to hire me. Consider this: Will writing a blog change your life, too? Blogging is not for everyone. Yes, the rewards may be financial. But your blog will most certainly serve you as a valuable creative outlet, perhaps a more important reward for you and your business.
The rest of this chapter describes more about blogs and blogging. You will meet other successful bloggers who have added value to their organizations and benefited themselves by blogging. The nitty- gritty stuff of starting a blog, what to write about, the technology you will need, and other details are found in Chapter Blogs, Blogging, and Bloggers Weblogs blogs have burst onto the content scene because the tech- nology is such an easy and efficient way to get personal or organiza- tional viewpoints out into the market.
With easy-to-use blog software, anyone can create a professional-looking blog in just min- utes. A significant number of people are also blogging for marketing purposes, some with amazing success. When I ask how many people are writing their own blogs, the number is always less than 10 percent. A blog is just a Web site. A blog is almost always written by one person who has a fire in the belly and wants to communicate with the world.
There are also group blogs written by several people and even corporate blogs produced by a department or entire company without individual personalities at all , but these are less common.
The most popular form by far is the individual blog. A blog is written using software that puts the most recent update, or post, at the top of the site reverse chronological order. Posts are tagged to appear in selected information categories on the blog and often include identifiers about the content of the post to make it easy for people to find what they want on the blog and via search engines. Software for creating a blog functions essentially as an easy-to-use, personal content management system that allows bloggers to become authors without any HTML experience.
If you can use Microsoft Word or successfully buy a product online from Amazon, you have enough technical skills to blog! In fact, I often suggest that small companies and individual entrepreneurs create a blog rather than a standard Web site because a blog is easier to create for someone who lacks technical skills. Today there are thousands of smaller compa- nies, consultants, and professionals who have a blog but no regular Web site.
Many blogs allow readers to leave comments. I actually like some controversy on my blog because it can spark debate. Opinions that are different from mine on my blog are just fine! This might take some getting used to, especially for a traditional PR department that likes to con- trol messaging. However, I strongly believe that comments from readers offering different viewpoints than the original post are actu- ally a good thing on a blog, because they add credibility to your viewpoint by showing two sides of an issue and by highlighting that your readership is passionate enough to want to contribute to a de- bate on your blog.
How cool is that? Understanding Blogs in the World of the Web Blogs are independent, Web-based journals containing opinions about anything and everything. Journalists as well as public rela- tions and marketing professionals are quick to dismiss the importance of blogs because they often insist on comparing blogs with magazines and newspapers, with which they are comfortable. In journal- ism school and on their first-beat assignments when they begin their career, aspiring reporters and editors are taught that stories are de- veloped through research and interviews with knowledgeable sources.
Blogs are very different. Blogging provides experts and wannabes with an easy way to make their voices heard in the Web-based marketplace of ideas. But the metaphor of the Web as a newspaper is inaccurate on many levels, particularly when trying to understand blogs. It is better to think of the Web as a huge city teaming with individuals, and blogs as the sounds of inde- pendent voices, just like those of the street-corner soapbox preacher or that friend of yours who always recommends the best books.
For days, Rather dug in while CBS dis- missed the bloggers as a bunch of geeks in pajamas typing away in the dead of night. Of course as we know now, ignoring bloggers cost Rather his job. Had he taken the bloggers seriously and immediately investigated the documents, perhaps he, too, would have very quickly concluded that they were fake.
In that case, an explanation and apology might have resulted in the affair blowing over. But dis- missing bloggers and their opinions was clearly a mistake. That was years ago. Although bloggers have become more influential since then, there is still a great deal of similarly dismissive behavior going on inside media companies and corporate PR departments. Consider it from the Web-as-a-city perspective: The woman next to you at the bar may not be a journalist, but she sure knows something, and you can choose to believe her or not.
Inci- dentally, seeing the Web as a city also helps make sense of other as- pects of online life. Craigslist is like the bulletin board at the entrance of the corner store; eBay, a garage sale; Amazon, a book- store replete with patrons anxious to give you their book tips.
Should you believe everything you read on blogs? Hell, no! Thinking of the Web as a city, rather than a newspaper, and bloggers as individual citizen voices provides implications for all net-citizens. Blogs and bloggers are now important and valuable alternative sources of information, not unlike your next-door neighbor. Take them with a grain of salt. Just re- member that nobody ever said your neighbor was the same as a newspaper. The challenge for marketers and PR people is to make sense of the voices out there and to incorporate their ideas into our own.
Organizations have the power to become tremendously rich and successful by harnessing the millions of conversations found in Web City.
The Three Uses of Blogs for Marketing and PR As you get started with blogs and blogging, you should think about three different ways to use them: To easily monitor what millions of people are saying about you, the market you sell into, your organization, and its products.
To begin and to shape those conversations by creating and writing your own blog. There are good reasons for jumping into the blog world using these three steps. First, by monitoring what people are saying about the marketplace you sell into as well as your company and products, you get a sense of the important bloggers, their online voices, and blog etiquette.
It is quite important to understand the unwritten rules of blogging, and the best way to do that is to read blogs. Next, you can begin to leave comments on the blogs that are important for your industry or marketplace.
Finally, when you feel com- fortable with blogs and bloggers, you can take the plunge by creating your own blog. Some of the more popular blogs have read- erships that are larger than that of the daily newspaper of a major city. PR people care about the readership of the Boston Globe, right?
Then they should care about a blog that has a similar number of readers. If you become known within your organization as an expert in monitoring blogs, it is a much smaller leap to gaining permission to create your own.
There is an unprecedented amount of unsolicited comments and market intelligence available on blogs. It is a unique way to tap into the mind of the marketplace. It is an interesting and fertile ground. Technorati6 is an excellent blog search engine. It allows you to instantly see if any of the 66 mil- lion blogs that it tracks have any information you need to know. More sophisticated marketers then start to analyze trends.
Are the blog posts about your company positive or negative in tone? How does that compare with the ratios from six months ago? Seeing the blogosphere as a source of market intelligence is now vital for com- panies. Bloggers provide instanta- neous and unsolicited comments on your products, and this free in- formation is just waiting for you to tap into it.
Most blogs have a feature that allows anyone to comment on posts. At that time he was still Governor of Virginia. So pretty soon people were reading stuff on the site about how Virginia was the best-managed state in America. He and his team cre- ated the Mark Warner for President blog,8 a series of Yahoo!
We have been the group to get Mark Warner a grassroots following. We believe future cam- paign organizers will adopt this model. Our expectation is that many in our organization will go on to be active in his campaign once he declares his candidacy. By building support via blogs and the Internet, Ratliff estimates he sees about 20 invitations for every one that Warner can accept. There is absolutely no way that I could do this without blogs and the Web.
I use the Internet to raise money, recruit grassroots supporters, and connect with other organi- zations. Bloggers seem to take candidates who have their own blogs more seriously. They seem to reward those who are members of the club a little more. At the same time, if you sound like an idiot, they will still make fun of you!
Al- though the example is from politics, a similar strategy to comment on and therefore influence the thinking of bloggers should work for most any organization. But it takes an understanding of blogs and blogging etiquette to pull it off without sounding like a corporate shill.
Focus on what the blog post says, and comment on that. As ap- propriate, you can point to your blog if you have one or your Web site as your contact information.
Sadly for Ratliff and the many Mark Warner supporters, in October , several months after my conversations with Ratliff and Delany, Warner announced that he would not run for President in Just like the hand-wringing over personal computers entering the workplace in the s, and also echoing the Web and e-mail debates of the s, company executives seem to be getting their collective knick- ers in a twist about blogs these days.
Remember when executives be- lieved e-mail might expose a corporation to its secrets being revealed to the outside world? How about when people wor- ried about employees freely using the public Internet and all of its gasp! On one side of the corporate fence, the legal eagles are worried about secrets being revealed by their employees while creating content or commenting on blogs.
Employees do silly things. This debate should be cen- tered on people, not technology. So my recommendation to organizations is simple. The guidelines should include e-mail, writing a blog, commenting on blogs and online forums and chat rooms , and other forms of communica- tion. Rather than focus on putting guidelines on blogs the tech- nology , it is better to focus on guiding the way people behave.
However, as always, check with your own legal advisors if you have concerns. Some organizations take a creative approach to blogging by saying that all blogs are personal and the opinions expressed are of the blogger, not the organization. That seems like a good attitude to me.
What I disagree with is putting in place draconian command-and- control measures that say either that employees cannot blog or sub- mit comments or that they must pass all blog posts through the corporate communications people before posting.
Freely published blogs are an important part of business and should be encouraged by forward-thinking organizations. Breaking Boundaries: Sure, it has a corporate-speak tone to it, but it also feels authentic.
The series highlights themes of opportunity, food quality, and community. In an interview that originally appeared in the October issue of EContent, Wilson told me: People have blogged their way to dream jobs and book deals through the ideas they express.
Rock bands have built loyal follow- ings and gained record contracts. Political candidates have broken out of the pack. And companies have competed effectively, even against much larger, better-funded players. Consider Alacra, a com- pany that creates online technology and services for financial institu- tions and professional services firms to find, package, and present business information.
In the crowded field of professional informa- tion services, Alacra, a company of about people, competes with much bigger players such as Thomson 40, employees and Reid Elsevier 36, employees.
Certainly AlacraBlog15 is valuable for us as a way to get our name out there. By blogging I am able to put a face on [our] company. He uses the blog to tell his con- stituents things really quickly and informally. We have a London office, so I use it to communicate to employees. But by starting a blog early and keeping the information flow- ing, Goldstein has positioned Alacra ahead of many huge information companies hundreds of times the size of Alacra. I find it fascinating that most of the time when I mention a company or product on my blog I do not get any sort of response from that organization.
Press releases have never been exclusively for the press. My first job in the mids was on a Wall Street trading desk.
Every day, I would come to work and watch the Dow Jones Telerate and Reuters screens as they displayed specialized financial data, eco- nomic information, and stock prices.
The screens also displayed newsfeeds, and within these newsfeeds were press releases. For decades, financial markets professionals have had access to company press releases distributed through BusinessWire, PRNewswire, and other electronic press release distribution services. I distinctly remember traders intently watching the newswires for any signs of market-moving events.
Often the headline of a press re- lease would cause frenzy: IBM is acquiring a software company! Press releases have also been available to professionals working within corporations, government agencies, and law firms, all of which have had access to raw press releases through services like NewsEdge, Factiva, and LexisNexis. These services have been deliv- ering press releases to all kinds of professionals for competitive intel- ligence, research, discovery, and other purposes for decades.
Of course, since about , the wide availability of the Web has meant that press releases have been available for free to anyone with an Internet connection and Web browser.
Millions of people read press releases directly, unfiltered by the media. You need to be speaking directly to them! We dis- agree! The role of public relations and the purpose of the press re- lease as a tool are about communicating with the media. PR is about reaching your audience.
I think PR professionals have a fear of the unknown. Obviously, the first word of the term press release throws off some people, particularly PR professionals.
Via the IAOC blog,4 people commented on direct-to-consumer releases. News Releases in a Web World The media have been disintermediated. Buyers read your news releases directly, and you need to be speaking their language. Today, savvy marketing and PR profession- als use news releases to reach buyers directly. As I mentioned in Chapter 1, this is not to suggest that media relations are no longer important; mainstream media and the trade press must be part of an overall communications strategy.
In some markets, mainstream media 3 http: But your primary audience is no longer just a handful of journalists. Your au- dience is millions of people with Internet connections and access to search engines and RSS readers.
Here, then, are the rules of this new direct-to-consumer medium. You need to fundamentally change the way you use news releases. Facing a blank PowerPoint file, I decided to hit Google in search of inspiration. The highest- ranked listings for this phrase were from WebEx, a company that provides online collaboration services. What was most interesting to me was that the links pointed to news releases on the WebEx site. WEBX , the leading provider of on-demand collaborative applications, today launched WebEx Sales Cen- ter, a new service that helps companies accelerate sales cycles, increase win rates, and close more deals by leveraging online sales calls.
Then I went over to Google News7 and checked out the same phrase. The news 5 http: WebEx also provided links in some news re- leases directly to free trial offers of their services. Our thinking is that, especially for companies that have an end-user appeal, news re- leases are a great channel. So when I searched on that phrase, WebEx was at the top of the listings. As a result, WebEx provided me with an excellent and real exam- ple of a company that had optimized the content of news releases to include relevant terms such as the one I was looking for.
And WebEx has greatly benefited from their efforts. Since WebEx is a public company, the other 20 percent are earnings releases and other regulatory releases. For example, he pays attention to ma- jor events in the news where WebEx online collaboration would be useful.
We did the same thing for the New York City transit strike. Offering the service for free often creates loyal future users. Direct-to-consumer news releases are an important component of the marketing mix at WebEx. The numbers are significant. WebEx, and thousands of other innovative or- ganizations like it, prove that a direct-to-consumer news release strategy can coexist within an organization that cares about media relations.
The Web has turned all kinds of compa- nies, nonprofits, political campaigns, individuals, and even churches and rock bands into just-in-time and just-right publishers. Audio clips have been available on Web sites since the early days. The result was that most files were long—an hour or more—and people had no idea what was in them without actually listening. Not many did. The transformation from static audio downloads to radio station— like podcasts, which are much more valuable to listeners and also more valuable as marketing vehicles for organizations , occurred because of two developments.
The first development was the abil- ity to add audio feeds and notifications to RSS. This enables listen- ers who subscribe to an audio feed to download new updates soon after they are released. When audio content was liberated from the need for one large download and went instead to being offered as a series of continuous audio clips, the concept of shows took off.
Hosts modeled their shows on radio, producing content on spe- cific subjects catering to distinct audiences. Radio spec- trums can support only a finite number of stations, and radio sig- nals have limited geographic range. To support the technical infrastructure of radio, broadcasters need large audiences and lots of advertising or donors in the case of public radio to pay the bills. Contrast that with Internet audio podcasting, which is es- sentially free except for minimal hosting fees and some cheap equipment.
A podcast show is available to a potentially world- wide audience, allowing millions of people the opportunity to cre- ate shows and listen to them.
The second major development was the availability of those pod- cast feeds through iTunes. Now all iPod users can simply subscribe to a feed usually at no cost , and then every time they plug their iPod into their computer, the new shows from the feeds they sub- scribe to automatically download and are copied to the iPod.
People who commute and listen to their iPod in the car or on the train, or those who work out with an iPod, suddenly have access to regularly updating shows from the myriad niches that they specifically choose.
With podcasting, people instantly liberate themselves from the tyranny of mainstream, hit-driven broadcast radio and can listen to shows based on their specific interests. Perhaps we should back up for just a moment. The term podcast- ing confuses some people. A podcast is simply audio content con- nected to an RSS feed.
You can listen to a pod- cast on an iPod or on any other MP3 player or directly from your computer—no iPod required. Now marketers have a tool to efficiently create and deliver au- dio content to those people who wish to receive it. By appealing to a niche market and delivering au- dio that people choose to hear, an organization is seen as a thought leader and is the first choice for listeners looking to make a purchase. The best they could do was to establish a local audience in a city or region, or perhaps with a de- finable market such as northeastern U.
Enter podcasting. Now anybody with some simple and easy-to-use equip- ment can set up as a radio station and get instant global distribution via iTunes and other distribution services.
George L. Smyth hosts the Eclectic Mix podcast,1 where he chal- lenges listeners to open their minds to new and diverse music and promotes bands that he likes at the same time. The banner of his site even has a definition of eclectic, to make sure people understand his approach: My interest in music goes back to my college days, when I would copy records to tape and trade with my friends.
In the past there was no choice, but now there is a choice. Many artists will tell you that they just want people to hear the music. But many indie acts embrace podcasting, as well as people like Smyth who promote their music via podcasts. Podcasting is different. Editorial note to music fans: Besides working with other podcasters, Moonah and Uncle Seth also host their own podcast.
So we went the direction of doing things like talking for an entire show about the first records we ever bought. But for us, the social aspect is really neat; bands and other organizations combine the mu- sic and the community and mix them together. Like other online communities, it has a real-world commu- nity associated with it. So the advice I have for managers and label people is to not jump into your own podcast until you listen to other podcasts.
Find podcasts that you like and you think might play you, and submit your music to them to get going. Then think about what you want to do if you want to make your own podcast. The people who make it work are those who understand it. As a band, you can compete with radio via podcasts because you can get onto several podcasts, and then people will hear you several times, just like a radio rotation.
For content that is best delivered via audio or for buyers who prefer to listen to audio content, podcasting is obviously essential. But then some larger companies jumped into the Web. I see the same thing with the evolution of podcasting, with some big organizations jumping in, like NPR.
Companies that market to people who are on the road often such as traveling salespeople and therefore have downtime in their cars or on air- planes have had success reaching people with interesting podcasts. Instead, podcasting coexists with blogging, a great Web site, e-books, and other online marketing tools and pro- grams in a cohesive marketing strategy.
Digg,4 a technology news Web site that combines social book- marking, blogging, RSS, and nonhierarchical editorial control, uses a podcast to deliver technology news, commentary, and information to 4 http: But Digg also has a blog and a content-rich Web site, and the different marketing tools work together.
The Diggnation5 podcast, which generates more than , downloads per episode, is classic thought-leadership content. Hosted by Kevin Rose, founder and chief architect of Digg, Diggnation is not just about the company and its products. And they keep coming back. The technologies go by various names but all include a way for people to express opinions online: At specialty sites of all kinds, like-minded hobbyists, professionals, fans, and supporters meet and discuss the intricate nuances of subjects that interest them.
Interactive forums like these were once seen as insignificant back- waters by PR and marketing people—not worth the time to even monitor, let alone participate in.
Russinovich argued that shortcomings in the software design create security issues that might be exploited by ma- licious software such as worms or viruses. He also showed that both the way the software is installed and its lack of an uninstaller utility were troublesome.
Worse, most users that stumble across the cloaked files with an RKR scan will cripple their computer if they attempt the obvious step of deleting the cloaked files. This is a clear case of Sony taking DRM too far.
In the next several days, hundreds of comments, many harshly criti- cal of Sony BMG Music, were posted on his blog. I have purchased many thousands of dollars of their products over the years. They need to know that they are losing cus- tomers and WHY.
Perhaps others companies will get the message as 1 http: Hundreds of other bloggers jumped in with their own take on the issue, and chat rooms and forums such as Slashdot3 were abuzz. Many people expressed frustration that the music industry disap- proves of music piracy and sues music downloaders, yet treats its customers poorly which reflected negatively on the entire industry, not just Sony BMG.
Soon, reporters from online news sites such as ZDNet and InformationWeek wrote their own analyses, and the is- sue became international news.
So where was Sony BMG during the online hullabaloo? Not on the blogs. Not on the message boards. Nobody from Sony BMG par- ticipated in the online discussions. Nobody spoke with online me- dia. Sony BMG was dark not participating in the communities at all , which added to the frustrations of those who were concerned about the issues. The choice of NPR radio as a forum to react to a storm of protest on the Web was a poor one.
But instead of understand- ing customer concerns, Hesse downplayed the issue on Morning Edi- tion, saying he objected to terms such as malware, spyware, and rootkit. Online debate intensified.
This software was provided to us by a third-party vendor, First4Internet. Discussion has centered on security concerns raised about the use of CDs containing this soft- ware. We share the concerns of consumers regarding these discs, and we are instituting a mail-in program that will allow consumers to ex- change any CD with XCP software for the same CD without copy protection and receive MP3 files of the same title.
California and New York followed with class-action lawsuits. Reacting quickly and honestly in the same forums 6 http: You may not be able to completely turn a negative situation around, but you will in- stantly be seen as a real person who gives a name and a personality to a large, seemingly uncaring organization. Just by participating you will contribute to making the situation right. The Internet is like a massive focus group with uninhibited customers offering up their thoughts for free!
Tapping this resource is simple: It is best not to wait for a crisis. You should participate as appropriate all the time. How can you afford not to become closer to your most vocal constituents? Nikon launched the new model globally through specialty distributors and high-end camera stores frequented by experienced hobbyists and professionals.
The camera was a hot commodity when launched just prior to the holidays, and supply was constrained when it first hit the stores. Digital Photography Review.
The charge was made against my credit card. An hour later I got an e-mail that said they had a technical problem and the camera was actually not in stock, but they would hold my order and charge for when they actually get in stock. I tried cancelling the charge, and got an e-mail back on how 7 http: I will see what happens when I call them in the morning.
In both cases, avid participants in specialty online forums sounded off about a company, its products, and its business prac- tices. We regret and apologize for having vexed you. After that, the posts changed to become incredibly positive. However, he firmly denies the charges of lying and deceitful- ness that have been flying around.
And I absolutely believe him. Because my background is in pro- fessional photography, as a person who has actually used the equip- ment we sell I have legitimacy in the forums.
Posner monitors about a dozen message boards and forums on a daily basis. But if I see that there is a discussion that I can add value to, about equip- ment or technique that I am familiar with, I will jump in. I often hold back and let others speak for me. Well, as Henry Posner shows, if you participate in an active way in the online communities that your customers fre- quent, you will gain more of their sympathy and patience.
Your Space in the Forums The last two examples were of companies that had discussions started about them on online forums.
But how should a marketer in- teract? The site counts 3, registered users most actively post on the site and about , unique readers each month. Pearl- man says many astronauts read the forums because they are able to get a sense of the market for the memorabilia that they may have amassed over the years and to find out what fellow astronauts are up to on the lectures and appearances front. Astronauts also use the fo- rums to keep up with the history of the space program and protect their legacy.
And collectors looked at museums and said that they did a good job with major items like spacesuits and spacecraft but did a lousy job with literally the nuts and bolts except put them away in the archive.
Collectors have helped to plan exhibits and loaned items to the museums, and at the same time, museums were able to sell surplus items to collectors. Auction houses and dealers have been able to preview items to the market before a sale to gauge interest.
In the case of unique items, you get instant feedback through a mini-market study. We see people who have or even 1, posts, and they treat that as a badge of honor. The most successful companies come in and provide ideas and advice on a wide variety of subjects and topics that they are knowledgeable about.
They are full and ac- tive participants in the community. Then, when people complain or want specific product advice from a company, they will trust the community member more. Active participation can pay off exponen- tially for companies who are participants in the community. Just like fo- rums, a list serve is a way that groups of like-minded people stay connected to one another. Typically, any member can post to the list, but instead of requiring that people go to a central place to read mes- sages, a list serve sends messages out to the members of the group via e-mail.
Lisa Solomon, Esq. Solomon has been ex- tremely involved in participating in list serves such as the Solosez11 discussion list for solo attorneys, which is run by the American Bar Association. I am an active participant and try to always 10 http: In my list serve signature is my Web address.
That is the place that I send people to show them what I do. The partici- pation has been great for meeting contacts and building business. The most famous wiki is Wikipedia,12 the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, which has more than 1. The fact is that Wikipedia entries loom large in search engine rank- ings, and Wikipedia is in the top 10 most visited sites on the Web. When you find an entry about your company or brand, you should check it for accuracy.
The Wikipedia community is quick to react when arti- cles are edited to present a certain point of view. It is not uncommon to see an entry updated several times per day and with larger organiza- tions the updates can be much more frequent. In fact, one of the pil- lars of the community is: Sometimes, it might be best to create a new article on Wikipedia. For some organizations, authoring something on a particular niche where you have expertise may have tremendous value. As a starting point, you might notice that there are articles in the area you have knowledge in and that those 12 http: Blue or purple, if you have already visited them links represent pages that do exist.
For example, a tech- nology company might provide details on patents it holds that relate to products that already have Wikipedia entries.
Just like Robert Pearlman of collectSPACE, you may find an unfulfilled need in your marketplace to organize people and ideas into a single re- source. A wiki could be just what the doctor ordered—and you can start it, gaining tremendous value for your organization as a result. In September , Alacra and its CEO, Steve Goldstein, whom we met earlier in Chapter 4 describing his own AlacraBlog, unveiled AlacraWiki,13 an open and collaborative resource for producers and consumers of business information.
AlacraWiki brings together in- depth profiles of information sources, companies, and important people in the industry, and much more. The front page, which popu- lates via RSS feeds, is filled with information industry news from the premier analysts and trade publications. The wiki is a collaborative effort where anybody can create and update listings. To start the project, Goldstein hired a summer MBA student intern, who built the initial infrastructure and initial listings in just eight weeks.
As someone who has created both a blog and a wiki, how would Goldstein compare the skill sets to create them? Over on the wiki side, you need to be an expert in something to get it popu- lated to begin with, and then you need the resources to keep it up.
Where are people discussing your industry, and the products and services you offer? If that place already exists, you should monitor it and partici- pate as appropriate. This phe- nomenon was popularized in the summer of in video experi- ments produced by Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz1 on their eepybird site. After their initial success, Grobe and Voltz made a video of an extreme experiment to answer the following question: In only three weeks, four million people viewed the video.
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