Previously, I highlighted how I used social media. After reading recent posts by Dave Fleet and Social Media Explorer regarding the social media marketing ecosystem and measurement respectively, I wanted to expand upon my thoughts about how to take social marketing to the next level.
One challenge for many marketers isn’t how to get started, rather it’s how to delegate your time to make the most out of your social marketing. This series of posts will look at putting a social marketing strategy together. And where relevant, I’ll add my thoughts in terms of how PR can leverage this information for their strategies as well.
While many may start strong with social media, these efforts may slowly stop without fully evaluating if you’re ready to embark on a social marketing strategy. Here are six questions to ask yourself before starting:
1. Are your executives supporting you? While social marketing is being adopted by corporations, the question is whether your executives understand the value of social marketing to the business. Since results may not be immediate, you’ll want one executive sponsor who can advocate for the program and highlight the long-term benefits.
2. What are your objectives? The tendency is to start setting up pages and accounts before fully understanding what your objectives are. Take a step back and outline what your goals are before setting up accounts.
3. Where is your audience? Along with your objectives, evaluate where your audience congregates. Jeremiah Owyang of Web Strategist Blog calls this “fish where the fish are.”
4. Do you have something to say? Getting started is easy. Maintaining the momentum is difficult. Do you and your company have something to say, consistently? If not, then maybe starting a blog isn’t the best venue for you but maybe slideshare.net where you can post occasional presentations and white papers.
5. How much time do you have to dedicate to this? According to Exhibitor Media Group, 30% of marketing professionals spend 6+ hours on social marketing a week, with 10% spending 21+ hours. Do you have the time to monitor, create content and track metrics for your programs?
6. Who’s doing the work? Ok, you’ve identified someone who has the time, but who is that person? Social marketing is an extension of your corporate brand. You need to have the right individuals in place to evangelize and steward your brand.
By answering the above six questions, you can develop the right approach that fits your company and time. What other questions should one ask before pursuing a social marketing program?
On I recently had this happen to me not once, not twice, but THREE times from the same company. Each time, I mentioned I was in the midst of a deadline and to please send me an email with more information. To date, I have not received any info and each time, the person tries to engage me in a long phone conversation.
This made me realize that we do in marketing and PR is a form of selling. Marketing – we’re trying to “sell” an audience to consider our product or service; PR – we’re trying to “sell” a reporter, blogger or analyst on our version of story.
Cold calling is probably the most difficult part of selling. Do it well, and the reporter readily works with you on a story. Do it poorly and you may have the phone hung up on you unceremoniously? Here are five sure-fire ways to get the phone hung up on you:
1. Don’t respect the person’s time: Everyone is busy. Picking up the phone is an act of faith that the person on the other line has something valuable to provide. Taking 10 seconds to ask if they have a minute to chat goes a long way.
2. Don’t research the person first: Do as much research as you can on the person you’re calling. In the age of LinkedIn and Google, there’s no reason you can take 5 minutes to do a quick search. You don’t know how many times a person calls asking if I’m in “marketing.” One look on my company’s website, and they would’ve known.
3. Don’t ready your pitch beforehand: You should know what you’re pitching. If you can’t tell me in 60 seconds why you’re calling, then you’re just wasting my time.
4. Don’t listen to me: Let’s say I’m busy and ask that you send me something via email. While it may be a brush-off, it is also an opportunity for you to send me more information. Yet, you try to “hard-sell” me by asking for just a few minutes more of my time. Remember the first don’t?
5. Don’t treat me with respect: It’s interesting how many times a sales person calls me as if I should be honored to speak to him. Sorry – my time, my money. Be respectful.
Let me know if you’ve ever hung up on someone and why.
The landscape has drastically changed for analyst relations over the past few years. When I first started PR, there were just a handful of analyst firms with a few independent firms. In the end, you knew if you had briefings with Yankee Group, Gartner, Forrester, Jupiter and Meta Group, you had your bases covered. And for the company seeking to launch with a bang, Chris Shipley and the DEMO conference was the standard.
Now, there are more niche analyst groups and consulting firms that wield influence on a variety of topics. And the responsibility for managing AR no longer sits with PR or marketers, it’s extended to product management & marketing as well as all levels of the executive team.
But all is not gloom and doom. With the growth of niche influencers, there has been increased openness in research availability and knowledge. I also see this new breed of analysts having the potential to change how things have been done to date.
Quicker to Identify, Evaluate and Research New Technology Segments
With larger analyst firms, research areas are clearly defined to address the majority of incoming customer inquiries. Unless a nascent technology emerges as a definable trend, such as with increased customer interest, a traditional analyst firm may not formally delve further into that space. This is where a smaller analyst firm or consultancy has an advantage to identify, evaluate and research a new technology segment.
Open Garden Approach to Research and Thought Leadership
In addition to consulting clients, analyst firms charge hundreds and thousands of dollars to non-customers for research reports. To me, this is similar to the “walled garden” approach during the early days of the Internet when “membership” provided you access to valuable content.
For the most part, this metaphor is being replaced by free content which has challenged many industries, especially in publishing. While I don’t believe this will impact the revenue model for analyst firms, I do find it interesting that some firms – specifically The Altimeter Group* and ThinkBalm – allow individuals to access their reports free of charge.
Embrace of Social Media
This leads into the final area of change for analyst firms. The increased use of social media, such as blogs, twitter and event virtual worlds (for example ThinkBalm’s The Distillery in Second Life), further increases these analysts’ awareness in the market place. And for the savvy marketer and PR practitioner, new avenues to engage with these analysts not previously possible.
A new breed of analyst is emerging. They tend to have an “open garden” approach that engages people in conversations. And without a larger organizational structure, they have more freedom to explore different technology segments – both established and emerging.
The challenge for folks like you and me is determine which of these new analysts have the insight and business acumen to emerge as industry influencers. Engage the right ones and you’ll have an opportunity to shape the conversations around your industry.
For those of you overseeing analyst relations, do you agree or disagree?
* Read Jeremiah Owyang’s blog posting about the Altimeter Group Approach (two-thirds down the page).
I was watching TV over the weekend with my husband and happened to be on the E! Channel. We started watching this show called SPINdustry, which has the “inside” look of public relations. I don’t know about you, but I thought this show did more to harm to PR than enlighten what the industry is about. Here are three things I took away:
1. PR People are Bitchy: If you were to watch this show, you would think that everyone is backstabbing and looking out for only one’s career.
2. No Strategy Required: In this episode, the “gals” were running around putting together an event in one day. It just seemed that there was no strategy for the work beyond getting the big name stars to use their client’s product so it would appear in the magazines the following day.
3. PR Executives Just “Hob Nob”: The two main executives seemed to do no heavy lifting besides meeting with clients, having lunch and showing up at the venue right before it started.
It’s unfortunate that a show like this will be seen as being representative of public relations. While the client’s product was photographed in multiple consumer magazines, I’m unsure what the true objective of the PR program was. The client’s messages and objectives seemed to get lost in the process.
Maybe this is how entertainment PR is done and how it dramatically differs from technology PR. I would love any insight from someone from the entertainment industry. Is this show TRULY representative of your industry?
Consider issuing a media alert (a smaller version of a press release) one to two weeks before the conference. The purpose is to highlight your participation at the event, why attendees would want to visit your table or booth, and highlight any executives speaking at the conference.
Consider announcing significant news at the conference to drive buzz about your company. The news can be a game changer such as a new product, partnership or customer.
While some conferences will provide you with a media list, don’t completely rely on this as your single source for media. Research local reporters, analysts and bloggers who may be interested in meeting with your executives to learn more about your company.
While social media provides marketers more opportunities to directly connect with customers and prospects, it’s critical to engage in the conversation and use it as a listening tool. Monitor the conference hashtag to identify key conversations, consider posting event summaries to your blog or update your Flickr page with images from the show floor.
From the person staffing the booth to your key sales person networking the conference show floor, ensure that everyone is consistent on the key messages you want to communicate at the conference. I recommend creating a one-page cheat sheet that you review with everyone before the conference begins.
What other tips do you have for optimizing your tradeshow presence?
I was speaking to a friend the other day and we both joked about “Crazy Marketers.” After being in-house for four years now, I now understand why marketers may seem crazy to agencies. Here is a quick 5 step quiz to determine if you’re a crazy marketer or work with one:
1. Scatterbrained: Your attention is split among 100 different projects, all equally important in terms of priority. If yes, give yourself 5 points.
2. Constantly Changing Decisions: You make a decision but change it days, if not hours later. If yes, give yourself 5 points.
3. Your To-Do List Never Goes Down: You start your day at 6 am, write dozens of emails, take just as many calls and yet, you still haven’t addressed any to dos. If yes, give yourself 5 points.
4. Everything is a Fire Drill: You seem to run from fire drill to fire drill with all deliverables due yesterday. If yes, give yourself 5 points.
5. Diplomacy is the First Thing to Go: You start each conversation with, “I’m just going to be direct….” If yes, give yourself 5 points.
Now add up your score:
0-10 – Seek therapy
15-20 – Increase therapy to three times a week
20-25 – Too late – You’re crazy!
How did you score? Are there other symptoms of a Crazy Marketer?
Four years ago this month, I left the agency side to move in-house. During this time, I’ve had the opportunity to work with different types of agencies, do an agency search and consider the value of working with a PR freelancer. If you decide to bring in outside PR help, here are five points to consider:
The general rule of thumb is that 10% of any retainer goes toward administration. On this point, I do favor opting for a PR freelancer over an agency, especially if you have a smaller budget. Working closely with a contractor streamlines the process, focusing more on the tangible PR work versus administrative activities such as detailed weekly reports, activity reports, etc.
More Arms and Legs
Let’s be frank, the idea of bringing in outside PR is to provide more arms and legs to get the work done and deliver results. This will vary on your budget and PR objectives. A PR agency has a slight edge as the agency can grow with your PR needs. A PR contractor will be limited by the number of hours in her work week.
Along with administration, another aspect is transparency on what work is being done for your monthly retainer and by whom. Like administration, I believe a PR contractor has the edge over an agency. A contractor’s work is very evident based on the results provided and daily interactions. With a PR agency, it can be difficult to know who is truly pitching your business to the media – the seasoned account manager or the fresh-on-the-job account coordinator. Believe me, when a reporter forwards you an obvious mass pitch sent from the AC, you start wondering about the “transparency” that an agency provides.
Our world is more economically intertwined that it’s ever been. At some point, so will/may your business. Being able to reach global media, understand local customs and cultures, and communicate your messages accurately will be difficult with a PR contractor – no matter how well connected she may be. A PR agency with a global network or branches will provide an advantage for expanding your business and messages globally.
Experience & Strategic Counsel
On this one, I believe an experienced PR contractor and good agency will be on pare with one another. My one beef is the use of “name dropping” as a sign of experience. No – that’s a sign that you are a good networker but not necessarily a good PR person. The things I look for are:
* Chemistry: Does the person/team have a good rapport with you?
* Results to date: What results have they delivered in the past and for what type of client? Getting cover stories for a Fortune 100 does not apply to a start-up company.
* Referrals: Who is willing to vouch for the person? Ask for referrals to support what is being said in the room
* Does the Tail know what the Head’s doing? This one mainly refers to PR agencies. Oftentimes (and this has happened to me), a Director/VP and above will promise something to the client that falls to the team to implement. Or there is too divergent of thinking between the “team” handling the day-to-day and the “executive” counsel that parachutes in.
* Domain Expertise: This is tough one for me. I lean towards selecting someone/agency that really knows PR over domain expertise. Why? If you know how to speak with reporters and position a company, this transcends industries. The one exception that I can consider is if you MUST launch immediately; thereby requiring instant access to the reporters/influencers in your space.
In the end, selecting a PR contractor or agency depends on your objectives, budget constraints, size of company and working style. Pease let me know if there are any other points to consider in the comments.
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PR Contractor versus PR Agency: 5 Points to Help You Decide by @csalomonlee: http://bit.ly/8GDGSJ #marketing #pr
Cece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.
This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.
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