Social Media: Moving Beyond the Wire to Real-Time PR

Times are changing. Gone are the good old days when PR professionals had the luxury of drafting a press release around product launches or company news, providing byline articles and pushing out pitch ideas. Don’t get me wrong. Those things are still relevant, but for many, PR is still about how to provide content for reporters to repost or write a story based around a good pitch. Today, however, there is much more to it than that.

I recently spoke at an event sponsored by Business Wire where I had the pleasure of sharing the panel with several Phoenix reporters on how to pitch to reporters using social media. And while social media can be a great tool for connecting with reporters, today it’s much more than that – and it’s becoming critical in the way we manage our brand and media relations efforts. PR professionals whose job functions involve media relations must learn the rules of real-time PR. The new face of media relations requires even more speed and agility to seize market opportunities, real-time engagement and creative out-of-the-box approaches to become the first market mover.

Speed and Agility Win

In his soon-to-be-published book Real-Time Marketing and PR, David Meerman Scott wrote, “In the emerging real-time business environment, where public discourse is no longer dictated by the mass media, size is no longer a decisive advantage. Speed and agility win.”

Whether we’re an agency or in-house PR, we have to understand how to establish a competitive advantage if we are to truly win in today’s world. No longer should we be confined to traditional methods of PR or media relations, but instead, we must understand the world of the social Web. This is where listening and monitoring are so important. I hear so many PR pros say they are monitoring, but without understanding how to quickly respond with even more speed to the conversations, our efforts will fall by the wayside.

One clear example outlined by Meerman Scott is the famous YouTube sensation, “United Breaks Guitars,” where Canadian singer-songwriter David Carroll crafted a song about his experience with United Airlines and posted it to YouTube. The video hit 2M views in less than a month. Where speed and agility mattered was United Airlines’ ability to quickly respond to this video post in a timely fashion through real-time monitoring and participation. Sometimes having to say you’re sorry and providing your community with some insight into how you’re going to do a better job with your customer service is a great start. It humanizes your brand and let’s people know that you’re listening and fixing the issue at hand.

Seize Real-Time Opportunity

The maker of Dave’s guitar, Taylor Guitars, wasted no time in seizing real-time market opportunity to build goodwill with customers. In Meerman Scott’s book, his example outlines how within days of Dave’s YouTube post, Bob Taylor, the company’s president, created his own video around how traveling musicians can package their equipment and follow airline rules to better protect their guitars.  

Today, with so much information out there, it can feel like we’re drinking from a fire hydrant. This is where PR pros should think of ways to seize real-time opportunities by getting creative — not just writing a byline article and pushing it out – which takes time and could potentially be dated by the time it’s released. It’s about real-time response to trends, challenges and issues that are happening right before our eyes. To take advantage and capture your audience, think creatively by videos  or funny cartoons around best practices or how-tos and posting to your blog or pushing it out via social channels. A media alert can always come later where you package up all the information and publish it.

Real-Time Market Engagement

Speed and agility can’t go very far without engagement. While millions of people were tuning in to view Dave’s YouTube video, United didn’t seize the opportunity to respond and engage with its potential community of reporters, prospects, customers and bloggers. While Twitter and Facebook were all abuzz, the company did absolutely nothing to participate in the conversation. As one of the largest players in the airline industry — one that spends billions on advertising, PR and marketing — the company went silent. This lack of response showed a lack of customer commitment or the know-how to engage in today’s conversation. Meerman Scott writes: “United Airlines exhibited a paralysis in the face of a snowballing crisis. In the battle between the small, speedy and agile players and the slow, clumsy giant, I see prima-facie evidence that a revolution has indeed been set in motion.”

Whether you are a small company or a giant organization such as United Airlines, today it’s about having a dialogue — whether you like it not — because conversations will go on with or without you. The decision to participate and engage in real-time will make the difference between relevance and irrelevance. PR is not just about media relations anymore — it’s about wearing your customer support hat and engaging with real people online. This will further help you humanize your brand. It also sends a clear message to the online community — that your brand is actively listening, monitoring and engaging because you care about what people are saying, thinking, and doing in the market.

Meerman Scott sent me this quote via Twitter: “Social media are tools, Real-Time is a mindset.” You can have all the tools in the world – but if your organization lacks the will, speed and agility to engage in real-time, those tools become meaningless. It’s about empowering the people to harness the power of the social Web to listen, monitor, connect and engage through innovative means.

Click on Real-Time Marketing and PR for a sneak peek at Meerman Scott’s soon to be published book.

About David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott’s book The New Rules of Marketing & PR opened people’s eyes to the new realities of marketing and public relations on the Web. Six months on the BusinessWeek bestseller list and published in 26 languages from Bulgarian to Vietnamese, New Rules is now a modern business classic. Scott’s popular blog and hundreds of speaking engagements around the world give him a singular perspective on how businesses are implementing new strategies to reach buyers.

He is also the co-author (with Brian Halligan) of the hit book Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History and wrote three other books including World Wide Rave.

His Web Ink Now blog is ranked by AdAge Power 150 as a top worldwide marketing blog.

What’s the Big “O” in Social Media for Women

According to the 2009 Women and Social Media Study conducted by BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners, 79 million women are actively using social media, and 49 million U.S. women are engaging in online social media such as blogging, reading blogs, commenting on blogs, and participating in message boards and forums as well as providing status updates on Twitter, etc. Today, women make up the majority of users on most social media sites.

As the social media landscape continues to evolve, this is just further proof that women are not only latching on to social media as an important part of their overall strategy, but applying the new tools to their everyday business and personal practices.

In a recent article on Mashable, Jessica Faye Carter writes: “Women have firmly established their presence on the social web, and account for the majority of users on many popular social media sites. But what does this mean for the future of women in social media? One word: Opportunity.”

Women: entrepreneurs, marketers, speakers, mothers, etc. can seize new opportunities using these abundant social tools to build thought leadership, share content, connect and engage to further their agenda and enhance business and personal brand. The question remains, while 79 million of women are using social media, how many of them are taking the right approach, creating that distinct voice in the online community and impacting change?

While social media presents great opportunities for women to connect, lead, effect change, innovate, and build strong relationships across different communities and target groups, there are important fundamental elements that are essential to succeeding in social media. To get greater insight, I reached out to Charlene Li, foremost expert on social media and technologies and consultant on leadership, strategy, social technologies, interactive media and marketing. Charlene is the founder of Altimeter Group and coauthor of the critically acclaimed bestselling book Groundswell. I had the distinct pleasure of working with her on this blog Q&A to learn about how best to approach social media both personally and professionally while expanding influence to build a personal brand. I asked Charlene about how women fare in social media when it comes to influence, how they can build a stronger presence, what key fundamental elements they need and why? Also, she lists her top 10 pick for the most influential social media voices in the community.   

While women may represent the majority of users on social media sites, some of the top influencers in social media are men such as Chris Brogan, Jeremiah Owyang (partner at Altimeter), David Scott Meerman, etc. Do you think women are on par with men when it comes to driving social media and innovation?  

I don’t think we are— yet. We definitely have the capability and the skill, but thought leadership also requires getting out there and exerting your influence, especially from a business perspective. And that’s tough for many people, regardless of gender, because it’s more than social media — it’s also about sticking your neck out and oftentimes, getting burned. But with the right support and encouragement, I think we can not only be on par, but pull ahead. 

In the age of “She-conomy,” how are women doing when it comes to social media and social networking? Do you see a gap? 

In general, women are on par if not ahead in the adoption of social media, and especially social networking. There really isn’t much of a gap at all in terms of adoption and usage.  

Today, it’s about building your personal brand and thought leadership to build influence and effect change. What is your recommendation for women who are looking to build expertise in the industry?  

I believe curiosity, guts and most importantly, common sense and humility are all essential to know that you *aren’t* an expert. Curiosity is needed because there is always something new to learn — and you need to ask really good questions. You need guts because you need to make bets on which strategies and technologies your clients/audience should pursue, and which to ignore. And finally, if you don’t keep your ego in check, there are thousands of people standing in line to pop your bubble! 

There is a lot of debate in the business world around who should own social media within an organization. Who do you think should own it? Is it marketing, PR or some other department/individual?  

You can’t really “own” social media. It’s more an issue of “owning” the relationship at a particular point in time. So, who owns the customer relationship? In well-run companies, it’s every single employee. So I believe that every employee should feel empowered to own social media, to be able to talk directly with customers if and when it is appropriate.  

Oftentimes social media tends to be a standalone function within an organization? Is it best to centralize the social media efforts?

It’s good to centralize coordination, but the sooner you can make it the responsibility of every department and person, the more widespread and effective your social media efforts will be. Social media can be highly labor intensive because you want to present a more personal side of the company to your customers. To do that, you need to enlist the help of every employee. 

Many organizations use social media as an internal tool to communicate and connect with their employees. Do you think this is necessary and why?

Internal social media is basically external social media with excellent permission controls layered on top of it. It’s crucial because your employees are the front line in interactions with your customers. It makes natural sense to also engage them deeply.  

Integrating social media into marketing and PR functions can oftentimes prove to be a challenging task. What is your recommendation for integrating that into the fold?

What, they aren’t integrated already? For shame! Seriously, though, the best way to integrate is to do it from the customer’s perspective. What kind of relationship do they want with you, and how do you want to grow and develop that relationship?  

What advice do you have for women who are starting or are in social media already?

It’s the same advice for a man or woman — grow and invest in your network. But for women, it’s especially important because that is how you will build your skills and your business fastest. 

When it comes to social media, authenticity is a major factor when communicating, connecting and engaging online. I see a lot of social competitiveness and lack of authenticity? What is the most important thing to remember when it comes to managing social media — i.e., authenticity — and why?

Actually, it’s a little contrarian. The most important thing to remember is that you really *can’t* be completely open. You can’t be truly transparent all time. You will always hold something back, which is smart. But you *can* be authentic and always should be. On the point of letting go, if you really think about what you need to hold back to be true to yourself, and to protect your interests, it’s really not all that much. I’ve found throughout my career that each time I give up more than I thought I should, it comes back in spades. The competitiveness comes when people think of themselves rather than the clients/audiences they are trying to serve. So keep your focus external, because if it’s about them and not me, I’ll be more inclined to be work with competitors. 

Do you have a top 10 list of women in social media who are doing it right?

Only 10?!?

Beth Kanter (www.twitter.com/kanter)

Laura Fitton (www.twitter.com/pistachio)

Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort, Jory Desjardin (BlogHer) (www.twitter.com/blogher)

Tara Hunt (www.twitter.com/missrogue)

Sarah Lacy (www.twitter.com/sarahcuda)

Kami Huyse (www.twitter.com/kamichat

Danah Boyd (www.twitter.com/zephoria)

Sandy Carter (www.twitter.com/sandy_carter)

Debbie Weil (www.twitter.com/debbieweil)

Ann Handley (www.twitter.com/MarketingProfs)

Who is your favorite? Add to this list.

About Charlene Li

Charlene Li is the founder of Altimeter Group and coauthor of the critically acclaimed bestselling book Groundswell. She is one of the foremost experts on social media and technologies and a consultant on leadership, strategy, social technologies, interactive media and marketing. She is currently working on her next book, “Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform How You Lead” to be published in May 2010 by Jossey-Bass. She is also launching open-leadership.com, which will go live in May.

Charlene was named one of the 12 most creative minds of 2008 by Fast Company, and one of the most influential women in technology in 2009. She frequently consults and speaks on disruptive technologies and publishes a blog at blog.altimetergroup.com.

Charlene is a frequently quoted expert and has appeared on 60 Minutes, The McNeil NewsHour, ABC News, CNN and CNBC. She is also frequently quoted by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Economist, Businessweek, USAToday, Reuters and The Associated Press. She is a much-sought after public speaker and will be appearing at the World Business Forum at Radio City Music Hall in October 2010. She has also presented frequently at top conferences such the American Society of Association Executives, SXSW, Web 2.0 Expo and Search Engine Strategies.

Previously, Charlene was a Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. She joined Forrester in 1999, after spending five years in online and newspaper publishing with the San Jose Mercury News and Community Newspaper Company. She was also a consultant with Monitor Group in Boston and Amsterdam.

Charlene is a graduate of Harvard Business School and received a magna cum laude degree from Harvard College.

CEO Blog: Good for the Executive Brand and Thought Leadership?

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Seth Godin recently wrote a blog post titled: Beware of the CEO blog. He writes:

“It’s apparently the newest thing. I just got off the phone with one CEO who’s itching to start, and read an email from another who just did.

Here’s the problem. Blogs work when they are based on:
Candor
Urgency
Timeliness
Pithiness and
Controversy

(maybe Utility if you want six).

 Does this sound like a CEO to you?

 

 

Short and sweet, folks: If you can’t be at least four of the five things listed above, please don’t bother. People have a choice (4.5 million choices, in fact) and nobody is going to read your blog, link to your blog or quote your blog unless there’s something in it for them.”

This kind of statement is warranted given the role and demands of a CEO and it’s clear that a lot of CEO blogs are for the most part ghost written by someone in the marketing department or a third party ghost writer. Let’s face it: most CEOs don’t have the time nor patience to write  blog posts on a consistent basis. While the demand for more CEOs and senior executives to join and engage in the online conversation, they have greater pressures at hand: growing the business, meeting or exceeding profitability for their shareholders and managing the overall business goals and objectives for the company. There are some exceptions to the rule – a few high profile CEOs who have been blogging for an extended period of time, most notable among them, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com and Guy Kawasaki, founding partner and entrepreneur-in-residence at Garage Technology Ventures, among many others.  These CEOs among others are utilizing Web 2.0 technologies, social networking, and social media to push their agenda, educate the market, and use their blogs as a platform to highlight industry trends, challenges, and bring insight by combining personal experience and industry expertise. Why? Simply put, they understand the need to adopt new ways of communicating with the online communities beyond their internal groups such as employees and shareholders.   

My personal experience with launching our own blog and our CEO’s blog brings me to this topic. I believe that executives down to employees should take a top down approach when it comes to blogging and if a company decides to take this on, it needs to be implemented with the right strategy and plan in place.  Our CEO Pat Clawson is a great example of how he leverages the blogging platform to communicate a clear message on the industry trends and challenges but how certain issues impact the market as a whole.  It’s not just about engaging but educating as well.  Here is an example of what not to do in a CEO blog in a CEO blog – McAfee CEO David DeWalt’s blog of using the platform to promote the company and its products and services.  People aren’t interested in coming to your blog to read more about your company and your products, they want to learn and gain insight into your expertise and knowledge about what’s going on in the industry and how it will be impacted.  While this isn’t the worst example of a bad CEO blog, this is just one to demonstrate some common mistakes CEOs make when it comes to blogging.

Getting back to the point, out of curiosity I took this question to several CEOs and executives who are active on  Twitter and blogging and posed the question: Should CEOs blog? Why or why not? This blog is to shed some light for those who are looking to start or already have established a blog, what are some of the dos and don’ts?  This will be a rolling series to provide different perspectives on this topic – first of which begins with my Q&A with Guy Kawaski who was named as one of the top CEO bloggers to provide his perspective. At the end of this series, I will provide an outline of key steps to achieving a successful CEO blog and dos and don’ts.

Q&A with Guy Kawasaki:

Do you think CEOs should or shouldn’t blog and why?

It’s hard to provide a definitive answer to this because there are several key factors at play. First, is the company publicly traded? If it is, then the CEO must be very careful to limit the information in the blog—so much so, that the blog may be rendered boring. Second, can the CEO write well? If not, is she or he willing to use a ghost writer? Third, does the CEO truly have something significant to say? This is a “duhism,” but not enough CEOs as themselves this question.

How important is it for CEOs to blog?

On a scale of 1-10 where 10 = “you’ll get fired if you don’t do this,” blogging is about a 4 or 5. Fundamentally, a CEO is paid to lead, and that’s what she or he should focus on. Blogging can be an aspect of leading (specifically, communicating), but it is by no means to that end. It’s not an end in itself.

Should you get other senior management to blog? Why or why not?

The same questions apply to the CEO as senior management.

Do you think blogging by a CEO has a positive or negative impact to their overall brand?

The best case is that the CEO’s blog is mildly interesting. The worst case is that the CEO’s blog is deadly boring. The worst case is much more likely. What the CEO should truly do is ensure the creation of great product or services so that OTHER people blog about the company.

What other ways can it benefit the Company and its overall business objective?

CEOs should focus Twitter versus a blog.  What CEOs should do is tweet, not blog. Or have a ghost tweet as her or him. Blogging requires a carefully crafted, legally and HR cleared essay that shows intelligence and insight on at least a weekly basis. Good luck. Tweeting requires a good link to something that the CEO (or ghost) finds interesting. These tweets should point to articles, blogs, etc that the CEO thinks his or her audience would find interesting. This is a lot easier to do and a lot safer too.

Top 5 dos and don’ts for senior management and CEOs when it comes to blogging?

Sponsor a company blog as opposed to a blog or blogs tied to specific people because the overall purpose is to communicate with the company’s customers, provide tips and tech support, and engender loyalty. Good examples of this type of blog are here..

Can bad blogging kill your brand? Any examples?

Kawasaki says: “If blogging killed your brand, you had a pretty weak brand already, and it probably deserved to die.”

President Barack Obama sets a great example on how he uses social working and Web 2.0 technologies to educate and forward his agenda. He is considered an Internet marketing maven who has used platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace to market his message across to millions of individuals.

First and foremost, I believe CEOs should ask themselves whether they have the right ideas, content, and dedication to create and share their content/message with the world. Second, what is the overall objective?  As Godin mentioned in his blog, there are key components to launching and maintaining a successful blog that others will want to read and follow. If you don’t meet the criteria, then it might not be your cup of tea. But rest assure, if it’s not you, the CEO blogging, be sure to get your company behind a corporate blog to create a competitive advantage.

While it sounds like a “me too” approach, the way we communicate has significantly changed. My belief is that CEOs should definitely blog and every company should have a blog because it’s not about the return on investment (ROI), but about the return on influence within your industry. By adding your voice through a blog, you’re putting a face to the company and humanizing your brand, not to mention elevating your thought leadership. And, if you don’t have the time to blog, get a ghost writer to meet with you on a weekly basis, brainstorm on some key topics, and voice your opinion and why people should care. While the option of using a ghostwriter might not be ideal, as long as they can take YOUR message to your blog, it’s a step forward in moving the needle and getting your company front and center in the market. The article on cbsnews.com Why Most CEOs Who Blog – Blog Badly sums it up nicely: keep your posts short, clear, educational and most of all, compelling. Don’t become the poster child for “Why CEOs shouldn’t blog” but take a leadership role and drive a message that can change the market perception, interests the readers (journalists, buyers, bloggers, etc.).

My blog: How to Achieve Return on Influence Through Corporate Blogs

David Meerman Scott: The Future of PR: should your CEO blog?

Jeremiah Owyang: The Many Challenges of a CEO Blog

Guy Kawasaki is a founding partner and entrepreneur-in-residence at Garage Technology Ventures. He is also the co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web.  Previously, he was an Apple Fellow at Apple Computer, Inc. Guy is the author of nine books including Reality Check, The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way. He has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College. You can read completed coverage of blogging at http://blogging.alltop.com/.

Be on the lookout for Part II in Should CEOs blog. This one takes the perspective on why CEOs should stick to internal blogging with Chris Hewitt.

Adding eBooks to the B2B Marketing Mix: Success Story

7 Things Every CEO Should Know About IS_Blog_Image

7 Things Every CEO Should Know About IS_Blog_Image

David Meerman Scott once said that an ebook was the “hip and stylish younger sister to the nerdy whitepaper”… it lends a hip to content and message you’re trying to communicate to your audience.  As part of our thought leadership campaign, we launched an ebook titled 7 Things Every CEO Should Know About Information Security and the success was tremendous.

Below is an interview I did with Stephanie Tilton (@StephanieTilton) with Savvy B2B Marketing on successful tips and key steps to launching an ebook to elevate your thought leadership, brand and company profile as well as enhancing SEO.  See below:

 

 

Post originally appeared on Savvy B2B Marketing www.savvyb2bmarketing.com.

Q. What prompted Lumension to produce an eBook in addition to white papers?

A. B2B marketers have traditionally used white papers to share content. While they’ve been effective for lead-generation purposes, white papers tend to be heavy on content, many times replete with marketing jargon and industry terms.

Web 2.0 prompts us to “open up our kimonos” in terms of how we produce, publish, and syndicate content. Given that content is king, today’s marketers must think like publishers and produce compelling, thought-provoking content. Then they need to leverage tools such as eBooks to generate interest and make the ideas go viral and easy to syndicate.

At Lumension, we wanted to focus on thought leadership as a way to elevate our brand. But we didn’t want to just produce and sit on that content. We wanted to syndicate it to influential bloggers and journalists, as well as to prospects, with the hope that it would go viral.

White papers don’t typically go viral because they sit behind a registration page. My boss, C. Edward Brice, recommended the eBook concept as a way to make it more interactive, content-rich, and viral. Before getting started, we turned to David Meerman Scott, one of the best thought leaders in this space in terms of how to create content and make it go viral. David boiled eBook best practices down to three things: make it easy to read, make it informative, and make it educational.

Lumension is always trying to be on the cutting edge in terms of how we market our content. We decided to publish an eBook since no one in the industry is doing it. The result was 7 Things Every CEO Should Know about Information Security (http://www.lumension.com/landing.spring?contentId=142632).

Q. What do you think of David Meerman Scott’s statement in The New Rules of Viral Marketing (http://www.davidmeermanscott.com/documents/Viral_Marketing.pdf) that the eBook is the “stylish younger sister to the nerdy white paper”?

A. In my opinion, the eBook is the new white paper – it lends a hip air to content. If you properly adopt the guidelines for eBooks, you’ll end up with a stylish piece that’s easy to read and navigate. An eBook should include sophisticated graphics and multimedia links, and be structured for easy digestion, such as by liberally using bullets, callouts, and share buttons. The structure of an eBook makes it much easier to share. These days, everyone is on the Web, sharing information via various tools and communities. You’re much more likely to see an eBook passed around than a white paper. That’s largely because people can access it freely, without providing any information in exchange.

Q. How did the process for developing and promoting your eBook differ from promoting and producing a white paper?

A. First of all, the writing style is completely different. It has nothing to do with marketing or industry jargon. Again, you want to make it simple to read and understand. As far as production, you want to make it a one-stop shop for all related resources.

A writer interviewed our Chairman and CEO Pat Clawson to gather the key points. We also interviewed influential analysts such as John Pescatore of Gartner, Inc. as well as C-level customers to get their perspective on gaps that exist today when it comes to information security. Then we worked with our creative director and a marketing agency – Spark Design (http://www.sparkdesign.com/) – to produce the eBook itself. The agency helped us structure the eBook and embed rich multimedia, with links to video interviews. Within each chapter, you can click on various links that take you to interactive features that give you a better sense of our CEO. We worked with a local videographer to shoot the video of our CEO, and then we uploaded it to YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/LumensionSecurity) in time for our eBook launch.

Having said that, it’s not necessary to go through an agency. There are plenty of online tools that enable you to format an eBook. If you’re on a budget, you can get it formatted for free at ChangeThis (http://www.changethis.com/).

As far as promotion goes – you can’t think about it as a one-time hit. eBook content can live and get shared for a long time. When you’re pushing out an eBook, you need to be committed to making others aware of it. That means you need to support a variety of activities on the outreach side.

We took a three-pronged approach to promotion. First, we gathered key stakeholders to come to a consensus on the marketing plan and how we’d measure success. Because we wouldn’t require registration, we decided to measure success based on the number of downloads from the microsite as well as the number of video views on YouTube.

Next, our corporate communications group sent out advance copies of the eBook to key analysts and media contacts so they could preview and write about it, and provide feedback. We also reached out to industry bloggers and social media leaders like David Meerman Scott and asked for their feedback.

We had our CEO talk to a local CEO/CFO group as well as TechConnect on why CEOs needed to get on the ball and get involved in Information Security. We also gave out USB sticks with the eBook on them at all major security and CEO events. Plus, we had our creative director design a button for easy, on-demand download, which we added to our homepage and email signatures. We also added the button to Ed Brice’s blog (http://marketinggimbal.typepad.com/) and most Lumension employees with LinkedIn accounts added it to their profiles.

Finally, we created a dedicated landing page/microsite that made it possible to track the viral component. We shared the link with analysts, our channel partners, prospects, and customers – essentially every touch point. All our employees included the link in their email signatures. We also included the link in Cindy Kim’s blog (http://cindykimblog.wordpress.com/). We also sent out dedicated emails from the corporate marketing side promoting the eBook and included a link to it in our monthly nurturing newsletter. Plus, we distributed a social media press release that talked about the challenges CEOs face amid the security threat landscape and introduced the eBook. We even included the video of our CEO at the end of the press release (http://www.prweb.com/releases/information/security/prweb1252324.htm).

Q. Has the response been different than what you’ve experienced with your white papers?

A. Since launching the eBook, it’s been downloaded over 7,000 times, and the CEO video on YouTube has been viewed more than 5,000 times. We’ve heard positive responses across the board, from the media, analysts, prospects and customers. It’s important to remember that our goal was not lead generation. It was not about selling our products or pushing marketing messages. We are using this platform to elevate and build brand awareness by educating. Having said that, we can figure out the source of downloads through the links in the eBook. By providing a dedicated link on our landing page, we can pull the analytics from our Omniture analytics tool to see how many times the eBook was viewed and downloaded.

One thing to note – eBook content should not include marketing promotions or sell the company or its products. The eBook is really about delivering premium content to educate around a key issue. This helps to validate your company’s expertise and thought leadership.

Q. How has the response impacted your future marketing plans?

A. To date, we’ve published only white papers. But going forward, we’ll publish a balance of white papers and eBooks. For lead generation, we will continue producing white papers. These will likely be for technical topics and to drive the nurturing process. Having said that, eBooks don’t have to be limited to thought leadership topics. Even if the topic is technical, an eBook makes it easier to digest. Plus you can embed links to so much other valuable content. I recommend all B2B marketers migrate to eBooks.

Q. What can other B2B marketers learn from your experience producing and promoting your eBook?

A. When putting a process in place, think beyond the eBook. You can share your content across multiple channels, such as byline articles, blog posts, videos repurposed on YouTube, etc. Whether you produce a white paper or an eBook, think about how you can syndicate it, share it across communities, and encourage peer-to-peer sharing.

Today’s marketers need to collaborate with thought leaders to create and promote great content. By teaming with leaders, you can take advantage of the power of two – those folks will tweet and blog about your content.

Q. Can you give us a sneak peek of your next eBook?

A. We’re working on another thought leadership piece about the evolving security landscape. Specifically, we will be getting large enterprises as well as small and medium businesses to consider how their security blueprint needs to change to deal with cybercriminals. It will be 10-15 pages long, and include links to video and a cartoon “skit”, which is like storytelling via a cartoon instead of a live person. To get an idea of what that’s like, check out Powerhouse PR (http://www.powerhouseanimation.com/PR/POWERHOUSE_PR.html). I’ll be tweeting about the new eBook as soon as it’s out the door, so be sure to watch for it!

PR & Marketing Pros: Unlearn Your Trade to Succeed or Get out of the Way!

SourceThe advent of social media and the social web is challenging many public relations and marketing professionals to understand, incorporate and participate in these new channels to be effective in their roles. Businesses looking to adopt these new tools as a way to engage, monitor and grow their influence are facing the same struggle. In a recent blog post, titled “The State of PR, Marketing and Communications: You Are the Future,” Brian Solis writes, “It is this element of fundamental transparency of Social Media combined with its sheer expansiveness and overwhelming potential that is both alarming and inspiring PR professionals everywhere. At the minimum, it’s sparking new dialogue, questions, education, innovation, and also forcing the renaissance of the aging business of PR itself.”

For this blog post, I spoke with David Meerman Scott, thought leader and pioneer in this arena and author of many books such as The New Rules of Marketing & PR, a BusinessWeek bestseller being published in 24 languages, and his new book World Wide Rave among others, to discuss the changing face of PR/marketing and how it’s forcing PR/marketing professionals to “unlearn what they have learned” to remain relevant. In this interview, we take a look at the past, the present and the future of PR/marketing and what professionals need to do to stay ahead and maintain their competitive edge.

There is a lot of noise around social media. How has the introduction of social media changed the face of PR and marketing?

Well, prior to the Web, we as PR and marketing professionals had three ways to reach people — to buy ads, beg the media to write about us or hire salespeople to bug people by knocking on doors. Social media has provided us with an opportunity to publish our own information and earn attention rather than buying, begging or bugging people. It is illustrative of what’s changed because with the advent of social media and the web, anyone can publish online to reach and be seen by millions of people through Twitter, YouTube, etc. It’s evolutionary in terms of how we communicate today and what it means for PR, marketing and sales professionals.

SourceHow should PR and marketing pros evolve?

The most important thing for us (I include myself in that) is to have an understanding that we have to unlearn what we have already learned in order to be successful in the world of social media. For a long time the success of advertisers was predicated on how well they were able to buy attention or make TV commercials. Further, the success of PR professionals has been based on how they can convince the media to write about their clients. Neither of these things is about creating original content. The traditional ways of doing things involved buying, begging and bugging. That approach has changed. What marketers and PR people need to understand is that while their skills are still valuable, they need to evolve their approach and their techniques, or they won’t be successful. What it really comes down to is what can they create themselves or for their clients using new ways to reach a broader audience. Today’s strategy involves a completely different skill set. Rather than thinking like a traditional PR person, you have to think like a publisher — you’re not just working to buy attention or to get a reporter to write about your client. Today’s approach is fundamentally different.

I do believe that PR agencies are still needed today for their traditional skills of media relations. I don’t think social media makes the skills of PR people go away. There will be room for people in the PR industry to work with media to craft stories on their clients’ behalf. However, we have a tremendous opportunity to influence people in other ways beyond the traditional approach. For example, if you look at PRSA’s definition of public relations, and I’m paraphrasing here, it’s about how an organization deals with its public. There is no mention of media relations. However, a lot of PR people believe their job is only media relations, solely to generate ink from third parties. We now have an opportunity to influence and reach the public using new tools, and this is great news for all PR people because we never had that option before. To reach people directly, we had to go through the media. Now you have more choices. You can help your company or your clients reach their publics in different ways through YouTube, Twitter, chat rooms, Flickr, blogs, etc. by publishing different yet compelling information.

What do you see as common pitfalls of today’s marketing/PR pros?

Getting back to my point earlier, the pitfalls for PR pros are that they’ve become very skilled at crafting a story idea that somebody else will write about and broadcast, skilled at working with others to say something on their behalf or their clients’. If that’s all you do, you’re going to miss out on a tremendous opportunity to create content for yourself. The pitfall is that you really do have to unlearn the skills that you have learned to successfully engage in the social media sphere.

For instance, I get pitched every day from other PR people to write about their stuff. I almost never do — maybe one or two times a year when somebody sends me traditional pitches or press releases. However, if somebody tweets something or sends me a link to a blog post that I find interesting, that gets my attention, and I often write about it on my blog or tweet about it. I’ve written about a lot of companies but I’m not going to write based on a traditional press pitch. PR pros need to think differently to be successful. I believe they need to be forward-thinking PR professionals who can seize the opportunity and guide their company or their clients that are struggling with social media on the new ways of publishing and communicating.

A lot of times when I’m on a speaking circuit, people ask me to show them how to do this. I get asked constantly by companies and executives for suggestions on how they can incorporate social media into their overall strategy. What I say to them is to check out PR agencies and marketing and ad firms to see if those firms have the skills to put it together. The truth is not many can. A lot of PR/marketing or ad firms will create a tab on social media that links to poor Twitter updates to show that they’re doing social media. I tell those companies looking for help to find the PR/marketing/ad firms and find out how active they are in social media. Find out if they do YouTube videos, whether they are active on Twitter, blogs, chat rooms, etc. and that will be your guide in terms of whether that agency can help you. If they’re not active, there is no way they will be successful in helping clients do social media. There are agencies that are terrific with social media, and I encourage organizations to work with those firms to get their social media efforts going. The good news is that anyone who wants to become adept at this can.

What are some common misconceptions about social media?

I think the main thing here is that people make it out to be too much about the technology and not enough about the content itself. The second major thing is that people need to be thinking not about themselves or their ego, their clients or their products — but think about the people they’re trying to reach. What are the problems they’re trying to help solve? People who are steeped in traditions will automatically create social media based on what they know. To do social media successfully, you need to put away the thought that you have to talk about your products, company, services, etc. but start thinking about valuable information you can create and publish to help solve people’s problems. 

What top three pieces of advice would you give to PR/marketing pros looking to stay ahead?

    •       First and foremost, unlearn what you have learned,

    •       Second, participate. You have to participate yourself. You can’t bill yourself as an

            expert unless you’re doing it yourself.

    •      Third, do it now. Don’t wait, analyze or pontificate. Get it going.

What are your thoughts on ROI — investment versus influence?

I believe they’re not mutually exclusive. Traditional ROI seems to apply to certain things in marketing. I believe it’s because executives are fearful of social media, and that’s why they hold people who want to implement social media accountable to measurements that other parts of the organization are not being held accountable for. What’s the ROI of putting a new coat of paint on the building? What’s the ROI of the CEO making a trip to California? We don’t calculate ROI in other parts of the business but hold ROI to social media. It might not necessarily be ROI in terms of the traditional MBA approach, but there are tons of ways to measure social media — where you are on the search engines, measure what people are saying, etc. There are all sorts of things that can be measured and how it impacts the brand and influence of your company or your client’s company.

What’s your next big project?

I am working on a New Rules of Social Media series of books, and we’re going to be doing three titles a year featuring different authors. The books will include details of different aspects of social media. The first book will be coming out in October of this year: Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, the co-founders of HubSpot.

For more information on David Meerman Scott, visit http://www.webinknow.com/.

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