PR Embargo: Dead or Alive? Or, Does it Matter?

Death to PR Embargo

In a recent post by Tech Crunch titled, “The Last has Fallen: The Embargo is Dead,” the tech publication announced that it is killing one of the most sacrosanct of journalism practices — the honoring of PR embargoes. And it’s not just Tech Crunch; it’s other high-profile publications like the Wall Street Journal. This comes after several publications have broken with the tradition of honoring the embargo and have published news prior to the set date/time.

According to Bay Newser, the reason why more publications are not upholding PR embargoes is PR agencies. As they face mounting pressures to show ROI, they’re spamming every news outlet on their target list to get as much coverage as they can. The problem is they’re doing this without a clear strategy.  Every PR professional should know by now that sending out a blind e-mail with the news announcement and the embargo date doesn’t really help earn you quality coverage or increase the volume of coverage.

 On the flip side, news publications are also facing pressure to publish the news first — especially when it comes to major announcements. As my colleague Stephanie Conner with Active Voice would say, the embargo was put in place to combat that so companies can get their news placements across more channels and keep reporters interested — you’re leveling the playing field.

My take is this: It’s really nobody’s fault. It’s just another sign of the times. Now companies are using other mediums, such as blogs and Twitter, to create momentum and buzz around their company or product announcement prior to releasing it via traditional news wires.

I’ve been in the technology space for quite some time and have witnessed firsthand how things have changed. Not only in terms of embargoes, but the types of news that capture a writer’s attention as well. In 2004 when I started at Lumension, then PatchLink, it was all about product news. Our news coverage relied on our products and their new capabilities and enhancements. Since 2007, I’ve seen a slow shift with fewer journalists covering product-specific news.

You also have to remember news is global, making embargoes seem a bit outdated. Don’t get me wrong – there are journalists who still honor the embargo – especially in the UK marketing. While they might honor this old tradition, the news will hit the U.S. first before it gets to the UK or other global markets.

Whether or not you like it, things are changing fast. I don’t believe embargoes are dead, but they are going by the wayside, slowly but surely. Whether you have an embargo in place or not, the quality of the content, strategy and, most importantly, the content, is what will get you maximum results. This is where I remind PR professionals that they need to adapt and evolve. A couple of things to keep in mind as you see more and more publications say NO to embargoes:

  • Determine your news and angle for the release
  • Identify your target audience, and prioritize your target list.
  • Communicate with journalists to gauge what their expectations of an embargo.
  • Never just pitch a product unless you’re Google or Apple. Whether you have an embargo or not, the chance of you getting coverage is greatly dependent on the angle of the news.
  • Get a customer or analyst to back up your story.
  • Get multi-media rich. Use video or written blogs, podcasts and whitepapers. This way, you have a multi-level message.
  • Drive a poll. Use a Twtpoll or LinkedIn poll to gauge the community’s take on the product/pain/challenges and create your own news hook prior to the launch.
  • Consider product slideshows. Do a five- to seven-slide PowerPoint slideshow with strong graphics that publications can run.

We recently launched our Lumension® Risk Manager. It’s a Compliance and IT Risk Management Solution to help simplify compliance complexities and help reduce overall total cost of ownership. The old-school thinking would have been to just write up a news release and send it out under an embargo to our target list. While we were focused on the product, I developed a strategy around creating content that showed how our product addresses issues that businesses face today. Here’s what we did:

  • Pre-buzz building exercise that included a blog series:
    • Blog Q&A with two leading industry analysts on key challenges and how the market demands were shifting
    • Blog Q&A with a customer who was testing the product.
    • Twtpoll – Run a poll on Twtpoll and LinkedIn and use the results as a news hook
    • Whitepaper – developed a whitepaper titled “5 Ways to Reduce Your Audit Tax Burden”
    • Video – interviewed our company experts on this topic about these issues

By having rich content available prior to the launch and an integrated approach with other marketing tactics, we created buzz around this product launch, and we included the multi-media links within the release. We earned 15 total pieces of standalone coverage and two pieces of product news coverage. A majority of our coverage centered on key issues and trends and how our product really helps solved those issues.

I leave you with this quote by Ted Levitt: “Just as energy is the basis of life itself, and ideas the source of innovation, so is innovation the vital spark of all human change, improvement and progress.”

Make a difference. Don’t be a sitting duck. Leverage innovative thinking and spark a new approach to driving coverage.

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

Source

Source

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!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 59 other followers