Why You’ll Never Get on Oprah…and Why That’s OK

16 09 2008

A lot of businesses focus on “making it big” in the media. While it’s great to be interviewed in Entrepreneur Magazine or be a guest on Oprah, the average business owner will not have this success.  And you know what? That’s okay.

Take a look at the diagram above. Say you have a press release and you have two options. You can send it to the Oprah show and pray every day that they choose you to be on the show OR you can distribute your search engine optimized press release using a distribution service, knowing it will definitely reach a wide variety of channels online, including Yahoo!, Google, RSS feeds, blogs, journalists and others who may want to interview you further or write about your release on their websites.

Now, each of those channels has anywhere from dozens to thousands of readers who will see your press release. Many will click on the link to your website to see what you’re all about. Some of those will even buy from you.

So rather than putting all your eggs in one basket with the Oprah show (or major media channel of your choice), you do better to diversify and let larger numbers of people in smaller, under served niches find you.

As David Meerman Scott says in his book The New Rules of Marketing & PR, the market for press release is changing:

  • Marketers must shift their thinking from mainstream marketing to the masses to a strategy of reaching vast numbers of under served audiences via the Web.

  • PR is not about your boss seeing your company on TV. It’s about your buyers seeing your company on the Web.

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When Your Brand Becomes the Product

15 09 2008

Red Bull was founded by Dietrich Mateschitz and officially launched in 1987.  Ten years after its launch Red Bull was finally brought to the United States first being introduced in California.  In 2000 Red Bull had approximately $1 billion in worldwide sales.  In 2006 more than 3 billion cans of Red Bull were sold in over 130 countries.  Red Bull now accounts for approximately 50% of the energy drink market in the United States and up to 80% in other countries with an approximate 65% overall market share.

Those are just some quick and dirty facts about Red Bull to help frame the what is really interesting about Red Bull.  I think one of the most interesting aspects about Red Bull is how their brand has become the product (energy drinks).  Even though there are now over 150+ competitors in the energy drink space, most people I know still refer to energy drinks as Red Bull.  Red Bull is commonly mixed with Vodka and is one of the main ingredients in drinks such as Jagerbombs.  Even when a bar doesn’t offer the brand and instead uses a competitor, you will still hear people request Red Bull and Grey Goose or Red Bull and Vodka.  In my opinion this is one of the best things that can happen for a brand.  Since the brand becomes the product, the demand for the brand increases.

One of the reasons for Red Bull’s success, besides being the first to this niche market, is how good they are at buzz marketing.  Red Bull sponsors events such as windsurfing, snowboarding, cliff-diving, break dancing, art shows, music concerts, video games and several other sporting/social events.  Red Bull also hosts the Red Bull Flugtag which can be best understood by watching this video:

So what can we learn from Red Bull? Of course, most of us can’t afford to sponsor extreme sporting events, art shows or the like but we can do things differently than the rest of our competition.  Try to be the first one there.  If not, then do it differently then those before you.  Try new things.  Explore new options.  Don’t do the usual.  Don’t be like everyone else.  Don’t be afraid to fail.  Be interesting.

Red Bull is known for always trying to market their brand differently in new and creative ways.  It is because of this that the brand has not failed or fallen off even though it is now in an extremely competitive space.

Now I turn it over to you – what are other products that you can think of where the brand has become the product?  I can think of a few but am interested in others thoughts.

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Photo by Dawn Ashley

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One Simple Question: What are you working on?

12 09 2008

We are taking a break from our normally scheduled posting about internet PR and marketing to bring you something very cool.  A new Twitter-like micro-blogging service would like to ask you one simple question: “What are you working on?”

Earlier in the week Yammer won TechCrunch 50 and officially launched their service following their presentation.  Yammer is a micro-blogging tool for companies – think: Twitter for Business.  Yammer allows colleagues to interact with each other in real-time by posting short messages which are then displayed to the entire network of employees.  Users can ask questions, share information, post links, etc.  Users can also create hashtags to group a conversation on a particular topic together.  Each user has a profile which shows previous conversations which can easily be referenced thus building a knowledge base for each employee.  The user profiles also creates a company directory on Yammer.  This is a very useful feature for large companies which may be spread over several offices.

You can post messages to Yammer in a variety of ways: via web, desktop app, SMS, Blackberry app, iPhone app or IM.  This is great because it allows users to stay constantly connected to the network and also allows them to choose which platform they prefer to use.  For example, I have a hard time staying active on Plurk because of the need to login to their website in order to post messages.  However, I use Twitter all day long because of Twirhl (desktop app) and TwitterFon (iPhone app).  Therefore, I think it is great to see Yammer launching with the ability to already choose your preferred method of communicating with the network.

Yammer uses a similar model to how Facebook was when it first launched by using the domain address of the users email account to verify and accept them into the network.  Anyone can sign up for the service with a valid business email account and start inviting colleagues.  Privacy is maintained by only allowing access to a company’s network to those with a valid company address.

The service is already gaining popularity quickly.  One day later the service had 10,000 people and 2,000 companies on its network.

Yammer is free though they do have a paid model for companies wishing to claim their network and gain administrative rights over their users.  You can view the video of their demo at TechCrunch50 and then sign up here.  Also, here are some screenshots of Yammer in the wild:

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A Rant About Interruption Marketing

8 09 2008

As I’m sitting at the Inbound Marketing Summit anxiously awaiting the conference to begin, I’m reminded about interruption marketing. Both of the keynote speakers today, David Meerman Scott and Seth Godin, have both written extensively on their blogs and in their books about interruption versus permission-based marketing.

On a daily basis we receive various forms of interruption marketing. While not wanted, I have grown accustomed to many of these forms of marketing and thus simply tune out when confronted with them. However, on Labor Day it was a different situation…one which I couldn’t tune out.

I had traveled down to Watch Hill, Rhode Island with my fiancee, her family and we brought along our dog for her first adventure in the ocean. There I was, a perfect day to be at the ocean….approximately 85 degrees, slight breeze, no humidity and not a cloud in sight. “What a great day to relax and enjoy some time away from my hyperconnected life” I thought to myself. I had been doing some reading as waves crashed into the shoreline with my dog thoroughly confused at why the water kept “attacking” her as she tried to lay in the sand. Just when it seemed that all was perfect I begin to hear the roar of a small airplane. I looked up in the sky and guess what I saw? A small airplane trailing a long banner for Cox cable service. At first I didn’t think anything of it because we’ve all had similar experiences when relaxing on the beach. But, throughout the course of the afternoon I saw a plane probably another 3-4 times, each time with a new banner. Since there aren’t big billboards in the ocean or along the beach, companies turn to banners flown by plane as a way to interrupt people relaxing with their friends and family. I mean, really, do you think I’m going to run out to my local dealership to purchase the car you have a special on this weekend or a great deal on local cable service because of a banner that I had to stare up into the sun and squint to try to read….which is of course after I had to put down my book and have the nice silence I was enjoying disturbed?!?!

While my rant is only one example of many different forms of interruption marketing, I think it is one that highlights why inbound marketing is so important. The potential customer is giving you permission to tell them about your services instead of interrupting them when they’re trying to concentrate at work, spend time with their family, etc.

For those not able to attend the Inbound Marketing Summit, it is being streamed live.  

You can also keep up with all the chatter on Twitter about the Inbound Marketing Summit.

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Introducing PitchEngine: A New Take on Social Media PR

5 09 2008

Today I interviewed Jason Kintzler, founder of PitchEngine.  Jason has been a journalist, television anchor, PR guy and is now the founder of his first web startup.  PitchEngine was created out of Jason’s passion for media and a desire to close the technology gap between media, PR pros and business in general.  PitchEngine is something that I’m very excited about and think that anyone who is involved in PR should give serious consideration to using.

Why do you think PR and social media fit together so well?

One of the biggest pieces of social media (that often gets over looked) is the technology aspect. Social media isn’t just about the conversation, it’s about sharing content like videos, photos, comments and more. That part alone is a natural for PR pros who are interested in delivering media PR assets. It replaces the need for a printed press kit and saves them time and money on image CDs, folders, etc.,

I also think from a business marketing perspective that PR people are critical to engaging consumers. Marketers tend to “push” brand content out to consumers, where (good) PR pros are more likely to engage with them and develop relationships with consumers – similar to that of media.  Either way social media certainly blurs the lines of marketing and PR – something everyone is very excited about.

How would you describe a social media release to someone who has never heard of it before?

That’s easy, it happens all the time!  Traditional press releases are limited in functionality and flexibility – A rigid Word document with type. Maybe an embedded, low-resolution image or a few links are included.  PR pros must find ways of providing high-res images, video, logos and other content to media contacts and then figure out how to deliver it – email attachment, press kit by mail, image CDs, etc., Sounds pretty frustrating doesn’t it? Add to the fact that no one does it consistently, which makes media crazy.

The social media release is like a micro-website that allows PR pros to include all of the assets in one nice little package. It can be tracked, archived and is living – since it’s comment enabled media can add comments and questions at any time, while PR pros can make changes whenever they want- unlike a printed and circulated traditional press release.

Why should a business who has always distributed traditional print press releases consider creating and distributing a social media release?

It’s no secret that I don’t believe the current methods of PR distribution are flawed. You take rigid Word docs and pay to send them out to as much media as possible. Seems like all those flyers you get in your mailbox at the Post Office, doesn’t it? With an SMR like PitchEngine’s, users not only learn how to engage in social media, they also become better PR people delivering more concise pitches in a clean, web-enabled format. I do think the transition will be gradual, so the two formats can certainly live together for the time being.

How is PitchEngine different from other internet PR services that are available?

The big PR services out there all involve distribution via wire services. There are a couple services that provide ways to include web-enabled content for distribution through those services.  Unlike those services, PitchEngine wasn’t designed to accommodate traditional distribution services, it was designed as a tool for PR and media, that’s a big difference. It’s far more social, and hands-down the easiest of all those services to use- that’s not coming from me, it’s coming from the great feedback we’ve been receiving since our alpha launch last month.

What does the future hold for PitchEngine?

Well, I have to hold some stuff in reserve, but I can tell you it’s incredibly exciting. Getting off the ground is the first step, and making sure the users are getting everything they want is key. We’re working on partnerships with other innovative social media applications and finding more ways to change the game entirely. PitchEngine lends itself very well to an international user base – I think you’ll be seeing some rapid growth there very soon.

I’m not afraid to challenge tradition. I don’t answer to board members, share holders or web “experts” and I believe that will allow PitchEngine to remain innovative.  Users will ultimately decide the future, and from the response so far, they’re hungry for it. It’s wide open, and that’s very exciting.

PitchEngine makes it possible for PR pros, brands, and agencies to build and share digital, social media releases (SMRs) with their contacts for free. The SMR takes the press release to the next level, eliminating the need for antiquated email attachments, word documents, image CDs, and more. PitchEngine SMRs can then be delivered by email or via integrated social apps like Twitter or FriendFeed. Users and media recipients can also post them to Facebook, Digg and other bookmarking/news sites.  PR pros can upgrade to a customized Newsroom for their brand or client where we’ll host and archive all of their SMRs. The media side of PitchEngine (coming soon) will offer media the ability to filter press content and even approve or deny pitches from PR pros.

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An Interview on PR 2.0 with Deirdre Breakenridge

2 09 2008

After a few days off to enjoy the holiday with my family, I’m back with a new and exciting interview.  I recently had the opportunity to interview PR 2.0 expert Deirdre Breakenridge.  Deirdre is President and Director of Communications at PFS Marketwyse as well as an accomplished author with her 4th book due on bookshelves in early 2009.  Deirdre’s 3rd book, published in April 2008, titled, PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences, helps communications professionals to understand the exciting changes that are occurring in the PR industry, and how using social media tools we can build better relationships.

Your most recent book is titled PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences.  What are some of the key differences between PR 1.0 and PR 2.0?

There are so many key differences between PR 1.0 and PR 2.0.  To start, PR 1.0 was a time of web functionality.  PR professionals were able to use the Internet to produce better research, build stronger relationships with third party endorsers including the media and use the Web to get their news releases distributed more efficiently and in a timely manner.  During that time, new and improved services were born so that professionals could access incredible information and market research that helped them produce targeted communications and PR campaigns with greater coverage.  The functionality of the PR 1.0 made PR professionals feel comfortable and successful in their communications.

However, today, through Web 2.0 applications and social media tools, we have a new PR approach labeled PR 2.0.  PR 2.0 is an exciting time for PR people.  Yet, it poses many challenges.  Suddenly, PR people are feeling a little less comfortable with social media tools, which allow companies to speak directly to markets.  They can reach out to their customers, engage in conversations and even hear what their customers are saying to each other.  In many instances, PR people and their brands no longer have to go through traditional third party influencers such as the media.  Instead there are new influencers including bloggers and customers themselves who are sharing information in web communities.  For so long, communications professionals controlled the brand message and in PR 2.0, you can no longer control what’s being said and by whom.  The best part about PR 2.0 is that it allows companies to listen carefully and engage in meaningful conversations with stakeholders.  Although very different, I believe that the convergence of PR 1.0 and PR 2.0 will lead to the best communication and stronger relationships for brands.

How do PR agencies have to change their strategies and methods of execution to be successful in this PR 2.0 world?

It’s a whole new manner of thinking for PR people.  Of course, we know that there are traditional PR practices to reach media and analysts that will still be a part of how we roll out with our product launches and campaigns.  However, we have to open up our frame of reference to learn a new process of relationship building.  When it comes to PR 2.0, communications professionals can’t really think about messages, audiences and the “pitch” anymore.  That’s not the way to reach people in web communities.  Everyone is different, and they all want to gather, organize and share information in a meaningful way.  First and foremost, when you interact through social media you take off your marketing hat, whether it’s communications with A-List bloggers, customers or citizen journalists.  You are peers who are engaging in dialog to share valuable information.  The strategy is no longer the broadcast message, but really tailored information to help someone make an informed decision.

The process has even changed from how we observe communities to the new rules of breaking news.  This new process includes how you have to be respectful of interactions with bloggers.  Now, you have to think about blogger relations, similar to how you handled media relations of the past.  There are so many different considerations in the PR 2.0 realm, from the way you form relationships to the social media tools that you select to reach people.  In PR 2.0 you are not marketing to them or speaking at them, rather you are talking with them and sharing the information that they need.

Part of PR 2.0 is utilizing social media/internet press releases.  What do you see as being the benefits of using social media press releases as compared to traditional press releases?

The Social Media Release (SMR) is a valuable tool that allows journalists and bloggers to build their stories quickly and with more resources.   However, the SRM is also a direct to consumer tool that helps people who are interested in your product or services to make informed decision or purchase.  The SMR is very interactive and depending on the template allows companies to really tell their story in a meaningful and compelling way through video, podcasts, outside links and resources, bookmarking, etc.  They are free from the BS, hype, jargon and canned quotes of traditional news releases.  I think that the information in the SMR is better organized to provide more interactive material and resources than a traditional release.  The SMR is a great tool and the templates will continue to improve to provide a company’s stakeholders with valuable information more quickly and efficiently, much more than the traditional news release of the past.

You are someone who is active on various social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. There have been plenty of articles written about the zap on productivity that is caused by social networks.  However, a lot of people I talk to in PR can’t say enough about the benefits of these networks.  What benefit would you say these networks have for a company or business professional that isn’t actively using them?

There are tremendous benefits to using social networks.  I would never look at Facebook, Twitter, MyRagan, PitchEngine or any other one of my social networks as something that zaps productivity.  On the contrary, if anything, these networks lead to incredible first hand research, excellent conversations that allow you to make decisions personally and professionally, business opportunities including leads, real world networking (where you actually meet your followers or friends offline) and connections to like-minded people who you would never have the opportunity to speak with before.

Businesses especially can benefit from the market research that is available on social networks, so that they can place the feedback whether positive or negative back into product development.  The ability to be a part of the conversation and to interact first hand is tremendously important. After all markets are conversations and in order to truly know what customers are saying, you have to participate or at least observe those conversations.

You are currently writing a new book.  Can you provide some information about it including title, release date and what it’ll be about?

I’m very excited about the new book.  Although I can’t release the title quite yet, it’s going to dig deeper into the area of PR 2.0 and social media.  Communications professionals will benefit from this book as they learn that web communities are small societies in and of themselves, based on culture and rules of engagement. Suddenly PR people need to be more understanding and focused on the social sciences.  The book also discusses many changes in PR and the customer service processes, including how to handle the socialization of communication and service.   There are so many exciting topics, including how to best use micromedia and what’s the approach for breaking news when you’re dealing with bloggers.  There are also many challenges brought to the surface with discussion and examples to provide PR people with information allowing them to become PR champions for their companies.  I believe that my book highlights topics that will ultimately advance the PR industry, so that, once again, it is recognized as a valuable resource within any organization.

Deirdre Breakenridge has been involved in marketing in public relations for 20 years.  Deirdre is currently President and Director of Communications at PFS Marketwyse, a traditional and new media marketing and public relations firm located in Totowa, New Jersey.  Besides her responsibilities at PFS, Deirdre is an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey.  She is an instructor for the University’s GBM program and  she focuses on teaching undergraduate students the latest real world business strategies in PR and interactive marketing.

Deirdre has also been an author for Pearson Education since 1999.  During that time she has published three books and is currently working on a fourth title, which is due out in early 2009.  When not busy at PFS, teaching or writing, Deirdre also spends a great deal of time speaking to different groups on the topic of PR, PR 2.0, social media, branding and interactive marketing.

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