Book Review: The New Rules of PR and Marketing – A Great Read

This is one of my favorite books on social media marketing because it focuses on more than just conceptual ideas.  It gives you real examples and practical advice for how to build your brand online.  It also covers both marketing and PR, and can be some food for thought if you are new to web marketing.  The book came out in 2007, so in some ways it is already a little out of date, but still definitely worth a read.  (David Meerman Scott has a new book out – World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories
which I haven’t read yet).

Overall: Great book, strong examples and really useful concepts.

Read this if: You want to build your brand online.  Even if you know how to use social media and social sites – this is a great resource for actual marketing and brand building.

Categories: Marketing, Social Media, PR

Key Take Aways:

  • Build a Strong Web Presence – More than ever people are searching and research information about purchases online.  At the same time many web sites are full of ads instead of clearly providing the information that people are looking for.  Make your website usable and fill it with great content.
  • Social Media and PR are Linked – Reporters increasingly search for topics and companies to discuss online vs. waiting for your press release.  Make your site searchable and have a great press page.  That being said, traditional press might not be the best way to reach your audience.  Consider niche blogs and try to build relationships.  Lots of reporters get their ideas from these sites already.  This allows you to have a pull PR strategy (reporters contact you because you are the expert) vs. a Push strategy (you send reporters your press release and they usually ignore it).
  • Build PR for the Consumer Market – Rather than going after a few big publications (which are really hard to get anyways) write press releases that are consumer friendly.  Remove the jargon and formality and make them easy to understand so that bloggers get excited and will write about you.
  • Content is King – Content is the key to your social media strategy.  Great Content = you are a trusted resource = call to action.  View social marketing as creating a relationship vs. a one night stand.  Don’t think of social marketing as a transaction.
  • Deliver Content When & Where it is Needed – This serves to brand your organization as a thought leader.  The content that you syndicate online (through blogs, podcasts, twitter, etc) should be inherently valuable to your target audience.  To do this you need to know: Where is your audience? How do you reach them? What are their motivations? What problems can I help them solve? What content will compel them to trust me and buy from me?  Know your goal and let your content drive the action.
  • Using Blogs, Podcasts, Chat Rooms, Message Boards, Wikis and Listserves – When getting started, first monitor and listen, then participate and get known, and then create your own content.  You need to understand the community and audience before you participate.  Keys to success: React quickly, provide useful content regularly, be open and honest, show your personality, apologize when you need to.  Build an editorial calendar to keep your content fresh and on topic.
  • Integrate your Social Media Around a Hub (your website) – Your website should be the hub of your social media activity, and all of your assets (on your site and in social media) should support telling a consistent story about your company or brand.  Pay attention to how your content is organized and how it will ultimately drive action.  Talk like “one of them”.
  • Develop Thought Leadership – Position yourself of your organization as thought leaders.  Don’t talk about your company but showcase your expertise by talking about the category, industry or trends.  Be a unique resource for people.  You can also achieve this with ebooks, newsletters, webinars, wikis, research reports, whitepapers, podcasts and videos.
  • Tips for getting started in social networks: 1) Target a specific audience 2) Be a thought leader 3) be authentic and transparent 4) Creates links 5) Encourage contact 6) Participate 7) Be easy to find 8 ) Experiment

This is just an overview of the book – definitely worth the read.  I’ll also have to check out the new book and let you know what I think about it.

Has anyone else read this great book on social media marketing and PR?  What did you think?  Are there other books you would recommend?

Note: The links in this post are amazon affiliate links.

Want Something? All you have to do is ask! 5 Ways Asking Works.

talking-boxesI was recently at a Cincinnati Web Entrepreneurs Meetup, and we had a brief discussion about asking people to do something for you.  The reality is that if you are nice and respectful and people like you, you will probably get the best results just by asking.

In the PR and Marketing world we often get caught up with “if I want someone to do something, what incentive can I offer them?  What can I offer them?”

Here are some examples:

1. User or Customer Feedback – Ask For It!

When I worked at photrade we had customers who would send us pages and pages of ideas and feedback on our site.  Someone even read our terms of service and pointed out some typos.  If you ask people for feedback and actually show that you care and will use it, average people can give you better advice than paid consultants – all for free!  You don’t have to spend tons of money on focus groups – people who like you will help you for free!

2. The Science of Re-Tweets – Just ask!

Dan Zarella recently wrote a post on the science of retweets.  The findings?  The most commonly retweeted phrases include “please retweet”.  Just by asking people will tweet about you.  Apparently *asking* is a scientifically proven way to get retweeted!

3. Want Comments – Ask for them?

A number of professional bloggers provide tips on how to get more comments on your blog.  One of the most recommended ways?  Ask for them.  Both problogger and copyblogger advise readers that just asking for comments will actually increase the number of comments on your site.

4. PR Efforts?  Quid pro Quo Seems Lame.  Just Ask.

In recent work with a client we offered an exchange – post about us and we’ll give you something free.  A number of people responded and said – I love you guys – I’ll post about you and I don’t want anything back.  Some bloggers and tweeple don’t treat their streams as an advertising platform and they may feel cheapened or offended by these kinds of requests.  Want people to talk about you?  Just ask them to!  If they are fans or supporters they’ll be thrilled that you asked.

5. Need Help? Ask for it!

A great example of asking in action happened when David Armano asked for help for a friend who his family had taken in.  He initially wanted to raise $5,000 to help her and her family get started in their own apartment and ended up raising over $16,000.  The key is to be genuine, authentic an develop relationships, and you’ll be surprised how many people will help.


It is constantly surprising how much people will give you for free.  Look at wikipedia?  For free, people update it and answer information on it all the time.  People are motivated by a variety of factors – sharing, the kindness of their hearts, validation, feeling like an expert, etc.

These motivations can be much stronger than a free sample or a small amount of money.

So the next time you need something – Just Ask!

Please leave a comment and share your experiences 🙂  When has asking worked for you?

Why trust employees to talk on the phone but not twitter?

This question was recently posed on twitter, and many felt that companies should be more open in their social media approaches. Maybe it’s because I worked for a conservative packaged goods company for years, but I don’t agree.

Here is why:

  • The phone conversation is a 1:1 interaction, not something that is publicly posted.
  • Customer service reps are trained and given approved or standard responses to many questions. Often times those twittering don’t have any training.
  • There are policies that customer support representatives follow; few companies have social media policies for their employees.

I’m not saying that companies should not participate in social media.  I am saying that there are risks that are greater than talking on the phone, and the training/policy/process side for social media is typically underdeveloped vs. traditional telephone customer service.

I’m not advocating canned responses; my suggestion is that employees need guidelines to feel empowered in their social media interactions, and to protect the company legally.

On a Continuum, Social Media is somewhere between PR and Customer Service

I’m not saying it can’t be used for customer service, but due to the publicity aspect of social media it is closer to talking to the press than customer service. The people in a company who are permitted to speak publicly are typically:

    1. Very few
    2. Well trained
    3. Seasoned and experienced; have demonstrated good judgment
    4. Coached beforehand
    5. Given clear guidelines on messaging

There are also legitimate legal risks

When I worked in consumer goods every word attached to every piece of copy published by the company was approved by legal. Unless you have been engaged in this type of a process before, it may be difficult to appreciate the legal implications of things as simple as phrasing. There can be a world of difference between saying “virtually spotless” and “spotless” or “best clean” and “cleanest”.

Large companies are dragged into law suits all the time for their advertising copy.

That being said, social media is different in that copy can be changed/edited fairly quickly and at a very low cost. That being said everything you say online is indexed. It will be there, somewhere forever.

At the same time, even if something said on social media is outside of legal standards; if it is changed quickly, the probability of your competitors suffering any serious damages is fairly low.

Solution? Manage the Risk.

I’m not here to be a buzzkill for social media, I am a strong believer in the value of social media. That being said, I think that the risks are often understated and brushed under the carpet.

The reality is that companies, especially large traditional ones with lots to lose, need to be cautious when using social media.

Prior to jumping in, these are things that you can do to mitigate risks:

  • Develop policies on messaging. Engage External Relations/PR and Legal.
  • Create guidelines for those participating in social media.
  • Provide training on acceptable and unacceptable responses.
  • Create a list of topics that can’t be addressed.
  • Provide messaging that sounds like it came from a real, normal human being for negative comments that you are likely to receive.
  • Provide an escalation process for dealing with difficult or sensitive situations.

It isn’t about trust. It is about mitigating risk and creating guidelines.

Policy creation doesn’t mean standard canned responses. It means making sure that employees understand what they can and can’t say and why. It means helping employees feel comfortable answering questions because they know the company position on various issues. It means training. It means allowing employees to talk via social media like real human beings.