Posts Tagged ‘PR’

Social Media Marketing: How New York Public Library increased card sign-ups by 35%

January 31st, 2013

Celebrated every September, National Library Card Sign-up Month marks an opportunity for the New York Public Library to bring in scores of new library users.

“It is organized by the American Library Association and it is really designed to remind parents and children that a library card is the most important school supply as they head back to school,” said Johannes Neuer, Associate Director of Marketing, New York Public Library.

However, without the available marketing budget to promote it, Angela Montefinise, Director of PR and Marketing, New York Public Library, said it wasn’t “the easiest thing to get out there.”

She said it was very important for the library to “get the word out for people to sign up for library cards and open a whole new world of information and free programs.”

The solution to take part in this nationwide effort was to generate a creative social media marketing campaign. Using its flagship channels of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and Pinterest, the library could reach its social media network of more than 550,000 fans and followers.

Read more…

Public Relations: 5 interview mistakes that drive journalists crazy (and how to avoid them)

January 20th, 2012

I remember you wrote about press releases from the viewpoint of the publication/writer. I think you could write a similar one, for the subject of an interview. What do journalist look for when they interview someone for an article, case study, how-to etc.?

I recently received the above question, and I think the answer could be helpful to many marketers as they reach out to the traditional press, websites and bloggers to promote their products and services through those extremely valuable “earned mentions.”

Much of this blog post is going to skew a bit acerbic (hey, it’s human nature to complain about those who comically make your job more difficult), so I first wanted to let you know, and I’m sure many journalists feel the same way, that I genuinely love interviewing you.

And not just for work. At a party or on an airplane, I’m naturally curious about what people do for a living and always want to learn more. I’ve learned an invaluable amount of in-depth information about various industries and jobs from the interviews I’ve conducted, and on a personal note, have extremely enjoyed those discussions.

I know there can be a lot of pressure when you interview (especially for your first interview), and I just want you to be rest assured in knowing that we really look forward to talking to you and hearing what you have to learn.

That said, like with any other job, some sources do just drive us up a wall.

At the end of the day, you want an article or blog post that makes you and your company, product or service look good. But we’re the gatekeepers. So let me help you avoid these five things that drive journalists crazy …

  Read more…

Marketing Strategies: Is performance-based vendor pricing the best value?

April 12th, 2011

Every advertising agency, SEO specialist, and PR firm likes to be seen as a partner, not a vendor. And that may well define your relationship. But, go down to accounting and explain that relationship, and they’ll laugh in your face.

And for good reason. While, hopefully, you do have that close knit partner relationship, at the end of the day, this is a financial arrangement and you must maximize the value of that arrangement.

On the face of it, performanced-based pricing seems like a no-brainer. You get a guaranteed result, or you don’t pay.

Is this a great country, or what?

Like many things, the devil is in the details. First of all, you have to keep in mind that the vendor knows the metrics far better than most prospective clients do. That means, in many cases, the vendor is selling the illusion of risk.  Second, and more importantly, you have to be sure the result you are paying for is the result you really want.

Let me show you what I mean. I’ll use a teleprospecting vendor as an example, and highlight the lesson you can get out of each example for the type of vendors you work with every day.

What intermediate metrics truly contribute to your success?

In B2B lead generation, a common result is defined as an appointment for sales people. The cost per appointment generally runs from about $400 to $800, depending typically on volume, your brand and the target.  If you can provide the vendor with the people your sales team absolutely, positively wants appointments with, you’re in business.

In my case, I would gladly take appointments with CMOs of B2B companies with $500 million or more in revenue. At least, that would probably be my immediate response. Of course, there might be a few CMOs in that target that oversee pure e-commerce plays, or highly commoditized, low-end products that do not require lead generation, my area of expertise (or, so I would like to think). Therefore, I might pay for some appointments that I don’t really want. So, the real cost for a qualified appointment might be a bit higher than I originally agreed to.

Then there is the hidden cost: sales productivity. The purpose of such services is to increase sales productivity. For these kinds of top executive-level appointments, the representative might very well expect to meet face-to-face with the CMO. So, you have to add to the equation the cost of the commuting time and meeting time. Loaded field sales costs for complex solutions often start at about $100 an hour and can be $500 an hour or more, for elite, high-end key account sales people.

Very quickly, a $500 appointment can become an $800 or even $1,500 appointment, especially if any serious commuting takes place. If the conversion-to-deal is high or the revenue-per-deal is high, then who cares? In many cases, however, buyers find out that 20 to 30 percent of the appointments are not a fit. Now the cost of the qualified appointment goes way up, and the soft cost of sales expense goes to the moon, not to mention the hit on sales productivity.

Unless you are absolutely certain that your sales team wants appointments with a particular set of individuals, then you really need to focus more on qualified leads, not just appointments.

LESSON LEARNED: Make sure you pick the correct intermediate metrics when paying for performance.

Are you helping  your vendors be successful?

OK, now you have learned your lesson, the hard way. You won’t do that again, right? So you negotiate a cost per lead fee structure. Before you do, you wisely work with sales to define BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline) lead criteria and structure the deal accordingly. Again, the devil is in the details. What if sales discovered, after further review, that what they really wanted was to get in to larger accounts before the prospect had finalized a budget? In those cases, maybe the deal takes longer but the win rate is higher and the deal size is higher. Happens all the time. Now you have to try to change the deal. At least for some accounts.

With leads, there is also often subjective information, open to interpretation. Is the prospect really acting with authority? Do they really have a budget? Even seasoned sales people can be mistaken about such things. In short, lead qualification is almost always nuanced, complex and evolving, as the teleprospecting operation figures out how to qualify leads precisely and the sales organization figures out what it really wants and needs. This reality often creates conflict with the vendor initially, because the fee structure negotiated is not really the right fee structure and so one side or the other loses.

Finally, if the vendor is taking all the risk, many people understandably put vendor support on the back burner. It’s human nature. In reality, teleprospecting operations fail, including those that are in-house, without proper support from marketing and sales. For example, from marketing, this operation needs lists, assets and tools, and an appropriate supply of reasonably qualified responders. From sales, the team needs training and mentoring on qualification and precise, rapid feedback on leads..

After all, the fee is fixed and the operation should run on auto-pilot. You also might not bother investing in effective demand generation that feeds the vendor or even list development, instead allowing the vendor to get by on cold-calling decaying lists.

Your program then becomes the dumping ground for new hires. The vendor might also park underperformers there before giving them their walking papers. In other words, both you and the vendor try to extract some value out of the effort. But, some of what matters isn’t getting measured, like the cost in the market place to your brand because of the quality of the calling.

LESSON LEARNED: A business relationship is a two-way street. Your vendor can’t help you be successful, if you don’t help it be successful. As Jerry Maguire said, “Help me help you!”

Is there transparency in your relationship?

So, what’s the right approach? It really depends on what you need and how clear you are about your needs. If you have a reasonably well-oiled, well-documented process and approach to teleprospecting, then asking the vendor to share in the risk and the upside can serve your mutual long-term interests.

If things are not going so well and you need to figure out the right approach, then pay-for-performance is going to create unnecessary conflict. You might be better served in that case to put your focus on determining the right model or strategy for teleprospecting and the parameters of a pilot. Insist on a level of transparency during the pilot and then use the pilot to optimize the approach. Then, after the production level has begun to plateau, start working on a shared risk model.

The right shared risk fee structures ensure that both the vendor and the client win if the program is working and lose if the program is failing. To arrive at such an arrangement, there must be clarity on both sides about mutual obligations and the consquences for non-compliance. Mutual trust and respect are also necessary, including a win-win approach to the fee structure.

To those who might argue that every dollar of profit a vendor makes is a dollar of margin that is lost to its clients, I would point to the free enterprise system. Everywhere in free markets, the quest for profits drives higher levels of efficiency (and losing money drives companies out of markets and out of business). If the vendor makes above average profits for driving above average efficiency, then its clients are the beneficiaries. And the profits that the vendor makes must always be tempered by what its competitors offer or what its clients believe they can achieve in-house.

LESSON LEARNED: A rising tide lifts all boats…as long as everyone is clear on how “tide” and “boat” are defined in the process. So, before you dive in, dip your toe in and start with a pilot that has flexibility to evolve over time. Once the proper success metrics have been discovered, and a working relationship is established, you can create a more successful payment model that truly shares risk and reward.

But don’t stop there. Look at this as an evolving fee model. Continue to optimize as you learn more about what creates a mutually successful relationship.

Related Resources

B2B Marketing: The 7 most important stages in the teleprospecting funnel

B2B Lead Generation: Why teleprospecting is a bridge between sales and marketing

B2B Marketing: The FUEL methodology outlined

Free MarketingSherpa B2B Newsletter

The Last Blog Post: To understand life is to understand marketing

March 4th, 2011

(Editor’s Note: When we first conceived of The Last Blog Post experiment, we thought it would be another way to learn from successful marketers and thought leaders. What we never imagined is how harrowingly close life can imitate marketing…as Scott explains in this post.

So while we’re a few weeks past The Last Blog Post experiment, I wanted to publish this one last insight since successful marketing must imitate life. And while, from my perspective, Scott has always had an impressive ability to understand people, businesses, processes and systems at their core, I believe his recent experience has further clarified that knowledge…)

Just prior to my 45th birthday, our editor asked me to provide a contribution to a blog event titled “The Last Blog Post.” He stated the idea came from the concepts of the book entitled The Last Lecture,  that I had recommended to him.

As sharing things I have learned along the way is a passion of mine, I could not help myself but to say yes. My assistant, the best assistant anyone could ask for in the world I might add, argued that with my current focus and only two weeks lead time, there would be no way for me to complete the assignment on time. However, much to her chagrin, I took the task and added it to my long list.

The only thing I asked of our editor was that he provide me with some questions to get myself thinking along the direction he wanted this to trend, which he gratefully did. I carefully planned my writing time and set off to complete this assignment, as part of the many things I had taken on.

Little did I know that a few days later, on my 45th birthday, I would get that wakeup call we all fear. Just after the kind group of people that I work with and serve presented me with some wonderful cupcakes and a gift, I realized that the constant pressure in my chest and shortness of breath would not go away. At first, I said, “Hey, it’s my birthday; I will deal with this tomorrow.”

But, thanks to Lisa, my wonderful persistent wife, I decided to give myself a different kind of present. I went to the hospital, just to get cleared, before I headed off to celebrate. Well, a few days later, which included having to be jump started (as my children called it) once along the way, thanks to the great care of the staff from the Jacksonville Heart Center and the Baptist Hospital, I got a second chance.

Now, with a new diet (thanks to my family and everyone at MECLABS ), some new pills and a few more cardiac procedures to go staring me in the face, I was told I did not need to worry about trying to hit the deadline to produce my Last Blog Post, since, well, I came all too close to it actually being my very last anything. So, I tried not to think about it and focus on catching up on my major projects. While I did not hit the deadline, I could not help but put a few of my thoughts on paper.

I wanted to focus on three areas in particular: 1) Good vs. bad people, 2) Short-term vs. Long-term approaches, and 3) Balancing work and life.

Good vs. bad people

With respect to good people vs. bad people (in fairness to my editor, the question as he posed it was more along the lines of what makes a good/bad leader and/or employee), I find it quite easy to state it this way. Most people are fundamentally good and it is simply their behavior that is bad.

More specifically, I define behavior that considers one’s own self-interest at the expense of other people’s interest as bad. The reality is that we are all guilty of “bad” behavior from time to time. The goal is therefore to prevent it first.

However, on those, hopefully rare, occasions when our behavior fits this definition of bad, it is incumbent upon us to admit it, apologize for it, make our penance and be darn sure we do not repeat the act. See a parallel to customer service and public relations here? I hope so.

At the end of all our days, the only thing that will really matter is the relationships we have and have had along the way.

Short-term vs. long-term approaches

We often hear people define others by whether they are thinking short term or long term in their strategy. Especially in today’s world, the short term, that is instant gratification, has become what we want.

However, I have watched people and businesses continue to fall flat on their faces with this short term approach because they lose their raison d’etre (the long term). What I try to help people understand is a simple adage that a mentor from my college days shared with me; don’t confuse fun with happiness.

He was not trying to say don’t go out and have fun. What he meant was – don’t let having fun get in the way of achieving the short term goals you needed to achieve in order to meet your long term objectives, which will leave you feeling fulfilled and happy.  For a deeper study of this concept, I recommend Spencer Johnson’s The Present and Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Likewise, a splashy advertising campaign is certainly fun, but is it serving your customers in the long term? Are you building a sustainable business or a flash in the pan?

Balancing work and life

The concept of working on short-term goals that will allow you to achieve your long-term objectives is how I build my approach to “balancing work and life.” Let me first explain that you cannot have “work-life balance” from my perspective. It makes the flawed assumption that your life and your work are two distinct and mutually exclusive entities. I argue that your work is a subset of your life, just as your family, schooling and time spent with friends are subsets.

The key to balancing them comes down to understanding the purpose you have dedicated your life to fulfilling and understanding how each of the pieces moves you closer to the life objective you have set out to achieve.

I will never forget the first short on the companion DVD to The 8th Habit. It defined life with four key elements: living, loving, learning and leaving a legacy. There is no reason that work you do cannot contribute to your living, your loving, your learning and the legacy you leave behind.

Consider those elements in every campaign you create. Does that campaign represent your best efforts for both your company and your audience? After all, there is no “work you” and “home you.” There is only “you.” Ask yourself…do you, all of you, truly stand behind that latest campaign?

And in the end…

So, at the end of it all I will say that you simply have to do the following:

  • Find a purpose that moves you and will improve the lives of others
  • Understand how what you are doing today will help you to achieve that purpose and
  • Realize that without other people to share our journey you may as well just stay where you are.

Related resources

Marketing Wisdom: In the end, it’s all about…

The Last Blog Post: Marketers must embrace change

The Last Blog Post: 5 Lessons I’d Leave Behind

The Last Blog Post- What Marketers can learn from The Last Lecture

The Last Blog: It All Begins with Trust

The Last Blog Post: How to succeed in an era of Transparent Marketing

Public Relations: The best press release is no press release

November 5th, 2010

Here’s a recent question I received via email that I’d like to address right here on the blog. This is a common question, and I think there is a lot of value in the answer for anyone seeking to gain earned impressions in the media for their brand…or even their personal brand.


Congratulations on your new post handling editorial concerns for Would you be so kind as to give a short primer on the best way PR folks, who represent marketing companies, can work with you moving forward? Do you like to be kept abreast with news releases and whatnot? We’ve done some work with MarketingSherpa in the past but it appears things have changed on your end and we certainly don’t want to waste your time. Thanks in advance for your help.

Best regards,

Kevin Johnson
Manger of Media Relations


Thanks for the question, Kevin. My short answer is – the best press release is no press release. Just tell me why your proposed case study or article will have value for MarketingSherpa’s 225,000 marketers specifically. You can do this by reading and understanding what we publish on MarketingSherpa, you can not do this by randomly inserting the term “MarketingSherpa” into a canned pitch. Let’s dive into this a little…

Man bites dog

At MarketingSherpa, we receive no shortage of canned pitches and press releases every day. And not to be too harsh, but much like spam, they are sorted appropriately.

Now, I’m sure working in PR is a tough job. And to be fair, I have limited experience in my career on the press-release-writing side of things, but the few times I have been involved, usually the client’s perception on the purpose of a press release was way out of whack with reality (one client didn’t even know what a press release was, just that they wanted one…no joke).

So what is a press release? Wikipedia’s description ends with the clause, “…for the purpose of announcing something claimed as having news value.” That’s right, even if you’re just making a “claim,” find the “news value.” In case you didn’t take Journalism 101, news value is “Man Bites Dog” and not “My client has an ad campaign.”

Talk to me like I’m your older brother, not your mother

Here’s the analogy I like to use. When you talk to your mother, she’s likely excited and proud about almost anything you have done. “Oh, Jimmy, you have a new ad campaign, how exciting!”

However, try the same pitch with your older brother and see how well that turns out. “Loser. You’re only in advertising because you couldn’t hack it in medicine.” To grab the attention of your older brother, you need something really newsworthy, “The ad campaign we launched six months ago increased revenue by 372% because I did these three innovative things. So I booked a charter flight to the Super Bowl. Want to come, big bro?”

Well, media people are your older brother. I could care less about your new ad campaign. But if you got real results from a client that you’re willing to share that could benefit my audience…well, that’s as valuable to me as a 50-yard-line seat to watch the Jaguars play the Giants in the next Super Bowl.

So don’t even bother with the darn press release. Just send me a personal note and tell me why your specific story should be published on MarketingSherpa. I know, I know, it’s so much easier to do a big PR blast and get picked up somewhere and get some impressions and some SEO. But if you’re looking for quality earned impressions, just send me a note…the canned pitch goes straight in the trash anyway.

In writing this blog post, I’m a little worried I’m being a too harsh on PR people. And, really, I’m trying to help. So I sent my colleague, Andrea Johnson, the above paragraph and asked her opinion. She has more than two decades or public relations experience under her career belt, so her response surprised me. She was even more emphatic than I was. To quote directly from our Skype conversation, “YES!!! Absolutely.” Here’s what else Andrea had to say about news releases…

Publicity is nothing but sales

Your target market is the editor, blogger or reporter, your product is your news. Your goal is to make it very easy for them to say “yes” to whatever you’re selling; editors simply don’t have the time to figure out why they should care, especially in a marketplace that’s absolutely flooded with thousands of news releases every day.

If you want meaningful coverage, pay attention to what they’re writing about, what they care about, and the trends they’re tracking. With that in mind, start a personal conversation about what’s in it for them if they cover your news – that could be, for instance, a fresh, juicy angle on a topic they write about a lot.

News releases make reporters work way too hard to figure out what’s in it for them, but releases can support the conversation. Instead, begin with a simple, thoughtful email referencing what they care about most and how your news perfectly addresses it. You’ll be surprised by your success, especially with B2B trade publications; editors there are absolutely starving for relevant material.

– Andrea Johnson, Editorial Manager, MECLABS Applied Research

You can write it in a letter, babe

To summarize, press releases are not helpful. What is most helpful is a personal letter letting us know why the story you’re seeking to pitch has value for the MarketingSherpa audience. One thing we are always looking for is real case studies with real numbers that we can publish.

Also, here is some boilerplate from our site that might be helpful. But, again, a personal letter as to why this specifically would be a good article for MarketingSherpa is key. Most press releases just end up in the (virtual) trash…

However, be aware that we are *not* a news organization but rather a publisher of Case Studies, benchmark data and how-to instructions.

Our researchers would love your help in identifying client-side (aka brand-side) marketing executives who would make good subjects for our Case Studies. We’ll ask them specific questions about marketing tactics they have personally used, and we’ll expect them to be able to speak to results in some meaningful way.

Yes, agencies and vendors are invited to talk about campaigns they have completed for clients, as long as some sort of results information is included, and the client can be contacted for a quote.

You don’t have to write any case studies for us – we do all our own research and writing. Just suggest folks for us to interview.

Related resources

Landing Page Optimization: Takeaways from Entrepreneurship, PR, and Social Media

How to Get 350 Positive Media Mentions for a Business Services Firm in Six Months (Members’ Library)

How to Optimize Press Releases & Get Higher Search Ranking and 75% Clickthrough Rate (Members’ Library)

SEO Raises Awareness and Reputation Better than PPC

October 5th, 2010

Pay-per-click advertising in search engines is a veritable money machine for some companies. They put money in, turn some wrenches, and money comes out the other end.

However, PPC is not a miracle worker. Turning those wrenches can take a lot of work. And there are several marketing goals PPC achieves less effectively than SEO.

Comparing data from MarketingSherpa’s 2011 Search Marketing Benchmark Reports: SEO and PPC Editions, more marketers reported SEO as “very effective” at achieving the following objectives:

o Increasing brand or product awareness: SEO: 42%; PPC: 34%

o Improving brand or product reputation: SEO: 29%; PPC: 19%

o Improving public relations: SEO: 27%; PPC: 6%

Clearly, more marketers believe SEO is more effective than PPC at changing people’s opinions about their products and brands. However, when it comes to conversion-related objectives such as increasing lead generation and online sales revenue, more marketers report PPC as “very effective” than SEO.

The data lead me to believe that people searching to learn more about a company or industry are more interested in natural search results than paid results. Ads take on a larger role as searchers make purchase decisions or consider other conversions (such as reaching out for more information).

If your team is hoping to lift brand awareness and reputation, you’re better off working to improve your natural search performance than increasing your PPC budget. PPC is not necessarily ineffective, but it’s likely to have a smaller return than time invested elsewhere.

Blogger Video Sharing Data

November 6th, 2009

Knowing which bloggers are most likely to embed or link to a video can help focus your pitching strategy. Take a look at a new report from social media business intelligence provider Sysomos to find out which bloggers are sharing videos.

Sysomos analyzed over 100 million blog posts from July to September 2009 to measure bloggers’ video sharing. The report breaks down the bloggers’s demographics and the services they use.

Below is some U.S. data from the report. Check out the full report if you want more detail and international data.

– U.S. Market Share
o YouTube – 81.6% of bloggers use YouTube to embed or link to video
o Vimeo – 10.6%
o Dailymotion – 1.8%

– Top U.S. Cities for Video Sharing Via Blogs
o New York, NY – number one worldwide
o Los Angeles, CA – number six worldwide
o Chicago, IL – number 10 worldwide

– Top U.S. States for Video Sharing Via Blogs
o CA – 19.0%
o NY – 10.9%
o TX – 5.4%
o PA – 5.0%
o FL – 4.8%

– Age of North American Bloggers who Embed Video
o 20 to 35 – 62.7%
o 35 to 60 – 25.9%
o 13 to 19 – 9.5%
o Over 60 – 1.9%
o Under 13 – 0.0%

Worldwide, males (60.33%) are more actively sharing video through blogs than females (39.67%). The most active days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Monday, respectively. The most active hours are 11 a.m. to noon, followed by noon to 1 p.m.

If you’re making viral videos, this data helps show who is most likely to share them on a blog. You can use it to help guide your pitching strategy, and possibly help decide if viral video is the right strategy for your audience.

Start a Company Blog?

June 3rd, 2009

A company blog can be a great way to build brand, credibility and site traffic–but blogging is often more work than first expected. And positive results rarely come quickly. The benefits gradually build as you toil through post after post.

Also, there are blogs on topics from fruit to adhesives, and there are likely a couple that relate to your business. That means a new blog would have to compete. However, you don’t have to compete with blogs to enter the blogosphere, says Jay Krall, Internet Media Research Manager, Cision.

“Too many times, I think, people fall into the trap of thinking that they need to start a blog, when in fact they would do much better to take six months to engage heavily with the blogs in their space,” Krall says. “I don’t want to discourage people from writing a blog, but you have to listen first. You have to take some time to make sure that you understand what’s already being said in that space.”

If you’re thinking of starting a blog for business reasons, consider the opportunity costs of the time you’ll have to invest. Would that time be better invested elsewhere? You might get better, faster results (in the shorter term) by doing blogger outreach.

Some Social Media Nuggets to Toss Around

February 2nd, 2009

MarketingSherpa members got a preview of our 2009 Social Media Marketing and PR Benchmark Guide last week. An executive summary, table of contents, and some great charts and analysis were released to them in PDF form.

The complete guide will be released the week of Feb. 9. Here are a few interesting nuggets for all of you to contemplate right now. Read more…

Send Out Some Kindness: Hot PR Tactic in ’09

January 23rd, 2009

I’m working on MarketingSherpa’s 2009 Wisdom Report, and I’m surprised by how many PR entries there are. Last year, we didn’t get near as many. (For those of you who don’t know, our Wisdom Report is an annual compilation of bits of wisdom marketers share with us from the past year.)

In addition, our end of year survey shows that PR best practices are a priority for marketers in 2009. I can’t help but think this must be a reflection of the economy and, subsequently, of marketers’ tightening budgets. PR, after all, is inexpensive and can be very effective. Read more…