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Different Schools of Communication Have Plenty To Teach Each Other

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

At the Global PR Summit in Miami this week, I was fortunate enough to sit in on a panel discussion called “It’s a Conversation, Not a Campaign: What Marketers Can Learn From PR.” The panel featured C-suite communications executives from the likes of Lenovo and Proctor & Gamble discussing how traditionally separate communications disciplines are becoming more and more integrated in today’s digital world.

That is, marketers must learn to speak the language of PR and social media to meaningfully engage today’s consumers. The top piece of information most public relations practitioners (83% of those surveyed) think marketers need to learn is that reputation is a consequence of the authentic behavior of an organization.

This lesson was underscored by Dave Roman, SVP and CMO of Lenovo, who noted that there’s no longer anywhere for brands to hide. “You have to be much more open when you can’t control the message.” Being open and transparent is a necessary condition of instilling a sense of trust and empathy with your clients, and to many public relations professionals, this is critical for marketers to internalize.

The survey cited by this panel also asked marketers what they think PR people need to learn. Not surprisingly, they have to do with analytics – a field marketers have mastered. 78% of marketers believed PR pros needed to learn how to shape their decision-making with data and analytics. 63% thought PR pros needed to learn how to quantify their results.

While marketers design their campaigns around research-based messages – determined by market data, audience attitudes, and demographics – some corporate PR departments still “wing it,” said the panel. (I am fortunate to be with an agency not among the “winging it” contingent.)

In short, all communications disciplines have a lot to learn from each other. We can learn creativity and emotional resonance from advertising. We can learn how to use metrics to not only judge a campaign, but design it, from marketing. We can learn the art of storytelling, how to create authentic connections with customers, and build a brand’s reputation from public relations.  And when all these fields sit at the same communications table, a brand will be that much stronger for it.

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State of the Media 2012: Here come the paywalls

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s no secret that media today is evolving faster than ever before. As the channels through which people consume and disseminate information increasingly move towards the digital, traditional print and broadcast media are scrambling to keep up – fighting for their lives as they try to boost their bottom line through their online content.

This year’s Vocus State of the Media Report covers these issues and more. Here are a few of the most interesting takeaways; you can download the full report here.

–          BUSINESS MODEL CHANGES:

  • More and more, newspapers and magazines are closing bureaus in favor of having their employees telecommute. In fact, about 20 bureaus were closed in 2011, including the Miami Herald’s Fort Lauderdale bureau. Like many industries turning towards telecommuting, reporters and editors can do their work from home or remotely, and it saves money.
  • As print subscriptions shrink, with readers turning to news sites to read for free, many newspapers and magazines are seeking ways to make money from their digital content. Paywalls are increasingly popular among publishers. The New York Times has had a paywall for some time, allowing only 20 free articles each month. The Wall Street Journal makes certain content available only to subscribers. However, in 2011, many small and mid-sized publications adopted paywalls as well. We bet you’ll see more in 2012.
  • Beyond paywalls, some publications are dropping certain editions, including the Times-Standard of California which no longer prints a Monday edition.

MARKETING:

  • The growing Hispanic market is increasingly becoming a treasure trove for publishers. Many are creating content specifically geared towards a Latino audience. For instance, one of only several successful print magazine launches last year included Hispanic Retail 360. Further, several major TV networks are launching Spanish-language websites, and online video streamer Hulu has introduced Hulu Latino. Some local news sites are offering alternative sites in Spanish, just as the MiamiHerald.com does with ElNuevoHerald.com. This is good news for us here in Miami, where Spanish language speakers are so common.

–          SOCIAL MEDIA:

  • In 2011, blog growth was mostly in consumer-oriented blogs, with topics including domestic life, parenting, and cooking. However, industry and trade blogs came in second – evidence that more and more professionals are seeing how an active blog about their area of expertise can enhance their reputation. In fact, we often advise our clients to integrate a blog into their public relations and marketing campaigns for this very reason.
  • Social media has created a new generation of journalists, who can break news faster than any traditional journalists. Social media users can also provide news from areas inaccessible to foreign journalists, such as during the uprisings in Iran and now Syria.

To put the revolution occurring in the media in perspective, consider that the New York Times now has more Twitter followers than print subscribers. It’s an exciting time for media and public relations professionals as we watch traditional media  integrate with digital and social media.

After reading the above points, what are your predictions for the media in 2012?

What’s up November? Bring it on!

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Heavens, November is shaping up to be a busy month – bring it on!. Forget Thanksgiving travel and cooking; there are some excellent conferences here in Miami as well, two of which I have the honor of participating in. Here’s some info on both events and what I’m planning to run my mouth about.

Women In PR

November 4-6: First annual Women in PR Summit!

Anyone who knows me knows I love participating in organizations that work to advance women’s careers. I served on the board of directors of the Association for Women in Communications South Florida chapter for three years (one as communications chair, two as president) and do pro bono publicity for BadassBusinesswomen.org – if you don’t know this organization and its leader, the charismatic entrepreneur Jessica Kizorek, you should. At the Women in PR Summit, I’ll be participating in a panel discussion on how PR is evolving into a digital business. I’ve put down my thoughts on this before; here’s an earlier blog post on how social media is creating a whole new generation of journalists. Click here for more information on the Women In PR Summit and how to register.

November 10-11: The Women’s Success Summit IV – “Risky Business.”

Another fantastic conference devoted to boosting women in business. Says founder and organizer Michelle Villalobos: “Prepare to push boundaries, take leaps of faith, raise bars and take yourself, your business or your career to a whole new level, while being surrounded by hundreds of Miami’s most ambitious, successful women. In honor of our new venue, Gulfstream Park, the theme of this fourth Summit is Risky Business: Going All In.” I’m delighted to not only be a partner and sponsor of this event, but also a panelist on Buzz Worthy: How To Leverage Your Personality, Reputation & Expertise to Land a Spotlight In The Media. I’m beyond thrilled to sit alongside panelists including major journalists Amara Sohn of NBC News and Cindy Goodman of the Miami Herald. Click here for more information on the summit and how to register.

I’d better see you all at these events. And November, don’t just bring it on… consider it brought.

Seven things I learned from giving my first seminar

Recently, I blogged about a presentation I gave to artists, teaching them the basics of D.I.Y. media relations. I’ve sat on panel discussions before and spoken in front of the Association for Women in Communications South Florida (as president and past president), but I’d never had the opportunity to stand at the front of a room under bright lights, and speak for 45 minutes about one of the topics I’m most passionate about. And I can’t wait to do it again. Here are five things I learned from this new experience:

  1. Organizing the presentation: Make it a thought process. Lead the audience step by step through this thought process, with as few detours as possible. Not only is it a very effective teaching technique, but it relieves a lot of pressure to memorize, memorize, memorize. Standing up in front of a room full of people, looking expectantly at you, can be a hair trigger to losing your words (and your mind, and your composure)  all of a sudden. If you work yourself through your own thought process, you’ll never forget what you need to cover.
  2. Wear something comfortable – physically and psychologically. I chose my go-to jeans, a comfy blouse, and a blazer that never fails me. If you’re up there tottering in heels too high, or uncomfortably shifting around a wedgie, or worrying if your bra is showing through, your level of effectiveness is going to be inversely proportional to the level of your uneasiness. Pick something you know looks good, feels good, and is going to hold up under hot lights and moving around on stage.
  3. Gauge your audience. When I arrived, I wasn’t sure how experienced my audience was with media relations, or even (what we might consider simple) tasks like setting up a Youtube channel. And I was surprised to learn what they needed to learn. Yes, the “raise your hand if…” opener is a bit cheesy and overused, but if I didn’t ask a few of those before I began, I might have ended up teaching people what they already knew, or failing to teach them what they really needed to know.
  4. Shut up early and let the audience take over. That “15 minute” Q&A session is never, ever going to be enough time for everyone to pose their questions. Next time I give a seminar, I’m going to hold it to 35 minutes and then let the discussion do the rest.
  5. Get there early and stay there late. Not only is this another great way to gauge your audience before you begin your seminar and find some familiar faces you can use as anchors in your view of the audience, but it also lets the “never long enough” Q&A session continue afterwards. Hand out a couple of business cards. Invite people to contact you later with more questions. The closer you get with your audience and the more information you have time to provide, the more you – and they – will get out of your seminar.

Any experienced speakers out there like to weigh in? Leave a comment!

Artists need media love too

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

On February 15, I gave a seminar, “How to Get The Media’s Attention,” teaching DIY media relations for artists. The event was sponsored for an amazing local organization, Life Is Art, which advances and promotes Miami’s own artists.

Many might think artists ≠ public relations. They do it for the joy of creation and ideation, right? – hoping to sell just enough of their work to finance the next round of paint, clay, or film.

But when I asked for a show of hands from those who want to make a living off their art, every hand in the room – right back to the standing-room-only peanut gallery – shot up.

“Essentially, then,” I said. “You are an entrepreneur. You are your own small business. Why shouldn’t you use the same marketing techniques and strategies so critical to the success of any other entrepreneur?”

About fifty light bulbs clicked on over the heads of the audience members.

“The fact is, public relations ain’t brain surgery,” I told them. “Anyone with some basic training and materials (and a lot of time and energy) can do it. And I aim to have each and every one of you walk away with the education and materials you need to get the media’s attention.”

I showed them how to create a “home base” where people can find their work, their events, and their contact information. I recommended either a simple website or, even better, a free WordPress blog where they can host their videos, audio, or images. Then, I explained why having a social media presence was so important – each profile, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or Flickr – is another “lily pad” leading audiences back to their home base, and which of those social media platforms might be most effective in promoting their work.

Eventually, I told them, their lily pads will be articles in the New Times, American Artist, the New York Times Arts Beat blog, and other media hits they garner – yet more signs guiding potential buyers to the artist’s home base.

From there, we moved to tactics. I showed them formats for basic media relations documents, including calendar announcements, media alerts, and press releases. I taught them how to use those documents, when to use those documents, and who to send them to. Finally, I showed them the most important tool of all: the personal note.

As any professional PRer knows, the power of the personal note cannot be underestimated. If I’m tracking a reporter who I think might be interested in my story, I research their recent stories and read each new one they publish. One of the top ways to open a dialogue and begin the process of building a relationship is to just drop them a line with a comment or insight on one of their articles. After a few of those notes, the foundation is set, and I can ask them to consider my story. Artists are communicators as well, and arts writers connect with them in a much different way than they do with a public relations professionals. My bet is, the artists who attended my seminar would be much more likely to get some deeper coverage if they opened a dialogue with a writer whose previous work shows a potential interest in the artist’s story and work. I explained the best ways to research a writer and the best ways to communicate with them.

In the Q&As, though, things got down and dirty. The conversation turned to social media, and I sat down at my laptop behind my projector to show them, in real time, how to use some of the platforms, and examples of other artists who were using them well. We talked about how to sell a story, how to stage a publicity stunt, like a live graffiti muraling or performance art piece. I gave each attendee a handout with the templates to use, and emailed each a media list of contacts in the local media, broadcast media, and national arts and consumer media.

Now, let’s see who makes the news….

For more information, check out this write-up we got from the Miami Herald. Or, view the full program description here.

ART AS BUSINESS

Seminar in Wynwood tonight: how artists can manage their own PR

By Jared Goyette

When artists decide to make a living from their talent, to make their passion their career, they become their own small business, and suddenly have to a manage a slew of new responsibilities of that are not typically mastered in art school or in studios. One of those tasks is managing their own PR, and that entails more than just opening up a Facebook page

How artists can manage their own public relations is the subject of a seminar being held tonight at 6:30 p.m. at GAB Studio, 105 NW 23rd in Wynwood. The event is sponsored by the Life is Art foundation, and there is a charge of $10 at the door. Julia K. Wakefield, a Senior Account Executive and Director of Social Media at Schwartz Media Strategies, will present, and plans to give the artists in attendance the rundown of what they need to know about the world of media relations.

“I want them to walk away with the ability to do some very basic public relations to get the media’s attention to their work,” she said in a phone interview.

The presentation will go through how artists should set up their own platform – a homepage, a blog, social media accounts — and how to build an audience. Wakefield will also go through the basics of traditional media relations, and will distribute a press list of local, national and international art writers and journalists.

She believes that developing artists are more than capable of managing their own PR, as it’s “not rocket science,” but that getting the basics right can be important for their success, especially if they want to make art their career.

“Most artists do it for the pleasure of it, but everybody needs to make some money,” she said.

Math, media, and mass marketing: Today, the little guy has the biggest voice

February 8, 2011 2 comments

Marketers have known for quite some time that marketing to smaller segments of the population can be more effective than marketing to the masses.  Now, the New York Times has reported on a surprising – but similar – new development in the study of the spread of social memes, like “retweets” on Twitter or spreading gossip, videos, information, or news through other social networks and blogs. Researchers have found new patterns in the way that information is spread in cyberspace and have found that it is dependent upon a multitude of factors including the polarizing nature of the information, the structure of the social network, and what we’re looking at in today’s post: how the sharers stack up statistically against the rest of the population. That is, where they lie on demographic spectra often used by marketers to focus their efforts.

As it turns out, the sharers on the “fringes of society” have the greatest influence on a broader scale.

As any marketer knows, mathematics and quantitative research have become increasingly important in marketing over the past decades, from conducting the most mundane focus groups to intensive market research involving measuring the sentiments, attitude changes, and behavioral changes of hundreds of thousands of people over years. And it has become more and more apparent that marketing to the masses isn’t always the most effective way to influence people. One well-known example of this idea is the classic “long tail theory.”

Long tail theory refers to the way demographics are distributed on a graph like the one at left. The larger the demographic group, the farther it lies to the left of the graph.  For instance, female adults between the ages of 18-55 might be represented at the extreme left of the graph; female adults between the ages of 25-35 who live in urban areas might be represented somewhere in the middle; and female adults ages 55-65 who play more than 4 hours of online video games per day might be represented at the far right -“the long tail” of the graph.

While it may seem intuitive to focus marketing to the left end of the spectrum, where there are the most subjects, marketers eventually figured out that the the long tail (basically, the total quantity of people from a large number of small groups) is actually larger than the tall end of the graph (the total quantity of people from a small number of large groups). Therefore, marketers of products (besides those applying to nearly everyone, like toilet paper or gasoline) get more bang for their buck by focusing on “the long tail.”

Now, with the idea that the “long tail” – smaller, more specialized groups of the population – has already long been recognized as a prime target for focused marketing efforts, let’s take a look at another popular marketing metric that evidences the same sea change in social media influence, as featured in the New York Times article we’re referencing – the bell curve.  Marketers can use the bell curve as a method to target the most average members of a population – those lying at the center of the curve. But according to the article, social media influence is more and more held by those at the extreme ends of the curve – for instance, the early adopters of a technology; the most prolific bloggers in a small niche; the tweeters who share the most news the fastest.

As a case study, let’s take an example of how this impacts the marketing of a product: say, Ugg boots. Some love their Uggs more than their own mother; some hate Uggs with a passion that burns deep; and most people kind of like them or kind of don’t like them or don’t really care one way or another. Marketers are increasingly seeing that the way to get the word out is to reach out to the extreme haters and the extreme lovers. The extremes of the bell curve are the populations which are most likely to share information about the marketer’s brand, says Sunil Gupta, a digital marketing professor at the Harvard Business School.

There you have it: the little guys have the biggest voices. It’s already abundantly clear that social media is rewriting the book on how people relate to one another, influence one another, and learn about the world. We as marketers and public relations professionals are seeing social media not only rewrite the book on the methods organizations and institutions use to relate to people, influence people, and teach them about the world – but recalibrate the algorithms as well.

What’s the takeaway from this? Leave no stone unturned in seeking the maximum effectiveness in penetrating key audiences with key messages. In this regard, you can take lessons learned from long tail theory and apply them to your media relations outreach: that is, focusing on the smaller, niche, trade publications on the “long tail” of the graph can be just as effective at raising awareness of your clients’ brands and stories, earning credibility among their peers and core client base, and driving referrals and business growth as focusing on the Wall Street Journals and Vanity Fairs of the press world. When it comes to reaching and influencing specialized groups of referral sources or customers, even “little” media has a big voice.

Did social media kill the journalist?

Not at all. In fact, you might say it creates hundreds of thousands of new journalists every day.

It’s no secret that the media landscape is changing significantly, as methods of consuming news shift away from newspapers and magazines towards social media, where everyone can be a journalist and have an online soapbox of their very own.   In this blog and my firm’s blog, we’ve often covered these changes afoot and ahead and how they affect professionals in our industry and in our clients’ industries.

But it’s not just individuals who are transforming themselves into reporters; new media and the “citizen journalism” trend are opening the door for a new species of journalists: brands, which are quickly adopting the strategy of becoming their own publisher – no receptive Forbes editor required.

Case study number one: the President and First Lady of the United States of America recently adhered to a time-honored (and let’s face it, publicly expected) tradition of making their tax returns public. But instead of releasing the returns directly into the hands of the media, the returns were posted on the White House blog.

Just a day later, another anchor of today’s society announced it was shifting to “self-publishing” as well. I discovered this news in an insightful PR Breakfast Club blog post by Danny Brown. Remember when publicly traded companies, compelled by strict SEC guidelines to release financial data to the public, used paid wire services to distribute traditional press releases with the information? Well, it comes as no surprise to this public relations professional that Google is now the most prominent company to take advantage of a recent SEC ruling that companies may publish their data on their own websites if they meet fair disclosure requirements. Beginning immediately, Google’s financial performance data will be available to its investors on its website, cutting hacks and flacks out of the distribution stream.

The day in which the press release becomes obsolete is close at hand, if not already here. The lesson to be learned: if you don’t already have mechanisms for publishing your own content online – i.e., through a blog, podcast, or Youtube – then you’d better get started. No longer can we count on publications which are merely scraping by to have the manpower, time and space to write a story about our news. Savvy public relations professionals and their clients are putting on their publicist, publisher, reporter, and editor hats in order to ensure that their story gets out there – and to help them shape the conversation, instead of letting the conversation shape them.

Have you begun publishing your content on your own platforms – your blog, Facebook fan page, or LinkedIn group? Have you found luck with it? Which challenges do you think the shift towards self-publishing present for businesses?