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Single White Male Seeks Editor for Meaningful Connection: Pitching Refresher Tips for Hitting It Off Right Away

February 28th, 2012

After what feels like hours of pacing back and forth, you finally muster up the strength to pull out that number and make the call. Thousands of thoughts are racing in your mind – what do I say if she picks up? What do I say if she doesn’t? Do I leave a message with her friend and hope she gets back to me? How can I stop myself from rambling once I have the chance?

Oh how reporters and editors can string your heart along…

On the surface, pitching is both the easiest and hardest thing PR professionals do every day. Talking to your fellow man (or woman) is fundamental human activity, and media professionals should be as excited to receive your phone call or email as your grandmother would. Likewise, reporters should be excited to hear about your client’s new product, or want to hear what’s new and exciting during a meeting at an upcoming tradeshow. They are human, just like you are, and you are making their job easier.

Unfortunately, as we’ve all seen, the media relations process is far from that perfect image, with reporters facing a mound of emails and voicemails from across the globe stating why their product or expert is worthy of their time, and little to give. At times, hearing that “I’m on deadline, call back later” is a victory, because it at least means the reporter you are trying to reach actually picked up the phone. Not to mention the client that just let you know yesterday that they want to schedule briefings for a tradeshow taking place tomorrow.

It can all turn you into the crazy, stalker boyfriend or girlfriend asking the media, “WHY WON’T YOU LOVE ME?”

It’s fitting that just a few days after Valentine’s Day, I came across a Forbes interview with Peter Shankman, a longtime PR professional and founder of Help a Reporter Out (HARO), a site that serves as a matchmaker for reporters and sources. Peter outlined several essentials for PR professionals to keep in mind when pitching, probably out of a mix of desire to help solid industry workers increase their chances of winning over reporters and as a plea to a population prone to making the same mistakes over and over again.

Shankman can see the makings of a combustible relationship – journalists are working with fewer resources while under more pressure to find actual, interesting news, while PR professionals are paid to get their clients in the press. However, with some “counseling”, the two sides can work through their communication issues.

According to Shankman, PR professionals should always verify the following before clicking send or hitting dial:

  • Your news is actually news: PR professionals can be guilty at times of trying too hard to manufacture news for their clients. As reporters receive thousands of releases daily, only the ones that have something groundbreaking or intriguing will capture their attention. Press releases announcing that a client has repainted a conference room or is holding a company picnic will not only get passed over, but has the same effect as crying wolf the next time a more credible release is distributed. While it can be hard to tell a client their news isn’t really news, it can prevent possible long-term damage.
  • The reporter writes in your space: Some media research programs make things incredibly hard for PR professionals. Just because a reporter is listed under the “Technology” beat, for instance, does not necessarily mean he or she wants to be pitched with any technology-related angle. Before pitching a particular reporter, read some of his or her previous articles to get a sense of coverage topics, style and frequent sources. Not only does this provide great ammunition when pitching, as reporters like it when PR professionals are familiar with their work, but it can prevent the embarrassment of learning that they don’t cover a client’s space.
  • You are using the right tools: With seemingly few seconds to spare each day, reporters can be very particular about how they are contacted, and using the wrong outlet can get a PR pro started on the wrong foot. The same aforementioned media research tools can provide great direction for reporters. If a reporter’s profile notes to not call during work hours for any reason, put the phone down. Likewise, while most reporters work away from their desk and “office number,” calling them on their personal cell phones from an unfamiliar can be troublesome. Learn what mechanisms and times of day reporters like to be pitched during, and the chances of a successful connection increase.
  • Your grammar is pristine: Nothing turns a reporter away faster than a typo or misused word – or as Shankman puts it, “If you want to make sure I never write about you, pitch me with a grammar error.” Taking a few seconds to confirm that a pitch makes sense and is error-free can protect a PR professional’s credibility more than anything else.

While there is no absolutely right or wrong way to pitch, and different reporters and PR pros will have different paths to what works best, there are some basic practices we can easily forget while under the gun that will make the media relations end of the job less stressful.

After all, if your first date with the reporter goes well, it will make securing the second date that much easier.

Weekly Reads for Feb. 20, 2012

February 24th, 2012

Here are our top 10 picks for this week:

 

Five Trends B2B Marketers Need to Understand to Succeed in 2012
From MarketingProfs
Chris Chariton explains why marketers should focus on content creation, online marketing and technology.

5 ways PR can lead to new business
from Ragan.com

So how exactly does PR help you generate leads? Take a look at these five tactics.

Study: First impressions of a website form in less than a second
from Ragan.com

When viewing a website, it takes users less than two-tenths of a second to form a first impression, according to recent eye-tracking research.

Infographic: 22 ideas for creating irresistible content
from PR Daily
Copyblogger created its first-ever infographic with 22 ideas for creating content readers will love.

The New Newspaper and PR: Relationships Still Crucial
from Authentic PR Counsel
The new model can be positive for PR professionals, providing they understand the reporters and their beats, be honest, be forthright and provide facts and information that make it easier for reporters to tell their stories.

The most recent (and incredibly impressive) Facebook stats
from PR Daily
The average Facebook users spends 20 minutes on the site per visit. Fifty-three percent of users are female, 43 percent male. There are 2.7 billion “likes” every day.

The latest (and most fascinating) stats on Twitter
from
 PR Daily
First, Infographic Labs highlighted the big numbers Facebook continues to put up in the infographic, Facebook 2012. Now it’s Twitter’s turn, with the aptly titled, Twitter 2012.

3 ways to use the right keywords in your copy
from
 Ragan.com
It’s important to identify which keywords a company should try to rank for, but what do you do with them once your pay-per-click campaign is live and you’ve optimized your website?

Speakers: 7 ways to gain new business
from
 Ragan.com
I’ve come up with seven ways for you to gain business from your speaking engagements.

8 ways old blog posts can drive traffic
from
 Ragan.com
Here are eight simple ways to tune up yesterday’s blog posts to serve today’s
traffic and search engine optimization needs.

Time to Get Persona(l) With Your Buyers

February 23rd, 2012

BtoB marketers know that strong marketing starts with understanding your target market very well. As such, we take great steps towards understanding our target markets.

We perform market research to dissect our target market into different groups of companies that share similarities or buy alike (the fancy name for this is segmentation). We slice our markets into as many ways we can think of to create the ideal prospect. We want to understand size of company, location, verticals/industries, SIC code, and more. Armed with this data, we build savvier and better targeted go-to-market strategies.

While all of this is good and well, it can miss out on perhaps one of the most important segmentations that a BtoB marketer can do… segmenting your buyers into individual groups of people within the target organizations. This segmentation at the buyer level is called personas (or buyer personas).

Like corporate level segmentation which identifies like organizations so you can better market to them, segmentation at the buyer level (or personas) helps you identify like buyers (or group of buyers) who think, act, and respond similarly.

Within BtoB circles, you may need to create a persona for your technology evaluator, your financial decision maker and the business unit (or functional) buyer that drives the purchase. There may be more. You need to understand each of these personas specific needs and what makes them tick. According to The Marketing High Ground, a complete persona would include the following information about the buyer:

  • Who they are (name/gender/age/education/title/responsibility/role in purchase/attitude/reputation)
  • Where they work (ideal company profile)
  • Why they are a good target for your product (values, fear, pet peeves, information sources)

Your first question might be, “How do I get this information?” Of course, nothing beats good old fashioned research where you get on the phone with 10-20 such people in each group and learn what makes each buyer persona tick. Don’t worry about getting it perfect at first. Put down what you know. Interview the sales people. Talk to a few customers. Start somewhere. You can do full-fledged offline and electronic research later.

The beauty of having personas is it ensures you are talking to specific buyers with the messages they care about using the communication mediums they prefer. Once you have buyer personas, you will find it drives your go-to-market strategy including positioning, content development, lead generation/nurturing campaigns, PR strategy and more.

Ultimately, knowing your buyer personas will improve marketing results including more leads and more revenue… sounds like a great tradeoff for some upfront work to understand your buyers. It’s time to get persona(l) with your buyers.

Weekly Reads for Feb. 13, 2012

February 17th, 2012

Here are our top 10 picks for this week:

Essential social media advice for B2B companies
from Ragan’s PR Daily
Here are four things the B2B world can learn from B2C social media best practices.

‘BtoB’ NetMarketing Breakfast: Creating surprise with social media
from BtoB Magazine
Social marketing continues to intrigue, even surprise, marketers with its effectiveness, according to a panel of b-to-b marketers at the BtoB NetMarketing Breakfast.

The most popular content marketing tactics
from Ragan.com
This infographic from BlueGlass illustrates how B2B marketers use content marketing, what they use it for, and which companies use it best.

A Critical Path for Customer Relevance, Part 1
by
Brian Solis
In a survey of over 1,700 CMOs in 2011, IBM found that the intention of customer engagement was certainly present, but that executives were unclear in how to assess and integrate new technology in managing and leading customer relationships.

Avoid these words in email subject lines
from Ragan.com

This infographic from Boomerang details how you can make the time you spend on email more effective, and how to ensure people read what you send.

Mining social relationships for sales leads
from BtoB Magazine

Traditionally companies divide the leads assigned to in-house sales reps by territory. Networking solutions company Network Hardware Resale, however, has decided to assign leads by social connections.

How Measuring PR Helps You Triumph Over Competitors
from Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog
In any competitive environment you need to keep score in order to know where you stand. In business—and PR—it’s survival of the fittest, and measurement makes you a lot fitter.

Why ugly websites are so successful
from Ragan.com

In the eyes of many customers, ugly equals authentic and credible. Ugly helps you get the task completed quickly without any fuss or distraction. Ugly is going to give you the details. Ugly is not hiding anything.

Social Engagement: Thinking Big Can Be Very Small
from Crawford
by Kate Schackai
I read too much, I’m sure, about technology, big data, and the various threads of the social economy that interest me. I’m amazed at how often people think so big that they forget that the great part about having scads of numbers is the ability to get granular.

Report: Content and the New Marketing Equation
from Brian Solis
Altimeter Group released a new report, “Content: The New Marketing Equation Why Organizations Must Rebalance.” The report helps organizations find balance in the creation of effective content strategies while delivering value to stakeholders and consumers and also the bottom line.

Hosting a successful B2B webinar: It’s all in the timing

February 14th, 2012

A webinar on webinars? Yes, it’s true. BtoB magazine, in partnership with ON24, recently presented best practices for blockbuster business-to-business webinar performance. From start to finish, the stats revealed the success of a BtoB webinar is largely attributed to the right timing.

Come early

A longer runway is more effective in driving registration. This means start promoting early! Forty-eight percent of all registrations occur 10+ days before the event, 37 percent of all registrations occur 1-10 days before the event, and 15 percent of all registrations occur the day of the event.

When promoting your webinar, be sure to use a rich marketing mix and varied messaging. The most effective methods for driving BtoB webinar registration are your prospect list (71 percent), your website and one-on-one invitations from sales. By starting early, you can hit your list multiple times, each time with a different message.

Make it a good time

WebinarsMid-week (Tuesday – Thursday) is the best time to host your webinar, with Wednesday being the optimal day. The average time spent viewing a webinar is 38 minutes, so don’t drag on too long.

The typical registration for BtoB webinars is 250-350 people, and of these registrants, the average attendance is 40-50 percent. This number is completely normal, so don’t worry if only half of your registrants actually attend! Post-webinar analysis indicates that qualified leads typically range from 15-30 percent of attendants.

Stay late

Overbooking and last minute meetings often prevent registrants from being able to attend your webinar. Registering is still expressing interest, and you don’t want to lose any portion of your audience, especially not due to scheduling conflicts.

For this reason, it is a smart idea to include an ‘on demand’ component to capture as many viewers as possible. On average, 24 percent of registrants view BtoB webinars on demand.

Ninety-three percent of business-to-business companies include webinars as part of their marketing strategy, and more than 80 percent of marketers rate webinars as one of their top three marketing tactics for lead generation. If you’re using webinars as part of your marketing mix, remember to time it right!

Weekly Reads for Feb. 6, 2012

February 10th, 2012

Friday’s are great, and we’re making them even better. Today Arketi is introducing our ongoing blog series of the top 10 articles we’ve been reading each week. We hope you enjoy!

6 Ways To Get More B2B Leads From Social Media
from Social Fresh by Kipp Bodnar
While social media has many business functions ranging from public relations to customer service, when we look at it specifically for B2B marketing a primary function is lead generation. Counting and generating B2B leads with social media is one way for marketers to directly contribute to their company’s bottom line.

Facebook vs. LinkedIn in the business-to-business marketing space
from Ragan’s PR Daily by Michael Sebastian
According to one survey, 41 percent of B-to-B companies using Facebook have acquired new business through the social network. It’s detailed in this infographic San Diego Web Design & Marketing Agency, which points out the four most popular ways (according to one survey) for using Facebook for B-to-B marketing.

Are we addicted to social media?
from March Communications
by Ashley Aruda
A new study in the journal Psychological Science indicates that social media may be even more addictive than alcohol or tobacco. The reasoning behind this conclusion is that alcohol and tobacco have measurable, detrimental effects on health, which deters some people because they can mentally weigh the risks. On the contrary, we are only just beginning to study the effects of Twitter and Facebook on our psyche.

Twitter’s enhanced pages: Revolutionary or just window dressing?
from Ragan.com by Matt Wilson
If you haven’t taken a look at Coca-Cola’s Twitter profile lately, you may not have noticed that it looks a little different from other Twitter pages. Coke’s one of a handful of brands—which now include NPR, Al Jazeera, and Volkswagen—to get one of Twitter’s “enhanced profile pages.” According to Twitter’s business website, “Enhanced profile pages are currently available to a small selection of brands; they will be rolled out more broadly in the coming weeks and months.”

The Social Majority
from The Flack
Surveying the current political landscape, I believe that today’s silent majority — the ideological antithesis of those Mr. Nixon imagined — has found an effective means to have their voices heard, often from the comfort of their own homes. Three recent incidents have led me to this conclusion: the Komen reversal, the SOPA defeat & BofA’s withdrawal of its $5 debit card fee.

Who Do You Trust The Most (And The Least)?
from Mr. Media Training by Brad Phillips
What types of people do you trust? That question, posed by the PR firm Edelman in its annual Trust Barometer, gives companies and organizations valuable insight into the people who should – and shouldn’t – be speaking on their behalf.

The Inside Scoop on Using Twitter Lists for Profit and Sanity
from MarketingProfs by Dave Wieneke
Twitter lists are how you can “parse the cloud” of everyone you’ve followed on Twitter. It is how you can segment people you share friendships with, future clients, and sources of knowledge from people who have Twitter accounts. Software programs and applications also have access to those public lists. I use my digital agency list to fuel a daily roll-up of tweets with links via a service called Paper.li; I call my “publication” the Digital Agency Daily.

5 ways you’re sabotaging your PR efforts
from Ragan.com by Mickie Kennedy
Press releases are a good way to get product coverage—there’s no doubt about it. But if you don’t pitch them correctly, you may as well not send them at all. Here are some other ways you could be sabotaging your PR efforts.

2011 Was the Year of the Mobile Consumer, What’s in Store for 2012? Value.
from
Brian Solis
2011 saw a surge in mobile users, but 2012 is the year when smartphone owners become the majority of users, currently hovering just below 50% of U.S. mobile phone users. Tablets, too, take center stage with a near 24% CAGR in adoption.

Is content more important than conversation?
from Ragan.com
by Brian Carter
I bet you’ve heard plenty about the importance of conversation in social media. We’ve all heard companies must engage their customers online. We’ve probably said it ourselves. But is conversation the most important thing in social media?

How can you use Google+ to boost your rank in search results?

February 3rd, 2012

I joined the Google+ community last summer, and although I thought Google+ was a great, new social media powerhouse backed by Google, one question lingered in the back of my mind: “How can Google+ be used for business?” I think I’ve found my answer.

For those of you not familiar with Google+, let me bring you up to speed. Google+ launched in June of 2011 as the invitation-only social networking platform powered by Google that was going to give Facebook a run for its money by creating an opportunity to make more genuine connections and share with specific “circles” versus a sea of “friends.”

Since last summer, its membership has grown significantly and includes everyone from young professionals, to CEOs and yes, even “Mr. Facebook” Mark Zuckerberg, himself. But how can businesses capitalize on Google+? Is it even worth it? Yes. According to Jason Cormier, writer for Search Engine Watch, businesses need to be active in Google+ for one simple reason: The quality and corresponding engagement around your search engine visibility stands to either noticeably improve or gradually decline.

Improving search engine visibility should be at the top of every business’s online marketing list of objectives. In an effort to improve visibility for Google+ users, Google created Search Plus Your World, also known as Search+, which relies on data collected from logged in Google+ users. The result? Highly-ranked search results that display and promote people and businesses in Google+.

According to Cormier, Google+ can also help businesses target their messaging and more directly interact with their followers by organizing followers into “circles.”

If your business is already on Google+ and you’re ready to take your visibility to the next level, take a look at these additional next steps below:

  • Optimize. Optimize your page for SEO by completing the verification process, adding recommended links and being smart about keyword placement in your Introduction and Subtitle areas.
  • Personalize. Take advantage of the “Scrapbook” photos and text editing features to make your page visually appealing and consistent with your brand identity. Post pictures and videos when possible. Make your first few posts very rich so new potential followers will be attracted by their first impression of what you’re putting out.
  • Promote. Promote your business page by leveraging personal profile pages on G+, announcements/requests to follow on other social networks and by using the Google+ Badge on your web pages.
  • Monitor. Monitor your stream, and be intentional about +1’s, comments, and shares of your follower’s posts.

Are you on Google+? Do tell! How are you using it?

Follow Meredith on Twitter at @MeredithMobley. Follow Arketi on Twitter @Arketi.