8 Tips for Getting The Most Out of SXSW

SXSW 2015I shared my perspective on why I attend SXSW earlier, as a response to those people in my network that decided not to make the trek out to Austin this year (for reasons other than more important work or personal commitments, which are always acceptable excuses).

If you did decide to make the trek out to Austin for SXSW this year, and provided you’re not an eight-time veteran like some people I know, here are some tried and true tips for maximizing your experience at SXSW this weekend (and beyond into Monday and Tuesday should you last that long): [Read more…]

Why Do I Attend SXSW?

why attend sxsw 2015When I tell people I’m headed to Austin for SXSW, I tend to hear the same responses. I either hear, “cool, let’s connect there” – which is less common – or I hear one of the following responses:

  • We were thinking about launching our [insert thing] there, but decided not to because there’s too much noise
  • I hear SXSW has gotten too big and it’s not what it used to be
  • I knew this guy or girl that went and didn’t get a lot of value
  • I went back in [insert year], and it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be
  • Or some other excuse why SXSW isn’t worth the time or money

For me, SXSW is just like everything else in life. You get what out what you put into it. You can either be one of the people above making excuses, or you can take the approach of most people attending this week and make opportunities. Sure, you can come to SXSW and party the entire time, but you’ll just wake up in strange places, have a killer headache and have nothing to show for it but some digits and a bigger-than-expected expense report.

If on the other hand you invest some time and energy into planning out the content you want to experience, and the people you want to connect with, you can get far more value out of the conference than the investment of time and money you put into it. [Read more…]

Advice for PR and Journalism Students

Advice for PR Journalism StudentsI recently heard from an old friend (a former CMO) who is now a lecturer at a university up in British Columbia. She dropped me a line to let me know she was happy to see I was blogging again, because she thinks my posts are relevant for her students. I believe they had to take a quiz about one of my recent posts. Nothing makes me want to write more than hearing somebody learned something from one of my posts. For that, I thank all of you.

Over the course of the past couple of years, I’ve heard from a dozen or so other professors who have done the same thing – encouraged their students to read Journalistics. That’s nothing short of awesome in my book. Since my friend reminded me of this all-too-important audience segment, I figured it only fitting to write a post just for you (the college student reading this post right now).

Here’s a list of the things I wish somebody had told me when I was studying in college (or not studying if you want to know the truth). The list also includes some new additions – things I wish people would tell students today, that weren’t necessarily relevant when I was in school (but are more appropriate for this generation). Finally, there are some things on this list that I was probably told, but didn’t listen to at the time. If you suspect you fit into this last category, I encourage you to pay attention this one time to what you are reading. [Read more…]

How to Create a Communications Strategy

how to create communications strategyA lot of organizations have separate documented communication strategies for each communications discipline. Your organization may have a public relations strategy, marketing communications strategy, social media strategy and sales strategy, all operating in parallel to accomplish often similar (or exact) goals. I suggest having one, clear and cohesive communications strategy that covers all communications activities within your organization. If there are different people responsible for each strategy, get them all in the same room to create a single one (this goes for any organizational-wide plans as far as I’m concerned).

With communication plans, you’re ultimately developing and delivering messages to target audiences for a desired outcome – that is the fundamental formula. If you’re new to creating communications strategies, or want to match your approach up to an alternative approach, I’ve provided some suggestions below for creating your comprehensive communications strategy. [Read more…]

How to Create an Editorial Calendar

Editorial CalendarMost magazines (print and online) publish an editorial calendar – a detailed summary of the cover story, feature stories or overall focus of each issue. Weeklies, dailies and quarterlies all provide an incredible amount of detail as far as a year in advance about what they plan to cover in future issues.

The editorial calendar is primarily a vehicle to help the publishing staff of these publications to sell ad space for future issues, since brands are most likely to advertise in an issue that focuses on a topic its core audiences will be most interest in. Over the years, editorial calendars for magazines have also been useful resources for clever PR professionals – useful guides to targeting PR opportunities for clients around major coverage areas. Most major PR software vendors now incorporate publication editorial calendars into their products, further simplifying the process of targeting PR opportunities based on what publications are writing about.

[Read more…]

Every Brand Has a Story To Tell

every brand has a story to tellOne of the first clients I worked with out of college was a toilet company. Granted the company was the largest international manufacturer of bathroom fixtures – products every house and office in the developed world has a need for. But imagine my enthusiasm as a freshly-minted PR professional, being told I would be working to secure publicity for toilets. I’ll admit, I wasn’t excited at first. Some might be discouraged by such an assignment, but I’ve always believed there’s a good story behind anything.

Maybe it was growing up in the plant business that gave me this perspective. After all, in the plant business, you take some seeds and some cow dung and turn it into something beautiful that people want to pay good money for. I think there’s a parallel behind that experience and the work I do bringing brand stories to life today. No matter how strong the smell of manure, I know I can make it flourish with just the right amount of tender loving care. [Read more…]

Where To Spend Your Marketing Budget in 2013

If you’re a lucky marketer, when you ring in the New Year on Monday night, it will also mark the start of a new budget year for you. If this describes your situation, you’ve most likely spent the last month in planning sessions – figuring out how to get the most for your marketing dollars. If you’ve got your plan fully-baked, I’m going to hope that some of the tips I provide below are already on your roadmap for 2013. If not, I hope I can persuade you to consider some new options. If you’re a procrastinator and you haven’t started to think about budget allotment for 2013, I’ve done some of the work for you below. If it were my budget, this is where I’d spend it in 2013.

[Read more…]

The Top 11 Journalistics Posts of 2011

best journalism posts 2011This is the third year I’ve written a “Top Journalistics Posts of the Year” post. The greatest hits meme is a little overdone, I know – but when you consider about half our readers are ‘new visitors’, a lot of these posts are new to them. I personally enjoy the exercise of reviewing our best posts from the year. Reflecting on my work from the past year gives me renewed focus for the coming year.

This couldn’t be more true this year. I took a look back at our Top 9 Posts of 2009 and Top 10 Posts of 2010 to see how the blog has changed over the past few years. The first thing that jumped out at me is how good the posts from 2009 were. Three or four of those first posts remain the most-viewed each year on the blog (I won’t reveal which ones they are, mainly because they’re great resources – but in desperate need of updating).

The popularity of these posts tells me two things:

1. Those posts were great – and well worth the effort that went into them (some of the more labor intensive posts to date)

2. If I was writing great content, posts from 2009 wouldn’t still be the most popular content in 2011

We have a lot of great content lined up for 2012. As always, we welcome your feedback. For now, without further adieu, here are the top posts of 2011: [Read more…]

10 Great iPad Apps for Journalists

When the iPad launched in April 2010, PR pros, journalists and marketers were buzzing about how the new device would benefit their job. Fast forward to today, just a year and a half later, and many of us can’t imagine our lives without one.

The hectic life a journalist, who is always on the go, can benefit greatly from an iPad. They are lighter and smaller than a computer, yet can do just about everything your laptop can do. But with thousands of Apps available, which ones are a must for journalists? Check out the ten below, and decide for yourself. [Read more…]

8 Google Tools for Brainstorming

It’s not easy to come up with fresh ideas all the time. Beyond the books you read and the people you meet, you need other ways to brainstorm new ideas (and keep track of them) over time. There’s a lot of smart people at Google that come up with great ideas all the time.

Some of Google’s best ideas are found in the FREE products they offer – products I use everyday to help me stay on top of what’s going on around topics I care about, and to keep a steady supply of fresh ideas on hand. Here are 8 Google tools I use for brainstorming: [Read more…]