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PR is the MVP of Super Bowl Advertising

sodastream.pngAccording to Time, the average cost of running a 30-second spot this coming Sunday is $4 million – up from $3.5 million last year. How do you maximize that type of investment? Kick the PR machine into overdrive in the week leading up to – and following – the big game.

The unsung heroes behind the success of Super Bowl advertising – at least in recent years – are the PR teams that work to generate buzz, anticipation and excitement for the ads before they air. It wasn’t that long ago that we had to wait to be surprised during commercial breaks on the big day. Now, particularly with the dollars at stake – and also in the age of social media, where buzz needs to be seeded a bit – success requires a full-on assault of all marketing disciplines. [Read more...]

How to Prepare for Press Interviews

As the next installment in my series on message planning and delivery, I’d like to focus on preparing for media and analyst interviews – a critical component to generating brand awareness for your organization (or clients) and taking your message to the masses, one journalist at a time. Here are the steps I recommend you take in preparation for media interviews, in order to consistently deliver your key messages to the influencers that reach your target audiences. [Read more...]

The Top 12 Journalistics Posts of 2012

Our top posts for the year post has become a tradition at Journalistics. While some might think an annual rehash of posts is a weak attempt at squeezing one more blog post into the year, well, we’d have to agree with you. Regardless, it’s a great way to showcase the most popular content from the year for new readers – and it’s a great opportunity to get your feedback on the types of content you’d like to see more of in 2013. As you review our top 12 posts from 2012, we hope you’ll take a couple of minutes to comment on the post – either offering your feedback on posts from this year, or chiming in on what you’d like to see from Journalistics in 2013. [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.

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Message Mapping for Stronger Relationships

I think Lewis Caroll said it best, “If you don’t know where you’re doing, any road will get you there.” I think a lot of marketers live by this quote. They arrive at their messages when they get there. Their messaging evolves over time, but as such is incredibly inconsistent to the eyes and ears of the audience. To build any form of message retention among your target audiences, you need to be consistent across all your interactions. Everywhere your audience interacts with your brand, the message should build upon the last interaction. One approach to making sure this happens with relative predictability is to map your messages across the stages of your relationship with any particular target audience.

Say what? Every audience you interact with is made up of people. Just like your interpersonal relationships, your relationship with these people builds over time. It gets stronger or weaker based on the stimuli you bring to the table. Thing about the strongest relationships you have in your network. What are the common threads? Chances are you make a deliberate or subconscious investment in the relationship. You make an effort to get together. You regularly share information via email or social media channels. Perhaps you just remember them on their birthday. The more frequent and positive your interactions are with this person, the stronger the relationship. [Read more...]

Action, Reaction, Interaction and Transaction

I’ve been writing a lot about strategy in this series on message planning. When you enter the execution stage and start to plan your individual messages that support your strategies, it helps to think about the results and performance you plan to achieve with each message. I think it’s useful to go through the exercise of planing the ideal action, reaction, interaction or transaction you might produce in response to each message. [Read more...]

Find and Define Your Audiences

There’s an audience for anything and everything. Do you know who your audiences are? How about your most important audiences? There’s a stage in message planning that I like to fondly refer to as audience identification. I don’t know why I like to refer to it as audience identification, because it’s really the definition that’s the most important part. Rather than get caught up in semantics, let’s just focus on the two components of audience identification I find most useful. You should start your audience identification process by grouping your audiences into categories. From there, you can develop some personas that best represent subgroups of these audiences. If you’re fortunate enough to have actual data to play with, you can take things a step further and get really granular with your audience identification. I’ve summarized my perspectives on this approach below for you to think about more. For those of you that actually do audience definition for a living, please jump in and give the readers something more constructive to work with. [Read more...]

How To Create A Message Platform

As promised in my Message Planning post, here is the first post in my series on message planning. If you don’t know how to put together a message platform, this platform will help you understand some of the components most commonly found in them. If you already know how to create a message platform, I hope you’ll pick up a tip or two that you can use the next time you have to put one together – and I hope you’ll chime in with your suggestions for the less-experienced readers of this post. Please keep in mind that there are many different approaches to developing a message platform. Not all platform components outlined in this post are necessary or appropriate for every organization. I’m providing these suggestions as guidance for those going through this process for the first time. It’s up to you to evaluate and decide which components will help you best meet your communication goals.

Rather than drone on about all the reasons why you should create a message platform for your organization, I’m going to assume you have already gone through that process. If you need a reason, I think a message platform is a great way to get everyone in your organization on the same page with who you are, what you do and how you want to communicate all those things in various formats inside and outside of your organization. Let’s get started…. [Read more...]

Message Planning

This is the first post in a series on the importance of message planning in the communications process. I’ve been thinking a lot about message planning and message management over the course of the past couple of months. For one, we’re in the thick of the political campaign season. Few communication disciplines provide such a deliberate look into the effectiveness of communication planning to deliver a measured outcome as politics. While I personally have zero campaign management experience, as a communications professional, I appreciate the work campaign strategists do to manage messages over the course of a campaign. Say what you will about any of the candidates running for office at the moment, but behind all of them are talented communications professionals that know how to leverage market data to adapt – and in some cases manipulate – messaging to persuade audiences in one way or another.

It’s also a great time of year to start thinking about your own message strategy and planning process. If you’re like most organizations, you’re probably entering some form of annual planning. Budgets are being set for the coming year, and you’re most likely starting to think about the campaigns you’ll kick off in January. Most of these campaigns will include strategies for communicating with the target audiences most important to your organization. This is where message planning comes into play – or should come into play. Organizations that overlook the importance of message planning will waste valuable marketing resources trying to communicate sporadically with their audiences. Don’t make this mistake. [Read more...]

Are Blog Posts Better Than Press Releases?

Why are we still writing press releases? If press releases are part of your work life, you’ve probably asked this question once or twice in the past year (or more). Really though, press releases require a lot of time and effort to produce and distribute. There are hard costs associated with the process. And I’ll go out on a limb here and challenge the return on investment from press releases – the results tend to be pretty lackluster, even from those fancy multimedia or social news releases. There has to be a better way, and I think that way is a news blog.

What would happen if you stopped writing press releases and instead started a blog dedicated to your company news? If I were working for a brand new start-up today – a company that’s never issued a press release – this is the path I would take. If you build an audience around your news blog, you create an earned media channel for instantly sharing your news with the most-interested audiences. This could be your most-trusted and most-likely-to-be-interested journalists and bloggers, but also could include customers, prospects, employees and all the other key audiences interested in your news.

A blog doesn’t charge you by the word length of your post, or try to upsell you on additional distribution. Distribution is earned by the quality and relevance of the information you share through the blog. Here are a few suggestions for using a news blog as an alternative to writing and distributing press releases. I think you’ll at least consider that blog posts could be better than press releases.

1. Make It Official – let all your existing contacts know that you’re no longer going to be sending out press releases. Send an email to all your contacts and encourage them to subscribe to the blog (make this announcement your first news post on the blog). If you have different types of news announcements, offer segmented subscription options to give your contacts more flexibility (this will drive better conversion, but also allow you to segment your distribution to the best targets).

2. Plan Your News Calendar – you’ll want to publish more frequently on the blog than you would probably send out press releases. This is your opportunity to play editor-in-chief of your own news blog. Develop some themes that will build interest for your content. You’re no longer limited to the tired press release format – you can write news stories on your blog. For example, maybe you have a monthly Q&A column with the CEO about what’s going on in your industry. You can profile a different person in your company each month. You can post your comments on major news and events going on in your industry. You can share insights into internal decisions guiding the development of new products, or share success stories your current customers want to share. Of course, you can post graphics, images, video and other multimedia to the blog as well. Maybe you have your product marketing leader discuss your latest product in a video, supported by an overview of features and a demo – that has to be more engaging than a press release. Over time, this content will lead to interview requests from journalists and bloggers.

3. Build An Archive – before you launch the blog, publish all of the past year’s press releases as posts on the day they appeared. These back-dated posts will serve as your news archive, but also give you valuable content to encourage search engines to rank your posts. This will help you pull more traffic to your news blog. Be sure to enlist the help of your interactive marketing or search engine marketing resources to optimize your posts for the relevant keywords you’re trying to rank for. The archive also invites new contacts to subscribe to your blog, because it gives them some history on the types of news you’re capable of delivering over time (granted, the quality will only get better from here).

4. Solicit Reader Feedback – unlike press releases, your blog is built for comments. Let people comment on your news – you’ll be surprised by the feedback you receive. It’s great to get instant feedback from your audiences on your news announcements. This also enables you to address any issues across your audiences that you might not have learned about through the traditional PR process.

5. Encourage Sharing – with integrated social sharing, your news will have equal or greater reach than before (depending on how social-friendly your releases were). You benefit from this sharing, versus the place your press releases used to be hosted. All the traffic comes back to you, providing you with more opportunities to engage your audience.

6. Track the Results – when all your news is on the blog, you’ll be able to tap into more in-depth analytics on the reach and interest surrounding your news announcements. You’ll know which outlets wrote about your news and linked back (great for SEO), but also be able to report to management (or your client) about the success of various news announcements. If you’re using a lead management or automation system, or an email service provider, you’ll be able to track the reach of your news down to specific journalists (and know whether or not the received the news, read it or read it several times). This type of intelligence is incredibly valuable for your media relations team that is responsible for securing coverage. With this gauge of interest, your team will be able to make better real-time decisions about who to call and follow-up with to secure coverage.

7. Save Money – how much did you spend last year on sending out press releases?  I bet it was more than the cost of hosting the blog. Sure, you’ll still have to pay people to write your content – and pitch those stories in some cases. If you do a good job building your audience, the press requests will come to you and not the other way around. This is inbound PR 101.

8. More Likely to Be Read – finally, press releases just aren’t that interesting to read. Blog posts stand a better chance to be read, provided you write them as stories. When you share a link to a blog post with a journalist about your latest news, I predict you’ll get a much stronger response than if you send them a press release. Try it on your next announcement and see what happens. I suspect you’ll make the switch.

This is a crazy idea, isn’t it? It’s not that crazy really. There are a lot of smart companies moving to the news blog as an alternative to traditional press releases. Google and HubSpot are two companies that come to mind. Both use their blogs as the primary channel for communicating their news – and it’s worked really well for them. You too can find success switching over to a news blog as your primary channel for communicating your news. If you’re not ready to jump in full force, you could always launch a news blog to test the waters and compare the results you get there versus your press releases. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

What do you think? Can a blog replace the traditional press release archive on your website? Is a blog post better than a press release? Do you still think a press release is the better option? Share your thoughts.