5 Ways to Create Public Relation…ships


In an age when public relations professional have massive media databases, email-merge capability, ready and available access to any and all information at any time and in any place, it’s easy to forget that the media consists of people. I mean to say, individual people with personalities, interests, bad days and good days, favorite music sensations and plans for their days off.

As PR people, however, it is critical to remember this very important, but too often missed detail, of our work. Sure we have automated communication methods, sure we can sandblast client messaging to all verticals like a fire hose of irrelevant nonsense that clogs up emails and annoys editors. Sure we can do that, but it is important to remember, both for our own success but also the success of our clients, that effective PR is built upon good relationships.

The first step to any good relationship is to step back and think about what the recipient of the email will think. Brands have a message—a story to tell, sure, but the reader of that story has their own needs as well. Good PR is about identifying that need and tailoring the story to an individual, not to an outlet. Of course this is more work, but all good relationships do take a certain amount of work.

Here are a couple tips on putting the relationship back in PR:

1.Read, read, read
There’s no better way to understand your media audience, than to read… Brands, if you service a specific vertical or, PR pros, if you have a certain array of clients, there should be no limit to your appetite on what the media is producing. Reading is certainly about knowing what’s going on in the industry and following media cycles but it is also about listening for the tone and tenor of articles, learning who writes what, why and how and perhaps most importantly, learning the language the media speaks on your subject so you can visualize the headlines they need. It is a process of osmosis and critical to connecting with journalists on the human level.

2. Target Your Pitch
Before sending a media pitch, make sure it is going to the right person and outlet. It is important to be very thorough on relevance, as being irrelevant is one of the leading complaints from journalists about PR pros and brands. Just because someone covers technology, doesn’t mean they cover widgets. Just because an outlet covers housewares, doesn’t mean they review dinner plates. Those sophisticated media databases that we rely upon so heavily, have more than just emails, they have descriptions on what a reporter covers and often, their personal preference for content.

3. Invoke Your Inner Journalist
The most successful media relationships start with a forward understanding of the journalism trade. Brands and PR people must think like journalists in order to have messages resonate and the more that they do, the more journalists are inclined to listen to them. Many people in our agency have years-long relationships with journalists, simply because we know how they work, what they need and how to fulfill that need. Pitching is less about convincing a journalist to cover your story and more about delivering to the right journalist the story they are looking for.

4. Invoke Your Inner Human
It is important to remember that journalists are people. When you invoke your inner human, you think to yourself what that journalist is experiencing. How many emails do they get, and what would stand out if you were them? What do you need? How would PR people be helpful instead of a hindrance? Beyond that, they have a life outside the workplace. They have moods, lunches, a sense of humor… Talking to journalists like people, instead of as recipients of a pitch, is the necessary first step to creating a mutually beneficial platform of professional respect.

5. Don’t Forget Courtesy
It’s easy to forget “please” and “thank you.” It’s easy to underestimate the amount of work a journalist must go through in order to incorporate your brand or client into their articles. Their work is hard. A simple appreciation of that fact can go a long way.

So the next time you read a feature in The Wall Street Journal that is not about your brand or client, try to think about the steps that went into that article—and the relationships that were needed in order for it to happen.

Bridging the Offline and Online Worlds

Starbucks and iTunesYou are waiting in line to order your coffee and while the six people in front of you are going through excruciatingly long orders, you happen to glance at a display next to you featuring a Bruce Springsteen collection you’d never heard of. All you need to do to own the Boss’s greatest hits is take the small credit-card-sized iTunes card to the barista and gladly hand over your $9.99, plus the cost of the latte you ordered, drive that puppy home, turn on your computer, log onto iTunes, type in a 10 digit code, download the album and sync it with your iPhone! In just seven easy steps, you can be listening to “The River” and “Pink Cadillac” and just a few hours prior, you had no idea that you even wanted to.

While it is certain your life is now more enriched, one may ask – why in the world did you go through all of those steps, when you could have just opened up iTunes from your iPhone and downloaded the album? The answer is simple. It’s for the same reason millions of people have bought magazines in grocery stores for more than fifty years, when they could get a subscription for nickels on the dollar.

Impulse zones.

You had absolutely no idea you needed Bruce Springsteen until you saw his mug on a display . . . in the impulse zone. That special place where we, as consumers, lose all of our inhibitions and simply must have whatever it is that is in that place. Magazines have been successful at this for decades; so have candy bars, gum, mints and overpriced flavored water. Impulse zones are the highest revenue generating areas of any retailer and often have sales per square foot that by far surpasses any other square foot in the store. It is also the most competitive part of a store, usually costing marketers a pretty buck to put their product there.

Marketers are increasingly trying to figure out how to reach audiences in the digital marketplace, since that is where a massive upward moving trend indicates buyers are now going. The challenge, however, is that online marketing has a tremendous amount of clutter to break through. If one is marketing a product in a brick and mortar store, they simply need to secure placement near the cash registers to improve sales velocity. Online, the cash registers are embedded with the actual product. So, apart from spending an incredible amount of advertising dollars and implementing extensive word of mouth campaigns, how does one get through the clutter online and be noticed by a potential consumer?

Impulse zones.

Online marketers need to remember that there is a real world too. And in this world, there are plenty of brick and mortar stores. Apple demonstrates this perfectly with its iTunes/Starbucks partnership. All digital marketers need do is bridge the offline world with the online world, using the impulse zone. With that strategy in place, tons of tactics pour forward: coupon codes on countertop handouts, QR codes on countertop displays, promotional giveaways referring visitors to a website, location-based social network promotions, etc.

It amounts old school marketing, but in the new world of communications. Find where your customers are and reach them offline in order to influence their behavior online.

Getting Past “Twitter Block”

Twitter can sometimes be foreboding. One logs in, takes a look at that ominous “What’s going on?” question and may think . . . “What is going on?”  And that person may not have an answer.  Sitting there? Drinking water?  Procrastinating on a project?

Looking for something to discuss, the “Twitter-blocked” may browse through the main feed searching for inspiration.

Stanlopez forget about it.

Covid My buddy broke his collar bone.


Ronmalone My 12-year-old is great at Photoshop!


Mikehilton Time to close the laptop.



The Twitter-blocked may look around the office hoping for something to tweet about. Color of the walls maybe . . . or perhaps how quickly the coffee has gotten cold.  Nothing is clicking.

The Twitter-blocked is generally not using Twitter to talk about “coffee” or “sitting there,” instead he/she uses Twitter to build a brand presence.
The Twitter-blocked understands that endless tweets about the brand won’t work and that there needs be a genuine connection with the Twitter community. A trusted network builds meaningful relationships, thereby strengthening the brand. Sounds easy, right?

But what to tweet about?

When I have “Twitter-block”, I resort to my personal “C.R.A.S.H.” formula:


Every time you go into Twitter, tweet something.
Anything.  It could be “Good morning, Twitter,” or “Sitting down to start my day,” or anything benign.  Just write.  Once you do that, the rest comes easy. The hardest part of filling out a blank page is writing the first sentence. Just get something out and be natural.  Twitter isn’t always about broadcasting your brand; sometimes you can just talk. Casual conversation builds trust within your network and identifies that the brand is supported by real people. It is easier for people to connect with a person than it is for them to connect with a logo or product.

Reply to someone.
Find a tweet and reply to it.  It doesn’t have to be Shakespearean, just say, “@neatfollower Good point!” or “@hungryfollower Yeah, pizza sounds good now” or “@Xfdgg Why do I need 10,000 followers?”

Ask a question. The question could be something like: “How does one get past Twitter-block?”
Or it could be a discussion question about your industry. Or something personal like “What is going on with all of you today?” Questions encourage conversation and the more people that you respond to, the more conversations evolve. Check your @replies frequently and make sure that you aren’t missing out on connecting with someone.

Share something.
Either tweet a link for a blog you’ve read or retweet something interesting someone else said.  You can pipe in many RSS feeds into FriendFeed and easily post them on Twitter straight from there.  You can even tie your blog into FriendFeed so that it tweets whenever there is a new post.  There are Twitter applets and Firefox apps that will help you tweet from wherever you are browsing. Make it a habit to simply share what you find as you find it.  Link retweets are the most popular type of tweet for a reason.  Most people are there to find news and websites, and if you post interesting things people will notice you more.

Help people. Use Twitter Search (or some other 3rd party search system such as Monitter.com or any of the Twitter desktop applications) and find conversations that you can contribute to.
Search by whatever your expertise is and jump in – give advice, help people that are asking questions and peddle your smarts.

Use hashtags (#) on your topics so that they reach a broader base of people, such as: “Writing press releases is good for your SEO! #PR #SEO”. When you use hashtags the tweet shows up in a feed on Twitter Search, which many people follow.

Using the C.R.A.S.H. formula once a day keeps you a valuable and contributing member of Twitter. Leveraging your own expertise and the benefits of your brand in each of those steps will build awareness. But most importantly, C.R.A.S.H. will help you get rid of that dreaded Twitter-block.

QR: Bar Code For The Masses

“QR,” as “Quick Response” technology is referred to, has been around in Japan ever since the technology was first created by the Japanese corporation Denso-Wave, back in 1994.  It is simply a bar code that delivers an arsenal of information to a device that can scan it. Surprisingly, while Japan has been immersed in it for the last 16 years, we are just now starting to see a “QR” phenomenon in the US.  As it turns out, mobile phones are the perfect scanner for QR.

If this catches on in the US, beyond only elite tech gatherings, the possibilities for corporate communication seem endless. On a practical level, QR code can instantly deliver contact information to a phone with a simple scan, direct mobile browsers to websites, or display phone numbers that can be instantly dialed. The more sophisticated codes can automate social media following or access cloud software.

For starters, companies can instantly tap this trend by putting QR into the social media activities, whether on blog posts, Facebook walls or websites. Beyond that, brick and mortar businesses, especially, have an opportunity to take advantage of this by offering special deals, access to specific (and hidden) microsites, or by setting up social media networking protocols into QR code. These are only a few ways of bringing offline marketing into the online world.

Other practical applications can include putting QR code on business cards for easy networking at trade shows, setting up QR code “bread crumbs” throughout a community leading consumers to store locations, or simply using it on products or storefronts so buyers can “like it” on Facebook in real time.

To begin messing around with this, search for “QR” in your smart phone application directory and read this blog again, but through the QR code. Or better yet, go to Kaywa and start making your own QR codes for free.


Augmented Reality Marketing: Bringing Online Marketing Offline


The curious power of modern computer technology has allowed us to view the world around us through our webcams and iPhones, and in so doing, we have been able to super-impose images, video and sound over our view of reality. The result: augmented reality.

This new trend of entertainment technology has led to some remarkable applications.  For example: face-recognition technology uses your webcam to put a Transformer’s head on you; it allows you to try on virtual sunglasses as well as translate street signs by looking at them through a mobile device, or bring animated characters to life on your desktop with a webcam.

While this entertainment technology is very entertaining indeed, what are the implications for marketers? There is currently much discussion on the potential marketing value of augmented reality technology, what with new mobile applications and online programs popping up everyday, but there is little clear regard for measurable and useful marketing tactics.

Certainly, the use of augmented reality to develop viral social media campaigns is viable. According to Businessweek, it has been done by Kia Motors, Nestle, Frito Lay, and Wise Foods however with mixed results.   Still, it is expected that $170 million will be dumped into mobile augmented reality advertising within the next 5 years.

Viral videos, tactically, are only one slice of the augmented reality pie. Take for instance what iPhone apps Layar and SekaiCamera are doing. Both apps have taken augmented reality and geo-positioned this together into a whole new virtual universe, where consumers can hold up their iPhone, see information about the business in front of them, as well as its phone number and Wikipedia article. SekaiCamera takes it further, and allows users to post their own comments (virtually) on that business or location. Already a huge success in Asia, the SekaiCamera phenomena could potentially transform the world into a series of post-it notes visible to anyone who holds up their iPhone or Android. The ability to slap a comment on a restaurant’s physical location makes Yelp look like child’s play.

The marketing potential for an app like SekaiCamera trumps imagination. Coupling geo-positioning and augmented reality is a great way to get the word out about one’s brand. In one sense, the whole wide world can be an advertising platform wherein companies can post messages in physical locations right where their audience is. Creative campaigns could even include treasure hunts, whereby customers who uncover particular messages in particular locations, get free prizes or discounts. Or companies could award discounts to consumers who post in the sky about their product. Brick and mortar locations could encourage customers to post virtual tags all over the wall, telling other customers of their positive experiences there.

The overarching point is that the online world has now come full circle and the once global universe of social media marketing is now being transformed into a geo-located virtual reality  — right back in the middle of your target audience’s physical location.

While it will take time for SekaiCamera and other apps like it to catch on in the U.S., location “check in” apps like FourSquare are already transforming the market. The trend is inevitable: mobile technology and augmented reality will bring customers back into the real world and away from their global social media safety net. Online or off, it is still about location, location, location.