Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Another Transformation in Business and the Economy

Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about the state of business, my clients, and what's next. It seems that although many of the new search engine optimization and social media marketing tactics that MarCom is doing are working very well, I have felt restless and as if there's something on the horizon that I am missing.

Last December I proclaimed that I wanted to work on business and for clients who are making a difference in the world. As always, the law of attraction takes hold, and that's what I called in. Clients in health care, environmental technology, and businesses with fair practices tools. Now in my most recent exploration of what's next, I found that some futurists are saying that we are now in the midst of another extraordinary shift. There was the Industrial Age, and we have most recently been through the Age of Information. Now authors like Patricia Aburdene are talking about the constants of ever-present creativity and innovation and how this is now leading companies into a new era that's all about consciousness.

For the last six years I have been focusing much of my personal time on spirituality. Now it would seem that this it's the new changing values that will be leading the economy via transforming capitolism. In her book Megatrends 2010, Aburdene talks about this "new economy of consciousness" at length and conveys new concepts which, as a marketer, I can already see taking root among my own clients. Even the trends of my work in social media marketing is starting to make a difference, and our clients are popping up in Google Alerts all over the Web. Today it's all about full disclosure, as you can read about in my last blog. PR isn't just about the "spin" any more, and if anything putting a spin on a clients products or services may just do them more harm than good.

Take blogging for example... What a great way for people to share truths, wisdom and perspectives. Reality TV is another media trend that we have seen spawn shows like The Biggest Loser - programs that ultimately are doing much good in society today. Online radio or podcasts are available 24/7 with content about any topic that people can watch or listen to any time any day of the week. Here are some recent stats to check out:

–Box office is down 7%
–Newspaper circulation peaked in ‘87
–Down another 2.6% in 2006
–Radio was down 4% in 2006

Even the recent news that I wrote for one of our clients this week, will have a tremendous impact on the future. Acutrack, Inc., a fulfillment house with on demand replication technology and e-commerce solutions (http://www.acutrack.com/) applauded the recent announcement by the DVD Copy Control Association (DVDCCA) to approve a final copy-protection specification for on-demand disc burning. The DVD CCA is an industry copy prevention organization, and this approval is the authorization for companies to sell digital downloads for on demand viewing.

As more and more people (including the aging Baby Boomers) jump online to watch and read the news, less people read magazines, view TV and/or listen to the radio. After all, personal iPods are fast replaced the radio. Today, people use search engines, like Google, to get what they want, how they want it, and fast. The biggest challenge now is how to communicate your story over multiple channels, including the Internet.

Now is the time that marketers can make a difference and effect change, using the new tools and techniques of SEO and social media marketing, and consequently, have an effect on economic change and the future. Are you with it?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Showstoppers Webinar on Social Media, Blogging and Podcasting

Yesterday's ShowStoppers Webinar, "How to Engage Bloggers & Podcasters to Boost Buzz and Generate Coverage" was a success with over 159 signed up, and more than 90 attendees. Maybe some folks got stuck in traffic as it started at 11AM EST, but 8AM on the West coast. Our host was a long time colleague, Steve Leon, cofounder, partner and producer of the fabulous ShowStoppers press events.

There are always lessons learned when woking with new technologies. This was one of my first webinars. I really enjoyed the process, and look forward to even better future sessions. We used GoToMeeting (http://www.citrixonline.com/) and had several dress rehearsals. This was key, because the first time, I learned that the entire webinar needed to be very conversational. We had a PowerPoint as a guideline for the participants, but the goal became not to read from it. This gave us plenty of time in advance to come up with questions for Steve our host, and to set up the function for participants to email in questions. Lena West, one of the speakers, was a great guide as she has set up many shadowblogs and crisis PR blogs for major clients.

Here's another tip ... It's really important to silence all of your telephones prior to doing a webinar. I use Vonage, so I went online and disconnected the call waiting function, and voicemails. I put a do not disturb sign on my door, and closed all windows. Don't use a mobile telephone, or the speaker function on your direct land line. This is important in our case, as the webinar was recorded, thanks Lena West, who is a columnist and blogger for Entrepreneur Magazine and an Infoworld blogger. She is also CEO of XynoMedia, a New York-based social media strategy firm, serving high-growth companies and PR firms.

Let's go back to the basics here and review the inportance of search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing. SEO is the process of increasing the amount of visitors to a Web site by ranking high in the search results of a search engine. The higher a Web site ranks in the results of a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user. A site’s ranking in a search is essential for directing more traffic to the site. SEO helps to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by the search engine.

Social media describes the online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives. It requires:
•Openness, transparency and disclosure
•Community Driven
•Facilitation (facilitating conversations that are already happening online)

That said, our webinar focused on just a couple of the tools that are used in social media marketing -- blogging and podcasting. Lena had some great tips for PR professionals insofar as pitching bloggers -- lessons I too have learned in a recent blog and podcast tour for a diet book. KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. One paragraph, links to the press releases, or website info. Lena made the point, fiercely... if she wants more info, and is interested in covering your pitch, she will contact you. Period. Do not send attachments, long press releases, or long anything, for that matter. Bloggers and podcasters are really busy. And as my associate Mike Keesling said, who used to work at a news station in Hawaii, he got hundreds of pitches per day and only had time to read the headline (subject in email) and a couple of concise sentenses. So if you cannot consolidate your email pitches into a couiple of sentences, then you are hosed.

If you want to read more tips, I strongly suggest that you download Lena's little eBook of invaluable info on pitching bloggers and podcasters without ticking them off. Go to
http://www.xynoMedia.com/showstoppers to download your copy of The Blogosphere Cluebook: How PR Agents & Publicists Can Effectively Engage Blogosphere Influencers Instead of Ticking Them Off by Lena West.


PowerPoint: http://www.showstoppers.com/webinar/bloggersandpodcasters.ppt
The Webinar: http://www.showstoppers.com/webinar/bandp.mp3

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Value of Podcasts

More and more, we are seeing opportunities for online radio, otherwise known as podcasts. Just this evening, my client - author T.S. Wiley - did a podcast on Dr. Fitness and The Fat Guy -- a popular online radio show about fitness and weight loss.

Another client, Acutrack, Inc. based in Livermore, CA, has been doing podcasts successfully for quite awhile. The interesting thing is that in electronic media such as radio or TV, and now podcasts, we hear from people who talk in a comfortable first person one-to-one manner. The podcast is available 24/7 on the Internet, and when someone searches via key words on a specific topic, they will locate podcasts, and can listen and or watch at their own will.

Here are some interesting facts:
  • The online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences and perspectives.
  • More than 70% of Americans ages 15-34 actively use online social networks – e.g. Wikipedia, My Space, You Tube, Flickr, Second Life, MiniClip, Digg, Facebook, Match, etc.
  • 58% Americans aged 50-64 – fastest growth in the Internet Source: TRU, TNS, Marketing Evolution.

Podcasts are simply part of the new world of public relations know as Social Media Marketing, which requires participation, openness, transparency and disclosure, conversation, community, and facilitation (facilitating conversations that are already happening online). These are non-commercial messages (unless there is a compelling reason for you to look at it, read it, listen to it, watch it, like it, interact with it, and ultimately buy it!) This is what bloggers and podcasters excel at…

To learn more, please join us for a Showstoppers® sponsored Webinar on Sept. 18th entitled, "How to Engage Bloggers & Podcasters to Boost Buzz and Generate Coverage." Featured speakers will include me, Kristin Gabriel, and Lena L. West, columnist and blogger for Entrepreneur Magazine and an Infoworld blogger.

Go to http://www.xynoMedia.com/showstoppers to download your copy of 21+ Ways to Get a Blogosphere Clue: How PR Agents & Publicists Can Effectively Engage Blogosphere Influencers Instead of Ticking Them Off.

To sign up for the Showstoppers Webinar:
Time: 11 a.m. to noon ET (8-9 a.m. PT)
Place: Your telephone and web browser
Cost: Free
To register: Click here, https://www.gotomeeting.com/register/677428751