Tag Archives: Blogging

Blogging Strategy

21 Jul

I keep telling myself that I really have to write a blog post.

It’s been awhile now, and while there haven’t been a horde of communications and marketing professionals beating down my digital doorway for my latest words of wisdom, it is generally a good idea not to let the blog just hang there for months on end.

And yet…

And yet, it strikes me that, “I really have to write a blog post,” is exactly the wrong thing to say.  First, it’s de-motivating.  But more importantly, “I really have to write a blog post,” is bad strategic communications. (do  I also really need to make a phone call? send an email? shake a hand?)

What I should be thinking is, “Who should I talk with today?” and “What do I want to discuss with them?, or even, “What do I need to make happen today?” And then, and only then, should run through the myriad ways that I might discuss those topics with individuals, groups and that horde of communications and marketing professionals who really ought be to be knocking down my digital doorway, demanding the latest words or wisdom.

Well…sort of.

My business development strategy mostly involves great deal of getting out there and meeting people — widening my own circle of connections.  And it’s working. From this standpoint, the blog is secondarily a lead generation tool; mostly, it is sales support — ensuring that when people meet me and hear about me and, inevitably, check me out online, they find not just my LinkedIn profile and what I’ve been impulsively posting on Twitter but also a little bit on how I think about communications strategy, public relations, marketing and the media, paper, web, social and otherwise.

Which means, as it turns out, that I really need to write a blog post. 😉

The Magic of Media, Message and Moment

30 Jan

As much as we try to increase the precision by which we predict and measure it, there’s an art to marketing.  Strategic planning is like a sculptor examining a block of stone.  You decide what lies within, and the tools you’ll need to reveal it to the world. 

I was thinking about this with a story I’ve been writing for a couple years…the premise begins like this:  It’s your first day of school.  New town.  No friends. And secrets that you left back home…like the power inside you that killed two classmates and left your best friend paralyzed for life.  Your dad got you out of that one, you don’t know how, and then cut all ties with moved you away clinical efficiency.  So here you are, first day of school, afraid, but full of hope, too, that here in this new place, maybe you can be somebody new. And then you feel this guy behind you, his cold hand on your neck, his hot breath on your ear. And he whispers, “I know who you are.” He’s gone, and you still have to walk through that door.

I started this story as a novel, and then turned it into a comic book. Now I’m thinking about it as a novel again. Why? Because there’s nothing that an artist can draw that can recreate this sense of dread and anticipation like your imagination.  I heard Neil Gaiman talking about this on the radio the other day. He said that for him, the story comes first, then he decides whether that story is a novel, graphic novel or movie script.  

The communications and marketing story?  Marketing — sales, leads, traffic, awareness, advocacy, membership — comes from that magical combination of message, media and moment. 

Message-focused strategic planning starts by asking, “What’s your story?” and then “Who should know it?,” “Where are they,” and “What should they do?” 

The answers drive your media choices. Should they react instantly? Is it something they’ll want to share?  The message may well be blog and Twitter-ready. Or, is it a “junkie” audience that loves insanely in-depth takes on a narrow topics?  Think about blogs and websites, or gathering a like-minded community. Is it instructive? Are they eager to learn?  Try graphics and video or more immersive online environments. Does the audience see the Internet as “technology”?  Try traditional media, and make sure the message gets online anyway.  

There’s no replacement for having a sense of the moment … knowing — or intuiting — the mood of your market and how they’ll react to your story.  I was listening to a discussion with Gwen Ifill on NPR today, talking about Obama as the perfect example of this.  He’s a remarkable person in his own right, but he’s president today because his story spoke to this social and historical moment, and his media strategy supported that.  

You can – and should – research and survey and analyze and debate and collaborate to create the perfect message and the perfect strategy.  And then turn what you learn into your own work of art — where is my story?  How will a carve away the clutter and reveal it to the world,  so that it can move people?

Re-Thinking the News, Part I

15 Dec

I was pretty much  in my own little world this weekend.  Apparently, there was some sort of giant storm that is incapacitating the Northeast, including Massachusetts, where I have a number of close friends.  I hope they’ll forgive  me for not checking in:  I didn’t know.  In fact, I still wouldn’t know but that I happened to catch a bitter tweet on Twitter by a public radio journalist lamenting that fact that our local StarTribune newspaper didn’t think the Northeast storm worth mentioning. 

“Hmph!” I thought … our paper is focused on the local, and why shouldn’t they be — they need to focus on some sort of distinctive model that will make them money, right?  And newspapers don’t set the agenda anymore, do they? Why shouldn’t I get the news from Twitter?

Why shouldn’t I? Drop by tomorrow for Part II…

—–

Blogger’s Note:  I have a long thought to spin out, so I’m breaking it up into a couple posts…let me know if you like the style…and, of course, the posts…

Ken

Five Things About Social Media I’d Be Thankful to See Change

28 Nov

Mike Keliher wrote last week on things to be thankful for about social media, and tagged me on a related topic:  things I’d be thankful to see change in social media.  Appropriately, it’s the day after Thanksgiving, so let’s have at it.

For me, the issues with social media are less with the media themselves, and more with how it insinuates itself into our lives an conversations.  To whit:   

1.  Overstating Social Media’s Reach.  I work in public relations and marketing; I live in a world with mothers and fathers, housewives, sales people, real estate agents, corporate marketing communications professionals, stock brokers, designers, financial executives, housekeepers, retirees, restaurateurs, lawyers, shopkeepers … it goes on an on.  Just because you and your friends are Twittering and Uttering and blogging, snickering about the demise of newspapers and reviewing carefully compiled RSS feeds each day, doesn’t mean everyone is. Moreover, it doesn’t mean that most people are.  

Most people are checking their email every day and have a few favorite websites they follow. They barely manage to keep up with the news, but they scan the paper.  They have no time to read blogs.  They are amazed that anyone would use Twitter. 

I’d be thankful if communicators and social media evangelists would remember this. And, more importantly, respect it. 

2.  Understating Social Media’s Impact.  Flip the coin over and you find that most people have little idea how deeply social media impacts their lives.  Someone in their world is emailing them links to the hottest YouTube videos. TV takes them from the web, and then back into it again.  Every Google search delivers more data to marketers, every product review read and followed amplifies the power of one person’s opinion.  A friend of a friend of a friend shares a link or a bit of news on Twitter that makes it to your inbox in hours, if not minutes.  And have you noticed how many of your friends, family, high school and college buddies have signed up for Facebook?  How many colleagues are on LinkedIn?    

I’d be thankful if those who shake their heads and say they have no time for this would pay attention to how much more entertaining, fulfilling and downright useful social media has already become in their lives. 

3. Personally, I wish it were all easier. No matter how good you are with social media, it’s a pain.  There are too many networks, too many websites and technologies and services to follow.  Too many contacts to keep track of.  When my kids grow up, I expect that communications and the Web and gaming will all be handled by The Chip.  They’ll just stick this do-everything chip into their heads and they can call people and surf the net and play games just by thinking about it.

Okay, so I’m mostly joking, but I do know some folks who’d be first in line when The Chip hits the stores. Me, I’d be thankful if what want to know, who I want to follow and how I want to share would all just flow.  

4.  Could newspapers just figure it out already? Not directly “social media,” I know, but it’s my blog…  Here’s the deal:  We need journalism. We need professional journalists.  We need people covering news beats in our daily lives, we need people to make sense of it all.  And we need editors and fact checkers committed to the idea that they’re going to get the story right so their readers can trust what they report. We need business people and news leaders who run professional news organizations to stop fretting over classified ads that aren’t coming back and figure out a new millennium organizational and business model that will support this noble endeavor. I’d be thankful for that.

5.   It’s OK to put it down for awhile. I’ve been visiting family for the past week.  I haven’t Twittered (much) or blogged (until now), or kept up with much news (except Mumbai and the Minnesota Senate recount).  My family asked me if the Blackberry makes me feel compelled to answer emails instantly.  I said no.  There’s a comfort to knowing you’re always connected.  That if anyone needs you, they can find you.  But there’s even more comfort in sinking into the couch, Thanksgiving dinner over and the kids in bed, goofing around with your family, no cell phone, computer or Chip in sight. 

So there you go.  I’ll tag Adam Singer to try the same topic, in part because I’m almost sure he’s written on it already.

Murdoch on Newspapers

17 Nov

The media are reporting some Insightful and provacative comments by media magnate Rupert Murdoch on the predicament of newspapers in the web 2.0 age.  Murdoch believes traditional news organizations have been far too contemptuous of bloggers in particular.  In an increasingly engaged media environment, being contemptuous of bloggers is essentially contempt for your customers — never a good marketing plan.  

However Murdoch does believe that “the news” has a future…as reported in c|net

Despite the blemishes, however, Murdoch said newspapers can still count on circulation gains “if papers provide readers with news they can trust.” He added they will also need to embrace technology advances like RSS feeds and targeted e-mails. The challenge, according to Murdoch, will be to “use a newspaper’s brand while allowing readers to personalize the news for themselves-and then deliver it in the ways that they want.”

“The newspaper, or a very close electronic cousin, will always be around. It may not be thrown on your front doorstep the way it is today. But the thud it makes as it lands will continue to echo around society and the world,” he said.  

For the most part, major papers have taken some strides in doing what Murdoch suggests in terms of RSS feeds, emails and personalization.  It hasn’t led to financial stability.  But his overall point is a good one, and one I’ve made before in this blog:  the market will eventually find a way to support professional news organizations that deliver trusted news … in ways that will allow bloggers to complement “the news” rather than replace it.

Marketing as Journalism

15 Oct

Invest in the Upswing #2

When I talk to clients about managing communications and marketing planning, I like to have them imagine those old movies about TV networks, where executives sit in their fancy offices adding and erasing programs from the big schedule board. The point:  every day, every week, every month, you need to decide how marketing will facilitate interaction with the market — online, offline, in social media, with bloggers, with professional reporters, at trade shows, on the website. As many have remarked, the newsroom model is a good place to start.  Every day, the news organization must determine its top stories, and how it’s going to tell those stories.

Albert Maruggi does a nice nine-minute podcast this morning with new media PR guru David Meerman Scott about viewing your marketing department as a newsroom.  It’s worth a listen.  Maruggi says that (transcribed as accurately as I could), “marketing as a mouthpiece for all that is good within a company is being viewed cynically.” Instead, he says, “look at trends in an industry and where your company fits in that trend line …news within a company and how it impacts trends and social communities.”

Meerman Scott cites the idea some have called “brand journalism,” noting that where the traditional advertising and direct marketing model interrupts its audience, the future is in publishing “information, multimedia…that your audience wants to consume.”

Organizations looking to invest in the upswing can look to this model as a place to start.  Rather than creating new advertising to build mass awareness, consider find out where the conversations are happening today – Facebook, MySpace, online forums, media websites, blogs – see if there’s a contribution you can make.  Invest in content — video, audio, photos, articles, speeches, news — that engages your market online.

Marketing in a Downturn: Invest in the Upswing

14 Oct

My son just finished ‘book the 13th’ of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. Figuring I’ll never have time to continue past the few chapters I’ve skimmed, I asked him how it ended … did our fair Baudelaire children get a “happily ever after” ending after all?

He wouldn’t tell me directly, but he did describe a Lemony Snicket-ish metaphor from the books. He said that the story is like peeling back the layers of an onion. The more you peel, the more you cry.

Which brings us to the financial crisis.

Maybe you’ve read about this, but it bears repeating…here’s how I understand what’s happening:

  • Mortgages are defaulting, causing anything mortgage backed to default as well.
  • Banks now doubt each others’ credit, and won’t lend to each other.
  • Banks, in turn, are less likely to lend to businesses – and when they do, it will be at a higher cost.
  • Many businesses will postpone or cancel technology upgrades, equipment purchases, and expansion, freeze hiring and salaries, and reduce headcount.
  • Consumers will face job loss and lower wages.

Business-to-business concerns will find their customers cutting back orders. Marketers of high value, complex purchases like technology will be faced with longer sales cycles.

A slideshow by blue-chip venture capital firm Sequoia Capital is getting a lot of attention right now. Their advice tech startup executives: batten down the edges. Cut to the bone. Focus on revenue. Pay reps on their sales. Measure your marketing and only do what works.

During the tech bust starting in 2001, you saw a lot of this. From my standpoint, marketing and PR agency budgets were slashed or dropped altogether – even by large companies with stable revenue.

Decent advice. But as you do this, I’d like to suggest alternate point of view: Invest in the upswing.

What if, instead of across-the-board cuts, you took the downturn as an opportunity to reshape, refine and streamline your communications and marketing for the turnaround? There is no magic message or marketing trick to loosen corporate purse strings. Instead, position yourself to be the one they turn to when they’re ready. You could:

1) Revisit the message – Is the story you tell today getting you closer to the sale? Is it getting you there fast enough?

2) Reshape the strategy – Is your marketing built around what influences your prospects? Cut the marketing communications vehicles that are running fumes. Fix those that aren’t working like they should – is it time to incorporate social media into your website so your fans can share what you have to sell? Focus on reaching prospects where they are – through the web, via the media and in their communities both online and off.

3) Invest in relationships that matter – Every market is a community. Are you engaged? If you “go dark” in PR and marketing, will key consultants, editors, analysts, gurus reporters and influencers remember you when you return? Participate in communities, network with influencers, contribute to discussions through speeches, blogs and articles.

I’d like to start a conversation here if I can. I’m going to spend the next few weeks writing about marketing during the downturn – what’s going to work, what’s not going to work, what companies are doing well and not so well today. And I’d love to share your stories – post them here or email me at ken@kadetcommunications.com.

%d bloggers like this: