I live in an apartment near a large commercial area and often come home to restaurant take-out menus or retail fliers stuck in my door. Most of the time, they get tossed on my kitchen counter and thrown out a few days later.
Last night, though, I came home to find this tied to my door handle:
It was an invitation to attend a renewal party at my apartment complex and I read the whole thing several times over in disbelief. As if the blatant grammatical error on the front wasn’t enough, the rest of the invitation was peppered with equally obvious mistakes. The whole thing made me want to cancel my lease early and move rather than attend a renewal party.
The point of my rant is that little details make a big difference. In the amount of time it took to find that frog Clip Art, someone could have proofed the document for grammatical errors. Something as simple as an invitation can really hurt your credibility if it’s not taken seriously.
Heard today from yet another person who sat through a “media training” session that focused more on what to wear and how to stand than on what to say.
This isn’t a sales pitch (though if you need training, feel free to give me a call), but there’s a reason why our firm offers “message training” instead of media training.
If you don’t already know better than to wear your Marvin the Martian tie and slouch during a TV interview, chances are you shouldn’t be the one on camera. Most of the people we train do know better, so rather than spend time worrying about number of smiles per minute of air time, we talk about message.
Crafting your message and having a strategy for how to consistently communicate it is critical, no matter the audience or setting.
Thanks to smart phones and YouTube, everyone is a journalist. Anyone you interact with should be considered a member of the media. Any group to which you present will have attendees who tweet what you say. Shouldn’t you prepare for that every bit as hard as you prepare for a media interview?
Dr. Martin Hilbert of USC and his team calculated the amount of information stored and sent from every medium across the globe. They included in the study everything from computers to books to letters and concluded that in the past quarter century there has been a 200-fold increase in the amount of information the average person produces every day.
So what’s the lesson here for those of us tasked with effective communication?
More than ever, it is critical that we take aim and target our audience with pinpoint accuracy and send only useful, relevant information. Remember: spam blockers are amazingly effective.
Recently I read an article in Forbes that calls press releases, in most cases, “a worthless bother.” And I didn’t entirely disagree either. Shocking! No, I don’t believe press releases are worthless, although I’d venture to say that there are a large number of releases out there that probably never warranted creation in the first place. These are (as I like to call them), the “our hotel just ordered new bedding” releases … the releases that no one really cares about and are done just for the sake of being done. This is why the Bad Pitch Blog exists, people!
Anyhow, the writer of the Forbes article goes on to say that a two-sentence pitch to a few important news outlets secured amazing coverage for his client. I’m a big proponent of doing more pitches than press releases. However, I think some press releases still serve important informative purposes, when written as concise as possible and well.
Joseph Swan's light bulb 1878 (left) - Thomas Edison’s light bulb 1879 (right)
In the race to perfect the light bulb, amidst patent feuds, lawsuits and successions of failed attempts, it becomes unclear as to where proper credit is due for this “bright idea.” It does shed some light however on one thing: It took more than just one person. The end product we’ve come to know today is actually the end result of a multitude of revisions and collaborated efforts from many inventors, physicists and scientists. It was revolutionized and improved upon over time – each discovery building off of findings from the previous.
There is a great deal to learn from the invention of the light bulb and the power of collaboration in building upon and improving new ideas. We learn that all the time in our team brainstorming and creative problem-solving process. The possibilities are endless and far greater than what one person can accomplish.
When I saw this post on Ragan.com by Eileen Burmeister, I had to take a deep breath before I considered sharing what it said. Maybe everybody is still commiserating about Christina Aguilera botching the National Anthem and it’ll go unnoticed, I thought.
Could it be? No more liberally clicking the space bar twice after each period? I’ve inserted more red number signs over the years than I care to admit and now, just like that, I may have to play by the rules and go single space.
Truth be told, we follow AP Style guidelines, but we also agree that two spaces after a period just looks better. So, before I toss the red pen and tighten up the space bar usage, let me hear from you: one space or two?
It was only a matter of time. The Wall Street Journal reported today that the Internet is about to run out of new addresses … those numerical labels you and I probably only see when someone from the IT team is trying to solve a problem with our computers … or perhaps when setting up a new e-mail account.
Remember that wonderful television commercial for Direct-TV where a late-night Web surfer came face-to-face with this message?
Alert: You have reached the end of the Internet.
You have seen everything there is to see.
Please go back. Now.
In fact, there are even a number of one-page websites where you can send your friends for a laugh.
For those of us who dream up new uses for Internet sites and work to drive traffic, this has meaning. WSJ explains there’s a solution … but, perhaps, before rolling out a whole new IP address system we could talk all those squatters into give up some of the addresses they are sitting on.
Here’s one I’ll bet you won’t get someone to give up anytime soon: 184.108.40.206.
When I look around for examples of companies “doing” social media right, I usually think of the same few. But lately, my interest has been piqued by an organization I hardly thought would fit the bill: the U.S. Army.
Many times we counsel clients on the value of embracing social media, but caution them that engaging without purpose and strategy is futile. The Army’s strategy is to “utilize all means available to reach the Army family and the American people,” recognizing that while the Army of the past was comprised of the “newspaper generation,” the future depends on how effectively they communicate with men and women ages 15 to 25.
In my inaugural C&P blog post, fresh off the heels of hosting several YouTubers at an Orlando gaming and techie event called Otronicon at the Orlando Science Center, I’d like to talk about YouTube … you know, the third-highest ranking site on the Web, where more than 2 billion videos are viewed on a daily basis.
Our client EA Sports was a major sponsor of this year’s Otronicon and we were challenged to not only promote EA Sports’ involvement, but also help drive traffic and awareness of the event. And so, we turned to YouTube—where a number of EA Sports’ target demographic goes for news and entertainment. We hosted a group of seven regional YouTubers on the first night of the event. The result? Nearly 230,000 views of their resulting videos and additional reach through the YouTubers’ accounts on Facebook and Twitter … a great success for the event and for our client.
I think many publicists make a mistake when they try to pitch YouTubers. You can’t force content and you can’t expect a YouTuber to behave like a journalist.
Here are a few tips:
Know who you’re talking to. By now, I think many PR professionals have wised up and are getting to know the bloggers they reach out to. The same should be said for working with YouTubers. Don’t just reach out to iJustine because she has a bazillion views. Reach out to her because you know her channel … you’ve viewed her videos and it makes sense for you to pitch her.
YouTubers have friends. Lots of them. Make their friends your friends too. Let them bring their friends to the special event you may be hosting. Not only does this make for a more exciting video (watching a video of one person talking to themselves is usually not as interesting), but chances are, their friends may be YouTubers too. YouTubers consider themselves to be a community and you’ll often see YouTubers hanging out with each other.
If you hear of a YouTube Gathering in your area, go to it. These public gatherings of YouTubers are a great way to meet in-person and start relationships. Even better, if you are able to do so, offer your venue to host the next gathering.
If you’re working with a more “controversial” YouTuber on behalf of a family-friendly attraction, don’t be afraid of asking them to tone it down. However, you shouldn’t expect them to completely change their style … remember you are working with this YouTuber for a reason. And very likely, the reason they are so popular is because of the unique content they have.
Unless a YouTuber needs your assistance (you’re escorting or guiding them to special activities), do not hound them. Give them time to walk around and enjoy a place on their own. This makes for a more natural video.
Some YouTubers are so popular they have been elevated to celebrity status. If they require a fee to work with you, they should disclose that fact up front. Most of the time, a YouTuber simply needs the kind of basic support that you’d probably offer to a journalist (such as lodging, transportation etc.). Remember, you are asking them to cover you and (unlike a journalist) they don’t have an expense account.
I love YouTube, not just because there are so many entertaining people out there, but (from a PR standpoint) I can find out how many eyeballs have viewed a video. You can’t say the same for newspapers or magazines. Sure, The New York Times has a very impressive circulation of 950,000, but has each one of those subscribers read my story? On YouTube we know viewership and that is invaluable. Don’t be afraid of working with YouTubers!