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After meeting with a number of clients of the past month and discussing goals and strategies for 2010—I began organizing my thoughts into a list of what I think we can expect to see from marketing, PR, social media, and technology in 2010:
1. 2009 was the year that social media “experts” infiltrated the masses. Everyone with a Twitter account and Facebook profile was deeming themselves an expert. In 2010, the real enthusiasts and savvy folks will emerge and the snake oil salesmen will fade.
2. The press release continues its evolution. I do not believe the press release will die in 2010—however it is undergoing a transformation. Think Optimus Prime. Organizations will always need tools to disseminate their news and adhere to disclosure rules—however never before have we had so many different options. Linking to content such as online video, blogs, social media will make the press release smarter and also improve your company’s “searchability.”
3. While not the first person to think this—I do strongly believe that Twitter will either trial an ad-based model or perhaps introduce a professional fee-based option in order to generate revenues.
Last night, Adaptive Blue hosted the “The Changing Role of PR in Publishing and Tech” meetup in NYC. The panelists were (from left to right in the video): Chantelle K from Yelp, Kristin M from Attention PR, Ami G. from Macmillan and Russ M from RussCommunications.
The panel discussion lasted an hour and I’ve split the video into 20-minute segments – you can view the videos below. Some notes from the panelists:
- Chantelle loads Tweetdeck the moment she hits the office to check Twitter and spends 30 minutes to 1 hour each day going through what her friends sent her
- Kristen discussed using the bit.ly URL shortener as a way to track ROI
- At about the 18 minutes mark in the first video, Chantelle explains how they went to market for their iPhone app using an exclusive with Robert Scoble. She notes that they saw great results by using Robert to get the word out about the app and were even able to get an exciting trending topic on Twitter. They didn’t give the news to the NYT or Newsweek. They met with Robert several times beforehand to build a relationship with Robert. Later on Chantelle noted that depending on the type of story they are trying to push, they will use different sources to work with.
There was a discussion about analytics in the second video although I found the analysis weak. There was no mention about real-value stats – just simple discussion about how many followers or fans a brand has. My guess is that in late 2010 ”followers and fans” will be the hits of 1995.
In the third video there is a discussion about whether to hire a PR firm or if you should look at bringing a person on-board internally.
Continue reading “The Changing Role of PR in Publishing and Tech (video)” »
A few random thoughts on last night’s PR for Start Ups event:
There is still a huge gap / void / disconnect between agencies and start-ups. This was most clearly illustrated by Sabrina Horn’s comment on seeking clients who have passed Round A and are bearing down on Round B, and Charlie O’Donnell’s reaction, best summed up as “WTF?!?” Most start ups aren’t getting to Round A these days. Some of this is due to the economy. Also, it’s just much cheaper to do business now than it was in the 90s when you needed VC money to even get your idea off of the envelope. So given that, who’s going to take a risk on the next AOL or Netscape or Twitter? Not any agency that sets a $15K limit in retainers.
Honestly, I can empathize with Sabrina. It’s brutally hard to even hold a conversation with someone if they have a great idea but no money now and no money for at least the first few months. Which is why most start-ups should take the best bit of advice offered by the panel which is to bring someone in-house who is clued to marketing and willing to work like a dog for the glory and infamy.
And frankly a lot of start ups do think it’s all about press and getting into TechCrunch and don’t understand (or don’t care about) the finer points of positioning and messaging.
This evening Kristin Maverick hosted a nextNY event, “PR for Startups”. The basic overview for the panel was, “Tools and tricks that work, what you need to know, what you can do on your own, when it’s time to bring in outside help or hire someone devoted to PR for your company.” You can read the full overview for the event on the nextNY website. There are some tweets from the event as well.
I will leave my post-event thoughts for another day. I have posted the videos (~90 minutes) from the event below. I split it into four sections for easy viewing. Here are the speakers listed from left to right:
- Rose Gordon, News Editor, PR Week
- Gillian Reagan, Reporter, The New York Observer
- Adam Isserlis, Director of Digital Media, Rubenstein Communications
- Peter Himler, Founder/Principal at Flatiron Communications LLC
- Sabrina Horn, President, The Horn Group
- Chantelle Karl, PR Manager, East Coast, Yelp
- Mary Kathleen Flynn, Senior Editor, The Deal
- Jay Kolbe, Vice President, Weber Shandwick
Chris over at StartupBlips has a post tonight about how to title, or “subject”, pitches to bloggers to get noticed. I’d like to share my thoughts on the importance of a subject and what makes a good pitch. I am only speaking for myself, other bloggers will certainly have their own requested format. If you are a PR person, you should must ask every blogger you contact how he or she would like to be pitched. By spending a few minutes doing this, you have a MUCH greater chance of being covered by that blog. It’s the same as knowing I like milk in my coffee, Arrington takes it black, Ostrow takes 2 sugars, Om would rather have tea and Eric only drinks Pepsi.
I don’t care that much about the subject and if you use the contact form, the subject is pre-defined. I personally look at every single email we get (about 300-400 a day) and no matter the subject I still scan the email. The key is to capture my attention in the first moments of the email, not in the subject.
- Embargo information if applicable
- Name of company
- Login if applicable – don’t make me request one and then have to wait for a reply
- Contact info: email, phone, etc.
- Brief Twitter style product overview
- Bullets of why you are better than your competition
- Company info: employees, location, year founded, funding, etc.
- Then and only then should you include a press release
I’ve had a few PR people ask me how I’d like to be pitched. Wish more of ya’all did it. Would make both of our jobs easier and would lead to more coverage. Here is an example of how not to pitch (company name removed). Note that the person calls me Robert, offers very few words plus two links – both which contain nearly no information. I have no problem doing research, but you have to give me something to work with!
we launched a new startup. Hope you will find in interesting.
Here: http://www.crunchbase.com/company/site is some brief summary.
Thanks a lot!
At the end of the day, the key is to make it as easy as possible for me to understand what you do, why you are better, how you do it, and then point me to more information so I can research along with a way to contact you.
Today I had the pleasure of meeting with Miranda Tan, CEO of NY-based MyPRGenie. Miranda is an 8-year veteran of the PR industry and wanted to create a better way to send releases and help companies create buzz. The goal of her company is to make the press release process easier (and less expensive) for everybody. Here are my notes from our discussion.
The tool is setup to automate the press release process and it helps you to get your message out there to the right reporters, editors and publications. Miranda says that one of their strengths is in their targeting process — rather than send out a blanket release, they help you target the right reporters and publications for maximum buzz potential.
The basic service is free and allows you to send the relase to 20 sources. Above that the prices range from $199-$750. After leaving her office, I thought about the price a bit more and think $750 is a bit high for a small business — might be ok for a well established company perhaps.
The service has been written about in the WSJ twice and was called an "innovative small business solution". Typically 2-3 releases are sent daily using the system since the launch about three months ago. Their clients range from social networking tools to non-profit organizations and are worldwide in location.
One of the things I liked about MyPRGenie is the ability to add a customized note to the release when sent out to the reporters. This makes it more personal and also allows the sender to frame the release properly. They also use their own tool to market their own tool!
The team is split with 10 people in the NY office and 50 developers in Pakistan. MyPRGenie is currently privately-funded.
The tool has some analytics capabilities built in today and Miranda noted that their first quarter 2008 upgrade will include comprehensive analytics. I think it’s important to know which reporters have opened a release so you can follow-up if appropriate.
We discussed a topic that I hear about a lot which is that the press release is dead. Miranda believes the press release industry is changing and MyPRGenie will always stay on top of the innovations that are created.
If you are looking to send a release for free, check out MyPRGenie. Thanks to Miranda for spending the time with me today.
When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his new application developer grant program, fbFund, at TechCrunch40, everyone clapped (including me). I did have some concerns immediately and one of them was right after Mark said, "just email in your application to firstname.lastname@example.org". Immediately my nose twitched and I thought "how will they manage applications via email?" I have dealt with contests and sweeps with millions of entries and couldn’t imagine for a minute the management via email. Then I realized Mark is rich and smart – surely the emails get processed into a system, right?
Just a couple of days later, emails began to go out to the current applicants discussing privacy and conflict which you can read about on my previous discussion. This past weekend, Facebook has called a mulligan on the emails as the application format. Here is the email that went out to fbFund applicants:
Thank you for your inquiry about the fbFund grant program, and for your support of the Facebook Platform. Our goal for this program is to encourage as many developers as possible to write innovative and engaging new applications on top of Facebook Platform. Additionally, we hope to enable an even broader class of developers to become entrepreneurs by giving you the financial resources necessary to pursue a new venture that relies on Facebook Platform.
It has become clear that we will receive proposals which contain similar or even identical ideas. As a result, and in order to protect other developers and us from claims that we or anyone else copied material without the creator’s permission, unless we agree otherwise in writing, we can’t promise that any materials or information you submit here will be kept confidential, or specifically that we or others might not develop similar or identical products or services.
To make sure that everyone understands the conditions of submitting a grant application, we will not review any materials you have sent via email, and any materials you may have sent have been deleted. If you would like to submit an application for an fbFund grant or require more information, please see our website and grant application submission form at http://www.facebook.com/developers/fbfund.php. We apologize for the inconvenience, and hope the online information and submission form will help you develop and structure your proposal. We are accepting applications from around the world.
Again, we are very excited to be offering this program and wish you the best of luck whether or not you are an fbFund grant recipient. We can only give a limited number of grants and not getting one does not mean that we don’t believe in your application nor that it can’t be successful – it simply means that we have a limited amount of resources and weren’t able to give money during this cycle to you. You are welcome to apply as many times as you like as each funding cycle represents a new opportunity to receive a grant.
More information is available at
Thank you for your patience — we apologize for the delay in this response. We’ve seen a tremendous response to fbFund, and look forward to reviewing great proposals.
the fbFund team
I have received two emails from angry app developers who now need to resubmit their info. One I can’t post as there were too many expletives but the other included, "I have not done it _again_… I am not sure if I can be bothered because it looks like they have not got a clue what they are doing and has been handled half arsedly."
I am glad that Facebook called a mulligan quickly and now will handle the application process correctly moving forward. I can only assume that in the 14 days since the initial launch and this new email, they never peeked at any of the applications.
I am still curious as to how they will decide who has the unique idea – time stamp of application? Would also be great to learn about who makes up the judging panel – certainly wouldn’t want to see any sort of favoritism. In fact, if they were smart, they would anonymize the applications and only upon grant does Facebook learn who the developer(s) is/are. Of course this is SV, so I doubt that will happen :)