E1FFIRS 12/04/2009 Page 10

E1FFIRS 12/04/2009 Page 1

Praise for The New Rules of Marketing and PR

‘‘This excellent look at the basics of new-millennial marketing should

find use in the hands of any serious PR professional making the


—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

‘‘Most professional marketers—and the groups in which they work

—are on the edge of becoming obsolete, so they’d better learn how

marketing is really going to work in the future.’’

—BNET, ‘‘The Best & Worst Business Books’’

‘‘The New Rules of Marketing and PR has inspired me to do what I

have coached so many young artists to do, ‘Find your authentic

voice, become vulnerable, and then put yourself out there.’ David

Meerman Scott expertly and clearly lays out how to use many great

new tools to help accomplish this. Since reading this book, I have

been excited about truly connecting with people without the filter of

all the ‘old PR’ hype. It has been really energizing for me to speak

about things that I really care about, using my real voice.’’

—Meredith Brooks, Multi-Platinum Recording Artist,

Writer and Producer, and Founder of record label

Kissing Booth Music

‘‘I’ve relied on The New Rules of Marketing & PR as a core text for my

New Media and Public Relations course at Boston University for the

past six semesters. David’s book is a bold, crystal clear, and practical

guide toward a new (and better) future for the profession.’’

—Stephen Quigley, Boston University

‘‘What a wake-up call! By embracing the strategies in this book, you

will totally transform your business. David Meerman Scott shows you

a multitude of ways to propel your company to a thought leadership

position in your market and drive sales—all without a huge budget. I

am a huge fan and practitioner of his advice.’’

—Jill Konrath, Author of Selling to Big Companies,

Chief Sales Officer,

E1FFIRS 12/04/2009 Page 2

‘‘The Internet is not so much about technology as it is about people.

David Meerman Scott, in his remarkable The New Rules of Marketing

and PR, goes far beyond technology and explores the ramifications of

the Web as it pertains to people. He sets down a body of rules that

show you how to negotiate those ramifications with maximum

effectiveness. And he does it with real-life case histories and an

engaging style.’’

—Jay Conrad Levinson, Father of Guerrilla Marketing

and Author, Guerrilla Marketing series of books

‘‘The New Rules of Marketing and PR teaches readers how to launch a

thought leadership campaign by using the far-reaching, long-lasting

tools of social media. It is an invaluable guide for anyone who wants

to make a name for themselves, their ideas, and their organization.’’

—Mark Levy, Co-Author, How to Persuade People Who Don’t

Want to Be Persuaded, and Founder of Levy Innovation: A

Marketing Strategy Firm

‘‘Revolution may be an overused word in describing what the Internet

has wrought, but revolution is exactly what David Meerman Scott

embraces and propels forward in this book. He exposes the futility of

the old media rules and opens to all of us an insiders’ game, previ-

ously played by a few well-connected specialists. With this rule book

to the online revolution, you can learn how to win minds and mar-

kets, playing by the new rules of new media.’’

—Don Dunnington, President, International Association

of Online Communicators (IAOC); Director of

Business Communications, K-Tron International; and

Graduate Instructor in Online Communication,

Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey

E1FFIRS 12/04/2009 Page 3

‘‘The history of marketing communications—about 60 years or

so—has been about pushing messages to convince prospects to

take some action we need. Now marketing communications, largely

because of the overwhelming power and influence of the Web and

other electronic communications, is about engaging in conversation

with prospects and leading/persuading them to take action. David

Meerman Scott shows how marketing is now about participation

and connection, and no longer about strong-arm force.’’

—Roy Young, Chief Revenue Officer,,

and Co-Author, Marketing Champions: Practical Strategies for

Improving Marketing’s Power, Influence, and Business Impact

‘‘As someone who has come up through the marketing ranks to run

several companies, I’ve come to realize that the rules I lived by to

manage the marketing mix have become obsolete. What David Meer-

man Scott shows that is so fascinating is that the new rules are actu-

ally better than the old rules because they cut through all the

communications clutter and myths about big-budget advertising.

This book is a must-read for any executive looking to gain a cost-ef-

fective edge in marketing operations and to reach buyers directly in

ways they’ll appreciate.’’

—Phil Myers, President, Pragmatic Marketing

‘‘David Meerman Scott not only offers good descriptions of digital

tools available for public relations professionals, but also explains

strategy, especially the importance of thinking about PR from the

public’s perspectives, and provides lots of helpful examples. My stu-

dents loved this book.’’

—Karen Miller Russell, Associate Professor,

Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication,

University of Georgia

E1FFIRS 12/04/2009 Page 4

‘‘This is a must-read book if you don’t want to waste time and re-

sources on the old methods of Internet marketing and PR. David

Meerman Scott reviews the old rules for old times’ sake while bridg-

ing into the new rules for Internet marketing and PR for your cause.

He doesn’t leave us with only theories, but offers practical and re-

sults-oriented how-tos.’’

—Ron Peck, Executive Director,

Neurological Disease Foundation

‘‘The New Rules of Marketing and PR is all about breaking the rules and

creating new roles in traditional functional areas. Using maverick, non-

traditional approaches to access and engaging a multiplicity of audien-

ces, communities, and thought leaders online, PR people are realizing

new value, influence, and outcomes. We’re now in a content-rich, Inter-

net-driven world, and David Meerman Scott has written a valuable

treatise on how marketing-minded PR professionals can leverage new

media channels and forums to take their stories to market. No longer

are PR practitioners limited in where and how they direct their knowl-

edge, penmanship, and perception management skills. The Internet has

multiplied and segmented a wealth of new avenues for directly reach-

ing and activating key constituencies and stakeholders. A good book

well worth the read by all marketing mavens and aging PR flacks.’’

—Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director, CMO Council

‘‘The New Rules of Marketing and PR provides a concise action plan

for success. Rather than focusing on a single solution, Scott shows

how to use multiple online tools, all directed toward increasing your

firm’s visibility and word-of-mouth awareness.’’

—Roger C. Parker, Author, The Streetwise Guide to

Relationship Marketing on the Internet and Design to Sell

E1FFIRS 12/04/2009 Page 5

‘‘Once again we are at a critical inflection point on our society’s evo-

lutionary path, with individuals wrestling away power and control

from institutions and traditional gatekeepers who control the flow of

knowledge and maintain the silo walls. As communications profes-

sionals, there is little time to figure out what has changed, why it

changed, and what we should be doing about it. If you don’t start

doing things differently and start right now, you may as well start

looking for your next career path. In a world where disruption is

commonplace and new ways of communicating and collaborating

are invented every day, what does it take for a hardworking, ethical

communications professional to be successful? David Meerman

Scott’s book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, is an insightful look

at how the game is changing as we play it and some of the key tactics

you need to succeed in the knowledge economy.’’

—Chris Heuer, Co-Founder, Social Media Club

E1FFIRS 12/04/2009 Page 6

Also by David Meerman Scott

World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People

to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories

Tuned In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities that Lead to

Business Breakthroughs (with Craig Stull and Phil Myers)

Cashing in with Content: How Innovative Marketers Use Digital

Information to Turn Browsers into Buyers

Eyeball Wars: A Novel of Dot-Com Intrigue

E1FFIRS 12/04/2009 Page 7

The New Rulesof Marketingand PR

How to Use Social Media,Blogs, News Releases, OnlineVideo, & Viral Marketingto Reach Buyers DirectlySecond Edition

David Meerman Scott

John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

E1FFIRS 12/04/2009 Page 8

Copyright # 2010 by David Meerman Scott. All rights reserved.

Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.Published simultaneously in Canada.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmittedin any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning,or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United StatesCopyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authoriza-tion through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center,Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600, oron the web at Requests to the Publisher for permission should beaddressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street,Hoboken, NJ 07030, (201) 748-6011, fax (201) 748-6008, or online at

Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and author have used theirbest efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with re-spect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaimany implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warrantymay be created or extended by sales representatives or written sales materials. The adviceand strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. The publisher is notengaged in rendering professional services, and you should consult with a professionalwhere appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit orother commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential,or other damages.

For general information on our other products and services please contact our CustomerCare Department within the United States at (800) 762-2974, outside the United States at(317) 572-3993 or fax (317) 572-4002.

Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content thatappears in print may not be available in electronic books. For more informationabout Wiley products, visit our web site at

ISBN: 978-0-470-54781-6

Printed in the United States of America.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

E1FFIRS 12/04/2009 Page 9

For the Scott women

My mother, Carolyn J. Scott;my wife, Yukari Watanabe Scott;

and my daughter, Allison C.R. Scott

E1FFIRS 12/04/2009 Page 10

E1FTOC 12/08/2009 Page 11


Foreword by Robert Scoble xvii

Welcome to the Second Edition of the New Rules xxiSecond Edition xxiii

Introduction xxvThe New Rules xxvii

Trying to Write Like a Blog, But in a Book xxvii

Showcasing Innovative Marketers xxix

I How the Web Has Changed the Rules ofMarketing and PR 1

1 The Old Rules of Marketing and PR Are Ineffective

in an Online World 3

Advertising: A Money Pit of Wasted Resources 6

One-Way Interruption Marketing Is Yesterday’s Message 7

The Old Rules of Marketing 8

Public Relations Used to Be Exclusively about the Media 8

Public Relations and Third-Party Ink 9

Yes, the Media Are Still Important 10

Press Releases and the Journalistic Black Hole 11

The Old Rules of PR 11

Learn to Ignore the Old Rules 13

2 The New Rules of Marketing and PR 15

The Long Tail of Marketing 17

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know, Please 18

Bricks-and-Mortar News 19

Advice from the Company President 21

The Long Tail of PR 22

The New Rules of Marketing and PR 23

The Convergence of Marketing and PR on the Web 24

E1FTOC 12/08/2009 Page 12

3 Reaching Your Buyers Directly 25

The Right Marketing in a Wired World 26

Let the World Know about Your Expertise 27

Develop Information Your BuyersWant to Consume 28

Buyer Personas: The Basics 29

Think Like a Publisher 31

Tell Your Organization’s Story Directly 32

Know the Goals and Let Content Drive Action 33

Content and Thought Leadership 34

II Web-Based Communications to ReachBuyers Directly 35

4 Social Media and Your Targeted Audience 37

What Is Social Media, Anyway? 38

Social Media Is a Cocktail Party 39

Facebook Group Drives 15,000 People to Singapore Tattoo Show 40

The New Rules of Job Search 42

How David Murray Found a New Job via Twitter 43

Insignificant Backwaters or Valuable Places to Connect? 44

Your Best Customers Participate in Online Forums—So Should You 47

Your Space in the Forums 51

Wikis, Listservs, and Your Audience 52

Creating Your Own Wiki 54

5 Blogs: Tapping Millions of Evangelists to Tell Your Story 57

Blogs, Blogging, and Bloggers 59

Understanding Blogs in the World of the Web 60

The Four Uses of Blogs for Marketing and PR 63

Monitor Blogs—Your Organization’s Reputation Depends on It 64

Comment on Blogs to Get Your Viewpoint Out There 65

Work with the Bloggers Who Talk about You 66

How to Reach Bloggers Around the World 68

Do You Allow Employees to Send E-Mail?

How about Letting Them Blog? 69

Breaking Boundaries: Blogging at McDonald’s 71

The Power of Blogs 72

Get Started Today 72

6 Audio and Video Drive Action 75

Digging Digg Video 75

What University Should I Attend 76

xii Contents

E1FTOC 12/08/2009 Page 13

The Best Job in the World 77

Audio Content Delivery Through Podcasting 79

Putting Marketing Back in Musicians’ Control 80

Podcasting: More Than Just Music 82

Grammar Girl Podcast 83

7 The New Rules of News Releases 85

News Releases in a Web World 87

The New Rules of News Releases 87

If They Find You, They Will Come 88

Driving Buyers into the Sales Process 90

Reach Your Buyers Directly 91

8 Going Viral: The Web Helps Audiences Catch the Fever 93

Minty-Fresh Explosive Marketing 93

Monitoring the Blogosphere for Viral Eruptions 95

Creating a World Wide Rave 97

Rules of the Rave 98

Film Producer Creates a World Wide Rave by Making

Soundtrack Free for Download 99

Viral Buzz for Fun and Profit 101

The Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Jerry Garcia’s Toilet 101

Clip This Coupon for $1 Million Off Ft. Myers, FL Home 102

When You Have Explosive News, Make It Go Viral 103

9 The Content-Rich Web Site 107

Political Advocacy on the Web 108

Content: The Focus of Successful Web Sites 110

Reaching a Global Marketplace 111

Putting It All Together with Content 112

Great Web Sites: More Art Than Science 114

III Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of theNew Rules 117

10 You Are What You Publish: Building Your Marketing

and PR Plan 119

What Are Your Organization’s Goals? 120

Buyer Personas and Your Organization 122

The Buyer Persona Profile 123

Reaching Senior Executives 126

The Importance of Buyer Personas in Web Marketing 127

Contents xiii

E1FTOC 12/08/2009 Page 14

In Your Buyers’ Own Words 128

What Do You Want Your Buyers to Believe? 130

Developing Content to Reach Buyers 132

Obama for America 135

Stick to Your Plan 139

11 Online Thought Leadership to Brand Your

Organization as a Trusted Resource 141

Developing Thought Leadership Content 141

Forms of Thought Leadership Content 142

How to Create Thoughtful Content 146

Write What You Know 147

Leveraging Thought Leaders Outside of Your Organization 148

How Much Money Does Your Buyer Make? 149

12 How to Write for Your Buyers 151

An Analysis of Gobbledygook 152

Poor Writing: How Did We Get Here? 153

Effective Writing for Marketing and PR 155

The Power of Writing Feedback (from Your Blog) 156

13 HowWeb Content Influences the Buying Process 159

Segmenting Your Buyers 160

Elements of a Buyer-Centric Web Site 162

Using RSS to Deliver Your Web Content to Targeted Niches 166

Link Content Directly into the Sales Cycle 168

A Friendly Nudge 169

Close the Sale and Continue the Conversation 169

An Open-Source Marketing Model 170

14 Social Networking Sites and Marketing 173Television’s Eugene Mirman is Very Nice and Likes Seafood 174

Facebook: Not Just for Students 175

Check Me Out on MySpace 179

Tweet Your Thoughts to the World 180

Social Networking and Personal Branding 182

Connecting with Fans 185

How Amanda Palmer Made $11,000 on Twitter in Two Hours 186

Which Social Networking Site is Right for You? 187

You Can’t Go to Every Party, So Why Even Try? 189

Optimizing Social Networking Pages 190

Start a Movement 191

xiv Contents

E1FTOC 12/08/2009 Page 15

15 Blogging to Reach Your Buyers 193What Should You Blog About? 194

Blogging Ethics and Employee Blogging Guidelines 195

Blogging Basics: What You Need to Know to Get Started 197

Pimp Out Your Blog 199

Building an Audience for Your New Blog 201

Tag, and Your Buyer Is It 202

Fun with Sharpies (and Sharpie Fans) 203

Blogging Outside of North America 204

What Are You Waiting For? 205

16 Video and Podcasting Made, Well, as Easy

as Possible 207Video and Your Buyers 207

A Flip Video Camera in Every Pocket 208

Getting Started with Video 209

Knifing the Competition . . . and It’s All Caught on Video 211

Podcasting 101 212

My Audio Is Your Podcast 214

17 How to Use News Releases to Reach Buyers Directly 217Developing Your News Release Strategy 218

Publishing News Releases through a Distribution Service 219

Reaching Even More Interested Buyers with RSS Feeds 220

Simultaneously Publishing Your News Releases to Your Web Site 220

The Importance of Links in Your News Releases 221

Focus on the Keywords and Phrases Your Buyers Use 221

Include Appropriate Social Media Tags 223

If It’s Important Enough to Tell the Media, Tell Your

Clients and Prospects, Too! 224

18 The Online Media Room: Your Front Door for

Much More Than the Media 227Your Online Media Room as (Free) Search Engine Optimization 228

Best Practices for Online Media Rooms 229

An Online Media Room to Reach Journalists,

Customers, Bloggers, and Employees 236

Really Simple Marketing: The Importance of RSS Feeds

in Your Online Media Room 238

19 The New Rules for Reaching the Media 239Nontargeted, Broadcast Pitches Are Spam 240

The New Rules of Media Relations 240

Contents xv

E1FTOC 12/08/2009 Page 16

Blogs and Media Relations 241

Launching Ideas with the U.S. Air Force 242

How to Pitch the Media 244

20 Search Engine Marketing 249Making the First Page on Google 250

Search Engine Optimization 252

The Long Tail of Search 253

Carve Out Your Own Search Engine Real Estate 254

Web Landing Pages to Drive Action 255

Search Engine Marketing in a Fragmented Business 257

21 Make It Happen 261Getting the Help you Need (and Rejecting What You Don’t) 263

Great for Any Organization 267

Now It’s Your Turn 269

Acknowledgments for the Second Edition 271

Index 272

About the Author 280

Preview:World Wide Rave 281

Preview: The New Rules of Social Media book series 287

xvi Contents

E1FLAST01 11/11/2009 Page 17


You’re not supposed to be able to do what David Meerman Scott is about

to tell you in this book. You’re not supposed to be able to carry around a

$250 video camera, record what employees are working on and what they

think of the products they are building, and publish those videos on the Inter-

net. But that’s what I did at Microsoft, building an audience of more than four

million unique visitors a month.

You’re not supposed to be able to do what Stormhoek did. A winery in

South Africa, it doubled sales in a year using the principles discussed here.

You’re not supposed to be able to run a presidential campaign with

just a blogger, a videographer, and a Flickr photographer. But that’s what

John Edwards did in December 2006 as he announced he was running

for President.

Something has changed in the past 10 years. Well, for one, we have Google

now, but that’s only a part of the puzzle.

What really has happened is that the word-of-mouth network has gotten

more efficient—much, much more efficient.

Word of mouth has always been important to business. When I helped run

a Silicon Valley camera store in the 1980s, about 80 percent of our sales came

from it. ‘‘Where should I buy a camera this weekend?’’ you might have heard

in a lunchroom back then. Today that conversation is happening online. But,

instead of only two people talking about your business, now thousands and

sometimes millions (Engadget had 10 million page views in a single day dur-

ing the Consumer Electronics and MacWorld shows in January 2006) are

either participating or listening in.

What does this mean? Well, now there’s a new medium to deal with.

Your PR teams had better understand what drives this new medium (it’s as

influential as the New York Times or CNN now), and if you understand

how to use it you can drive buzz, new product feedback, sales, and more.

But first you’ll have to learn to break the rules.

E1FLAST01 11/11/2009 Page 18

Is your marketing department saying you need to spend $80,000 to do a

single video? (That’s not unusual, even in today’s world. I just participated in

such a video for a sponsor of mine.) If so, tell that department ‘‘Thanks, but

no thanks.’’ Or, even better, search Google for ‘‘Will it blend?’’ You’ll find a

Utah blender company that got six million downloads in less than 10 days.

Oh, and 10,000 comments in the same period of time. All by spending a few

hundred bucks, recording a one-minute video, and uploading that to


Or, study what I did at Microsoft with a blog and a video camera. Econo-

mist magazine said I put a human face on Microsoft. Imagine that. A 60,000-

employee organization and I changed its image with very little expense and

hardly a committee in sight.

This advice isn’t for everyone, though. Most people don’t like running fast

in business. They feel more comfortable if there are lots of checks and bal-

ances or committees to cover their asses. Or, they don’t want to destroy the

morale of PR and marketing departments due to the disintermediating effects

of the Internet.

After all, you can type ‘‘OneNote Blog’’ into Google,, or Yahoo!,

and you’ll find Chris Pratley. He runs the OneNote team at Microsoft. Or,

search for ‘‘Sun CEO.’’ You’ll find Jonathan Schwartz and his blog.

You can leave either one a comment and tell them their product sucks and

see what they do in response. Or, even better, tell them how to earn your sale.

Do they snap into place?

It’s a new world you’re about to enter, one where relationships with influ-

entials and search engine optimization strategy are equally important, and

one where your news will be passed around the world very quickly. You don’t

believe me?

Look at how the world found out I was leaving Microsoft for a Silicon Val-

ley startup (

I told 15 people at a videoblogging conference—not A-listers either, just

everyday videobloggers. I asked them not to tell anyone until Tuesday—this

was on a Saturday afternoon and I still hadn’t told my boss.

Well, of course someone leaked that information. But, it didn’t pop up in

the New York Times. It wasn’t discussed on CNN. No, it was a blogger I had

never even heard of that posted the info first.

Within hours it was on hundreds of other blogs. Within two days it was in

the Wall Street Journal, in the New York Times, on the front page of the BBC

xviii Foreword

E1FLAST01 11/11/2009 Page 19

Web site, in BusinessWeek, Economist, in more than 140 newspapers around

the world (friends called me from Australia, Germany, Israel, and England,

among other countries) and other places. Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft’s PR

agency, was keeping track and said that about 50 million media impressions

occurred on my name in the first week.

All due to 15 conversations.

Whoa, what’s up here? Well, if you have a story worth repeating, bloggers,

podcasters, and videobloggers (among other influentials) will repeat your

story all over the world, potentially bringing hundreds of thousands or mil-

lions of people your way. One link on a site like Digg alone could bring tens

of thousands of visitors.

How did that happen?

Well, for one, lots of people knew me, knew my phone number, knew what

kind of car I drove, knew my wife and son, knew my best friends, knew where

I worked, and had heard me in about 700 videos that I posted at http://chan- on behalf of Microsoft.

They also knew where I went to college (and high school and middle

school), and countless other details about me. How do you know they know

all this? Well, they wrote a page on Wikipedia about me at http://en.wikipedia.

org/wiki/Robert_Scoble—not a single thing on that page was written by me.

What did all that knowledge of me turn into? Credibility and authority.

Translation: People knew me, knew where I was coming from, knew I was

passionate and authoritative about technology, and came to trust me where

they wouldn’t trust most corporate authorities.

By reading this book you’ll understand how to gain the credibility you

need to build your business. Enjoy!


Co-author, Naked Conversations

Foreword xix

E1FLAST01 11/11/2009 Page 20

E1FLAST02 11/26/2009 Page 21

Welcome to the SecondEdition of the New Rules

The two and a half years since the first edition of The New Rules of Market-

ing and PR was published have been an absolute blast. I spend my time

traveling all over the world speaking to groups about the new rules, spreading

the word, opening people’s eyes to the possibilities, and motivating them to

change the ways they do marketing and public relations.

We’ve been liberated!

Before the Web came along, there were only three ways to get noticed: buy

expensive advertising, beg the mainstream media to tell your story for you, or

hire a huge sales staff to bug people one at a time about your products. Now

we have a better option: publishing interesting content on the Web that your

buyers want to consume. The tools of the marketing and PR trade have

changed. The skills that worked offline to help you buy or beg or bug your

way in are the skills of interruption and coercion. Online success comes from

thinking like a journalist and a thought leader.

The first edition of this book has sold remarkably well since its release in

June 2007, remaining a top title for more than two years among thousands of

books about marketing and public relations, and even making the Business-

Week bestseller list multiple months. But wanna know the amazing thing? I

didn’t spend a single penny advertising or promoting it. Here’s what I did do:

I offered advance copies to approximately 130 important bloggers, I sent out

nearly 20 news releases (you’ll read later in the book about news releases as a

tool to reach buyers directly), and my publisher alerted contacts in the media.

That’s it. Thousands of bloggers have written about the book (thank you!),

significantly driving its sales. And the mainstream media have found me as a

result of this blogger interest. the Wall Street Journal called twice for inter-

views that landed me quotes in the paper because they read about my ideas

online first. I’ve appeared on national and local television and radio including

E1FLAST02 11/26/2009 Page 22

MSNBC, Fox Business, and NPR. I’ve been interviewed on dozens of pod-

casts. Magazines and newspaper reporters email me all the time to get quotes

for their stories. How do they find me? Online, of course! And it doesn’t

cost me a single penny. I’m not telling you all this to brag about my book

sales or my media appearances. I’m telling you to show you how well these

ideas work.

But the coolest part of my life since the book was published isn’t that I

took advantage of the new rules of marketing and PR, nor is it that this

book has been selling like hotcakes as a result. No, the coolest part of my

life right now is that people contact me every day to say that the ideas in

these pages have transformed their businesses and changed their lives. Re-

ally! That’s the sort of language people use. They write just to thank me for

putting the ideas into a book so that they could be enlightened to the new

realities of marketing and PR.

Every day I get exciting feedback from people who are charged up about

the new rules. Take Jody. He sent me an email to tell me the book had an

unexpected effect on him and his wife. Jody explains that, to them, the really

exciting and hopeful idea is that they can actually use their genuine voices

online; they’ve left behind the hype-inflated PR-speak their agencies had used

so tediously.

Or Andrew. He left a comment on my blog: ‘‘David, your book so in-

spired me, I decided to start a brand-new business (launching shortly)

based around the principles you espouse. You cogently expressed many

of the things that I’d been grappling with myself. So your book has cer-

tainly changed one life.’’

Mike wrote to say that his company’s software, which helps small- and

medium-sized businesses get found by the right prospects and capture

more leads, takes advantage of all the trends and techniques described in

the book. He purchased a bunch of copies to share with everyone in his

organization. Larry bought copies for all the members of his professional

association. Richard did, too. Robin, who works for a company that

offers public relations services, purchased 300 copies for clients. Len,

who runs a strategic marketing agency, sent copies to his clients, too.

Julie, who is a senior executive at a PR firm, handed out copies to all 75

of her staff members. People approach me at conferences asking me to

sign wonderfully dog-eared, coffee-stained, Post-it-noted copies of the

book. Sometimes they tell me some funny secrets too. Kathy, who works

xxii Welcome to the Second Edition of the New Rules

E1FLAST02 11/26/2009 Page 23

in PR, said that if everyone read it, she’d be out of a job! David told me

he used what he learned to find a new job.

While all this incredible feedback is personally flattering, I am most grate-

ful that my ideas have empowered people to find their own voices and tell

their own stories online. How cool is that?

Now let me disclose a secret of my own. As I was writing the book, I was a

bit unsure of the global applicability of the new rules. Sure, I’d found a num-

ber of anecdotal stories about online marketing, blogging, and social net-

working outside of North America (you will read about some later in the

book). But I couldn’t help but wonder: Are organizations of all kinds reaching

their buyers directly, with Web content written in languages other than Eng-

lish and for cultures other than my own? The answer is a resounding yes!

About 25 percent of the book’s English language sales have come from out-

side the United States. As I write this, the book has been or is being translated

into 24 other languages including Bulgarian, Finnish, Korean, Vietnamese,

Serbian, and Turkish. I’m also receiving invitations from all over the world to

speak about the new rules. In the past year, I’ve traveled to nearly a dozen

countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UK, Estonia, Latvia, Turkey, Croatia,

the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and the Dominican Republic. So I

can say with certainty that the ideas in these pages do resonate worldwide.

We are indeed witnessing a global phenomenon.

Second EditionThis second edition of the book has gone through an extensive rewrite. Of

course, I have checked every fact, figure, and URL. But I’ve also listened. In

the past two years, I’ve met thousands of people like you who have shared

their stories with me, so I have drawn from those experiences and included

in these pages many new examples of success. While including so many new

stories and examples has resulted in my removing many of the less interesting

originals, I’m convinced that these exciting replacements are even more valu-

able. And for those of you who have read the first edition, you’ll still find

many fresh ideas in these pages.

I’ve made some major additions as well. When I wrote the first edition of

the book, Facebook was only available to those with a .edu email address (stu-

dents and educators), so I didn’t feature Facebook. And Twitter didn’t even

exist at the time I was researching the first edition. So I have added extensive

Welcome to the Second Edition of the New Rules xxiii

E1FLAST02 11/26/2009 Page 24

new information and examples on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media

sites. In fact, the rise of the term social media has been so strong in the past

few years that I’ve even changed the subtitle of the book to include it.

Finally, I must give credit to the thousands of smart people who found suc-

cess with the new rules before I ever put the ideas into print. The marketers

these pages profile—and many others like them—deserve the credit for pio-

neering the ideas I’ve chronicled.

Thank you for your interest in the new rules. I hope that you too will be

successful in implementing these strategies and that your life will be made

better as a result.


[email protected]

xxiv Welcome to the Second Edition of the New Rules

E1FLAST02 11/26/2009 Page 25


A t the height of the dot-com boom, I was vice president of marketing

at NewsEdge Corporation, a NASDAQ-traded online news distribu-

tor with more than $70 million in annual revenue. My multimillion-dol-

lar marketing budget included tens of thousands of dollars per month for

a public relations agency, hundreds of thousands per year for print adver-

tising and glossy collateral materials, and expensive participation at a

dozen trade shows a year. My team put these things on our marketing

to-do list, worked like hell to execute, and paid the big bucks because

that’s what marketing and PR people did. These efforts made us feel

good because we were doing something, but the programs were not pro-

ducing significant, measurable results.

At the same time, drawing on experience I had gained in my previous posi-

tion as Asia marketing director for the online division of Knight-Ridder, then

one of the largest newspaper companies in the world, my team and I quietly

created content-based, ‘‘thought leadership’’ marketing and PR programs on

the Web. Against the advice of the PR agency professionals we had on retainer

(who insisted that press releases were only for the press), we wrote and sent

dozens of releases ourselves. Each time we sent a release, it appeared on on-

line services such as Yahoo!, resulting in sales leads. Even though our advertis-

ing agency told us not to put the valuable information ‘‘somewhere where

competitors could steal it,’’ we created a monthly newsletter called TheEdge

about the exploding world of digital news and made it freely available on the

homepage of our Web site because it generated interest from buyers, the media,

and analysts. Way back in the 1990s, when Web marketing and PR was in its

infancy, my team and I ignored the old rules, drawing instead on my experi-

ence working at an online publisher, and created a marketing strategy using

online content to reach buyers directly on the Web. The homegrown, do-it-

yourself programs we created at virtually no cost consistently generated more

interest from qualified buyers, the media, and analysts—and resulted in more

E1FLAST02 11/26/2009 Page 26

sales—than the big-bucks programs that the ‘‘professionals’’ were running for

us. People we never heard of were finding us through search engines. I had

stumbled on a better way to reach buyers.

In 2002, after NewsEdge was sold to The Thomson Corporation, I

started my own business to refine my ideas, work with select clients, and

teach others through writing, speaking at conferences, and conducting

seminars for corporate groups. The object of all this work was reaching

buyers directly with Web content. Since then, many new forms of social

media have burst onto the scene, including blogs, podcasts, video, and vir-

tual communities. But what all the new Web tools and techniques have in

common is that together they are the best way to communicate directly

with your marketplace.

This book actually started as a Web marketing and PR program on my

blog. In January 2006, I published an e-book called The New Rules of PR,1

immediately generating remarkable enthusiasm (and much controversy)

from marketers and businesspeople around the world. Since the e-book

was published, it has been downloaded more than 250,000 times and com-

mented on by thousands of readers on my blog and those of many other

bloggers. To those of you who have read and shared the e-book, thank

you. But this book is much more than just an expansion of that work,

because I have made its subject marketing and PR instead of just PR and

because I’ve included many different forms of online media and conducted

years of additional research.

This book contains much more than just my own ideas, because I have

blogged the book, section by section, as I have written it. Thousands of you

have followed along, and many have contributed to the writing process by

offering suggestions via comments on my blog and e-mail. Thank you for

contributing your ideas. And thank you for arguing with me when I got off

track. Your enthusiasm has made the book much better than if I had written

in isolation.

The Web has changed not only the rules of marketing and PR, but also the

business-book model, and The New Rules of Marketing and PR is an interesting

example. My online content (the e-book and my blog) led me directly to a

print book deal. I published early drafts of sections of the book on my blog

and used the blog to test ideas for inclusion into this, the second edition.


xxvi Introduction

E1FLAST02 11/26/2009 Page 27

Other publishers would have freaked out if an author wanted to put parts of

his book online (for free!) to solicit ideas. John Wiley & Sons encouraged it.

In fact, some of my favorite books evolved on blogs, including Naked Conver-

sations by Robert Scoble2 and Shel Israel,3 The Long Tail by Chris Anderson,4

and Small Is the New Big by Seth Godin5—great company indeed. Thanks for

leading the way, guys.

The New RulesOne of the more interesting debates about this book has been over its title.

Many people have told me they like the title because they know what they

will be getting. It’s descriptive. But others have fought me, saying that there

are all kinds of new rules being touted in books and elsewhere but that

rarely deliver. ‘‘New rules’’ are just hype, they say. While it’s true that a

search on Amazon for ‘‘new rules’’ brings up thousands of book titles, the

Web truly does offer marketers a new way of doing things. I am confident

in my choice of title, because before the Web the only way you could get

your organization noticed was to buy advertising of some kind or convince

a journalist to write about you. Telling your organization’s story directly

(via the Web) is new, because, until now, you’ve never been able to reach

a potential audience in the millions without buying expensive advertising

or getting media coverage.

Here’s the problem, though: There are many people who still apply the old

rules of advertising and media relations to the new medium of the Web, and

fail miserably as a result. I am firmly convinced that we’re now in an environ-

ment governed by new rules, and this book is your guide to that (online)


Trying to Write Like a Blog, But in a BookAs the lines between marketing and PR on the Web have blurred so much as

to be virtually unrecognizable, the best media choice is often not as obvious

as in the old days. But I had to organize the book somehow, and I chose to


Introduction xxvii

E1FLAST02 11/26/2009 Page 28

create chapters for the various online media, including blogs, podcasts, on-

line forums, social networking, and so on. But the truth is that all these

tools and techniques intersect and complement one another. Some things

were difficult to place into a particular chapter, such as the discussion on RSS

(Really Simple Syndication). I moved that section four times before settling

on Chapter 13.

These online media are evolving very rapidly, and by the time you read

these words, I’ll no doubt come across new techniques that I’ll wish I could

have put in this second edition of the book. At the same time, I agree that the

fundamentals are important, which is why Chapter 10—where you’ll start to

develop your own online marketing and PR plan—is steeped in practical,

commonsense thinking.

The book is organized into three parts. Part I is a rigorous overview of how

the Web has changed the rules of marketing and PR. Part II introduces and

provides details about each of the various media, and Part III contains

detailed ‘‘how-to’’ information and an action plan to help you put the new

rules to work for your organization.

While I think this sequence is the most logical way to present these ideas,

there’s no reason why you shouldn’t flip from chapter to chapter in any order

that you please. Unlike a mystery novel, you won’t get lost in the story if you

skip around. And I certainly don’t want to waste your time. As I was writing, I

was wishing that I could link you (like in a blog) from one chapter to a part of

another chapter. Alas, a printed book doesn’t allow that, so instead I have

included suggestions where you might skip ahead or go back for review on

specific topics. Similarly, I have included hundreds of URLs as footnotes so

you can choose to visit the blogs, Web sites, and other online media that I

discuss that interest you. You’ll notice that I write in a familiar and casual

tone, rather than the formal and stilted way of many business books, because

I’m using my ‘‘blog voice’’ to share the new rules with you—I just think it

works better for you, the reader.

When I use the words company and organization throughout this book, I’m

including all types of organizations and individuals. Feel free to insert non-

profit, government agency, political candidate, church, school, sports team, pro-

fessional service person, or other entity in place of company and organization in

your mind. Similarly, when I use the word buyers, I also mean subscribers,

voters, volunteers, applicants, and donors, because the new rules work for

reaching all these groups. Are you a nonprofit organization that needs to

xxviii Introduction

E1FLAST02 11/26/2009 Page 29

increase donations? The new rules apply to you as much as to a corporation.

Ditto for political campaigns looking for votes, schools that want to increase

applicants, consultants searching for business, and churches hunting for new


This book will show you the new rules and how to apply them. For people

all over the world interacting on the Web, the old rules of marketing and PR

just don’t work. Today, all kinds of organizations communicate directly with

their buyers online. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project,

the Internet is now used by 1.6 billion people worldwide, with another billion

expected to be added soon.6 In order to reach the individuals online who

would be interested in their organization, smart marketers everywhere have

altered the way they think about marketing and PR.

Showcasing Innovative MarketersThe most exciting aspect of the book is that, throughout these pages, I have

the honor of showcasing some of the best examples of innovative marketers

building successful marketing and PR programs on the Web. One of the most

remarkable is that of Robert Scoble, who kindly shared his story about Micro-

soft in the Foreword to the book. Thank you, Robert. There are nearly 50

other profiles throughout the book, much of them in the marketers’ own

words drawn from my interviews with them that bring the concepts to life.

You’ll learn from people at Fortune 500 companies and at businesses with

just a handful of employees. These companies make products ranging from

racing bicycles to jet helicopters and from computer software to hamburgers.

Some of the organizations are well-known to the public, while others are fa-

mous only in their market niche. I profile nonprofit organizations, political

advocacy groups, and citizens supporting potential candidates for political

office. I tell the stories of independent consultants, churches, rock bands, and

lawyers, all of whom successfully use the Web to reach their target audiences.

I can’t thank enough the people who shared their time with me on the phone

and in person. I’m sure you’ll agree that they are the stars of the book.

As you read the stories of successful marketers, remember that you will

learn from them even if they come from a very different market, industry, or

type of organization than your own. Nonprofits can learn from the


Introduction xxix

E1FLAST02 11/26/2009 Page 30

experiences of corporations. Consultants will gain insight from the success of

rock bands. In fact, I’m absolutely convinced that you will learn more by

emulating successful ideas from outside your industry than by copying what

your nearest competitor is doing. Remember, the best thing about new rules

is that your competitors probably don’t know about them yet.


[email protected]

xxx Introduction

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IHow the Web HasChanged theRules ofMarketing and PR

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E1C01 11/26/2009 Page 3

1The Old Rules ofMarketing and PR AreIneffective in anOnline World

Several times in the past few years, I have thought about buying a new car.

As with hundreds of millions of other consumers, the Web is my primary

source of information when considering a purchase, so I sat down at the com-

puter and began poking around. Figuring they were the natural place to begin

my research, I started with the big three automaker sites. That was a big mis-

take. At all three, I was assaulted on the home page with a barrage of TV-style

broadcast advertising. And all the one-way messages focused on price. At

Ford,1 the headlines screamed, ‘‘Model Year Clearance! 0% financing! 0 for

gas!’’ Chrysler2 announced a similar offer: ‘‘Get employee pricing plus 0%

financing!’’ And over at GM,3 they were having a ‘‘72-hour sale!’’ I’m not plan-

ning to buy a car within 72 hours, thank you. I may not even buy one within

72 days! I’m just kicking the virtual tires. All three of these sites assume that

I’m ready to buy a car right now. But I actually just wanted to learn something.

Although I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, I was sort of thinking about

a compact SUV. Only GM offered a way to check out all of the company’s SUV

models in one place. To learn about all the Ford products, I had to go to the

Ford, Mercury, and other brand sites separately, even though each brand is

owned by Ford. These individual sites were no better help to me, a person

who was considering a new car purchase possibly many months in the future.


E1C01 11/26/2009 Page 4

Sure, I got flash-video TV commercials, pretty pictures, and low financing

offers on these sites, but little else.

I looked around for some personality on these sites and didn’t find much,

because the automaker web sites portray their organizations as nameless,

faceless corporations. In fact, the three sites are so similar that they’re effec-

tively interchangeable. I want to know about the people behind the cars! I’d

love to meet the designers and maybe find out how they chose that weird

shade of purple for my latest GM rental car. What I really wanted to ask is

this: ‘‘Are there any real people at these auto companies?’’

At each site, I felt as if I was being marketed to with a string of messages

that had been developed in a lab or via focus groups. It just didn’t feel au-

thentic. If I wanted to see TV car ads, I would have flipped on the TV. I was

struck with the odd feeling that all of the big three automakers’ sites were

designed and built by the same Madison Avenue ad guy. These sites were

advertising to me, not building a relationship with me. They were luring

me in with one-way messages, not educating me about the companies’ prod-

ucts. Guess what? When I arrive at a site, you don’t need to grab my atten-

tion; you already have it!

Automakers have become addicted to the crack cocaine of marketing: big

budget TV commercials and other offline advertising. Everywhere I turn, I see

an automobile ad that makes me think ‘‘This has got to be really freakin’

expensive.’’ The television commercials, the ‘‘sponsored by’’ stuff, and other

high-ticket Madison Avenue marketing might make you feel good, but is it

effective? These days, when people are thinking of buying a car (or any other

product or service), they usually go to the Web first! Hey, even my mother

does it! When people come to you online, they are not looking for TV com-

mercials. They are looking for information to help them make a decision.

Here’s the good news: I did find some terrific places on the Web to learn

about compact SUVs. Unfortunately, the places where I got authentic con-

tent and where I became educated and where I interacted with humans just

aren’t part of the big three automakers’ sites. Edmunds’s cool Car Space,4

a free consumer-driven social networking and personal page site with fea-

tures such as photo albums, user groups based on make and model of car,

and favorite links, was excellent in helping me narrow down choices. For

example, in the forums, I could read more than 2,000 messages just on the


4 How the Web Has Changed the Rules of Marketing and PR

E1C01 11/26/2009 Page 5

Toyota FJ Cruiser. I could see pages where owners showed off their vehi-

cles. This is where I was making my decision, dozens of clicks removed from

the big automaker sites.

Since I first wrote about automaker sites on my blog, hundreds of people

jumped in to comment or email me with their similar car shopping experien-

ces and frustrations with automaker web sites. Something is seriously broken

in the automobile business if so many people are unable to find, directly on a

company site, the information they need to make a purchase decision. And it’s

not just automakers.

I’d like to pause here a moment for a clarification. When I talk about the

new rules and compare them to the old rules, I don’t mean to suggest that all

organizations immediately drop their existing marketing and PR programs

and use this book’s ideas exclusively. Moreover, I’m not of the belief that the

only marketing worth doing is on the Web. If your newspaper advertise-

ments, Yellow Page listings, media outreach programs, and other programs

are working for you, that’s great! Please keep going! There is room in many

marketing and PR programs for traditional techniques.

That being said, there’s no doubt that, today, people solve problems by

turning to the Web. (Just consider your own habits. How do you research

products and services?) If your organization isn’t present and engaged in the

places and at the times that your buyers are, then you’re losing out on poten-

tial business—no matter how successful your offline marketing program is.

Worse, if you are trying to apply the game plan that works in your main-

stream-media-based advertising and PR programs to your online ones, you

will not be successful.

Ask yourself this simple question: How are my existing advertising and media

relations programs working?

Prior to the Web, organizations had only two significant choices to attract

attention: Buy expensive advertising or get third-party ink from the media.

But the Web has changed the rules. The Web is not TV. Organizations that

understand the New Rules of Marketing and PR develop relationships

directly with consumers like you and me.

The Old Rules of Marketing and PR Are Ineffective in an Online World 5

E1C01 11/26/2009 Page 6

Advertising: A Money Pit of WastedResourcesIn the old days, traditional, nontargeted advertising via newspapers, maga-

zines, radio, television, and direct mail were the only ways to go. But these

media make targeting specific buyers with individualized messages very diffi-

cult. Yes, advertising is still used for megabrands with broad reach and proba-

bly still works for some organizations and products (though not as well as

before). Guys watching football on TV drink a lot of beer, so perhaps it makes

sense for mass-marketer Budweiser to advertise on NFL broadcasts (but not

for small microbrews that appeal to a small niche audience). Advertising also

works in many trade publications. If your company makes deck sealant, then

you probably want to advertise in Professional Deck Builder Magazine to reach

your professional buyers (but that won’t allow you to reach the do-it-yourself

market). If you run a local real estate agency in a smaller community, it might

make sense to do a direct mailing to all of the homeowners there (but that

won’t let you reach people who might be planning to move to your commu-

nity from another location).

However, for millions of other organizations, for the rest of us who are pro-

fessionals, musicians, artists, nonprofit organizations, churches, and niche

product companies, traditional advertising is generally so wide and broad that

it is ineffective. Big media advertising buys may work for products with mass

appeal and wide distribution. Famous brands carried in national chain stores

come to mind as examples, as do blockbuster movies shown on thousands of

screens. But a great strategy for Procter & Gamble, Paramount Pictures, and

the Republican U.S. presidential candidate—reaching large numbers of people

with a message of broad national appeal—just doesn’t work for niche prod-

ucts, local services, and specialized nonprofit organizations.

The Web has opened a tremendous opportunity to reach niche buyers

directly with targeted messages that cost a fraction of what big-budget

advertising costs.

6 How the Web Has Changed the Rules of Marketing and PR

E1C01 11/26/2009 Page 7

One-Way Interruption Marketing IsYesterday’s MessageA primary technique of what Seth Godin calls the TV-industrial complex5 is

interruption. Under this system, advertising agency creative people sit in hip

offices dreaming up ways to interrupt people so that they pay attention to a

one-way message. Think about it: You’re watching your favorite TV show, so

the advertiser’s job is to craft a commercial to get you to pay attention, when

you’d really rather be doing something else, like quickly grabbing some ice

cream before the show resumes. You’re reading an interesting article in a mag-

azine, so the ads need to jolt you into reading the ad instead of the article. Or,

you’re flying on U.S. Airways from Boston to Philadelphia (which I frequently

do), and 20 minutes or so after takeoff, the airline deems it important to in-

terrupt your nap with a loud advertisement announcing vacation destinations

in the Caribbean. The idea in all of these examples is that advertising, in all

forms, has traditionally relied on getting prospects to stop what they are

doing and pay attention to a message.

Moreover, the messages in advertising are product-focused one-way spin.

Forced to compete with new marketing on the Web that is centered on inter-

action, information, education, and choice, advertisers can no longer break

through with dumbed-down broadcasts about their wonderful products.

With the average person now seeing hundreds of seller-spun commercial

messages per day, people just don’t trust advertising. We turn it off in our

minds, if we notice it at all.

Before the Web, good advertising people were well versed in the tools and

techniques of reaching broad markets with lowest-common denominator

messages via interruption techniques. Advertising was about great ‘‘creative


The Web is different. Instead of one-way interruption, Web marketing is

about delivering useful content at just the precise moment that a buyer

needs it.

The Old Rules of Marketing and PR Are Ineffective in an Online World 7

E1C01 11/26/2009 Page 8

work.’’ Unfortunately, many companies rooted in these old ways desperately

want the Web to be like TV, because they understand how TV advertising

works. Advertising agencies that excel in creative TV ads simply believe they

can transfer their skills to the Web.

They are wrong. They are following outdated rules.

The Old Rules of Marketing� Marketing simply meant advertising (and branding).

� Advertising needed to appeal to the masses.

� Advertising relied on interrupting people to get them to pay attention to

a message.

� Advertising was one-way: company-to-consumer.

� Advertising was exclusively about selling products.

� Advertising was based on campaigns that had a limited life.

� Creativity was deemed the most important component of advertising.

� It was more important for the ad agency to win advertising awards than

for the client to win new customers.

� Advertising and PR were separate disciplines run by different people

with separate goals, strategies, and measurement criteria.

Public Relations Used to Be Exclusivelyabout the MediaI’m a contributing editor at EContent magazine, as a result of which I receive

hundreds of broadcast e-mail press releases per month from well-meaning PR

people who want me to write about their widgets. Guess what? In five years, I

have never written about a company because of a nontargeted broadcast press

release that somebody sent me. Something like 25,000 press releases have

None of this is true anymore. The Web has transformed the rules, and you

must transform your marketing to make the most of the Web-enabled

marketplace of ideas.

8 How the Web Has Changed the Rules of Marketing and PR

E1C01 11/26/2009 Page 9

been sent to me, resulting in no stories. Discussions I’ve had with journalists

in other industries confirm that I’m not the only one who doesn’t use un-

solicited press releases. Instead, I think about a subject that I want to cover in

a column or an article, and I check out what I can find on blogs and through

search engines. If I find a press release on the subject through Google News or

a company’s online media room, great! But I don’t wait for press releases to

come to me. Rather, I go looking for interesting topics, products, people, and

companies. And when I do feel ready to write a story, I might try out a con-

cept on my blog first, to see how it flies. Does anyone comment on it? Do any

PR people jump in and e-mail me?

There’s another amazing thing: In five years, only a tiny number of PR peo-

ple have commented on my blog or reached out to me as a result of a blog

post or story I’ve written in a magazine. How difficult can it be to read the

blogs of the reporters you’re trying to pitch? It teaches you precisely what

interests them. And then you can e-mail them with something interesting

that they are likely to write about rather than spamming them with un-

solicited press releases. When I don’t want to be bothered, I get hundreds

of press releases a week. But when I do want feedback and conversation,

I get silence.

Something’s very wrong in PR land.

Public Relations and Third-Party InkPublic relations was once an exclusive club. PR people used lots of jargon

and followed strict rules. If you weren’t part of the in crowd, PR seemed

like an esoteric and mysterious job that required lots of training, sort of

like being a space shuttle astronaut or court stenographer. PR people occu-

pied their time by writing press releases targeted exclusively to reporters

and editors and by schmoozing with those same reporters and editors.

And then they crossed their fingers and hoped (‘‘Oh, please write about

me . . . ’’) that the media would give them some ink or some airtime. The

Reporters and editors use the Web to seek out interesting stories, people,

and companies. Will they find you?

The Old Rules of Marketing and PR Are Ineffective in an Online World 9

E1C01 11/26/2009 Page 10

end result of their efforts—the ultimate goal of PR in the old days—was

the clip that proved they had done their job. Only the best PR people had

personal relationships with the media and could pick up the phone and

pitch a story to the reporter for whom they had bought lunch the month

before. Prior to 1995, outside of paying big bucks for advertising or work-

ing with the media, there just weren’t any significant options for a com-

pany to tell its story to the world.

Yes, the Media Are Still ImportantAllow me to pause for a moment to say that the mainstream and trade media

are still important components of a great public relations program. On my

blog and on the speaking circuit, I’ve sometimes been accused of suggesting

that the media are no longer relevant. That is not my position. The media are

critically important for many organizations. A positive story in Rolling Stone

propels a rock band to fame. An article in the Wall Street Journal brands a

company as a player. A consumer product talked about on the Today Show

gets noticed. In many niche markets and vertical industries, trade magazines

and journals help decide which companies are important. However, I do be-

lieve that, while these outlets are all vital aspects of an overall PR program,

there are easier and more efficient ways to reach your buyers. And here’s

something really neat: If you do a good job telling your story directly, the

media will find out. And then they will write about you!

Public relations work has changed. PR is no longer just an esoteric disci-

pline where great efforts are spent by companies to communicate exclusively

to a handful of reporters who then tell the company’s story, generating a

clip for the PR people to show their bosses. Now, great PR includes programs

to reach buyers directly. The Web allows direct access to information about

your products, and smart companies understand and use this phenomenal

resource to great advantage.

This is not true anymore. The Web has changed the rules. Today,

organizations are communicating directly with buyers.

10 How the Web Has Changed the Rules of Marketing and PR

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Press Releases and the JournalisticBlack HoleIn the old days, a press release was actually a release to the press, so

these documents evolved as an esoteric and stylized way for companies to

issue ‘‘news’’ to reporters and editors. Because it was assumed that nobody

saw the actual press release except a handful of reporters and editors,

these documents were written with the media’s existing understanding in


In a typical case, a tiny audience of several dozen media people got a

steady stream of product releases from a company. The reporters and editors

were already well versed on the niche market, so the company supplied very

little background information. Jargon was rampant. What’s the news?, jour-

nalists would think as they perused the release. Oh, here it is—the company

just announced the Super Techno Widget Plus with a New Scalable and Robust

Architecture. But while this might mean something to a trade magazine jour-

nalist, it is just plain gobbledygook to the rest of the world. Since press re-

leases are now seen by millions of people who are searching the Web for

solutions to their problems, these old rules are obsolete.

The Old Rules of PR� The only way to get ink and airtime was through the media.

� Companies communicated to journalists via press releases.

� Nobody saw the actual press release except a handful of reporters and


� Companies had to have significant news before they were allowed to

write a press release.

� Jargon was okay because the journalists all understood it.

The Internet has made public relations public again, after years of almost

exclusive focus on media. Blogs, online video, news releases, and other

forms of Web content let organizations communicate directly with buyers.

The Old Rules of Marketing and PR Are Ineffective in an Online World 11

E1C01 11/26/2009 Page 12

� You weren’t supposed to send a release unless it included quotes from

third parties, such as customers, analysts, and experts.

� The only way buyers would learn about the press release’s content was if

the media wrote a story about it.

� The only way to measure the effectiveness of press releases was through

‘‘clip books,’’ which noted each time the media deigned to pick up a

company’s release.

� PR and marketing were separate disciplines run by different people with

separate goals, strategies, and measurement techniques.

The vast majority of organizations don’t have instant access to mainstream

media for coverage of their products. People like you and me need to work

hard to be noticed in the online marketplace of ideas. By understanding how

the role of PR and the press release has changed, we can get our stories

known in that marketplace.

There are some exceptions. Very large companies, very famous people, and

governments might all still be able to get away with using the media exclu-

sively, but even that is doubtful. These name-brand people and companies

may be big enough, and their news just so compelling, that no effort is re-

quired of them. For these lucky few, the media may still be the primary


� If you are J.K. Rowling and you issued a press release about, say, a new

Harry Potter book, the news will be picked up by the media.

� If Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs announces the company’s new

iPhone at a trade show, the news will be picked up by the media.

� If Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie issue a press release about adopting an-

other baby, the news will be picked up by the media.

� If President Obama announces his pick to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Su-

preme Court, the news will be picked up by the media.

None of this is true anymore. The Web has transformed the rules, and you

must transform your PR strategies to make the most of the Web-enabled

marketplace of ideas.

12 How the Web Has Changed the Rules of Marketing and PR

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Learn to Ignore the Old RulesTo harness the power of the Web to reach buyers directly, you must ignore the

old rules. Public relations is not just about speaking through the media, al-

though the media remain an important component. Marketing is not just

about one-way broadcast advertising, although advertising can be part of an

overall strategy.

I’ve noticed that some marketing and PR professionals have a very difficult

time changing old habits. These new ideas make people uncomfortable.

When I speak at conferences, people sometimes fold their arms in a defensive

posture and look down at their shoes. Naturally, marketing and PR people

who learned the old rules resist the new world of direct access. But I’ve also

noticed that many marketing executives, CEOs, entrepreneurs, enlightened

nonprofit executives, and professionals jump at the chance to tell stories di-

rectly. These people love the new way of communicating to buyers. Smart

marketers are bringing success to their organizations each and every day by

communicating through the Web.

Here’s how to tell if the new rules are right for you. Consider your goals for

communicating via marketing and public relations. Are you buying that Super

Bowl ad to score great tickets to the game? Are you designing a creative maga-

zine ad to win an award for your agency? Do you hope to create a book of

press clips from mainstream media outlets to show to your bosses? Does your

CEO want to be on TV? Are you doing PR to meet Oprah? If the answers to

these questions are ‘‘yes,’’ then the new rules (and this book) are not for you.

However, if you’re like millions of smart marketers whose goal is to com-

municate with buyers directly, then read on. If you’re working to make your

organization more visible online, then read on. If you want to drive people

into your company’s sales process so they actually buy something (or apply,

or donate, or join, or submit their name as a lead), then read on. I wrote this

book especially for you.

If you are smaller and less famous but have an interesting story to tell, you

need to tell it yourself. Fortunately, the Web is a terrific place to do so.

The Old Rules of Marketing and PR Are Ineffective in an Online World 13

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E1C02 11/26/2009 Page 15

2The New Rules ofMarketing and PR

Gerard Vroomen will tell you that he is an engineer, not a marketer. He

will tell you that the company he co-founded, Cerv�elo Cycles,1 does not

have any marketing experts. But Vroomen is wrong. Why? Because he is

obsessed with the buyers of his competition bikes and with the engineering-

driven product he offers them. He’s focused his company to help his custom-

ers win races—and they do. In the 2005 Tour de France, David Zabriskie rode

the fastest time trial in the race’s history on a Cerv�elo P3C at an average speed

of 54.676 kph (33.954 mph). As I write this, the Cerv�elo Pro Cycling Test-

Team is ranked the top team in the world. Vroomen also excels at using the

Web to tell cycling enthusiasts compelling stories, to educate them, to engage

them in conversation, and to entertain them. Because he uses Web content

in interesting ways and sells a bunch of bikes in the process, Vroomen is a

terrific marketer.

The Cerv�elo site works extremely well because it includes perfect content

for visitors who are ready to buy a bike and also for people who are just

browsing. The content is valuable and authentic compared to the marketing

messages that appear on so many other sites. On the Cerv�elo site, enthusi-

asts find detailed information about each model, bikes that can cost $3,000–

$5,000 or more. An online museum showcases production models dating

from the early days of the company and some interesting past prototypes.

Competitive cycling enthusiasts can sign up for an email newsletter, down-

load audio such as interviews with professional riders from the Cerv�elo Pro


E1C02 11/26/2009 Page 16

Cycling TestTeam, or check out the company blog. Cerv�elo Pro Cycling

TestTeam wins races, and you can follow the action on Cerv�elo’s Team

pages, which include news and bike race photos. Most recently, Cerv�elo

launched Cerv�, an online channel with product features, race reports,

and cycling celebrity interviews.

‘‘Our goal is education,’’ Vroomen says. ‘‘We have a technical product, and

we’re the most engineering-driven company in the industry. Most bike com-

panies don’t employ a single engineer, and we have eight. So we want to have

that engineering focus stand out with the content on the site. We don’t sell on

the newest paint job. So on the site, we’re not spending our time creating

fluff. Instead, we have a good set of content.’’

Ryan Patch is the sort of customer Cerv�elo wants to reach. An amateur

triathlon competitor on the Vortex Racing team, Patch says, ‘‘On the Cerv�elo

site I learned that Bobby Julich rides the same bike that is available to me.

And it’s not just that they are riding, but they are doing really well. I can see

how someone won the Giro de Italia on a Cerv�elo. That’s mind-blowing, that

I can get the same bike that the pros are riding. I can ride the same gear.

Cerv�elo has as much street cred as you can have with shaved legs.’’

Patch says that if you’re looking to buy a new bike, if you are a hard-core

consumer, then there is a great deal of detailed information on the Cerv�elo

site about the bikes’ technology, construction, and specs. ‘‘What I really like

about this web site is how it gives off the aura of legitimacy, being based in

fact, not fluff,’’ he says.

Vroomen writes all of the content for the Cerv�elo site himself, and the de-

sign work has been done by a moonlighting chiropractor. There’s a content

management tool built in, so Vroomen can update the site himself. You

wouldn’t call it a fancy site, but it works. ‘‘We get negative feedback from

Web designers about our site,’’ Vroomen says. ‘‘But we have great comments

from customers.’’

Search Engine Marketing is important for Cerv�elo. Because of the key-

word-rich cycling content available on the site, Vroomen says, Cerv�elo gets

the same amount of search engine traffic as many sites for bike companies

that are 10 times larger. Cerv�elo is growing very rapidly, but Vroomen is

quick to note that growth is not the result of any one thing. ‘‘We take as gos-

pel that people have to see the product five different ways [for us] to really get

the credibility.’’ Vroomen makes certain that his bikes are in front of people

many different ways, starting with search engines, so that they get those five

16 How the Web Has Changed the Rules of Marketing and PR

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exposures. ‘‘For example, they may see the bike on the site, on TV in a pro

race, at the dealer, and on a blog,’’ He says.

Vroomen says building out the Web marketing at Cerv�elo takes a lot of

time, but it is simple and cost effective. ‘‘This is the future for companies like

us,’’ he says. ‘‘You can be very small and occupy a niche and still sell your

products all over the world. It’s amazing when we go into a new country the

amount of name recognition we have. The Internet gives you opportunities

you never had before. And its not rocket science. It’s pretty easy to figure out.’’

The Long Tail of MarketingI’m a fan of Chris Anderson and his book, The Long Tail, and I followed, via

his blog, Anderson’s groundbreaking ideas about the Web’s economic shift

away from mainstream markets toward smaller niche products and services

well before his book was published in July 2006. There is no doubt that

Anderson’s thesis in The Long Tail is critically important for marketers:

The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increas-

ingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of ‘‘hits’’

(mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve

and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of produc-

tion and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to

lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an

era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks

of distribution, narrowly targeted goods and services can be as econom-

ically attractive as mainstream fare.2

Some of today’s most successful Internet businesses leverage the long tail

to reach underserved customers and satisfy demand for products not found

in traditional physical stores. Examples include Amazon, which makes avail-

able at the click of a mouse hundreds of thousands of books not stocked in

local chain stores; iTunes, a service that legally brings niche music not found

in record stores to people who crave artists outside the mainstream; and Net-

flix, which exploited the long tail of demand for movie rentals beyond the

blockbuster hits found at the local DVD rental shop. Anderson shows that


The New Rules of Marketing and PR 17

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the business implications of the long tail are profound and illustrates that

there’s much money to be made by creating and distributing at the long end

of the tail. Yes, hits are still important. But as the above businesses have

shown, there’s money to be made beyond Harry Potter, U2, and Pirates of

the Caribbean.

So, what about marketing? While Anderson’s book focuses on product

availability and selling models on the Web, the concepts apply equally well to

marketing. There’s no doubt that there is a long-tail market for Web content

created by organizations of all kinds—corporations, nonprofits, churches,

schools, individuals, rock bands—and used for reaching buyers—those who

buy, donate, join, apply—directly. As consumers search the Internet for

answers to their problems, as they browse blogs and chat rooms and web sites

for ideas, they are searching for what organizations like yours have to offer.

Unlike in the days of the old rules of interruption marketing with a main-

stream message, today’s consumers are looking for just the right product or

service to satisfy their unique desires at the precise moment they are online.

People are looking for what you have to offer right now.

As marketers understand the Web as a place to reach millions of micro-

markets with precise messages just at the point of consumption, the way

they create Web content changes dramatically. Instead of a one-size-fits-all

web site with a mass-market message, we need to create many different

microsites—with purpose-built landing pages and just-right content—each

aimed at a narrow target constituency. As marketing case studies, the exam-

ples of Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes are also fascinating. The techniques pio-

neered by the leaders of long-tail retail for reaching customers with niche

interests are examples of marketing genius.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know, has been optimized for browsing. At a broad level, there are just

two ways that people interact with Web content: They search and they

Marketers must shift their thinking from the short head of mainstream

marketing to the masses to a strategy of targeting vast numbers of

underserved audiences via the Web.

18 How the Web Has Changed the Rules of Marketing and PR

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browse. Most organizations optimize sites for searching, which helps people

answer their questions but doesn’t encourage them to browse. But people also

want a site to tell them something they didn’t think to ask. The marketers at

Amazon understand that when people browse the site, they may have a gen-

eral idea of what they want (in my case, perhaps a book for my daughter

about surfing), but not the particular title. So if I start with a search on

Amazon for the phrase ‘‘surfing for beginners,’’ I get 99 titles in the search

results. With this list as a starting point, I shift into browse mode, which is

where Amazon excels. Each title has a customer ranking where I instantly see

how other customers rated each book. I see reader-generated reviews together

with reviews from other media. I can see ‘‘Customers who bought this item

also bought’’ lists and also rankings of ‘‘What do customers ultimately buy

after viewing items like this?’’ I can check out customer tags (a way for con-

sumers to categorize a book to purchase later or to aid other consumers) on

the item or I can tag it myself. And I can poke around the contents of the

book itself. After I purchase the perfect book for my daughter (The Girl’s

Guide to Surfing), I might get an e-mail from Amazon weeks or months later

suggesting, based on this purchase, another book that I might find useful.

This is brilliant stuff.

The site is designed to work for a major and often-ignored audience: peo-

ple who do their own research and consider a decision over a period of time

before making a commitment. Smart marketers, like the folks at Amazon and

Cerv�elo, unlike those at the big three automakers we saw in Chapter 1, know

that the most effective Web strategies anticipate needs and provide content to

meet them, even before people know to ask.

Marketing on the Web is not about generic banner ads designed to

trick people with neon color or wacky movement. It is about understand-

ing the keywords and phrases that our buyers are using and then deploy-

ing micro-campaigns to drive buyers to pages replete with the content

that they seek.

Bricks-and-Mortar NewsThe new rules are just as important for public relations. In fact, I think that

online content in all of its forms is causing a convergence of marketing and

PR that does not really exist offline. When your buyer is on the Web browsing

for something, content is content in all of its manifestations. And in an inter-

connected Web world, content drives action.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR 19

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On the speaking circuit, I often hear people claim that online content such

as blogs and news releases is really good only for technology companies. They

believe that traditional bricks-and-mortar industries can’t make the strategy

work. But I’ve always disagreed. Great content brands an organization as a

trusted resource and calls people to action—to buy, subscribe, apply, or do-

nate. And great content means that interested people return again and again.

As a result, the organization succeeds, achieving goals such as adding reve-

nue, building traffic, gaining donations, or generating sales leads.

For instance, The Concrete Network3 provides information about residen-

tial concrete products and services and helps buyers and sellers connect with

each other. The company targets consumers and builders who might want to

plan and build a concrete patio, pool deck, or driveway—this audience makes

up the business-to-consumer (B2C) component of The Concrete Network—

as well as the concrete contractors who comprise the business-to-business

(B2B) component. The Concrete Network’s Find-A-Contractor4 service links

homeowners and builders who need a project done with contractors who spe-

cialize in 22 different services located in 221 metropolitan areas in both the

United States and Canada. The company’s Web content, combined with a

comprehensive direct-to-consumer news release strategy, drives business for

The Concrete Network. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Web content sells con-

crete! (You can’t get any more bricks-and-mortar than, well, mortar.)

‘‘The new rules of PR are that anybody who wants to be the leader has to

have news coming out,’’ says Jim Peterson, president of The Concrete Net-

work. The company’s ongoing PR program includes two direct-to-consumer

news releases per week; a series of articles on the site; free online catalogs for

categories such as countertops, pool decks, patios, and driveways; and photo

galleries for potential customers to check out what is available. As a result of

all of the terrific content, The Concrete Network gets more than ten times the

traffic of any other site in the concrete industry, according to Peterson. He

says that releases with headlines that are tied to holidays and educational re-

leases work best. If is for the Fourth of July holiday, it’s going to be about pool

decks, patios, or outdoor fireplaces or fire pits. News releases designed specif-

ically to sell haven’t done as well. ‘‘We ran a concrete furniture release on

April Fool’s Day that did really well,’’ Peterson says. The headline, Concrete


20 How the Web Has Changed the Rules of Marketing and PR

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Furniture? No April Fools with Concrete Tables, Benches, Bookcases and Even

Chairs, was written in news-story format. Peterson is very conscious of the

words and phrases that he uses in news releases and crafts them to reach spe-

cific niche targets. For example, ‘‘contemporary fireplace,’’ ‘‘fireplace mantel,’’

and ‘‘fireplace design’’ are important phrases to reach people who are in the

market for a fireplace. The news releases are all sent with beautiful news pho-

tos drawn from ‘‘Earth’s largest collection of decorative concrete photos’’ on

The Concrete Network. For example, Peterson can choose from dozens of

photos just of concrete patios.5

‘‘We know how many visitors reach us via the news releases, and it is simi-

lar to paid search engine marketing,’’ Peterson says, but at a lower cost. ‘‘We’re

also generating links from other sites that index the news releases, and there is a

media bonus, too, when we get mentioned in a story.’’ He adds that the site

averaged 550,000 visitors per month in 2005 and 850,000 in 2006. In 2009,

against a backdrop of an economic crisis and a dramatically slower construc-

tion market and 40 percent less searches in the concrete category, the site is

garnering over 1,000,000 visitors per month. Peterson expects traffic to explode

as the economy starts to improve. ‘‘Direct-to-consumer news releases are a big

part of the increased traffic. When you break it down, we’re spending about

twenty thousand dollars per year on news release distribution . . . . We see it

as another component of our marketing. Some businesses won’t want to spend

that, but they probably won’t be the leader in their marketplace.’’

Advice from the Company PresidentAs president of The Concrete Network, Peterson is that rare executive who

understands the power of content marketing, search engine optimization,

and direct-to-consumer news releases to reach buyers directly and drive busi-

ness. What is his advice to other company presidents and CEOs? ‘‘Every busi-

ness has information that can contribute to the education of the marketplace.

You need to ask yourself, ‘How can I get that information out there?’ You have

to have a bit longer view and have a sense of how your business will be better

down the line. For example, we created an entire series of buyer guides,

because we knew that they would be valuable to the market. You need to

think about how a series of one hundred news releases over two years will


The New Rules of Marketing and PR 21

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benefit your business and then commit to it, understanding that nothing is

an overnight thing.’’

Peterson also suggests getting help from an expert to get started with a

program. ‘‘Don’t sit there and leave this [as] just a part of your list of good

intentions,’’ he says. ‘‘Businesses will live or die on original content. If you are

creating truly useful content for customers, you’re going to be seen in a great

light and with a great spirit—you’re setting the table for new business. But the

vast majority of businesses don’t seem to care. At The Concrete Network,

we’re on a mission. Get down to the essence of what your product solves and

write good stories about that and publish them online.’’

You’ve got to love it. If content sells concrete, content can sell what you

have to offer, too!

The Long Tail of PRIn PR, it’s not about clip books. It’s about reaching our buyers.

I was vice president of marketing and PR for two publicly traded compa-

nies and I’ve done it the old way. It doesn’t work anymore. But the new rules

do work—really well.

Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars per month on a media

relations program that tries to convince a handful of reporters at select maga-

zines, newspapers, and TV stations to cover us, we should be targeting the

plugged-in bloggers, online news sites, micro-publications, public speakers,

analysts, and consultants that reach the targeted audiences that are looking

for what we have to offer. Better yet, we no longer even need to wait for some-

one with a media voice to write about us at all. With social media, we com-

municate directly with our audience, bypassing the media filter completely.

We have the power to create our own media brand in the niche of our own

choosing. It’s about being found on Google and Yahoo! and vertical sites and

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. Instead of writing press releases only

when we have ‘‘big news’’—releases that reach only a handful of journalists—

we should be writing releases that highlight our expert ideas and stories,

and we should be distributing them so that our buyers can find them on the

news search engines and vertical content sites.

To succeed in long-tail marketing and PR, we need to adopt different crite-

ria for success. In the book world, everyone says, ‘‘If I can only get on Oprah,

I’ll be a success.’’ Sure, I’d like to be on Oprah too. But instead of focusing

22 How the Web Has Changed the Rules of Marketing and PR

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countless (and probably fruitless) hours on a potential blockbuster of a TV

appearance, wouldn’t it be a better strategy to have lots of people reviewing

your book in smaller publications that reach the specific audiences that buy

books like yours? Oprah is a longshot, but right now bloggers would love to

hear from you. Oprah must ignore 100 books a day, but bloggers run to their

mailbox to see what interesting things might be in there (trust me, I know

from experience). Sure, it would be great to have our businesses profiled in

Fortune or BusinessWeek. But instead of putting all of our public relations

efforts into that one potential PR blockbuster (a mention in the major busi-

ness press), wouldn’t it be better to get dozens of the most influential bloggers

and analysts to tell our story directly to the niche markets that are looking for

what we have to offer?

The New Rules of Marketing and PRIf you’ve been nodding your head excitedly while reading about what some of

these companies are up to, then the new rules are for you. In the next chapter,

I offer interesting case studies of companies that have been successful with

the new rules. In each case example, I’ve interviewed a particular person

from that organization so we can learn directly from them. Following are

chapters on specific areas of online content (such as blogging, online video,

news releases) and then more detailed how-to chapters. But before we move

on, let me explicitly state the New Rules of Marketing and PR that we’ll discuss

throughout the rest of the book:

� Marketing is more than just advertising.

� PR is for more than just a mainstream media audience.

� You are what you publish.

� People want authenticity, not spin.

� People want participation, not propaganda.

� Instead of causing one-way interruption, marketing is about delivering

content at just the precise moment your audience needs it.

� Marketers must shift their thinking from mainstream marketing to the

masses to a strategy of reaching vast numbers of underserved audiences

via the Web.

� PR is not about your boss seeing your company on TV. It’s about your

buyers seeing your company on the Web.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR 23

E1C02 11/26/2009 Page 24

� Marketing is not about your agency winning awards. It’s about your

organization winning business.

� The Internet has made public relations public again, after years of

almost exclusive focus on media.

� Companies must drive people into the purchasing process with great

online content.

� Blogs, online video, e-books, news releases, and other forms of online

content let organizations communicate directly with buyers in a form

they appreciate.

� On the Web, the lines between marketing and PR have blurred.

The Convergence of Marketing andPR on the WebAs I originally wrote this list and edited it down, I was struck by how impor-

tant one particular concept was to any successful online strategy to reach

buyers directly: this concept is the convergence of marketing and PR. In an

offline world, marketing and PR are separate departments with different peo-

ple and different skill sets, but this is not the case on the Web. What’s the

difference between what Amazon, iTunes, and Netflix are doing to reach cus-

tomers via online marketing and what The Concrete Network does with di-

rect-to-consumer news releases? There’s not much difference. How is the

news that Cerv�elo Cycles creates itself and posts on the site different from a

story on Bicycling magazine’s web site? It isn’t. And when a buyer is research-

ing your product category by using a search engine, does it really matter if the

first exposure is a hit on your web site, or a news release your organization

sent, or a magazine article, or a post on your blog? I’d argue that it doesn’t

matter. Whereas I presented two separate lists for The Old Rules of Marketing

and The Old Rules of PR, now there is just one set of rules: The New Rules of

Marketing and PR. Great content in all forms helps buyers see that you and

your organization ‘‘get it.’’ Content drives action.

24 How the Web Has Changed the Rules of Marketing and PR

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3Reaching Your BuyersDirectly

The frustration of relying exclusively on the media and expensive advertis-

ing to deliver your organization’s messages is long gone. Yes, mainstream

media is still important, but today smart marketers craft compelling informa-

tion and tell the world directly via the Web. The tremendous expense of rely-

ing on advertising to convince buyers to pay attention to your organization,

ideas, products, and services is yesterday’s headache.

Chip McDermott founded ZeroTrash Laguna1 as a nonprofit organization

to rid the streets and beaches of Laguna Beach, CA, of trash. Population and

tourism had exploded, and the city had not kept up in providing a sufficient

infrastructure for public trash and recycling. McDermott used the Web to

rally the community with a grassroots movement.

‘‘The spark of the idea in 2007 was that trash was becoming commonplace

on the streets and the sidewalks of Laguna Beach,’’ McDermott says. ‘‘We

started to tackle the problem with a Facebook2 fan page for ZeroTrash Laguna

and quickly built it to hundreds of members.’’

People use the ZeroTrash Facebook page to organize events and to connect

local storeowners with residents. Facebook was instrumental in launching

the ZeroTrash ‘‘First Saturday’’ movement, where storeowners and volunteers

walk the city and pick up trash on the first Saturday of each month. The

storeowners love it because people support local stores and keep the shop-

ping areas clean. In turn, McDermott has tapped storeowners as sponsors


E1C03 12/04/2009 Page 26

who fund the purchase of supplies and tools like trash pickers, T-shirts, trash

bags, and gloves.

McDermott also started the ZeroTrash blog3, and he’s on Twitter4 as well.

The social media sites serve to keep people updated about what ZeroTrash is

up to. For example, on a recent First Saturday, the Laguna Beach community

helped to remove another 590 pounds of trash and 375 pounds of recyclables

from the streets; McDermott used the social media sites to report these totals

to interested people.

He has high hopes for the organization, including ambitions to spread the

movement beyond Laguna Beach. ‘‘We want people to take individual owner-

ship of each new local ZeroTrash community,’’ he says. ‘‘How can they get

people with a passion to take control and start in their own communities?

The obvious answer is to use social media to influence people.’’

There’s no doubt that getting the word out about an idea, a product, or a

service is much simpler when you can rely on social media sites like

blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. The Web allows any organization—including

nonprofits like ZeroTrash Laguna as well as companies large and small,

candidates for public office, government agencies, schools, artists and even

job seekers—to reach buyers directly. This power is clear to nearly every-

one these days, but many executives and entrepreneurs still struggle to

find the right mix of traditional advertising and direct communication

with buyers.

The Right Marketing in a Wired WorldCentury 21 Real Estate LLC5 is the franchisor of the world’s largest residential

real estate sales organization, an industry giant comprising approximately

8,000 offices in 45 countries. The company had been spending on television

advertising for years but, in a significant strategy change, pulled its national

television advertising in 2009 and invested those resources into online


Wow! I’ve seen Century 21 TV ads for years. We’re talking millions of dol-

lars shifting from TV to the Web. This is a big deal.


26 How the Web Has Changed the Rules of Marketing and PR

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‘‘We are moving our advertising investments to the mediums that have the

greatest relevance to our target buyers and sellers, and to where the return on

our investment is most significant,’’ says Bev Thorne, chief marketing officer

at Century 21. ‘‘In 2008, we found that our online investments provided a

return that was substantively higher than our more traditional TV media


Thorne and her team learned that people who are in the market to buy or

sell a home rely heavily on the Web and that the closer they get to a real estate

transaction, the more they use online resources. ‘‘We are beginning to

embrace LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Active Rain, and others,’’ Thorne says.

‘‘YouTube is already a central component of our activities, and we seek to uti-

lize it even more.’’

Many companies spending large amounts of money on television advertis-

ing (and other offline marketing such as direct mail, magazine and newspaper

advertising, and Yellow Page listings) are afraid to make even partial moves

away from their comfort zones and into online marketing and social media.

But the evidence describing how people actually research products over-

whelmingly suggests that companies must tell their stories and spread their

ideas online, at the precise moment that potential buyers are searching for


It’s an exciting time to be a marketer no matter what business you’re in. We

have been liberated from relying exclusively on buying access through adver-

tising or convincing mainstream media to talk us up. Now we can publish

information on the Web that people are eager to pay attention to.

Let the World Know about Your ExpertiseAll people and organizations possess the power to elevate themselves on the

Web to a position of importance. In the new e-marketplace of ideas, organiza-

tions highlight their expertise in various forms such as great web sites, pod-

casts, blogs, e-books, and online news releases that focus on buyers’ needs.

All these media allow organizations to deliver the right information to buyers,

right at the point when they are most receptive to the information. The tools

at our disposal as marketers are Web-based media to deliver our own

thoughtful and informative content via web sites, blogs, e-books, white

papers, images, photos, audio content, and video, and even things like prod-

uct placement, games, and virtual reality. We also have the ability to interact

Reaching Your Buyers Directly 27

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and participate in conversations that other people begin on social media sites

like Twitter, blogs, chat rooms, and forums. What links all of these techniques

together is that organizations of all types behave like publishers, creating con-

tent that people are eager to consume. Organizations gain credibility and loy-

alty with buyers through content, and smart marketers now think and act like

publishers in order to create and deliver content targeted directly at their


Jeff Ernst, vice president of marketing at Kadient, helps sell a complex

business-to-business product that is not easy to explain but provides tremen-

dous value to the sales teams that use it. The company develops software that

gives salespeople important information and guidance, specific to the sales

opportunities they are managing and the people they are selling to. Ernst

shared his expertise with the world by publishing an e-book called The New

Rules of Sales Enablement: How to Stop Sabotaging Your Sales Teams and Start

Empowering Them for Success.6 In it, he articulates how the old model of a

salesperson as a lone cowboy gunning for deals just isn’t as successful these

days; instead, he argues, sales teams must work together to share knowledge

of what works. Of course, it just so happens that Kadient’s tool is one that can

help, but it’s important to note that Ernst’s e-book was more than just a sales

pitch. By thinking like a publisher and creating valuable information to reach

his buyers (sales managers in large organizations), Ernst has reached tens of

thousands of people with his e-book. The result has been many engaged read-

ers who want to learn more about Kadient. And—best of all—except for some

outside help to design the e-book, this kind of online publishing is free.

Develop Information Your BuyersWant to ConsumeCompanies with large budgets can’t wait to spend the big bucks on slick TV

advertisements. It’s like commissioning artwork. TV ads make marketing peo-

ple at larger companies feel good. But broadcast advertisements dating from

the time of the TV-industrial complex don’t work so well anymore. When

we had three networks and no cable, it was different. In the time-shifted,

multichannel, Webcentric world of the long tail, YouTube, TiVo, and blogs,

spending big bucks on TV ads is like commissioning a portrait back in


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the nineteenth century: It might make you feel good, but does it bring in

any money?

Instead of deploying huge budgets for dumbed-down TV commercials that

purport to speak to the masses and therefore appeal to nobody, we need to

think about the information that our niche audiences want to hear. Why not

build content specifically for these niche audiences and tell them an online

story about your product, a story that is created especially for them? Once

marketers and PR people tune their brains to think about niches, they begin

to see opportunities for being more effective at delivering their organization’s


Buyer Personas: The BasicsSmart marketers understand buyers, and many build formal ‘‘buyer per-

sonas’’ for their target demographics. (I discuss buyer personas in detail in

Chapter 10.) It can be daunting for many of us to consider who, exactly, is

visiting our site. But if we break the buyers into distinct groups and then

catalog everything we know about each one, we make it easier to create con-

tent targeted to each important demographic. For example, a college web

site usually has the goal of keeping alumni happy so that they donate money

to their alma mater on a regular basis. A college might have two buyer per-

sonas for alumni: young (those who graduated within the past 10 or 15

years) and older alumni. Universities also have a goal of recruiting students

by driving them into the application process. The effective college site might

have a buyer persona for the high school student who is considering college.

But since the parents of the prospective student have very different informa-

tion needs, the site designers might build another buyer persona for parents.

A college also has to keep its existing customers (current students) happy. In

sum, that means a well-executed college site might target five distinct buyer

personas, with the goal of getting alumni to donate money, high school stu-

dents to complete the application process, and parents to make certain their

kids complete it. The goals for the current student aspects of the site might

be making certain they come back for another year, plus answering routine

questions so that staff time is not wasted.

By truly understanding the needs and the mindset of the five buyer per-

sonas, the college will be able to create appropriate content. Once you under-

stand the audience very well, then (and only then) you should set out to

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satisfy their informational needs by focusing on your buyers’ problems and

creating and delivering content accordingly. As mentioned earlier, web site

content too often simply describes what an organization or a product does

from an egotistical perspective. While information about your organization

and products is certainly valuable on the inner pages of your site, what visi-

tors really want is content that first describes the issues and problems they

face and then provides details on how to solve those problems. Once you’ve

built an online relationship, you can begin to offer potential solutions that

have been defined for each audience. After you’ve identified target audiences

and articulated their problems, content is your tool to show off your exper-

tise. Well organized Web content will lead your visitors through the sales cy-

cle all the way to the point when they are ready to make a purchase or other

commitment to your organization.

Understanding buyers and building an effective content strategy to reach

them is critical for success. And providing clear links from the content to the

place where action occurs is critical. Consider Mike Pedersen, who is widely

acknowledged as one of the leading golf fitness training experts in the United

States, having taught thousands of golfers the fitness approach to playing a

consistently great game of golf. Pedersen runs an online business providing

products to help golfers improve their game by getting in better shape. Peder-

sen’s site7 and his Perform Better Golf blog8 are chock full of content created

specifically for a narrow target market (buyer persona). ‘‘I write for the sixty-

year-old golfer who has rapidly declining physical capabilities,’’ says Pedersen.

‘‘I like to call it targeted content. When I write an article, I’m targeting a very

specific element of golf for my readers. The article might be targeted to a small

aspect of the golf swing, for example, and the guys I write for know how it can

help them.’’

Pedersen offers hundreds of free articles and tips on his site and blog, such

as ‘‘Golf-Specific Warm-ups’’ and ‘‘Golf Muscles Need to Be Strong and Flexi-

ble to Produce More Power in Your Golf Swing.’’ ‘‘Most golfers don’t prepare

their bodies before they play golf, and they aren’t able to play a good game,’’

he says. ‘‘I write to be easy to understand and offer exercises that help people

to prepare quickly and efficiently.’’ Each article includes multiple photos of

Pedersen illustrating how the exercises should be performed.


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Pedersen relies on search engines to drive much of his traffic, and his site is

number one on search engines for important phrases like ‘‘golf training.’’ He

also works with partners and affiliates, and he has been the featured fitness

expert for Golf magazine’s web site, generating even more traffic for his own

site. Pedersen says that the key to everything about his business is targeting

his buyers directly with content specifically for them. His focus on his buyer

persona of the older man who loves golf but is physically able to do less in his

declining years is relentless. ‘‘I rely on getting into the consumers’ mind and

feeling their pain and their frustration,’’ he says. ‘‘It is easy to write what I

think, but much more difficult to write about what my buyers are thinking.

With these guys, my target market, if they don’t do anything now, they physi-

cally can’t play the game that they love in future years. But I’m a forty-year-

old, really fit, healthy guy. If I just wrote for myself, I’d be shooting myself in

the foot because I’m not the target market.’’

Pedersen makes his money by selling products such as his Golf Fitness

Training System for $150 (the system includes DVDs, books, and manuals)

and membership in his online Golf Training Program. He also offers individ-

ual-topic DVDs and exercise supplies such as weighted golf clubs. At the bot-

tom of each article on the site, there is a clear path and a call to action. ‘‘I’m

diligent about links from every page both to something free and to the prod-

ucts page,’’ he says. For example, a recent offer read, ‘‘Do you want to learn

how your body is keeping you from a near perfect golf swing? Get my Free

Golf Fitness Ebook and find out!’’

When people register on the site for a free offer, they are added to Ped-

ersen’s 40,000-person e-mail list to get alerts on significant new content

added to the site and blog, as well as special offers. The majority of e-mail

messages he sends are alerts about new content and contain no sales pitch

at all. ‘‘I know that if I provide valuable content, then I’ll get more sales,’’

Pedersen says.

Think Like a PublisherThe new publishing model on the Web is not about hype and spin and mes-

sages. It is about delivering content when and where it is needed and, in the

process, branding you or your organization as a leader. When you understand

your audience, those people who will become your buyers (or those who will

join, donate, subscribe, apply, volunteer, or vote), you can craft an editorial

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and content strategy just for them. What works is a focus on your buyers and

their problems. What fails is an egocentric display of your products and


In order to implement a successful strategy, think like a publisher. Market-

ers at the organizations successfully using the new rules recognize the fact

that they are now purveyors of information, and they manage content as a

valuable asset with the same care that a publishing company does. One of the

most important things that publishers do is start with a content strategy and

then focus on the mechanics and design of delivering that content. Publishers

carefully identify and define target audiences and consider what content is

required in order to meet their needs. Publishers consider all of the following

questions: Who are my readers? How do I reach them? What are their moti-

vations? What are the problems I can help them solve? How can I entertain

them and inform them at the same time? What content will compel them to

purchase what I have to offer?

Tell Your Organization’s Story DirectlyVictor Konshin, the author of the top book on gout, Beating Gout: A Sufferer’s

Guide to Living Pain Free, provides valuable information for gout sufferers on

his Beating Gout site.9 He provides what he says is the most accurate informa-

tion about gout available anywhere on the Internet, all of it focused on solv-

ing the problems of his buyers: gout patients and and their families.

Unlike so many other web sites, Beating Gout is not just a big online

brochure. The people who create product-centric, brochure-like sites really

miss out on an opportunity to educate and inform their potential custom-

ers. When visitors receive something of value, as they do on Beating Gout,

they become eager to do business with the company that helped and edu-

cated them.

Prior to creating his content-centric site, Konshin had a basic site to pro-

mote his book. ‘‘I had been disappointed with the lack of attention that my

site was getting both from customers and the media,’’ he says.

The new site delivers information with headlines such as ‘‘Gout, the forgot-

ten disease’’; ‘‘The Impact of Gout on Your Quality-of-Life, Finances,

and Family’’; and ‘‘Kidney Stones, a Gout Early Warning?’’ Each of the


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information-packed posts is ranked highly by search engines such as Google,

greatly increasing the traffic to his site while decreasing the bounce rate (fre-

quency of one page views) by about 60 percent.

‘‘My site has been coming up in much higher position in search results,’’

Konshin says. ‘‘For example, my site used to come up on the third or fourth

search page for the phrase ‘gout myths,’ but it is now at the top of the first

page. In the past I was afraid to give away content; now I realize customers

reward you for it.’’

Another measure that Konshin monitors is his book’s Amazon ranking.

Since he launched his new site, Beating Gout has consistently been the top

book on gout. The bottom line is that Konshin is selling a lot more books

as a result of his creation of an information-rich resource for buyers. What

about you? If you have a product-centric site, can you transform it into a

buyer-centric one?

Know the Goals and Let ContentDrive ActionOn the speaking circuit and via my blog, I am often asked to critique market-

ing programs, web sites, and blogs. My typical responses, ‘‘What’s the goal?’’

and ‘‘What problems do you solve for your buyers?’’ often throw people off.

It is amazing that so many marketers don’t have established goals for their

marketing programs and for web sites and blogs in particular. And they often

cannot articulate who their buyers are and what problems they solve for them.

An effective Web marketing and PR strategy that delivers compelling con-

tent to buyers gets them to take action. (You will learn more about developing

your own marketing and PR strategy in Chapter 10.)

Companies that understand the new rules of marketing and PR have a

clearly defined business goal—to sell products, to generate contributions, or

to get people to vote or join. These successful organizations aren’t focused on

the wrong goals, things like press clips and advertising awards. At successful

organizations, news releases, blogs, web sites, video, and other content draw

visitors into the sales-consideration cycle, then funnel them toward the place

where action occurs. The goal is not hidden, and it is easy for buyers to find

the way to take the next step. When content effectively drives action, the next

step of the sales process—an e-commerce company’s ‘‘products’’ button, the

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B2B corporation’s ‘‘white paper download’’ form, or a nonprofit’s ‘‘donate’’

link— are easy to find.

Working from the perspective of the company’s desire for revenue growth

and customer retention (the goals), rather than focusing on made-up metrics

for things like leads and web site traffic, yields surprising changes in the typi-

cal marketing plan and in the organization of Web content. Web site traffic

doesn’t matter if your goal is revenue (however, the traffic may lead to the

goal). Similarly, being ranked number one on Google for a phrase isn’t impor-

tant (although, if your buyers care about that phrase, it can lead to the goal).

Ultimately, when marketers focus on the same goals as the rest of the orga-

nization, we develop marketing programs that really deliver action and begin

to contribute to the bottom line and command respect. Rather than meeting

rolled eyes and snide comments about marketing as simply the ‘‘T-shirt de-

partment,’’ we’re seen as part of a strategic unit that contributes to reaching

the organization’s goals.

Content and Thought LeadershipFor many companies and individuals, reaching customers with Web content

has a powerful, less obvious effect. Content brands an organization as a

thought leader. Indeed, many organizations create content especially to posi-

tion them as thought leaders in their market. Instead of just directly selling

something, a great site, blog, or podcast series tells the world that you are

smart, that you understand the market very well, and that you might be a

person or organization that would be valuable to do business with. Web con-

tent directly contributes to an organization’s online reputation by showing

thought leadership in the marketplace of ideas. See Chapter 11 for more on

thought leadership.

In the following chapters that make up Part II of the book, I introduce

blogs, news releases, podcasting, online video, viral marketing, and social

media. Then in Part III, I present a guide to creating your marketing and PR

plan (Chapter 10), followed by detailed chapters with how-to information on

each technique. Content turns browsers into buyers. It doesn’t matter

whether you’re selling premium wine cabinets or a new music CD, or advo-

cating to stop sonar harm to whales; Web content sells any product or service

and advocates any philosophy or image.

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IIWeb-BasedCommunicationsto Reach BuyersDirectly

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4Social Media andYour TargetedAudience

A s millions of people use the Web for conducting detailed research on

products and services, getting involved in political campaigns, joining

music and film fan clubs, reviewing products, and discussing hobbies and

passions, they congregate in all kinds of online places. The technologies and

tools, which many people now refer to collectively as ‘‘social media,’’ all in-

clude ways for users to express their opinions online:

� Social Networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace

help people cultivate a community of friends and share information.

� Blogs, personal web sites written by somebody who is passionate about a

topic, provide a means to share that passion with the world and to foster

an active community of readers who provide comments on the author’s


� Video and photo sharing sites like YouTube, Flickr, and Vimeo greatly

simplify the process of sharing and commenting on photos and videos.

� Chat rooms and message boards serve as online meeting places where

people meet and discuss topics of interest, with the main feature being

that anyone can start a discussion thread.

� Listservs, similar to chat rooms, send messages out by email to a collec-

tion of registered members.

� Wikis are web sites that anybody can edit and update.

� Social bookmarking sites like Digg and Delicious allow users to suggest

content to others and ‘‘vote’’ on what is interesting.

E1C04 12/02/2009 Page 38

What Is Social Media, Anyway?Since ‘‘social media’’ is such an important concept (and is so often misunder-

stood) I’ll define it:

The best way to think about social media is not in terms of the different

technologies and tools but, rather, how those technologies and tools allow

you to communicate directly with your buyers in places they are congregating

right now.

Just as a point of clarification, note that there are two terms that sound

similar here: ‘‘social media’’ and ‘‘social networking.’’ Social media is the super-

set and is how we refer to the various media that people use to communicate

online in a social way. Social media include blogs, wikis, video and photo

sharing, and much more. A subset of social media is social networking, a term

I use to refer to how people interact on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn,

MySpace, and other similar sites. Social networking occurs when people cre-

ate a personal profile and interact to become part of a community of friends

and like-minded people and to share information. You’ll notice throughout

the book that I use both terms. This chapter is about the larger concept of

social media, while in Chapter 14 we dive into detail about social networking.

I’m fond of thinking of the Web as a city—it helps make sense of each

aspect of online life and how we create and interact. Corporate sites are the

storefronts on Main Street peddling wares. Craigslist is like the bulletin board

at the entrance of the corner store; eBay, a garage sale; Amazon, a bookstore

replete with patrons anxious to give you their two cents. Mainstream media

sites like the New York Times online are the newspapers of the city. Chat

rooms and forums are the pubs and saloons of the online world. You’ve even

got the proverbial wrong-side-of-the-tracks spots: the Web’s adult-entertain-

ment and spam underbelly.

Social media provides the way people share ideas, content, thoughts,

and relationships online. Social media differ from so-called ‘‘mainstream

media’’ in that anyone can create, comment on, and add to social media

content. Social media can take the form of text, audio, video, images, and


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Social Media Is a Cocktail PartyIf you follow my metaphor of the Web as a city, then think of social media and

the ways that people interact on blogs, forums, and social networking sites as

the bars, private clubs, and cocktail parties of the city. To extend the (increas-

ingly tortured) analogy even further, Twitter can be compared to the interlude

when the girls go to the ladies’ room and talk about the guys, and the guys are

discussing the girls while they wait.

Viewing the Web as a sprawling city where social media are the places peo-

ple congregate to have fun helps us make sense of how marketers can best use

the tools of social media. How do you act in a cocktail party situation?

� Do you go into a large gathering filled with a few acquaintances and tons

of people you do not know and shout ‘‘BUY MY PRODUCT!’’?

� Do you go into a cocktail party and ask every single person you meet for

a business card before you agree to speak with them?

� Do you listen more than you speak?

� Are you helpful, providing valuable information to people with no

expectation of getting something tangible in return?

� Do you try to meet every single person, or do you have a few great


� Or do you avoid the social interaction of cocktail parties altogether be-

cause you are uncomfortable in such situations?

I find these questions are helpful to people who are new to social media.

This analogy is also a good one to discuss with social media cynics and those

who cannot see the value of this important form of communication.

The Web-as-a-city approach is especially important when dealing with

people who have been steeped in the traditions of advertising-based market-

ing, those skilled at interrupting people to talk up products and using coer-

cion techniques to make a sale. Sure, you can go to a cocktail party and treat

everyone as a sales lead while blabbing on about what your company does.

But that approach is unlikely to make you popular.

Guess what? The popular people on the cocktail circuit make friends.

People like to do business with people they like. And they are eager to

introduce their friends to each other. The same trends hold true in social

media. So go ahead and join the party. But think of it as just that—a fun

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place where you give more than you get. Of course, you can also do busi-

ness there, but the kind you do at a cocktail party and not at the general

store. What you get in return for your valuable interactions are lasting

friendships, many of which lead to business opportunities.

This chapter is an introduction to the concepts of social media. In subse-

quent chapters, I go into much greater detail about blogs (Chapters 5 and

15), video (Chapters 6 and 16), and social networking (Chapter 14).

Facebook Group Drives 15,000 Peopleto Singapore Tattoo ShowI speak at dozens of conferences a year all over the world. Since organizers

usually book me many months in advance, I gain a great deal of insight into

how they promote the events. It tends to be the same old methods: Send an

email and a postal direct mail to everyone who attended last year, buy some

mailing lists, and send some more promotions. Most shows build good web

sites and most have decent search engine optimization. But that’s usually it.

What if you’re charged with promoting a brand-new show? Because there

are no previous attendees to draw from, the work is much more difficult. Or

is it? When a show is new, the ‘‘old rules’’ of promotion don’t apply. You can

do something new and untested.

The 1st Annual Singapore Tattoo Show,1 held in January 2009, was endorsed

and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board and included Chris Garver of

Miami Ink as the show’s embassador. The goal of the show’s first year was to get

5,000 visitors to one place where more than 120 artists from around the globe,

representing all the various traditional and modern tattoo styles, ticked away

with their machines. All sorts of fun and funky exhibitors were there, and emcee

and official DJ Shawn Lee kept awesome sounds pumping throughout the hall.

Andrew Peters,2 Asia Pacific regional director of The Pacific West Com-

munications, is the brains behind the social media promotions leading

up to the Singapore Tattoo Show, working on both traditional and social

media publicity. ‘‘The show was launched via social media, including

Facebook, my blog, and other social networking platforms because of my


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belief in how social media could make a far-reaching impact,’’ Peters says.

‘‘This ultimately becomes a collective of voices that cannot be ignored,

and it becomes contagious as others want to be a part of the collective.’’

Peters used Facebook as a way for people to connect well before the physi-

cal event. He established a Facebook group called Tattoo Artistry3 three

months prior to the show. The group grew very quickly, securing a place as

the center of tatoo artistry for the region. In a sense, the physical show started

with a virtual group. Note that Peters’ brilliant choice of the Facebook Group

name (Tattoo Artistry) was not the name of the event (The Singapore Tattoo

Show). That way, the group could build momentum independently of the

show and live on beyond the first year.

The passion of the Tattoo Artistry Facebook group members meant they

would help promote the group to their friends, so the online community

eventually included many people eager to attend the live event. Instead of

relying on expensive advertising, Peters built a community of passionate fans

who built anticipation and buzz for the event. ‘‘Quite simply, I was amazed at

the result,’’ he says. ‘‘One morning I checked into Facebook to see if a few

people had joined the Tattoo Artistry group. Not only had people joined,

they had added photos, were leaving messages, and chatting to each other.

The group had come to life.’’

The Tattoo Artistry Facebook group quickly reached 3,000 members

and was an important reason that more than 15,000 people attended the

first Singapore Tattoo Show—that’s three times the expected number of


The Tattoo Artistry Facebook group is now Asia’s largest social network for

the tattoo industry, tattoo enthusiasts, and fans. The group will continue

to grow as an online destination to connect with about additional Singapore

Tattoo Shows, which will be held annually. ‘‘Engaging community involve-

ment is not so easily achieved in more traditional marketing methods,’’ Peters

says. ‘‘Social media like Facebook offer immediacy, freedom to be who you

are, the opportunity to meet others who are similar, and to have a place to fit

in. Event organizers must see beyond their immediate need to put ‘bums on

seats’ for the next event and instead engage people to build support and loy-

alty over many years.’’


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The New Rules of Job SearchCompany lost its funding. Outsourced. Caught in a merger. Downsized.

Fired. It seems like every day I learn of another person who is in the job mar-

ket. Usually that’s because when they need a job, all of a sudden people jump

into networking mode, and I hear from them after years of silence. Hey, I’m

okay with that; it’s always good to hear from old friends. And I’ve been fired

three times, so I certainly know what it’s like to be in the job market.

Since looking for a job is all about marketing a product (you), I wanted to

include a section in the book for those of you who are currently in the job

market, those soon to graduate from college or university, or otherwise look-

ing for a career opportunity.

If you’re like the vast majority of job seekers, you’d do what ‘‘everyone

knows’’ is the way to find a job: You prepare a resume, obsessing over every

entry to make sure it paints your background in the best possible light. You’d

also begin a networking campaign, emailing and phoning your contacts and

using networking tools like LinkedIn, hoping that someone in your extended

network knows of a suitable job opportunity.

While many people find jobs the traditional way, social media allow a new

way to interact and meet potential employers. The old rules of job searchers

required advertising a product (you) with direct mail (your resume that you

send to potential employers). The old rules of job searches required you to

interrupt people (friends and colleagues) to tell them that you were on the

market and to ask them to help you.

As people engage with each other on social media sites, there are plenty of

opportunities to network. Just like a physical cocktail party, if you are un-

employed and looking for work, the people you meet may be in a position to

introduce you to that perfect employer. Of course, the opposite is also true:

Smart employers look to social networking sites to find the sort of plugged-in

people that would fit in at their company or in a certain job.

So you want to find a new job via social media? You have to stop thinking

like an advertiser of a product and start thinking like a publisher of informa-

tion. Create information that people want. Create an online presence that

people are eager to consume. Establish a virtual front door that people will

happily link to—one that employers will find. The new rules of finding a job

require you to share your knowledge and expertise with a world that is look-

ing for what you have to offer.

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How David Murray Found aNew Job via TwitterDavid Murray4 says that after being laid off, he immediately did the tradi-

tional things, completing his resume and calling a bunch of contacts. But he

eventually realized that he would also have to change gears and pay attention

to blogs, social networks, and online communities. Murray already had a

Twitter account, so he reached out to his Twitter followers and publicly an-

nounced that he was looking for work.

‘‘I guess you could say I used a new tool for old-school networking,’’ Mur-

ray says. ‘‘The response was overwhelming, and I received several leads and

opportunities that were far more fruitful than my previous attempts.’’

Murray then hit on a creative way to use Twitter Search5 in his job

search. ‘‘I came across a comment from Chris Brogan6 on how he used Twit-

ter Search to keep track of his tens of thousands of followers using RSS

feeds,’’ Murray says. ‘‘So I simply began entering keywords in Twitter Search

like ‘Hiring Social Media,’ ‘Social Media Jobs,’ ‘Online Community Man-

ager,’ ‘Blogging Jobs,’ and so on. I then pulled the RSS feeds of these key-

word conversations into Google Reader7 and made it a habit to check these

first thing in the morning every day.’’

Bingo. Murray came across conversations related to his keywords and if

something sounded like a good fit for him, he took the liberty of introducing

himself via Twitter. ‘‘Many times when inquiring about the open positions,

the jobs had not been officially posted,’’ Murray says.

How cool is it that on Twitter you can express interest in a job opportunity

that hasn’t even been announced yet? It’s like getting inside information!

Hired. It didn’t take long for Murray to land the ideal job as assistant Web-

master of client services for The Bivings Group.8 Several months later he was

promoted to director of Social Web Communications.


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As Heather Huhman, who writes the Entry Level Careers pages for,9 says: ‘‘The Internet is changing just about everything—

the internship/entry-level job search included. Gone are the days of print-

ing out your cover letter and resume on ‘special’ paper, sticking both in an

envelope and mailing the application package off. We are officially in the

Job Search 2.0 era.’’

Some people might argue that this technique only works to find jobs re-

lated to social media and online marketing (like Murray did). While it’s true

that social-media-savvy people like Murray are first to use these techniques,

I’m convinced that they’d work for many other kinds of roles too. These days

Twitter is used by all kinds of people and a tweet like: ‘‘I’m looking for an

accountant to join my London office’’ appears frequently. You should be mon-

itoring what people are saying. And here’s an added benefit. If you’re an

accountant, or salesperson, or production manager looking for work, then

you’re really going to stand out from the crowd of 1,000 resumes if you use

social media to find a job.

As long as we’re discussing social media and job searches, here’s an impor-

tant consideration: What comes up when you Google your name with the name

of your most recent employer? Potential employers do that all the time. And

you can influence what they see! Remember, on the Web, you are what you


Insignificant Backwaters or ValuablePlaces to Connect?At specialty sites of all kinds, like-minded hobbyists, professionals, fans, and

supporters meet and discuss the intricate nuances of subjects that interest

them. Interactive forums were once seen as insignificant backwaters by PR

and marketing people—not worth the time to even monitor, let alone partici-

pate in. I’ve heard many marketers dismiss online forums with disdain, saying

things like, ‘‘Why should I worry about a bunch of geeks obsessively typing

away in the dead of night?’’ However, as many marketers have learned, ignor-

ing forums can be hazardous to your brand, while participating as a member

allows you to reap rewards.


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In a post on his blog called ‘‘Sony, Rootkits and Digital Rights Manage-

ment [DRM] Gone Too Far,’’10 Mark Russinovich presented his detailed

analysis on characteristics of the software used on Sony BMG11 music CDs

to manage permissions for the purchased music. Russinovich argued that

shortcomings in the software design create security issues that might be

exploited by malicious software such as worms or viruses. He also showed

that both the way the software is installed and its lack of an uninstaller

utility were troublesome.

‘‘The entire experience was frustrating and irritating,’’ Russinovich wrote

on his blog. ‘‘Not only had Sony put software on my system that uses tech-

niques commonly used by malware [malicious software] to mask its pres-

ence, the software is poorly written and provides no means for uninstall.

Worse, most users that stumble across the cloaked files with an RKR scan

will cripple their computer if they attempt the obvious step of deleting the

cloaked files. While I believe in the media industry’s right to use copy protec-

tion mechanisms to prevent illegal copying, I don’t think that we’ve found the

right balance of fair use and copy protection, yet. This is a clear case of Sony

taking DRM too far.’’

The reaction to Russinovich’s post was immediate and dramatic. In the

next several days, hundreds of comments, many harshly critical of Sony BMG

Music, were posted on his blog. ‘‘Thank you very much for bringing to light

what Sony is doing. I have purchased many thousands of dollars of their

products over the years. Next year’s purchases will be zero,’’ said User101.

‘‘I SAY BOYCOTT THE BASTARDS!!’’ said Jack3617. ‘‘If you plan on boycotting, let the

offending company know. They need to know that they are losing customers

and WHY. Perhaps others companies will get the message as well,’’ said Kolby.

‘‘Great article by Mark and scandalous behavior by Sony,’’ said Petter


Hundreds of other bloggers jumped in with their own take on the issue,

and chat rooms and forums such as Slashdot12 were abuzz. Many people

expressed frustration that the music industry disapproves of music piracy

and sues music downloaders, yet it treats its customers poorly (which



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reflected negatively on the entire industry, not just Sony BMG). Soon, report-

ers from online news sites such as ZDNet and InformationWeek wrote their

own analyses, and the issue became international news.

So where was Sony BMG during the online hullabaloo? Not on the blogs.

Not on the message boards. Nobody from Sony BMG participated in the on-

line discussions. Nobody spoke with online media. Sony BMG was dark (not

participating in the communities at all), which added to the frustrations of

those who were concerned about the issues. Finally, five days later, Sony

BMG’s global digital business president Thomas Hesse went on NPR’s Morning

Edition13 to defend the company. The choice of radio as a forum to react to a

storm of protest on the Web was a poor one. Had Hesse immediately com-

mented on Russinovich’s blog or agreed to speak with a technology reporter

for an online publication, he could have gotten his take on the issue onto the

screens of concerned people early in the crisis, helping to diffuse their anger.

But instead of understanding customer concerns, Hesse downplayed the issue

on Morning Edition, saying he objected to terms such as malware, spyware,

and rootkit. ‘‘Most people, I think, don’t even know what a rootkit is, so why

should they care about it?’’ he said in the interview.

Online debate intensified. Sony BMG reacted with the announcement of an

exchange program. ‘‘To Our Valued Customers,’’ the announcement read.

‘‘You may be aware of the recent attention given to the XCP content protec-

tion software included on some SONY BMG CDs. This software was provided

to us by a third-party vendor, First4Internet. Discussion has centered on

security concerns raised about the use of CDs containing this software. We

share the concerns of consumers regarding these discs, and we are instituting

a mail-in program that will allow consumers to exchange any CD with XCP

software for the same CD without copy protection and receive MP3 files of

the same title . . . .’’

Unfortunately for Sony BMG, the exchange program didn’t end the issue.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sued Sony BMG under the state’s 2005

spyware law. California and New York followed with class-action lawsuits.

Soon after, law student Mark Lyon started a blog14 to track Sony BMG XCP

rootkit lawsuits. ‘‘I trusted Sony BMG when they asked to install a ‘small pro-

gram’ on my computer,’’ Lyon wrote on his blog. ‘‘Instead, they infected my


46 Web-Based Communications to Reach Buyers Directly

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computer with poorly written code, which even if it wasn’t designed for a

malicious purpose (like reporting my activities—something they expressly

promised they were not going to do), opened me up to a number of computer

viruses and security problems. This site exists to help others who have been

harmed by Sony BMG and their XCP Content Protection.’’ As of this writing,

Sony has settled with 40 states and Lyon has continued to cover all the action

on his Sony Suit blog.

Of course, we will never know what would have happened if someone

from Sony BMG had quickly jumped into the blogstorm, apologized, stated

Sony’s plan of action, and offered the exchange program immediately. Yes, I’m

sure it would still have been a crisis situation for the music publisher, but I’m

also certain that the negative effects would have been substantially reduced.

What’s important for all organizations to take away from this incident is

that it is critical to respond quickly to situations as they unfold on the Web.

Reacting quickly and honestly in the same forums where the discussions are

taking place is essential. You may not be able to completely turn a negative

situation around, but you will instantly be seen as a real person who gives a

name and a personality to a large, seemingly uncaring organization. Just by

participating you will contribute to making the situation right. The Web’s

power of linking should ensure that participants who see your posts on one

forum or blog will link to them from other forums and blogs, so you don’t

have to worry about contributing to multiple places. What’s important is first

getting out there; after that, remember that authenticity and honesty are al-

ways paramount.

Your Best Customers Participate inOnline Forums—So Should YouOn the Web, customers, stakeholders, and the media can immediately see

what’s on people’s minds. There’s never been so good an opportunity to moni-

tor what’s being said about you and your products than the one we have now.

The Internet is like a massive focus group with uninhibited customers offer-

ing up their thoughts for free!

Tapping this resource is simple: You’ve got to monitor what’s being said.

And when an organization is the subject of heated discussions, particularly

negative ones, it just feels weird if a representative of that organization

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doesn’t jump in with a response. If the company is dark, not saying a thing

online, participants start wondering, ‘‘What are they hiding?’’ Just having a

presence on the blogs, forums, and chat rooms that your customers frequent

shows that you care about the people who spend money with your organiza-

tion. It is best not to wait for a crisis. You should participate as appropriate all

the time. How can you afford not to become closer to your most vocal


Let’s look at another example, but one with a much different outcome. It

happened when Nikon introduced a new ‘‘prosumer’’ digital camera, the

D200 model, which appeals to very advanced amateur photographers and

professionals alike. Nikon launched the new model globally through spe-

cialty distributors and high-end camera stores frequented by these target buy-

ers. But Nikon also offered the D200 outside of the normal distribution

channels by selling the model in big-box stores such as Circuit City and Best

Buy. The camera was a hot commodity when launched just prior to the holi-

days, and supply was constrained when it first hit the stores.

‘‘The places where camera guys like me normally get Nikon gear were

caught out because of a lack of supply,’’ says Alan Scott, an experienced pho-

tographer and long-time Nikon customer. ‘‘People who preordered the D200

or who were waiting for camera retailer sites to go live with an announcement

of availability were gnashing their teeth wanting to get the camera.’’

Like many other photographers, Scott frequents popular online digital

photography forums, including Nikonians: The Nikon User Community and

DPR: Digital Photography Review. ‘‘The forums were active with lots of peo-

ple complaining that they couldn’t get the camera from their normal long-

term suppliers but that the big box stores had them,’’ Scott says. ‘‘Then a

thread was started on Nikonians15 and later picked up on DPR16 that dis-

cussed how popular New York City photography supplier B&H Photo-Video,

a trusted source with a knowledgeable staff that many professionals and high-

end hobbyists go to, had taken orders but then were canceling them.’’

The first post, from ceo1939, said, ‘‘I ordered a D200 from B&H this after-

noon about 4:30 mountain time. The charge was made against my credit card.

An hour later I got an email that said they had a technical problem and the

camera was actually not in stock, but they would hold my order and charge


48 Web-Based Communications to Reach Buyers Directly

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for it when they actually get in stock. I tried cancelling the charge, and got an

email back on how to handle a disputed charge. I will see what happens when

I call them in the morning.’’

Many camera enthusiasts and customers of B&H were monitoring the

thread at this point. ‘‘Within a few hours, several dozen posts appeared on

the thread, and the tone had become critical of B&H, with people complain-

ing that the company was purposely screwing them,’’ Scott says. ‘‘Forum par-

ticipants said that email notifications from B&H did not work and people

who called in were getting cameras in front of those who had signed up for

an alert system.’’

The B&H situation sounds a bit like the Sony BMG incident, doesn’t it? In

both cases, avid participants in specialty online forums sounded off about a

company, its products, and its business practices. Both sets of threads

occurred in little-known nooks of the Web, far outside mainstream media

channels and other typical places that PR people monitor for what’s being

said about their company and its products. But the B&H case is very different

because a B&H employee was an active participant on the boards.

‘‘Unfortunately as everyone who frequents this site knows, Nikon USA

has been remarkably reluctant (diplomatic, eh?) to put this camera in re-

tailers’ hands,’’ wrote Henry Posner of B&H Photo-Video, Inc. on the DPR

thread. ‘‘The result in this particular case is that had we left the order

open, we’d still be sitting on your money and would have been unable to

fulfill the D200 order and it’s reasonable to presume you’d be chafing to get

your camera, which we’d have been (and are) unable to supply due to cir-

cumstances beyond our control . . . . We regret and apologize for having

vexed you.’’

Unlike in the Sony BMG example, people at B&H had been monitoring the

messages and were prepared to participate. ‘‘So in steps Henry Posner, who is

with B&H,’’ Scott says. ‘‘He came into the forum and said, basically, ‘you’re

right, we screwed you,’ but then explained what happened, apologized, and

said that B&H will make it right. By acknowledging the issue, one guy with

one post changed the whole tone of the thread and the reputation of B&H.

After that, the posts changed to become incredibly positive.’’

Indeed, they were. ‘‘Henry’s participation in various Web forums is some-

thing I respect greatly,’’ wrote BJNicholls on one thread. ‘‘I can’t think of

someone of power with any other business who engages in public discussion

of store issues and products.’’

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‘‘I also admire his forthrightness,’’ added N80. ‘‘He admits there have been

some mistakes and that the situation has been hard to handle. However, he

firmly denies the charges of lying and deceitfulness that have been flying

around. And I absolutely believe him.’’

What happened at B&H was not a coincidence or a one-time situation. The

message boards and online forums are a critical component of the company’s

marketing and communications strategy.

‘‘I spend a great deal of time poking around in the forums,’’ says Henry

Posner, director of corporate communications for B&H Photo-Video Inc.

‘‘Being a part of the forums is really important and is actually in my job de-

scription. Because my background is in professional photography, as a person

who has actually used the equipment we sell I have legitimacy in the forums.’’

Before joining B&H in the mid-1990s, Posner worked for a company that

provided photography services for colleges and high schools; he covered

events such as basketball and football games.

Posner monitors about a dozen message boards and forums on a daily ba-

sis. ‘‘I try to find things about photography equipment or technique where I

can make a meaningful contribution,’’ he says. ‘‘We want to make certain that

my credibility is maintained—that’s the most important thing—so I don’t go

in and say something like ‘that’s right’ just to get my name and the B&H name

into a conversation. But if I see that there is a discussion that I can add value

to, about equipment or a technique that I am familiar with, I will jump in.’’

B&H has a mail-order catalog, an e-commerce web site, and a 35,000-

square-foot retail store in Manhattan. ‘‘Our customer is anyone from the ama-

teur up to the professional photographer working in Beirut who is running

around with cameras bouncing on his hips while looking for a Wi-Fi connec-

tion to send images back to the bureau,’’ he says. ‘‘I contribute to the forums

when it is appropriate, but if anyone ever asks about where to buy something

being discussed, I immediately take the conversation offline via email. I don’t

want to promote my company directly. The other conversations I look for are

when people are talking about B&H itself. I often hold back and let others

speak for me. Other people will often say positive things about B&H because

I am so active in the forums. So if someone does jump in about B&H, I will

thank them, and then I will address the issue directly.’’

Don’t you wish your customers had been as understanding as the photog-

raphy enthusiasts on these forums the last time your company screwed up?

Well, as Henry Posner shows, if you actively participate in the online

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communities that your customers frequent, you will earn their sympathy and

patience when things go wrong.

Your Space in the ForumsThe last two examples were of companies that had discussions started about

them on online forums. But how should a marketer interact? ‘‘Participation in

forums is a must,’’ says Robert Pearlman, editor of collectSPACE: The Source

for Space History & Artifacts.17 Pearlman started collectSPACE in 1999 be-

cause there wasn’t a single site to serve collectors of space memorabilia and

to preserve space history. ‘‘Before the Internet, there were space memorabilia

collectors, but they were in pockets of communities in Germany and Japan, in

Houston, and near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida,’’ he says. ‘‘But there

was no way for them to communicate with each other. The biggest impact is

that collectSPACE has educated the market. We’ve brought the various pock-

ets of collectors into one place.’’

The collectSPACE community has grown into a network of collectors

around the world who share their knowledge of the pieces that they own.

The site counts 25,000 registered users (about 5,000 actively post on the site)

and about 250,000 unique readers each month. Interestingly, collectSPACE

also includes many people who worked in the early space program; they par-

ticipate in the forums and talk about the history of the artifacts that they had

a hand in building. Pearlman says many astronauts read the forums because

they are able to get a sense of the market for the memorabilia that they may

have amassed over the years and to find out what fellow astronauts are up to

on the lectures and appearances front. Astronauts also use the forums to

monitor the history of the space program and protect their legacy.

‘‘In other areas of collecting, collectors and museums have been at odds,’’

says Pearlman. ‘‘Museums looked at collectors as hoarders storing stuff in the

basement, while their own mission was more altruistic: sharing with the pub-

lic. And collectors looked at museums and said that they did a good job with

major items like spacesuits and spacecraft but did a lousy job with literally

the nuts and bolts except put them away in the archive. What collectSPACE

does is allow museums to read what their ‘competition’ is doing and interact

with collectors and ask their advice. Collectors have helped to plan exhibits


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and loaned items to the museums, and at the same time, museums were able

to sell surplus items to collectors.’’

Pearlman sees a huge benefit for dealers, manufacturers, and auction

houses that specialize in space items to participate in the collectSPACE

forums. ‘‘By participating in the forums, dealers and manufacturers now

know what collectors are interested in,’’ he says. ‘‘Products can be devel-

oped based on what the current trends are in the market. Auction houses

and dealers have been able to preview items to the market before a sale to

gauge interest. In the case of unique items, you get instant feedback

through a mini-market study.’’

As moderator of the collectSPACE forums, Pearlman has personally fol-

lowed hundreds of thousands of posts and seen the good and the bad from

space memorabilia dealers. ‘‘If there is a post that is not flattering to a busi-

ness, someone from that business needs to have been monitoring the posts

and respond as required,’’ he says. ‘‘In discussion forums where people

have a common bond, people feel that the forum is theirs. We see people

who have 1,000 or even 5,000 posts, and they treat that as a badge of

honor. People who represent businesses need to let the collectors know

that you care enough about them to go to [their] turf instead of expecting

them to come to yours.’’

As Pearlman advises and the Sony BMG and B&H Photo-Video examples

show, marketers must take active participation in the communities that mat-

ter for their markets. But you can’t just stand on the virtual sidelines and post

only when you have something for sale or a comment about your products or

services. The most successful companies come in and provide ideas and ad-

vice on a wide variety of subjects and topics in their field. They are full and

active participants in the community. Then, when people complain or want

specific product advice from a company, they trust the community member

more. Active participation can pay off exponentially for companies who are

treated as members of the community.

Wikis, Listservs, and Your AudienceClose cousins to the forums like Nikonians and collectSPACE include group

email lists (often called listservs) and wikis. Just like forums, a listserv is a

way that groups of like-minded people stay connected to one another. Typi-

cally, any member can post to the list, but instead of requiring that people

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go to a central place to read messages, a listserv sends messages out to the

members of the group via email.

Lisa Solomon, Esq.18 provides legal research and writing services to other

attorneys on an outsourced basis. Solomon has been extremely involved in

participating in listservs such as the Solosez19 discussion list for solo attor-

neys, which is run by the American Bar Association. ‘‘The listserv has been

important in the way that I develop my law practice. I am an active partici-

pant and try to always add value to the subjects that are being discussed. In

my listserv signature is my Web address. That is the place that I send people

to show them what I do. I have writing samples on the site, and that’s how

they can check out what I do at their convenience. The participation has

been great for meeting contacts and building business.’’

Wikis are web sites that permit users to update, delete, or edit the content

on the site. The most famous wiki is Wikipedia,20 the free encyclopedia that

anyone can edit, which has more than 13 million articles in over 260 lan-

guages, all contributed by people like you and me. If you haven’t done so

already, you should hightail it over to Wikipedia and conduct some searches

on your organization name, important brand names, your CEO, and other

notable executives and board members. The fact is that Wikipedia entries

loom large in search engine rankings, and Wikipedia is in the top 10 most

visited sites on the Web.

When you find an entry about your company or brand, you should check it

for accuracy. It’s fair game to correct any inaccuracies (such as the number of

employees in your company). But don’t try to manipulate the entry. The Wiki-

pedia community is quick to react when articles are edited to present a cer-

tain point of view. It is not uncommon to see an entry updated several times

per day and with larger organizations the updates can be much more fre-

quent. In fact, one of the pillars of the community is: ‘‘All Wikipedia articles

must be written from a neutral point of view, representing views fairly and

without bias.’’ So, if your organization was party to a lawsuit that makes you

look bad in some way and it’s in Wikipedia, don’t try to remove the reference.

Sometimes, it might be best to create a new article on Wikipedia. For some

organizations, authoring something on a particular niche where you have


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expertise may have tremendous value. Make sure that you aren’t promoting

your company and its products or services, though; it needs to be an article

of value to people researching the topic you know well. As a starting point,

you might notice that there are articles in the area you have knowledge in

and that those articles link to an empty Wikipedia page. Blue (or purple, if

you have already visited them) links represent pages that do exist. Red links

point to pages that don’t yet have any content. If you see a bunch of red links

indicating that an author expects new content to be added, and you have

knowledge and expertise in that area, maybe it’s time for you to create a page

to fulfill a need. For example, a technology company might provide details on

patents it holds that relate to products that already have Wikipedia entries.

Creating Your Own WikiIt’s entirely possible that for your organization’s area of expertise, no appro-

priate forum, listserv, or wiki has been established. Just like Robert Pearlman

of collectSPACE, you may find an unfulfilled need in your marketplace to

organize people and ideas into a single resource. A wiki could be just what

the doctor ordered—and you can start it, gaining tremendous value for your

organization as a result.

Consider Alacra, a company that creates online technology and services

for financial institutions and professional service firms to find, package,

and present business information. In the crowded field of professional in-

formation services, Alacra, a company of about 60 people, competes with

much bigger players such as Thomson Reuters (50,000 employees) and

Reed Elsevier (32,000 employees). An important part of Alacra’s marketing

and communications strategy has been its early forays into corporate blogs

and corporate wikis.

In September 2005, Alacra and its CEO, Steve Goldstein, unveiled Alacra-

Wiki,21 an open and collaborative resource for producers and consumers of

business information. AlacraWiki brings together in-depth profiles of infor-

mation sources, companies, and important people in the industry (and much

more). The front page, which populates via RSS feeds, is filled with informa-

tion and industry news from the premier analysts and trade publications. ‘‘We

had amassed a tremendous amount of valuable information on publishers and


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databases through our content licensing efforts,’’ Goldstein says. ‘‘We thought

it would be useful to make this information available on the Web, and a wiki

was clearly the best format.’’

Goldstein was surprised that at the time AlacraWiki was launched, there

was no directory of business information in the market. ‘‘We included refer-

ence data for the industry in a wiki form as a service to industry,’’ he says. The

wiki is a collaborative effort where anybody can create and update listings. To

start the project, Goldstein hired a summer MBA student intern, who built

the initial infrastructure and initial listings in just eight weeks. Although

many people have contributed, some don’t update their personal or company

profiles. ‘‘It’s strange that people don’t go in and change it, because it’s so

easy,’’ he says.

As someone who has created both a blog and a wiki, how would Goldstein

compare the skill sets to create them? ‘‘To be successful at blogging, you need

to have something to say,’’ Goldstein says. ‘‘You need to have some communi-

cations skills to be successful. Over on the wiki side, you need to be an expert

in something to get it populated to begin with, and then you need the re-

sources to keep it up.’’

Social media sites are places that people congregate to discuss things that

are important to them. Where are people discussing your industry, and the

products and services you offer? If that place already exists, you should moni-

tor it and participate as appropriate. If it doesn’t yet exist, consider starting a

place for colleagues and customers to meet and revel in ‘‘information central’’

for your market. Now let’s turn to blogs, another form of social media.

Social Media and Your Targeted Audience 55

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E1C05 12/02/2009 Page 57

5Blogs: TappingMillions of Evangeliststo Tell Your Story

B logging is my front door. Since 2004, my blog1 has been where I post my

ideas, both big and small. There’s no doubt that my blog is the most im-

portant marketing and PR tool I have as a marketing and PR speaker, writer,

and consultant. Even after five years and hundreds of blog posts, I’m always

surprised at how effectively this tool helps me accomplish my goals.

My blog allows me to push ideas into the marketplace as I think of them,

generating instant feedback. Sure, many blog posts just sit there with little

feedback, few comments, and no results. But I learn from these ‘‘failures,’’

too; when my audience doesn’t get excited about something, it’s probably

either a dumb idea or poorly explained. On the other hand, some posts have

had truly phenomenal results, quite literally changing my business in the pro-

cess. I’ll admit that my ravings about the importance of my blog may sound

over the top. But the truth is that blogging really has changed my life.

The first time I shared my ideas about the new rules of PR, in a post on my

blog that included a link to an e-book I had written, the reaction was dra-

matic and swift. In the first week, thousands of people viewed the post. To

date, over 250,000 people have seen the ideas, over a hundred bloggers have

linked to them, and thousands of people have commented on them, on my

blog and others’. That one blog post—and the resulting refinement of my

ideas after receiving so much feedback, both positive and negative—created

the opportunity to write the book you are now reading. As I was writing the

first edition of the book during much of 2006 and this edition in 2009,


E1C05 12/02/2009 Page 58

I continually posted parts of it, which generated even more critical feed-

back—hundreds of comments—that made the book much better. And sug-

gestions were followed in this new revised second edition of the book that

you’re reading now.

Thanks to the power of search engines, my blog is also the most vital and

effective way for people to find me. Every word of every post is indexed by

Google, Yahoo!, and the other search engines, so when people look for infor-

mation on the topics I write about, they find me. Journalists find me through

my blog and quote me in newspaper and magazine articles without me having

to pitch them. Conference organizers book me to speak at events as a result of

reading my ideas on my blog. I’ve met many new virtual friends and created a

powerful network of colleagues.

As I write and talk to these corporate audiences and other professionals

about the power of blogging, many people want to know about the return on

investment (ROI) of blogging. In particular, executives want to know, in dol-

lars and cents, what the results will be. The bad news is that this information

is difficult to quantify with any degree of certainty. For my small business, I

determine ROI by asking everyone who contacts me for the first time, ‘‘How

did you learn about me?’’ That approach will be difficult for larger organiza-

tions with integrated marketing programs including blogs. The good news

is that blogging most certainly generates returns for anyone who creates an

interesting blog and posts regularly to it. So what about me? My blog has got-

ten my ideas out to thousands of people who have never heard of me before.

It has helped me get booked for many important speaking gigs around the

world. I’ve determined that about 25 percent of the new consulting business

I’ve brought in during the past five years has been either through the blog

directly or from purchasers who cited the blog as important to their decision

to hire me. Consider this: If I didn’t have a blog, you literally wouldn’t be read-

ing these words, because I couldn’t have been writing this book without it.

Will writing a blog change your life, too? I can’t guarantee that. Blogging

is not for everyone. But if you’re like countless others, your blog will reap

tremendous rewards, both for you personally and for your organization. Yes,

the rewards may be financial. But your blog will most certainly serve you as a

valuable creative outlet, perhaps a more important reward for you and your


The rest of this chapter describes more about blogs and blogging. You will

meet other successful bloggers who have added value to their organizations

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and benefited themselves by blogging. I’ll describe the basics of getting

started with blogs, including what you should do first—monitor the blogo-

sphere and comment on other people’s blogs—before even beginning to write

your own. The nittygritty stuff of starting a blog, what to write about, the

technology you will need, and other details are found in Chapter 15.

Blogs, Blogging, and BloggersWeblogs (blogs) have burst onto the content scene because the technology is

such an easy and efficient way to get personal (or organizational) viewpoints

out into the market. With easy-to-use blog software, anyone can create a

professional-looking blog in just minutes. Most marketing and PR people

know about blogs, and many are monitoring what’s being said about their com-

pany, products, and executives on this new medium. A significant number of

people are also blogging for marketing purposes, some with amazing success.

I have found writing this chapter to be a challenge because there is great

variance in people’s knowledge of blogs and blogging. I always ask the audi-

ences I present to, via a show of hands, ‘‘How many people read blogs?’’ I’m

continually surprised that only about 20 to 30 percent of marketing and PR

people read blogs. That’s a ridiculously low percentage. There’s never been an

easier way to find out what the marketplace is thinking about you, your com-

pany, and your products! When I ask how many people are writing their own

blogs, the number is always less than 10 percent. While even the people who

are currently reading and writing blogs have varying expertise in the blogo-

sphere, there are significant misconceptions about blogs and blogging among

those who don’t read them at all. So with apologies in advance to readers who

already understand them, I’d like to start with some basics.

A blog is just a web site. But it’s a special kind of site that is created and

maintained by a person who is passionate about a subject and wants to tell

the world about his or her area of expertise. A blog is almost always written

by one person who has a fire in the belly and wants to communicate with the

world. There are also group blogs (written by several people) and even corpo-

rate blogs produced by a department or entire company (without individual

personalities at all), but these are less common. The most popular form by far

is the individual blog.

A blog is written using software that puts the most recent update, or post,

at the top of the site (reverse chronological order). Posts are tagged to appear

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in selected information categories on the blog and often include identifiers

about the content of the post to make it easy for people to find what they

want on the blog and via search engines. Software for creating a blog func-

tions essentially as an easy-to-use, personal content management system that

allows bloggers to become authors without any HTML experience. If you can

use Microsoft Word or successfully buy a product online from Amazon, you

have enough technical skills to blog! In fact, I often suggest that small compa-

nies and individual entrepreneurs create a blog rather than a standard web

site because a blog is easier to create for someone who lacks technical skills.

Today there are thousands of smaller companies, consultants, and professio-

nals who have a blog but no regular web site.

Many blogs allow readers to leave comments. But bloggers often reserve

the right to remove inappropriate comments (spam or profanity, for exam-

ple). Most bloggers tolerate negative comments on their blogs and don’t re-

move them. I actually like some controversy on my blog because it can spark

debate. Opinions that are different from mine on my blog are just fine! This

might take some getting used to, especially for a traditional PR department

that likes to control messaging. However, I strongly believe that comments

from readers offering different viewpoints from the original post are actually

a good thing on a blog, because they add credibility to your viewpoint

by showing two sides of an issue and by highlighting that your readership

is passionate enough to want to contribute to a debate on your blog. How cool

is that?

Understanding Blogs in the Worldof the WebBlogs are independent, Web-based journals containing opinions about any-

thing and everything. However, blogs are often misperceived by people who don’t

read them. Journalists as well as public relations and marketing professionals

are quick to dismiss the importance of blogs because they often insist on com-

paring blogs to magazines and newspapers, with which they are comfortable.

But the blogger’s usual focus of promoting a single point of view is dra-

matically different from the journalist’s goal of providing a balanced perspec-

tive. In my experience, blogs are deemed ‘‘bad’’ or ‘‘wrong’’ only by people

who do not read them regularly. In journalism school and on their first-beat

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assignments when they begin their career, aspiring reporters and editors are

taught that stories are developed through research and interviews with knowl-

edgeable sources. Journalists are told that they can’t express their own opin-

ions directly, but instead need to find experts and data to support their views.

The journalist’s craft demands fairness and balance.

Blogs are very different. Blogging provides experts and wannabes with an

easy way to make their voices heard in the Web-based marketplace of ideas.

Companies that ignore independent product reviews and blog discussions

about service quality are living dangerously. Organizations that don’t have

their own authentic and human blog voices are increasingly seen as suspect

by many people who pay attention to what’s being said on blogs. But as mil-

lions of independent voices shout and whisper all over the Internet, certain

mainstream media and PR people still maintain rigid defensive postures, dis-

missing the diverse opinions emerging from the Web’s main streets and roads

less traveled.

Many people prefer to box blogs into their existing world view rather

than to understand blogs’ and bloggers’ unique roles on the Web. Often

people who don’t understand these roles simply react with a cry of ‘‘Not

real journalism!’’ But bloggers never claimed to be real journalists; un-

fortunately, many people continue to think of the Web as a sprawling on-

line newspaper, and this mentality justifies their need to (negatively)

compare blogging to what journalists and PR people do. But the metaphor of

the Web as a newspaper is inaccurate on many levels, particularly when trying

to understand blogs. It is better to think of the Web as a huge city teaming

with individuals, and blogs as the sounds of independent voices, just like

those of the street-corner soapbox preacher or that friend of yours who always

recommends the best books.

Consider the now well-known September 2004 example of how blogs

exerted tremendous influence on an issue but were dismissed by people who

didn’t understand bloggers’ role in information dissemination. The contro-

versy, dubbed the ‘‘memogate’’ or ‘‘Rathergate’’ case, involved documents criti-

cal of President George W. Bush’s service in the United States National Guard.

In a 60 Minutes Wednesday broadcast aired by CBS on September 8, 2004, the

documents were presented as authentic, but had not been properly authenti-

cated by CBS. The situation unfolded just hours later on the Free Republic

news forum site, where a message was posted by a person called ‘‘Buckhead,’’

who said the memos Dan Rather used as the basis of his story appeared

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typographically impossible.2 Buckhead’s post was followed the next morning

by entries to blogs including Little Green Footballs3 and PowerLine4 that

raised questions about the documents’ authenticity. For days, Rather dug in

while CBS dismissed the bloggers as a bunch of geeks in pajamas typing away

in the dead of night. Of course as we know now, ignoring bloggers cost Rather

his job. Had he taken the bloggers seriously and immediately investigated the

documents, perhaps he, too, would have very quickly concluded that they

were fake. In that case, an explanation and apology might have resulted in

the affair blowing over. But dismissing bloggers and their opinions was

clearly a mistake. That was years ago. Although bloggers have become more

influential since then, there is still a great deal of similarly dismissive behav-

ior going on inside media companies and corporate PR departments.

Okay, so bloggers aren’t journalists. Many people in traditional media com-

panies and corporate communications positions trip up because they mis-

understand bloggers’ actual role in information dissemination. Consider it

from the Web-as-a-city perspective: The woman next to you at the bar may

not be a journalist, but she sure knows something, and you can choose to be-

lieve her or not. Incidentally, seeing the Web as a city also helps make sense of

other aspects of online life. Craigslist is like the bulletin board at the entrance

of the corner store; eBay, a garage sale; Amazon, a bookstore replete with pa-

trons anxious to give you their book tips. You’ve even got the proverbial

wrong-side-of-the-tracks spots via the Web’s adult-entertainment underbelly.

Should you believe everything you read on blogs? Hell, no! That’s akin to

believing everything you hear on the street or in a bar. Thinking of the Web as

a city, rather than a newspaper, and bloggers as individual citizen voices pro-

vides implications for all net-citizens. Consider the source (don’t trust strang-

ers), and find out if the information comes from the government, a

newspaper, a big corporation, someone with an agenda, or some Nigerian oil

minister’s ex-wife who is just dying to give you $20 million.

Blogs and bloggers are now important and valuable alternative sources

of information, not unlike your next-door neighbor. Take them with a grain

of salt . . . but ignore them at your peril. Just remember that nobody ever

said your neighbor was the same as a newspaper. The challenge for marketers


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and PR people is to make sense of the voices out there (and to incorporate

their ideas into our own). Organizations have the power to become tremen-

dously rich and successful by harnessing the millions of conversations found

in Web City.

The Four Uses of Blogs for Marketing and PRAs you get started with blogs and blogging, you should think about four dif-

ferent ways to use them:

1. To easily monitor what millions of people are saying about you, the mar-

ket you sell into, your organization, and its products.

2. To participate in those conversations by commenting on other people’s


3. To work with bloggers who write about your industry, company, or


4. To begin to shape those conversations by creating and writing your own


There are good reasons for jumping into the blog world using these four

steps. First, by monitoring what people are saying about the marketplace you

sell into as well as your company and products, you get a sense of the impor-

tant bloggers, their online voices, and blog etiquette. It is quite important to

understand the unwritten rules of blogging, and the best way to do that is to

read blogs. Next, you can begin to leave comments on the blogs that are im-

portant for your industry or marketplace. That starts you on the way to being

known to other bloggers and allows you to present your point of view before

you create your own blog. Many organizations cultivate powerful relation-

ships with the bloggers who write about their industry. You should work with

bloggers so they know as much as possible about what you do. Finally, when

you feel comfortable with blogs and bloggers, you can take the plunge by cre-

ating your own blog.

In my experience, corporate PR departments’ concerns about blogs always

focus on issues of actually writing them. But if you’ve monitored blogs and

know that there are, say, a dozen influential bloggers writing about your

space, and that those blogs have thousands of loyal readers, you can show a

PR person the importance of simply monitoring blogs. Some of the more

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popular blogs have readerships that are larger than that of the daily newspa-

per of a major city. PR people care about the readership of the Boston Globe,

right? Then they should care about a blog that has a similar number of read-

ers. If you become known within your organization as an expert in monitor-

ing blogs, it is a much smaller leap to gaining permission to create your own.

Monitor Blogs—Your Organization’sReputation Depends on It‘‘Organizations use blogs to measure what’s going on with their stakeholders

and to understand corporate reputation,’’ says Glenn Fannick,5 a text mining

and media measurement expert at Dow Jones. ‘‘Reputation management is

important, and media measurement is a key part of what PR people do. Com-

panies are already measuring what’s going on in the media; now they need to

also measure what’s going on with blogs.’’

Text mining technologies extract content from millions of blogs so you can

read what people are saying; in a more sophisticated use, they also allow for

measurement of trends. ‘‘You can count massive numbers of blogs and look

for words and phrases and see what’s being said as a whole,’’ Fannick says.

‘‘You really need to rely on technology because of the massive volumes of

blogs and blog posts out there. There is an unprecedented amount of un-

solicited comments and market intelligence available on blogs. It is a unique

way to tap into the mind of the marketplace. It is an interesting and fertile


As a starting point, all marketing and PR people need to go to blog search

engines and run a query on their organization’s name, the names of their

products and services, and other important words and phrases such as execu-

tives’ names. Technorati6 is an excellent blog search engine. It allows you to

instantly see if any of the 112 million blogs that it tracks have any information

you need to know. Google Blog Search is another popular blog search engine.

I can’t imagine an organization that wouldn’t find value in knowing what’s

being said about them or their products or the industry or market they sell

into on blogs.


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More sophisticated marketers then start to analyze trends. Is your product

getting greater or fewer blog mentions compared to your nearest competitor’s

product? Are the blog posts about your company positive or negative in tone?

How does that compare with the ratios from six months ago? ‘‘It’s naive to

think that what your stakeholders think is not important,’’ Fannick says.

‘‘Opinions are offered on blogs, and understanding the sum of those opinions

is very important. You can’t just make decisions on what you think your prod-

ucts do; you need to make decisions on the perceptions of what people are

actually doing with your products. Seeing the blogosphere as a source of mar-

ket intelligence is now vital for companies.’’

So become an expert in what’s being said about your organization on blogs.

There’s never been a better time for marketers to get a true feel for what’s

going on in the real world. Bloggers provide instantaneous and unsolicited

comments on your products, and this free information is just waiting for you

to tap into it.

Comment on Blogs to Get YourViewpoint Out ThereOnce you’ve got a sense of who is out there blogging about your company, its

products, and the industry and marketplace you work in, it’s time to think

about posting comments. Most blogs have a feature that allows anyone to

comment on individual posts. Leaving comments on someone’s blog is one of

the best ways to participate in a conversation. You have the opportunity to

offer your viewpoint, adding to the ongoing discussion. However, it takes an

understanding of blogs and blogging etiquette to pull it off without sounding

like a corporate shill. The key is to focus on what the blog post says, and

comment on that. As appropriate, you can point to your blog (if you have

one) or your web site as your contact information, but make sure that in addi-

tion to contact information you provide some content of relevant value.

One of the currencies of social media is that when you participate, people

find out who you are. When you leave a comment on someone else’s blog

post, you can link to your profile on the Web. All the blogging tools have

a place where you can leave a virtual calling card, your own Web URL where

people who read your comment (especially the blogger him- or herself) can

find out who you are and perhaps contact you.

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If you have a blog, then you’re all set—just include your blog URL in that

comment field. However, most people don’t have a blog. What the heck do

you do then?

I’ve seen many solutions, most very limiting:

1. Leave no URL (in which case nobody can find you).

2. Leave a LinkedIn or Facebook profile URL (this has limitations, because

people must ask to be your friend in order to see your full profile).

3. Leave a company home page (this shows your affiliation, but nothing

about you personally).

I’ve found an alternative solution that works very well. Create a public

Google profile7 for yourself and then use that as the URL that you point peo-

ple to when you leave a comment on a blog or join a social networking site

like Twitter. You can include a photo, a bio, and contact details. It’s really

cool—and it’s free.

I chose to make my Google profile8 simple because I want people to visit

my site or my blog. You can make yours much more detailed if you wish (see

the examples on the sign-up page). Once you’ve got a public profile, use it as

your calling card all over the Web. Here’s just one example: Link to your Goo-

gle profile from your Amazon review page so the authors of the books you

review can see who you are.

Work with the Bloggers Who Talk about YouOn Election Day 2008, an amazing 25 percent of Barack Obama voters were

already directly linked to him through social media, including blogs, Face-

book, Twitter, and other social sites according to The Nation. Putting aside

politics and just considering the election from a marketing standpoint, I am

absolutely convinced that Obama won the U.S. presidential election because

he was the candidate who most strongly embraced social media. Way back

before he even declared himself a candidate, Obama and his staff and volun-

teers jumped into the online world.


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Kevin Flynn,9 who worked on the Obama Campaign’s New Media Blog-

ging Team, was part of a Chicago-based core group of online campaigners.

‘‘I was part of the blogging team, and in the midst of the new media brain-

trust,’’ he says. ‘‘I ended up working on the social media efforts for fifteen

states. Each state had their own blog, which had localized content, and

I built contacts with people in each state who sent me stories, photos,

and other information for the blogs. People were excited to have someone

in the organization who wanted to help, so they all fed me great content.

Once they saw their photos on the national campaign pages, they got even

more excited.’’

During the campaign, Flynn was responsible for editing and creating posts

for a collection of state blogs that included Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii,

Kansas, and Texas. ‘‘The Obama candidacy was exciting for his supporters

and those of us working in the campaign,’’ Flynn says. ‘‘The technology is

easy. If you provide people with the technology tools and there is excitement,

then people will make it successful.’’

Of course, the Obama campaign marketed itself in many more ways than

just through social media. But the use of television, direct mail, door-to-door

outreach, and rallies have been used for decades and are subject to limita-

tions. ‘‘There is no way to talk back with traditional marketing like radio and

TV,’’ Flynn says. ‘‘With blogging, it creates a conversation and the campaign

gets feedback. If there is interest in a topic, then the campaign can change

quickly. People can get involved because it is two-way instead of just one-

direction. You can grow when there is a dialogue.’’

Prior to working on the Obama campaign, Flynn had worked in the

Chicago financial markets, so he has an ideal perspective to offer advice

to corporations on blogging and social media. ‘‘Don’t be afraid of change,’’

he says. ‘‘Don’t be afraid to hear things that are uncomfortable, because

only by hearing things will you be able to adjust and grow. In this rapidly

changing world, you need to listen; otherwise you won’t be able to


Of course, the staff and volunteers from the Obama campaign worked

very closely with the bloggers who cover politics and provided them with

valuable information that helped them to write better posts. While some

enlightened organizations do focus on influencing important bloggers


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by reaching out to them, most have a policy of ignoring bloggers, even

as they spend a great deal of effort attempting to cultivate relationships

with members of the mainstream media. This is a mistake. Bloggers are

important voices. Just ask the Obama campaign—bloggers helped elect a

president of the United States.

The Obama campaign example shows that making a concerted effort to

integrate other bloggers’ content into your own works very well. Although

this example is from politics, similar strategies for engaging and influencing

other bloggers can work for almost any organization. Another organization

that’s boldly working with bloggers is the New York Islanders professional ice

hockey team. The team created what they call the ‘‘Islanders Blog Box,’’ a pro-

gram that provides bloggers with press credentials for games. The program

started at the beginning of the 2007–2008 season and was among the first of

its kind for a major professional sports team. Each season, about a dozen

bloggers are chosen to receive credentials, and the team links to their blogs

from its site.10

Other organizations set up ‘‘blogger days’’ where people who write blogs

that are influential in their industry get the chance to spend the day with the

company. They are treated to information about new product releases, have

lunch with employees, and sometimes even meet with the CEO or other exec-

utives. These outreach programs are critical to providing bloggers with the

information they need to tell your story for you.

How to Reach Bloggers Around the WorldIn mid-2009, a global boutique PR agency called Text 100 examined the com-

munications preferences of bloggers across the globe. Their Web-based sur-

vey was designed to clarify bloggers’ relationships with PR people and

corporations. Some of the findings in the survey of 449 bloggers from 21

countries are worth noting as you contemplate how you will engage with

bloggers. The good news is that more than 90 percent of the bloggers sur-

veyed welcome contact from representatives of companies in the area that

they write about. However, the way that you approach those bloggers is



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‘‘Bloggers are united in their desire for distinctive content, particularly

around new product developments and reviews, feedback on content posted

on their blog, and interviews with key people,’’ says Jeremy Woolf, global so-

cial media lead for Text 100, who is based in the company’s Hong Kong office.

‘‘Photographs are the most frequently used form of supplied content, followed

by charts and graphs, and video.’’

However, Woolf says the study reveals that the bad habits of the PR profes-

sion don’t work when trying to pitch bloggers. ‘‘PR professionals are failing

to read the blogs and truly understand their target bloggers’ communities,’’

he says. ‘‘They seem to expect bloggers to post corporate material, demon-

strating a lack of understanding of the medium and the very reason why

bloggers blog.’’

There’s no doubt that the vast majority of bloggers welcome contact from

organizations. But to be successful, company representatives need to treat

bloggers as individuals and to provide them with valuable information that

complements the work they’re already doing on their blogs. Don’t just blindly

send them corporate press releases, which are ineffective at best and may

even diminish your organization’s reputation with the people you’re trying to

reach out to.

Do You Allow Employees to Send Email?How about Letting Them Blog?Chapter 15 presents everything you’ll need to know to start your own blog. If

you already know that you are ready, feel free to jump ahead to learn about

how to decide what to blog about, what software you’ll need, how to find

your voice, and other important aspects. If you’re still considering a blog for

yourself or your organization, you might be hesitant because of fears that

blogging isn’t right for your organization.

As I work with companies to help develop a blog strategy, I see much

consternation within organizations about the issue of allowing people to

blog (or not) and allowing them to post comments on other people’s blogs

(or not). It’s been fascinating to both observe and participate in the debate

about blogs in the enterprise. Just like the hand-wringing over personal

computers entering the workplace in the 1980s, and also echoing the Web

and email debates of the 1990s, company executives seem to be getting

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their collective knickers in a twist about blogs these days. Remember when

executives believed email might expose a corporation to its secrets being

revealed to the outside world? Do you remember when only ‘‘important

employees’’ were given email addresses? How about when people worried

about employees freely using the public Internet and all of its (gasp!)

‘‘unverified information’’?

It’s the same debate all over again today with blogs. On one side of the

corporate fence, the legal eagles are worried about secrets being revealed

by their employees while creating content or commenting on blogs. And

on the other, there’s the feeling that much of the information being cre-

ated today is not to be trusted. Corporate nannies want to make certain

that their naı̈ve charges don’t get into trouble in the big scary world of


Well, we’re talking about people here. Employees do silly things. They

send inappropriate email (and blog posts), and they believe some of the

things on TV news. This debate should be centered on people, not technol-

ogy. As the examples of previous technology waves should show us, attempt-

ing to block the technology isn’t the answer.

So my recommendation to organizations is simple. Have guidelines about

what employees can and cannot do at work, but don’t try to make a specific

set of blogging guidelines. I’d suggest implementing corporate policies saying

that employees can’t sexually harass anyone, that they can’t reveal secrets,

they can’t use inside information to trade stock or influence prices, and they

shouldn’t talk ill of the competition in any way or via any media. The guide-

lines should include email, writing a blog, commenting on blogs (and online

forums and chat rooms), and other forms of communication. Rather than

focus on putting guidelines on blogs (the technology), it is better to focus on

guiding the way people behave. However, as always, check with your own

legal advisors if you have concerns.

Some organizations take a creative approach to blogging by saying that

all blogs are personal and the opinions expressed are of the blogger, not

the organization. That seems like a good attitude to me. What I disagree with

is putting in place draconian command-and-control measures saying either

that employees cannot blog (or submit comments) or that they must pass all

blog posts through the corporate communications people before posting.

Freely published blogs are an important part of business and should be

encouraged by forward-thinking organizations.

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Breaking Boundaries: Bloggingat McDonald’sMcDonald’s, with its famous golden arches, is one of the most recognized

brands in the world. Being large and visible means being a convenient target,

and McDonald’s has endured rounds of vocal people who criticize the com-

pany for contributing to Americans’ obesity, the accumulation of trash, and

other societal ills. Unlike most large organizations that remain nameless and

faceless, McDonald’s has jumped into blogging by launching Open for Discus-

sion,11 a blog that focuses on social responsibility at the company. Written

by Bob Langert, McDonald’s senior director of corporate responsibility, the

blog features commentary on sustainability of the environment with titles

such as ‘‘Conserving Fish Supplies for Today and the Future’’ and ‘‘Designing

Packaging with the Environment in Mind.’’

The blog is well written and updated frequently. Sure, it has a corporate-

speak tone to it, but it also feels authentic. Langert says in the About page, ‘‘I

want to use this blog to introduce you to some of the people, programs, and

projects that make corporate social responsibility a reality at McDonald’s—to

take you along with me as I engage with some of our internal and external

stakeholders in various parts of the world and to highlight our accomplish-

ments, as well as the challenges we continue to face.’’

The company also launched The McDonald’s You Don’t Know, a series of

video podcasts available from the McDonald’s site via RSS and also via Apple’s

iTunes music store,, and Google video. The series highlights

themes of opportunity, food quality, and community.

Steve Wilson, senior director of global Web communications for McDo-

nald’s Corporation, manages a team that delivers the corporate portion of In an interview that originally appeared in EContent, Wilson

told me: ‘‘The Internet has so changed the role of information for large global

brands like McDonald’s. If McDonald’s is going to get credibility and trust, we

have to participate in the [blogging] community. We can’t just jump into a

blog storm without having built a dialog first.’’ This is sound advice about

blogging from a large consumer brand.


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The Power of BlogsIt is remarkable what a smart individual with passion can do with a blog.

People have blogged their way to dream jobs (and book deals) through the

ideas they express. Rock bands have built loyal followings and gained record

contracts. Political candidates have broken out of the pack. And companies

have competed effectively, even against much larger, better-funded players.

‘‘You are what you publish,’’ says Steve Goldstein, CEO of Alacra, whom we

met in Chapter 4, discussing AlacraWiki. ‘‘It is better to have a reputation

than no reputation. Certainly AlacraBlog12 is valuable for us as a way to get

our name out there.’’

Goldstein was an early CEO blogger, launching AlacraBlog in March 2004.

‘‘We didn’t know what would happen, but we wanted to try it,’’ he says. ‘‘The

competitors are really big. By blogging I am able to put a face on [our]


Goldstein uses his blog platform as a way to communicate with his clients,

prospects, and partners. He uses the blog to tell his constituents things

quickly and informally. ‘‘I can highlight interesting aspects of the company,

like employees and partners, that wouldn’t go into a more formal press re-

lease,’’ he says. ‘‘Internally the blog is important, too. We have a London of-

fice, so I use the blog to communicate to employees there.’’

It’s fascinating that there are so few bloggers in the publishing industry,

perhaps because publishers are cautious about giving content away for free,

or maybe because large publishers feel threatened by blogs. But by starting a

blog early and keeping the information flowing, Goldstein has positioned

Alacra ahead of many information companies hundreds of times the size of

Alacra. ‘‘Many publishers don’t know what to do about blogging, and very

few are doing it,’’ Goldstein says. ‘‘For example, there is nobody big at Thom-

son or Reed Elsevier who blogs.’’

Get Started TodayThere’s no doubt that every organization should be monitoring blogs to find

out what people are saying about them. I find it fascinating that most of the

time when I mention a company or product on my blog I do not get any sort


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of response from that organization. However, about 20 percent of the time,

I’ll get a comment on my blog from someone at that company or a personal

email. These are the 20 percent of companies that monitor the blogosphere

and react to what’s being said. You should be doing this, too, if you’re not


It’s also clear to me that in most industries and product categories, early

bloggers develop a reputation as being innovative. There are still opportuni-

ties for ‘‘first-mover advantage’’ in many blog categories. Once you’re com-

fortable with reading and commenting on blogs, get out there and start your

own! Chapter 15 contains all the information you’ll need to get going.

Blogs: Tapping Millions of Evangelists to Tell Your Story 73

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6Audio and VideoDrive Action

Audio and video on the Web are not new. Clips have been available on

web sites since the early days. But until recently, neither audio nor video

was used much online because the content was difficult to locate and im-

possible to browse, and there was no easy way to get regular updates. And

since much audio and video content was lengthy—as much as an hour or

more—and people had no idea what was in these files without actually

watching or listening to them, not many did.

The migration of audio and video from online backwaters to the forefront

with valuable content happened because of sites like YouTube and iTunes,

with easy ways for people to view and listen. In addition, high-speed Internet

connections became the norm, and the technology to create and upload audio

and video became simple enough that anybody can do it (including you).

Digging Digg VideoDigg,1 a technology news web site, uses a video channel to deliver news, com-

mentary, and information to its constituents. But Digg also has a blog and a

content-rich web site, and the different marketing tools work together. The

Diggnation2 show is a weekly ‘‘tech/web culture show’’ hosted by Alex Albrecht

and Digg founder Kevin Rose. Diggnation is classic thought-leadership content

because it is not just about Digg and its products.


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Many organizations are creating video to showcase their expertise and pro-

vide valuable information to buyers in an easy-to-understand medium. The

interview format used in the Diggnation show is very popular, because it is

fairly easy to interview guests and post the resulting video. Other common

forms of online video include comedies (frequently used to try to garner

many views and ‘‘go viral’’), product overviews, executive speeches, and

much more. An added benefit of producing video for your organization is

that the media, bloggers, and others in a position to talk you up tend to like

to watch video to get story ideas. See Chapter 16 for more information on

video and details on how to create your own.

What University Should I Attend?Many marketers are reluctant to focus on video because they don’t see how a

video on YouTube or on their company web site will lead to a sale. As I was

writing this section of the book, I received an email from a student who

attends the University of Pennsylvania. She explained that she chose to apply

to the University of Pennsylvania because she saw a Penn video on YouTube3

as she was researching universities and she fell in love with the school with-

out even having a chance to visit. In the video, singer and five-time Grammy

Award winner John Legend explains why he has a deep affection for the Uni-

versity of Pennsylvania, his alma mater.

This story is certainly not unique. People are looking for the products and

services that you offer right now. They go to Google and the other search

engines, and they ask their friends for advice. Frequently, what they find is a

video. Will you be in it?

Many organizations encourage their customers or fan bases to produce vid-

eos for them. These customer-generated video efforts often take the form of

contests and can be highly successful, especially for a product or service that

has a visual impact. For example, Nalgene bottles are virtually indestructible.

If you go to YouTube, you’ll find hundreds of videos where people try to break

them in creative ways, such as running them over with a lawnmower, throw-

ing them out of buildings, and freezing water in them and then hitting them

with a hammer. For the makers of the Nalgene bottle, this is a valuable phe-

nomenon, since the company does not have any part in the videos.


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The Best Job in the WorldI’m often asked: ‘‘How do I market a commodity product?’’ People seem to

think that if their product is similar to others, then the new rules of mar-

keting do not apply to them and the only way to sell is a function of lowest

price or best distribution. If you’ve read this far in the book, you ought to

be able to predict my answer: Create interesting information and people

will find it, share your ideas, and tell your stories. Yes, even if you market a


Sandy beaches in warm and sunny locations are a commodity product.

This may come as a complete shock to people in tourism marketing, but it’s

true. The traditional approach of showing white beach sand with footprints

near lovely blue water and a bikini or two just doesn’t cut it because that’s

what everybody does. How can you stand out?

In 2009, Tourism Queensland4 created a fantastic video contest called The

Best Job in the World.5 The winner was chosen as Caretaker of the Islands of

the Great Barrier Reef. The position had a few minor tasks, but the main thing

was to use social media to talk up the islands. The job of blogging and posting

videos paid 150,000 Australian dollars for a six-month gig. The contest re-

quired each applicant to post a one-minute video explaining why he or she

should be chosen as caretaker of Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef.

Over 30,000 people applied, and the videos were seen by millions. In addi-

tion, thousands of bloggers and media outlets (magazines, radio, television,

and newspapers) wrote and broadcast about The Best Job in the World, pro-

ducing even more buzz about not only the contest but also the location as a

tourist destination.

Tourism Queensland created a huge phenomenon. In 2009, when the con-

test was in full swing, I took a poll of the groups I visit as speaker. By a show

of hands, I asked if they had heard of The Best Job in the World. In Wash-

ington DC, 20 percent of the room had (the lowest percentage). In Tartu,

Estonia, a whopping 60 percent had (the highest). The average, over several

thousand people in six countries, was more than 30 percent. Amazing! Imag-

ine if 30 percent of the world had heard of your product through videos

people had created for you?


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How did Queensland, Australia get so much attention? I’ve been to

Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef twice. Yes, it is beautiful. But so are

many other sandy, beachy, sparkly, bikini-friendly places I’ve been: Koh

Samui, Santorini, Barbados, Puerto Vallarta, and on and on. The answer is

simple: Tourism Queensland found a way to get people to share their ideas

and tell their stories.

The Best Job in the World was conceived and created by the Brisbane, Aus-

tralia-based advertising agency, CumminsNitro.6 Tourism Queensland also

worked with Quinn & Co.,7 a New York public relations firm who handled

media relations. I spoke to John Frazier and Melissa Braverman, part of the

Quinn & Co. team who worked on the Best Job in the World, to help under-

stand this amazing success.

John Frazier says that the ‘‘job announcement’’ broke in Australia on Janu-

ary 12, 2009 and, by breakfast time in London, the Associated Press was

interviewing Tourism Queensland’s UK director for a broadcast package

which turned up later that day on the morning shows in the United States.

Within two days, there were thousands of media pickups. Tourism Queens-

land set a goal to get 400,000 new visitors to their web site over the course of

the one-year campaign. They blew past that in about 30 hours and had a mil-

lion hits on the second day.

‘‘We learned that if you hit the sweet-spot of the right story at the right

time, it will travel like a tsunami all the way around the globe,’’ says Melissa

Braverman. ‘‘Traditional media (a Reuters exclusive) broke the story, which

immediately went viral because it was a chance to have the coolest job in the

world at a time when everyone else was getting laid off.’’

Because so many people saw the announcement about the job opening on

both mainstream media and blogs, video applications for the job started to

come in at a rapid clip. And because people were hearing about it all over the

world, applicants represented many countries. Of course, all that attention

also sparked interest and awareness of Queensland, Australia as a tourist


‘‘You can’t reheat a souffl�e,’’ says Frazier. ‘‘There were quickly a number of

copycat campaigns that didn’t quite take off in as big a way. My best advice is

to try to develop an idea that resonates authentically in the lives of real people


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and then find a way to mount it across as many platforms (such as traditional

media, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook) as possible.’’

Ben Southall from the UK was selected as the ideal candidate and won

the job. But the real winner was Tourism Queensland. Frazier estimates

there were 1,100 television placements of the story. The video contest for

The Best Job in the World was a huge success in drawing attention to the

islands of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. At one point, the official Island

Reef Job web site was getting 4,000 hits per second. According to Peter

Lawlor, Queensland, Australia’s state tourism minister, preliminary results

from a tourism campaign promoting Tropical North Queensland to U.S.

tourists drew a 34 percent increase in flight bookings to Cairns, gateway to

the area. ‘‘The campaign’s aim was to increase international visitation to

Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef and to raise awareness of the region’s

unique experiences and attractions. The results so far are outstanding,

especially considering current economic difficulties.’’

Audio Content Delivery through PodcastingMoving now to the audio-only side of the spectrum, note that the transfor-

mation from static audio downloads to radio station–like podcasts, which

are much more valuable to listeners (and also more valuable as marketing

vehicles for organizations), occurred because of two developments. The

first was the ability to add audio feeds and notifications to RSS. This

enables listeners who subscribe to an audio feed to download new updates

soon after they are released. When audio content was liberated from the

need for one large download and went instead to being offered as a series

of continuous audio clips, the concept of shows took off. Hosts modeled

their shows on radio, producing content on specific subjects catering to

distinct audiences. But the podcasting business model is very different

from broadcast radio. Radio spectrums can support only a finite number of

stations, and radio signals have limited geographic range. To support the

technical infrastructure of radio, broadcasters need large audiences and

lots of advertising to pay the bills (or donors, in the case of public radio).

Contrast that with Internet audio podcasting, which is essentially free

(except for minimal hosting fees and some cheap equipment). A podcast

show reaches a potentially worldwide audience, allowing anyone to create

shows and listen to them.

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The second major development was the availability of those podcast feeds

through iTunes. Now all iPod users can simply subscribe to a feed (usually at

no cost), and then every time they plug their iPod into their computer, the

new shows from the feeds they subscribe to automatically download and are

copied to the iPod. People who commute and listen to their iPod in the car or

on the train, or those who work out with an iPod, suddenly have access to

regularly updated shows from the myriad niches that they specifically choose.

With podcasting, people instantly liberate themselves from the tyranny of

mainstream, hit-driven broadcast radio and can listen to shows based on their

specific interests.

Perhaps we should back up for just a moment. The term podcasting con-

fuses some people. A podcast is simply audio content connected to an RSS

feed. The medium does not specially require iPods, although that’s how the

word was derived. You can listen to a podcast on an iPod (or on any other

MP3 player) or directly from your computer—no iPod required.

Now marketers have a tool to efficiently create and deliver audio con-

tent to people who want to listen. Marketers can easily develop a show

that targets their buyers’ personas and can thus regularly deliver updated

content that is welcome and useful to the audience. By appealing to a niche

market and delivering audio that people have chosen to hear, an organiza-

tion is seen as a thought leader and is first choice for listeners looking to

make a purchase.

Putting Marketing Back in Musicians’ControlMusic is a classic example of a long-tail business. Before the Web came along,

bands that didn’t have a major label behind them couldn’t hope to get na-

tional or global attention. The best they could do was establish a local audi-

ence in a city or region, or perhaps with a definable market such as

northeastern U.S. college students. Enter podcasting. Now any band or DJ

with some simple and easy-to-use equipment can set up as a radio station

and get instant global distribution via iTunes and other distribution services.

George L. Smyth hosts the Eclectic Mix podcast,8 where he challenges lis-

teners to open their minds to new and diverse music and at the same time


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promotes bands he likes. The banner of his site even has a definition of eclec-

tic, to make sure people understand his approach: choosing what appears to

be the best from diverse sources, systems, or styles.

‘‘On each show, I select an artist and spotlight their music,’’ Smyth says. ‘‘I

play literally anything from classical to punk. My interest in music goes back

to my college days, when I would copy records to tape and trade with my

friends. I had lost track of music for a while, but recently I’ve found that

there’s really great music out there, and I can share it with many more people

than with the tapes.’’

Smyth is evangelical in his description of how podcasting has changed the

face of music. ‘‘Podcasting of music has been a real success with the under-25

crowd,’’ he says. ‘‘Podcasting has allowed people to hear the music of groups

that are good but perhaps don’t have a big label behind them. In the past there

was no choice, but now there is a choice. Many artists will tell you that they

just want people to hear the music. If you do listen, maybe you’ll like it and

want to spend money on tickets and perhaps a download of music from

iTunes. Many bands don’t make much money from CDs, so they really want

people to go to the shows, which is where the big money is for the smaller


Smyth is careful of copyrights and permissions in his podcasts and uses

only ‘‘podsafe’’ music (music that the artist has cleared and has said it is per-

missible to podcast). The more famous bands typically don’t allow podcasting

(or to be more precise, their record labels don’t). But many indie acts embrace

podcasting and people like Smyth who promote their music via podcasts.

‘‘Uncle Seth is an example of a group that has made it easy for podcasters like

me to work with them,’’ Smyth says. ‘‘Uncle Seth is an indie band, but they

cross genres, and I like to play them.’’

‘‘Podcasters are a different breed; they’re like you and me,’’ says Jay

Moonah, musician and songwriter of the Toronto band Uncle Seth. ‘‘TV and

commercial radio and MTV-type people work and talk from on high. Podcast-

ing is different. It’s neat that we’ve made fans out of some of these podcasters,

such as George Smyth of Eclectic Mix. It’s fun when they play our music, and

then if I e-mail them it is great to start a conversation.’’ Moonah says that

indie bands like Uncle Seth that take the lead with podcasting have benefited

greatly through wider distribution, which generates new fans.

Editorial note to music fans: Uncle Seth’s 2006 single, an upbeat cover of

Joni Mitchell’s classic song, ‘‘Both Sides, Now’’ (available at iTunes), is killer.

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Besides working with other podcasters, Moonah and Uncle Seth also host

their own podcast.9 In each episode, the band debates and discusses wacky

topics, and plays exclusive tracks of their music not available anywhere else.

‘‘The interesting thing about the show is that we made a conscious effort not

to make it just the music,’’ Moonah says. ‘‘We wanted to get some of our per-

sonality into it. So we went the direction of doing things like talking for an

entire show about the first records we ever bought.

‘‘Podcasting has become a real part of the social networking thing,’’

Moonah says. ‘‘From a technical aspect, you could do podcasting a long time

ago. But for us, the social aspect is really neat; bands and other organizations

combine the music and the community and mix them together. For example,

there is a community of Canadian Jam bands10 where we’ve met a lot of

friends. Like other online communities, it has a real-world community associ-

ated with it.’’

As Moonah has honed his expertise with podcasting and musician web

sites, he’s developed a side business working with bands, labels, and other

musicians on podcasting strategy. ‘‘Especially in Canada, it’s difficult making

a living as a musician,’’ he says. ‘‘My thing of combining the businesses into a

big circle of music and consulting and podcasting really works well for me.

‘‘I like people to understand that podcasting has so many uses,’’ Moonah

continues. ‘‘It is a legitimate thing, not a toy for kids. So the advice I have for

managers and label people is to not jump into your own podcast until you

listen to other podcasts. Find podcasts that you like and you think might

play you, and submit your music to them to get going. Then think about

what you want to do if you want to make your own podcast. The people who

make it work are those who understand it. As a band, you can compete with

radio via podcasts because you can get onto several podcasts, and then people

will hear you several times, just like a radio rotation.’’

Podcasting: More than Just MusicSmyth’s and Moonah’s advice about podcasting is important for organizations,

not just musicians, that want to reach buyers directly. For content that is best

delivered via audio or for buyers who prefer to listen to content, podcasting is


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obviously essential. For example, many politicians and churches podcast so

that supporters can keep up with speeches and sermons when they can’t hear

them live. You’ll learn more about podcasting, including tips for setting up

your own podcast, in Chapter 16.

While the podcasting of music is perhaps an obvious choice given the me-

dium’s similarity to radio, all marketers can learn from what the music busi-

ness has been doing with podcasts. ‘‘Podcasting is almost exactly mirroring

the Internet of a decade ago,’’ Smyth says. ‘‘Ten years ago, I was telling people

about the Web and building example sites. But then some larger companies

jumped into the Web. I see the same thing with the evolution of podcasting,

with some big organizations jumping in, like NPR.’’

As a component of a larger content-marketing strategy, podcasting is also

an increasingly important part of the marketing mix. For example, customer

service departments increasingly deliver how-to podcast series to keep users

of their products informed. Companies that market to people who are on the

road often (such as traveling salespeople) and have downtime in cars or on

airplanes have had success reaching people with entertaining podcasts. For

many organizations, podcasting for marketing purposes is not an either/

or decision. Instead, podcasting coexists with blogging, a great web site,

e-books, and other online marketing tools and programs in a cohesive mar-

keting strategy.

Grammar Girl PodcastMignon Fogarty, creator of the Grammar Girl podcast and founder of the

Quick and Dirty Tips podcast network, has been podcasting since 2006.

Grammar Girl11 provides short, friendly tips to improve writing. Covering the

grammar rules and word choice guidelines that can confound even the best

writers, Grammar Girl makes complex grammar questions simple. I should

know. I never know when I should use ‘‘whom,’’ so I avoid it altogether. How-

ever, this is exactly the sort of grammar problem the podcast solves.

‘‘I get an overwhelming amount of feedback from my audience,’’ Fogarty

says. ‘‘A little over a year ago, I had to hire a part-time assistant to help field

my messages because they were taking all my time. I get a lot of grammar

questions, which I try to answer; a lot of ‘I love you’ messages; and a lot of


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people disagreeing with my recommendations. Grammar can get pretty con-

tentious, and people absolutely love it (in a gotcha kind of way) when I make

a mistake or typo.’’

Creating a podcast show is a great way to get your information into the

market. Instead of hyping your products and services, an informational show

brands you as someone worthy of doing business with. In Fogarty’s case, her

sound ideas lead people to want to purchase her book, Grammar Girl’s Quick

and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. The free podcast drives her book sales.

‘‘The fan interaction is definitely different from offline marketing,’’ Fogarty

says. ‘‘I feel weird even calling the people fans because they feel more like

friends with the constant messages that go back and forth. (Someone on Face-

book recently said I am ‘the most helpful person he doesn’t know.’) The im-

mediacy of the feedback is also different from offline marketing. I hear within

24 hours (usually faster) if something I’m doing is working or not. If I post a

link or a contest on Twitter, I can usually tell within five minutes whether it’s

getting traction or not.’’

When Fogarty was ready to release her book, the podcast and her partici-

pation in other social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook allowed her

to launch the book to her existing fan base. ‘‘When I went out on my book

tour, the crowds were much bigger than expected, and I believe it is at least

in part because of all the groundwork I laid on social networks for over a year

before the book came out,’’ she says. ‘‘During the first three or four stops on

my book tour, bookstores ran out of books. In Atlanta, they ran out of books

before I even arrived. A lot of the people who came out were people I had

connected with on Twitter or Facebook, and I had posted messages about

where I was going to be to both of those services multiple times.’’

The Grammar Girl podcasts have now been downloaded more than twenty

million times, and Fogarty has dispensed grammar tips on Oprah and ap-

peared on the pages of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and USA

Today. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing is a New York

Times bestseller. ‘‘Having an established network of people is really valuable

when you’re launching something new,’’ Fogarty says.

Podcasting and online video are great ways to connect with an audience

and develop a following who will be eager to buy your products. Chapter 16

provides details on how to start a video or podcast series of your own.

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7The New Rules ofNews Releases

Guess what? Press releases have never been exclusively for the


My first job in the mid-1980s was on a Wall Street trading desk. Every day,

I would come to work and watch the Dow Jones Telerate and Reuters screens

as they displayed specialized financial data, economic information, and stock

prices. The screens also displayed newsfeeds, and within these newsfeeds

were press releases. For decades, financial market professionals have had ac-

cess to company press releases distributed through BusinessWire, PRNews-

wire, and other electronic press release distribution services. And they

weren’t just for publicly traded corporations; any company’s release would

appear in trading rooms within seconds.

I distinctly remember traders intently watching the newswires for any

signs of market-moving events. Often the headline of a press release would

cause frenzy: ‘‘Did you see? IBM is acquiring a software company!’’ ‘‘It’s on

the wire; Boeing just got a 20-plane order from Singapore Airlines!’’ For

years, markets often moved and stock prices rose and fell based on the raw

press release content issued directly by companies, not on the news stories

written minutes or hours later by reporters from newswire outlets like Reu-

ters and Dow Jones (and later Bloomberg).

Press releases have also been available to professionals working within cor-

porations, government agencies, and law firms, all of which have had access

to raw press releases through services like NewsEdge, Dow Jones Factiva, and

LexisNexis. These services have been delivering press releases to all kinds of

E1C07 11/26/2009 Page 86

professionals for competitive intelligence, research, discovery, and other pur-

poses for decades.

Of course, since about 1995, the wide availability of the Web has meant

that press releases have been available for free to anyone with an Internet

connection and Web browser.

As I tell this story to PR pros, I hear cries of ‘‘Hang on! We disagree! The

role of public relations and the purpose of the press release as a tool are about

communicating with the media.’’ For an example of this thinking, look to

Steve Rubel, one of the most influential PR bloggers in the world. He

responded to my ideas about press releases by writing a post on his blog,

titled ‘‘Direct to Consumer Press Releases Suck.’’1

Let’s take a look at the objections of traditional PR folks. According to

the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA),2 ‘‘Public relations is the

professional discipline that ethically fosters mutually beneficial relation-

ships among social entities.’’ In 1988, the governing body of the PRSA—its

Assembly—formally adopted a definition of public relations that has be-

come the most accepted and widely used. ‘‘Public relations helps an orga-

nization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.’’ Nowhere does this

description mention the media. PR is about reaching your audience.

I think many PR professionals have a fear of the unknown. They don’t un-

derstand how to communicate directly with consumers and want to live in

the past, when there was no choice but to use the media as a mouthpiece.

I also think there’s a widely held view about the purity of the press release as

a tool for the press. PR professionals don’t want to know that hundreds of

millions of people have the power to read their releases directly. It’s easier to

imagine a closed audience of a dozen reporters. But this argument is based on

fear, not the facts; there is no good reason why organizations shouldn’t com-

municate directly with their audiences, without a media filter, via releases.

Millions of people read press releases directly, unfiltered by the media. You

need to be speaking directly to them!


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Obviously, the first word of the term press release throws off some people,

particularly PR professionals. On my blog and on other sites, a semantic de-

bate played out. The consensus of the dozens of professional communicators

who weighed in was to call releases aimed at consumers ‘‘news releases.’’ This

sounds good to me, so from this point on I’ll refer to direct-to-consumer re-

leases as news releases.

News Releases in a Web WorldThe media have been disintermediated. The Web has changed the rules. Buy-

ers read your news releases directly, and you need to be speaking their lan-

guage. Today, savvy marketing and PR professionals use news releases to

reach buyers directly. As I mentioned in Chapter 1, this is not to suggest that

media relations are no longer important; mainstream media and the trade

press must be part of an overall communications strategy. In some markets,

mainstream media and the trade press remain critically important, and of

course, the media still derive some content from news releases. But your pri-

mary audience is no longer just a handful of journalists. Your audience is mil-

lions of people with Internet connections and access to search engines and

RSS readers. Here, then, are the rules of this new direct-to-consumer medium.

The New Rules of News Releases� Don’t just send news releases when big news is happening; find good

reasons to send them all the time.

� Instead of just targeting a handful of journalists, create news releases

that appeal directly to your buyers.

� Write releases that are replete with the keyword-rich language used by

your buyers.

� Include offers that compel consumers to respond to your release in some


� Place links in releases to deliver potential customers to landing pages on

your web site.

� Optimize news release delivery for searching and browsing.

� Add social media tags for Technorati, DIGG, and so that your

release can be found.

� Drive people into the sales process with news releases.

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You need to fundamentally change the way you use news releases. If you

follow these specific strategies for leveraging this once-lowly medium by

turning it into one of the most important direct marketing tools at your

disposal, you will drive buyers straight to your company’s products and ser-

vices at precisely the time that they are ready to buy.

If They Find You, They Will ComeSeveral years ago, I was preparing a keynote speech called ‘‘Shorten Your Sales

Cycle: Marketing Programs that Deliver More Revenue Faster’’ for the Soft-

ware Marketing Perspectives Conference & Expo. To be honest, I was kind of

procrastinating. Facing a blank PowerPoint file, I decided to hit Google in

search of inspiration.

I entered the phrase ‘‘accelerate sales cycle’’ to see if there was anything

interesting I could use in my presentation. The highest-ranked listings for

this phrase were from WebEx, a company that provides online collaboration

services. What was most interesting to me was that the links pointed to news

releases on the WebEx site. That’s right; at the top of the Google search results

was a news release about a new WebEx product, and right there in the first

sentence of the news release was the phrase I was looking for: ‘‘accelerate

sales cycle.’’

WebEx Launches WebEx Sales Center: Leader Expands Suite of Real-Time

Collaborative Applications

Enhance Team Selling Process, Engage Prospects Throughout Sales Cycle, and

Enable Managers to Monitor and Measure Web Sales Operations

SAN JOSE, Calif.—WebEx Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: WEBX), the

leading provider of on-demand collaborative applications, today

launched WebEx Sales Center, a new service that helps companies

accelerate sales cycles, increase win rates, and close more deals by lever-

aging online sales calls . . .

Then I went over to Google News3 and checked out the same phrase. Sure

enough, WebEx also had the number-one listing on Google’s news search

with a very recent news release: Application Integration Industry Leader


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Optimizes Marketing and Sales Processes with WebEx Application Suite. The

news release, about a WebEx customer, had been sent through PRNewswire4

and had a direct Web link to the WebEx site to provide additional informa-

tion. WebEx also provided links in some news releases directly to free trial

offers of their services. How cool is that?

‘‘That is exactly our strategy,’’ says Colin Smith, director of public relations

for WebEx. ‘‘Google and news keywords have really transformed the news

release as a distribution vehicle. Our thinking is that, especially for compa-

nies that have an end-user appeal, news releases are a great channel.’’

It’s certainly no accident that I found WebEx; I was searching on a phrase

that Smith had optimized for search. His research had shown that buyers

of the communications services that WebEx provides search on the phrase

‘‘accelerate sales cycle’’ (and also many others). So when I searched on that

phrase, WebEx was at the top of the listings.

As a result, WebEx provided me with an excellent (and real) example of a

company that had optimized the content of news releases to include relevant

terms such as the one I was looking for. And WebEx has greatly benefited

from their efforts. In addition to the consumers they already reach online,

they’ve added to their audience by getting the information to someone who

tells other people about it (me!); I’ve used this example in speeches before

well over 10,000 marketing and Web content professionals and executive

audiences, and it was also downloaded more than 250,000 times as part of

my New Rules of PR e-book. And now you’re reading it here, too.

‘‘People are saying that press releases are dead,’’ Smith says. ‘‘But that’s not

true for direct-to-consumer news releases.’’ As Smith has developed his news

release strategy to reach buyers directly, he has had to refine his writing and

PR skills for this evolving, but very much alive, medium. ‘‘I learned the very

structured AP Style Guide way to write releases,’’ he says. ‘‘But that’s changed

as keywords and phrases have suddenly become important and the scale and

reach of the Internet have opened up end users as a channel.’’

Smith doesn’t let keywords dominate how he writes, but he tries to be very

aware of keywords and phrases and to insert key phrases, especially, into re-

leases whenever he can. ‘‘We don’t think that a single keyword works, but

phrases are great,’’ he says. ‘‘If people are doing a specific search, or one with


The New Rules of News Releases 89

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company names that are in our release, then the goal is that they will find our

news release.’’

Driving Buyers into the Sales ProcessSmith is careful to include product information in the end-user-focused news

releases he crafts for WebEx. ‘‘We try to think about what’s important to peo-

ple,’’ he says. ‘‘We put free trial offers in the releases that are about the prod-

uct.’’ About 80 percent of the releases that WebEx puts out are product or

customer related. Since WebEx is a public company, the other 20 percent are

earnings and other regulatory releases. ‘‘WebEx is a great mix of real end-user

stories,’’ he says. ‘‘People get why you need Web meetings, so it is easy to tell

the story using news releases.’’

Because the Web meeting story is a compelling one even for those who

don’t know the product category, Smith also looks for ways to create a viral

marketing buzz. For example, he pays attention to major events in the news

where WebEx online collaboration would be useful.5 ‘‘We donated free ser-

vice for limited use during the time that Boston traffic was snarled as a result

of the Big Dig tunnel closures. We did the same thing for the New York City

transit strike.’’ Smith knows that people are likely to consider WebEx services

during this kind of unusual situation. Offering the service for free often cre-

ates loyal future users.

Direct-to-consumer news releases are an important component of the mar-

keting mix at WebEx. ‘‘We do track metrics, and we can see how many people

are going from the release to the free trial,’’ Smith says. The numbers are sig-

nificant. But with such success, there’s also a danger. ‘‘We don’t want to abuse

the news release channel,’’ Smith says, explaining that the company also has a

media relations strategy, of which news releases are a part. ‘‘We want the news

releases to be interesting for journalists, but also to provide consumers with

things to do, such as get the free trial.’’

WebEx is successful in using news releases to appeal to all constituents—

the financial markets players who monitor the company’s stock, the journal-

ists who write (and speak) about WebEx products and services, and also

the consumers who are searching for what WebEx has to offer. WebEx,

and thousands of other innovative organizations like it, prove that a direct-


90 Web-Based Communications to Reach Buyers Directly

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to-consumer news release strategy can coexist within an organization that

cares about media relations.

Since the first edition of this book was released, WebEx was acquired by

Cisco Systems, Inc., a major networking and communications technology

company. Colin Smith now works in Cisco’s Corporate Communications de-

partment at the company’s California headquarters.

Reach Your Buyers DirectlyUnder the old rules, the only way to get published was to have your news

release picked up by the media.

We’ve come a long way. The Web has turned all kinds of companies, non-

profits, political campaigns, individuals, and even churches and rock bands

into just-in-time and just-right publishers. As publishers, these organizations

create news releases that deliver useful information directly onto the screens

of their buyers—no ‘‘press’’ involved!

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8Going Viral: The WebHelps AudiencesCatch the Fever

Amazingly, if you toss a Mentos candy into a bottle of Diet Coke, you get a

marketing explosion. More tangibly, the mint/cola reaction triggers a

geyser that sprays 10 feet or more. This phenomenon was popularized in

video experiments produced by Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz1 on their

eepybird site. After their initial success, Grobe and Voltz made a video of an

extreme experiment to answer the following question: ‘‘What happens when

you combine 200 liters of Diet Coke and over 500 Mentos mints?’’ Web audi-

ences were mesmerized by the result—it’s insane—and caused a classic viral

phenomenon. In only three weeks, four million people viewed the video.

Hundreds of bloggers had written about it. Then mainstream media jumped

in, with Grobe and Voltz appearing on Late Night with David Letterman and

The Today Show.

Imagine the excitement in Mentos marketing offices when the videos took

off online—millions of Mentos exposures at no cost (more on this later). The

price tag to get results like that from traditional marketing might have totaled

tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars.

Minty-Fresh Explosive MarketingFor marketers, one of the coolest things about the Web is that when an idea

takes off, it can propel a brand or company to fame and fortune for free.

Whatever you call it—viral, buzz, or ‘‘word-of-mouse’’ marketing—having


E1C08 12/04/2009 Page 94

other people tell your story drives action. Many viral phenomena start inno-

cently. Somebody creates something—a funny video clip, a cartoon, or a

story—to amuse friends, and one person sends it to another and that person

sends it to yet another, on and on. Perhaps the creator might have expected to

reach at most a few dozen friends. One of the first examples I remember was

the ‘‘dancing baby’’ from the mid-1990s. It was grainy and low-tech, but it was

cool and it spread like crazy. Instead of reaching a few hundred friends and

colleagues, dancing baby struck a nerve and reached millions.

The challenge for marketers is to harness the amazing power of viral.

There are people who will tell you that it is possible to create a viral cam-

paign, and there are even agencies that specialize in the area. But when orga-

nizations set out to go viral, the vast majority of campaigns fail. Worse, some

companies set up fake viral campaigns where people who are employed by

the company or in some way compensated write about a product. The Web is

hyperefficient at collective investigative reporting and smoking out trickery,

so these campaigns rarely succeed and may even cause great harm to reputa-

tions. Often a corporate approach is some gimmicky game or contest that just

feels forced and advertisement-like. I think it is virtually impossible to create

a Web marketing program that is guaranteed to go viral. A huge amount of

luck and timing are necessary. A sort of homemade feel seems to work, while

slick and polished doesn’t. For example, the Numa Numa Dance that was so

popular several years ago was about as homemade as you can get—just a guy

with a Web camera on his computer—and it helped to popularize the song

and sell a bunch of downloads.

Of course, it’s not just crazy dancing that goes viral. The formula is a com-

bination of some great (and free) Web content (a video, a blog entry, or an

e-book) that is groundbreaking or amazing or hilarious or involves a celeb-

rity, plus a network of people to light the fire, and all with links that make it

very easy to share. While many organizations plan viral marketing campaigns

to spread the word about their products or services, don’t forget that some-

thing may go viral that you didn’t start (like Mentos and Diet Coke), and it

may show you or your products in either a positive or negative light. You

need to be monitoring the Web for your organization and brand names so

you are alerted quickly about what people are talking about. And if a positive

viral explosion that you didn’t initiate begins, don’t just hang on for the

ride—push it along!

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Monitoring the Blogosphere forViral EruptionsEvery day, on blogs, podcasts, video, and Twitter, people promote and pan

products. Consumers tell good and bad tales in which products and services

play a starring role. Sadly, most companies are clueless about what’s going on

in the blogosphere. At a minimum, marketing professionals need to know

immediately when their brand names or executives are mentioned in a blog

(refer back to the discussion about monitoring blogs in Chapter 5). Beyond

mention-counting, analysis is important. What are the significant trends in

words and phrases currently popular in the blogosphere, as they relate to

your organization, product, and industry? On the day that the Diet Coke and

Mentos experiments went viral, there was a tenfold spike in the number of

blog posts mentioning Mentos. If you follow the word ‘‘Mentos,’’ you’d want

to know what was going on, so you could either respond to the crisis or lever-

age the positive development. At the least, you should learn the reason for the

spike and alert company managers; when the Wall Street Journal calls for

comment, ‘‘Huh?’’ is not the savviest response.

Over at Alexa,2 a service that measures the reach and popularity of web

sites, the comparisons between the viral eepybird site created by Grobe and

Voltz to showcase their videos and the official Mentos site3 are remarkable.

Marketers use Alexa to figure out what sites are hot and use that information

to make their own sites better. The three-month average web site ranking

among all sites on the Web after the release of the video was 282,677 for the

official Mentos site, while eepybird was 8,877.

‘‘The whole Mentos geyser phenomenon seems to bubble up every few

years,’’ says Pete Healy, vice president of marketing for Perfetti Van Melle

USA, makers of Mentos. ‘‘But this was the first time it came around that there

was an infrastructure where people could post videos online. We contacted

the two guys at eepybird and said that we really liked the way the Mentos

brand was represented. We had recently conducted a meeting about our

brand personality, and we decided that if our brand was a person, it would be

like Adam Sandler—quirky, tongue-in-cheek, and fun. Because the eepybird

video had those qualities, we were delighted.’’


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Healy recognized that he had an opportunity and worked to push the viral

excitement forward. First, he linked to the video from the official Mentos site.

Then he offered Grobe and Voltz the company’s support. ‘‘When they ap-

peared on Late Night with David Letterman and The Today Show, we were

there with our ‘Mentos ride,’ a classic convertible with Mentos branding, giv-

ing away samples on the street to add support.’’ Soon after, Healy decided that

there might be others who would want to create their own video, so the com-

pany launched a Mentos geyser video contest. The top prize was 1,000 iTunes

downloads and a year’s supply of Mentos, 320 rolls, and according to Healy,

over 100 videos were submitted and posted to the site, which was viewed

nearly a million times. (Incidentally, note the wisdom of choosing iTunes

downloads as a prize; the folks at Mentos reasonably suspected that the kinds

of media-savvy people who would submit entry videos are likely to be the

kinds of people who would be more interested in free music downloads than

in traditional prizes like shopping sprees or free trips. This contributes to the

authentic feel of Mentos’s attempts to further spread this viral phenomenon.)

‘‘The power to influence what a brand means to others is something that

poses a dilemma, but also an opportunity, for the owners of a brand,’’ says

Healy. ‘‘It has always been true that what a brand means is determined by

a consumer, the end user. Now there is a feedback loop that didn’t exist before.

The Internet is like the town plaza or the town square. For any company that

is marketing a brand, the first thing is to be genuine in communicating what

the brand is about, the personality of the brand. If we had pretended that the

Mentos brand is more than it is, then we would have gotten shot down.’’

Interestingly, while Healy supported and helped drive the viral aspects of

the videos, marketers at Coca-Cola tried to distance the Diet Coke brand

from the phenomenon. ‘‘When the Mentos and Diet Coke video became big,

Coca-Cola took a few shots from the market, because they felt that the eepy-

bird site didn’t fit the Diet Coke brand. They took hits from bloggers.’’ Healy

says. ‘‘As long as we keep in mind that we are just a candy manufacturer, cre-

ators of a small pleasure, we can work with interesting things that might hap-

pen to our brands on the Web.’’

Healy did an excellent job pushing the Mentos and Diet Coke buzz with-

out getting in the way by being too much of a corporate nanny. Too often,

corporate communications people at large companies distance themselves

from what’s going on in the real world of blogs, YouTube, Twitter, and chat

rooms. But it’s even worse when they try to control the messages in ways that

the marketplace sees as inauthentic.

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Creating a World Wide RaveWhen I finished writing the first edition of this book, I became obsessed with the

phenomenon of people spreading ideas and sharing stories. How amazing is it

that something you create has the potential to keep spreading from one person

to the next and, in the process, expose your ideas to people you don’t even

know? I was so fascinated with this idea that I wrote a book about it, World

Wide Rave: Creating triggers that get millions of people to spread your ideas and

share your stories. That book was released in March 2009, between the first and

second editions of this book. I’m adding a short section here to provide you with

the basic ideas of World Wide Rave, in the hope that you might create your own.

A World Wide Rave is when people around the world are talking about

you, your company, and your products—whether you’re located in San Fran-

cisco, Dubai, or Reykjavı́k, it’s when global communities eagerly link to your

stuff on the Web. It’s when online buzz drives buyers to your virtual doorstep.

And it’s when tons of fans visit your web site and your blog because they

genuinely want to be there.

The World Wide Rave is one of the most exciting and powerful ways to

reach your audience. Anyone with thoughtful ideas to share—and clever

ways to create interest in them—can become famous and find success on the

Web. The challenge for marketers is to harness the amazing power of the

World Wide Rave. The process is actually quite simple; anyone can do it,

including you. However, if you’re already an experienced marketer, you need

to know that achieving success requires a far different approach than what

you’re likely doing now. Many of the easy techniques for triggering a World

Wide Rave are the exact opposite of what you’ve learned on the job or have

been taught in school. Similarly, if you’re a CEO, business owner, or entrepre-

neur, you should know that these ideas are likely precisely what your agency

partners and marketing staff tell you not to do.

Let’s look at the important components for generating a World Wide Rave

of your own. As you read the next few paragraphs, consider how completely

different these ideas are from what you’re likely doing today.

You can trigger a World Wide Rave, too—just create something valuable that

people want to share, and make it easy for them to do so.

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Rules of the RaveOf course, it’s obvious as hell that in order for thousands or even millions of

people to share your ideas and stories on the Web, you must make something

worth sharing. But how do you do that? Here are the essential components.

This list is so important, and each item such a strong predictor of success,

that I call them your Rules of the Rave.

� Nobody cares about your products (except you). Yes, you read that

right. What people do care about are themselves and ways to solve

their problems. People also like to be entertained and to share in

something remarkable. In order to have people talk about you and

your ideas, you must resist the urge to hype your products and ser-

vices. Create something interesting that will be talked about online.

But don’t worry—because when you’re famous on the Web, people

will line up to learn more and to buy what you offer!

� No coercion required. For decades, organizations of all kinds have spent

buckets of money on advertising designed to coerce people into buying

products. Free shipping! This week only, 20 percent off! New and

improved! Faster than the other guys! This product-centric advertising is

not how you get people talking about you. When you’ve got something

worth sharing, people will share it—no coercion required.

� Lose control. Here’s a component that scares most people silly. You’ve

got to lose control of your ‘‘messages’’; you need to make your valuable

online content totally free (and freely sharable); and you must under-

stand that a World Wide Rave is not about generating ‘‘sales leads.’’ Yes,

you can measure success, but not through business-school Return On

Investment (ROI) calculators.

� Put down roots. When I was a kid, my grandmother said, ‘‘If you want to

receive a letter, you need to send a letter to someone first.’’ Then when I

was in college, my buddies said, ‘‘If you want to meet girls, you have to

go where the girls are.’’ The same thing is true in the virtual world of the

Web. If you want your ideas to spread, you need to be involved in the

online communities of people who actively share.

� Create triggers that encourage people to share. When a product or ser-

vice solves someone’s problem or is very valuable, interesting, funny, or

just plain outrageous, it’s ready to be shared. To elevate your online

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content to the status of a World Wide Rave, you need a trigger to get

people talking.

� Point the world to your (virtual) doorstep. If you follow the Rules of the

Rave as I’ve described them, people will talk about you. And when they

do, they’ll generate all sorts of online buzz that will be indexed by the

search engines, all relating to what your organization is up to. Forget about

data-driven search engine technologies. The better approach to drive peo-

ple to your stuff via the search engines is to create a World Wide Rave. As

a result, your organization’s web sites will quickly rise to prominence in

the rankings on Google, Yahoo!, and the other search engines.

That’s it. Simple, right?

Sure, generating a World Wide Rave is as simple as can be. You should be

thinking of how you can create an initiative that will get people to spread

your ideas and share your stories. When people are talking about you, then

you’re reaching many more people than you would otherwise. Let’s take a

look at an example.

Film Producer Creates a World Wide Rave byMaking Soundtrack Free for DownloadAs I say many times in these pages, a great way to generate interest in prod-

ucts and services is to make select content available for free online. There’s no

doubt that free content sells. So it was with great interest that I had an oppor-

tunity to connect with Ryan Gielen, executive producer of The Graduates,4 to

learn about his strategy of making the soundtrack of his film available for free

download. The Graduates, released in 2009, is an award-winning comedy

about four friends who head to the beach without a care in the world. Prior

to release, the film had been developing a loyal following among the 18- to

34-year-old demographic following a dozen sold-out festival and sneak pre-

view screenings. It had been advertised solely by word-of-mouth and a free

soundtrack download.

The film features the music of some incredible indie bands (The New Rags,

Plushgun, Sonia Montez, The Mad Tea Party, Our Daughter’s Wedding, and


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The Smittens) that are popular with the buyer personas who might see the

movie. So the idea of making the entire soundtrack available for free5 is a

brilliant strategy.

Of course, the bands also benefit because new listeners are exposed to their

music and, if they like it, may decide to buy an album or see them live. ‘‘We’re

a very indie film, with very indie bands on our soundtrack,’’ Gielen says.

‘‘Both the bands and the film need as much promotional help as possible, be-

cause we’re competing with studio films, major marketing budgets, stars. We

don’t compete exclusively with low-budget films. We compete with everyone.

So what do we have to offer our potential audience to set us apart? A great

film and a great soundtrack isn’t enough—we need people to know about it.’’

Gielen created special access codes that consumers can enter on the movie

site to get instant downloads of the entire soundtrack. He also sells the music

for those without the code, making the free download seem more valuable.

These codes are given away at film festivals, at places where the members of

the film’s buyer personas congregate, at the various bands’ live shows, and

more. ‘‘We felt it made sense to give away the soundtrack to build loyalty,

show off the product, and compensate for a zero-dollar marketing budget, all

in one fell swoop,’’ he says.

I wondered about the musicians whose music was given away. Did any of

them resist? ‘‘My producers and I all loved this idea, and, when we carefully

explained it to the musicians, they came along. I think it helped that everyone

was aware of how hard the producers and I are working to promote the film

and the individual bands on the soundtrack.’’

Interestingly, Gielen does not see this model catching on with major films.

‘‘Movie studios will probably be very slow to adopt this model, possibly be-

cause they load soundtracks with famous music that is too expensive to give

away,’’ he says. ‘‘Music licensing is an enormous headache for indie film-

makers. We all agreed early on that we would go out and find great bands

that hadn’t been discovered because that would help us license the music,

and they would be excited by the exposure. I expect that if we had pitched

this to established, signed bands, we would’ve been laughed out of the room.

The media landscape is so broad that we literally had 9,000 bands submit

music, something like 100,000 songs to choose from. If our little film takes

off, people all over the country will discover the new music. The worst-case

5 (use code: worldwiderave)

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scenario for even an established band is that we just crafted a $100,000 music

video for them. The Rolling Stones should laugh us out of the room, but this

is a good opportunity for many, many bands.’’ The strategy has worked well

for Gielen. ‘‘The free soundtrack has been a real success,’’ he says. ‘‘The totally

free music promo opened us up to many more people.’’

So what can you give away to create a World Wide Rave of your own?

Viral Buzz for Fun and ProfitIt can be difficult to purposely create viral marketing buzz. But I do believe

it’s possible—otherwise I wouldn’t have written an entire book about World

Wide Raves! I think the way to create viral programs is a lot like the way that

venture capitalists invest in startup companies and that studios create films. A

typical venture capitalist has a formula that states that most ventures will fail,

a few might do okay, and 1 out of 20 or so will take off and become a large

enterprise that will pay back investors many times the initial investment.

Record companies and movie studios follow the same principles, expecting

that most of the projects that they green-light will have meager sales but that

the one hit will more than pay back the cost of a bunch of flops. The problem

is that nobody knows with certainty which movie or venture-backed com-

pany in the portfolio will succeed, so it requires a numbers game of investing

in many prospects. The same goes for viral efforts. Create a number of cam-

paigns and see what hits, then nurture the winners along.

The Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwichand Jerry Garcia’s ToiletConsider, the Internet casino that has cornered the mar-

ket on eccentric eBay purchases for viral promotional purposes.6 The online

casino is the proud owner of dozens of offbeat knickknacks such as Pete

Rose’s corked baseball bat, William Shatner’s kidney stone, Jerry Garcia’s toi-

let, and the famous Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich. The marketers at also grab unusual advertising space sold on eBay, such

oddities as a woman’s cleavage, the opportunity to tattoo a logo on someone’s

forehead, and billboard space on the back of a person’s wheelchair. Some of


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this stuff, all purchased on eBay, generates significant viral marketing buzz

for For example, when Shatner’s kidney stone was nab-

bed, it seemed like every TV station, newspaper, and online outlet reported

on the sale: ‘‘Shatner Passes Kidney Stone to,’’ the headline

ran. ‘‘Ha-ha-ha,’’ the reporters and bloggers went, dismissing the money spent

as foolish. But each story referenced! At a mere $25,000,

this foray into a place where no man has gone before was the viral marketing

and advertising bargain of the century. And kudos, too, to Shatner, who got

his name plastered all over the place (and donated the cash to Habitat for


The professional eBay bidders at know that not every

one of the hundreds of quirky purchases they make will be a hit with bloggers

and the media. But they can count on some of them, maybe 1 out of 20, hit-

ting the mark in just the right way.

Clip This Coupon for $1 Million Off Ft. Myers,FL HomeWhen there is a glut of luxury homes on the market, what can a homeowner

do to make his property stand out? Get people talking about it, of course!

Homeowner Rich Ricciani decided to offer potential buyers a coupon good

for $1 million off the price of his $7 million Ft. Myers, FL, home. He created

a site for the coupon7 and placed it in newspapers in lieu of a typical real

estate advertisement. This creative approach sure beat simply reducing the

price of the home on the real estate Multiple Listing Service database.

Ricciani worked with Lani Belisle of VIP Realtors to list the home and

book the advertising space for the coupon, which initially ran in the Sunday

edition of the Ft. Myers News-Press. Then it was time for Tina Haisman Public

Relations8 to get the word out. Haisman used PRWeb to send a well written,

search engine optimized press release complete with photos, an imbedded

YouTube video, and links to the coupon and the home’s web site. ‘‘I also used

PR MatchPoint to compile a list of real estate writers in the south and north-

eastern U.S., and I personally targeted the big news outlets such as CNN,

FOX, NBC, and more,’’ Haisman says.


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In Southwest Florida, the story appeared on the front pages of both

the Fort Myers News-Press and in the Naples Daily News, and it aired on

WINK-TV and local radio stations. ‘‘Florida Weekly named The Million Dollar

Coupon the Best Marketing Stunt of 2009!’’ Haisman says. ‘‘Within four days

of its release, the Million Dollar Coupon story went viral on real estate blogs

nationwide, creating a world wide buzz.’’

As a result, it aired on television stations in major cities around the coun-

try, and the homeowner even did a live interview on Neal Cavuto’s Your World

show on FOX News. Major papers, including the Los Angeles Times, covered

it, and the idea also appeared in the Huffington Post. The team then ran the

coupon in the Sunday New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Boston

Globe. I love the selection of the Globe, chosen because Ft. Myers, FL, is the

home of the Boston Red Sox spring training facility—an excellent example of

buyer persona profiling. Bloggers talked about it and many people were buzz-

ing about it on Twitter.

Some may call this strategy a gimmick. Nonsense. When people are talking

about you, your product stands out in a crowded market. And guess what?

This kind of marketing is fun! If you’re a realtor, it sure beats pounding

wooden signs into front yards. The Million Dollar Coupon web site registered

more than 2,500 unique visitors in just a few weeks. While as of this writing

the home has not yet sold, it certainly stands out from the crowd.

When You Have Explosive News,Make It Go ViralAlthough I’ve said that I think it is difficult to dream up campaigns that will

definitely go viral and become a World Wide Rave, there are times that an

organization possesses news that is so important to the target market they

serve that they just know the news has significant viral potential. The hiring

of a famous CEO away from another company, a merger or acquisition an-

nouncement, or a huge celebrity endorsement deal might be just the thing

that lights up the blogs in your marketplace. If that’s the case, it is important

to get that news out in order to create the maximum effect. (Of course there

is the opposite example—bad news—which also goes viral, and which you

would prefer to contain or minimize. But in this chapter, let’s just focus on

the kind of good news that you want to get out to as wide an audience as

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possible.) If you want to push news along to maximum effect, it’s critical

to have a plan and a detailed timeline of whom you will tell the news to

and when.

When Outsell, Inc.,9 a research and advisory firm for the information in-

dustry, had just completed but not yet released a report, titled ‘‘Click Fraud

Reaches $1.3 Billion, Dictates End of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Era,’’ that was the

first to quantify, in real dollars and advertiser sentiment, the click-fraud prob-

lems that plague advertisers on search engines, they knew they were sitting

on big news. The Outsell report, based on a study of 407 advertisers responsi-

ble for about $1 billion in ad spending, told the explosive story of a problem

threatening the core business model of search engines like Google. The ana-

lysts at Outsell revealed the scope of the problem of fraudulent clicks on Web

advertisements that appear as part of search results, clicks that companies

doing the advertising were paying for. Outsell analysts knew that they had a

story with viral potential.

‘‘At first we hinted at the report in our client newsletter,’’ says Chuck Rich-

ard, vice president and lead analyst at Outsell and the author of the report.

‘‘We always make certain that the paying clients get access to reports before

they hit the media. But internally and with our PR firm, Warner Communica-

tions,10 we thought it was going to be big.’’ Outsell had a logistical problem in

that the report was to be released to clients over the U.S. Independence Day

holiday weekend. The PR firm sent a media advisory, headlined ‘‘Outsell, Inc.

Pegs Click Fraud as $1.3 Billion Problem that Threatens Business Models of

Google, Others; Study Shows 27% of Advertisers Slowing or Stopping Pay-

Per-Click Ads Due to Fraudulent Billings,’’ to selected media. The advisory

offered an early look at the report to approved media under an embargo pe-

riod—stories could not appear until Wednesday, July 5 at the earliest. Verne

Kopytoff of the San Francisco Chronicle spent the holiday weekend research-

ing the problem identified by Outsell, interviewing Richard, and reaching out

for comment from spokespeople at the search engines. His story, ‘‘Click Fraud

a Huge Problem: Study Finds Practice Widespread; Many Cut Back Online

Ads,’’ was the first to break.

‘‘The viral aspect came from bloggers and built over the course of a week or

so,’’ Richard says. Within just five days, over 100 bloggers had picked up the


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story, including heavy hitters such as John Batelle’s Searchblog, Jeff Jarvis’s

BuzzMachine, ClickZ News Blog, Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Watch, and After the story broke, Richard was busy doing interview after

interview for mainstream media, resulting in a wave of nearly 100 stories in

just the first week. Outlets including NPR, MSNBC, Barron’s, the Financial

Times, AdAge, eWeek, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, ABC News,

ZDNet, BusinessWeek Online, and all ran stories online, in print,

and via broadcast media.

In the following weeks, Richard, now seen in the market as an expert in

click fraud, received many press requests based on an existing Arkansas

click-fraud class-action settlement that Google was proposing. Within a

week, Google announced it would start providing statistics on the fraudulent

clicks it intercepted, one of the key changes called for in the Outsell study;

many media referenced this development in follow-up stories. Richard be-

lieves that the online buzz has prompted the paid search business to finally

accept that it can’t escape having its own click-fraud tracking, auditing,

and certification processes. ‘‘This is great news for users, publishers, and

advertisers,’’ Richard says.

‘‘For a small company to have access to this kind of reach of journalists and

bloggers is remarkable,’’ Richard says. ‘‘It couldn’t have happened this way

even a few years ago. The exposure has made a fundamental difference in

[people’s] awareness of the firm. Many of our clients have contacted us to say

‘congratulations,’ that they were happy to see us be more visible. And I’ve

gotten on the prime source lists of many reporters who cover the space, and

they proactively call me for comment on stories now.’’ Indeed, BusinessWeek

wrote a cover story, ‘‘Click Fraud: The Dark Side of Online Advertising,’’ and

quoted the Outsell report.

But Richard is also aware of how a significant news item or report can in-

fluence a company, or even an entire industry. ‘‘It’s given us a reminder of our

responsibility,’’ he says. ‘‘If something like this can affect a company’s share

price or performance or investor inquiries on earnings calls, we need to be

confident on our opinions.’’

The Outsell example clearly illustrates that a piece of news, properly deliv-

ered to the market, can go viral. But with careful nurturing over the news

cycle and an awareness of traditional news media’s and bloggers’ roles in pro-

moting ideas, the story can reach much larger audiences and help a smart

organization to reach its goals.

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Viral marketing—creating a World Wide Rave by having others tell your

story for you—is one of the most exciting and powerful ways to reach

your audiences. It’s not easy to harness the power, but with careful prepa-

ration when you are sitting on news and with clever ideas for what has

the potential to create interest, any organization has the power to become

famous on the Web.

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9The Content-RichWeb Site

I f you’ve read from the beginning of the book, at this point you might be

tempted to think that each of the media that innovative marketers use to

reach buyers—including blogs, podcasts, news releases, and all the rest—is a

standalone communications vehicle. And while each certainly could be a self-

contained unit (your blog does not need to link to your corporate site), most

organizations integrate their online marketing efforts to help tell a unified

story to buyers. Each medium is interrelated with all the others. Podcasts

work with blogs. A news release program works with an effective web site

and online media room. Multiple web sites for different divisions or countries

come together on a corporate site. No matter how you choose to deploy web

content to reach your buyers, the place that brings everything together in a

unified place is a content-rich web site.

As anyone who has built a web site knows, there is much more to think

about than just the content. Design, color, navigation, and appropriate tech-

nology are all important aspects of a good web site. Unfortunately, in many

organizations these other concerns dominate. Why is that? I think it’s easier

to focus on a site’s design or technology than on its content. Also, there are

fewer resources to help web site creators with the content aspects of their

sites—hey, that’s one of the reasons why I wrote this book!

Often the only person allowed to work on the web site is your organiza-

tion’s webmaster. At many companies, webmasters—the kings of technol-

ogy—focus all their attention on cool software plug-ins; on HTML, XML, and

all sorts of other ’MLs; and on nitty-gritty stuff like server technology and

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Internet Service Providers. But with a webmaster in charge, what happens to

the content? In other organizations, webmasters are pushed aside by graphic

designers and advertising people who focus exclusively on creating web sites

that look pretty. At these organizations, well-meaning advertising agencies

obsess over hip designs or hot technology such as Flash. I’ve seen many

examples where site owners become so concerned about technology and

design that they totally forget that great content is the most important aspect

of any web site.

Thus, the best web sites focus primarily on content to pull together

their various buyers, markets, media, and products in one comprehensive

place where content is not only king, but president and Pope as well. A

great web site is an intersection of every other online initiative, including

podcasts, blogs, news releases, and other online media. In a cohesive and

interesting way, the content-rich web site organizes the online personality

of your organization to delight, entertain, and—most important—inform

each of your buyers.

Political Advocacy on the WebThe Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is the nation’s most effective

environmental action organization. According to its web site,1 the organiza-

tion uses law, science, and the support of 1.2 million members and online

activists to protect the planet’s wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe

and healthy environment for all living things. What makes the organization

interesting is the vast amount of web content available on its site; the various

media that its marketers deploy; and the tools it provides to online activists

and political bloggers in order to spread the group’s message. The professionals

at NRDC, which was named by Worth magazine as one of America’s 100 best

charities, know that more than one million members are the best storytelling

asset available. By developing a terrific web site to enlist people to donate their

online voices, NRDC expands the team and its message-delivery capabilities


The site includes environmental news, resources, and information on

topics such as Clean Air & Energy; Clean Drinking Water & Oceans; Wildlife

& Fish; and Parks, Forests, & Wetlands. In addition, it offers online


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publications, links to laws and treaties, and a glossary of environmental

terms. The NRDC delivers the organization’s message via audio, video, and

text and also encourages others to support the cause through giving their

time and money and through reusing online content.

Throughout the site, widgets (small applications found on web sites and

blogs) and links are available for bloggers to use in helping spread the mes-

sage. Prominent widgets include social bookmarking tools to add tags to del. and Digg (to make it easier for people who use those sites to find infor-

mation from NRDC). The site also offers independent bloggers and web site

owners ‘‘badges’’ (graphical images that look like banner ads) that they add to

their blog or site and then link back to NRDC to show support. For example,

people who wish to help find solutions to both global warming and depen-

dency on oil might put a biofuels badge2 on their blog or web site; the badge

links to NRDC content about biofuels. The badges available include small

ones that look like the RSS links found on many blogs and larger ones similar

to banner ads. The NRDC has also created Squidoo lenses such as ‘‘Under-

standing Global Warming (from the experts at NRDC),’’3 and it encourages

its constituents to do the same. (A Squidoo lens is a web page built by some-

one with expertise on a topic—for more about Squidoo, see Chapter 14.)

‘‘I came to NRDC from NPR initially, doing media relations,’’ says Daniel

Hinerfeld, associate director of communications for NRDC. ‘‘But because I’m

in the L.A. office and we have entertainment industry contacts, I’ve started

creating multimedia content for the site. We have a video called Lethal Sound4

narrated by Pierce Brosnan that was my first big taste of multimedia.’’ The

video, which has been a hit on the festival circuit, details evidence linking

sonar to a series of whale strandings in recent years. To encourage people to

take action, the landing page for the video has multiple widgets and tools.

From this page viewers can easily send messages to elected officials, donate

money, and send online postcards to friends. Links to additional content,

such as an NRDC press release titled ‘‘Navy Sued Over Harm to Whales from

Mid-Frequency Sonar’’ and a detailed report titled ‘‘Sounding the Depths II,’’

are just a click away. All this well-organized content, complete with easy ways

to link to related information and to share content on blogs and with friends,


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is pulled together on the site and contributes greatly to the NRDC leadership

position. And online content experts at NRDC are constantly looking for new

ways to deliver their important messages.

‘‘We created a podcast channel5 with broadcast-quality, journalistic-style

packages,’’ Hinerfeld says. ‘‘Our communications strategy is not just to reach

the media, but to also reach the constituents directly.’’ Hinerfeld draws exten-

sively from his experience at NPR when he produces shows for the NRDC

podcasts. ‘‘I always try hard to include points of view that are at odds with

our own,’’ he says. ‘‘I think it makes it more interesting, and it reinforces our

own position. For example, when we conduct interviews with our own staff,

we challenge people with difficult questions, not just softballs, much like a

journalist would. Going this route makes it authentic. People don’t want PR,

they want something that’s real.’’

Hinerfeld says that multimedia is very exciting because it gives NRDC an

opportunity to reach younger constituencies. ‘‘I’ve come across people who

are huge consumers of podcasts, and many listen to them during long com-

mutes,’’ he says. ‘‘We use this sort of content to bond with people in a different,

less wonky way. We also profile our younger staff members, which is a way to

personalize the institution.’’ Some staff members have MySpace profiles and

use them to spread the word as well (more on MySpace is in Chapter 14).

NRDC is very well known within the news media that cover environmental

issues on Capitol Hill. But the site content, the audio and video, and the site

components that are offered to bloggers to spread the message (and cause it

to go viral) make the organization much more approachable, especially to

online activists and the younger MySpace generation. The NRDC staffers are

active participants in the market and on the sites and blogs their constituents

read. All these efforts make their content authentic, because it is contextually

appropriate for the audiences the group needs to reach.

Content: The Focus of Successful Web SitesThe NRDC site is an excellent example of a web site that is designed to reach

buyers. For the NRDC, the ‘‘buyers’’ are the more than one million members,

advocates, and activists who use the site to work to protect the planet’s wild-

life and wild places and to promote a healthy environment.


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Unfortunately, the vast majority of sites are built with the wrong focus.

Yes, appearance and navigation are important: Appropriate colors, logos,

fonts, and design make a site appealing. The right technologies such as con-

tent-management systems make sites easier to update. But what really matters

is the content, how that content is organized, and how it drives action from


To move content to its rightful place in driving a successful marketing and

PR strategy, content must be the single most important component. That fo-

cus can be tough for many people, both when their agencies push for hip and

stylish design and when their IT departments obsess about the architecture. It

is your role to think like a publisher and begin any new site or site redesign

by starting with the content strategy.

Reaching a Global MarketplaceIn 2009, I delivered presentations in countries including New Zealand, Turkey,

and the Dominican Republic. As I traveled to my keynote speeches in each

of the Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia), I was struck by how

plugged into the web their residents are. For example, among Estonia’s popu-

lation of just 1.3 million people are 806,000 Internet users. My high-speed

connections in this part of the world were much faster than in most parts of

the United States.

The incredibly successful marketers I met in each of these small countries

impressed me greatly with their outward thinking. When you live in a coun-

try like Latvia, your home market is tiny, requiring you to sell your products

and services internationally. It also requires that you think deeply about your

buyers in the global marketplace.

Consider LessLoss Audio Devices,6 a company based in Kaunas, Lithuania.

LessLoss creates amazing (and fabulously expensive) high-end audio prod-

ucts and has become famous among rabid audiophiles worldwide for power

cords, filters, cables, and other equipment. LessLoss sells all over the world,

and its site has a deliberately global focus. The e-commerce and SEO platform

is managed by Globaltus,7 also a Lithuanian company.


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The LessLoss site includes amazingly detailed information about the audio

devices, together with terrific photos. For example, there’s an essay on ‘‘The

Concept of Noise,’’ which details why a sound-preserving technique known

as power filtering is important. After all, when you sell power cables that can

cost a thousand U.S. dollars, they had better be good. (And it’s probably a

good idea to explain why they’re so good.)

‘‘It is amazing how people from such a small country can reach customers

worldwide and prove to be well respected,’’ says Tomas Paplauskas, CEO of

Globaltus. ‘‘The power of the Internet gives the opportunity to reach huge

markets. Just imagine how few of these amazing power cords you could sell

in Lithuania. There are no more local businesses—all businesses are global.’’

I think there is an important lesson here. We can all learn from the suc-

cessful companies in these small countries, companies that have learned to

create content-rich web sites to reach a global audience. And we can all repro-

duce their success. The marketplace is the outside world, not just your home

city or state.

Putting It All Together with ContentAs you’re reading through this discussion of unifying your online marketing

and PR efforts on your web site, you might be thinking, ‘‘That’s easy for a

smaller organization or one that has only one product line, but I work for a

large company with many brands.’’ Yes, it is more difficult to coordinate wide

varieties of content when you have to juggle multiple brands, geographic var-

iation, languages, and other considerations common to large companies. But

with a large, widely dispersed organization, putting it all together on a corpo-

rate site might be even more important because showing a unified personality

reaps benefits.

‘‘The key is the collaboration between the different business units, the cor-

porate offices, and the departments,’’ says Sarah F. Garnsey, head of marketing

and web communications at Textron Inc.8 ‘‘At Textron, each business has its

own independently operated web site, which makes coordination difficult be-

cause each is a well-defined brand that may be more familiar to people than

our corporate brand.’’


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Textron Inc, a global company with yearly revenues of $14 billion and

more than 37,000 employees in 33 countries, is recognized for strong

brands such as Bell Helicopter, Cessna Aircraft, E-Z-GO (golf cars), and

many others. The company has several dozen web sites, typically for the

individual brands, such as Bell Helicopter.9 ‘‘Through search logs we

learned that many people were searching for product and business infor-

mation on the corporate [Textron] site,’’ Garnsey says. ‘‘That was a wakeup

call for us, because we had thought that people were going to the business

sites for this information. So we’ve built out the corporate site with more

content about each of the businesses.’’ On a visit to the new site, I was able

to watch a video featuring Cessna Aircraft10 CEO Jack Pelton, check out a

lot of great photos of the products, and read feature stories about employ-

ees such as John Delamarter, who’s the program manager of Lycoming’s

Thunderbolt Engine and who discussed his pride and pleasure in his

work. Textron has a well-organized online media room and, because the

company’s stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, there is also

an Investor Relations section on the site.

‘‘We work with the businesses to showcase interesting things, and we try to

have fresh content on the site and update it with new weekly stories,’’ Garnsey

says. ‘‘But the content is only as good as the management of the content and

the processes. With a large site, rigor of process is required that many compa-

nies might underestimate. It takes coordination and management. For exam-

ple, I can’t make the content in the recruiting section of the site compelling

unless I get the complete cooperation of the human resources department.

People had grown to believe that you just throw the content at a webmaster

and it all just works. But it doesn’t—the days of the guy with the server under

the desk are over.’’

Garnsey has a set of processes and procedures to make certain that the

Textron site meets the needs of buyers and that everything on it works well,

and she has a small team that works with her to coordinate with the people

who manage division and product-company web sites. ‘‘We have a content

management process to make sure everything is fresh, has been reviewed,

and is passed by legal,’’ she says. ‘‘But a primary component is that we make

sure that the voice of the customer is captured and built into all of our


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electronic communications. We work on how to draw users into the content

and use the site to form a relationship with them. Even if they don’t purchase

something from us right away, maybe they will become interested in the com-

pany stock or in something from one of the brands like Cessna.’’ To make sure

the site follows best practice, Garnsey brings people into a lab for annual

usability tests and research. ‘‘We also do an audit of all of our dot-com sites

every year to make sure that all sites comply with the standards,’’ she says.

‘‘And each year we hold a web Summit of all the Textron people working

on web initiatives from all over the company. We try to foster a community of

people who otherwise would have no reason to speak with each other be-

cause the individual businesses don’t have a lot in common.’’

Great Web Sites: More Art than ScienceThe more I research web sites—and I’ve checked out thousands over the past

several years—the more I realize that the best ones unite many important fac-

tors in a way that is difficult to describe. They just feel right—as if the creator

of the site cares a great deal and wants her passion to shine through. Like a

sprinkling of fairy dust, the effect is important but indescribable. However,

I’m convinced that the key is to understand buyers (or those who may donate,

subscribe, join, or vote) and build content especially for them.

Consider Sasha Vujacic:11 The Official web site of ‘‘The Machine,’’ a profes-

sional athlete fan page for the point guard/shooting guard of the Los Angeles

Lakers’ triangle offense. Sasha was a member of the Slovenian junior national

team and was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Draft. The

Sasha site is beautifully designed and contains a huge amount of information

about the player, including videos, photos, and much more. And get this:

There’s content in multiple languages (English, Italian, Slovenian, and even

Chinese and Japanese) because Sasha has fans from all over the world. His

multilanguage content appeals to different buyer personas.

The Sasha Vujacic Twitter feed12 updates on the site, and there is an RSS

feed of ‘‘regularly updated insider information and stories that you may pub-

lish on your web site automatically as Sasha publishes them.’’ The best part of

the site is that it gives off the vibe that Sasha is approachable. There are many


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casual photos of him, and there’s a tool where fans can ask him questions and

can even create their own T-shirt design and send it to him. If Sasha likes the

design, he posts it on his official online store.

Vladimir Cuk and his firm Attention Interactive built the site for Sasha.

But more importantly, Cuk and his firm developed a terrific strategy for Sasha

to interact with his fans and the media. ‘‘The site is a hit with fans and NBA

officials alike,’’ Cuk says. Sasha and his management team are amazed at how

the site looks and at the level of interaction and response from the fan com-

munity, according to Cuk. Other players have noticed as well and are in-

trigued about the possibilities of engaging more intimately with the public

via the web and social media, Cuk also notes.

When Cuk was pitching Sasha’s people for the business, he was up against

the traditional public relations firms that frequently work with other NBA

players. Sasha and his manager asked very intelligent questions during the

meetings and came away ready to try what (to date) is a nontraditional pro-

motion strategy for a pro basketball player. Most players use the media exclu-

sively to deliver messages and are removed from interacting directly with

fans. Not Sasha.

Effective sites like Sasha’s draw on the passion of the people who build

them and reflect the personality of someone dedicated to helping others.

As you develop content to further your organizational goals, remember

that a successful approach is often more art than science. The content you

offer must have distinctive qualities, and your personality needs to show.

A well-executed web site, like a quality television program or film, is a

combination of content and delivery. But on the web, many organizations

spend much more time and money on the design and delivery aspects than

on the content itself. Don’t fall into that trap. Perfecting that critical mix of

content, design, and technology is where the art comes in. Adding person-

ality and authenticity and reaching particular buyer personas makes the

challenge even more daunting. Just remember, there is no absolute right

or wrong way to create a web site; each organization has an individual and

important story to tell.

Now let’s spend some time on the specifics of how you can implement

these ideas for your own organization. Part III of this book starts with a

discussion of how you build a comprehensive marketing and PR plan to reach

your buyers directly with web content. Once armed with your plan, continue

to the chapters that follow, which will give you advice for developing thought

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leadership content and writing for your buyers. Finally, I provide detailed

information on how to implement a news release program, build an online

media room, create your own blog and podcast, and work with social-

networking sites. Because I’m convinced of the value of hearing from innova-

tive marketers who have had success with these ideas, I continue to sprinkle

case studies throughout the remaining chapters to give you some examples

of how others have implemented these ideas and to help you get your own

creative juices flowing.

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IIIAction Plan forHarnessing thePower of the NewRules

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10You Are What YouPublish: Building YourMarketing and PRPlan

Does your company sell great products? Or, if you don’t work in a tradi-

tional company, does your organization (church, nonprofit, consulting

company, school) offer great services? Well, get over it! Marketing is not only

about your products! The most important thing to remember as you develop

a marketing and PR plan is to put your products and services to the side for

just a little while and focus your complete attention on the buyers of your

products (or those who will donate, subscribe, join, or apply). Devoting at-

tention to buyers and away from products is difficult for many people, but it

always pays off in the form of bringing you closer to achieving your goals.

Think Starbucks for a moment. Is the product great? Yeah, I guess the

three-dollar cup of coffee I get from Starbucks tastes pretty good. And most

marketers, if given the opportunity to market Starbucks, would focus on the

coffee itself—the product. But is that really what people are buying at Star-

bucks, or does Starbucks help solve other buyer problems? Maybe Starbucks

is really selling a place to hang out for a while. Or, for that matter, isn’t Star-

bucks a convenient place for people to meet? (I use Starbucks several times a

month as a place to connect with people or conduct interviews.) Or do people

use Starbucks for the free wireless Internet connections? Maybe Starbucks

saves 10 minutes in your day because you don’t have to grind beans, pour

water into a coffee maker, wait, and clean up later. For some of us, Starbucks

just represents a little splurge because, well, we’re worth it. I’d argue that Star-

bucks does all those things. Starbucks appeals to many different buyer per-

sonas, and it sells lots of things besides just coffee. If you were marketing

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Starbucks, it would be your job to segment buyers and appeal to them based

on their needs, not just to talk about your product.

The approach of thinking about buyers and the problems our organiza-

tions solve for them can be difficult for many marketers, since we’ve con-

stantly been told how important a great product or service is to the

marketing mix. In fact, standard marketing education still talks about

the four Ps of marketing—product, place, price, and promotion—as being

the most important things. That’s nonsense. In order to succeed on the Web

under the new rules of marketing and PR, you need to consider your organi-

zational goals and then focus on your buyers first. Only when you understand

buyers should you begin to create compelling Web content to reach them.

Yes, marketers often argue with me on this. But I strongly believe that the

product or service you sell is secondary when you market your organization

on the Web.

So, I will ask you to put aside your products and services as you begin the

task for this chapter: building a marketing and PR plan that follows the new

rules. While the most important thing to focus on during this process is buy-

ers, we will do that in the context of your organizational goals. Trust me—

this will be like no marketing and PR plan you’ve created before.

What Are Your Organization’s Goals?Marketing and PR people have a collective difficulty getting our departmental

goals in sync with the rest of the company. And our management teams go

along with this dysfunction. Think about the goals that most marketers have.

They usually take the form of an epic to-do list: ‘‘Let’s see; we should do a few

trade shows, buy Yellow-Pages ads, maybe create a new logo, get press clips,

produce some T-shirts, increase web site traffic, and, oh yeah, generate some

leads for the salespeople.’’ Well, guess what? Those aren’t the goals of your

company! I’ve never seen ‘‘leads’’ or ‘‘clips’’ or ‘‘T-shirts’’ on a balance sheet.

With typical marketing department goals, we constantly focus on the flare-up

du jour and thus always focus on the wrong thing. This also gives the market-

ing profession a bad rap in many companies as a bunch of flaky slackers. No

wonder marketing is called the ‘‘branding police’’ in some organizations and

is often the place where failed salespeople end up.

Many marketers and PR people also focus on the wrong measures of suc-

cess. With web sites, people will often tell me things like, ‘‘We want to have

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ten thousand unique visitors per month to our site.’’ And PR measurement

is often similarly irrelevant: ‘‘We want ten mentions in the trade press and

three national magazine hits each month.’’ Unless your site makes money

through advertising so that raw traffic adds revenue, traffic is the wrong mea-

sure. And simple press clips just don’t matter. What matters is leading your

site’s visitors and your constituent audiences to where they help you reach

your real goals, such as building revenue, soliciting donations, gaining new

members, and the like.

This lack of clear goals and real measurement reminds me of seven-year-

olds playing soccer. If you’ve ever seen little children on the soccer field, you

know that they operate as one huge organism packed together, chasing the

ball around the field. On the sidelines are helpful coaches yelling, ‘‘Pass!’’ or

‘‘Go to the goal!’’ Yet as the coaches and parents know, this effort is futile: No

matter what the coach says or how many times the kids practice, they still

focus on the wrong thing—the ball—instead of the goal.

That’s exactly what we marketers and PR people do. We fill our lists with

balls and lose sight of the goal. But do you know what’s even worse? Our

coaches (the management teams at our companies) actually encourage us

to focus on balls (like sales leads or press clips or web site traffic statistics)

instead of real organizational goals such as revenue. The VPs and CEOs of

companies happily provide incentives based on leads for the marketing de-

partment and on clips for the PR team. And the agencies we contract with—

advertising and PR agencies—also focus on the wrong measures.

What we need to do is align marketing and PR objectives with those of the

organization. For most corporations, the most important goal is profitable

revenue growth. In newer companies and those built around emerging tech-

nologies, this usually means generating new customers, but in mature busi-

nesses, the management team may need to be more focused on keeping the

customers that they already have. Of course, nonprofits have the goal of rais-

ing money; politicians, to get out the vote; rock bands to get people to buy

CDs, iTunes downloads, and tickets to live shows; and universities, to get stu-

dent applications and alumni donations.

So your first step is to get with the leaders of your organization—your

management team or your associates in your church or nonprofit or your

spouse if you run a small business—and determine your business goals.

If you run a nonprofit, school, church, or political campaign, consider your

goals for donations, applications, new members, or votes. Write them down

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in detail. The important things you write down might be ‘‘grow revenue

in Europe by 20 percent’’ or ‘‘increase new-member signups to one hundred

per month in the fourth quarter’’ or ‘‘generate a million dollars in Web dona-

tions next quarter’’ or ‘‘generate five paid speaking engagements in the

upcoming year.’’

Now that you have the marketing and PR plan focused on the right goals

(i.e., those of your organization), the next step is to learn as much as you can

about your buyers and to segment them into groups so you can reach them

through your Web publishing efforts.

Buyer Personas and Your OrganizationSuccessful online marketing and PR efforts work because they start by identi-

fying one or more buyer personas to target, so you need to make buyer per-

sonas a part of your planning process. A buyer persona (which we touched on

back in Chapter 3) is essentially a representative of a type of buyer that you

have identified as having a specific interest in your organization or product or

having a market problem that your product or service solves. Building buyer

personas is the first step and probably the single most important thing that

you will do in creating your marketing and PR plan. Consider the U.S. presi-

dential elections of 2004. Marketers for the two major candidates segmented

buyers (voters) into dozens of distinct buyer personas. Some of the names of

the buyer personas (sometimes called ‘‘microtargets’’ in the political world)

became well known as the media began to write about them, while many

other persona labels remained internal to the candidates. Some of the better-

known buyer personas of the 2004 presidential election were ‘‘NASCAR

Dads’’ (rural working-class males, many of whom are NASCAR fans) and

‘‘Security Moms’’ (mothers who were worried about terrorism and concerned

about security). By segmenting millions of voters into distinct buyer per-

sonas, the candidates built marketing campaigns and PR programs that

appealed specifically to each. Contrast this approach with a one-size-fits-all

campaign that targets everybody but appeals to nobody.

Another example I quite like for illustrating the point of buyer personas is

the market for tricycles. The user of the most common tricycle is a preschool

child. Yet a preschooler doesn’t buy her own tricycle. The most common

buyer personas for children’s tricycles are parents and grandparents. So what

problem does the tricycle solve? Well, for parents, it might be that the child

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has been asking for one and the purchase quiets the child down. Parents also

know that the child is growing quickly and will want a two-wheeler with

training wheels soon enough, so a basic trike is typically enough in their

eyes. However, grandparents buy tricycles to solve the problem of providing

an extravagant gift, so they often buy the expensive models to show their love

to the child and his or her parents. When you think about tricycles from the

perspective of buyer personas, you can see how the marketing might be dif-

ferent for parents and grandparents.

You, too, need to segment buyer personas so you can then develop mar-

keting programs to reach each one. Let’s revisit the college example from

Chapter 3 and expand on it. Remember that we identified five different

buyer personas for a college web site: young alumni (those who graduated

within the past 10 or 15 years), older alumni, the high school student who

is considering college, the parents of the prospective student, and existing

customers (current students). That means a well-executed college site

might target five distinct buyer personas.

A college might have the marketing and PR goal of generating 500 addi-

tional applications for admission from qualified students for the next aca-

demic year. Let’s also pretend that the college hopes to raise $5 million in

donations from alumni who have never contributed in the past. That’s great!

These are real goals that marketers can build programs around.

The Buyer Persona ProfileAfter identifying their goals, the marketing people at the college should

build a buyer persona profile, essentially a kind of biography, for each

group they’ll target to achieve those goals. The college might create one

buyer persona for prospective students (targeting high school students

looking for schools) and another for parents of high school students (who

are part of the decision process and often pay the bills). If the school targets

a specific type of applicant, say student athletes, they might build a specific

buyer persona profile for the high school student who participates in var-

sity sports. To effectively target the alumni for donations, the school might

decide to build a buyer persona for younger alumni, perhaps those who

have graduated in the past 10 years.

For each buyer persona profile, we want to know as much as we can about

this group of people. What are their goals and aspirations? What are their

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problems? What media do they rely on for answers to problems? How can

we reach them? We want to know, in detail, the things that are important

for each buyer persona. What words and phrases do the buyers use? What

sorts of images and multimedia appeal to each? Are short and snappy

sentences better than long, verbose ones? I encourage you to write these

things down based on your understanding of each buyer persona. You

should also read the publications and web sites that your buyers read

to gain an understanding of the way they think. For example, college

marketing people should read the US News and World Report issue that

ranks America’s Best Colleges as well as the guidebooks that prospective

students read, such as Countdown to College: 21 To-Do Lists for High

School: Step-By-Step Strategies for 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Graders and

The Ultimate College Acceptance System: Everything You Need to Know to

Get into the Right College for You. Reading what your buyer personas read

will get you thinking like them. By doing some basic research on your

buyers, you can learn a great deal, and your marketing will be much

more effective.

The best way to learn about buyers and develop buyer persona profiles is

to interview people. I have no doubt that representatives of the two presiden-

tial candidates interviewed many NASCAR Dads and Security Moms to build

profiles for these and many other buyer personas they identified. Similarly,

the marketing person at our hypothetical college must interview people who

fit the personas the school identified. The college marketing people might

learn a great deal if they turned the traditional in-person college admissions

interview around by asking prospective students questions such as the fol-

lowing: When did you first start researching schools? Who influenced your

research? How did you learn about this school? How many schools are you

applying to? What web sites, blogs, or pod-casts do you read or subscribe to?

Once you know this first-hand information, you should subscribe to, read,

and listen to the media that influence your target buyer. When you read what

your buyers read, pay attention to the exact words and phrases that are used.

If students frequent Facebook or other social-network sites, so should you,

and you should pay attention to the lingo students use. By triangulating the

information gathered directly from several dozen prospective students plus

information from the media that these students pay attention to, you easily

build a buyer persona for a high school student ready to apply to a college

like yours.

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‘‘A buyer persona profile is a short biography of the typical customer, not

just a job description but a person description,’’ says Adele Revella,1 who

has been using buyer personas to market technology products for more

than 20 years. ‘‘The buyer persona profile gives you a chance to truly empa-

thize with target buyers, to step out of your role as someone who wants to

promote a product and see, through your buyers’ eyes, the circumstances

that drive their decision process. The buyer persona profile includes infor-

mation on the typical buyer’s background, daily activities, and current solu-

tions for their problems. The more experience you have in your market, the

more obvious the personas become.’’

This may sound a bit wacky, but I think you should go so far as to name

your persona the way that the campaigns did with NASCAR Dads and Secu-

rity Moms. You might even cut out a representative photo from a magazine to

help you visualize him or her. This should be an internal name only that helps

you and your colleagues to develop sympathy with and a deep understanding

of the real people to whom you market. Rather than a nameless, faceless

‘‘prospect,’’ your buyer persona will come to life.

For example, a buyer persona for a male high school student who is a var-

sity athlete and whom you want to target might be named ‘‘Sam the Athlete’’

and his persona might read something like this: ‘‘Sam the Athlete began

thinking about colleges and the upcoming application process way back

when he was a freshman in high school. His coach and parents recognized

his athletic talent and suggested that it will help him get into a good college

or even secure a scholarship. Sam knows that he’s good, but not good enough

to play on a Division 1 school. Sam first started poking around on college

web sites as a freshman and enjoyed checking out the athletic pages for the

colleges in his home state and some nearby ones. He even attended some of

these colleges’ games when he could. Sam has good grades, but he is not at

the top of his class because his sports commitments mean he can’t study as

much as his peers. He has close friends and likes to hang out with them on

weekends, but he is not heavily into the party scene and avoids alcohol and

drugs. Sam frequents Facebook, has his own Facebook page, and has a group

of online friends that he frequently Instant Messages with. He is hip to online

nuance, language, and etiquette. Sam also reads Sports Illustrated Magazine.

Now that he is a junior, he knows it is time to get serious about college


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applications, and he doesn’t really know where to start. But to learn, he’s pay-

ing more attention to the applications pages than the athletic pages on college

web sites.’’

Okay, so you’re nodding your head and agreeing with this buyer persona

profiling thing. ‘‘But,’’ you ask, ‘‘how many buyer personas do I need?’’ You

might want to think about your buyer personas based on what factors differ-

entiate them. How can you slice the demographics? For example, some orga-

nizations will have a different profile for buyers in the United States versus

Europe. Or maybe your company sells to buyers in the automobile industry

and in the government sector, and those buyers are different. The important

thing is that you will use this buyer persona information to create specific

marketing and PR programs to reach each buyer persona, and therefore

you need to have the segmentation in fine enough detail that when they

encounter your Web content, your buyers will say: ‘‘Yes, that’s me. This orga-

nization understands me and my problems and will therefore have products

that fit my needs.’’

Marketers and PR pros are often amazed at the transformation of their

materials and programs as a result of buyer persona profiling. ‘‘When you

really know how your buyers think and what matters to them, you elimi-

nate the agony of guessing about what to say or where and how to commu-

nicate with buyers,’’ says Revella. ‘‘Marketers tell me that they don’t have

time to build buyer personas, but these same people are wasting countless

hours in meetings debating about whether the message is right. And of

course, they’re wasting budgets building programs and tools that don’t

resonate with anyone. It’s just so much easier and more effective to listen

before you talk.’’

Reaching Senior ExecutivesMany people ask me about reaching senior executives via the Web. That exec-

utives do not use the Web as much as other people is a commonly held belief,

one that I’ve never bought. Frequently, business-to-business marketers use

this misperception as an excuse for why they don’t have to focus on building

buyer personas and marketing materials for senior executives. Based on anec-

dotal information from meeting with many of them, I have always argued that

executives are online in a big way. However, I’ve never had any solid data to

support my hunch until now.

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Forbes Insights, in association with Google, recently released a new study

called The Rise of the Digital C-Suite: How Executives Locate and Filter Business

Information.2 The findings clearly show that the Web is considered by execu-

tives to be their most valuable resource for gathering business information,

outstripping at-work contacts, personal networks, trade publications, and so

on. In fact, 74 percent of respondents rated the Internet as very valuable (5 on

a 5-point scale).

‘‘The common perception is that top executives at the largest companies

do not use the Internet, but the reality is just the opposite,’’ says Stuart Feil,

editorial director of Forbes Insights. ‘‘These findings show that C-level execu-

tives are more involved online than their counterparts, and younger genera-

tions of executives—those whose work careers have coincided with the

growth of the PC and the Internet—are bringing profound organizational

change to these companies.’’

The Importance of Buyer Personas in WebMarketingOne of the simplest ways to build an effective web site or to create great mar-

keting programs using online content is to target the specific buyer personas

that you have created. Yet most web sites are big brochures that do not offer

specific information for different buyers. Think about it—the typical web site

is one-size-fits-all, with the content organized by the company’s products or

services, not by categories corresponding to buyer personas and their associ-

ated problems.

The same thing is true about other online marketing programs. Without a

focus on the buyer, the typical press release and media relations program is

built on what the organization wants to say rather than what the buyer wants

to hear. There is a huge difference. Companies that are successful with direct-

to-consumer news release strategies write for their buyers. The blogs that are

best at reaching an organizational goal are not about companies or products

but rather customers and their problems.

Now that you’ve set quantifiable organizational goals and identified the

buyer personas that you want to reach, your job as you develop your market-

ing and PR plan is to identify the best ways to reach buyers and develop


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compelling information that you will use in your Web marketing programs. If

you’ve conducted interviews with buyers and developed a buyer persona pro-

file, then you know the buyer problems that your product or service solves,

and you know the media that buyers turn to for answers. Do they go first to a

search engine? If so, what words and phrases do they enter? Which blogs,

chat rooms, forums, and online news sites do they read? Are they open to

audio or video? You need to answer these questions before you continue.

In Your Buyers’ Own WordsThroughout the book, I often refer to the importance of understanding the

words and phrases that buyers use. An effective Web marketing plan requires

an understanding of the ways your buyers speak and the real words and

phrases they use. This is important not only for building a positive online

relationship with your buyers, but also for planning effective search engine

marketing strategies. After all, if you are not using the phrases your buyers

search on, how can you possibly reach them?

Let’s take a look at the importance of the actual words buyers use, by way

of an example. Several years ago, I worked with to create a

Web content strategy to reach buyers of the company’s new Whistleblower

Hotline product and move those buyers into and through the sales cycle. The product was developed as an outsourced solution for public

companies to comply with rule 301 (the so-called ‘‘Whistleblower Hotline’’

provision) of the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley legislation that passed in 2002 in the

wake of corporate scandals such as Enron. Most importantly, we interviewed

buyers (such as chief financial officers within publicly traded companies)

who were required to comply with the legislation. We also read the publica-

tions that our buyers read (such as CFO, Directors Monthly, and the AACA

Docket of the American Corporate Counsel Association); we actually down-

loaded and read the massive Sarbanes-Oxley legislation document itself; and

we studied the agendas of the many conferences and events that our buyers

attended that discussed the importance of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

As a result of the buyer persona research, we learned the phrases that buy-

ers used when discussing the Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower hotline rule, and

so the content that we created for the web site3 included


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such important phrases as: ‘‘SEC mandates,’’ ‘‘complete audit trail,’’ ‘‘Sarbanes-

Oxley rule 301,’’ ‘‘confidential and anonymous submission,’’ and ‘‘safe and

secure employee reporting.’’ An important component of the web site we cre-

ated (based on our buyer persona research) was thought-leadership–based

content, including a Webinar called ‘‘Whistleblower Hotlines: More than

a Mandate’’ that featured guest speakers Harvey Pitt (former chairman of the

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) and Lynn Brewer (author of the

book House of Cards: Confessions of an Enron Executive). Because this Webinar

discusses issues of importance to buyers (not only prod-

ucts), and the guest speakers are thought leaders that buyers are interested

in learning from, 600 people eagerly watched the presentation live.

‘‘The Webinar was very important because when we launched the product

we were starting from a position with no market share within this product

niche,’’ says Bradley H. Smith, director of marketing/communications at ‘‘Other companies had already entered the market before

us. The Webinar gave us search engine terms like ‘Harvey Pitt’ and ‘Enron’

and offered a celebrity draw. Search engine placement was important because

it created our brand as a leader in Whistleblower Hotline technologies even

though we were new to this market. Besides prospective clients, the media

found us, which resulted in important press including prominent placement

in a Wall Street Journal article called ‘Making it Easier to Complain.’’’ then took the service to the Canadian market where

the legislation was called ‘‘Ontario Securities Commission and The Audit

Committees Rule of the Canadian Securities Administrators Guidelines

Multilateral Instrument 52-110’’ (quite a mouthful). Smith and his col-

leagues interviewed buyers in Canada and did some buyer persona re-

search to determine if there were any differences in the words and phrases

used in Canada. There were! Unlike the other U.S. companies attempting

to enter the Canadian market for hotline solutions by just using their U.S.

marketing materials, created a separate set of Web con-

tent for Canadian buyers. Used in the pages for these buyers were specific

phrases that were used by Canadian buyers (but not buyers in the U.S.),

such as ‘‘governance hotline,’’ ‘‘conducting a forensic accounting investiga-

tion,’’ and the exact name of the Canadian legislation.

Because the marketers at had done extensive buyer per-

sona research and had created Web content with the words and phrases used

by buyers, the pages were visited frequently and linked to

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often, and they became highly ranked by the search engines. In fact, at the

time of this writing, is number one out of 258,000 hits on

Google for the phrase ‘‘whistleblower hotline.’’ As a result of traffic driven

from the search engines and great Web content for both U.S. and Canadian

buyers (such as Webinars), the product launch was a success. ‘‘In the four

months immediately after the Webcast, we signed 75 clients,’’ Smith says.

‘‘Furthermore, the Webcast archive of the event continued to work for us

throughout the year, advancing our brand presence, generating sales leads,

and contributing to the strongest standalone product

launch ever.’’

Figuring out the phrases for your market requires that you buckle down

and do some research. Although interviewing buyers about their market

problems and listening to the words and phrases they use is best, you can

also learn a great deal by reading the publications that they read. Check out

any blogs in your buyers’ space (if you haven’t already), and study the agendas

and topic descriptions for the conferences and seminars that your buyers fre-

quent. When you have a list of the phrases that are important to your buyers,

use those phrases not only to appeal to them specifically, but also to make

your pages appear in the search engine results when your buyers search for

what you have to offer.

What Do You Want Your Buyers to Believe?Now that you have identified organizational goals, built a set of one or more

buyer personas, and researched the words and phrases your buyers use to talk

about and search for your product, you should think about what you want

each of your buyer personas to believe about your organization. What are the

messages that you will use for each buyer persona? Think back again to the

2004 U.S. presidential election. Once they had identified buyer personas such

as NASCAR Dads and Security Moms, the campaigns had to create a set of

messages, web sites, TV ads, direct mail campaigns, and talking points that the

candidates would use in speeches to these groups. For example, George W.

Bush appealed to Security Moms with speeches and advertising that claimed

that families would be safer from the threats of terrorism with his ‘‘stay the

course’’ approach if he were reelected rather than if John Kerry were elected.

In the 2008 election, Barack Obama focused on his buyer personas and

identified as crucially important the concept of ‘‘change.’’ Everywhere you

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saw the Obama campaign, you saw nods to this theme: on the podium where

the candidate was speaking, on T-shirts and buttons, on posters, and of

course on the Web. The Obama campaign shrewdly understood that, when

primary voters pulled the lever to vote for Obama, they were buying into the

idea of the need for change. They were choosing an idea, not just a man. The

Obama campaign clearly understood, and articulated, what they wanted their

buyer personas to believe that the candidate would bring.

You must do the same thing with your buyer personas. What do you want

each group to believe about your organization? What messages will you use

to reach them on the Web? Remember, the best messages are not just about

your product. What is each buyer persona really buying from you? Is it great

customer service? The ‘‘safe choice’’? Luxury? For example, Volvo doesn’t just

sell a car; it sells safety.

And don’t forget that different buyer personas buy different things from

your organization. Think about Gatorade for a moment. For competitive ath-

letes, Gatorade has been the drink of choice for decades. I found some inter-

esting messages on the Gatorade web site,4 including ‘‘If you want to win,

you’ve got to replace what you lose,’’ and ‘‘For some athletes, significant dehy-

dration can occur within the initial 30 minutes of exercise.’’ These are inter-

esting messages, because they target the buyer persona of the competitive

athlete and focus on how Gatorade can help those athletes win.

Now I’m not an expert on Gatorade’s buyer personas, but it seems to me

that they could further refine their buyer personas based on the sports ath-

letes play or on whether they are professionals or amateurs. If tennis players

see themselves as very different from football players, then Gatorade may

need to create buyer persona profiles and messages to target both sports sepa-

rately. Or maybe women athletes make up a different buyer persona for

Gatorade than men.

But there’s another buyer persona that I have never seen Gatorade address.

I remember back to my early twenties, when I lived in an apartment in New

York City and was single and making the rounds in the party circuit and late-

night club scene. To be honest, I was partying a little too hard some week-

nights, skulking home in the wee hours. Of course, I then had to make it

down to my Wall Street job by 8:00 A.M. I discovered that drinking a large

bottle of Gatorade on the walk to the subway stop helped make me feel a lot


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better. Now I don’t actually expect Gatorade to develop messages for young

professionals in New York who drink too much, but that buyer persona cer-

tainly has different problems from those that Gatorade solves for athletes.

Imagine advertising for this buyer persona: ‘‘Last night’s third martini still in

your system? Rehydration is not just for athletes. Gatorade.’’

Of course, the point is that different buyer personas have different prob-

lems for your organization to solve. And there’s no doubt that your online

marketing and PR programs will do better if you develop messages for each

buyer persona, instead of simply relying on a generic site that uses one set of

broad messages for everyone.

Developing Content to Reach BuyersYou must now think like a publisher. You should develop an editorial plan to

reach your buyers with focused content in the media that they prefer. Your

first action might be to create a content-rich web site with pages organized

by buyer persona. This does not mean you need to redesign the entire exist-

ing web site, nor does it necessitate a change in the site architecture. You can

start by just creating some new individual pages, each with specialized con-

tent customized for a particular buyer persona, creating appropriate links to

these pages, and leaving the rest of the site alone. For example, our hypothet-

ical college might create content for each of the buyer personas they identi-

fied. Sam the Athlete (the high school student who is a varsity athlete and a

candidate for admission) should have specific content written for him that

describes what it is like to be a student athlete at the college and also gives

tips for the admission process. The college could include profiles of current

student athletes or even a blog by one of the coaches. In addition, appropriate

links on the homepage and the admissions pages should be created for Sam.

An appropriate homepage link such as ‘‘high school athletes start here’’ or

‘‘special information for student athletes’’ would attract Sam’s attention.

At the same time, the college should develop pages for parents of high

school students who are considering applying for admission. The parents

have very different problems from those of the students, and the site content

designed for parents would deal with things like financial aid and safety on


As you keep your publisher’s hat on, consider what other media your orga-

nization can publish on the Web to reach the buyers that you have identified.

A technology company might want to consider a white paper detailing

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solutions to a known buyer problem. Perhaps you have enough information

to create an e-book on a subject that would be of interest to one or more of

your buyer personas. You may want to develop a series of a dozen direct-to-

consumer news releases focusing on a series of issues that you know your

buyer is interested in. Or it might be time to start a blog, a podcast, or online

video channel to reach your buyers.

Consider creating an editorial plan for each buyer persona. You might

do this in the form of a calendar for the upcoming year that includes web

site content, an e-book or white paper, a blog, and some news releases.

Notice as you build an editorial plan and an editorial calendar for the next

year that you’re now focused on creating the compelling content that your

buyers are interested in. Unlike the way you might have done it in the past

(and the way your competitors are marketing today), you are not just cre-

ating a big brochure about your organization. You’re writing for your buy-

ers, not your own ego.

Bozeman, MT-based RightNow Technologies,5 a provider of customer re-

lationship management software, rebuilt its company web site around

buyer personas. ‘‘The RightNow persona development exercise was broader

than just for creating web site content but was designed for all marketing

content,’’ says Steve Bell, product marketing manager for RightNow. ‘‘The

goal of the web site project was to turn into a web site that

sells. We created the new web site with conversion paths (entry points into

the buying process) for each persona, and more overall conversion points

than the original site.’’

To help the Web development team at RightNow build appropriate infor-

mation for the site, detailed buyer personas were created for four different


� Atul—Director of Information Technology (a technical evaluator for a

company that’s considering RightNow Technologies’ products)

� Chuck—Customer Services Director (an operational prospect for Right-

Now Technologies—someone who manages a team that would use the

product to do their jobs)

� Olivia—Senior Vice President (a RightNow Technologies strategic pros-

pect—the top executive in the department that will use the product to

do their jobs)


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� Trinh—Financial Analyst (a RightNow Technologies information seeker

who wants to know more about the company itself )

Bell and his team developed details about these buyer personas. The best

way to do this is to interview representatives of each group. As an example,

some details about Chuck’s goals include:

� Chuck wants to improve his team’s efficiency, due to his inability to fund

new hires to keep up with demand.

� Chuck wants to decrease his staff’s call and email volume, so they can

spend more time with customers who really need help instead of rou-

tinely answering the same questions.

� Chuck needs to find a solution that doesn’t involve complicated IT and

can be implemented quickly.

� Chuck wants to improve customer satisfaction, but he assumes that will

happen if he can reduce his team’s call and email volume.

It’s worth clarifying that the detailed information about your buyer per-

sonas is for your internal information and shouldn’t be posted onto the site.

However, what you learn helps you to create valuable information to be

posted on the public site. For example, on the RightNow homepage, there is

a list of questions on the left-side navigation. The pages that these links point

to are specifically built around buyer personas and address problems that

these personas face.

� I need to transform my call center.

� I need to capture customer feedback.

� I need to add live chat.

‘‘Chuck’s content is built around his specific needs (‘I need to . . . ’), which

are illustrated on the home page and take him down a specific conversion

path,’’ Bell says. ‘‘Olivia, who is more senior, is more focused on strategy and

is more brand-conscious, so a big part of the banner areas on the home page

are dedicated to her, such as ‘Weathering the Storm.’ The CEO blog and the

customer experience strategies are also targeted at Olivia. There was a brand

new technology section dedicated to Atul.’’

According to Bell, the results have exceeded expectations. RightNow has

seen significant improvement in important Web measurements of the new

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site, compared to the previous one: a fourfold increase in overall conversions,

a fivefold increase in live demo request conversions, and an increase in Flash

demo conversions by a factor of more than three.

As the RightNow Technologies example shows, there are clear benefits to

marketing based on detailed understanding of buyer personas. In particular,

when you stop talking about you and your products and services and instead

use the Web to educate and inform important types of buyers, you will be

more successful.

Obama for AmericaI want you to stop, take a deep breath, and let me close this chapter on build-

ing your marketing and PR plan by making a few observations about why

Barack Obama was elected to be the 44th president of the United States. Of

course, this is a book about the new rules of marketing and PR, not a book

about presidential politics. These are not political observations but, rather,

thoughts about the amazing success Obama and his campaign team had in

embracing voters using the new rules of marketing and PR. If you are an

American citizen, it doesn’t matter who you (or I) supported or voted for dur-

ing the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Everyone (those who work in compa-

nies large and small, nonprofits, independent consultants, job seekers,

musicians . . . well, everyone) can learn from Obama’s victory. I certainly

have. After all, who would have predicted in 2006 that a young, skinny, half-

black man with a strange name—Barack Hussein Obama—and funny ears,

who had served less than one term in the U.S. Senate, could be elected to the

most powerful position in the world, despite facing more than 20 other candi-

dates, many of them better known and better funded? There is no doubt in

my mind that Obama was elected because his campaign used the ideas that I

describe in this book. Mind you, I’m not saying his aides had copies of it on

the campaign bus. But I am saying that the campaign observed and acted on

the very same online opportunities that we’ve been discussing in this book,

and they did it better than just about anyone else.

Barack Obama is the most successful ‘‘new marketer’’ in history. Study his

campaign so that you can adapt the ideas for your business.

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‘‘Voters in 2008 were not just passive followers of the political process,’’

says Aaron Smith, research specialist at the Pew Internet & American Life

Project and author of the project’s April 2009 report The Internet’s Role in

Campaign 2008.6 ‘‘They used a wide range of digital tools and technologies to

get involved in the race, to harness their creativity in support of their chosen

candidate, and to join forces with others who shared their same political


Smith’s findings indicate the widespread use of the Web to research candi-

dates and support campaigns. The 2008 election was the first in which more

than half the voting-age population used the Internet for political purposes.

Some 55 percent of all adults—and 74 percent of all Internet users—said

they went online for news and information about the election or to communi-

cate with others about the race. The research found that social media plat-

forms such as blogs, social networking sites, and video-sharing sites played a

key role in 2008, as voters went online to share their views with others and

try to mobilize them to their cause.

As you read these remarkable statistics from Smith’s report, please be

aware that the numbers are likely very similar as they relate to your own busi-

ness. It is clear that the Web and social media are now a mainstream way for

people to do research. Are people finding you, your company, and its prod-

ucts and services the way they found Barack Obama?

� 45 percent of wired Americans watched videos online related to politics

or the election. Young adults led the way in their online video consump-

tion, as nearly half of all 18- to 29-year-olds watched online political

videos this election cycle.

� 33 percent of Internet users shared digital political content with

others—whether by forwarding political writing or multimedia content

over email, or by sharing information with others through other online


� 52 percent of those with a social networking profile used their social

network site for political purposes.

While I was not personally active in the political campaigns of the 2008

U.S. presidential election, I did spend a great deal of time studying the


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marketing aspects of the candidates. Here are my thoughts on why Obama

won the election, presented as tips so you can apply them to your own


Focus on buyer personas. As we learned in Chapter 5 from Kevin Flynn,

who worked on the Obama social media team, the campaign targeted buyer

personas (voters) on a state-by-state basis. There was specific focus on getting

out each and every one of the Obama ‘‘base’’ of supporters to vote as well as a

strong focus on undecided voters.

Don’t underestimate the importance of social media and the new rules of

marketing and PR. The other campaigns seemed to be fighting using the play-

books of past campaigns, the old rules of marketing and PR. Hillary Clinton

was relying on what worked to elect Bill Clinton. John McCain was relying on

what worked to elect George W. Bush. The Obama campaign realized that for

him to become president, he had to deliver information online primarily, not

as an afterthought. The number of people the campaign reached on the Web

is staggering: According to The Nation, 13 million people signed up for the

Obama campaign email list, more than 5 million ‘‘friended’’ Obama on Face-

book, 2 million joined MyBO7 (an online organizing site where people could

sign up to support the campaign as a volunteer), and more than 1 million

people subscribed to campaign text messages on mobile phones.

Embrace citizen journalists. My friend Steve Garfield,8 author of the book

Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business, is a well-known video

blogger. He’s got tens of thousands of followers. During the primaries, Gar-

field attended several rallies held by various candidates. When he asked to

go to the media section at a Hillary Clinton rally in Boston, he was turned

away (because he was ‘‘not a real journalist’’) and had to cover it from the

back of the crowd. However, Obama’s campaign immediately brought him up

to the media section where he was placed with print reporters from the major

dailies and TV crews from the networks. The Obama campaign understood

that citizen journalists (bloggers, podcasters, video bloggers) have immense


Clearly and simply articulate what you want people to believe. From the

beginning, Obama was about ‘‘change.’’ The word ‘‘change’’ was everywhere in


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his campaign, so much so that the entire world knew what Obama stood for.

I asked a group of 300 people in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia what was the one

word they thought of when I said ‘‘Barack Obama,’’ and all in the room said

‘‘CHANGE.’’ Quick: What did the following candidates stand for? John McCain,

John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, or any others. Hard to say,

isn’t it?

Remember that people don’t care about products and services; instead,

they care about themselves and about solving their problems. The Obama

campaign understood that his job was to solve the problems facing voters. He

also knew that voters were buying into solutions, not just an individual. Did

you notice in speeches how often Obama referred to his audience compared

to how often he referred to himself? For example, in his inauguration ad-

dress,9 new President Obama used what I call inclusive language (such as

‘‘our,’’ ‘‘we,’’ and ‘‘us’’) a total of 142 times in 20 minutes, while he used what I

call internal language (‘‘me,’’ ‘‘I,’’ and ‘‘my’’) just 3 times. (Yes, I counted.) The

other candidates talked about themselves a hell of a lot more than Obama did.

Don’t obsess over the competition. Obama rarely talked about his compe-

tition. Once in a while he would, but mainly he talked about the problems

facing voters. McCain talked a lot about Obama. Interestingly, Clinton and

McCain both tried to associate themselves with the ‘‘change’’ word (the com-

petition’s word), but both failed because people already associated it with


Put your fans first. Obama used many techniques to craft an inclusive

campaign and alert fans about developments first. For example, I found out

on Obama’s Twitter feed that Joe Biden was to be Obama’s running mate. It

was stunning to me that Obama told his fans before mainstream media. (Of

course, smart reporters were following his Twitter feed and learned at the

same time as Obama supporters.)

Don’t interrupt your buyers. Do you like getting phone calls from tele-

marketers at dinnertime? McCain supporters seemed to think so, since they

unleashed a barrage of so called robocalls, which seemed to have backfired.

Negativity doesn’t sell. Obama’s theme of hope and the idea that life can be

better with change was uplifting to many people. The campaigns based on

fear didn’t work.


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Get your customers to talk about you. Obama tapped over 3 million do-

nors who together provided $640 million to the campaign. The majority con-

tributed small amounts online. Once someone donates money, he or she has a

vested interest in the candidate and will tend to talk about them on social

networking sites and in person. So to get the word out—lots of small donors

are better than a few fat cats.

Take time for your family. (Yes, this really is a marketing observation,

because it has to do with positioning and what a candidate stands for.)

Obama frequently took time to be with his wife and daughters when he

could have done another rally somewhere. He took several days at the

end of the race to spend time with his ailing grandmother. While he was

pulled away from ‘‘work,’’ I think people respected his devotion to family

and they saw something they liked in this attitude.

Marketers can learn a great deal from political campaigns (just like, once

upon a time the campaigns learned from us). I encourage you to take a look

at these lessons from the Obama campaign and apply them to your business.

As you are developing your own marketing and PR plan using the new rules,

think back to the inspirational marketing and PR unleashed by Obama’s team

during the U.S. presidential election of 2008.

Stick to Your PlanIf you’ve read this far, thank you. If you’ve developed a marketing and PR

plan that uses the New Rules of Marketing and PR and you’re ready to exe-

cute, great! The next 10 chapters will give you more specific advice about

implementing your plan.

But now I must warn you: Many people who adhere to the old rules will

fight you on this strategy. If you are a marketing professional who wants to

reach your buyers directly, you will likely encounter resistance from corpo-

rate communications people. PR folks will get resistance from their agencies.

They’ll say the old rules are still in play. They’ll say you have to focus on ‘‘the

four Ps.’’ They’ll say you need to talk only about your products. They’ll say

that using the media is the only way to tell your story and that you can use

press releases only to reach journalists, not your buyers directly. They’ll say

that bloggers are geeks in pajamas who don’t matter.

They are wrong.

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As the dozens of successful marketers profiled in this book say, the old

rules are old news. Millions of people are online right now looking for

answers to their problems. Will they find your organization? And if so, what

will they find?

Remember, on the Web, you are what you publish.

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11Online ThoughtLeadership to BrandYour Organization asa Trusted Resource

I f you’ve read this book starting from the beginning, I hope I’ve been able to

convince you that Web content sells. (If you’ve skipped ahead to this chap-

ter, welcome!) An effective online content strategy, artfully executed, drives

action. Organizations that use online content well have a clearly defined

goal—to sell products, generate leads, secure contributions, or get people to

join—and deploy a content strategy that directly contributes to reaching that

goal. People often ask me: ‘‘How do you recommend that I create an effective

______?’’ (fill in the blank with blog, podcast, white paper, e-book, email news-

letter, Webinar, and so on). While the technologies for each form of online

content are a little different, the one common aspect is that through all of

these media, your organization can exercise thought leadership rather than

simple advertising and product promotion; a well-crafted white paper,

e-book, or Webinar contributes to an organization’s positive reputation by

setting it apart in the marketplace of ideas. This form of content brands a

company, a consultant, or a nonprofit as an expert and as a trusted resource.

Developing Thought Leadership ContentWhat is thought leadership, and how do you do it?

The first thing you need to do is put away your company hat for a moment

and—you guessed it—think like one of your buyer personas. The content

that you create will be a solution to those people’s problems and will not men-

tion your company or products at all! Imagine for a moment that you are a

E1C11 12/04/2009 Page 142

marketer at an automobile tire manufacturer. Rather than just peddling your

tires, you might write an e-book or shoot a video about how to drive safely in

the snow, and then promote it on your site and offer it for free to other com-

panies (such as automobile clubs and driver’s education schools) to put on

their sites. Or imagine that you run a local catering company and you have a

blog or a web site. You might have a set of Web pages or podcasts available on

your site. The topics could include ‘‘Plan the Perfect Wedding Reception’’ and

‘‘What You Need to Know for the Ideal Dinner Party for Twelve.’’ A caterer

with a podcast series like this educates visitors about their problems (plan-

ning a wedding or a dinner party) but does not sell the catering services di-

rectly. Instead, the idea here is that people who learn through the caterer’s

information are more likely to hire that caterer when the time comes.

Mark Howell, a consultant for Lifetogether,1 is a pastor who works with

Christian organizations and uses a thought leadership blog to get his message

out. ‘‘My primary targets are people who are working in churches or Christian

organizations that are trying to figure out better ways to do things,’’ he says.

‘‘So I keep my content to things that seem secular but have broad application

to churches. For example, I recently did a post called ‘Required Reading: Five

Books Every Leader Needs’ where I tie broader business trends and marketing

strategies to churches.’’

What makes Howell’s blog work is that he’s not just promoting his con-

sulting services but instead is providing powerful information with a clear

focus, for readers that just might hire him at some point. ‘‘My personal bias,

and what I write about, is that for a lot of leaders in churches, the personal

passion for what they are doing could be enhanced if they just got a taste

for what more secular writers, such as Tom Peters, Guy Kawasaki, and

Peter Drucker, are saying,’’ Howell says. ‘‘There are so many ideas out

there, and if I could just give people a sense of what some of these thinkers

are saying, then my hope is that they can see that there is application for

church leadership.’’

Forms of Thought Leadership ContentHere are some of the common forms of thought leadership content (of course,

there may be others in your niche market). We’ve seen many of these media


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in earlier chapters, but let’s focus now on how they can help your company

establish itself as a thought leader.

White Papers

‘‘White papers typically [argue] a specific position or solution to a problem,’’

according to Michael A. Stelzner,2 author of Writing White Papers. ‘‘Although

white papers take their roots in governmental policy, they have become a

common tool used to introduce technology innovations and products. A typi-

cal search engine query on ‘white paper’ will return millions of results, with

many focused on technology-related issues. White papers are powerful mar-

keting tools used to help key decision makers and influencers justify imple-

menting solutions.’’ The best white papers are not product brochures. A good

white paper is written for a business audience, defines a problem, and offers a

solution, but it does not pitch a particular product or company. White papers

are usually free and often have a registration requirement (so the authors can

collect the names and contact information of people who download it). Many

companies syndicate white papers to business web sites through services such

as TechTarget3 and Knowledge Storm.4


Marketers are using e-books more and more as a fun and thoughtful way to

get useful information to buyers. As I have mentioned, the book you are read-

ing right now started as an e-book called The New Rules of PR, released in

January 2006. For the purposes of marketing using Web content, I define an

e-book as a PDF-formatted document that solves a problem for one of your

buyer personas. E-books come with a bit of intrigue—they’re like a hip youn-

ger sibling to the nerdy white paper. I recommend that e-books be presented

in a landscape format, rather than the white paper’s portrait format. Well exe-

cuted e-books have lots of white space, interesting graphics and images, and

copy that is typically written in a lighter style than the denser white paper. In

my view, e-books (as marketing tools) should always be free, and I strongly

suggest that there be no registration requirement. Here are a few e-books to


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check out: How to Tell if Someone is Lying: The Lie Detection Ebook by Martin

Soorjoo5 and Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex!: How your oral health affects your

sex life by Dr. Helaine Smith.6

Email Newsletters

Email newsletters have been around as long as email but still have tremen-

dous value as a way to deliver thought leadership content in small, regular

doses. However, the vast majority of email newsletters that I see serve mostly

as another advertising venue for a company’s products and services. You

know the type I’m talking about—each month you get some lame product

pitch and a 10-percent-off coupon. Consider using a different type of email

newsletter, one that focuses not on your company’s products and services,

but simply on solving buyers’ problems once per month. Let’s consider the

hypothetical tire manufacturer or caterer that we discussed above. Imagine

the tire manufacturer doing a monthly newsletter about safe driving or the

caterer writing one on party planning.


Webinars are online seminars that may include audio, video, or graphics (typ-

ically in the form of PowerPoint slides) and are often used by companies as a

primer about a specific problem that the company’s services can solve. How-

ever, the best Webinars are true thought leadership—like the traditional sem-

inars from which they get their name. Often, Webinars feature guests who do

not work for the company sponsoring the Webinar. For example, I partici-

pated as a guest speaker on a Webinar series called Inbound Marketing Uni-

versity,7 sponsored by HubSpot. Inbound Marketing University featured

10 sessions, each with a different speaker. Nearly 4,000 people attended at

least one of the sessions the first time they were offered. ‘‘Inbound Marketing

University developed a tight-knit community of marketers who view Hub-

Spot as a trusted resource and leader in inbound marketing,’’ says Mike Volpe,

vice president of marketing at HubSpot. ‘‘Having received so much valuable

information and tools for free, many were quite interested in learning more


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about HubSpot and our paid software for their own companies or clients.’’

Inbound Marketing University was so successful, that it is now repeated regu-

larly for new students.


Wikis as thought leadership content are started by organizations that want to

be seen as important players in distinct marketplaces. ‘‘You can use wikis to

reach the people you want to reach and help them to organize content,’’ says

Ramit Sethi, co-founder and vice president of marketing for Pbworks,8 a com-

pany that provides wiki software tools. ‘‘So if you’re in a company, you can

use a wiki to allow your users to add their own Frequently Asked Questions,

and other people can supply answers, which helps everyone. People love be-

ing a part of the community, and they really like that a wiki gives them a

way to discuss their interests.’’ Sethi says that the personality and culture of

an organization play an important role in the decision to start a company-

sponsored wiki. ‘‘Companies that are a little bit fearless about letting people

write their opinions make the best candidates for a wiki,’’ he says. ‘‘But the

most important thing is that you need to build something that is worth talk-

ing about, and you need to make it really easy. People don’t want to install all

kinds of software; they just want to get typing.’’ (If you’re interested in wikis,

you might want to re-read the section in Chapter 4 where Steve Goldstein

shared his experience creating a wiki for Alacra.)

Research and Survey Reports

Research and survey reports are used by many companies. By publishing re-

sults for free, organizations offer valuable content and get a chance to show

off the kind of work they do. This can be an effective approach as long as

your research or survey is legitimate and its statistically significant results are

interesting to your buyers. (You will read about a survey report created by

Steve Johnson a little later in this chapter.)

Photos, Images, Graphs, and Charts

Don’t underestimate the value of an image to tell a story. If your product has

visual appeal (sporting goods and real estate come to mind), you can create


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interesting content based on images. If your expertise lends itself to ‘‘how-to’’

instruction (example: ‘‘Learn how to surf’’), photos can be particularly useful.

Expertise that can be depicted as a chart (example: ‘‘Real-estate values in Fair-

field County 1976–2010’’), also stands to be especially useful to your buyers.


As we’ve seen already, a blog is a personal web site written by someone who is

passionate about a subject and wants the world to know about it. The benefits

rub off on the company that he or she works for. Writing a blog is the easiest

and simplest way to get your thought leadership ideas out and into the mar-

ket. See Chapter 15 for information on how to start your blog.

Audio and Video

Podcasts (ongoing series of audio downloads available by subscription) are

very popular as thought leadership content in some markets. Some people

prefer just audio, and if your buyers do, then a podcast of your own might be

the thing for you. Video content, vodcasts, video blogs, and vlogs (lots of

names, one medium) are regularly updated videos that offer a powerful op-

portunity to demonstrate your thought leadership, since most people are fa-

miliar with the video medium and are used to the idea of watching a video or

television program to learn something. An easy and fun way to create audio

and video content is to host an interview show with guests who have some-

thing interesting to say. The intelligence of the guests rubs off on you as you

interview them. Consider interviewing customers, analysts who cover your

marketplace, and authors of books in your field. See Chapter 16 for informa-

tion on audio and video.

How to Create Thoughtful ContentWhile each technique for getting your thought leadership content into the

marketplace of ideas is different, they share some common considerations:

� Do not write about your company and your products. Thought leader-

ship content is designed to solve buyer problems or answer questions

and to show that you and your organization are smart and worth doing

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business with. This type of marketing and PR technique is not a bro-

chure or sales pitch. Thought leadership is not advertising.

� Define your organizational goals first (see Chapter 10). Do you want to

drive revenue? Get people to donate money to your organization?

Encourage people to buy something?

� Based on your goals, decide whether you want to provide the content for

free and without any registration (you will get many more people to use

the content, but you won’t know who they are), or you want to include

some kind of registration mechanism (much lower response rates, but

you build a contact list).

� Think like a publisher by understanding your audience. Consider what

market problems your buyer personas are faced with and develop topics

that appeal to them.

� Write for your audience. Use examples and stories. Make it interesting.

� Choose a great title that grabs attention. Use subtitles to describe what

the content will deliver.

� Promote the effort like crazy. Offer the content on your site with easy-to-

find links. Add a link to employees’ email signatures, and get partners to

offer links as well.

� To drive the viral marketing effects that we looked at in Chapter 8, alert

appropriate reporters, bloggers, and analysts that the content is available

and send them a download link.

Write What You KnowDr. Kevin Harrington, owner of Harrington Family Chiropractic, reaches his

buyers by publishing information online. Lots of it. He’s got a web site,9

blog,10 and Twitter feed;11 he produces videos; and he’s active on Facebook.12

He first established an online presence for his practice with a web site in

2004. But he started to see real benefit a few years later, when he began email-

ing his patients links to relevant articles after their visits. ‘‘People loved it,’’ he


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says. ‘‘I started to become a portal of information for people, so I started a

blog to create more original information.’’

So how does a chiropractor with a busy practice find the time to write val-

uable information and keep up with the business? ‘‘I try to spend a half an

hour each day looking through the health sites for things that might be inter-

esting to my readers,’’ Harrington says. ‘‘And I try to blog a few days a week,

but I try to write things that are concise so it doesn’t take too long.’’

Harrington’s blog includes posts such as ‘‘TV Reduces Young Kids’ Lan-

guage Development’’ (note that this is not directly related to his business but

still important to his buyer personas) and ‘‘Can Overtraining Your Knees Lead

to Hip Pain?’’ After he finishes a new blog post, he adds links to the post on

Facebook and sends it to his followers via Twitter.

I found one of Harrington’s techniques to be really clever. On the new pa-

tient forms that people fill out during their first visit, among the usual health-

related questions he also asks the following: ‘‘In an effort to keep our patients

educated, we often use social media. Are you active in Facebook, Twitter, or

texting?’’ When a patient says yes, Harrington goes to work immediately. ‘‘I

friend people on Facebook right there in the office before they leave,’’ he

says. ‘‘People are amazed. And when I go to their Facebook page later, I try to

comment on things that I see.’’ He also uses video both to connect with

patients and to aid in treatment, telling them something like this: ‘‘When you

get home, I want you to do some exercises. I will send you a link to a video on

my site so you can see me explaining the exercises.’’ Patients love it.

‘‘Since I have been active in social media, I have seen a 20-percent increase

in business,’’ Harrington says. ‘‘As an example, I was following a college

friend on Facebook and I learned that her back hurt, so I reached out to her.

Now she’s a patient.’’

Harrington advises other entrepreneurs to get themselves out there. ‘‘This

kind of information is not about me,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s not a sales thing. It is infor-

mation that is valuable for people. Don’t worry about being perfect, just try it.’’

Leveraging Thought Leaders Outsideof Your OrganizationSome organizations recruit external thought leaders that buyers trust, which

is an effective technique for showing your buyers that you are plugged in and

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work with recognized experts. You might have a thought leader from your

industry guest blog for you, author a white paper, participate on a Webinar,

or speak to your clients at a live event. For example, Cincom Systems, Inc., a

software industry pioneer, publishes the Cincom Expert Access13 e-zine that is

read by over 200,000 people in 61 countries. Cincom Expert Access delivers

information from several dozen business leaders, authors, and analysts such

as Al Reis, author of The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR; Dan Heath,

author of Made to Stick; and Guy Kawasaki, author of Reality Check. I am also

a member of Cincom’s Ask the Expert network. Cincom Expert Access pro-

vides concise, objective information from personalities that Cincom’s clients

trust, sometimes in an irreverent, humorous manner, to help readers do their

jobs better.

How Much Money Does Your Buyer Make?‘‘People often ask me, ‘Steve, how much should we be paying our product

managers?’ ’’ says Steve Johnson,14 an instructor at Pragmatic Marketing, the

premier product marketing firm for technology companies. ‘‘I used to just

throw out a number that sounded about right. But I realized that my esti-

mated salary figure was based on old data, back from the days when I hired

product managers.’’ Because Pragmatic Marketing conducts training for prod-

uct managers, the company is seen as the expert on all things related to that

job function. This situation created a terrific opportunity for some thought

leadership. ‘‘We realized that we didn’t really know current benchmarks, so

we decided to find out.’’ After all, customer compensation is often a key de-

mographic for understanding your buyer persona.

Johnson composed a survey to gather data from the thousands of people in

the Pragmatic Marketing database. ‘‘We said, ‘If you tell us your salary and

other information about your job via the anonymous survey, we will tell you

everyone’s salary in the form of benchmarks,’ ’’ he says. The results were an

instant hit with the Pragmatic Marketing buyer persona—product manag-

ers—and the survey has become an annual undertaking. ‘‘Our email newslet-

ter goes out to thousands and thousands of people. In October we say ‘Heads

up, next month we’re doing the annual salary survey.’ Then in November we


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announce that the survey is live and invite people to take it. We get hundreds

of responses in just a few days, aggregate the data, and publish the results on

the Web.15 In 2009, for example, we learned that the average U.S. product

management compensation is $100,341 in salary and that 79 percent of prod-

uct managers get an annual bonus that averages $12,467. But we also learned

other information, such as that product managers send and receive almost

100 emails a day and spend roughly two days a week in internal meetings—

15 meetings per week. But 55 percent are going to 15 meetings or more each

week, and 35 percent attend 20 or more meetings.’’

Johnson sees tremendous benefits in survey-based thought leadership.

‘‘First of all, the data is really useful,’’ he says. ‘‘Now I command the authority

to say something like ‘95 percent of Product Managers have completed col-

lege and 44 percent have completed a master’s program.’ But more impor-

tantly, the buyers we are trying to reach to sell training services to, product

managers, recognize us as the thought leaders in product management be-

cause we have up-to-date information on what’s really going on with technol-

ogy product managers. And the data that sits on our web site is fantastic for

search engine marketing because anyone looking for information about prod-

uct managers in technology businesses will find us.’’

This is a new world for marketers and corporate communicators. The Web

offers an easy way for your ideas to spread to a potential audience of millions

of people, instantly. Web content in the form of true thought leadership holds

the potential to influence many thousands of your buyers in ways that tradi-

tional marketing and PR simply cannot.

To embrace the power of the Web and the blogosphere requires a different

kind of thinking on the part of marketers. We need to learn to give up our

command-and-control mentality. It isn’t about ‘‘the message.’’ It’s about being

insightful. The New Rules of Marketing and PR tell us to stop advertising and

instead get our ideas out there by understanding buyers and telling them the

stories that connect with their problems. The new rules are to participate in

the discussions going on, not just try to shout your message over everyone

else. Done well, Web content that delivers authentic thought leadership also

brands an organization as one to do business with.


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12How to Write for YourBuyers

Your buyers (and the media that cover your company) want to know what

specific problems your product solves, and they want proof that it

works—in plain language. Your marketing and PR is meant to be the begin-

ning of a relationship with buyers and to drive action (such as generating

sales leads), which requires a focus on buyer problems. Your buyers want

to hear this in their own words. Every time you write—yes, even in news

releases—you have an opportunity to communicate. At each stage of the sales

process, well-written materials will help your buyers understand how you,

specifically, will help them.

Whenever you set out to write something, you should be writing specifi-

cally for one or more of the buyer personas that you developed as part of

your marketing and PR plan (see Chapter 10). You should avoid jargon-laden

phrases that are overused in your industry, unless this is the language the per-

sona actually uses. In the technology business, words like groundbreaking,

industry-standard, and cutting-edge are what I call gobbledygook. The worst

gobbledygook offenders seem to be business-to-business technology compa-

nies. For some reason, marketing people at technology companies have a par-

ticularly tough time explaining how products solve customer problems.

Because these writers don’t understand how their products solve customer

problems, or are too lazy to write for buyers, they cover by explaining myriad

nuances of how the product works and pepper this blather with industry jar-

gon that sounds vaguely impressive. What ends up in marketing materials

and news releases is a bunch of talk about ‘‘industry-leading’’ solutions that

E1C12 11/26/2009 Page 152

purport to help companies ‘‘streamline business process,’’ ‘‘achieve business

objectives,’’ or ‘‘conserve organizational resources.’’ Huh?

An Analysis of GobbledygookMany of the thousands of web sites I’ve analyzed over the years and the

hundreds of news releases and PR pitches I receive each month are laden

with meaningless gobbledygook words and phrases. As I’m reading a news

release, I’ll pause and say to myself, ‘‘Oh, jeez, not another flexible, scalable,

groundbreaking, industry-standard, cutting-edge product from a market-

leading, well positioned company! I think I’m gonna puke!’’ Like teenagers

overusing catch phrases, these writers use the same words and phrases

again and again—so much so that the gobbledygook grates against all our

nerves. Well, duh. Like, companies just totally don’t communicate very

well, you know?

I wanted to see exactly how many of these words are being used, so I

created an analysis for doing so. I first analyzed gobbledygook in 2006 and

published the findings on my blog and as an e-book called The Gobbledygook

Manifesto.1 In 2006, the most overused words and phrases included next

generation, robust, world class, cutting edge, mission critical, market leading,

industry standard, groundbreaking, and best of breed.

I then conducted an extensive, revised analysis in early 2009. For this new

round, I first needed to select overused words and phrases, so I turned to the

following sources:

� The overused words and phrases from the 2006 analysis, which I got by

polling select PR people and journalists.

� Suggestions from readers, who posted comments about the original

analysis on my blog.

� Seth Godin’s Encyclopedia of Business Clich�es.

� This Paperclip Is a Solution, a survey given to general business and trade

publication editors by Dave Schmidt, VP of public relations services at

Smith-Winchester, Inc.

� The book Death Sentences: How Cliches, Weasel Words and Management-

Speak Are Strangling Public Language, by Don Watson.


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Then I turned to the Dow Jones Enterprise Media Group for help. The

folks at Dow Jones used text-mining tools found in their Dow Jones Insight

product to analyze news releases sent by companies in North America during

2008. The data we gathered came from all 711,123 press releases distributed

through Business Wire, Marketwire, GlobeNewswire, and PR Newswire. Dow

Jones Insight identified the number of uses of the 325 gobbledygook phrases

in each release.

The results were staggering.2 The winner for the most overused word

or phrase in 2008 was innovate which was used in 51,390 press releases,

followed closely by unique, leading provider, new and improved, world class

and cost effective. Each of these terms was used over 10,000 times in press

releases from 2008. The problem is that these words are so overused that

they have become meaningless. If anything, using these terms makes the

reader feel as if the company is just releasing dozens of copycat ‘‘me too’’


To help you analyze your own writing, I also worked closely with the peo-

ple at HubSpot to create Gobbledygook Grader,3 a software tool that you can

use to evaluate your written content (press releases, brochure copy, etc.).

Simply cut and paste text into Gobbledygook Grader and it will check for use

of the 325 gobbledygook, jargon, clich�ed, overused, hype-filled words and

phrases that I identified. You’ll even receive a grade together with the full


Poor Writing: How Did We Get Here?When I see words like flexible, scalable, groundbreaking, industry standard, or

cutting-edge, my eyes glaze over. What, I ask myself, is this supposed to

mean? Just saying your widget is ‘‘industry standard’’ means nothing unless

some aspect of that standardization is important to your buyers. In the next

sentence, I want to know what you mean by ‘‘industry standard,’’ and I also

want you to tell me why that standard matters and give me some proof that

what you say is indeed true.

People often say to me, ‘‘Everyone in my industry writes this way. Why?’’

Here’s how the usual dysfunctional process works and why these phrases are


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so overused: Marketers don’t understand buyers, the problems buyers face, or

how their product helps solve these problems. That’s where the gobbledygook

happens. First the marketing person bugs the product managers and others in

the organization to provide a set of the product’s features. Then the marketing

person reverse-engineers the language that they think the buyer wants to hear

based not on buyer input but on what the product does. A favorite trick these

ineffective marketers use is to take the language that the product manager

provides, go into Microsoft Word’s find-and-replace mode, substitute the

word solution for product, and then slather the whole thing with superlative-

laden, jargon-sprinkled hype. By just decreeing, through an electronic word

substitution, that ‘‘our product’’ is ‘‘your solution,’’ these companies effec-

tively deprive themselves of the opportunity to convince people that this is

the case.

Another major drawback of the generic gobbledygook approach is that it

doesn’t make your company stand out from the crowd. Here’s a test: Take the

language that the marketers at your company dreamed up and substitute the

name of a competitor and the competitor’s product for your own. Does it still

make sense to you? Marketing language that can be substituted for another

company’s isn’t effective in explaining to a buyer why your company is the

right choice.

I’ll admit that these gobbledygook phrases are mainly used by technology

companies operating in the business-to-business space. If you are writing for

a company that sells different kinds of products (shoes, perhaps), then you

would probably not be tempted to use many of the above phrases. The same

thing is true for nonprofits, churches, rock bands, and other organizations—

you’re also unlikely to use these sorts of phrases. But the lessons are the same.

Avoid the insular jargon of your company and your industry. Instead, write

for your buyers.

‘‘Hold on,’’ you might say. ‘‘The technology industry may be dysfunctional,

but I don’t write that way.’’ The fact is that there is equivalent nonsense going

on in all industries. Here’s an example from the world of nonprofits:

The sustainability group has convened a task force to study the cause of

energy inefficiency and to develop a plan to encourage local businesses

to apply renewable-energy and energy-efficient technologies which

will go a long way toward encouraging community buy-in to potential

behavioral changes.

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What the heck is that? Or consider this example from the first paragraph of a

well-known company’s corporate overview page. Can you guess the company?

Since its founding in 1923, [Company X] and its affiliated companies

have remained faithful to their commitment to produce unparalleled

entertainment experiences based on the rich legacy of quality creative

content and exceptional storytelling. [Company X], together with its

subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family

entertainment and media enterprise with four business segments: media

networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, and consumer


Effective Writing for Marketing and PRYour marketing and PR is meant to be the beginning of a relationship with buy-

ers (and journalists). As the marketing and PR planning process in Chapter 10

showed, this begins when you work at understanding your target audience and

figure out how they should be sliced into distinct buying segments or buyer

personas. Once this exercise is complete, identify the situations each target au-

dience may find themselves in. What are their problems? business issues?

needs? Only then are you ready to communicate your expertise to the market.

Here’s the rule: When you write, start with your buyers, not with your product.

Consider the entertainment company blurb above. The marketing and PR

folks at Disney (did you guess it was Disney’s corporate overview page4 I

quoted from above?) should be thinking about what customers want from an

entertainment company, rather than just thinking up fancy words for what

they think they already provide. Why not start by defining the problem?

‘‘Many television and cinema fans today are frustrated with the state of the

American entertainment industry. They believe today’s films and shows are

too derivative and that entertainment companies don’t respect their viewers’

intelligence.’’ Next, successful marketers will use real-world language to con-

vince their customers that they can solve their problem. Be careful to avoid

corporate jargon, but you don’t want to sound like you’re trying too hard,

either—that always comes across as phony. Talk to your audience as you

might talk to a relative you don’t see too often—be friendly and familiar but


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also respectful: ‘‘Like our audience, we care about and enjoy movies and TV

shows—that’s why we’re in this business in the first place. As such, we pledge

to always . . . .’’ Now I have no connection with Disney and don’t know about

the Disney business. But I have purchased a lot of Disney products: movies,

TV shows, videos, and visits to theme parks. It might seem strange to people

at Disney to actually write something like I suggest. It might feel strange for

the PR and marketing people at Disney to use a phrase like ‘‘movies and TV

shows’’ rather than ‘‘quality creative content,’’ but it’s absolutely essential to

establishing a relationship with customers.

The Power of Writing Feedback(from Your Blog)I want to pause for a moment to share a story about the power of communica-

tions and feedback on the Web. When I published the results of this original

study on my blog5 in a post titled ‘‘The Gobbledygook Manifesto’’ (I also sent a

news release the next day), there were zero hits on Google for the exact phrase

‘‘gobbledygook manifesto.’’ I purposely invented a phrase that I could establish

on the Web. Within just three weeks, as a result of several dozen bloggers

writing about The Gobbledygook Manifesto and over 100 comments on my

blog and others, the exact phrase ‘‘gobbledygook manifesto’’ yielded over 500

hits on Google: zero to 500 in just three weeks. Better yet, readers of my blog

and others suggested other overused gobbledygook words and phrases such as

best practices, proactive, synergy, starting a dialog, thinking outside of the box,

revolutionary, situational fluency, and paradigm shift.

Dave Schmidt, VP for Public Relations Services at Smith-Winchester, Inc.,

contacted me to share the results of a survey he conducted of general business

and trade publication editors. Schmidt asked the editors about the use of

overused words and phrases he’s seen and wanted to find out how many edi-

tors agreed that each of the phrases was overused in news releases and com-

pany-authored articles. He received responses from 80 editors:

� Leading (used as an adjective, as in ‘‘ . . . a leading producer of . . . ’’)—

94 percent of editors feel is overused. Since everyone wants to be the

leading something, there are no longer any true leaders.


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� ‘‘We’re excited about . . . ’’ (as used in a quote from management)—

76 percent of editors feel is overused. Companies also say, ‘‘We’re

pleased . . . ’’ and ‘‘We’re thrilled . . . .’’ Can you picture an editor run-

ning a CEO quote like one of these? You need to quote your spokes-

people with words that you would like to see in print.

� Solutions—68 percent of editors feel is overused. The word solutions has

been ruined by overuse in news releases to the point that it is best

avoided, even by solutions providers.

� ‘‘ . . . a wide range of . . . ’’—64 percent of editors feel is overused. This

has become the lazy person’s way of avoiding precise writing.

� Unparalleled—62 percent of editors feel is overused.

� Unsurpassed—53 percent of editors feel is overused.

Thank you to the many people who contacted me with suggestions of over-

used gobbledygook. I just think it is so cool that you can create something on

the Web, use it to get thoughtful information into the market quickly and

efficiently, and then have people offer suggestions to make the original writ-

ing even better.

Your online and offline marketing content is meant to drive action, which

requires a focus on buyer problems. Your buyers want this in their own

words, and then they want proof. Every time you write, you have an opportu-

nity to communicate and to convince. At each stage of the sales process, well-

written materials combined with effective marketing programs will lead your

buyers to understand how your company can help them. Good marketing is

rare indeed, but a focus on doing it right will most certainly pay off with

increased sales, higher retention rates, and more ink from journalists.

How to Write for Your Buyers 157

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13How Web ContentInfluences the BuyingProcess

Today when people want to buy something, the Web is almost always the

first stop on their shopping trip. In any market category, potential cus-

tomers head online to do initial research. The moment of truth is when they

reach your site: Will you draw them into your sales process or let them click


When buyers use search engines and directories to reach your site, link to

it through another site, or respond to a marketing campaign, you have an

opportunity to deliver targeted information at the precise moment when they

are looking for what you have to offer. Yet marketers often fail to realize the

potential of their web sites, which must hook buyers in from the start and

hang on to them until the sale is complete. Individuals don’t go to the Web

looking for advertising; they are on a quest for content. By providing informa-

tion when they need it, you can begin a long and profitable relationship with

them. Editors and publishers obsess over readership, and so should you.

In this chapter, we’re going to build on some of the ideas and concepts that

I’ve already introduced in the book. In Chapter 3 we talked about reaching

buyers directly with your organization’s online content, and Chapter 10 was

when we put together a detailed plan to identify buyer personas and target

each one with an individualized approach. Remember, great Web content is

about your buyers, not about you. Now I’ll provide some ideas for how you

can make a web site that takes buyers through their consideration process

and moves them toward the point where they are ready to buy (or donate,

join, subscribe), which, of course, is the goal of all Web content.

E1C13 12/02/2009 Page 160

While it is important for your web site to have an attractive design and for

all of the technical aspects (HTML and so on) to work properly, these aspects

are beyond the scope of this book. There are many excellent texts on how to

write HTML, XML, ASP, JavaScript, and other Web languages. And there are

also great resources for getting the design aspects right—things like colors,

fonts, logo placement, and whatnot. While these elements are critical to an

overall site, I want to focus on how content drives action on web sites, because

the content aspect is often overlooked.

To best leverage the power of content, you first need to help your site’s

visitors find what they need on your site. When someone visits a site for the

first time, the site communicates messages to the buyer: Does this organiza-

tion care about me? Does it focus on the problems I face? Or does the site

only include information describing what the company has to offer from its

own narrow perspective? You need to start with a site navigation that is de-

signed and organized with your buyers in mind. Don’t simply mimic the way

your company or group is organized (e.g., by product, geography, or govern-

mental structure), because the way your audience uses web sites rarely coin-

cides with your company’s internal priorities. Organizing based on your

needs leaves site visitors confused about how to find what they really need.

You should learn as much as possible about the buying process, focusing

on issues such as how people find your site or the length of a typical pur-

chase cycle. Consider what happens offline in parallel with online interac-

tions so that the processes complement each other. For example, if you

have an e-commerce site and a printed catalog, coordinate the content

and messages so that both efforts support and reinforce the buying process

(i.e., include URLs for your online buying guide in the catalog and use the

same product descriptions so people don’t get confused). In the B2B world,

trade shows should work with Internet initiatives (by collecting email

addresses at the booth, for example, then sending a follow-up email with a

show-specific landing page at your site). Understanding the buying process

in detail, both online and offline, allows you to create Web content that

influences the buying decision.

Segmenting Your BuyersThe online relationship begins the second a potential customer hits your

homepage. The first thing he needs to see is a reflection of himself. That’s

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why you must organize your site with content for each of your distinct buyer

personas. How do your potential customers self-select? Is it based on their

job function, or on geography, or on the industry they work in? It’s important

to create a set of appropriate links based on a clear understanding of your

buyers so that you can quickly move them from your homepage to pages built

specifically for them.

For example, the New York Public Library (NYPL),1 an institution that has

50.6 million items in its collections housed at 89 locations and overseen by

3,200 staff members, has a web site that must serve many varied visitors.

The NYPL site appeals to a very diverse set of buyer personas (people who

use the libraries’ services both online and offline), who download materials

directly from the site. Here are just a few of the buyer personas that the NYPL

site serves:

� Academic researchers from around the globe who need access to the

NYPL digital information collections.

� People who live in the Bronx and speak Spanish as a first language. (The

library offers introductory classes, conducted in Spanish at the NYPL’s

Bronx location, on how to use a computer.)

� Tourists to New York City who want to take a tour of the beautiful main

library building on Fifth Avenue.

� Film studios, TV producers, and photographers who use the famous

NYPL setting. (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Ghostbusters, and Spiderman are

just a few of the movies that have been partially filmed there.)

� Individuals, foundations, and corporations that help support the library

with donations.

The NYPL site includes detailed content throughout to reach each of these

buyer personas (as well as others). The front page of the NYPL web site is

broken into several main sections, including ‘‘Find Books & Do Research’’

(information on what is in the library’s catalogs for people who need a partic-

ular book), ‘‘Libraries’’ (branch information for those who live in New York

City), ‘‘Digital Library’’ (information that anybody in the world can down-

load), ‘‘News,’’ ‘‘NYPL Live!’’ (events), and ‘‘Support the Library’’ (member-

ship and giving information for people who want to donate money or time to


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the NYPL). Each landing page has additional information to make browsing

this huge web site easy.

One way many organizations approach navigation is to link to landing

pages based on the problems your product or service solves. Start by identify-

ing the situations in which each target audience may find itself. If you are in

the supply chain management business, you might have a drop-down menu

on the homepage with links that say, ‘‘I need to get product to customers

faster’’ or ‘‘I want to move products internationally.’’ Each path leads to land-

ing pages built for buyer segments, with content targeted to their problems.

Once the prospects reach those pages, you have the opportunity to communi-

cate your expertise in solving these problems—building some empathy in the

process—and to move customers further along the buying cycle.

Elements of a Buyer-Centric Web SiteAs you build a site that focuses on your buyers and their purchasing process,

here are a few other things to consider:

Think about Your Buyers’ Preferred Media and Learning Styles

I had a great conversation with Ted Demopoulos,2 author of What No One

Ever Tells You About Blogging and Podcasting. We spoke about blogging versus

podcasting, people’s learning styles, and the choices of what content to put on

a site. Ted brought up an interesting point: It’s not an either/or decision. ‘‘It’s

worth having your message in different formats,’’ he says. ‘‘I love to read. And

I often listen to informative audio while driving, biking, or mowing the lawn.

But I do not like video. It’s not like reading; it progresses at its own rate. I

can’t watch faster or skim easily, like with text, and it demands total attention,

unlike with audio.’’ Of course, other people are the opposite of Ted. They

don’t like to read but love video content. We all have different learning styles

and media preferences. So, on your site, you should have appropriate content

designed for your buyers. This does not mean that you need to have every

single format, but you should think about augmenting text with photos and

maybe some audio or video content. ‘‘Not only do people like different for-

mats, but psychologists have shown that people learn better with different


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media,’’ Demopoulos adds. ‘‘Marketers should have messages in as many for-

mats as practical. Even though the messages are the same, they will appeal to

different groups of people. For example, some will want an e-book, but you

can take the same content and turn it into a tele-seminar.’’

Develop a Site Personality

It is important to create a distinct, consistent, and memorable site, and an

important component of that goal is the tone or voice of the content. As visi-

tors interact with the content on your site, they should develop a clear picture

of your organization. Is the personality fun and playful? Or is it solid and

conservative? For example, on the Google homepage, when people search

they can click ‘‘I’m Feeling Lucky,’’ which is a fun and playful way to get you

directly to the top listing in the search results. That one little phrase, ‘‘I’m

Feeling Lucky,’’ says a lot about Google. And there’s much more. For example,

in the collection of more than 100 languages that Google supports, from Afri-

kaans to Zulu, there is also Google in the language of Elmer Fudd,3 with

everything translated into what Elmer Fudd would say, such as ‘‘I’m Feewing

Wucky.’’ This is cool, but it wouldn’t work for a more conservative com-

pany—it would just seem strange and out of place. Contrast that with Accen-

ture’s homepage.4 At the time of this writing, just under the Accenture logo

was the phrase ‘‘High Performance. Delivered.’’ There is a photo of Tiger

Woods and a message (‘‘We know what it takes to be a Tiger.’’) with an offer

(‘‘See findings from our research and experience with over 500 high perform-

ers.’’). Both of these home pages work because the site personality works

with the company personality. Whatever your personality, the way to achieve

consistency is to make certain that all the written material and other content

on the site conform to a defined tone that you’ve established from the start.

A strong focus on site personality and character pays off. As visitors come

to rely on the content they find on your site, they will develop an emotional

and personal relationship with your organization. A web site can evoke a

familiar and trusted voice, just like that of a friend on the other end of an

email exchange.


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For an example of a site with very distinct personality that appeals to

buyer personas, check out Malware City5 from BitDefender. Vitor Souza is

global communications manager at BitDefender, creator of internationally

certified security software used by tens of millions of people and sold in

more than 100 countries. As part of a true global company, Souza works

from offices in Mountain View, CA, and Bucharest, Romania. BitDefender is

a particularly interesting example because the market that BitDefender

serves is very competitive, so product differentiation is not easy to accom-

plish. A cornerstone of the company’s marketing approach, Malware City

was launched as a standalone site focused on key influencers within the

IT security community. The new site was not a redesign of the existing com-

pany site but, rather, an informational supplement to the main BitDefender

product site.6

‘‘We launched Malware City for people who are interested in the latest

information on Internet threats,’’ Souza says. ‘‘It has a blog from our lab ana-

lysts, educational materials for IT guys, and many other interactive tools.’’

Souza and his team clearly understood that the best online initiatives are

those that deliver specific information tailored to a particular buyer persona.

The Malware City site was developed to appeal to three different buyer


1. Information technology security press (both mainstream press and so-

cial media).

2. BitDefender users.

3. A group Souza describes as ‘‘Internet security geeks’’—the most impor-

tant buyer persona for Malware City.

The Malware City site appeals directly to the Internet security geek buyer

persona with language like this: ‘‘Our citizens are wise warriors fighting mal-

ware, willing to share their knowledge in order to breed an army ready to

battle security threats. Want to join us? Demonstrate your skills and we will

be glad to welcome you into our family.’’ The design is very hip and stylish,

with an urban, punk sort of theme—in stark contrast to the slew of boring

sites in the technology industry.


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‘‘Malware City is the property of BitDefender,’’ Souza says. ‘‘We didn’t brag

about it but didn’t hide it either. We want it to be a site dedicated to all inter-

ested in their online security, and not only to BitDefender users. Instead of

pumping them with irrelevant messages and interrupting their activities, we

offer helpful and relevant information that our visitors are interested in,’’

he says. ‘‘And we ask nothing in return. We can see from the subscriber’s

comments or the emails that we received that they consider Malware City a

helpful source of information. Other clear evidence is an increasing number

of visitors and the fact that they are talking about the site on their blogs, or

they are bookmarking it.’’

Photos and Images Tell Your Story

Content is not limited to words; smart marketers make use of nontext con-

tent—including photos, audio feeds, video clips, cartoons, charts, and

graphs—to inform and entertain site visitors. Photographs in particular play

an important role for many sites. Photos are powerful content when page visi-

tors see that the images are an integrated component of the web site. How-

ever, generic ‘‘stock’’ photographs (happy and good-looking multicultural

models in a fake company meeting room) may actually have a negative effect.

People will know instantly that the photo is not of real people in your organi-

zation. Neither you nor your users are generic. On a technical note, while

photos, charts, graphs, and other nontext content make great additions to

any site, be wary of very large image sizes and of using distracting multimedia

content like Flash Video. Visitors want to access content quickly, they want

sites that load fast, and they don’t want to be distracted.

Include Interactive Content Tools

Anything that gets people involved with the content of a site provides a great

way to engage visitors, build their interest, and move them through your sales

cycle. Examples of interactive tools include such things as the stock quoting

and charting applications found on financial sites and ‘‘email your congress-

man’’ tools on political advocacy sites. Interactive content provides visitors

with a chance to immerse themselves in site content, which makes them

more likely to progress through the sales consideration cycle to the point

where they are ready to spend money.

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Make Feedback Loops Available

Providing a way for users to interact with your organization is a hallmark of a

great site. Easy to find ‘‘contact us’’ information is a must, and direct feedback

mechanisms like ‘‘rate this’’ buttons, online forums, viewer reviews, and op-

portunities to post comments provide valuable information by and for site


Provide Ways for Your Customers to Interact with Each Other

A forum or wiki where customers can share with one another and help each

other works well for many organizations as a way to show potential custom-

ers that there is a vibrant community of people using their products or ser-

vices. In other words, an existing set of customers interacting with each other

on your site is great marketing!

Create Content with Pass-Along Value that Could Go Viral

Web content provides terrific fodder for viral marketing—the phenomenon

where people pass on information about your site to their friends and col-

leagues or link to your content in their blogs (more on viral marketing is in

Chapter 8). When content proves interesting or useful, visitors tend to tell

friends, usually by sending them a link. Creating buzz around a site to

encourage people to talk it up isn’t easy. Creating content that has a pass-

along value is never a certain process, because it happens more organically.

There are a few things you can do to help the process, though. When creating

site content, think carefully about what content users might want to pass

along and then make that content easy to find and link to. Make the actual

URLs permanent so that no one finds dead links when visiting months (or

years) later. To be successful with viral marketing is to say something inter-

esting and valuable and to make it easy to find and share.

Using RSS to Deliver Your WebContent to Targeted NichesIt is so easy for those of us in the media and analyst community to get infor-

mation via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) that I can’t stress its importance

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enough as a component of a Web marketing strategy; it’s my preferred

method in my work tracking markets, companies, and ideas. Once informa-

tion is in RSS format, an RSS-aware browser such as Firefox checks the feed

for changes and displays them on a Web page. Having the information come

to me is just so much easier than in the days when I had to go looking for it

myself. RSS and news aggregation software is easy to use, usually free, and

provides a way to get information from any device. I particularly like that

RSS provides a powerful information-management tool that bypasses the in-

creasingly crowded and annoying email channel. Having my favorite web

sites, media outlets, and blogs feeding RSS is my own custom compilation of

exactly what I want to see.

Surprisingly, only a small percentage of organizations deploy RSS for syn-

dicating news and content to the outside world. Even fewer understand how

RSS feeds are a preferred way to market to niche customers who have very

specific needs. Learn from the way that most major news sites such as the

BBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and thousands more deploy

RSS. Almost any content that can be broken down into discrete items (such

as news releases, blog postings, product updates, or SEC filings) can be syndi-

cated via RSS.

Netflix offers RSS feeds7 for which video fans sign up to receive updates

based on their interests. Available feeds include Netflix Top 100, New Re-

leases, Documentary Top 25, Comedy Top 25, Classics Top 25, and many

more, and they all target specific customers who select only the content that

interests them. So if I’m a fan of independent films, I subscribe to the RSS

feed, and any time independent film–related content changes on the Netflix

site, I’m alerted to it via my RSS reader.

What sets this apart from the standard one-size-fits-all marketing model is

that it is highly targeted and delivered directly to micro-audiences of inter-

ested consumers. Contrast this with the typical way that companies market

to their customers on the Web. Often when you become a customer, the orga-

nization signs you up for its ‘‘special offers’’ email. After you get two or three

of these emails, it becomes painfully obvious that they are just untargeted

messages to the entire customer list and have little value for you. No wonder

that house email lists suffer from significant opt-out numbers. Note how dif-

ferent the Netflix approach of offering information that has been selected and


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is welcome when compared with the old world of blasting generic email ads

to the masses.

Link Content Directly into the Sales CycleMarketers with the most successful sites specifically design content to draw

buyers into the sales cycle. People considering a purchase always go through

a certain thought process. In the case of something simple and low-cost, say

deciding to download a song from iTunes, the process is likely very straight-

forward and may only take seconds. But for a major decision such as buying a

new car, sending your child to college, or accepting a job offer, the process

may take weeks or months. For many business-to-business sales, the cycle

may involve many steps and multiple buyer personas (a business buyer and

an IT buyer, perhaps) and may take months or even years to complete.

Effective Web marketers take web site visitors’ buying cycle into account

when writing content and organizing it on the site. People in the early

stages of the sales cycle need basic information about their problems and

the ways that your organization solves them. Those further along in the

process want to compare products and services, so they need detailed infor-

mation about the benefits of your offerings. And when buyers are ready to

whip out their credit cards, they need easy-to-use mechanisms linked

directly from the content so they can quickly finish the purchase (or dona-

tion, subscription, and so on).

For an example of a very long sales cycle, consider our college example

from earlier chapters. High school students apply to colleges in the fall of

their senior year and typically make a decision about which school to attend

in the spring. But the sales cycle starts much earlier. When students visit col-

leges in person, they tend to be juniors in high school, but when students first

visit college web sites, they are likely freshmen or sophomores. The college

web site is often the first place that a student comes into contact with the

college, and the site must cater to an audience of young teenagers who won’t

be ready to apply for admission for two or three years. Creating appropriate

content to develop a lasting relationship over a long sales cycle is possible

only when an organization knows the buyer personas well and understands

the sales process in detail. The college must provide high school students

with appropriate content so they get a sense of what college life would be like

if they were to attend and what the admission process entails.

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A focus on understanding buyers and the sales cycle and developing ap-

propriate content that links visitors through the cycle to the point of purchase

is essential for a great site. Based on my years of research, the vast majority of

sites are little more than online brochures or vast one-way advertising vehi-

cles. These sites are almost wholly ineffective. The Web offers significant op-

portunities to those marketers who understand that content is at the forefront

of the best sites.

A Friendly NudgeAfter you’ve demonstrated expertise in the market category and knowledge

about solving potential customers’ problems, you can introduce your product

or service. When creating content about your offerings, remain focused on

the buyer and her problems, rather than elaborating distinctions between

products. As people interact with your content at this middle stage in the

buying process, it is appropriate to suggest subscriptions to related content—

perhaps an email newsletter, Webinar (Web-based seminar), or podcast. But

remember, if you’re asking for someone’s email address (or other contact de-

tails), you must provide something equally valuable in return.

Prospects want to poke, prod, and test your company to learn what sort of

organization you are. They also have questions. That’s why well-designed

sites include a mechanism for people to inquire about products or services.

Be flexible but also consistent; offer them a variety of ways to interact with

your company, and make contact information readily available from any page

on the site (one click away is best). Also keep in mind that, particularly with

expensive products, buyers will test you to see how responsive you are, so

you must make responding to these inquiries a priority. At this stage, you

want people to think: ‘‘This is an organization I can do business with. They

have happy customers, and they are responsive to me and my needs.’’

Close the Sale and Continuethe ConversationAs the customer approaches the end of the buying process, you must provide

tools that facilitate the sale. Buyers may be unsure which of your products is

appropriate for them—so you may need to provide online demonstrations or

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a tool that allows them to enter specific details about their requirements and

then suggests the appropriate product.

Once the deal is closed, there’s one more step. You must continue the

online dialog with your new customer. Add her to your customer email news-

letter or customer-only community site where she can interact with experts in

your organization and other like-minded customers. You should also provide

ample opportunities for customers to give you feedback on how to make the

products (and sales process) better.

An Open-Source Marketing ModelFranz Maruna, CEO of concrete5,8 started an interactive media firm in 2002.

His business was building custom web sites and communities for businesses,

including some major sites like,, and School- To create and deploy the sites, concrete5 built their own content

management system (CMS). CMS software is used to build and manage Web

pages and other online content, and Maruna’s firm created a new system be-

cause he couldn’t find the right tools in a commercially available package. As

the concrete5 team built more complex sites, they constantly updated their

own CMS system to fit their requirements and their clients’ needs.

Maruna eventually became disenchanted with the process of constantly

selling new Web-development work, so he decided to focus on what he really

liked: the content management system. ‘‘In 2007, we spent eight months

building a release version of the concrete5 CMS,’’ he says. ‘‘My partners and

I knew that we had a better mousetrap, but we had a chance to decide what to

do with it. So in the summer of 2008 we made the CMS software available to

anyone for free and as open-source [i.e., the programming code is available

to anyone, without registration; computer-savvy users may make changes to

it and build new versions of the software as they see fit]. We decided that

bigger and better things would happen for our firm if we let others get onto

the bus with us.’’

Providing a free, open-source software application is a remarkably bold

move, but Maruna believes it is a smart one. ‘‘We make money on the market-

place (modules and tools that we sell) and on Web hosting,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s like

I give you free beer (the software), but if you want pretzels and peanuts (tools


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and hosting), you have to pay. To have a party, you don’t need to have a huge

bar. All you need is a keg and people will show up. It doesn’t take a lot.’’

Maruna then built a community9 to spread the word about what the com-

pany was doing. ‘‘Bloggers started talking about it and people started to tweet.

We built our own forums where people can come together. The community is

great with real-world bug testing, a super-powerful way to test ideas and con-

cepts. The community has translated the product into a dozen languages.’’

The concrete5 community includes very active forums. While people from

the company participate, they comprise a primarily community-contributed

knowledge base. What makes this form of Web content interesting as a mar-

keting and PR tool is that it is totally open for customers and noncustomers

alike. Many companies have interactive communities but lock them away in

password-protected nooks. At concrete5, it is all out in the open—showing

other interested potential users what’s really going on.

Through Web content, concrete5 first introduces people to the concepts

of an open-source CMS system, then offers free working products. Next, the

company encourages users to participate in the online forum and concrete5

blog10 and then finally makes money by selling enhancements and tools for

the software and interactive Web hosting services. All of the resulting Web

content serves as the company’s marketing engine. As I write this, a bit

more than a year has passed since the launch of concrete5, and the CMS

application has been downloaded over 50,000 times. The company has an

active forum of 5,000 developers and designers who are eagerly helping

each other out.

‘‘It is an exciting opportunity when people say both good things and bad

things about you,’’ Maruna says. ‘‘The focus group is all around you every

day, and it’s free. As a company, when you start engaging in an open-source

way, you then have a community that becomes a passionate support base for

you. Do this, and your customers will become your fans and they will go to

the end of the world to evangelize your product for you. Beyond the amazing

work our open-source community puts in around translating our product,

bug-testing it, and creating extensions, they’ve also sent us copious amounts

of beer (thanks!) and flown halfway around the world to meet us. A digital

community is awesome if you use it correctly. You don’t own it; you


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participate in it. You can’t buy it; you have to work at it. Be a good person,

treat the world like you’d treat your family, and they’ll do the same.’’

For every organization, the key to a great web site is to understand buyers

and build valuable content especially for them.

But there is one final step. Effective marketers constantly measure and im-

prove. Because it is so easy to modify Web content at any time, you should be

measuring what people are doing on the site. Benchmarking elements such as

the self-select links and testing different landing page content can help. If you

have two offers on a landing page (a free whitepaper and a free demonstra-

tion, say) you might measure which one works to get more clicks but also

measure how many people who respond to the offer actually buy something.

This way you will know not just numbers of clicks, but revenue by offer type,

and you can use that in future landing pages. Armed with real data, you make

valuable modifications. You might want to just see what happens if you

change the order of the links on the home page. Sometimes people just click

the thing on top of a list. What happens if something else is on top?

Of course, product superiority, advertising, the media, and branding re-

main important to the marketing mix. But on the Web, smart marketers un-

derstand that an effective content strategy, tightly integrated to the buying

process, is critical to success.

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14Social NetworkingSites and Marketing

The popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Link-

edIn, and Bebo is phenomenal. Social networking sites make it easy for

people to create a profile about themselves and use it to form a virtual net-

work combining their offline friends and new online friends. According to

data released by comScore,1 the social networking category of web sites had

nearly 140 million visitors in the U.S. in early 2009. That’s nearly three-quar-

ters of U.S. Internet users! MySpace Sites led the category with 71 million

visitors, followed by with 67.5 million visitors, and Twitter.

com, now the third-ranked social networking site, with 17 million visitors.

And it’s not just the United States; social networking is extremely popular all

over the world. For instance, in Europe, Facebook has seen a 314 percent

increase in one year to nearly 100 million visitors. Of course, not all visitors

to these sites create their own profiles, but there are millions and millions of

people who do—to share their photos, journals, videos, music, and interests

with a network of friends.

While these huge numbers are impressive, we can easily lose track of what

this means to us as marketers. When we consider the reach of influential peo-

ple on social networking sites, we should rethink our notions about who can

best spread our ideas and tell our stories. Many people tell me that they want

to get quoted in important publications like the Wall Street Journal or have

their products mentioned on television networks like the BBC or on shows

like Oprah. These ‘‘media hits’’ are seen as the holy grail of marketers. But


E1C14 11/26/2009 Page 174

while mainstream media is certainly important (and who wouldn’t want to be

on the BBC), is that really the best thing for your business?

At the 2009 South-by-Southwest Interactive Festival,2 I hung out for a

while in the blogger lounge, a place where people who are active in social

networking could get Internet connectivity, AC power, and a cold drink while

they met their virtual friends in the flesh. As I looked around the room and

saw the hundred or so influential people, I realized something important: The

collective voices of the bloggers who were in the South-by-Southwest blogger

lounge that day are likely more powerful and have more influence than the Wall

Street Journal. As you think about reaching your audience using social net-

working, consider who really has the power. Is it mainstream media? Or

someone else? And how can you reach them?

Television’s Eugene Mirman Is Very Nice andLikes Seafood‘‘There is no middleman between me and an audience,’’ says comedian Eugene

Mirman,3 known for his work in Flight of the Choncords, his book of satire The

Will to Whatevs: A Guide to Modern Life, and appearances on Comedy Central

and late-night television shows. He writes a blog, has a Facebook page,4 and is

on Twitter.5 ‘‘I want to be entertaining on the Web,’’ he says. ‘‘That’s what’s fun

for me. While there is a store on my web site, the push is to provide things to

entertain people, not to sell.’’ And entertain he does. Mirman’s Twitter bio

reads: ‘‘I am television’s Eugene Mirman. I am very nice and like seafood.’’

Sample tweet: ‘‘I started a tortilla fire in my toaster oven. Last time I leave to

watch a preview of the new Green Lantern movie.’’ He even included a link to

a photo of the blackened and burned Mexican food as evidence.

Mirman uses Facebook and Twitter as ways to get his information out to

multiple audiences very quickly. For example, immediately after he delivered

the 2009 commencement address at Lexington High School in Massachusetts,

he posted the video on YouTube6 and then pointed to it from his blog, as well


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as from his Twitter and Facebook profiles. The video got 100,000 views in

just one week.

Mirman says that he writes what’s interesting to him at the time and doesn’t

worry about productivity. ‘‘I want to do things that are funny and I want a lot

of people to see it, but I do what I think is good and funny and then hope that

others pass it on,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s easier for me to do what I like, and if it attracts

fans, then that’s great. And I’m lucky that it has been effective over the years

to do it this way. With social media, you can tell a story. If you have a special

interest, like cooking, then you can get an audience.’’

Think back to my metaphor of the Web as a city and social media as a

cocktail party, which I discussed in Chapter 4. Cocktail parties are fun. You

go because you want to be there. And while the chance of meeting someone

who could become a customer is a distinct possibility, that’s a by-product of

good conversation. Take a tip from Mirman and make sure you bring the

right attitude to social media. With that in mind, let’s look in detail at several

of the most important social networking sites.

Facebook: Not Just for StudentsIn the time since I wrote the first edition of this book, Facebook has taken off

as an online tool for businesspeople to connect to communities and to cus-

tomers directly. The spark for this remarkable explosion was the September

2006 opening of Facebook to nonstudents. Prior to that time, you needed

an email address ending in ‘‘.edu’’ to qualify for an account. According to

comScore, in the months prior to allowing open registration,

traffic hovered at approximately 14 million unique visitors per month. The

number of visitors nearly doubled in the next nine months, reaching 26.6 mil-

lion in May 2007. As of this writing, Facebook has reached 275 million visi-

tors worldwide. The site reports7 that 100 million people log onto Facebook

at least once each day.

The site connects members via a ‘‘friend request’’ process. Until you ap-

prove someone as your Facebook friend, your extended profile remains pri-

vate. I’ve found Facebook to be a great way to maintain casual contact with

people I meet in person and online. Many have sent me friend requests after

reading this book or my blog, and when I speak at a conference, I’m bound to


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get a handful of friend requests from attendees. It is incredibly rewarding to

learn a bit more about the individuals who use the ideas found in this book.

And, of course, those people can learn more about me, too.

The most important thing to remember about marketing on Facebook

(and other social networking sites) is that it is not about generating hype.

The best approaches to Facebook marketing involve three useful ways to

deliver information and ideas to a network of people who are interested in

you and your products and services: friend-to-friend communication,

groups, and applications. The first is generally the easiest and really just

requires that you describe yourself via your personal profile. For example,

when I publish a new e-book or my next print book, I’ll post a message on

my Facebook profile so my friends will know what I’m up to. I also post

links to new blog posts and speaking engagements. Similarly, back when I

set up my profile, I included a short video to give my Facebook friends an

idea of what one of my speeches was like. My Facebook friends see my

updates via their Facebook feed, basically an ongoing delivery of informa-

tion from their circle of friends.

A great way for organizations of all kinds to keep interested people

informed is to gather them into a Facebook group. All users can create

groups, and their membership can be closed (invitation only) or open (any-

one may join). There’s also a similar place where people can meet called a

Facebook fan page, which is a page of information that anybody can see

(compared to groups where you must register first). Facebook Groups are

typically for more in-depth communications around a subject (such as a

product launch), while Facebook fan pages are typically for a loose but lon-

ger-term presence. I know this sounds complicated, but it should be further

incentive to join some groups and become a fan of a few companies to see

what people are doing.

For example, Philip Robertson, director of marketing communications for

ooVoo,8 an application for conducting face-to-face video conversation with

friends, family, and colleagues, wanted to establish social media connections

soon after ooVoo was launched in mid-2007. ‘‘Facebook was quickly becom-

ing a place for people to connect and catch up online,’’ he says. ‘‘At the same

time, we began to look at different ways to market.’’ Robertson started a Face-

book group as a way to communicate with existing ooVoo users and to help


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build a larger population of users as people discussed the service and shared

it with their Facebook friends. ‘‘We’ve used the group to promote campaigns

such as ‘my ooVoo day’ where top-tier bloggers used ooVoo to interact with

people. We also use it as a way to post new software. People who are fans of

the brand can use new software first.’’

Starting a Facebook group is very straightforward. It takes just a few

minutes to set one up, and the process includes a built-in tool for sending

invitations to your Facebook friends (and, as appropriate, the friends of

your colleagues). You should also mention the group on your organiza-

tion’s regular web site or blog. ‘‘We got 250 members to the Facebook

group really quickly,’’ Robertson says. ‘‘We invited the initial members

through our own fan base, and we also invited influential people who can

give us feedback on the brand.’’ The ooVoo group has more than 1,500

members as of this writing. There is also an ooVoo Facebook fan page with

nearly 10,000 fans.

People join Facebook groups because they want to stay informed, and they

want to do it on their own time. Just as with blogs, the best way to maintain a

Facebook group is simply to make valuable information available. Unlike in-

trusive email updates, which arrive only when the sender chooses, Facebook

groups can be visited at the member’s convenience. ‘‘You are not spamming

people with information that they are forced to read,’’ Robertson says.

The informal, two-way nature of Facebook’s group dynamics is an impor-

tant aspect for marketers. ‘‘Pass-along value is very important,’’ says Robert-

son. ‘‘You can recommend Facebook groups and applications to friends in

a much easier and more casual way than you can with e-mail. And people

can post information to the group themselves, to actively take part in the


I’ve had some remarkable experiences with Facebook groups, experiences

that never would have happened in the absence of social networking tools.

One of the most interesting was with Stephen Quigley’s New Media and PR

class at Boston University.9 The class uses this book as one of its texts, and

for the last several terms the students have invited me to join their invitation-

only Facebook groups. One term’s group was called ‘‘New Media Rocks My

PR World’’ (love the name), and another set of students went with ‘‘Media

Socialites’’ (love this one even more). Here is the Media Socialites’ description


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of their group: ‘‘Professor Quigley’s new batch of student social media

sponges, eager to soak up as much information about New Media and PR in a

semester as is humanly possible . . . and, in proper social networking fash-

ion, making important connections along the way.’’

Social networking has given birth to new models for learning. I graduated

from Kenyon College in 1983, and in four years I don’t recall ever giving text-

book authors any thought whatsoever. I certainly never met any of them. But

with social media tools like Facebook, smart professors (and students) are

now involving textbook authors and other guests, effectively creating virtual

classrooms to supplement the physical ones. The students and professors tell

me it’s transforming their learning process. How about your business? How is

social media changing what you do? Take a lesson from these forward-think-

ing educators and become a part of the discussion.

The final feature I mentioned is the ability to make applications, which are

a great way to build your brand on Facebook. As an open platform, Facebook

allows anybody to create applications that allow friends to share information

on the service in different ways. There are many thousands of applications

available on Facebook, and the more popular ones are used regularly by hun-

dreds of thousands of people each day—not bad for a marketing tool that

costs nothing to launch and is easy to create. One of my personal favorites is

the ‘‘Cities I’ve Visited’’ application from TripAdvisor.10 It displays a map on

my Facebook page where I can stick a virtual thumbtack in the cities I’ve

visited. Since I am on the road a lot, this is a great way for me to keep track of

my world travel.

TripAdvisor’s business is providing unbiased hotel reviews, photos, and

travel advice, so the ‘‘Cities I’ve Visited’’ Facebook application is a perfect

marketing tool for the company. Facebook applications are a terrific way for

marketers to be creative and try something new, and there is always the possi-

bility for an application to catch fire and go viral like ‘‘Cities I’ve Visited.’’

Which, by the way, now has an amazing three million active users.

In short, Facebook is emerging as a primary means for folks to keep in

touch with the people and the organizations that are important to them, and

it follows that it has become an important marketing tool for many compa-

nies. As with other social networking media, success on Facebook comes


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from being a thought leader and developing information that people want to


Check Me Out on MySpaceMarketing on social networking sites can be tricky because their online com-

munities disdain overt commercial messages. Acceptable marketing and pro-

motion on these sites frequently involves offline brands or personalities

creating pages to build and expand an online following rather than directly

advertise products. For instance, it is common for members of rock bands to

have a MySpace page. Connecticut-based The Alternative Routes has a popu-

lar MySpace page11 with a network as of this writing of over 15,000 friends.

People are active on the band’s page, having left more than 3,000 comments

to date.

Volkswagen has taken a different approach. With tongue planted firmly in

cheek, marketers at Volkswagen created a MySpace profile page for Helga,12

the German character who appears in some of the company’s TV commer-

cials. Visitors learn Helga’s Likes (‘‘I love the smell of gasoline. Gears turning,

oil burning, stomach churning. Go fast or go home. Efficiency.’’) and Dislikes

(‘‘ ‘Pimped rides,’ bumper balls, people in the left lane going 40 with the

blinker on. Traffic. Scorpios, you can’t trust them.’’) Users can download ring-

tones, images of Helga, and short audio clips in Helga’s strong German ac-

cent. My favorite Helga clip features her saying ‘‘My xenon headlights are

on.’’ The Helga MySpace page works because Helga is obviously a made-up

character, and she is fun. And it works (she has over 6,000 friends) because

Helga is seen as an engaging, slightly offbeat online character.

Yet another tactic that some smart nonprofit organizations use is to encour-

age employees to establish a personal page, with details of the cause they sup-

port, as a way to spread the word. Supporters of political candidates (as well

as some candidates themselves) create pages on social networking sites too.

As with all good marketing, it is important to create content that is right for

the people you want to reach, and that starts with the choice of which social

networking site (or sites) to post your profile.


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As you consider a strategy to get yourself out there and onto a social net-

working site for marketing and PR purposes, just remember that authenticity

and transparency are critical. Don’t try to fool the community into thinking

that the page is something that it is not. (You might want to skip to the dis-

cussion of ethics in Chapter 15). Frequent eruptions within these com-

munities happen when members uncover a fraud of some kind, such as an

advertising agency creating fake profiles of people applauding products. Yes,

you can use social networking sites such as MySpace to build a following, but

the approaches that bands like The Alternative Routes and companies like

Volkswagen take work best; avoid sleazy fake profiles of people who suppos-

edly use your products.

Tweet Your Thoughts to the WorldWe really should have seen Twitter13 coming. After all, one of the most popu-

lar elements of the instant messaging craze is the ‘‘away message,’’ which gives

users the opportunity to tell people what they are doing (a bit like a text ver-

sion of a telephone voicemail greeting). As blogs (a more long-winded means

of answering that question—among others) became more popular, it was

probably only a matter of time before blog posts started to look more like

away messages. Thus was microblogging born, with Twitter being the most

popular service. And popularity is important because of the social nature of

Twitter, a service for friends, family, and coworkers to communicate through

the exchange of quick, short messages (with a maximum of 140 characters).

People use Twitter to keep their ‘‘followers’’ (people who subscribe to their

Twitter feed) updated on their life. For instance, you might ‘‘tweet’’ about who

you’re having lunch with or the project you’re engrossed in, or you might ask

your network a question. Users can choose to follow the Twitter updates of

anyone they want to hear from: family members, colleagues, or perhaps the

author of the last book they read. Because of the severe constraint on the

length of tweets, people use Twitter to post information that is important to

update their network about but is much more concise than a blog post and

more casual than an email. You can update your Twitter feed from a Web

browser, a mobile phone, or an instant messaging service, so Twitter is always

on. I update my feed a few times a day, tweeting about my travels around the


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world, who I’m meeting, and what’s going on at the conferences and events

where I speak. I also frequently send out links to examples of great marketing

that people send me, things like e-books, YouTube videos, and blog posts. In

this way, Twitter is a way of pointing people to things that I find interesting.

As with other forms of social networking, it takes time to build a following. In

particular, the best way to get people to pay attention to you is to participate

by following others and responding to them, just like you should do in the


Every marketing and PR person should be aware of Twitter and understand

how people use it. As a first step, you should immediately high-tail it over to

the Twitter search engine14 to see what people are saying about you, your

organization, your products and services, and perhaps your competitors and

the category of product you sell. If you’ve never done this, please do it right

now, because it can be an eye-opening experience to see what (if anything)

people are saying.

When you’re ready to set up your own Twitter profile and begin to tweet,

the most important aspect from the marketing and PR perspective is—as I say

time and again—don’t use this service as an advertising channel to talk up

your products and services. If that’s your intention, you need to be very


‘‘If you want to use Twitter as a marketing channel, you have to put your-

self out there as an interested member of the community,’’ says Scott Monty,15

digital and multimedia communications manager at Ford Motor Company.16

‘‘I’m constantly amazed at what a powerful personal and professional network

it is for me. Recently, I went online to find a hotel room in New York City,

which is usually not a problem, especially with the last-minute travel sites.

Only this time, no rooms in midtown were to be had. So I sent a tweet17 to

my network and immediately heard from a number of people with sugges-

tions, including Tim Peter,18 who works with a group that does luxury reser-

vations. Within a few minutes, I had a reservation at the Mansfield, a

boutique hotel in midtown Manhattan. Perfect! Thanks to a well-connected

and attentive community, I was able to keep myself off a Central Park bench


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for the night. It just goes to show that if you take the time to invest in rela-

tionships and being a valued member of a community, it can work in your

favor when you need it.’’

Some companies use Twitter to alert customers to special deals. Because of

the broadcast-like nature of microblogging, thousands of potential buyers can

receive this information instantaneously. ‘‘Woot has used Twitter as a way to

alert people to new merchandise that is available, and JetBlue lets people

know when they are running airfare specials,’’ Monty says. But as with all

new media, it is important to learn the unwritten etiquette of Twitter before

using it. ‘‘The Today show gives updates of feature stories and highlights of

shows,’’ Monty says. ‘‘When they started on Twitter, they bulk-followed a

bunch of people and basically spammed them. Based on the Today show Twit-

ter profile, there were 3,500 people whom they were following and only 500

people following them. It annoyed me and my colleagues, because they were

trying to build up numbers rather than being a part of the conversation.’’

With all this online conversation going on, some people think that Face-

book, Twitter, and other social networking tools can replace a face-to-face

approach to business. I actually think strong social networking ties lead to

stronger personal relationships because it is easy to facilitate face-to-face

meetings that never would have occurred otherwise. For example, before a

conference, I might send a tweet saying ‘‘I’ll be in San Francisco next Tues-

day.’’ I’ll frequently get a message right back from someone who is planning

to be at the same conference, or someone who lives there, and we end up

meeting in person. I’ll also create an impromptu meeting of my followers—

called a TweetUp—which occurs when people who are connected on Twitter

have a face-to-face meeting. I’ve had between 10 and 30 people show up in

cities like Wellington, New Zealand; Atlanta; New York City; and Phoenix,

Arizona to connect.

Social Networking and Personal BrandingI’ve had many conversations with people who are new to social networking

sites such as Twitter, and often they are puzzled at first about what to do. Hey,

I’ve been there too. We all make mistakes. I recall when I was first getting

going with Facebook and my teenage daughter was looking over my shoul-

der. She rolled her eyes and called me a ‘‘big dork’’ when I wrote a message

on my own Facebook Wall (a place for your visitors to write). I found that

with my own learning and the experiences with people I’ve helped over the

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past few years, getting a few things right at the start makes the experience

more fun (and productive). While I’ll be writing about Twitter here, the basic

ideas apply to all social networking sites.

An important thing to consider is how your online actions are a reflection

of your personal branding (the image that you project to the world). As you

already know, people use Twitter to keep others updated on what they find

interesting at that moment. Frequently when I am asked about Twitter and its

use in personal branding and marketing, people immediately dive into stuff

like ‘‘how often should I tweet,’’ ‘‘what should I tweet about,’’ ‘‘is it cool to

DM [direct message] people,’’ and other tweet-related details. Well, that’s all

fine, but the vast majority of people miss the most basic (and important) per-

sonal branding aspect of all.

Most Twitter pages don’t say enough and most have crappy design. While

that’s fine if you’re just communicating with friends, if you care about your

personal brand, you need to do better. Much better. And it is so easy! When

you first set up your Twitter account, you have choices. And after you’ve set

up the account, you can make these changes to any aspect of your profile at

any time (except your Twitter ID) under the ‘‘Settings’’ tab in Twitter.

Twitter ID: (Mine is dmscott.) Choose an appropriate ID. Something like

MrSillyGuy is probably not a good idea for most people. However, a silly ID

might fit your personal brand, say, if you’re a comedian. (As of this writing

MrSillyGuy is not taken as a Twitter ID.)

Name: (Mine is David Meerman Scott.) Use your real name. Don’t just

default to your user ID which so many people seem to do. And don’t just use

a nickname like ‘‘Pookie.’’ You can put your nickname in quotes inside of

your real name if you want to. If you really care about your personal brand,

you’ll want people to know who you really are.

Location: (Mine is Boston, MA.) Use the town or nearest city that makes

sense for you. Saying something cute like ‘‘earth’’ or ‘‘somewhere in Canada’’

turns people off who don’t know you. Besides, the location is a good way to

make local contacts.

Web: (Mine is If you have a blog or site,

put the URL here. Or maybe your profile on a company web site makes sense

What does your Twitter page look like?

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for you. This should be somewhere people can go to learn more about you. If

you don’t have a blog or site, I recommend that you create a Google profile

and link to that. Go back to Chapter 5 to learn about Google profiles. You

can also leave the ‘‘Web’’ link blank if you want, but that says to people that

you don’t want to be contacted or to have people learn more about you.

Bio: (As I write this, mine is ‘‘Marketing speaker and bestselling author of

The New Rules of Marketing and PR and the new book World Wide Rave.’’) This

is where you say something about yourself. You only get 160 characters. As a

component of personal branding, this is a critical section. Don’t leave it blank.

And don’t make a mini-resume from a laundry list of attributes like this: ‘‘fa-

ther, brother, surfer, economics major, world traveler, marketer, and rockstar

wannabe.’’ (I confess, that would be my list.) I see this sort of thing all the

time and it is not good for personal branding because you don’t really focus

on your particular expertise. Try to be descriptive. And try to be specific.

Photo: Your photo is very important! Don’t default to the placeholder that

Twitter provides for those with no photo. And don’t use something clever as a

stand in (like your cat). If you care about your personal brand, you should

use a photo of you and not a pet or image of your car. Photos appear very tiny

on Twitter—like a postage stamp—so use a close-up shot. If you use a full

view of yourself, then you will appear like a stick figure. Remember that your

photo conveys a very important first impression when people see your profile

for the first time. Are you wearing a hat? Is it a casual shot of you taken while

on holiday with a beer in your hand? Or have you chosen a formal head-and-

shoulders shot with business attire taken by a professional photographer? Is

your son or daughter in the photo with you? There is no real right or wrong,

but do keep in mind that each of these choices says a great deal about you.

Background image: The background image of your Twitter page is a place

where you can really show off. The default blue background is like when you

first open PowerPoint—it’s a default. Twitter has some choices, but many peo-

ple use them, so you will not be unique. Shoot a custom photo in order to

really shine. I use a close-up photo of a nifty old typewriter keyboard. It’s my

personal brand on Twitter.

These choices are really easy to set up, but they’re very important for your

personal brand. If you are on Twitter, take the time to make some changes

today. Again, the same ideas apply on other social networking sites like Face-

book and LinkedIn, so don’t forget to carefully consider your personal brand-

ing on those sites as well.

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Connecting with Fans‘‘Being a touring musician means meeting fans,’’ says Amanda Palmer, lead

singer for The Dresden Dolls and punk rock cabaret solo artist. ‘‘I go out and

meet fans after every gig. It’s important to make contact in real life and not

just online in social media like Twitter. If you don’t meet fans in real life too,

then you’re a fraud. If you’re not comfortable getting into the sweat with them

and talking with people at shows, then how can you do it successfully online?

I love connecting with fans. Speaking to people at the merchandise table after

the show is great. I can stay there forever.’’

This committed attitude has helped make Palmer a personal branding

force of nature, using her infectious personality to connect with fans in per-

son and on the Web. She has amassed a large online following on her blog,19

her MySpace page20 (more than 75,000 friends), her Facebook fan page21

(more than 20,000 fans), and her Twitter feed22 (more than 50,000 follow-

ers). Note that Palmer’s band, the Dresden Dolls also has nearly a quarter of a

million friends on MySpace.

When The Dresden Dolls formed in 2000, Palmer created an email list

from day one. Soon after, the personal connections she established at the

band’s concerts, which continued in e-mail messages with fans, started to

bleed onto the band’s personal forum, The Shadowbox.23 A collection of all

things Amanda Palmer and Dresden Dolls, The Shadowbox has accumulated

a remarkable quarter of a million fan posts since its launch. ‘‘It’s like I’ve built

a house and people are hanging around in it,’’ Palmer says.

Palmer is very active on Twitter and uses it as a tool for instant communi-

cation with her fans. She frequently answers fans’ tweeted questions and com-

ments. Because she truly enjoys her connection with her followers, Twitter

comes naturally to her. ‘‘It’s important to have the makeup that I do,’’ she

says. ‘‘I love to answer fans’ questions, and I love to make people happy. You

can’t fake being authentic with your fans. It’s so easy to see through when

other musicians are faking it, such as when some employee of their record

labels tweets on behalf of their artists. Fans can see through fake tweets like


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‘I’m about to play at a rad club. Get tix here.’ Fake artists’ blogs are the same.

Who cares?’’

Palmer frequently uses Twitter to bring together groups of fans quickly and

spontaneously when she is on the road. She tweeted a secret gig in Los

Angeles one morning and about 350 people showed up five hours later at a

warehouse space where she played the piano. It works great for her because,

although she’s able to get a large number of people to show up, she is not so

popular that she would create a dangerously huge mob. ‘‘I’m in the sweet spot

of popularity,’’ she says. ‘‘I can send out a tweet and get 300 people to show up

in a couple of days and do a free gig on the beach. I’ll play the ukulele, sing,

sign, hug, take pictures, eat cake, and generally hang out and connect. And

I’ll stay as long as it takes to talk with everyone personally. Trent Reznor of

Nine Inch Nails can’t do that because he’s just too popular.’’

Palmer does struggle with the amount of time she spends connecting with

fans both in person and through the tools of social media like Twitter. ‘‘I feel

guilty sometimes that I’d often prefer to answer questions from fans and do

interviews and meet people than work on new music,’’ she says. Interestingly,

she has fans who feel the same way; her prolific online content has earned a

following of its own. ‘‘One person at a record store gig and signing came up

to me and said, ‘I don’t really like your music, but I love your blog.’ ’’

How Amanda Palmer Made $11,000 onTwitter in Two HoursWhen you have a loyal following on Twitter, it becomes an incredibly power-

ful tool for accomplishing your goals. You can use Twitter to spread an idea,

ask people’s opinions, research a problem, or even make some money. ‘‘The

great thing about Twitter is that the minute I started using it, I realized the

possibilities are endless,’’ Palmer says. She proved it one Friday night.

‘‘I tweeted as a joke that I was all alone, again, on a Friday night at my

computer, like a loser,’’ Palmer says. ‘‘Other people started chiming in, and

we were all losers. One of my friends called it a virtual flash mob, and all of a

sudden there were a thousand people hanging out and following what was

going on, the dialog between the fans. And we started a faux organization

called The Losers of Friday Night on their Computers. We started making de-

mands of the government like no tax on vodka, government issued

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sweatpants, free pizza, anything you could possibly need to be a loser on

Friday night at your computer. And it was just really funny. It felt like a little

piece of loser anarchy on Twitter.’’

Palmer set up the hashtag (unique code for finding tweets on a particular

subject) #LOFNOTC for the Losers, and the thousands of people communi-

cating made the Loser group the number one trending topic on Twitter at that

moment. As members chatted, someone suggested the group should make a

T-shirt. So without any planning, Palmer said, ‘‘Sure let’s do it,’’ and used a

Sharpie to make a T-shirt design. Someone suggested the slogan ‘‘DON’T


was added to the shirt. Palmer’s Web marketing company was able to create a

quickie site (which went live in just half an hour), and offered the T-shirts for

sale at $25 each. The Losers group bought 200 T-shirts that night. Several

hundred more were sold the next day after Palmer blogged about it. The total

take made via Twitter over just two hours that night was $11,000.

Not many people can get a thousand others to gather on a Friday night,

and fewer still can then sell them something as effectively as Palmer did. But

that’s not the real point here. The point is that Twitter is an increasingly im-

portant way for people to connect and communicate, and organizations are

using it cleverly to benefit their businesses, their followers, and themselves.

So should you.

Which Social Networking Site Is Rightfor You?While some people might be tempted to create a page on lots of different

social networking sites, this may not be necessary (or even useful), since

each one appeals to different users. ‘‘While the top social networking sites

are typically viewed as directly competing with one another, our analysis

demonstrates that each site occupies a slightly different niche,’’ says Jack

Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore. ‘‘There is a misconception

that social networking is the exclusive domain of teenagers, but [our]

analysis confirms that the appeal of social networking sites is far broader.’’

In fact, Facebook says that more than two-thirds of its users are out of

college and that the fastest growing demographic is those 35 years old

and older.

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So think about the right social networking sites for you and your business.

Besides Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, here are a few other popular ones to

check out.

LinkedIn: The LinkedIn24 site says: ‘‘Professionals use LinkedIn to

exchange information, ideas and opportunities. When you join, you create a

profile that summarizes your professional accomplishments. Your profile

helps you find and be found by former colleagues, clients, and partners. You

can add more connections by inviting trusted contacts to join LinkedIn and

connect to you.’’ The LinkedIn About page provides a laundry list of things

you can do on the site, such as find potential clients, search for jobs, land

deals, and get introductions. LinkedIn is an excellent tool if your buyer per-

sonas work in businesses.

Squidoo: Unlike other social networking sites that are based on personal

profiles of individuals, Squidoo25 is based on people’s expertise in a niche

subject. Squidoo is another way for marketers to build an online presence

easily and for free. Headed up by ‘‘original squid’’ Seth Godin,26 creator

of ‘‘Permission Marketing’’ and best-selling business author of Purple Cow,

Squidoo is built around online lenses, which are a way to filter a person’s

expertise on a subject onto a single page. Interested people check out a lens

on a topic and quickly get pointed to useful web sites. A person who makes a

lens is a lensmaster, and he or she uses a lens to provide context. ‘‘Everyone is

an expert,’’ the Squidoo site says, and Squidoo helps everyone share that

expertise with the world. Vince Ciulla, a professional automotive technician

with over 30 years’ experience, has created a Squidoo lens called Auto

Repair—Trouble Shooting27 that points to content on his main site. ‘‘Fixing

your car is easy,’’ Ciulla says. ‘‘The hard part is figuring out what’s wrong. My

web site and links from my Squidoo lens are how people can get the informa-

tion they need for free, such as how to replace a brake master cylinder. I also

explain things like how the cruise control works.’’

SecondLife: An online world entirely built and owned by its residents,

Second Life28 is a place where people interact in three virtual dimensions.

But this is not a game (there is no goal and nobody is keeping score); rather,


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it is a world with millions of residents and an economy built on the Linden

dollar in which millions of U.S. dollars (at the current exchange rate) change

hands each month. The Second Life world is teeming with people who use a

self-created, in-world avatar to interact with others by buying, selling, and

trading things with other residents (and just milling about and chatting). You

can purchase land, build a store or business, and make money. Not surpris-

ingly, there is even a sleazy underworld as well. But you don’t have to be into

commerce; you can just walk around and hang out. Quite a few of the compa-

nies that have jumped into Second Life seem to have done so just to be part of

a new phenomenon, and many have since closed down their presence there.

As with all social networking sites, it is important to consider if your buyer

personas are active before jumping in. I hear that many software developers

frequent Second Life, so it’s no surprise that smart companies like IBM and

HP have set up shop there.

Shopping sites: Okay, I know this is an outlier. Most people don’t consider

shopping sites to be social networking, and they’re nothing like the other

sites I’ve mentioned in this chapter. But don’t overlook the incredible com-

munities that thrive on sites like Amazon, where customer reviews, profiles

of those customer reviewers, and user conversations take place every day. For

example, if a new book comes out in your marketplace, why not be the first to

review it on Amazon? If you’re a real estate agent and you write a thoughtful

review on a new book about real estate investing, it may be seen by tens of

thousands of people (as well as the author and members of the media). Peo-

ple who then visit your Amazon profile learn about you and your business

and some may contact you. Other review-based sites to check out include

Rotten Tomatoes (movie reviews), Zagat (restaurant reviews), and Yelp

(reviews of local businesses). There are many more such sites. Don’t forget to

create a useful profile for yourself with contact information.

You Can’t Go to Every Party, So WhyEven Try?Think back to our social-media-as-cocktail-party metaphor for a moment.

You can’t go to every party thrown in your city. There are literally thousands

of social networking sites out there, and it is simply impossible to be active in

all of them. And once you choose a few parties to attend, you can’t meet and

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have a conversation with each and every person there. You know there are

tons of great conversations going on all around you, and you know that you

can’t be a part of them all.

What do you do at a party? Some people constantly look over the shoulder

of the person they are talking to, always on the lookout for a better conversa-

tion. Some flit from one person to another every few minutes all night, having

many short, superficial conversations. What I like to do at parties is have a

few great conversations and be happy that I’m at a wonderful event. I know I

can’t be with everyone, so I have fun with the people I’m with. What more

could I want?

If you’re following my analogy here, you should apply the same thing to

your participation in social media. For most people and organizations, it’s

better to be active in a few social networking sites instead of creating profiles

on dozens of them and being too busy to spend much time in any one. In my

own case, I have my own blog, I am on Facebook and Twitter, and I’m active

on a few forums and chatrooms, but that’s about it. I’m not on MySpace or

LinkedIn or SecondLife. There are thousands of other social media and social

networking sites that I choose not to participate in, such as Nexopia, Bebo,

Hi5, Tagged, Xing, Skyrock, Orkut, Friendster, Orkut, Xiaonei, Cyworld, and

many, many more. Since you can’t go to every party, you need to pick and

choose. Where do you want to be? Where you can be most helpful? Where

are the members of your buyer personas?

Optimizing Social Networking PagesIf you’re creating pages on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and the other social

networking sites, and if you’ve been following the planning process outlined

in Chapter 10, then you’re creating content that reaches your buyers and

helps you achieve your goals. Although social networking sites aren’t adver-

tising, you can still use the sites to lead people into your buying process. For

example, The Alternate Routes have links on their MySpace page to the

band’s latest album, touring schedule, and online ticket purchasing tools;

Volkswagen links to the automaker’s other sites; Vince Ciulla points people

from his Squidoo lens to his web site; and Amanda Palmer links to her blog

from her Twitter profile.

Here are some ideas to get the most out of using social networking sites

for marketing:

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� Target a specific audience. Create a page that reaches an audience impor-

tant to your organization. It is usually better to target a small niche mar-

ket (e.g., people who want to do their own car repairs but don’t know

how to diagnose what’s wrong).

� Be a thought leader. Provide valuable and interesting information that

people want to check out. As you will remember from Chapter 11, it is

better to show your expertise in a market or at solving a buyer’s prob-

lems than to blather on about your product.

� Be authentic and transparent. Don’t try to impersonate someone else. It’s a

sleazy practice, and if you get caught you can do irreparable harm to

your company’s reputation. If your mother would say it’s wrong, it prob-

ably is.

� Create lots of links. Link to your own sites and blog, and those of others

in your industry and network. Everybody loves links—they make the

Web what it is. You should certainly link to your own stuff from a social

networking site, but it’s important to expand your horizons a bit.

� Encourage people to contact you. Make it easy for others to reach you on-

line, and be sure to follow up personally on your fan mail.

� Participate. Create groups and participate in online discussions. Become

an online leader and organizer.

� Make it easy to find you. Tag your page and add it to subject directories.

Encourage others to bookmark your page with and DIGG.

� Experiment. These sites are great because you can try new things. If it

isn’t working, tweak it. Or abandon the effort and try something new.

There is no such thing as an expert in social networking—we’re all

learning as we go!

Start a MovementClearly, one of the most interesting aspects of social media is that people talk

about you, your company, and its products and services. Most of the time,

these discussions happen away from your influence. However, it is certainly

possible to guide the discussion if you’re a bit creative. For example, Ford

Motor Company is helping to lead discussions with its Fiesta Movement,29 a

social networking platform built around the new global vehicle of the same


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name. Ford provided 100 social media ‘‘agents’’ with personalized Fiestas that

they can drive for six months and then relate their experiences through a

variety of social media sites.

‘‘This is a Euro-spec vehicle that is not yet available in the United States,’’

says Ford’s Scott Monty. ‘‘We’re using this as a combination of test marketing

and buzz generation. The agents are creating content all over the Web, and

people are talking about the Ford Fiesta on Facebook, Twitter, their blogs,

and posting videos and photos on sites like YouTube and Flickr. Ford came

on with an approach to social media that showed that we are different. We

came at social media from a different perspective, a more personal one, and I

think that has made all the difference for us.’’

Ford’s strategy is betting on the continued rise in social media’s popularity,

and its online numbers reflect the buzz. Agent postings have garnered signifi-

cant numbers on social media sites through the first quarter of the Fiesta

Movement—more than 1.8 million YouTube views, more than 270,000 Flickr

views and more than 1.8 million Twitter impressions, resulting in more than

13.2 million interactions.

Social media take the pervasiveness of the Internet one step farther. And

while we don’t know where they’re heading, what is certain is that marketing

and PR on the Web will continue to evolve—quickly. Success comes from

experimentation. With a service like Twitter or a site like Facebook (or what-

ever the next new thing is), nobody knows the rules at first. Smart marketers

succeed just by trying. Reuters, for example, generated a ton of stories in the

mainstream media and on blogs when it opened the first virtual news bureau

in Second Life. They got a huge amount of buzz simply by trying something.

Similarly, JetBlue and Dell have created huge followings on Twitter because

they were early adopters. The trick to benefiting from any new medium is

this: Participate in it; don’t just try to take advantage of it. Be a genuine part

of the action! Whatever your social networking site of choice, don’t hesitate

to jump in and see what you can do.

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15Blogging to ReachYour Buyers

B logs are now a mainstream vehicle for organizations to get their ideas

into the marketplace. The readers of blogs view the information shared

by smart bloggers as one of the few forms of real, authentic communication.

Audiences consume advertising with skepticism and consider pronounce-

ments by CEOs to be out of touch with reality. But a good blog written by

someone within a large or small company, a nonprofit, a church, or a political

campaign commands attention.

At the same time, blogs have seen a lot of hype in recent years. Business

magazines regularly include breathless enthusiasm about how blogs and blog-

ging hold the power to transform your business. While I absolutely agree that

blogs can change your business and your life (as my blog has changed mine),

there is still some mystery to blogging if you haven’t done it before. This

chapter will set out the basics of how to establish your own blog. But I recom-

mend that, before you begin to write, you first monitor blogs in your market

space and that you step into the blogosphere by commenting on a few blogs

before you write your own. You might want to reread Chapter 5, where I in-

troduced blogs and provided some case studies of successful bloggers. As you

begin to comment on other people’s blogs, you’ll develop your own blogging

voice and get a sense of what you like to discuss online. That’s great! You’re

experimenting on someone else’s blog real estate. If you’re like many people,

soon you’ll be itching to write your own blog. But if commenting is a painful

chore for you, maybe you’re not cut out to be a blogger. That’s okay—there

are many more blog readers than blog writers. This forum isn’t for everybody.

E1C15 11/26/2009 Page 194

It’s impossible to tell you everything you need to know about blogging in

this one chapter. While the case studies and basic information will certainly

get you started, the best thing is to experiment to find your voice. Read other

blogs and be aware of what you like and dislike about other bloggers’ styles.

You might also check Debbie Weil’s excellent The Corporate Blogging Book.

What Should You Blog About?People often struggle to decide what to blog about. This is particularly true

for marketing and PR professionals, because we have been taught to be slaves

to the notion of flogging our products and services with ‘‘on message’’ adver-

tising and press releases; for most organizations, that’s exactly the wrong way

to blog. The first thing to ask yourself is ‘‘Whom do I want to reach?’’ For

many people, the answer is a combination of buyers, existing customers, and

influencers such as analysts and the media. You need to find a topic that you

are passionate about. If you aren’t excited about the topic or if it feels painful

to write, you’re unlikely to sustain the effort; and if you do manage to keep

going, the writing is likely to be forced.

Most first-time bloggers try to cover too much. It is better to start with a

narrow subject and leave room to expand. Be authentic. People read blogs

because they want to find an honest voice speaking passionately about a sub-

ject. You do not have to be harsh or controversial if that is not your style. If

you are interesting and provide valuable information, your readership will


Grant D. Griffiths, a Kansas family and divorce lawyer, started his blog1 in

March 2005. ‘‘I’ve learned that in the legal profession, and probably any other

profession, you need to be very targeted,’’ Griffiths says. His blog is written

for a very specific buyer persona. ‘‘I’m not writing my blog for other attorneys;

I write for the public. More specifically, I write for people in Kansas who need

a family lawyer. My practice blog is my storefront, shingle, office sign, news-

paper ad, and yellow-pages ad.’’

Griffiths has averaged about a dozen email inquires per week since August

2005 from new contacts who find him as a result of his blog. ‘‘And on average

I get two to three new cases a week from the blog,’’ he says. ‘‘If you type in

anything related to Kansas and family law into a search engine, then my blog


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is usually in the top few hits on the first page. I stopped doing yellow-pages

ads last year. In talking to other lawyers, I hear they are scared of not doing a

yellow-pages ad because they are afraid that if they don’t, then they won’t get

any more business. They don’t feel like real lawyers without a yellow-pages ad

because it is traditional marketing.’’

In its ‘‘State of the Blogosphere’’ 2008 report,2 blog search engine Technor-

ati claimed that it tracked more than 112 million blogs in 81 languages and

that about 100,000 new blogs are created every day, which means that, on

average, a new blog is created every second of every day. That’s a heck of a lot

of competition, and you might ask yourself if it is worth the effort. But re-

member back to the long tail theory we discussed in Chapter 2. If you write a

niche blog (e.g., a blog about Kansas family law), then you’re not competing

with 112 million other blogs. You’re writing in a space where there are few (if

any) other blogs, and you will no doubt find readers who are interested in

what you’re saying. If you have a small niche, you may interest only a few

hundred readers. But you’ll reach the right readers—those people who are

interested in what you and your organization have to say.

Blogging Ethics and Employee BloggingGuidelinesSome organizations such as IBM3 and the United States Air Force4 have cre-

ated formal guidelines for employee bloggers and published them online for

anyone to access. Your organization should decide for itself whether to create

such guidelines, and the decision should be determined based on input from

marketing, HR, and other departments. I think it is much better for organiza-

tions to establish policies about all communications (including verbal com-

munication, email, participation in chat rooms, and the like) rather than to

focus on a new medium (blogs). I feel strongly that a company can and

should set policy about sexual harassment, disparaging the competition, and

revealing company secrets, but there’s no reason to have different policies for

different media. Once the policy is set, employees should be permitted to blog


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away as long as they follow it. No matter what the decisions you make about

who should blog and what the rules are, it is always better for the blogger to

avoid passing individual posts through a PR department or legal team. How-

ever, if your blog posts must be reviewed by others in your organization be-

fore going live, then have your colleagues focus only on the content, not your

actual words. Do not let others in your organization turn your authentic and

passionate writing into another form of marketing gobbledygook.

Let’s talk about ethics for a moment. All sorts of unethical practices go on

in the blogosphere, and you must be certain to hold yourself and your organi-

zation accountable for your actions as a blogger. Some organizations have

gotten caught using unethical practices on their blogs and have done great

harm to their corporate reputations. I’ve included some of the issues you

need to pay attention to, as well as an example of each unethical practice.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but rather a starting point for

you to think about ethics.

� Transparency: You should never pretend to be someone you are not. For

example, don’t use another name to submit a comment on any blog

(your own or somebody else’s), and don’t create a blog that talks about

your company without disclosing that someone from your company is

behind it.

� Privacy: Unless you’ve been given permission, don’t blog about some-

thing that was disclosed to you. For example, don’t post material from

an email someone sent you unless you have permission.

� Disclosure: It is important to disclose anything that people might con-

sider a conflict of interest in a blog post. For example, if I write in my

blog about a product from a company that is one of my consulting cli-

ents, I put a sentence at the end disclosing my relationship with the


� Truthfulness: Don’t lie. For example, never make up a customer story

just because it makes good blog content.

� Credit: You should give credit to bloggers (and other sources) whose ma-

terial you have used in your blog. For example, don’t read a great post

on someone else’s blog, take the idea, change a few words, and make it

your own. Besides being good ethical practice, links to other bloggers

whose ideas you have used helps to introduce them to your blog and

they may link to you.

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Again, this is not a complete list. The Word of Mouth Marketing Associa-

tion has created an Ethics Code.5 I recommend that you read and follow the

guidelines. But you should also follow your gut. If sending a post feels funny

to you for some reason or makes you uncomfortable, it may be unethical.

What would your mother say about that post? If she would tell you it is

wrong, it probably is, so don’t send it. Please do the right thing.

Blogging Basics: What You Need to Knowto Get StartedUnlike web sites, which require design and HTML skills to produce, blogs are

quick and easy to set up using off-the-shelf software with easy-to-use features.

With just a little basic know-how, you can quickly and easily establish and

promote your blog. Here are some specific tips to keep in mind:

� Before you begin, think carefully about the name of your blog and its

tagline, which will be indexed by the search engines. It is very difficult

to go back and change this information once you have established it.

� Easy-to-use blogging software is available from TypePad,6 WordPress,7

and others. Some of the services are free and others require a small sub-

scription fee. Research the services and choose wisely based on your

needs, because it is difficult to switch to a different service without los-

ing all the content you have already created. And once your blog has

been indexed by search engines, and people have subscribed to your

RSS feed or bookmarked your URL, a change to different software is re-

ally tough.

� You will need to choose a URL for your blog. The blogging services all

offer customizable URLs (such as You can also

map your blog to your company’s domain (

yourblog) or to a custom domain (

� Blogging software makes it easy to choose color, design, and font, and to

create a simple text-based masthead. You might consider using a custom


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graphical image as your masthead—these are easy to design and will

make your blog more attractive to readers.

� As you begin your blog, tweak your design, and tentatively try a few

posts. I recommend you use password protection for the first few weeks

or so. That way you can share your blog with a few friends and col-

leagues first and make changes before opening it up to the world.

� The look and feel of the blog could be complementary to your corporate

design guidelines, but it should not be identical. For many blogs, it is

better to be a bit different from the corporate look to signal to readers

that the blog is an independent voice, not corporate-speak.

� Blogging software usually allows you to turn on a comments feature so

your visitors can respond to your posts. There are several options for

you to consider. Some people prefer their blogs to have no comments

from readers at all, and that might be the right choice for you. However,

one of the most exciting things about blogging is when your readers

comment on what you’ve written. Depending on your blogging software,

you may opt for open comments (where people can write comments that

are not subject to your approval) or for a system where you need to ap-

prove each comment before it appears on your blog. Many bloggers use

the approval feature to watch for inappropriate comments. But I encour-

age you to allow any comments from people who disagree with you—

debate is one of the best indications of a well-read blog. Unfortunately,

the blogosphere is plagued by the problem of comment spam, so to pre-

vent automated comment robots from vandalizing your blog, some com-

ment systems require people to answer a simple question called a

‘‘captcha’’8 before their comments go live (I use this approach, and it

works very well).

� Most blogs also have a feature to allow trackbacks, which are messages

that another blogger sends to you when she has posted something on her

blog that references a post you wrote first. A trackback says to your blog

readers, ‘‘Hey, if you’re reading this original post, you might also be

interested in a related post on another blog, so click here.’’ Thus, a track-

back is similar to a comment. However, instead of leaving a comment on

your blog, the other blogger writes a post on her blog and sends you a

trackback so your readers know her post is there. Again, because of


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spam, I recommend you set up your blog so that you must approve

trackbacks before they get posted there.

� Pay close attention to the categories you choose for your blog, and add

social media tags for services like Technorati, DIGG, and to

each post. (Take a look at Chapter 17 for more on social media tags.)

� RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a standard delivery format for many

of your readers. Make certain that your new blog has RSS capability.

Most blogging software services have RSS feeds as a standard feature.

� Include an ‘‘About’’ page that includes your photo, biography, affilia-

tions, and information about your blog. Often when people visit a blog

for the first time, they want to know about the blogger, so it is important

to provide background.

� Encourage people to contact you, make it easy for them to reach you

online, and be sure to follow up personally on your fan mail. You’ll get a

bunch of inquiries, questions, praise, and an occasional detractor if you

make it easy for people to contact you. Because of the huge problem

with spam, many people don’t want to publish email addresses. But the

biggest problem is with automated robots that harvest email addresses,

so to thwart them, write your email address so humans can read it but

the machines cannot. On my web site, for example, I list my email ad-

dress as david (at) DavidMeermanScott (dot) com.

� Don’t write excessively about your company and its products and ser-

vices. You must resist this urge to blog about what your company

offers. Instead blog about a subject of interest to the people you are

trying to reach. What problems do your buyers have that you can write

about? How can you create content that informs and educates and


� Involve other blogs and bloggers by becoming a true participant in the

online community. Link to and leave comments on other blogs. Let

someone else’s post serve as the starting point for a conversation that

you continue on your own blog. You’ll generate much more interest in

what you’re doing if you are inclusive and integrative.

Pimp Out Your BlogBefore my daughter started eighth grade, she spent the entire week pimping

out her school binder. All the cool girls do it, transforming standard plastic

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three-ring binders with photos, stickers, song lyrics, and other bits and bobs

on the outside. She even had a spot for a quote of the day that she updated

each morning. Inside, the binder had page dividers she customized and

pocket folders with pens and protractors and whatnot.

I got to thinking that the same is true of good blogs. A pimped-out blog

shows the blogger’s personality. I’ve pimped out my own blog with lots of

cool stuff. On the top is a masthead that I had a friend who’s a designer create.

In TypePad (which I use for my Web Ink Now blog), if your blog is 800 pixels

wide in total, you just have someone design an image that’s 770 pixels wide

by 100 or 150 pixels high and drop it in—TypePad automatically adds a bor-

der and replaces the rather plain-looking text masthead with the new design.

Other blog software tools also support graphical mastheads, although the spe-

cific requirements and implementation methods will be different.

On the right and left columns of my blog, I have links to Amazon from the

cover images of my books. Because these links are part of my Amazon Asso-

ciates program account, I’m even paid a small commission for every book

sold. (Hey, it’s not much money, but every few months I can take my family

out for a decent dinner on the proceeds.) I’ve also got links to pages on my

site and to my other Web content, such as my blog about my collection

of Apollo space artifacts,9 my Squidoo lens, and through Technorati I’ve

created a link to the blogs that link to mine. Through the use of small logos

with embedded links, I send people to the articles I’ve written for EContent

magazine, to information about the Newstex Blogs On Demand network that

syndicates my blog, and to the homepages of associations with which I’m

affiliated. Finally, I have easy sign-up links for people who want to view my

blog as an RSS subscription via FeedBurner,10 and an email subscription op-

tion with FeedBlitz11 so people can get each of my blog posts sent to their

email inbox.

One of the downsides of a blog is that the reverse-chronological aspect

(most recent post at the top) means that much of your best stuff, which may

have been written last month or last year, is hidden away. Thus, I’ve also in-

cluded easy navigation links on my blog so people can quickly find the good

stuff. For example, I include ‘‘The Best of Web Ink Now’’ with links to a


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handful of my most popular posts, a scrolling list of recent comments on the

blog, and navigation by category of post.

Pimping out your blog is easy. If you devote a few hours to it, you can

make a very cool-looking blog that even my teenage daughter would approve

of. Sure, the standard templates offered by the blog software providers are

great to get started, but once you are fully committed to blogging, it is impor-

tant to make your blog personality shine through with links, images, a mast-

head, photos, and other add-ons.

Building an Audience for Your New BlogWhen you send your first few blog posts, you are likely to hear a deafening

silence. You’ll be waiting for comments, but none will come. You’ll check

your site statistics and be disappointed by the tiny number of visitors. Don’t

get discouraged—that’s normal! It takes time to build an audience for your

blog. When you’re just getting started, make sure people know it is there and

can find it! Create links to your blog from your homepage, product pages, or

online media room. Mention your blog in your email or offline newsletters,

and create links to your blog as part of your email signature and those of

other people in your organization.

The good news is that blogs that are regularly updated generate high

search engine rankings, because the algorithms that are used by Google,

Yahoo!, and the other search engines reward sites (and blogs) that update

frequently. It is likely that you will get significant search engine traffic once

you’ve been consistently blogging for a while. I typically post three or four

times a week to my blog, and most days my blog generates several hundred

visitors via search engines. To ensure that your new blog is found by your

buyers as they search for what you have to offer, be certain to post on topics

of interest and to use the important phrases that people are searching on (see

Chapter 10 if you want to review how to identify the words and phrases that

your buyers use). Smart bloggers understand search engines and use their

blogs to reach audiences directly.

Commenting on other people’s blogs (and including a link to your blog) is

a good way to build an audience. If you comment (and track back to) blogs in

the same space as yours, you might be surprised at how quickly you will get

visitors to your new blog. A curious thing about blogging etiquette is that

bloggers who are competitive for business offline are usually very cooperative

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online, with links back and forth from their blogs. It’s a bit like all the auto

dealers in town congregating on the same street—proximity is good for

everyone, so people work together.

Your customers, potential customers, investors, employees, and the media

are all reading blogs, and there is no doubt that blogs are a terrific way for

marketers to tell authentic stories to their buyers. But building an audience

for a blog takes time. Most blog services provide tools for measuring traffic.

Use this data to learn which posts are attracting the most attention. You can

also learn what sites people are coming from when they visit your blog and

what search terms they used to find you. Use this information to continually

improve your blog. Once again, think like a publisher.

Tag, and Your Buyer Is ItWith the total number of existing blogs now in the tens of millions and with

the availability of niche blogs on virtually any topic, it is easy to get lost in the

blogosphere. The simple truth is that it isn’t always easy for people to find a

blog post on subjects of interest. Recently, a colleague of mine needed new

tires for his car. Instead of just heading to the local retailer to be at the mercy

of a salesperson, or poking around tire manufacturer web sites, he went to

one of the blog search engines to see what people were writing about tires.

He entered the keyword ‘‘tires,’’ and sure enough, within a few clicks he

reached several blogs that had useful information about purchasing tires.

But he also faced a heck of a lot of useless noise with the word tires in the

results—things like analysis of tires used in a recent NASCAR race, rants

about the garbage on the sides of freeways (which includes discarded tires),

and even posts about . . . ahem . . . ‘‘spare tires’’ on middle-aged men.

It is precisely this problem—the false hits in word-and-phrase searches,

not middle-aged men’s lack of exercise—that led blog search engine Technor-

ati to develop a tagging feature that lets bloggers categorize what their posts

are about. To use this feature, a blogger simply creates a set of meta-tags for

each blog post. So, if someone is looking for a blog post about tires, she can

go to Technorati and search on the tag for tires rather than on the keyword.

This gets readers much closer to what they are looking for than a simple word


From the blogger’s perspective, the benefits of adding tags to create in-

creased precision about the post’s content, whereby each post reaches more

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people, are worth the extra effort. For example, I assign each post that I write

to multiple appropriate categories, such as ‘‘marketing,’’ ‘‘public relations,’’

and ‘‘advertising.’’ New visitors reach my blog every day as a result of search-

ing on the tags that I had added to blog posts.

Fun with Sharpies (and Sharpie Fans)I love Sharpie permanent markers. I carry one in my travel bag at all times,

because you never know when you might need one. For instance, there was

the time that I accidentally gouged the wooden desk leg in a hotel room. I

applied a bit of black Sharpie and it was as good as new! Other people dig

Sharpies, too, such as the guy who decorated his basement with a Sharpie,

teenagers who personalize their sneakers with multicolor Sharpies, celebrities

like the Olsen twins who use them to sign stuff, or people like Mike Peyton, a

‘‘snake artist’’ who uses Sharpies in his work creating wooden snakes deco-

rated with fantastic colors.

Thus, it was fun to come across the Sharpie Blog,12 ‘‘a dedicated space

where we can showcase some of the really fun, cool, creative stuff that gets

made using Sharpie markers.’’ The blog is written by Susan Wassel, better

known as Sharpie Susan. I connected on Twitter with Bert DuMars, vice presi-

dent of e-business and interactive marketing at Newell Rubbermaid (the mak-

ers of Sharpies), to learn more about the blog and others developed by the


‘‘Customer surveys showed that Sharpies were fun and creative, but the

site, because it is just a product site, was not so much fun,’’ DuMars says. ‘‘So

that led to the idea of a blog about creativity and art. The blog is about show-

ing additional use for the pens.’’

I like that the Sharpie blog is not a hard sell. A lot of the blog is focused on

art, and Sharpie Susan does a great job showing off the work of the artists.

‘‘Sharpie King,’’ for example, creates works that can sell for thousands of dol-

lars. Sharpies already had dedicated fan sites, Facebook groups, and video

tributes, so the team needed to work with what was already happening. ‘‘We

didn’t want to invade and ruin much of the social media stuff going on around

Sharpie,’’ DuMars says. ‘‘We wanted to help push it along a bit.’’


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If your brand is fun and useful, consider the approach taken by Sharpie.

Showcase your fans’ creativity and let them market for you. And remember

that sometimes a minimalist approach is best. As DuMars wisely realized, a

heavy-handed campaign might have gotten in the way of the good thing that

was already happening. By just joining the party and adding to the fun, the

folks at Sharpie showed that they enjoy—and appreciate—their fans’ efforts.

Blogging Outside of North AmericaPeople often ask me about blogging in other countries. They want to know if

the marketing approaches I outline work elsewhere. Specifically, many people

ask if blogs are a good way to do marketing and PR in Europe and Asia. While

I cannot comment on every single country, I can say that blogging is a global

phenomenon in countries with widespread web access and that many blog-

gers from other countries are active in the global blogging community. I’ve

received links and trackbacks from bloggers in something like 50 different

countries. It’s so cool when a comment or a link comes into my blog from

someone in, say, Russia or Finland or Thailand.

There is other clear evidence that blogging is alive and well outside of

North America. TypePad offers services in the United Kingdom, Japan,

France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Finland, and Belgium, in ad-

dition to the United States. And Technorati, the blog search engine, maintains

sites in English, French, German, Italian, Chinese, and Korean. My wife,

Yukari Watanabe Scott,13 a commentator on the Japanese book business,

maintains a blog to reach her readers in Japan. This technique is especially

important because her readers there are halfway around the world from

where we live, near Boston.

One of my favorite blogs is Adrian Neylan’s Cablog,14 a hilarious collection

of stories about his life as a taxi driver in Sydney, Australia. This is what blog-

ging is all about: giving a global voice to a common bloke, transforming him

into a totally uncommon international media personality. Neylan shares fasci-

nating stories about the people in his taxi’s backseat and, in a funny way, tells

us a little about ourselves, even though many of us are a dozen time zones

away. When I visited Sydney in mid-2009, I hired Neylan to drive me and

posted a video interview with him.


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For a true international blogging success story, consider the example of

Linas Simonis, a marketing consultant from Lithuania who established in

April 2005 one of the first business blogs15 in that country. The reaction from

the Lithuanian business community was almost immediate. ‘‘People didn’t

know what RSS was in Lithuania at that time, so I created an email subscrip-

tion to my blog,’’ Simonis says. ‘‘By the end of the first year, I had 400 sub-

scribers, and you must remember that less than three-and-a-half million

people live in Lithuania, so the equivalent would be something like 40,000

subscribers in the United States.’’

The business press also took notice. ‘‘Now I am quoted as a positioning

and marketing expert because of my blog,’’ he says. ‘‘Journalists are calling

me, not because I pitched them, but because of my blog posts. I did some

pitches a while ago, but they were totally unsuccessful. But news on my blog

is picked up and used widely by the media. One article on my blog, called

‘How to Position Lithuania,’ generated two TV appearances on major TV

channels in prime time, a radio interview with the country’s biggest radio sta-

tion, and about a dozen pickups in print media. And this was without any

effort from my side, without any pitch, all because of great blog content.’’

But what’s really remarkable about Simonis’s story is the new business that

he generated via his blog. ‘‘Three months after I started the blog, my company

stopped needing to make cold calls to solicit new business,’’ he says. ‘‘The

blog and the company web site generated so many requests that we didn’t

need to actively seek new clients—they come to us. Soon after I started blog-

ging, I was even hired by conference organizers to deliver speeches and semi-

nars, and I had calls from universities to speak to students.’’ Simonis has also

started consulting for several corporate clients in Lithuania that wish to

establish blogs, and he publishes an English-language blog16 as a forum to

write about positioning strategy in a Web 2.0 world.

What Are You Waiting For?Everybody I’ve spoken with about starting a blog has said the same thing

(but in slightly different ways). They were all a bit uncomfortable when they

started a blog. They felt a little dorky because they didn’t know all the


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unwritten rules. They were even a little scared to push the button on that first

post. We’ve all been there. To get comfortable before you take the plunge,

remember back to Chapter 5: You should follow a bunch of blogs in your

industry first. What things do you like about those blogs? What’s annoying?

What would you do differently? Then before you jump into the water by cre-

ating your own blog, you can stick your toe in by leaving comments on other

people’s blogs. Test out your blog voice. Finally, when it feels right, start your

own blog. And when you do get going, please send me your URL so I can

check it out.

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16Video and PodcastingMade, Well, as Easyas Possible

C reating audio and video content for marketing and PR purposes requires

the same attention to appropriate topics as other techniques outlined in

this book. It requires targeting individual buyer personas with thoughtful in-

formation that addresses some aspect of their life or a problem they face. By

doing so, you brand your organization as smart and worthy of doing business

with. However, unlike text-based content such as blogs or news releases, au-

dio and video require a modest investment in additional hardware such as

microphones and video cameras, as well as software, and, depending on the

level of quality you want to achieve, may also necessitate time-consuming

editing of the files. Although the actual procedures for podcasting and video

are a bit more convoluted than, say, starting a blog, they are still not all that


Video and Your BuyersOrganizations that deliver products or services that naturally lend themselves to

video have been among the first to actively use the medium to market and de-

liver information about their offerings. For example, many churches routinely

shoot video of weekly services and offer it online for anyone to watch, drawing

more people into the congregation. Many amateur and professional sports

teams, musicians, and theater groups also use video as a marketing and PR tool.

The idea of companies using video for Web marketing is still relatively

new. Video follows both blogs and podcasting on the adoption curve at

E1C16 12/04/2009 Page 208

organizations that don’t have a service that naturally lends itself to video.

Some companies are certainly experimenting, typically by embedding video

(hosted at YouTube or another video site) into their existing blogs and online

media rooms. I’m starting to see video snippets of CEO speeches and quick

product demonstrations on corporate blogs, but this is still uncommon

within companies.

A Flip Video Camera in Every PocketOne development that is helping change the relative scarcity of corporate

marketing video is the popularity of the Flip video camera.1 I love mine and

take the small and inexpensive digital video camera with me on every busi-

ness trip. You never know where a great video interview might present itself,

like the one I did with Frederick ‘‘Fritz’’ Henderson, CEO of General Motors.

Other times, an idea pops up that is best told in video, like the idea in Do you

sell camels?,2 which I filmed at the camel market outside Riyadh, Saudi


The Flip video camera is quickly becoming an essential tool for marketers

to carry at all times. It allows you to always be ready to interview customers,

employees, and industry analysts and to quickly post the video on your site or

blog. It can also help you shoot short clips showing how your products are

made or used. No professionals required.

The thing couldn’t be easier to use. There’s a big red button on the camera

to start and stop filming, and if you want to get fancy, there is also a zoom.

That’s about it. Even a technology-challenged person like me can use it. The

‘‘flip’’ name comes from the USB drive built into the camera that flips out,

making it simple to upload videos to a connected device and then on to You-

Tube, Vimeo, or other video-sharing sites. Really, it’s that easy. In fact, when

people push back on the idea of creating a corporate blog or writing an e-

book, I always suggest making some simple and short video interviews with a

Flip as an easy way to create valuable content that helps get the word out

right away. Hey, did I mention that this is easy?

Some companies have even started experimenting with providing Flip

video cameras to employees and even customers. For example, Sven Patrick


208 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

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Larsen, chief marketing officer for Bogota, Columbia-based digital agency

Zemoga,3 told me that he gives custom-designed Flip video cameras to all of

his employees and customers. Zemoga decorates the custom cameras with

what Larsen calls a ‘‘Z Portrait.’’ ‘‘The customized Flips started as a cool

employee and client gift, but they’ve quickly become an essential tool for all

Zemoga team members,’’ Larsen says. ‘‘We’ve used them at work (to capture

client meetings, discovery sessions, and interaction tests), home, and play,

and our clients and team members have spread their experiences (and the

Zemoga brand) across the Web. It’s a terrific example of empowering clients,

giving up control of the brand message, and seeing it spread like wildfire as a


Getting Started With VideoWhether they’re new to the game or have been offering Web video for years,

organizations get their video content onto the computer screens (and video

iPods) of buyers in several different ways:

� Posting to video-sharing sites: YouTube4 is the most popular video-

sharing site on the Web, although there are others, such as Vimeo.5

Organizations post video content on YouTube and send people a link to

the content (or hope that it goes viral). You can also imbed a YouTube

video into your site, your blog, or even your news release. Creating a

simple video is easy—all you need is a YouTube account and a digital

video camera (in case you don’t have your Flip yet, note that your

mobile phone may have video capability). There are all sorts of enhance-

ments and editing techniques you can use to make the video more pro-

fessional. An example of compelling video contributed by a company

and available on YouTube is the Smirnoff ‘‘teapartay’’ video,6 which fea-

tures old-money New Englanders rapping. It reminds me of people I

went to college with, so I’ve watched it a bunch of times. IBM has experi-

mented with ‘‘mockumentaries,’’ including a hysterical six-part series


Video and Podcasting Made, Well, as Easy as Possible 209

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called ‘‘The Art of the Sale,’’ which is like a cross between The Office and

a sales training video. And the viral components of these corporate vid-

eos clearly work, because here I am sharing them with you.7

� Developing an online video channel: Companies that take online video

programming seriously develop their own channel, often with a unique

URL. Examples include Weber Grills’ Weber Nation web site,8 which

features videos of grilling classes.

� Attempting stealth insertions to YouTube: Some companies try to sneak

corporate-sponsored video onto YouTube in a way that makes it seem

like it was consumer-generated. The YouTube community is remarkably

skilled at ratting out inauthentic video, so this approach is fraught with


� Vlogging: Short for ‘‘video blogging,’’ this term refers to video content

embedded in a blog. The text part of the blog adds context to each video

and aids with search engine marketing.

� Vodcasting: A vodcast is like a podcast but with video—a video series

tied to a syndication component with iTunes and RSS feeds. For exam-

ple, BMW9 offers a weekly vodcast series of two-to-three-minute videos

about what’s going on at BMW. The company uses the vodcasts to publi-

cize the cool things it’s doing around the world.

� Inviting your customer communities to submit video: This technique is how

some companies, including Mentos and Tourism Queensland (which we

learned about in Chapter 6) try to generate viral marketing interest.

These companies sponsor contests where customers submit short vid-

eos. The best are usually showcased on the company site, and the win-

ners often get prizes. In some cases, the winning videos are also played

on TV as ‘‘real’’ commercials.

For much more detailed information about video, check out Get Seen:

Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business by Steve Garfield.

Owen Mack,10 co-founder and head of strategy and development for

coBRANDiT, a company that does social media video production, is a pioneer


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in using video for marketing and PR purposes. From the early days of online

video, Mack has helped companies like Puma and Pabst Brewing create video

strategies. ‘‘Video is an extension of the blogging ethos,’’ Mack says. ‘‘Do you

have an interesting story to tell? If you don’t, can you develop something?

You need to see what people are saying about you already and know how you

can mesh with that. Transparency and openness are required. Done properly,

video is very compelling.’’

Knifing the Competition . . . and It’s AllCaught on VideoMack has taken his interest and expertise in online video to help create video

content to market products for a kitchen retail store his family owns in Bos-

ton. Called KitchenArts,11 it’s basically a hardware store for cooks. ‘‘We have a

staff of only four people, but we launched a vlog,’’ he says. ‘‘We shoot quick-

and-dirty video about the things that we sell, like how to use kitchen knives.

We use a $300 camera, and then we link to our eBay store where people can

buy—this is the low-cost, grassroots way to do video.’’

Mack’s use of video for KitchenArts has allowed the small company to

present information in a way that the big players don’t. ‘‘Our competition is

places like Williams-Sonoma,’’ he says. ‘‘I can’t compete with them by doing a

better web site. But I can do a better job with video. I can transmit the ethos

and show the personality and demonstrate knowledge of our products on the

Web. It’s basically home video, but we show how to use things and demon-

strate products, so we compete with the big guys. It’s also cheap. The eBay

store and blog software combined is only about $50 a month.’’

KitchenArts has nearly 100 different products for sale online, each with a

short video demonstration segment. ‘‘It’s not making barrel-loads of money,

but the sales we make from video as a percentage of my extremely low costs

represent terrific margins.’’

Mack sees video as an important component in an effective marketing mix.

‘‘For brands big and small, it’s just about putting out interesting and engaging

information about your story,’’ he says. ‘‘Anybody can do it. The bigger com-

panies can build brand communities to excite brand loyalists and advocates.

In this way, video extends the two-way dialog of the blog.’’


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Podcasting 101A podcast is a piece of audio content tied to a subscription component so

people can receive regular updates. The simplest way to think of podcasting

is that it’s like a radio show except that you listen to each episode at your

convenience by downloading it either to your computer or to a mobile device

like an iPod. The equipment you need to start podcasting will range in cost

from a few hundred dollars at the low end to a bit over a thousand dollars for

professional-level sound. Plus, you’ll probably want to host your audio files

on an external server requiring a monthly fee.

How do you get started? ‘‘I’ve found that the most important thing is

show preparation,’’ says John J. Wall, producer and co-host of Marketing

Over Coffee,12 a twenty-minute news, talk, and entertainment show covering

both new and classic marketing. ‘‘Unless you are real comfortable talking ex-

temporaneously, you will want to have a script laid out ahead of time. It just

sounds more polished when you do.’’ I don’t have my own podcast, but as a

frequent guest on radio shows and podcasts, I agree with Wall—the best

shows I participate in are those where the interviewer knows the material

and keeps things focused.

Beginning with developing a script, following are the steps and technical

issues involved with producing a podcast. To really learn the ins and outs

before you start your own podcast, you might want to check out one of the

detailed books on the subject, such as Podcasting for Dummies, 2nd edition,

by Tee Morris and Evo Terra.

� Show preparation includes gathering ideas for the show and creating a

script. Think about your buyer personas and what you can discuss that

interests them. If you plan to interview guests, make sure you know how

to pronounce their names (don’t laugh, this is a frequent mistake) and

you have their titles, affiliations, and other information correct. It’s com-

mon practice to plug a guest’s business, so know ahead of time what

URL or product you will mention.

� Recording when you are near your computer is done with a microphone

(many options to choose from) that delivers the audio into your


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computer. You’ll need podcasting software such as StudioRack13 as an

interface to create and publish your podcast.

� Mobile recording gear is required if you are going to do the roving-

reporter thing and interview people at events or perhaps your employees

around the world. Mobile recording gear is made by several companies

including Marantz.14

� Phone interviews require a way to record both sides of a conversation.

A good way to go is to use Skype15 through your computer and then

record on a digital recorder (again, try Marantz).

� Editing your audio files is optional; you can always just upload the files as

you recorded them. If you choose to clean them up, you can edit at the

micro-scale (removing um, uh, and other audible pauses) or at the

macro-scale (e.g., removing the last five minutes of an interview). Many

podcasters edit segments that they recorded at different times, putting

them together to create a show. Audacity16 and Apple’s GarageBand17

are two software packages that include many of the audio capabilities of

a professional radio station and make editing simple.

� Postproduction editing sometimes includes running a noise-reduction

program (to get rid of that annoying air-conditioner noise in the back-

ground) and sound compression (to even out the volume of sections

that have been recorded at different times and places). The Levelator18

is a free application that can be used for both purposes.

� Tagging the audio is an important step that some people overlook or per-

form without taking due care. This step involves adding text-based in-

formation about the audio to make it easier for people to find. This

information is what appears in the search engines and audio distribution

sites such as iTunes. Your tags also display on listeners’ iPod displays, so

don’t ignore or gloss over this step.

� Hosting and distribution are necessary to ensure that people can easily

obtain your podcasts. Services such as Liberated Syndication19 host the


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(sometimes very large) audio files and syndicate them to the distribution

networks such as iTunes.

� Promotion is essential to make sure that people find out about your pod-

casts. If you do interview shows (which are an easy way to get started

and provide excellent content), make sure that you provide links to the

show to all of the guests. Many people will help you promote a show

that they have been featured on. You will also want to network with

other podcasters in your space, because very short on-air plugs cross-

promoting other podcasts are common and a good way for people to

build audiences. Don’t forget to put links to your podcast on your web

site, in your email signature, and on your offline materials including

business cards and brochures. Also, send out a news release alerting

people to important shows (see Chapter 17).

� A companion blog is a key component used by nearly all pod-casters to

discuss the content of each show. An important reason for having a com-

panion blog is that its text will be indexed by the search engines, driving

more people to sign up for the podcast feed. A blog also allows the

show’s host to write a few paragraphs about the content of that particular

show and to provide links to the blogs and web sites of guests who will

be appearing (so people can get a sense of a show’s content prior to lis-

tening). Most organizations that use podcasting as a marketing tool also

use the podcast blog as a place to move people into the sales process by

providing links to the company site or to demonstrations or trial offers.

‘‘You can be up and running with your new podcast in less than a month,’’

says Wall. ‘‘The principles are all quite simple, but it takes a bit of time to

figure out the various hardware and software elements. But the community is

very helpful. Make sure you let other podcasters know that you have a new

show, because we often reference each other with quick on-air plugs.’’

My Audio Is Your PodcastThe Student Loan Network20 is an online student loan company that’s been

around since 1998. The company is a significant lender, with $150 million to

$200 million in loans produced each year. The Student Loan Network site


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excels as an online guide to student loans and financial aid, and it reaches

students and parents directly with financial aid advice and student loan ser-

vices. Particularly interesting is the company’s Financial Aid Podcast,21 a six-

days-per-week podcast available on iTunes and other podcast distribution

and subscription services.

‘‘We’re always looking for a competitive edge online,’’ says Christopher S.

Penn, chief evangelist for The Student Loan Network and host of Financial

Aid Podcast. His show helps students (and some parents, too) make college

more affordable by discussing topics such as credit cards, international stu-

dent issues, private student loans, and scholarships. But Penn also produces

episodes dealing with other aspects of finance that interest young people. The

podcast was the first and is by far the most popular show about financial aid

for college-bound students. ‘‘So much of modern American society revolves

around money in one way or another, and the more I learn about it, the more

I see, the more I understand,’’ Penn says on the bio page of his podcast’s com-

panion blog. ‘‘Money, economics, all that stuff is so important, so vital to un-

derstand, and it’s what really drives me to crank out a podcast every single

day. Each day, another piece gets added to the puzzle, and I know a little bit

more about how to make the world work for me—and for my listeners.’’

‘‘The audience for Financial Aid Podcast is primarily people who are look-

ing to get into college, are currently in college, or have just graduated,’’ Penn

says. ‘‘The nice thing about the college aid demographic is that they all have

iPods, which is ideal for the podcast as a marketing tool.’’ Because Penn un-

derstands his buyer personas—young people—he can speak to them in an

authentic, resonant way. Penn knows that for his demographic, a podcast is

perfect, because so many people are already listening to audio and have

iTunes accounts.

‘‘Podcasting is great marketing because, like blogging, it is a human voice,’’

Penn says. ‘‘Most podcasts don’t have a PR stamp on them, so the shows come

across as being human. The reason why this is interesting is that there is a big

marketing shift going on right now. The older, traditional advertising model,

like 1950s TV, is that we publish and you consume. However, today’s market-

ing model is that we publish and you respond. It provides me real feedback

from real people, and I have conversations. I can be interactive.’’


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Penn sees a clear link between marketing and customer service at compa-

nies. He suggests that customer service needs to be real and authentic and

have a human voice, just like great marketing. ‘‘There is no such thing as ‘on

message’ anymore,’’ Penn says. ‘‘[Customer service] is no longer about spin,

but instead becoming a part of the conversation. Now I think that companies

that do not make the jump to blogging and podcasting and interacting with

customers look like dinosaurs. Some industries are tailor-made for this, but

they do not get it. For example, I would think that real estate agents could do

a great job with video podcasts, but it is very rare. If you have a customer

services department, you need to be doing this kind of marketing.’’

Penn has conducted research about his audience and has adapted his

show accordingly. ‘‘Podcasting is time-shifted,’’ he says. ‘‘You can take it with

you and listen to it at any time. My shows are all 18 to 24 minutes, because

24 minutes is the average commute, and the average American’s attention

span is 18 minutes.’’ Penn also has an interesting perspective on competition.

He says that he competes with every other podcaster, because listeners have

only 24 hours in a day.

Penn has learned that the best way to drive his listeners into The Student

Loan Network sales process is to mention URLs on his show. But he is quick

to point out that the show is not a sales pitch. ‘‘The podcast is not an immedi-

ate business generator. We are real and authentic. We want to help people.

We want to be beneficial to people,’’ he says. However, based on promotions

the company has run on the podcast and other social media properties like, Penn estimates that $75 million of loans are gener-

ated directly from the podcast and social media. ‘‘It’s way beyond beer

money,’’ he says.

Who would have thought that a podcast would help to sell tens of millions

of dollars in student loans? What Penn clearly realized was that members of

his buyer persona, young people, are active podcast listeners. Penn’s decision

to start the Financial Aid Podcast has certainly paid off; are you missing out on

a similar opportunity?

Audio and video content on the Web is still new for marketers and com-

municators. But the potential to deliver information to buyers in fresh and

unique ways is greater when you use a new medium. And while your compe-

tition is still trying to figure out ‘‘that blogging thing,’’ you can leverage your

existing blog into the new worlds of audio and video and leave the competi-

tion way behind.

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17How to Use NewsReleases to ReachBuyers Directly

A s the fascinating case studies from Chapter 7 show, the Web has changed

the rules for news releases. Buyers now read your news releases on

Google, Yahoo!, and other search engines, on vertical market portals, and

with RSS readers. Thus, smart marketing and PR professionals craft news

releases to reach buyers directly, propelling books to number-one spots on

bestseller lists, driving more Web traffic, securing more donations, and selling

more products. Again, this is not to suggest that mainstream media and media

relations programs are no longer important. In most markets, mainstream

media and the trade press remain vital. But your primary audience is no lon-

ger just a handful of journalists. Your audience is millions of people with

Internet connections and access to search engines and RSS readers. So, how

do you get started with a direct-to-buyer news release program? Let’s start by

recalling the New Rules of News Releases from Chapter 7:

� Don’t just send news releases when big news is happening; find good

reasons to send them all the time.

� Instead of just targeting a handful of journalists, create news releases

that appeal directly to your buyers.

� Write releases that are replete with keyword-rich copy.

� Include offers that compel consumers to respond to your release in

some way.

� Place links in releases to deliver potential customers to landing pages on

your web site.

E1C17 12/02/2009 Page 218

� Optimize news release delivery for searching and browsing.

� Add social media tags for Technorati, DIGG, and so your re-

lease will be found.

� Drive people into the sales process with news releases.

In this chapter, we’ll use these rules to develop a news release strategy.

Developing Your News Release StrategyThe most important thing to think about as you begin a news release program

is, once again, the need to write for your buyers. You should consider what

you learned through the buyer persona research part of your marketing and

PR plan (described in Chapter 10) and develop an editorial calendar for news

releases based on what buyers need to know. Implementing a news release

strategy to reach buyers directly is like publishing an online news service—

you are providing your buyers with information that they need in order to

find your organization online and then learn more about you.

Part of thinking like a publisher is remembering the critical importance of

content. ‘‘Everything is content-driven in public relations,’’ says Brian Henni-

gan, marketing communications manager for dbaDIRECT,1 a data infra-

structure management company. ‘‘I like using news releases to reach the

market and my potential customers.

With news releases, for a hundred bucks you can talk to the world.’’ Hen-

nigan supplements his news releases with longer and more detailed white

papers to get dbaDIRECT ideas into the market. ‘‘I write the news releases

like news stories,’’ he says. ‘‘We look at the needs of the market and entrepre-

neurial trends as interesting, and we write to these trends.’’

As you make this fundamental change in how you do news releases, you

will probably find yourself wondering, at first, what to write about. The rule

of thumb is: Big news is great, but don’t wait. Write about pretty much any-

thing that your organization is doing.

� Have a new take on an old problem? Write a release.

� Serve a unique marketplace? Write a release.

� Have interesting information to share? Write a release.

� CEO speaking at a conference? Write a release.


218 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

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� Win an award? Write a release.

� Add a product feature? Write a release.

� Win a new customer? Write a release.

� Publish a white paper? Write a release.

� Get out of bed this morning? Okay, maybe not . . . but now you’re

thinking the right way!

Publishing News Releases through aDistribution ServiceThe best way to publish news releases so they are seen by your buyers is to

simultaneously post a release to your own web site and send it to one of the

news release wires. The benefit of using a news release distribution service is

that your release will be sent to the online news services, including Yahoo!,

Google, Bing, and many others. Many news release distribution services reach

trade and industry web sites as well. In fact, you can often reach hundreds of

web sites with a single news release. The significant benefit of this approach is

that your release will be indexed by the news search engines and vertical mar-

ket sites, and then when somebody does a search for a word or phrase con-

tained in your release, presto, that potential customer finds you. As an added

bonus, people who have requested alerts about your industry from sites that

index news releases will get an alert that something important—your news

release—is available.

There are a number of options for wire distribution of news releases. I’ve

included some of the U.S. news release distribution services here. Similar ser-

vices exist in other countries, such as CanadaNewsWire2 serving the Cana-

dian market. Take a look at the various services and compare them yourself.

A Selection of the Larger U.S. News Release Distribution Services

� Business Wire:

� GlobeNewswire:

� Marketwire:

� PrimeNewswire:

� PR Newswire:

� PRWeb:


How to Use News Releases to Reach Buyers Directly 219

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In order to get your news releases to appear on the online news services,

including Google News, you just have to purchase a basic news release cover-

age area offered by a news release distribution service. Coverage is based on

geographical distribution of your release to reporters. Because I am located in

the Boston area, the cheapest distribution with some services for me is the

Boston region. The services also have many value-added options for you to

consider, such as national distribution. But what is important to know is that

most news release distribution services include distribution to online media

such as Google News in any geographical distribution. So, as you make your

choice, remember that when your purpose for sending news releases is to

reach buyers via search engines and vertical sites, maximizing the newsroom

and geographical reach offered by a service is less important than ensuring

that your releases are included on major online news sites.

Reaching Even More Interested Buyers withRSS FeedsMany news release distribution services also offer RSS (Really Simple Syndi-

cation) feeds of their news releases, which they make available to other sites,

blogs, journalists, and individuals. This means that each time you publish a

news release with the service, the news release is seen by thousands of people

who have subscribed to the RSS content feeds in your market category (as

offered by the distribution service). So if you tag your release as being impor-

tant for the automotive industry, your news release will be delivered to any-

one (or any site) that has subscribed to the news release distribution service’s

automotive RSS feed. And online news services such as Google News have

RSS feed capability, too, allowing people to receive feeds based on keywords

and phrases. Each time your release includes a word or phrase of importance

to someone who has saved it as part of their alerts, a link to your news re-

leases will appear via email or RSS feed in near real time in the future.

Simultaneously Publishing Your NewsReleases to Your Web SitePost your news releases to an appropriate and readily findable section of your

web site. Many organizations have a media room or press section of their web

site, which is ideal (see Chapter 18 for details on how to create your online

220 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

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media room). You should keep the news release live for as long as the content

is appropriate, perhaps for years. This is very important because most of the

online news sites do not maintain archives of news for more than a few months.

If potential customers look for the content of your news release the week after

it is distributed via a service, they will certainly find it on Google News and the

others. But they won’t find it if they do the search next year unless the release is

on your own site as a permanent link so that it is indexed by Google.

The Importance of Links in Your NewsReleasesParticularly because your releases may be delivered by feeds or on news ser-

vices and various sites other than your own, creating links from your news

releases to content on your web site is very important. These links, which

might point to a specific offer or to a landing page with more information,

allow your buyers to move from the news release to specific content on your

web site that will then drive them into the sales process, as we saw in the

previous chapter.

However, there is another enormous benefit to including links in news re-

leases. Each time your news release is posted on another site, such as an on-

line news site, the inbound link from the online news site to your web site

helps to increase the search engine ranking of your site, because the search

engines use inbound links as one of the important criteria for their page-

ranking algorithms. So when your news release has a link to your site and it

is indexed somewhere on the Web, you actually increase the ranking of the

pages on your site! Said another way, when your news release appears on a

web site somewhere and there is a link in your news release that points to a

URL on your site, the search engines will increase the rankings of the page

where the URL is pointing. Sending a news release that includes links in-

creases your own web site’s search engine rankings.

Focus on the Keywords and Phrases YourBuyers UseAs I’ve suggested before, one thing successful publishers do that Web market-

ers should emulate is to understand the audience first and then set about to

satisfy their informational needs. A great way to start thinking like a publisher

How to Use News Releases to Reach Buyers Directly 221

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and to create news releases that drive action is to focus on your customers’

problems and then create and deliver news releases accordingly. Use the

words and phrases that your buyers use. Think about how the people you

want to reach are searching, and develop news release content that includes

those words and phrases. You can get the information you need to do so

by thinking back to your buyer personas. Don’t be egotistical and write only

about your organization. What are your buyers’ problems? What do they

want to know? What words and phrases do they use to describe these prob-

lems? I know, I’ve said this already several times—that’s because it is very

important.,3 cited by Kiplinger as one of the 25 Best Travel

Sites, helps people secure quotes for cruises from multiple travel agen-

cies, based on the dates and ports specified. is a

great example of a company that uses news releases to reach people

based on the phrases that their buyers are searching with. For example,

during the lead-up to the holiday season, the company issued a news re-

lease via Market Wire with the headline ‘‘Cruise Lines Set Sail With Hot

Holiday Vacation Prices.’’ Importantly, part of an early sentence in the

release, ‘‘ . . . some seven-night vacations can be booked for well under

$1,000 per person, including Thanksgiving cruises, Christmas cruises

and New Year’s cruises,’’ included three critical phrases. Not only did this

release’s mention of ‘‘Thanksgiving cruises,’’ ‘‘Christmas cruises,’’ and

‘‘New Year’s cruises’’ generate traffic from users searching on these com-

mon phrases, it also helped guide searchers into the sales cycle; each of

the three phrases in the news release was hyperlinked to a purpose-built

landing page on the site that displayed the holiday

cruise deals. Anyone who clicked on the ‘‘Christmas cruises’’ link was

taken directly to deals for Christmas cruises.4

What makes this case so exciting is that at the time I was writing this, the holiday cruise news release was at the top of the Google

News search results for the phrases ‘‘Thanksgiving cruises,’’ ‘‘Christmas

cruises,’’ and ‘‘New Year’s cruises.’’ More importantly, the bump that the

links in the news release gave to the three landing pages helped those pages

reach the top of the Google Web search results lists. For example, the


222 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

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ranked in the fourth position among 5,830,000 other hits on Google.

‘‘We know that people have thought about traveling for the holidays,’’ says

Heidi M. Allison-Shane,5 a consultant working with

‘‘We use the news releases to communicate with consumers that now is

the time to book, because there are dynamite prices and they will sell out.’’

Allison-Shane makes sure that CruiseCompete includes the ideal phrases

in each news release and that each release has appropriate links to the site.

This strategy makes reaching potential customers a matter of ‘‘simply under-

standing what people are likely to be searching on and then linking them to

the correct page on the site where we have the content that’s relevant,’’ she

says. ‘‘We try to be useful with the right content and to be focused on what’s

relevant for our consumers and to provide the links that they need. This stuff

is not difficult.’’

The news release program produces results by in-

creasing the Google rankings for the site. But the news releases also reach

buyers directly as those buyers search on relevant phrases. ‘‘Each time we

send a targeted news release, we see a spike in the Web traffic on the site,’’

Allison-Shane says.

As you craft your own phrases to use in your news releases, don’t get

trapped by your own jargon; think, speak, and write like your customers do.

Though you may have a well-developed lexicon for your products and ser-

vices, these words don’t necessarily mean much to your potential customers.

As you write news releases (or any other form of Web content), focus on the

words and phrases that your buyers use. As a search engine marketing tool,

news releases are only as valuable as the keywords and phrases that are con-

tained in them.

Include Appropriate Social Media TagsMany (but not all) news release distribution services provide a way to include

social media tags to make the news releases easy to find on services like Tech-

norati, DIGG, and Use them! Social media tags make your re-

leases much easier to find. For example, the Technorati search engine, which

many people turn to for the latest blog posts from around the world in


How to Use News Releases to Reach Buyers Directly 223

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categories that interest them, also include news release content. So if I check

out the ‘‘Marketing’’ category on Technorati (which I frequently do), I will see

not only the latest blog posts that are tagged ‘‘Marketing’’ by the blogger but

also any news releases that are tagged ‘‘Marketing’’ by the organization that

issued the release. The key is that in an online world, you must do everything

you can to ensure that your news releases are displayed and retrievable in as

many relevant places as possible.

To make it easy to remember all the various tags and other features

(such as associated photos and audio feeds) of a well-executed news re-

lease, Todd Defren, principal at SHIFT Communications, created a social

media news release template.6 ‘‘All news release content will ultimately

wind up on the Web,’’ he says. ‘‘So why not put it out in such a way that

makes it accessible to anybody who can use that content? Both traditional

and new-media journalists are used to working in a hyperlinked environ-

ment and are used to people providing context through social bookmark-

ing sites such as and buttons to add to DIGG. The template

makes it easy to remember to do all of those things.’’ Defren’s template is

an excellent tool to use as you develop your news releases because it helps

you get the most out of all the available features that can make the release

more useful and easier to find.

If It’s Important Enough to Tell the Media,Tell Your Clients and Prospects, Too!Many companies devote extensive resources to their PR and media relations

programs. Often, the results of these efforts are buried in a difficult-to-find

news section of the company web site. Consider rewriting your news releases

in an easy-to-read paragraph or two and make it a section of your email news-

letter for clients and prospects. Or establish RSS feeds to deliver your news to

anyone who’s interested. And don’t forget your employees—if they know

about your news, they can be your greatest evangelists.

One of the most cost-effective ways to reach buyers is to look for ways to

leverage the work you’re already doing by repurposing content for other audi-

ences. Too often, organizations spend tons of money on, say, a PR program

that targets a handful of journalists but fails to communicate the same


224 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

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information to other constituents. Or a company’s advertising program

designed to generate new sales may drive people to a web site that doesn’t

match the message of the ads, resulting in lost interest. Sadly, the failure to

integrate sales, marketing, and communications—both online and offline—

will always result in lost opportunities. Happily, the Web makes it a relatively

simple task to integrate your news release program into your larger online


Here’s one more thing that you may never have considered: Having a regu-

lar editorial calendar that includes a series of news releases also means your

company is busy. When people go to your online media room and find a lack

of news releases, they often assume that you are not moving forward or that

you have nothing to contribute to the industry. In the new world of market-

ing, consistent, high-quality news release content brands a company or a non-

profit as a busy market player, an active expert in the industry, and a trusted

resource to turn to.

How to Use News Releases to Reach Buyers Directly 225

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E1C18 11/26/2009 Page 227

18The Online MediaRoom: Your FrontDoor for Much MoreThan the Media

The online media room (sometimes called a press room or press page) is

the part of your organization’s web site that you create specifically for the

media. In some organizations this page is simply a list of news releases with

contact information for the organization’s PR person. But many companies

and nonprofits have elaborate online media rooms with a great deal of infor-

mation available in many different formats: audio, video, photos, news re-

leases, background information, financial data, and much more. A close

cousin to the online media room is the online Investor Relations room that

many public companies maintain; however, I don’t cover IR sites in this book.

Before I give you ideas on how to create a valuable online media room of

your own, I want you to consider something that is vitally important: All

kinds of people visit your online media room, not just journalists. Stop and

really let that soak in for a moment. Your buyers are snooping around your

organization by visiting the media pages on your web site. Your current cus-

tomers, partners, investors, suppliers, and employees all visit those pages.

Why is that? Based on casual research I’ve done (I often speak about visitor

statistics with employees who are responsible for their organizations’ online

media rooms), I’m convinced that when people want to know what’s current

about an organization, they go to an online media room.

Visitors expect that the main pages of a web site are basically static (i.e.,

they are not updated often), but they also expect that the news releases and

media-targeted pages on a site will reveal the very latest about a company. For

many companies, the news release section is one of the most frequently

E1C18 11/26/2009 Page 228

visited parts of the web site. Check out your own web site statistics; you may

be amazed at how many visitors are already reading your news releases and

other media pages online.

So I want you to do something that many traditional PR people think is

nuts. I want you to design your online media room for your buyers. By build-

ing a media room that targets buyers, you will not only enhance those pages

as a powerful marketing tool, you will also make a better media site for journal-

ists. I’ve reviewed hundreds of online media rooms, and the best ones are

built with buyers in mind. This approach may sound a bit radical, but believe

me, it works.

Your Online Media Room as (Free) SearchEngine OptimizationWhen news releases are posted on your site, search engine crawlers will find

the content, index it, and rank it based on words, phrases, and other factors.

Because news release pages update more often than any other part of a typical

organization’s web site, search engine algorithms (tuned to pay attention to

pages that update frequently) tend to rank news release pages among the

highest on your site, driving traffic there first.

‘‘There’s no question that a well organized media room often has higher

search results and drives more traffic because of the way the search engines

work,’’ says Dee Rambeau, founder and managing partner of The Fuel Team,

a provider of online tools for professional business communicators. ‘‘A news

release dynamically builds out a new set of content in your online media

room, with each news release generating its own indexable page, which the

search engines all capture. Google and the other search engines love fresh

content that relates back to similar content on the other pages of the site.

Aggressive companies take advantage of this by sending news releases fre-

quently to get high rankings from the search engines. Frequency has a great

deal to do with search engine rankings—if you do 10 news releases, that’s

great; 20 is better, and 100 is better still.’’

When an explosion at the Imperial Sugar Company (ISC) sugar refinery at

Port Wentworth (near Savannah, GA) occurred in February 2008, fires

burned for nearly two weeks. It was the mainstream media’s dream story:

death and fire affecting a big corporation. Unfortunately for ISC, when

228 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

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journalists writing their stories turned to the search engines for information

about the company, many outdated reports and information appeared on the

first pages of Google and the other search engines.

When the crisis subsided, executives at ISC hired David E. Henderson and

the team at The News Group Net LLC1 to create a brand-new, content-rich

ISC Newsroom.2 ‘‘The ISC Newsroom positions the Imperial Sugar Company

as an authoritative voice in the sugar industry, in the U.S., Mexico, and else-

where,’’ says Henderson, an Emmy-Award-winning former CBS News corre-

spondent and veteran communications strategist. ‘‘It is a one-stop shop for

the best thinking and views on sugar and all of the issues and market forces

that surround it.’’

Henderson and his team chose to present a steady flow of legitimate news

stories (not just press releases) as well as high-quality news images shot by

former AP and People photographer Ed Lallo.3 ‘‘While most corporate online

newsrooms are dusty and static press release archives, ISC Newsroom is al-

ways fresh, not only with stories about the company but about the industry,

customers, and the communities in which the company does business,’’ Hen-

derson says.

According to Henderson, the main goal of the ISC Newsroom is to be

clearly heard and stand out in all of the right ways. ‘‘We’re expressing the ISC

corporate voice above the noise of the marketplace, where often people much

less qualified—but far more vocal—pump out their opinions into mainstream

and social media. The sheer speed, volume, and rapid dissemination of infor-

mation—right or wrong—can inundate communications and sway public

opinion,’’ he says. Of course, when a company like ISC creates information in

a newsroom and updates it frequently, the valuable content is indexed by the

search engines and will gravitate into the top positions.

Best Practices for Online Media RoomsAn online media room is an important part of any organization’s web site and

a critical aspect of an effective media relations strategy. When done well, an

online media room will turn journalists who are just browsing into interested


The Online Media Room: Your Front Door for Much More Than the Media 229

E1C18 11/26/2009 Page 230

writers who will highlight your organization positively in their stories. And

more importantly, an online media room can move your buyers into and

through the sales process, resulting in more business for your organization

and contributing to meeting your organization’s real goals of revenue and cus-

tomer retention. I’ve noticed as I’ve checked out hundreds of online media

rooms that most fail to deliver compelling content. Sure, they may look

pretty, but often the design and graphics, not the content that journalists

(and your buyers) require, are in the forefront. The following sections give

you useful tips that will help your online media room work as effectively as

some of the best ones I’ve seen.

You Control the Content

One important consideration that many marketing and PR people overlook

when considering the benefits of an online media room is that you control the

content, not your IT department, Webmaster, or anyone else. The best prac-

tice idea here is for you to design your online media room as a tool to reach

buyers and journalists, and you don’t need to take into consideration the

rules for posting content that the rest of the organization’s site may require.

If you build this part of your site using a specialized online media room

content-management application such as the one offered by The Fuel Team4

or the MediaRoom5 product from PR Newswire, you will control a corner of

your organization’s web site that you can update whenever you like using

simple tools, and you won’t need to request help from anyone in other depart-

ments or locations. So start with your needs and the needs of your buyers and

journalists, not the needs of those who own the other parts of your organiza-

tion’s web site.

Start with a Needs Analysis

When designing a new online media room (or planning an extensive re-

design), start with a needs analysis. Before you just jump right into site aes-

thetics and the organization of news releases, take time to analyze how the


230 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

E1C18 11/26/2009 Page 231

site fits into your larger marketing, PR, and media relations strategy. Consider

the buyer persona profiles you built as part of your marketing and PR plan.

Talk with friendly journalists so you can understand what they need. Who

are the potential users of the online media room and what content will be

valuable to them? When you have collected some information, build buyers’

and journalists’ needs into your online media room. As you work toward

starting your design, try to think a bit more like a publisher and less like a

marketing and PR person. A publisher carefully identifies and defines target

audiences and then develops the content required to meet the needs of each

distinct demographic. Graphical elements, colors, fonts, and other visual

manifestations of the site are also important but should take a back seat dur-

ing the content-needs analysis process.

Optimize Your News Releases for Searching and for Browsing

The best online media rooms are built with the understanding that some peo-

ple need to search for content and others are browsing. Many people already

know what they are looking for—the latest release, perhaps, or the name of

the CEO. They need answers to specific questions, and organizations must

therefore optimize content so that it can be found, perhaps by including a

search engine. The second way that people use content is to be told some-

thing that they do not already know and therefore couldn’t think to ask. This

is why browsability is also important; it allows users to stumble across useful

information they didn’t even know they were looking for. While many Web-

savvy marketers understand the importance of search-engine optimization,

they often forget that sites must be designed for browsing, too. Failing to do

so is particularly unfortunate because the high traffic on news release pages

comes partly from the many people who browse these pages as they conduct


You should deploy a navigational design in a way that provides valu-

able information visitors might not have thought to ask for. Consider in-

cluding multiple browsing techniques. For instance, you can create

different links to targeted releases for different buyer personas (maybe by

vertical market or some other demographic factor appropriate to your

organization). You might also organize the same releases by product (be-

cause some members of the media may be covering just one of your

products in a review or story), by geography, or by market served. Most

The Online Media Room: Your Front Door for Much More Than the Media 231

E1C18 11/26/2009 Page 232

organizations simply list news releases in reverse-chronological order (the

newest release is at the top of the page, and ones from last year are hid-

den away somewhere). While this is fine for the main news release page,

you need to have additional navigation links so people can browse the

releases. Don’t forget that people may also need to print out news re-

leases, so consider providing printer-friendly formats (e.g., PDF format as

well as HTML).

Create Background Information That Helps JournalistsWrite Stories

You should publish a set of background materials about your organiza-

tion, sometimes called an online media kit or press kit, in an easy-to-find

place in your online media room. This kit should contain a lot of infor-

mation, basically anything you think journalists might need in order to

write about you and your products or services. Company history and

timeline, executive biographies, investor profiles, board of advisors’ or

board of directors’ bios, product and service information, information

about analysts who cover your company, and links to recent media cover-

age will help your media kit save journalists time and tedious effort.

Make this content easy to find and to browse with appropriate naviga-

tional links. I think a set of information organized around customers and

how they use products and services offered by the company is another

key component of an online media room, and I rarely see it. Case studies

in the customers’ own words are particularly useful, not only for journal-

ists but also for buyers. Remember, the easier you make a journalist’s job,

the more likely she is to write about your organization, particularly when

she is on a tight deadline. I recall researching a feature story I was writing

for EContent magazine called ‘‘On Message: The Market for Marketing-

Specific Content Management.’’ In the article I was looking at companies

and products that help marketers to organize information, and I knew the

top players in the field and interviewed company executives for the arti-

cle. But to round out the piece, I needed to include some newer niche

companies in the space. How did I choose the companies that made it in?

You guessed it—the ones that made my job easiest by having an effective

online media room that helped me to instantly understand the company

and its products.

232 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

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Include Multimedia Content

Innovative communicators make use of nontext content, such as photos,

charts, graphs, audio feeds, and video clips, to inform site visitors and the

media. Include executive photos, logo images, product photos, and other

content that is ready (and preapproved) to be published or linked to by jour-

nalists. You should offer audio and video clips (such as parts of executive

speeches or product demonstrations), photos, and logos in such a way that

journalists can use them in their written stories as well as on TV and radio

shows. Again, you will find that many people besides journalists will access

this, so include appropriate content for your buyer personas as well as for the


For an excellent example of the use of video, check out how Neighbor-

hood America6 integrated video into the company’s online media room.

Include Detailed Product Specs and Other Valuable Data

Communicators who use online media rooms to offer valuable content are

more likely to score the positive story. However, organizations often shy

away from posting much of their best content because they deem it propri-

etary. On many sites, even information like detailed product specifications

and price lists are available only through a direct connection with a PR

contact or a lengthy registration form with approval mechanisms. Yet this

is exactly the sort of content that, if freely available, would help convince

journalists to write a story. All communicators and marketing professio-

nals working at corporations, government agencies, or nonprofits struggle

to decide what content is appropriate to post on their organizations’ sites.

However, with well-meaning executives who worry about corporate image,

legal departments with a reflexive tendency to say ‘‘no,’’ and salespeople

who think it is easier to sell when they’re the sole source of knowledge, it

might be difficult to gain the necessary approvals to post proprietary con-

tent. But there is no doubt that the more valuable your media room’s con-

tent looks to reporters and buyers, the more attractive your company will

look to them as well.


The Online Media Room: Your Front Door for Much More Than the Media 233

E1C18 11/26/2009 Page 234

If Appropriate, Go Global

The Web has made reaching the world far easier, so when it is appropriate,

the effort to create and offer local content to customers worldwide can help

an organization better serve both local and global journalists. Many organiza-

tions, particularly those headquartered in the United States, make the mistake

of including site content that reflects (and therefore has value for) only the

home market. Basic approaches to get your site up to global standards might

include offering case studies from customers in various countries or spec

sheets describing products with local country standards (such as metric mea-

surements or local regulatory compliance). Sometimes the little things make

a difference. For example, don’t forget that the rest of the world uses standard

A4 paper instead of the U.S. letter size, so having fact sheets and other materi-

als that print properly on both formats is useful to users outside the United

States. Providing content in local languages can also help show the global

aspect of your business, though this need not mean a wholesale translation of

your entire online media room. A simple Web landing page with basic infor-

mation in the local language, a few news releases, a case study or two, and

appropriate local contact information will often suffice.

Provide Content for All Levels of Media Understanding

To be effective, communicators at many organizations specifically design me-

dia room content that supports journalists’ level of knowledge of your organi-

zation. Some journalists may never have written about your company before;

they need the basics spelled out in easy-to-understand language. In other

cases, a reporter or analyst may have been covering the company for years,

enjoy personal relationships with the executives, and know a great deal about

what’s going on with you, your competitors, and your market. You need con-

tent for this person, too; she may want to compare your offerings, and she

therefore needs detailed company information, lists of features and benefits,

and stories about your customers. Of course, all reporters need easy navigation

directly to content so they get what they need quickly. In my experience, the

vast majority of online media rooms are little more than online brochures with

a bunch of news releases. Don’t let the opportunities that the Web offers pass

your online media room by. Help journalists along the path to their keyboards

by offering content directly linked to their various levels of understanding.

234 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

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List Executive Appearances, Conferences, andTradeshow Participation

One of the best ways to positively influence journalists is to visit with them in

person. Many journalists attend tradeshows, conferences, and other events on

a regular basis and use that time to meet with representatives of companies

that they may consider writing about. The best way to get your organization

on journalists’ calendars is to make certain that they know where your execu-

tives will be appearing. List all appropriate public speaking appearances,

tradeshow and conference participation, and other events in a separate calen-

dar section in your online media room. Make certain to list all appropriate

future events, and remember to include any international events. Keep the

older listings up for at least a few months after the events to show that you

are in demand as experts in your field, but be sure to keep the list up to date.

Don’t forget that even this information is not just for the media. Even if they

do not attend industry events, your buyers will see that your company is ac-

tive and that your executives are in demand as speakers and presenters; this

adds to your corporate credibility and your image as an industry leader.

Include Calls to Action for Journalists

It is a great idea to include special offers for the media. Perhaps the simplest

thing to offer is an executive interview. But why not include a trial or demon-

stration offer of some kind, where journalists get to test out your offerings, at-

tend your events, or in some way experience what your organization does? You

can even create a landing page specifically for journalists with a registration

form and special offers. Include this link within news releases and other pages

in the online media room to drive interested journalists to the landing page.

Embrace Bloggers as You Do Traditional Journalists

Bloggers who cover your company visit your online media room. Encourage

them by responding to inquiries quickly, by including bloggers in your news

release distribution email list, and by granting them interviews with execu-

tives upon request. The fact is that bloggers are influential, and they want to

be treated with the same respect as traditional journalists. It’s to your advan-

tage to do so.

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Avoid Jargon, Acronyms, and Industry-Speak

I review more than a hundred news releases in an average week. Some re-

leases are sent directly to me from companies that want me to write about

them in a magazine article, an upcoming book, or my blog, and others I find

by checking out online media rooms. I visit many online media rooms in an

average week and read the other content available as well as news releases.

Unfortunately, most online media rooms are chock full of jargon, three-letter

acronyms that I don’t understand, and other egocentric nonsense. I’m inter-

ested in what companies are up to, but I’m just too busy to decipher gobble-

dygook. I normally give a news release 10 seconds to catch my attention, but

the surest way to get me to delete a release in frustration is to write in a way

that I just can’t understand. If your mother doesn’t understand your news, a

journalist probably won’t, either.

An Online Media Room to Reach Journalists,Customers, Bloggers, and Employees‘‘As we were looking for solutions to reach the media, one of the frustra-

tions we had was getting timely information onto our corporate web site,’’

says Clay Owen, senior director of media relations at Cingular Wireless.

‘‘We used to have a process that went through the Information Technology

department, and they would say ‘Okay, we will get it up onto the site a

week from Thursday.’ But I used to be a producer at CNN, and I’m used to

instantaneous news. So it was frustrating that I couldn’t get the news re-

leases up right away.’’

Owen implemented an online media room primarily to put control of me-

dia content into his own hands so that he could get news releases up onto the

site right away. ‘‘What we’ve tried to do is have a lot of information,’’ he says.

‘‘The media is looking for more than the news release. They want images,

both high-resolution and Web versions, and they want fact sheets, so we’ve

put a lot of time into our online press kit. Journalists are looking for value-

add on a corporate media site, and it needs to be much more than just a news

release. We also focus on optimizing our pages for keywords and phrases so

that Google and the other search engines can find the information.’’

As Owen launched the Cingular Wireless online media room, he found

that the bloggers who cover the wireless and gadget space make heavy use of

236 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

E1C18 11/26/2009 Page 237

the content. ‘‘You have to hit the bloggers several different ways because it is a

crowded marketplace for ideas,’’ he says. ‘‘So we send bloggers our news re-

leases and encourage them to make use of the online media room.’’

The Cingular Wireless online media room was severely tested during the

2005 hurricane season; Cingular serves customers in hard-hit areas such as

New Orleans and Florida. ‘‘It was a real eye-opener for us because we didn’t

realize the power of getting a lot of news up onto the site really quickly,’’

Owen says. ‘‘It was the first series of storms of that severity in the Internet

age. Even though we were updating the pages every few hours, we just

couldn’t get information out quickly enough. I drew from my experience at

CNN. As more and more journalists have access to the Internet, it is up to us

to get information to them in a timely manner. We have to ‘feed the beast,’

and there’s no way to do that without an online media room that I can post to

directly. Going through the Information Technology department wouldn’t

have worked.’’

To make it easy for all kinds of people, not just journalists, to get updates,

Owen created a new URL that pointed to specific pages in the Cingular online

media room. ‘‘We built out a section for consumers by working with our Cus-

tomer Services people that included a Frequently Asked Questions section

and toll-free numbers for customers,’’ he says. ‘‘We answered questions like

‘What if I can’t pay my bill this month?’ We found that the media room was

also a vehicle for communications with our employees who were in the disas-

ter area. It was an extraordinary time and extraordinary measures were

needed, and we were very pleased with the responses.’’

Based on his site statistics, the Cingular Wireless online media room

clearly serves more people than just journalists. ‘‘We know that a large num-

ber of consumers find their way to the media room, because the online media

room had 18,000 page views at its peak on September 5, 2005,’’ he says. ‘‘And

our average was 10,000 page views per day in the month of September 2005

compared to a baseline of about 2,000 page views per day in August 2005,

before the storms.’’

As the Cingular Wireless example shows, it is important for all companies

to be prepared to communicate during emergency situations. While the high-

est traffic to the Cingular Wireless online media room in recent years was

during the 2005 hurricane season, the numbers they got during this period

helped Owen to see a trend that was already happening: that consumers do

think to use online media rooms when they need information.

The Online Media Room: Your Front Door for Much More Than the Media 237

E1C18 11/26/2009 Page 238

Really Simple Marketing: The Importance ofRSS Feeds in Your Online Media RoomTo provide alternative content routes, many organizations use digital delivery

methods, including email newsletters for journalists and bloggers and RSS

feeds, as part of their online media rooms; this pushes content directly to the

media and other interested people. Smart organizations are using RSS (Really

Simple Syndication) to easily update prospects, customers, investors, and the

media, but too few organizations are using this simple marketing technique

for sharing valuable information.

RSS feeds can (and should) be added to most parts of your web site. But

because they are essentially subscription mechanisms to regularly updated

content, many organizations have the RSS subscription page as part of the

online media room and use it as a primary way to deliver news release con-

tent. Companies such as Microsoft, IBM, and Intel syndicate information via

RSS feeds to reach specific external audiences such as the media, Wall Street

analysts, customers, partners, distributors, and resellers. For example, Intel7

offers a suite of feeds that includes Intel Products, Intel Press Room, Intel

Investor Relations, Software at Intel, Networking and Communications, Intel

Reseller Center, and IT@Intel. It also offers country-specific RSS feeds from

Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and others. How cool is

it that interested people subscribe to just-right corporate information from

Intel in the same way that they subscribe to media feeds from major news-

paper and magazine sites and those of independent bloggers? This is just an-

other example of how the main currency of online marketing is excellent

content delivered in the way that people demand.

The online media room is a place where many people congregate, not just

journalists. It is one place on your organization’s web site that you can control,

without interference, approval processes, and IT support, so it presents a ter-

rific opportunity for marketing and PR people to get content out into the mar-

ketplace. On the Web, success equals content. And one of the easiest ways to

get content into the market is via an online media room with RSS feeds.


238 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

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19The New Rules forReaching the Media

A s the Web has made communicating with reporters and editors

extremely easy, breaking through using the online methods everyone

else uses has become increasingly difficult. These days, you can find the email

addresses of reporters in seconds, either through commercial services that

sell subscriptions to their databases of thousands of journalists or simply by

using a search engine. Unfortunately, way too many PR people are spamming

journalists with unsolicited and unrelenting commercial messages in the

form of news releases and untargeted broadcast pitches. I hate to say it, but

among the many journalists I speak with, the PR profession has become syn-

onymous with spammers. For years, PR people have been shotgun-blasting

news releases and blind pitches to hundreds (or even thousands) of journal-

ists at a time—without giving any thought to what each reporter actually

covers—just because the media databases the PR people subscribe to make it

so darn simple to do.

Barraging large groups of journalists with indiscriminate PR materials is not a

good strategy to get reporters and editors to pay attention to you.

E1C19 11/26/2009 Page 240

Nontargeted, Broadcast Pitches Are SpamAs I’ve said, I get dozens of news releases, pitches, and announcements from

PR agency staffers and corporate communications people every week. Like all

journalists, my email address is available in many places: in the articles I

write, on my blog, in my books, and at the EContent magazine web site (I’m a

contributing editor). That easy availability means that my address has also

been added to various databases and lists of journalists. Unfortunately, my

email address also gets added (without my permission) to many press lists

that PR agencies and companies compile and maintain; whenever they have a

new announcement, no matter what the subject, I’m part of the broadcast

message. Ugh. The PR spam approach simply doesn’t work. Worse, it brands

your organization as one of the ‘‘bad guys.’’

Okay, that’s the depressing news. The good news is that there are effective

‘‘new rules’’ approaches that work very well to get your messages into

the hands (and onto the screens) of reporters so they will be more likely to

write about you. Don’t forget that reporters are always looking for interesting

companies, products, and ideas to write about. They want to find you. If you

have great content on your web site and your online media room, reporters

will find you via search engines.

Try to think about reaching journalists with ways that aren’t just one-way

spam. Pay attention to what individual reporters write about by reading their

stories (and, better yet, their blogs) and write specific and targeted pitches

crafted especially for them. Or start a real relationship with reporters by com-

menting on their blogs or sending them information that is not just a blatant

pitch for your company. Become part of their network of sources, rather than

simply a shill for one company’s message. If you or someone in your organiza-

tion writes a blog in the space that a reporter covers, let him know about it,

because what you blog about may become prime fodder for the reporter’s

future stories. Don’t forget to pitch bloggers. Not only does a mention in a

widely read blog reach your buyers, reporters and editors read these blogs for

story ideas and to understand early market trends.

The New Rules of Media RelationsThe Web has changed the rules. If you’re still following the traditional PR

techniques, I’m sure you’re finding that they are ineffective. To be much more

successful, consider and use The New Rules of Media Relations:

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� Nontargeted, broadcast pitches are spam.

� News releases sent to reporters in subject areas they do not cover are


� Reporters who don’t know you yet are looking for organizations like

yours and products like yours—make sure they will find you on sites

such as Google and Technorati.

� If you blog, reporters who cover the space will find you.

� Pitch bloggers, because being covered in important blogs will get you

noticed by mainstream media.

� When was the last news release you sent? Make sure your organization

is ‘‘busy.’’

� Journalists want a great online media room.

� Include video and photos in your online media room.

� Some (but not all) reporters love RSS feeds.

� Personal relationships with reporters are important.

� Don’t tell journalists what your product does. Tell them how you solve

customer problems.

� Does the reporter have a blog? Read it. Comment on it. Track back to it

(send a message whenever you blog on a subject that the reporter

blogged about first).

� Before you pitch, read (or listen to or watch) the publication (or radio

program or TV show) you’ll be pitching to.

� Once you know what a reporter is interested in, send her an individua-

lized pitch crafted especially for her needs.

Blogs and Media RelationsGetting your organization visible on blogs is an increasingly important

way not only to reach your buyers, but also to reach the mainstream me-

dia that cover your industry, because reporters and editors read blogs

for story ideas. Treat influential bloggers exactly as you treat influential

reporters—read their stuff and send them specifically targeted information

that might be useful to them. Offer them interviews with your executives

and demonstrations or samples of your products. Offer to take them to


‘‘For a company or product that sells into a niche, you’ll never get noticed

by editors at major publications like the Wall Street Journal, but you will get

niche bloggers to be interested in you,’’ says Larry Schwartz, president of

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Newstex,1 a company that syndicates blogs for distribution to millions of

people in corporations, financial institutions, and government agencies.

‘‘For example, if you are in the consumer technology business, getting your

product mentioned in Gizmodo2 and getting a link back to your site from

Gizmodo are probably more important than even a mention in the Wall Street

Journal. Increasingly, the way for people to find out about products is through

blogs, and you often get a link to your web site, too. It used to be that the

moment of truth was when somebody went to the store to find your product.

Now the moment of truth is a link to your site from a blog.’’

Pitching influential bloggers as you would pitch mainstream media is an

important way to get noticed in the crowded marketplace of ideas. But even

more effective is having your own blog so that bloggers and reporters find

you. ‘‘Blogging gives me a place in the media community to stand out,’’ says

John Blossom, president of Shore Communications Inc.,3 a research and ana-

lysis company. Blossom has been blogging since March 2003 and writes about

enterprise publishing and media markets. ‘‘In ways that I didn’t expect, my

blog has allowed me to become a bit of a media personality. I’ve been picked

up by some big bloggers, and that makes me aware that blogging is a terrific

way to get exposure, because the rate of pickup and amplification is remark-

able. The press reads my blog and reaches out to me for quotes. Sometimes

I’m quoted in the media by a reporter who doesn’t even speak with me. For

example, a reporter from the Financial Times recently picked up a quote and

used it in a story—based on my blog alone.’’

Launching Ideas with the U.S. Air ForceThe web sites of the United States Air Force are chock-full of photos, video,

and articles written by Air Force Public Affairs officers, all serving to provide

the media with information they need to craft a story. These officers don’t sit

around all day writing press releases and pitching the media with story ideas.

Rather, they publish information themselves, information that generates in-

terest from reporters.


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‘‘Instead of pushing things out, people are finding us and our information,’’

says Captain Nathan Broshear, director of public affairs at 12th Air Force (Air

Forces Southern), the Air Force component to U.S. Southern Command and

based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz. Broshear is no

stranger to working with mainstream media representatives, having previ-

ously managed hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan-based reporters in that

high-pressure war zone environment.

‘‘People are finding our web sites to be valuable. For example, many re-

porters are currently interested in the Predator, Global Hawk, and Reaper sys-

tems, our unmanned aerial vehicles. And when they see the pages on our site

about Predator and Reaper, then they know whom to contact.’’

For example, Technical Sergeant Eric Petosky, who works with Broshear in

Public Affairs, wrote a story called ‘‘Global Hawk flying environmental map-

ping missions in Latin America, Caribbean,’’ 4 which he posted on the site

with photos.5 When a reporter becomes interested in a system like the Global

Hawk, he or she can find the information on the site. ‘‘The Air Force is a big

organization, and if a reporter goes to the Pentagon, it is hard to find the right

person. We write stories so reporters can envision what their angle might

look like.’’ And together with the stories, photos, and videos is the necessary

contact information for getting in touch with the appropriate Air Force Public

Affairs staff member.

The published information about unmanned aerial systems proved valu-

able when 60 Minutes, the weekly CBS television magazine, became interested

in the story. Broshear teamed with Captain Brooke Brander, chief of public

affairs at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada (where the pilots of the unmanned

systems are based), to help lay the groundwork for the story. They worked

with 60 Minutes producers for more than five months. Drones: America’s New

Air Force aired on 60 Minutes on May 10, 2009, with Lara Logan reporting on

the increasing use of drones in the battlefield.

Another success story from Broshear’s use of online content to help report-

ers involves Operation New Horizons in Guyana. Operation New Horizons is

part of an Air Force program to build infrastructure, partnerships, and rela-

tionships in other countries. ‘‘The Air Force is building a school and a clinic

while providing free medical care for about 100,000 people,’’ Broshear says.


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‘‘We partner with nongovernmental organizations to make certain the local

school, clinics, and doctors have what they need to continue providing ser-

vices even after U.S. military members depart.’’

To get the story out to both the local community in Guyana and people

back in the United States, Broshear works with those on the ground to create

content reporters can draw from to craft their stories—without the need for

constant contact from public affairs staff. ‘‘We post photos onto Flickr6 and

have a Facebook page7 and a blog8 written by people on the ground. And

what’s interesting is that the blogs get three times more traffic than our main

pages. The newspapers in the local communities are pulling photographs

from the sites. After we introduce the projects and key military personalities

to the local media the first time through a press release or visit to the con-

struction sites, we don’t need to do anything, because the media are pulling

information from the blog that we created.’’

As you know if you’ve read this far, the importance of creating valuable

content (photos, video, news stories) and posting it on your site is the theme

of this book. When you create that content, you reach people who are looking

for what you have to offer. Broshear reminds us how sometimes those people

are members of the mainstream media and great content can serve as the cata-

lyst to getting the coverage your organization desires. ‘‘Here in U.S. Air Force

Public Affairs, we’re not launching missiles,’’ he says. ‘‘We’re launching ideas.’’

And those ideas lead to major stories in top-tier media.

How to Pitch the MediaAs marketers know, having your company, product, or executive appear in an

appropriate publication is great marketing. That’s why billions of dollars are

spent on PR each year (though much of it’s wasted, I’m afraid). When your

organization appears in a story, not only do you reach the publication’s audi-

ence directly, you also can point your prospects to the piece later, using

reprints or Web links. Media coverage means legitimacy. As I’ve said, broad-

cast spamming of the media doesn’t work. But sometimes you really want to

target a specific publication (your hometown paper, perhaps). So, what

should you do?


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� Target one reporter at a time. Taking the time to read a publication and

then crafting a unique pitch to a particular journalist can work wonders.

Mention a specific article he wrote and then explain why your company

or product would be interesting for the journalist to look at. Make cer-

tain to target the subject line of the email to help ensure that it gets

opened. Recently I got a perfectly positioned pitch crafted especially for

me from a company that provides a Web-based sales-lead qualification

and management system. The PR person had read my blog and knew

what I was interested in, so I emailed back within minutes to set up an

interview with the company’s CEO.

� Help the journalist to understand the big picture. Often it’s difficult to un-

derstand how some widget or service or organization actually fits into a

wider trend. You make a journalist’s job much easier if you describe the

big picture of why your particular product or service is interesting.

Often this helps you get mentioned in the reporter’s future articles or

columns about trends in your space.

� Explain how customers use your product or work with your organization.

Reporters hear hundreds of pitches from company spokespeople about

how products work. But it’s much more useful to hear about a product

in action from someone who actually uses it. If you can set up interviews

with customers or provide written case studies of your products or ser-

vices, it will be much easier for journalists to write about your company.

� Don’t send email attachments unless asked. These days, it is a rare journal-

ist indeed who opens an unexpected email attachment, even from a rec-

ognized company. Yet many PR people still distribute news releases as

email attachments. Don’t do it. Send plain-text emails instead. If you’re

asked for other information, you can follow up with attachments, but be

sure to clearly reference in the email what you’re sending and why, so

the journalist will remember asking for it.

� Follow up promptly with potential contacts. Recently I agreed to interview

a senior executive at a large company. An eager PR person set it up, and

we agreed on date and time. But I never got the promised follow-up in-

formation via email, which was supposed to include the telephone num-

ber to reach the executive. Needless to say, the interview didn’t happen.

Make certain you follow up as promised.

� Don’t forget, it’s a two-way street—journalists need you to pitch them! The

bottom line is that reporters want to know what you have to say. It is

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unfortunate that the spam problem in PR is as big as it is, because it

makes journalists’ jobs more difficult.

As an illustration of this last point, a company executive I met at a confer-

ence made a comment on a new trend that gave me a brilliant idea for my

column. I was delighted, because it made my life easier. Thinking of column

subjects is hard work, and I need all the help I can get. The executive’s com-

pany fit in perfectly with the column idea, and I’ll use his product as the

example of the trend he told me about. Without the conversation, the column

would never have been written—but a straight product pitch wouldn’t have

worked. We reporters need smart ideas to do our job. Please.

‘‘The single most effective thing PR people do is read what I write and send

me personalized, smart pitches for stories that I am actually likely to write,’’

says Peter J. Howe, a business reporter for the Boston Globe.9 Howe has been

at the Globe for 20 years and spent the last 7 years covering telecommunica-

tions, the Internet, energy, and, most recently, airline companies. Howe pre-

fers to be pitched by email, with a subject line that helps him to know it’s not

spam. ‘‘‘PR pitch for Boston Globe Reporter Peter Howe’ is actually a very ef-

fective way to get my attention. If you’re getting literally four or five hundred

emails a day like I am, cute subject lines aren’t going to work and in fact will

likely appear to be spam.’’

Howe’s biggest beef with how PR people operate is that so many have no

idea what he writes about before they send him a pitch. ‘‘If you simply put

‘Boston Globe Peter Howe’ into a search and read the first

ten things that pop up, you would have done more work than 98 percent of

the PR people who pitch me,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s maddening how many people in

PR have absolutely no sense of the difference between what the Boston Globe

covers and what, say, Network World or RCR Wireless News or the Nitwitville

Weekly News covers. And I don’t mean to sound like a whining diva; the big-

ger issue is that if you’re not figuring out what I cover and how before you

pitch me, you are really wasting your own time.’’

Howe also encourages people to try to think big. ‘‘If you have a small thing

to pitch, pitch it. But try to also think of the bigger story that it can fit into

a page-one or a Sunday section front story,’’ he says. ‘‘That could even wind

up meaning your company is mentioned alongside three or four of your


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competitors, but wouldn’t you rather be mentioned in a page-one story than

in a 120-word news brief?’’

There is no doubt that mainstream media are still vital as a channel for

your buyers to learn about your products. Besides all the people who will

see your company, product, or executive’s name, a mention in a major publi-

cation lends you legitimacy. Reporters have a job to do, and they need the

help that PR people can provide to them. But the rules have changed. To get

noticed, you need to be smart about how you tell your story on the Web—and

about how you tell your story to journalists.

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E1C20 11/26/2009 Page 249

20Search EngineMarketing

Search engine marketing is remarkable because, unlike almost every other

form of marketing, it does not rely on the interruption technique. Think

again for a moment about what I’ve called ‘‘old-rules’’ marketing and its inter-

ruption-based advertising techniques. As I’ve discussed in previous chapters,

the old rules required you to interrupt TV viewers and hope they weren’t al-

ready flipping to another channel; or to interrupt people as they sorted

through the mail and hope your message wouldn’t go into the junk-mail pile;

or to interrupt magazine readers and hope they would pause at your stinky

pull-out perfume sample. These days, ads are everywhere—on signs along

the highway, on the sides of supermarket carts, in elevators. These interrup-

tions are not only annoying for consumers (and harmful to a brand if over-

done); they are also increasingly ineffective.

Now think about how you use search engines. Unlike nontargeted, inter-

ruption-based advertising, the information that appears in search engines

after you’ve typed in a phrase is content you actually want to see. You’re actu-

ally looking for it. This should be a marketer’s dream-come-true.

Here’s something very important to consider: This entire book is about

search engine marketing. Please pause to reflect on that. If you followed the

New Rules of Marketing and PR as outlined in these pages, you will have built

a fantastic search engine marketing program! You started with your buyer

personas, then you built content especially for these buyers—content that

talks about the problems they face in the words and phrases they actually

use. Then you delivered the content in the online forms they prefer (podcasts,

E1C20 11/26/2009 Page 250

blogs, e-books, web sites, and so on). This terrific content designed especially

for your buyers will be indexed by the search engines and . . . that’s it. You

already have a terrific search engine marketing program!

But even a great program can benefit from focused enhancements, so in

this chapter we’ll talk about how to further develop and improve your search

engine marketing strategies. Let’s start with a few basic definitions:

� Search engine marketing means using search engines to reach your buy-

ers directly. Search engines include general search engines such as

Google and Yahoo! as well as vertical market search engines that are

specific to your industry or to the people you are trying to reach.

� Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art and science of ensuring that

the words and phrases on your site, blog, and other online content are

found by the search engines and that, once found, your site is given the

highest ranking possible in the natural search results (i.e., what the

search engine algorithm deems important for the phrase entered).

� Search engine advertising is when a marketer pays to have advertising ap-

pear in search engines when a user types in a particular phrase that the

marketer has ‘‘purchased.’’ Usually this advertising comes in the form of

small text ads appearing next to the natural search results for a particu-

lar search term. Google AdWords1 and Yahoo! Search Marketing2 are the

two large search engine advertising programs. Marketers bid to have

their ads appear based on keywords and phrases, competing against

others who want the same phrases. Your ad will appear somewhere in

the list of ads for that phrase based on a formula used by the search

engine that takes into account two main factors: how much you are will-

ing to bid (in dollars and cents) for each person who clicks the ad, plus

your click-through rate (the number of people who click your ad di-

vided by the number of people who see it in the search results).

Making the First Page On GoogleColin Warwick, signal integrity product manager in the Design & Simulation

Software division of Agilent Technologies, is responsible for marketing


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software to help engineers overcome limitations in high-speed digital connec-

tions. As he was working on marketing plans, he came to the realization that

traditional business-to-business marketing techniques like trade shows are

expensive and increasingly ineffective. He also came to understand the im-

portance of search engines for his business. ‘‘Everyone understands Google,’’

he says. ‘‘Everybody can instantly see when you enter a phrase into Google if

your competitors come up and you don’t or vice versa.’’

The most important search term for Warwick’s products is ‘‘signal integ-

rity,’’ and Agilent product information was coming up on the fifth page of

results—clearly not ideal. So Warwick set out to make Agilent appear at the

top of the search results by creating a blog focused on signal integrity.3 Every-

thing, from the name and URL of the blog to the excellent content, was de-

signed to appeal to the buyer personas interested in this topic and to drive

solid search engine rankings. ‘‘There are only 50,000 signal integrity engi-

neers in the entire world, and our average sale is about $10,000 with a six-

month sales cycle,’’ Warwick says. ‘‘While the competitors show their bro-

chures, we have a valuable blog. It helps a great deal to have such valuable

information, both for search engine results and in the selling process.’’

Warwick says that executives at Agilent were very supportive of his start-

ing the blog, but there were some guidelines that he had to work within. ‘‘The

company said I could blog but that the IT department would not support it,’’

he says. ‘‘So I needed to create the blog outside of the company domain. I was

required to follow some very commonsense rules: don’t mention the competi-

tion, link to the Agilent terms of service and privacy policy, and include a

copyright notice. It has been a very good experience. Companies need to trust

that employees will do the right thing and let people blog.’’

The results have been very encouraging. ‘‘Many customers say that they

like the blog, and our salespeople tell prospects about it,’’ Warwick says.

‘‘Having a blog allows me to be spontaneous. For example, I can put diagrams

up very quickly and let people know valuable information. If we needed to

put content on the corporate site, it would take three days. With the blog I

can get into a conversation in just five minutes.’’

So what about the search results? On Google, Warwick’s blog is now on the

first page of results for the phrase ‘‘Signal Integrity’’ (at the number four position


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when I checked). ‘‘Prior to starting the blog, the company products page was

ranked number 44 on Google,’’ Warwick says. ‘‘That’s a huge improvement.’’

But there are many added benefits to blogging that took Warwick by sur-

prise. ‘‘Trade magazine journalists read the blog, and they include links to it

in their blogrolls,’’ he says. ‘‘And I am making great Web connections. For

example, I asked Paul Rako, an important journalist at EDN [a news and in-

formation source for Electronics Design Engineers], to moderate a panel for

me, and he did because he knows me from the blog.’’

Search Engine OptimizationIn my experience, people often misunderstand search engine marketing be-

cause there are a slew of SEO firms that make it all seem so darned compli-

cated. To add to the problem, many (but certainly not all) SEO firms are a bit

on the shady side, promising stellar results from simply manipulating key-

words on your site. Perhaps you’ve seen the spam email messages of some of

these snake-oil salesmen (I’ve received hundreds of unsolicited email mes-

sages with headlines like: ‘‘Top Search Engine Rankings Guaranteed!’’). While

many search engine marketing firms are completely reputable and add tre-

mendous value to marketing programs, I am convinced that the single best

thing you can do to improve your search engine marketing is to focus on

building great content for your buyers. Search engine marketing should not

be mysterious and is certainly not trickery.

However, the many intricacies and nuances that can make good search

engine marketing great are beyond the scope of this small chapter. Many

excellent resources can help you learn even more about the complexities of

search engine marketing and especially search engine algorithm factors such

as the URL you use, placement of certain words within your content, tags,

metadata, inbound links, and other details. These resources also add to our

discussion in Chapter 10 of how to identify appropriate keywords and

phrases. A great place to start understanding search engine optimization is

Search Engine Watch,4 where you will find resources and active forums to

explore. I also recommend a book called Search Engine Marketing, Inc. by

Mike Moran and Bill Hunt. To learn more about search engine advertising,


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start with the tutorials and Frequently Asked Questions pages of the Google

AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing sites.

The Long Tail of SearchPerhaps you’ve already tried search engine marketing. Many marketers have.

In my experience working with many organizations, I’ve learned that search

engine marketing programs often fail because the marketers optimize on gen-

eral keywords and phrases that do not produce sufficiently targeted results.

For example, someone in the travel business might be tempted to optimize

on words like travel and vacation. I just entered ‘‘travel’’ into Google and got

124 million hits. It is virtually impossible to get to the top of the heap with a

generic word or phrase like ‘‘travel,’’ and even if you did, that’s not usually

how people search. It is ineffective to try to reach buyers with broad, general

search terms.

You have a choice when you create search engine marketing programs.

One method is to optimize on and advertise with a small number of words

and phrases that are widely targeted, in order to try to generate huge numbers

of clicks. Think of this approach as an oceangoing drag fishing boat with

huge nets used to harvest one species of fish. Sure, you capture thousands of

fish at a time, but you throw away all that are not the species you’re after, and

it is a very expensive undertaking.

True success comes from driving buyers directly to the actual content they

are looking for. Several years ago I wanted to take my family on vacation to

Costa Rica, so I went to Google and typed in ‘‘Costa Rica Adventure Travel.’’ I

checked out a bunch of sites at the top of the search results (both the natural

search results and the advertisements) and chose one that appealed to me.

After exchanging several emails to design an itinerary, I booked a trip for sev-

eral thousand dollars, and a few months later I was checking out howler mon-

keys in the rainforest. This is how people really search (for what they are

looking for on the Web, not for howler monkeys). If you’re in the Costa Rican

adventure travel business, don’t waste resources optimizing for the generic

term ‘‘travel.’’ Instead, run search engine marketing programs for phrases like

‘‘Costa Rica ecotourism,’’ ‘‘Costa Rica rainforest tour,’’ and so on.

The best approach is to create separate search engine marketing programs

for dozens, hundreds, or even tens of thousands of specific search terms that

people might actually search on. Think of this approach as rigging thousands

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of individual baited hooks on a long line and exposing them at precisely the

right time to catch the species of fish you want. You won’t catch a fish on each

and every hook. But with so many properly baited hooks, you will certainly

catch lots of the fish you are fishing for.

Carve Out Your Own Search EngineReal EstateOne rarely discussed but very important aspect of search engine marketing is

choosing product and company names so that they will be easy to find on the

Web via search engines. When you consider the name of a new company,

product, book, rock band, or other entity that people want to find on the

Web, you typically go through a process of thinking up ideas, getting a sense

of whether these names sound right, and then perhaps seeing if you can copy-

right or trademark the ideas. I would suggest adding one more vital step: You

should run a Web search to see if anything comes up for your proposed name;

I urge you to drop the name idea if there are lots of similarly named competi-

tors—even if the competition for the name is in a different industry. Your

marketing goal should be that when someone enters the name of your book

or band or product, the searcher immediately reaches information about it.

For example, before I agree to a book title, I make certain those names are

not being used in any other way on the Web. It was important for me to

‘‘own’’ my titles on the search engines; searching on Eyeball Wars, Cashing in

with Content, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, and World Wide Rave brings

up only my books plus reviews, articles, or discussions about them.

Many people ask me why I use my middle name in my professional

endeavors, and I’ve had people accuse me of being pretentious. Maybe I am a

bit pretentious, but that’s not why I use my middle name—Meerman. The rea-

son is simple: There are so many other David Scotts out there. One David

Scott walked on the moon as commander of Apollo 15. Another is a six-time

Iron Man Triathlon Champion. Yet another is a U.S. Congressman from Geor-

gia’s 13th district. Good company, all, but for clarity and search engine opti-

mization purposes, I chose to be unique among my fellow David Scotts by

becoming David Meerman Scott.

The lesson here is that if you want to be found on the Web, you need a

unique identity for yourself, your product, and your company to stand out

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from the crowd and rise to prominence on search engines. As you are think-

ing of names to use for marketing, test them out on the search engines first

and try to carve out something that you alone can own.

Web Landing Pages to Drive ActionAlthough I won’t try to cover all the details of search engine marketing, I defi-

nitely want to touch on one of the most common mistakes made by search

engine marketers. Most people focus a great deal of time on keyword and

phrase selection (that’s a good thing!), and they also do a good job of ensur-

ing that their organization ranks highly for those phrases by optimizing the

site and/or purchasing search engine advertising. But most organizations are

terrible at building a landing page—the place people go after they click on a

search hit.

Think back to our last example. As I was planning my Costa Rican vaca-

tion, many of the sites that were ranked highly for the phrase I entered were a

kind of bait and switch. I thought I would be getting targeted information

about Costa Rican travel and was instead taken to a generic landing page

from a big travel agency, an airline, or a hotel chain. No, thanks, I’m not inter-

ested. I wanted information on Costa Rica, not an airline or hotel chain, and

so I clicked away in a second. Because I wanted information about Costa Ri-

can adventure travel, I chose the landing page that had the best information,

one from an outfit called Costa Rica Expeditions.5 This means that you’re

likely to need dozens or hundreds of landing pages in order to implement a

great search engine marketing program.

Marketing with Web landing pages is one of the easiest and most cost-

effective ways to get a message read by a target market, and it’s a terrific tool

for moving buyers through the sales cycle. A landing page is simply a place to


You need to build landing pages that have specific content to enlighten and

inform the people who just clicked over to your site from the search engine.

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publish a targeted message for a particular demographic that you’re trying to

market to, and they are used not only in search engine marketing but other

Web marketing programs as well. For example, landing pages are ideal for

describing special offers mentioned on your web site or calls to action refer-

enced in another content page (such as a blog or e-book). Landing pages also

work well for telling an organization’s story to a particular target market, pro-

moting a new product offering, or providing more information to people who

link from your news releases. Marketing programs such as search engine op-

timization are—to borrow an idea from the classic sales cycle definition—

designed to attract the prospect’s attention. The landing page is where you

take the next step; once you’ve got your audience’s attention, you must gener-

ate and develop customer interest and conviction, so that your sales team gets

a warm lead ready to be worked to a closed sale, or so you can point people to

an e-commerce page where they can buy your product right away.

Effective landing page copy is written from, you guessed it, the buyers’ per-

spective, not yours. Landing pages should provide additional information to

searchers, information based on the offer or keyword they just clicked on.

Many successful organizations have hundreds of landing pages, each opti-

mized for a particular set of related search engine marketing terms.

Don’t make the mistake so many organizations do by investing tons of

money into a search engine advertising program (buying keywords) and then

sending all the traffic to their homepage. Because the homepage needs to

serve many audiences, there can never be enough information there for each

search term. Instead, keep the following landing page guidelines in mind:

� Make the landing page copy short and the graphics simple: The landing

page is a place to deliver a simple message and drive your prospect to

respond to your offer. Don’t try to do too much.

� Create the page with your company’s look, feel, and tone: A landing page is

an extension of your company’s branding, so it must adopt the same

voice, tone, and style as the rest of your site.

� Write from the prospect’s point of view: Think carefully of who will be

visiting the landing page, and write copy for that demographic. You

want visitors to feel that the page speaks to their problems and that you

have a solution for them.

� A landing page is communications, not advertising: Landing pages are

where you communicate valuable information. Advertising gets people

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to click to your landing page, but once a prospect is there, the landing

page should focus on communicating the value of your offering to the


� Provide a quote from a happy customer: A simple testimonial on a landing

page works brilliantly to show people that others are happy with your

product. A sentence or two with the customer’s name (and affiliation if

appropriate) is all you need.

� Make the landing page a self-contained unit: The goal of a landing page is

to get prospects to respond to your offer so you can sell to them. If you

lose traffic from your landing page, you may never get that response.

Thus, it is sometimes better to make your landing page a unique place

on the Web and not provide links to your main web site.

� Make the call to action clear and easy to respond to: Make certain you pro-

vide a clear response mechanism for those people who want to go fur-

ther. Make it easy to sign up or express interest or buy something.

� Use multiple calls to action: You never know what offer will appeal to a

specific person, so consider using more than one. In the business-to-

business world, you might offer a white paper, a free trial, an ROI calcu-

lator, and a price quote all on the same landing page.

� Ask only for necessary information: Don’t use a sign-up form that requires

your prospects to enter lots of data—people will abandon the form. Ask

for the absolute minimum you can get away with—name and email ad-

dress only, if you can, or perhaps even just email. Requiring any addi-

tional information will reduce your response rates.

� Don’t forget to follow up!: Okay, you’ve got a great landing page with an

effective call to action, and the leads are coming in. That’s great! Don’t

drop the ball now. Make certain to follow up each response as quickly as


Search Engine Marketing in a FragmentedBusinessThe market that Scala, Inc.6 serves is so fragmented, people can’t even agree

on what the product category is called: Digital Signage, Digital In-Store Mer-

chandising, Electronic Display Networks, Electronic Billboards, or any of a


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E1C20 11/26/2009 Page 258

dozen other names are used. And to make the marketing challenge even more

difficult, potential customers in this market don’t congregate at any one

tradeshow, magazine, or Web portal. And that’s just the way Gerard Bucas,

president and CEO of Scala, Inc., likes it because he uses search engine mar-

keting to his advantage to reach buyers. ‘‘We pioneered the digital signage in-

dustry,’’ he says. ‘‘Our services are used for retail, corporate communications,

factory floor, and many other diverse business applications.’’ Because Scala

serves so many buyers in diverse market segments, there is no clear decision

maker. In retail it’s the marketing department. In corporate communications

for internal purposes it is often the CEO or the HR department. And the com-

pany serves many verticals such as cruise lines, casinos, and more. ‘‘Since we

can’t possibly advertise in so many different places to reach these people, we

rely on a great web site with a strong focus on search engine marketing.’’

Bucas says it is critical to use the same terminology as his target market

and to include industry terms that lead to an appropriate Scala page. ‘‘We

continuously monitor the top 30 to 40 search terms that people look for

when they search for us on the Net,’’ he says. ‘‘When we find new terms, we

write content that incorporates those terms, and as the term becomes more

important, we expand on the content.’’

For Bucas, effective search engine marketing means understanding his

buyers and creating compelling content using important keywords and

phrases and then getting each one indexed by the search engines. ‘‘For exam-

ple, digital signage is one of our search terms,’’ he says. ‘‘We want to be at the

top of the results. But we also care about similar phrases such as digital sign

and digital signs. Each of the terms gives different results. It’s amazing to me.’’

The Scala site includes detailed product content, client case studies, and

information on how digital signage is used in different industries. ‘‘Regular

news releases and case studies are all intended to bring search engines to us,’’

he says. ‘‘With case studies and news releases, we’re getting some phrases into

the market that we don’t often use, which cause some long tail results with

the search engines.’’

Scala has a lead-generation system using search engines to drive buyers to

landing pages where traffic converts into leads that are funneled into the

company’s reseller channel. In this system, the company gathers names

through offers (such as a free demo DVD7) on each landing page. ‘‘Our


258 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

E1C20 11/26/2009 Page 259

resellers love us because we’re constantly pumping them with new leads,’’

Bucas says. ‘‘We effectively help to generate business for them, so they be-

come very loyal to us. Our partners see the value of the lead generation.’’

According to Bucas, the lead system, which manages more than 4,000 open

sales leads at any one time, automates communication at particular points in

the sales process by sending email to prospects.

The success Scala enjoys shows how a well-executed content strategy on

the Web will deliver buyers to landing pages who are actually looking for a

product. ‘‘We are growing very rapidly,’’ Bucas says. ‘‘And a large percentage

of the business comes from Web leads—certainly more than 50 percent of

our business comes from the Web.’’

If you’re planning on implementing the ideas in this book, you will, by

definition, be doing search engine marketing. You will understand your buy-

ers and create great, indexable Web content especially for them. The best

search engine marketing comes from paying attention to and understanding

your buyers, not from manipulating or tricking them. Still, once you’ve exe-

cuted a great content strategy, adding effective landing pages and focusing on

the long tail of search terms will give you an even more powerful marketing

asset that will generate results for months and years to come.

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E1C21 11/26/2009 Page 261

21Make It Happen

Thanks for hanging in there with me and for reading this far! When I speak

to audiences and run seminars on the New Rules of Marketing and PR,

this is the point at which many people are stimulated to get out there and

make it happen. They want to start a blog right away or shoot a video for

YouTube or generate some news releases or begin buyer persona research in

preparation for writing a marketing and PR plan that will guide them to cre-

ate a content-rich web site. If that describes you, great!

But in the audiences of my seminars and speeches there is always another

group of people who tend to feel a bit overwhelmed. There is just too much

information, they say, or too many new and unfamiliar ideas. If you are in this

category, you might be thinking that the people profiled in the book were able

to figure out things that are just too complex and time-consuming for you to

tackle, especially given your already hectic schedule. Hey, we all have stuff on

our plates, and for most of us, implementing the ideas in the book will repre-

sent an addition to our workload. But here’s one of the greatest things about

the New Rules of Marketing and PR: You can implement these ideas in bits and

pieces! In fact, I don’t expect anybody to implement all the ideas here. I don’t

do that many of them myself (okay, I admitted it—don’t tell). Yes, I have a

blog, and it is very important to me. I’m on Twitter and I create some original

videos. But I don’t have a podcast, and I’m not on MySpace or LinkedIn. I just

do what I can and what works for me. And so should you.

Unlike a linear, offline marketing campaign where you must take a me-

thodical, step-by-step approach leading up to a big ‘‘release day,’’ the Web is

E1C21 11/26/2009 Page 262

. . . well, it’s a web. You can add to the Web at any time because it is itera-

tive, not linear. Think about the last print advertisement you or others in

your organization did. Everything had to be perfect, requiring thorough

proofreading, tons of approvals from your colleagues (or your spouse),

lengthy consultation with a bunch of third parties such as advertising

agencies and printers, and—above all—lots of money. Your neck was on

the line if there was a screw-up, so you obsessed over the details. Contrast

that with a Web content initiative that you can implement quickly, get

people to check out live, and make changes to on the fly. It really is much

less stressful to create an online program. If you create a Web page that

doesn’t work for you, you can just delete it. You can’t do that with a print

ad or direct-mail campaign. So I would urge you to think about how you

might selectively experiment with the ideas in these pages rather than

fret about coordinating them all and trying to get everything right on the

first go.

Many organizations I’ve worked with have found that an excellent ap-

proach is first to do some buyer persona research. By reading the publications

that your buyers read, perhaps attending a Webinar that they attend, reading

a few of the blogs in the space, and maybe interviewing a few buyers, you can

narrow down the book’s large list of techniques to determine the most appro-

priate Web-based marketing and PR initiatives for you and work on them


Others have found that the best way to get started is to add a few pages

of targeted thought leadership content for an important buyer personas to

an existing web site (perhaps with links from the homepage). What’s great

about this approach is that you don’t have to redesign your site; all you are

doing is adding some valuable content to what you already have. That’s

easy, right?

Still another first step might be to read the blogs in your market and begin

to comment on them in order to coax your blogging voice out of its shell.

Once you feel comfortable, you can take the plunge by creating your own

blog. But the good news is that you don’t need to show the world right

away—you can password protect it and share it with only a few colleagues at

first. Then, with some feedback you can tweak your approach and finally re-

move the password protection, and you’re off. The important thing is to just

get out there. Remember, on the Web, you are what you publish.

262 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

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Getting the Help You Need (and RejectingWhat You Don’t)As you develop a strategy to get started implementing the new rules of mar-

keting and PR, you may find occasions to call on others for help. Many people

tell me that they occasionally need the services of an agency to provide them

with some extra people to help execute a big project. But I constantly hear

that they have difficulty finding people skilled in using the ideas that we’ve

been discussing in this book. Still others report that well-meaning colleagues

and meddlesome bosses have an annoying tendency to look over shoulders

and second-guess them as they start a blog, get going on Twitter, or begin

filming YouTube videos. Add to that mix the fact that, in many larger organi-

zations, the legal department tends to muck things up with nitpicky rules

about what can and cannot be said. If these sound like some of the problems

that you’re encountering, fear not! Here are some things you can do to get the

help you need, while rejecting what you don’t.

The One Question to Ask a Prospective Agency

An increasingly large cadre of self-proclaimed new marketing ‘‘gurus’’ claim

to be really good at generating attention using the new rules of marketing

and PR. In addition, I’ve noticed that in the past several years, established

agencies of all kinds are adding departments devoted to social media. Tradi-

tional advertising agencies that have focused on television commercials for

decades all of a sudden claim to be experts on blogging. Public relations agen-

cies skilled in relating to the media somehow become instant experts in Face-

book and Twitter. So how do you navigate all these potential partners if you

really do need some help implementing the ideas in this book?

Many people ask me if I can recommend an agency that understands social

media or to help them evaluate agencies that claim to be good at this kind of

work. My answer to the challenge of finding good people is simple: Ask the

prospective agency to show you its social media presence. Ask about such

things as blogs, Twitter feeds, YouTube videos, e-books, web sites, Facebook

profiles, and any other stuff they have. Make it an open-ended question. This

is not to say that an agency needs to be active in every medium, but if they are

worthy of taking your money to advise you on the use of these tools, then

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they should certainly be out there using them. My theory is that if an agency

can’t blog or tweet or create interesting content for themselves with any suc-

cess, then they’re going to come up short for clients as well. The answers can

be fascinating! All of a sudden many of these self-styled experts clam up and

don’t say much. This vetting tool eliminates 95 percent of agencies who just

plain stink at understanding social media.

When Lawyers Get in the Way

At many larger organizations, the legal department is heavily involved in all

marketing and communications initiatives, frequently requiring every blog

post and press release to be vetted by a lawyer. In some extremes, corporate

legal eagles even forbid employees from starting a blog or participating on

Twitter and Facebook at work. I’ve found that the restrictions come down to

two factors: ignorance of social media and a lack of trust in employees.

Since legal people don’t usually understand social media themselves (and

don’t use them for business in their jobs), they naturally respond by just slap-

ping on controls. After all, their job is to reduce risks within a company, so it’s

temptingly simple to just say ‘‘no.’’ This is especially true in companies that

mistrust their employees. However, if a company trusts its employees and un-

derstands that social media can be a powerful way to do business, then it is

the lawyers’ job to create an environment where you can do what you know

is right.

My recommendation is to work with your managers and your organi-

zation’s legal team (and perhaps the human resources department as well)

to create guidelines that you can operate under. Your company’s guide-

lines should include advice about how to communicate in any medium,

including face-to-face conversations, presentations at events, email, social

media, online forums and chat rooms, and other forms of communica-

tion. Rather than putting restrictions on social media (that is, the tech-

nology), it’s better to focus on guiding the way people behave. The

corporate guidelines should include statements that employees can’t re-

veal company secrets, can’t use inside information to trade stock or influ-

ence prices, and must be transparent and provide their real name and

affiliation when communicating. You might take a look at how IBM, a

company on the forefront of embracing employee use of social media,

has handled this issue. IBM has developed a set of social computing

264 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

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guidelines1 for employees’ use of blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual

worlds, and social media. You may have to take the lead on creating the

guidelines at your organization, but the effort will be worth it.

Bring a Journalist onto Your Team

A remarkable convergence is upon us right now, creating a perfect opportu-

nity for you to hire someone with the skills that you need. Sadly, many main-

stream media outlets are reducing their pools of staff journalists. Newspapers,

magazines, radio, and television outlets face tough economic challenges and,

unfortunately, that means that many talented reporters and editors have been

(or will be) laid off. I’ve had a chance to speak with several dozen journalists

recently, and many are downcast about career prospects.

At the same time, people like you in many different organizations—

corporations, nonprofits, government agencies, and educational institu-

tions—finally understand the value of the ideas we’ve explored in this

book. One of the best ways to create great Web content is to actually hire

a journalist, either full-time or part-time, to create it. Journalists, both

print and broadcast, are great at understanding an audience and creating

content that buyers want to consume—it’s the bread and butter of their

skill set. I’m not talking about PR and media relations here. This isn’t

about hiring a journalist to write press releases and try to get his or her

former colleagues to write or broadcast about you. Instead, I’m talking

about having journalists create stories just as they are doing now—but for

a corporation, a government agency, a nonprofit, or an educational institu-

tion instead of a media outlet.

Editors are in demand by companies that create terrific online media

rooms, like the one over at Cisco Systems.2 What better background than

journalism could there be for the person running your online media efforts?

Is running the Cisco newsroom really that much different than running a

newspaper site? For much smaller organizations, maybe it makes sense to

hire a freelance print journalist to help you with that e-book. Again, what

better way to create valuable information than to hire someone who has done

it for years? Sure, Web marketing represents a dramatically different job


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description from, say, beat reporter. Yet times (including the New York Times)

are changing. And that gives smart marketers an amazing opportunity to hire

people with the skills we need.

Managing Your Colleagues and Bosses

If I may be so bold as to boil down into one word thousands of conversations

I’ve had over the past 10 years, as well as my five years’ worth of blogging and

the entire contents of this book, it would be this: attention. Entrepreneurs,

CEOs, and business owners want people to pay attention to their company.

Marketers, PR pros, advertisers, and salespeople are on the payroll to gener-

ate attention. Hopefully this book opened your eyes to a new approach to this

classic problem.

I’ve identified four main ways to generate attention in today’s marketing

landscape. We’ve discussed them throughout these pages, so this list is not

really new, but seeing them all collected together will give us some fresh per-

spective for dealing with people who might be skeptical or meddlesome.

1. You can buy attention with advertising such as television commercials,

magazine and newspaper ads, the Yellow Pages, billboards, trade show

floor space, direct mail lists, and the like.

2. You can get attention from the editorial gatekeepers at radio and TV sta-

tions, magazines, newspapers, and trade journals.

3. You can have a team of salespeople generate attention one person at a time

by knocking on doors, calling people on the telephone, sending per-

sonal emails, or waiting for individuals to walk into your showroom.

4. You can earn attention online by using the ideas in this book, creating

something interesting and publishing it online for free: a YouTube video,

blog, research report, series of photos, Twitter stream, e-book, Facebook

fan page, or other piece of Web content.

In order to understand the motivations of your colleagues and bosses as

they offer advice and give you unwanted criticism, I recommend that you

know and understand these four means of generating attention. And you

should understand the point of view of the person you are talking to about

attention, especially when their inevitable pushback about earning it in new

ways surfaces.

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You see, most organizations have a corporate culture centered around one

of these approaches. For examples, P&G primarily generates attention

through advertising, Apple via PR, EMC via sales, and Zappos via the new

rules of marketing & PR. Often the defining organizational culture springs

from the founder or CEO’s strong point of view. So if the CEO came up

through the sales track, all attention problems are likely to become sales

problems. Chances are that your colleagues and bosses did not come up via

the social media track, nor have they likely read this book. The point is, you’ll

have to convince your boss to invest in social media, because it’s likely he or

she doesn’t consider it the most important way of gaining attention. Most

organizations overspend on advertising and sales and underinvest in social

media, but nearly all organizations should be doing some combination of

each. If you can help your bosses and colleagues understand this trend, they’ll

probably lighten up a little.

Great for Any OrganizationThere’s no doubt that your organization will benefit from your getting out

there and creating Web content in whatever form you’re most comfortable

with. But I’m also convinced that no matter who you are or what you do,

your professional and personal life will improve, too. If you are an innovator

using the ideas in this book, it may lead to greater recognition in the office.

And if you’re like many bloggers and podcasters I know, you will derive a

therapeutic benefit as well. It’s fun to blog and tweet and it makes you feel

good to get your ideas out into the world.

If you’re like me, you will prefer to write rather than create audio or video

content. But I know plenty of people who hate to write and have created ter-

rific photo, video, and audio content to reach buyers. And it works for all

kinds of organizations: corporations, nonprofits, rock bands, and politicians.

People often say to me: ‘‘But I’m just a _____ [fill in the blank with pastor,

painter, lawyer, consultant, sales representative, auto dealer, real estate agent],

why should I blog or create a podcast?’’ My answer is that you’ll not only

reach your buyers directly with targeted content, you’ll have fun, too—Web

content is for everyone, not just big companies.

In fact, one of my all-time favorite examples of success with the New Rules

of Marketing and PR comes from an unlikely marketer: the pastor of a church

in Washington, D.C. But his isn’t a typical church, because he doesn’t actually

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have a church building. Instead he uses video technology, blogs, podcasts,

and the Web to tell stories and build a spiritual community both on- and


‘‘The church should be using technology to reach people; that’s what

Gutenberg did in the fifteenth century with the printing press,’’ says Mark

Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church (also known as, a multisite church in the Washington, D.C., metro-

politan area that conducts five services per week in three nontraditional loca-

tions. ‘‘Most churches have a church building, but we feel that a building can

be an obstacle to some people, so we do church in theaters and have built the

largest coffee house in the Washington, D.C., area.’’

What distinguishes National Community Church is Batterson’s approach

of embracing technology and Web marketing and applying it to church. The site3 includes a content-rich web site, podcasts of the

weekly services, a motivational Webcast series, video, an email newsletter,

Batterson’s extremely popular Evotional blog4 (tagline: ‘‘Spirit Fuel’’), and

Twitter feed.5 ‘‘The greatest message deserves the greatest marketing,’’ Batterson

says. ‘‘I am challenged that Madison Avenue and Hollywood are so smart

at delivering messages. But I believe that we need to be just as smart about how

we deliver our messages.’’

Attendance at National Community Church exceeds 1,000 adults in an av-

erage weekend; 70 percent of them are single people in their twenties. ‘‘I

think we attract twenty-somethings because our personality as a church lends

itself to twenty-somethings,’’ Batterson says. ‘‘Our two key values are authen-

ticity and creativity. That plays itself out in the way we do church. I think that

church should be the most creative place on the planet. The Medieval church

had stained glass to tell the gospel story to the churchgoers, who were mostly

illiterate. We use the movie studio to tell the story to people. We use video to

add color and to add flavor to what we do. If Jesus had video in his day, it

wouldn’t surprise me if he made short films.’’

Batterson’s focus on the web site, podcasts, and online video (as well as

video at the services) means that National Community Church staff members

have some unique job titles, including ‘‘media pastor,’’ ‘‘digital pastor,’’ and


268 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

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‘‘buzz coordinator.’’ ‘‘We want to use technology for really good purposes,’’

Batterson says. ‘‘Our web site and my blog are our front door to National

Community Church. The site is a virtual location in a sense. We have a lot

more people who listen to the podcast and watch the Webcast than who go to

the services, so it is a great test drive for people. They can get a sense of the

church before they arrive physically.’’

Batterson has gained online fame well beyond the Washington, D.C.,

area—his blog is followed by tens of thousands of readers all over the world,

and the podcast is one of the fastest growing church podcasts in America. He

also wrote a book that was released in October 2006, called In a Pit with a

Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars.

‘‘Blogging cuts six degrees of separation into three,’’ he says. ‘‘I write knowing

that my audience is another pastor in Australia, a housewife in Indiana, my

friends, and people in Washington, D.C. Marketing through my blog is pow-

erful. For example, last week I did a blog post about my book and asked my

blogging friends to also post about it. We went up to number 44 on the Ama-

zon best-seller list, and Amazon sold out of the book that day. They just

ordered another thousand copies.’’

Batterson’s enthusiasm for how churches can use the Web has caught the

attention of thousands of other church leaders who follow his blog. ‘‘The two

most powerful forms of marketing are word of mouth and what I call word of

mouse. A guy named John Wesley, who founded the Methodist church, trav-

eled 250,000 miles on horseback and preached something like 40,000 ser-

mons. With one click of the mouse, I preach that many sermons with my

podcast—that’s word of mouse. It is about leveraging the unique vehicles on

the Web. The message has not changed, but the medium has changed. We

need to continually find new vehicles to get the messages out.’’

Now It’s Your TurnIsn’t the power of Web content and the New Rules of Marketing and PR some-

thing? Here’s a guy who’s a church leader without a church building, and

through innovative use of a blog, a podcast, and some video, he has become a

leader in his field. He’s got a bestselling book and tens of thousands of de-

voted online followers. Whether you’re religious or not, you’ve got to be

impressed with Batterson’s business savvy and with the way the new rules

have helped him reach his buyers.

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E1C21 11/26/2009 Page 270

You can do it, too. It doesn’t matter what line of work you’re in or what

group of buyers you’re trying to reach. You can harness the power of the Web

to reach your target audience directly.

If you’re like many of my readers, my consulting clients, and the people

who attend my seminars, you have colleagues who will argue with you about

the new rules. They will say that the old rules still apply. They will tell you

that you need to spend big bucks on advertising. They will tell you that the

only way to do PR is to get the media to write about you. By now you know

that they are wrong. If I haven’t convinced you myself, surely the 50 or

so innovative people profiled in these pages must have. Go on. Be like the

people you met in this book—get out there and make it happen!

270 Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules

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Acknowledgments for theSecond Edition

F irst, a disclosure: Because I do advisory work, run seminars, and do paid

speaking gigs in the world that I write about, there are inevitable con-

flicts. I have friends in some of the organizations that I discuss in this book,

as well as on my blog and on the speaking circuit, and I have run seminars or

advised several of the companies mentioned in the book.

I would like to offer my special thanks and gratitude to Robert Scoble, co-

author of Naked Conversations, for writing the terrific Foreword to this book.

At John Wiley & Sons, my publisher Matt Holt and my editor Shannon

Vargo have steered me through the publishing business with wit and wisdom.

We’ve now done three books together and more are on the way. Also at Wiley,

thanks to Kim Dayman, Beth Zipko, Cynthia Shannon, Peter Knapp, Deborah

Schindlar, and Lori Sayde-Mehrtens for their help and support.

Kyle Matthew Oliver read every word of each draft of this book, and his

sound advice and practical suggestions made it much better.

I would also like to thank the thousands of bloggers who added to the

conversations around the New Rules of Marketing and PR by writing on their

blogs, or by leaving intelligent and useful comments on my blog.

And especially, thank you to my wife Yukari and daughter Allison for sup-

porting my work and understanding when I am under deadline or away from

home speaking in some far-flung part of the world.

E1BINDEX 12/04/2009 Page 272


Abbott, Greg, 46About pages (on blogs), 199Accenture, 163Advertising:

by automakers, 3–5at Century 21 Real Estate LLC,

26–27at, 101–102old rules of, 6print, 262product-centric, 98search engine, 250, 252–253on television, 4, 7–8, 26–29and thought leadership, 147via email, 167–168on Web sites, 108

Advertising agencies, 263–264Agilent, 251, 252Alacra, 54–55, 72AlacraBlog, 72AlacraWiki, 54–55Albrecht, Alex, 75Alexa, 95Allison-Shane, Heidi M., 223The Alternative Routes, 179,, 17–19, 24, 38, 62,

189, 200Anderson, Chris, xxvii, 17–18Apple, 267Applications, in Facebook, 178Athletes, Web sites of, 114–115Attachments, email, 245Attention, generating, 266–267Attention Interactive, 115Audacity (software), 213Audiences:

for blogging, 201–202niche, 29for online media rooms,

236–237for press releases, 11on social networking sites, 191

Audio, 79–84, 146, 233Authenticity, 180, 191, 194Automakers, advertising by, 3–5Auto Repair–Trouble Shooting,

188Away messages, 180

B2B companies, see Business-to-business companies

B2C (business-to-consumer)companies, 20

Background information, inonline media rooms, 232

Badges, 109Batterson, Mark, 268, 269Beating Gout (Victor Konshin),

32–33Beating Gout (Web site), 32–33Belisle, Lani, 102Bell, Steve, 133, 134Bell Helicopter, 113Benchmarks, 149–150, 172The Best Job in the World

(contest), 77–79B&H Photo-Video, 48–50Bias, 53Biden, Joe, 138BitDefender, 164, 165The Bivings Group, 43Blog(s), 37, 57–73

about, 59–60at Agilent, 251audiences for, 201–202and buyer personas, 30commenting on, 65–66companion, 214customer dissatisfaction on,

45–47customizing, 199–201at Harrington Family

Chiropractic, 148at McDonald’s, 71in media relations, 241–242misperceptions about, 60–63monitoring, 64–65, 72–73,

95–97at National Community

Church, 268, 269for nonprofit organizations,

26and organizational goals, 127power of, 72in PR, 9responding to, 46, 47selecting topics for, 194–195

Sharpie Blog, 203–204tags in, 59–60, 199, 202–203as thought leadership, 146uses of, 63–64wikis vs., 55

Bloggers:influence of, 174journalists vs., 60–61in online media rooms, 235,

237pitching to, 242reaching, 68–69working with, 66–68

Blogging, 193–206by employees, 69–70, 195–197in global markets, 204–205and long tail of PR, 23micro-, 180–182tips for, 197–199video, 210

Blossom, John, 242BMW, 210Bosses, pushback from, 266–267Brander, Brooke, 243Branding, 34, 112–113, 182–184Braverman, Melissa, 78Brewer, Lynn, 129Bricks-and-mortar industries, PR

for, 19–22Broadcast messages, 3–5, 240Brochures, white papers and, 143Brogan, Chris, 43Broshear, Nathan, 243, 244Brosnan, Pierce, 109Browsing, 18–19, 231–232Bucas, Gerard, 258, 259Budweiser, 6Bush, George W., 61, 130, 137Business goals, 33–34Business-to-business (B2B)

companies:buying process at, 160jargon at, 151, 154marketing and PR for, 20, 28senior executives of, 126

Business-to-consumer (B2C)companies, 20

Business Wire, 219

E1BINDEX 12/04/2009 Page 273

Buyers. See also Reaching buyers;Writing for buyers

continuing dialogue with, 170information for, 28–29in interactive communities,

171–172interrupting, 138media and learning styles of,

162–163niche, 6online media rooms for, 228questions from, 169relationships with, 155, 156segmenting, 126, 160–162solving problems for, 119–120,

132, 138, 146understanding, 124, 130vested interests of, 138–139

Buyer-centric Web content,162–166

Buyer persona profiles, 123–126,128

Buyer personas:compensation in, 149–150content for, 132–135at Financial Aid Network, 215in marketing and PR plans,

122–128, 262messages for, 130–132reaching buyers with, 29–31at RightNow Technologies,

133–134at Starbucks, 119and thought leadership,

141–142in 2008 presidential campaign,

137and viral content, 103in Web marketing, 127–128on Web sites, 29–30, 161–162

Buying cycles, 168Buzz marketing, 93. See also Viral

Web content

Cablog, 204Calls to action, 235, 257Captchas, 198Car Space (Web site), 4Century 21 Real Estate LLC,

26–27Cervélo Cycles, 15–17, 24Cessna Aircraft, 113Charts, 145–146, 233Chat rooms, 37, 38Chrysler, 3Cincom Expert Access (e-zine),

149Cincom Systems, Inc., 149Cingular Wireless online media

room, 236–237

Cisco Systems, Inc., 91, 265‘‘Cities I’ve Visited’’ (application),

178Citizen journalists, 137Ciulla, Vince, 188, 190Click-fraud, 104–106Clinton, Bill, 137Clinton, Hillary, 137, 138Clip books, 12Clips, as metrics, 121CMSs, see Content management

systemscoBRANDiT (company), 210Coca-Cola, 96Coercion, in World Wide Raves,

98Collaboration, 28, 90, 112–114Colleagues, pushback from,

266–267CollectSPACE (online forum),

51–52, 54Colleges, 29–30, 123–124, 132,

168Comments, on blogs, 60, 65–66,

198, 201, 262Commodity products, video for,


in emergency situations, 237as goal of marketing and PR,

13internal, 72on landing pages, 256–257

Companion blogs, 214Company names, in search

engine marketing, 254–255Compensation, 149–150ComScore, 173, 175‘‘The Concept of Noise,’’ 112concrete5 (company), 170The Concrete Network, 20–22,

24Conference listings, 235Contact, encouraging, 166, 169,

170, 191, 199Content:

in online media rooms, 230proprietary, 233reaching buyers with, 31–32for thought leadership,

141–142, 146–147of Web vs. print

advertisements, 262Content management systems

(CMSs), 16, 60, 170–172Content-rich Web sites, 107–116

collaboration withinbusinesses on, 112–114

in global marketplace,111–112

in marketing and PR strategies,110–111

for political advocacy, 108–110of Sasha Vujacic, 114–116and Web site design/

technology, 107–108,159–160

Contests, 77–79, 96, 210Control, 60, 96–98Convergence, of PR and

marketing, 24The Corporate Blogging Book

(Debbie Weil), 194Corporate Web sites,

coordination on, 112–114Craigslist, 38, 62Credibility, xix, 50Credit, on blogs,, 222–223Cuk, Vladimir, 115CumminsNitro, 78Customers, see BuyersCustomer dissatisfaction, 45–51Customer-generated video, 76Customer service, 216Customizing, of blogs, 199–201

‘‘Dancing baby’’ viral video, 94dbaDIRECT (company), 218Death Sentences (Don Watson),

152Defren, Todd, 224Delamarter, John, (blog search engine),

109, 199, 218, 224Dell, 192Demopoulos, Ted, 162–163‘‘Diet Coke and Mentos’’

experiment, 93, 95, 96Digg (Web site), xix, 75–76, 109,

199, 218, 224Diggnation show, 75–76Direct-to-consumer news

releases, 21, 89–91, 127‘‘Direct to Consumer Press

Releases Suck’’ (SteveRuebel), 86

Disclosure, on blogs, 196Discussion, guiding, 191–192Disney, 155–156Dissatisfaction, customer, 45–51Distribution, 213–214, 219–221Dow Jones Enterprise Media

Group, 153Dow Jones Factiva, 85The Dresden Dolls, 185DuMars, Bert, 203, 204

eBay, 38, 62, 101–102, 211E-books, 133, 143–144

Index 273

E1BINDEX 12/04/2009 Page 274

Eclectic Mix (podcast), 80–82EContent (magazine), 8, 240Editing, of podcasts, 213Editorial plans, for reaching

buyers, 31–32, 133Edmunds, 4EDN (magazine), 252Education, as goal of Web site,

16, 21Edwards, John, xviieepybird (Web site), 93, 95, 96Email ads, 167–168Email attachments, 245Email newsletters, 144, 149EMC Corporation, 267Emergency situations,

communication in, 237Employees:

blogging by, 69–70, 195–197social media for, 264–265

Encyclopedia of Business Clichés(Seth Godin), 152

Engadget, xviiErnst, Jeff, 28Estonia, Web use in, 111Ethics, blogging and, 196–197Ethics Code (Word of Mouth

Marketing Association),197

Evotional (blog),, 44Executives, in marketing and PR

plans, 126–127Experimentation, on social

networking sites, 191Expertise, 27–28

Facebook, 173, 175–179, 187in 2008 presidential election,

137nonprofit organizations on, 25personal branding with,

182–183promotion with, 41U.S. Air Force on, 244ZeroTrash Laguna on, 25

Facebook fan pages, 176Facebook groups, 176, 177Face-to-face meetings, 182, 235The Fall of Advertising and the

Rise of PR (Al Reis), 149Fannick, Glenn, 64, 65Feedback:

about Web sites, 166, 169, 170on blogs, 58, 67from podcasts, 84on writing, 156–157

FeedBlitz, 200FeedBurner, 200Feil, Stuart, 127

Fiesta Movement, 191–192Film industry, World Wide Rave

in, 99–101Financial Aid Podcast, 215, 216Financial industry, interactive

content for, 165Firefox, 167First-mover advantage, 73Flanagan, Jack, 187Flash Video, 165Flickr, 192, 244Flip video camera, 208–209Flynn, Kevin, 67, 137Fogarty, Mignon, 83, 84Forbes Insights, 127Ford Motor Company, 3,

191–192Forums, online, see Online

forumsFour Ps of marketing, 120Fragmented markets, search

engine marketing for,257–259

Fraud, on social networkingsites, 180

Frazier, John, 78–79Free Republic news forum site,

61–62Friend request process, at

Facebook, 175–176Friendships, social media and,

39–40The Fuel Team, 228, 230

GarageBand (software), 213Garage Technology Ventures,

208Garfield, Steve, 137, 210Garnsey, Sarah F., 112–114Garver, Chris, 40Gatorade, 131–132General Motors (GM), 3Get Seen (Steve Garfield), 137Gielin, Ryan, 99–101Gizmodo, 242Global marketplace:

blogging in, 204–205content-rich Web sites in,

111–112online media rooms in, 234

Globaltus, 111GlobeNewswire, 219GM (General Motors), 3Goals:

business, 33–34organizational, 120–122, 127,

147Gobbledygook, 151–154Gobbledygook Grader

(software), 153

The Gobbledygook Manifesto(David Meerman Scott),152, 156

Godin, Seth, xxvii, 7, 152,, 101–102Goldstein, Steve, 54–55, 72Google, 127

click fraud at, 105in goals of marketing plan,

34and job seeking, 44news releases in, 88–90personality of, 163rankings on, 228search engine marketing with,

250–252Google AdWords, 250, 253Google Blog Search, 64Google News, 88, 220–222Google profiles, 66, 184Google Reader, 43The Graduates (film), 99–101Grammar Girl podcast, 83, 84Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty

Tips for Better Writing(Mignon Fogarty), 84

Griffiths, Grant D., 194–195Grobe, Fritz, 93, 95, 96

Haisman, Tina, 102Harrington, Kevin, 147–148Harrington Family Chiropractic,

147–148Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex!

(Helaine Smith), 144Healy, Pete, 95, 96Heath, Dan, 149Henderson, David E., 229Hennigan, Brian, 218Hesse, Thomas, 46Hinerfeld, Daniel, 109, 110Homepages, as landing pages,

256House of Cards (Lynn Brewer),

129Howe, Peter J., 246–247Howell, Mark, 142How-to podcasts, 83How to Tell if Someone is Lying

(Martin Soorjoo), 144HubSpot, 144, 145, 153Huhman, Heather, 44Hunt, Bill, 252

IBM, 195, 210, 264–265Identity, creating a unique,

254–255Images, 145–146, 165Imperial Sugar Company (ISC),


274 Index

E1BINDEX 12/04/2009 Page 275

Implementation, of marketingand PR plans, 139, 261–270

In a Pit with a Lion on a SnowyDay (Mark Batterson), 269

Inbound Marketing University(Webinar), 144–145

Information:background, 232bloggers’ dissemination of, 62for buyers, 28–29as Web content, 32–33

Intel, 238Interactive communities,

171–172, 189Interactive content tools, for Web

sites, 165Internal communication, with

blogs, 72The Internet’s Role in Campaign

2008 (Aaron Smith),136

Interruption marketing, 7–8Interviews:

and buyer persona profiles,124, 128

in podcasts, 212, 213Investor Relations rooms, 227iPods, 80ISC (Imperial Sugar Company),

228–229ISC Newsroom, 229Islanders Blog Box, 68Israel, Shel, xxviiiTunes, 17, 24, 75, 80, 210

Jargon, 11, 151, 155, 223, 235JetBlue, 182, 192Job-seeking, with social media,

42–44Johnson, Steve, 149, 150Journalists:

background information for,232

bloggers vs., 60–61calls to action for, 235citizen, 137content for all levels of, 234face-to-face meetings with, 235hiring, 265–266in online media rooms, 227,

228pitches for, 239, 240, 244–247

Kadient, 28Kawasaki, Guy, 149, 208Kerry, John, 130Keywords and phrases:

in marketing on Web, 19in news releases, 87–90, 217,


in search engine marketingand optimization, 252, 255

KitchenArts, 211Knight-Ridder, xxvKnowledge Storm, 143Konshin, Victor, 32–33Kopytoff, Verne, 104

Lallo, Ed, 229Landing pages, 109, 162, 222,

255–259Langert, Bob, 71Language, marketing, 153–154Larsen, Sven Patrick, 209Late Night with David

Letterman, 93, 96Lawlor, Peter, 79Lawyers, 264Learning, models for, 178Learning styles, of buyers,

162–163Lee, Shawn, 40Legend, John, 76LessLoss Audio Devices,

111–112Lethal Sound (video), 109Levelator (software), 213LexisNexis, 85Liberated Syndication, 213Lifetogether (company), 142Lindgren, Petter, 45Links, 166

navigation, 200–201, 231, 232in news releases, 217, 221for podcasts, 214on social networking sites, 166on Web sites, 109

LinkedIn, 188Listservs, 31, 37, 52–55Lithuania, blogging in, 205Little Green Footballs (blog), 62Long tail:

of marketing, 17–18in music industry, 80of PR, 22–23of search engine marketing,

253–254The Long Tail (Chris Anderson),

xxvii, 17–18The Losers of Friday Night on

their Computers, 186, 187Lyon, Mark, 46, 47

McCain, John, 137, 138McDermott, Chip, 25, 26McDonald’s, 71The McDonald’s You Don’t Know

(podcast), 71Mack, Owen, 210, 211Made to Stick (Dan Heath), 149

Mainstream media, 8–13Malware City (Web site),

164–165Marantz, 213Marketing:

at, 18–19buzz, 93at Cervélo Cycles, 15–17convergence of PR and, 24and customer service, 216four Ps of, 120long tail of, 17–18new rules of, 15–19, 23–24old rules of, 3–8one-way interruption, 7–8with viral Web content, 93–94

Marketing and PR plans,119–139

buyer personas in, 122–128content-rich Web sites in,

110–111creating teams for, 263–267implementation of, 139,

261–270media in, 10messages for buyers in,

130–132at National Community

Church, 267–269news releases in, 218–219of Obama presidential

campaign, 135–139organization’s goals in,

120–122reaching buyers in, 132–135senior executives in,

126–127words and phrases of buyers

in, 128–130Marketing language, 153–154Marketing Over Coffee

(podcast), 212Marketwire, 219Maruna, Franz, 170–172Media, mainstream, 8–13Media hits, 173Media relations, 239–247

and blogs, 241–242broadcast pitches in, 240new rules of, 240–241targeting publications in,

244–247at U.S. Air Force, 242–244

MediaRoom (application), 230Media rooms, online, see Online

media roomsMedia styles, of buyers, 162–163Memogate scandal, 61–62Memorabilia collectors, online

forums for, 51–52

Index 275

E1BINDEX 12/04/2009 Page 276

Messages:articulating, 137–138away, 180for buyers, 130–132control of, 98in one-way advertising, 7

Message boards, 37Microblogging, 180–182Micromarkets, 18Microsoft, xviiiMicrotargets, 122Million Dollar Coupon Web site,

102–103Mirman, Eugene, 174–175Monitoring:

of blogs, 63–65, 72–73,95–97

of online forums, 47–51Monty, Scott, 181, 182, 192Moonah, Jay, 81, 82Moran, Mike, 252Morning Edition (radio program),

46Morris, Tee, 212Multimedia content, in online

media rooms, 233Murray, David, 43, 44Music industry:

podcasting in, 80–82social networking in, 185–187World Wide Rave in, 99–101

MyBO (Web site), 137MySpace, 110, 173, 179–180

Naked Conversations (RobertScoble and Shel Israel),xxvii

Nalgene bottles, 76‘‘NASCAR Dads,’’ 122, 124, 125National Community Church,

267–269Natural Resources Defense

Council (NRDC), 108–110Navigation links, 200–201, 231,

232Needs analyses, for online media

rooms, 230–231Negativity, 138Neighborhood America, 233Netflix, 17, 24, 167Networking, by job seekers,

42–44Newell Rubbermaid, 203New rules:

of marketing, 15–19, 23–24of media relations, 240–241of news releases, 87–88of PR, 19–24

The New Rules of SalesEnablement (Jeff Ernst), 28

News, as viral Web content,103–106

NewsEdge Corporation, xxv,xxvi, 85

News Group Net LLC, 229Newsletters, email, 144, 149News releases, 85–91, 217–225

as direct link to public, 85–87direct-to-consumer, 21, 89–91,

127distributing, 219–221in Google, 88–90keywords and phrases in, 223links in, 221new rules of, 87–88reaching buyers with, 87, 91,

224–225sales leads from, xxvstrategies for, 218–219tags for, 223–224

Newstex, 242New York Islanders, 67New York Public Library (NYPL),

161–162Neylan, Adrian, 204Niche audiences, 29Niche buyers, 6Nikon, 48, 49Nikonians (online forum), 48–50Nonprofit organizations:

content-rich Web sites for,108–110

jargon at, 154social media for, 25–26, 179

NRDC (Natural ResourcesDefense Council), 108–110

Numa Numa Dance, 94NYPL (New York Public Library),


Obama, Barack, 66, 130, 135,137–139

Obama presidential campaign,130–131, 135–139

Old rules:of advertising, 6of marketing, 3–8of PR, 3–5, 8–13

OneNote Blog, xviiiOne-way interruption marketing,

7–8Online forums, 38, 44–52, 166

automaker Web sites vs., 4–5at concrete5, 171–172customer dissatisfaction on,

45–51monitoring of, 47–51participating in, 51–52

Online media rooms, 225,227–238

audiences of, 236–237best practices for, 229–236news releases in, 220–221RSS feeds in, 238and search engine

optimization, 228–229‘‘On Message’’ (David Meerman

Scott), 233Ontario Securities Commission,

129ooVoo (company), 176, 177Open for Discussion (blog), 71Open-source marketing model,

170–172Operation New Horizons,


of news releases, 231–232of pages on social networking

sites, 190–191search engine, 228–229, 250,

252–253Organizational goals, 120–122,

127, 147Outsell Inc., 104, 105Owen, Clay, 236, 237

The Pacific WestCommunications, 40

Palmer, Amanda, 185–187, 190Paplauskas, Tomas, 112Pass-along value, of Web content,

166, 177Passion, in Web site creation, 114Password protection, for blogs,

198Patch, Ryan, 16Pbworks, 145Pearlman, Robert, 51, 52, 54Pedersen, Mike, 30–31Pelton, Jack, 113Penn, Christopher S., 215, 216Perfetti Van Melle (company), 95Perform Better Golf blog, 30–31Personal branding, 182–184Personality, 163–165, 200–201Peter, Tim, 181Peters, Andrew, 40–41Peterson, Jim, 20, 21Petosky, Eric, 243P&G (Procter & Gamble), 267Photos, 145–146, 165, 184, 233Photo sharing sites, 37Pitt, Harvey, 128Podcasting and podcasts, 79–84,

162, 211–216about, 212–214creating audio with, 79–84at McDonald’s, 71in music industry, 80–82

276 Index

E1BINDEX 12/04/2009 Page 277

at NDRC, 110and social networking sites,

82, 84at Student Loan Network,

214–216thought leadership with, 146

Podcasting for Dummies (TeeMorris and Evo Terra), 212

Podsafe music,, xviiiPolitics:

and blogs, 66–68buyer personas in, 122,

130–131marketing and PR plans for,

135–139and social networking, 179

Political advocacy, 108–110, 165Positioning, 139Posner, Henry, 49–51Posts, on blogs, 59–60Power, of blogs, 72PowerLine (blog), 62PR, see Public relationsPragmatic Marketing, 149Pratley, Chris, xviiiPreparation, for podcasts, 212Presidential election of 2004,

122, 130Presidential election of 2008,

130–131, 135–139Press releases. See also News

releasesand blogs, 69by The Concrete Network, 21and long tail of PR, 22–23overused words and phrases

in, 153style of, 11unsolicited, 8–9

Press rooms (press garages), 227.See also Online media rooms

PrimeNewswire, 219Privacy, 196PR Newswire, 219Procter & Gamble (P&G), 267Products:

as focus of marketing,153–154

introducing, 169in marketing and PR plans,

119–120in search engine marketing,

254–255in World Wide Raves, 98

Product brochures, white papersand, 143

Product-centric advertising, 98Product specs, in online media

rooms, 233

Promotion, 40–41, 147, 214Proprietary content, in online

media rooms, 233PRSA (Public Relations Society of

America), 86PRWeb, 102, 219Publications, targeting, 244–247Public relations (PR):

for bricks-and-mortarindustries, 19–22

convergence of marketing and,24

long tail of, 22–23media in, 8–11new rules of, 19–24old rules of, 3–5, 8–13and press releases, 11

Public relations (PR) firms,263–264

Public Relations Society ofAmerica (PRSA), 86

Publishers, thinking like, 28,31–32, 91

Purple Cow (Seth Godin), 188Pushback, dealing with, 266–267

Questions, from buyers, 169Quick and Dirty tips podcast

network, 83Quigley, Stephan, 177Quinn & Co., 78

Radio, podcasts and, 79Rako, Paul, 252Rambeau, Dee, 228Rather, Dan, 61, 62Rathergate scandal, 61–62Reaching buyers, 25–34

as business goal, 33–34and buyer personas, 29–31at Century 21 Real Estate LLC,

26–27content for, 31–32, 132–135editorial strategies for,

31–32and expertise, 27–28information for, 28–29with news releases, 85–87, 91,

224–225in PR, 10–11and thought leadership, 34with Web sites, 110–111with your organization’s story,

32–33at ZeroTrash Laguna, 25–26

Reader comments, on blogs, 60,65–66, 198, 201, 262

Readership, of blogs, 63–64Reality Check (Guy Kawasaki),


Really Simple Syndication feeds,see RSS feeds

Recording, of podcasts, 213Reed Elsevier (company), 54Registration, 147Reis, Al, 149Research, using Web for, 159Research and survey reports,

145Return on investment (ROI),

for blogging, 58Reuters, 192Revella, Adele, 125, 126Ricciani, Rich, 102–103Richard, Chuck, 104, 105RightNow Technologies,

133–135The Rise of the Digital C-Suite

(Forbes Insights andGoogle), 127

Robertson, Philip, 176, 177Rose, Kevin, 75Rotten Tomatoes, 189RSS (Really Simple Syndication)

feeds:for blogs, 199for news releases, 224in online media rooms, 238for podcasts, 79and Web content, 166–168for Web sites, 114and wikis, 54

Ruebel, Steve, 86Russinovich, Mark, 45, 46

Sales, closing, 169–170Sales cycle, Web content and,

168–170Sales leads, from news releases,

xxvSarbanes-Oxley legislation,

128–129Scala, Inc., 257–259Schmidt, Dave, 152, 156–157Schwartz, Jonathan, xviiiSchwartz, Larry, 241, 242Scoble, Robert, xxviiScott, Alan, 48Scott, Yukari Watanabe, 204Search engines:

and blogs, 58, 64, 201click-fraud at, 104–106and links, 221news releases in, 222–223Twitter, 181in Web marketing, 129,

130Wikipedia entries in, 53

Search engine advertising, 250,252–253

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E1BINDEX 12/04/2009 Page 278

Search engine marketing,249–259

at Cervélo Cycles, 16–17defined, 250for fragmented markets,

257–259on Google, 250–252landing pages in, 255–257long tail in, 253–254product and company names

in, 254–255and search engine

optimization, 252–253Search Engine Marketing, Inc.

(Mike Moran and BillHunt), 252

Search engine optimization(SEO), 228–229, 250,252–253

Search Engine Watch (Web site),252

Searching, of news releases,231–232

SecondLife, 188–189, 192‘‘Security Moms,’’ 122, 124, 125,

130Senior executives, in marketing

and PR plans, 126–127SEO, see Search engine

optimizationSethi, Ramit, 145The Shadowbox,, 128–130Sharpie Blog, 203–204Shatner, William, 101, 102Shopping sites, social networking

on, 189Shore Communications, Inc.,

242Sign-up forms, 257Simonis, Linas, 205Singapore Tattoo Show,

40–4160 Minutes, 243Skype, 213Small is the New Big (Seth

Godin), xxviiSmirnoff ‘‘teaparty video,’’ 209Smith, Aaron, 135–136Smith, Bradley H., 129,

130Smith, Colin, 89, 90Smyth, George L., 80–83Social bookmarking sites, 37Social media, 37–55

at Century 21 Real Estate LLC,27

as cocktail party, 38–40,189–190

defined, 38

at Harrington FamilyChiropractic, 148

job-seeking with, 42–44for nonprofit organizations,

25–26online forums, 44–52roots for World Wide Raves in,

99and Singapore Tattoo Show,

40–41in 2008 presidential campaign,

136, 137types of, 37wikis and listservs, 52–55

Social networking sites, 37,173–192

Facebook, 175–179guiding discussion on,

191–192Eugene Mirman on, 174–175MySpace, 179–180optimizing pages on, 190–191Amanda Palmer on, 185–187and personal branding,

182–184and podcasts, 82, 84selecting, 187–190social media vs., 38Twitter, 180–182in 2008 presidential campaign,


for blogging, 197–200for podcasting, 213

Solomon, Lisa, 53Solosez discussion list, 53Sony BMG, 45–47‘‘Sony Rootkits and Digital Rights

Management (DRM) GoneToo Far’’ (MarkRussinovich), 45

South-by-Southwest InteractiveFestival, 174

Souza, Victor, 164, 165Spam, 198, 199, 239, 240Squidoo, 109, 188Starbucks, 119–120‘‘State of the Blogosphere’’

(Technorati), 195Stelzner, Michael A., 143Stock photos, 165Stormhoek, xviiStudioRack (software), 213Success, measures of, 120–121Survey-based thought leadership,


Tags, 109in blogs, 59–60, 199, 202–203in news releases, 87, 223–224

in podcasts, 213on social networking sites, 191

Tattoo Artistry Facebook, 41Teams, for marketing and PR

plans, 263–267Technology, on Web sites,

107–108, 159–160Technology companies:

jargon at, 151, 154search engine marketing by,

250–252Web site personality for,

164–165Technorati (blog search engine),

64, 195, 199, 200, 202, 204,218, 223–224

TechTarget, 143Television, advertising on, 4, 7–8,

26–29Terra, Evo, 212Testimonials, 257Text 1000 (company), 68–69Text mining, 64Textron, Inc., 112–114‘‘The Art of the Sale’’ video,, 268–269TheEdge (newsletter), xxvThird-party ink, 5, 9–10This Paperclip Is a Solution

(Dave Schmidt), 152Thomas Reuters (company), 54Thomson Corporation, xxviThorne, Bev, 27Thought leadership, xxv,

141–150content for, 141–142, 146–147external sources of, 148–149forms of, 142–146at Harrington Family

Chiropractic, 147–148in marketing and PR plans,

262and reaching buyers, 34on social networking sites, 191survey-based, 149–150

Titles, of Web content, 147The Today Show, 93, 96, 182Topics, for blogs, 194–195Tourism Queensland, 77–79Trackbacks, 198–199Trade publications, 6Tradeshow listings, in online

media rooms, 235Traffic, Web site, 34, 121Transparency, 180, 191, 196Travel industry, 222–223, 253Trends, in blogs, 64, 65Triggers, of World Wide Raves,

99TripAdvisor, 178

278 Index

E1BINDEX 12/04/2009 Page 279

Truthfulness, 196TweetUps, 182Twitter, 173, 180–182

Fiesta Movement on, 192job seeking with, 43–44for nonprofit organizations, 26Amanda Palmer on, 185–187personal branding with, 183–

184in 2008 presidential election,

138Twitter Search, 43, 181TypePad, 197, 200, 204

Uncle Seth, 81, 82Uniform Resource Locators, see

URLsUnited States Air Force, 195,

242–244University of Pennsylvania, 76URLs (Uniform Resource

Locators), 65–66, 197

Video, 207–211, 233for commodity products,

77–79cost of, xviiicustomer-generated, 76at Digg, 75–76with Flip video camera,

208–209getting started with, 209–211at KitchenArts, 211thought leadership with, 146at University of Pennsylvania,

76Web marketing with, 207–208

Video blogging (vlogging), 210Video sharing sites, 37Vimeo, 209VIP Realtors, 102Viral Web content, 93–106, 166

creating, 101at, 101–102good news as, 103–106marketing with, 93–94at Million Dollar Coupon Web

site, 102–103monitoring blogs for, 95–97and World Wide Raves,

97–101Vlogging, 210Vodcasting, 210Volkswagen, 179, 190Volpe, Mike, 144–145

Voltz, Stephen, 93, 95, 96Volvo, 131Vroomen, Gerard, 15–17Vujacic, Sasha, 114–116

Wall, John J., 212, 214Warner Communications, 104Warwick, Colin, 250–252Watson, Don, 152Web-as-a-city approach, to social

media, 38–39Web content, 159–172

for bricks-and-mortar stores,20–21

buyer-centric, 162–166for buyer personas, 29–30at Cervélo Cycles, 15–117information as, 32–33long tail for, 18in open-sources marketing

model, 170–172originality of, 22reaching buyers with, 31–32and RSS feeds, 166–168and sales cycle, 168–170segmenting buyers with,

160–162and thought leadership, 34

Weber Grills, 210Weber Nation (video channel),

210WebEx, 88–91Webinars, 129, 144–145, 169Weblogs, see Blog(s)Web marketing:

buyer personas in, 127–128at Cervélo Cycles, 17integrating, 107landing pages in, 256one-way interruption vs., 7with video, 207–208

Webmasters, 107–108Web sites. See also Content-rich

Web sitesof automakers, 3–5buyer personas on, 29–30,

161–162coordination on corporate,

112–114design and technology of,

107–108, 159–160education as goal of, 16, 21personality of, 163–165

Web site traffic, 34, 121Weil, Debbie, 194

Wesley, John, 269What No One Ever Tells you

About Blogging andPodcasting(Ted Demopoulos), 162

Whistleblower Hotline, 128,129

White papers, 132–133, 143Widgets, 109Wikis, 37, 52–55, 145, 166Wikipedia, xix, 53–54The Will to Whatevs (Eugene

Mirman), 174Wilson, Steve, 71Woods, Tiger, 163Woolf, Jeremy, 69Woot (company), 182‘‘Word of mouse’’ marketing, 93.

See also Viral Web contentWord of Mouth Marketing

Association, 197Word-of-mouth network, online,

xviiWordPress, 197Words and phrases. See also

Keywords and phrasesof buyers, 124, 151in marketing and PR plans,

128–130overused, 152–153

World Wide Raves, 97–101Writing for buyers, 124,

151–157at Disney, 155–156dysfunctional, 153–155feedback on, 156–157on landing pages, 256overused words and phrases

in, 152–153Writing White Papers (Michael A.

Stelzner), 143

XPC Content Protection, 46–47

Yahoo! Search Marketing, 250,253

Yelp, 189YouTube, xviii, 27, 75, 76, 174,

192, 208, 209

Zabriskie, David, 15Zagat, 189Zappos, 267Zemoga (company), 209ZeroTrash Laguna, 25–26

Index 279

E1BABOUT02 11/26/2009 Page 280

About the Author

David Meerman Scott is a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, and seminar

leader. The programs he has developed have won numerous awards and are

responsible for selling over $1 billion in products and services worldwide.

For most of his career, Scott worked in the online news business. He was

vice president of marketing at NewsEdge Corporation and held executive po-

sitions in an electronic information division of Knight-Ridder, at the time one

of the world’s largest newspaper companies. He’s also held senior manage-

ment positions at an e-commerce company, been a clerk on a Wall Street

bond-trading desk, worked in sales at an economic consultancy, and acted in

Japanese television commercials.

Today he spends his time evangelizing the new rules of marketing and PR

by delivering keynote speeches to groups all over the world and teaching full-

day workshops for companies, nonprofits, and government clients. His key-

notes and seminars enlighten and inspire audiences through a combination

of education, entertainment, and motivation. He has presented at hundreds

of conferences and events in more than 20 countries on four continents.

A graduate of Kenyon College, Scott has lived in New York, Tokyo, Boston,

and Hong Kong.

Check out his blog at or follow him on Twitter


E1BOTH01 12/02/2009 Page 281

PreviewWorld Wide Rave

Creating Triggers That Get Millionsof People to Spread Your Ideasand Share Your Stories

AWorld Wide Rave!

What the heck is that?

A World Wide Rave is when people around

the world are talking about you, your company,

and your products. It’s when communities ea-

gerly link to your stuff on the Web. It’s when

online buzz drives buyers to your virtual door-

step. It’s when tons of fans visit your Web site

and your blog because they genuinely want to

be there.

Rules of the Rave:

� Nobody cares about your products (except you).

� No coercion required.

� Lose control.

� Put down roots.

� Point the world to your (virtual) doorstep.

You can trigger a World Wide Rave: Just create something valuable that

people want to share and make it easy for them to do so.

What happens when people can’t stop talking online about you, your com-

pany, and your products? A World Wide Rave is born that can propel a brand

E1BOTH01 12/02/2009 Page 282

or company to seemingly instant fame and fortune. How do you create one?

By learning the secret to getting links, YouTube, Facebook, and blog buzz to

drive eager buyers to your virtual doorstep. For free.

In World Wide Rave, David Meerman Scott, author of the award-winning

hit book The New Rules of Marketing and PR, reveals the most exciting and

powerful ways to build a giant audience from scratch.

The following is an excerpt from World Wide Rave by David Meerman

Scott, from John Wiley & Sons.

Imagine you’re the head of marketing at a theme park, and you’re charged

with announcing a major new attraction. What would you do? Well, the old

rules of marketing suggest that you pull out your wallet. You’d probably

spend millions to buy your way into people’s minds, interrupting them with

TV spots, billboards by the side of the highway, and other creative Madison

Avenue advertising techniques. You’d also hire a big PR agency, who would

beg the media to write about your attraction. The traditional PR approach

requires a self-congratulatory press release replete with company muckety-

mucks claiming that the new attraction will bring about world peace by

bringing families closer together.

That’s not what Cindy Gordon, vice president of New Media and Market-

ing Partnerships at Universal Orlando Resort, did when she launched The

Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Other large entertainment companies

would have spent millions of dollars to interrupt everyone in the country

with old-rules approaches: Super Bowl TV ads, blimps, direct mail, and maga-

zine ads. Instead, Gordon told just seven people about the new attraction.

And those seven people told tens of thousands.

Then mainstream media listened to those tens of thousands and wrote

about the news in their newspaper and magazine articles, in TV and radio

reports, and in blog posts. Gordon estimates that 350 million people around

the world heard the news that Universal Orlando Resort was creating The

Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park.

All by telling just seven people.

When 7 = 350,000,000Recognizing that millions of fans around the world are passionate about all

things Harry Potter, Gordon knew she could rely on a world wide rave to

282 Preview: World Wide Rave

E1BOTH01 12/02/2009 Page 283

spread her story. After all, Harry is a global phenomenon. The series of books

by author J.K. Rowling has been translated into 65 languages and has sold

more than 325 million copies in more than 200 territories around the world.

The films, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, have grossed $3.5 billion

world wide at the box office.

Gordon and her counterpart at Warner Bros. chose to launch The Wizard-

ing World of Harry Potter by first telling the exciting news to a very small

group of rabid fans. Seven people at the top Harry Potter fan sites, such as

Mugglenet,1 were hand-selected by Gordon’s team, with Warner Bros. and

Rowling herself providing input about the choices. These seven (affection-

ately referred to by Gordon’s team as ‘‘the AP of the HP world’’) were invited

to participate in a top-secret webcast held at midnight on May 31, 2007.

The webcast was hosted by Scott Trowbridge, vice president of Universal

Creative, and featured Stuart Craig, the academy award-winning produc-

tion designer for all the Harry Potter films. In the webcast, live from the

‘‘Dumbledore’s Office’’ set at Leavesden Studios, Craig discussed how his team

of 20 designers is bringing together The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

theme park.

‘‘If we hadn’t gone to fans first, there could have been a backlash,’’ Gordon

says. She imagined the disappointment dedicated Harry Potter fans might feel

if they learned about Universal Orlando’s plans in, say, the New York Times

rather than an insider fan site.

Soon after the webcast, the team sent an e-announcement to their in-

house, opt-in email list of park guests so they could hear the news directly

too. Team members also sent the e-announcement to friends and family. Dur-

ing the secret webcast, a Web micro-site2 went live to provide a place for

bloggers and the media to link to for information on the theme park, which

is slated to open in late 2009 or early 2010. Visitors to the site learned that the

park will feature immersive rides and interactive attractions, as well as expe-

riential shops and restaurants that will enable guests to sample fare from the

wizarding world’s best known establishments.

Because Gordon’s team launched The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

through social media—putting fans first—they were able to run the entire

promotion in-house, with a very small marketing budget (covering the


Preview: World Wide Rave 283

E1BOTH01 12/02/2009 Page 284

webcast infrastructure and the micro-site production) and a tiny develop-

ment team. They did not hire an agency, and they did no widespread out-

bound media relations, no marketing stunts, no CEO conference call, and no

expensive advertising.

Of course, not all companies have Harry Potter on their team. But Gordon

still accomplished a remarkable feat with an approach that most large organi-

zations would not have taken. She told just seven people, and the power of

the world wide rave she created led to 350 million people hearing the news.

Marketing Advice from Cindy Gordon, VicePresident of New Media and MarketingPartnerships, Universal Orlando Resort‘‘Nimble companies are using the Web in ways that they could never do be-

fore. New media has created a new marketing environment where the old

rules of marketing no longer apply. When you have a passionate fan base for

your brand, the Internet is especially vital for going viral. Communicating to

a small but powerful group of fans first online to enlist their support is a

smart way to ensure positive coverage in the mainstream press. The power

of the Internet makes it easier for people to fall in love with you faster. But

beware—it also makes it easier for them to fall out of love with you faster.

It’s a double-edged sword. Listen constantly to what’s being said about you.

Social media technologies do not make a brand viral; they merely allow con-

sumers to tell others about good brands. The main thing is to be different and

relevant with your brand. And when you have that, the sheer power of the

Internet can accelerate your brand. Traditional media takes weeks to build

brand awareness and months to build preference. The Internet can make

your brand famous literally overnight.’’

A Formula for SuccessOne of the coolest things about the Web is that when an idea takes off, it

can propel a brand or company to seemingly instant fame and fortune. For

free. Whatever you call it—viral, buzz, word-of-mouse, or word-of-blog—

having other people tell your story, creating a world wide rave drives

action. One person sends it to another, then that person sends it to yet

another, and on and on.

284 Preview: World Wide Rave

E1BOTH01 12/02/2009 Page 285

The challenge for marketers is to harness the amazing power of the world

wide rave. I hope this book helps you learn about other people’s success so

you can apply some of their ideas and lessons in your own efforts.

As you will learn, the formula for success includes a combination of some

great—and free—Web content (a video, blog entry, interactive tool, or e-

book) that provides valuable information (or is groundbreaking or amazing

or hilarious or involves a celebrity), plus a network of people to light the fire

and links that make your content very easy to share.

The World Wide Rave Empowers YouYou and I are incredibly lucky.

For decades, the only way to spread our ideas was to buy expensive adver-

tising or beg the media to write (or broadcast) about our products and ser-

vices. But now our organizations have a tremendous opportunity to publish

great content online—content that people want to know about and that they

are eager to share with their friends, family, and colleagues.

The World Wide Rave is the single most empowering tool available to mar-

keters today. I wrote this book so you can take advantage of the power of

spreading ideas too. In it, I share ideas that will help you create your own

idea spreading strategies and campaigns. These are the ‘‘new rules’’ I’ve used

to create marketing programs that have sold more than a billion dollars’

worth of products and services world wide.

I hope the following don’t sound too self-promotional, but I am absolutely

blown away by how well the world wide rave works, and I just want to share a

few comments about how it’s helped me:

� If you had Googled my full name, David Meerman Scott, a few years ago,

you would have gotten zero hits. Now there are nearly 100,000 refer-

ences, all talking about me and my ideas—and all the result of people

sharing my ideas online.

� My first e-book, The New Rules of PR: How to Create a Press Release Strat-

egy for Reaching Buyers Directly,3 has been downloaded more than

250,000 times since it was released in early 2006, and it has led directly


Preview: World Wide Rave 285

E1BOTH01 12/02/2009 Page 286

to hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking engagements in the past

couple of years.

� I spent almost no money promoting The New Rules of Marketing and PR

when it came out in hardcover. Because of a world wide rave from more

than 500 bloggers all over the planet who wrote about the book on their

blogs, it sold nearly 30,000 copies in six months, making it the number

one bestselling PR and Web marketing book in the world. As of this

writing, the book is being translated into 19 languages.

� The power of a world wide rave—people sharing my ideas—led directly

to members of the mainstream media finding me without me pitching

them. I’ve had a front page quote in the Wall Street Journal, appeared on

MSNBC and Fox, and had my ideas written about in magazines such as

BusinessWeek, Entrepreneur, and Publishers Weekly, as well as many

newspapers, radio shows, podcasts, and Webinars. And the reporters and

editors found me!

Imagine how much I would have had to pay to get an equivalent number of

people to pay attention via advertising and other old-rules approaches! Mil-

lions of dollars, perhaps.

That’s the power of the world wide rave, and that’s what I am excited to

share with you in this book.

Success comes from self-publishing Web content that people want to share. It’s

not about gimmicks. It’s not about paying an agency to interrupt others. It’s about

harnessing the world wide rave, the most empowering form of marketing there is.

Cindy Gordon of Universal Orlando Resort launched The Wizarding

World of Harry Potter by publishing a micro-site and a webcast.

That’s it. Using an idea spreading strategy, Gordon reached 350,000,000

people with two pieces of internally created Web content.

You can achieve similar success, and I’ll show you how.

The rest of World Wide Rave contains more fascinating examples of success

in which I’ll introduce you to smart marketers and let them tell you, in their

own words, what they did to succeed. And throughout, I’ll provide specific

advice on how you can launch your own YouTube videos, e-books, and other

techniques that unleash the amazing power of the world wide rave to spread

your ideas for free!

286 Preview: World Wide Rave

E1BOTH02 12/02/2009 Page 287

PreviewThe New Rules ofSocial Media book seriesDavid Meerman Scott is editing a series of social media books for John Wiley

& Sons.

The New Rules of Social Media series features books that expand on the

ideas of Scott’s bestseller, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, providing valu-

able insights and detail on the different aspects of social media marketing.

Each book in David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Social Media series

is written by social media experts addressing a topic within their realm of

expertise. While some titles, like Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google,

Social Media, and Blogs, cover broad topics, others are more specific, for

example, Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business.

No matter what the business need relating to social media, The New Rules

of Social Media Series offers an unprecedented resource.

Inbound Marketing: Get Found UsingGoogle, Social Media, and BlogsBrian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah

Stop pushing your message out and start pulling

your customers in.

Traditional ‘‘outbound marketing’’ methods like

cold-calling, email blasts, advertising, and direct

mail are increasingly less effective. People are get-

ting better at blocking these interruptions out

using Caller ID, spam protection, TiVo, and so on.

People are now increasingly turning to Google, so-

cial media, and blogs to find products and services.

Inbound Marketing helps you take advantage of this

change by showing you how to get found by cus-

tomers online.

E1BOTH02 12/02/2009 Page 288

Inbound Marketing is a how-to guide to getting found via Google, the

blogosphere, and social media sites.

� Improve your rankings in Google to get more traffic.

� Build and promote a blog for your business.

� Grow and nurture a community in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and so


� Measure what matters and do more of what works online.

The rules of marketing have changed, and your business can benefit from

this change. Inbound Marketing shows you how to get found by more pros-

pects already looking for what you have to sell.

Get Seen: Online Video Secrets toBuilding Your BusinessSteve Garfield

The era of online video has arrived—make it

work for your business.

In 2008, the world of online video exploded.

Hollywood got into the game, professional actors

and writers joined in, and independent produc-

ers looked to find their niche. Now, companies

are wide awake to the opportunities for product

and brand promotion as well as customer

engagement. So how do you want to fit into the

new online video universe?

The must-have guide, Get Seen by Steve

Garfield, the ‘‘Paul Revere of video blogging,’’

offers a quick and complete toolkit to get you up

to speed on the latest that online video and related media have to offer:

� Examines success stories of companies using online video

� Presents a series of plans and tools businesses can follow as they expand

onto the social web

288 Preview: The New Rules of Social Media Book Series

E1BOTH02 12/02/2009 Page 289

� Provides clear direction on how to record, edit, and export videos,

where to post them, how to build a community around their content,

and how to increase views by going viral

If you’re ready to take full advantage of online video’s many benefits, Get

Seen is the one resource you need.

Social Media Metrics: How to Measure andOptimize Your Marketing InvestmentJim Sterne

Whether you are selling online, through a direct

sales force, or via distribution channels, what

customers are saying about you online is now

more important than your advertising. Social

media is no longer a curiosity on the horizon

but a significant part of your marketing mix.

A shift in philosophy, a modification in strat-

egy, and brand new metrics are the keys to mar-

keting success in this interconnected world.

While other books explain why social media is

critical and how to go about participating, this

book focuses on measuring the success of your

social media marketing efforts.

Success metrics in business are based on business goals where fame does

not always equate to fortune. Having more Twitter followers or Facebook

friends than the competition might not result in value. Read this book to de-

termine which social media efforts are working for you, where to allocate

more social media resources, and how to convince those who are afraid of

‘‘new things’’ that social media is a valuable business tool and not just a toy

for the overly-wired.

Knowing what works and what doesn’t is terrific, but only in a constant

and unchanging world. Social Media Metrics is loaded with specific examples

of specific metrics you can use to guide your social media marketing efforts as

new means of communication.

Preview: The New Rules of Social Media Book Series 289

E1BABOUT01 12/04/2009 Page 290

Have David Meerman ScottSpeak at Your Next Event!

David Meerman Scott is available for keynote presentations and full-day

seminars. He is a frequent speaker at trade shows, conferences, and

company events around the world.

Scott knows that sitting through a boring or off-topic speech is utterly

painful. So he keeps things a bit edgy and uses stories and humor to make

his points. But whenever he is in front of a group, be it six or six hundred,

he provides valuable and actionable information about the new rules

of marketing and PR, online thought leadership, and reaching buyers

directly with Web content.

Satisfied audiences include: Cisco, HP, Microsoft, Ford Motor Com-

pany, Jackson Healthcare, Century 21, The New York Islanders, NASDAQ

Stock Market, the Government of Ontario, McKesson, U.S. Air Force,

U.S. Department of Defense, SAP, Digital River, Hill & Knowlton, Hanley

Wood, Dow Jones, Business Marketing Association, National Investor

Relations Institute, Milken Institute Global Conference, America Credit

Union Conference, Self Storage Association, TS2, Giant Screen Theater

Association, Realtors1 Conference, and many, many more . . .

All of Scott’s presentations are a combination of three things: educa-

tion, entertainment, and motivation.

Visit for more information.





—From the Foreword by R O B E R T S C O B L Ec o a u t h o r o f N a k e d C o n v e r s a t i o n s , S c o b l e i z e r . c o m


“You’re not supposed to be able to do what David Meerman Scott is about to tell you in this book.”


Revised & Updated

Second Edition





SecondEdition$19.95 USA/$23.95 CAN

Market to win with this new edition of the bestseller!The fi rst edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR presented readers with a unique playbook to navigate marketing in the Internet Age. Now, in this fully revised and updated edition, author David Meerman Scott gives you all the hottest insider tips on the very latest winning tools and techniques so you can confi dently market any product, service, or idea. With The New Rules of Marketing & PR, Second Edition, you’ll soon be publishing powerful and effective information on the Web, reaching your buyers directly, and saving big on your budget.

Praise for The New Rules of Marketing & PR“This excellent look at the basics of new-millennial marketing should fi nd use in the hands of any serious PR professional making the transition.”

—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[Scott] goes far beyond technology and explores the ramifi cations of the Web as it pertains to people. He sets down a body of rules that shows you how to negotiate those ramifi cations with maximum effectiveness. And he does it with real-life histories and an engaging style.”

—Jay Conrad Levinson, “The Father of Guerrilla Marketing” and author of the Guerrilla Marketing series of books

“The New Rules of Marketing & PR teaches readers how to launch a thought lead-ership campaign by using the far-reaching, long-lasting tools of social media. It is an invaluable guide for anyone who wants to make a name for themselves, their ideas, and their organization.”—Mark Levy, coauthor of How to Persuade People Who Don’t Want to Be Persuaded

and founder of Levy Innovation, a marketing strategy company

“I’ve relied on The New Rules of Marketing & PR as a core text for my New Media and Public Relations course at Boston University for the past six semesters. David’s book is a bold, crystal clear, and practical guide toward a new (and better) future for the profession.”

—Stephen Quigley, Boston University

DAVID MEERMAN SCOTT is an award-winning marketing strategist, conference speaker, and seminar leader. He is the author of World Wide Rave and the editor of The New Rules of Social Media series, also from Wiley.


Cover Design: Barsoon Design

  • The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, & Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, Second Edition
    • Contents
    • Foreword
    • Welcome to the Second Edition of the New Rules
    • Introduction
      • The New Rules
      • Trying to Write Like a Blog, But in a Book
      • Showcasing Innovative Marketers
    • Part I: How the Web Has Changed the Rules of Marketing and PR
      • Chapter 1: The Old Rules of Marketing and PR Are Ineffective in an Online World
        • Advertising: A Money Pit of Wasted Resources
        • One-Way Interruption Marketing Is Yesterday’s Message
        • The Old Rules of Marketing
        • Public Relations Used to Be Exclusively about the Media
        • Public Relations and Third-Party Ink
        • Yes, the Media Are Still Important
        • Press Releases and the Journalistic Black Hole
        • The Old Rules of PR
        • Learn to Ignore the Old Rules
      • Chapter 2: The New Rules of Marketing and PR
        • The Long Tail of Marketing
        • Tell Me Something I Don’t Know, Please
        • Bricks-and-Mortar News
        • Advice from the Company President
        • The Long Tail of PR
        • The New Rules of Marketing and PR
        • The Convergence of Marketing and PR on the Web
      • Chapter 3: Reaching Your Buyers Directly
        • The Right Marketing in a Wired World
        • Let the World Know about Your Expertise
        • Develop Information Your Buyers Want to Consume
        • Buyer Personas: The Basics
        • Think Like a Publisher
        • Tell Your Organization’s Story Directly
        • Know the Goals and Let Content Drive Action
        • Content and Thought Leadership
    • Part II: Web-Based Communications to Reach Buyers Directly
      • Chapter 4: Social Media and Your Targeted Audience
        • What Is Social Media, Anyway?
        • Social Media Is a Cocktail Party
        • Facebook Group Drives 15,000 People to Singapore Tattoo Show
        • The New Rules of Job Search
        • How David Murray Found a New Job via Twitter
        • Insignificant Backwaters or Valuable Places to Connect?
        • Your Best Customers Participate in Online Forums—So Should You
        • Your Space in the Forums
        • Wikis, Listservs, and Your Audience
        • Creating Your Own Wiki
      • Chapter 5: Blogs: Tapping Millions of Evangelists to Tell Your Story
        • Blogs, Blogging, and Bloggers
        • Understanding Blogs in the World of the Web
        • The Four Uses of Blogs for Marketing and PR
        • Monitor Blogs—Your Organization’s Reputation Depends on It
        • Comment on Blogs to Get Your Viewpoint Out There
        • Work with the Bloggers Who Talk about You
        • How to Reach Bloggers Around the World
        • Do You Allow Employees to Send Email? How about Letting Them Blog?
        • Breaking Boundaries: Blogging at McDonald’s
        • The Power of Blogs
        • Get Started Today
      • Chapter 6: Audio and Video Drive Action
        • Digging Digg Video
        • What University Should I Attend?
        • The Best Job in the World
        • Audio Content Delivery through Podcasting
        • Putting Marketing Back in Musicians’ Control
        • Podcasting: More than Just Music
        • Grammar Girl Podcast
      • Chapter 7: The New Rules of News Releases
        • News Releases in a Web World
        • The New Rules of News Releases
        • If They Find You, They Will Come
        • Driving Buyers into the Sales Process
        • Reach Your Buyers Directly
      • Chapter 8: Going Viral: The Web Helps Audiences Catch the Fever
        • Minty-Fresh Explosive Marketing
        • Monitoring the Blogosphere for Viral Eruptions
        • Creating a World Wide Rave
        • Rules of the Rave
        • Film Producer Creates a World Wide Rave by Making Soundtrack Free for Download
        • Viral Buzz for Fun and Profit
        • The Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Jerry Garcia’s Toilet
        • Clip This Coupon for $1 Million Off Ft. Myers, FL Home
        • When You Have Explosive News, Make It Go Viral
      • Chapter 9: The Content-Rich Web Site
        • Political Advocacy on the Web
        • Content: The Focus of Successful Web Sites
        • Reaching a Global Marketplace
        • Putting It All Together with Content
        • Great Web Sites: More Art than Science
    • Part III: Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules
      • Chapter 10: You Are What You Publish: Building Your Marketing and PR Plan
        • What Are Your Organization’s Goals?
        • Buyer Personas and Your Organization
        • The Buyer Persona Profile
        • Reaching Senior Executives
        • The Importance of Buyer Personas in Web Marketing
        • In Your Buyers’ Own Words
        • What Do You Want Your Buyers to Believe?
        • Developing Content to Reach Buyers
        • Obama for America
        • Stick to Your Plan
      • Chapter 11: Online Thought Leadership to Brand Your Organization as a Trusted Resource
        • Developing Thought Leadership Content
        • Forms of Thought Leadership Content
        • How to Create Thoughtful Content
        • Write What You Know
        • Leveraging Thought Leaders Outside of Your Organization
        • How Much Money Does Your Buyer Make?
      • Chapter 12: How to Write for Your Buyers
        • An Analysis of Gobbledygook
        • Poor Writing: How Did We Get Here?
        • Effective Writing for Marketing and PR
        • The Power of Writing Feedback (from Your Blog)
      • Chapter 13: How Web Content Influences the Buying Process
        • Segmenting Your Buyers
        • Elements of a Buyer-Centric Web Site
        • Using RSS to Deliver Your Web Content to Targeted Niches
        • Link Content Directly into the Sales Cycle
        • A Friendly Nudge
        • Close the Sale and Continue the Conversation
        • An Open-Source Marketing Model
      • Chapter 14: Social Networking Sites and Marketing
        • Television’s Eugene Mirman Is Very Nice and Likes Seafood
        • Facebook: Not Just for Students
        • Check Me Out on MySpace
        • Tweet Your Thoughts to the World
        • Social Networking and Personal Branding
        • Connecting with Fans
        • How Amanda Palmer Made $11,000 on Twitter in Two Hours
        • Which Social Networking Site Is Right for You?
        • You Can’t Go to Every Party, So Why Even Try?
        • Optimizing Social Networking Pages
        • Start a Movement
      • Chapter 15: Blogging to Reach Your Buyers
        • What Should You Blog About?
        • Blogging Ethics and Employee Blogging Guidelines
        • Blogging Basics: What You Need to Know to Get Started
        • Pimp Out Your Blog
        • Building an Audience for Your New Blog
        • Tag, and Your Buyer Is It
        • Fun with Sharpies (and Sharpie Fans)
        • Blogging Outside of North America
        • What Are You Waiting For?
      • Chapter 16: Video and Podcasting Made, Well, as Easy as Possible
        • Video and Your Buyers
        • A Flip Video Camera in Every Pocket
        • Getting Started With Video
        • Knifing the Competition … and It’s All Caught on Video
        • Podcasting 101
        • My Audio Is Your Podcast
      • Chapter 17: How to Use News Releases to Reach Buyers Directly
        • Developing Your News Release Strategy
        • Publishing News Releases through a Distribution Service
        • Reaching Even More Interested Buyers with RSS Feeds
        • Simultaneously Publishing Your News Releases to Your Web Site
        • The Importance of Links in Your News Releases
        • Focus on the Keywords and Phrases Your Buyers Use
        • Include Appropriate Social Media Tags
        • If It’s Important Enough to Tell the Media, Tell Your Clients and Prospects, Too!
      • Chapter 18: The Online Media Room: Your Front Door for Much More Than the Media
        • Your Online Media Room as (Free) Search Engine Optimization
        • Best Practices for Online Media Rooms
        • An Online Media Room to Reach Journalists, Customers, Bloggers, and Employees
        • Really Simple Marketing: The Importance of RSS Feeds in Your Online Media Room
      • Chapter 19: The New Rules for Reaching the Media
        • Nontargeted, Broadcast Pitches Are Spam
        • The New Rules of Media Relations
        • Blogs and Media Relations
        • Launching Ideas with the U.S. Air Force
        • How to Pitch the Media
      • Chapter 20: Search Engine Marketing
        • Making the First Page On Google
        • Search Engine Optimization
        • The Long Tail of Search
        • Carve Out Your Own Search Engine Real Estate
        • Web Landing Pages to Drive Action
        • Search Engine Marketing in a Fragmented Business
      • Chapter 21: Make It Happen
        • Getting the Help You Need (and Rejecting What You Don’t)
        • Great for Any Organization
        • Now It’s Your Turn
    • Acknowledgments for the Second Edition
    • Index
    • About the Author
    • Preview: World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers That Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories
      • When 7 = 350,000,000
      • Marketing Advice from Cindy Gordon, Vice President of New Media and Marketing Partnerships, Universal Orlando Resort
      • A Formula for Success
      • The World Wide Rave Empowers You
    • Preview: The New Rules of Social Media book series
      • Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs
      • Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business
      • Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment

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