As a communications professional in a rapidly-changing and increasingly technological industry, I’m always looking for new insights, tips, trends, and techniques to stay informed and competitive. And this book (which I’m about halfway through) is already proving to be a great resource—particularly since copywriting goes-in-hand with marketing and PR.
Scott examines how and why traditional methods of marketing and public relations (i.e., sending jargon-filled press releases solely to journalists to score media impressions in magazines and TV programs, or paying big bucks for one-way, mass-market advertisements) are practically obsolete in today’s market. The reason, of course, is the pervasive influence of the Internet and social media—blogs, microblogs, vlogs, podcasts, etc.—on the creation and dissemination of information.
You see, no longer do target audiences rely exclusively on news hubs like CNN or The New York Times to get the latest buzz. Rather, they find it—and share it—virally via social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. They’ll also get it from the blogosphere. Or by plugging key words and phrases into an online search engine and sifting through the hits. Or all of the above. (Did you know, by the way, that blog posts and Twitter comments are indexed by search engines? Delicious food for thought!)
And the great irony is this: information often makes its way onto the social media scene long before it gets exposure on the “big time” news media outlets. In fact, the reporter who’s covering a story on the nightly news or in the morning paper often gets tipped off from social media!
Take my friend Stephanie Frost, for example. She recently posted a homemade video to her blog about the importance of good customer service, and within a few days, it was picked up by The Huffington Post and ABC’s World News Tonight! Did Stephanie send out press releases to the reporters and producers to get their attention and beg for coverage? Nope. Did she pay a creative agency to design some kind of flashy banner ad to get people to click on her blog? Nuh-uh. Did she cold-call her media contact list to cajole them into giving her a mention? No way. All she did was create meaningful, useful, relevant content and post it to her blog, and the rest is history. Best part is, she scored the publicity without having spent a dime on PR or marketing! That’s right; rather than seeking out the news media, the news media sought her.
As a former journalist, I can attest to this phenomenon, too. Rarely did I pick up a press release from the mountain of releases I’d receive on a daily basis and cover the “story” it pitched. Rather, I’d research my own ideas for stories, gather my own information with the help of the Internet, and—based on the value of the content I’d find online— I’d handpick the thought leaders and industry experts to whom I’d grant coverage. If all I found was a library of buzzwords and hard sales pitches, I wouldn’t give that company or organization the time of day. If, however, I found informative, meaningful, value-based content that sought to educate me rather than sell me, chances were good that I’d reach out to that company or organization.
Anyway, back to that marvelous new book I’m reading….
I’ve been poring over it with a highlighter and pen in hand (I’m the kind of person who likes to make notes in the margins of my books—go ahead, call me a nerd), and, for the sake of furthering this discussion, I’d like to share a few excerpts that I find particularly important. (Mr. Scott, if you happen to stumble upon this blog, I hope that’s okay with you. ;))
Here are those excerpts:
1. “New marketing on the Web…is centered on interaction, information, education, and choice….” (p. 7)
2. “Public relations work has changed. PR is no longer just an esoteric discipline 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 to their bosses. Now, great PR includes programs to reach buyers directly. The Web allows access to information about your products, and smart companies understand and use this phenomenal resource to great advantage.” (p. 11)
3. “Marketing on the Web is not about generic banner ads designed to trick people with neon color or wacky movement. It is about understanding the keywords and phrases that our buyers are using and then deploying micro-campaigns to drive buyers to pages replete with the content that they seek.” (p. 20)
4. “Great content brands an organization as a trusted resource and calls people to action—to buy, subscribe, apply, or donate. And great content means that interested people return again and again. As a result, the organization succeeds, achieving goals such as adding revenue, building traffic, gaining donations, or generating sales leads.” (p. 21)
5. “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.” (P. 24)
6. “PR is not about your boss seeing your company on TV. It’s about your buyers seeing your company on the Web.” (p. 25)
7. “…You will be much more successful if you forget about trying to get the huge article. Big yields come from cultivating many small relationships rather than a focus on trying to get that one mega-success.” (p. 30)
8. “What works is a focus on your buyers and their problems. What fails is an egocentric display of your products and services.” (p. 35)
9. “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 content directly contributes to an organization’s online reputation by showing thought leadership in the marketplace.” (p. 38-39)
10. “The Internet is like a massive focus group with uninhibited customers offering up their thoughts for free! … 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 organization.” (p. 81)
So… what do YOU think about these “new rules” of PR and marketing? Do you agree? Disagree? Why or why not? Obviously, I 100% agree with them. But I would still love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.