Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How to Get Your News Release Picked Up By Everyone

I haven't blogged in a week or so and am feeling guilty - what's the point in starting if you just drop the ball? So this will be a brief reminder to all about how to get your press release picked up.

My secrets:

A Provocative Headline - Think like a reporter not like a client. Assume, unless you've got a very savvy media client, that their headline will suck. Remember the headline is also the title of your email message so it's what journalists and producers see in their in-box. If you spend 50% of your time on the headline and the rest writing the release consider it time well spent.

Some of the ones I've written that have worked really well:

For AAAS' Science Inside Alcohol Project

Use Science to Convince Teens a Sober Prom is Better, AAAS Says - What's good about this? It says read this now because it's the right time of year. It challenges the reporter to read the rest so they can understand it. Everyone loves prom - except those like me who were way to cool to go.

When ‘Just Say No’ Isn’t Enough: Try Science - We all remember Nancy Reagan's slogan and many of us thought it was ridiculous. But this also says - here's a new way of looking at an age-old problem. That's why it did well.

For Healthcare Blue Book

Healthcarebluebook.com: Consider Prices Before You Receive a Test, Treatment or Surgery - This was a little long but the media loved it. Why? Because all of the reporting is about people getting shocking bills after they've had the healthcare procedure performed. This is counter intuitive and reporters like that.

Healthcarebluebook.com: New Web Site Teaches How to Price Shop - OK so this was a launch which is easier but you should note that in both these headlines the name of the company is in them. Why? SEO plain and simple. If you want to get widespread exposure for a client put their name in the title. It will search far higher and helps people remember the brand.

A few more tips:

Whatever search terms you use to collect info on your client in Google Alerts should be in your releases. Use them as much as you can without sounding forced. I recently looked at a web site for a firm that uses SEO. Their site had way too much text because they were trying to search higher. A better writer could have accomplished the same with a lot less text. Use your keywords but don't sacrifice content and graphics for them.

Use a distribution service for news releases.In these days of cutting costs many companies distribute only to their media lists. But your firm isn't going to make it through many of the spam filters. The news services know how to do it and they have deals with many media outlets to pick up their releases based on keywords used. There are cheaper ways to use these services - do your local market which also picks up web and write short because you pay by the word. I know it's easier said than done but it's worth it.

Put your release in the body of the email - Never ever, ever send out a news release as an attachment to an email. Most of the better media outlets immediately send it to spam and some of them just dump it completely. That's what the filters look for. Put your info in the body of the email and keep it as short and sweet as possible. If the client insists on endless words then write a couple of bullets at the front of the release that tell the journalist why they should read it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

TV is Still the Best Brand Marketer to the Young

Guess what? Youth are still watching TV, and using it to determine their brand choices, says a new study from MTV. The music video giant polled 8,000 12-24 year-olds around the world in late 2008. Yes it’s very self-serving, but there’s also a lot of good information in here.

The study, “A Beta Life Youth,” reports that one in four young people first see or hear of brands or products from TV ads. This is mostly true for technology items – like personal electronics – but apparel choices are also heavily influenced by the tube.

The concept of a “brand” has different meanings around the world. 50% saw a brand as an image for a product.

The study found that young people are most likely to have favorite brands, but the brand love only goes so far and most are also open to changing their preferences.

Young people trust TV advertising more than you might think. And they tune in to favorite channels on a regular basis. The data: 80% in US, 73% in UK, 70% in Germany and 88% in India. The Japanese evidently don't love their TV channels - only 38% of them said they have a TV channel they care about.

The vast majority of young people (69%) now research all purchases before they buy anything, the study found.

71% of study participants agreed that the Internet makes choosing a brand easier, while blogs, review sites and social networking sites are increasingly important in affecting brand decisions.

87% of youth in India research purchases before they buy, as do 80% of young people in Germany. A smaller number, 2 in 3, do so in the UK and US.

So it's critical for advertisers to integrate TV ads with online media.

Only one in five respondents said celebrity endorsement plays a part in brand choice.

62% of the respondents across the five markets agree that they watch more of a TV channel if the channel has a Web site that enables them to catch up on shows and that they prefer to see it from a TV channel’s Web site.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Millenial Marketers - Change Your Messages Already

I think it's about time that all of those Generation Y (Millenial) firms that are teaching people like me how to deal with 20 somethings updated their material. Saw a presentation at the recent ASAE Marketing and Membership Conference by one of the better ones (she wore jeans and had no PowerPoint just gushed for an hour about how different we are). And the year before I bet she said exactly the same thing.

Guess what - the world of the millenials is more like the world I graduated and came out into the world in. It's the beginning of the 1980s or at least the 1990s. It's called recession. Think back to when teens got a kick out of being portrayed as all powerful mutant turtles. Blink and you're there.

This is the real world not the hyper inflated Wall Street one that crashed. There are no jobs, inflation is rampant, and they cannot afford an apartment so going back home to mom and dad is a dreaded option. Does it matter than Gen Y folks were coddled, raised in a world where everyone was a winner and job hopped each year? Not anymore - welcome to the real world. Yet our overpaid consultant with the unkept hair continued to harp on about the same socio/cultural issues and how we must mentor not instruct them.

First off - all the info the "Gen Y Experts" spew about the millenials is about the older ones - those born from 1980 - 1990. There is an entire generation behind them of those born from 1990-2000 who will not think they are entitled to everything because their parents are struggling. Who will not win at everything. Who will have to take jobs at McDonalds with a college degree and beat out senior citizens for them. Tell me about that group. I have two in my home - and they are not spoiled rotten that I can tell you.

Here's something else we've found in our research. While Gen Y may have grown up in social media they don't know how to use it to further their own careers. Posted a question on LinkedIn asking "For those under 30, how are you using social media to enhance your career?" The majority of answers that I got were from people in their 40s and 50s saying "Don't discount us." The 8-10 responses from the Gen Yers were different.

You would think it's a given that these kids would be all over online to find new jobs and network. Here's what we learned:

It’s Not That Simple -

Facebook is for friends not business

YouTube is what we did last night online

Don’t know how to use LinkedIn, Plaxo, etc.

I posted on about a dozen groups that I belonged too and got back some very telling responses - here are a few.

From International Association of Business Communicators.

"I haven't seen much use for any of them, professionally. I am still using Facebook as a social network to keep in touch with friends and family."

From Emarketing.

"I tried using LinkedIn as a way to better position myself. I also cleaned up my MySpace and Facebook accounts. But I haven’t really marketed myself online yet."

"I am using social networks for my career but the results are not that satisfying, I am not sure where I am lagging behind. Can you help me out?"

The first answer comes from someone with a degree in communications and the other two are working in Electronic Marketing but don't know how to transfer what they are doing for products and services to themselves.

So what's my point? I have two:

First, all of these pricey consultants who are teaching us how to use social media and how to work with the 20 somethings need a reality check. If you want to reach young professionals you have to be creative to do it. Offer them information that they need to know - particularly in regard to their careers. Teach them how to interview and network - skills they haven't developed with all the typing and texting. And at this point, with all of the online tools, still nothing can replace time tested networking (Face to face that is).

Second, look at the demographics of those who come to your social media pages. Again the pricey consultants couldn't tell me how Gen Yers use these sites for business because they don't study that. They look at the fans or group members as one audience. The baby boomers were two distinctive generations. So are the millenials.

Facebook now has tools so you can look at your audience demographically. You need to segment the market even in social media. Because if you don't someone else (maybe a marketer with grey hair who doesn't think targeting was invented yesterday) will do it first.

Don't mean to come down on the younger generation. They are the future and all of us would love to retire. But marketing wasn't invented yesterday even though it's now done in a brand new form of media. And we need to adapt the time tested marketing principals to new media - the same way it's been done as every form of new media has come along.