The PR/Blogger pitch process

I read an interesting article on Umpf’s blog earlier this morning, a summary of a PR/Blogger outreach event they attended earlier in the month. Hosted by Econsultancy’s Vicki Chowney and featuring a panel of three public relations professionals and three bloggers, a series of best practice discussions ensued on the topic of PR/Blogger relationships.

The panel highlighted the sad truth that there are a lot of PRs who don’t appear to understand basic human communication, evident in their contact with bloggers. Unfortunately, this is the sad truth within the PR industry as a whole. To be any good at PR does require the very highest level of communication skills, something I will write about in the near future.

In reference to some of the best practice tips the panel highlighted, I do have a few thoughts to add.

I agree with the need for bloggers to be open and honest with their traffic statistics, but only if the blogger is either being paid, or receiving something in exchange for writing. There are a number of great tools that can provide backlink information and traffic stats, such as Majestic SEO*.

I don’t believe that PRs need to get to know bloggers on a personal level, but they are right in that, much the same as if you were to target a journalist, you need to know the publication or blog, its content and its target audience before contacting them.

I agree again with the need to tailor the angle of the story, something that agencies should naturally be able to do when selling into any publication, always answering the question of why is it relevant to their audience. However, there is the argument that as writers, bloggers should be able to add their own angle to the story, as long as they are provided with as much information as possible.

The debate of to pay or not to pay stems down to finding that middle gap. Yes, there are some blogs that receive a much greater level of traffic, and if the prize is not of high enough value, a monetary value for posting the competition should be attached. Whether it be a blog or publication, as the readership increases, so too does the value of advertising within that publication. Likewise, not all blogs should be able to demand a placement fee outright.

In an ideal world, you would reach a point where the costs and benefits for both parties are equal. Upon analysis of the costs of the agency’s time spent on pitching, as well as the value of the prize and the quality of the placement their competition will get, accompanied with the blogger’s increase in traffic and thus the increase in net worth of their blog, a middle ground should be reached.

This is, of course, the ideal world scenario. Unfortunately, not all bloggers are experienced journalists or really understand agencies and what they need to achieve out of their work. Likewise, not all agencies are any good.

If there is one thing that needs be taken away from this, it is that people really do need to start focusing on basic human communication, recognising that it is in fact a human on the other end of the telephone or email that you are dealing with, reaching that middle ground where both parties are gaining from this relationship.

Cant we all just get along?

*disclosure – Majestic SEO are a partner with Receptional, and a client, but they do have the world’s largest commercially available backlink data index, so I’ve no problems with recommending them here!

The greatest social media marketing campaign of all time

In my mind, there has always been one social media marketing campaign that really stood out among the others – a campaign way before its time, which literally caused the industry to stop in its tracks and rethink the way forward. That award goes to BMW.

Background

At the turn of the millennium, BMW posted sales of $33bn, a slight decrease from 1999. Afraid of further loss, they turned to long term advertising partner Fallon Worldwide to come up with a new campaign to prevent further decline.

Through extensive consumer research on their typical customer (46 years old, £80k income, 2/3rds male, married with no children), they discovered that 85 per cent of their customer base used the internet prior to purchasing a new BMW.

From this, the automotive manufacturer and Fallon put together what I believe was the greatest ever social media marketing campaign, to reach out to their new, internet savvy customer base.

That campaign was The Hire.

It’s not surprising how many people have not heard of this campaign. Not only are there more than six times the amount of people with access to the internet today than there was ten years ago, but many of the social networking platforms that would have helped this campaign to spread virally, such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter had not even been invented yet. Social media was in its infancy, but this campaign was a worthy competitor to today’s greatest efforts.

The Hire

The Hire was a series of short films produced solely for the internet in 2001 and 2002. Some of the world’s greatest directors, including Guy Ritchie (Lock Stock, Snatch, RocknRolla), Tony Scott (Man on fire, Top Gun, Unstoppable), John Woo (Face/Off, Mission Impossible 2), Ang Lee (Crouching tiger, Hulk) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, 21 grams) were brought in to direct each film.

The plot of each of the shorts differed, but each one starred Clive Owen playing ‘The Driver’, a suave character behind the wheel of multiple BMWs, hired by various people to act as a transporter for their various needs. The short films also featured a multitude of other famous actors, including Madonna, Forrest Whittaker, Gary Oldman and Mickey Rourke.


Typical ‘Hollywood’ methods of marketing were used, such as billboards, broadcast spots and free posters. With budgets similar to those of high end commercials, Fallon had flipped the traditional advertising equation upside down, by spending 90 per cent of its budget on production, and only 10 per cent on media. At the time this was seen as a huge risk.

Outcome

The initial cost of the first five films in 2001 was an estimated $15 million. Due to overwhelming web traffic, industry praise and BMW’s bottom-line success, an additional three films were produced in 2002 coming in at around $10 million.

The series won numerous awards, receiving praise across the board. From a marketing industry perspective, perhaps the greatest accolade of The Hire was winning the first ever Titanium Lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival.

By June 2003, more than 45 million people had viewed the films, overshooting the original goal of 2 million by a long shot. To date, views are well into the hundreds of millions.

However, the real success came in sales. In 2001, BMW sales increased by 12.5 per cent, surpassing the 200,000 mark for the first time in the company’s history. The following year, sales continued to rise an additional 17.2 per cent, outselling Mercedes and placing BMW in a firm second in the luxury car market behind Lexus.

These results, for any marketing campaign are incredible. But it is easy to forget that these were produced ten years ago. The use of the internet as a marketing medium chosen over television was a real innovation. It was also one of the first digital campaigns produced at this level used to build the brand image, rather than sell a single product.

Finally, the video was shared through word of mouth and online via email at levels many digital marketers today can only dream of.

He who dares…

Through the extraordinary risk taking, and high quality production that mirrored brand values so well, BMW had created the ultimate social marketing campaign that delivered real bottom line results, and helped shape the future of social media marketing. In my view, it was the greatest campaign in history.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, are the eight films

Pippa Middleton’s bum is worth £200bn

The social media oligarch and founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg opened up f8 (Facebook’s annual developers’ conference) with the announcement that, on one day last week over 500 million people were logged into Facebook.

Add to that all the people who may have had something better to do that day, and you have more than 800 million ‘active’ users. Putting that in perspective, that’s the population of Europe. You can start to see where their $80 billion valuation is coming from.

In contrast, an estimated 2 billion people tuned in to watch the royal wedding earlier this year. Two billion. That’s one third of the world’s population tuning in to watch Pippa Middleton’s arse. Four times that of Facebook.

Therefore, I’m putting a value on Miss Middleton’s backside. A crude calculation based on very little I agree, however it’s estimated that 2 billion people have access to the internet in the world, and I’m of the belief that news of the royal wedding could have reached even those without access to the World Wide Web. So for Coca-Cola to slap their logo on Kate’s little sister’s rear end, she should have put a value at least quadruple that of Facebook. Her bum reached more viewers than the internet!

Hence, in terms of grossly overestimated advertising value, I’m arguing that Pippa Middleton’s arse is worth at least 4 times that of Facebook, $320bn, or just over £200bn.

Try insuring that one J-Lo…

Timeline – Facebook’s new profile

I LOVE Facebook’s new profile design. the only problem is, how long is it going to take to remove all the old relationship statuses you don’t want to bring back up?

I hope that Facebook will enable the non-‘power-users’ to create a minimal version, whilst those who have time can create historic masterpieces.

Here’s Facebook’s ad-video demonstrating some of the new features…

How the BBC lost 65,000 Twitter followers in a matter of seconds

Last Thursday, the 21st July 2011, the BBC lost over 65,000 followers on twitter – straight to a main rival. ITV.

Laura Kuenssberg, formerly the BBC’s Chief Political Correspondent, recently left for greener pastures over at ITV, and in doing so, changed her Twitter feed from @BBCLauraK to @ITVLauraK, taking her 65,000 Twitter followers with her.

Ownership of social media channels have always been a topic for debate. In my experience, I’ve seen large organisations getting funny about a board executive taking their favorite office plant when they leave, but then wonder why they allowed an intern to leave with the corporate YouTube channel and several thousand subscribers.

It’s time for organisations to wake up and realise that as the more technologically able Generation Y dominates the workplace, public facing employees are building up their own audience. People like dealing with people, and losing a good employee with a strong social audience is akin to football teams losing a star player. When Christiano Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid, a small percentage of fans would have moved with him, because there will always be some people who are more loyal to the individual than the club, the brand, the organisation. But that’s a whole different blog post.

This story heavily emphasises the need for both organisations and brands to implement a social media policy today.

The BBC do have a pretty detailed social media policy in place, hence why when Laura Kuenssberg left, she was obliged (I’m not saying that she wouldn’t have done anyway) to disclose to all her followers that she had left, and pointed them in the direction of her successor, so those more interested in Politics rather than Laura’s new position at ITV could easily switch over.

“But follow @BBCNormanS who’s stepping into my shoes in Westminster – but I hope you keep following me here”

Social media marketing is a great way of helping organisations and employees engage directly with customers, helping drive new business and develop new routes to market. However, you wouldn’t entrust unqualified employees to speak on behalf of your whole organisation at a local conference, so why would you allow employees to speak on behalf of your brand to a global audience without proper training or direction?

Organisations need to have a social media policy in place to govern how employees use social networks in the workplace.

Why I’m unplugging on social media day

Mashable has deemed the 30th June to be Social Media Day – “A day to celebrate the revolution of media becoming social”. It’s the second year of the annual occasion, but this year, I won’t be partaking in the celebrations.

Don’t get me wrong. Social media has undoubtedly changed our lives, and for the most part, for the better. We’re able to communicate with friends easier. Share photos without sending monumental zip files over email. Interact with brands on a more humane level – there are a thousand and one benefits.

However, it has come at a price, and this goes for the internet too. The problem is our inability to unplug.

Connecting online is something we do almost unconsciously now. I pull out my phone to check in somewhere, to take a photo, to edit, upload and share that photo, to tweet, to check links friends are sharing. The list goes on, and it all happens without thinking about it.

I’m regularly advising clients on how to use social media more efficiently in the workplace, and at work, I’ve become militaristic on organising my time on social platforms. Working in an agency, and even more so, freelancing for six months, taught me that very quickly. Being so plugged in can be a huge detriment to productivity if not managed right, hence I strongly recommend any client of ours to have a social media policy in place (contact me if you’d like us to help with yours).

However, it all seems to fall apart once I leave the office. I get sloppy, and browsing becomes lazy. The commute home is led by a check on Twitter, Facebook, and then another check after dinner, and last night I even found myself on Facebook in bed. I idly browse through friends photos, uploading some of my own, check on the progress of some of my client’s pages. It doesn’t really stop.

I’m addicted, which I guess is partly why I do what I do. But tomorrow, I won’t be celebrating social media day. I won’t be tweeting. I won’t be on Facebook. I won’t check LinkedIn, and I won’t be blogging. I won’t surf. I won’t browse. I won’t poke.

This social media day, I’m going to be unplugging, and I’ve scheduled this post. Besides, the 30th of June is my fiancée’s birthday, and I’m taking the day off to go hot air ballooning.

 

Ok, so I might tweet a photo…

Hot air baloon fail

(this post was written and published at Receptional.com on the 29th June 2011)

Employee productivity and your social media policy

(Blog post originally published at Receptional.com)

The words “Social Media” bring to mind disaster and lazy employees to many a CEOs mind, and often justifiably so. According to a survey from harmon.ie, 53% of employees are wasting at least one hour a day on distractions at work such as social media, text messaging and other applications.

Not only are there huge losses in productivity, but also there is the associated risk of the employee endangering the brand or company itself – hence why many organisations are resorting to banning access to Facebook and Twitter entirely in the workplace. Because of which, social networks have been given a bad name in the board room – unjustifiably so.

Social networks present brands and organisations with a whole new way to interact with customers, and a fresh and constant view of their marketplace. Not to mention that all the “Generation-Y” employees entering the marketplace now are using technology and interacting with each other in very different ways, and numerous studies have shown that breaks in the working day can help improve productivity.

The solution is simple:

Organisations need to have a social media policy in place to govern how employees use social networks in the workplace

Our consultants at Receptional have a wealth of experience developing social media policies for organisations such as PR agencies, right through to global technology companies – both in cases where social media marketing activities need to be focused and productive, as well as where employees need to have their time spent tagging their Facebook photos kept to a reasonable amount!

We can also help with tailored guides for how to utilise social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to gain the most out of them for your industry.

Give us a call, or email me (bjordan@receptional.com) if you want to know more about how we can help your business and employees become more productive.