Marx Communications, B2B Public Relations
 

Blog

7 WAYS A STARTUP CAN SCORE WITH ANY MEDIA OPPORTUNITY

August 6, 2013 by Wendy Marx

This post originally appeared in a slightly different version on
Fast-Company-logo
Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 2.24.28 PM

A recent article in the New York Times reminds us that we are living in a culture of coaching. There are coaches to clean out your closet, build your personal brand, firm your abs, get your child that dream internship…anything you could ever imagine.

Yet, when it comes to doing interviews, many people tend to feel they can wing it without the benefit of of a mentor or coach. Because it approximates the format of a conversation, it’s easy to view a media interview as a simple conversation. Don’t.

A journalist will have a particular objective in interviewing you, and it is most likely not what you had in mind. The journalist or blogger has a story to write. You, on the other hand, are there to promote yourself, your company or your brand. I don’t care how good a speaker you are or how knowledgeable you are about your business, you have to your best foot forward. Subtle business promotion is a learned skill that takes practice to make perfect. In our experience, people often talk too long in interviews. Being succinct, as any writer knows, is also a learned skill.

How do you ensure that your startup company’s messages don’t get lost during an interview? How can you avoid being railroaded or blindsided?

Here are 7 tips on how a startup — or any B2B company for that matter — can turn a media interview into a true opportunity for you:

1. Ask for information ahead of time. Many reporters, particularly those working for trade publications, will provide them in advance if you ask. If you can’t get the questions, do clarify the focus and purpose. Don’t go into an interview uninformed.

2. Determine what your core message is. What do you want to get across in the interview? How do you want to portray your company? You want to address both questions in an interview. Carve out some time in the beginning of an interview to explain your company’s vision. You can also add key points to any answer by doing what’s known as “bridging.” That’s an industry term referring to seamlessly transitioning to your key message with “bridging words.”
Here are a couple of examples of bridging: “And what’s key here,” “Let me put this in perspective,” “What this all means is,” “Before we continue, let me underscore.”

3. Come prepared with a sound bite or two. Do you think the phrases that draw the most applause in a presidential debate are off the cuff? The better they are, the more likely they have been carefully prepared and rehearsed to perfection. So too in an interview. Work on a catchphrase that makes what you have to say more memorable.

4. Prepare backwards. What headline would you like the article to say? That can help you martial your points and organize your thoughts around a compelling, relevant message.

5. Practice, then practice some more. Do several mock interviews before the real one so you can demonstrate firm control of your subject matter and sound at ease, not rehearsed. Ironically, once you feel confident you can make the material your own and come across as polished and informed, not rehearsed.

6. Don’t be afraid to to not know the answerYou don’t have to know everything and you certainly don’t want to give false information. It is always better to be safe and say “I’m not sure, let me check and get back to you,” rather than sorry.

7. Avoid using “no comment”. It may look cool on TV but all a phrase like that does is send a signal to a media person that you might have something to hide. This is an example of why you need to be prepared for a media opportunity. If you had done your prep work, you would have an answer in your pocket for any sensitive questions they throw your way.

In our experience, you can never be prepared enough. That’s why we’re running a special Media Training Workshop. For details and to register, go to PRos media training.

Filed Under: b2b content marketing, B2B PR, B2B Public Relations, Startups | 4 Comments

Man Vs. Machine: The Brave New World of B2B Content Marketing

January 21, 2013 by Wendy Marx

There’s something ironic happening in the world of B2B PR. Sometimes it seems that just about everyone is hopping on the bandwagon of creating engaging, individualistic content. Other times, it’s as if there were tons of folks lining up to hand their content generation over to mass automation technology.

Here’s the latest point in favor of the techies, pulled from a post by Scott Redick in Forbes predicting the rise of automation:

“News writing will increasing become the domain of automated software programs…PR firms will hire technical experts to manipulate code on content farms, search algorithms and copywriting bots.”

The end result: public relations professionals will function as “truth engineers,” to use Redick’s terminology, spinning the truth to suit their client’s wishes.

Some cynics may believe that’s what PR professionals do now, albeit with words, instead of code. Yet there’s a major discrepancy between putting your best foot forward – something most B2B PR professionals strive for – and explicit deceit. This form of complete distortion has no place in any PR pro’s toolkit.

In the meantime, let’s return to technology and content.

Content can definitely be machine-manipulated to dupe search engines. In addition, content automation companies like Automated Insights excel at writing data-driven stories, though they reportedly have people touch up the work when necessary. Considering the caliber of some human-written (so old fashioned!) press releases, I’d imagine a machine could produce better work than some of those lengthy, terminology-intense mounds of jibberish.

With that being said, there’s much more to content marketing than simply writing articles. Content, in order to be distinguished among the deafening roar, should have a bit of idiosyncrasy–a smattering of whimsy or artistry. As Joe Pulizzi says,

“Epic content is all about stories that inform or entertain, that compel people to action and truly makes a difference in people’s lives. It positions the company as a trusted leader. It makes the buying process easier.”

Beyond riveting content, B2B content marketing must be structured around a strategy. If it isn’t, it’s simply copy, not marketing with goals and deliverables.

It’s great when technology serves our goals and makes processes more convenient or better. However, the “marketing” in content marketing–and in many cases the “content” aspect too– depends on the qualitative judgments of real people. A machine might be spectacular at processing data but it can’t make the subtle distinctions (not to mention witty rhetoric) that we can.

A classic Winston cigarette ad had a grammatically incorrect word, using “like” instead of “as.” It went: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” A logic-driven machine would make the sentence grammatically correct and by doing this, lose the rhythm of the phrase.

By the way, I wrote this post on my own — entirely without the aid of a computer, a machine, or a droid from Star Wars.

I’d love to hear how you are using technology to enhance your content marketing. Please tell us about it in the comments!

Filed Under: b2b content marketing, Blog, content marketing | Leave a Comment

3 Crucial Steps For Content Marketing Success

December 6, 2012 by Wendy Marx

Everyone in marketing tries to do it. What most folks don’t realize, is that very few do it well.

What are we referring to? Content marketing, of course. Otherwise known as branded content, brand journalism, or business story-telling, among other monikers.

It’s apparent a phrase is popular when it spawns its own lexicon. Or when mega brands like Coca-Cola embrace it. The soft drink empire recently revamped its website in homage to content marketing.

You can tell “content marketing” has entered the list of marketing terms when you find any number of conferences devoted to the topic. Take the example of the all-day content-marketing event given by the Content Marketing Institute in cooperation with Target Marketing and Publishing Executive. The event, titled Content Marketing World NYC, brought in a plethora of content marketers (and those seeking to become content marketers). It was also chaired by two content marketing industry elites: Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose. The two co-authored one of the foremost books on the topic, along with other accomplishments.

You may be wondering to yourself, “OK, so what’s so great about content marketing?”

Advertising, it seems, has lost much of its effectiveness. We live in a world where the average person is bombarded by some 3,000 brand impressions a day. According to research firm Altimeter Group, advertising needs to function together with other media, including company–created content and user-generated content. Content marketing in its most fundamental definition, is content a brand owns or publishes without any media buys, according to Altimeter.

That of course is the baseline. In order to be truly effective, content marketing, as Pulizzi and Rose stressed at the Content Marketing World event, must tell a story that allows people to engage with a brand. Moreover, it can’t be a one-time wonder but should be a long-term commitment, or as Rose phrased it, “Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.”

In fact, a marathon is the perfect analogy. Besides being a time-consuming process,  it also requires some heavy lifting. It’s no surprise that a survey by Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs discovered that only roughly a third of over 1,400 B2B marketers surveyed said they believed their content marketing campaigns effective.

Here are 3 key elements from Robert Rose to increase the effectiveness of your content marketing:

 

  • Tell a story. A story is a natural way to grab people’s attention. It draws you in and captures your emotions as well as your mind. What’s more interesting – a list of facts or a story that weaves the same elements into an engaging narrative?
  • Implement a strategy. Like any effective program, content marketing must be supported by a solid strategy. A company should understand its audience, business needs and what will appeal to its various market segments. According to Rose, the reason why most content marketing doesn’t succeed is that many companies dive right in without a strategy. Once you have a strategy in place you need a replicable process to produce your content.
  • Use channels to tell your story. No longer can you tell your story exclusively on your website. As Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owyang observe in the Altimeter report on The Converged Media Imperative: “Brands are challenged to intercept this elusive customer and cut through the media clutter, regardless of whatever channel or medium consumers are engaged with.”

 

What are you doing to accelerate your Content Marketing? I look forward to hearing from you.

Filed Under: b2b content marketing, b2b marketing, B2B PR, B2B Public Relations, Blog, content marketing, Insights | Leave a Comment

5 Tactics to Maximize ROI of your B2B Public Relations

August 13, 2012 by Wendy Marx

Here’s a pop quiz –

Which B2B marketing technique allows you to become better known, enhances credibility, thought leadership and finally boosts sales?

If your answer was “public relations,”  give yourself a pat on the back!

For a long time now, PR has been sometimes viewed as a revenue-earning step-child since it’s tough to categorize. Of course one can always total press clippings, but how does that ultimately drive sales? It’s tough because there doesn’t seem to be a direct correspondence. How about the person who saw an article praising your product/service, and several months later decided to use it? Or what about all the folks with no recollection how they heard about you but somehow know about your product or service?

Okay then, should we just give up trying to tie public relations to sales?

Well, not if you’d like to get extra work from your PR campaign by also using it as a lead generation device.

Consider your press release to be an invitation for a potential client to take an action that brings this person closer to buying. For instance, you can include a call to action in your release that brings the prospect to your landing page. From there, the prospect is able to download “free” content after giving you some contact information. Congratulations, you’ve now started a dialog! Now without further ado, here are….

5 approaches to PR you can use in your B2B marketing efforts to bring in sales:

 


1. Refuse to Use Generic Press Releases

Although Press releases are a fundamental part of public relations, you still need more than just any old press release – you need a specific strategy.

Your release should complement your marketing efforts. It would be completely ineffective to write a generic press release intended only for distribution. You need to think: What am I trying to achieve with this release? What action do I want the reader to take after he/she sees the release?

2. Take Advantage of Multimedia

Get the most B2B marketing value possible in regards to click-throughs and lead generation. Colorful, engaging (and maybe even interactive) multimedia content like slide shows and videos enhance the effectiveness of your call to action. You can experiment to find out which type of dynamic content would best reach your target market.

3. Provide Readers With Extra Content

Don’t view the release as a one-time shot. Utilize it along with additional content for your target market. Ensure your release leads to other pages, blog posts, articles, videos, or anything else you can think of. All of the above can similarly link to your press release. As an added benefit, this will also help your company get ranked higher in the search engines.

The purpose for this sophisticated “web of content” is to connect with your potential clients and bring them into your sales funnel. The sales process has become a quite complicated and multi-layered process, and as Reevoo Insight has discovered, customers can come in at a variety of touch points and change from one channel to the a different one before the final conversion.

4. Get Social

If you have yet to incorporate social media into your B2B marketing strategy – time to get started! Social media is becoming increasingly omnipresent. It can be used together with pretty much all of your initial marketing strategies, press releases included.

Make it a piece of cake for anyone to share your release by including some social sharing buttons. Finally, remember to include a short synopsis of your release so it can be easily spread by fans without much effort.

5. Shoot for Specifics

Don’t sit back and relax after one press release.  Continue to test your releases and change them depending on your target market and the response you receive. Certain calls to action might produce different effects on a given segment of your audience. This also applies to content. For instance, you might decide to emphasize one point in a release geared to executives and a different one when targeting agencies.

Throw everything together and you have a public relations program that will significantly boost the ROI of your B2B marketing campaign.

Now how are you increasing the value of your press releases? Have you been using any of the above techniques already? Are there other ones you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Filed Under: b2b content marketing, B2B PR, Blog, Insights, Press Releases | Leave a Comment

How to Avoid 5 Common Mistakes in B2B Content Marketing

July 5, 2012 by Wendy Marx

Here are 5 other mistakes B2B content marketers often make. Read on if you want some pointers on how to avoid these bloopers!

1. Curating content in areas you don’t care about. 

If you’re in marketing, why curate content in music or some other unrelated field? You’re certainly not establishing your expertise.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the most outlandish Tweeter or the most prolific blogger: an important way to grow your thought leadership can be through adding your perspective to someone else’s content. Readers will appreciate having an expert comment on other articles, helping them determine the value of popular ideas. Businesspeople will appreciate your thoughtfulness and expertise. They will remember that they learned from you and that you didn’t waste their time.

2. Forgetting to use backlinks.

Content marketing is all about engagement. What makes the web so perfect for that is that you can — and should — include links to related content in your posts. That way you’ll be able to alert relevant content marketers about your content. They in turn will start linking to your posts and before you know it you will have a conversation going within your content.

3. Link Back to Your Own Site

This part is crucial. Not only do you have to attract your potential clients with a message, but you also need to give them a medium they can use to respond. Your best content should call potential clients to action, but you also have to provide a way for them to act! Link back to your site, which will provide readers with more content as well as ways to respond (also be sure to have accessible contact information, query forms, etc.). Remember that social media is a cycle:  you broadcast your original content to a larger audience with the aim of inspiring them to return to the source – your website!

4. Forgetting to promote your content.

Don’t think your job ends with writing and incorporating the right keywords in your site. You want to promote your content in social media and all your marketing materials. Include a catchy headline and link to it in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or whatever your social media channel of choices are. Include a link to your blog in your email signature, on your business card and in your marketing collateral.
Time and clarity are of the essence in the realm of social media. Focus on the key benefit in your content, and cite that with a link that will take readers to a more elaborate release and a call to action. Make sure you are targeting the right audience for your message, and even tailor several different releases for different outlets. You want to appear competent and informative to as many different groups as possible, so tailor your message to match their needs.

5. Neglecting to build a social network.

Whether its through blog subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook friend, or LinkedIn Connections, cultivating a community is almost as important as cultivating your message in B2B Public Relations. And even on the web, the principles of maintaining relationships stay the same – it takes time to make meaningful connections. In addition to updating your own content frequently, be sure to respond to commenters, read and respond to what those in your network are up to, and send messages to them when appropriate. They will remember that you cared and demonstrated interest in their objectives, which sometimes is more important than being the top expert in your field or the most visible on social media.

 And here’s a bonus idea!

6. Stay Open to New Ideas
Don’t fear tech updates or new social media platforms. Nothing stays the same forever! Just look at how radio and television have been affected by the digital age. Stay fresh, and keep thinking of how new developments can help promote your message.

Filed Under: b2b content marketing, B2B PR | Leave a Comment