Tuesday, August 26, 2008

RUN, Don't Walk to the Chapter's Professional Development Seminar

If you're anything like me, every day I become aware of more tools and technology, many of which can help me in my professional life. BIG CAVEAT: there's very little playtime in each day's schedule to afford me the opportunity to learn about all these tools. So if you're reading this blog and looking for more, then RUN, don't walk to the San Antonio Chapter's Professional Development Seminar: New Media is Now! The details can be found here.

One thing I truly benefit from as a member of PRSA, is professional development. I know I can't afford those pricey seminars in exciting locations like San Francisco, Chicago and New York that frequent my mailbox, but the lineup of speakers for our San Antonio sessions, will guarantee that your investment will be worth it.

Start off the morning session with Geoff Livingston, author of "Now is gone: a primer on New Media for Executives and Entrepreneurs." The morning session will be filled with reasons why you need to go forth in this brave new media world.

At lunch, hear Monika Maeckle, Business Wire's vice president for new media development on launching the online conversation with web-friendly press releases. By early afternoon, you will be ready for some meaty "bytes" from an array of qualified speakers.

Kami Watson Huyse, APR, and the chapter's PR Professional of the Year and editor of Communications Overtones, will talk about building relationships with online stakeholders. She will be followed by Christie Goodman, APR, on starting on the podcasting technology. Our final speaker will be Bryan Person, who will get you started on blogging basics. (Once you have a handle on that, this chapter could use a few ambitious bloggers!).

At the end, we will share best practices and ask each other questions before wrapping up. Bring your laptop, an open mind and learn how to use del.icio.us to access course materials and background information. If you can't join us, watch this space for information on joining our Twitter group. I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ten reasons to love customer case studies

Case studies tell true stories about how your products or services helped customers solve their problems—and they do so in a format your prospects can easily relate to. In fact, customer case studies represent one of the most effective ways to boost the impact of your B2B marketing communications program because these problem/solution stories help build your company’s reputation, expand your presence in trade publications and on the Web, and aid the selling process.

Here are ten reasons you should consider adding customer case studies to your marketing arsenal:

1. Build credibility – As objectively written stories of how actual customers benefited from your company’s products and services, published case studies carry high credibility with readers. Technical details and photos add to their believability.

2. Reach primary and secondary target markets – Case studies are readily accepted by trade and Web editors because they provide valuable information for their audiences. This means that you can reach secondary markets and vertical markets where you can’t afford to advertise.

3. Generate inquires – Experience has shown that published case studies are as good or better at generating inquiries and Web site visits as advertising. These inquiries give you additional sales opportunities.

4. Demonstrate results – Case studies give you an opportunity to actually demonstrate how your products benefit a customer. By following a problem-solution format, these features show how your product or service increases productivity, improve quality, saves money, etc.

5. Third-party endorsement – When a case study is published by a respected trade publication or Web site, it carries an implied endorsement from both the customer and the editorial staff. Editors are endorsing your product and company by giving you access to his or her readers.

6. Displace the competition – Since editorial space in trade publications is always limited, every article of yours that gets published eliminates an editorial opportunity for your competition.

7. Integrate advertising messages – By choosing the right customer applications for your case studies, you can support your overall advertising effort by multiplying exposure to your key marketing messages.

8. Create future editorial opportunities – When you provide editors with a regular supply of case studies over time, editors will begin calling on you with additional editorial opportunities.

9. Employ the same content for multiple uses – Once developed, case studies provide a myriad of opportunities for leveraging the material. They can be placed in a single publication, mass distributed to a variety of publications, printed as a sales handout, produced as a downloadable feature from your Web site, and used as fodder for various product and corporate brochures.

10. Low cost, high returns – Case studies represent one of the best ROIs of any B2B marketing communications tactic. Development costs are generally modest, and when you can create something of interest to editors and readers, the editorial space and Web exposure you gain is free.

Kami's Blog Now in the Second Round at PR Week

Congrats to Kami Watson-Huyse, APR, for making it to the second round of the PR Week competition for the "most worthwhile" PR blog. See my previous post, "Two Days Left to Vote for Kami’s PR Blog."

You can vote for Kami's blog, Commuications Overtones, until 5:30 est, Friday. She won't win any prizes. But it's fun anyway.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Get Olympics Update from the Ground

We’re in the middle of the Olympics. Coverage on TV and the “official” Internet sites are heavily structured to either make it easy for you to see what’s interesting to you or to limit your viewing to highly-filtered, corporate-money-making controlled content – depending on your point of view. (The official site is at http://en.beijing2008.cn/.)

But thanks to social media, you can find out what’s happening in real time from people who are there as spectators. Here are just two easy ways.

1. Tweetscan.com lists all the Twitter posts (most recent first).

Go to http://www.tweetscan.com/ and type 080808 into the search field. (080808 is the tag or “keyword” that Twitter users are using to indicate their post is about the Olympics.) You’ll see current posts (called “tweets”). The ones with the boxes were created in other languages. You do not have to be a Twitter user to use Tweetscan.

2. Qik is a free online service that lets people stream video that they are shooting from their cell phones or video cameras in real time.

3. Youtube has set up a page dedicated to videos about the Olympics.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Two Days Left to Vote for Kami’s PR Blog

Yes, this is a shameless plug for our own Kami Watson-Huyse, APR. I know, I know, she has practically moved out of the country (Houston). But she has remained a member of the San Antonio chapter. And she was, after-all, our Del Oro PR Practitioner of the Year.

But this isn’t really about Kami. It’s about her blog, Communication Overtones. Out of hundreds of PR blogs in the country, hers is one of 32 in the running for best PR blog in a competition being held by PR Week. It’s PR Week’s 10th anniversary, and they have decided to honor “one of the most important technological advancements in content distribution of the past 10 years” – the blog.

Each blog competes with one other in a sort of elimination tournament. And there is only two more days to vote for Communication Overtones.

But don't take my word for it. If you've never read her blog, go check it out. It's really insightful and creative.

The second cool thing is that this contest presents you with a list of 32 PR blogs to take a look at. You may find a few that become good references for you or that you want to engage with. Once you’ve identified a few, subscribe to their newsfeeds through an iGoogle page so that you can receive their headlines in one place.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Demise of List-Making? I Hope So!

It’s a ritual most public relations practitioners are familiar with – building a list of contacts for a client or building a list of influencers for an event. List-building is the first step to relationship-building in our profession, and while it is foundational, it is also tedious, thankless and instantaneously obsolete.

I frequently get contacted by someone new in travel media or a far-away print publication and they say “Put me on your list.” So which list do they go on, for how long and how much contact do they really want to have with me?

Should this outlet get our annual press kit mailing or are they interested in seasonal events or a 25-word listing about hours and days of operation? So, now you know. I have at least three lists. Okay, I have more than that. In fact, we have so many different lists that we have to organize them into a folder called “Media Lists.” And it is SO yesterday.

So why do we do it? First of all, as creatures of habit, we have to do it. Second, if we don’t add to the list, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs.

But list-building gets in the way of network building. If there’s one thing social media is teaching us, it’s that the two-way conversational nature of this medium makes network-building so vitally important. And list-making is so one-way.

Enter Peter Shankman and HARO, which has been featured here before http://prsanantonio.blogspot.com/2008/06/help-reporter-out.html. I heard about and joined the HARO network when it was at 10,000 members. That was early this summer. Now, at 22,000 strong, it’s a list that is less about WHO is on the spreadsheet and more about who needs to CONNECT with whom. While the three times daily e-mails hit all 22,000 members, the unwritten rule is ever-present. You will not approach a media person on the queries list if you don’t fit the request. And so the dialogue begins and we, as public relations professionals, begin the process of “how can I help you do this story?” The connections are far more meaningful than any traditional list.