Monday, December 14, 2009

10 Ways Blogging Will Simplify Your Marketing Program (Guest Post)


This is a post from one of my favorite blog: HubSpot's Inbound Internet Marketing Blog! All PR Professionals should listen up!!! Here's the post:

When marketers and small business owners consider blogging, they typically worry about added complexity. For a small team already managing many different channels and campaigns, content development can be a daunting undertaking.




It shouldn't be. A great business blog will actually help simplify your marketing program. Blogging is like elegant architecture -- it accomplishes multiple functional goals with minimal structural elements.




Consider an elegant building like the Hearst Tower in New York City. It manages to address various goals -- excellent workspace, environmentally sensitive construction and design, historic preservation and aesthetics -- with one simple, creative structure.



A business blog achieves elegance in the same way. It helps accomplish all of the goals listed below with a single thoughtful stream of content. A traditional marketing team would have to address each of these goals with a separate campaign:




1. Search Engine Optimization -- The best way to improve your SEO is to get more sites to link to your site. The best way to do that is to give people something remarkable to link to -- that means content, which means a blog.



2. Social Media Optimization -- If you're an active listener and contributor,it's not hard to build relationships on social media sites. But to get value out of these relationships as a business, you need to drive traffic back to your site from these sites. Your blog is the best way to do that.



3. Lead Generation -- This blog is one of HubSpot's most important sources of high-quality leads. People find this site because of the useful content, then they discover that we sell a related product. Many of those people request a product demo, and many of those people become customers.



4. Educational Value -- As part of the sales process, our sales team often needs to explain the inbound marketing vision. Fortunately, they don't spend too much time on that because the people who our sales team speaks with have read a lot about HubSpot and inbound marketing and understand its value based on what we've explained in webinars and blog articles like this one.



5. Thought Leadership -- Every business wants to be a thought leader. It's a cornerstone of an effective marketing program. If people know you're leading the development of your industry, they'll gravitate to your business. Today you can't be a thought leader if you don't have a blog. The blog is where thought leadership happens.



6. Nurturing -- Nurturing is a critical part of any sales cycle. It's the process of educating your prospects and building trust with them until they're ready to buy. There are a lot of complex, expensive software applications that focus on lead nurturing, but few are more powerful than a simple RSS feed or email subscription to a high quality blog.


7. PR -- If you're writing arduous, multi-page pitches for news organizations, you're wasting your time. You should put your time and energy into blog posts that share new data, break news or offer unique new advice, then share that post in a quick email with your contacts at news organizations.



8. Brand Building -- Today great brands are built by a company's product and content. For example, at HubSpot, content and marketing education is a big part of our brand. These values are communicated almost entirely through the advice, data and media we publish on this blog.



9. Recruiting -- To recruit top talent, you need to be able to communicate your company's values and vision clearly. You can do that in an interview, but you can do it with far more depth and nuance in a blog. As a prospective employee, I'd feel a lot closer to a company that I can understand through 300 high-quality blog posts than through a single About Us page.



10. Company Communication -- Many marketers overlook the internal value of a blog. If you want to make sure your entire company is up-to-date on domain knowledge and the current issues facing your industry, you should blog about them publicly. It's an elegant way of sharing information across your company.


Yesterday New York Times columnist Tom Friedman wrote about a Great Inflection in the U.S. economy. He described it as a "mass diffusion of low-cost, high-powered innovation technologies ...transforming how business is done."



Blogging is a powerful, elegant technology at the core of this Great Inflection Friedman describes -- and one of the techniques that will help your business get through the Great Recession we're in the midst of.

Guest blogger: Rick Burnes, http://www.hubspot.com/
 
For social media marketing teleseminar, visit: http://www.pamperry.eventbrite.com/

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

PR 2.0 = The Evolution of PR, Nothing Less, Nothing More by Brian Solis (guest blogger)



There are many of us running back and forth from the edge to the center who would love to drop “2.0″ from new evolution of PR. Hey, it’s even the name of this blog, and has been for years, but there’s a reason I haven’t changed the name yet.



The subject itself is a catalyst for healthy, informative, and motivating conversations.



I was reminded of this as good friend Kami Huyse shouted on Twitter recently, “I hate PR 2.0 I HATE PR 2.0. I can’t say it any louder, you get my drift. Come on folks, we aren’t software developers here.”



The irony is that when I first started using the term in the mid-to-late 90s during the Web 1.0 era, it was indeed inspired by software development. To reach a state of “2.0” after releasing the first iteration of software is a momentous step – a proof point that we’re on the right track, but that by listening to customers and also innovating, you could constantly release a better product.



And she’s not the only one talking about the so-called PR 2.0 contingent.



Noted PR fortuneteller, Amanda Chapel, captured it so eloquently, “History won’t be kind to PR 2.0, i.e. a moment in time when infatuation with tools replaced understanding of communications.”



It’s clear that there are those who want to help and those who want to cash in. I’m in the help category; so let’s do something about it.



Regardless of terminology let’s just say that there are those who believe…



PR 2.0 = Good Public Relations, i.e. effective communications.*



Yep, that’s a footnote.



*In a perfect world, it is what PR should be and should’ve been all along, but it isn’t.



Somewhere along the way, PR lost it’s way and created a new “sub” standard for what should have been one of the most respected positions within business marketing. Words such as shill, spin, sales, BS, bluff, exaggeration, arrogant, sensationalist, and oblivious, have become synonymous with this once golden profession. While the majority of the PR industry truly believed they were doing the right thing, the truth is that it took the Internet to expose our weaknesses and most importantly, it provided the infrastructure for us to learn from our mistakes publicly.



The reinvention of public relations was sparked ten years ago and its just now gaining momentum.



1) PR as an industry is in dire need of evolution in order to not only stay relevant, but also prove that in the social economy, it can be one of the most effective forms of marketing that cultivates customers, ambassadors, and enthusiasts.



2) Social Media is not New PR. It is a classification of “socialized” media and it is inspiring new PR, but they are not one in the same.



3) Darwinism will weed out those who don’t get it as well as those who pretend to get it (even if they don’t realize they don’t get it).





There’s a tremendous amount of confusion within the globally distributed halls of PR, and instead of debating and focusing our energies on 1.0 vs. 2.0, we should be working together to help people make the migration to new methodologies, strategies, and showcase the tools to participate.



The divide between those who do get it and the people that don’t is oceanic. Equally, there are veterans and opportunistic marketers who “believe” they get it, but actually don’t and are actively pushing this substandard, na├»ve, or manipulative form of person-to-person marketing…and they too must also learn.



Narrowing that chasm is a personal objective for me.



Here’s how I defined it years ago:



PR 2.0 was born through the analysis of how the Web and multimedia were redefining PR and marketing communications, while also creating a new toolkit to reinvent how companies communicate with influencers and directly with people.



It is a chance to not only work with traditional journalists and analysts, but also reach out to a new set of influencers, customers and peers.



No BS, no hype, just an understanding of markets, the needs of people, and how to reach them at the street level – without insulting everyone along the way. PR is evolving into a hybrid of communications, evangelism, and web marketing strung together by the teachings and benefits of sociology and psychology.



Obviously, the Web matured over the years. You could have simply subbed “multimedia” with “new media” several years ago and most recently, “Social Media.” Yet they’re all still relevant.



The classification was simply a reference for reflection, inspiration, and education.



Let me be clearer.



PR 2.0 is the understanding and practice that communications is a two-way process and incorporates the tools, principles, strategies, and philosophies for reaching, engaging, guiding, influencing, and helping people directly in addition to the traditional cycle of PR influence.








Social Media, the interactivity of the Web, and the rise of democratized content indeed represents a much-needed reinvigoration for a tired and complacent industry.



The only reason I run spend my free time writing about this is to spotlight the ongoing evolution of marketing to bring things from the edge to the center so we can all learn and grow together. It’s also one of the reasons I joined Chris Heuer and a group of other pioneers to co-found The Social Media Club. If you get it, share it.



In this regard, the principles and philosophies of PR 2.0 (originally) are truly different and noteworthy when compared to what we practice in traditional Public Relations and what we’re taught in school – although there are some fantastic people out there working to change this, Jay Rosen, Dr. Kaye Sweetser, and Robert French, just to name a few. There’s a balance between old, proven, and what’s new that we must equally embrace in order to be successful and effective.



What’s undeniable is that the Web has created and forced new channels for the distribution of information “at,” “to” and “between” people. It changed everything. It’s forcing traditional media to evolve. It’s creating an entirely new set of influencers with a completely different mechanism for collecting and sharing information, and is also reforming the daily routines of how people discover and contribute content.



The debate surrounding the “name” for this renaissance is insignificant and is a distraction from the more important parade of new and renewed ideas, strategies, and practices that help companies tell their story more effectively, genuinely, and convincingly. People will align with the moniker they believe in as long as it all nets to the same thing at the end of the day.



This isn’t about the critics or those who believe they’re above the rest of us, or even the enthusiasts who are overly passionate about the tools they use for sharing content in Social Media Marketing, this is about those who are learning, and more importantly, who want to learn about how PR can change for the better.



It’s not the tools. It’s the communicator.



It’s not the story; it’s the personalization and the targeted benefits and value proposition that compel someone to not only listen, but respond.



Let’s help those millions of Public Relations professionals and students who are just now, or soon will be, introduced to the new world of communications many of us have already been navigating for years.



They’re embracing the new school of PR as a personal responsibility and commitment to make things better.





New PR is only new until it’s not, and quite honestly, everything simply folds back into Public Relations.



Until we can get the rest of the world on the same page however, New PR deserves its own attention in order to help those looking to learn and understand where they need to be.



PR 2.0, New PR, Online PR, Social Media Marketing, Conversational Marketing, Influencer Relations, Relationship Marketing, Community Marketing, whatever we call it, there’s no denying it is representative of a shift in communications.

It’s migrating from a broadcast mechanism to a hybrid assembly of traditional PR combined with web-savvy, social-awareness, intelligence, and a real understanding of markets.



These more enlightened communicators get it and can effectively ignite relationships with people directly (conversations) and through peer-to-peer influence. One-to-many PR does not dissipate either; it becomes more targeted and informative.



For over ten years, we have had the ability and the privilege to virtually communicate directly with people, complementing our traditional channels of influencer relations.



The difference though, is that we’re required to participate in a more informed and intelligent way. It’s quite simply the minimum ante to jump in. Unfortunately, however, many communications professionals are merely using the same old tools and strategies to reach a very sophisticated group of consumers.



It’s not just about “finally” getting on Twitter, blogging, podcasting, creating profiles on social networks, putting videos on YouTube or uploading artwork on Flickr. These tools will come and go. It’s about what you do with them to create mutually benefitial relationships within each online community.



Be the person you want to inspire.



It all comes down to social sciences and the understanding, that New PR and Social Media Marketing is guided by sociology. The study and observation of online cultures, their interactivity, and the humanization of what it is we’re hoping to carry into these important communities will by default, improve the foundation for forging successful and mutually beneficial relationships. That’s where it all starts. Spin, hyperbole, messages, pitches, blasts, and voicemails have no place in the new world of communications.



Think intelligently.



Whether we’re talking about traditional PR or new PR, it was and is still rooted in relationships.



Online and offline PR require strategies that were supposed to be part of PR all along (know what you’re talking about and to whom your talking, who/what you represent and why it matters to the people you’re trying to reach).



In my opinion, there is no such thing as PR 2.0 as a practice. It is simply a game-changing mantra. But, if 2.0 is a mantra for evolution and change, then yes, it implies that there was, and still is, a traditional way of looking at things.



Whether you subscribe to the label is moot. If you believe in the reinvention of a more socially conscious, informed, and relationship-driven form of public relations, then that’s all that matters. Call it whatever you want, just as long as you contribute value to the evolution instead of stealing from it.

Guest blogger: Brian Solis
Brian Solis is Principal of FutureWorks, an award-winning PR and New Media agency in Silicon Valley. Solis blogs at PR2.0, bub.blicio.us, and regularly contributes marketing & tech insight to industry publications.



He's a published author and an avid speaker on the topic of new marketing and engagement. Solis is among the original thought leaders who paved the way for Social Media. He's a co-founder of the Social Media Club and a founding member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup


Register to Social Media Marketing Teleseminar: www.pamperry.eventbrite.com (get free mp3 on Be the Media)

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