Persuasive Picks for the week of 04/25/11

Jumping20 Blogs Every Entrepreneur Should Read
Whats that? You’re looking for some new and exciting content to read? This Business Insider post from Alyson Shontell and Bianca Male has enough recommendations to keep small business entrepreneurs busy for quite some time!

Four Ways Leading Companies Are Using Social Media: Lessons For Us All
Ramon Ray shares four easily digestible social media success stories from some well-known brands – in this post on SmallBizTechnology.com.

SMB’s Continue to Increase Social Media Use
Marketing Pilgrim Managing Editor Frank Reed provides highlights from a recent American Express Open Small Business Monitor report that reinforced SMB’s slow and steady march into the deep end of the social media pool.

The shortcomings of Facebook “Likes”
Amielle Lake puts SMS and Facebook “Likes” up against each other to see which can inject a campaign with more juice – in this interesting read on iMediaConnection.com.

Frito-Lay Sets Guinness Record for Facebook Likes
Mashable‘s Todd Wasserman recaps details of Frito-Lay setting the Guinness World Record for highest number of Facebook Page “Likes” within a 24-hour period. Not only is the number they obtained impressive, but Fritos are really tasty when added to a nice bowl of chili and cheese.  :)

Image: Cordey via Flickr

Does Motivation Matter?

As an entrepreneur and business owner, one has to keep a certain level of motivation in order to keep the business moving forward. Even during the worst of times – say a recession – and the best of times, an underlying, sincere motivation must exist for long lasting success. You must also learn how to keep others motivated, even when it’s the last feeling you have personally.

Motivation has been on my mind a lot lately for both personal and professional reasons. Why do people stay or leave a company, why do some return after they’ve left, what are the motivating factors for work other than for a paycheck? What is it that drives relationship success? What is the motivation for someone to change when something isn’t going well? There are a myriad of answers that could fit – but only you know the truth behind your own motivation.

Tying into this topic, yesterday, Michael Arrington of Techcrunch disclosed that he has invested in some of the startups that he (or his staff) writes about on his world-famous blog. Arrington’s claim is that he has always provided full disclosure, but that he wanted to reiterate his stance because “the policy has changed,” he has begun actively investing again and that in the past, the accusations of conflicts of interest by TechCrunch competitors became distracting. Seems sensible – he’s being up front and disclosing his interests. Others have questioned his motivation – citing potential damage to the blog and its staff, and claiming a “clear financial gain in this policy” – but admit that “Arrington won’t find much public criticism in the Silicon Valley community because he has a thin skin and he keeps a list.”

So what is the true motivation behind Michael Arrington’s disclosure? Does it matter? How much does someone’s motivation matter to you if the outcome is right? Does a company’s motivation (getting you to spend money) to treat you well make you wary, even if your experience is positive and you willingly spend? Does an employee’s motivation to work harder, better, stronger – right around review time – matter, or are you just happy they are delivering results? Does the motivation behind a friend’s change in behavior matter to you if they are now treating you better than ever (say you caught and confronted their bad behavior and that’s why they’ve changed)?

Do you analyze motivation enough – of your employees, your partners, your customers? Understanding motivation – as much as we can – can help us to be better business owners, friends, leaders and partners. How much does motivation matter to you?

 

Persuasive Picks for the week of 04/18/11

Content Delivery Are You in Charge of Content Delivery?
Valeria Maltoni expands on how content creation and distribution is changing the face of marketing – and that companies (both SMB and Enterprise) need to understand the importance of using content to meet business objectives.

Say it with Me: ‘Social Media is Part of Marketing’
Many marketers are drawn to social media with the impression that it can provide instant gratification, and most are sorely disappointed after approaching it with that attitude. This SocialMediaToday post from Wendy Bryant urges marketers to view social media as an integrated part of their overall marketing strategy, and she shares a personal experience of how human connection and social media make for marketing success.

5 fantastic examples of interactive video
Many brands have started experimenting with their online video efforts by adding interactive elements to their productions that help drive user engagement and provide a more direct call to action. This iMediaConnection post from Dave Sanderson provides five examples of brands that have incorporated interactive elements into their efforts and the reasons why each one was a success.

Which Social Media Channels Matter the Most?
Choosing which social media platform will get the most attention can be a challenging, but necessary, task. Marketer Ernan Roman provides some insight on how to go about selecting the correct channels on which to focus your interactions – via this article on HuffingtonPost.com.

Social Media Usage By SMBs Often Ad-Hoc
InformationWeek‘s Kevin Casey shares the results of a recent SMB Group study that revealed while small- and medium-sized businesses are more apt to engage in social media than in prior times, many are still doing so without any formal strategy in mind.

 

Stressed PR pros should stress the pros of PR

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.” -Daniel J. Boorstin, historian

Stressed PR ProWhen CareerCast posted a list of the top ten most stressful jobs this week, listing “Public Relations Officer” as the second most pressure-filled career (behind commercial airline pilots), it certainly sparked conversation in the social media sphere. From shout-outs of appreciation by those who made the list to cries of indignation from those who were excluded, there’s no doubt that the list had a polarizing effect on people from every professional path.

With a sluggish economy and an all-too-high level of unemployment, it’s no surprise that job stress is a hot topic. And yes, although I am biased, I do agree that a 24/7 news cycle, infinite avenues of information, smaller budgets, higher stakes and intense deadlines all contribute to PR’s virtual rollercoaster of thrills, chills and spills from one minute to the next. But – while lists such as these do provide a certain sense of validation – they also seem to miss the point.

Any job, regardless of field, is inherently stressful. Why? Because stress is subjective. For every person who shudders at the thought of getting up and giving a presentation, there’s a natural performer who lives for the chance to take to the stage. Sure, CareerCast cites high levels of responsibility for protecting a client’s image, public speaking opportunities, competitiveness and super-tight deadlines as the reasoning behind PR’s #2 ranking on the list. But for people who thrive on a fast-paced environment and who have a propensity for thinking quickly on their feet, it can be a career that is as rewarding as it is challenging.

So what are the pros, according to us PR pros? Check out this list of our top five reasons why PR, as a career path, is still worth considering:

  1. Variety is the spice of PR life: It can vary day-to-day and hour-to-hour (heck, even minute-to-minute), so if you’re looking for a career that will ward off boredom, PR may be a great fit. Particularly for us agency folks, we get exposure to a number of different companies, industries and challenges, bringing something new and exciting every day.
  2. Ability to go both broad and deep: From high-level strategy to media relations, drafting a press release to representing a company at a conference, PR pros have the opportunity to flex numerous mental muscles. But as with every team, you’re only as successful as the sum of your parts, so each member plays a vital role leveraging his or her natural “sweet spots.” For example, one person might be a big-picture thinking and a fountain of ideas during creative brainstorms, while another loves getting into the nitty-gritty of tactical elements of a campaign.
  3. There’s room for everyone: Yes, we are known for being master communicators and bringers of creative ideas, brainstorms and attention-grabbing antics, yet the most successful PR pros also know how to put their money where their mouth is and measure success in the form of analytics and metrics. Because what some dismiss as “fluff,” actually contributes to the bottom line, and we can prove it
  4. Access/interaction with execs: Regardless of where you’re at on the career totem pole, PR pros get excellent exposure to and opportunities to collaborate with senior executives as client companies when, normally, it requires years, if not decades, to secure a spot amongst the C-levels. We not only get the chance to be active participants in shaping the communications strategy of a company, but also get the added gift of learning firsthand about leadership
  5. High risks can translate into great rewards: Sometimes a solid communications strategy can be the determining factor in bringing a company back from the brink when its reputation is at stake. And while, yes, these crisis situations can certainly be stressful, there’s nothing more rewarding than being able to play a sometimes-critical role in helping to save or shape the future of an organization

But enough from us; we’d love to hear from you – what are your favorite parts of the PR gig?

How to be a Good PR Client

In the client/service business, there’s always a lot of discussion about how the vendor can treat the client well, what constitutes good client service and how to yield valuable results. But it’s also important to think about what it takes to be a good client – like any relationship, it takes two. As the economy picks up and marketing budgets return, PR, marketing and social media agencies are adding to their rosters again – so it’s a good time to take a look at what it means to be a good client, in order to get the most out of your agency investment.

First, it’s important to understand why being a good client matters. Being a good client means you’re taking your investment seriously and that you’ve thought about your ROI. It also means that you understand a PR firm can’t work in a vacuum – you have a responsibility as a client to work with your agency as a partner – to provide resources and information, to participate in the process, to ensure decisions are pushed through in a timely manner, and to give thoughtful and productive feedback.

Make the Right Investments

Too often, companies want to invest as little as possible into PR – and yet have great expectations. They compare themselves to other companies who invest 10x what they do into PR and marketing, and expect the same level of awareness, which is unrealistic. The bottom line is that you get in what you put out – both financially and from a time perspective. PR is not only about good communication and strategy, but it’s about the time available to execute on that strategy. Promoting something in one place or only one time is much less effective than a continual stream of information – and having an agency get information out in a consistent manner means they need the time – and the budget – to do so. Yes, good – even great – things can happen on smaller budgets. Just be sure you aren’t expecting $35,000 results on a $5,000 budget.

Check Your Expectations

This is especially important for companies that want “quick hits” – that is, they expect an agency to quickly place really big feature media hits or social media campaigns that drive action – such as buying a product or downloading an app – and don’t want to “waste time” on trend pieces, market overviews that include competitors, product reviews, social media campaigns or other “less important” outlets like blogs. They don’t want to listen to the agency’s counsel on why other elements of PR matter just as much as media relations.

The truth is, a big part of PR is helping to establish, build and promote a brand – not just your product, but a credible and likable entity that people want to do business with and that they trust. This doesn’t happen overnight, or even in one week. Many companies don’t think about brand credibility as it relates to PR – or they don’t really care. They just want to launch a product or service, get media coverage and expect the world to want to buy from them. But for long-term success, it’s necessary to understand PR’s valuable role in building thought leadership alongside product promotion, and to stop comparing yourself to the 500 pound Gorillas in your industry. Unless you’re Apple, Twitter, Microsoft or Facebook, stop expecting your PR agency to get feature articles about you on the cover of Fast Company or Wired when you just launched a week ago (even Twitter, founded in 2006, didn’t land there for a couple of years). In 99% of cases, it’s not realistic. And when your agency gets you in a trend piece that also features those 500 pound Gorillas, respect the process – it’s all a part of building your industry credibility.

Be Respectful

Like any good relationship, an agency/client one is best when there is mutual respect, open communication and a sense of equality. Remember you hired a PR agency to help your business succeed, and you must trust that they are going to do that – understanding they are there as a helpful partner, not an adversary. If you talk openly and frankly with your agency, tell them the real story – including the fact that you do indeed have competitors, or when something goes wrong with the product or service that you offer – and bring them into planning early, they can do a better job. Withholding information, berating your account team when something goes awry, or never taking the agency’s counsel does not make a good, trusting partnership. Even the best PR teams can run into situations where a strategy didn’t work – and was out of their control – like your broadcast coverage being canceled because war broke out and dominated the news.

In the end, any good investment is worth protecting, and that includes the relationship with your PR firm. Make it a positive one and you’ll get more positive results.