PerkettPR Turns 15 – Thank You!

ppr_15_anniversaryIt’s hard to believe that this month, PerkettPR has been in business for 15 years! I started the agency with a vision to deliver a unique and valuable experience for companies seeking a better marketing and PR partner. Although we started with a focus on VC-funded startups, we have expanded our expertise over those years to include servicing some great public companies as well – Fleetmatics, Constant Contact, WebEx, Time Warner Telecom, Juniper Networks and many more. We continue to work with startups that need creative, effective and amazing market launches – and to build crediblity, awareness and engagement for more established companies around the world in the tech, higher education, health care and consumer lifestyle industries.

Like any 15-year-old, we’ve got the energy and excitement to continue with unbridled enthusiasm and a belief that we’re unstoppable. Unlike most 15-year-olds, we know who we are, what we want to be and where we’re going. That’s not only a nice feeling, but a great place to be in order to deliver tremendous value to our clientele. We don’t need to be the biggest, but we do strive to be the best. We don’t need to be the most popular, but rather we’re grateful for the network we do have. (We take great care to support those who support us.) Our corporate vision is to be the most innovative, creative and effective communications partner that our clients have ever worked with.

Thank you to everyone who has believed in that vision – especially clients who have hired us repeatedly over the last decade and a half. To have folks move on to other companies and hire us over and over again is always the best testament to our ability to deliver ROI. I’d like to specifically thank people like Karen Leavitt, John Burnham, Donna Parent, Greg Shenk, Mark Pascarella, Mike Doyle and Jonathan Tang – clients who have not only hired us more than once, but recommended us to others. Thank you to so many industry friends like Jon Swartz, Michael Krigsman, Morris Porter, Stephen Hultquist, Ann Handley, Christen Rice Gentile, Marie Domingo, Mike Pratt, Stephen Dill, Jeremiah Owyang, Rick Faulk, John Jantsch, Joel Libava, Terry Frechette, Robert Scoble, Tyson Goodridge, Sarah Austin, Chris Selland, Aaron Strout, Karen DeWolfe, Dayna Verstegen, Diane Hessan, Kate Brodock, George Hulme, Russell Mix, Jennifer Leggio, Don Dodge, Ramon Ray, Mitch Wagner, Tory Johnson, Michael Arrington, Rachel Happe, Laura Lake and others who have worked with us in various ways over the years – whether writing with or about us, inspiring us through engagement, sharing their opinions on our clients or our campaigns, serving as pseudo mentors and advisors, or simply speaking up on our behalf during times when we could not. Your support – subtle or blatant – has helped us to continue to work with great people and companies, and to learn and grow in a myriad of ways.

There are so many other people – family, friends and of course, current and former employees, even industry “frenemies” – who I am eternally grateful to for helping us reach this 15th year. I have learned from each of you – both good and hard lessons – and I am grateful for such a strong network of intelligent people to learn from every day. I am also very blessed to have such a great group of employees – many of whom have stayed with PerkettPR for more than half of its life! And anyone one who knows the typical retention rate of an agency, knows why that’s such an amazing attribute.

Speaking of our employees, a few of them thought it would be funny to celebrate 15 years by sharing awkward teenage photos of us at that age. Click here to Like us on Facebook and see them – and to find out “What we know now that we wish we had known then.”

Here’s to another 15! Thank you!

Persuasive Picks For Week Of 7/1/13

uncovering-true-insightsIt’s undeniable that social networks are embedded in our daily lives. Business2Community contributor Jeff Bullas thinks is worthwhile to put that in some perspective and see what the social media landscape looks like from time to time. In review, he posts 5 Insights Into The Latest Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics to ponder.

If there’s a bible for the new media world, it’s likely The New Rules of Marketing and PR. MarketingProfs‘ Ann Handley sits down with author David Meerman Scott to talk about the revised and updated edition, What’s New With the New Rules of Marketing and PR, and whether the new rules are still… well, new.

status-update-tipsDo you want to know how to dramatically improve your social media response rates? Write better tweets and status updates. Shea Bennett AllTwitter co-editor explains  more in his post 10 Quick Tips For Better Status Updates On Twitter And Facebook [INFOGRAPHIC], courtesy of The Social Skinny.

Just writing your message online is not enough. In order to effectively persuade your readers, it is essential to understand how people consume content online. Austin-based writer and editor, Laura Hale Brockway summarizes a recent Nielsen Norman Group report, and subsequent Jakob Neilsen Alertbox Post:  “Website Reading: It (Sometimes) Does Happen.The report details how effective page layout and good information architecture can guide users to your content. Laura offers her take on some practical advice from the report in 13 writing tips for the Web via PRDaily.

PerkettPR Staff Picks for Must-Read Summer Books

Photo courtesy of m-trends.org

Photo courtesy of m-trends.org

It’s safe to say that communications professionals are pretty voracious readers. After all, our business is staying on top of and in the mix with massive amounts of content, so there’s more than a good chance that our eyeballs track back and forth across screens and pages for at least part of each day.

But when was the last time you really read something? No, we’re not talking about Google alerts, news scans, blogs or client placements – but a good old-fashioned (or digitized for our Kindle/iPad contingent!) book.

Summer is the perfect time to make a dent in your personal library – and if you want a little inspiration, check out what’s on our must-read list while squeezing in some vacation time before the kids head back to school:

Professional/Business Reading

Personal/Pleasure Reading

  • South of Broad by Pat Conroy: “Not a quick beach read, but his stories about the south and all of its many charms are always a nice escape to somewhere warm and different. I really liked Beach Music, too, and would recommend that first to see if you like Conroy’s style.”
  • Inferno by Dan Brown: “Brown’s books speak to my appreciation of history and my interest in the impact of religion on society and culture, as well as my (and everyone else’s) fascination with a good conspiracy theory.”
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins: “I’m a little slow to the party with these, but better late than never! They’re chock-full of cliffhangers, so I’m on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what Katniss Everdeen will face next.”
  • Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture by Andy Cohen: “I’m reading it on the iPad and absolutely loving it…super funny!”
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: “I quickly read through this and book two (Shadow of Night) and am now eagerly anticipating the next in the series. A history scholar and teacher, Harkness combines her passion and curiosity to create an amazing, rich story and uniquely compelling characters that stay with you long after the book ends.”
  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer: “If you’re looking for more intellectually stimulating material…I just finished it, and it’s terrific!”
  • Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich: “I’m hooked on them and am eagerly awaiting number 20. Any book that has you laughing out loud is better than therapy as far as I’m concerned!”

If one of your favorite books didn’t make the list, let us know. What are some of your recommended summer reads?

Everyone Works for the Marketing Department

Last night I was fortunate enough to make my way with Heather Mosley to deCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA for Marketing Profs Smart Marketers Tour – Boston. In addition to a gorgeous venue and evening, the crowd was lively and the speakers – interviewed by Matt Grant of Marketing Profs – were excellent. I’m also a big fan of Marketing Profs Chief Evangelist, Ann Handley – so anytime I get to see her and chat for even a minute is a bonus.

As a former Harvard Square resident, I was very interested to hear the lessons learned – and continued innovations of – Harvard Bookstore’s Jeff Mayersohn, who bought the store in 2008. He talked about the challenges of buying a book and mortar business in an industry that has been rumored to be dying. He mentioned that many people told him he was “insane” – and I believe it is that kind of insanity that helps us reach disruption. You also have to be a little bit crazy to be an entrepreneur – it’s the only way to survive. Jeff’s craziness has obviously paid off, as the business has doubled its growth under his tenure, through online marketing, innovative events and unique offerings such as the Expresso Book Machine, which prints any book in just five minutes. In addition to his interesting tales of business and marketing success, Jeff reminded us why technology isn’t going to replace books but rather, can enhance the experience of reading and buying them. He had plenty of powerful and interesting quotes that rang true for me, such as “When you go into a bookstore, the best experience is finding a book you didn’t know existed but you just have to read.” He’s right – it’s akin to any online shopping for me, really. Online is about speed and convenience, but it is never as fun as going into a funky store draped in goodies that I can touch, feel, try out and discover.

The second guest was Lou Imbriano, the former vice president and chief marketing officer of the New England Patriots and current president and CEO of TrinityOne, a marketing strategy and business advisory consultancy, and author of Winning the Customer. Lou is a character. In addition to his self proclaimed “freakin’ brilliant” marketing ideas, he is chock full of sound bytes that had everyone Tweeting away during his interview. Lou took it well when members of the audience chided him a bit for touting his success for an organization that has different challenges – and deeper pockets – than most traditional marketers face. Nonetheless, Lou gave us interesting insight into his experiences in marketing a beloved brand through good seasons and bad, and how he continued to create new milestones for himself and his marketing team to surpass. I also loved that he talked about teaching everyone in the organization why marketing matters. In fact, one of his most controversial quotes of the night was,

“Everyone works for marketing; everyone needs to be a custodian of the brand.”

Now, non-marketers might not like this. Sales, HR, customer service, maybe even the C-Suite might take offense. But if they can set aside their egos for a minute and think about it, they’ll realize that although not technically accurate, it’s true. And of course, marketing works for every division in the company as well. Lou had some of his own great examples of this – such as the receptionist of the Boston Red Sox answering the phone in a shrill voice and having someone have that as their first interaction with the brand. I’ve said before in previous posts that marketing’s work is wiped out if the other departments of a company don’t hold up to and follow through on the promises marketing publicly makes to customers and prospects every day. Marketing can work consistently to develop a beloved brand, but no doubt that even one bad customer service experience can tarnish all that hard work faster that you can say “Twitter.”

In fact, I had my own such experience on the way to the event. I had recently received a new credit card from TJX – after many trips to Marshalls and as a self-proclaimed “Maxxinista,” they finally convinced me to open a rewards card useable across their stores. So while driving to the MP event, I called to activate my card. Only I couldn’t because they kept telling me that my birth date was inaccurate. (Um, no.) After 15 excruciatingly frustrating minutes of just trying to get off with the computerized system and on with an actual human being, I finally explained the situation and thought surely, this customer service rep could help. I was sure she’d recognize that human error on their end (inputting my DOB into their system incorrectly) meant they should run my social security number and see that they indeed had my DOB wrong, and simply fix it so I could activate my card. But no, this woman explained to me that it would a multiple step process on my end to fax in a bunch of information in order to fix this issue that was their mistake. By this point, I was beyond agitated and explained to her that I thought it was ridiculous to put the customer through all of these extra steps when 1) the error was clearly on their end and 2) they could run my ss# and all other details and confirm that they indeed have my DOB wrong and simply fix it. She didn’t seem to care that I was frustrated and just offered to cancel the card. That further irritated me because anyone knows that opening and closing credit cards haphazardly can negatively affect your credit rating. Furthermore, I found it absolutely ludicrous that in the end she actually did offer to activate the card for me – but told me I couldn’t pay it online or access my rewards. In other words, without my correct DOB I can still spend and shop with the card – but I CAN’T PAY YOU in the fastest, easy way possible (online)?

This experience – a cumulative 20 minutes – just tainted my feelings about the TJX brand even though technically, it’s probably the financial institution behind the card that is to blame (well them, and the woman behind the counter at Marshalls that made the error in the first place and is thus causing me this massive headache just to SPEND MONEY WITH TJX). Case in point – even your partners work for your marketing department. This partner of TJX left a bad taste in my mouth for going back in and spending more money with them any time soon.

So, what Lou said resonates with me – and it should resonate with you. You likely pay a lot to market your company, product and brand. Why not let other departments recognize their role in “working for marketing” – upholding those brand promises in every single interaction they have with customers? From the customer service rep to the receptionist, intern at a networking event to CEO speaking at a major conference, everyone does indeed have an impact on the marketing of your brand.

Christine Perkett and Heather Mosley of PerkettPR at Boston's MPTour

Thanks for the soundbytes, Lou, and for a great event with many fascinating lessons, Marketing Profs!

Perkett’s “Persuasive Women” Series Continues with Ann Handley

PerkettPR is very excited to enter 2012 with a great new interview in our “Persuasive Women” series. This new interview is with someone we truly admire, Ann Handley. Ann is a 12-year veteran of creating and managing digital content.

Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, which provides marketing know-how for business people through a full range of online media, and the co-author of the best-selling Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts,Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (Wiley, 2011) (www.contentrulesbook.com).

Previously, she co-founded ClickZ.com and was a journalist for the Boston Globe as well as a writer and editor for a host of other publications, including those magazines in the back pockets of airline seats.

Currently, she writes for MarketingProfs as well as its blog, the MarketingProfs Daily Fix , a blog in the top 20 of the Advertising Age Power150. She can also be found at the Huffington Post , American Express OPEN Forum, and her personal blog, Annarchy.  She also writes a monthly column for Entrepreneur magazine. On Twitter, she has more than 100,000 followers @marketingprofs.

What motivates you to get out of bed every day?

Actually, Instagram motivates me BEFORE I get out of bed. I typically check the photo-sharing social network while I’m still lying prostrate — I love the network’s visual storytelling capabilities, which only reminds me how awesome content is, which only reminds me how awesome relationships with content creators are, which only reminds me how amazing the rest of my job is, which only reminds me that I need coffee….

What keeps you up at night?

Pretty much anything. I don’t sleep well.

But here goes….

What keeps me up at night professionally: My sincere regret that more companies don’t see the full, robust, incredible, awesome potential of content! That more companies don’t see their content and online publishing efforts as the cornerstone of their marketing, but instead bolt it onto existing efforts in a freakish, unattractive way.

Also professionally: When I have a big speech coming up — like I do now next month in Kansas City  — I’m fretting about that in the middle of the night. In a healthy way, probably (the nerves motivate me to do my best). But it’s fretting, nonetheless. (Oh and by the way, you should come.)

What keeps me up at night personally: I admit I’m a worrier. I worry about my college-aged kid, who lives in an iffy neighborhood near his school. I worry about my daughter, just because I’m a mother. I worry about global warming and the polar bears. I occasionally regret having the second burrito at dinner. How much room do we have….?

I’m kidding.

Sort of.

What’s one sentence or phrase you find yourself using all the time?

“Solve or share, don’t shill.” It’s the mantra I repeat ALL. THE. TIME. to companies looking for a bottom-line guide to their content strategy. And I like it because it sums up — in five simple, alliterative words — what should guide the content you produce. Another way of saying that, is: “Put the needs and wants and perspective of your customers first.” But that’s not nearly as memorable.

Secondly, I find myself quoting Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” liberally these days, just because I’ve had the song stuck in my head for weeks now. (This is what happens when you carpool teens around.) But that can get awkward in certain circles. So I don’t think I’ll mention that here.

How has your life changed from five years ago to today? Where do you hope to be five years from now?

I’m five years older. So there’s that. Also, as Content moved center stage with marketers, I found I actually had something to say! So I wrote a book, “Content Rules” with C.C. Chapman. That has been a rewarding, rich experience in so many ways: It has opened up new and interesting doors, and in it I found a great friend (and “wubby” [work hubby]) in C.C.

More generally, I also like the perspective I have now, which I didn’t have a few years ago. Despite what I said above about worrying — I don’t take things as seriously as I once did. I have more fun in my life and work, and I’m grateful for my awesome kids, my wonderful man, my rewarding social relationships, and my work at MarketingProfs for creating the path to that.

Where do I hope to be? Sheesh. I always have trouble with prognostications. But if I’m as happy as I am now… I’m good. If content is front and center for Marketing, then I’m really good. If everyone here reading this is still caring about what I have to say in five years — if I feel more connected to people and not less, so — well, that would be something, wouldn’t it? (I told you I’m terrible at crystal-ball gazing.)

When was the last time someone inspired you?

I’m inspired every day by the people around me creating and curating content via Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and the like. I’m inspired by my colleagues at MarketingProfs to do more things, to push harder, to be more. I’m inspired by people who take chances, who try new things, who leap into the unknown — like friends who start companies and make changes and do other things than I can’t list here.

But generally, I’m inspired by honesty: People who do things that they are driven to do, that rings true for them, that they are compelled into. Relationships that are real. Companies that create stuff which is truly a mirror of the soul of who they are, or who they want to be. I love that. And I find it incredibly rewarding and inspirational. I want to steep in it. I want to fill some social hot tub with it and sit in it for a good, long time.

When was the last time you got pissed off?

(LOL — this is only time I’ve ever been asked this question — and I love it!)

I got really ticked a few hours ago at my (teenage) kids, who appear allergic to any sense of order in the family room. Seriously? That laundry basket of clothes has needed folding for a week. The bowl of grape stems on the entertainment center?!

Am I your housemaid? THAT. PISSES. ME. OFF.

I probably should come up with something more broadly appealing or more profound — certain candidates surging in the polls do not thrill me — but you asked “last time,” so parents out there: Can you relate?!?!?

What was the last thing that made you laugh so hard you cried?

Tina Fey’s Bossypants. If you haven’t read it, I can’t imagine why not. You will pee your pants. (If you’ve had kids. If you haven’t, you’ll just laugh.)

How does your personal brand influence your job? Or are they one and the same?

I can’t say I fully understand what the term “personal brand” means. Possibly I’m not sophisticated enough. Here’s how I see it: I am who I am online, and sometimes I represent the brand I work for (MarketingProfs). I don’t change who I am because of that, although I probably modify my behavior a bit (as in: I don’t swear, or I don’t get too personal). So I guess the short answer is that they are pretty closely aligned.

How do you manage your role at MarketingProfs, your personal brand and the rest of your life so smoothly? What’s your secret?

I don’t think there is a secret, really. I love my job. I love the rest of my life, too. I guess my secret is that I don’t fake it. But is that a secret? I can’t imagine so — it just is.

I think — as in most things in life — relationships are key to everything. I do well on social networks because I truly value the relationships I build there. I treasure my personal relationships. I value my friends. This isn’t groundbreaking, I’m sure. But it makes my life worth living.

Can you share your favorite work tools for collaboration, productivity, or organization?

MarketingProfs is a virtual organization. So Skype is a connectivity and productivity and collaboration tool. As is Basecamp. As is Dropbox.

I also like our Team ‘Profs private Facebook group, along with a handful of other private groups I belong to that allow me to check my sanity and deepen relationships. See above.

What’s next for you in 2012?

The paperback edition of Content Rules comes out in the spring. MarketingProfs continues to grow and morph. I’m celebrating my one-year anniversary as a columnist for Entrepreneur magazine (http://www.entrepreneur.com/author/1726). Otherwise? I think I said I was terrible at looking ahead….