“Influencers Who Inspire” Our Latest Interview with Rebecca Lieb of the Altimeter Group

Rebecca’s experiences as an editor, marketer and analyst with the Altimeter Group, make her a perfect expert resource for our Influencers Who Inspire series.  She is also the author of The Truth About Search Engine Optimization and most recently, Content Marketing.

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What is your favorite outdoor activity in the summer and where do you recommend going to do it?

Hot weather and I are not the best of friends. Aquatic is my way to deal. Swimming laps, bodysurfing in the ocean, or scuba diving (a longtime passion) – if it’s summer, look for me near the water!

You have spent parts of your career as an analyst, an editor and an author; which of these positions is/was the most rewarding? If you can’t pick one, what are/were the highlights of all three?

I really view all these positions as a continuum. I’ve spent my career exclusively in media, first film, then television, then digital – with a bunch of print experience sprinkled throughout (periodical and book publishing). My job has always been to scrutinize the media landscape, chart its growth, and how to connect with consumers. I also have substantial experience as a marketer (I don’t just tell them what to do – I’ve done it, too!). Admittedly, my marketing experience is confined to media as well: film and television. So basically, it’s been all media, all the time.

The most rewarding part is easy. It’s been being there as one of the most important developments in the history of media and communications has taken place and taken shape. Undoubtedly, the most exhilarating part of my career has been experiencing and watching the rise of digital channels: the opportunities, the pitfalls, the disruption and the possibilities are endlessly fascinating. Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time, right?

As an editor and analyst you regularly hear from PR representatives pitching you for meetings. What makes a pitch or briefing request stand out to you and /or prompts you to respond quickly?

Easy – the ones that indicate the person pitching has done their job. They know who I am, what I cover, and they tailor the pitch accordingly. You would not believe how many pitches I get about a new hotel opening in Tulsa, or executive hires in the meatpacking industry. My contact information is ‘out there’ in lists sold to the types of spray-and-pray PR firms that give the industry a bad name. The concept of “know your audience” isn’t a new one, but it’s what matters most. It’s also critical to differentiate “pitch” from “press release.” Digital changed the press release. Once the news in on the wire, it’s out there. Don’t ask me [journalist hat on now] to cover it. You broke your own story.

Digital marketers want to know — with the masses of new social marketing tools, platforms, buzzwords and best practices — how do you manage to stay current?

All research, all the time. Really. I subscribe to over 200 RSS feeds and scour them all day long. I stay in the traffic. Every week I have dozens of meetings and briefings with people and companies in the industry. It’s a full time job, and then some, and it requires a lot of focus. In other words, you have to concentrate on what matters to your area of coverage. I don’t look at ALL of social media, for example. My arena is the marketing and media aspect of those channels. I leave deep dives on other aspects to my very capable colleagues.

How do you filter the news? What news sites or influencers do you visit/follow as your go to resources for news content to share each morning? (Do you have a news outlet as your homepage or do you search Twitter for keywords that are meaningful to you?)

As I mentioned above, my RSS feeds are my homepage. When Google folds Reader, it will feel as if the internet is broken for a while. I’m currently experimenting with replacements such as Reeder and Feedly. There are also people I follow very closely on Twitter and Facebook to stay abreast.

In your upcoming keynote at the Banff Media Festival you will talk about Content Marketing in the form of the Paid+Owned+Earned Media Ecosystem. With content lines blurring more and more, who do you see as the ultimate keeper of the content within an organization?

Funny you should ask, because after I completed a research report (co-authored with my colleague Jeremiah Owyang) on the convergence of paid, owned and earned media, I worked on a just-published piece of research entitled “Organizing for Content.” This research deals exactly with the question, “where should content live in the org chart?” Precious few companies have a an actual content division, yet marketing, PR, communications, community, social media and a myriad of other company components are invested in finding, creating and disseminating content. I invite your readers to download the report, which outlines six frameworks for enterprise content orchestration.

In your opinion, what has been the most important change in SEO tactics over the last few years? How do those changes impact the way we should think about content marketing today?

When it comes to SEO, the fundamental things apply. Good content, well-written, keyword-conscious, and don’t spam or be blackhat.  I was fascinated last year when I conducted research into WHY major brands engage in content marketing. In 57 interviews with really major companies (e.g. Coke, IBM, ToysRUs, Adobe, etc.) only one single brand (Nestlé) mentioned SEO as a reason behind content marketing. My instinct is this isn’t because SEO is unimportant – au contraire – but because it’s no longer channel du jour. Like email (which, by the way, not one single brand mentioned – and what’s in an email if not content?), SEO is becoming a background channel. Like wallpaper – there, but no one’s really talking about it anymore. They’re looking at mobile, social, video. That’s fine – but beware Bright Shiny Object Syndrome, which can cause you to ignore basics and fundamentals.

What one piece of advice (perhaps from your most recent book on the topic) would you offer to a marketer starting a content marketing campaign today?

Strategy before tactics! We’ve seen this occur again and again. A new technology or channel is launched and someone says, “Hey! We need a [Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter presence, etc.]. A smart marketer counters with “Why?” What’s the goal? What are the required resources? The budget? How will we achieve it? Produce it? Measure it? Who’s the audience?

On a lighter note, we noticed that you tweeted the tongue and cheek Onion post, the other day, about how much people “love” being sold by sponsored content like videos on publications’ websites. Just for fun, can you share with us your favorite example of sponsored content gone wrong?

Wow – you just reminded me of something that goes way back in my career, back in the 90s when I ran global marketing for a major cable TV network. I came into the office on a Monday morning following the weekend when Princess Diana was killed in a car crash. A rival network was sponsoring a touring exhibit of her gowns. Across the back cover of a major magazine was splashed their ad, with the banner headline: A Dress to Di For!

Lastly, when you venture out of NYC for business travel what is the one thing you take with you, the one thing you can’t wait to leave behind and the one thing you can’t wait to come home to?

1. Laptop

2. Hmmm…maybe my MTA Metrocard?

3. It’s a tie: the cats and the boyfriend

Interested in learning more? Please leave any questions or comments for Rebecca below.  You can also catch up with her at the Altimeter Group website or follow her on Twitter.

Lights, camera, action, oh my?

clapper with handsJust as personal computers and the Internet have sparked the writer and publisher in everyone; camera enabled devices and social media are now making videographers and producers of us all. Video has not only become a part of everyone’s social life, it’s become a necessary skill in the public relations and marketing world.

Shooting and editing video has never been more accessible. Whether you use a laptop, tablet, phone, helmet, or glasses you have a video camera at the ready. With a little luck, you can capture the fun, happy, mundane or big moments in your life with ease. Where do you start when you need to shoot video in a professional capacity? A shaky camera and bad lighting may fly in coach, but a poorly shot video will lose its charm in business class.

Here are some simple tips to consider for your next video shoot:

  • Use a tripod if/whenever possible.
  • Position your subject (or yourself) a little to the left or right of center and leave a little headroom at the top of the frame.
  • For online video, avoid pans (horizontal movement of the camera) and zooms (focusing in or out using the zoom feature on the camera).
  • Don’t shoot your subject in front of a window or with the sun behind them, the best light source comes from behind the camera. If you happen to have a lighting kit – or even a few floor lamps – check out Media College’s illustrated guide to Three Point Lighting Technique.
  • Use the viewfinder on the camera to watch the interview at the same time that you look over the camera and make eye contact with the subject. This puts the subject at ease, gives him/her someone to look at and also makes the interview more natural-sounding.
  • If your subject will be looking off camera for cues, it will work best if you sit next to the camera and have your subject focus their attention towards you, not the camera, and you provide cues. This also helps put the subject as ease and makes the interview feel more natural overall.
  • Don’t make any sound at all when your subject is talking. Flipping pages, coughing, moving in chair, etc. can all get picked up by the camera’s microphone and will surely sound undesirable to viewers.
  • If your subject stumbles in their response, instruct them to relax, gather their thoughts and respond again. Make sure they do not feel rushed.
  • If your subject is willing, consider shooting multiple takes. When editing footage, it is always helpful to have multiple takes to choose from. If nothing else this offers your subject the opportunity to run through the process and to feel more at ease in subsequent takes.

Circle back after the shoot for Part 2, where I’ll discuss choosing a video editor and provide some helpful editing tips.

Have some helpful tips of your own? Please leave a comment below.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 06/13/11

Tony Hsieh9 Questions: Tony Hsieh, Zappos
Get a quick injection of entrepreneurial motivation from this quick and inspirational interview with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh on the American Express Open Forum.

Take a Twitter Audit
Chris Brogan provides 10 questions for you to answer that will help in determining how effective your efforts on Twitter really are.

Should all your staff be engaging in social media?
Letting your entire staff engage in the social space on behalf of your brand can be a tough idea to grasp, not to mention implement with success. Gain some insight on how to approach allowing this in your business via this eConsultancy blog guest post from FreshNetworksMatt Rhodes.

7 Ways to Gain Leads Through Social Media Networking
If used properly, social media has the ability to help you gain more leads, close more deals and build more business partnerships. The SEO Agency’s Tony B share some basic tips to help start increasing your business’s lead generation in the social space via this post on SocialMediaToday.com.

Social Media Videos: The Custom Creative Paradox
Poptent President Neil Perry encourages brands to continue publishing video to their social platforms, but first urges some careful and creative planning in the subject matter and usefulness of video-based content creation.

Yes, Content Rules… With a Clear Strategy

We’re proud sponsors of tomorrow’s launch party for the new book Content Rules by Ann Handley (Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs), and C.C. Chapman (founder of DigitalDads). We’re big fans of both authors and know their ongoing content quite well – so I know the book will become a social media business bible of sorts.

Content has been on my mind quite a lot this week as we’ve been working with clients to create marketing and sales content. One thing I’ve noticed is that many businesses are getting caught up in creating content but have no strategy behind it. They want us to create a custom Facebook tab or an event microsite or a video to tell a story. But what I’ve found is that they aren’t always thinking about who they want to tell the story to, or what they want the story to accomplish – or even what action or return they are expecting from issuing their content. And, they’re usually not sure where they want the content to live – or why they want it in a certain place over another.

Jumping into content development without a strategy in mind is indicative of some of the social media hype. Brands just want to get “something cool” out there and they aren’t thinking about the RRR – resource to return ratio. At the same time, many complain that involvement in social media takes too much time and the ROI isn’t yet clear. That’s what happens when you don’t have a strategy!

Creating content for content’s sake is not a good use of your resources: time, money or people. It’s one of the reasons that I believe PR and marketing should be involved in the social media process for businesses. Sure, the marketing department doesn’t have to create the content necessarily, but they should have a hand in helping to shape the messages within it, as well as where it should live and how it should be promoted. Marketers are experts at messaging – and if your content has an empty or off-kilter message, it’s just noise.

Here are a few simple things businesses should be thinking about before they jump into creating social media content:

  • What do we want to share?
  • In what form do we want to share it?
  • Who do we we want sharing it? (CEO? Customers? Partners? Spokesperson?)
  • Who do we want to say it to?
  • Why will they listen/watch/read/care?
  • What do we want them to do as a result? (If anything)
  • What will we consider a success as a result of creating this content?
  • How will we track and measure that success?
  • What resources do we need?
  • Do we expect people to interact with this content? Share it? Write about it? How do we make that happen?
  • Where do we want it to live?
  • How will we share and promote it?

It sounds simple, but you would be surprised at how many brands jump into content development without asking these basic questions. They see something that worked for another brand (ex: Old Spice) and they say, “Hey, we can do that!” – without thinking about how it applies to their customers, their business and their goals.

Don’t create noise. Create content with a purpose. A purpose comes from defining a clear strategy before you begin.

Got more tips for businesses looking to create social content? We’d love for you to share them in the comments. Thanks for reading!

So you think you can intern? PerkettPR launches contest for first-ever internships at digital PR agency

If you’ve read this blog you know we talk a lot about the impact that social media is having on the PR world. Recognizing the value of an integrated agency approach, we’ve expanded our services over the last two years to include social media and digital production services – all of which we provide in-house (as opposed to outsourcing, which many agencies do). As a result, Our PR strategies call for a lot of new thinking, digital tactics and technical capabilities. We also recognize (along with the experts that we respect) that the recipe for success is still being perfected. We believe bright people with good ideas and an interest in the future of communications can have an impact right now.

Are you up for discovering new paths to success for clients?  Do you see value in digital communications and social media for marketing and PR? We want to hear from you! We recognize that the newest generation of employees entering the workforce are more naturally inclined to have this skill set in place. Therefore, for the first time in over a decade of business, PerkettPR is looking for interns that are capable of opening our eyes to new possibilities, executing on important communications strategies and excited to learn just how a PR firm helps companies and brands effectively communicate with key audiences.

Think you’ve got what it takes to intern at a virtual agency? Enter our contest for the chance to work with a nationwide, senior-level team in either Boston, Detroit or San Francisco.

Here are the official application guidelines:

  • The paid internship program will be awarded to up to three accomplished students or graduates with studies in public relations, communications, business, video production, English, journalism or marketing
  • Length of internship will be determined with individual contacts
  • We’re looking – ideally – for one intern in (or near) each city: Boston, Detroit, San Francisco
  • Submissions must be sent via video message (Facebook* or Seesmic**), blog post (yours with a link to ours), Twitter pitch campaign, or on our Facebook page. Or, better yet, something you create – show us  something we have never seen before. The submission is open to your creative interpretation – just don’t send us a paper resume. Show us your work digitally.
  • Must have excellent writing and research skills.
  • Must have a fully functional home “office” and be willing to meet and work remotely with co-workers at least once a week
  • Interns will work with PerkettPR’s PR and Social Media teams to study, create and implement social media, digital content and PR programs and services. They may also have exposure to and contact with clients, partners and journalists.
  • Submissions or links may also be emailed to: IWantToIntern[at]perkettpr.com.
  • Finalists will be asked for full resumes.

Applications will be accepted through June 26. A handful of finalists that will then be interviewed for the position in late June/early July.

Here’s what we’re looking for you to answer in your submission:

1.  Who are you, what do you do and where are you?
2.  What is social media?
3.  How does it play a role in PR? How can they both benefit businesses?
4.  What great examples of PR and social media integration have you seen? What makes it great?
5.  Where is the future of corporate/brand communications heading?
6.  List three words people would use to describe you.
7.  Why do you want to work for PerkettPR?
8.  What will you bring to our agency that no other candidate will?
9.  What is your favorite tech gadget or site and why?
10. Who is one person in business that you admire?

*  Video submissions to our Facebook page can be left on our wall after you become a “fan.”

** Video submissions can also be left right here as a reply on this post via the Seesmic widget that is accessible below the comments area. A free Seesmic account is required.