Our Ode To KNOWvember

This month, we thought a lot about what we as a team are thankful for when it comes to our careers in digital marketing and PR. We are, of course, always thankful for our clients, industry colleagues and teammates. But we thought we’d also share what we’re grateful to have learned during our years in the industry – thus, what we know and what we know to say no to as marketers. Click on the infographic to read the details.

Happy KNOWvember!

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Today’s Best PR and Marketing Executives Employ “Creatalitics”

“How do fevers in the human brain produce the dreams and visions that become transformed into blazes of insight?” The Creative Brain

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When I was in college, I was proud to be studying at a University that had its PR program in the School of Business, resulting in a Bachelor of Science in Business degree. This was – and stills seems to be – a rarity in the field. Most PR and Marketing degrees are housed in the School of Communications and/or result in a Bachelor of Arts. In the past, this seemed to make sense for PR – it reflected the creative arts side of the field – writing, event planning, branding, messaging, etc. But today, with the explosion of analytics and data in the field, PR and Marketing executives have to think differently. They need to use both sides of their brain – the right, creative side and the left, analytical side. (Luckily, my degree prepared me for both before the market turned that direction.)

The creative side of the brain is still crucial to coming up with marketing strategies, branding and messages that appeal to people. We have to understand how to entice strong emotions that lead to action. Once that action is taken, we now have to use the right side of our brain to determine if that action resulted in value to our organization (or our clients’ organizations). Our creativity is crucial when it comes to content – we are in fact content creators and publishers in the day and age of social media. It takes fun, whimsy and innovative risk taking to create content that’s really going to stand out. But in order to truly create the best content, we need to use the right side of our brain to analyze how that content – if that content is working.

It’s not enough anymore to say “That was a really catchy headline” or “The logo is awesome” – or even to just write a creative pitch that gets a reporter’s attention. We now need to drill down and, after the reporter writes his or her article, analyze if the messages within drove the right interest. Was the article placed in the right outlet? Did the messages appeal to the right audience? What did they do as a result? Did they click through to our site? Did they buy? Why or why not?

This movement is also reflected in the banter about CIOs and CMOs battling for budget and suddenly sharing some tech responsibilities. CMOs are responsible for more data-driven decisions than in the past, and that includes managing the website’s content (which CIOs also need to make sure doesn’t then result in slower performance or other issues), and purchasing analytical software. As Dell chief information officer Andi Karaboutis recently told ZDNet, “Things for which I work together with Karen [the CMO]? Analytics, big data.”

And thus, today’s best PR and Marketing executives are what I’ve dubbed “Creatalitics” thinkers. They combine really creative and innovative ideas – those “dreams and visions” with data and analysis – the “blazes of insight” that tells them if their creations go beyond initial appeal and into the world of actionable value to the company’s bottom line. How are you using “creatalitics” in your PR or marketing position? If we can help you better undersatnd and merge this new way of thinking into your organization, let me know.

Exploring the Convergence of PR, Journalism and Marketing

Photo courtesy of Tech Cocktail

Photo courtesy of Tech Cocktail

PR practitioners used to have it easy! Remember the good ‘ol days when it was all about our media relationships and campaigns were linear, like this?

  • Step 1: Work with client on strategy; get content.
  • Step 2: Pitch content to media; get placement.

Ok, that’s simplifying things quite a bit, but you know what we mean.

Now, though, the entire landscape has changed with the explosion of the Internet, which has removed virtually all barriers to publication. Suddenly we’re responsible not only for the message, but also the mode and the medium, which follows more of a vicious cycle:

  • Step 1: Coordinate with client on strategy.
  • Step 2: Create actual content, which could be anything from case studies and white papers to blogs, eBooks, guides and all kinds of other collateral.
  • Step 3: Publish content, which runs the gamut from media placements, company blog posts, contributed articles, events and more.
  • Step 4: Promote content via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
  • Step 5: Interact with community on various platforms, reacting, responding and re-adjusting your course, as needed.
  • Step 6: Start from the beginning and do it all over again!

Software Advice‘s article on The B2B Marketing Mentor does a great job of explaining the creation and importance of this new kind of role that merges marketing, PR and journalism functions.

In an nutshell, since we now play a larger part in the production of content (journalism), we’re no longer simply pitching and promoting it (PR), but are challenged to leverage it as a strategic tool for lead generation and brand awareness (marketing).

The only problem is that, well, everyone else is doing the same thing, which means it’s pretty noisy out there as we all compete for the time and attention of our audiences.

That’s where the shift to “inbound” comes in; it’s an offshoot of content marketing that focuses on aligning content with customer interest so that they are “pulled” toward your company, rather than the old-school spray-and-pray methods.

We’ve embraced this, both in theory and in action, with our clients. In fact, we recently attending the Inbound Marketing Summit in San Francisco and the Inbound Marketing Conference in Boston where we talked about how it’s not about being the loudest; it’s about having the right content for the right audience at the right time.

Put simply, the only way we can guarantee our clients are in the media nowadays it to help them become  the media. Content has become their new currency when attracting, engaging, converting and retaining customers.

Savvy PR professionals are embracing their status as content custodians. But the most successful ones will recognize the beauty in marketing’s ability to measure return and directly tie to their clients’ bottom line.

10 Grammar & Spelling No-No’s for PR Pros

proofreadingIf the number one thing on which PR people are judged is our reporter rolodex, grammar and spelling savvy ranks a close second. Make sure you don’t fall prey to some of these common mistakes:

No. 1: Your & You’re
“Your” is possessive, as in “your client” or “your press release,” when “you’re” is a contraction of “you are.” A handy tip: When in doubt, insert that phrase (you are) into the sentence, and use it if it still makes sense.

No. 2: Its & It’s
Same idea here – “its” is possessive, as in “the early bird got its worm,” whereas “it’s” is a contraction of “it is.” Try the same swap in a sentence – you wouldn’t say, “the early bird got ‘it is’ worm,” right?

No. 3: Numbers
According to AP Style, numbers one through nine should be written out, and figures should be used for 10 and above. (Bonus: When writing percentages, always use numerals with the word “percent,” not “%.”)

No. 4: Fewer & Less, More Than & Over
Use “fewer” with things you can quantify (e.g. fewer than 10 pieces of coverage), whereas “less” is used with hypothetical quantities (e.g. Their launch was less successful than ours). Along those same lines, “more than” is used with numbers, where “over” generally refers to spatial elements (e.g. She sent more than 25 tweets; I positioned the logo over the text in the document).

No. 5: Complement & Compliment
To “complement” something is to add to or supplement it (e.g. That color really complements your complexion), whereas a “compliment” is an expression of praise or admiration (e.g. That color looks great on you!).

No. 6: Into & In To
The word “into” answers the question, “where?” – although it doesn’t necessarily need to be a physical place (e.g. I walked into my office). The words remain separate when they happen to show up next to one another in a sentence (e.g. My boss came in to see me).

No. 7: E.g. & I.e.
The abbreviation e.g. is Latin for “exempli gratia,” meaning “for example.” The abbreviation i.e., on the other hand, stands for the Latin “id est,” meaning “that is to say.” Here’s an example: “We like social media—e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.” Or you might write, “We like social media—i.e., we’ve made a point of connecting with others.”

No. 8: That & Who
Always use “who” when referring to people. Otherwise, if you say something like, “employees that are present today in the office,” you’re referring to them as objects.

No. 9: Affect & Effect
“Affect” means “to influence” (e.g. This heat is affecting my ability to concentrate), whereas “effect” is a result (e.g. The heat has had an effect on productivity levels in the office).

No. 10: Alot & A Lot
Trick question! “Alot” is not a real word, so always be sure you separate the two. And, when in doubt, try to replace it altogether with a number or something like “many” or “ample” to sound more professional.

“Influencers Who Inspire” Our Latest Interview with Dan Rowinski, Mobile Editor at ReadWrite

dan_rowinski_headshot (3)This week we are happy to share our latest interview with Dan Rowinski, Mobile Editor at ReadWrite. We follow Dan’s work religiously and are excited to share his thoughts on working with PR people, what he loves about Boston and what he loves about his current role.

How did you transition from covering sports to covering technology? What do you miss about it?

My transition from sports to tech had a lot to do with the advanced study of baseball statistics. In baseball nerd circles, these are called sabermetrics. You ever heard of Moneyball (first a book, then a movie starring Brad Pitt)? For a long time I studied these advanced statistics to the point that I knew them by heart. It awakened a very statistically-driven analyst in me and taught me that I could basically learn anything and break it down into simple, understandable terms for my readers.

After I left TBD.com in D.C., I was on the lookout for a steady gig in either tech, sports or investigative reporting. I like tech and have always had kind of a casual interest in how things are made and then put to use. So, I landed at Government Computer News writing about smartphones. The clincher for me in getting that job was telling one of the editors at GCN about how I had taught myself sabermetrics and how that learning process informed my world view. Hurray for baseball.

What I miss most about sports is being at the arena or ballpark and the competitive but close-knit relationship with other beat reporters. They all may work for different outlets, but it is kind of a club. What don’t I miss about it? The fact that most professional athletes are trained to say absolutely nothing of substance. Lots of, “I trust my teammates and god” (in that order), type of quotes.

As a native of the Boston area, what do you love most about our city?

You ever been the Green Dragon Tavern? It was supposed to be the headquarters of the American Revolution and guys like Sam Adams and Paul Revere met there to discuss the resistance against the British. The actual Green Dragon was torn down in 1854 and the current pub (tucked behind Bell In Hand by all those bars on Union Street) is a few blocks from where the original building was. But, it is still a part of history, of both Boston and the United States. Boston is full of those little types of places. Hell, Harvard is quite a bit older than the U.S.

I love history. I have a degree in it (next to my English degree and Master’s in Journalism). I love living in a city where major history is so casually interspersed with the everyday and modern.

Also, the Red Sox. ;)

As a journalist, what is your biggest pet peeve about PR professionals?

Multiple emails. If I don’t answer the first time, the pitch may have gotten lost but not bloody likely. I am well on top of my email. If a PR person sends two, three, four or more follow ups, I will actually ban them to my spam folder. This is probably the worst possible outcome for a PR person trying to get my attention because it will mean that all subsequent communication from them will go to my spam. There is a good chance I wasn’t interested in the pitch the first time. I don’t have time to respond to everything, so my silence is generally my answer.

That being said, I archive just about every single email I get. It is a fairly large archive at this point. If I am looking for something on a particular topic, I search my email for products, points of reference and people to talk to. It’s a resource, just like Twitter is a resource or Google+ (yes, I use Google+).

Also, don’t ever, ever, ever cold call me if we have not communicated before. I might give you 30 seconds, if you are lucky.

Also, don’t send things to me in the mail (actual, physical mail) if I have not asked for them and am expecting them. The PR person from Mophie once sent me a lunch box before CES with one of their battery packs and some energy bars. Clever, I have to say, but really annoyed the hell out of me.

What has been the most fascinating interview you have conducted over the years?

It was actually a series of interviews in a 24-hour span. When I was still covering government tech and doing freelance sports, I talked to former NASA CIO Linda Cureton and former CTO Chris Kemp. The next day I covered both a Washington Capitals game and then a Wizards NBA game that night (one of those rare days when both teams play on the same day at the same arena and the bull gang has to change over from the ice to the parquet). So, within that day I interviewed both Cureton and Kemp as well as Capitals star Alex Ovechkin and San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan. That was pretty cool.

Of those interviews, Kemp was the most fascinating. This was when tablets were still pretty new and Kemp (who now is the CEO of a cloud company called Nebula) gave me one of my favorite lines ever; “tablets are the gateway to the cloud.” That has stuck with me as I have studied the confluence of the cloud and mobile revolutions.

What do you love about your job?

Learning. I feel like I have gotten another whole degree since becoming a tech reporter. I study everything mobile, all day just about everyday. Been doing it for years now. I’ve gotten to the point where I might be able to cobble together a book or two on subjects like mobile payments and the proliferation of the app. I like to get pretty wonky with my articles sometimes, so I will find and study source code or take a look at new integrated developer environments. Basically, my job allows me to absorb information and that makes me really happy.

Outside of work, what are you passionate about?

I am a pretty big cycler. I have a very nice Jamis racer road bike. Love to get out into the roads in Metro West and do 50 or 60 miles around Lexington and Concord.

After I stopped being a sports reporter, I have always rediscovered the pleasure of being a sports fan. I love baseball. When you are a sports reporter, it becomes a job. Even if your job is to wake up and go watch hockey for a living, there are days (everybody has them) where you just say, “I don’t want to go to work today.” You lose that exuberance that made you a fan in the first place. It took a couple of years for me to get over that but I have found that I can once again watch the Red Sox game and enjoy it without having to worry about filing a story as soon as the game ends.

What is next for you for the remainder of 2013?

Work, work, work. Absorb more knowledge. Get ready for the mobile product blitz that is the holiday shopping season. Looking forward to seeing exactly how Apple has cobbled together the new aspects of iOS 7 with the iPhone 5S. Also want to see whether the concept of the “smartwatch” becomes a popular product item. My editor-in-chief Owen Thomas is not a fan of the smartwatch, but I think it could be really cool. I want to be like Dick Tracy, damnit, and I don’t want to have to tether my smartphone to a watch to be able to do so. A couple scheduled trips to New York and San Francisco (those are the only places I seem to go these days) and then home for Christmas. Trying to take it easy on the travel because my spring travel schedule is brutal (Las Vegas, Barcelona and Austin, Texas).

Other than that, just keep on keeping on.