PR folks don't get it yet

I found this interesting post from Chris Anderson (author of The Long Tail and Editor-In-Chief of Wired Magazine.) He's tired of getting hammered by PR folks who don't know how to pitch to him via email so he's banned them from his email. To take it up a notch he posted all the banned email addresses on a blog post. Yes, the deer have guns. Here's another example of a PR firm that struck out. Darren Rowse at ProBlogger was providing some insight on this topic recently too.

Forget the Big Fish

Imagine we're in a deep sea fishing contest. You and me. It's a fishing contest for a full day. At the end of the day the winner is the one with the most fish by weight. Though we're in the same contest we have two different approaches. You have assembled the best deep sea fishermen you can find. You have expert marlin anglers since the marlin is one of the biggest (one marlin can weigh over 800 pounds...here's a 560 pound marlin) and most prized fish you can catch. You have the best boat and technological advances for finding the marlin. Catching a marlin is hard work but you've hired the best in the business and you know when you come in at the end of the day with several big marlins everyone is going to be very impressed with your catch.

My crew has decided to take another route. We're going to fish with nets. Our boat and crew is smaller and less impressive than yours and we're going to catch salmon. Salmon are considerably smaller than the marlin weighing anywhere between 6 and 100 pounds each. I know, however, that salmon swim together and a good catch could put us in contention for the prize.

At the end of the day we return with our catches. You had a great day with nine large marlins with a total weight of 5,300 pounds. We only had one catch with 400 salmon. As we offload our salmon on the scales we estimate the average fish in our catch is 28 pounds, much smaller than your large marlins but our team's total catch weight is 11,200 pounds. It turns out the cumulative weight of many smaller fish is much heavier than a few really big fish. We win.

New media marketing is a small fish strategy. I think that's why traditional marketing mindsets are unsure of it. They've never considered a small fish strategy because it's the exact opposite of their focus. Big fish are traditional promotional strategies. Big fish marketing tactics include magazine ads, television and radio spots, billboards, newspaper ads, direct mail campaigns and the like. Small fish marketing includes new media tactics like blogs, podcasts, social networking, online video, social media, etc.

Big fish know they're prized and know everyone wants to catch them which makes them harder catch. They require more effort and more expense with less yield. Small fish are numerous and concentrated. They're cheaper and easier to catch with a higher cumulative yield.

Marketers are fishing every day. Most are going after the limited supply of big fish. A few are going after the hundreds of thousands of smaller fish. Sure, it's great to catch a big fish if you can. Catching big fish is what the industry was built on. Sometimes a really big fish gets you raises and recognition and may even bring a high return.

A funny thing is happening now though. There are more and more small fish all the time and the means to catch them are widely available, easy to use, and often free. Once you know how to catch a lot of smaller fish why would you ever try to catch a big fish again? Forget the big fish.


Five Organizations That Should Not Blog

I find myself recommending blogs on a regular basis. I think it's a great idea for almost every organization but I have also realized there are organizational characteristics that would lead me to say they shouldn't blog. Here's my list of those who should not blog (or use other social media for that matter):

Organizations that don't trust their employees.
If your organization doesn't trust employees then a blog strategy will constantly be plagued by the legal department's involvement or management trying to control the message. If the organization doesn't trust the employees to represent them well without micromanagement, don't start blogging.

Organizations that don't want to hear bad news.
Blogging and other forms of social media are inherently interactive and conversational. Once you decide to jump in you should prepare to respond as needed. If a corporate blogger gets negative feedback or criticism on a service, product, strategy, etc. the right thing to do is respond truthfully and candidly. That doesn't necessarily mean a concession either. The organization's blogger can totally disagree with the the feedback without being disagreeable. What this interaction shows is that the organization isn't afraid to hear and engage people even when it can be negative. If you're not ready for this, don't start blogging.

Organizations that want absolute control over their message and reputation.
Organizations can't, and never have, been able to control what people say about them. To think otherwise is foolish. New media tools allow those conversations that may have previously been private to be more widespread and more easily discovered. If your organization is determined to control every message about it and is under the delusion that it can also control what other people say about it, don't start blogging, it will only create frustration when the facade of control begins to crumble.

Organizations that create by committee.
I have been a part of numerous "writing by committee" situations and almost every single time the final message is so diluted from the original intent it becomes a shell of what it could have been. Blogging by committee is not good for at least two reasons. First, it will take forever to get a post done by the time you get everyone involved and consider their revisions and debate what should stay and what should go. Second, it will very likely not be a candid, fully engaging post, but rather something diluted. Contributors to a blog are good, committees are not. It's not a bad thing to have multiple bloggers for a single blog as long as it's clear to all that the blog was set up that way. If your organizations writes by committee, however, don't start blogging.

Organizations that are slow. One of the true benefits to blogging is that you can create a post in a matter of minutes so there is a wonderful opportunity to respond quickly to a situation in the event that it's necessary. Depending on the industry, response time can make or break how a something is perceived. For instance, if an company had some negative press they could use the blog to respond quickly and provide their perspective. By doing so, the blog post will be part of the news and balance the original negative story. Without the blog the organization will issue a less timely press release if they respond at all and possibly miss a window of opportunity. If the organization isn't prepared or comfortable with a quick response then they will not be fully utilizing the blog. If your organization is stuck on slow, don't start blogging.


Video of the Week: Uh, yeah, that's a good ladder.

The Internet is afire with Gabe and Max's Internet Thing video but I'm going to pass on it as the video of the week. Instead, here's a television shopping channel blooper. It's classic. Just remember: "You have to lock it."

Link for the feed readers:


Off topic: Denver and a Highway

Two things here...

Last week my friend Denver Bierman and his band Denver and The Mile High Orchestra (D&MHO) made it through to the top 12 bands in the new FOX show, The Next Great American Band. The show is on Friday nights so this is my official get out the vote post for Denver and the guys. Tomorrow night is your first opportunity to vote. If you know of Denver and band or like what you see/hear join the D&MHO Facebook group too.

Second thing...this just in from Greg Atkinson of Church Video Ideas :

If you're interested in exploring how ministry videos can enhance your worship services or happen to be a pro at integrating film into your services and would like to expand your existing media library, Highway Video is offering an amazing sale. From now until October 31st, Highway is offering all their DVD's for 50% off.

Also, as a "Thank You" from the Church Video Ideas blog and Highway Video, you can pick one free download of your choice. Visit HighwayVideo.com, select a film, and then enter the coupon code: AFF1A9 at check-out to take advantage of this offer.


Video Conference Five Friends Free with ooVoo.com

Last week I mentioned TokBox as a new, browser-based video conferencing tool. This week I discovered ooVoo (via JaffeJuice via Mitch Joel's podcast) and it's exciting to see a tool launch that can allow live video conferencing with up to six people. I've thought for a while that one of the hindrances with other services was the limitation for only two people to conference. ooVoo will require you to download and install their software but this a great next step in online video conferencing. I can certainly see the benefit for friends, family, and business so it's worth checking out if you use (or have an interest in) online video conferencing...and it's free too.


Successful forumula for Google AdWords

Google AdWords are one of the most simple yet mysterious forms of advertising you'll ever find. On the one hand it's so simple and accessible because anyone can create an AdWord campaign. It's not as if you need to go through an advertising agency or marketing firm to do it. Just visit the site, set up your campaign, and determine what your maximum daily budget will be. It's that easy.

On the other hand, it's a little mysterious how Google determines things like an AdWord quality score (meaning how much you should pay for your AdWords and what position they'll be found in on the search pages) and cost per click. There are some factors that certainly play into things like a high quality score such as a high click thru rate, text relevance between the ad and the page you send people to, and historical keyword performance.

All that being said, there are some things you can do with your AdWords to help your chances. Here's a here is a formula for Google AdWords I've seen work well with several clients:

Headline: Use a descriptive title for your product/service
Line 1: State a benefit or additional description of the product/service
Line 2: State a call to action
URL: Link to a page with text that upholds any claims in the ad

Most people understand the headline and line 1 aspects pretty well but stumble on the call to action. Use words like try, buy, order, find, or browse in that line. A sample call to action line might be "Try a free sample of our product." The only catch here is that if you're going to say this you need to make sure there really is a free sample on the page you send people to or Google will recognize that as a misleading (they refer to it as irrelevant) claim which at best raises your cost per click price and at worst will void your ad altogether.


Video of the Week: David Crowder Rocks with "Guitar Hero"

A few months ago I had my first opportunity to play Guitar Hero on the XBox 360 with Chris. It was a ton of fun and I've heard that some people are starting to modify the guitar controllers for actual real music use. Turns out David Crowder has one he's using in concert...

[HT to Greg Atkinson on the video.]

Link for the feed readers:


Two Tools You'll Want to Use: TokBox & Zamzar

I'm always on the hunt for new helpful tools and I discovered two great ones yesterday...

TokBox (pronounced "talk box") is a free video conferencing service that would be a great alternative to Skype should you want a browser based video system. I've used services like this in the past and they're handy alternatives. In addition to the live conferencing feature you can also record a video and email it to someone from within the TokBox system. That feature alone would be great for personal messages for fundraisers or any organization that wants to take personalization to a new level. If my alma mater's alumni association decided to send me a personal video from the president rather than a postcard, I would certainly be impressed and would be much more likely to consider giving.

I was very excited to discover Zamzar, a free file conversion tool. If you've ever wanted to convert a file from one format to another but weren't sure how to do it, this is the site for you. If you've ever received a document in a format that won't work with Microsoft Word, just upload and convert it here. The conversion also works with audio, image, and video files. I was most excited to discover Zamzar's online video conversion. It's as easy as typing in a link from a YouTube page or any number of other online video sites and loading them into Zamzar and selecting the format you want. I tested it last night with this YouTube video to see if it would work with my new (thanks Fosters!) iPod Nano and it worked perfect.


Big News: Announcing microEXPLOSION media

Well, I guess it was bound to happen. I have officially formed my own new media consulting and development company. The company, microEXPLOSION media, is now officially up and running.

Though I will not be employed through White Post Media I will continue to partner with them and its clients for future new media projects. I'm also planning to do some more writing though it won't all be specifically connecting new media and Christian ministry as this blog has been since its inception. I'll also have news about a podcast starting in the coming weeks.

This blog will also be changing over to a new one for the company and I'll announce that when it's ready to go. Of course, if anyone is looking for new media help I'm available. In fact, here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself.

Do you know...
...the best way to pitch an idea to bloggers?
...how to get thousands of blog readers for your product or service?
...the four things every online video should have?
...how to respond to attack blogs?
...the best formula for effective Google AdWords?
...three things bloggers hate about many websites?
...four things every podcast should include?
...how to distribute your content with widgets?
...which social networking site is the best for your business?
...the best mindset for a new media marketer?
...how to leverage the six categories of web 2.0?

If you don't feel good about your answers to these questions maybe we should talk. My phone number and email address are here in the sidebar of the blog.


A branding expert - David Russell

I had the opportunity to have lunch yesterday with branding expert David Russell. David's an advertising industry veteran who's worked with some of the biggest names in the business. We were talking about new media verses traditional media and the new promotional outlets verses the old promotional outlets. One of those old promotional outlets we were talking about was newspapers. He had a great one liner that I had to share here...

"You'll find newspaper readers every day in the obituaries."
The point was, obviously, that if you're still looking to newspapers (and many other traditional media) to reach your audience, you're promoting through a declining medium. It's declining in reach which means it's declining in focus, impact, and effectiveness. David spoke of the old promotion paradigm where advertisers could place an ad on television or in newspapers and know it was reaching a large percentage of their target audience. David knows that world no longer exists and it was extremely interesting to talk with a guy who's lived in the old advertising/marketing world but recognizes the new one filled with niche markets, new media, high interactivity, and narrowly focused promotional strategies. I believe he's a rare exception to the rest of the industry which is in many way digging in and trying to push the old methods as if they are still as effective today as they used to be.

Additional note: David certainly didn't ask me to do this but I feel compelled to mention that if you are looking for branding development or clarity, David is absolutely your guy. He has a method and perspective on branding that is both simple and profound and applies to just about every organization whether they realize it or not.


Don't Kill Your Blog

I heard recently of an organization that created a blog for a large event they were having. The blog drew a significant audience quickly in the weeks leading up to the event and also saw a surge of traffic and comments in the days following the event. It was a successful blog in almost every way possible, but three weeks later the blog was dead (meaning taken offline and totally inaccessible.) Why? Apparently since the event was over the organization decided it wasn't worth keeping around.

Never mind the fact that the organization just created a valuable asset to communicate about future events (not to mention this was a quick and cheap way to do it.) Never mind they created a great platform for conversations and feedback about the event which didn't exist previously (and now doesn't again.) Never mind they had a huge opportunity to engage the readers with other product offers that they would almost certainly be interested in. The fact is, when they killed the blog they killed multiple opportunities with a highly focused and interested niche of their customers who were prepared to give them their undivided attention. They killed a feedback opportunity, a sales opportunity, and a promotion opportunity.

The bottom line is this: don't kill your blog. It's too easy to maintain even if only at a minimal level and almost always too valuable to kill.


Video of the Week: The NASCAR Coach

I recently discovered my good friend Chris is a new NASCAR fan. This is a fairly recent love for him so I thought he might be interested to see this interview with a NASCAR coach. Just remember...the key is to drive fast and turn left...except when you drive straight.

Here's the link for the feed readers:


How to Seth Godin Yourself

A while back someone asked me if I knew of Seth Godin to which I responded with something like, "Heck yeah, I think he's remarkable." After we talked a bit he asked me how I thought he could "Seth Godin" himself...meaning he was wondering about the secret to Seth's seemingly widespread success through unconventional means and how could he replicate it. The person I spoke to has developed himself as a brand in his area of expertise and sees Seth as a model to follow for further growth. I agreed with his take and gave him the following thoughts on how he might be able to Seth Godin himself (without shaving his head):

Seth leverages his blog. Blogs are unique for many reasons:

  • Blogs have tremendously positive effects on Google rankings because the content is updated regularly and therefore shows Google it's more active than a static website thus ranking it higher.
  • Blogs allow your ideas to be easily distributed by allowing people to reference specific posts and talk about them on their own blogs (thus beginning the word-of-mouth marketing).
  • Blogs give you an immediate forum to expand your base of readers, post new ideas, coordinate a meet up on the fly, get feedback on an idea, or respond to critics quickly and informally.
  • Blogs let people connect with you through comments (though Seth actually doesn't do this on his.) With a blog people get to talk back to you and you can listen but don't have to respond to every comment. It allows you to get valuable and immediate feedback in a way you can't (and won't) get on a standard website or email newsletter.
  • Blogs give you an opportunity for greater to . If a well known blog posts about your blog it will take the awareness to an entirely new level. Though it's possible one could do that without a blog, it seems like bloggers prefer to link to other blogs because they want to reference something specific most of the time and blogs make it possible.
  • Blogs are accepted as more authentic than traditional marketing. With so much marketing today people have natural filters and defenses up to deflect the barrage of ads. Those defenses drop when reading a blog that they respect so if a blogger talks about you, people are more accepting of the idea and more willing to respond or research it further. They're taking the blog post as a personal recommendation from the blogger rather than a professional promotion by marketer.
Seth leverages his audience. He knows he's making the most of his base by always giving them something. He knows that if he gives away valuable ideas long enough he buys the person's attention, respect, and time. He then strategically asks the audience for things from time to time but not in a pushy way, but more like "Hey, I'm doing this and if you want to participate here's what you do..." He displayed this recently with a good idea to promote his new book, The Dip. In essence he told people he would fly to speak to them if they coordinated groups that would purchase five books each for admission. He made the offer and left it up to his readers to take him up on the offer.

Seth limits his accessibility (but is highly accessible in other ways.) Seth is interesting in that as a high profile guy, he answers all of his own email and does it rather quickly. He writes numerous blog posts a week as well. People feel like they know him and he accomplishes that through both his personal email responses and frequent blogging. To see Seth, however, you have to be part of a select group but that doesn't mean he selects you, it means you select yourself. He uses exclusivity to his advantage by teaching seminars to small groups and charging a premium for those seminars. That creates the best possible opportunity for him to make money off the event yet also create demand for those who didn't get in on the seminar and want to get in next time.

Seth focuses on quality. Seth believes that if anything is remarkable (reference Purple Cow) it will be talked about (reference Unleashing the Ideavirus) and then people will buy it. Quality is the key rather than a mediocre product or service with a razzle dazzle marketing plan.

So to sum it up: You can Seth Godin yourself by building an audience, leveraging that audience at key times, limit some forms of accessibility, and wrap the whole thing up in high quality and remarkability.


NeSmith Named Director for Tech Ops at ConnectivHealth

I just saw the official announcement this afternoon that my friend and former colleague, Steve NeSmith, has accepted the position as Director of Technical Operations at ConnectivHealth here in Nashville. Steve is leaving the Broadman & Holman Publishing Group as their Director of E-Business.

I've known Steve since I first came to Nashville six years ago and have always looked to him as a guy who combines a great knowledge of marketing and new technology. Steve really displayed this a year ago as the creator of RealVerse, a weekly video blog that got widespread attention around the country and was even a 2006 Weblog Award nominee. At B&H he put it to work most recently with the Holman TV campaign and strategy. ConnectivHealth seems to be hopping so it will be interesting to see what Steve does there as he gets back to his health care industry roots.

Top Online Video Types - Funny Videos Win

A new study out today shows that the top types of online videos people watch are. Here are the top five:

  1. Jokes/funny videos
  2. News/current events
  3. Amateur videos
  4. Movie trailers
  5. Music videos
I wasn't surprised by the top category because it seems like people are more likely to share the funny videos beyond anything else. The one that surprised me most was down the list at number nine: Full length TV shows. As almost every major television network is now providing most or all of their shows online, this is an interesting stat in my view and further validation that online video will only increase and the new Nano was a significant announcement as these videos get converted over to the iPod.

Here's the rest of the list: