Wednesday, May 6, 2009

When Pitching Goes Wrong

When I first started working at my first major PR agency job I learned pretty quickly that me and my fellow lower level underlings would be doing most of the grunt work (writing pitches, calling editors, building media lists) and my superiors would basically be the face of the company, figure out budgets and pitch new clients.

Overall that concept is great considering the fact that I received tons of writing and PR experience but you must also realize that I was fresh out of college (Go Bisons!) and had one lone PR internship under my belt, and though I was always considered a great writer the pressure of writing something on behalf of Procter & Gamble (or any other equally important client) to some enigma of an editor was a bit scary. At the end of the day it always surprised me that we (those entry level, one step above an intern employees) were given such a responsibility with not much direction or support from our bosses.

I say all that to say that I bet many of the people who make The Bad Pitch Blog are poor little underlings like myself at the time, who are just trying to do their job and be as witty and creative with their pitches as the next little underling.

See for yourself examples of bad pitches and and all you pr folks just hope you don't see your letterhead anywhere!

Sound CTRL Presents: Digital Record Labels: Exploring New Models

I'm kinda sorta on the board for this (whatever that means) so come through and support. Tickets are $10 but immediately following will be a concert with Wale x J.Cole x Colin Munore.

Click here for tickets.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What Brands Can Learn From Jadakiss

via Ad Age

At a time when artists are being cut from major label deals and scrambling to find indie labels to release their next albums, Jadakiss has far exceeded expectations with his new Island Def Jam release, "The Last Kiss." After a five-year layoff between album releases (usually a kiss of death for a hip-hop artist), Jadakiss' album sold over 130,000 copies in its first week earlier this month. In these challenged times of selling music, especially albums, that's a very sizable number.

Why and how is this relevant to brands? Let's explore the circumstances and the marketing that led up to Jadakiss' release and the parallels between the launch of his album and the challenges that a brand team faces in launching a campaign. Rest assured there are numerous differences between an album launch and a product launch, but extracting and highlighting what insights and lessons can be learned from his latest release and his initiatives are not as obvious.


After the Bank Failure Comes the Debt Collector

Via NY Times

Some small-business owners are in peril of foreclosure after their loans, once held by banks that have since failed, were bought by junk-loan buyers intent on collecting either the cash or the collateral.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

When Press Releases Go Wrong

Press releases. The poor man's news broadcast.

Actually that came across wrong. I understand the need for press releases and actually write them quite regularly but I was trolling through one of my fave media sites, Gawker and ran across this story of an attempt by Life Stylist Blair French to put out a press release doing what many publicists do, attach a client to a current event for relevance, and it totally came off as a FAIL. Read here for an example of when press releases go wrong.

From my own experience there are a few rules businesses and artists should follow when going the press release route (Yes I have a list - I'm in a list mood today)

The Brand GURU's Top 10 Press Release Rules

1. Everything does not need to be broadcasted via a press release.

Yes we all are happy that you changed your myspace profile pic but come on...

2. A quality press release takes more then 10 minutes to write (Actually that should read: A quality press release SHOULD take more then 10 minutes to write). Click here for all the components of a release.

3. Press release distribution services are expensive so plan accordingly.

4. Spell check before putting your release over the wire.

5. Choose your wire services wisely.

6. Make your release as engaging and interesting as possible without making it seem forced.

7. When using current events as a opener for your release make sure your business, brand or expert makes sense to what you are attaching yourself to. (See the above mentioned story for an example of this not being adhered to).

8. Make sure to always include contact information.

9. When possible include facts, sources, statistics or quotes from relevant authorities to make your release more professional and factual.

10. Include a comprehensive yet effective boilerplate that gives a brief description of who you or your company is.


There will probably be many Twitter related posts on this blog because, well i love Twitter. I especially love how it knocks down the barriers between artists, celebrities, even companies between the public.

I make sure that all my clients that are looking to broaden awareness for their company and move forward with an effective grassroots marketing campaign has a Twitter account. (I love to use the word "engage" instead of "network" when explaining why Twitter matters to someone that just doesn't get it) The theory is that if someone is following you then they obviously care about what you have to say. But there are limits to what should be done via Twitter and that's when you have to mind your Twitterquette (I'm googling that as soon as I'm done with this post. I'm so looking for a phrase to coin as my own!)or your Twitter-etiquette .

That being said The Morning News has a great article on Twitter etiquette and gives 14 rules that should be followed. Click here for the full article or just see below for the abbreviated version (But do yourself a favor and click the link, it's pretty funny and frequent twitter users will either see themselves or someone they are following in the explanations).

Happy Twittering!

1. Watch your ratio.
2. Think twice before twittering in an altered state.
3. Consider pausing between tweets.
4. Keep small conversations private.
5. Accept that some people will use lots of @s.
6. Be vague when twittering private social events.
7. Remember everyone can hear you.
8. What’s rude in life is rude on Twitter.
9. Don’t compound an accident.
10. Try to keep within the character limit.
11. DMs don’t necessarily require a response.
12. Leave when you want.
If you want to stop following someone, stop. There’s no need to send a breakup note. Unless you’re having Twitter sex.
I had to leave that explanation in. So funny yet so true!)
13. Plug moderately.
14. Answer your own questions.

Who Is Peter Shankman And Why You Should Care

When I worked at my last PR agency we used a service called Profnet that was basically a service editors, journalists, freelancers etc. used that would send emails to publicists to inform us of a story that they were working on and needed experts, products or help with. I loved that damn Profnet! It made getting placements so much easier because anyone you would contact was open to your pitch because, well they asked for it. It was great tool but it was very expensive.

Once I changed careers it just wasn't possible to access Profnet anymore but I was informed by a friend about Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and ultimately Peter Shankman, the man behind the machine. HARO is basically a free version of Profnet but in my opinion has more broadcast and radio opportunities and less competition when pitching the editors since less people know about it when compared to Profent.

The three emails you get a day are prefaced with a html advertisement and a quick message from Peter. From Peter's quips I began to realize that this guy is kinda a big deal! He seems to always be jet setting somewhere to speak on someones panel or conference and I get that "I should know this guy" vibe from him. I immediately became intrigued and began following him on Twitter, signed up for his sites rss feed and sent him a friend request on Facebook (which he accepted - or his intern accepted, I never believe busy people really check their own pages!).

Three months later I am so happy that I did, I recieved hits in Crains NY, NY Post and leads with a few other publications from my outreach via HARO.

Get to know more about Peter Shankman here and do yourself a favor if you are a PR professional or small business owner trying to do your own publicity and sign up for HARO and begin receiving his email alerts.

Thank me later.


Monday, April 27, 2009

When Branding Goes Wrong Pt. 1

Brand – noun (brand): A product or service to which human beings attach a bundle of tangible (functional product and service characteristics) and intangible (emotional and/or symbolic) meanings that add value. A brand has one strategic purpose and that is to differentiate itself from competitors.

Now an example of a horrible rebranding strategy:

Which is basically this:

(Store brand OJ)

When I first saw the new Tropicana carton I honestly walked right past it assuming it was a new generic store brand juice. The carton doesn't make me want to pick up a carton of Tropicana and take it home to my family. Actually it made me feel the exact opposite further causing me to complain about the new packaging for at least a day (Maybe two - in a row).

Older brands like Tropicana have the luxury of nostalgia on their side. Unlike the newer products that need to convince you why they matter and should be purchased by your hard earned dollar, older brands are able to use imaging, slogans and even packaging to touch a nerve in you and subconsciously if not overtly let you know that they are a staple.

Why Tropicana would so easily let that positioning go, who knows...

Thankfully Pepsi is phasing this atrocity out but read here and here for the back story and to see why this rebranding effort FAILED!

How to Market Your Business in a Downturn

via The NY Times

Most industries go through downturns at some juncture. Planning a more aggressive approach to sales and marketing can help you keep your business in the black during difficult times. In addition, it can set you apart from the competition who may be complacently weathering the storm.

While you always want your products or services to meet the needs of the customers, this becomes more significant during a downturn. Therefore, you need to market your product or service as important to your customer as possible. You need to solve a problem, satisfy a need, or make life easier in a cost-effective manner.


Got Twitter?

I am a huge proponent of social networking, and letting the net-work for you (Get it Yeah I'm working on getting that copyrighted). The kings of all social networks are Twitter, Facebook and Myspace. All have had their reign as head honcho on the web popularity contest, but as of now the winner has to be Twitter.

Twitter has been everywhere lately. Oprah just started her account live on her show this past Friday causing twitters traffic to increase by 43% (Which is an entire other post in itself ie. the power of Oprah). Every artist and celebrity has a twitter page whether they are updating it themselves or some lowly intern is constantly peckering away in the voice of their "too busy to care but realizes why it matters" boss.

That being said when a Twitter account is created on behalf of yourself or your company you must first figure out why you are creating said account. Is it because you want to network with like minded, industry affiliated persons, want to connect with old friends, keep up with the fam? Figure that out quickly because that answer will determine what name you choose. SexyGirlNYC will have an entirely different type of followers then KaseyTheGreat <== (me by the way!).

Once you account is created choose who you follow with some discretion...Constant updates from Lil Ke Ke from around the corner may not actually be helping your cause of establishing yourself and your brand. People routinely troll through a persons followers list before choosing to follow or accept a follow invitation so keep that in mind while you are building your Twitter database.

I'm not a constant "Say hi just to say hi" type of person on Twitter. These are the people that send out canned "thanks for the follow" messages with no real connection with whom they are reaching out to. If you choose to do this make the message a little less formal and a lot more fun. Make a comment about one of the last tweets the person made to show you actually are paying attention. Ex: "Hey @Cathrynmarie you are right, Oprah's hair does look like a dead beaver on her head! ha..BTW thanks for the follow!"

Overall twitter is a networking site so get out and network. A quiet account gets deleted pretty quickly in the Twitter world so stay interesting.

And please please please remember that this is being seen my everyone that is following you, and everyone reading the retweets of the persons following you. Trust me, I've seen my tweets on Google and was a bit mortified at the prospect of my thoughts being saved on some enormous web archive system somewhere. Now if i choose to run for president one Yahoo search will immediately show the world my mundane thoughts about my next door neighbor and my sons dead fish!

Check out these articles about Twitter and the social networking phenomena to see why it really matters! 1, 2, and 3

Also look out for more social networking posts and the new series "When Twittering Goes Wrong"!

Happy tweeting! (Or is it twittering? hmmm...)