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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tell Your Story

In recent weeks, I generated a couple of posts with the theme of "the more things change, the more they stay the same."  Specifically, I was referring to two constants in the public relations business. The first was that PR pros have been practicing for decades what is today called "content marketing." The second was despite the proliferation of social media and new digital forms of communications, the majority of tech journalists and bloggers prefer e-mail-based communications vs. all other types.

I also called out a few of the revolutionary changes in our business, many influenced by advancements in technology.  For example, how we write with SEO and SEM in mind.  The entrĂ©e of real analytics to how we measure results vs. the THUD factor days of old.  And even how the Rolodex is being replaced by services that peg story ideas to specific journalists and bloggers.  For example, HARO,, Reporter's Source and PitchRate, among others.

Remember the Rolodex? Ever have one on your desk? 

They still exists, of course, but they mostly reside in Gmail, Linkedin, Twitter, etc., these days.

For a PR pro, the size of their over-stuffed Rolodex used to be a badge of success.  It communicated to colleagues, competitors, clients and prospects that they were connected.  And their vast connections meant they could open doors and close deals.

Today, a Rolodex -- real or figurative -- doesn't matter nearly as much as it used to.  The advent of HARO-type services reinforce this position.

Instead of asking "who do you know?," clients and prospects should be asking their PR and social media agencies about their process for researching and developing clients' stories; their process for creating memorable, diversified content based on strategy and messages; and their process for engaging their audiences in a conversation.  

Having close connections at the Wall Street Journal, Fortune or InformationWeek are nice-to-haves.  Crafting the right story on behalf of your client and communicating it to their customers, though the right channels, are must-haves.  

Monday, October 4, 2010

Strategic Tools for Strategic Content

Content is useless if it doesn’t tell a story.  A story is not very helpful if it doesn’t relate the right information about a company’s brand.  Yet, time and again, we see content-centered communications programs in the market that appear completely disconnected from brand or strategy. 
Here are three ways you can use communications as a catalyst to define real business strategies and messages into your programs:
1.  Strategic SWOT:  We’ve all done SWOT.  How do you turn it from a list to a strategic tool?  The answer is quite simple: align strengths with opportunities to identify offensive strategies.  Then align weaknesses and threats to identify defensive strategies.
2.  Develop an elevator statement: These statements have been a cornerstone of communications for years, However, in a 140-word world, they are more critical than ever.  Fortunately, there is a great new website that steps you through the process of building your elevator pitch quickly and powerfully.  Try it at Buzzuka.
3. Be clear about what you mean by strategy.  Michael Porter, the father of modern strategic thinking, said it best:  Strategy is what you choose not to do!  Clients and communications programs can get easily bloated by trying to do everything instead of trying to do the strategic thing.  Take a look at one of our earlier blogs to understand the relationship among strategy, objectives and how to use them the right way.