Category Archives: How To

“And…Cut! How Not To Pitch Video Content”

Last night a top-tier blogger told me they were having problems with people using video to promote and pitch their company. To make sure video doesn’t become the new press release that pisses journos and bloggers off, I wanted to share the problem and discuss a couple of ways to pitch video effectively.

Problem

Startup Z wants Blogger X to write about their new product announcement, so they send a video. Nope, not a link to YouTube. Not a link to a social media news release. Nope, they send a 60+ MB file as an attachment with no textual support. They also offer a link to a YouSendIt type place to download. Why is that a problem?

Think about it like this:

  • Assumes blogger is near a connection that can download
    • Many bloggers travel like nomads going from conference to conference
  • Assumes bloggger has time to download 60+ MB
    • As a rule of thumb, if you can’t send it from your email, maybe you should rethink the file size
    • Is a link better?
  • Assumes blogger will open it
    • I generally don’t open unsolicited attachments for fear of computer viruses
  • Assumes blogger has the proper program to play that file format
    • Sadly, we don’t have universal standards on video. Some blogos are Mac-based while other are strictly PC (shocking!)
  • Assumes blogger has time/brainpower to sit and watch the video
    • At the end of the day, I just dont have the strength to watch another video

Solution

I love video more than most people in PR and applaud anyone trying to create content that tells their story in innovative ways. As we as an industry try to figure out how to integrate these new technologies into our campaigns, we may encounter a few hiccups along the way. You want journos and bloggers to be interested in the content you are creating, so be mindful when you pitch them

To make sure your video gets the attention it deserves, try these steps:

  • Load the video to YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, Blip.tv (Need help choosing? Read our review of the top video platforms)
  • Under Embargo? Not ready for the world to see the video?
    • Blip.tv allows you to create password-protected videos. Send a link with the password to the bloggers and reporters you do want to share the vid with
    • Blip.tv also allows your viewers to download the video in a variety of formats that the viewer chooses
  • Send a text summary (preferably bulleted) in the email alongside the video
    • Watching a 3 minute video may not seem like a big investment, but it is. Give journos and bloggers an alternative
    • Bullet out the key points so the journo or blogger can see if it’s something they are interested in
    • This also helps ensure that all the messages and facts you want them to pull from the video will at least be acknowledged

We all want to do the best things for our clients. Whether the video is featured in a post on a top-tier blog, inspires another post or gets picked up by several long-tail bloggers, the visual format can have a significant impact on your audiences. Just be mindful of the people you are pitching and you can guarantee your content gets the attention it deserves!

How do you pitch out your video or audio content? Let us know in the comments!

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[The above photo, “Digital Alarm Clock” by Endless Studio on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Best Practices, Blogger Relations, How To, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media, Video

“Say No to No Comment: How to Answer Negative Blog Posts”

Someone wrote a scathing review of your company’s product on their blog–now what?

Well, you can either ignore it or you can respond. In traditional PR, you’d be shirking your duties if you didn’t follow-up with the reporter. Same goes with social media, except the world can see your response. Whether the post is positive or negative, you have to comment.

Here are a few tips to ensure you comment with success:

  • Take a deep breath!
    • Sometimes the excitement (or hate) can cloud a clear head. Remember, it’s the Internet and everything will be a part of your permanent record. Don’t write anything you wouldn’t want your mother/future boss/customer/client to read
  • Acknowledge and thank the blogger for their feedback/comments/insight/linklove
    • Remember, we are listening now. Whether you agree with it or not, they put effort into their post and their feedback can provide a snapshot of what your customers or other reporters/bloggers are thinking
  • You’re building a relationship, which means accountability and honest discussion.
    • Try to address the concerns and tell them what you are doing or plan on doing to fix any problems. If it was a positive piece, write something that can help build the discussion or add deeper insight into the topic
    • Cut the marketing speak and messaging. Read what the blogger is saying and respond as a human, not a PR-bot
  • Transparency and full disclosure
    • Let readers know you are with the company or represent the company. It’s about ethics.
  • DO NOT try to pad the comments with anonymous or fictitious posts
    • You may not see it when you read the post, but bloggers can see the IP address of every comment. Several comments from the same IP addy looks suspicious and a simple search can rat you out

Some stellar examples from comments in socialTNT’s past:

Kevin Cuneo’s reply to a potentially critical post in “You Are Doing Your Clients a Horrible Disservice”

Hi Chris,

Over here at Yoono we completely agree that Twitter is a great way to connect with our community. And we find Summize to be the best way to monitor Twitter. I love how it lets you know there’s more results since your last search. (I was also using it to track my replies when that feature went down on Twitter.)

We’re going a mile a minute over here so unfortunately there’s only so much time in the day to respond to negative comments and assist users via Twitter. However, we try to get to as many as we can and if they aren’t responded to, users can rest assured they were read and taken into account. Although we love good feedback, we think any feedback is worthwhile in helping us craft a superior product.

With that said I’m off to check in on Summize, looks like I have nine results up since my last search.

Great post, keep up the good work. And we’re all looking forward to Marie’s review!

Cheers,

Kevin Cuneo
Yoono Community Evangelist
kcuneo (at) yoono (dot) com
http://twitter.com/kcuneo

Kevin didn’t make excuses. He acknowledged the concerns and addressed the problem thoughtfully.

Reply to a positive post from “Dell Hell Freezes Over: A Great Example of Turning Lemons into Lemonade”

johnpatdell

Chris – As a member of Dell’s digital media team, I think you’ve done as fine a job as anyone to summarize how the company has worked to move on to a new chapter. It’s been a wild ride, but the journey has only just begun. Today, we view the integration of social media technologies as a natural evolution of our business and an exciting new dimension in which to deal directly with our customers.

In this comment, John acknowledged the statements in the post. He also adds to the post by telling the readers what Dell will be doing in the future.

Conclusion: Both John and Kevin effectively stated their company’s point of view without sounding arrogant. It’s a delicate balance. Just imagine you were having a discussion with your mom/girlfriend/boyfriend/brother or anyone else you love but sometimes have disagreements with.

How do you respond to negative comments? What tips or tricks can you share? Any examples of stellar commenting in action? Let us know in the comments

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[The above photo, “Message Board” by Emmy_P on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Community Manager, Community Relations, How To, It's A Conversation, Public Relations 2.0

“Reporters on Twitter? Say Twellow to My Leetle Friend”

So you’re on Twitter, sharing posts and chatting with your colleagues. You’re also looking out for your clients by monitoring for conversations using Summize (now owned by Twitter). But how do you tap into the power of Twitter and learn more about your target reporters? Don’t fret social media heroes and heroines. The lovely folks at WebProNews have created Twellow, a great Twitter people search and directory to help you find reporters and bloggers galore!

Check it (click to enlarge):

Yeah, I know. It looks a little one dot oh, but trust me. Don’t let that keep you from giving it a go. All those categories can help you drill down into the industries or interests of the Twitter community.

Here’s what the News Category looks like (click to enlarge):

Note that the list is ranked by number of followers. Here is the list for Bloggers (click to enlarge):

Each list is composed of mini-profiles. Here’s mine:

It shows a recent Tweet, my actual Twitter profile and the categories my profile falls under. These are either computer-defined based on search terms in the profile or user-defined. Yup, anyone listed on Twellow can “claim” their profile by logging into Twellow with a Twitter password.

It’s in Alpha, which means they are still testing, developing and working out the bugs. We look forward to seeing it improve over the upcoming months.

Areas Needing Improvement:

  • Name search engine is a little weak. Searching with “Christopher” doesn’t get picked up as being the formal name for “Chris”
  • Why is PR in the advertising category? Marketing would be a better fit [UPDATE: Twellow moved Public Relations to the Marketing category! I’m impressed! See their Tweet here.]
  • The friend count on some profiles doesn’t match the numbers listed on the Twitter profile
  • Twellow hasn’t mapped everyone on Twitter just yet. We look forward to seeing it’s directory grow

Still a Great Resource:

  • By clicking around the directories, we were able to find and add several top tier bloggers and reporters we didn’t know were on Twitter
  • With the people search, we also found several other reporters and bloggers who had not been categorized
  • Most fascinating was the number of local reporters from all across the country, including a large number from Ohio and Oklahoma!
  • Since it’s organized by categories, you can also find key audiences or other peeps who share your interests

Test drive Twellow and tell us what you think. Did you find it useful? What are some other ways you find reporters on Twitter? Let us know in the comments! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter 🙂

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Filed under Best Practices, How To, Product Review, Public Relations 2.0

“You Are Doing Your Clients a Horrible Disservice”

…if you don’t monitor for them on Twitter.

How would your clients take it if you didn’t respond to a negative article in a smaller daily, say the Oakland Tribune? You wouldn’t want to miss the chance to respond to a potentially harmful blog post, so why miss a Tweet?

Use Summize. It finds all Tweets about your client or from your customers–even deleted ones! When Twitter’s “reply” function is working, it can also track conversation around said Tweet! And now, it’s embedded in my favorite Twitter Client, Twhirl.

Our clients love it when we send them a Tweet to which they should respond. We’ve been using it for several months now.

Check out this search for Yoono.

When a person firsts install Yoono, it sends a Tweet to their Twitterstream saying “I’m testing Yoono.”

(Click to Enlarge)

Yoono also has someone manning a Twitter account. They catch the negative comments and respond. Note the elegance of Summize’s inline conversation tracking!

(Click to Enlarge)

(Click to Enlarge)

But it also looks as though they didn’t see all the negative comments. Maybe they should use Summize 😉 (UPDATE: They do! See the comments below!)

How do you track your client and customer conversations effectively? Leave us tips in the comments!

BTW: Stay tuned for Marie’s comprehensive review of Yoono next week!

[UPDATE: On July 15, 2008, Twitter buys Summize.]

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Filed under Best Practices, How To, Marketing, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media

“Fight Noise Pollution: Tips on Blogging Past the Echo Chamber”

\Whether building your personal brand or increasing conversation with your customers, there’s no denying that blogs have become a crucial part of any communications and marketing strategy. But with so many people blogging, sometimes it feels like the echo chamber is nothing but noise pollution. Today, socialTNT shares a few tips on how to establish your voice without adding to the pollution.

  • Every day in our professional lives, we encounter experiences that can be used to help others learn. Write anecdotes of challenges or successes, or share tips and tricks. They’ll help increase your industry’s knowledge, and your readers will appreciate it.
  • Do you have case studies, white papers or reviews you can share? Do it!
  • Holiday coming up? Incorporate your blog’s focus into a post with a seasonal angle.
  • Instead of posting every time you want to share a link, try using Twitter, tumblr, or del.icio.us to create a link log.
  • One of the most revolutionary things about blogging is that it allows readers to participate in the news dialog. Before writing about the news or another blog post, check to make sure you are adding insight or evolving the conversation. It also doesn’t hurt if you are adding your own personal style to the news (for example, instead of covering the Final Four, what about covering how brackets have moved into the social media space, or the way brands are using these brackets to market to consumers).

Blogging is a great tool to share your unique point of view with the world. With so many people writing, you can’t always have original content. You can, however, always have your own style. Be genuine and you’ll always be able to add to the discussion.

What are some tips you can offer other bloggers on how to fight the noise in the echo chamber? Or is it even a problem? Let us know in the comments!

add to del.icio.us :: Digg it :: Stumble It! :: seed the vine :: :: TailRank

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[The above photo, “Megaphone” by Indigo Goat on flickr, is used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Best Practices, Blogging, How To, Social Media, Uncategorized

“LinkedIn’s Outlook Toolbar Grabs You By the vCard”

Today’s post was written by contributing writer, Marie Williams.

LinkedIn Logo

Whether Journalist or Public Relations professional, your contacts are your currency. Last month, socialTNT gave TechCrunch40 darling, Xobni, a test spin. This month, the socialTNT BetaBreakers team put popular professional social network LinkedIn‘s Outlook Toolbar through our rigorous testing process.

All You Ever Need to Know: The “Grabbing” Function is Magic

  • By far, the best thing about the toolbar is the “grab” function. It makes it devastatingly simple to transfer contact information seamlessly into your Outlook contact list.
  • How it Works: When you have an e-mail open from the person you want to add, highlight their signature block, click on the little grab button on the top right-hand corner of your menu, and voila! All the contact information is entered in the appropriate boxes. Sometimes fields get switch, such as “company” and “title,” but it’s a small inconvenience that doesn’t detract from the feature’s utility. Check out the screenshots below for a visual:

[Click to enlarge]
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

  • Just do it: If your contact list is key to your business success, you cannot be without this amazing resource. Go download it. NOW. 🙂

There’s No Place Like LinkedIn Home to Manage Your Networking Savvy

  • Your LinkedIn home page can be easily accessed through your Outlook, and the interface is clean and aesthetically pleasing. It’s easy to track your inbound messages, friend updates, profile views, and all the other features that LinkedIn provides.
  • Bottom Line: If you live and die by your LinkedIn network, you will love how simple it is to manage your connections without ever leaving your inbox.

Don’t Press That Button! The Danger of the Dashboard…

  • The toolbar’s “Dashboard” feature lets you see contacts to invite to LinkedIn, contact information updates for your LinkedIn friends, and keep-in-touch reminders. It’s a hybrid of your e-mail and your LinkedIn account homepage.
  • If you press the button, it takes anywhere from 2-5 minutes to load, which is a long time for us ADD techies accustomed to split second satisfaction.
  • Why you should pass: Xobni’s search function is way more intuitive and lightning fast. The utility of the information on the dashboard is negligible and more easily found via Xobni.

Hello Promo!

Beyond the uber useful grab tool, 85% of the LinkedIn Outlook toolbar is clearly a promotion of LinkedIn’s contact management services and will only work for you if you’re a) already an avid user of the network or b) think you want to start becoming more involved in that community.

That’s a Wrap

Our overall impression is that while Xobni reigns supreme when it comes to inbox add-ons, LinkedIn’s grabbing feature makes it more than worth the download. Think of Xobni as your full-service inbox search solution, while the LinkedIn toolbar provides some “Ah ha!” features you’ll come to rely on. If your a LinkedIn Junkie, download it NOW!

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Filed under Beta breakers, How To, Product Review, productivity, Social Media

“Luke, I Am Your Blogger: How To Pitch From the Darkside”

Because I’m a PR guy who blogs, I occupy a gray space: not quite hack, not quite flack. As a PR pro, I pitch bloggers and reporters daily. Through my blog, I get pitched by people looking to have their product reviewed or their CEO interviewed. Depending on what cubicle you sit in, I could be on the dark side.

First off, I want to say we’re honored to receive pitches because it means someone, somewhere values socialTNT enough to view us as an outlet they want their product/company/spokesperson to be seen in. Instead of pulling a Chris Anderson, I’d rather use this opportunity as a PR professional and blogger to help those who pitch bloggers understand some best practices.

Pitching is a necessary evil; it’s the only way smaller voices from lesser known companies can get a chance to be seen. Good bloggers and reporters know that they can’t keep track of every new company, and therefore value a good PR professional. But you don’t have to be a PR professional to write a good pitch, you just have to know how to communicate.

Step One: Observe. Listen. Participate.

  • Check out the “About” section. Does it have a sentence or two describing the focus or mission of the blog? Are there any bios or beat descriptions for the main bloggers?
  • Look for a blogger that covers most closely the area you are trying to reach. Read the past several posts from that blogger to get a feel for their style.
  • If you can’t find a blogger that fits, spend a fair amount of time (some say hours) reading the blog. Get to know it like you would a friend.
  • Look for regular features or topics that could work with your product or company. When pitching, mention how your product would fit in that column.
  • If you have something meaningful to say, comment on a post, but don’t use the comments as pitching ground.
    • EX: I read all the comments on my posts, and remember those who have commented. It will help you stand out.
  • If the blogger is on Twitter, follow them.
    • HINT: Because Twitter is more informal, you can have a conversation with them to build better rapport. Pitch only through Twitter if you have been following them for a while and are comfortable with writing a tight (140 character) pitch.

Step Two: Outline the Pitch/Things to Consider

  • How would your product/company affect my readers?
    • EX: There are a lot of really cool social media tools and sites out there. It’s great receiving pitches, but we are a vertical publication. That means we’ll need to know how it fits into the scope of our blog. Marie reviews productivity tools that can be helpful to PR/Marketing peeps or Journos. I like to review tools that can be used for marketing and PR campaigns. Sure, sometimes those applications haven’t been figured out, but the more information we have from you on how it works or how it helps communication/interaction, the better we can try to find PR/Marketing uses.
  • Great Product? Can you demo it.
    • HINT: If you can set up a ready-made, tailored demo of the product as it works in the wild, do so. Send a link to a page created specifically for that blogger
  • Are you pitching a spokesperson? Tell me his/her background, highlighting the areas that would interest my readers.
    • HINT: No more than two sentences. Seriously. 🙂
  • Do you have any other promo materials? Press release? Send it. Better yet: Link to it.
    • HINT: SMNR to the front of the line.

Step Three: Aim. Throw.

  • Bloggers are usually pressed for time. They’re also on a 24 hour news-cycle. They may read your pitch at 1AM after a night of heavy drinking. Help them out: Make your pitch concise and to the point.
    • HINT: Bullet, Link, and Bold
  • Who are you? And what the hell are you doing in my inbox? 🙂
    • HINT: State the most important things up front. Tell me in the first couple of sentences. If I have to scroll, you’ve written too much.
  • Cut the fluff, we can usually sniff the BS anyway. Everyone has the most innovative, greatest new tool. How does it work? This is where knowing the pub/writer is crucial.
    • EX: For socialTNT, how does it help people communicate or connect? Can it build relationships? How does it help with content delivery?
    • PS: I *heart* video
  • VIP pass
    • Because bloggers are short on time, let them know how to get in touch with you. Twitter, Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, IM and even good old fashioned phone
    • Bonus: For me, Spokesperson on Twitter = SCORE!
    • Jackpot: Have an RSS feed or Del.icio.us page for company news? Let me know. YouTube or Blip.tv channel: Golden.
    • Caveat: Don’t assume I have the time to look or the brainpower to connect the dots. The pitch should talk. Also, just cause it’s pretty, doesn’t mean I’ll cover it. Substance.

It all boils down to knowing your pub and writer. Many of the pitches I get are from small business owners or CEOs/Marketing folk at startups. You don’t have to be a PR pro to pitch like one. Just follow the simple steps above, and you’ll succeed. Remember: There is no tried and true method, and even the best pitches don’t always mean bites.

Bloggers and seasoned PR pros: What advice would you give to anyone pitching bloggers? Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments!

[PS: I admit to having crafted my share of bad pitches, or even choosing wrong targets. It happens to the best.]

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Download and print this great “Blogger Relations Quick and Critical Tips Bookmark” from my Colleague, Todd Defren.

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Filed under Best Practices, Blogger Relations, How To, It's A Conversation, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Small Business Social Media, Social Media