Category Archives: Small Business Social Media

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3Min: Mike Rothman, Security Incite”

No time to check out the spring wildflowers in bloom? No problem, today’s “3sdays 3Q’s in 3Min” is just as fresh and colorful.

Every Thursday, socialTNT channels the spirit of citizen journalism by putting bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s or anyone with something to say about social media in front of the camera for a short, three minute interview. In addition to helping PR peeps pitch these individuals more effectively, the videos are meant to encourage dialog between reporters, PR/communications practitioners and marketers on the future of media.

Mike RothmanThis week, socialTNT is at the world’s largest security expo, the RSA Conference. While there, we ran into Principal Analyst and Blogger at Security Incite, Mike Rothman. Since Mike is a blogging analyst who was once a VP of Marketing, I was really psyched when he agreed to an interview. In today’s “3Q’s in 3Min,” Mike tells how he likes to get pitched and the value of a blog for brand building.

Mike has been in the security industry for over 15 years. Starting out as an analyst, he spent the mid-90’s as a VP at IT research firm The META Group. After that, Mike served as VP of Marketing at a couple of software firms. In 2006, Mike founded Security Incite, an analyst firm specializing in information security. With the founding of the company, Mike also started blogging. Alongside the bog, Mike has a highly circulated, daily newsletter and just recently started podcasting.

Known for offering a “no bull” take on information security, Mike’s blog aims to create a conversation between buyers, consumers and product manufacturers. He can’t stand product messaging that sets the wrong expectation for buyers, and will write a harsh reality-check, should he cover your product. Mike’s “Security Incite Rants” have pissed off many a CEO, but like any conversation, Mike encourages them to respond in the comments.

To marketers, Mike strongly recommends they jump on board the blog train as a great way to get their voice out and build thought leadership. He also believes in Karma, stating that you get what you give. While many marketers might shudder at the thought of giving away free products, Mike readily offers a free monthly analyst report to his readers. His reasoning: Karma–you have to give to get.

Fun Facts About Mike:

  • Lives just outside of Atlanta
  • Mac user
  • Used to have a column in Network World
  • Not on Twitter (he thinks that it’s not an important communication channel for his target demo)
  • Is on LinkedIn

Mike hopes that today’s video will help slow the tide of bad pitches in his Inbox. Watch as he tells us how to pitch a blogger and the best way your spokesperson to respond to a bad post. Also find out why Mike thinks blogging is so important for small businesses.

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I like Mike’s take on blogging and the importance of distribution to increase the conversation amongst like-minded individuals. How has blogging changed you or your company’s role in the industry? Has the increased conversation changed your outlook on industry topics?

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Blogger Relations, Small Business Social Media, Social Media, Video Interview

“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

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: Lindsay Olson, Paradigm Staffing”

Feeling a little bummed about the economy? Let today’s “3Q’s in 3Min” guest help you feel bullish about social media.

Lindsay Olson, Paradigm StaffingEvery Thursday, socialTNT channels the spirit of citizen journalism by putting bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s or anyone with something to say about social media in front of the camera for a short, three minute interview. The videos are meant to encourage dialog between PR/communications practitioners and marketers on the future of media.

On a rainy day last month, socialTNT caught up with Lindsay Olson, Principal of Paradigm Staffing. But she’s not just a PR recruiter, she is also a small business owner who uses social media tools to promote her business. In today’s “3Q’s in 3Min,” Lindsay explains how social media helps her do her job more effectively and also tells public relations professionals the skills most sought after in 2008.

Starting out in the Tech industry during the late 90’s boom, Lindsay has been a recruiter for ten years. After realizing a strong need for PR pros in that industry, she quickly switched to PR recruiting–not surprising since she holds a Bachelors in Communications. In 2001, Lindsay and an old partner went off on their own to form Paradigm Staffing.

To promote the agency, Lindsay uses a full arsenal of social media tools, something she feels necessary for businesses who rely heavily on interpersonal relations and networking. Not just on Facebook and LinkedIn, Lindsay also is a Twitter user. She even has an RSS feed for job listings!

Lindsay’s use of Twitter seems ideal for someone in her industry. She can broadcast open positions and get responses back instantly. But it’s not just a promotional tool; she also gives followers an insight into client communications (including this interesting look at the effect the US recession has on hiring), as well as peeks into her personal life.

Fun Facts about Lindsay:

  • Her fiancé, Matias, is a social media consultant (site in Spanish)
  • They’re getting married on the 23rd of Feb!
  • A fellow urban-bicyclist, she has been hit by a car FOUR times this week
  • Was a Personnel Services Specialist 75-H in the National Guard
  • Paradigm Staffing’s site is built completely on WordPress (whoot!)

In the video below, Lindsay weighs in on the Facebook vs LinkedIn debate. She alsotells us other ways she uses social media, and gives the skinny on top skills you’ll need to land a top-notch job in ’08.

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How do YOU use Twitter? Has it changed your corporate communications with the outside world?

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Citizen Reporter, Marketing, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Small Business Social Media, Social Media, Video Interview

“Small Biz Social Media Spotlight: Trula Breckenridge”

“fist” by frankh“Stick It To The Man” week marches on, showing those big wigs at the Blog Council that real people use social media everyday. It’s also good for those of us in PR and Marketing to step back and see how those outside our industry use the tools we take for granted. This week, socialTNT highlights every day folk who use social media for marketing purposes.

If you don’t follow me on twitter: I’ve been issuing Tweets looking for examples of small businesses or individuals who use social media. Not a big surprise, there are tons of renaissance women and men on the Internet who integrate new media tools into the full spectrum of self promotion. All of the individuals who submitted were really amazing, but one woman really knew how to work emerging media into her full brand image–and she’s not in tech!

Trula Breckenridge (check out her crazy MySpace-style “about me” survey) is a craft maven running a media empire (MSPmedia) from her living room. Her twitter profile says she is a writer and positivity enthusiast, but just one look at her website, and you’ll see she is so much more than that. Her collection of books covers everything from child rearing, poetry, self-help, vegetarian cooking/lifestyle to children’s stories.

On the social media front, Trula maintains twelve blogs with topics spanning from style and fitness to science fiction and black parenting. But it doesn’t stop there. She also uses one of her blogs and flickr to promote her upcycled and handmade fashions. In a twitter/email interview, Trula says that since she started using flickr, her sales have really started taking off. Twitter has also driven more traffic to her site, leading to increased sales of crafts and books, while also helping generate more revenue from ads.

Most importantly, social media has introduced Trula to a community of like-minded individuals who have inspired her to do things she had never before thought possible.

“Because of flickr I have encountered other people interested in upcycle, reconstructed fashion…I doubt I would have ever considered my sewing as another income stream, either to sell, blog about, or write a book about, all of which I am now doing. Because of twitter I doubt I would have ever considered turning my little zine into a full-fledged magazine with distribution, which I now am in the process of doing.”

Trula, you rock! Not only do you send positive messages out to the world through your writings, but your business model is an inspiration for others on how to utilize social media.

I also want to give a special shout-out to Jeremiah Owyang for becoming an unofficial Twitter Community Manager. Had it not been for your post this week, I would have never met Trula. You have created a much-needed community on Twitter and introduced me to hundreds of interesting people. Readers: If you haven’t had the chance to read his post, GO NOW, and meet other amazing Twitterers!

I’m still looking for more small businesses and individuals who use social media to promote themselves. Send me an email or a tweet!

“Stick It To The Man” week continues tomorrow with an exciting guest for “3sday’s 3Q’s in 3Min” video interview.

[Above photo, “fist” by frankh (on flickr) used under Creative Commons license.]

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Filed under Best Practices, How To, Marketing, New Media, Small Business Social Media, Social Media, Stick It To the Man

“Stick It To The Man: Choice Shirts, California Cosmetics, Technomic Asia”

//www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=76988191&size=oAs the rest of the blogosphere debates Enterprise marketing, we at socialTNT want to bring it back to the people. Big corporations meet behind closed doors to figure out social media, while thousands of people are trying out new ideas every day. This week, socialTNT is gonna “Stick It To The Man” by showcasing small businesses and individuals experimenting with new media as promotional tools.

Choice Shirts is a t-shirt site where visitors can browse, purchase and create graphic t-shirts. I know, there a literally tons of online t-shirt purveyors, but how many of them use Twitter? Choice sends out daily special tweets with discount information. There are only 20-something followers right now, but this could increase if they promoted their Twitter-stream on the site.

California Cosmetics, mentioned in my post on rethinking online video strategy, is the product of a 20 year old girl named Lauren, a certified cosmetologist working her way through college. She uses YouTube to give video tutorials on achieving certain looks. Since starting on October 29th of this year, Lauren has more than 570 subscribers and is the 16th most subscribed director in the “guru” channel. Many of her posts come from requests and questions she receives from her fan-base. By listing upcoming posts, Lauren keeps her viewers coming back.

Technomic Asia is a strategic consulting firm for businesses moving into the Asian market. The firm has approximately 25 employees. Their (mostly) weekly podcast includes tips for executives visiting China or special news relevant to companies doing business in that market. According to feedburner, their podcast has about 550 subscribers. With most episodes rack up to 2000 downloads, Technomic Asia places itself in a good position to establish thought leadership.

By looking at these three examples, how can you reach your customers directly and in real time? Do you have special knowledge or skills that you can offer your customers? What’s holding you back!

How are you using social media to promote your small business? I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email or hit me up on Twitter. We will be showcasing unique angles all week!

[Above photo by Mika Hiironneimi under Creative Commons]

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Filed under How To, New Media, Product Review, Small Business Social Media, Social Media, Stick It To the Man