September 28, 2007
It seems I'm in good company. Blue is in right now - my official color with crayon is Midnight Blue (Greg is green and Joseph is Aquamarine. I'll let them explain their own choices, if they wish).
I chose that color when I joined because - well, look around you here on my blog for a hint. But more than that, I chose the color for a business reason. Since I deal with clients on a regular basis, I wanted to espouse some of the feelings that blue typically conveys:
Calm, cool and soothing effects
A feeling of well-being
I know a lot of this might be hocus-pocus or completely subjective. Does blue have any sort of effect on you or on the decisions you make? Would you or have you ever decided against a brand or product because of its color?
September 25, 2007
Viral marketing is like the weather: everyone's talking about it, but no one is doing anything about it.
You know why? Because you can't. That's right. You can't simply manufacture viral marketing. But don't tell that to some marketers. They're out there, practicing something akin to alchemy.
Think there's a science behind viral marketing? Or perhaps a secret formula? I think there's a bit of each, but they follow that famous saying by Louis Pasteur, "Chance favors the prepared mind." While so many marketing efforts are more measurable than ever before, there are aspects to the practice that are still a combination of art and science. Good research trumps everything, but then again, so does common sense.
When it comes to "viral marketing" I think the secret sauce is simple: make it entertaining. If you know your audience, what they like and what will grab their attention, adding an entertainment angle to it (plus the ability to easily pass along the content) will make it viral. That's it. You may recall a mathematical formula I've used here before:
That's not to say it's going to work. Odds are, it won't. But this is the formula that has to be followed, in my opinion, if you want any shot at success. You don't just upload some half-ass video to YouTube and claim you've got a viral video. The 42 people who view it may think so, but I doubt your client or manager will.
Bottom line: you need to exercise good judgment, gut instinct, have some smart research insights, and know your audience. Come to think of it, this doesn't sound that different from traditional marketing, does it?
Thanks to Rohit Bhargava for issuing the challenge on this one. I hope I can bring these and other insights to Ad:Tech.
September 20, 2007
Bad blogger pitches. We've all been on the receiving end. Or if you haven't, you will be. It's almost a mathematical certainty.
I recently wrote about a pitch that I received that generally was very good; the only problem was a gaffe the PR executive made when she called me by the wrong name. All in all, it was a minor error, but it was enough to put me off. But something remarkable happened in the wake of that post and I'd like to share it with you. It's resulted in what I call a recipe for success from a blogger's perspective.
First of all, the reason I say a bad pitch is inevitable is simple: blogger outreach is not immediately scalable, so mass emailing is commonplace. But every blogger is different and needs to be personally courted. I'm not talking about a deep and abiding romance, but rather a simple relationship that is forged between PR executive and blogger, through genuine engagement and conversation between the two. It's a matter of establishing a 1:1 relationship - of showing the blogger you understand his writing or that you care enough to respond to one of her posts.
And this is difficult to do when a PR professional - who, let's face it, is used to mass mail-merging press releases and pitches - is trying to contact maybe 100 different bloggers. To spend a couple of weeks of lead time following, reading and responding is a major commitment. But I think it's crucial.
So, here's what happened in the wake of my post They Almost Had Me and why I think it's so compelling to share with you. Before I do that, I'd like to recommend a couple of resources that you might check out. The first is a well thought out Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics from Ogilvy's 360 Digital Influence. It's a great effort that will likely evolve over time, but in my mind is a cornerstone. The other is a thoughtful post from the always thoughtful Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications' PR Squared blog.
After I wrote my post, I received a comment and an email from Kristen, the PR executive who had originally contacted me. This demonstrated a couple of things to me: that she was monitoring the blogosphere for mentions of her client and that she wanted to make a personal connection regarding the error. It took courage to admit to her mistake, and I admire that kind of selfless conviction.
As part of her email, Kristen mentioned being new to social media and still having a lot to learn. I used that as an opportunity to write back and offered to speak with her specifically about the pitch and more generally about social media. So, we had a phone conversation.
During the call, I learned a little more about the client she was representing (and I'll review said company in another post) but I also had a chance to take a look at blogger outreach from the other side - something that I think we bloggers are sometimes too quick to dismiss. During the course of our call, I came up with a few interesting ideas that might be worth considering if you're a PR professional doing blogger or influencer outreach.
Kristen said that she much preferred the 1:1 interactions that build trust and establish engagement. Of course, this just isn't achievable in a mass outreach program. She mentioned that she's more of a phone person. Again, kind of difficult when you're dealing with writers who ply their trade online. And they're not likely to call a PR person back if given a phone number in an email pitch.
Quite the conundrum. What to do? Taking crayon's model of community, dialogue and partnership, I've developed a simple three-point plan that will allow any PR executive to have a better shot of engaging with the blogosphere.
Establish Your Credibility (Partnership) One of the mising links in blogger outreach is a personal connection with the PR executive; while there's an opportunity for the PR person to understand and connect with the blogger after reading so much of his writing, the blogger ends up having to deal with a faceless person connected with a corporate or client interest. One way to avoid this is for the PR executive to set up a page about them. Tell us a bit about who YOU are, who you work for, how long you've been doing what you do.
Take it a step further to outline the goals of the outreach, tell us about your client, post some interesting links or existing press. In short, be transparent with us.
This page can take the form of a landing page, or, more to the point, it can be set up as a blog. It doesn't have to be extensive with lots of posts. A single entry about you and about your client, along with a sidebar containing additional information and/or links is all that it will take. The result will show the blogger that you've got some skin in the game and are willing to immerse yourself in the blogger's world.
Find Common Ground (Dialogue) If a phone conversation is a key element to your communication style, then use the tools at your disposal to make it that much easier. I use a service called GrandCentral (now owned by Google) that gives you a single phone number that can ring through to all of your phones. But one of the features on their site is the ability to post a button on your blog or page that will automatically dial your number when someone clicks on it. How much easier could that be? You direct the blogger to your site, they read about you and simply click on a button to talk with you a little more.
"Great," I hear you say. "But what if I don't want to rely on bloggers to contact me?" Another way to approach this is for you to reach out to them. A service called Jangl allows you to fill in an email address for your contact, after which Jangl will give you a Jangl phone number to call them and leave a personal message. Jangl will then email your voicemail and provide them a local number to call you back on. Head over to their site to check out the full explanation of how it works.
But done right, with Grand Central or Jangl, this can change the way you're doing your blogger outreach. Creating a dialogue with your
Create a Sense of Community (Community) In retrospect, this idea seems to obvious that I'm surprised I hadn't thought of it (or heard about it from others) before. With Facebook being one of the fastest growing social networks for 25 year-olds, it is the place to be. And if a PR professional (who typically has a strong network) isn't part of Facebook yet, shame of them.
It's fairly easy to establish a group for your client, linking to their web site, sharing posts that have been written by them or about them, posting videos or photos of their product or their customers, etc. The key is that once you've established the group, you need to invite your network to join it. Browbeat everyone at your firm, your client, their contacts and the bloggers you're reaching out to join your Facebook group. The idea is that if Facebook members see their friends joining a group, they're more likely to join too. Voila! Instant community. And again, use that personal page to place a button, badge or link to your group.
Another option is to have a Facebook application created for your client. This may not work for everyone - check out the applications (some 4,000+) in Facebook to get an idea of how apps can be viral. Indeed, Facebook is now starting a $10 million fund that will reward and support development of the most innovative applications.
While you can't create an application for a group, if you come up with something that's truly inspired (and tied to the brand), the app will spread across the entire Facebook network quickly and benefit your client.
So there you have it. Connecting with bloggers is all about the personal connections through conversation, offering a compelling reason to act, and making them feel like they're truly valued as part of a larger effort. If you try an end-run around it, your mass mailing mentality will be easily spotted and you stand less of a chance with bloggers.
September 17, 2007
When I first heard about AMC's series Mad Men, I was going to pass. I thought, "Uh oh. Here's a chance for a network to unleash all that's unholy on the industry that it already forces to bend over and take it in the upfronts every year."
I've seen Hollywood try to recreate the Madison Avenue scene before - from Darrin Stevens on Bewitched to Bruce Willis' role in Perfect Stranger, the ad man goes from bumbling to evil. And somehow, the TV and movie industry doesn't understand the divide between creatives and account executives.
So it was with great trepidation that I programmed the DVR for Mad Men. But I was pleasantly surprised, for a number of reasons. First off, it's fair to say that the production value is top-notch. The wardrobe, props, setting, etc. are all genuine, so that it really feels like you're looking through a window to 1960. Even the title sequence is vintage 1950s-60s, echoing a homier yet hipper time. While the smoking may be overdone, the habit of drinking in the office leaves me feeling a little nostalgic...
And the writing - from a former Sopranos executive producer - is stellar. There's lots going on underneath the shiny surface of this period piece, and you can tell it's going to get pretty dark.
So much for the nuts and bolts of the production. Let's move on to advertising and social media and how those come in to play.
As I began to fast-forward through my recorded episode 30 seconds at a time, I noticed an interesting feature. Done in the same font and style of the title sequence, there are little 10-second facts and trivia about many of the advertisers for the show. Things like:
Jack Daniels took the meaning of 'Old No. 7' to the grave
More dollars are spent on drug advertising than soda advertising
Bud Light debuted nationally in: 1982
And then they throw in some industry wisdom such as:
"The enemies of advertising are the enemies of freedom" - David Olgivy
"I'll put the accuracy of the average ad in this country up against the accuracy of the average news story any time" - Jef I. Richards
"An advertising agency is 85% confusion and 15% commission" - Fred Allen
Let me tell you, as someone who typically tries to avoid the 30-second spot in my TV viewing, this innovative approach is really getting me to stop. I may or may not watch the ads after the trivia, but I'm more likely to, just to see how they're following it up.
I'm also impressed with the interactive / social media components on the show's web site. Clearly, they're looking to make themselves part of their viewers' everyday lives, with the likes of typical downloads such as wallpapers and screensavers. But they go one farther with offering instant messaging icons.
And while many shows feature a discussion board or community forum, Man Men has decided to build its community via...a blog. There's typically a summary of each show, as well as announcements or interviews, and the commenting started out slowly. But the last two posts about the episodes garnered 300-400 comments each, as of this posting.
I'm looking forward to the story arc and to seeing more of a glimpse into the past of the storied Madison Avenue game. Just call me a mad man.
September 10, 2007
You have to wonder about the ability of the marketing profession to move forward when a mainstream medium such as Advertising Age seems dead-set against it.
Here are just three examples:
Even though they're embracing new media by offering RSS feeds, you can't read the entire posts in your feedreader. Ad Age makes you visit their site for the full content. Yes, they probably want the traffic so they can support the site with (ahem) ads, but you know what? You can run ads in feeds too, guys.
Today Jonah Bloom decided that he'd call out a small company and rant against it. In this case, he was talking about my company's recent announcement. I couldn't find any instance of him berating any other small companies, but then again, I got tired of scrolling through the archives since the Adages blog doesn't have tags.
Finally (and this one's a doozy), Mark Simon gives us his take on trends by recommending that CMOs Ditch the Lunatic Web Content Crazes in the CMO Strategy column. He particularly calls out Twitter as nothing more than a personal update application; it's clear he hasn't spent any time on it or developed a network. As the very astute Karl Long puts it:
Even more ironic this is under “CMO Strategy”, yep this is exactly the kind of advice you need if you’re a CMO, ignore new things, don’t experiment, don’t participate and your world will be simpler, safer and easier to understand.
Maybe the folks over at Ad Age don't think this whole Internet thing is going to catch on.
September 9, 2007
I don't know what it is, but I find that I always begin to succumb to blogger outreach efforts. Maybe it's because I like the attention.
But when it goes wrong - and it doesn't take much - I get turned off pretty quickly. About a month or so ago, my colleague Scott Greg Verdino wrote about his experience with a less than buttoned-up blogger outreach effort.
Well, I recently received an invitation to check out Flektor, a site that allows you to host all of your photos, video, music and text and to essentially create multimedia scrapbooks to share with friends. An interesting site, one that I might be tempted to review. What made it even more attractive is that the pitch was actually one of the smoothest ones I've received. Here are some things they did well:
They were specific - they named the blog that linked to my site (and it happened to be one that I know and respect)
Did their homework - they noted that I write about social media and innovation
Clear goals & objectives - they were very upfront about being in the midst of a social media campaign and wanting to connect with influential bloggers
They were empathetic - they noted that unsolicited emails can be a turn-off, so this would be the only one I received
Offered a two-way dialog - more than just a one-way pitch, they wrote they'd be open to comments, feedback, interviews and specifically stated their methods were "purely one-on-one interaction with people who like" the service
A decidedly human approach - they requested that I let them know if I decide to write something about the service, noting "we monitor, but nobody's perfect"
Sounds like a lock, right? Well, I got to the end of the email and it said:
I look forward to hearing from you! Many Thanks, David!
'Doh! Looks like I won't be participating. Maybe they'll have better luck with David.
In this day and age - especially with form letters (which it turns out this was), such an error is inexcusable. The technology should be able to merge databases with forms. And if it's a personalized approach, then it shouldn't be happening. With a little effort and attention to detail, these errors can be eradicated, saving clients a lot of money in wasted outreach efforts. And maybe it even makes sense to put together something like Ogilvy PR's Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics.
Bottom line, this is more than PR 101 - it's common courtesy in any social environment: pay attention to people you're talking to, make them feel like they're important to you, and for God's sake, get their names right.
In addition to his blog, Steve has written an ebook - styled in the cool and classic Apple look & feel that we've all come to expect - in which he outlines the five marketing secrets that have catapulted Apple to success. Well, they're not so much secrets as astute observations based on everything that Apple has done right.
Each one deserves to be read through in its entirety, but the summary is as follows:
Don't Sell Products. People buy what other people have
Never Be the First to Market. Make something good better
Empower Early Adopters. Help your customers help you
Make Your Message Memorable. Boil your idea down to its syrupy goodness
Go One Step Further. Surprise and delight your customers
While Steve is no longer with Apple, he's using this blog/ebook approach to clearly demonstrate his knowledge of marketing; but with it comes a tacit demonstration that he also understands and embraces social media. He's using social media to prove social media. That is, he's having people help him with his own marketing efforts.
September 7, 2007
Just a quick post today. Have you heard about Hulu? It's News Corp. / NBC Universal's supposed rival to YouTube. It took them 5 months to come up with a name, but that didn't stop YouTube from referring to them as Clown Co in the interim.
NBC Universal will be running its own content on Hulu, which is more crucial than ever, after its contract cancellation with iTunes because of the dramatic price increase per episode that was proposed by iTunes.
September 5, 2007
I'm still trying to rub the cobwebs out of my labor-intensive Labor Day weekend, so in the hopes that you're more alert than I am today let me try a little riddle on you.
What's one thing that is ubiquitous, we all have in equal amounts every day - from the tiniest baby to the oldest person, from the dirt poor to the filthy rich - yet we never seem to have enough of it? And pondering the mystery of what it really is St. Augustine said of it: "If no one asks me, I know; but if any person should require me to tell him, I cannot."
We all have time. Oh you've heard the idioms: time's a-wasting, time is on your side, time's up, time out, time being, take your time, killing time. I could go on, but this isn't Grammar Girl. If you'd like the full list, check this out.
And we've all heard someone (most likely our mothers) say "So-and-so had the same hours in a day that you have" when trying to cajole us into being more productive. While it's easy to dismiss such "motherisms," I think that particular phrase gives us a lot to think about.
At the end of the day (24 hours, to be exact), we all had the same amount of time to create or do or think and change the world just a little bit more. We all had the opportunity to improve the experience of a customer, make someone feel special, measure and report something to a client, or encourage those around us.
Time may be the great equalizer, but it's our persistence, work ethic and imagination that set us apart from each other. It's how we utilize our time that makes all the difference in the world. Time spent with family, at work, solving problems, helping others and generally making the world a better place than we found - whatever we deem worthy and important in our lives - is what makes us productive.
How do you spend your day? Do you impart a unique value or imprint on every interaction you have? In short, do you use your time wisely?
If not, there's always time to improve.
And yes, this entry was a thinly-veiled mea culpa for not writing anything over the past week. Thanks for humoring me.
At Ford, Scott heads up the social media function and holds the title Global Digital &
Multimedia Communications Manager. He is a strategic advisor on all social media activities across the company, from blogger
relations to marketing support, customer service to internal communications and more, as social media is being integrated into many
facets of Ford business.
Prior to joining Ford, Scott served as Consigliere for crayon
and spent a number of years with PJA Advertising + Marketing, a
boutique BtoB agency specializing in health sciences & high tech.
In addition to his professional responsibilities, Scott is an active blogger and podcaster. He writes about the intersection of
advertising, marketing and PR at ScottMonty.com and
also writes The Baker Street Blog and cohosts I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, two literary undertakings. Scott
has been featured in hundreds of news and business publications in print and on the web, in nearly dozens of books, and on a variety of
mainstream media, including NBC, NPR, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. Scott is a recognized thought leader in the social media industry and
frequently speaks at industry events.
Scott received his Master's in Medical Science from Boston University's School of Medicine concurrently with his MBA from BU's
Graduate School of Management. He lives in the greater Detroit area with his wife and two young sons, golfs all too infrequently, and
has a hidden talent for voice over work.
Scott speaks on social media at events, seminars and conferences around the world. His topic generally focuses on corporate use of social media, becoming an online spokesperson, and specifically on the progress that Ford has made in the recent past. If you're interested in booking Scott to speak at your event, please click here to submit a speaking request for Ford-related purposes or email me at speaking [AT] this site's URL (if you know what I mean) to send a general email request.. Scott's bio and headshot can be found in the "About Scott" tab above.
I'm Scott. I'm the global head of social media for Ford Motor Company. This is my personal blog, where I share my perspectives on business, technology, communications, marketing and the vast changes in the industry that impact leadership. This blog contains my personal views. My bio is available here and my headshots can be found here.