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Killer content: 6 newsletters not to be missed

Admit it. You receive at least one email a day that gets you all giddy. Maybe you’re inspired by quirky copywriting or maybe those tips on how to metamorphose social content into conversions gave you something cool to share at your last marketing meeting. Don’t be shy —we all gain inspiration from somewhere.

Here, I invite you into my personal closet full of content crushes. Sign up for their newsletters, read their blogs like juicy tabloids (often and fanatically), and reap the rewards of being informed by some of best in the business.

Without further ado, I bring you 6 newsletters content marketers should sign up for right now:

1. For cream-of-the-crop copywriters: Copyblogger.

This blog is all about how to streamline your content creation, measure success, and storytell in a way that’s both authentic and branded. From how to spice up bland text to “The 5 Things Every (Great) Marketing Story Needs,” Copyblogger shares the ins and outs of words that work. The best part? The content is stripped dry of overused jargon. It’s straight-forward, quality content about well…content!

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Subtle Shots of Storytelling

I’ve been thinking a lot about storytelling and the strength of tiny tales. Small stories are kind of like taking a shot of [insert your preferred booze type here]. It may be little, but man can it pack a punch!

In business, we tend to turn our attention to BIG stories: product launches, rebranding strategies, funding announcements. But what about all the other opportunities we have to communicate our narrative that go unsung?

If every touch point is an opportunity to tell our story, why should conventional components lack the creativity and character that go into product launches? Take this rock star example from Kentucky-based design and branding firm, Cornett.

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4-Part Guide for Interview Preparation in a Pinch

You’ve reviewed the 7 Signs You’re Ready for PR and landed an interview with star business reporter after chatting them up at a networking event. Giggles dispersed, you now come to terms with the part that makes you panic: They want to interview you tomorrow!

You choose to

1. Feign illness (complete with faux coughing) while making the call to cancel.

2. Politely ask if the reporter would mind rescheduling (Until you’ve had enough time to build key messaging, prepare talking points, and buy the perfect interview outfit)

3. Accept with enthusiasm, kick it into overdrive, and nail down some strategic talking points stat. You’ll dedicate some extra time to building messaging after the interview so you’re more prepared the next time you hook one.

If you chose A or B, shame on you! When opportunity knocks, it’s in your best interest to answer the door. It’s fine to agree upon a different date and time than the one a reporter first proposes, but this should be due to scheduling conflicts, not your want for a generous amount of prep time.

If you chose C, great job! You have enough time to pull together talking points, and transform into the star spokesperson we know you can be.

The following 4-part guide is packed with ideas and tips for interview preparation when your time is limited. You’ll just need a trusted colleague who understands your messaging objectives and business goals and a few free hours to hash out a plan. Reserve a conference room and have at it!

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5 tips for optimizing your outsourced PR

Greetings, folks!

Since Sharam (our CEO) and Rebekah (our CSO) are off trotting around NYC doing rad stuff like presenting to the National Venture Capital Association at the New York Stock Exchange and molding the future minds of PR at New York University, I decided to hijack the blog this week.

As a PR Engineer, one of my primary responsibilities is to look at our internal data and apply it to make better decisions around how and where we tell our story. Since great storytelling is at the heart of any PR person worth their salt, I’ve decided to let you in on 5 key takeaways I’ve deduced from our own Marketplace that will help you make the most of your PR efforts.

So, you’ve submitted your project, vetted the candidates and found the perfect PR pro to help make all your dreams come true.

Now what?

To ensure you have the best experience possible and extract the most value from your newly minted partnership, here are 5 tips for optimizing your outsourced PR.

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How to avoid e-Restraining orders during holiday media pitching

I first met Kim Lieb (then Kim Lichtenstein) in 2006ish when we were both interviewed for Atlanta-based, female-focused magazine, Pink – which soon after became a digital only publication called Little Pink Book.

While Pink’s evolution was a sign of the crazy, shifting media times, it was also the beginning of a match made in PR heaven (or at least in my mind) for us. Over the years Kim and I have riffed on story ideas, mulled over growth strategies for our respective firms, and of course lamented over the dearth of effective PR measurement tactics.

All that is to say, I respect her immensely and have enjoyed watching her firm, k101 Agency, explode over the past several years. A few weeks ago, in preparation for a story I was working on with Bloomberg (which ran on November 21st) I sat down with Kim and picked her brain about holiday pitching strategies.

The conversation ended up being extremely insightful, so I asked her to put together some tips for an article. The following is her take on what works and what doesn’t for holiday media pitching…

What works:

#1 – Get your initial pitch out early, like when Halloween ends and the Christmas décor pops up the next day. Just think of the irritation sprinkled with excitement that you feel. Same idea.

#2 – Make your pitch personal to each media target and explain why your holiday pitch may be useful. Often times, we like to reference a previous holiday-themed article/segment/blog they have done or even an Instagram photo or Tweet that you could masterfully weave in to your pitch.

For example: “I noticed you Tweeted a picture of a Gluten Free sandwich, and I thought I would reach out to let you know that my client Roti Mediterranean Grill has an extensive GFree menu and is offering BOGO Gift Cards for the month of December.”

#3 – Use informative headlines and present the info in an easy to read email. I like to spoon feed some info to tie into common holiday gift themes like:

  •  Last minute gift ideas
  • Gifts under $50
  • Gifts for the women in your life
  • Locally sourced/made gift ideas

#4 – Avoid attachments with the first round of outreach, if they see value in your pitch they will ask for more info, images, videos, etc.

#5 – Always follow up via email or phone, because media does get bombarded around this time of year. Quite frankly, the worst that can happen is that you get a BIG FAT rejection. Who cares! They expect us to be stalkers, so often times I will insert a bit of humor when appropriate.

For example: During follow up I may say something along the lines of: “Please don’t file an e-Restraining order [yet], I just want to confirm that you received the Gift Guide pitch I sent you last week.” Continue reading…

7 hot tips for maximizing the value of media coverage

Generally speaking, there are fewer things I despise more than conferences. The only thing I despise more than conferences is, well, specifically…PR conferences.  Mostly because I find them filled with stuffy corporate communications folks who are still trying to figure out if they should spend 400k or 500k on PR for the year.

That must be a nice quagmire.

One Shaun Saunders, however, has of late eclipsed my original thinking about PR conferences. Mr. Saunders, who I describe as a fabulously dressed, fast-talking, PR renegade of sorts, is the founder of the PR Summit. I’m not sure exactly how he’s created the hip and cool slash utilitarian version of the PR conference, but he’s managed to do it, fashionably.

As we gear up for this year’s conference (July 30 & 31 in San Francisco), Shaun and I have interviewed a couple of folks who have some thoughts and advice about PR, media, relations, social media, and so much more.

This week we’ll start with an interview Shaun conducted with Murray Newlands (TheMail) and next week I’ll be posting an interview I did with Greg Galant (MuckRack) in New York a few weeks ago. And yes, they…in all their “hipness and coolness”… will be speaking at the PR Summit.

7 hot tips for maximizing the value of media coverage

[Shaun Saunders interviews Murray Newlands]

With an ever-increasing number of businesses engaging in content marketing, PR, and media outreach, getting media coverage is progressively more difficult as journalists are pressed for time and chased for attention. I asked Murray Newlands, founder and editor of www.themail.com, how to best maximize the value of media coverage when given the opportunity.

Once you get great press coverage, what’s next? Here are some tips that will help you get the most out of that media coverage and ensure that you are invited back, or if you’re lucky, be referred to other publications.

1. Make a positive comment and encourage fans to do the same: Remember, it’s normally much better to promote content that someone else has written about you than content you’ve created. If someone else comments on it, then engage with those comments.

2. Share it on your Facebook page and in relevant groups that you belong to: Why not make that a paid/promoted post as well? You could do the same on Twitter and make it a promoted tweet. Don’t forget to promote it on LinkedIn and Google+, too, if it’s relevant. If you have fans that have their own followings, ask them to do the same. You could even pay for them to do some promotion on their profiles or fan pages. If you’re clever enough to regularly cross promote with other businesses, why not pay them to do a promoted post on their fan page and agree to do the same for them when the time comes?

3. Share it on your site: Write a short introduction to the piece and link to it. After all, why would you want to create content that your audience can’t find? Regardless of where it’s posted, always make sure that your network and your audience knows about your content. Continue reading…

Top 5 PR don’ts from an important tech reporter we can’t name

To forward the discussion from last week’s post “How to pitch the press” I thought it would be fun, and possibly frustrating, to point out the Top 5 Don’ts courtesy of a really important tech reporter from a really big news organization that will go unnamed.

But let’s just say it’s one of the top ten, and if you ever appeared in print or online in this publication you’d be extremely happy with your PR efforts. I will also point out here that 40% of tech stories covered by press are about the big five: Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Twitter. This is an important factoid to note if you think, for ANY reason, you deserve or are guaranteed press coverage for your tech company on a regular basis.

The Journalist
Just who is this Tech Reporter X? Hmm

It ain’t happenin’. Fish elsewhere. Contribute to niche blogs. Write your own blog with an interesting point of view. Get social. Create meaningful relationships with influencers. This is all part of the PR machine.

This blog post is not intended for seasoned PR pros – because they will likely be privy to the points he (or maybe it’s a she?) makes below…save the last point which is still largely up for debate. We will get into embargoes next week. THAT will be a fun discussion.

Straight from “Tech Reporter X” are the Top 5 Don’ts:

1) Don’t ask reporters to rewrite a press release. They take pride in THEIR work, not in being YOUR amplifier. [Sorry to jump in, but this goes back to the article “Journalists: it’s about them not you” from a couple weeks ago]

2) Take NO for an answer. Meetings are great. Introductions are welcome. Connections are awesome. They don’t always (often) lead to immediate stories. Trust that if a reporter wants to cover the news he/she will. Pressure from you to do so is only a deterrent. So in “don’t” form I guess it’s – Don’t be annoying! Continue reading…

Why does pitching the press feel like walking Captain Hook’s plank?

Two weeks ago, Sharam spoke on a panel (“How to pitch the press” moderated by Robert Scoble) with a handful of journalists at the Startup Conference in Silicon Valley. Now, don’t ask me how he managed to get himself on a panel with journalists when he is not, in fact, a journalist. However, I have watched him do a handful of super-hero-ish things as an entrepreneur, so I suppose this should not have come as a complete surprise. Exhibit A:

"How to pitch the press" aka Sharam crashes a panel

“How to pitch the press” aka Sharam crashes a panel of journalists
During this panel, I jotted down what I typically call “notable and quotable” information, which I will share with you here:

Press releases go directly to a folder that never gets read. I’m already at about 7k this week.”  -Robert Scoble, Rackspace/Blogger

“I make my decision [about what I read] in 1/10 of a second. Don’t misspell my name, don’t send attachments; we are dying for good content…so don’t give me a press release give me a great piece of content that doesn’t sound like a sales pitch.”  – Eric Wesoff, Greentech Media (Editor in Chief)

“Sometimes the story just isn’t a fit. Entrepreneurs are strategic when it comes to business but not when it comes to PR.” – Mike Cassidy, San Jose Mercury News’ Silicon Beat Blog (Columnist)

“Figure out what your mission and your purpose is and boil it down to what you could tell someone casually over breakfast.”  -Patrick Hoge, San Francisco Business Times (Tech Reporter)

“I’m trying to get to the gems of truth within a press release…get rid of all the superfluous info.”  AND “Help me to reach more people, I want to get read; give me something tantalizing and interesting. As far as opening your email, if you can leverage someone you know for referral or intro I’m more likely to open it.”  – Josh Moss, Upstart Business Journal (Editor)

And my personal favorite, again by Mr. Scoble: “Every company should have a blog.”

Yes, Robert, yes they should.

BONUS: these are the Top 10 Headline or Email Subject words they spouted off as most likely to grab their attention:

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Journalists: it’s about them, not you.

The chasm between your company story and the journalists that are going to care about said story is wide. So wide, in fact, that to make the leap across you must fundamentally understand what you are asking them to do. More than that, you must understand who they are.

Have you ever tried to build a following of your own around content? Meaning, created a point of view, continually written about it in an eloquent and controversial way, generated conversation around it, and then convinced your audience to “buy” whatever you are selling?

If you have, then you understand that writing stories and connecting dots for your audience is fundamentally about you. It’s about your experience, your knowledge, your mistakes, and your passions. As writer Amanda Palmer eloquently reflects:

We can only connect the dots that we collect, which makes everything you write about you. Your connections are the thread that you weave into the cloth that becomes the story that only you can tell.”

Bearing this in mind, let’s talk about what you – a startup founder, a PR pro, a communications person – are asking for when you ask a person from the media (particularly top tier media) to push your story out to their audience: their trusted following who they have likely spent years building…yes, often under a large organizational umbrella, but mostly by their own chutzpa to unearth those gems of stories to entertain, educate, and engage their constituents.


You are asking them to take a personal bet that YOUR story, YOUR product, YOUR fill in the blank is so darn interesting that it will make them look like a hero, a first mover, a trendsetter, a breaking news deliverer, or just down right, flat out smart. Really smart. Beyond that, you are asking them to take a personal interest, which enables them to connect the dots between past experiences to tell your story in a more compelling way.

It’s that simple. And we must respect it. Continue reading…

You named your startup what? 5 tips for getting it right.

Naming your company is like naming a kid; except instead of the kid taking the heat for a “bad” name (think Francis Bean, Tu Morrow, Zuma Nesta Rock, or <insert baby name of any really famous person>) YOU will actually take the heat.

In terms of PR, the name of your startup can either be a huge asset or, on the flipside, a rather sizable roadblock.

Love JuiceAs a general rule of thumb, the worst brand names usually fall into one of three categories:

1)    Sound and/or read like a sexual act of some sort.

2)    Sound and/or read like a derivative of a racial slur.

3)    Sound and/or read like toilet humor.

Just for fun, and for sake of example, you can go here to see what I’m talking about. A small sampling of this type of nonsense: Jussipussi, Asse, Gookie, and Zephyrhills.

But what’s in a name?

Well, according to branding and design expert Fabian Geyrhalter, founder of Finien, a whole helluva lot.

I first met Fabian roughly five years ago when we both worked on the launch of music tech company, Audiolife. Since then, his design firm has literally exploded; he’s worked with a slew of both consumer and business brands and won about 234238 awards. The proof is here:

Fabian Awards
Fabian’s Awards

To make Fabian extremely uncomfortable – which is not hard to do since he’s a (self-admitted) somewhat uptight, snobby Austrian – I asked him to provide a gut reaction to the name “AirPR” just to prove how objective we are and not to seem preachy when we publish a blog about naming.
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