Why does my content marketing suck? | THINK PR Espresso

I read a piece over the weekend called ‘Why content marketing sucks?‘ and it made me mad. The author makes the point in the piece that content marketing doesn’t suck – she just used the title to get people to read her post.

The irony is that she’s demonstrating, perfectly, the reason that most content marketing sucks. Badly.

The problem is that the action/outcome appears to be to get people to read something, rather than anything that is of value to the individual or business. A link-bait title also sets unrealistic expectations and, invariably, disappoints the reader. How do you feel when somebody wastes your time? How would you feel if somebody hooked you with a sign outside their store offering a 50% discount, only for you to find that once in the store there was no discount, it was simply a tactic to get you in the store?

How likely would you be to do business with a company that operated in that way?

Startup and SmallBiz PR and marketing tip: If you want to improve the quality and effectiveness of your content marketing don’t chase anybody that is willing to click a link. Focus on the people that are likely to become your customers and provide them with valuable content. You might find that when you ask them to take an action – whether it is to share something, buy something or tell others like them about you – they’ll be far more likely to agree.

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BlackBerry: the easy part is over. Now the hard work begins.

Blackberry’s stock has rallied in recent days.  Buoyed by John Chen’s announcement that the restructuring of the company is over, many people have started to talk about turnaround and of better days ahead.  The reality is that the restructure was the easy bit.  The hard part – selling devices and in increasing volumes than in recent years – may yet consign the company to the mobile telecommunications history books.  It’s a part of the jigsaw puzzle that the company has been notably poor at in recent years. 

The nadir being had to be the company’s Super Bowl advert that left many scratching their heads at what they had witnessed.

The Blackberry YouTube account shows more than 1.2 million views – some would claim this to be a success because it created ‘buzz’. But when the advert served no valuable purpose it did far more damage than good.

In order for Blackberry to complete the turnaround that Chen now says he
believes is 80:20 in favor of successfully being executed it needs to retain its existing customer base and start to capture those that have in recent years abandoned the company.   That is going to require a PR and marketing campaign the likes of which the company hasn’t seen for at least a decade.  I’d even suggest it would take a campaign to
rival the one credited with turning around a failing Apple Computer in 1998.
 Blackberry needs to beat the master marketer, Steve Jobs, at his own game.

Before you start, I’m not suggesting that Blackberry go after iPhone customers.
 I think to continue down that path would be the death knell for the company.
 What I’m talking about is something that gives Blackberry diehards, and those
that could be tempted back, a reason to buy a new Blackberry over any of an
increasing number of attractive alternatives.  The company needs to be clear about what it stands for – and why people should care.  

In order to do this the company needs first to identify who its audience is and start to rebuild some of the burned bridges with a PR program.  Its value proposition needs to be clear and its message compelling.  It also needs to deliver it in a consistent way across
multiple platforms, both directly and via traditional, online and social media
channels.  This is something that the company has struggled to do, despite it being one of the most important parts of a successful turnaround.

Unless the company can successfully rebuild relationships and deliver marketing that encourages consumers [B2B or B2C] to take action then the company is doomed, no matter what their financial position is.  They’ll be consigned to the lower leagues of the mobile telecommunications marketplace – something they’ve been trying to avoid ever since Steve Jobs launched the first iPhone.

Do you think Blackberry will make it?

Read my continuing analysis of BlackBerry’s turbulent struggle

Why Tech Startups Don’t Need ‘PR’

I read a piece by The Houston Business Journal’s Joe Martin this morning called Tech startups: You don’t need PR, exec says.  In it, he says that Uber GM Chris Nakutis told a local group of entrepreneurs they don’t need PR.

In this video I explain why I agree.  Sort of.

Startup and SmallBiz PR & Marketing tip: Don’t mistake PR for publicity and make sure that you own the key relationships for your business – with customers, prospects, journalists and analysts.

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Do I need public relations, marketing or publicity?

PR Espresso, THINK PR Espresso, Startup, Smallbiz, PR Strategy

*Before you read this post please check out my definitions of public relations, marketing and publicity. It’ll take you less than two minutes.

PR is the process of building and maintaining strong relationships with the people that are critical to the attainment of a goal.

Marketing is compelling a defined person or group to take a specific action in support of your business – because they want to.

Publicity is awareness – the one-way communication of information/your story/your message to an audience en mass.

There’s a lot of confusion over the difference between public relations, marketing and publicity – most of it by people that are supposed to know better! The public relations industry in particular has struggled for decades – including the two that I’ve been working in it – to communicate exactly what the commercial value of it is.

Our customers see PR as smoke and mirrors; expensive smoke and ridiculously priced mirrors. Under no circumstances should they attempt to do themselves. Journalists are a prickly bunch that needs careful handling. You can destroy your business with a badly written tweet. The truth is that public relations isn’t only about the media – traditional, online or otherwise. It’s about relationships.

Relationships are what entrepreneurs do. They question you need to ask your self when figuring out whether you need PR, marketing or publicity to help you grow your business is, “what do I want them to do?”

If you want them to have a relationship with your organization then you need help with public relations. Public relations is about building and maintaining relationships. It is based on trust, mutual benefit, a shared value set, honesty and transparency. It’s also about the long-term success of the business, rather than short-term gratification. It’s a marriage, rather than a one-night stand. Editorial pitching with the aim of securing coverage is not, generally, public relations. Think about it – you don’t even have a relationship with the journalist in most cases, let alone one with the intended audience.

If, on the other hand, you want people to do something – then it is marketing support you need. Marketing is about getting people to take action on behalf of you [or your business] because they want to. I’ll say the last part again… because THEY WANT TO. If the action is taken grudgingly because you’ve kept asking or because you’re bombarding them with messages in the hope of beating them in to submission then it is not marketing. It’s intimidation!

If you want the world to know about your product, service or business – without an attempt to either build a relationship [a transactional purchase for an app, for example] then you need publicity. Publicity is the communication of information to an audience. Most media coverage is publicity – if it is news then it’s almost certainly publicity; editorial bylines can have the intention of building a relationship with the reader – but it’s the exception rather than the rule. Advertising is paid publicity.

So, what do you need most in order to grow your businesses?

  • Relationships based on trust?
  • People taking action, because they want to [I’d argue that you need to build relationships before people will willingly take action on your behalf]
  • Lots of people to know about you – without any intention of building a relationship or them taking action?

I can only think of a handful of scenarios where the latter is the case.

Startup and SmallBiz PR & Marketing tip: Understand the difference between public relations, marketing and publicity – and which one your business needs to achieve your next milestone.

If you have questions then please feel free to get in touch – you can email on lyndon@thinkdifferently.ca or call me on +1 647.773.2677

I LOVE Marketing Toronto [Review]

I LOVE Marketing, Public Relations, THINK DIFFERENT [LY], PR for Startups
In person, I LOVE Marketing co-organizer Diana Santaguida with Joe Polish and Dean Jackson

A couple of weeks ago I got the opportunity to meet two of marketing’s big-hitters – Joe Polish and Dean Jackson from the I LOVE Marketing website and podcast fame. Actually, that doesn’t really do them justice – they are far more celebrated than that, but it is what most people perhaps associate with them.  The truth is that they are behind the successes of many businesses, without being recognized for it.

I’m primarily a PR ‘guy’, but when you work in any of the marketing communications disciplines there is a fair amount of overlap. Particularly when you work with small businesses where the internal functions are less defined and things move quickly from relationship building to trying to get people to take action – and where publicity is still often the primary goal. So, the chance to hear Joe and Dean talk in person about their take on marketing best practice was something I’ll remember for a long time.

With the focus on digital and social marketing you would, perhaps, expect the evening to have focused on either of these topics.  You’d be wrong.  In fact, I don’t think that social platforms were mentioned at all during the 2 hour Meetup.  Joe says that he’d still default to direct marketing given the chance and Dean talks about marketing and PR leaders as friends [not to be confused with the fast friends of the social media age] that he has either worked with, or continues to work alongside.

I had the privilege to present my take on PR, marketing and publicity to the assembled group – so, no pressure with Joe and Dean in the room.  I also heard their detailed advice to some of the challenges facing the entrepreneurs in the room.  There was none of the generic, echo-chamber, “this is how I did it, so this is what you should do” advice that is so prevalent online these days.  It was refreshing.  I’ve become accustomed to hearing so-called experts talking in general terms about best practice where there is no context other than the “expert” so it was refreshing to hear advice that was specific to the person asking the question and their business.  The examples and advice given was also specific enough for non-marketers to implement.

If you’ve not been to the I LOVE Marketing Toronto Meetup then I’d wholeheartedly recommend it.  I’m not promising that Dean and Joe will be there every time, but you never know!  They have ties to the city, so it is possible they may be there again soon.

I hope so.

Smart PR is Effective PR

Public Relations Espresso

I’ve read a few articles in recent days about smart PR and marketing, including this one by Jackie Nagel on ‘The New Normal‘.  Smart PR and marketing is, to my mind, effective PR & marketing – it delivers the right message to the right audience at the right time in order to achieve the desired outcome.  In the case of public relations it is to build and sustain a mutually beneficial relationship; with marketing it is to get the audience to take action on your behalf, because they want to.

I gave a presentation at the end of last year that looked at why the traditional – media-centric approach to PR is, if it ever was, no longer smart.  Take a daily publication with a circulation of 300,000 per week and apply the direct marketing 5% rule and you find that you are actually talking with about 7.5 people.  This is without factoring in the added complexity that your target audience may read the paper on a day that you’re not in it.

Apply the same rule to a website with a similar weekly audience but with a 15 minute news cycle and you can see the chances of you getting in front of your target audience with editorial coverage is even more unlikely.

I’m not saying nobody will see it.  Neither am I saying that nobody will click the link or Google you.  But how many of those people are likely to be become your customer, or make the investment you’re seeking?  Sure, it could happen – but I could also win the lottery this week.

Smart PR and marketing takes a different approach.  It identifies the audience, understands why they might be interested in your company or product.  It works out what you need to say to them to start a conversation that gives you the opportunity to influence them – whether it is investing in your business, buying your product or telling somebody they know about you.  It understands what the right time to start the conversation is – for them.  Too many PR and marketing programs assume, incorrectly, that the right time is when they are ready.  Smart PR and marketing also understands that the delivery channel is critical to getting the outcome you want – and that, in many cases, social media is not the right one.

Still not sold on smart PR or marketing?  Ask yourself how many planes you’d be prepared to get on in order to get to your intended destination?  How many randomly dialled telephone calls would you make to try to find the person you wanted to talk with? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  But that’s what the majority of companies do with their PR and marketing every day.

If your business deserves smart PR and marketing give me a call on 647.773.2677 or email me at lyndon@thinkdifferently.ca We’ll help you deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time and using the right delivery mechanism.