Time to work: Public Relations pitching in a social media world

Pitching bloggers, just like traditional media outlets, takes research and significant effort. To be effective, you really have to know your audience and what will interest them.

Off-topic pitches are a bad first impression, and they can stick with you if you are unlucky enough.

With the growing number of social media communication tools and the rampant abuse of journalists’ email addresses, more and more journalists opt to require that public relations practitioners reach out to them through their social network of choice. Bloggers and the stars of online media are leading this movement.

Brian Solis highlighted several preferred contact methods of the big names of the blogosphere today.

Some like Facebook while others are incredibly turned off when you bring business to their wall.

Several ask that all pitches be twittered to them and add a little bonus pressure to PR reps to cram their message into just 140 characters — if the message is really that good, you should not need all 140.

ReadWriteWeb‘s Marshall Kirkpatrick prompted Brian Solis’ post after he shared that his favorite method of receiving pitches was through RSS feeds. Bloggers have started to post this sort of information online to help us all out.

Brian highlighted Kirkpatrick’s opinion on getting something outside of the (in)box:

He summarizes what you should do this way, “PR people, please send us the RSS feeds of your clients’ blogs and news release. The full fire-hose of company news and updates for us to pick out what’s interesting, someplace outside of our email inboxes, free of dreadful press release rhetoric (skip to the second paragraph where details usually are, then skip past any executive quotes and hope there are readable details somewhere) – that sounds like a dream come true. I know that’s where I get most of the stories I write about, not from email pitches. Send both, but company feeds are likely to be looked at more closely.”

RSS feed pitching encourages the growing trend of corporate blogging, and in the process of demanding just a feed, Kirkpatrick is also taking away the control, the choice, that PR reps have in what they choose to send out about their clients. Is that such a bad thing? Giving the journalists more info about you on a regular basis and letting them highlight what they will?

Kirkpatrick’s post points out one particular tech-savvy PR practitioner who used Yahoo Pipes to create one massive feed of all his clients. Very clever. I’m jealous.

Read Brian’s complete post for several detailed looks at what prominent bloggers and journalists desire from their PR friends.

As each journalist better defines their pitch acceptance process, it’s on all public relations professionals to do the research.

Almost every blogger that has made up their mind has a contact page or post detailing how they like for PR people to reach them, and off-line journalists are speaking out to inform PR people what they like to see as well.

Find it and follow it or reach out to journalists and ask them what they like before you shoot off an email.

As Brian put it: “Yes, it’s time consuming. But this is about relationships and not about broadcasting spam.” Well said, Brian. Well said.

I am a slave to my Google Reader–efficiency is simple ignorance

It started as such an innocent tool. In my love of Gmail, I stumbled upon the powerful Google Reader (reader.google.com) and begin to fill it with RSS feeds from my favorite Web destinations. Instantly, my reader became the fastest way to skim through the gaming blogs, tech news and business musings of the talking heads of Internet.

I’d say I had a good six weeks or so where the RSS feeds made me more productive. I didn’t have to surf the Internet because I had it delivered to me–right there within Google’s little window. As I sorted through my feeds–keyboard shortcuts and all–I would star posts that were noteworthy or that I wanted to blog. I could also send posts to friends that I found helpful and pass along funny quotes.

The sinister force that was the RSS master emerged when I started to expand my tastes. I would stumble upon a particular site or one post from a blog and find it interesting, and there it went into my reader. After awhile, I had to go in and reorganize my feeds. I had too many loose, uncategorized ones, but after a quick shuffle, my RSS heaven was back to the organized filing system I had created.

One weekend, somehow in my techy ignorance I left the computer. That’s right. For 48 hours, I stepped away from the digital world. When I returned to it Monday morning, the Gremlins had owned my system.

My unread posts counter read (1000+). Uh oh.

For the next three weeks, I tried to catch back up and manage, but for the non-Scoble, you just can’t handle following that many bloggers. In fact, you never get a chance to blog a post yourself if you spend your entire day reading what 100+ others have said in the last day.

I was a slave to the RSS reader everyday. I loathed leaving it with 100+ unread posts. I was becoming a Google addict. It became an impossible task, so I had to step out and selectively nuke my system.

I devised a way of removing blogs that no longer needed to be followed. If it updated too frequently with information that I didn’t cherish everyday, it was gone. If two blogs covered similar topics, I made myself choose the one that covered the topic more completely or that was more worthwhile for me to read as a fellow blogger. If given the choice between a blog that posted 30 times a day, and one that posted once or twice a week with the same basic info, I went with the less frequent, more complete option.

I went simple. I became ignorant to what 50+ or so bloggers were writing about, but I got my life back–my life outside of RSS. It was entirely necessary, and I tell you now: Ignorance is bliss.

You can’t follow 1000+ blogs and still exist outside of the online world. Keep that in mind before you start getting crazy with the RSS subscribe button.

The Moneyball Method of Marketing

I know that this post by Steve Rubel was posted last year, but in mining my RSS feeds from Google Reader today, I came across this post on the movement towards Moneyball Marketing as marketers look to online and had to talk about it because of how much I enjoyed Moneyball.

In Michael Lewis’ Moneyball, Lewis showed how baseball manager Billy Beane built a successful team by changing the critical stats. Rather than choosing players based on the big time stats that the Yankees liked, the A’s started getting players with good on-base percentages and slugging percentages–players that weren’t as highly sought after in the drafts and had less star mentality.

As Rubel projects, the same could be true for marketing in the online realm. Marketers looking to reduce costs could go more niche and find smaller sites that produced better results. These sites wouldn’t have as much of a “star mentality” and don’t charge as much for advertising.

I had never thought about Moneyball applying to marketing until I read this post, but now it seems like a great way to describe the more efficient way of marketing on the Web. Rubel also lists some ways to start applying the Moneyball method:

Here are three ways you can apply Moneyball Marketer in your organization today:

1) Become a Super Cruncher – Look beyond the common methods for evaluating media and identify more meaningful, perhaps esoteric statistics. For example, make a buy based on a site’s ability to drive consumers to complete high value tasks.

2) Skip Reach, Go Niche – As hard as it is, try forgoing some of the larger sites in favor of emerging niche ones that deliver a higher percentage of your target. Work with them to create measurable, outside-the-box programs. For example, consider Takklean emerging social network focusing on high school sports.

3) Think Relationships, Not Impressions – The most successful companies in business today recognize that relationships rule. Consider launching programs that allow you to hone your relationships with narrow segments of your audience. Go beyond impressions.