Archive for March, 2010

WASHINGTON - APRIL 05: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (2n... Alex Wong / Getty Images

And if you believe in the Easter Bunny, you’re sure to find a ready-made brand strategy that will fit a company just like yours.

First thing you do?  Stop your external search.  Look in the mirror.  It’s right there.

Ever since I heard about (and then read) All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin several years ago, I’ve been convinced that as time passes and collective memory fades, everything old is new again in business — especially in marketing.  He beats on the same drum in his post here. Good stuff, as always.

Good marketing has always been about creating word of mouth, stories, and legend.  Today, with so many people able to spread word of mouth so quickly and easily, it’s more powerful than ever.  Exponentially.  Companies with the marketing gene, like Apple, have always known this and are always exploiting it their best advantage.

Just as every generation assumes that it invented sex, each wave of new marketing people want to believe that an “identity” is something you go out and buy and put on like a trendy new pair of shoes.   They soon discover that their brand is not their shoes.  It’s their feet.  It’s not the belt, it’s the waistline.  It’s not what you put on your head, it’s what’s inside of it A value proposition isn’t a pitch, it’s the information you present that’s relevant and compelling to a buyer. Cosmetics don’t conceal the real deal.  A brand, like character, stands for something.  It can never stand for everything. If you try to make it do this, it will stand for nothing.  This is part of reason why great, visionary leadership is so rare.  There’s a natural inclination of the heart to be liked.  To be everybody’s everything so as not to offend or alienate any one of them.  It’s a losing battle so stop fighting it.  You stand for something…or nothing at all.   Same as it ever was.


How to get good PR

Posted: March 25, 2010 in marketing, PR, sales

Reading this piece today, I was reminded yet again that the more the world changes the more it stays the same.  We’re struggling to stay afloat in heavy seas of digital media and information today.  Part of what this means is that many of the people charged with presenting all of this information to us are, to say the least, overworked and under-compensated.  Now consider the hapless PR rep whose job it is to convince these people that there is yet something else for them to think and write about.  In fact, this has been the name of the PR game for a long, long time.

Good reporters and editors have always been skeptics, short on time, who have instinctively treated publicists like flies at a picnic.  Annoying, but part of the territory.  This instinct helps them separate the wheat of real news from the chaff of hype and obfuscation.   Strange as it seems in this hostile atmosphere there’s always the opportunity for publicists  and marketers to create goodwill for themselves.  How?  By making themselves useful. The best way is to appeal to editors or bloggers or influencers of your choice with material that they would have written. But to do this you have to “hear” your pitch through the ears of the people to whom you’re pitching.  You have “read” your press release through the eyes of the editor who’s seeing it for the first time.

Editors and reporters have always griped about PR people who are clueless about the writers’ likes/dislikes, ignorant of what they cover, and oblivious to the relevance/irrelevance of the story. A PR pro, on the other hand, knows that “news” is a product in its own right.  News is what people want to buy, not necessarily what you want to sell.  So, what is it about your story that will make people who know nothing about you willing to buy (want to read) it?  Publicists and their clients who understand this principle are the ones who get good PR.  Same as it ever was.

Make your pitch compelling by making it relevant to person you want to write about it.   Nothing less will do. You make it relevant by appealing to the specific interest shown consistently in the content of the writer’s columns, blogs and stories.  No magic formulae here. What rings this influencer’s chimes?  Probably the same thing that’s rung them in the past. Do your homework and find out.   In meantime, remember this quote from Benjamin Frankin who must have had PR people in mind when he said it: Either write about something worth reading or do something worth writing. Sage advice from the sage.

With apologies to PR hot-shot Todd Defren, while you can’t actually duck what Richard St. John describes as “criticism, rejection, assholes and pressure” you can learn to live with them.  More than this, you can turn them to your advantage.  First, watch St. John’s video made at a TED conference some years ago (link above).  It’s a list of reminders about how successful people, from Goldie Hawn to Rupert Murdoch, got to be that way.  Nothing new here but being reminded never hurts, especially when it comes with a few laughs.    The late Jack Elway, father of John, a head coach I knew personally when he was taking the Stanford Football team to the 1986 Gator Bowl, once told an interviewer that one of the things you must do to be successful at anything is to ignore the people who tell you that something’s impossible.  For me, to remain single-minded, focused, and passionate in the face of rejection, self-doubt, criticism and endless obstacles is so tough because it’s so lonely.   Listen to Steve Winwood:

When there’s no one left to leave you
Even you don’t quite believe you
That’s when nothing can deceive you

While you see a chance take it
Find romance fake it
Because it’s all on you

Indeed, it is all on us.