Mixed Media Blog

The Mixed Media Blog

Mixed Media: Tips, tools and observations on comms & PR.

The Merovingian, the stylish antagonist in the Matrix Reloaded, responds to Neo and group after they rebuff his invitation to sit and relax with a drink: “Ah, yes, but who has time?  But if we don’t make the time, then we won’t have time.”

And therein lies the rub when facing social media.  With the temptation and promises offered by LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to drive leads and sales for your business, you wonder how much of a commitment will it take?  It can seem like an all or nothing proposition. So, depending on how much time you have to dedicate, these books promise a crash course and shorter daily route:

Hey buddy, have an hour a day?

BusinessInsider apparently hit their threshold of being bombarded with “STORY IDEA” and “EXPERT AVAILABLE” from PR pitches.

What Editor-in-Chief Henry Blodget says they’re looking for isn’t a preamble or teaser, but the actual goods – compelling stories and straight up quotes and outlooks on a timely topic.

Too many PR firms try get trapped into the conscious or subconscious thought process of advancing their client’s interest first. When in fact, working with the media, one serves another master and must flip that mentality upside down to have something of value to help the reporter do their job.  

If you have a problem staying awake you know how quickly presentations can induce that foggy and nodding haze.  Considered a must-use tool, PowerPoint presos conjure hellish feelings of having to endure a yawnfest of slides packed with far too much detail -- dull paragraph-long bullets that are repeated verbatim in monotone by the speaker, along with obligatory clip art and animation.  But let’s not kill the messenger. PowerPoint is merely the medium. It’s time to throw out shop-worn, cliche habits to build strong, compelling presentations.

A book that I ran across, Slide:ology by Nancy Duarte, sets out the true art AND science behind constructing and delivering  presentations.  I then coincidently ran across a live webcast with Duarte, interviewed by Chris Brogan (co-author of bestselling Trust Agents), which revealed some great truths for today's audiences with shorter attention spans.

Email - down the river it goes!

Heraclitus, Greek philosopher, 500 BC, knew a little something about the future of communications and email, with his maxim “You never step into the same river, as new waters flow on to you.”  Nothing truer given the unending flow of messages that cascade through our inboxes today.

So, when it comes to an email campaign, or pitching a reporter, does one surmise that if they didn’t reply, then they never saw it?  That your missive continued on, out of your target’s active window, pushed deeper and further away as if perhaps it never existed.  Or that the no response was the deliberate response?  Perhaps in the torrent of messages, while distracted by other thoughts, they only focused on those emails whose sender’s name rang familiar, or took action on the subject lines that addressed their immediate concerns.

Do you dare send the email again, unchanged?

A key activity in PR is crafting a pitch that hooks a reporter… leading to an interview that hopefully leads to coverage. We've all experienced the expectations, and then the disappointment to read an article only to find the CXO or spokesperson entirely absent.  Just like a real estate deal, a lot can happen before a contract is signed, or before the story goes to print, making you and client feel like you opened an empty gift box.

While you always want to prepare for an interview, sharpening your message points for clarity and brevity, and being armed with good stats or anecdotes, there can be several reasons for being left out of a story. Some are in your control, and some are not.  Here’s a few of the most common reasons for not being included:

For years, search engine marketing was considered a black art, a dubious world of overpaying consultants to somehow get your website found in the huge and unwieldy web universe.  But much of what lies behind SEO, what really works, has been demystified.  This chart, part of MarketingSherpa Search Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition clearly shows the most important components of SEO, based on the response from over 1,500 marketers.  Trying to game the search engines and their algorithms is passé and over.

What rings true in SEO is the same formula used by companies conducting effective PR for eons…the undeniable human need  to communicate meaningful information to inquisitive audiences.

All major searches - Google, Yahoo, Bing – have continually changed and tweaked their algorithms to reflect topflight SEO practices:  1) consistent, interesting, and useful content, 2) that’s properly indexed and tagged, and 3) promoted to engage and build inbound traffic.  That’s the secret formula, which is supported by the MarketingSherpa chart below:

Weighing Value of PR

While any PR firm could recite and opine about the value they bring to early stage companies and start-ups, how credible would that be?  Who better to listen to than an entrepreneur and now VC?  Mark Suster, an entrepreneur turned VC and General Partner at GRP Partners wrote the following, which was featured on Business Insider

"One of the most frequent questions entrepreneurs ask about when they raise a little bit of money or are getting close to launching their first product is whether they should hire a PR firm.

There is obviously no black-or-white answer, but I’ve tried everything from working a large international agency, to hiring in-house people to doing it myself.  This post is a short guide to what I’ve learned:..."

Social platforms sprout like weeds - pick the few best flowers

Infographic Shows Social Media Sprouting Like Dandelions

While everyone can recite a handful of the most popular social media sites, this infographic puts in perspective how many different sites and sharing platforms there are.   If nothing else, it gives companies a way to view the“Conversation Prism” aptly coined by Brian Solis, who may be the foremost thought-leader.

This isn't to say a company needs to be in most of these places, but it does help one to stop and consider where your audiences might be, how to tap into those communities, and what you can share and engage around.

So, what about this image? Infographics like this one, are our modern day version of heiroglyphics. Done right, they present complex subjects with an ‘at-a-glance’ understanding -- providing both big picture context and drill-down details. This one in particular capsulizes the particularly diffuse area of social media.

For anyone in communications or PR who needs a more visual representation that just can’t be conveyed in words alone, infographics can be powerful tools.  We'll continue to post examples as we run across them.

Have a favorite? Let us know.

Corporate Branding presents a challenge...companies need to convey a clear, concise imprint of what they do, and yet hopefully do so in a unique and memorable way.

This hydro company found a brilliant way to extend its service to an elevated brand promise.  Their truck, emblazoned with the tagline "ultra high pressure, even higher standards" ironically appeared in the Pennsylvania Avenue plaza in front of the White House, ostensibly to do some high-pressure cleaning. This happened to coincide with the news of the moment, with Obama just signing a couple executive orders to address the ethical issues around lobbying and influence peddling when high-level execs leave their federal posts to cash in on their connections as lobbyists.