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Archive for December, 2008

The golden rule of customer service — the customer is always right — doesn’t always hold true for the PR and advertising industries. Oftentimes clients come to us looking for advice. They want to know if an ad should be placed in the Wall Street Journal or if a blog is right for them. It is our job to be the expert in this situation and not simply say yes because it equals money in the agency’s pocket. Not all avenues are right. Maybe an ad on wsj.com is more appropriate or maybe a Twitter account will serve the client’s purpose better than a blog.

Stand up to  your client. Say no. Show them how you’re putting their best interests in front of your own. Open communication and open relationships form long-lasting ones. Help your client go down the right path and together you can be successful.

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I cannot stress the importance enough of having a weekly call with each of your clients. This is key to staying in front of them and getting the information you need. Clients get busy and many times PR is the last thing on their minds. A weekly call is an easy way to remind them of outstanding projects, tell them of your great accomplishments (not to brag but to simply remind them why they hired you) and bring up new ideas. Sometimes a carefree 10-minute chat will spark two or three different pitch ideas. This is a great way for you to stay proactive in your efforts for them — you’re not always waiting on them to assign a new press release they need written. Plus the weekly call shows your client that you are always there for them. They know it is an open-door relationship, which can prove invaluable to you when your contract is up for renew.

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So many agencies and colleagues are wrapping things up. Cleaning out their desks and e-mail backlogs. Tidying up their office.

Now isn’t the time for packing up. It’s the time to roll up your sleeves and start thinking about 2009.

Bring out your 2008 plan. What worked? What didn’t? What is still left to try? Revisit the strategies that the client has hesitated on in the past. Maybe a newsletter just didn’t work two years ago. Is now the right time? If so, tell your client why.

Meet with your clients. Find out their goals for 2009. And then figure out how you can be a part of helping them reach those goals.

Has your agency conquered new strategies? Are you a social media expert now? If so, tell your clients. Talk about things you offered that maybe they haven’t used in the past. When we bring on a client we present them with the agency’s capabilities; however, after a year or two or five, the client can easily forget about all the different things we offer. It is important to remind them.

Use December as a time to expand your presence with your client. Offer new ideas and get them excited about what you’re going to do for them in the new year.

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“Although it is now cheaper to launch an initiative leveraging Web 2.0 technology – it requires qualified and passionate people to make them successful.” – David Armano (as quoted on Ann Handly’s 50 Social Media and Marketing Predictions for 2009).

How true is this. You’ll notice that the most successful people on Twitter or the most successful bloggers are the ones who get giddy about what they are writing. The love this stuff. They live and breathe social media and want to help others live their passion. This is an important idea for PR agencies to take notice. You can’t automatically turn the Web development guy into your agency’s blogger. Or your best writer may not be your best Twitter. A social media campaign doesn’t automatically mean your senior account executive or your new college-grad hire is right for the job.

Pick a person who gets excited about social media. Form a team of people who want to learn. Social media requires too much effort and attention to others to try to force someone into this role. You’ll have much better luck with those who get giddy about blogging.

However, just because someone spends half their day on Facebook, they might not be able to successfully run a campaign for one of your clients. You have to balance the passionate with the managerial skills needed to make the PR campaign a successful one.

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I’m continuing my series commenting on some of the rules Chris Brogan described in his 40 Ways to Deliver Killer Blog Content post. You can see the earlier parts of myseries by clicking 1, 2 and 3.

Rule 23: Ask questions. Blogs are conversations starting and flowing.
I feel like this has been a theme for me this week in my comments on other blogs. Blogs and Twitter and all social media efforts are two-way streets. Questions are key to keeping the dialogue alive. My question today is how to get people to answer your questions? How do you compel people to actually leave a comment? Is it just the questions you ask or is there something else you can do?

Rule 25: Get out and comment on other people’s blogs.
My rule 25.5 is to spend as much time on your stuff as you do on others. So if I spend 10 minutes writing this post today, I need to spend 10 additional minutes commenting on other people’s blogs. If I keep that a 1:1 ratio, I think I’m in good shape to make this blog work.

Rule 28: Make sure your blog’s URL is everywhere.
This one is a little harder because of company restrictions. Technically, my company has a standard e-mail signature that everyone is supposed to follow. However, because I’m trying to be out there promoting myself — and therefore my company — I have added my blog, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts to my e-mail signature. The key that company’s need to understand is that it is okay for their employees to have a social profile. My work here and on all my other social avenues could help my company. That is my goal. I’m not looking for a new job. I want to cement my current job by creating a profile that positions me in my industry.

Rule 30: Always know why you’re doing what you’re doing.
With any PR or advertising campaign it is important to remember your goals. Who are you trying to reach? Why do you want to reach them? What benefit can you bring? It is the same with this blog. Who am I trying to reach — fellow professionals in this industry and potential business partners. Why do I want to reach them — to create a network for my future and to grow as a PR / marketing professional. What benefit can I bring — my experience and outlook provide a fresh and real perspective on this industry and how it is changing.

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Check out my co-worker Andi Narvaez who is part of Lee Odden’s post about getting Social Media Smart on the Online Marketing Blog.

In Lee’s blog are a lot of comments about not jumping on the bandwagon and taking a moment to think first. This is great advice and I completely agree.

However, I will caution companies to keep from over thinking. There are a million and one questions and scenarios, and not everyone is going to have a clear-cut solution or answer before your social media campaign begins. However, this is where our industry is headed (or has already arrived). You’ve got to be a part of it, which in some ways is going to require a leap of faith. Get your ducks in a row and then jump on in. You don’t have to tackle the entire social media world. Start with one (maybe a Twitter account — connect with me @melyt) and then expand.

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To continue in my posts related to Chris Brogan’s initial post about 40 ways to deliver killer blog content here’s part 2 of my specific comments on some of his rules.

First, let’s look at Rule 11: Set up series of posts, even if you don’t call them a series. Make a post that brings up follow-on points from a previous post, and link back to that post to reinforce the original content.

Well, looks like I have that one accomplished. My first post related to Chris’s is here, second post is here and this is my third. Come back later this week (hopefully) for posts four and five.

 Rule 16: Look for ways to think forward, but that tie to your business interests. When I write about the future, I’m also inviting someone to make that future with me.

I’m always looking for the next thing. It’s not that I’m looking for a new job. It is simply that I’m excited about what lies in my future for all of my interests. In my About Us page I challenged readers of this blog to challenge me. Make me think. Let me brainstorm with you. Let me interview you. The more knowledge I can add the better. And I would like to think that wouldn’t be a one-sided conversation. As much as you can help me, I’d like to think I’d be able to bring something to your future as well.

Rule 17: Mix it up. Keep an editorial calendar and note what kinds of posts you’ve written lately. Thought posts? Lists? Interviews? Make sure you’re mixing up the type of post you’ve written lately.

I’m obviously not doing very well on this. One thing I would add is to talk about things that you’re not an expert on. I think it adds more flavor to the discussion. Again it goes back to the idea of helping us find a future together.

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