020 – Curtis Sparrer on why celebrity interviews are like a high-performance sport

Curtis Sparrer, principal at Bospar PR in San Francisco, shares terrific insights on why celebrity interviews are like a high-performance sport. He also explains how to set up really successful media engagements, tips on working with celebrities (he’s done award-winning work with George Takei of Star Trek fame), and how to grow trust-based relationships with clients.

020 - Curtis Sparrer on why celebrity interviews are like a high-performance sport


About Curtis:

Curtis Sparrer, principal at Bospar, is one of Business Insider’s “50 Best Public Relations People In The Tech Industry,” and has led PR campaigns for start-ups and big names including 1010data, Apigee, Ebates, FusionOps, PC Tools, On24, PayPal, SOASTA, Tetris and even the alien-hunting SETI Institute. PRWeek has profiled more than a dozen programs led by Curtis as examples of especially innovative and effective techniques with outstanding results. Examples include: “SOASTA campaign out of this world” and “Film festival puts new technology center stage.”

Some of Curtis’ most memorable media coups have included getting a client featured in a Jay Leno opening monologue; another featured in Google’s daily Doodle; one on the cover of Wired and another profiled in a full-length CNN news feature.

Curtis’ PR strategies have been covered in Forbes: “Which PR Coverage Produces The Highest Results? This New Poll May Surprise You.” Adweek has also published his articles “Why Tech Companies Need a Broad Media Strategy,” “How to Make the Client-Agency Relationship Work” and PR Lessons Learned From Donald Trump” among others.

Curtis was previously an Emmy-award winning Executive Producer of KRON-TV, the nation’s largest independent television station. His writing has appeared in a variety of outlets, including the Dallas Morning News. His behind-the-scenes media experience helps his clients attract the attention of the most coveted journalists. Curtis also puts his unparalleled TV training skills to work to personally prepare each of Bospar’s client spokespersons to shine during their many moments in the spotlight.

Curtis’ favorite mantra: “The difference between involvement and commitment is like a ham and eggs breakfast. The chicken was involved. The pig was committed.”


Main Points:

Working with a celebrity or CEO on successful media engagements:

  • Consider what they can and can’t talk about; do a deep dive with them and their management team about those issues before any media interviews.
  • Before an interview, clarify with the journalist what questions will be asked; ask for a written Q&A beforehand; be clear about ground rules; let them know what you want to focus on. Be clear about anything you’d like the journalist to include in the story. Send a follow-up note with thanks and a reminder of the key point(s) you’d like to have included in the story. If your key message isn’t included in the final version of the story, contact the journalist to politely ask that the message be included in that or a future story.
  • Crafting the message:  First, ask celebrities what they are planning to say.
  • Repeat the message: Working it into every interview in several ways helps ensure that key messages are included in the final article.  Use pep talks with spokespeople to help keep them on message and excited to keep delivering the messages.

George Takei and Curtis Sparrer

Why celebrity interviews are like a high-performance sport:

  • For media tours, consider how many engagements is enough versus what is too many.  For a celebrity, after about five interviews, you often have diminishing returns as they get tired.
  • Manage the message and the energy in interviews: For longer interviews or media tours, include refreshments to get their sugar levels/energy up so they can perform. Avoid including dairy products to keep the voice clear. Include long energy foods that won’t lead to a sugar crash; fruits like bananas are great. Check with the talent’s management or agent to information on what they prefer.

Media training:

  • Use recorded media simulations to prepare senior leaders or other spokespeople for their on-camera interviews.
  • Give criticism in private to help them learn and develop their skills without needing to save face in front of their staff.
  • Arrive early to media interviews to give them a chance to get a feel for how the show is flowing.
  • Ask production assistants if they have a copy of the script, because it might have a copy of the questions.
  • Make sure your clients read the news on the day of their interview and give them a run-down on that day’s news in their sector, because they could be asked their opinion on breaking news.  This keeps them from being caught off guard.

Newsjacking:

  • Pay attention to the news for opportunities to give your perspective on breaking stories.  Local news producers are always looking to localize (find the local angle) national or international stories to make them relevant to their local audience.
  • When a story breaks, journalists are trying to figure out what will happen in the future, what people can expect in the next X days.
  • To get coverage that matters to your client’s business, have the CEO give a three-sentence statement, including what this news event means, what people can expect in the future, and why we are an expert to talk about this.

The importance of speed when responding to media:

  • Don’t perfect a statement to death; perfect is the enemy of the good.
  • A good-enough statement on time is far more valuable than a perfect statement that is too late.

Personal branding and networking for PR professionals:

  • Share with your boss what your professional priorities are; helps build your reputation with your coworkers and leadership.
  • On LinkedIn, talk about your core values and why they are important to you; make sure you also live those core values.
  • Don’t depend on building your brand on only one social platform; cross-pollinate content across your social platforms; show your personal side.
  • Brand consistency in developing your personal brand is important, with some exceptions: Authenticity that is not self-promotional (such as sharing photos from your birthday or other important personal event).
  • The biggest turnoff with LinkedIn is that it can be an echo chamber of bragging, so break that up with something other than how great you are professionally.
  • Be willing to talk about your mistakes and the lessons you learned. Failure is the best teacher and we can learn from it.
  • Fail fast, learn from your mistakes, and tell the story as you go.
  • Be willing to be vulnerable; it makes you human. This isn’t appropriate for all CEOs, so it’s important to know your client and what will work for them.
  • Media tours are a great way to bond with your CEO (or other client), because you’ll spend hours with them in the process. This presents opportunities to get to know them better and to identify other PR opportunities for them.
  • Make it a point to attend awards ceremonies and other events that are important to your client. They need to see you as someone who really is in their corner.
  • You want to be seen by your client as the trusted, safe counsel for them.

References from this conversation:

 


Contact Curtis:

office: 415.913.7528 | mobile: 713.240.0485

email: curtis@bospar.com | Twitter: @thatcurtis


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018 – Authority Marketing: Michael Greenberg’s secret sauce for positioning brands

Authority Marketing is Michael Greenberg’s secret sauce for positioning people and brands. It is the act of positioning someone as an expert in order to bring in more business. As founder and chief strategist at Call for Content, Michael shares his uniquely powerful method of building authority through content and leveraging that for B2B marketing. He also provides a free link to download his Authority Marketing Playbook. Michael’s word of wisdom: “Start creating content; just do it.”

Michael Greenberg, founder and chief strategist of Call for Content
Michael Greenberg, founder and chief strategist of Call for Content

Key points about Authority Marketing:

  • Authority marketing is B2B marketing, but with core expertise that enables a client to be differentiated in ways traditional B2B content marketing doesn’t allow.
  • Authority marketing is the act of positioning someone as an authority or expert in order to bring in more business.
  • Michael’s Authority Marketing Playbook includes 18 ways to establish yourself as an authority or expert.
  • Knowledge is the best way to distinguish yourself in a field, particularly as we move toward a knowledge economy in which lower-level tasks are increasingly automated.
  • Clarity of purpose is the most important thing in marketing and brand positioning.
  • There are four marketing situations for products or services: 4 Marketing Situations
  • Michael seeks to drive measurable results over anything else. Some clients just want to be famous, but if it’s not in the pursuit of a business objective, it shouldn’t be part of the marketing plan.
  • Setting expectations with clients is key, especially at the beginning of a working relationship.
  • Deep work requires setting aside blocks of uninterrupted time.
  • Client referrals are invaluable; set the stage for more client referrals by:
    • Always saying, “Thank you” for every referral.
    • Sending the client a check every time a referral becomes a client.
    • Look for potential clients with large, established networks.
    • Invite potential clients to be a guest on the podcast.

Three phases of working with a client:

  • Michael breaks all projects into three phases:  Research, Plan, and Do.
    • Research focuses on the client and the client’s clients.
      • This includes interviews with a client’s best or ideal client.
      • Develop customer personas based on these interviews; these personas help identify the best content and channels to engage specific types of people.
    • Planning includes development of a content marketing strategy, based on research.
      • No plan survives contact.
      • Plans are kept light; they include personas, content channels, ideas for content.
    • Michael uses interviews to develop content for blog posts, podcasts, and other content.
  • It really helps when clients already have a style guide, particularly when producing videos and other products.

Questions from the Authority Marketing Playbook that are useful to better understand clients include:

  • Where do you hang out online?
  • Who do you ask for advice?
  • What are the big problems right now in your organization?
  • Tell me about an article you read recently that you enjoyed. Where did you find that article?
  • What media do you consume regularly?
  • Are you on social media?  What channels?

The power of podcasts:

  • Podcasts help build relationships and blog posts establish authority as an expert.
  • Including potential clients in interviews for podcasts and blog posts helps establish both relationships and authority; this powers business development.
  • Podcasts, especially business podcasts, allows engagement with potential clients in a media context, not in a sales context.

“Podcasts are, hands-down, the best way to open a door to a new relationship in B2B right now.”

Michael’s other podcasts:

On specializing and narrowing your focus

“A spotlight beats a floodlight, but a laser will show up over both.”

  • Michael focuses on building a narrow audience of 1,000-10,000.

Repurpose your content:

  • Start with creating audio content and then turn it into videos, blog posts, and books.
  • Michael contends that people prefer animated videos, so he converts audio interviews into short, animated videos using GoAnimate’s Vyond cloud-based animation tools.
  • Inexpensive transcription allows Michael to build a library of content with each client.

Resources from this episode:

Books and videos:

Seth Godin on the power of finding the smallest possible relevant audience:  “In search of the minimum viable audience.”

Zero to One by Peter Thiel also advocates starting with the narrowest possible audience.

Traction by Gabriel Weinberg (founder of DuckDuckGo) and Justin Mares, which outlines the bullseye framework for startup marketing.

Roberto Blake’s YouTube channel for “motivating and educating creatives.”

Gary Vaynerchuk.

Recording remote interviews:

Zencaster and Zoom to record podcasts. Zencaster has a free version. Zoom records separate tracks on each computer, which provides good audio quality and makes editing easier.

RINGR (pronounced “ringer”) to record podcasts on the go; offers a mobile version.

Recording in-person interviews:

Zoom handheld digital recorder.

Sennheiser e835 microphones.

Blue Icicle, which is a USB converter and mic preamp that connects an XLR microphone directly to a computer via USB.

Audio-Technica ATR 2100, which is a cardioid dynamic microphone with both USB and XLR connections. 

Gator microphone boom; Gator also makes technical gear bags and cases for audio equipment.

Outsourcing:

  • Freeeup for finding freelancers and contractors for stand-alone jobs.
  • For podcast post-production or other audio editing, see the note above for Tom Hardy at Podcast Pro Audio.

 


Call for Content logoContact Michael:

Email:  Michael@CallforContent.com

Web:  Call for Content

Twitter:  @gentoftech

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/gentoftech/


Michael’s special offer:

Michael produced the Authority Marketing Playbook to get you started.  It was $50, but is now free!  Download yours today.


Organizations mentioned in this episode:

Call for Content: Establish your authority with done-for-you Content Marketing

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)

PRSA Buffalo Niagara Chapter:  Thank you for your encouragement, @PRSABuffNiag!


 

Take action:

What did you think of this episode?  What’s your biggest challenge with PR?  Send me a note!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend. Here’s the link:  https://bit.ly/2KP4PYz

 


Warning: Dad Joke ahead!

Where did Napoleon keep his armies? In his sleevies!

017 – Kill the PR Girl: Amy Sutton shares why diversity is key to powerful Public Relations

Amy Sutton, founder of Enjoy PR, takes us on her journey from law to PR. She shares why diversity is key to powerful Public Relations. We also explore the importance of relationships in PR and communications, and how to set expectations in client-agency relationships.
Amy recently published an article on LinkedIn titled “Kill the PR Girl,” in which she challenges the stereotype of “the PR Girl” and why that stereotype hurts both public relations professionals and their agencies, in part because of the reinforcement of glass ceilings. We explore the importance of diversity in public relations planning, specifically how diverse perspectives drive creativity and effective problem-solving.
Kill the PR Girl
Kill the (idea of the) PR Girl

Key Points:

Amy named her PR consultancy Enjoy, because, “Communications and PR should be a fun place to work.
Amy offers unique advice to those just starting their careers:
  • Have confidence in your abilities; know your skills and how you can apply them.
  • Always seek to learn new skills.
  • Remember to do the mundane things; this demonstrates commitment and it will pay off!
  • Invest in yourself and in your job.
  • Be proactive with every opportunity.

On starting your own business: “It’s scary, but anybody who has a vision, who has a dream for how they want to work, should grab the moment and go for it!”

On bait-and-switch pitching:  “What I don’t think is fair is to send in the bigwigs to the pitch, make a lot of promises that a less-experienced team will need to deliver, and they haven’t had any say in what they think will work.”

On building relationships with clients: 

  • “Being yourself is really important.” 
  • “You really need to get to know the people, because they are the ones who will bring you the interesting stories, tell you what life is really like at your clients and how you need to shore up for the future, and they are the ones who really understand the world they’re in and that you can get the messages from.”

On her article “Kill the PR Girl”:

  • 91% of PR practitioners in the UK are white.
  • 83% are British.
  • 64% are women.
  • There continues to be a gender pay gap of £9,000.
  • Only 2% of practitioners are disabled.
  • This doesn’t reflect the society we live in.
  • How do we, as communication professionals, speak to a diverse society when we are not reflecting that in our professional community?
  • What practical changes can we make in how we run our businesses to combat that?

On gender issues in the public relations profession:

  • In Episode 3, Professor Dustin Supa of Boston University discussed gender imbalance in the public relations profession.
  • The majority of practitioners are women, but the majority of agency heads and communications leaders are older men.
  • In Episode 9, Deb Radman would advise her younger self to shut up and listen.

Diversity and creativity go hand in hand

  • Bringing together people with diverse experiences and perspectives creates better results in brainstorming and planning.
  • “The sense of freedom that comes from being around a table with a lot of different people with different views is really empowering for everybody around that table, because you’re not all coming up with different versions of the same ideas, you’re really coming up with different ideas that really push people’s way of thinking.”
  • Pay attention to media (newspapers, blogs, etc.) that are outside your comfort zone.

“Millennials want to work for businesses that do good.”

What doesn’t work:

  • Letting clients think that a story that isn’t really newsworthy will get coverage; you have to be honest with clients.
  • Rolling out a new, genuine product on April Fool’s day; a useful product doesn’t need a gimmicky hook to be newsworthy.

Resources from this episode:

Evernote for jotting notes and scanning business cards on the go. (Note:  If you register for Evernote, I’ll get a credit.)

Facebook Groups to network, identify contacts, and generate business leads.  “Find discreet groups on Facebook that are very niche, maybe with a couple hundred people, but are really active.”

LinkedIn

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge.

Lynda.com 


Contact Amy!

Amy Sutton, founder of Enjoy
Amy Sutton, founder of Enjoy PR

Enjoy logo

Her company:  Enjoy PR

Email:  amy@enjoypr.co.uk

Call:  +44 (0) 7983 416 890

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AmyatEnjoy  –  @AmyatEnjoy

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/amy-sutton/

Coming full circle, check out Amy’s post on the power of podcasts:  From Page to Podcast: Amplify Content and Build Relationships.”

 


Organizations mentioned in this episode:

EDF Energy‘s 2012 Olympic campaign that reflected the mood of the nation, as measured by Tweets.  Articles include:

Samsung

Dell

LaCie

F-Secure 

Starbucks 


What did you think of this episode?  What’s your biggest challenge with PR?  Send me a note!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend. Here’s the link: https://apple.co/2OLPETa


Warning:  Dad Joke ahead!

How do you get a Kleenex to dance? Put a little boogie in it.

016 – Jake Eisenberg turbocharges lead generation via social media

On this episode, I’m joined by Jake Eisenberg, president of Reach Digital Group. Jake shares his approach to local marketing and explains how he turbocharges lead generation via social media. His company specializes in helping local businesses acquire solid sales leads, but his approach works for national brands as well.

How does Jake turbocharge lead generation via social media


Our transcription partner is TranscribeMe.com. They offer a 25% discount on transcription services if you go to TranscribeMe.com/BetterPRNow.


Connect with Mark

LinkedIn:  linkedin.com/in/markrussellphillips

Twitter:  Mark_Phillips


Key Points

Successful social media marketing requires us to:

  • Stay consistent with what you’re doing
  • Stick to the brand message
  • Never stop marketing, because once you stop marketing, you’re going to stop getting sales and you’re going to stop getting leads.

Split test (A/B testing) all marketing materials.

  • Try different headlines.
  • Try different subject lines.
  • Make sure you’re mixing it up, because you never know what message will stick. It could be one word that could change the complete engagement of an entire campaign. So always test to find that right messaging.

The two top converting platforms right now are Facebook and Instagram.


Interview

Q: Jake, you’re president of the Reach Digital Group. How did you get into this business and why did you choose to start your own agency?

Originally, I got started with a mixed martial arts blog that I had in 2009, before MMA really took off. This website was gaining a lot of traffic, and I was generating money through ad revenue, and I saw how to bring new traffic in. I started getting familiar with search engine optimization and started thinking to myself, “What are other ways that I can bring this up?”

As I was going through school, and working, and all these other things, I started working on other projects and I stumbled across doing some e-commerce websites, and I got familiar with doing Google AdWords. That lead to search engine optimization, Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, and running social media calendars [that all help lead generation].

I was having great success with these strategies that I was working on and building through time. Some friends or family members started to approach me and say, “Can you give me a website for my business? We liked what you were doing; let’s kind of see what you can do for us.”

These strategies were working at a local level and at the national level. Actually, it’s easier at a local level, because there’s not as much competition.

So, I started having success with that and it quickly turned into family members who had businesses, became my testimonials, or my case studies. I was able to then get new business through referral. That’s how I got started with it: I tapped my own network, did the work well, and was able to use that to leverage new business.

Lead Generation

Q: What are some of the biggest changes that you’ve seen since you started that MMA blog in 2009? Technology changes at warp-speed, so in the online marketing space, what have you experienced in terms of changes?

A lot of the changes I’ve seen are from the platforms growing. Search engine optimization used to be something where you could just do what they call “keyword stuffing.” If you wanted to rank for a certain keyword, you could just put a bunch of that same keyword on a page and you would rank. That’s changed, because now there are so many more websites out there. So everyone’s doing that, and now you’ve got to find new techniques, and new ways to do it.

The same thing with Google AdWords for lead generation. The pay-per-clicks have gone up a lot, because more people are using those channels. Facebook advertising is still relatively new and it’s just gotten even more acknowledgment in the media world, because of everything that’s just happened. So, we can still kind of consider the Internet to be new.

There are a lot of unknown territories and directions that we can go. We’re all learning and it’s constantly changing and evolving. There’s just so much more competition that you’ve got to come up with new strategies, and the platforms have become a lot more advanced.

Q: I’d like to explore that a little bit more. For your peers, what should they be focusing on, in terms of skills they need to be honing or new platforms that they need to be becoming more adept at using?

With how the marketing world is changing, it’s a content-first world. You’ve got to build this customer loyalty. If you’re selling a service or a product, you want to provide the information to the potential customer, what it is that you have that leads to it. You can put content out there in the form of video or blog posting, and be able to share that.

Top-Converting Platforms

The two top converting platforms right now are still Facebook and Instagram. If you’re able to meet your customers at least on those two channels, as well as having a blog to explain what your business is, because that will help bring in keywords and maybe some backlinking to boost it; start with those.

You don’t need to be on every single channel. You just want to be able to meet them on at least the two biggest channels. I recommend tapping those three sources and provide information about yourself and your service.

Focusing Effort

Q: There are many platforms, and it seems like new ones popping up every day. Obviously, it’s better to go where your audience is and Facebook and Instagram are where they are. It seems like a lot of people feel compelled to be on as many platforms as they possibly can, almost like the shiny object syndrome, “There’s this new thing; I have to do it.” What is your advice for people who feel like they’re getting spread too thin?

Realistically, it’s because they are getting spread too thin when you’re trying to keep up with all the new trends. Coming from a business perspective, you look at the analytics and ask, “Where’s my engagement coming from? Where am I getting the most clicks, the likes, the shares?” I would focus on those and chop off the ones that you think you’re getting spread too thin on. Because you’re wasting valuable time or effort that you could be putting towards something else to just try to keep up with these other channels to maybe meet a small percent of your client base.

Q: So you focus your efforts where there’s the likelihood that you’re going to get the biggest return on that investment?

Exactly; just make sure to keep checking on that and making sure that your engagement is there, because it can change.

Going back to the idea of how this world is evolving and new technology, one platform could be big now, and in two years it could be a different one. Keep an eye on it and make sure you know where you’re actually getting the best benefit.

Q: You mentioned analytics and following this data-driven approach. What are some of the key performance metrics that you use, and what platforms or tools do you use to gather data and analyze those metrics?

That really depends on the approach. If it’s paid outreach, look at your cost per conversion and your cost per click, because if your cost for conversion is too high, there’s already going to be something wrong there. Always look at it from the monetary standpoint.

For social media, do the posting and look at engagement; see what posts are working, what posts aren’t working.

I take a different approach than most: I actually track through my own spreadsheet. I’ll give a score to posts that I think were better or worse, and how they did. And I’ll go back at the end of the month and review those scores. It’s just a method that I found to work.

Q: The only wrong way is one that doesn’t work for you.

Right, and I just feel that the analytic software is — it’s data driven, but they don’t understand how people are responding to a certain question. So, if you’re asking a more human-type question than one that’s systematic, those programs aren’t going to be able to tell you that. That’s something that it’s easier to keep track of by going through and judging those type of posts … and constantly seeing if you’re going up, what pages were doing better, and focusing on where those numbers are going.

Q: With Reach Digital, you focus on, primarily, helping local businesses?

Local and small businesses. We started locally and have now grown into doing some business at the national level, but we’ve got a lot of local businesses.

Q: To what extent do you find that small business who tend to do business locally, have more limited resources? How does that affect how you start to help them?

That’s one of the reasons they’ll approach us. A small business might not have the resources to hire someone in-house for marketing. So we’re able to offset those costs. Often they’re saying, “We want to be on social media; we want to be on blogs; our expertise is focusing on the business; we want someone else to handle the online efforts.”

Working with us is a way to offset the cost of getting someone with knowledge. They don’t have to train, they don’t have to get benefits, and so that’s kind of where we found that connection point with local businesses.

Q: Can you describe for me who your ideal client would be?

Our ideal client is someone who has a little bit of knowledge of online marketing, already started to attempt it, and is looking for repairs and someone to monitor it. So we’re kind of looking for that now, companies with semi-established to established online presence.

Q: When you have a conversation with a potential client who has some knowledge, and has attempted it on their own, do you find that they come to you with a better sense of where their limitations are, where their needs are, and where their particular pain points are?

Oh, yeah, 100%. When they’ve actually rolled up their sleeves and attempted it and have got it going, they know where their weakness is and where they need help. They also have a better idea of the message that’s going to connect better socially with their customer base from actually trying it. So, it’s not as much of a learning period. For us, as a business, we’re able to go in there, talk with them, get their knowledge that they’ve already learned from their client base, and then apply that to help correct those challenges.

Q: What are the typical questions that they ask you when you have that first conversation?

They actually all range. Some of them say, “We know what we’re doing, but can you just help us schedule?” Or, “Can you show us how this will bring us ROI (return on investment)?”

That’s one of the biggest things. With online marketing, a lot of companies have a hard time seeing how social media can bring a return on investment. That’s when we tell them that, “Let’s look at the analytics, let us show you where your traffic is coming from, and let’s set up some type of conversion campaign to show you that people are calling or signing up.” That’s really what they’re looking for.

Q: When you’re looking at metrics like cost-per-conversion, that gets right at their bottom-line.

Right. So they’re able to see exactly what’s going on, if it’s making them money. Because, if it’s not making them money, they don’t want to pay us. We have to show them that what we’re doing is working.

Bear - Chief Barketing Officer at Reach Digital

Chief Barketing Officer

Q: You have a Chief Barketing Officer; tell me about him.

That’s my good boy. Actually, it’s his birthday today.

Congratulations! Happy birthday.

I’ll be sure to pass it along. So, yeah, my dog Bear is a black Lab mixed with a Newfoundland, so he’s a big boy, and he keeps the spirits up. He makes sure that everyone is happy (when he’s not sleeping), he’s always got a toy in his mouth, and he gives us some good suggestions [laughter].

Q: Having a Lab around the office is always a good idea, I think.

Oh, yeah. It keeps morale high!

Lessons Learned

Q: As you’re paying attention to what’s happening in the marketing space, you see organizations that do some things that you think, “Wow; that was really brilliant.” And then you also see others do things where you just feel like smacking your forehead and going, “What were they thinking?” Tell me about something that fits the latter category, where you wonder where their brains were on that day.

People are starting to take Twitter a lot more seriously than they did a couple of years ago. You’ll see now a lot of gaffs on there. They say something that may offend a group of people, and the next thing you know it’s a public relations nightmare. I’m seeing people and businesses making that problem. Then having another problem cleaning up that problem, either by over-addressing it (and upsetting other people because they over-addressed it), or not addressing it at all.

Everything is about finding that middle ground. In social media, now, with the way everything is going, is like stepping on glass. A lot of companies are starting to realize that they shouldn’t have said something. And especially recently, that’s really the biggest thing. I’m like, “What are you guys doing? Filter.”

Q: The feedback that you get when you misstep, as an individual or as an organization, can be swift and severe.

Right. Public opinion can crush you.

Q: Yeah, it seems like there are examples of that in the headlines just about every day. Let’s flip that around; for an organization that’s done something in the online marketing space that was really quite clever, have you seen any where you said, “Oh, I need to make a note of that; that was brilliant?”

Yeah. A lot of it is becoming these grassroots campaigns, especially with e-commerce, how people are tying in with social media influencers. I’ve seen a lot of really funny campaigns that they’ve mixed in their products with an influencer and it’s gone viral. I always kind of take note of what the campaign was, how they did it, and just something to keep in my back pocket if I feel that I have a similar product. You’ve just got to be funny and it’s got to connect with the audience. It’s amazing how quickly something can go viral.

Q: Are there any that are particularly memorable for you?

There are so many. There’s a phone case company that every time they put out a video, it was just using real-world situations that people could really relate to: Dropping your phone or leaving your phone on top of the car, or needing to take a selfie. It was a self-adhesive phone case that could stick to surfaces and it was just using those situations like walking by a mirror wall and they just stuck it on there and took a picture. It was really creative how they tied in actual people’s situations to connect consumers with their product

Key advice

Q: What advice do you give to CEOs or business owners when you’re advising them on how to increase their return on investment for their online marketing programs?

When it comes to social media marketing, it’s:

  • Stay consistent with what you’re doing
  • Stick to the brand message
  • Never stop marketing, because once you stop marketing, you’re going to stop getting sales and you’re going to stop getting leads.

The importance of testing

And another thing I tell them is to constantly A/B test, which is split testing.

  • Try different headlines.
  • Try different subject lines.
  • Make sure you’re mixing it up, because you never know what message will stick. It could be one word that could change the complete engagement of an entire campaign. So always test to find that right messaging.

Online Marketing Tools

Q: Are there particular tools that you use to do that split testing, or any other testing, to continue to improve the ROI?

For email marketing, MailChimp has an option for you to do that (split test). If it’s building landing pages, there are a couple of companies (Leadpages and UnBounce) that already have those options built in. Whatever program you’re using, just check to see if they have an option for you to be able to test different headlines, different subject lines, different blocks of text, images, all of that.

About Reach Digital

Q: How big is the Reach Digital team now?

We have four people who are full time and we have a couple that freelance for us on some bigger projects. Five if you want to include my Chief Barketing Officer.

Well, you got to include him. You have to feed him, so he needs to work, too.

Right, there you go.

Q: Are you guys all co-located or are you geographically disbursed?

We are a mix; it just depends on the service. We are a mix, because with it being a digital world now, everyone doesn’t need to be working in one location. We’ve found that we have some better employees that we’ve worked with who are located in different parts of the country and it’s just easier to keep them working from their location.

Q: That’s another one of those big things that’s changed in the last decade that you don’t have to all be in the same building and the same room to do work really well.

Right. We’ve found that using Google Hangouts, you can video chat with everyone at one time, so if you need to have a meeting, click of a button.

Management Tools

Q: What are some other tools that you use to effectively manage the team?

We use a project management tool called Asana. It’s just really easy to keep our clients in there. We’ll give our clients the connection to it and they can see the projects they’re working on. Everyone can effectively communicate and it’s a really good way to stay focused.

Another tool that we use for our back end and CRM is Zoho One.

Those are the two main ones that keep us on our path.

The Future: Voice, Video, Bots, and AI

Q: We talked about changes since you started in the online marketing space almost 10 years ago. Look 10 years into the future, where do you see that space going and what should we be doing to prepare ourselves to be effective as we move into the future?

A lot of the future is going to go to voice and video. Most of the Google searches right now are being done on voice. So, it’s preparing those new search keywords to work that way.

Another part will be messenger bots. Having messenger bots using artificial intelligence technology is allowing small businesses to compete with big business. They’re able to build these messenger bots through Facebook and other tools that are allowing them to, almost, build out a full support staff, to where they can really have all the customers’ questions answered.

They don’t need to have these big rooms of customer service reps, and it keeps the customer happy because they’re able to handle business without leaving the app.

Voice, video, and artificial intelligence are where I see us going. In 10 years, who knows; look how much technology’s advanced in the last 10. So, I can only imagine the next 10 years.

Q: It could be both scary and very exciting, with a lot of opportunities.

Right. It’s going to be a roller coaster!

Q: Are you strapped in and ready for the ride?

Oh, yeah. I love it.

Michigan State

Going back into your history a little bit, you got a bachelor’s degree in media and information from Michigan State. Any chance you’ll go to the University of Michigan for a master’s program [laughter]?

Our family is divided. My entire family went to the University of Michigan, and my sister and I are the only two to go to Michigan State. We’ve had that in-house rivalry for a while, and it’s been great, because Michigan State, athletically, has been on top the last six or seven years now. It’s been good that I’ve been winning the argument.

Q: That’s wonderful; congratulations. I was at an event recently with the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and he’s from Lansing (Michigan) and is a big fan. So he was singing the school’s and the team’s praises. So I think he’s there as much as he can to cheer on the Spartans.

Some of the best experiences of my life.

Online Marketing for Local Businesses

Q: There you go, that’s perfect. Reach Digital focuses primarily on five areas of work, in which you’re able to help small business owners:

  • Local marketing
  • Website maintenance
  • Facebook advertising
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Business listing management

Tell me about business listing management. What is that?

Business listing management is where, if you have a business, it will be in any of the business directories: Yelp, Citymapper, Google, My Business, Bing Places, Yahoo, there’s so many different directories.

A big, big thing about that with your search engine optimization on a local level, especially, is having yourself listed correctly in all these directories.

There’s something call the NAP, which stands for “Name, Address, Place.” Search engines want to make sure that the name, address, and place are correct for all the businesses listed, that is, all the business directories that you’re in.

If it’s incorrect, they see inconsistencies and it’s harder for them to score it. It’s harder for them to give you that trust score or ranking, because they see that there’s some inconsistency. So it’s good to be consistent across the board.

Another thing we’re able to do is monitor reviews that come across those listings. If you get a bad review, we’re able to let you know so you can respond to it. If you get a good review, we’re also able to let you know, so you can thank them and be engaged with your client base.

Q: I would think that would a critically important service, and a strategic investment that small business owners could make to continue to build those key relationships and manage their online reputation.

Yes, online reputation is very important. A lot of people will look at reviews before they even decide to call you, and it’s just that extra trust factor. So, you want to make sure that you’re on top of it.

Q: In terms of your overall business, how would you rank order those areas of work in terms of where the team spends the majority of the effort and time?

Regeneration Campaigns for Lead Generation

For the majority of our effort and time, we do a lot of regeneration campaigning. Which is, if someone’s got a service to offer or a product to sell, we’re trying to get them leads, so they can call. A lot of our time and effort is spent building those landing pages, and then running page campaigns, mainly through Facebook advertising to send traffic to generate those leads. The main effort is testing and building those pages, and building out those campaigns.

Q: When you do that, do you manage the CRM on your end, or do you use the CRM and relationship management tools that your customers already use?

We will integrate within their CRM. We’ll have it set up to where those leads are going to go right into the clients’ systems. Their ads are all run into their own ad managers.

We’re not like a normal agency where we’ll say, “Okay, you’re going to spend $1,000 a month, and we’re going to hit you with 10% on top of it,” or something like that. We say, ” It’s in your ad manager. Those campaigns are yours. Once we’re done creating it, it’s yours, and we run it.” We’ll optimize it, but everything is through their programs.

Q: To what extent are you agnostic about whatever platforms they’re using?

Really good question. There are a lot of these programs and platforms. Most of our clients are using the bigger CRM platforms, and point of service systems that we’ve had experience with. A lot are using Salesforce, Zoho, and Lightspeed, which is a point of service, point of sale system.

Q: Your team is capable of helping them regardless of how they’ve implemented on their end?

We’ll tie into either their email marketing platform, or we’ll tie into a web form that was created within their CRM. That web form will link to their system. We will format that form to have the same name to match, so if something is typed in on that form, and they hit submit, it will automatically be properly implemented into that lead form. It’s really matching the field names that they already have set up.

Q: Jake, what have I not asked you that I should have?

Let’s touch on the local business aspect. If someone has a new business, one that’s struggling, I can help them get that domain name, web hosting, or a contact management system that they should probably be looking at to use.

Contact Jake

Q: Sounds like they need to give you a call.

They should.

Q: If you’ve got a small business and you need help getting online, or you’ve already gone online to increase your marketing, and you’ve realized that you need some expertise and some more horsepower, Reach Digital sounds like a really great place to go. How do they get in touch with you?

They can call me at (248) 838-8810 or they can contact me directly at jake@reachdigitalgroup.com.

010 – Great story seeks teller as OnePitch plays matchmaker

Episode 010 - OnePitch

Matchmaker

Jered Martin discusses OnePitch, which he co-founded with Rebecca “Beck” Bamberger in San Diego.  OnePitch serves as a matchmaker to help journalists and publicists find each other with the right story idea (or pitch) at the right time.  Think of it as eHarmony meets Bumble, but for communication professionals.  OnePitch screens out the vast majority of pitches that are not a good fit for a particular journalist, and delivers only those story ideas that are closely matched with the journalist’s interests.  The journalist can browse pitches anonymously and connect with a publicist when they see a story idea that interests them.  According to Jered, “We’re offering a platform that’s relevant, but not invasive.”

Jered described the value proposition that OnePitch offers journalists in that they use a categorization process to tailor pitches to journalist’s needs.  “You are going to receive at least one email a day that is going to have only the most relevant things you want to write about.”  He noted that, “The beauty of OnePitch is that, as a journalist, you can expect to only receive the most relevant inquiries.”

For publicists, OnePitch helps them connect with the journalists who are most interested in their story.  Say goodbye to the “spray and pray” approach of blindly sending releases and pitches to every journalist in the hope that one will be interested.  Jered noted that, “We care if their story gets coverage.”

Jered Martin

In discussing the rise of chat bots in a wide range of customer-facing businesses, Jered noted the unique value of engaging a human being.  “One thing we pride ourselves on at OnePitch is the high level of customer service and personalization.”  He pointed out that, “It’s really important to understand how folks communicate and why they communicate.”

About Jered

Prior to co-founding OnePitch, Jered earned a BA in Communication Studies with a minor in Marketing from Cal State Long Beach.  He gravitated to a career in communications out of a deep desire to help people.  Jered entered the public relations and marketing world through work with BITE San Diego, which he described as “A walking food tour, with history.”  He started as an intern and worked his way up to eventually being the head of operations for BITE San Diego, as well as working for Beck at BAM Communications.

Team Coordination

In discussing how the OnePitch and BAM Communications teams maintain high performance, he noted the importance of senior leaders taking the time to mentor their employees, having regular face-to-face communication, and having an internal messaging tool, such as Slack.  According to Jered, Slack is a great way to easily keep everyone on the same page.

As for project management for the OnePitch team, Jered discussed how the team ran into scaleability challenges as the team’s work grew.  The project management and collaboration solution they settled on is a combination of Hubspot, Trello, and Slack.  Jered noted that, “We have to have a solid system to organize and manage everyone, and without Hubspot, I would be pulling my hair out.”  He also discussed the importance of tools that work well together, noting that “One thing that is great about Trello is that it integrates with Slack.”

Other Projects

In addition to his work on OnePitch, Jered also is part of Tech Coast Angels, the largest angel capital firm in San Diego.  He’s working with them on a volunteer analyst program, in which his team conducts due diligence on start-up firms.

In addition, he is also working with the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative, to support their program for entrepreneurial women.  This program brings female entrepreneurs from countries throughout the Americas to Southern California to see how business is done in the United States and to provide them with mentoring opportunities.


Also mentioned in this episode:

Leveraging technology in creative new ways to support marketing, such as Burger King’s campaign that hacked Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, and the Netflix‘s Stranger Things homepage takeover of Mashable.

The importance of not making assumptions, as presented in The Four Agreements.

Why we should always be in learning mode.

The importance of authenticity in communication.

Jered’s view that public relations and marketing are merging.


Join the OnePitch beta for free at OnePitch.co

Contact the OnePitch team:

  OnePitch on Twitter:  @onepitchpr

  OnePitch on Facebook:  @onepitchpr

  Jered on LinkedIn

  OnePitch on Instagram:  @onepitchpr

  email at info@onepitch.co

  call 833-PITCHIN  or  (833) 748-2446


Let us know what you think about this episode.  Click that orange button on the right and send a voicemail.