Public Relations


B2B Marketing Trends has an excellent article that summarizes good public relations news for small business selling to businesses. 

According to B2B Marketing, today:

  • More than 30 million Americans a month use Yahoo! News and Google News, according to Nielsen/Net ratings from 2004.

  • More than 70 percent of Americans use a search engine news portal

  • And 84 percent use a search engine to find information, products and services

Small businesses can take advantage of the lowly press release and tap the best of both worlds—marketing and public relations.  In the old economy, businesses were subject to the whims of major media outlets (journalists/reporters and editors) in order to get coverage. Now the new, new press release can help you generate website visits and sales leads.                                                                                                                   

You can use any of the wire services to distribute the release.  I like PRWeb.  They provide educational webinars and their staff is always available to answer questions.)  Key to driving web visitors and sales leads, is using keywords and embedding hyperlinks that your prospects are likely to use when searching for products and services.

The B2B Marketing Trends’ article highlights a success story: 

  • It’s easy to measure successes in marketing PR campaigns – you either generate sales leads or you don’t. Leade Health, a provider of health coaching services and an HRmarketer.com client, measures its success in Web traffic and search engine visibility, both of which generate tangible leads. They consider media placements a means to an end.

  • Since the company started sending marketing press releases in early 2006, Web site traffic has jumped considerably – a recent white paper announcement netted 400 downloads. Another key metric for Leade Health is SEO success; Leade’s goal was to appear on Google’s front page when potential customers entered targeted keyword phrases. Releases contained relevant words and phrases, which were included as hyperlinks back to the company’s Web site. Before Marketing PR campaigns, the firm was not even in Google’s top 100. Today, a search for “health coaching” finds the company squarely on page one.                                                                                                                  

Leade Health followed the sage advice of David Meerman Scott, one of my favorite bloggers, Web Ink Now.  Check out David’s smart, free e-Book, The New Rules of PR.
                                                                                                                                

So, dust off that press release, enter your keywords and leverage the web!   When should you send a press release?  When you have a customer success story (testimonial) , when you have a new white paper or article, or any time you have a new solution for the biggest problems facing your customers.       

We hear about overnight success stories of marketing and selling lots of products and services via the web, in a short time.  In the new world of customers who are completely-in-charge of when they learn about and analyze new products and services it’s fun to find out exactly how some of these successes unfold.   So at Small Company, Big Image, we like to share examples of companies that have gotten it right.

Under Development, Inc., with their new product, The Beer Belly, is a brand new company that did just that.  I posted about the entrepreneur and his successful product launch here.

My partner, Jim Butz, recorded an interview with Under Development’s president, Brooks Lambert, and if you have 14 extra minutes you might want to listen to his success story.  The audio file (Podcast) is here—you can listen on a PC, iPod or other MP3 player.  You can download the file (download takes about 3 minutes to download on a high-speed Internet connection) and listen immediately, or save to listen later.

Brooks reached out, with a brand new product, brand new web site, and drew the attention of a very popular blog Gizmodo—The Gadget Guide—in November 2005.  Hear how Gizmodo’s posting about TheBeerBelly got lots of media attention, CNN interviews and more and turbo charged sales, and still does.  

Brooks is not only is an entrepreneur with a passion for designing products, he also volunteers in the Bay Area helping special needs kids experience surfing.  He tells us how he combined his product design passion with helping out others.   Enjoy!

On July 30, the Sunday New York Times, a favorite ritual of mine, ran an insightful article, All the Internet’s a Stage. Why Don’t C.E.O.’s Use It? by Randall Stross (author and professor of business at San Jose State University).

Stross points out how few Fortune 500 chief execs are currently blogging and possible reasons for the lack of engagement.  The top two reasons: fear and time shortage.  His poster child for successful CEO-bloggers is Sun Microsystems’ Jonathan Schwartz, widely recognized as a natural communicator/blogger.

Debbie Weil, corporate blogging guru and author of recently released, The Corporate Blogging Book was quoted in the article.  Weil believes that blogging could save executives the time they now spend on hundreds of daily email exchanges.  Why no do it more efficiently? She suggests in her book that “Instead of a one-to-one communication, why not a communication from one to many thousands?”

So—since at this blog we’re about Small Company Big Image—let’s assume that chief execs and small business owners have similar feelings (fears) about blogging.  A partial list might be:

  • I do not have time to blog.
  • What will I write about?
  • I have to write??
  • I’m the CEO, business owner, President—don’t I have a pr agency for this sort of thing?
  • It’s risky…

What is risky about blogging for a CEO/Business owner?  Two risks come immediately to mind: tipping off the competition, or thinking out loud too candidly.

Tipping off the competition: 

  • Blogs are not the place for proprietary information or for breaking news. 
  • Blogs are excellent for communicating thought leadership with all key audiences—both inside and outside the company.  Key audiences that will benefit from a CEO biz owner blog:
      • investors, industry leaders
      • partners
      • current  and potential customers
      • employees

What do these audiences want to read about?  They want to hear about the driving force behind the company.   What is the company’s leader thinking with regard to key industry issues including:

  • Directions of the technology and the industry
  • Needs of customers and users today, next year and beyond? 
  • What you learned from your customers that caused you to choose the specific direction of your most recent product or service 

So in summary—the CEO-blog is one of the best tools for a firsthand chronicle of (Stross’ words) the way a company is growing.  A blog from the company’s leader provides a window into the company.

Thinking out loud too candidly:

If markets are conversations, then communicating is job-one of a business owner, leader.  A business owner’s blog allows her to speak directly to each audience, with passion and conviction.   There are lots of topics (beyond your products and services) that allow you to communicate, without being too candid.

A business-owner blogger can talk about such topics as:

  • The reasons she founded, or joined, the company

  • What got her excited about the business/industry in the first place

  • What he learns from his customers

  •  Why the industry should go in a particular direction

  • How globalization (or other trend) is impacting his company and the overall industry

  • What he thinks the industry ought to do about it

  • The technology, the industry, educating the blog readers about  whatever his or her particular area of business expertise is

  • How exciting it was to release the most recent product and why

  • The background of why you believe your company’s approach works best for your customers and partners

  •  Answer the most often asked questions she receives from customers, partners, analysts, employees

When blogging as the business owner, you are having a conversation, in your own words, with your “market”.  You are not selling, exactly. You’re talking about the types of things you’d discuss over a Starbuck’s.  Topics that are of mutual interest and that you have something to say about.  You know. The way you talk when you’re having a business-like conversation with friends, colleagues, customers.  

Only instead of a small group of customers, the blogosphere makes it a conversation with (potentially) thousands of customers/partners at one time.  Anytime they wish to read what you have to say.  And blogs are infinitely more interesting than emails.

How cool is that?

And as for blogging taking too much time. Well, as our friends at Nike tell us, Just do it.