Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Internet Spying!

When I taught the senior level PR classes at Champlain College two years ago I gave the students their first assignment which I called internet spying. They looked at me blankly and I further explained this was a project for them to use the internet to spy on their crushes, themselves, ex-lovers, long lost friends, etc. They then looked at me like I was a mad professor. This was a semester long assignment and I sort of left it at that. Every now and then I would ask how the spying was coming and they would giggle and that was that. Until one day a girl came in and was all excited to share that she had met a guy at Red Square and wanted to learn more about him so she did some internet spying and Google searching and found all sorts of information (nothing bad, just info).

Now, I was not giving a lesson in safe dating (although this is a good dating practice), I was giving a lesson in having the skills to make it as a PR professional. You have to know your audience, who you are contacting, where to find people, what someone is involved in, etc. I one had a huge hit in the Los Angeles Times simply because I remembered that the writer had a cat for an office manager and he was so amused when I followed up on a pitch and inquired about the office cat (which I learned about from internet spying) that he happily worked on the story with me. Internet spying can make you look very on-the-ball which is a good thing. And it's not at all just for media contacting - it's for everyone - new business opportunities especially.

A few years ago I had to leave my students in the hands of Google, but now there are several sites which help speed up the spying process a great deal and I thought it would be helpful for my faithful readers to share them with you today:

Site to track buzz on yourself and find places you also might want to be listed on, etc. through searching keywords instrumental to your business

A very detailed web search for people – good to search for yourself and see what’s out there and how finding you might need some work. Good tracking tool to search for yourself before you do internet marketing and then to do again several months later and see what's changed

Great site for spying on others and yourself to see what might be out there in the social networking scene on yourself and where you might want to make alterations or create profiles

Free place to post both a personal and company profile as well as be able to search for what other work might be online connected to you

Happy Investigating!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Marketing in Vermont

I recently got a call inquiring about potential publicity for a company trying to create demand for a product for Vermonters made and marketed by those quite far away from Vermont. I won't say any more on that, but I will give some very serious advice for others trying to possibly do the same.

Vermonters aren't interested. And for those that might be, reaching them through the Vermont media isn't even an option. If your product is for the Vermont market than create it not only with the Vermont market and expensive statistics in mind, but with actual Vermonters.

Use Vermont companies to create and launch it and have Vermonters involved in the process throughout - that will help give you legs in this marketplace once it's time to publicize. You can hire the most expensive NYC public relations bonehead and get nowhere. You can also hire the most heady Vermont public relations mama and still get nowhere. You can't trick Vermont media into believing in something that was created with no heart, belief, or real connection to some part of the Vermont community. The only way to market at that point is lots of paid placement and lots of time for it to sink in - getting involved in the community would also be wise.

Pic of the Week: Rachel Carter PR - the Office Porch at the Charlotte Farmhouse

Where I have business meetings.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Media Lesson Number 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 22 and so forth...

Just Because The Media Do Not Respond Does Not Mean They Are Not Listening.

I mean it. Think about how many times it takes for an impression to be made on you for you to finally act on it? If you are a business, how many times does it take for you to make an impression on someone else for them to actually pay attention to you? The media are not exempt from this concept. While many people wish there was a job rule that media people need to remember everything, no one else does, so why should they? I mean, hey - I am not even in the media yet am expected to remember everything and while I feel badly if I don't remember someone's name - I have entire databases I am working worth! My mind would explode!

Um, but yeah, this isn't about me - another lesson I continuously learn - and teach.

The media need continuous yet not annoying impressions over periods of time just as anyone else. And, they cannot be scolded for not putting you or your business first - remember it's not only about you.

Think about the concepts of communication as they apply to your own personal relationships and apply them to the way you relate to the media and you will gain valuable insights into the practice of public relations - especially right here in Vermont.