A rough scorecard for online engagement

When I get asked to evaluate a company and how they’re interacting online, I run through a basic checklist before going more in-depth. A company that wants to market themselves online in this day and age (this is 2009 not 1999) should tick a few of these boxes:

  • How many pages and sites are linking to them? Ideally it should be in the hundreds or thousands. Use Yahoo! Site Explorer. Filter by Inlinks and “except from this domain”.
  • They have a blog
  • They’re mentioned on blogs – Use Google Blogsearch
  • Mentions on blogs comments – Use BackType
  • They’re on Twitter
  • They get mentions on Twitter – Use Twitter Search
  • They have a Facebook Page
  • They have a YouTube Account

To be honest a yard-stick I’m now using is Twitter search above all of these. If the highly connected people that are on Twitter are not talking about your company or you amongst the two million messages a day then you need to work harder. As a company you should aim for your company name to be in the language of these connected people.

Collision Course 1 – Aftermath

Well actually, in case it wasn’t clear, bloggers are not whores for free stuff.

Whore in Boca
Photo owned by tercerojista (cc)

Other coverage of the first event: Rick, Alexia, Peter, Will, Thomas, Eoin, Alastair.

I’d disagree that throwing free stuff at bloggers or inviting them to events is good for either demographic. That kind of stuff is superficial and lacks any kind of thought. Bloggers are more than Gavin Lambe-Botoxes. And I’d strongly disagree with Thomas that bloggers think they’re journalists either. That is easily proved wrong with the slightest interaction with bloggers. Journalism is way more than writing about free stuff you were given and maybe it should never have done so.

For me, the real value in working with bloggers is giving unbiased information to opinion formers, those who reach beyond their blog readership and are respected by other blogs and their peers in the offline world. Those who write and analyze because they want to, not because they got the offer of something. If you have a shit hot product then giving the gorey details to a blogger who considers their blog as a space that covers these products is good enough, they’ll be clever enough to come to the right conclusion about it. Answer all the questions they have about it. If you have a shit product though then don’t give it to a blogger, unless it’s one of the claphappy ones out there that take money to do reviews anyway. No I won’t supply a list. They might be good for search engines but they’re not respected.

Saying that, the web and the Internet might be the future but this is the present and bloggers have some influence but not a lot. PR people need to figure out the value in bringing bloggers to events and boozing them up and whatnot. Perhaps a simple email with a few attached documents might be more than enough. Many bloggers might appreciate access to someone in a company or an information source rather than samples of a product. This billable hours thing that was mentioned a lot at Collision Course suggests PR companies have limited resources and some clients might not want to pay big amounts. If that’s the case, maybe one’s time is better spent trying to get discussion of your client or their company on to Pat Kenny or mentioned in the Sunday Business Post but then again, this is pretty much the same as bringing bloggers to events. Short term.

You know, the R in PR? Working on that might be better. Proper relationship building takes much longer than that though and billable hours will probably hamper that. Perhaps that’s why the clever PR firms hand over the relationship to internal employees of their client company once the blogger or journalist is first introduced via the PR company? Good matchmakers are good PR people. The King sending gifts to his potential Queen does nothing if she has more than a few braincells. Which goes back to the first line in this post.

There is nothing new in this globally but locally it seems bloggers and PR people are learning these basics. If you’re not clever on how you work with bloggers and how bloggers work with PR companies then you will see blog posts like this famous and very true blog post from Tom Coates about his disgust with PR and Marketing types. That happened 18 months ago in the UK. Hopefully the idea of Collision Course and ongoing feedback will stop this. Perhaps next time those that aired their feelings in the pub afterwards might actually do so at the event where the PR people were.

For the next Collision Course I’d hope we can move beyond seeing how best to make contact with bloggers and ask the PR people the best way bloggers can contact their clients or get information from their clients via PR companies. It’s two-way, not one way. In addition I’d hope to get bloggers and PR people to bring along what they consider good examples of Online PR and Marketing.

Collision Course II – February 18th 2009

While the first Collision Course hasn’t even happened yet, there are enough people being turned away (sorry people!) to warrant a second one. Unless we all end up doing some kind of Battle Royale thing, there’ll be a second and a third and so on. We might as well make this a regular thing. Some of the wrinkles might get ironed out by the next one too. It would also be good to see new faces at the second one. So if you’re a blogger, a PR person or someone in Digital Marketing then sign up in the comments for the next Collision Course.

If a PR or Marketing company wants to volunteer a space for 30 people or less on the evening of February 18th, let me know too.

Photo owned by Army.mil (cc)

Giving away our Online Marketing Documentation

Update: Download the Mulley Communcations Online Marketing Doc here.

I’m pretty happy and proud of the Online Marketing Doc that I give out to people at the private and public training courses I do. It covers the basics of Online Marketing, covers a bit on SEO, Google Adwords, Social Networks like Facebook and Bebo and other bits and pieces. I’d like to give it away but I want my tinkerbell moment. I want people to clap for it by leaving a comment here on this post. If 103 people leave comments (I don’t like even numbers so 100 is ruled out and 101 is a bit too uniform for my liking) I’ll release the document into the wild and as I update the document (which will happen every few months) I’ll update it on the site here too.

Giving away your documentation isn’t actually going to impact on the work you get in as people should be paying for your expertise, not your supporting documentation. To make it clear too, you can reuse any of the content for commercial or non-commercial use once Mulley Communications gets attribution.

My favorite Christmas ornament...
Photo owned by faeryboots (cc)

Now, if comments keep on going up and I get over 243 comments I’ll give a full day’s training session to 12 people or less (of your choosing) on Online Marketing in Cork or Dublin. The winner of this will be randomly selected from the list of commentors. Yeah you can’t charge people to attend this obviously.

Rules suck but there have to be a few. I’ll randomly contact people who leave comments in case anyone pretends to be more than one person. Pretend to be just one person! I have no issue at all with you encouraging people to leave a comment but I would prefer them to be people who want the document not just friends of yours who are helping you out. It’d be nice to know 100+ people read the document. It’s not a rule but if you took the document and improved on it (which is easy to do in fairness) then that would really rock!

Marketing is the quick shag, PR is the long-term relationship

In doing a video interview with Niall I uttered something like the title of this blog post. He has promised to edit the video to make me look like a tool. Minutes in the editing suite so… I don’t know is that statement correct.

From what I can see people look at marketing in terms of campaigns, short sharp jousts with the world and then they’re over and done with. Cigarette time. Look at all those “micro” and “mini” sites that are out there from marketing campaigns and they’re just gathering web dust now. Such a waste really. It’s all lust with these interactions.

Then we have the idea of PR being about building relationships between companies and individuals or people with authority and/or influence. Building those kind of relationships takes more work and time but if we keep with the analogy, don’t a lot of long-term relationships become rather boring? Even when the lust turns to love? Will a mistress pop up from time to time? Will there be a divorce?

Surely though with the web and the always-on, always some kind of connection to people vibe, the fun and energy of the marketing jousts can be worked into something longer term and into relationship territory. I’m looking at the brilliant marketing concepts from Burker King of late and again and again they bring something fun out and people are anticipating them. Yet, where is the central hub for fans of Burger King campaigns? They could actually gain super fans if they so wanted by creating that hub. What powers Apple fans and the anticipation of a new product could actually be applied to BK’s odd marketing and bring it under the wing of PR.

"Lingua" by Jim Sanborn
Photo owned by dbking (cc)

You’re all media companies now Dave

A recent Times article pretty much was a copy and paste job from a blog post from Facebook. Who needs to send out press releases when you know a blog post will get the attention of the world? Steve Jobs did it last week too.

If you’re going to be doing business, you’re going to have to have an online element. No matter who you are, no matter what your product. This doesn’t mean that you have to be a newspaper-type organisation or do podcasts or videos but your current and future clients expect interactions that are more than a dull brochure-like website or a phone call or a replied-to email. With the current masses expecting more interactivity and a more personal relationship with who they buy from, it’s time to gear up.

Brick code
Photo owned by hiler2002 (cc)

You’re going to have to do Online Marketing and you’re going to have to do Online PR but perhaps you’re doing this and unaware that what you’re doing has a name. You’ll have to create content in various formats, be it blog posts, video tutorials, Flickr uploads and you’ll have to engage with people not just in the short term but over the course of your business life. This is how you’re a media company. When customers want to ask you something they should be able to find you where they are, not just where you are. As important, if not moreso though is that their peers that they ask should know your company and products and do the work of marketing on your behalf because they have some kind of relationship with you already.

Yes it means more work or maybe it just means you have to be cleverer with your existing resources. The payoff though is that you’ll have broader reach over space and time. Do you need to do it? I think yes but then you don’t need to be in the Golden Pages or have a phone either and you might still keep going.

Again, being a media company now doesn’t mean being a content producer, you can get others to do that but you do need to know that you are in the media, you are the media, you are working with the media.

*You’re my wife now Dave comes from The League Of Gentlemen

Want press coverage? Now is a good time

Everyone is winding down now for Christmas with some PR agencies not back until the New Year but news still happens and newspapers and radio stations still need content. Some do shut their doors but the mains ones need to maintain a presence. Now is as good a time as any to crowbar your company or product into the media.

What might make it easier again to get some attention is something that fits well with the current zeitgeists. Recession, Christmas, banks, job losses. Something anti-gloom too might work well. Or a riot:

Protesting Clowns
Photo owned by pinguino (cc)

Collision Course 1 – Edelman HQ, Jan 21st, 6.17pm

Update: 12 Jan 2009 – Event is now full

The event I previously offered to organise, that of Irish bloggers meeting PR and Marketing folk will happen on Jan 21st in Dublin thanks to Edelman who are offering up space to host it. Yeah it’s 6.17pm as 6.15pm is just a tad too uniform but come along at 6.15pm if you feel more comfortable with that. Spaces are limited to 30 and those who already stuck their name down get first refusal.

Photo owned by lepiaf.geo (cc)

The format will be a PR rep will give a five minute talk about what PR is about and maybe give some Irish context and then we’ll have an Irish blogger share their experiences of what blogging in Ireland is about and then we’ll open the floor so anyone can pick the brains of this combined group.

The idea of this meetup (and perhaps it will become a regular thing) is for those who interact so much online can share their experiences with those people employed to try and connect with these digital natives and give them what they want. A lot of the bad experiences around PR and Marketing are to do with miscommunications between the various groups. Lets try and sort that.

Edelman’s address is:

5th Floor
Huguenot House
37 St Stephens’ Green
Dublin 2 – Ireland

The Rear
Photo owned by Alana Elliott (cc)

Merry Christmas – Our gift to you for 2009

The feedback about the Online PR post has been extensive in the past 24 hours, thank you for that. It’s been put to me that I need to put my money where my mouth is or some other cliché and so I will. It’s not enough for bloggers (I’m one of them!) to bleat on their blogs about what they want from PR people and Marketing people and how they want to be approached, if they want to be approached. Opt in remember!

Papas noel gaiteros
Photo owned by DrZito (cc)

So I’m offering to run an event in mid-January where bloggers that are interested (I’ll provide booze and cake to bribe them!) can come along and meet up with PR and Marketing people who can mingle with them and get their feedback on campaigns or thoughts they had on how to engage with the online community which includes bloggers, social networkers and all the rest. I would like to see more PR and Marketing people communicating with Irish bloggers who are interested in these communications and having these companies listen to what the online people think and to try and work with these onliners to get them what they want.

Want to come along? Leave a comment below, be you a blogger or a PR/Marketing type.

Photo owned by tomeppy (cc)