May 30, 2017

Twitterville – Book review

I just finished Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods by Shel Israel that describes the growth of Twitter with numerous stories about how it has been adopted and used by numerous people and organizations. For local organizations, this might not be the best book, although for a more general understanding of Twitter I would recommend it.

Summary

Twitterville has a boat-load of stories about how Twitter is being used to reach target audiences. This includes heavy hitters like Dell, H&R Block, Comcast, American Airlines, and Zappo’s. There are also accounts of how government, hospitals, and individuals are discovering innovative ways to build communities.

Unfortunately, the stories related to small, local organizations using Twitter – outside of politicians – is limited to about 8 pages (156-164). Because of this, I would recommend this to local organizations if you are looking more for a resource that can explain the Twitter phenomena on a large scale than a strategy guide (there are 4 pages on getting started with Twitter in the Afterward, though).

This book is great for:

  • Learning about the history and growth of Twitter
  • Learning about the tons of creative ways people are using this seemingly basic technology
  • Learning about the Twitter culture and how to behave

The New Rules of Marketing & PR – Book review

Summary

I recommend David Meerman Scott’s book for people in the PR and Marketing profession as well as individuals that have an interest in taking control of their PR or have a desire to be able to ask more informed questions of the people that do manage these efforts. While the book makes an effort to speak to beginners, I think you have to be very interested in informing yourself on the practices he describes and have some free time to execute the ideas. Scott discusses how there has been a shift from interruption marketing (commercials and the like) towards delivering value to potential customers in order to build a relationship with them and turn them into more passionate patrons – something we love at Community Cultivator. Topics cover blogs, podcasts, news releases and plugging into PR distribution channels, forums and wikis, viral videos, web site design philosophy, RSS, social networks and more.

Review

The foundation of The New Rules of Marketing & PR is built on the idea that consumers are less and less swayed by glitzy magazine ads and Super Bowl commercials – it is easier for them to better inform themselves about options and the organizations that provide those options. Scott presents case studies and thought experiments for today’s consumer. If you are going to buy a car and go to an auto manufacturer’s website, you are more likely to be interested in tangible information about their offering rather than being informed of a “72-hour sale.” You most likely want to know details about their product (example from page 1 of the book).

With so much information easily available nowadays, people are more interested in providers that make it easy to determine if their offering meets the consumer’s needs. I personally hope this is true since I have never been good at the soft sell :D . That idea leads into a discussion of what your website should be … essentially a source of relevant information that educates potential customers and treats them as an intelligent audience. This is the first step in building the relationship.

The book continues to discuss what I refer to as the theory of “be everywhere your patrons are.” Some people read blogs, some subscribe to RSS, some are on social networks and, in an ideal world, your message is available in all of the relevant channels. Scott refers to this idea as Thinking like a Publisher:

It is about delivering content when and where it is needed and, in the process, branding your organization as a leader…. What works is a focus on your buyers and their problems. What fails is an egocentric display of your products and service.

The book does a good job at covering the various tools available (I have the Publishing News Releases Through a Distribution Service section bookmarked for follow up) and includes key concepts about how and when to use these resources as well as a framework for designing your PR strategy. Scott recognizes the fact that his readers may only use a fraction of the suggestions he recommends and emphasizes you should take advantage of what makes sense for you.

My summary is that I think The New Rules of Marketing & PR is good for 1) existing PR and Marketing professionals or 2) individuals that are aware that the world has changed regarding how to reach target audiences, but are a little overwhelmed and struggling with how to make sense of it all.

NOTE: David Meerman Scott’s blog can be found at http://www.webinknow.com/

The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging – Book Review

Summary

Very good book for the beginner blogger written without any political slant (although there are references to specific political articles from the Huffington Post).

Review

Over the past few months, a number of organization leaders (including businesses) have asked me questions about blogging. What exactly is it? How do you do it? How does it help build a patron base? When you deal with technology every day, there is a tendency to forget where the rest of the world is in their understanding. In all of these cases, I recommended the person should read this book.

The Huffington Post was started by Arianna Huffington in 2005 and has grown to be a powerhouse in the blogosphere. This book, written by Arianna and various editors of the blog – is a very easy read and helps to explain what a blog is as well as how to get started.

Most books on blogging fall into one of two categories: 1) highly technical that discuss the mechanics of blogging or 2) grand discussions of how to do PR online (“it’s a new world of unparalleled opportunity, blah, blah, blah). This book strikes a happy medium and covers topics such as:

  • An overview of what a blog is and why they are valuable (in general terms)
  • Determining the subject area you will focus on
  • Determining your writing style. Blogs aren’t college papers and yours should match your personality
  • Gaining traffic to your blog
  • Building a community
  • Some of the technology options that are available

This book is not a highly technical book that tells you how to setup and configure your blog, but is a strategic guidebook that helps you determine if you want to blog in the first place. You can always go by WordPress for Dummies if you are inspired.