November 27, 2014

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/

Trackur – Reputation Monitor Overview

Trackur is yet another social listening / reputation monitoring tool and this video provides a brief overview of what it’s all about. Overall, it’s not too bad, but I don’t think it is the great, low-cost solution I would still like to find.

What I like about Trackur:

  • It seems to do a good job of pulling tweets, which other free solutions seem to struggle with (for some odd reason).
  • The overall layout is easily navigable and easy to understand.
  • Trackur includes search of “media” sites, most notably YouTube.
  • It also includes search of blogs and online new articles… seems to do a decent job of that as well.
  • You can save searches for quick launch.
  • It automatically refreshes results every 30 minutes.
  • You can subscribe to saved search results through RSS … and email, but the RSS is super cool.
  • It indicates that sentiment is automatically determined, although my experience showed that all results came through as neutral. Maybe this is something they are still working on. I was corrected on this point. Sentiment is NOT automatically determined, but Trackur does allow the user to manually determine and specify this. Based on the effectiveness of other sentiment tools I’ve seen, this is probably better anyway.
  • The user can update the sentiment setting. This allows the user to override any automated calculation.
  • The basic package cost is inexpensive – about $18/month – and there is a 14 day free trial so you know what you are getting.
  • You can exclude specific records so they don’t show up going forward. (one of the bullet points in my next section was inaccurate on this point and has been corrected).

What I don’t like about Trackur:

  • The search filters are very basic. It doesn’t look like you can use more advanced search strings like “multiple words” OR “other words” What’s up with that.
  • Because of the limitations of the search criteria, there is a lot of garbage in the result set and no obvious way to remove irrelevant records. This shortcoming is compounded when you consider these results are sent to users subscribing to RSS and email notifications. I was corrected by the CEO… there is a red “x” the the right of the “Source” of each post that allows you to filter on a record by record basis. However, it looks like if you delete a record from a saved search, that record will be exclude from all future searches other than the saved search. From a practical standpoint about how this tool might be used, that probably isn’t a big deal, but it might be an issue in some cases.
  • There are some basic usability issues that are frustrating. If you play around with it, you’ll see what I mean.

What I’m on the fence about:

  • In order to be able to export results, the package price jumps to $88/month.

Trackur claims you can set up your first search within 60 seconds and I think that is actually pretty reasonable. If you are looking for a low cost solution, I would recommend you at least check it out and see what you think.

Social Mention Overview

In my previous post on Tweetdeck, I showed how your brand can be monitored based on tweets, but there are a lot of other social media outlets that might be referencing you – blogs, photo uploads, videos, etc. Monitoring this information is referred to as Social Listening or Reputation Management. Social Mention is a free tool that scans a lot of these outlets and returns a list about where you are mentioned. It then goes one step further by trying to associate sentiment to these posts – are people saying nice things, bad things, or neutral things? While the solution has some consistency issues, it does provide some insight and it’s free. Watch the video to get some more info.

The things I like about Social Mention are:

  • It’s free
  • It provides some metrics like passion and reach in an attempt to provide some analytics about your social media reputation
  • You can drill down into result sets
  • You can set up email alerts
  • For data fiends, you can export information into a spreadsheet for further analytics
  • There is also an API that allows you to develop applications around the Social Mention Engine

There are other tools out there that might be better, but they cost money. At the very least, you should check out Social Mention and see if it helps you manage your brand.