Sword and the Script

Influence Marketing puts Salespeople into Marketing Hats



by Frank Strong

Influence Marketing puts Salespeople into Marketing Hats

Tom Webster was shopping for a pair of shoes so he did what people do when they are looking for something: he turned to search.  And that’s when it happened. He noticed reviews from blogs were ranking higher than even those by mainstream media.

That’s an anecdote I recall from Webster in a recent podcast with Mark Schaefer called Influence Marketing is hot and about to get hotter. How it is that content, from the lowly blogger, could possibly outrank an article – written by a bona fide reporter and published by an authoritative domain of traditional news site – in search? Read More…

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Product Review: Primeloop for Tracking Engagement



by Frank Strong

PrimeLoop how it works

Over the last couple months, I’ve been testing Primeloop as a tool for tracking mentions all around the web using my own employer as a guinea pig for a real-world testing environment.  It’s a very simple tool, but I’ve found it to be quite useful and a viable alternative to either labor-intensive spreadsheet-tracking, or the hideously expensive monitoring tools that currently dominate the PR industry.

The central product was originally developed in 2011 by Thomas Knoll and was formally launched before SXSW last year as clippPR.  The company has recently rebranded to Primeloop, a namesake that aims to articulate the value proposition: a way to loop brands back into the conversation by tracking and reporting on engagement. Used in conjunction with a free tool like Talkwalker, which I’ve found to be a useful replacement for Google Alerts, you’ll be able to easily stay abreast of brand mentions.

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The PR Road Less Traveled: In-House to Agency Life



by Laura Spaventa

PR In-House to PR Agency
Note:
  The following is a guest post by Laura Spaventa who recently transitioned from working an in-house gig in PR to working for a firm.  By my observation, few PR pros are able to make a switch like this as agencies often note “PR firm experience preferred” in job postings. Laura and I once worked together.  

When I graduated college in 2009, I had planned on working for a PR agency. Little did I know, the economy had other plans for me. Fortunately, I was introduced to Peter Shankman, the founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO), and became one of the original editors of the newsletter.

Once Vocus acquired HARO, I found my way to the company’s in-house PR team. However, I still had an itch to work for an agency, which led to my current role at LaunchSquad, a PR firm specializing in servicing startups with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Boston. I recognize my PR career has been a little backwards (I’ve never been good at following ‘the norm’) and I have a few tips for PR professionals who are looking to make a similar transition. Read More…

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PR Winners and Losers from House of Cards



by Frank Strong

PR winners and losers house of cards

Note:  There is nothing that will spoil the show for anyone who has
yet to watch the show in this post.

Like so many people, I’ve been glued to the second season of House of Cards, or #HoC on Twitter.  Aside from NFL games or the occasional Discovery channel documentary, I do not watch much TV and do not subscribe cable television.

Yet every now and again there’s a show that sucks me in – House, MD was one – and certainly House of Cards did as well. I justify the mindlessness of watching a show like this with the rowing machine parked in front of the television, which is not a credit to Frank Underwood’s choices in exercise. Read More…

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Off Script #7: Lou Hoffman on PR and Storytelling



by Frank Strong

PR storytelling

About fifteen years ago, I met a solo practitioner at a networking event who handed me a business card that presented his title as “chief storyteller.”

I couldn’t take him seriously; I couldn’t imagine lobbying the vice president of marketing to hire a storyteller. We needed a more serious tone – pragmatic, data-driven and business-like.  A strong lede or anecdotes?  Sure, those are obvious requirements – but “Storytelling” was for Disney and fairytales; it had no place in business communications.

In the last few years, there’s been a few PR bloggers that have shifted my thinking. In particular, there’s been one that really stands out, because his content was so different.  It had perspective unlike that we find so often in the echo-chamber.  It wasn’t merely a regurgitation of already accepted beliefs, it was fresh and new thinking; I started following him and his work.

I’m not sure where I first found Lou Hoffman, though I suspect it was through a link in the curated content section of the O’Dwyer’s daily newsletter (to which I highly recommend subscribing). Regardless, over the last few years we’ve had countless exchanges and I’ve grown to truly admire Lou and pitched him on doing an Off Script interview for this series.

He agreed and what he came back with is exceptional insight and while long in form, it’s quick in reading and well worth a few minutes time investment.  He’s changed my mind on the concept of storytelling and why it’s valuable in PR. Read More…

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Internal Communications Lessons from a PayPal Fiasco



by Frank Strong

paypal communications fiascoGood initiative, bad judgment.

That’s how I’d characterize PayPal President David Marcus’ message to PayPal employees leaked to VentureBeat.  His note can be summarized by his final paragraph as posted by the same publication:

In closing, if you are one of the folks who refused to install the PayPal app or if you can’t remember your PayPal password, do yourself a favor, go find something that will connect with your heart and mind elsewhere. A life devoid of purpose, and passion in what you do everyday is a waste of the precious time you have on this earth to make it better. [emphasis added]

“You” — not “we” or “us” — but you.  You people.  You are not like me.  I am better.  The language is alienating and likely for a group larger than the intended audience.

Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly.  Read More…

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Helpful Tools: PR Salary Surveys and Calculating Your Worth



by Frank Strong

Infographic PR Salary

Generalized PR salaries according to PayScale which has an online tool to develop a custom report unique to your skills, experience, location and industry.

Every few months it seems a study is published demonstrating PR is among the most stressful jobs.  Stressful?  Sometimes, but then PR isn’t a profession, it’s a lifestyle.  According to a news piece on Ragan.com:

For the third straight year, public relations has landed on CareerCast’s annual list of the most-stressful jobs in America. For 2013,public relations manager is No. 5 on the list, inching up two spots from last year.

What is that stress worth?  According to the same report:

The media salary listed for PR manager is $57,550, which is a marked decline from last year’s $91,810. (However, it was PR executive, not manager, that made the list.) Read More…

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The Soft and Subtle PR Pitch of Content Marketing



by Frank Strong

content-marketing-PR

He just started writing reporters one day.  It was a time before blog comments, and tweets, and Facebook updates; he sent his thoughts by email.

It wasn’t a pitch.  It wasn’t a call to action.  It was a note.  Just a conversation – a comment on an article he read.  He offered perspective – his own – but it was all done without an ask.

It took a while, but then he started to get a lot of press coverage. Instead of leading with his credentials, or his story, his emails offered the viewpoint of a person engaged in the daily activities of his industry.  He became a source. And reporters started asking him for his opinions.

This story is my recollection of one chapter in The Cluetrain Manifesto, a book I often reference in posts on this site. One of the authors, Doc Searls, is still quite active on the web from his vantage point at Harvard. Read More…

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Patriots Patriarch and the Pithy Press Conference



by Frank Strong

bill belichick press conference

Bill Belichick a man of few smiles and less words. (Flickr)

New England Patriot’s Head Coach Bill Belichick shies from media attention.  At least that the conclusion one might quickly draw from his demeanor in post-game press conferences. The man doesn’t smile.

The Wall Street Journal counted the number of times the blue hooded strategist smiled during press conferences this season.  Seven.  He smiled seven times.  Seven’s a magic number.

Watching video of every Patriots postgame news conference from this season, we counted seven incidents where Belichick smiled. This study surveyed 114.5 minutes of footage, so he smiles at a rate of once every 16 minutes—and keep in mind this is a season where New England won 12 games and the AFC East title. Read More…

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5 Good Reasons PR Pros Should Jump into an MBA



by Frank Strong
PR pros and MBA

There’s been some lackluster advice floating around the PR world of late regarding a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. It suggests, with caveats, that PR pros that get MBAs are bored or indecisive careerists that want to schmooze with the future business leaders of America. 

Such advice lacks perspective — the perspective of those who have actually done it — which counts for a lot in evaluating the pros and cons of anything.  I know a bunch of lawyers but it doesn’t make me an expert on law school.

In an MBA program you’ll grow personally and professionally. It’s one of the best investments a PR pro can make in themselves.  I am a PR pro with an MBA, so I’ll take the liberty to offer a different point of view to PR pros based on my experience.

Make no mistake, such a degree is directly related to our work too. If PR pros get knocked around for a list of character flaws, I’d suggest those boil down to these three recurring themes: a) PR pitches are bad b) PR has inability to speak the financial language of business and c) PR has a poor understanding of business.  

Do you have to have one to succeed?  No.  However, an MBA will dramatically increase the likelihood that those are characteristics that will not apply to you. It’ll improve the chances of success. Read More…

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