Sword and the Script

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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Minus Like: Facebook Feature Reportedly Cuts off Thumbs



by Frank Strong

facebook brand text status
Did you see the guest post from Mark Zuckerberg on this blog earlier this month?  It was essentially
Facebook’s open letter to small business.

It was a fun guest post (haven’t seen any alerts in GWMT yet either) and it gave me some contacts I might not otherwise have had. After reading Chris Penn’s post, Facebook wants you to post more pictures of kittens, I reached out to those contacts for the scoop.

First, the facts as Chris says:

Facebook announced yesterday that they’re applying a News Feed algorithm change that will penalize text-only updates from Pages. Brands, companies, personalities, bands, musicians, politicians, and anyone else who uses Facebook Pages will now have their text-only updates seen less in the News Feed.

That’s write, Facebook is saying words do not matter, so my sources tell me it’s introducing a new feature: the minus like.

Without a thumb, it might be hard to grasp the notion of a minus like Read More…

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The Long Road to Content Shock



by Frank Strong

TopRank's Content Marketing Maturity Model

TopRank’s Content Marketing Maturity Model

Have we reached the limits of content marketing?  Is the birth of a trend just now starting to hit the mainstream destined to crash?

Mark Schaefer calls it “content shock,” which comes with an eloquent explanation that boils down to this:

This intersection of finite content consumption and rising content availability will create a tremor I call The Content Shock. In a situation where content supply is exponentially exploding while content demand is flat, we would predict that individuals, companies, and brands would have to “pay” consumers more and more just to get them to see the same amount of content. 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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Seven First-Ever and Historic Marketing Promotions



by Frank Strong

Lucky strike

The water tower at the old (now renovated) Lucky Strike factory in downtown Durham still stands — logo in place.

When I was a kid growing up, my parents opened up a boutique antique shop as a hobby. A middle class family with two-working parents, they dabbled mostly, trying to learn the ins and outs of a pastime where it’s easy to get hoodwinked.

My mother liked to collect.  She’d buy and keep.  My father like to sell.  He was a salesman by trade and I can still remember how loved to wheel and deal. He’d get this glow about him.

I don’t recall what the first item sold was in that old antique shop, but I remember the first evidence of the sale.  It’s was a signature one-dollar bill and my mother tacked it up over the door to the shop’s entrance like so many small businesses do.

It got me to thinking about the first promotions – the first ads, the first press release, and the first evolution of ads on the internet.  So I perused the web a bit, and here’s what I found. Read More…

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Zuck: Open Letter to Little Facebook Brands



by Frank Strong

Facebook ads

.36 cents a click? It’s totally worth it.

Note:  Written in satire, the following is a parody presented as a guest post by Mark Zuckerberg. It is fictitious. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or Mark for that matter. But there’s certainly a point.

Dear Facebook Nation:

I built Facebook in my dorm room.  I took a chance, quit school and drove 3,000 miles to a place where I could build this company. I took the risk. And now I’m getting what I earned.

Today, we have one billion people using our service – that’s about one in four Internet users worldwide.  We have more users than many countries have citizens.  We should have a flag because they made a movie about us.

For those that don’t understand this point – Facebook is the world. If you want to reach all those people, or better still, a highly targeted segment of them, you need to bring your wallet.  Traffic costs money. It’s that simple. Read More…

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The Complicated Problem of Social CRM



by Frank Strong

complaint department

Social CRM in some businesses are handled by the complaint department (Photo credit: Flickr)

The morning Twitter launched its IPO, I whipped out my iPhone to place a trade using the USAA app and to my dismay could not get it to work.

I’m not sure what happened, but I did what many customers on a mobile device do:  I tweeted @USAA for help.  And like many companies that freeze up with social media fear, or simply haven’t properly staffed social media, USAA responded some 12 hours later from a different Twitter handle: @USAA_help.

Fortunately, in the time in-between, I used the phone’s voice activated service to call the brokerage and placed a trade.  Social media notwithstanding, USAA is typically known for great customer service, and the bank placed the trade at the online commission price of $8.95 where a phone trade typically comes with a higher commission. A short while later I was the proud owner of 10 shares in TWTR at the market price of $45.10. Read More…

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Reflections: 5 Lessons Readers Taught Me in 2013



by Frank Strong

best posts 2013

http://instagram.com/frankstrong

I haven’t always published a “top posts of the year” on this blog, but Shift Communications recently published their “worst” posts of 2013 – a tactic I found to be a clever and transparent analysis – and it prompted me to have a look at the best and worst posts on this blog.

Generally I pour over the analytics on a mobile phone in those in-between moments, but it’s been a while since I took a comprehensive view in a proper web browser.  It was a very useful mental exercise and in reviewing data on the 130 or so posts published here in 2013, several things stood out for me.

Here are five lessons my readers taught me: Read More…

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13 Years of Google Zeitgeist



by Frank Strong

Google zeitgeist

Zeitgeist as defined in Google’s Knowledge Graph (screenshot).

Searching is like a stream of consciousness; we start with a specific intent and wind up browsing from one click to the next.  It is truly a web; an addiction of clicks that comes, like so many things, with both benefits and drawbacks.

In 2001, Nostradamus, CNN and the World Trade Center were on the way up in search volume, while Pokemon, the Olympics and voting, on the tail of a controversial election, were on the way down. My confused instinct was the first plane was a drunk farmer blindly lost on his way to spray crops.

The images, let alone the second plane, on display inside the media room at the Washington, DC offices of Hill & Knowlton, proved otherwise.  I could see the smoke streaming from across the Potomac River from the balcony of the Watergate.

Thirteen years later, Nelson Mandela, Margret Thatcher, Paul Walker and a product, the iPhone 5s top the global search trends in the 2013 Google Zeitgeist. I first learned of Nelson Mandella when Peter Shankman’s update appeared in my Facebook news stream.  And then searched to learn the details. Read More…

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