I have a lot of small businesses that are just becoming aware of the world of the web. Many are B2B businesses that think that Press Releases are the best way to get attention for their services and products. I think that these are dated techniques for “many” businesses, especially if it’s their main avenue for inbound traffic.

What are your thoughts on this?

A few weeks ago, I asked for some requests on what to blog about and I wanted to pull this one out of the queue based upon a brief exchange of Tweets I had on the relevance of PR in a startup world.

PR as communications is essential for the success of any company, large or small. Of course I am biased in this, but my reasoning is a bit more fundamental. Most CEOs and technical founders are smart in a lot of areas. crafting a story generally isn’t one of them. Public relations is an art and we are artists and a company is our medium. We help companies tell their story. The great thing that a company’s leadership provides is passion.

We provide the ability to translate that passion into English.

OK, that being said, let’s get back to the question that was asked: Is a press release the best way to get attention, especially in the B2B space? My simple answer?

No.

There is no magic ingredient when it comes to an outbound communication strategy. Successful public relations is a lot like a well-executed curry. Have you ever tasted turmeric on its own? Not so good. But combined with a myriad of other spices, it’s delicious. The same can be said of a company’s public relations efforts. By combining media relations, digital communications, customer storytelling and other activities, you can create a lot of attention for your company.

If you have a topic you would like for me to ramble incoherently comment on, please submit it here. If you have a comment on this, please tell me below!


I recently had the pleasure of sitting on a panel that discussed how to effectively use social media in a federally regulated setting, such as a financial services company, public company or one of the “sin industries.”

A variety of federal agencies exist to monitor the practices of these industries from FINRA, the SEC and even the ATF. But none of them seem to have kept up with the rapid evolution of public relations and corporate communications practices. In fact, the FINRA document regulating online marketing practices for financial services companies is nearly a decade old.

But some government agencies are making strides to enter the modern information age. The SEC recently hired Mark Story to help connect to the new media scene. And its recent launch of investor.gov, a microsite dedicated to protecting and engaging with investors, shows just how far its come.

But there’s still a huge gap between accepted best practices for the use of social media technologies and what the federal government says you can and can’t do. The confrontationalist side of me says, if there are no rules, how can you break them?

But that is a dangerous precedent to set. Instead, we must develop suond practices that help interact with the community, but protect the interests of a company’s investors.

My advice

My simple advice is to know the rules. Then, come as close to breaking them as you can.

For example, about two years ago, the SEC revised its rules regarding the release of material information to include the use of a corporate blog as a means to do releases. So, time to set up that blog network for your audience. I have yet to see a company completely turn off its use of a wire service, however.

Also, FINRA has proposed an update to its rules, which strike me as a bit much. What do you think?

My value add is this presentation. Some of the elements didn’t quite make it into the Slideshare, but they were hilarious. Thanks again to Mark and Shannon Paul for taking the time to do this panel with me.


Disclaimer, I adapted this from my blog for Etelos, as one of our executives will be speaking there.

Do you know what South by Southwest is? Sure, it’s a great music festival, but did you know it is also one of the best tech conferences around?

SXSW Interactive is a compilation of some super quality speakers and panels as well as some of the best networking (read: parties) around. It is by far one of the best events I’ve attended.

Loading…This year’s event, however, has a different appeal for me. I was able to secure a pretty powerful panel for Etelos founder & CEO Danny Kolke. OpenID, OAuth, Data Portability and the Enterprise will explore the challenges enterprise class companies face over data ownership.

Featuring Joseph Smarr from Plaxo, Kaliya Hamlin, AKA “Identitywoman” and Bob Blakely from the Burton Group will join Danny to discuss if OpenID and OAuth are good for the enterprise and how to implement them.

Shifting the focus

I think this will be an excellent topic for this year’s event. Layoffs are piling up, mandatory furloughs are being enforced and startups are folding. As the emphasis shifts from true innovation to a successful business model, the debate over identity and data ownership becomes essential.

A prospect or sales lead is an invaluable commodity, and this is even more true in today’s economic climate. But who owns that relationship? Who owns that customer’s contact information?

Meetup Tweetup Restup

Lots of exciting parties have already been announced and dozens more will undoubtedly pop up as March approaches. I have an awesome idea for a smaller, more intimate meetup opportunity if anybody is looking for an opportunity to host something.

I look forward to meeting you all out there and discussing some public relations goodies. As an extra bonus, Kaliya is organizing a lunch that will follow the panel. Come, join us there too!

I’m in the process of building up a schedule, but I want to get your input. What sessions have you excited? What speakers must you see? What parties are already on your list? Fill out the handy-dandy form or post a comment.


Do you work for a company that hasn’t yet adopted social media practices? Perhaps you are the one implementing a strategy to stay connected to your audiences. But, what rules are there?

As I mentioned recently, social media and social marketing are in their infancies and we are defining the rules. But defining these rules is especially important for companies. Having clear guidelines makes a social media program versatile and transferable. Plus, it will make the lives of compliance officers a bit less stressful.

Don’t be an idiot

Sounds simple enough, right? If you are acting as a representative of a company anywhere that is visible to the general public, act as if your boss is reading over your shoulder (If you’re the boss, act as if your leading investor is over your shoulder). Having a little conscious whispering in your ear while you type should keep you clear.

Keeping a positive focus on the actions of the company should be a priority for the social media practitioner. It shares the spotlight with fostering discussion of the company’s activities.

Maintain your voice

When you operate as the voice of the company, it will be difficult to keep your voice out of the materials you generate — learn to embrace that. You will create “better” content if you keep true to your personal writing style and voice. Copy will come more naturally and your audiences will be able to better relate to it so long as you are being genuine.

Write what you know; write how you know and you’ll be surprised at the results. Plus, you will avoid the leading, unique tendencies to be a ground-breaking leader in your content vertical i.e. “marketing speak.”

Active or passive

When you are creating a content channel, make an overt decision on whether it will actively participate in any discussions that may or may not occur. Of course, I would recommend being an active voice within the community you are trying to create around your service or product. But it is sometimes necessary to broadcast.

What I would avoid, however, is simply being one or the other. If you only broadcast, no discussion, no community occurs. And that defeats the purpose of social media/marketing as a whole. If you are only responding to comments or external discussions, the audience controls the conversation. And, while it is important to participate, it is necessary that you lead the discussion as it relates to your product or service.

To delete or not to delete

Regardless of how you engage, be it broadcasting or conversing, I would strongly advise to proactively react to negative comments and feedback. Deleting the critical material is ultimately up to you, but I feel that addressing the issues is important. Unless the complaint is patently wrong.

Keep it current

Post, create content and keep it up to date. Not much to say beyond that.

Make it good

Making content that doesn’t suck is generally a good idea. If your job is to blog, make sure you read some of the popular blogs and see what makes them popular. Are they funny? Do they use lots of word play? How many links do they use? And so on. The point is to provide value to the people that pay your company money and the people you want to pay your company money.

Your tweets, blog posts etc… should be checked for grammar/spelling/typos. Your videos should have decent sound quality. Your podcasts should have a quick edit done to kill dead air or pregnant pauses. Posting solid content makes for a happy audience. It is frustrating to read through a post that is rife with errors.

Setting up social media rules is a difficult challenge to say the least. The problems compound when you add in the layers that are natural in a company. But I think that perhaps the most important rule should be “Don’t be afraid of change.”

What has worked in your company? How do you participate? What rules do you have? Share them in the comments.


I know it’s late for this, but hey, the idea popped into my head now. As we enter 2009, a lot of questions surround the general business landscape. But what are you doing to answer them? What are your business resolutions for the new year?

Kick ass

Simple enough, right? But let me expand upon kicking ass. I have found that it is simpler, more accurate and more rewarding to set micro-goals. Treat each task as an individual challenge and you will soon find that the end result will be better than you could have hoped for.

By simplifying and refining your goals, it will be easier to kick ass. And you’re kicking ass more often, which feels pretty good too.

Know your surroundings

Take a couple of hours and set up an RSS aggregator to monitor the fire hose of information that is pointed at your brain. Subscribe to new blogs and even delete a few of the old subscriptions. Google Reader or Yahoo Pipes makes it pretty simple to organize the information down to whatever level you want.

When you have your information coming at you in a controlled manner, it is easier to monitor trends, react to market demands and keep tabs on competitors. Which helps you stay ahead of the curve.

Participate

I can’t say enough about how important it is to be involved. Be involved with your users, your partners and your competitors. It is not necessary to have every conversation occur about you or your product, but it is pretty important to participate in almost every conversation.

By participating in events, blog posts and conversations, you are able to build a reputation and relationships that will only benefit you.

Enjoy life

I am a proponent of a work/life balance. I am hearing more and more stories of people burning out from trying to stay ahead of the curve. Don’t forget to enjoy life. If you have non-work hobbies, embrace them. If you have a family, embrace them. If you have a garden, embrace it.

So, what are your resolutions? What steps will you take to ensure your success for the next 12 months?