5 Reasons why brands GET DUMPED online

A friend of mine sent me a link to an interesting study recently, on why people follow and unfollow brands online. I’m going to share with you some insights from that research this morning, because although much of it might seem intuitive, many companies still fail to really get it.

The study was done by SproutSocial.com on behalf of Social Media Today, a respected authority on trends and best practices in digital marketing. The data was collected from 1,022 online respondents during a one week time period in July 2016. You can link directly to the report HERE. Given the sample is based on an online group; it represents online users well, but would be slightly skewed if being used to observe overall population behaviour. Never the less, it’s relevant, since increasingly many consumers are engaged in some sort of online social interaction. *Note: Finding numbers have been rounded.

polls_just_been_dumped_logo_1_1023_424378_answer_1_xlargeSo what do people find annoying? What causes them to unfollow brands?

  • 57% posting too many promotions
  • 38% using slang or jargon
  • 35% not having any “personality” on their accounts
  • 32% trying to be funny when they are no
  • 25% not replying to my message

Basically what we see in the above is if you excessively brag, use a communication style that feels stilted, weird or tries too hard, and you don’t engage, you’re going to get dumped. Honestly, doesn’t this description seem like a bad date anyway?

So if that’s why brands get dumped, why might people choose to follow them in the first place?

  • 73% interested in their product or service
  • 59% interesting promotions
  • 51% they are entertaining
  • 42% offer an incentive
  • 41% interested in the industry
  • 25% to communicate with the brand
  • 21% friends follow/like their content

Again, in relationship terms, if you are interesting and entertaining, enjoy things I like, engage in conversation and are respectful of my friends, you’re probably a keeper.

Social media is meant to be social. It’s relationship economics. But somehow many companies seem to have forgotten that the same rules of respectful friendship still need to apply.

People will follow brands to hear about promotions and incentives. But many also follow simply to be entertained. That’s an important consideration when you’re looking to build a brand presence. Getting followers is great, but connecting with an audience and getting engaged followers is better, since it significantly increases the chances of them becoming a paying customer.

How does that work? Take a look at this – the numbers are staggering. Percentage of people who purchased because of social media:

  • 75% yes
  • 25% no

If you need further proof of the value of social media marketing, here it is. The likelihood of buying from a brand people follow on social media:

  • 58% more likely
  • 38% no change
  • 4% less likely

The findings reinforce the importance of content marketing. If you provide your audience with relevant, useful and entertaining content, along with some promotional offers occasionally, they’ll be increasingly likely to buy from you.

The key of course to any relationship though is to understand who you are first, know who is your ideal date, and then just build the friendship. That takes self-awareness, and community understanding.

5 Ways Trump is winning at media

Like a car crash all over the front-page news, we just can’t look away. It’s fascinating to examine international interest in the current US federal election. While many American’s can’t see it beyond their own borders, the results actually matter a lot to rest of us, given the role America has always played on the world stage. There’s something about having a major shift possible and not getting a vote that stirs us up. Too bad it’s not Thanksgiving south of the border already where I could ruminate in past tense about this with my American relatives. We’re eating turkey up here this weekend in Canada, and we’ll no doubt be glued to the TV and online come Sunday October 9, at 9pm Eastern. That’s when the second Presidential debate goes down.


As far as riveting reality TV goes, it doesn’t get much better. Have a think on that statement, and just how far we’ve fallen…

Up front full disclosure: I’m not a Trump fan. While both candidates come with issues and baggage, in the grand scheme of political stability and international affairs, there can really only be one safe choice. But while I’m not a fan, I do think Trump is playing the media game well. In fact, he’s winning on that front. Here’s why:

1. Disruption: Trump is not conventional trying to preserve the status quo. And he’s not conventional in his presentation – what he says and how he says it. He’s disruptive and constantly breaking the rules. To his disenfranchised change hungry base, this is like a T-Bone served up daily. His disruption earns him an exorbitant amount of free media.

2. Earned media: Nobody understands the power of media and public perception quite like Donald Trump. The Apprentice made him a reality TV star. And he’s long been a tabloid king with his various real estate deals and bankruptcy battles. But it’s how he leverages that earned media that makes him a star. He puts it out on his owned channels (website, blog, email), then broadcasts it through rented channels (social media) and incites followers and foes to rebroadcast it even further through their private channels.

3. Audience: Trump had celebrity status before he even ran for office. He has 12.1 million followers on Twitter (Clinton has 9.4 million), over 11 million likes on Facebook (Clinton has 6.7 million), and 2.6 million followers on Instagram (Clinton has 2.3 million). While Clinton certainly has impressive numbers, Trump has a broader reach through his own direct channels. Trump stages events. He also stages his entrances. He plans bigger events. After years in the news, and involved in TV production, he literally orchestrates his airtime.

4. Simple message: Trump is the master of the branded tag line and sound bites that are media friendly. The statement, “Make America great again” is simple, and hard to disagree with. Whether the American dream is coming back again any time soon really doesn’t matter, but the promise that it might does. While there are some that would argue his conversation threads wander, and are often filled with lack of concrete knowledge, the guy gets the sound bites. In a world of 10 second videos and 140 character tweets, he has mastered delivering headlines and news that gets rebroadcast countless times over.

5. Engage emotion: Trump is a divisive and extreme candidate. You either love him or hate him. Like the candidate himself, there is little grey ground and room for conciliatory views. Trump evokes emotion. And he engages that emotion for media gain. His complaints about unfair coverage and being trashed by elites fuels further appeal to his angry voting base. We know from research that humour drives instant engagement, and often provokes sharing. While some of his humour is very dark (anyone catch that clip where he encouraged the terminally ill to go to advanced polls?) he does manage to keep things light and laughable often. But curiously a recent TNS study notes that humour alone may not sustain sharing. To provoke longevity, they found that going deeper was essential. Hope and pride were found to sustain conversations and sharing more so then humour. Friends, nothing screams, HOPE and PRIDE more then “Make America great again”.

While I want desperately to be wrong about how well Trump maneuvers the media, I have to admit he is winning the marketing side of this media game. Let’s just hope America votes with their heads and not their hearts. From what I know about marketing, that is likely the scariest observation of all.

For those that are wondering about the awesome photo accompanying this story and Googling the station PFN, where it was broadcast, here’s the scoop. I generated the image using PhotoFunia, a very cool APP that allows you to drop your own photos into set templates. After doing a little Photo manipulation on the tag line, I generated an image made to grab attention, be timely, and increase the likelihood of sharing and commenting – in short, some fun media and marketing!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Leave a message below or feel free to share and comment on your social networks. Regardless of the outcome in November, we can learn a lot about media and marketing by following this campaign.



Marketing Measurement Matters

“What gets measured is what gets done” is a business saying that remains as relevant today as the day it was first spoken. Businesses measure lots of things; sales, profits, costs, returns, market share, customer retention, the list could be endless. Another business saying that used to be muttered in marketing departments was, “Half of the money spent on advertising is wasted, I just wish I knew what half.” Fortunately these days we have many metrics at our disposal the measure marketing effectiveness. And when we know what is most effective, we tend to do more of it. It gets done.



So what do you measure in your business related to marketing? I measure:

  • Customer inquiries/month (email, phone, in person)
  • Bookings, new contracts, sales/month
  • Website and blog visits/month (+ basic demographics of who is visiting, where they’re from)
  • Page visits, time spent
  • Acquisition (how did they find me?)
  • Email newsletter opens, shares
  • Email new subscriptions, unsubscribes
  • On ramping and funneling list numbers for offers
  • Views and shares of boosted and sponsored social media content, correlated back to website analytics, since I’m always chasing people to “owned” media properties

I’m not a numbers wonk. I didn’t much care for math. I somehow got an “A” in university statistics despite finally figuring out two months into the course that “knot 5″ meant “0.5” when spoken by my very British professor. I had been thinking, “If it’s not 5, then what the heck is it?” True story.

You get it. Numbers don’r necessarily come as naturally to me as letters and writing. But I certainly understand the importance of numbers. They help me understand if what I’m doing is working, and by default if I should do more of it, or change the approach.

A couple simple tools for acquiring the listed information above are Google analytics and MailChimp. If you don’t have Google analytics on your website, it would urge you to do so. It’s absolutely free, and relatively easy to set up. Once you’ve signed up, simply embed the piece of code they send you in the header of each page on your website. Or give it to your website guy or gal to set up. Or google search one of many videos on how to do it. Honestly, it’s not hard to do, but will make understanding how your website is used by customers incredibly easy. MailChimp, or similar programs like Constant Contact will not only create a database of customers that you communicate with, it will also allow you to monitor how effective your electronic touch points by email are with them. The basic MailChimp account is free. Constant Contact runs you about $20 a month. And of course Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn all offer you analytics if you pay to sponsor or boost content on their platforms.

But at the end of the day, all measurement leads back to the desire to increase awareness, increase engagement, and ultimately be chosen. It’s basically about getting others to know, like and trust you.

Which is why I believe so much in the power of one on one communication in person and by a weekly newsletter, as well as through this blog. It’s about building customer trust and intimacy, as well as search and recognition. Did you know that I had four potential new clients contact me and set up in person meetings just this past week as a direct result of receiving marketing ideas from the last several months through this newsletter? In three cases we’ll be meeting on setting up a strategy for 5-pillar media marketing (owned, rented, earned, embedded & paid media) for their companies. In the other case, it’s a potential speaking gig around the same topic.

What works for me may not work for you. Your business and our customers might be quite different. But I do know that if you are measuring the results of what you’re doing, and taking action to do more of what is driving engagement and sales, and eliminating what isn’t, you’ll be way further ahead then the guy wondering which half of his advertising budget is actually working!

So, what do you do that you know for sure drives sales? How do you measure and keep track of results? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Facebook Live: Video broadcasting live heats up marketing space

This week, I’m continuing on the video theme with a look at the new “Facebook Live” video streaming feature. This thing has awesome marketing opportunity written all over it.

I woke up last Saturday morning to my son using Facebook Live to watch a live broadcast of the longboarding Top Speed Challenge being held in Quebec that weekend. It was pretty cool to see a demo of how it all worked. I love learning from an18 year old! Plus, having become a bit of a longboard racing groupie, and knowing many of the competitors and their families while traveling with my son, it was really fun to see all these athletes doing what they love.

img_5259 img_5260


One of his good friends, Emily Pross, was broadcasting. She’s the #1 female in the world in IDF rankings (and a respectable 6th in men’s open) so she has a sizeable following on Facebook (1,425 followers, 5,000 friends on her personal page, and in excess of 2,275 likes on here athlete’s page). She’s rock in’ social media. Her broadcast had attracted 93 comments, 4 shares and over 1,000 views. Remember, this is a feature that was only launched by Facebook at the end of August, and available in the most recent update on Sept 1, 2016. She is what I would consider an “early adopter” with a pretty decent following.

Online video consumption and in-the-moment updates are huge trends in the social media space. If you haven’t updated Facebook recently, go to the APP store and download it. Otherwise, you won’t see the features I’m about to tell you about. You’ll need iOS 8.0 or later.

By tapping the live stream icon, you can start broadcasting video live from your Smartphone and write a description of the event. Right now any users following you will have the ability to “tune in” to the broadcast, and in fact they will get a notification that you are “broadcasting live.” The maximum time for a broadcast is 90 minutes. Most will likely be shorter, but you’ll want to be on long enough to give people an opportunity to know you’re live and to then interact with them. Like Periscope, viewers can post comments and questions that you’ll see, or send “likes, hearts and icons” that float across the screen. The key difference and advantage of Facebook Live over Periscope is the ability for the video to be retrieved at any time plus many people already have a significant audience on the platform. That’s a major plus.

So how might you use this as a marketing tool?

  • Live stream a seminar
  • Interact with attendees at a conference
  • Share a product launch
  • Make a major announcement
  • Interview a leader in your industry
  • Broadcast an event

I’m really curious how this might shake up the webinar space, although I’d suggest checking on ownership of content in the Facebook privacy policy weasel words first. I’ve certainly witnessed over the last couple weeks an increase in the number of business people experimenting with the Livestream tool as a way to engage their audience.

There are a handful of best practices you should keep in mind too:

1. Attract more followers to your platform
Follows on your personal page, or likes on a business page are what you want lots of, since they will be notified when you go live with a broadcast

2. Post in advance your planned broadcast
Include topic, date, and time. Tease them with your content. You’re basically making an ad for your broadcast. Be clever and grab them!

3. Have a strong connection
It goes without saying that you need a solid, reliable connection. Use Wi-Fi if possible. It’s usually reliable, and you won’t be billed for data use!

4. Write a good headline 
You want a compelling headline and description. That is what will get people to tune in and participate.

5. Engage your viewers
This is not a one way broadcast. You can get feedback, see peoples names and respond to questions. Make it personal and acknowledge those on the call. They’re likely to return for future broadcasts.

I intend to play with this feature myself over the coming weeks. I would LOVE to hear if you’ve given it a go, or if this has caused you to look at Facebook Live more closely. Leave a comment below!

And for the record, Kyle Wester smashed the previous longboard speed record recently going 143.8km (89.4 miles/hr) in Colorado. Now the chatter within the longboard race community is if someone can crack 100 miles/hr. Have a think about what that would feel like on a skateboard next time you’re barreling down the highway in your car!

Riding the second wave: 6 secrets to making video go viral

Aren’t we all in search of the secret sauce to make things go viral? In a world where word of mouth, mouse and mobile can deliver free publicity and earned media, going viral is the Holy Grail.

And I think I’ve cracked the code.

It’ all about igniting the second wave of sharing. For sure the initial reach is important, as is the number of influencers within that reach. But unless the ingredients are there to get a second wave of sharing, it’s going to result in a brief flare, then flame out.

I’ve written about this before, suggesting that you need to think about the next person in line to see the content. It’s all about them. What will make them want to share it with their friends? And so on, and so on…

TNS recently partnered with Ogilvy and Twitter to study the patterns of sharing videos online. Here are their findings along with some of my own insights.

There are 6 common characteristics that boost the second wave of sharing.

1. Target timely “right now” moments: This is particularly important as the predominant method of viewing and sharing videos gravitates to mobile. There’s a sense of immediacy and relevancy that a specific moment in time produces that results in people wanting to share, retweet or comment. Right here, right now moment are timely: things like sporting events or concerts taking place live, common experiences related to severe weather, cancelled flights, first day back at school, Thanksgiving etc. You get the idea. It’s when many people are sharing the same experience right at that same moment. Sharing into that atmosphere is very apt to provoke a second wave of sharing because people will want to comment and solicit a social interaction with their friends. The snow day commercial for Nike was brilliant, especially when produced and then launched in the middle of a nasty east coast snowstorm. People were cruising the internet on their phones while home from school and work. It became the perfect thing to share and comment on. Watch it HERE.

2. Engage emotion. Humour drives instant engagement, and often provokes sharing. But curiously the TNS study notes that humour alone may not sustain sharing. To provoke longevity, they found that going deeper was essential. Hope and pride were found to sustain conversation and sharing more so then humour on its own. Watch this Proctor and Gamble Thank-you Mom Olympic spot for Rio 2016 if you want a dose of emotion, hope and pride. It’s at over 22 million views. Watch it HERE.

3. Aim for comments, not just shares. Comments become contagious, and having some comments invites even more comments and engagement. We love to share our views – because it makes us look smart, funny and connected. We get lost in the conversations around material shared, especially if the video has provided context for a discussion of something relevant. The TNS study noted how UK retailer John Lewis’ Christmas commercial called “Man on the Moon” provoked discussions on how we treat the elderly in society, and how aging can be lonely for some. If you haven’t viewed that spot, pull out a tissue. Watch it HERE.  It’s a topic that touches many boomers in society. People wanted to not only share but also comment. It hit over 24 million views within a week of launching in 2015.

4. Story telling is key. While a Hollywood movie has a couple hours to achieve the storyline arc of intro, hero versus villain, low point, overcoming the villain, climax and resolution, and the flushing out of emotions and details along the way, most videos shared online these days are between 30sec and several minutes long. We have shorter attention spans it would seem, and have been conditioned to consume online video in shorter segments. But the TNS research revealed that if strong storytelling elements and emotion were present, the length of the video was much less relevant. Think story arc, characters, and an emotional journey to increase second wave shares.

5. The notion of discovery. We all like to discover things. When we discover something that makes us look smart, funny, or connected to an inner circle, we want to share it. Think then how you discover content. It’s often by browsing and scrolling through social media feeds, as well as subscribing to content producers or curators. Obviously top tier influencers with large networks help people discover content too. Utilizing content hashtags within social platforms, as well as tagging for SEO to show in general search will boost discovery. If you can make a top 10 list with a blogger, or even better a top 10 list on Huffington Post, Buzzfeed or some other wide reaching online curator of content, it will increase the ability to be discovered exponentially.

6. Design for mobile viewing. Think about how we use mobile devices these days. Although we still call them phones, placing a call is a hopeless undervaluing of their abilities. Mobile devices are the tools for social and apps are the gateways to that social interaction. So, although there may well be some sharing from desktops and laptops, increasingly mobile is the device your video will be viewed on, and from which it will be shared. Therefore thinking from that perspective becomes key. How big is the file? How quickly will it load? Can it be understood without audio? (Many people watch video on mobile devices in public spaces with the video turned down or off) How will the content display on a small screen?

The most watched and shared videos usually achieve success through multiple rounds of sharing. The sustained conversations they inspire help push them past a tipping point. That’s the second wave, and secret to going viral.

Are you channel surfing or tuning in?

Consider the idea of channel surfing versus tuning in. We’ve all been in the presence of incessant channel surfers. Perhaps you’re even one of them. Surfers skip from channel to channel, certain they can multi-task and watch numerous programs simultaneously. Some just surf out of boredom, looking aimlessly for something to grab their attention. I’ve noticed this habit carrying over to social media as well. Perhaps you recognize it in yourself? Surely it can’t just be me! We skip from platform to platform, one video to the next, an endless crumb trail of links as we chase the shiny object of our fleeting momentary interest.


So here’s my question to you: Are you using the same channel surfing approach to reach out to your customers? Many companies seem desperate these days to keep up with all the new social media platforms and new features. Make no mistake, I think things like Instagram’s new “stories” feature will be beneficial for many. It’s a great feature to engage through visuals and invite one on one contact through messaging, rather then open comments. But it’s not for everybody. Building an audience on new platforms takes time and effort. Blab is super cool, but so was Periscope. Both require audience building. And the channel is only as useful as the reach of it’s audience. Plus the effort to utilize numerous channels often leaves us needing options to manage and schedule content (unless of course you have more then 24hrs in your day to deal with all this stuff). Twitter is a great channel, but there are a lot of people just scheduling content out into the universe in the hopes that it will break through the fire hose of other information. Their auto-responders reply to follows and comments. That’s not being personable or engaged.

We get folks to tune in to content when we engage a channel fully. But it means we need to be present and personable in that channel IN REAL TIME.

As many of you know, I advocate building your marketing presence leveraging the five pillars of your media: owned, rented, earned, embedded and paid. Within these pillars are media vehicles and individual channels. What really has become evident to me, as I’ve observed the actions of wildly successful marketers, is how they have all used the five-pillar approach, but more importantly, how they had selected one or two individual channels to truly engage their audience. Of course those channels were selected with their target audience in mind, and they had a strategy for what they wanted to accomplish in each channel. Seems simple enough eh?

Let me give you a couple examples from the National Speakers Association conference I attended in Phoenix, AZ recently.

Jeanne Robertson, a very successful keynoter and now theater circuit comedian, uses many platforms, but Facebook is undeniably where she truly engages her audience. Link to her Facebook here. https://www.facebook.com/JeanneLaughs/ It leads to many other places such as Youtube, Twitter and her website, but her primary “channel” is Facebook. Have a look at how she engages and is present in that channel. Note the recency of her posts, the personable responses, the type of “knowing” questions her readers post, obviously familiar with her stories as fans. She is tuned in, and so are her followers.

Scott Stratten, the “unmarketing” guy is another great example of the channel concept. Make no mistake, Scott is virtually everywhere online with his unconventional take on marketing mistakes, but he got his followers initially with a Youtube viral hit, and later as an early adopter on Twitter. @unmarketing is his handle there and he has over 183,000 followers on that channel. But here’s the curious thing: he DOESN’T AUTOMATE POSTS. He only posts in real time. And he only posts when he has something cool to share, and he is present on the channel in real time with exchanges that follow that post. By deciding to actually be social and not an automated app endlessly tweeting into the fire hose of content, he has garnered an audience that tunes in.

It’s not just online channels that work this way. Off line can be a goldmine. Kay Frances http://kayfrances.com/ is another great example of someone virtually everywhere online for her motivational humor, but her channel of choice for engagement is direct mail. She has built a killer database and she sends out notes and fun promotional pieces to the people who hire her regularly.

I could go on with examples, but what really struck me was many of these successful folks had selected a particular channel to tune in with their target audience, and then they made themselves fully present on that channel. That’s the thought I’ll leave you with. Are you channel surfing, trying to be everywhere with your marketing, or are you tuned in on your channel of choice?

What do you think? Email me mary@fiveminutemarketing.com with your thoughts.  I’m present on this channel and always happy to hear from you with comments too. Or if you’re more into Twitter, my handle is @marycharleson


Why do people share online content?

This week I’d like to consider the question, “Why do people share online?” At the heart of understanding this is the key to making content go viral and increasing the spread of your content marketing. That’s pretty important stuff if you’re looking to increase marketing effectiveness for minimal budget.

A friend sent me a link to this article by Brent Coker, called: PR Secrets, How to go viral. Essentially he argues it’s about social currency. “People share things because they want to be seen in a certain way – your friend who constantly shares TED talks likely wants to be seen as intelligent, while your friend who shares memes wants to be seen as funny.”

Basically he is saying people will share if they think it will enhance someone’s opinion of them. My friend noted this was likely obvious, but she hadn’t made that link before.

I’d like to add my own spin on this, and ask you to consider this: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. IT’S ABOUT THEM.



I think the secret to having your content shared is to consider the next person in line to share, not yourself. Knowing my audience, if I give you something that you will in turn look good sharing, I have pretty much guaranteed you will continue to share the content. And the cycle will continue. That’s the secret of going viral. Essentially it’s less about making myself look smart, funny, insightful or connected to an inner circle. It’s about celebrating you taking credit for it.

Ruminate on that one for a while. It just might cause you to think differently about what you share and how you do it.

5 Tips to get more earned media

You can’t beat the credibility of earned media. In an era where it seems we are all fighting to be heard above the noise within social media, it is easy to dismiss the simple and massive reach of more traditional media methods. All successful print and broadcast channels these days are also amplifying that content via digital means online, which means you actually achieve even further clout should you get coverage. And, once that coverage is online, it is there for you to further broadcast it through your own channels. The magic of course being that it is third party endorsement, and you can attach your success to the media’s brand.


Achieving media coverage is a pretty compelling value proposition and certainly one worth devoting some effort towards. So here are five tips to make the task simpler and increase the likelihood of success.

1. Know a reporters expertise. Reporters are inundated with press releases and pitches daily. If it’s not related to their area of coverage, they will hit delete. Ideally you are familiar with a reporters beat and have read or heard their stuff. Over the long term this will also gain you a respectful relationship with them, so that when you do send them something well targeted, they are more likely to respond. If you’re always shouting to everyone, nobody will listen.

2. Make the reporter look good and help them serve their audience. Your real job in writing the pitch is to make that reporter look good to their boss. The best way to do that is to help the reporter serve his/her audience. The reporter lives and dies by how they serve their audience. The media outlet is also in the rating and social sharing game. They are obsessed with going viral. They want a story that readers or viewers will share online. The bottom line here is: it’s about them, not about you. If you can frame your pitch from that perspective, you will be ahead of 95% of the pitches sitting in reporters email boxes right now.

3. Send media a story they are hungry for. What is in the news right now that is hot? (Britain’s bid to exit the UE? Donald Trumps bid for presidency? Forest fires? Global warming? Foreign ownership and real estate prices? The Tragically Hip’s final tour?) The news can be international, national or local, but you should frame your take on it from the geographic area where you are and where you want to achieve coverage. What are some trends of interest? Is there a celebration day that is relevant for timely coverage? (Father’s Day in June, July 1st Canada Day or the 4th of July in the US for example) Lists are hot. Browse the headlines of Buzzfeed or the Huffington Post and you’ll see lots of lists – The 5 things you need to know… How to get a promotion in 3 easy steps…) Lists are good because they are finite, organized, have a takeaway and are shareable. They’re also ideal for a population conditioned to receive information in bite size nuggets, which is increasingly the case in our time-starved society. The key here is to look at the publication or station you would like to target and see what would fit with their editorial style and reader or viewer interest. This of course requires you to do some homework, but it is that work which will help you stand out from others.

4. You absolutely, positively need a compelling subject line. I’m talking email subject line here, but it could also be a catchy headline on Twitter if you were tagging or personal messaging a reporter on Twitter. Make the subject line clever, but simple. Shorter is better, and if you’re not sure how it will display on mobile (which is where it is most likely to be previewed or deleted), send yourself a test to your mobile device. These days your subject line needs to be mobile friendly. You want that headline to display fully and grab the reporter to click and read more. Frankly it doesn’t matter what is in the email if the recipient never makes it past the headline. Do your research, and model the existing style for the particular media you are targeting with your pitch. Check what kind of headlines they write. Get creative and draft yours in a similar light. Just remember while clever is good, don’t over complicate it.

5. Keep the pitch short, simple and tight. If your communication is written poorly or is unclear, a reporter won’t have time for you. Make sure you tell the reporter what is in it for them and their audience right at the very beginning. Essentially respond to questions such as, why is this relevant, and why now? Try to make a human and emotional connection. Put a short bio and contact information at the end. The reporter will read the headline, if it captures their interest, they will skim the text. Keep all of this relatively short, and again, remember the context of mobile viewing. Send yourself a test copy. Did it grab you? How long did it take to skim the copy? Sometimes an image within the body of the email (no attachments!) can tell the story quickly and hit an emotional hot button. If you’ve got an image that tells the story in fewer words, by all means use it, but be sure to size it right for the email so it loads quickly and displays properly. Again, send yourself a test first to your mobile device.

Of course these points are just about how to get the reporters attention. There is a lot more to consider if you score coverage, especially if interviewed. Practice thinking and talking in sound bites, since your interview will likely be edited.

Content marketing & the REACH factor

It used to be that advertising was all about planning reach and frequency. To a certain extent it still is for paid efforts, but when you’re trying to milk free platforms, like your own anchored content through blogs and enewsletters, as well as social media, earned media and embedded editorial, REACH is the name of the game. You CAN control frequency of your own platforms, but not the frequency of earned media. And earned media is a major pillar in your media empire.

Media reach matters.

That point was driven home to me this past week. My son Alex Charleson is a professional longboard racer. He was the 2015 IDF World Junior Champion. We don’t get to choose what our kids get good at! He is currently ramping up for the world circuit, and in an effort to promote himself and benefit his sponsors who pay for his travel, he got his branding and media in order. Call it a prompt from Mom, and a little insider consulting advice. He now has his website up and running www.alexcharleson.com, and linked out and back to all his sponsors and social media channels. While doing that, he finally posted a video to Youtube that was shot last year in Colorado. That prompted the guy who shot and edited it to submit the video to “People are awesome” which has a substantial media reach through Facebook (over 3 million who follow the page and receive daily featured videos), Youtube (with over 1.1 million subscribers) and the www.peopleareawesome.com website  (with over 3.6 million subscribers) and countless media features on platforms such as CNN, FOX, TED, Huffington Post, TIME and SUN media.

Low and behold, the video got featured April 27. Link here and scroll to that date to watch it.

My son got the heads up it was being featured about 8 hours after it was posted. The friend from Sweden who had filmed and edited it was a few time zones ahead of him. I watched it on Facebook over coffee in the morning and then shared with friends. It was at 164,000 views, which I thought was pretty remarkable. I went to refill my coffee, and then checked back on the post. It had gone to 167,000 views – up 3,000 in about 2 minutes. That’s when I went investigating the REACH of this channel and was blown away. Within 24 hours it had gone to 276,000 views. Currently it sits at over 335,000 views.

PeopleAreAwesome_FBpost Why the fixation on a longboarding video?

Besides being out marketed by an 18 year old, which still hadn’t had a shower that morning, he had taught me an incredibly important lesson.

The REACH of your media matters. Few of us have platforms with that kind of subscriber base, but if we can tap into earned media with that kind of reach, their vehicle will do all the heavy lifting for us. All apparently while you’re taking a shower!

We of course want to build our owned media platform reach as well as followers on social media platforms, but at the end of the day, we’re unlikely to have the same degree of reach and influence as an established media player. So why not focus on getting earned media on those big number platforms, and then share it out on our other channels – our owned and rented platforms?

In Canada those big reach players might include: The Globe and Mail, Canadian Living, CBC, Huffington Post or Buzz Feed. In the United States CNN, Fox, NBC, the New York Times and Time magazine are but a few. Obviously crazy popular video sharing platforms fall into the mix too. I am now officially addicted to “People are awesome” for my daily adrenaline dose!

Content marketing: A strategic slow boil to sales success

Content marketing is when you produce content (articles, images, videos, podcasts, white papers, info graphics, blog posts, books etc) or earn coverage that is tied to your brand, and distributed in such a way that it positions you well in the mind of your target consumer, and over time it causes them to do business with you.

Think of it as a slow boil.


Here are 5 tips to becoming more effective at using content marketing as a strategy.

1. Know your audience. Who do you serve? You need to know whom you are speaking to, because that will drive both the message and content as well as the media choices. Is it B2B or B2C? Think demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioural profiles.

2. What are their needs? This will drive the content. If you’re selling cosmetics to teen girls you might produce videos about how to apply eyeliner. If you’re a realtor you might show before and after staging photos to sell a home. If you’re a landscaper, you might share helpful spring pruning tips. You get the idea. Content marketing should be valuable to your target audience.

3. Where do they hang out? This will drive your media choices. To a certain extent some of your choices for producing useful content will drive your media used, but this step needs to be purposeful. I suggest you consider what combination of owned, rented, earned, embedded and paid media will work best. If you want to learn more about these concepts, link here. Essentially you want to think strategically about what platforms are going to have the greatest clout with your target audience. For my particular audience it is a combination of an enewsletter, blog and several published books (owned), LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (rented), news features such as CBC, BC Business (earned), writing articles for publications Huffington Post and Business in Vancouver (embedded), and strategically boosting Facebook posts and Google ad words, as well as traditional direct mail (paid).

4. Outline your content and media-planning calendar. Once you know who your audience is, what they need, and where they hang out, it’s then a matter of mapping it all. This is where you can refine it even more. Perhaps they need certain content at particular times of the year. Diarize a cycle that you will contact media with an earned media pitch. I readily admit to having a plan and then deviating from it sometimes. I think you need the flexibility to respond to timely events that may be of interest to your audience. Ditto when pitching media.

5. Manage your time. I diarize days and time to write weekly, since that is my primary content marketing tool. What you do will vary. I also suggest diarizing when you will post content to social platforms. Tools like Hootsuite are great for helping you schedule time released content all in one go. I set my stuff up weekly and then leave it alone. Social media can be a huge time waster. I suggest focusing only on those platforms that really matter to your audience, and use scheduling and dashboard management tools to minimize the time to set it all up and monitor it. It can take time to contact media pitching an idea, but the resulting coverage if earned, can be very valuable. This is especially true once you re-purpose it through your other owned and rented channels.

Of course you might have a few other ideas to add. Feel free to comment if you’ve found something particularly effective!