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.

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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!

Great brands always have a story

Branding is about more then image recognition for customers. Great brands give their customers something to belong to and talk about. They always have a story.

I was reminded of that last week while in Ontario cottage country visiting relatives and friends before returning to Toronto for some business meetings.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess many reading this have never been to Magnetawan. But those that have will likely know the iconic history of “Downtown Magnetawan” shirts. If you’ve been to the Mag, you likely own a shirt. And if you own a shirt you share the same story and knowledge of the place with others who have been there. Downtown Magnetawan is of course an oxymoron. You could blink and miss it, but that’s the point. This little town of 300 has a global brand. And it all started with a t-shirt.

For years the Downtown General Store sold the shirts. It was the kind of place that proudly boasted “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it” which pretty much summed up their approach to retailing. They had it all. Including the sought after shirts at the front, and a shrine of photos that people had sent them, sporting their shirts in places all over the world. Even former US president Jimmy Carter was pictured wearing one.

downtown_mag_shirt_sign

On two occasions, once in France and the other time in New Zealand, while wearing a Downtown Magnetawan shirt, I had a complete stranger run up to me and tell me they’d been there, which then provoked a conversation of our shared stories anchored in this little town.

Those that wear the shirt have a shared story. They’re members of a global tribe. And they always have an emotional connection to the place and their time there.

Unfortunately the General Store burned down in 2011, and with it the shirts, and the shelves of photos of people wearing them all over the world, methodically collected and display over the years. In a curious twist of small town politics, the Trademark to produce them remained dormant for five years, further adding to the story. Those that had a shirt then became part of history briefly locked in time. Thankfully this year the Home Hardware store in town acquired the rights to produce the shirts once again, and they are now proudly building up that photo shrine, selling the shirts in store and online, as well as helping people share their stories and photos through a Facebook page and the use of hashtags on Twitter @DTmagnetawan and Instagram.

downtown_mag_shirts_instore

So what’s the learning in all this?

1. Great brands always have a story. Downtown Magnetawan shirts had humble beginnings in a small town, and became a global brand simply through brand ambassadors wearing them in their travels. That’s a cool story. What’s the story around your brand?

2. Secrecy adds value. Everyone loves a secret, and if those in the know share knowledge about the brand not widely available, except to members of the tribe, it further ads to the appeal. Many people have a hard time pronouncing the name. It’s right up there with Penetanguishene, also in the area. But those who have been there can say it. Being so small, it’s a wonder that so many people have been drawn there from afar, but that is simply part of the secret of its appeal. Magnetawan is a town that joins Ahmic Lake and Lake Cecebe, a beautiful part of cottage and lake country.

3. Give people a way to share their story around the brand. For years the photo shrine helped tell the story of Downtown Magnetawan shirts, but now it is also told through online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

So there you have it. A story and a secret, and a way to share it among members of the tribe. Could great branding really be that simple?

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

Surfing_suit

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.

Reason2Share.

 

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.

What is your flag? Who do you serve, how do you do it, and why?

A flag is a symbol. It’s a highly recognizable label of a country or an organizations brand. As such, that brand reflects the values, beliefs and character of the nation or the group. As a Canadian I fly the red and white maple leaf. These days it has come to represent freedom, compassion and inclusiveness. That give me pride because it aligns with my values.

o-CANADA-FLAG

But how would you define your PERSONAL flag?

Your personal flag summarizes what you stand for, your ideals and why others should gather around you. Really it comes down to responding to three simple questions:

Who do you serve?
How do you help?
Why do you do it?

This week, I invite you to take 10 minutes and make some notes. Try to answer these three questions in a tight, and quantifiable manner. To get things rolling, here is how I define my purpose and my flag.

  • I serve entrepreneurs, marketing managers, students and anyone who wants to market their business or ideas.
  • I speak, write and consult, but ultimately teach and inspire.
  • I help you connect what you do well with an audience that cares. It’s about helping you sell your products, services or ideas.
  • I do it through teaching, consulting, speaking and writing.
  • I share, so others can be successful. That’s what gets me up in the morning.

But I’d like to also add a fourth question for you to consider…

  • Is what is on my “to do list” today advancing those goals? I’d like to suggest that if it’s not, get it off your list!

I have to admit, this is one I struggle with daily, but being crystal clear on my flag and purpose certainly does help keep the meaningful stuff in focus.

What Crocs, Uggs and Earth Shoes can teach us about good marketing

I distinctly remember the season I spent walking up hill. It was the year that earth shoes were all the rage. For those who weren’t yet born, or would just like to forget them, earth shoes had a sole with a higher rise at the front than the back. The width of the toe was also decidedly broad, presenting a less then sleek and glamorous look poking out from your jeans. Thank goodness flares were also in fashion, or we might all have looked like clowns. Take that back, I think I did anyway. Graced with size 11 feet at the age of 12, the variety of available sizes for my footwear fashion choices peaked early and has been pretty much in decline ever since!

But back to earth shoes. They were ugly, but they sold like hot cakes.

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Just like Crocs, those very comfortable, colourful, holey things that really don’t belong in the same sentence as fashion.

crocsLikewise for Uggs, a decidedly bizarre hot weather footwear choice to emerge out of Australia that became all the rage with teen girls a couple seasons ago.

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Each of these three items touted comfort over style, but in evoking desire for their comfort attributes, they became stylish despite themselves. Such is the strange world of marketing and creating demand.

What might we learn from Uggs, Crocs and Earth Shoes for our own marketing?

1. You can create desire for almost anything with good marketing.

2. But nobody will buy your product or service more then once if it doesn’t do what is promised.

While simple enough in principle, in practice we often overlook number 2, thinking that number 1 is where our efforts should be. Summed up another way – get good first. Then worry about how to broadcast your value. This message becomes particularly important in an era where word of mouth and word of mouse (online through social channels and off line the good old fashioned way) is so important. It’s also where earned media kicks in when your business becomes newsworthy. And as regular readers will already know, that earned media then begs to be leveraged through your owned and rented channels.

Have you ever bought something because of really catchy advertising, then been disappointed in the product or experience? Likewise have you ever bought something and been absolutely delighted, and then gone off telling everyone?

It’s all about getting good first. That’s the best marketing out there.

 

Taking a risk! How a new audience can grow awareness and business

Last last week I conducted a little experiment. I was curious about expanding the audience for my written work about marketing in the Huffington Post. I usually publish to the business section, targeting an entrepreneur audience. However, this past week I did a personal branding piece and went on a bit of a rant about grammar, and how your written word in private and public forums is a reflection of your personal brand. I targeted millenials as the largest offenders in my piece. Admittedly it was a well-articulated rant, and a bit of a poke with a stick into the hive of 20-somethings. But here’s the key. With some trepidation, I deliberately left a grammar error in the article. I was hopeful that the editors at Huff Post would miss it – and they did. And so to press it went, fully exposed and vulnerable to criticism, with a piece about using good grammar, when I knew there was a mistake within it.

What I was counting on was a new audience sharing it, commenting, and being confident that eventually someone would find the mistake, out me on it, and the sharing would then accelerate even further.

Lower torso of woman standing with arms crossed

I had my fingers crossed that a 20 – something would be the one to find the error, and not one of my older, word-wise editing type colleagues. It went live on Huff Post Living section on Monday and generated considerable likes, share and lively discussion. And then on Wednesday, it exploded. A young gal in high school criticized me about using “poll” instead of “pole” in one sentence. Her millennial friends immediately pounced on board too, vindicated and adding to the discussion. Admittedly it was uncomfortable for a while, but I let it roll along before responding about the social experiment that had gone down, and then asked her if I might hire her! I have a number of clients who could use a good writer and proofer, and I was quite serious about connecting her to the opportunity.

If you’re curious to read the piece, “You’re being judged, you just don’t know it” – here’s the link. The grammatical error has since been revised however.

So what was at play here?

  • Exposure to a new section of Huff Post and by default a new audience interesting in personal branding.
  • Exposure of the Facebook post, Huffington Post article, my website and blog to a new audience.
  • But here’s the kicker: measureable spiked traffic to my “owned media platform”(website and blog), plus increased enewsletter sign ups, where I then get permission to engage one on one in the future. Experience has taught me that future business is generated from those that I engage with and share useful information on a regular basis. We buy from those that we know, like and trust.

My point with all this is – sometimes we need to shake things up and do something different to grow our businesses. And sometimes we need to take a risk, or become vulnerable. I’d love to hear about what risk you have taken that paid off for your business.

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.

Credibility_paid_media

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.