PR 2.0 and Online Marketing are Starting to Look Alike, Thanks to Gen Y

I’m beginning to realize that as much as PR and marketing folks don’t trust each other, the Maginot Line that separated them is starting to get a lot smaller.

And it’s all because of Generation Y.

Generation Y — people between the ages of 11 and 30 — have shunned traditional media and are regular consumers of online media. This is important, because Generation Y now outnumbers Baby Boomers, about 81 million to 78 million, depending on who you ask.

Gen Y consumes their media online: they read online newspapers instead of dead tree versions. They watch YouTube and Hulu.com, rather than traditional TV. They go out of their way to avoid marketing messages, rather than sit through 2 – 3 minutes of commercials (traditional “interruption marketing.”)

This has forced marketers to start reaching out to the Millennials where they are: video games, online videos, skate parks, social networks, and extreme sports sponsorships. They do this to build trust.

Public Relations 2.0 is all about building trust too. They use social media to expand their network to reach more consumers, and then try to create trust with the consumer. New marketing does exactly the same thing. They use social media, and try to build trust.

The ultimate difference is the motivation. Marketers try to make money for their clients, PR flaks try to get press for their clients.

I think we may see a day where PR and marketing agencies are no longer at odds, but begin cooperating, merging, or at least hiring someone from “the dark side” to handle that other side of the same coin.

Mea Culpa

We’re sorry. We made an error in judgment.

It was an enthusiastic error, and one that we made because we were excited.

We sent out an email to a list of our friends, acquaintances, social media contacts, and other people announcing the Twitter Marketing for Dummies book.

It’s my fault, I guess. This was my first book. I helped write it, and even though my name is not on the cover (see my previous post Ghostwriting for Dummies), I was still pretty excited.

I wrote half the book with Kyle Lacy over the summer, at the same time I was working on my own novel, running a new business, preparing to move, and trying to spend as much time with my family as possible. It’s been an exciting time.

I also asked my partners, Paul and Mike, to help spread the word. “Let’s send it to our contacts,” I said. So we did.

We had one complaint. Despite our best efforts to give readers the opportunity to opt out with our “Instant Unsubscribe” option, this person shared their unhappiness with receiving the email with complaints on Twitter. I did not know the answer to his question and provided a canned response. This made him angry. My partner Paul, did address the question directly, as he was already connected to the person on Linkedin.

Lesson learned. Despite knowing better, it is always best to be direct and answer a person’s question. If you don’t know, find the answer. “When in doubt, find it out”

(Their public grievances did work to our advantage, however, since they led to a big bump in traffic and a couple book orders. So I guess we should appreciate their public outcry.)

So, if you received our email and you didn’t appreciate it, please hit the “Instant Unsubscribe” link, and accept our apologies. Forgive me for my enthusiasm, it’s exciting publishing a book.

Ghostwriting for Dummies

I’ve got a confession to make. Okay, not so much a confession, since it’s already one of the worst kept secrets ever.

My name is Erik, and I’m a ghostwriter.

(“Hi, Erik.”)

You probably already knew that. I own a company that ghostwrites blogs for other companies. I recently wrote a humor novel about a ghost in Irvington, a historic neighborhood in Indianapolis. (Ghost. Writing. Get it?) I’ve even ghostwritten a number of speeches, including for two U.S. Congressional campaigns about 6 and 8 years ago.

I recently helped ghostwrite another book that I’m very proud to be a part of.

I helped Kyle Lacy write Twitter Marketing for Dummies. Actually, I wrote half of it.

Not many people will know it, especially because my name is not on the cover. (Because I’m a ghostwriter; we don’t get our names on covers.) However, my name is there in the acknowledgments, and there are a few places where Kyle and I have some back and forth with each other on Twitter. We also reference people in our made up tweets, like Doug Karr, Michelle Ball, Lorraine Ball, and a few others.

I was really pleased that Kyle asked me to be a part of the project. And I was honored that he thought enough of my writing skills to ask me to help.

So how well is this book going to do? We don’t know. We both have ideas of grandeur, of a wild book tour where social media noobies and spammers Internet marketers flock to the bookstore in droves, screaming our names. But we also know that the harder work is yet to come. Writing a book is easy, promoting it is where the real work comes in.

If only there was some way we could market the book to a lot of people, quickly, easily, and even for free. I wish someone would build a tool that would communicate with thousands of people simultaneously, in short text-based messages. If only, if only. . .

We’re also looking at speaking engagements and presentations to corporate groups, conferences, and of course, the screaming groupies. So if you know of any speaking opportunities where people want to know how to use Twitter for their online marketing, send Kyle (@KylePLacy) or me (@edeckers) a tweet and we’ll get in touch with you.

Kyle and I are already discussing another project or two we are considering. He’s got the connections, and I can type 95 words per minute; together, we’ve got the know-how about the subject matter. The world is our oyster, and we’re going to write about it.

BUY NOW! Twitter Marketing for Dummies at Amazon

What can American Business Bloggers Learn from the Irish?

Chris Baggott, friend and owner of Compendium Blogware, recently wrote about What can the Irish Teach American Business Bloggers?

Quite a lot, actually.

A survey from the Irish Internet Association shows that 39% of their respondents post several times a week, and that 50% of them spend up to four hours per week blogging.

Chris asked the question, how can Irish businesspeople justify this investment in time. Simple. They use it to generate business.

According to the IIA, they use blogging for:

  • a source for sales leads (here at Pro Blog Service, we get at least 2 leads per blog post. That’s why we do it, and we’re not even Irish.)
  • improving their company’s ranking in Google (nothing beats blogging for search engine optimization)
  • showing customers they’re experts in their sector (we write about blogging and social media. Guess what we’re good at.)

 

For Baggott, the most important question the IIA asked was “who is the target audience for your business blog?” For 89% of the Irish bloggers, it’s their potential customers. But according to a Forrester Survey, U.S. marketers say “brand awareness” is their primary reason to blog.

If you’re blogging for brand awareness, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. You put your logo on the side of a bus for brand awareness. You sponsor a little league team for brand awareness. You blog for search results and sales leads.

A brand is an emotional attachment between a customer and a company or product. It’s also the lame excuse marketers offer –– we’re building brand awareness –– for why they either can’t measure a marketing campaign or why that campaign didn’t work.

But you don’t build that attachment by telling people how great your product or company is. You build it by solving problems, answering questions, getting to know your customers, and letting them get to know you.

“Hey, lookit how great we are” won’t do that. “Here’s how you fix that” will.

Blogging is the best way to answer the “how” questions your customers have. You can create an entire knowledge base with a blog, doing nothing but answering questions from your customers, and dominate search results for your field. Because if one person has the question, others do too. Lots of others.

And those others are looking for the answers. They’re going to Google to find the answers, and Google is checking you out to see if you’re answering the question. If you’re not, they’re going to find someone who is.