The future is not more of the past, of what worked. Even if it is still working a little bit today, it will soon be quite obsolete in every regard. You know that as a consumer, yet the leap has not quite been made by marketers. Why?
First off, a few questions:
- When was the last time you felt engaged with a product or service as a direct and sole result of marketing?
- Since when has it been enough to announce a new product and service and just stand back and take orders?
- Where are we with the issue of control? Who's in charge? Does the question confuse you a little?
- Does a press release get you going on checking out a product? You can be open with me, I won't mind learning what you really think.
- More importantly, even in a social media format, is a press release enough to get the conversation going?
You get the idea.
A Riff on PR
I receive a lot of press releases from agencies. Nothing unusual there, if you have a blog with a pulse you probably do, too. What I find interesting is that when I review a product or a service on my own - something I have found through research, or a referral - the follow up from the company I mention is usually a push - sometimes gentle, sometimes pretty hard - in the direction of the pitch.
Help me out here, if I just posted about your product or service, why would you pitch me harder? And why do so off line, by email? Come on in and comment in the post, share a story, provide more information that is useful to my readers. Are we still thinking that the blogger is a journalist and they will need to do the work to rewrite or repackage from an interview? Why? 2.0 = two people, you can be one of them. Be my guest!
Everyone talks about them as an example, it's not by chance. They get it. The communicators who talk on behalf of Dell have not once tried to comment off line. Every single time I have published a review, a story, an example or a question about Dell, they have joined the conversation online - with me and my readers. All the way to the higher levels in the organization.
This is PR 2.0, ladies and gentlemen. If it feels a little scary, it may be because you have little practice. Try it, you'll like it. It will strengthen your core, just like Pilates.
An Example of PR 2.0
Or the new PR, if you prefer. The company itself is already active in social media. Many on staff are involved, engaged in the community, and engaging. They also have a PR agency. One of those that get it (it will become apparent why shortly). A team like that of SHIFT Communications, Livingston Communications, or Every Dot Connects for example. Insert here your own examples, please. We need more of this kind of firm.
The client and agency work together and in concert with each other. In fact, the agency is more in the background in this case. Shall we talk about SavvyAuntie? Melanie Notkins has provided the perfect example of what that looks like. After the launch of her new beta site, Melanie has received a number of favorable reviews and has done a flurry of interviews. I know she works with a PR agency because she mentioned it in our talks for the interview I published today at Marketing 2.0. I dealt with her directly.
The reason is that we already know each other from Twitter. As to the reason why Melanie was able to get so much coverage right at the July 9 launch date, she said:
I met Adam Hirsch, COO of Mashable, and Brett Petersel, Events Director at Mashable, at the Jeff Pulver Media Breakfasts in New York City. I met Eric Kuhn there on a separate occasion. Each one of them has been a supporter of me and my dreams as an “auntrepreneur” since our first meeting. These guys are men to watch in the social media world; while all only in their 20s, they have managed to carve out immense careers for themselves by being smart and generous with their network and their support.
While I never met founder of TechCrunch, Michael Arrington, in person, we did share a few direct messages via Twitter. And while I would love to say that that relationship helped with my placement in TechCrunch, it was his eagle-eyed blogger Calley Nye, who picked up and ran with the story, interviewing me the day before launch.
Read more at Marketing 2.0. It's all connected. A blogger takes the initiative, two young entrepreneurs stay in touch, an influential publication triggers more coverage, etc. It sounds a lot like word of mouth, doesn't it?
Is Marketing playing second fiddle, then?
Not quite, but it is becoming clear to me that it's leaning towards more than just artificially constructed interactive. More like a game that is built and evolved by the participants. Over a week go, Tim Brunelle unveiled one his company created to celebrate their one year anniversary. Viking Smackdown has already gathered more than 25,000 players and is still ranked as a "staff favorite" within the web-apps on the Apple App Store.
Tim also reports that their logs indicate that quite a few people are playing the game more than an hour at a time. That is addictive.
Broadening the conversation to the future of advertising, I tempted the MarketingProfs Daily Fix crowd with the thought that it might very well be playing games. I had fewer takers than I would have anticipated. That's probably because we're not the crowd these games are attracting. How about Gen Ys and Millennials?
The key to games is engagement. In the post I provide the example of the Ultimate Flirt Facebook appl from V05 as a successful branded application. It's a branded community/game built around the competition to become the Ultimate Flirting Champion. Users engage and interact in a rich manner by answering a Flirt Question of the Day, rating each other on how datable they are, sending each other Flirt Gifts, uploading pictures, messaging each other, and much more.
A few numbers: the application has nearly 300,000 total users with an average of 5,000+ users that are active each day, and it has in one month generated over 2,000,000 page views. [developed by Stuzo, Inc. and promoted by Appssavvy]
Games are portable, they are open ended in that you can start a new one or choose to play one at about any time, they are social, and they are fun. Online, you can really see what sticks and what generates traffic and interest. They can also be a great vehicle for peer to peer conversations, or word of mouth. They are tools in the hands of the influenced rather than the influentials and have a better likelihood of spreading for that reason.
You see how some of these dynamics have evolved the way we interact and how the product or service has now gone back to being the social object, to put it in Hugh MacLeod's terms, a reason to talk about what we love doing and who we are.
This is where we're heading. So before you start doing Marketing and PR 2.0, pause and ask yourself: is your product in the right category with your marketing and PR ambition? Enterprise 2.0 anyone?
[cartoon designed on the back of a business card by Hugh MacLeod]