Capture The Conversation

The Placement Crash – The Failure of PR in the Conversation World

Room 214, July 31, 2006

Traditional public relations yields a common problem I call the “Placement Crash,” which is like a sugar crash in business. You get a brief “high” of publicity, which bottoms out fast and leaves you with no lasting benefit.

Here’s how it works: Imagine that you land one big “media hit,” such as a Business Week article mentioning your company. This publicity lures volumes of new visitors to your web site.

…That’s great, IF your PR firm, online communications expert, or anyone in your marketing department planned ahead of time to Capture the Conversation during and after peak traffic to drive sales or solidify new business relationships.

Most companies – including yours, probably – don’t do that. Therefore, much of that wonderful web traffic gets wasted.

New visitors click away if you don’t engage them immediately. Every time that happens, your PR/marketing team is costing you an opportunity.

Don’t blame them, however. They’re just doing the job they’ve been trained to do. Unfortunately it’s only half the job that really needs to be done.

Most PR/marketing professionals are trained to attract attention (as media coverage), but not to turn attention into real results.

The key to truly successful media relations involving online media (such as your site) is to track sales, generate new leads, and – most importantly – engage in a meaningful conversation with new prospects.

Great media exposure does offer tremendous value. However, by itself it’s just not enough. You must also engage prospects and follow through. Fortunately, the Internet makes that easier than ever. Here’s how:

1. Make your site easy to find via a simple search in popular search engines such as Google.
2. Provide immediate access to critical decision-making information, presented using the customer’s perspective and language.
3. Use simple tools to nurture and follow online conversations, such as weblogs and forums. The content of these tools also becomes findable through online searches, widening your reach.

PR that clearly boosts the bottom line. Imaging this scenario: a new DNA testing company gains exposure on a leading national morning show. Before an audience of millions, the show’s anchor takes the test and discusses the health implications of genes and diet.

Of those millions of viewers, thousands visit the DNA testing company’s web site. When they arrive on the home page, they see a prominent link: “Learn more about our test featured on [name of show].” Beneath that, there’s an invitation to register to attend an upcoming free teleseminar with the company’s lead scientist, who will answer questions about the test and the science behind it.

Imagine that 700 people attend the teleseminar, and 200 of them purchased the test, yielding more than $40,000 dollars in sales!

Isn’t that a much better way to justify PR, compared to traditional monthly billing reports that attempt to justify the PR budget with antiquated, fuzzy measures such as Ad Value Equivalency?

A results-focused PR team can confidently state quantifiable, bottom-line results. That will get any executive’s attention – and respect.

I first introduced the The Placement Crash in the article Fire Your PR Firm, published in June, 2006. To view the extended original article visit

For the above scenario, we would use the following tools to capture the offline exposure and drive teleseminar traffic and track sales conversions:
Google Analytics – to track site visitor statistic, teleseminar sign ups and sales conversions
MovableType or WordPress – blog platforms to continue the conversation
AWeber – form capture and contact database application
AskDatabase – survey teleseminar participants on the top questions they would like answered
ReadyTalk – conferencing service, record as MP3 for playback or podcast.

PR 2.0 Essentials Guide

Room 214, July 25, 2006

Big kudos to Shift Communications for the release of their free PR 2.0 Essentials Guide.

Todd Defren and the team have taken the time to painstakingly research articles, topics and learnings about social media innovations.

We highly recommend you download the guide and read it now.

We’ll have to update our Fire Your PR Firm paper and put Shift Communications in there as a “smart pr firm” and capture the conversation evangelist.


Jupiter Research’s Blog Report

Room 214, July 19, 2006

JupiterResearch’s recent report stated that 34 percent of large companies are using weblogs and that number is likely to double by the end of the year. Personally, I believe that estimate to be high.

What many companies have already figured out is that blogging takes resources. The fact that large companies typically have more resources is great, but it is important that these resources are focused. Who will keep them focused? Who will train them what to be looking for, what tools to use, how to respond to existing online conversations in the blogosphere?

As we continue to provide blog implementation and podcasting services for our clients, we continue to learn more about what works and what doesn’t. In a world where it doesn’t take much to call yourself an “expert,” it’s always good to see what the real-world results are.

Capture the Podcasting Crowd

Room 214, July 14, 2006

According to the latest Nielsen/Netratings study, 6.6 percent of the US adult population, or 9.2 million Web users have recently downloaded an audio podcast; 4 percent, or 5.6 million, have downloaded a video podcast. Jason Lee Miller from Web Pro News offers a portrait of the average podcast listener/viewer:

– Between the ages of 18 and 44 (but mostly 18-34)
– Uses Apple’s Safari or Mozilla Firefox to browse
– For audio, visits Macworld, Lycos Wired News, Slashdot,, Apple and iTunes, likely in the 18-24 age group
– For video, visits,,, eMusic, and, more likely in the 25-34 age group

What the Nielsen/NetRatings study shows is that podcast listeners are the very lucrative 200+ Billion dollar 18-34 year old market segment. This segment is tech savvy, spend a great deal of time online and often have more $$ to spend.

For businesses or advertisers trying to target this lucrative 18-34 demographic, podcasting has become an important component to the marketing mix. Podcasting adds a voice to your message, boosts your credibility and adds a personal touch to your business. Some key elements of effective podcasts are:

– Provide unique content.
– Try to get people excited by the way you tell things.
– Talk about things that matter.

Probably the biggest reason for the growing popularity of podcasting is that it offers On Demand Listening. Podcasting allows listeners to time-shift and place-shift media consumption to listen at the most convenient time (using itunes to automatically receive updates, for example).

Google Adsense Link Units

Room 214, July 13, 2006

Google has been sending email updates regarding their latest Link Unit feature as part of their Adsense offering. Adsense is a small but growing revenue stream for Google that enables you to include Google ads on your website. See the ads placed on as an example. Each time someone clicks on the ad, you and Google get paid. Google handles the payment side of things and sends you a check each month.

With Google’s new Link Unit feature, you can place links to ads on your site without displaying the ads themselves. This provides a less obtrusive way to earn money from advertising on your website, and potentially a more relevant path for people to locate topic-specific information.

Why is this kind of thing important? Just ask someone like our good friend, Tim Carter, from who clears $30,000/month from Adsense revenues alone. There is also a growing population of companies from India who have come to rely on Adsense revenue to make up eighty percent or more of their entire operating incomes. Any advantage Google can offer to increase click through rates is a good one.

Using Radio to Drive Awareness – Internet to Capture the Conversation

Room 214, July 11, 2006

Reading the recent special issue of BtoB Magazine on marketing to vertical industries I came across Matthew Schwartz’s article “Radio still dials up small business at local level despite cable and Internet“. Matthew’s article was actually published in November of last year.

This article reminded me of the most common problem we see in Internet marketing today – lack of integration.

The article talks about how radio remains an excellent advertising medium for local businesses, and we agree. But, the gap needing to be crossed in marketing is the offline to online integration and conversion tracking gap.

This is one of the most common initial oversights we see in online marketing. A company will come to us and want to set up online marketing communications program, but they try to put the project on an island.

The fact is all of the offline and online mediums work best when working together. For instance, one can integrate a local radio advertising campaign, by providing a unique domain URL, to give out to the listening audience, and then tracking the visitors and conversions coming from that radio ad.

Not only should the domain specific URLs come in to play with radio, but also a local PPC campaign. So if someone heard your ad in the car on the way to work, but couldn’t quite remember the name of the company, or the URL but remembered the topic or subject, when they go to search for you online, your PPC ad should appear making it easy for them to find you.

These two simple offline/online integration tasks (domain specific URLs and Local PPC) can drive significantly more awareness and increase conversions for your radio campaign.

Word of Mouth – Facing the Reality

Room 214, July 9, 2006

Why might this be? In my personal experience, the trusted relationships I have are with people I most frequently see in person, or regularly speak with on the phone.

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Reasons Your Business Should NOT Blog

Room 214, July 7, 2006

B.L.’s March 29 post on 10 Reasons Your Company Shouldn’t Blog, is a litmus test for any company, or person seeking to enter the conversation through a blog.

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Database of Intentions

Room 214, July 5, 2006

Just a quick plug for David Leonhardt’s article in the New York Times today about using the new Google Trends functionality to begin predicting “what’s next.”

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Blogging Personal Experiences

Room 214, July 4, 2006

Having been in public relations for a number of years, we discussed three triggers: point, hook and illustration, needed to create a stimulating and engaging conversation.

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