Monday, January 20, 2014

What Works - and What Doesn't - Blog Hop


by Kim Van Sickler

January 20
Here are our hosts: 

I used to work in marketing. Marketing other people and organizations. And I was pretty good at getting those people/entities what they wanted. 

But out of everything I learned, here are the two most important pieces of advice I have to give.

1. If you are trying to spur someone to take action, they need to hear your message repeatedly before they do it. Of course, it depends what you want your audience to do. The more you are asking them to do, the harder you have to work to get a response, but you increase your chances if you 
a) don't ask for a lot of effort, 
b) ask for something they are prone to want to do anyway, 
c) and present your request/idea in a fun/interesting way 
d) in a number of different forums frequented by your target audience.

I've heard that people need to hear a message ten times before they act on it. No one really knows the exact number, but the point is repetition, repetition, repetition. 

That doesn't mean run the same message verbatim. It does mean run different versions of it over and over again, and tap into a variety of media like newspapers, TV, radio, Internet, personal appearances. It is work. No doubt about it. And some people take to it like syrup to pancakes, while others don't.

This is the point where all of those wonderful relationships you've developed come in handy. Relationships with all types of people who are truly interested in what you do and who can help spread the word. 

2. Many local newspapers will print exactly what you send them, if it's relevant. Stories and pictures. (Just make sure the photos are high quality.) Again, keep your audience in mind. My daughter just held an open house for the community as part of earning her Gold Award in Girl Scouts. So we took a picture of the historical building she helped renovate and invited people to drop by. The newspaper ran everything, word for word, as we sent it. And when we held a badge event for Junior Girl Scouts where everyone stepped back in time to 1896, and took an eye-catching picture, it was a no-brainer to send that to the paper too. 

Results: Local residents stopped by the Grange building, clutching the newspaper article, and asked for my daughter to take them on a tour of the building. She was thrilled. The building's co-curators were stunned that so many people visited. Our invited guests drank all of our punch, and ate all of our cookies, and asked lots of questions. It was a truly successful event. But we didn't just rely on that press release. We began by scheduling the event on the same day and the same place as another annual event for civic leaders. Our open house would begin four hours before the second event, and end at the same time the other event started. We prepared an invitation to run on local cable access TV, announced the event on Facebook, personally invited everyone we thought should be there, and talked up the open house at service unit-wide Girl Scout meetings. In fact, one Brownie troop decided to conduct their Girl Scout meeting at the open house. 

As an extra bonus, an aide to one of our state senators saw the article and e-mailed me asking if Claire would like a Senate proclamation recognizing her accomplishment.

Yes, she would! She was over the moon.

As far as the back-in-time event, our goals were to a) document that the event took place for the Gold Award committee, b) reward the attendees with a picture of themselves and c) promote Girl Scouts in our community. The photo was a concrete way to illustrate the occasion for the Gold Award committee. The girls who attended were thrilled to see themselves in the paper. And although we don't have hard numbers, we know that every time we show scouts in action in the community, we find more girls who want to sign up. (Our PR problem isn't finding scouts, it's finding adults willing to lead scout troops, but that's a different post. And the subject of another PR campaign.)

What are some of the things you've tried that have garnered you publicity?

53 comments:

  1. What an awesome experience for your daughter!

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  2. Great advice, Kim. And I agree that you shouldn't try to get people to do too much. That's when I stop reading.

    And awesome how you used what you know to help market the Girl Scouts event.

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    1. It's easy when you're excited about something to forget that people have their own lives and your project really isn't at the top of their list. So simple requests are the best, and if you want people to attend an event, it better deliver in the fun and good value departments. Thanks, Natalie!

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  3. You have some great pointers here. Your daughter's sense of achievement would be high, since your efforts turned out to be a major success.

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    1. She really was pleased how everything turned out. If we didn't work so hard to attract attendees and hardly anyone showed, she would have had a very different experience, and it wouldn't have been a good one, although I suppose it would have been educational. (Learn from your mistakes.) We like this result better. :-)

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  4. That is a great experience and share thank you... some wonderful points.

    Jeremy H.

    There's no earthly way of knowing.
    Which direction we are going!
    [Being-Retro]

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  5. Excellent post, Kim! I used to work for newspapers and, especially in this day and age, editors are so busy and short-staffed that they'll use pretty much any submitted article! Very good, inspiring advice here, thanks.

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    1. Yep, then you know, Cathy. Those busy and short-staffed components can definitely work in our favor if we're willing to put forth a little effort. :-)

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  6. Awesome! I completely see what you mean about multiple avenues and regular repetition. Even with my soft audience it's taking the recommended number of exposures.

    Congrats to your daughter! What a wonderful accomplishment, and to have that on your record/resume growing up? Awesome.

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    1. You know about the repetition with that successful book blog tour of yours...I really admire the creative way you handled the Moonless PR parade.

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    2. Aw, thanks! It was a total blast, but such a crazy one. I would totally be fitted for the life--hosting tours for people, but I'd rather write. (If you know what I mean.)

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  7. I shudder at those numbers a person sees something before they act on it though I've heard it before. What a great plan with your daughter's project. I'm hoping the big event we have planned in February with other authors goes as well.

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  8. Susan, I know! It can be intimidating.

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  9. That's cool the article worked so well.
    That's one of the things I said today about blog tours - make the message different every time.
    Thanks for participating in the symposium.

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  10. How amazing for your daughter!

    I've tried to contact local newspapers, but haven't had any luck yet. Maybe I'll try sending them a short article and picture and see what happens. Thanks for the tips!

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    1. Hi Chrys,
      I was a Communications major in college. I was taught how to write a press release, but I've found that writing the article for the paper is the most effective way of getting published. As Cathy Olliffe-Webster said above, newspaper reporters and editors are overworked and underpaid. They're also inundated with information people send them to run in their paper. Is the paper going to send a reporter out to cover a fluff event, or craft a story for you rather than all of the other people who are vying for space, or is it going to run a polished piece that's good to go? Most papers choose the latter. Good luck!

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    2. Chrys - I was a journo, and sometimes you wanted to cover an event, but already have a bigger story to work on, and it's such a pity to let it go. It helped a lot when comms people sent my news editor a unique story, polished, with pics. Then we didn't feel like publication was losing out.

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  11. Congratulations to your daughter! Nice to know how that went.

    I've heard about making someone hear the message repeatedly before they act on it. TV ads are also done that way.

    Good tips. Thanks!

    The Musings of a Hopeful and Pecunious Wordsmith

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    1. Exactly. Advertisers know to pound their messages into our brain until we remember them. Writers need to do the same thing without the big budget. Easy, right? LOL

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  12. Sending to local news outlets is a great idea! I gotta see how I can incorporate that...

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)

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    1. Good luck! Keep it short and reader-centric.

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  13. Great information. I love how you show us what your daughter did for her open house and that she received a proclomation recognizing her accomplishment - that is so awesome!

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    1. Kimberly, the proclamation was the unexpected coup d'etat. :-)

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  14. that's awesome! and definitely news worthy! i have it on my list to contact local news mags and papers, just need to stop acting like molasses and be the syrup! ha! great advice!

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  15. Thank you so much for sharing that - what a wonderful event and so well planned! Your daughter deserves to be over the moon and you must be proud so proud. But you're right for a successful event planning is the key. It doesn't just happen. My paper actually has a book section and a writer who posts the articles, I've been able to get three articles about me and my books because I sent a well prepared press release with picture. Great advice! Thanks for participating!

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    1. Sounds like you've already figured it out! Thanks for co-hosting!

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  16. will forward this to a friend who is just now considering a marketing plan. Thanks and congrats to your daughter.

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    1. Hi Carol!
      Tell her to hop around to the other blogs participating in this marketing blog-hop too. There's some good advice out there, exp. about blog hops and Internet marketing.

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  17. What a neat success story you share here. Press releases and public PR are key elements of marketing. Your story shows how helpful they can be.

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  18. Congratulations to your daughter! Getting the message out many times in different ways is a good tip!

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  19. I think the hard part for me is the repetitiveness of it. How much is communicating the message so they take action, and how much of it is just boring people who are sick of hearing me talk about my books? So I end up erring on the side of caution and not repeating the message enough, I think.

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  20. Apparently Marketing & Writing Fiction are different animals. My current revision suggestions include examples of where I repeated something (but in different words) for emphasis, and I am asked to avoid doing this.

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    1. Ha, ha! Totally different animals, Kathy!

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  21. Hi Damaria!
    I think the key is repeating your message, but in fun and different ways. Don't repeat it verbatim every time. For a really creative way to get us interested in reading her new book, take a look at the flash fiction film-style blog interview Crystal Collier gave here: http://mpaxauthor.com/2013/11/21/moonless-in-clips-crystal-collier-wishes-the-moon-was-made-of-cheese/

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  22. Wow, what a great experience for your daughter! That's awesome. Thanks for sharing these tips. :)

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  23. wonderful advice and your daughter must have had quite the time!! so glad I found your blog! newest follower, hi!!!

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  24. Thanks for dropping by, Tammy. I returned the favor on your fun blog and signed up for Crystal's Moonless book tour next month.

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  25. Congrats to your daughter!
    Okay, let me see, so the keyword is repetition... but the tricky part is not boring the recipients.
    So creativity and innovation are needed. Got it.
    Thanks for sharing, Kim!

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    1. Not hard for a writer, right, Michelle? Except that we tend to want to spend more time writing than promoting our writing.

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  26. I like your emphasis on how much people have to hear something for it to sink in. So as marketers, we can't ever give up! Thanks for sharing your experience, I've really enjoyed visiting and discovering new blogs through the symposium.

    Cheers!
    Karen

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    1. Thanks for swinging by, Karen. It was great to meet you!

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  27. Those of us who are pretty much allergic to marketing, or feel ineffective at it, appreciate these tips. But I really have to vouch for point #2. I found out long ago that the local papers will print pretty much what you give them, word for word. It's good to know. And as a consumer, I very much believe point #1. You do have to see something several times -- but in different ways and venues! -- before you get up off it and act. It's just how people are.

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    1. Yes! It helps in all of our marketing efforts if we think about what we're doing and then ask ourselves, "Would this campaign influence me?" and if the honest answer is no, then, "How can I present this that would catch MY attention." Usually more creativity, presenting in more venues, and more repetition is needed.

      I've got a hundred books I want/need to read, but which one to read next? I ended up selecting George Saunders "The Tenth of December" because it is getting the most amazing press (print, radio, Twitter, blog, word of mouth, etc). It became number one on my radar.

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  28. Congrats on your daughter's Senate proclamation! You and your daughter are a great team, and I'm glad that her Girl Scouts event was a huge success! Excellent planning using multiple mediums!

    Julie

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    1. Thanks, Julie. I hope it's a milestone that she looks back on fondly in the years to come. And it would be great if Scouts is an activity she engages in and makes memories with her daughter too.

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