Friday, 12 February 2010

Newsletter Issue 179, February 2010



Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 179, February 2010
Hi guys,
Do you have the magic knack of Creating An Angle for Media Releases? Read on below to find out.
Have you updated your strategic plan lately? If not, try creating a Short & Snappy Strategic Plan
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Creating An Angle for Media Releases

Malcolm Gladwell's book “The Tipping Point” is based on the premise that there is always a paradigm shift in the life cycle of a message where it either fades or goes pandemic. Where it goes pandemic, the tipping point is traceable to a few people who changed their behaviour due to the message, before spreading like a virus (this is a very interesting book, by the way).
How you get your key message out there is the tricky bit; how you get any key message picked up by the media, by your customers and by your evangelists so that it can be spread. Your hook needs bait, or an 'angle' in media parlance.
Here are six tips for coming up with an angle:
  1. Be current. Watch that media agency's news for hot topics, and angle your company's findings, opinions, or expertise that creates a fit between your product and the agency's target audience. For example, if a number of local camp grounds have had norovirus, and your company provides sanitation products, call the agency and tell them you have some information on how viral transmission and five tips on dramatically reducing infection. It may be information refuting recent research, or showing how a current business trend is affecting this agency's target audience. If the journo you need to contact isn't there, leave a message and follow up with an email containing your press release. Then when the media agency has their programme meeting, your contact may come up - and then you are in.
  2. Watch trends. For longer term issues, use a global trend following agency like Trendwatching.com to see what new things are on the horizon, such as the greening of markets following the global recession and consumers desires to reduce their footprint. So when you have a new product to sell that has a markedly long battery-life, a reduction in power, or a large portion of recycled materials in its construction (as long as your claims are genuine), you can summarise the trend, quoting Dutch company trendwatching.com BV, then hook your story onto it. If you tie your story in well to a global trend, they may book you for several weeks or months later - or even bank you for a slow news day.
  3. Write as the media agency's supplier. Whoever you are submitting your release to isn't interested in making you money or getting you more customers. They want info in a format useable to them, that will help them do their job with least effort; stories will be engage their followers and make their editor ecstatic. They want the details that will help them craft a good story - they don't want to get sued and lose. You can provide controversy - in the media, "if it bleeds, it leads" - but be accurate when you do it, so the media don't get egg on their face.
  4. Solve a problem. Think about the media agency's target audience. What problems do they have that you can solve with your product? Craft your media release around that - but be genuine. Your message must be authentic, consistent and honestly aligned with your brand, delivery and other marketing efforts. This can't be a hard sell, or an ego trip; it needs to be about providing information for the target audience, and you meeting their needs.
  5. Human interest. Telling the story of someone's good fortune often makes it to the newspaper. So writing the story of someone who has won a package from your firm, especially with images of them using their winnings can be a great way of getting your name in the media. This may equally be someone at your firm who has won a grant (get them photographed at work) or whom you have sponsored to attend something significant, or that your organisation is sponsoring a community event or facility. When you give, you have the right to tell your story.
  6. Images. If you have photos or video images of people using your product, looking at these this may provide you with a marketing angle that you haven't previously explored. Don't forget to provide story-related captions for your images; the media then have the whole job done for them other than editing; if it is a slow news day, you might get lucky.
David Mink of Dream Systems Media believes that a great angle is a two step process. Firstly, you have to understand your own marketing strategy. Secondly, you have to find a unique way to manipulate your chosen strategy. David quotes the company Privacy Wear on his blog at http://www.dreamsystemsmedia.com/blog/index.php/finding-the-right-marketing-angle-for-your-business/ saying that for PRVCY their marketing strategy was capturing the attention of the media; their manipulation tactic was in celebrities buying PRVCY clothing - buying into the brand and becoming brand evangelists initially through the double entendre "I want my Privacy" tee shirts - rather than celebs being paid to wear it.
If you aren't confident about preparing a media release yourself, see a communications consultant for help :-)


Short & Snappy Strategic Plan

I was just reading an article on CEO Online about having a one page strategic plan (http://www.ceoonline.com/browse.aspx?ContentID=id31035). The article related the benefits of having all your key performance indicators and so forth on one single page.
Do you have a strategic plan? If you do, is it longer than a page? If it is one of those tomes that you could use as a doorstop, it is probably very little use to you. If the information can't be found quickly, chances are that it will never be referred to - and then all the time and the skull sweat that you put into preparing it were wasted.
When I prepare a strategic plan for a client, their vision, their mission, their values and their current year strategic goals and KPIs (key performance indicators) are always on just one page. This one page is effectively a checklist of all the business' key information. It becomes your overall rule of thumb to test any organisational decisions against to ensure fit with what you do now, and what you will be doing in the future.
The strategic plans I prepare usually look like a flowchart (take a look at the sample here, which covers 5 years; the current year on the first page, year 2 on the second, years 3 to 5 on the third).
Your key components are:
  • Vision. A future challenge that everyone in the organisation can believe in - an attractive, ideal future that is credible but yet not readily available. ONE SHORT SENTENCE. The vision grows & changes.
  • Mission. What you do now, your core broad purpose & reason for existence. Sometimes called your spiritual DNA. The mission endures.
  • Values. Your "institutional standards of behaviour”, beliefs that have worth, merit, and importance; how you do things around here.
  • 3 to 5 Business Themes with Goals & KPIs. These are areas of focus for the business, such as Clients, Manufacturing, Staff, Finance, Governance; or Customers, Marketing, Service, F&A (Finance & Administration). Each strategic goal should have a deadline, a dollar value and someone responsible for it, listed on the plan.
And remember two great acronyms; ensure your goals are SMART - Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely, and KISS: Keep It Simple, Smarty!

Outlook's Reply to All

We’ve all done it - clicked the "Reply To All" button instead of just "Reply".
Most of the time (apart from spamming all your friends!), it doesn’t matter. However, sometimes the sending of confidential information to the wrong recipients can have serious legal ramifications - either for yourself, or for your company.
TechRepublic has a great tip for removing the "Reply To All" tool from your toolbar at http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/msoffice/?p=2393&tag=nl.e056, still leaving the hot key shortcut behind, so if you need to use Reply to All, you still can by keying Ctrl, Shift & R.
TechRepublic's instructions for removing Reply To All are:
  1. On the Standard toolbar, click the drop-down control at the far right of the toolbar.
  2. Choose Add Or Remove Buttons.
  3. Select Standard.
  4. From the resulting list, uncheck Reply To All.
  5. Repeat the steps 1 to 4 again for the message window. You must remove "Reply to All" twice though - once from the Standard toolbar in the main window and once from the Standard window in the message window.
So easy when you know how :-)

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) for you:
  • SKU, Stock Keeping Unit. A unique identifier for each product or service line that can be purchased from a company.

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
In this newsletter, we are take a look at all you can do in Word with the Page keys:
  • Word "Move cursor to the end of a window while working" Alt & Ctrl & Page Down
  • Word "Top of Window" Alt & Ctrl & Page Up
  • Word "End of Window Extend" Alt & Ctrl & Shift & Page Down
  • Word "Start of Window Extend" Alt & Ctrl & Shift & Page Up
  • Word "Move to end of column or last cell in a column when working within a Table" Alt & Page Down
  • Word "Move to start of column or first cell in a column when working within a Table" Alt & Page Up
  • Word "End of Column" Alt & Shift & Page Down
  • Word "Start of Column" Alt & Shift & Page Up
  • Word "Move to the top of the next page or to the next tab on a tabbed dialog box" Ctrl & Page Down
  • Word "Move cursor's position to the top of the previous page" Ctrl & Page Up
  • Word "Scroll down one screen or toward the end of a Help topic in larger increments or In Print Preview, move forward by one preview page when zoomed out" Page Down
  • Word "Move up one screen or toward the beginning of a Help topic in larger increments or In Print Preview, move back by one preview page when zoomed out" Page Up
  • Word "Extend the selection one screen down" Shift & Page Down
  • Word "Extend the selection one screen up" Shift & Page Up

Hot Linx
NZ company Pokono has teamed up with a US company ShopBot to form a JV at http://www.100kgarages.com/ where you can find someone to turn that better mousetrap that you have buried in your head into reality, and have the world beat a path to your door.
If you are a Firefox user and haven't discovered all the cool shortcuts you can use with the mouse & key combos yet, check out Mozilla's site for details at http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/Mouse+shortcuts
Those of you Sci Fi fans (not fantasy) who haven't read James White's Sector General series can check out the books and short stories at http://www.sectorgeneral.com/index.html. He is a very good read if you haven't read him.
To add a bit of structure to your health regime in 2010, head on over to thecarrot.com and take the guided tour of what they offer at http://thecarrot.com/index.php?m=page&a=tour&modMode=p1#

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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