The Matchbox.

Jun. 05

Are You A…Twammer?

Marketing and PR pros alike are constantly on the lookout for new, innovative ways to connect with their respective audiences—whether customers, prospects, partners or media. And while social media has proven to be yet another effective channel for business or media outreach, there is a fine line in using it respectfully. Because let’s face it, no one wants to be labeled a LinkedIn stalker or a “Twammer”—one who tweets spam messages at  rapid fire pace to many Twitter handles with a duplicate message.

To avoid fallout from these types of uncomfortable, over-usage social media scenarios, following are a few tried-and-true tips for staying within bounds for business outreach on social platforms.

1) Carefully Gauge Public Tweets – Using public tweets to retweet or to participate in dialogue on a relevant topic is fine, but tweeting the same pitch to a host of people one after another becomes obnoxious and shows your lack of professional courtesy. They will likely respond by tuning you out—and your credibility will certainly take a hit. Be sure to use the Direct Message option if your message only pertains to the person you’d like to contact.

2) Only Connect with Connections via LinkedIn – I cannot tell you how many LinkedIn connection requests I’ve received from people whom I’ve never met. It’s fine if a contact wants to introduce a mutual connection for networking purposes or you decide to connect with someone you just met at a conference, but the out-of-the-blue LinkedIn request is a definite no-no. Who knows how an unknown person will choose to exploit your network?

3) Avoid Facebook Fatigue – Facebook provides an opportunity to showcase both personal and professional posts, and there are appropriate times to repurpose select items from a business page on personal pages as well. However, avoid posting too many items at once as they will clog up readers’ newsfeeds and may result in an “unlike”.

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May. 12

What Is Mom’s Job?

With three little kids, I receive the most awesome handmade Mothers Day gifts – artwork and creations that I will forever cherish. This year, my sons (both 5) filled out a questionnaire about me at school. Question #3 reads, “What is Mom’s job?” One of my sons says, “to do the dishes,” and the other says, “telephoning and Interneting.” While both are very true, it brings to mind the misconceptions about a job in PR. My own mom, I think, finally understands what I do, but with terms like spin doctor, shows like Scandal (yea, I’m a fan) and the commoditization of content development, PR often gets a bad rap.

Here’s the beauty of a job in PR.
1. PR is showcasing expertise and knowledge.
2. PR is connecting journalists with valuable media resources.
3. PR is sharing the impact unique products/services can have.
4. PR is challenging the status quo.
5. PR is leveraging thought leadership across media channels.

Hope all the moms out there (in PR or not) had a relaxing, fun day hanging with those who made them a mom – the best job of all. ☺

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Apr. 22

Not Just Cute Cats, BuzzFeed Reaches Notable Growth

Simply stated, BuzzFeed’s success is impressive. The addictive news site has connected with a fast-growing global audience with breaking news and feature posts ranging from quirky to cute.

Why the fast success? BuzzFeed’s content is broad, yet article topics are very specific, speaking directly to groups of people, e.g., 26 Things Only Perpetually Tired People Will Understand, 23 Words Teenagers Love to Use And What They Really Mean. And, we can’t leave out 30 Reasons You Know You Work in PR.

Headlines are provocative, lists are relatable, the use of animated GIFS is hilarious and all of the above catch on like wildfire via social media. In fact, Facebook referrals represent the site’s biggest source of traffic, e.g., articles, polls, videos. From an advertising standpoint, BuzzFeed’s sweet spot is sponsored content that mimics the viral content usually published on the site.

In Nov. 2013, BuzzFeed reached 130 million unique global visitors and founder Jonah Peretti announced a number of growth initiatives, including an aggressive plan to hire more journalists focused on breaking and investigative news coverage. It is a big undertaking, can one media company communicate breaking news and quirky viral content well, satisfying a wide scope of readers?

Regardless of the answer, BuzzFeed’s content is highly consumable and shareable and a good reminder to all PR professionals to keep their writing pithy and relatable. Whether a press release or a contributed article, getting to the point quickly and summarizing content via video or images boosts reader engagement and social sharing helping a company achieve greater visibility and external communications goals.


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Apr. 01

It’s Official – PR is Dead

Yes, it’s sad but true. Public relations is a dying industry so PR pros and the powers that be have decided to pack it in. Here are the top five reasons: 

1) Awesome Content Everywhere – So much of the corporate-produced content today is extremely well-thought-out and insightful, who needs a good messaging partner that is strategic, professional and in-the-know on what resonates with specific audiences. 

2) Newswire Distribution Rules – Everybody knows if you put out a release on any of the major newswire services, you automatically get a pick up by the Wall Street Journal. Sure it’s a press release posting, but it’s the WSJ for goodness sakes. No need to build solid connections with journalists that are strongly tuned in to your industry that continue to tap you for shared expertise.

3) Rock Star Spokespersons – It must be reality TV or the rise of social media but today’s company spokespersons are flawless. They never make off the record comments on-the-record or reveal a Fortune 1000 client without permission. 

4) Strategy, Schmatagy – To hell with the strategy, companies need results yesterday. A few placements today and then a go-dark approach is far better than a long-term program chockfull of creative media relations ideas that will help reach your prospective customers. 

5) Nobody’s a Fool – Go find one journalist that relies on a PR pro today, I dare you!


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Mar. 04

Conferences Can Reinforce Cooperative Spirit

I attended Street Fight’s Local Data Summit here in Denver last week and was impressed by the significant amount of idea sharing among competitors for the betterment of the location-based advertising and mobile industry. While there was strong thought leadership from keynoters as well as the usual PPTs outlining products and services, an unspoken benefit of any successfully executed conference is when industry leaders come together to genuinely discuss their thoughts and ideas rather than trying to knock each other off the podium. I witnessed it.

It was refreshing to see this real-time cooperative perspective among industry competitors as sound bytes captured in articles can sometimes skew commentary to come across more biting. Even when moderators tried to shake things up with controversial questions, most of the speakers were of the mindset that they were there to help bring their unique viewpoints to each other in the hopes that those truly invested in their industry will succeed.

One of the reasons this observation hit me is because it is a key component of best in class PR as well. Those who focus their PR and thought leadership efforts around addressing customer pain points and improving their industries as a whole generally rise organically to the top of the competitor list. They don’t take public or private pot shots and instead focus on what they are doing to help customers and partners. The philosophy works because most people would rather see innovation and ideas rather than listen to defensive posturing. I look forward to attending more conferences with this cooperative dynamic that helps move industries forward as a whole much more rapidly.


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Feb. 12

Conversation Hearts Spell Better Relationships Between PR Execs and Journalists

In many ways, public relations is all about relationship building. As Valentine’s Day approaches, let’s look at the ways we can sweeten our connections with journalists and make our outreach more lovable through the use of conversation hearts.

Respect Me
Like any relationship, the rapport between reporters and PR professionals is built on respect. This means taking note of and respecting deadlines, preferred methods of contact and writing styles prior to connecting.

Sweet Talk
Charming conversation can help bring a story pitch to life, but get to the heart of the matter with reporters by being concise and direct about what you are offering, e.g., an expert resource, exclusive news, a feature story idea.

Top Dog
This might seem like a given, but know your material. When pitching, it is imperative to be highly familiar with the subject area, so you can field reporter questions accurately and quickly.

Call Me
If reporters are amenable to receiving phone follow-ups, connect briefly with a call but do not pester.

Tweet Me
Follow reporters on Twitter, so that you can track areas of interest, recent articles and then engage with them better via phone and email.

Cheer Me On
When a story publishes, be supportive by sending the reporter an email or tweet to acknowledge the article and thank them for including you or your client as a resource.

My Pal
Continue to foster reporter relationships by letting them know when you or your client can be an expert source for a particular topic. Reporters can keep this detail on file and connect with you when the time is right.

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Feb. 07

Buzzword Alert: What Content Marketing Means to PR

Content marketing is one of the latest buzzwords to come up in every new business and planning conversation we have. And while the principles of content marketing – creating, distributing and sharing content that speaks to target customers without an overt sales pitch – are legit, they aren’t new to PR. Non-sales, educational, trend and thought leadership materials have always been crucial to successful PR. Byline articles, case studies, blogs, infographics, news releases, newsletters – all core PR elements – are also effective content marketing vehicles.

What has changed is the seemingly endless opportunities to publish, readdress and share that content. Whether a case study becomes the basis for a news release and speaking opportunity or a news release leads to a byline article and blog post, a single content topic can be leveraged across a  variety of marketing and PR elements.

In addition to the corporate need, there is a very real media need for content. Online news organizations are consistently increasing the amount of content they publish and many also serve as news aggregators. Some re-publish corporate blog posts – in addition to accepting contributed articles and producing their own news – to help meet readers’ appetite for more content.

So, yes, collaborate with your PR team about content marketing but also get involved in developing the content strategy. Planning which topics to address when and how best to share are crucial pieces to getting the most visibility and mileage out of your content. Also, foster transparency across your marketing and PR team – including vendors – to ensure that the content topics are relevant to both the needs of the business and the customer and that the content developed can be shared and published across multiple marketing domains.

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Jan. 16

Is Your Company A Good Fit for PR

Several times a year, we see a burst of new business inquires coming from satisfied client referrals and/or our industry reputation and experience. While part of the discussion certainly involves our sharing of how we work and what sets us apart from the array of tech PR agencies out there, we also evaluate client prospects to determine if they are a good candidate as a long-term client and are truly at a point where PR will make an impact. As a boutique agency, we must be mindful of the types of clients we engage. Any good agency will readily admit that the first 3-4 months of a new engagement are not profitable as so much time is spent getting ingrained in the business goals, key differentiators, vision, and subject matter experts voices. The client side investment also is quite considerable in the beginning.

Whether you are a CEO, VP of Marketing or Sales, here are a critical few questions to answer before you embark on an agency search:

1) Do you have a strong sales pipeline that will support an ongoing investment in PR? If losing one to two clients puts you on the brink of reducing head count or turning off the lights, PR is likely not a good investment right now.

2) Are you using PR as the chief marketing and sales tool? If the answer is yes, your PR program and sales could suffer. PR is an incredible way to elevate a company’s brand awareness and visibility but it should be a part of an overall strategic marketing program.

3) Is the executive team on-board? Unless the executive team has bought into the idea of a PR program and understands the commitment they will need to provide to it in the form of knowledge sharing rather than just dollars, an engagement with an agency is doomed to fail from the get-go.

PR can yield tremendous returns for an organization but it requires an investment. Make sure you and your organization are ready for PR before you plan that first vendor phone call.


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Dec. 17

‘Tis the Season: Practicing Gratitude

As 2013 comes to a close and the holidays are upon us, many of us get swept into the busyness of wrapping up last-minute activities and quickly looking ahead toward plans for the next year. This time of transition is a great opportunity to take a few moments to reflect on and thank the people and endeavors that have brought your team or organization success. While this concept may sound cliché or simplistic, it is incredibly important for business’ overall sustainability as well as for renewing staff morale for the coming year.

Following are some things that I am grateful for during this season:

  • Amazing colleagues whom I cherish and am energized and impressed by each day.
  • Both longstanding and new clients who are passionate about their businesses and place their trust in our Y&A team to strategize and execute winning PR programs for their organizations.
  • The power of creativity when teams collectively bring ideas together.
  • Ever-improving technologies that enable our team to perform top quality work remotely, regardless of physical location.
  • Journalists and industry analysts who take a genuine interest in their areas of focus and produce excellent reporting on the industries our clients serve.

Feel free to share your gratitude ideas or thoughts in the comments. Wishing all of our Matchbox readers a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year.


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Nov. 15

Back to Basics: Planning a PR Campaign

Whether you are promoting a new product, company-backed research or a new area of expertise, developing a solid plan is an important first step. Time and time again, it has been proven that sketching out a solid strategy, from research to execution to evaluation, can help you achieve success and garner positive PR results.

Research first
What have the results been for similar campaigns? What is the media’s interest level in the subject matter? Reporters (especially those covering technology) shift focus quickly, so it is important to gauge current trending topics to determine how what you are promoting might be received. Reading your target journalists’ recent articles and scanning their Twitter feeds is a must.

Gather the team
After completing the initial research, bring the team together to discuss and collaborate on strategy. This is the time for brainstorming and infusing the campaign with creative ideas and tactical elements.

Put it on paper
Creating a plan with a timeline will help everyone stick to the strategy and schedule. While it is important to build in some flexibility for any unexpected events and/or to adjust or leverage relevant news impacts, following a schedule is helpful.

Evaluate results for future planning
Don’t forget to grade your work following the campaign. While it can be difficult to predict results at the beginning of a promotion effort, taking a close look at what worked and didn’t work following will help you plan future PR initiatives.

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