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Participating in the Conversation

  |  June 13, 2006   |  Comments

A marketer's guide to promoting your company to content creators.

Last time, I wrote about podcast sponsorship. Judging by the feedback I received, it's a hot topic. It was great to hear from so many passionate people who are working to move the platform forward.

Which got me thinking about that very subject: feedback. I frequently receive comments on my columns. For the most part, they're positive. In some cases, I hear from a person who agrees with my point of view and is glad to see the topic discussed in the media. In others, it's someone who works for a company related to a topic I've recently covered. In that case, the person typically wants me to know about his company, in the case I cover the topic again. The other reason a person might contact me is because he wants to do business with us or one of our clients.

This process can be beneficial to everyone. I learn about companies I may not have heard about otherwise. Sometimes, I'm able to write an informative follow-up about the company. And when I do, that company gets some attention in the category and perhaps a business relationship with one of my clients, someone in my audience, or me.

As these thoughts were going through my head, I realized it might benefit someone wanting to promote his company if there were a guide, of sorts, to contacting authors or to participating in the online conversation our articles and columns can help generate.

So I looked for a guide of my own. I work with a great public relations practitioner, Anya Mailandt, at the Richards/Gravelle PR firm. I asked Mailandt what she might suggest to companies wishing to promote themselves to, or engage in conversations with, authors of magazines, Web sites, and blogs.

Here are some of her suggestions:

  • Be a resource. Talk about the industry at large, not just your company. Writers aren't experts on everything. Help them by being a resource they can use for general or background information on what's happening in the industry. If you're in the mobile marketing industry, for example, you could help inform the writer about the trends in the industry. This creates opportunities to talk about how your product or service adds value or creates interesting opportunities for agencies and advertisers considering mobile marketing.

  • Know the writer. ClickZ's Expert columnists aren't reporters per se, but it makes sense to approach us as such. You may want to evaluate the likes and dislikes of the individual writers. Familiarize yourself with columns they've written and the categories they've covered.

  • Offer topic suggestions. Throw new ideas their way as opposed to offering a follow-up to something they already covered. As writers, we're often contacted by companies who do the same thing as the companies we've just mentioned in an article. And though it's good to know about others in the category, that doesn't always lend itself to a follow-up. If a writer has covered a topic, it may not make sense for that topic to be revisited anytime soon. However, if you offer something unique or can suggest another angle, it might be beneficial for both you and the writer. This may, in fact, result in a follow-up article.

  • Know the audiences. ClickZ does an excellent job of segmenting content for its various audiences. For example, in the Experts category, we have people writing about E-Mail Marketing, Advertising Technology, Marketing Analytics, Smarter Marketing, Media Buying, and Search Engine Marketing. Knowing what categories the writers work in will tell you who's the best person to contact. And knowing their audiences will help you better target your pitch.

  • Be active in the conversation. If you feel strongly about something or can add value, send comments to the publication in which the article appeared, comment on a blog, or start your own blog or podcast. Share your knowledge with the industry. There are lots of smart people out there. You're undoubtedly one of them. But no one will know that unless you make yourself heard.

The Internet has enabled a unique dialogue between content creators and content consumers, one that typically results in a more informed, genuine conversation. If you create content, be open to feedback and respond to your audience. If you're a member of that audience, engage in the conversation -- for instance, by letting me know how you feel about this topic. I look forward to continuing the conversation.

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Pete Lerma Pete Lerma began his advertising career in the traditional side of the business, where he spent six years managing accounts for clients such as Coca-Cola and Subway. He then realized interactive marketing was where it's at and, in 1998, joined Click Here, The Richards Group's interactive marketing division. During his tenure at Click Here, he's forged relationships with major online publishers, networks and technology companies, and these relationships contribute to his perspective on the interactive marketing industry. As Click Here's principal, Pete oversees accounts for high profile brands including Atlantis, Hyundai, Travelocity, and Zales. His group has won numerous awards for their strategic and creative work, including recognition from the IAB, Ad:Tech, The One Club, Graphis, and Communication Arts. Pete serves on the board of directors for the Dallas/Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association and also contributes to the marketing blog ChaosScenario.

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