Thursday, July 31, 2008

How to Get LinkedOut on LinkedIn

A professional communicator I’m connected to on LinkedIn but have never met – I accepted his link request because we share a former employer – used that service to send me a couple of messages promoting his new book. The most recent was annoying enough to use as an example of how not to leverage your social networking connections.

Here’s the text of the message:

"[Book title] is a book that provides new thinking and a practical approach to [book subject] to deliver bottom line results. Take a look at our flyer, and then go to (or your local bookstore) and buy it. [Book title] means business."

The flyer below the text is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. The graphics are obtuse, the text refers to the co-authors by last name only (what are they, rock stars?), the abbreviated testimonials scream at me in all caps, the purchase URL is huge and not clickable (use TinyURL, guys, to shorten these – nobody is going to type in 70 plus characters), and it looks like two disparate print ads were visually aligned into one piece.

Major ugh.

So here’s my advice to this LinkedIn promoter and anyone else who wants to use this social networking site to promote or sell products or services:

  • Use the site to build relationships before hitting folks up with a sales pitch. Don’t link to me and immediately begin sending me commands to buy anything.
  • Don’t abuse your network by sending multiple promotional messages.
  • If you’re going to try to market something to me, tell me right up front what’s in it for me. The introductory text in this message could have told me that the information in this book will help me keep my job, get me a raise, make me more marketable, whatever. But it didn’t. So I lost interest very quickly.
  • Don’t boss me around. I don’t care what you’re taught in Copywriting 101, saying to me in an e-mail “Take a look at our flyer, and then go to Amazon and buy it” just plain annoys me. You Are Not The Boss Of Me. Use your words to warm me up, not piss me off. I would respond more positively if this message were worded more like, “Because we’re connected on LinkedIn, I thought you might be interested in information about my new book (title). It’s about (subject). I promise you it will help you (benefits to me). The flyer below has more detailed information; you can purchase it quickly and easily at, (tinyurl). Thanks so much for your consideration.”
  • Think real hard before using your network for anything this blatantly promotional.
  • Instead of clubbing people over the head with commands to do something that serves your purpose, use sites like this one to establish yourself as an expert. Respond to queries on your area of expertise. Ask people how you might be able to help them reach their networking goals. If you've got info about your product or service on your profile, they'll find it and will be more inclined to consider a purchase than if you command them to.

Have you used your LinkedIn network to sell a product or service effectively? I'd love to know more.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hasbro's Shut Down of Scrabulous = Not So Fabulous for PR

Hasbro forced the shut down of the "Scrabulous" Scrabble Facebook application in the U.S. and Canada. Its partner in crime, Mattel, which owns the rights to the game in other countries, is trying to do the same thing in India.

Hasbro's motivation seems to be protecting its own online version of the game (the game's launch has been delayed while the company works out bugs), but I can't know for sure because the company has no information about this development in its online press room. Worse than that, the links on its press room to information about games, toys, or the corporation are dead.

This lack of information in the obvious place -- Hasbro's press room -- is surprising considering the incredible backlash this development will cause among Scrabulous fans. I would have expected the company to be proactive with information, explaining why it couldn't reach a compromise with the Scrabulous creators -- or why it didn't want to. Of course there are business reasons for this development, and while the Facebook game's users probably don't really care about those reasons, reach out to them anyway and c-o-m-m-u-n-i-c-a-t-e.

The online silence is surprising. I am truly curious about the business rationale.

That aside, do you think that forcing the shutdown of Scrabulous was a good PR move?

Monday, July 21, 2008

June "Build Book Buzz" Features Author Success Story

The June issue of Build Book Buzz, the free book promotion e-zine for authors, features a Q and A with Jen Miller, an author who used what she learned in the "Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz" book publicity course to generate lots and lots of impressive media exposure for her book, The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May.

Learn how she did it by subscribing to the newsletter and using the link you receive in the e-mail I'll send after you subscribe to access the current issue in the archives.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sound Bite of the Week

Some people are better at others than creating soundbites.

Here's my favorite from this week's news stories, a snippet from a Wall Street Journal article about Steve and Barry's retail woes.

Referring to a practice where mall owners use anchor stores like Steve and Barry's as "loss leaders" to attract shoppers, the source said the retailer's terms were "absurd."

"Leasing to them would have been like bringing prositutes to a party to look popular," he says. "They might look good, but you're paying for it."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Calling All Relationship Experts

If you're a divorce or relationship expert, take advantage of all the media hoopla surrounding the current celebrity divorce dramas. Those with a national platform should be contacting the national media outlets to provide expert commentary and advice while those looking to generate local publicity should be doing the same with their local media outlets, particularly TV news departments.

Here's how to get started:
  • Create a brief narrative biography (not a resume) that summarizes your credentials and answers the question: Why are you the best person for us to interview on this subject?
  • E-mail or fax that bio to appropriate media contacts (see next point) with a note or cover letter offering your services as an expert commentator on these high-profile divorces. In your note, tell the media gatekeeper what advice you would offer in an interview -- tips for protecting the children in a divorce, insight into why the current situations are playing out the way they are, advice for making sure your marriage doesn't end in divorce court, how to resolve relationship conflicts peacefully -- the tips should be relevant to your particular expertise. The point is: Show that you have valuable information to contribute.
  • For national TV shows, use media directories, available at most library reference desks, to figure out which producers to contact (I like Bacon's) -- but do it NOW. This story will fade soon.
  • For local media outlets, contact the news assignment editors at TV stations, the morning and afternoon radio drive time show producers to get on the air during high-listener commute periods, and the relationship reporter at the daily newspaper. Your local angle is: What can the rest of us ordinary people learn from these high-profile cases?
  • Remember: Publicity begets publicity. One interview that's available online can be found by reporters and producers using search engines to uncover qualified resources. (And, of course, make sure you have a media friendly Web site.)
  • Subscribe to Help A Reporter so you can respond to any reporter queries on the topic.

Have you been interviewed lately about the Christie Brinkley or Madonna marriage dramas? Tell us how it happened.