What would Katie Couric do?

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When Katie Couric took over as anchor of The CBS Evening News in 2006, media watchers lined up with bats to take a whack at her like she was some sacrificial journalism pinata. The former Today show host was always thought to be too perky, too eager, and not evening news material.  Her arrival at CBS was highly hyped and endlessly promoted while Couric’s salary was rumored to be astronomical. The overwhelming consensus after two months, however, was that CBS had made a big mistake. Her ratings were awful and the reviews were unkind to say the least. So how does a television whipping post like Katie Couric wind up winning the Edward R Murrow Award for best newscast in both 2008 and 2009? Tracking the anchor’s phoenix-like rise from the ashes is valuable seminar in new media marketing, technological innovation, and good old fashioned “never give up” persistence.

Katie Couric’s morning show fan base always admired her happy-go-lucky and friendly demeanor yet this persona simply would not fly in a nightly news format where anchors are expected to be stoic like Walter Cronkite. Instead of abandoning the personality that put her on the map, the newswoman struck gold at the 2008 Democratic National Convention with original web content that featured a relaxed Couric who could be seen clowning with crew members, ribbing politicians, and offering personal insights into the event’s goings on. The popularity of the coverage lead to the creation of @katiecouric, an online news program that allowed her to let her hair down and be the Katie viewers fell in love with. The show features a looser format, frank talk and opinions, and most importantly, original content not to be found anywhere else. This week the show featured a blow by blow of the President’s first State of the Union address.

With @katiecouric, the anchor was reinventing CBS’ longstanding reputation as, ” the old people’s channel” and the makeover didn’t stop there. Couric tapped into the social media craze by supplying more original content on her Facebook and Twitter accounts. Daily updated, her social media sites promote The CBS Evening News as well as her original web content.  Moreover, she communicates directly with her viewers by asking them to send in questions for interviews, suggestions for stories, and photos from news making events.

The most important thing any struggling business can learn from Katie Couric is to never give up. Instead of quitting and opting out of her big bucks contract, Couric rolled up her sleeves and got creative.  When she famously grilled what’s-her-name from Alaska, Katie asked the questions that were on her viewers minds without apology or cynicism. The interview, in turn, has become one of the most famous political train wrecks of all time while the interviewer gained respectability for staying true to who she is.  Producing webcasts, diving into social media marketing, and tapping into your own marketable identity are tasks that virtually everyone can do. So the next time your scratching your head to come up with a new marketing plan ask yourself, “What would Katie Couric do?”

Swallowing apple’s tablet for mobile marketing

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Yesterday’s unveiling of Apple’s new Ipad unleashed a plethora of speculation, criticism, bad PMS jokes, and wagging tongues. The Ipad, just in case you’ve been living under a rock, is Mac’s 1.5 ounce portable mini-computer that combines the companies previous products the Iphone and the Itouch to become a tech-fanatic’s Star Trek fantasy brought to life.  Apple enthusiasts are clamoring to get their  little hands on the Ipad, while Mac haters are praying that this latest product will fall flat on its flat little face. Whatever your stance on the Ipad is, it can’t be denied that Mac has… more

SEO tutorial for Bill Gates and you too

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A recent article on Search Engine Land by Danny Sullivan offers advice on search engine optimization for the world’s richest man, Bill Gates. Um , what could Microsoft’s head honcho possibly learn about SEO that he doesn’t already know? According to Sullivan, a lot. This SEO 101 uses Bill Gates’ new blog as a guinea pig. On Google, Gates turns up fourth which isn’t too bad, but the disheartening thing about the placement is that the fake Bill Gates blogs are ranked higher than the real thing. Even worse on Gate’s own Bing, his blog doesn’t even show up at all. Eek! Sullivan goes on to prescribe a remedy to the online ailment and teaches us a thing or two along the way.
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Five great blogs to read, emulate, and inspire

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There is an old adage that says,  “bad artists borrow from other artists, good artists steal.”  In these copyright sensitive times, steal is a harsh word; but the point of the saying it is still valid. With blog writing,  it is really helpful to be aware of other great blogs that entertain their readers while helping promote their brand. Borrowing ideas from other blogs or using them as inspiration can jump start your business’ blog.  Below are five noteworthy blogs, in no particular order, that deserved to be read, enjoyed and  maybe even borrowed from.
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Riding the Facebook publicity train

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When Tyra Banks’ produces several episodes of her talk show devoted to Facebook, you know that the craze is about to end. After all, how much longer can we collectively go on poking one another, playing Farmville, and designing our own flare? Apparently, forever.  Social networking cynics expected Facebook to have a Myspace-like descent into humility when the nation momentarily went Tweet crazy. After all, this seems to be the Internets version of natural selection: the weak get swallowed up or become extinct while the strong continue to evolve.  Facebook falls into the latter catagory much to the delight of folks like Tyra Banks, Time magazine, and every reporter in the country.  In fact, stories about how Facebook can effect a legal verdict, fuel a feud between coach and athlete, and help the US Embassy connect with Iraquis all surfaced within the last week. Even moviegoers won’t be able to avoid the “F” word when the film The Social Network, which chronicles the lives of Facebook’s founders, heads into theaters this October.  While many of us are experiencing a FB OD (Facebook overdose), there is still no reason not  to use the social networking giant’s never ending publicity to our own advantage.
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Colorful uses of online brand marketing

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Art programs in public schools are facing near extinction. The funds to teach painting, ceramics, music, and theater are non-existent and the public perception is that these skills are not as important as reading or math, even though research has proven time and time again that students who study art score higher on standardized tests.
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The magic of article marketing

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Anyone with a computer has seen it happen a billion times. One day, you read  a quirky article about something random like the benefits of celery, and the next day the same article has been forwarded throughout your office and even picked up by major wire services. In a short matter of time, the same story pops up on the evening news. It’s a virtual wildfire with unknown origins that spreads like magic across all media incarnations. Those lucky enough to tap into this magic have found a way to communicate with mass audiences in a short amount of time. For the rest of us, this process looks like something created by a wizard and certainly something that a small business could never replicate.
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What’s in fashion for online brand marketing

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As readership at Vogue is slipping and Project Runway is trying to limp back after the critical beating it took over the summer,  the future was looking bleak for fashionistas worldwide.  Furthering cause for panic,  dozens of small boutiques and brands have failed to survive against lower priced stores like Target.  Not missing a beat, though, the ever resourceful fashion biz has created new ways to reach out to their clients using online brand marketing.

Swedish clothing company and purveyors of chic, affordable looks H&M has found a way to bring Fashion Week to the masses. Using slick video episodes, H&M speaks directly to their style hungry clients and fans every week with new content that spans the globe from Paris to New York.  Levi’s website also produces interactive videos as well as the blog Denim Therapy written by jean obsessed fashion gurus. Strictly for the style and Sex and the City obsessed, Patriciafield.com offers not only a first hand look into the famed stylist’s brand and boutique but her blog shows the beautiful people of New York looking fabulous. Rustyzipper.com, a longtime seller of vintage looks, updates loyal customers with new thrift arrivals via email and text messages.  Finally, luxury brand Gucci has developed their own iPhone application to bring their latest products and locations of store openings right to the tips of their customer’s flawlessly manicured fingertips.

Yet even the smallest clothing designer can get the word out online without the mega bucks of Gucci or Levi’s. Video casting indie fashion shows, smartly written fashion blogs, and mobile updates are easy and affordable things nearly every small company can do to stay in touch with their customers. So what new marketing techniques are you going to use in 2010 to keep your products in fashion?