5 Things You May Have Missed List!

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Happy Friday! We’re back with another list of weird, wonderful and wise findings from the Internet that you might have missed.

1.) Motorola Schools the iPhone: Well, it was only a matter of time before one of iPhone’s competitors decided to swing below the belt. Motorola gets a prize for being the first (but surely not the last) to kick Apple when it’s down. Motorola launched a “No Jacket Required” ad that references the free iPhone jackets Apple is giving out to help solve its antenna problems. Aside from the impeccable timing, what makes the ad list-worthy is its great copy: The ad cleverly reminds buyers that Motorola kind of invented this whole cell phone thing in the first place.

2.) The Debut of Kelly Canter: “The debut of whom?!” you ask. Kelly Canter is Gwyneth Paltrow’s character in a new film entitled Country Strong. A new country single with the same name as the film hit the airwaves this week. Promoters of the movie sent the single to country radio under Paltrow’s character’s name. Further news of the song was spread through the Kelly Canter Facebook page. The PR ploy worked and news as well as reviews of Paltrow’s song became a national topic in a matter of hours.

3.) Journalism on Facebook: AllFacebook.com ran a blog on 10 pages journalists should follow via Facebook. Sure, CBS and WSJ are here, but it’s cool that AllFacebook mentions Facebook’s own Media and PR pages, which can be great tools for journalists and marketers.

4.) New Tweeps to Follow: The esteemed Mayo Clinic, captain of the Enterprise William Shatner and the guy who killed hip hop as well as his own career (Kayne West) all joined Twitter this week, proving once again that the little bird is always entertaining. Plus each of these random new Tweeters is using the site to plug new products, conduct new studies or change public perception about their brand. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which one is doing what.

5.) Online Inception Spoofs: When a movie like Inception – so dour yet so popular – has no sense of humor about itself, the Internet usually steps in to send it up properly. PopEater gathered the best of the best, but personally I’m a fan of the sweater within a sweater at Buzzfeed called Insweaption.

But that’s enough out of us. Tell us five things that rocked your world this week in the comments section below!

Saving Face And Your Brand With Online PR

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There may be no such thing as bad publicity, but there’s no excuse for bad PR, either. BP, Dr. Pepper, Facebook, Apple and several other heavy hitters have all turned to online PR management and social media PR this summer to put out well-publicized media fires. As we’ve learned, a well-placed, 140-character Tweet is worth a thousand words, and the right interview at the right time can rescue an entire company. But online PR is morphing into a powerful tool that reaches far beyond the scope of simple spin. Properly used, online PR can do double duty as a brand reputation savior.

This piece by Mark Chouette in Marketing Week outlines how PR has been placed in a position of saving a company’s image. Using BP as an example, Chouette points out how the exit of Hayward and the subsequent moves since are purely brand strategic on the part of BP. He also points out that thanks to online journalism and social media, brands now have a quicker response time than ever to combat negative publicity, a task that used to take at least 24 hours.

As we’ve talked about in this blog before, social media PR and online PR management are now in charge of the daily image tweaking and brand selling issues that were previously tackled by marketers. PR’s umbrella has widened so snafus by the big guys with endless resources are all the more excusable. This age of guerilla PR also means that thanks to the interactive nature of the Internet, a simple gloss over and manufactured apology won’t cut the mustard. This is excellent news for small businesses as it gives their own PR strategies a more conversational and approachable feel than ever before. Social media can be used to address unhappy campers right away, ending bad word of mouth. In short, our online PR management should work overtime with the media, consumers and contemporaries in good or bad times.

Fixing the Bland Business Blog

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Honesty time: We’ve had the misfortune of reading some pretty boring business blogs as of late. The crusty content, yawn-inducing narrative, misdirected topics and lack of bells and whistles in these blogs is only good for serving as a reminder of what not to do. In fact, we were so inspired by the uninspired content that we came up with a list of 5 ways to avoid business blog hell.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Sparkle: I don’t care if your business blog is about pinto beans or human resources; there’s gotta be some personality, some reason to read it. The blog should be filled with a narrative that not only coveys your company’s mission statement but speaks in a way that is readable and entertaining. There is no rule saying that you can’t inform while being yourself. Note: For caveats, see #2″¦

2. Stay Out of Controversy: Your business blog is not the place to vent about religion, politics, Jersey Shore catfight winners or other heavy issues. The content should be like a first date. Not bombastic but thought-provoking enough to entice them to want to see you again.

3. Open Up the Keyword Buffet: You’ve taken time to map out your keywords, so you might as well place them all over your blog. Stick them in the title or in the body of the blog or both. Keywords help your blog get found, so don’t be shy with them.

4. Add Lots of Cool Stuff: Product demonstrations, how-to videos, links to similar blogs and music playlists are all good add-ons to your blog because they can freshen up content and tones that might otherwise teeter on being redundant.

5. Update All the Time: A friend in the real estate biz was telling us how many of her colleagues have blogs for which they forked over big design bucks, only never to be updated. What a waste. To keep readers, you have to deliver fresh content regularly. Before starting your blog, honestly ask yourself if you have the energy to update and market your blog regularly. If so, buckle up for a fun and challenging ride. If not, consider hiring a content agency to help you out.

6. (Don’t Say We Never Give You Anything!) Take Some Risks: Want to fill you blog with interviews? Think some customer polls would be fun? Have comic strip you’d like to share? Do it! All of it. Blogs have no rules so as long as your crazy content ideas fit with your branding, go for it. Often in blogs, it’s the wacky content that people respond to and your gives you a springboard for inspired content.

Driving Sales and PR with Social Media

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An automobile made by Ford is currently generating major publicity and its eco-friendly?!? No, it’s not one of the signs of the apocalypse; it’s the new Ford Explorer. Crazy but true, the new Ford Explorer has driven into new territory perhaps signaling a positive change for American made cars. The major source of this Ford Tough brand reinvention? Social media marketing.

The 2011 Ford Explorer redesign unveiled Monday by CEO Alan Mulaly in an exclusive preview is a smoother ride than the previous rough and tumble models providing a smoother ride and it is now 20 percent more fuel efficient. The new Explorer made its debut Monday in Manhattan a top of a man-made mountain. Ford filmed the whole unveiling event, streaming it live on Facebook in an effort to please the Explorers some 48, 000 fans. Facebook users were giving an exclusive preview that also included live chats with engineers and tons of recently updated photos. Dubbed the online “Reveal” , Explorer’s Facebook page was a one-stop for new product info and also served as a media guide for news outlets that caught wind of the Ford Manhattan publicity takeover.

Ford has been pretty vocal about how important social media marketing is to the future of the company that in 2008 battled image problems and low sales. Ford has dozens of Facebook pages devoted to its different models as well as Twitter pages that are product specific. In the era of car makers facing the firing squad for botched safety features and let them eat pavement attitudes (hello, Toyota!) Ford has tapped into the power of social media marketing. Ford is using the channels to give consumers a sneak peek into new products like the Explorer while creating discussion. GM and Chevy have also leaned on social media heavily over the last two years for promotional blitzes like Ford’s Explorer campaign.

But what do you readers think- does a smart social media campaign change your mind about older, somewhat beleaguered products? Tell us in the comments section below!

5 Things You Might Have Missed List

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Here’s your weekly dose of recent web findings that could have slid under your radar. From burrito superheroes to SEO articles, we found some shiny Internet gems worth taking a look at.

1.) Taco Bell’s Super Delicious Ingredient Force: Attention, all you 1970s kids who secretly hoped you could be one of the Super Friends! Taco Bell’s new digitally-animated campaign is a home run of throwback humor. Just in time for Comic-Con, The Super Delicious Ingredient Force battles cheap burgers and evil French fries. Promoted on Facebook and YouTube, The Force even has its own site where you can get to know heroes like Chicken Woman and Commander Seasoned Beef. Taco Bell deserves props for creating a retro-feeling campaign that really utilizes digital media.

2.) 15 Ways To Pimp Your Design Portfolios: Vandelay Design gathered up a killer must-have list of resources for web and graphic designers. Less of a to-do list and more of a call to action, the article is a must for the many designers battling the competitive job market.

3.) Jason Fell on Social Media: Foliomag.com ran a great blog about using social media for more than just grabbing traffic. Written by Jason Fell the article gets to the heart of employing social media marketing for profit while teaching marketers to engage with their clients.

4.) SEO Chicks: This is, hands-down, the best and sharpest-written blog about search engine marketing. The chicks avoid blogs that blather on about metrics. Instead, the gals offer blogs that are solution-based while being funny, edgy and informative. Especially great this week is Sarah Caring’s blog about what social media can learn from traditional marketing.

5.) Electronic Reader Fever: As we discussed here on Tuesday, Amazon’s Kindle hit the big-time with massive news that Kindle hardcovers were for the first time outselling regular books at Amazon.com. Now everybody has something to say about the future of publishing. This piece at HuffPo is thought-provoking, although a tad Chicken Littleish for my taste. Still, it is listworthy because it covers all the bases of a conversation that we will undoubtedly hear for months to come.

Marketing in the Creativity Crisis

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Here’s something to think about: We are in the midst of a major creativity crisis. So much so that the situation has been discussed in Newsweek and pondered over in education journals. Technology and the starved state of arts in education are cited as the big reasons for the dip in visionary thinking. Nationally, the lack of creativity can found everywhere from pop music to the dearth of ingenious solutions for environmental problems.

As marketers, we see the best and worst that creativity has to offer, all while witnessing the drought firsthand. Rehashed and recycled ideas are arguably the bread and butter of the marketing industry. Likewise the media, specifically Hollywood, unabashedly live by the code of “everything old is new again.” Still being force-fed new versions of the Karate Kid and The A-Team doesn’t exactly inspire the masses to think outside of the box. If anything, the parade of stale ideas convinces the masses to do the same- old, same-old, therefore adding to the problem. Instead, this famine of imagination should be utilized, not feared. The gauntlet has been thrown down to marketers and small business owners. It is a challenge to stretch our creative powers. So how do we do we not contribute to the creative world in decline?

The ideal answer is that we lead, not follow. But if we as marketers are going to borrow, we should swipe from the best. Take a gander at the big boys who appear to possess an endless fountain of brilliance. Why not tinker their techniques in our own DIY fashion to market our small business? Social media campaigns and talked-about viral videos are tools that can be used cheaply and effectively. Secondly, to contribute creatively we should hang with the artsy kids. Don’t be afraid to hire that weirdo from the arts college or the girl with the chatty music blog. They might be sitting on the next great ideas. Plus artistic types can make for great collaborators. Finally, and most importantly, all of our marketing materials should say something. The Internet is littered to the max already with blah, blah, blah. Enough. Nobody is going to read boring copy or respond to bland-looking promotional materials. Well-written, smartly-designed and thoughtful output doesn’t only combat the creativity crisis but it actually gets our stuff noticed, which is the point, right?

You’ve heard what we think, so let’s throw the mic over to you, our ingenious readers. How will the creativity crisis effect the next generation of copywriters, marketers and ad execs? What music or book gets your creative juices flowing? And is there a marketing campaign that you’ve noticed suffering from the creativity crisis? Share your genius in the comments section below, won’t you?

SE-Oh Yes, You Can!

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We’ve pondered the powers, problems and pratfalls of search engine optimization (or SEO, as the kids call it) in this blog several times. The reason the discussion resurfaces on a regular basis is because as a channel for marketing, SEO is constantly evolving with the technological tides. SEO watchers and experts keep their eyes peeled on the latest developing Internet marketing techniques and how they relate to getting amazing search engine results. So it stands to reason that the topic of SEO is once again flying off the keyboards of bloggers landing smack dab in the middle of newsfeeds.

Last week, Inc. Magazine online ran a great read about how to use Google’s already-built-in tools to help track SEO. Discussed with Chris Dawkins of Trace Media is the importance of off-site links, bonding with similar sites with similar keywords and maintaining on-site optimization with keyword-rich content. Inc. goes deeper by exploring Google’s Webmaster tools. We’re thrilled they point out that the world’s biggest search engine actually has free tutorials and tools for beginning SEO marketers. The article specifically directs readers to Google’s stats and diagnostics tools, both great resources in tracking website traffic.

On Monday, Hubspot threw its two cents worth in as well by going back to keywords and their importance in SEO. Hubspot whipped together 10 effective places to target keywords. Number one on the list is URL. Turns out placing your keywords somewhere in the URL of a page will assist in bumping up your ranking (who knew?!). Other keyword target suggestions include page title, using bold text, meta description and sliding keywords in image file names.

The cool thing about the ever-present discussions about SEO is that they signal an era of approachability. Thought before to be something for only those in the know, SEO is now a fountain for the small business owner to tap into. With a bit of research, we can all participate in search engine optimization.