Archive for January, 2010

Nonprofits get a grip!!

Posted on January 18, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Click on the Audio Player! (If this is an email, access the tunes online at  

I’m about to write a check to the Special Olympics. The organization sent me a sweet little card with sports icons all over the envelope and a simple request to support their efforts.

I will not be sending checks to a number of other well-known charitable organizations because I question their judgment in sending me elaborate packets of ‘free gifts’ to maybe make me feel obligated to contribute to their cause.

In addition to ubiquitous address labels – I’ll never send enough snail mails in my lifetime to use them all – I receive note cards, four-color full-size calendars, key chains and combinations of the above in solicitations from nonprofits that I have or have not contributed to.

 As a donor in a tough economy – and as a PR professional and marketer – I say, what are these people thinking? If they can afford to send these expensive mailings, do they really need my donation? As a Baby Boomer I’ve learned that I’ve never had a unique thought in life. If I’m thinking it, I’m part of peer group-think. In other words, I can’t possibly be the only one turned off by this trend in nonprofit marketing.

 As bad as it gets in recessionary times, I give. But I give to organizations of my choice based on my own societal concerns or to organizations that make their case while demonstrating their sense of responsibility in both their missions and their marketing.

 My PR Marketing practice has always included nonprofits. The kinds of mailings I receive almost daily are diametrically opposed to the advice I would give any not for profit client of mine on how to build support.

 How has nonprofit marketing affected your giving inclinations?

There’s only one tune that can accompany this post – Billie Holiday’s God Bless the Child. I’m offering you the bluesy and soulful rendition of the late British phenom Eva Cassidy.

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‘Getting’ Twitter – An Aha! Moment

Posted on January 12, 2010. Filed under: Inbound Marketing, Internet Research, Internet Traffic, Jazz, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Last week I was speaking with my longtime friend and colleague Keith Reynolds — a career-long technology guy who is now in the radiation security business. We were discussing a presentation I’m giving to the Stamford Cell of the Connecticut Technology Council Innovation Group with my graphic/web design partner Bernadette Nelson of Studio B/Visual Communication.

Not surprisingly, she and I had proposed the topic Re-Thinking Your Website: Tips for Making it a Business Magnet Using Web 2.0 Tools. Keith, who chairs the group, asked if it would be better to make it a talk about using Twitter, something he was particularly interested in and had made a New Year’s resolution to learn more about and implement.

I explained that Twitter is just one of many inbound marketing tools for engaging with audiences online and that it would be interesting for the group to hear about the bigger picture. Everyone’s talking about Social Media and Twitter, but it’s important to understand the context into which they may or may not fit – depending upon individual company goals.

 Keith persisted, saying that he didn’t really ‘get’ Twitter. How does it work? Why is it important? What does it do for you? He had opened an account but hadn’t yet jumped in.

 I decided to be a good friend and take the opportunity to offer Keith a little demonstration of Twitter’s powerful searchability and the access it gives to online communities that are already interested in what you’re offering – and who can share their helpful information and experience in return.

 After a few minutes of playing with keywords in Twitter Search, we typed in ‘Radiation Safety’ and were rewarded with a rich Twitter stream being produced by people discussing the topic. There were a number, to be sure, who were worrying about radiation danger from new airport screening machines. But there were also radiation security professionals and people from companies that put their employees through radiation safety courses and are concerned with security for a variety of reasons.

 Aha! There they were. A community of people who can benefit from Keith’s expertise and services.  But how, he asked, could he get involved with this group?

We noted the hashtags – for the uninitiated, a keyword phrase preceded by a # sign that helps track specific topics – in some of the community’s tweets. Keith is now keeping up on comments among the group and following certain leaders he’s identifying. When he attends an industry conference later in the month, he’s going to live tweet gems of information and include the hashtags we identified so they’ll find their way to his Twitter community, providing value to the group. He’s also deciding what free app he’ll use to manage his Twitter streams – TweetDeck or Seesmic Desktop.

At the end of the presentation next week, we’re going to share Keith’s Twitter Aha Moment and begin an experiment to see if and how his activity on Twitter contributes to business success. Will keep you posted!

I remember my Twitter Aha Moment – when a Friday afternoon tweet about enjoying the weekend fall weather on a Harley got me found by several Harley Davidson enthusiasts and organizations within a few hours. Do you remember yours?

 In honor of Bernadette’s and my collaboration and the Innovation Cell, enjoy the tune “What’s New?” from the Carmen McRae-Betty Carter Duets live album. Hope B and I are a fraction as entertaining together as these two!! See you soon!!

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New Guidelines for Marketing Partnerships: Borrow from Jazz Improv

Posted on January 10, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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I’m writing this on Sunday morning and so what better musical accompaniment than the gospel underpinnings of pianist Les McCann playing his tune The Shampoo in a live recording. I first heard this rousing number back in the 60’s when Cousin Sydney was introducing me to the joys of jazz and blues.

 Having listened to jazz now for more than 40 years, I’ve learned something about improvisation and the creativity it requires and inspires that I try to apply elsewhere in my life. Great jazz improvisers draw from a huge body of common knowledge, structure and rules and then add their own ideas, drawing from personal experience and technical skill. The musicians in a jazz combo listen to each other carefully and build on each others’ ideas.

 The same group can play the same tune 50 times and it will be a new song each and every time. Listen to another group play the song and it will be something else again.

 As the marketing and PR world changes I find myself seeking to build new and different kinds of professional connections. More and more, I think about how jazz music is made as I build business relationships and partnerships for my E.R. Becker Company consultancy. Bringing a complex array of inbound marketing tools and techniques to clients, requires a variety of knowledge and skills and the ability to compose well-structured original material for a new and evolving area of marketing; arranging ‘charts’ – as jazzmen call orchestrations — for unchartered waters.

 So here’s what I ask myself as I think about which other professionals to bring to the table to meet client objectives:

  • Who has the fundamentals down?
  • Who is really talented?
  • Who is curious enough to explore new ideas?
  • Who really and truly listens?
  • Who has the chops to play triple time to the end of the song?
  • Who can jump into a group and shine while creating space for – and even amplifying the light — of others’ contributions?
  • Who gets it that combined creativity is more powerful than ego-driven efforts?

 How are you looking at your business partnerships these days?

 Enjoy and see you soon!

Photo Credit: Jeff Levine

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Sea Changes: 4 Reasons to be Upbeat about Marketing in 2010

Posted on January 4, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

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As we get back to work in these first few days of the New Year, I’m still feeling celebratory! Ellie's New Year toast

In the mood for some festive music, I just pulled out a CD by one of my favorite jazz trios – the magnificent pianist Tommy Flanagan, who accompanied Ella Fitzgerald for years, here teamed with bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Lewis Nash. You’re listening to the album’s title track, Sea Changes – which inspired the title of this post. You can either be anxious about change — or embrace it and be happy! Guess what I’ve chosen?

 The upbeat composition by Flanagan made me think of how the Sea Changes in PR are changing things for the better. Having transitioned my practice to an inbound marketing approach, here are four reasons why I’m looking forward to 2010.

  1. Companies are waking up from the marketing deep sleep of 2008-09 and coming to the realization that they’ve somehow returned to consciousness in a new and promising world. While they slept, some PR and marketing people were busy figuring out that new online tools open opportunities that didn’t exist before to engage with customers and other stakeholders.
  2. As these companies bring budgets into play, they’re happy to learn that online efforts can not only generate leads, but also convert the leads to sales. It’s really nice to sit with company executives and watch their heads nod enthusiastically as the light dawns that their websites – maybe with a few tweaks and additions – can become drivers of marketing success.
  3. As a PR/marketing strategist, I have a fresh tactical toolkit to dig into. New inbound marketing tools & techniques are capable of turning the idea of marketing integration from nice concept to powerful reality. By pulling a variety of disciplines together – sales, marketing, PR, corporate affairs, community relations, customer service, search, video, web development, R&D and more, inbound marketing allows organizations to leverage knowledge across corporate silos and benefit from broader buy-in and contribution to business objectives.
  4. Wow! It feels so good to offer services where we can actually measure how they contribute to the bottom line. No mistaking when relatively soon after optimizing a site for search engines, adding a blog with great content and building links with important online communities your Website Grader score goes from 20 to 85 and you move from Google obscurity to ranking on page one or two for important keywords.

 What’s making you feel optimistic about the year ahead?

 Enjoy! See you soon!!

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