Greg Magnus

AIM Custom Media Websites Blogs Glen Allen, VA 23059

Month: April 2006

Writing a Press Release? Top 10 Grammatical Mistakes

We all make mistakes, but it really hurts when the mistake is read by thousands of people – peers, prospects, and clients included. Thanks to David Jones at PR Works, we found the article, “The top-10 grammar and usage mistakes of press release writers.” Written by June Casagrande, the article is published on the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) website.

Casagrande is a journalist, former Business Wire editor, and author of “Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite.”

[tags] PR, public relations, writing press releases, writers, PR Works, [/tags]

WordPress Theme, Layout and Design

Welcome! We’re always searching for ways to improve. This is a where you tell us how to improve this blog (glad to add a blog link in return for especially helpful comments).

PS: Welcome readers of Emily Robbin’s Comprehensive List of WordPress Themes. Please leave your WP theme comments here. Thanks!

Comprehensive List of Free WordPress Themes

Emily continues to do a great job updating her WordPress Themes list – it just keeps growing and growing. Again, great job Emily.

She recently contacted me and asked for an updated link to her list. And we’re glad to provide the new link, here it is: Comprehensive List of Free WordPress Themes

If you are new to WordPress and blogging, feel free to ask questions (leave a comment) and we’ll see if we can help you out. Enjoy!

[tags] WordPress, Themes, Emily Robbins, blogging, blogs, eoecho [/tags]

Integrating Marketing and Communications – Who Really Gets It?

Early this month we talked about integrating customer-to-customer conversations using new media. A common WOM technique, it is an effective means of promoting products and services. Are there benefits from harnessing the power of your customers?

While further researching the topic this week I came across an excellent article written by Bob Liodice, President and CEO of the Association of National Advertisers.

Bob published a series on “Integrated Marketing Communications.” Take note of his observations concerning new media and the shifting power from the marketer to the consumer. We’re both on the same page.

Integrated Marketing Communications – 2nd Pillar in Reinventing Marketing

For those with limited reading time, here’s an example from Bob’s post that supports our discussion rather well:

So who really “gets” what integrated marketing communications is all about?

One company that does is Daimler-Chrysler. They’ve recognized that the traditional demographic approach to marketing planning is outmoded in today’s fragmented marketplace. So they’ve transitioned to a lifestyle approach – deeply integrating their brands into the popular culture through a breathtaking array of experiences: sports, fashion, entertainment, music, technology … and an equally breathtaking array of innovative channels: video-on-demand, event marketing, gaming, IPTV, text messaging, pod casting and webisodes, not to mention sweepstakes and public relations.

This highly integrated and diverse approach recognizes the fundamental change in consumer behavior from yesteryear – namely that people aren’t passively sitting at home watching their TVs. Rather, they’re actively engaged in and controlling their media experiences. To connect with these consumers, Daimler-Chrysler’s lifestyle strategy is seeking them out, wherever their heads and hearts might be.”

Side Note: There are a few posts on my blog concerning Mercedes-Benz use of “free music,” (brand and pop culture integration).
[tags] Marketing, Communications, Daimler-Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, Bob Liodice, Association of National Advertisers, customer-to-customer, eoecho, [/tags]

Blog Usability: Top Ten Design Mistakes

As a previous publication owner (print magazines), I learned from my art directors and graphic designers the importance of layout, design, and usabilitiy. When it comes to blogs their importance cannot be overstated. Your readers will have their first impression of your blog in only a few seconds. Make the first impression count.

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox has a great piece on blog usability and design mistakes. I like the way he approached the topic,

To reach new readers and respect your existing readers’ time constraints, test your weblog against the following usability problems.

Weblog Usability: Top Ten Design Mistakes in Blogs

After reading the article, I found there are a few things I need to do myself. If you have anything to add to the list please let us know.
[tags] blogging tips, graphic design, weblog design, blog traffic, blog marketing, Jakob Nielsen, eoecho [/tags]

Occam's Razor, KISS and Blogging

Noun: a scientific and philosophic rule that requires the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex. Better known today as the KISS principle (Keep It Simple).

Although William of Occam embraced the concept in the 14th century, scholars trace the basic premise back to ideas proposed by Aristotle. For good reason, the concept has stood the test of time. If you’re new to blogging, you’ll be well advised to follow Occam’s advice.

Blogging is experiencing logarithmic growth. As a result almost every seasoned blogger includes blogging tips, ebooks, telecasts, podcasts, or an email blast. A quick search on Google returns over 200 million results (that’s million folks) in 0.06 seconds for the term “blogging.” It’s more than enough to make your head spin. But starting your own blog or one for your company doesn’t need to be frustrating or overly time consuming.

My initial blogging experience was frustrating to say the least. I spent many hours digesting tips, ebooks, and so on. The results were dismal. But I’m persistent, I love to learn, and giving up isn’t an option. And yes, my blogging experience has changed drastically during the past year. To help others avoid the same mistakes I wrote up a brief summary of my blogging journey.

If you’re new to blogging and you would like to benefit from what I’ve learned, I’ll be glad to send you my notes. I learned long ago as a publishing entrepreneur that the most beneficial way to share information is in concise, executive summary style communications. Please let me know if you would like a copy of my blogging notes to help you get started.

[tags] Blogging, Occam’s Razor, new to blogs, [/tags]

The State of Blogging – Pew Internet Project Report

The Pew Internet Project has several excellent articles and non-biased research reports. If you haven’t already, check out their website, which includes reports such as the following:

The State of Blogging

  • Eight million American adults say they have created blogs
  • Blog readership jumped 58% in 2004
  • 5% of internet users say they use RSS aggregators or XML readers to get the news and other information delivered from blogs and web sites
  • 12% of internet users have posted comments or other material on blogs
  • Still, 62% of internet users do not know what a blog is

Technology & Media Use

  • By the end of 2005, 50 million Americans got news online on a typical day, a sizable increase since 2002. Much of that growth has been fueled by the rise in the number of home broadband connections.
  • Over the last four years, overall internet penetration rose from 58% of all adult Americans to 70%, and home broadband penetration grew from 20 million people (or
    10% of adult Americans) to 74 million people (37% of adult Americans).
  • Online news consumers are willing to register for news, but are not willing to pay.

Who’s Online

A frequently updated table showing the current demographics of Internet users.

I assume the majority of my blog readers are using a broadband connection. Is this true, are you using broadband?

[tags] Blogging, Weblog, Internet users, trends, Pew Internet Project, [/tags]

Leveraging Customer-to-Customer Conversations – WOM, RSS, Ratings and Reviews

All of us are aware that [tag]testimonials[/tag], [tag]product reviews[/tag], and [tag]word of mouth[/tag] [tag]referrals[/tag] are highly valued. But what sparks praise from a client to spread like wildfire through parched grassland? Are there strategies to help ignite the process?

In the past, a proud business owner posted client letters on the lunchroom bulletin board and sales managers stuffed them in every packet that left the mail room. Subsequently, a few customer reviews migrated to the company website and there they sat, much like the dust that clings to the screen of your monitor. Then, things started to change.

Amazon was one of several early innovators quick to promote the collection and dissemination of customer reviews on the web. Several factors lead to their success, but clearly a major contributor was their ability to become a catalyst for [tag]customer-to-customer[/tag] conversation. The basic concept, encourage customers to talk amongst themselves. Also, they had the foresight to make the necessary technology investments and use a resource initially overlooked by their competition – free labor (i.e., their customer’s knowledge and time).

Although the landscape continues to change, there are key elements that remain the same – the value of your customer’s knowledge and time, and the need to make the necessary investments in technology.

On the cutting edge today is the use of “push technology” coupled with strategic word of mouth (WOM) marketing campaigns. As we peruse the Internet for new client strategies, we find a 130 year old brand, W. Atlee Burpee & Co., adopting new technology tools to drive growth – email marketing and RSS feeds linked to, well, you guessed it, customer reviews. And the result? Measurable growth in sales after attaching reviews to product RSS feeds.

We also find research supporting customer preference for Amazon and Circuit City over Best Buy and Walmart when making online purchases. Why? Amazon and Circuit City provide customer ratings and reviews where the others do not (see links below for references and more info).

It’s not a secret that customers respond to other customers more readily than they respond to canned marketing messages. You know and we know because we help our clients implement these strategies everyday.

Add to

Additional Resources:

At Bazarrblog: Burpee Leverages Customer WOM Via RSS

Research at eVOC Insights: Ratings, Reviews and the Customer Decision Process: Amazon v. BestBuy v. CircuitCity v. Walmart

[tags] WOM,, [/tags]

The Evils of AVEs – Advertising Value Equivalency and PR

Don Bartholomew has a great post on measuring the value of PR with respect to Advertising Value Equivalency – AVE. Measuring the effectiveness of PR is still more art than science, but thanks to people like Don and Katie Delahaye Paine progress is being made.

AVEs are calculated by measuring the column inches (in the case of print), or seconds (broadcast media) and multiplying these figures by the respective ad rates. By assessing your media coverage in this way you can assign an overall AVE to your coverage.

For those interested in learning more about AVEs, see the Institute of PR white paper at this link. Here’s a brief excerpt:

How much a publication charges for advertising is a reflection of its circulation, and its reputation versus its peers. In Canada, for example, the Globe & Mail and the National Post have identical circulations, but the Globe & Mail can charge considerably more for ad space because it is the more credible publication. When using ad rates, therefore, you are taking into account both of these factors.

Some people have gone beyond these calculations and applied another multiplier to allegedly take into account the “PR factor.” This refers to the idea that news messages are presumably more credible than advertising messages and are therefore more persuasive…

Don is an executive VP at GCI Group, a global communications firm. Thanks to Katie Delahaye Paine for pointing Don’s post out to us.

[tags] AVE, PR measurement, ads, circulation [/tags]

Fishing for Clarity – Revisiting Jack Trout's Comments

Give Jack Trout credit for inviting pro bloggers to participate in a roundtable discussion concerning his recent comments on word of mouth marketing (WOM). The event precipitated after Trout’s recent article slapped WOM as limited in value. The response was more “ineffective article” than support for his comments, but Trout responds with a roundtable discussion.

Did Trout provide additional evidence during the roundtable to support his article and limited faith in WOM strategies? You decide.

The podcast summary (link below) let’s you hear the players in a one-on-one, unrehearsed healthy discussion. I’m a strong believer in using WOM strategies given their effectiveness when targeted, implemented and managed correctly. However, there still appears to be significant confusion in the understanding of “purpose, approach, and results.” The clash lies in the communication gap between two merging schools of thought, but that’s another article in itself. I’ll write it up and post it here on my blog next week.

Trout does a great job painting the “big picture” landscape as seen by companies such as Coke – seasoned product, flat brand and declining sales. Let’s face it, a very small percentage of Coke’s target market is surfing blogs and casting pods. And on the surface WOM appears to be a hard sell. Are there opportunities for Coke and similar brands to implement effective WOM strategies? Listen to the podcast summary and you’ll find out how the pro bloggers responded.

The Podcast Summary: Jack Trout ends his series on word-of-mouth marketing with a roundtable discussion with Edleman’s senior marketing strategist Steve Rubel; Rick Murray, executive VP and GM of Edleman’s Diversified Services Group; and Errol Smith, founder of The Affiliate Nanocasting Network and producer of Trout Radio. You’ll find a comment from Errol Smith, a link to the podcast summary and a link to the Forbes article here.

Additional Resources: Bloggers with discussions on the topic include: Buzz Marketing and Maneuver Marketing Communique. What’s your view on the subject?

[tags] WOM, word of mouth, social networking, Forbes, eoecho [/tags]

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