In today’s social media-savvy world, one of the most important things you can do to increase your opportunities is to generate buzz. There are a number of activities you can undertake to increase your public perception and generate the kind of buzz that has the potential to expose you and your brand to new revenue opportunities. I say, “has the potential” because the unfortunate reality of this method is that there are no guarantees that when you generate buzz you will generate business. But the other realities are that 1) there is more chance that increased buzz will present you with chances to generate business and 2) you can do a lot of this work yourself so at least your activities don’t have to be expensive.
Generate Buzz With Public Media
All of your activities will relate around media — specifically you’ll be dealing with both public media (newspaper, radio, TV news shows, etc.) and private media (blogs and social media sites). Interestingly, the two have a symbiotic relationship — public media will increase your blog readership and your blogging will entice public media to cover you.
Creating the actual blog is easy. Just go to www.wordpress.com and register for a free account. Then contact an administrator to build your initial site and host it for you. You could do that yourself but since you most likely have no idea what you’re doing, I suggest you find someone to help you. You want to look for someone who is knowledgeable, responsive, and inexpensive.
Setting the blog up is the easy part. What’s harder is having something worthwhile to say day after day and week after week. There’s not much I can do to help you with this except to suggest that you’ll grow into it over time as you experiment with what works and what doesn’t and as you begin to find your own unique voice. Things I can tell you from experience is that consistency is critical, shorter posts (two pages max) are better than complicated, multi-part documents, and a personal view or revelation is better received than a pure business-like essay. Most important, be sure to write about things that both interest and help your audience instead of posting updates about what you or your company has been up to lately.
I’m too impatient to wait for readers to find my blog on their own, and I’m neither popular enough nor presumptuous enough to believe people care about what I write enough to search me down, so I chose to send my blog out to an ever-growing list of readers. This adds some expense and effort but I believe it’s well worth it in reader volume. Still, most bloggers just post their data and hope the rest of the world beats a path to their literary mousetrap. I know many bloggers think my technique is akin to spamming but it works for me.
Generate Buzz With Social Media
Because my entire strategy is built around getting people to read my blog (and then hire me to speak at their conferences and then hire my firm to build their brands), I use the other social media sites (specifically LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook) to generate traffic to my blog. For that reason, I accept almost every single person who invites me to join their SM rosters and I post to those sites with the goal of generating interest in who I am and what I write about.
To make life a little easier, I use www.ping.fm to send my messages to all three sites simultaneously. To make my Twitter management as painless as possible, I use TweetDeck to segregate both my followers and those I follow so I can continue to accept and “refollow” anyone who wants to follow me while having immediate access to the tweets of those I care most about. And I’ve ended any concern about whom I accept on Facebook by accepting the fact that I use the site for business, not as a personal communication device.
Generate Buzz With YouTube
Once you’ve established your blog — both technically and as part of your weekly To-do list — the next activity is to create podcasts and post the videos on YouTube. An oft-repeated statistic is that YouTube is currently the world’s second most visited search engine (after its parent, Google) and soon its volume of searches will outpace Google itself. Because different people consume information in different ways, these video posts can be simple re-reads of your written posts or new content that takes advantage of the video format (you can show examples of your points, for example, or do magic tricks or hand puppets or whatever else you think will add interest).
These activities may seem overwhelming, but they’re really not. They just require a little bit of knowledge, a commitment of time to both learn the techniques and create the content, and the discipline to do them time after time, week after week. But after a couple of months of activity, you’ll have enough critical mass of content established online to undertake stage two — pursuing public media.
Generate Buzz With Blogging
Here’s where you’re going to reach out to various reporters and other bloggers to get them to write about you and direct people to your online persona. The easiest way to do this is to simply call them. Consider your public relations outreach to be a daily part of your new business cold-calling activities and set aside the time to establish relationships with reporters and bloggers. Once they know who you are and what you do, they’ll be much more likely to want to include you in their stories and come to you for information.
Here are a few rules to keep in mind when dealing with reporters:
1. Never lie to them. Even in today’s shifting journalistic environment when standards are dropping faster than a hooker’s panties, most journalists still live and die by their reputations. The worst thing that can happen to a reporter (other than being fired) is for their editor to have to print a retraction because they got something wrong.
If you don’t know an answer, either say so or change the subject. Don’t make it up.
2. Ever notice how reporters tend to quote the same people over and over? Every wonder how you can become one of those people? Make yourself available to the reporter when they want to write about you and when they don’t. Your goal is not to generate lines in the paper or minutes on air but to build a relationship with the reporters so they come to think of you as the expert in your specific field. That way, they’ll use you as a research source and will be much more likely to think of you when they need a quote or an example.
3. Take them to lunch. These are the four magic words of PR as far as I’m concerned and a great way to establish a relationship that’ll pay off many times over. And, by the way, don’t only take working reporters to lunch. Because their world is so volatile, reporters live in a very unstable environment right now. If they are unlucky enough to be laid off, they find it an added indignity to be dropped by all of the fair-weather friends who used them when they had a public outlet but no longer see any value in the relationship. Remember that many reporters will be back in the public reporting sector sooner or later. They will certainly remember those who were supportive when things were tough. They’ll also remember who stiffed them. Who would you rather be?
Generate Buzz by Working Hard
Your bottom line should be to generate as much interest in you and your activities as possible. While there are no direct metrics to extrapolate how many blog readers or magazine articles it takes to generate additional income, a good rule of thumb is the more the merrier. Work hard to make your professional persona ubiquitous and it will pay off in perception and interest.
The other day the CEO of one our largest clients was sitting in my conference room discussing a project he wanted us to do for him. While he was talking, his phone rang and he glanced at the screen. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but it’s one of my board members. Pardon me while I take this.” During the conversation, he mentioned to the board member that he was in my office talking to me about the new project. “Oh, you know Bruce?” he asked the person on the phone. “Do you know him from when he presented at our board meeting?” He listened. “Oh, you know him from his blog.”
Here’s the beauty part: My client and I were just talking about us starting a robust social media program for him and now he saw the direct benefit of what we do. I was no longer a vendor selling a service but an expert who clearly practices what he preaches. I don’t yet know what the financial result of the project will be and there’s no reason to believe that we wouldn’t have gotten the project without the unplanned interaction but it certainly helped sell my point of view.
These sorts of things happen to me all the time. With a little work, they can happen to you, too.