4 Lessons Marketers Can Learn from Local TV News Reporters

This post was initially published on BostInnovation on July 28, 2011. To read the original post there, click here. Today – thanks to social media, smartphones and other new digital communications platforms and tools – what the savviest of consumers are asking of their favorite brands is almost as much as they’d expect from

The Importance of LinkedIn Recommendations

Given my outgoing personality, my obsession with the latest news and the fact that I’ve always been an early adopter of new communications tools, it’s no surprise that I’ve been enamored with social media from the get-go. I can’t tell you how excited I was to launch my own blog in early 2004, where I’ve written nearly

10 Ways to Succeed as a Copywriter, Parts 1-10

If you’ve been reading this blog for the last few months, you know I’ve been writing a series of posts on copywriting. Similar to the approach I took with my series on social media, I’ve looked at copywriting from a 30,000-foot level, focusing on the principles you need to be mindful of if you want to

10 Ways to Succeed in Social Media, Parts 1-10

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you already know about the  “10 Ways to Succeed in Social Media” series of posts I started writing on January 13 of this year and recently concluded on April 5. But what you wouldn’t know is how much I’ve been looking forward to stringing these posts together into one

The Importance of Character in Social Media

By now, most people involved in marketing, advertising and PR have put aside any skepticism they may have had about social media and are using such online communications vehicles as blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to reach out to and engage with others. They’re finally realizing that — as I’ve said before here on this

Robert Solomon’s Book, The Art of Client Service

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Are you a good listener? Do you listen more than you talk? Do you give those on the other side of the table the attention they deserve? It is so important to listen to others in both our professional and personal lives. People will think more favorably of you if you give them the floor. They will appreciate your interest in what they have to say. “Listening is more important than talking.” That’s just one of “54 things every advertising and marketing professional should know” according to Robert Solomon’s book, The Art of Client Service. Watch. And, yes, listen…

10 Things Wrong With Marketing Today

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I have met the enemy and it is us.

Yup. Not to sound like an alarmist, but if those of us who earn our livelihoods in marketing continue down the same long, circuitous path we’ve been on since the turn of this millennium, we may as well throw our hands up in the air and cry “uncle.”

Never mind the Joneses, after all, we’re hardly keeping up with anyone anymore on the receiving end of our marketing messages.

We’re moving in circles as an industry, if we’re moving at all. We’re falling dangerously far behind.
We need to wake up and smell the cold-brewed coffee. We need to stop marketing like it’s 1999 and start realizing that it’s no longer business as usual.

This is 2017 going on a future like you and I can only begin to imagine. This is no time to hem and haw.
Please don’t shoot the messenger, either. I’m merely passing along these words to the wise not just based on my own hands-on experience, but on what I’ve been hearing through the grapevine lately.

As disconcerting as it may be to digest, here are 10 things that are wrong with marketing today…

1. Spam. What junk mail did to direct mail, spam has done to email. People are receiving far too many irrelevant emails from brands they don’t want to hear from, undermining the effectiveness of those online messages of ours that are targeted and timed so well. You know what they about a few bad apples. Read “Why Do Marketers in 2017 Still Spam?”

2. Trust. Ask around. Where do you think those of us in marketing and advertising stand in the minds of consumers? Down there with lobbyists, politicians, telemarketers and car salespeople. Ouch. Read “Attention Marketers! People Don’t Trust Your Marketing Strategy!”

3. Innovation. Ironic, isn’t it? Innovate is what we do day in and day out, yet we’re still not doing it quickly enough. Read “Nick Law: There’s a Lack of Imagination in the Advertising Industry”

4. Knowledge. We may be smart, but our knowledge as individual practitioners still pales in comparison to what members of our audience know collectively. They’re a diverse, dynamic group, constantly in motion, perpetually changing. A culture of continuous learning within the marketing workplace must be a top priority going forward. Read “Marketers Lack the Skills to Deliver on Customer Experience”

5. Technology. Ah, the bane of our existence. As soon as we catch on to one disruptive trend, another one comes along. Yikes. More changes in technology have taken place in the 21st century than most, if not all of us, have seen in our lifetimes. Read “Staying Technology Relevant Has Suddenly Become a Full-Time Responsibility”

6. Agencies. This one hurts personally, as agencies have been the lifeblood of my career. But all good things must come to an end, and the agency model as we know it needs to undergo a massive overhaul if you, me and everyone else in this industry expects to thrive, not just survive as professionals. Read Forrester: Marketers are the Catalyst to Fix the Broken Agency Model and Marketing agencies are broken

7. Quality. We can’t say we didn’t see this coming. Unfortunately, what our parents warned us about while growing up has finally come true. Call it carelessness. Call it informality. Call it inattention to grammar, punctuation, detail and accuracy. Whatever we call it, it could cost us our jobs. Read “Poor-Quality Ads Cost U.S. Marketers $7.4 Billion”

8. Turnover. A lack of continuity and cohesion among teams, especially those at the leadership level, is never good for business. So-called churn-and-burn hiring may never end, but it needs to at least slow down for not just the agency era, but for the marketing industry as we know it to endure. Read “CMO Turnover Reaches New High”

9. Strategy. Why do you think so many ads are being blocked, ignored and avoided today? Why do you think consumers have turned against us? We’re not putting enough time, effort and thought into what we do, that’s why. We’re sacrificing strategy for expediency. We’re cutting corners to cut costs. We’re being penny wise and pound foolish. Read “10 Reasons You Need a Digital Marketing Strategy in 2017”

10. Irrelevancy. Not to sound like a broken record, but we need to do for ourselves what we do for our products, services, clients and customers. We can’t be like the cobbler and his shoes. We need to not just rebrand ourselves, but literally transform ourselves from the inside out before it’s too late. Read “5 of the Biggest Challenges Facing Today’s Marketers”

All that said, this is a fantastically fun time to be in marketing. Seriously. We just need a big course correction, that’s all. We need to seize the day. Digital. Mobile. Social. AI. Augmented reality. Chat bots. Ephemeral content. Livestreaming video. You name it. There are more opportunities than ever today to take our industry further and faster than we ever could have imagined. I absolutely love my job. I love what I do for a living. I love a good challenge. Who else is in?

Note: This post, “10 Things Wrong with Marketing Today,” was originally published on the AMA Boston blog on October 10, 2017, here.

Are you a trust agent?

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Thanks, as always, to my ridiculously awesome – and VERY patient – wife, Barbara, for recording this video. It’s all about the importance of trust agents in business, especially in social media and marketing. It’s my takeaway from a book written by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. The question is…Are YOU a trust agent?

Three Problems in Corporate Social Media

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There are many reasons why businesses and brands struggle with the development and implementation of a successful social media program. Time. Talent. Technology. The list is endless. In an article I read recently, however, renowned speaker, educator, consultant and author, Mark Schaefer, identified what he feels are three of the biggest problems in this area. Leadership, content shock and unrealistic goals.

I can’t disagree.

Here are my thoughts on Mark’s article and how I think these problems are reducing so many companies’ chances for success in social media.

10 Ways Public Speakers Should Use Social Media

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If you’re giving a presentation and your audience members are looking down at their electronic devices, not up at you, don’t be annoyed, be pleased.

As someone who speaks often at industry conferences and events, after all, I know that if those in my audience are looking down at their phones, tablets and laptops, they’re probably not ignoring my presentation. They’re likely sharing what they’re hearing on social media, which is exactly what I want them to be doing on my behalf. I want them to be amplifying my message to their own networks, extending the reach of what I’m saying to a much larger number of people.

That’s what I would call the “socialization” of my presentation. And that’s what I would think every public speaker today would want their listeners to be doing for them, too. It may be disconcerting at first. It may even be distracting. But it’s increasing the audience for your presentation exponentially. Like the click-click-click of the cameras at a big press conference, everyone is busy capturing the moment, only in a variety of different ways unique to each respective audience member.

Of course, a speaker wants everyone in the audience to be paying attention, hanging on his or her every word. But the reality is that when they’re sharing what they hear with their own online followers and friends, they’re concentrating even more on recording just the right sound bite or image. They’re even more engaged with what you are saying as they realize the magnitude of their responsibility to report on the event accurately, informatively and entertainingly.

Here are 10 ways public speakers, instructors, trainers and anyone else who finds themselves in front of an audience should use social media to promote their own presentations…

1. Encourage social media use among your audience. One of the first things I say to my audience when I take the stage is to not hesitate to use social media. After all, I want them to share their impressions of my presentation with their own respective networks. They get the benefit of having unique, new content to distribute and I enjoy the exponential increase in reach to a much broader audience. Its’ a win-win situation that’s well worth encouraging.

2. Include your handle and hashtag in slides. If you’re going to be drumming up social media usage, it would be remiss of you not to include where you can be found there on your presentation’s slides. At the very least, share your Twitter handle on your title slide and perhaps on every other slide, too. You should also list wherever else you have a presence on social media – e.g., YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. – on an individual slide that also includes your bio, not to mention the event’s hashtag (assuming there is one).

3. Tweet before and after your presentation. Publicizing your presentation nowadays means using social media to talk about it both beforehand and afterwards. Some of this content can be scheduled in advance to give you a steady, uninterrupted presence on these online communications channels while the rest of it should be real-time engagement with your followers and fans.

4. Record your presentation. Have someone record your presentation on video, which will likely give you some great content afterwards to share – in dribs and drabs – with your constituents on social media. If the quality is good enough, you can even upload the entire presentation to YouTube.

5. Live-tweet your gig. Having someone capture what you’re saying in the moment is an excellent way to report extemporaneously on your presentation, taking full advantage of any real-time buzz about your presentation and leveraging every little thing you are saying in the moment. Retweeting, liking and engaging with your audience is ideal, too, if you can get a colleague or friend to do this from their account for you while you’re on stage.

6. Get away from the podium. Moving around the room is a good idea for a speaker in general, as it is a much more engaging and compelling way to deliver a presentation. You don’t want your audience’s view of you to be obstructed in any way, shape or form. You want to give them as many photo opportunities as possible as well as the best chance to see you up-close and personal. You’ll make a stronger connection and better impression that way as well.

7. Include quotable quotes. Make it easy for members of your audience to provide coverage of your talk. Provide them with catchy visuals and short sound bites. Have a handful of clever, memorable one-liners rehearsed in advance and delivered at key, prominent moments. Feature this content prominently in your presentation. Create each of your slides for prime-time viewing, that is, with the intention of them going viral. Make it hard for your audience not to want to repeat what you share with them time and time again.

8. Pause on your best slides. Pacing is important. If you have a hit slide or message on your hands, pause and pose for the crowd. Seriously. Take your time on the highlights of your presentation. Take it slow. Milk it for everything it’s worth. If you have a strong point to make, or a great visual to show, your audience needs the time to capture and share the moment with their own respective audiences on social media.

9. Use gestures and props. You may be speaking to inform and educate, but you also want to entertain your audience. Accessorize your presentation with gestures and props. Not only do you want to engage and enlighten those in the audience, you want to dazzle and delight them, too. Appeal to their senses. Tease them with theatrics. Add elements to your presentation that will make it more photogenic, capturable and ripe for social media.

10. Summarize your presentation. When all is said and done, you want to review, repurpose and save your presentation for posterity. You want to summarize it for those who weren’t there as much as get even more mileage out of your efforts by reporting on it yourself. Use Storify, Twitter Moments or your own blog to recapture everything you said as well as what your audience had to say themselves on social media about the event.

Note: This post, “10 Ways Public Speakers Should Use Social Media,” was originally published on the AMA Boston blog on September 7, 2017, here.

10 Boston Hotels Crushing It On Social Media

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It may be all the rage, but for a variety of reasons, not every business is cut out for social media.

Some will never understand it. Others think it’s a waste of time and money. And finally, there are those who just aren’t the right fit for it.

But most marketers would agree that while social media is not for everyone, it is ideal for those who want to engage with their customers and prospects, especially in real time. If that’s where your audience is, time spent on these relatively new online communication channels is more than well worth it.

Where else can you put the word out to your constituency without feeling like you’re invading their space? Where else can you capture the attention of such a qualified audience who have already indicated they want to hear from you and will be likely to respond?

When consumers are followers on social media, it’s because they’re interested in you and your brand. They’re fans of yours, maybe even influencers of their own personal networks who can bring you even more business. You can watch them and listen to them, learning practically everything about them before reaching out to them with an offer they can’t refuse.

Skip the sales talk on social media, though. Your offer should be to educate, enlighten and entertain them. Fulfill their needs, not yours. Make them smile and they’ll make you successful.

There are many industries for which social media is tailor-made. Hospitality is one of them. Travelers and tourists are looking for the best meals and the best deals. They’re often lost without help, something you can easily provide to them if they’re following you online. Directions, recommendations, highlights and attractions. Give them everything you’ve got.

Learn from these 10 hotels in Boston how to win guests and influence people. Whether you work in the hospitality industry or not, what they know can help you be even more successful on social media. These lessons are scalable. These examples are convertible.

1. The Langham Boston on Facebook – Special Offers

It may be too late to win this spectacular offer on their Afternoon Tea, but if you follow this elegant hotel (formerly the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston) on social media, you’ll find plenty of other reasons to pay them a visit.

2. Colonnade Hotel on Facebook – Social Proof

Guests may know the Colonnade for its popular outdoor rooftop pool, but Ashley Markwood’s blog post about her staycation there points out a bunch of other great reasons to check into this hotel.

3. Boston Park Plaza on Twitter – Cause Marketing

Wearing a red nose may be an excellent way to get attention, but in this case, it is being done to commemorate Walgreen’s Red Nose Day, a campaign to help end child poverty. A win-win social media post if ever there was one.

4. Ames Hotel on Twitter – Newsjacking

Not only is it good form to show you support for the local sports team, it’s a great way to inject yourself into a much broader conversation.

5. Sheraton Boston on Twitter – Localization

Looking for some good content ideas? Look no further than your own backyard. Kudos to the Sheraton Boston for not just taking advantage of the calendar here, but for engaging the local running community as well.

6. Fairmont Copley Plaza on Instagram – Hashtag Marketing

A picture may tell a thousand words, and if it’s as spectacular as this one, it’ll leave you speechless in return. All the Fairmont Copley Plaza had to do was add a short caption and a popular hashtag, #WeddingWednesday, to boost its chances of being seen.

The moments before “I do.” #WeddingWednesday #FairmontWeddings 📸: @allegrophotoboston

A post shared by Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston (@fairmontcopley) on

7. Four Seasons Hotel on Instagram – Contests

The stunning shot of sailboats on the Charles may be what catches your eye, but what will likely capture your attention is the chance to win a prize.

8. Boston Harbor Hotel on Instagram – Opportunism

To see the massive flag that hangs inside the rotunda of the Boston Harbor Hotel is to be impressed. It’s a spectacular sight. It also presents the hotel with a great opportunity to display different sentiments according to what’s going on in town, in this case the Boston Marathon.

9. Hotel Commonwealth on Twitter – Questions and Quizzes

How cool is this? An autographed elevator. Asking the hotel’s audience on Twitter to look closely at the autographs, though, is a stroke of brilliance, as it encourages people to watch the video over and over. Good for branding. Great for the hotel.

10. Boston Park Plaza on Twitter – Corporate Culture

What a fantastic way to win guests and influence people! Smart business is showing love to your employees. Smart marketing is showing it off on social media. After all, a hotel that takes such good care of its employees must take great care of its guests, right?

Note: This post, “10 Boston Hotels Crushing It On Twitter,” was originally published on the AMA Boston blog on June 15, 2017, here, and on LinkedIn on August 9, 2017, here.

10 Boston Restaurants Crushing it on Twitter

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It’s one thing to be able to serve great food. It’s quite another to be able to show off those dishes in words and pictures on Twitter so well that your followers like your tweets almost as much as your eats.

That’s the irony of marketing a restaurant in this day and age. As if it’s not enough to be considered one of the best places to go for a bite to eat in town. Now they have to have the popularity on social media to prove it.

Okay. Maybe that’s a stretch, but the importance of displaying their menus everywhere people are congregating online today cannot be underestimated. More and more potential customers are stalking their every move not just on the grapevine, but on a bevy of newfangled communication channels before they decide to make their reservations.

They’re looking for pretty plates of yummy food.

They’re looking for the right crowd and atmosphere, great service, good prices.

They’re looking for social proof of a restaurant’s ambience, reputation, quality and personality.

They’re looking for an excellent place to eat and drink as well as a cool place to see and to be seen not just in real life, but on social media, too.

Talk about high expectations.

They got this, though. At least many restaurants in the Boston area do. They understand that diners today are looking for an enjoyable experience on both the table and Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and the like.

Here are 10 examples of Boston restaurants crushing it on social media:

1. Sonsie on Instagram

This hip, go-to eatery on Newbury Street is also an excellent place to visit on social media, especially on Instagram, where their visual content – hashtags included – lives up to their reputation for offering a variety of eclectic, high-quality meals.

2. Loretta’s Last Call on Twitter

Good, old-fashioned Southern food and hospitality is what this restaurant is all about, as is its content on Twitter. This is a fun account to follow, one that will inspire you to eat well and party hard.

3. Red Lantern on Twitter

I’ve never been here, and by the looks of their Twitter feed I am missing out on something special. Not only does their Asian cuisine look delicious, their cocktail menu appears to be very creative and they even have a DJ in their lounge. VERY cool.

4. Regina Pizzeria on Twitter

Having been serving their wicked popular pizza since 1926, they’re old, but young enough in spirit to be crushing it on Twitter, where they share a ton of fun updates like this one replete with hashtags and emojis.

5. Top of the Hub on Facebook

With more than 17,000 likes on Facebook, these guys are not only at the top of their game when it comes to serving food, they get social media, too. Lots of great food photos coupled with welcoming, engaging copy is what you’ll find in their feed.

6. Legal Sea Foods on Facebook

The first restaurant most people think of when they think of going out for seafood is an excellent place to follow on social media, too, for a variety of reasons, one of the biggest being you just might win a free cup of their classic, award-winning clam chowder.

7. The Harp Boston on Facebook

Shining the spotlight on your constituency is what it’s all about on social media, which is what this popular North Station sports bar does so well on Facebook. Not only does including fan photos in your newsfeed show your appreciation for them, it increases the likelihood of your content being shared and reaching a much broader audience.

8. Stella on Instagram

Known for its delicious Italian fare, this South End eatery serves up some ridiculously incredible food porn on its Instagram account including this spectactular collage.

9. Deep Ellum on Facebook

Compliments to the chef at this fine gastropub, as I’ve eaten there a number of times. Equal praise, though, should be given to whomever is administering to their Facebook page, as their posts there are written very cleverly, creatively and conversationally. Writing in lowercase only adds a touch of class – somehow, some way – consistent with their brand.

10. Wahlburgers on Twitter

They’re famous for many other reasons, but the Wahlburgers have also made quite a name for themselves serving burgers, too. My wife likes this place near Fenway Park for its gluten-free buns. I like it for its tweets – and yes, of course, its eats, too.

Note: This post, “10 Boston Restaurants Crushing It On Twitter,” was originally published on the AMA Boston blog on January 24, 2017, here, and on LinkedIn on March 22, 2017, here.

Bob has curated a list of more than 300 Boston-area restaurants on Twitter, which you will find here.

The Importance of Trust Among Colleagues

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I’ve read a lot of Patrick Lencioni‘s books on leadership and business management. They are all ridiculously awesome and incredibly insightful. “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” is one of his best books, if you ask me. One of the dysfunctions he writes about in this book is the absence of trust. Trust is essential to the success of a team. Without trust in the workplace, team members will be more than likely to work ineffectively. Trust needs to be earned, of course, but if the right people are on board, trust is a given. A presence of trust in the workplace (or among any group of people working together towards the same goal) helps ensure that every single individual contributor on the team is performing his or her duties in a seamlessly coordinated fashion with colleagues. Watch…