On day twenty-four my public relations campaign was still going full steam ahead, even though we technically hadn't made any pitches or released the story on the wire. It was also the day that it dawned on me that this project had the potential to be greater than just a site to promote breastfeeding or even a project to help people learn about marketing.
(If you're just catching up with this series of articles, be sure to swing into the ongoing discussion thread at the Small Business Ideas forum. You'll be able to link to each day's article and participate in the discussion going along with it.)
Public Relations Plans Steam Ahead
On day twenty-three I'd rejoiced at the news that The New York Times had made mention of the Lactivist Store in an article that they ran about CafePress. The good news continued to pour in on day twenty-four when Marc Cowlin, the PR Director for CafePress called to tell me that Carrie Kirby of the San Francisco Chronicle was interested in speaking with me about the Lactivist project for an article she was writing about how people monetize their blogs. This wasn't really the best day for me to talk as I was in between house closings and my husband had spent some time in the hospital that morning, but I knew this was a chance that wouldn't come often so I gave Carrie a quick call.
We had a nice chat about the project and how it came about. We talked a bit about milk banks and small businesses and I explained what Search Engine Guide was and why I was writing this article series. We hung up after about a ten minute chat and I said a quick prayer before dashing off to buy our new house.
In the meantime I'd also had an email from Amy Hooker of maven communications with the first draft of the press release we were going to use to pitch some magazines and newspapers. I'd written earlier in this series about the optimized release that I planned to use for the online wire services, but this release needed to be written in a different way. The idea with this release was to put together something that was short and sweet and that quickly caught the eye of jaded editors that have to sort through tons of releases each day.
When magazine and newspaper editors are already getting inundated with tons of pitches from companies that want to see their products and services pushed, it's essential to find that quick hook to catch their eye. The world of traditional public relations executives consists of finding a brand new way to say the same old thing. There was no need to get my keywords into the title or text here, instead, we needed to aim for the wording that would catch someone's eye and make them want to read more.
Thus, our offline press release had a quick and catchy title:
MY MILKSHAKE FEEDS ALL THE KIDS IN THE YARD:
Irreverent Slogans Highlight Serious Subject, Raise Awareness and Money for Human Milk Banks
I read over the release and dashed off a quick note to Amy with a bit of feedback so that we could get a final release ready to go sometime in the next week or two.
Catching up on Email
On day twenty-two, I wrote about the concept of networking and that it can work for anyone. While there's no doubt that networking gets easier the longer that you've been doing it, its still the type of thing that anyone can do. I've also written about my belief in online reputation management and the need to devote serious time to keeping up with people that write both to and about you and your company.
Throughout this series, I've had email flowing in on a regular basis from readers with positive and negative feedback. I've done my best to keep up with the email and to respond to each and every note, even if it takes a week or two. On day twenty-two, I shared the stories of several new contacts that I've made by doing this.
On day twenty-four, I received yet another amazing email from someone that was following the series. The email came in from a Search Engine Guide reader named Brad. Brad served in the U.S. Navy up until this past July when he was injured during a training exercise. Unable to return to either the Navy, or his previous career as a police officer, Brad began looking for a new way to earn money to help support his wife and kids.
Brad is a talented graphic artist that has created a line of art work based off of the popular WWII era pin-ups. Brad showcases his work via CafePress at a shop called Darby Doll Co. (Warning: Link features mild artistic nudity, may not be child-friendly) and was having trouble finding the right traffic for his site. Brad is a great example of someone that has an excellent product (his artwork is beautiful) to offer, but that can't seem to draw traffic from search engines or from the right blogs to create conversions. Brad and I exchanged several emails to try and help get him pointed in the right direction and the folks at Yahoo! Search Marketing generously donated a $100 advertising credit to help him get started with a campaign there.
The whole process of exchanging emails made me realize that much of what people were saying about The Lactivist project was true... The information in the article series is useful and helpful on many levels, but folks like Brad that aren't familiar with online marketing still often have a hard time putting everything in place just the right way. That's part of why I want to harp on the idea of visiting discussion forums not only to network, but to learn. There are great discussion forums out there that range from high-end industry talk to advice about making your sites usable to common sense small business marketing and most are chalk full of folks willing to offer you free advice.
Once Brad had a chance to get some of the changes I suggested in place, I realized that he still needed to figure out a way to get some links coming into his site. I couldn't find it showing up in Google, so the changes that he'd made were unlikely to impact his search rankings until Google finally found him and spidered him. That sparked another idea.
Perhaps it was true that The Lactivist enjoyed a natural advantage in the search engines and even in getting traffic started simply because I had a great starting audience to get the product in front of. While Search Engine Guide readers as a whole aren't super likely to be breastfeeding moms, the project had shown that there were certainly enough of them out there to help get things going. It only seemed logical that the Search Engine Guide network could also act as a platform for launching some other business ideas.
Search Engine Guide's sister site, Small Business Brief, is focused on helping Small Business owners figure out how to both market and run their companies. That means that every now and then, we run articles on it that talk about what has worked (or hasn't worked) for a small business. Since this series seems to have sparked a lot of new ideas out there, and since so many of you hard-working small business owners just need a little push to get things going, we've decided to leverage our network to help them out.
We're going to be inviting the people that are using this article series to spark ideas for their own small businesses to write us with their story. Tell us what you've tried from the series, or how the series made you decide to try things for yourself. Let us know what has worked, what hasn't worked and what you've come up with on your own. We'll be working through the submissions to find some to feature on Small Business Brief (and in the Search Engine Guide blog). We'll also be looking for stories like Brad's where there is a chance that we can pitch in some help (like the Yahoo! credit or some SEM advice) to help get things going.
Basically, we're looking to give people a nice starting launch to take what they've learned from this series and to make it work for their own ideas.
Interested? Send me your story (email jennifer at search engine guide dot com) and let's see what you can do with your own jump start from a well-read site.
Coming up on day twenty-five, I spot some buzz going on in some more mothering forums, start working on a plan to share my stats data with readers and welcome my first affiliates to the mix.
Jump to Day twenty-five.
(Want to read the entire 30 Day article series at once? Download the free 30 Day ebook!)
December 20, 2005
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
Copyright © 1998 - 2019 Search Engine Guide All Rights Reserved. Privacy