Guest Speaker: Mat Hockin, Publicist MMG
Interviewer: Diane Watlov-Collins, President, MARKETINGWEB.COM
Date: October 21, 1998

Welcome to the MARKETINGWEB.COM Forum! The purpose of this Forum is to provide online discussion concerning the methods of Internet marketing.

** Marketingweb enters.

Marketingweb: Our topic for October 21, 1998 is "The Online Press".

** MHockin enters.

Marketingweb: Tonight's guest speaker was to be Adam Sherk, VP of Publicity for MMG, however, Adam had a last minute conflict. Matt Hockin, Head Publicist for MMG has joined us. Thank you Matt!

Marketingweb: Did you have any trouble getting in, Matt?

MHockin: No problems.

Marketingweb: Tell us a little about MMG and what you do for them.

MHockin: MMG is an online advertising, marketing & publicity agency. I handle all the PR for our clients. MHockin: With a little help.

Marketingweb: So you are actively involved in media contacts, press releases, etc.?

MHockin: Yes. I write press releases, articles, etc. I also have a database of media contacts which I "cultivate."

Marketingweb: Excellent! This week, Matt, we have been taking a look at online press releases as a method of basically "free" advertising for companies.

MHockin: Yes, publicity and press releases can be an excellent way to get exposure for your site and/or company. Publicity is "FREE" and people trust the media more than advertising. It's not that hard to get good publicity with the right knowledge and tools.

Marketingweb: What would you describe as the greatest barrier for a new web site in establishing a relationship with the online press?

MHockin: LACK OF KNOWLEDGE is one barrier. To be effective at getting " free" publicity from the media you must know how the media thinks, how to write effective press releases, where to find editors, writers, etc.

(Mr. Hockin went on to describe three additional barriers in establishing a relationship with the online press.)

MHockin: NO NEWS - To get publicity you MUST manufacture news. The media covers news that their readers will enjoy. It's your job to manufacture news that gets you "free" publicity. Be creative! Watch what's happening in the world and news and leverage yourself by using it as an "angle" to get publicity.

MHockin: JUST SELLING A PRODUCT/SERVICE - Many Web sites are just used for selling a product or service. This is fine, but if you send the media a press release which just highlights what you are selling they'll send you straight to the advertising department.

MHockin: LACK OF QUALITY CONTENT - You can leverage your content into publicity. People are on the Internet to find information so make it available to them on your site. Write helpful articles for your market and get the appropriate publications to publish them.

MHockin: Those are four barriers that most people have trouble overcoming. MHockin: Q?

Marketingweb: That's a lot of great information, Matt!

MHockin: You're welcome.

Marketingweb: When contacting a publication with a press release for the first time what are the most important rules to follow?

MHockin: An unwritten rule that I go by is this: Introduce yourself before sending press materials to start establishing a relationship with the right media professionals. You want to get to know these people personally and hopefully establish a long-term relationship. Then they'll come to you for news.

Marketingweb: Do you do this online?

MHockin: You can do this online with e-mail and also off-line by calling them on the phone.

Marketingweb: Which have you found most successful?

MHockin: E-mail is great. Most of these people are very, very busy and they can be short with you on the phone. Follow-up is a way to drastically increase your results too.

Marketingweb: I agree. Email first, follow up with a call.

MHockin: Yes. I've found follow-up with e-mail works well too. Plus it's cheaper and takes much less time.

Marketingweb: Do you research publications in order to determine suitability for client releases?

MHockin: Yes. You have to target the right publications and DO NOT send irrelevant information to the media. They'll shut you out if you bother them with the wrong information for their publications.

Marketingweb: I have found this crucial to establishing good relations. Email addresses can be hard to come by. Marketingweb: Would you share one or two techniques with our community?

MHockin: Techniques for finding e-mail addresses: Most publications whether they are magazines, newspapers, radio shows, TV, Web Sites, Etc. have a page called "masthead", "about us" or "contact." This is where you can find contact information including e-mail addresses. MHockin: Another easier way is to buy media directories like Bacon's.

Marketingweb: Have you found the "masthead", etc. addresses effective? Marketingweb: Sometimes it takes a little while to get to the exact person you need.

MHockin: They're excellent and current. I track mastheads and even editorial calendars. Editorial calendars tell you what the publication will be covering and writing about in the future. They give you a chance to help by sending your relevant information.

MHockin: It can be hard to find the person you need. Following up via phone is a way to find out the right person and get them the information.

Marketingweb: I agree. Your point on calendars is also important.

Marketingweb: What are the potential pitfalls of a small to medium size business with an online presence trying to manage it's own press campaign?

MHockin: TIME - You must allocate an adequate amount of time for publicity.

Marketingweb: How much time per week would you estimate?

MHockin: A well executed publicity campaign can be a huge boost to your business, but it takes time to do correctly. Fortunately, computers and the Internet enable you the tools and information to speed-up the tasks involved with waging an effective publicity campaign. MHockin: A small web-based business can gain good traffic with about two hours of time a week.

Marketingweb: I think that is a good estimate.

MHockin: YES

Marketingweb: What information would you include in an email release (short version) when trying to establish a relationship with a publication?

MHockin: First: I've found that if you introduce yourself to the media contact before you start sending press releases helps improve your results. You can just send them an e-mail intro.

MHockin: Second: Personalization is what really increases your response. So do compelling headlines. A condensed press release that fits in the size of a screen is nice too since the media is so overwhelmed with e-mail.

MHockin: I like using a "two-step" approach where I offer something, but they have to reply if they want more information, a free review copy, etc.

MHockin: This also makes it easy to know just who is interested in and who is not. The next step is following up.

MHockin: The information you'll need to give varies with what you're trying to accomplish. Name address, phone number, URL and E-mail address are usually always needed. Sometimes you'll need other information they can access either online or by asking for it.

MHockin: Examples: press kits with bio, fact sheet, questions & answer sheet, free review copy, etc.

Marketingweb: Have you found press releases can lead to feature articles?

MHockin: YES. They have to offer really interesting information that the publication's readers will appreciate.

Marketingweb: Timely, involved with current news events, human interest, etc.?

MHockin: Yes, all those. Sometimes just very helpful information or products can get large write-ups too.

Marketingweb: What types of comments should you stay away from when sending your release?

MHockin: I start out with a personalized sentence especially when I send information to media contacts I know. DO NOT overdo it. The media do not like people that sound like they just got out of "Publicity 101."MHockin: Stay away from: "Hi Bob, Here's a really cool site...etc."

Marketingweb: Yes. What about when you are just establishing a relationship with a media contact?

MHockin: That's a different story. You can get a bit "chatty" via e-mail, but on the phone they may not want to chat. They're always battling the next deadline.

Marketingweb: Yes. My experience has been when establishing a contact not to be too personal and to stick to the facts. Don't tell them what to think.

MHockin: Exactly. Just tell them what the information's benefits are to them and let them decide, quick!

Marketingweb: Can you tell us briefly about one funny experience you've had with the online press?

MHockin: Funny? I don't know if this in very funny, but one time a co-worker and I contacted a New York Times Editor during the same day. He got very irate with me and threatened to write a negative story.

MHockin: I thought it was a little funny at the time. If he would have written the negative story I wouldn't have been very amused. :-)

Marketingweb: What did you do?

MHockin: I just quickly apologized and disappeared.

Marketingweb: Good advice!

Marketingweb: Thank you, Matt, for being with us this evening! We appreciate your expertise and your filling in for Adam.

MHockin: Thank you!

Marketingweb: Most welcome!

Marketingweb: Matt Hockin, Head Publicist for MMG can be reached by email at matth@mmgco.com or phone 503-245-5951.

Marketingweb: Any other questions, Matt?

MHockin: No questions. Thanks Marketingweb.

Marketingweb: Have a great night!

** MHockin exits.




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