“…If you’re not on social media, you’re dead.”

One of the questions I’m getting for #ASKAPUBLICIST is whether social media is the only way to connect with customers. With all the hype out there, indiepreneurs fear the consequences of staying off social networks. But is it really necessary to have a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account?

The answer is usually some variation on, “It depends on your personal circumstances.” There is no one-size fits all formula for customer outreach.

The question I got from Susanne perfectly illustrates a business that not only doesn’t need social media to reach its customers, but also how other techniques are much better suited to the nature of the business.

Since this topic is right in line with our recent discussion on blogging, I decided to post the video here. This is the first time I’m responding to a reader in a video, so I’m super nervous about sharing it with you.

Press play to find out what 3 techniques I recommend to Susanne and glory in my Chicago accent.

Ps. If you’re curious about the conversation I mentioned above, you can catch up with these posts:


PR Ideas: Why Should I Care?

The following is the most recent issue of PR Ideas for Busy People. While a lot of you aren’t interested in the publicity work I do, this one is of particular relevance to my designerly friends. And since I just registered for Alt Design Summit (yay!), I figured, why not share? 

Hi there!

Last week, I ranted about advance planning. Namely, that few business owners integrate marketing with product planning.

This leads to a graveyard of missed opportunities. And it doesn’t have to be this way.

But ranting only gets us so far, so this week I’m back to help you get on the right track.

Two Steps to Thinking Like a Marketer

I originally had the word “easy” in that header, but you and I both know that defining actions doesn’t make them simple. If this stuff were easy, everyone would just do it, and I’d be out of a job.

You will get better at this with practice, though. That’s certain.

1. Identify the different audiences for your new product or service. 

These could include:

  • Your wholesale customers.
  • Your loyal coaching clients.
  • Influencers, like that blogger you really wish would cover your company or your favorite magazine.
  • Potential advertisers.
  • Publishers.

2. Once you have a working list, ask the question of each: Why should I care? 

Keep working on your product or service design until you have a compelling answer for each group of people.

Why it Matters

Maybe you’re not convinced, or you don’t see how these two steps have anything to do with your marketing.

That’s okay, I’m gonna convince you.

Let’s say you want Lucky magazine to feature your upcoming line of handbags. They’re an audience. Groovy. Now, tell me, why should the editors at Lucky care? Why should they select your handbag over the thousands of others coming to market?

One possible answer to this question is that your new line reflects the current season’s color trends.

Do you pay attention to Pantone’s color reports? Every season, Pantone brings together experts in the fashion industry who “predict” upcoming color trends. I put predict in quotes, because these are the same people designing new collections. They’re telling us which colors they’re going to be using.

Last February, Pantone released their Fall 2011 Fashion Color Report.

Right now, Lucky’s home page is featuring a fall bag guide.

Notice anything?

Not all, but many, of the bags track Pantone’s color predictions.
Pantone Comparison

I’m not advising that every accessories designer slavishly follow the Pantone color trend reports. This is just one way you might answer the question, Why do I care?, for magazine editors.

The point here is that, if you put off your promotional planning, you lose the chance to manufacture one of your handbags in this color palette. That’s a lost opportunity — one you can’t get back.

That’s why you should get in the habit, today, of asking yourself the two key questions well before you launch a new product or service:

  • Who is my audience?
  • Why should they care?

This process is relevant to every business.

  • If you’re an accountant, what advice can you offer to Entrepreneur’s readers?
  • If you’re in high-tech, why should Wired care about your new start-up?
  • If you’re a wedding photographer, why would Martha Stewart Weddings feature your latest wedding?

This is just the beginning. Right now, we’re only looking at magazine coverage — just one of your potential audiences.

Have I convinced you?

If you’d like more tips like the above, sign up for PR Ideas for Busy People. In addition to tips based on my experience working in PR, every other week, I answer a reader-submitted questions. To send me a question for consideration, shoot me an e-mail with the subject line PR Ideas Question.

It’s Been Done Before

Mount Hood

I started a bucket list just so I could add the Hood the Coast relay race to it. Hood to Coast is a 200 mile relay run from Mount Hood to the Pacific Ocean in Seaside, Oregon. Teams of 8-12 compete, and each runner is responsible for 3 legs. The entire thing is capped at 31.5 hours.

Guys, this is crazy. Currently, I run roughly 3 miles/3 times a week. In Hood to Coast, I’ll be responsible for at least 16 miles in total. On top of the mileage increase, there’s the terrain issue. You see, Chicago is flat. I bet you knew that. The only hills I cover happen if my route takes me on an overpass. Hood to Coast starts on a mountain. And it doesn’t get any easier once the first few legs are complete.

The husband and I are putting a team together for August 2012. Crazy. Awesome.

As I wrote Hood to Coast at the top of my freshly minted bucket list, I couldn’t help but think, It’s been done before. Sure, it’s a huge stretch for me, but the relay sells all 1,250 team slots the day registration opens. There’s even a movie about it.

And there’s the rub. There’s not a single thing on my bucket list that hasn’t been done before.

Who cares?

Nearly all of my life choices have been done to death.

I don’t regret these choices. So why the double standard?

Why do we only apply the it’s been done before critique to our freaky fantastic goals?


That’s it. Those other things. They’re conventional. Conventional doesn’t mean bad by default. But what it does mean is that we feel secure in the knowledge that other people are doing it.

When we venture past the safe, the fear starts throwing all kinds of b.s. our way.

Bullshit like worrying that our new goals aren’t good enough, because they’ve been done before.

What if we stopped weighing our decisions against the impossible metrics of “uniqueness” or “safety” and listened to the insanely ambitious voice in our gut?

What would we accomplish then?