Thursday, July 09, 2009

Are You Getting the Most out of Advertising?

In a recent post on's blog, Dan Rayburn mentioned coverage of MJ's memorial service: the fact that everyone is "caught up in the traffic numbers and the many ways they can turn those numbers into nothing more than a headline." He makes a good point in suggesting more coverage on the business side of webcasts. "Are they trying to sell sponsorships during the event...Are they seeing any success at all when it comes to covering their costs?"

This is a big question when it comes to live events, especially trade shows. Based on my research of two major virtual conference providers, the average cost of a 2-day virtual conference is upwards of $70,000. Most offer up to 5 major sponsors for the event so if you can get each of them to dish out $14,000, you may be in the black - as long as you're willing to work for free to put the whole thing together.

Let's say you can find 5 sponsors who will keep you afloat. How do they then get their message out in a way that stands out from the rest? You'll find them competing for the most flashy ads, the biggest virtual billboard, the most free downloads, etc. But does that really work? I've become somewhat immune to advertisements as we know them and I suspect the same is true for most of America (at least the ones who've learned that it's impossible to lose 30 pounds in one week, short of liposuction and extreme dehydration).

So how do you get your message across in a way that relates to the audience you're trying to reach? Someone who does this particularly well is Peter Shankman. In his email query service for journalists, Help A Reporter Out or HARO, you'll find a written ad with a link at the beginning of each email. This may sound like a common sense thing to do - put an ad in an email - but HARO ads have a more personal touch. The reader sees that businesses are represented in a genuine recommendation, rather than flashy marketing speak.

That said, screening advertisers carefully will surely be of great benefit. When asked about a policy to "keep it real" in advertising, Shankman replied that they "reject about 10% of want-to-be advertisers." It may seem obsurd to turn down advertisers but the idea of casting a net will only get you so far. When I see a website with ads that seem like scams, the site immediately loses credibility in my mind. Fair or not, that's just how it is.

P.S. This blog post is brought to you by RGA, Rick Grant & Associates ;) and the letter Q.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

New Media: Not Just for College Kids Anymore.

Every day people are discovering more ways to use new media - and the possibilities are endless! Recently, many government agencies began using social media to communicate with the masses and employees. According to, "The Columbus, Ohio, Chamber of Commerce worked with students at Ohio State University to use Facebook to announce the opening event of a new restaurant, leading to...the biggest opening day ever for the restaurant chain." Social media sites are becoming a hot ticket for company promos (in fact, before going to dinner a couple weeks ago, I downloaded a coupon from twitter posted by a restaurant). Do a twitter search for "coupon" and see what comes up.

The public is becoming more aware of their favorite brands and people on social networking sites and many organizations are reporting success stories in this area. Anderson County, SC, has decided to take informing the public one step further. The county is looking to increase public safety measures using new media. According to, "The system would use Facebook, Twitter, text messages and other forms of new media to get the word out." Residents would be able to sign up to receive new media alerts whenever something of importance happens. The plan is to "add new media methods and coordinate all of the platforms so that one message is sent out through cell phones, radio, television, social Web sites and more."

We live in an age where convenience is key. With new gadgets abounding, we can have information at our fingertips any time. It's great that folks are taking the initiative to use these resources to help maintain awareness and I look forward to seeing more of this in the future.

Image via Joi