How can online marketers build consumer-generated content?
"What we're talking about is creating a new level of visitor engagement," says Lisa Wehr, CEO of online marketing firm Oneupweb. "That means knowing your market, including topics and content on your Web site that people are interested in knowing and sharing."
Wehr notes that one of the easiest ways to involve the online visitor is through consumer product reviews and forums. Over three-quarters of online purchasers use consumer reviews to influence their buying decisions. Adding informational and entertaining blogs where readers can post comments is also relatively simple. Tagging popular content for posting on various social sites can stimulate further dialogue.
"The secret," adds Wehr, "is to create an environment of belonging, where opinions and feedback are truly valued."
Even with consumer images, video, or commentary, marketers must be comfortable conduits that invite participation and return visits, while enhancing their brand positioning.
If I cannot release any information regarding my client's message until the very last minute, how can I effectively get the message broadcasted?
According to Curt Gill of News Generation, the easiest way to get the message out there even if you can't release any information regarding a client's message until the last minute is to issue an embargo on the release until it is made public.
"There is a certain understood code of ethics in a newsroom, and one of the most important [rules] is respecting the embargo," he notes. "If you have strong relationships with reporters, it will only help to enhance the respect they will have in recognizing that the information cannot be released until a specified time and date."
Barring the use of the embargo, most newsrooms are fully equipped to handle breaking news, so receiving information for a story at the last minute is nothing new to them, Gill adds.
However, it is important to be sure the news you have is truly a breaking story and not something that is only big within your company or niche industry, he advises.
Companies really only have one chance to make a big impression with stations on breaking news, and if "breaking news" is used inappropriately, reporters will catch on very quickly and may not use your stories in the future.
How can we prepare for the unexpected in planning events?
"While live events can offer great visuals, dynamic stunts, and unmatched exposure, they also come with a level of unpredictability much greater than other forms of promotion," notes Matt Glass of Eventage.
Everything from weather to road construction to last-minute client changes and demands will throw a wrench at your event plan. The best plan is one that is flexible and prepared for the unexpected, he adds.
"If you've got the luxury of a rain plan, develop it," Glass advises. Not all events can be moved indoors or under a tent, but if yours can, be sure to make those arrangements well beforehand. Odds are your event won't be affected by a natural disaster or news-making occurrence, but it's good to be prepared nonetheless.
"The most important skill for an event person to have in an emergency is the ability to stay calm," he says. While there's no way to ensure that a live event will happen the way you planned, you can take steps to minimize the risk of failure.