Social Media

Help A Reporter Out!

Although it’s gotten its fair share of blog posts and media hits in NY Times, Marketing Sherpa and MarketingProfs over the last several days, Peter Shankman‘s Help A Reporter Out project deserves a mention here as well for those of you who don’t have your finger on the pulse of the marketing infostream.

Help A Reporter is Shankman’s mailing list for requests from reporters seeking interviewees and experts on a deadline. He runs it to generate good karma, but the list also benefits public relations pros and businesses who watch it as long as they respond when a request is relevant to them.

In short, don’t abuse this system. It’s very bad karma, and Shankman will remove you for repeated offenses. The value of Shankman’s list is in the trust that the emails connect reporters to truly relevant and available experts.

The group began as a Facebook group called “If I can help a reporter out, I will…” that I was lucky enough to stumble upon a few months ago in perusing the words and tips of marketing gurus online. It was growing at the time but has since grown beyond the scope of Facebook’s messaging restrictions. At 1200 members, Facebook no longer allows admins to send out messages to the group members, so Shankman acted fast to create the new site/list system at

Shankman sent out a Facebook message to the group members celebrating the new site:

It means our little experiment here in social media and PR is working!

This makes me happy. 🙂

But, we’re getting bigger! And we’ve outgrown our Playpen!

If you are looking to get your business mentioned in the media or work in public relations or as a publicist, you should get on this mailing list. Remember what it’s all about and keep winning good karma points by responding when you can assist but not pushing yourself into a story where you don’t belong.

As long as we keep this thing going, this list could be the start of a nice mutual network for public relations practitioners and reporters. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all get along?

As Shankman says:

It’s a simple idea, and one that can really help not only reporters, but all of us, as well! The bigger it gets, the better chance we have to make sure that reporters get the sources they need. The more they get the sources they need, the more likely they are to tell other journalists, which in the end, gives you more chances to get yourself, your clients, or your company some good press!

Go to to sign up for the list. More on the list from Shankman himself:

The site’s been built to be as simple as this one: Simply enter your name/company/email, and you’ll get reporter requests sent to you via email, usually immediately after a reporter sends them to me.

It’s simple, it’s STILL FREE, and it’s no SPAM. It’s a double-opt-in list, with an automatic opt-out if you ever decide to leave us. Couldn’t be simpler, and yes, I’m still doing this because it’s good Karma.

So go to and sign up.


Pluckers built reputation on personal service

There’s a wing joint that dominates the city of Austin and has started its migration across Texas. Started by two former University of Texas students, Pluckers has become the name that defines Buffalo wings in the state capital.

The chain was recently featured in The Alcalde [Note that the article on Pluckers is not available online], alumni magazine of the University of Texas.

According to The Alcalde, the idea to create a late-night wing delivery restaurant came to the two founders when they were up late one night in the dorms, but they didn’t put it together until they graduated. Contrary to what they had imagined, they spent most of their first months in the kitchen rather than spending their days shaking hands and chatting up customers inside the restaurant. Always putting service before everything else, the founders would personally deliver corrected orders and apologize if a mistake was made.

On a recent visit to Pluckers, some friends asked if one of the TVs could be tuned into the UT men’s basketball game. Unable to locate it on the satellite programming, a Pluckers employee brought out his laptop and placed it on their table so that they could watch the game while they ate. Pretty nice service if you asked me.

Each store has it’s own motif of college sports memorabilia, but to keep it up to date, Pluckers also has policy of updating a store every 5 years to keep it fresh and keep the TVs top-of-the-line for sports fans.

The greatest link that established Pluckers as the dominant force it has become is its incredibly close tie to all UT Austin’s sporting events. Pluckers hosts events at each location and gives out coupons for free wings after almost every UT sporting event.

With this motto of service, Pluckers has put itself on top.

Social Media

Understand what public relations can do for you featured a great set of 18 PR Tips for Startups from Brian Solis in a recent email. His tips feature a few pet peeves of mine about some people’s concept of public relations. Often, folks can doubt the power of PR.

2. Don’t undervalue PR.

PR, when done right, is extremely valuable to company branding, which has immeasurable benefits in the long haul. Customers have choices and if you’re not consistently vying for their attention, it’s pretty easy to fall off their radar screen when they evaluate options. Too many companies nickel and dime PR to the point of absurdity. Don’t get me wrong. Expensive PR doesn’t equal success. But short changing PR is usually a first step in the wrong direction.

As a general rule, PR should always be consistent because it does take time and maintained effort to establish relationships with the journalists that cover your business and find coverage opportunities. Solis does a great job expanding upon these two principles through all 18 tips–even enforcing how important it is for executives to meet regularly with their PR department and involve them early in decisions that can affect their messaging.

Marketing-savvy corporate executives are working with PR, Advertising, and Marcom teams to explore options and strategies on how to participate in relevant online conversations. This represents a shift in outbound marketing as it creates a direct channel between companies and customers, and ultimately people.

He even recommends my dream job within a company:

Hire a community manager. In the new world of social media, new PR can be complemented through the efforts of someone who can actively represent the company in all things social so that they can provide proactive information and support to people looking for guidance in the communities they frequent. Don’t market to them, have conversations.

Now, who’s interested?

Business uses a retail location to build brand love

If you are not familiar with, they make shirts. Unlike most companies who choose their designs based upon focus testing and select influential parties, Threadless uses the crowd.

Similar to, Threadless accepts user-submitted designs. They use a public rating system to determine what shirts to print; therefore, they let the crowd run their product development like open source software.

According to MarketingVOX, the company expects $15 million in sales this year. It emerged from the minds of two Chicago art students who put in just $1,000 seven years ago.

The site opened a real live, in-person location in Chicago that doubles as a brand builder.

Launched in September, the store has become a great brand-awareness opportunity, since most people coming in aren’t familiar with the website.

And in terms of getting those familiar with the brand incentive to come in, the retail location launches new shirts three days before they hit the web.

To top it off, they have plenty of online support.

How many companies do you know with online and retail locations that compliment each other so well?

Business Working Class

Top 5 needs of a small business all come down to comfort

In the Texas Startup Blog‘s top 5 things that startups need and what to avoid, I noticed a similarity relating to my post about seeking an office.

When you are young and not so full of cash, the best thing to do for a a business is to make the office a comfortable place to function. You might even go off the deep end providing comforts like extra plush chairs. All five of the top 5 items mentioned by the Texas Startup Blog are related to making the office comfortable. Money is better spent on these comforts than intense spending in advertising or over-the-top software.

  • Comfortable chairs.
  • Creature comforts such as ergonomic keyboards (if they are requested).
  • Bigger monitors.
  • Free soft drinks.
  • White boards.

The benefit of this investment may not be immediately obvious, but by making it more comfortable to be there, you not only breed goodwill and morale by making the office nice for the workers. You also get a higher production out of these morale-boosted and comfy workers who can stay at the office longer.

With free caffeine, nice viewing monitors and plenty of white board space to dream–or plot–tons of work can get done no matter how many hours of the week it takes. I know I do.

Of course, these tips are mainly geared at tech startups who need the large screen real estate for coding and engineering projects, not necessarily every small business that you have in mind. Free soft drinks and white boards can be fairly universal, but chairs/monitors/keyboards might not matter to a company where employees are not constantly on a computer.