We all want it.
We hunt high and low for it. We work for it. We get creative to generate it. We use gimmicks, travel to trade shows and work the media hard for it. The problem is, we can’t manufacture it and we can’t buy it. We either conjure it out of thin air, or we don’t find it at all.
It’s buzz, and we know when we have it, almost anything is possible. More than that, up until a few years ago, there was no way to measure it. But now there is. It’s called the Internet and it’s a key ingredient in maximizing the buzz we generate.
Don’t believe me? Let me tell you a story of this teenager who lived in his mom’s house in the Midwest. He went to school, hung out with his buddies and paid attention to his studies. He was also passionate about music, so much so, that he wrote and recorded his own songs with every spare moment he had. When he was done with them, he’d perform them in front of his home video camera and post them on YouTube, inviting feedback from whoever was watching. Soon he found he was actually developing a bit of a following. He’d get comments on his posts and emails, and his online friends would use Twitter and Facebook to notify the masses whenever he posted a new song.
Then, a few people in the music business saw his stuff. And then a few more, and eventually, his name was being bandied about inside the industry. Finally, they called him and his mom, and offered him a deal. The next thing he knew, he was on TV, touring and selling albums like IHOP sold pancakes.
Oh, and by the way, his name is Justin Bieber.
A decade ago, the music business was a closed community, and if you wanted in, you had to hustle and push and slide your demo CD into the hands of agents and impresarios on the sly. Bieber didn’t make a single demo or a single phone call. He simply posted his music on the Internet and the music industry came to him.
So, let’s talk about buzz. The media landscape has changed dramatically over the last decade. Just as the Internet has changed the music industry, it has changed the media and how consumers view it, forever. Today, more people get their news online than those who get it offline. Many commuters have traded reading the newspaper on the train for picking up the headlines on their PDAs. No longer do we have to wait for the six o’clock news to find out what happened during the day. Now, we get it as it happens on our favorite news sites. If we get a call from a friend that there’s a cool article in that day’s newspaper, we don’t have to run out to the newsstand to read it. We just pop it up on our laptops from the newspaper’s Web site.
Moreover, every single media placement that we get in our public relations campaigns winds up somewhere on the Web, usually in multiple places. According to the Pew Institute for Media Research, most stories that appear in print not only wind up repurposed on the Internet by that outlet, but they are typically picked up 8 to 10 more times by other Web sites. The placements in top tier media organizations usually wind up being pulled in by giant online content aggregators like MSN and Yahoo, where the story is exposed to millions more readers.
And, if you want to find out if a trend is hot, the answer to that question is usually found after a couple of Google searches, because that’s where all of the coverage in a PR campaign eventually winds up. How do I know? I do it myself. I write a newsletter, I write articles and columns and I push them out to the media every month on a regular basis. I know they make a difference, because of the wave of response that I get from them every month.
In fact, recently I spoke with a potential client who had taken my PR campaign proposal and gave it to his partner to evaluate. Well, she red-inked our proposal like she was a high school English teacher and I had just given her a book report I copied from Cliff’s Notes. Then, after all her criticism, she wrote this note to my potential client at the bottom of her review:
“…those are my questions and thoughts. I agree 100% we need someone to help with the publicity…and Marsha’s name is all over the place if you Google her, so must be doing things right.”
So, when I harp on the power of the Internet for public relations, I’m not just talking the talk. I’m walking the walk. If you want to have buzz or name recognition like Justin, remember the Internet. It’s not just for computer geeks, anymore.