My new gig: inbound marketing at readMedia

Forget the catchy lede. I’ve had this cat in the bag for a while now and it’s time to let it out: I have a new job!

Starting today(!), I’ll be heading up inbound marketing efforts for Albany-based readMedia. After seven years in corporate communications, I’m trading the manufacturing plant for a hip downtown office, the Blackberry for an iPhone, and the red tape of big company bureaucracy for an intimate start-up culture.

I’ve been working with readMedia as one of my consulting clients for the last several months and so when they offered me a full-time position, I already knew it would be a great fit. My new coworkers are fun, smart, and generally have good taste in beer (want to follow ‘em? Check out this Twitter list of readMedia employees I created).

So, what am I going to be doing? A lot of really cool stuff. I’ll be running the company’s paid and earned media campaigns, representing readMedia at trade shows and conferences, managing their social media presence and using inbound marketing to generate sales for the company. Right up my alley.

readMedia

A little background on my new company: readMedia is a software and media company whose platform allows organizations like governments, nonprofits, and schools to publish social media-enabled news releases online and distribute them directly to geographically-targeted media outlets. readMedia’s clients produced over a quarter of a million pieces of specialized, hyperlocal news content last year — like this story about a state worker selling drugs in the basement of the State Capitol. (Seriously. Only in New York. And maybe Illinois.)

The media landscape continues to change as newspapers shed the staff and resources that were traditionally devoted to covering local news — town board meetings, fundraisers and local events, students away at college being named to an honor society or making the dean’s list. But these types of stories are still important to local communities and form the original content that drives old, new and niche media stories within a community. readMedia gives its clients the tools to serve as their own beat reporters and publish high-quality, hyperlocal content online and to traditional media outlets.

I can’t even describe how excited I am to get settled in at readMedia and become a part of their team. I’ll still be organizing Social Media Breakfast Tech Valley (though likely with some more help) and blogging right here, but I’m stepping away from consulting to fully devote my time and brain waves to readMedia.

So many of you supported me throughout this past year by acting as mentors, sounding boards, collaborators, and friends. I’ll dispense with the Academy Awards-style mushiness, but I really do appreciate all of the great advice and input I’ve received as I transitioned from corporate communications to consulting and now to this new role. So simply, thank you.

Game on!

What Twitter lists have done for me lately

ChecklistA classic ISTJ, I’m a sucker for making lists. To-do lists, chore lists, action items – writing things down helps me organize a plan of attack. Which is why it may surprise you that I’ve done very little with Twitter lists in the few months since the feature was launched. However, I’ve found lists helpful in a few ways and am hoping to experiment with them more in the coming weeks. Here’s where I am:

Geographic Sorting

Twitter use among individuals and small businesses in my area has exploded in the last year. Initially, I followed nearly everyone locally I could find. That included every small restuarant, dry cleaner, college kid, gamer or media outlet. Creating an “Albany” Twitter list has allowed me to corral all of those people in one place without actually having to follow them. I now can focus on only following the local Twitter accounts that really provide me value. They show up in my stream, while I can casually keep tabs on the rest (who I don’t follow directly but follow via my Albany list) by just checking the list every now and then. It’s easy and risk-free for me to add someone to my Albany list; I don’t have to contemplate whether or not I think that person/business adds enough value to follow them.

Reporter and Blogger Pitching

I’ve created a “Pitching” Twitter list that’s comprised of the reporters and bloggers I’m currently pitching on behalf of my clients. The list is private, so only I can see it. It allows me to keep tabs on what’s on the mind of these writers, which can be helpful in generating story angles or even just finding and “in” or a commonality to get a conversation going with them. I also look to see what lists those reporters/bloggers have either created and been added to, and it’s led me to several new outlets that I might have otherwise not known about or considered pitching.

Gauging “Value” of Twitter Accounts

I’m squarely in the camp that number of Twitter followers is in no way correlated with how interesting, useful or worth my time a particular person is. But like most people, I’m still conditioned to look at a big follower count and wonder if someone is a “big deal” or not. With spammy following schemes, it can sometimes be difficult to tell right off the bat if a Twitter user has organically and legitimately grown their following or not. But lists have made that a bit easier (and some believe, even made follower counts irrelevant). If someone has 8,000 followers and is only on 12 lists, then to me that’s an indication that not many people value what that person has to say (auto-follow bots aren’t generally in the habit of putting people on lists, yet). I’m not saying that “value” can be reduced to a simple ratio of followers to lists, but as a “first glance” metric, I’ve found it useful in helping me red flag accounts that I may want to pass on following for the time being.

Twitter lists will continue to evolve and develop, especially since they have already been integrated into third party apps like TweetDeck and Seesmic. I can see lists being extremely useful for events and conferences, for example. Personally, I’m planning to experiment more with private lists to help me sort and keep track of my own Twitter ecosystem, and then also eventually start to follow other people’s lists (why reinvent the wheel?) of useful people in my field. (One of the issues I see with lists right now is that they’re highly personal and not definitive – how many lists of “PR professionals” or “Dawgs fans” are out there right now? Few are likely to be comprehensive and as of right now it’s not possible to merge multiple lists from different Twitter users. But I digress.)

What innovative ways have you been using Twitter lists? Share away in the comments.

Photo via Flickr user numstead

Reaching stakeholders through social media

Here are the slides from the presentation I gave today to the Capital Region Chapter of PRSA:

View more presentations from amymengel.

Here are some links to content I referenced:

If you’d like to attend Social Media Breakfast on Oct. 30, register here (still a few seats left).

Let me know if there’s anything I’ve missed that you’d like a link to.

Where I’ll be this month

Wait, it’s October? How did that happen? I’ve got a lot going on this month and am looking forward to talking social media, meeting new people and seeing some familiar faces at these events:

Inbound Marketing Summit

IMS09_Logo_Hor_SmallI’m headed to Boston later this week (well, to Gillette Stadium anyway) for New Marketing Labs’ Inbound Marketing Summit. The list of speakers is pretty incredible (Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk, David Meerman Scott, Jason Falls…) and I’m not really sure how so much great content is going to fit into just two days. I’m also pumped to finally meet Valeria Maltoni, Brian Solis and DJ Waldow – and DJ and I need to figure out who owes whom a drink since both Georiga and Michigan lost this weekend.

Capital Region PRSA

Next Wednesday afternoon I’ll be putting on a workshop for the Capital Region chapter of PRSA entitled “Communicating to Digital Natives: Reaching Your Stakeholders Through Social Media” at the Victory Cafe in Albany. I’ll talk about how many consumers are bypassing traditional media and opting instead to interact with brands and organizations directly. It’ll be a bit on the Social Media 101 side but I’m planning to include some fun examples and case studies.

Social Media Breakfast Tech Valley #3

smbtv-red_mdAt the end of the month, on Friday, Oct. 30, I’ll be at Tech Valley’s third Social Media Breakfast. This event has really taken off in this area and continues to grow and attract social media enthusiasts from a variety of disciplines – communications, marketing, Web design, IT, HR, and entrepreneurs. It’s a fun crowd and we’re excited to have Aaron Newman of Techrigy in town to discuss social media monitoring and measurement.

I’m also planning to be in New York on Oct. 31 to commiserate with other Dawg fans and alumni as we watch Florida hand us our hats, and to see one of my buddies run the NYC marathon. So PR Cog, Stephanie Smirnov, and other NYC Twitterati, let’s meet up that weekend!

Locally targeted McDonald’s TV ads turning heads

New York City might only be 120 miles away from Albany, but lifestyle-wise it’s a lot further. Often we Upstaters are saddled with “regional” advertising campaigns directed toward New Yorkers (the city dwellers, not the state residents). I frequently see billboards or TV commercials referencing terms like “The Big Apple” and alluding to New York sports teams (of which many Albany residents are fans, to be fair).

Regional advertising is nothing new, but often campaigns chunk up the country into six or seven large segments and so the ads end up being somewhat general. Major metropolitan areas might get a specific campaign, but for those of us who live in small to medium-sized cities it’s rare to see national brands adapt their campaigns.

Apparently McDonald’s is changing that. I haven’t seen it yet, but according to one of my local Facebook pals there’s a TV spot floating around that’s very specific to the Albany area:

McDonalds Facebook Regional TV ad

From Jen’s comment, this ad is extremely specific to the Capital Region of New York State and only the 800,000 or so people who live here could make any sense of those references. (Yes, our interstate jumps from Exit 2 to Exit 4 and no one seems to know why Exit 3 is missing. And Koscuiszko is a Polish dude who fought in the Revolutionary War and a bridge is named after him.)

Does this represent a new direction for national brands? Based on the Facebook discussion above, it’s certainly getting people’s attention. On one hand, creating these hyperlocal “micro-campaigns” is a way to make consumers from smaller markets like Albany feel as though they’re getting some actual attention from a big brand (which doesn’t happen too often. You should see the group that’s been trying for years to get a Trader Joe’s in the area). It can make it seem like larger “corporate” brands are reaching out to local communities — though the major danger here is appearing disingenuous.

Alternatively, it can make it harder for these brands to unite customers around a shared experience or campaign. Think about the Super Bowl. So much of the discussion and interaction with those brands comes from everyone across the country talking about which ads they liked and didn’t like the next day. Or think of nationwide ad campaigns that have become cultural touchstones (like the Aflac Duck). That shared sense of connection to the brand would be lost if the ad was localized.

Have you seen a large national brand localizing its campaigns so specifically? Did it work or backfire? What do you think are the pros and cons of this type of strategy?

Update:

Watch the video here:

Here’s a link to a news story with some background on the agency that produced the spots and how they were shot.