The Science of the #TwitPitch

October 30, 2009

There are those of us (not me) who are excellent artists – like those people on cop shows that can draw a perfect rendition of the face of someone they have never met based on a description given by someone who was standing 100 yards away (“he had a nose… hair, it might have been brown – or black – maybe dark blonde.  Glasses, I think – but definitely eyes”).   There are those that are great writers – Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Perez Hilton (ok – maybe not so much with Perez – but he’s funny… usually).  And now, there is a new breed of greatness developing.   Those who are social-media mavens.  They can use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to do ridiculously amazing things, whereas I can only use them for what they were initially designed for – a way to keep in touch with friends and family.  There are those among us who are making a huge impact on the world we live in with 140 characters and the click of a button… comparatively, by the end of this sentence it will have taken me 196 words to get to the main point of this blog – and so, without further ado – I bring to you… the #TWITPITCH!

Kind of.  But first – a history lesson.

About a year ago, a journalist named Stowe Boyd decided that he no longer wanted to be pitched stories through the traditional means of e-mail and phone calls.  He preferred the 140 character method of Twitter.  By being able to pitch an idea in 140 characters (or less!) a PR professional should, ideally, be able to convey their entire message quickly and concisely.  According to the article from PR Daily, at least 2  other journalists have picked up on the trend, and encourage PR professionals to pitch them only via Twitter.

Taking a different approach – many companies are now turning to social-media to promote their brands; many companies are posting YouTube demonstrations of their products, almost every company has a Facebook “fan” page ( apparently I am a “fan” of a lot of things – including some things that have no relevance to my life what-so-ever), and lots of companies are taking up residence in the Twitterverse (which I tried to link to a definition, but apparently it doesn’t have an official one).  By using Twitter, companies are essentially able to pitch their new products and announcements directly to consumers, rather than just to reporters and editors.

And now, some real life application.

I had already started writing this blog when I was assigned the task of creating “10-15” twitpitches for one of our clients.  This particular client has one of their products in use in a very public place,  the plan is to blast a couple tweets out to the Twitterverse saying basically “hey if you’re here, check it out!”.   Perfect, I thought.  I am already “researching” twitpitches –  I’ll use this for my blog!  I figured that the assignment couldn’t be too hard – a couple quick short announcements of a fact.  EASY! Orrr not.

Here is what I have found (… well, decided).

Coming up with 140 characters of information is hard.  140 characters of “Hey I bought new shoes” is simple – see, I just did it!  But actually getting a message across takes some skill.  It took me about an hour to come up with 8 very different, but still informative and (hopefully) attention-grabbing tweets all focused around the same thing.  When you’re limited to 140 characters and you have to use the same basic words at least once in each tweet (obviously I had to mention the product and location each time, so those took up at least 20 of my characters) being creative is tough.

In theory, the twitpitch is great.  In practice – it’s astounding.  It costs nothing and assuming you’ve got a lot of followers, which a lot of companies do, you’re able to get your message out to lots of people.  Efficiency is key, however.  Telling the Twitterverse you’ve got a new product is cool, but linking to it is essential – and those links take up characters.  Making sure people know where they can find a product is important, but don’t forget to include the hashtags (ex: “#caster” – hashtags make words easily searchable through twitter).  Being able to tweet your product in 140 characters or less and have it be memorable and informative is practically an art form.  Do not take twitpitching lightly.  If you’re doing a great job of it, and using it sparingly – they could prove to be invaluable to your company.  If you are just bombarding your followers with links and “buy this now!” types of messages, you may find that you’re “unfollowed” pretty quickly.

Just for reference, below is an example of how long a 140 character tweet it.

DogWiggles has just released their most innovative dog leash yet and its only $40.  Buy it now at and have a happy pup.

(The link is fake – I made up a webaddress [I think] to show a shortened Twitter link, which people tend to use, rather than lengthy URLs.)

Notice that I didn’t include any hashtags, and it isnt exactly interesting.  But it’s all I could come up with in 140 characters and a fake product/company.

Posted by Courtney | Follow me on Twitter

Volkswagen and iPhone take advertising to a new level.

October 28, 2009

Volkswagen and iPhone are my brothers two favorite things and now they have officially come together.  Volkswagen has decided to be the first and only car dealer to advertise solely on the iPhone.  No magazine articles, no commercials only iPhone owners are going to be able to enjoy the advertisement that Volkswagen has to offer for their 2010 GTI’s.  The PR value is huge because this is the first of its kind.  What are the other dealerships thinking?

Instead of a simple advertisement Volkswagen went above and beyond, they made a one of a kind racing game through Firement Real Racing.  ‘Real Racing GTI’ is available to download on apples app store for free.  It allows you to choose from six different 2010 GTI’s and race them on VW tracks.  There is one major advantage to being an iPhone user and being able to play/ view this advertisement from VW, you have the chance to win one of six limited edition 2010 GTI’s.  If you win one or choose to purchase one of these GTI’s you will be able to view your music library from your iPhone right on the dashboard!

The next six weeks will be filled with VW junkies, including my brother on their iPhones playing this game because there is no limit to how often you race, and the highest score from each week will be the winner of a new 2010 GTI!  They have even gone a step further by allowing the players to upload their actual races to YouTube and the racers will also be allowed to access Twitter right from the game.

Volkswagen has made this their single advertising move for this car leaving people like me who don’t own an iPhone left out and actually rather sad.  They may be saving money on advertising and this may be an incredible PR approach to selling a car but to me it seems like they are shrinking their audience.   I have a strong feeling though that a lot of VW fans will be investing in an iPhone.   I guess it pays to own an iPhone.

Posted by: Kate the intern

Can the Political Season Help Save Newspapers, TV and Radio?

October 26, 2009

The 2010 Political season is just around the corner, and we all know what that means: our favorite channels will be taken hostage by every Tom, Dick and Harry seeking political office.

I am not an avid political follower, nor do I enjoy in the least watching these commercials, but the one thing that I am utterly shocked by is the amount of money that is spent on advertising by these candidates.

In 2010, political ad spending is estimated to increase 11% and it $3.3 billion. Yes, I just said BILLION.

According to an article in Media Week,

The ad windfall, more than 60 percent of which will go to local TV, will be fueled by the election of 37 governors, 38 senators, every member of the House of Representatives and issue advertising (which could approach $1 billion) on hot-button issues such as health care.

Experts are predicting that this election year will just about equal the record setting $3.4 billion spent in 2006, as similar issues were on the campaign trail.

Honestly, I think the numbers in question are insane, but it means some much needed revenue to some markets that are struggling, such as TV, radio and newspapers. We all know that these media outlets are struggling and a political season is probably music to their ears.  

I don’t think that this alone will save these media outlets, but I do believe it will be a much needed boost.

Posted by: Lauren

When it’s all pay for play

October 1, 2009

PR is widely recognized as more cost effective alternative to a massive and expensive ad campaign.  The main difference between advertising and PR is the value add inherent in a monthly PR retainer versus the one time cost = one time exposure nature of advertising.  I’m certainly not knocking advertising, for many clients we advocate a hybrid program to maximize coverage and brand awareness.  But it goes without saying that a little PR can go a long way and articles and feature story tends to hold more worth with readers than the ads next to them.

That said, there is a bit of a disturbing trend happening within both mainstream and niche industry publications.  It’s a trend I saw from the moment I set foot in the PR world but one I would argue was instigated by the recession.   The idea of advertorials is certainly a familiar one – pay money for a more editorial type feature in a magazine or publication.   Simple – you know you’re paying for it and the reality is, most advertorials look like, well….advertorials.  They’re easy to spot and although maybe more informative to read than a regular advertisement, still a pay for play scenario.  But there seems to be a severe blurring of the lines lately, due in large part (no doubt) to the extreme budget constraints publishing houses are facing today.  My colleagues and I regularly get emails about award submissions, previously free to enter, now with a hefty fee attached to them – or holiday gift guides and/or buyers guides previously free, now a pay per product deal.

There was even a rumor of a publication making companies pay to have their product reviewed.  That’s the one that really got me.

Here’s the thing – I get it, the financial crisis they’re all facing, I do.  But it’s a dangerous line to walk and it seems the line is getting smaller and smaller.  I see two main problems with the selling as many features of our publication as we can strategy.  One is more obvious – it devalues the actual coverage and editorial you do include.  If the book is 60% or more paid for by the manufacturers covered, it really becomes nothing more than a big book of ads.  And who wants to read that?  The second problem may be less obvious but is probably just as real.  If I advertise in book XYZ, spending $50k or more a year on a regular advertising program and that publication starts offering $3,000 for a product review – why wouldn’t I just pull my regular ads and buy 6 or 7 reviews for the year?  The reviews will probably have more impact on my sales then the ads themselves and I’ll spend around $36k instead of $50k and up.  The publication has just lost $14k of business as opposed to gaining another few thousand in revenue.

I think ultimately, publications have to decide how much they value their audience and what type of media outlet they’re really trying to be.  It’s certainly a delicate balance – staying in business and maintaining integrity but ultimately, I believe that the two have to coexist or the very thing you’re trying to prevent (going out of business) is inevitable anyway.

Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter

PR via Micro-Scandal

May 28, 2009

The always-awesome Gawker Media and advertiser HBO get major attention and ROI by blurring the lines.

You can complain all you want, but this is where the world’s headed. And honestly, micro-scandal can be fun.

Posted by Joe Paone

Ad Guy Says PR Is More Relevant Than Ever

April 16, 2009

Next time you need to justify what you do as a public relations professional, point your judge to this article… which was written by an advertising executive, no less. It’s a terrific, inspiring, timely read.

Posted by Joe Paone

Earth hour needs some better advertising

April 11, 2009

I was scrolling through CNET Green Tech and apparently this past Saturday night millions of people turned off all of their lights for one hour. Where was I? How did these millions know about it and I hadn’t heard so much as a fleeting reference to it? I totally would have done that! At 8:30 on March 28th people of all time zones turned off their lights to make a point about global warming and energy usage. They had a goal of one billion for this year and I plan on helping them spread the word for next year, because apparently Lil’ Rhody never got the message. I’ll start now: March 28th 2010 at 8:00! Turn out the lights for Earth hour!

Posted by: Ashley (intern)