Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time #15b: Announcing Our Judges

Today we announce the Hot Mommas Project judging panel. (I’m also pasting the list below). They are awesome. Here is the press release.  How do you figure out how to “announce” something? This is how I did it given that we are going guerrilla and, even if we had more money I wouldn’t spend it because the economy stinks: Continue reading

Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time #12: Search Engine Optimization and Link Love

The Hot Mommas Project Case Study Competition has launched (what is this? See our blog brief.) Now, it’s time to get the word out. One of the ways to do that is search engine optimization and other social media tools. Lessons learned from BlogHer DC yesterday are the subject of this post.  It took a while getting there, however.

Pictured here: My shower running.

White Noise Machine

White Noise Machine

Rather pathetically, I am in my bathroom typing so I don’t wake up my husband. This is pretty indicative of the weeks/months I’ve been having which is detailed in a different post for those schadenfreude-inclined individuals.

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INTERLUDE

[Blog Themesong “Everybody’s Got Their Something” by Nikka Costa Plays. Check out on PANDORA…my new love]

Monday October 13, 6.52 a.m.

Location: Inside my head, in my house in DC…Which is – as my son says – “In the world” and “not make-believe.”

Today, the Hot Mommas Project Case Study competition launches. I am getting ready to go to BlogHer Reach Out Tour in DC to promote the competition.

Last and this weekend were a severe flurry of emails between Dave our developer, Achin on our team (see earlier post), our testers, and me. Now, we take the BETA site live and wait for complaints, hopefully some praise. 

7.52 a.m. Now it’s time to go to the conference with Esther. We’ll see how it goes. Wish us luck.

8.48 a.m. The BlogHer conference started 18 minutes ago. I still haven’t left the house.

[Music stops]

……..Flurry of emails. Flurry of emails. Flurry of emails……..

…….Fix sign in process at http://www.HotMommasProject.org………

[Music starts again]

10.02 a.m. I am finally at the conference. I walk in directly from the garage into a really exciting environment.  Cool exhibitors and SWAG.  Tons of friendly, smart women. What’s not to like?

10.15 a.m. Attend a killer presentation on “Online community building as a natural promotional tool” moderated by Elisa Camahort Page. All panelists amazing. They ask for social media success stories from the audience.  I am called upon:

“My name is Kathy Korman Frey and I run a women’s leadership called ‘The Hot Mommas Project’ housed at the George Washington University.  We started a blog just over a year ago, and got on Twitter this summer. The increased interest we’ve received due to this foray into social media led to funding for our venture. With that money, we built a software program where women come online and tell their own story to serve as role models for women and girls around the world. We actually are launching TODAY.”

The entire room, filled with hundreds of people, claps. Yay.

12.30 p.m. – I exit presentation and look at my blackberry. We just got our first hate mail.

[Music stops]

12.38 p.m. – I get another email from a SUPER POWER interactive education guy who has agreed to be a judge for us.  (We are not revealing our judges until after the beta, but, I am psyched and so is the team!)

[Music starts again]

12.38-8.30 p.m. – I attend the rest of the conference, meet some amazing people, get fabulous reactions to the project, Esther and I hand out every last case competition postcard. We wrap up the night being interviewed by @dcconcierge for a cool women’s telecom blog and we also hear from @yoga_mama that she’s already started her case.

END INTERLUDE

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FINALLY…THE SOCIAL MEDIA AND SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION TAKEAWAYS or, as I like to call it, “A list of everything I’m doing really badly.” Is badly a word? Geeeeezzz this blogging and reading and writing thing is soooo complicated! (Said in Napoleon Dynamite voice).

(Note: I am trying to be cool and load a Napoleon Dynamite clip using www.killerclips.com, but, WordPress is like the Gestapo w/ foreign HTML so, my apologies if it’s screwed up. Use “Napoleon Dynamite” link above. Is worth it.)

TAKEAWAYS:

From Charlene Prince Birkeland at Yahoo’s Shine Magazine:

1. How to organize your site/blog. Think – Usable, clean, organized, one click away. What does this mean? No clutter. All key items “one click away” not buried.

2. Research key words. Do this at www.freekeywords.wordtracker.com. Use key words strategically in headlines and in your posts. What does “strategic” mean? For example if 1500 searches coming in for your term, you know your post will get buried/lost. The lower you go (e.g., 300, etc.), the better the chance you’ll have at winding up at the top of search results. Use the words in categories and tags. Tag photos. Rename photos (vs. “IMG5762139”) and put on Flickr so there is a better chance of it showing up in a search.

3. Know your current audience – I am not sure how to do this. I seem to have missed/zoned this part of the presentation.  From the earlier panel moderated by Elisa Camahort Page, I picked up the following:

– Poll your users (BlogHer has used Zoomerang, Micropoll, and Survey Monkey). Your blog company may offer a polling function, too, for free. One audience member suggested Google Forms as the “the stupid easy lazy way to do it.” More on Google Forms.

4. Montior

What do you monitor?
1. Page views – How many. What are most popular?
2. Time spent – How much time? You want people to get lost in your site.
3. Search terms – What terms are bringing people to your site?
4. Links (and reciprocate with link love) – Who is linking into you? Remember to reciprocate and give some “link love” meaning post on their blogs).

How do you monitor? Use a mix of the below:
Google Analytics
Sitemeter
www.haveamint.com
Stats from your pubisher’s tool (e.g. “stats” button on WordPress)
Blog ranking sites (Here are a few: http://www.blogrankings.com/, http://technorati.com/pop/blogs/, http://www.blogpatrol.com).

5. Publish

Think about publishing in new venues like:

BlogHer (not sure about dudes here)

Web circles – considered an oldie but goody (some competitors listed too)

Shine – Cannot figure out how to publish there at quick glance, but, they said you can publish there.

Boing boing – I looked this up and am not sure in what context it was mentioned, but, here is a funny Boing boing post called “Iran: You Suck at Photoshop.”

Don’t forget LINK LOVE and to post on other blogs when they post on yours…and so on…and so on.

If you get “the opportunity” with millions of hits, remember that you have a window of time. Keep the content coming, and keep it fresh, to hold onto those new readers.

6. Don’t “Spray and Pray.” This was not in the Yahoo presentation, but, is useful.  Flipping the Funnel by Seth Godin talks about social media marketing.  It is not about the MOST eyeballs, it is about the BEST eyeballs. Well, actually, it is about MOST – but the way you get there is by having ambassadors, fans, etc. willing to endorse your cause/product/idea/thoughts/words. “Find your 1000 true fans, have them make asks on your behalf…Tell a friend, put a widget on your site,” was the advice of a panelist. “People trust each other, not the media.”  This is essentially the social media hybrid version of Malcom Gladwell’s connector, maven, and salesperson concepts from The Tipping Point.

SUMMARY:

Summary of tools used commonly by bloggers/social media folk: Blogging (wordpress, typepad, yada yada), Twitter (here I am on Twitter. Here is Esther. Here is Achin. We are currently peer-pressuring Kaitlyn – stay tuned.), Facebook (here is Hot Mommas Project on Facebook), Friendster (not on this), Flickr (not on this, yet), Ning (for creating communities) some YouTube (not on this) and video stuff mentioned, but have a feeling that is in a bit of an “early adopter” stage. Some LinkedIn – not a ton. Then, do all that other stuff mentioned above (meaure, monitor, link love, etc.) and then use the below to try to keep your brain from exploding.

TO KEEP YOUR BRAIN FROM EXPLODING:

In a panel led by the authors of 50SomethingMoms and SarahandtheGoonSquad we learned about the following:

1. In Google Reader – Star article at top left corner to save for later

2. http://www.zotero.com – Good for academic research and tracking citations

3. http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=browser_toolbar_download – Linked in Toolbar for Firefox

4. http://www.yoono.com/ – Gives you access to Facebook, Twitter, etc. all at one place.

5. http://www.digsby.com/ – Another tool a blogger just spoke about (learned about it from her son. cool.).

6. http://www.rescuetime.com – Analyzes your internet usage each day. Eek! You can set timers, goals, alarms.

7. Organize yourself/make the world smaller – With tools like StumbleUpon (and other social bookmarking tools like, e.g., del.icio.us) as well as Twitter search.

8. (I added this) Use www.Alltop.com to see blogs by area of interest. Check us out at www.moms.alltop.com.

P.s.

Net squared (an initiative of TechSoup.org) helps nonprofits with all of this stuff. Always check out @Kanter with respect to this field.

P.s.s. As I mention almost EVERY FREAKING TIME – Chris Brogan (@ChrisBrogan) and Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki) are good folks to monitor re: all things social media. In this realm there is also Shashi. We can’t forget our man Shashi (Shashi Ballamkonda). He took the picture here of the three of us.

Shashi Bellamkonda

Esther Leff, Kathy Korman Frey, and Shashi Bellamkonda at BlogHer DC. Photo Credit: Shashi Bellamkonda

P.s.s. Here is Kimberly Wilson at BlogHer.

Kimberly Wilson at BlogHerDC

Kimberly Wilson at BlogHerDC

She is an ORIGINAL Hot Mommas Project Case Protagonist (the ones published before we opened up this competition).  She has a yoga/clothing/publishing empire but is super chill and unassuming. We love her. Check out www.hiptranquilchick.com for more.

PARTING THOUGHT:

Among other things, The Hot Mommas Project needs to do a better job of: Posting more freqently and doing link love.  So, those are a couple of goals.  Shorter posts would help me accomplish this. Feel like I’m writing a book here.

Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time #10: How We Are Getting Press & Buzz

Let’s continue our discussion of how to do marketing and pr, shall we? Especially since Esther and I spent all %*$#i day organizing our email folders since we are so overwhelmed by the response to our project (good) and seem to have had the email-organization part of our brains partially lobotomized (bad).

We are a tad overwhelmed at the Hot Mommas Project right now and looking forward to Fall reinforcements

We are a tad overwhelmed at the Hot Mommas Project right now and looking forward to Fall reinforcements

Left, please find the metaphoric “Rock Holding Steamroller.” It is the visual representation of how we are feeling right now.  I am not sure if we are the rock, or the steamroller, but I think we are the rock.

Here are things we’ve learned about PR over the past couple of months which is a mix of:

1. Stuff we’ve read

2. Stuff we’ve done

3. Meeting with experts, namely Hot Mommas Project case protagonist Susan Apgood who owns one of the nation’s largest radio PR companies (News Generation) and Racine Tucker-Hamilton at the George Washington School of Business communications office.  Also, White Trash Mom from the BlogHer conference says she’ll help us. Note: PR is completely new for me as my background is in nerdy service-type businesses where no one cared what we did (see “pre-steps” section of older post for more on background).

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INTERLUDE [Samba music plays]

First, let’s start with a quick story about how MUCH we had to learn about PR, buzz, and getting the word out there for the Hot Mommas Project Case Study Competition.

Setting: Bus on the way to Guy Kawasaki’s party.

Esther and I are sitting toward the rear of the bus and the women in front of us learn, through Twitter, that another bus is lost. Esther and I were about to learn we were WAY behind in the social media department.

Women in front of us: “Hey! Are you all up front on Twitter?”

Voice from front of bus: “Who’s NOT on Twitter?”

All: Laughter

Me and Esther: [Blank stare. Silence]

Women in front of us: “Hey driver! The people on Twitter on the other bus just told us they’re lost.”

Bus driver: “What’s Twitter?”

All: Laughter

Me and Esther: [Blank stare. Silence]

With social media tails between our legs, Esther and I immediately sign up for http://www.Twitter.com on our mobiles. I am “chiefhotmomma” and she is “hotmommasintern.”  I had not gotten on Twitter before thinking it was sort of stalkeresque.  However, in Silicon Valley I felt like Bert – my father-in-law –  when he said he “couldn’t be bothered with all that email mumbo jumbo” and that his grandkids could, “pick up the phone so he could hear their beautiful voices.” (Sorry to out you Bert.) I am happy to report now Bert is on email…and we are now on Twitter….”Tweeting.” Feel free to “follow” us as ChiefHotMomma and HotMommasIntern.

END INTERLUDE [Samba music ends]

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Now, on to our PR takeaways:

1. PR is the cheapest form of marketing. If what you’re doing is newsworthy, work it. And, if you THINK you are creative, think again. Esther and I thought we were creative. We developed this press release titled “Hot Mommas Project Produces Role Models on Paper for Women Across the Globe.” Ha! We were totally delusional. Look what Racine Tucker-Hamilton came up with: http://business.gwu.edu/news/archive/2008/0703.cfm

2. Develop a media plan.Racine shared a one-page media plan with us that articulated the following:

– GOALS: What is the goal? To increase news coverage, create awareness, all of the above? Articulate these goals in 1 to 5 bullets.

– AUDIENCE: Who is the audience? For us, it could be women, but, we’ll probably also be targeting their husbands, partners, and leaders in education and policy. Articulate this in 1 to 7 bullets.

– MESSAGES/PITCHES: Write out the message points in 1 to 5 bullets. My friend who has a long history in PR used to say, “Focus on 3 message points max.” So, my guess is that we will draw the 3 best points from our list depending on the conversation. Make it clear how you are different. Click here for some sample what, where, when, why message points I am going to run by Racine and Susan along with the following:

Exposure to role models increases one’s sense of self efficacy, or the feeling of ‘I can do that.’ The Hot Mommas Project approach of providing role models on paper hits the nail on the head and fills a void that exists in women’s leadership education today.

-MEDIA TARGETS: This can be as big as one needs it to be, however, Susan recommended we target folks like Working Woman, Pink, etc. News release service providers like Cision, Vocus,and MediaMap (which was acquired by Bacon’s, which merged with Cision) can help as well.

-PLAN/KEY ACTIONS: These are action steps that will be taken based on the above goals. 5 or so bullets.

-TIMELINE: These are dates associated with key actions, like creating a press release, creating media lists, distributing press release, pitching, and follow up (to include thank yous to contacts).

-MEASUREMENT/KEY NUMBERS: Susan also mentioned being very clear about what we want to accomplish (e.g., x media impressions, or x placements in certain types of magazines or newspapers). We need to have a way to measure hits (aka coverage).

3. Develop a press kit. Again, we consulted Susan Apgood of News Generation on our story angle.  We had it completely reversed, so, were glad we had spoken with her. Here is a pretty concise article on developing a press kit. If there is no interest in the story, Susan says you can sometimes resort to a “what’s in it for you” approach (e.g., we are targeting professional women and you will have exposure).

4. Distribute the press kit/press release.

4a. Push the story out through press releases or Hot Mommas-initiated contact. Here are a couple of resources: Peter Shankman’s “Help a Reporter Out” which is AWESOME and FREE. He sends 3 emails a day on stories reporters are looking to write.  Michelle Woodward, who is a master-certified life coach (sort of like the Mr. Miyagi of life coaches) put us onto this. Also, you can distribute mass news releases in a targeted fashion with Cision & Vocus.

Note: This same method can be used with organizations (see #5 below) where you might want to promote something to their membership or employees.

4b. “Pull.” For instance, George Washington University School of Business did a newsletter piece on the Hot Mommas Project. Then communications for the entire university put it out there. Then the story was picked up by newswires. People started calling. We just sort of sat there. It was awesome.

4c. There may be some other way of which I’m unaware, so, adding “c” in here.

Side note: Make it easy for the reporter.  A year or so ago our cases were being used at Western Michigan University and we wrote a press release, looked into media outlets, and followed up. At the end of the day, it failed miserably because we were making the reporter work too hard to figure out the story.  So, being clear on our story is key, as is running it by some PR experts (as to whether it is a good story…or, whether it totally blows). We have our facts, figures, quotes, and sources teed up.

5. Interviews and Appearances.

– INTERVIEWS: Susan says before meeting with anyone, have a media training session and prepare for potential questions. Have fun facts memorized, and learn how avoid answering certain questions. I am still working on this and talked with a really amazing reporter the other day who gave me some great feedback.

– PRESENTATIONS: Know audience and practice. For example, I delivered a presentation recently at an Entrepreneur’s Organization  retreat (formerly YEO, like YPO but funner. Yes, “funner” is a joke people): “What Women Want: 3 Secrets to Attracting and Retaining High Performing Female Employees.”  I thought the presentation went pretty well, and was right in the sense that the presentation received one of the top scores. (Here are the presentation notes eo_what-women-want_61108.) However, I recorded it with my video camera and realized I said “uh” a bunch of times (hence, the practice concept mentioned at the top of this paragraph).

6. Whatever works in your industry.  The ultimate caveat of caveats: Remember to adapt any PR or marketing strategies to your industry. For instance, friend and Hot Mommas Project Host Committee Member Richard Barney said that in his former industry (real estate), the company tried tons of cool stuff and events and giveaways. But, it all came down to referrals, referrals, referrals. Whatever works in your industry, do it. We are figuring it out right now. I have some creative giveaway ideas with which www.OnSalePromos.com is helping us. (OnSalePromos on Twitter).

7. Create buzz. To create buzz, we are largely relying on the world of social media and membership organizations. To the extent that it links in with coverage in press, great. So, what are we doing?

– Now: Blogging. We are not sure if this is working, but then we get out to BlogHer and people say, “Oh! We’ve heard of you!” Maybe it’s because we’re listed on http://moms.alltop.com.  Sample research and role model series posts. As you read in the vignette above, we’ve also gotten ourselves wrapped into Twitter.

– Now: Twitter.Twitter is like the “what are you doing now” application on Facebook. That’s it.  I’ve heard some folks say it drives traffic to their blog, their site, or whatever they’re posting in their status updates. See our last post mentioning Chris Brogan’s ideas on how to use Twitter.

– Now: Podcasts (examples SBTV and Hip Tranquil Chick). We’ve had a good reception with these. After this we were approached by Pink Heels and others and will be doing some partnering.

– Now: Partnering with bloggers. For instance, really cool bloggers from the BlogHER conference – like White Trash Mom and Your On Ramp – are blogging about us in September and October near the time of the Oct 13 Hot Mommas Project Case Study Competition launch.

– Now: Partnering with organizations. For example, Women’s Presidents Organzation, SBE Council, WE Inc, and the American Mustache Institute (this second one for our Cool Daddies beta section of the case study competition). They work with us to communicate with members about the competition in exchange for formal recognition as a marketing partner.

– Now: Partnering with connectors. There are some folks who we call “connectors” (like Malcom Gladwell discusses in The Tipping Point). They are people with extensive networks who are enthusastic about the Hot Mommas Project Case Study Competition. Many of these will become marketing partners, like Julie Lenzer Kirk. Others will become Host Committee Members like Michael Goldstein of Content Now or Brian Scudamore of 1800GotJunk (host committee members will email their networks for us).  Also, in a major win, Guy Kawasaki of www.Alltop.com (we’re listed here) is going to advertise the competition for us.

Future: More press. Will also ask Susan at News Generation if our stuff is radio worthy and see if she can help us get on some talk shows, etc.

Future: Facebook group, cause, or “fan.”

Future: Group on LinkedIn…if this can be done…someone told me they could put me in touch w/ the founder and that hasn’t happened.

Future: Search optimization/Google. Shashi is the man on this.

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PARTING THOUGHTS: So, at this point it’s probably pretty easy to see why I am overwhelmed and very behind on my sponsorship contact goals. Time to pick that baton back up and run with it. (Click here for sponsor post).