1 Chapter 2
Planning a Campaign
Six Basic Principles
Parade of Campaigns
The Planning Calendar
The Target Audience
The Online Publicity Plan
SIX BASIC PRINCIPLES
The six basic principles of online publicity campaigns I outline here
have been wrought through repetition. I have had the luxury over the
years of promoting mostly new books. These campaigns usually take 30
to 90 days (though I've been involved with some doozies that have lasted
for years). The short marketing cycle is tied to the trade terms of the
book publishing industry. Product that sells in 90 days is reordered.
Product that doesn't sell is returned. If you promote too soon, the book is
not available and if you promote too late, inventory has already been re-
A lot of authors and book publishers thought they could use the In-
ternet to sell directly with readers and thereby do away with inventory
and marketing cycles like those that shape book publishing. Many of
you, my readers, may be hoping to use the Internet to do an end run
around wholesalers and distributors and just sell directly to consumers.
But it hasn't really worked out that way -- in book publishing or other
For books, less than 25% of sales will come online. Seventy-five per-
cent will come through retail outlets such as Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble,
or independent bookstores. When you decide you are going to bypass the
retailers and sell only online, you are in effect saying that you will har-
Planning and Tracking Online Publicity Campaigns 2
vest only 25% of the market for your product. But you will face the same
marketing costs as someone who is selling through retailers and online.
You are asking 25% of the sales to absorb 100% of the marketing costs,
and that's a very difficult proposition.
I'm not trying to say you can't make it with online sales (or online
PR) alone. What I'm saying is, it's a much smaller picture than a com-
plete marketing plan that uses the Internet to stimulate retail sales and
other marketing to stimulate online sales. Reviews online drive real
world sales and reviews in print or broadcast drive online sales. The me-
dia, as well as te distribution channels are interconnected, and the Inter-
net makes all of them work better.
If you listen to the hype about online marketing, you'd think the In-
ternet would be in a Nirvana of custom-tailored content and advertsing, a
consumer-driven paradise where the people are in charge and can take
down or build up a business through word-of-mouth and honest reviews.
The reality is very different.
Instead of paradise, we have parasites: hackers and thieves who steal
data and identities; pornographers and pill pushers who seem to evade
every law against spam or obscenity; stupid commercial pitches sent by a
relentless army of crass marketers who ruin every discussion they in-
vade. The advertising isn't tailored; it's blockbuster dominated, as adver-
tising always has been.
I have held onto the screenshot in Figure 1-4 for years as an example
of what's wrong with the modern Internet. On the right is a video of
Business Week reporter, Steve LeVine, at The Commonwealth Club of
California. He is describing the murder of a pioneering female Russian
journalist who was killed, some believe, by agents of the Russian gov-
ernment. While his disturbing description of this assassination plays, the
viewer is assaulted by an ad for "Russian beauties." This video plays on a
reputable web site. The "intelligent" ad software picked up on the key-
words of a "russian" "female" journalist and served up a custom-tailored
ad for mail-order brides. That's the Internet!
3 Chapter 2
Figure 1- 4: Business Week and Wall Street Journal reporter, Steve
LeVine, gives a presentation about a slain Russian journalist at the Com-
monweath Club of California -- accompanied by an "intelligent ad" for a
Is there a way to conduct ethical and effective publicity campaigns
online. Yes, you can be commercial and not be condemned. But it's
tricky. It's not always expensive, but it is usually time-consuming. You
have to be careful not only to reach the people who want to hear from
you, but to avoid reaching anyone who is not interested. When you do
get through to these people -- the ones you want to communicate with --
you'd better have something of value to share.
This book will show you how to make Internet PR work for you. We
have had the benefit of making every mistake you can imagine. I'll show
you how to avoid those mistakes at every turn. We've also launched cam-
paigns that launched million-dollar brands, such as ...For Dummies and
Planning and Tracking Online Publicity Campaigns 4
RealAge, and I'll use case histories to show you what worked and why.
For now, here is the short list of basic principles I review when planning
"Share Value" is the overriding principle of good online PR and was
almost the title of this book. Memorize this ditty: "Share Value and you
increase the value of your shares." Whatever stakeholder you are, the
value of your stake increases when you share value with your target audi-
Last year, I brought four outside experts into my Internet PR class at
Tulane University. The fact that they agreed to present for my class, and
have their presentations broadcast copyright-free online, is a sharing of
value in itself. They all started and ended their presentations on the same
note: Share Value.
• Peter Gloor, trend spotter from M.I.T., spoke about altruism as
an effective marketing strategy.
• Eric Ward, Father of the Web Site Awareness Business, says
the path to linkage is to offer value in the pitch.
• Ken McCarthy, the master of Internet sales letters, explains
how to move customers up the value chain.
• John Deveney, interactive PR agency owner, talks about sharing
value as a way of breaking into careers in PR.
Sharing value means every communication you send out should re-
ward those who read it. That's a tough standard. It's what Seth Godin
means about having "a prize inside." It's what Tony Alessandra calls
"The Platinum Rule:" treat your customers as you wish you were treated.
If your marketing guru of choice isn't walking you down the sharing
path, you might look for another guide.
Good online communications are layered. At every step of the pro-
cess, they offer the reader an easy way to either drop out or go deeper.
For each step the reader takes, they are rewarded. When they are finished
5 Chapter 2
-- at whichever point they have dropped out of the process -- they should
feel they had a satisfying experience. That's good marketing.
This is very different from other media. In a print ad, you make the
best case you can in the space you have. In a broadcast ad, you make the
best case you can in the time allotted. Online, you have the luxury of un-
limited time and space to tell your story. Imagine a newspaper ad or ra-
dio ad or TV ad that would magically expand for those who were paying
attention. That's what marketing on the Internet is like.
Here's an example of a Ken McCarthy-esque value chain of commu-
Subject Line: "Free Report for People With a Need"
Choices: Delete, Opt-Out, Open Message
Message: Describe Report, How to Get Report
Choices: Delete, Save, Opt-Out, Get Report
Report: "How to Relieve That Need"
Choices: Done; Try Another Report; Make a Purchase
Hopefully, there is no point where the consumer of the message will
drop out of this chain and feel disappointed. McCarthy then suggests that
you have something to offer the consumer at prices ranging from free to
thousands of dollars. For example, after the free report, the customer
might buy a book or CD or report or file. At the next level, they might
purchase a seminar, or services, or training. At the highest level, they
may purchase consulting, a franchise, or other very expensive products
and services. That's a layered message and a layered product line.
The principles of online communication changed with Web 2.0.
Thanks largely to the vision of the people at O'Reilly who made the term
a catchphrase, most marketers have now accepted if not embraced the
fact that communication online -- unlike print, radio, or TV -- is two-
way. You will hear back from the people receiving your messages. A lot
of what you hear you're not going to like.
Those responding favorably to your messages want to be taken down
the fat-content highway as fast as they can to the Nirvana they seek.
They control the levers, and they want to flip them as fast as they choose,
so you better have the goods ready and in place and not be promising
something you can't deliver.
Planning and Tracking Online Publicity Campaigns 6
Those responding negatively to your messages can be brutal. They
might simply ask to "unsubscribe." Or they might harrass you or attack
you or stalk you or blacklist you or sue you or marr your reputation. It
does not matter whether you are on solid legal ground; there is no solid
ground in cyberspace. The people hacking you, for example, might be
doing it from a country where it's not illegal. If you upset people on the
Internet, they will use the Internet to retaliate.
There are two parts to delivering value in all your online communi-
cations: You must reward those who follow, yet not upset those who do
not. That's very difficult to achieve.
If you send a pitch for a sporting event to the a leading religion blog-
ger, you could get blacklisted. However, if you send it to a sports blog-
ger, they're less likely to object. If they are not interested in the pitch,
they will likely delete the message, not retaliate.
Newspapers, radio, TV are not sharply-targeted media. Your mes-
sage is consumed by many people you would not target. Because these
other media are not very interactive, people don't retaliate the way they
do online. Imagine a TV remote control button that would administer a
dose of pain to advertisers who annoy you or fail to entertain you; that's
what marketing online is like.
Seth Godin coined the term "permissions marketing" to describe get-
ting the customer's consent to market to them. In doing so, he spawned
the opt-in movement, contributed to the CAN SPAM Act's opt-out re-
quirements, and likely influenced the long-delayed "Do Not Call Reg-
istry," enacted by the U.S. federal government.
But opt-in is no longer the standard. Even people who agree to re-
ceive communications from you will retaliate against you for poor com-
munications. Every single message has to deliver value or at least not be
annoying. The flip side is that people value good communications, even
if they don't opt-in. Spam that shows up with what I want, when I want
it, is not spam in my book. So the issue is not whether I have permission
but whether I deliver value.
I call this new form of marketing "Clairvoyant Marketing." You have
to know what your customer wants, when they want it, sometimes even
before they know they want it, without asking them! Impossible, you
think? Hardly. My Office Depot catalog arrives with a cover containing
7 Chapter 2
photos of products I purchased in the past, on a date when my purchasing
patterns show I should be ready to reorder. That's targeting!
Filtering is the flip side of targeting. From an open info stream, all
online communications now go through a series of hurdles established by
readers before they ever get to the target. Filtering includes automated
blocking, such as spam filters, obscenity filters, and blacklists, as well as
manual blocking, or "bozo filtering." One mistake, and you could be
blocked from ever communicating with a reporter or a customer again.
One mistake, and your whole company can be blacklisted and your abili-
ty to communicate with email closed down.
Online communications have to be well-crafted to avoid triggering
these filters. Programming for children must be designed to filter out
predators or others who are capable of disrupting these programs. All
communications should take into account the legal rules governing on-
line communications, and avoid practices such as spamming that could
result in legal action, fines and penalties.
No matter how big you are, you could be bigger if you had partners.
Adding partners to online promotion is like adding fuel to a fire. Partners
can grow the impact of a promotion exponentially. With so many indi-
viduals pressing for media coverage and consumer attention, you need
the heft of partnerships to generate enough size to break through with
When you add partners, it is a sign your promotion will also find
merit with consumers. Partners will always slow down a promotion; one
more stakeholder must be consulted. And you will lose control over as-
pects of the promotion, including the timing. Be prepared for the costs of
partnership in your planning. The benefits of partnership, on the other
hand, can't be overstated. When you stack up several partners, your pro-
motions achieve a size and momentum that can't be ignored.
Parade of Campaigns
Planning and Tracking Online Publicity Campaigns 8
Here is a brief overview of the online publicity tools you have to
choose from in building an online campaign. Most of these are thorough-
ly covered in the following chapters of this book. These campaigns can
be mixed and matched, depending on budget, to get the most coverage
for the money spent.
I will focus on email news releases, which are much shorter and very dif-
ferent than mailed or faxed news releases. I'll also discuss wire services
and syndicating news releases. Finally, I'll talk about the growing world
of Direct-To-Consumer news releases pioneered by David Meerman
Digital Press Kits
Press Kits contain support materials for journalists and consumers. They
usually accompany new products or individual spokespersons. They con-
tain such items as news releases, biographies, and artwork. They're usu-
ally offered as a printed packet, and/or on disk, and/or online. I'll cover
provide suggestions for assembling and formatting these materials.
Online News Rooms
Online News Rooms can be important operations centers for PR and
marketing people. Or they can be sleepy backwaters, and that's okay, too.
I'll show you what to stock in your online news room, what to stay away
from, and how to use your newsroom to handle a crisis.
The term, "newsletter," seems old-fashioned in this era of blogs, but e-
newsletters are still a primary communication tool for any size organiza-
tion. They continue to be attractive to consumers and a significant source
of new contacts, leads, and email addresses. We'll discuss how to man-
age online newsletters and a new trick to use them to energize your
Direct-to-consumer email has lost favor with me and many online mar-
keters because opt-in no longer works. Even people who opt-in don't
want it. With the exception of newsletters, direct email is best confined
to your own mailing list, and then used sparingly. I'll explain why.
9 Chapter 2
Discussion Group Postings
I stuck with these postings for years after my colleagues abandoned them
as more work than they're worth. I still think they're useful, but you have
to have thick skin to enter these discussions. I'll include rules for what to
do if you get in trouble for spam or inappropriate postings.
The action has moved from chat and discussion groups to blogs. Most of
what I do in PR now is pitch bloggers. I'll show you how to conduct the
BlogOut -- a blog outreach campaign I've conducted for dozens of clients
with pretty amazing results.
Producing a white paper, op-ed, tip sheet, or other "signature article" is
more important than ever, now that you do not need the media for your
target audience to find it. A strong signature article can attract readers for
years, so it's still worth writing, formatting, and syndicating these core
Online Seminars and Workshops
I have been teaching a free online course for over a decade. I use it to test
a variety of technologies for delivering online workshops. I've produced
programs in text, chat, audioconference, videoconference, Skype, Kyte,
Meebo, ooVoo, and whatever voodoo you do! The Canadian government
paid me to teach a dozen authors how to deliver an online class. I'll show
you how to use these programs, too.
Live Online Television Programs
Nothing is scarier or more exciting than live television. Live television
on the Internet is in it's infancy. Before the decade is out, you can expect
cameras in every cubicle, classroom, and office in America. The first
chapter of this book shows how to create your own viral online television
network -- cutting edge PR.
Video Production and Syndication
It is much safer to do video with a net -- not live -- and edit it to improve
the experience for short-attention-span viewers. I've conducted hundreds
Planning and Tracking Online Publicity Campaigns 10
of video interviews and cut them to two-minute trailers. I'll give you tips
for producing these videos and syndicating them online.
I moderated the first panel on blogging at the PRSA Conference in New
York in 2004 and was billed as a "blog cynic." Six years later, most of
my income derived from blogging and from running "news blogs" for
clients. I'll show you how to set up and operate a news blog that will cat-
apult you to a top-five blog search position in 30 days.
I've received more praise for my writing on Social Networking in the last
five years than any other topic. I believe it is important to set up profiles
on these social networks, it's not important to maintain them. I'll show
you how to set them up. When you attach them to a blog, it creates a lit-
tle syndicate; you can write once and have it spread far and wide.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is a result of activities such as registration, linkage, and refreshing
META tags. Link building is the key to search engine position, says
"web awareness" pioneer, Eric Ward, who reveals his calculus for find-
ing keystone sites. This section of the book includes registration forms,
sample linkletters, link buttons, and tracking reports.
Blog Tours, Chat Tours
Taking a spokesperson on the road is a time-tested method of promotion.
I have produced hundreds of these programs, from award-winning chefs
to Nobel Prize-winning authors to Fortune 500 CEOs. I'll show you how
to find venues, prepare the guest, promote the program, and conduct the
Good marketing comes out of an in-depth knowledge of the product
or service being promoted combined with an in-depth understanding of
the target audience. When both these halves of the marketing equation
are well understood, the marketing message erupts from between them.
11 Chapter 2
Let me illustrate this in a way you will not soon forget. When now-
famous Dr. Michael Roizen published his first book, "RealAge," he hired
my firm to do the online PR. I read every word of that book, then began
to write. I built the campaign around an interesting statistic in the book
that men and women extend their life expectancy when they have sex
regularly. Further, research demonstrates that the life-enhancing effects
of sex are based upon the frequency of sex for males and the quality of
sex for females.
If you are not intrigued by this bit of science, well, you're not human.
But this little nugget from the book had not surfaced in any of the mar-
keting materials. The back cover led off with how flossing regularly adds
up to six years to your life expectancy. Interesting, not riveting.
Good themes come from a deep understanding of the product and the
market. They cut through the media clutter like a bolt of lightning, com-
manding the attention of the target audience. "Just Do It." "The Real
Thing." These slogans erupt from an intense analysis of what you are
selling and who you are selling to. Books sell primarily to women. The
"quality sex" angle is going to interest book buyers, predominantly wom-
en of a certain age, more than the dental floss angle. I would have put it
on the cover. The publisher buried the lead. I unburied it.
Days later, Roizen made his first appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey
Show." What was the first thing Oprah asked the nervous author? "It
says here that women need a certain quality of orgasm whereas men re-
quire a certain quantity of orgasms to get the life-extending benefits of
having sex. Can you explain that?" Roizen was ready with the facts in
part because we highlighted the excerpt in the materials we created for
the press kit.
The book became an instant #1 New York Times bestseller after the
Oprah show. It stayed on the top-10 list for more than a year. It provided
the seed money and audience to launch the writing careers of Dr.
Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz, who co-authored "YOU: The Own-
er's Manual," "YOU: On A Diet," and other bestsellers. Both doctors
have become regulars of daytime television. It's a position they earned,
not through marketing, but through years of dedicated research and
study. "RealAge" delivered. Their books deliver. Their shows deliver.
The marketing just reveals what is already there.
Understanding the Product or Service
Planning and Tracking Online Publicity Campaigns 12
A deep understanding of the product or service being promoted is the
starting point for good marketing. You begin by describing the product
or service. Next, explain the benefits to the consumer of the product or
service. Is there a spokesperson, and what are his or her qualifications? Is
the target market worldwide, national, regional, local? Are there seasonal
cycles to the business that can be exploited or should be avoided?
Many of you come to this book with a deep understanding of your
products and services, so I won't linger here. Assignment #1 asks you to
create a profile of the business, organization, product or service you want
to promote. I ask you to further narrow your focus to a single product or
event that you want to build a campaign around. You might consider
what activities you expect in the coming year that you could build a mar-
keting campaign around.
One of the most helpful activities you can perform is to sketch the
flow of resources such as money, goods and services through the organi-
zation. How does the money flow? If you are a school, are the resources
coming from tuition, grants, endowments, the city, the state, the federal
government? For example, if you stand to gain or lose millions from ac-
tions of the state government, you probably shouldn't be spending most
of your marketing budget courting alumni?
Understanding the Target Audiences
The trend is for businesses to be "consumer driven," and therefore
marketing should be consumer-driven. Consumer-driven marketing is
driven by compulsively asking the consumers what they want, or trying
to guess what they want by analyzing data you're able to collect. To gath-
er this data, companies use polling and focus groups and web traffic
analysis and develop brand personas and other focusing tools.
I agree that it is important in marketing to try to understand your cur-
rent and potential customers, but they are not always the consumers.
Some businesses have long value chains. They may manufacture a good
that is sold to a distributor who sells to a wholesaler who sells to a retail
chain who sells to a store who sells to a consumer. It might be smarter
for such a company to focus the online campaign on the wholesalers
rather than the consumer. Many times I've seen people focus marketing
campaigns on the wrong spot in the value chain. For nonprofits, it can be
more valuable for the organization to focus the online marketing on re-
cruiting volunteers rather than raising cash donations or securing grants.
13 Chapter 2
I planned an online recruiting campaign for the Air National Guard,
many years ago. They were attempting to reach recruits directly by creat-
ing online aviation games. However, many of their target audience didn't
have ready access to computers that could play these games. We recom-
mended instead a campaign aimed at school guidance counselors and
state job training programs. These services are gatekeepers to computer
time for our target audience. If we could deliver an educational program
about career enhancement with the Air National Guard that would please
these gatekeepers, they would require our prospects to review our materi-
als. This is an example of shifting the focus of the marketing along the
value chain. This sort of shift is often required, for example, when mar-
keting to young children online. You don't create the marketing materials
for the children; you create them for parents, guardians, and teachers.
Sometimes, it's more important to raise capital than it is to raise rev-
enue. Investors are an important audience for online promotions.
Whether or not the marketing is tailored to investors, all online market-
ing should be aware that investors are out there, watching. Someone else
who's watching in your Uncle Sam. Governments from local to interna-
tional can be influenced through online campaigns. If you were an auto
executive in the 2007-2009 recession, your company's fortunes my have
depended more on influencing goverment policy than influencing con-
sumers to choose your automobiles.
Along with all these other publics your campaigns may influence, the
overiding target of nearly all online PR campaigns is the media. Stories
may start online, but they grow when they get picked up by the main-
stream press. Almost nothing you do online has the broad and swift im-
pact of mainstream news coverage. The Wall Street Journal can put your
story in front of a million readers tomorrow. One network TV broadcast
could reach millions of people. Big, syndicated news stories can rack up
hundreds of Google News citations in a matter of hours. Each of those ci-
tations could represent thousands or millions of readers. Almost all the
campaigns I've participated in involved finding out who in the main-
stream press covers the beat, and then getting in their face somehow. It is
a mistake to focus exclusively on consumers of your products and not
tailor materials specifically for the media.
Resonance and Campaign Themes
Planning and Tracking Online Publicity Campaigns 14
Out of these two forces -- deep understanding of the product and
deep understanding of the target audience -- will come resonance. It's
like ringing a bell when you have it right. You create a message that re-
verberates deeply with your target audience, yet does not bother anyone
else. That's what resonance feels like.
Resonance leads to things like good mission statements, or "unique
selling propositions" for business plans, or slogans and campaign themes,
mottoes, brand identities, positioning lines. And that is the level that you
have to compete with first online: the subject line of an email message,
the two lines of description about your organization at Google, the 140
characters of a Twitter message, or the short phrase that accompanies
your pay-per-click link.
Resonance cannot be ignored by the target audience. The marketing
message cuts through the ether like a flash of light. One of the best ways
to get there is purging. You throw out every stupid, funny, mean, nonsen-
sical things you can say and, after a few hundred tosses, you probably
have one great line and a few second choices. Having a "gift for words"
is seldom a matter of getting it right quickly. It's more about persistence.
One of the best campaign themes developed by a student of mine
was for the tMobile G1 phone. The main selling point was the Google
Android operating system. I still don't know what that means. But I loved
the subject line he created for a discussion group posting comparing the
phone to competitors. It was, "G i Gotta Have 1." Many professors
would have corrected the grammar and spelling. Not me. The target mar-
ket for the G1 is people who use text messaging and who care about hav-
ing the latest thing and don't necessarily have the income or education
demographics of advanced G3 phone users. Not by accident, but by
purge, did my student arrive at what turns out to be an ideal tagline.
The Annual Calendar
Online marketing campaigns are built around natural cycles for busi-
nesses and organizations. Here are some of the cycles around which
you'll use the campaigns described in this book:
• Annual Campaigns: Earnings Reports, Update Campaigns
• New Business Launches
• New Product Launches
• Web Site Launches
15 Chapter 2
• Event Promotion
• Product Redesigns
• Web Site Redesigns
• Breaking News Releases
• Routine News Releases
• Crisis Communications
It's my recommendation that every business should do an "Update
Campaign" once per year. The Update Campaign refreshes the basic doc-
uments related to your business: at a minimum, your keywords and your
meta tags. The section of this book on the Registration Campaign con-
tains a Web Site Registration Form with your organization's basic data,
keywords, descriptions and tags. This form should be updated annually,
and the meta tags on your web site freshened-up.
Styles of marketing change over the course of a year. Businesses
change subtly. It's a good idea to reflect on these changes annually and
develop a new 20-word description for your business. This freshening of
keywords, tags, descriptions, and mission statements on an annual basis
will greatly streamline Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work and put
it in its proper place for most businesses, which is an annual refresher
Earnings reports also follow a natural calendar cycle, with publicly
traded companies reporting quarterly. These release are usually routine
and are sent to a fairly well-known list of financial journalists and to wire
services for syndication. The Internet has successfully been used to dis-
tribute routine earnings reports in a manner compliant with the U.S. Se-
curities and Exchange Commision full disclosure requirements (Regula-
tion FD). Investor relations people will find many helpful tips in this
book for improving the distirbution and pickup of earnings reports and
Annual cycles also affect the seasonal events that you either tie into
or get run over by. For example, the last two months of the calendar year
are do-or-die months for retailers. Any promotions in these months will
face intense competition for consumer attention. If you don't have to
market in November and December, it's best to wait. If you're a retailer
or other business that relies on year end sales, better plan early and spend
big to survive the competition for media attention.
The calendar is full of other potential windfalls or roadblocks for
marketers. All the holidays come with potential tie-ins for publicity, from
Planning and Tracking Online Publicity Campaigns 16
New Year's Day to New Year's Eve. I had a client whose home improve-
ment product was launched in November, 2008. She could not get any at-
tention before the U.S. Presidential election. For weeks after, the press
was too busy talking about Barack Obama to pay any attention.
January is a good time for new product launches. Summer is a good
time for light news stories. Fall is back-to-school. These are the natural
cycles you build campaigns around. This sort of annual planning for on-
line marketing activities allows you the luxury of planning individual
campaigns without the drama that often accompanies last-minute deci-
sions to spend large sums of money.
Planning is my strong suit; patience is my weak suit. I'm brought in
on lots of plans that never see action. My frustration that so many re-
sources are wasted planning campaigns that never happen led me to do
something unthinkable in the marketing business: I started charging to
pitch. You can get away with that when you're in demand. It's not so easy
in a down economy.
Nonetheless, I think it's important to distinguish between a proposal
or pitch and a real plan. A real plan usually requires research and cus-
tomization that can't be done for free -- not to mention creativity, which
drives the success of so many online campaigns.
For any campaign above $10,000 in value, it's worth spending up to
10% of the budget for a good plan on how to spend the remaining 90%.
Even if you are pitching new business for free, your pitch should include
time and budget for making a real plan to guide the campaign.
A good campaign plan is a lot like a good business plan. You can use
any business plan template and turn it into a campaign plan. Or you can
use the Online Publicity Plan template at the companion web site for this
book. This is a Microsoft Word document that will take you through the
steps of building an online marketing plan. Briefly, these same elements
appear in most of the large plans I've done:
Objectives: What are you hoping to accomplish?
Strategy: Our approach and reasons for it.
Tactics: What, specifically, will be done.
Timeline: The schedule of activities.
Results: What results we expect and how we will track them.
17 Chapter 2
Costs: Schedule of payments and terms.
Planning and Tracking Online Publicity Campaigns 18
Case History: The LIVEbrary
I have worked with marketing budgets in the millions (once) and I've
handled many campaigns between $10,000 and $100,000 that required
extensive planning. For the case history this chapter, I am using one of
the largest and least successful campaigns I ever produced: The Annick
LIVEbrary. My hope is that my confession here will take away the stain
of this campaign from my otherwise merely spotty record.
I'm using the LIVEbrary because it involved an extensive plan. It be-
gan as a grant proposal for a children's book publisher in Canada, Annick
~ ACTION PLAN ~
Patron Saint Productions will create and execute an online marketing
campaign for Annick Press that will achieve the following objectives:
♦ Increase brand awareness of the press, particularly in the U.S.
♦ Appeal to institutional buyers: particularly school and public li-
brarians in the U.S.
♦ Target junior high students through the gatekeepers of school li-
brarians, public librarians, and home-schooling parents
♦ Increase sales, particularly to the institutional market in the U.S.
♦ Generate a databases of contacts that can be used in future mar-
♦ Build working relationships with key institutional allies in the
♦ Encompass a time span of no more than 18 months
♦ Train staff so that the program is sustainable and self-sufficient
at the end of the 18 month period
♦ Result in permanent, measurable results
♦ Employ electronic marketing techniques that will not require
19 Chapter 2
Patron Saint Productions, Inc., (PSP) will create a branded online pro-
gram targeted primarily at school librarians/media specialists at the ju-
nior high level in the United States. Home-schoolers will constitute a
secondary target market. This program will combine two major elements:
educational content built around Annick’s titles, and training teens in the
responsible use of new technology. We will use the working title, The
Annick Livebrary to refer to this program throughout the rest of this doc-
This type of programming can readily be marketed to teachers and librar-
ians, but only if it meets strict criteria and standards, including:
The program content must be educational, not promotional.
The program must run on a web site that is inside the “safe surf”
software filters used by most schools and libraries in the U.S.
Program guests must be respected authors, teachers, or librari-
ans, not marketing personnel.
The program should emphasize teaching of online communica-
tions skills along with whatever issues are tackled each week.
Students must have an opportunity to interact and ask questions.
The integrity of the learning environment must be preserved at
all costs; there must be a way to prevent outsiders from disrupt-
ing the program.
Properly executed, The Annick Livebrary can become a recurring pro-
gram featuring new authors each season, building on its successes year
after year by bringing authors, teachers, librarians and students together
to create exciting, educational online programming for young teens.
The thrust of our program is that no matter what book or author is fea-
tured, these sessions will make educators' lives easier while helping their
students understand how to effectively communicate online in prepara-
tion for the many challenges they face in school, in work, and in life.
Through this program, Annick will build strong relationships with the or-
ganizations that represent thousands of librarians and teachers in the U.S.
and will enjoy the advantages that come from having a novel, successful
program to talk about in sales conferences, at meetings and at trade
shows. We will also target the home-school market and parenting groups
through their umbrella organizations.
Planning and Tracking Online Publicity Campaigns 20
Phase One: Program Development
• Develop a program name: The Annick Livebrary √
• Secure a domain name: onlibrarian.com √
• Develop subject areas and appropriate titles √
The first phase will be to develop a series of 5-week programs on subject
areas built around Annick Press books. Support materials for each week
will include: an excerpt from the featured book, a lesson plan, and a brief
quiz. There will be one topic and five books for each season. Season top-
ics are as follows:
• Season 1: Media
• Season 2: History
• Season 3: Science
• Season 4: Health
• Season 5: Current Events
PSP will take responsibility for the following steps in Phase One:
• Secure a show host (facilitator), preferably a high-profile librari-
an whose credentials are impeccable to the target audience
• Provide a moderator for the program
• Recruit a venue, i.e. a “portal partner” where the sessions will be
held each week.
• Prepare all the necessary back-up documents, including lesson
plans, quizzes, instructions, etc.
• Create and execute marketing plan. Marketing will include a va-
riety of online and offline activities to make students, teachers,
parents, librarians and especially the media aware of the pro-
gram. Such activities include:
Developing a press kit for the program
A printed news release, mailed to selected media con-
A wire service news release, possibly even multiple wire
An e-mail news release to selected media contacts
21 Chapter 2
Announcements or advertisements in library and teacher
Online discussion group postings
Syndicating lesson plans for each book used in each pro-
Listings in calendars of online events
Experimenting with blog display ads and search adver-
Provide instructions to participating authors
Annick Press will take responsibility for the following steps in Phase
• Annick Press will add a staging area for the program to the An-
nick web site. PSP will provide the content for this site, Annick
will provide web support, shaping and installing the content.
Content will include such core documents as program guidelines
and instructions for teachers and librarians.
• Designate a staff member to attend the sessions and be available
to answer questions
• Designate a staff member to be trained to carry the program for-
ward after the termination of contract with PSP
• Contact authors to introduce program to them; recruit their par-
ticipation in program
• Send press release to targeted publications
• Encourage librarians to sign up by running a contest at ALA.
“Sign up for The Annick Livebrary and win a Video iPod.”
• Pitch story to School Library Journal, Quill & Quire and other
• Mail review copies as required
• Inform Firefly about program and stress importance of program
titles being in stock at major library wholesalers, ie Baker &
It is recommended, though not required, that—most likely in the form of
a blog, updated weekly, at the URL http://AnnickPress.com/Livebrary.
Once the program, partners, instructors and curriculum are set, we can
begin marketing the program.
Planning and Tracking Online Publicity Campaigns 22
Results of the marketing can be measured by the number of outlets carry-
ing news about the program, the number of people served by those out-
lets (to the extent that is known), the number of inquiries received, and
especially the number of classrooms or libraries that register to partici-
pate in the program. Some registration procedure is essential to protect
the integrity of the environment and to gather contact information to fa-
cilitate communication with participants. In PSP’s past experience, the
contact information gathered through registration was critical to a suc-
cessful program, allowing us to solicit teacher feedback and make im-
provements to the program on the fly.
One result of these marketing activities is the development and grooming
of a database of contacts that will be used repeatedly for marketing this
program and can be used in direct-to-consumer marketing and institu-
tional marketing for other Annick products. Such databases include:
♦ Juvenile libraries and librarians in the U.S.
♦ Parent organizations, including homeschooling organizations
♦ Teacher organizations and media outlets
♦ Librarian organizations and media outlets,
♦ Media contacts in the U.S. covering topics of education and pub-
♦ Individual teachers, librarians, and students
Phase Two: The First Season
During the first season, all the kinks are worked out in the preparation
and delivery of each weekly class. A typical configuration would look
Title: The Annick Livebrary
Description: An online class discussing curriculum related topics
with leading authors and experts. Students learn to use collaborative
technology while having fun.
When: Every Tuesday afternoon from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern Time
Where: At the Junior High Portal web site in the Annick Auditorium
How: Teachers and Librarians must register in advance to partici-
pate. Sign up today at http://annickpress.com/livebrary
23 Chapter 2
Each week, a series of activities are conducted to prepare for the class, to
lead the class, and to follow-up. For example, one week’s theme might
be “Dealing with Depression,” with special guest Kate Scowen, author of
My Kind of Sad: What It’s Like to Be Young and Depressed. On Monday
we would send out the Teacher’s Discussion Guide for that week and the
quiz. We would post an excerpt from the book at the Junior High Portal
web site. On Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. our Show Host (facilitator)
(a librarian recruited by PSP), our author, an Annick staffer and a PSP
staffer would converge in the chat room at the portal (the Annick Audito-
rium), and lead a discussion, answer questions, and engage with the kids.
After the chat, a transcript would be cleaned and posted online, along
with a promo for next week.
These activities are repeated each week until the program concludes. All
along the way, more teachers and libraries are registering to participate,
and feedback is solicited for ways to improve the program. Also, PSP of-
fers training and troubleshooting programs for teachers or librarians who
are having difficulty getting the technology to work or want assistance
turning this into a powerful learning experience for the children.
Typically, this type of program results in a satisfying outpouring of ap-
preciation. Teachers enjoy having a well-structured educational experi-
ence available to them for free. Students really respond to the technology
and the ability to be heard. Librarians are supportive of any solid educa-
tional program that honors their role as gatekeeper of technology. Even if
the conversation in the chat seems superficial, the practice students get in
typing, netiquette, and the realities of online communication provide a
great lesson in collaborative technology. Both the content and the struc-
ture of the program serve as educational tools.
Phase Three: Refining the Program
Substantial improvements are usually made in the period between sea-
sonal programs. Feedback is gathered and used to improve the structure
and content of the program. In the summer, when there is no scheduled
program due to summer vacations in the U.S., the program can be sub-
stantially revamped. Instructions for teachers are improved. Standard
templates are revised and refined. The timing of promotions might be al-
tered. The level of staffing might be changed. Promotional efforts are
evaluated and promotional materials are revised.
Planning and Tracking Online Publicity Campaigns 24
Phase Four: The Second Season
The program is run again, beginning with promotion and continuing
through 4 or 5 weeks of programming. The second time through leads to
a fairly consistent set of materials and procedures that can be used with
only slight modifications for years to come.
Phase Five: Transfer & Training
After two seasons of running the program, Annick Press will sustain the
program without any increase in staffing. With one Annick Press em-
ployee involved in the program from the beginning, the work to manage
the program will not require any additional staff. PSP will facilitate the
transfer of responsibility by developing an instruction manual for use by
the press. In addition, all contacts developed during the program will be
turned over to Annick, including media responding to the promotion,
contacts for program partners, and contact information for teachers and
librarians who participated in the program.
Along with an instruction manual and contacts, Annick Press will have a
polished set of document templates such as News Releases, Discussion
Group Postings, Teacher’s Guide, Weekly Quiz, etc. These documents
will have been revised and refined during the first two seasons of the
program. At the conclusion of the program, they will be archived and
will remain available on the Annick Livebrary site.
JUN-SEP, 2007: Phase One: Program Development
SEP-NOV, 2007: Phase Two: The First Season
OCTOBER 15, 2007: INTERIM REPORT DUE
NOV-DEC, 2007: Phase Three: Refining the Program
JAN-MAR, 2008: Phase Four: The Second Season
MAR-JUN, 2008: Phase Five: Transfer and Training
JUN-SEP, 2008: Phase Six: Setting Up the Fall Season
SEP-NOV 2008: First Season under Annick Administration
JAN-MAR. 2009: Second Season under Annick Administration
MARCH 31, 2009: FINAL REPORT DUE
25 Chapter 2
This campaign is designed to increase familiarity with Annick Press
among the target audience, make it easy for prospects to get more infor-
mation about the company, and have a lasting impact on the quantity and
quality of prospects contacting Annick. Results for a typical campaign
• Generating substantial media coverage for a novel educational
• Generating awareness for Annick Press among teachers, school
librarians, and home schoolers.
• Generating a database of contact information for several hundred
teachers,librarians and home schoolers through the registration
• Widely distributing information about featured books through
support materials developed for the program: lesson plans, ex-
• Increasing brand recognition and goodwill associated with the
brand through the sponsorship of educational activities
• Building relationships with the core target audience of teachers
and librarians using a campaign that can be repeated every sea-
• A noticeable spike in web site traffic
• After the spike, a substantially higher monthly average web site
• Relationships with web sites and trade groups that can be ex-
panded over time
• Name recognition among the target audience through discussion
• Approximately 10 web sites installing excerpts each season
• From 20 to 50 media inquiries the first season, and approximate-
ly 10 media inquiries each subsequent season.
Planning and Tracking Online Publicity Campaigns 26
Assignment #1: The Organization
Choose an organization to build your campaign around. Prepare a
detailed description about this organization. You may copy, cut and
paste text from other sources for this assignment. Include the follow-
ing required sections.
1) About the Organization:
- Mailing Address
- Phone Numbers (Voice, Fax, Toll-Free, Mobile, Pager, etc.)
- Web Site
2) Industry and Products
- What industry is the organization in? Who are the competitors?
- What products and/or services do they provide?
- How are these products/services priced and packaged?
- How are the products/services sold (directly? through retailers? by
sales reps? direct mail? online? through dealerships? etc.)
- Describe the flow of funds through the organization: sources of fi-
nancing, what do they spend it on, sources of revenue.
3) Pick one Product, Service, or Program to Promote:
- Narrow your focus to one product or service to be promoted.
- Describe in detail that product or service: how big, what color,
what does it smell like, price, how it works, unique advantages, etc.
4) Describe the characteristics of the consumers of the product or service.
- What are their demographics: gender, age, income, location?
5) Pick a Spokesperson and tell me why you picked him or her.
- President, CEO, or senior executive
- Someone known in the industry.
- Celebrity: author, musician, actor, athlete, artist, etc.
6) Tell me everything you can about the spokesperson:
- his or her education or training
- work history
- awards or honors they've received
- books or articles they've written
- achievements -- things they're most well-known for
27 Chapter 2
Assignment #2: The Plan
Draft an Online Publicity Plan
Sketch the elements of an online promotional campaign. Remember,
this is an online campaign, and all the activities should have an on-
- What are the objectives for the campaign? Make sure your plan ad-
dresses several target audiences in the value chain, such as con-
sumers, the media, and trade intermediaries.
- Come up with a theme, tagline, or marketing message for the cam-
paign. You can express this as a strategy if that's easier.
- What activities will be included in the campaign? Briefly describe
some of the activities you anticipate using. These must all be online
- Include a timeline of when the activities will take place.
- What will the end results of the campaign be? Include some num-
bers to quantify the results. Guestimates are fine.
You may use the Online Marketing Plan template in the Templates
section of the web as a guide for your work. Your plan does not have
to be as elaborate as the Case History. But it should be professionally
written and attractive to look at.