Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Seven Great and Goofy Steps to Building Buzz

I'm a PR GITM now

That's right.

Do I look like one?


What's GITM mean? Well, it's a highly valued, intensely competitive, world-class business designation that only "special" people get.

People like me.

And, intellectually, you have to be heads above a Rhodes Scholar - a deep thinker, like me - to get the professional designation.

At the end of this highly informative, spectacularly written, best practices case study (eat your hearts out New Yorker and Wall Street Journal), I'll tell you what GITM stands for.

I took a little time off the

"Shoot the Donkey"

columns to work on a freelance brand-building campaign. Well actually, that's not true. It's really a brand-building campaign using advertising instead of PR. But there really isn't too much of a difference between the two. I prefer advertising, however, just because it's more creative (like me), but strategically or tactically, there's not too much of a difference between the two.

This stuff isn't all that difficult.

I have no idea as to why companies like P & G spend gazillion billions on building and maintaining brands.

It's so simple; in fact, I can't even believe I'm writing about it. Pretty much any half-witted, kilt-wearing, mechanical-bull-riding, business-professional simpleton can figure out a brand-building campaign. (Confused? See example below)

Half-witted, kilt-wearing, mechanical-bull-riding, business-professional simpleton

I mean everyone knows why brands are important.

Just as important as roughage and drinking eight glasses of water every day. Brands are a very important staple of the business diet.

So when asked to help, I didn't want to insult the intelligence of the corporate team leaders (my prospective employers) or offend them by pointing out how any lame-brained, half-witted nattering nabob of a ninny could do a brand-building campaign. The true value of my services would be to instruct them on the benefits of Advertising vs. PR.

Advertising always wins. (Even though I am in PR now, I still remain a non-objective thoughtless leader in all types of corporate mis-communications.)

It's a no-brainer.

I was going to tell my prospective employers that. I really was. But then ... they offered to pay me.

So. I took the high road.

I didn't tell them.

One Caveat

My prospective employers had one caveat though. I had to linearly lay out the steps I would take, then go to the biggest PR guru in the world and get his opinion.


Like what could Al Ries,

the biggest, most famous, most experienced and successful legendary PR and marketing strategist and bestselling author (or co-author) of 11 books on marketing including Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, Marketing Warfare, Focus, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR and his latest The Origin of Brands tell me about PR?


So what if he has a really cool new website that his daughter Laura kicked butt on?

I was ready to tell my prospective employers that. I really was. But the "money" thing echoed in my head. So, once again, I took the high road and agreed. You know, just because Al Ries is all "that" and a PR G -(another professional designation ... which you'll notice doesn't have near as many letters as GITM, therefore, in my humble opinion, is of diminished value). I'm a PR GITM. I was confident in my ability to clearly lay out a brand-building campaign, step-by-step, defining the advantages of advertising over PR and execute that campaign.

Sure ... Al might have some minor differences with my grammar or spelling, but strategies or tactics?

I think not.

So, here we go.

But first ... STOP! THINK!

Don't let Al Ries fool you if he slightly disagrees with me. He's the master of good-to-great-to brilliant publicity. He uses all kinds of facts, research and real-life examples to confuse you into thinking he's right and I'm confused.

Great Thinkers and Divergence

To allow the reader to digest the similarities in how great thinkers arrive at the same conclusions but may take divergent paths, I'll lay out my step-by-step plan in conjunction with Al Ries', then let you draw your own conclusions at the end of this article.

Steve's Seven-Step Plan to Building Your Brand

Steve's Step 1: The blast!

To effectively launch a new brand, open the checkbook and get ready for ...

The Blast!

This is not for the timid. That's right, time to turn them deep corporate pockets inside out, upside down, right side left.

Drop'em corporate bean counters!

Shake down your stakeholders, shareholders, customers and your grandma. You need the big bucks. Buy advertising. Splurge. Go for it. You absolutely must. Plus, it's a lotta fun blowing all that OPM (other people's money). You'll need:

  • Print

  • Radio

  • TV

  • Direct mail

  • Indirect mail (I specialize in this ... e-mail me for more info)

  • Billboards

  • Bobboards (Bill's less-expensive brother)

  • Webinars, schleppinars, (I am quite versed in schleppinars. Email me for more info.) webcasts

  • Nascar sponsorships

  • EARL sponsorship - MY FAVORITE

  • NASA advertising sponsorship on the Space Shuttle

FOCUS those media buys on your product. Everyone MUST know the name.

Think war. Think ...


Takeaway: Everyone on this earth, and possibly the next, should know the name of your product. It should not be some deep corporate secret with a goofy code name. Come on. It's not war.

Wait a minute.

I take that back.

It is war.


Okay ... Al's turn.

Al Ries' Seven-Step Plan to Building Your Brand

Launching a brand with public relations and launching a brand with advertising are two totally different things. If you want to be successful with a PR launch of a new product or service, you have to forget much of what you learned about advertising and advertising campaigns.

You can't just replace advertising with PR. You have to change your method of introducing a new brand. Letting go of what you learned in Advertising 101 is not an easy thing to do. Advertising and marketing have been so entwined inside corporations that it's hard for many marketing managers to even consider the possibility of launching a new brand without advertising.

A PR launch invariably involves seven steps. Here is how each of these seven PR steps differs from a traditional advertising launch.

Al Ries' Step 1: The leak

"What, you're going to leak the news to the media that we are thinking of launching such and such new product? Are you crazy? We give these things code names to keep them out of the news."

This is the likely management reaction to someone proposing the classic PR tactic of leaking the new product to the media. Yet, if you give up the leak, you give up one of the most powerful ways of putting an idea into a mind.

The media loves inside stories that describe events that are going to happen especially when it's an exclusive. And, especially when it seems to come from outside the corporation. In other words, the scoop.

That's the way the Segway was launched. Almost 11 months before its formal introduction, the product was leaked to The website reported that a $250,000 book contract had been signed detailing a new, but secret, invention of Dean Kamen. Codenamed "Ginger" or "IT," the new product was described by John Doerr, a venture capitalist who had invested in it, as more significant than the World Wide Web.

Three days later, Mr. Kamen issued a disclaimer that stated, "We have a promising project, but nothing of the earth-shattering nature that people are conjuring up." In spite of the disclaimer, the media hyped the new invention with a mass of publicity.

The Segway was formally introduced on ABC's "Good Morning America" where Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson gave it a spin. Naturally the Segway made all the evening news shows as well as most of the nation's newspapers.

Even the formal announcement was leaked to The New York Times which carried an exclusive story on the front page of its business section.

You waste an enormous resource if you don't leak details of your new product or service to the media. What do people like to talk about? Rumors, gossip, inside information. It's the same with the media.


What did I tell you?

Al is always using facts and examples to support his conclusions and recommendations. What he lacks is that good ole "flying by the seat of your pants" gut instinct. Forget the fundamentals and the basics.

I'm hoping by the time this article is finished, some of my gut-instinctive gravitas will rub off on him.

Steve's Step 2: The fast buildup

Remember. This is like war, right? So we have to build up fast, penetrate, expand and seize more territory!

To make an impact, the campaign has to rise above the noise. The best way to do that is to take a couple million dollars, divide it into a bunch of small chunks and spend it in lots of different media.

For example, if your product has 10 different trade publications that your buyers may possibly read, BLAST away. Buy some advertising in all of them.

What better way than to spread your advertising dollars and be in tons of media outlets instead of just a few targeted ones?

Pretty simple. Common sense really. You want examples? Okay.

TV commercials:

I recommend you launch with nation-wide (or global if your budget allows), 60-second commercials, then expand to 120-second commercials, then go for the 15-minute infomercial. And the coup de grace, the 30-minute infomercial.

Newspaper and print? Even easier. Start with double-page spreads and follow with four-page spreads.

Takeaway: The bane of your existence, a complete colossus failure, would be a slow, consistent buildup. A news item here, a mention from a friend there and pretty soon your product or service (and you) will disappear from the face of the earth.

I turn it back over to the incomparable Al Ries.

Al Ries' Step 2: The slow buildup

Advertising campaigns are invariably launched with a "big bang" and there's a good reason for doing so.

What's the easiest thing to hide in America?

A million bucks worth of advertising.

- Al Ries

To have a chance at making an impact, an advertising campaign has to get above the "noise level." The easiest thing to hide in America is a million dollars worth of advertising. If you divide the million into small chunks and then spend the money in many different media, your messages will disappear into an advertising black hole.

That's why advertisers and their agencies often launch campaigns with 60-second TV commercials followed by 30-second, or even 15-second spots.

Newspaper and magazine campaigns often start with double-page spreads followed by single-page ads. Capture their attention and then follow up with reminder advertising is the strategy.

The "Yes. Intel" campaign was launched with four-page advertisements in management publications like The Wall Street Journal. Then Intel switched to double-page spreads. Intel finished by running single-page ads.

When you launch a brand with PR, you don't have a choice. Unless you have an earth-shattering invention, you have to start slowly and hope the media coverage will gradually expand. (If you do have an earth-shattering invention, you probably don't need PR at all. The word will get out regardless of what you do.)

Fortunately this slow buildup is consistent with the way people learn about new products and services. A news item here, a mention from a friend there, and pretty soon you are convinced you have known about the product forever.


Well, as you can see, great minds occasionally have different opinions. On to ...

Steve's Step 3:

Kisses - Click image to download.Make nicey-nice-nice Kisses - Click image to download. no needy to be greedy!Kisses - Click image to download.

Before you launch a brand campaign you need to be nicey-nice-nice.

Be the great conciliator.

Think consensus.

Identify your competitors and communicate your vision, strengths and weaknesses to them. You're not really competitors ... you're peas of the same pod. Think mutually beneficial collaboration. There's enough market share for everyone. No needy to be greedy.

The number-one thing you don't need when launching a brand campaign is an enemy.

Takeaway: I'm okay, you're okay. Make nicey-nice-nice

Al Ries' Step 3: Recruitment of allies

Before you launch a PR branding program, you should ask yourself two questions:

  1. Who is the enemy?

  2. Who are my natural allies?

Every new product or service needs an enemy or it won't become a major brand. Some enemies are obvious. If you're selling Pepsi-Cola, your enemy is Coca-Cola. If you're selling Whoppers, your enemy is McDonald's.

Identification of an enemy will also help tell you who your allies are. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." When we wrote the book, "The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR," we asked ourselves who might be the enemy of such a book.

Our obvious enemy is the advertising conglomerate - the ones who control the bulk of advertising expenditures in the U.S. Who might be the enemy of these advertising conglomerates? It's the independent PR firm who has been losing business over the years to the PR subsidiaries of these ad conglomerates.

So we sent advance copies of our book to the 124 largest independent PR firms in the country and followed up with copies of media stories about the book. These mailings generated a lot of response along the lines of, "We'll buy copies to send to clients and prospects, we'll invite you to make speeches at industry meetings, we'll write letters to the editors of trade publications, etc."

Steve's Step 4 (which actually has 3 steps):

Don't crawl.

Don't walk.

Dance. Strut your stuff!

I don't believe in this crawl before you walk stuff. Building momentum. I's all a bunch of sophisticated, elitist, creative marketing-speak hooey-dewey.

Top of the Ladder

The object is to start at the top of the ladder. Real credibility comes from the top of the ladder ... not the bottom.

Don't start in small local trades and work your way up to larger publications. What a complete waste of time. Go right to the top. Shoot for national or cable TV. Why practice and work out the bugs? You have to be smarter than that. Advertising is big money. Be responsible. Don't waste it.

Al Ries' Step 4: The bottom-up rollout

You have to crawl before you walk and you have to walk before you run. The media works the same way. You need to start small, perhaps with a mention in a newsletter, and then move on to the trade press. From the trade press, you might move up the ladder to one of the general business publications. Eventually you might see your new product or service on "The NBC Nightly News."

Each rung of the ladder adds credibility to the brand. If you approach NBC directly, you might get an instant turndown. If they see your new product mentioned in Time Magazine, however, they might call you.

As you move up the media ladder, your brand creates its own momentum.

Steve's Step 5: Never modify the product

Seems simple. Seems like common sense. It is. But someone has to point it out. That's why I'm a

I show and tell.

Once you launch with a big blast, you're committed.

Don't be a potato head and mess with your investment! Stay the course. This is no time for humility. Be brazenly bragadociously courageous.

I'd give you an example but really, do you need any? If so, e-mail me and I'll think of one.

TAKEAWAY: Blast! Blast! Blast! Hype! Hype! Hype!

Al Ries' Step 5: The modification of the product

One of the major advantages of leaking the news and then rolling it out with a slow buildup is that it gives you an opportunity to modify the product.

It's hard to change a brand once you have launched it with a big-bang advertising campaign. You are pretty much committed to the product as it is.

Apple launched the Newton MessagePad, the world's first handheld computer, with a big press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago. This was Apple's first entry into what its chairman at the time, John Sculley, predicted would be a $3.5 trillion industry combining entertainment, communications and computing with digital technology.

Apple followed the press announcement with a traditional big-bang advertising campaign, including TV commercials that proclaimed with breathless prose: "Newton is digital. Newton is personal. Newton is magic. Newton is as simple as a piece of paper. Newton is intelligent. Newton learns about you, understands you. Newton is news."

Because of its flawed handwriting-recognition software, the product received scathing reviews. Especially devastating was a full week of Garry Trudeau's cartoon strip Doonesbury mocking the Newton. "I am writing a test sentence," came out "Siam fighting atomic sentry."

A prospect tested a Newton by writing, "My name is Curtis." Business Week reported the event with the headline "My Norse 15 Critics" which is how the Newton interpreted the prospect's message.

Too much hype is self-defeating. You are asking the media to take your product down a peg. Better to launch a brand in a modest way by asking friends and allies to offer their suggestions. Then modify the product to meet the needs of the marketplace.

Palm Computing took the Newton idea and simplified it. They dropped the telecommunications function and the elaborate handwriting-recognition software in favor of a stylized "all cap" system called Graffiti. The Palm Pilot went on to be an enormous success.

When dealing with the media, humility beats hype all the time. If you sincerely ask for advice and counsel, you are likely to get a wealth of ideas you can use.

Steve's Step 6: The sumptuous smorgasbord

One of my favorite steps. Mainly because it requires deep thinking and the imagery makes me think of food.

Don't be by focus

When you launch a new product, you need not focus on only one attribute. That's nonsensical. Don't handcuff your success! Come on, spend (and this is really important, take notes) hours upon hours debating how many attributes you can, by hook or crook, assign to the product. Think features and functions of features and functions of features and functions!

The more attributes, the better your chances of success.

Hence Steve's smorgasbord approach.

More Is More ... More is Better

Ask anyone in the company, from R&D to Sales, from Pre-sales to Marketing and from PR to the receptionist at the front desk, the receptionist at the back desk, the receptionist at the bottom desk ... ask everyone. More is better.

Break out the checkbook. Pay for some focus groups. Pay for real consumers to give you feedback.

I'll tell you one thing not to do though. Never ask an editor or reporter.

They're job is to reinforce your attributes. Not to question or suggest to you. Their opinions are not helpful, and are also unlikely to convince any of your prospects. They don't hold the reins of consumer opinion - you do, because you did the focus groups and the smorgasbord research!

Takeaway: Focus: Don't. More is better

Al Ries' Step 6: The modification of the message

When you launch a new product, you usually find that you have a range of attributes that you could attach to the brand.

Which one attribute should you focus on?

This is the sort of question that can stir up endless hours of debate in the boardroom. Too often the question is ducked and the brand is launched with a smorgasbord of attributes (which is what happened at Apple with the Newton.)

Or a decision is made that turns out to be totally wrong. There's a certain lack of objectivity in the boardroom.

The media can be extremely helpful. Which attribute does a reporter or editor think is most important? After all, the media looks at new products from the consumer's point of view. Their opinions are not only helpful, but are likely to prove extremely convincing to prospects. They hold the reins of consumer opinion. You cross them at your own peril.

Volvo spent years advertising the durability of Volvo automobiles. Yet the media fell in love with the safety aspects of Volvo cars. They carried stories about Volvo's invention of the three-point lap and shoulder seat belt, the collapsible steering column, front and rear crumple zones, etc.

Volvo finally threw in the durability towel and switched their advertising to focus on the safety issue. Volvo sales took off.

Forget focus groups. Why pay consumers for advice when the media will give it to you for free. Furthermore, the media will back up their advice with stories that will plant the ideas in the prospect's mind.

Should you ever go against media advice? Sure, but when you do, you better have a good reason to do so.

Steve's Step 7: Ready. Set.

Remember, think of a brand launch as war. Plan a D-day. Marshal your resources, then ... blast off! Hit the beaches with all guns firing, marketing, advertising, the works. Don't leave any gun unfired, or any gun barrel unsmoking.

Let Them Gun Barrels Be a Smoking!

Remember, timing is everything (along with sufficient firepower). The right product with the right support (Steve's seven-step plan) is an unstoppable combination.

Onward selling soldiers! Raise your advertising campaign banners for battle!

Takeaway: Be first. Not last. To fire the big blast.

Al Ries' Step 7: The soft launch

Most marketing campaigns are planned around a D-day, the day the product hits the beach supported by advertising air power and promotional landing craft.

A military metaphor makes for a rousing speech at a sales meeting, but it lacks the flexibility to deal with the real world. No one can predict the course of a PR program. How long it will take, what new ideas and concepts will be unearthed.

Your better strategy is to plan for a soft launch. The product will be introduced when it is ready. In other words, when the media coverage runs its course. Not too soon and not too late.

The soft launch fouls up budgeting and corporate planning. It might even cause problems with manufacturing and distribution. So be it. In marketing, as in life, timing is everything.

The right product at the right time with the right PR support is an unstoppable combination.

Better late than sorry.


Well, draw your own.

Look at me

Along with the obvious thoughtless leadership insights into corporate miscommunications I provided above I also personify and project the essence of credibility through my mighty power business attire.

Look at Al Ries

So what he's published a few books like ...

And he's the legendary creator and voice of positioning. Can he ride a mechanical bull while wearing a kilt?

I suspect not.

I mean truly ... if that doesn't require world-class understanding and insight about positioning, what does?

Oh ... almost forgot. Want to know what PR GITM and PR G means? See below.


About Al Ries: PR G = PR Guru

Al is a legendary marketing strategist and the bestselling author (or co-author) of 11 books on marketing including Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, Marketing Warfare, Focus, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR and his latest The Origin of Brands.

Al was president of the Association of Industrial Advertisers (now the Business Marketing Association) and the Advertising Club of New York. He was also chairman of the Club's Andy Awards. In 1989, Sales & Marketing Executives International gave him its "Tops in Marketing" award. In 1999, PR Week magazine named him one of the 100 most influential PR people of the 20th century.

Always one for controversy, Al's book, The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR, has generated enormous interest in the marketing community. The book made both the Business Week and The Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. In addition to being reviewed by these publications, it was also reviewed by USA Today, Harvard Business Review, Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times and many other publications.

Al's latest release, The Origin of Brands explores "divergence," the best way to create a new brand. The concept is analogous to the creation of a new species, as pioneered by Charles Darwin in his classic book on the subject.

Al currently writes a monthly marketing column for and is an often quoted expert in many publications. He resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Mary Lou.

About Steve Kayser: PR GITM (PR Guru in the making)

Do you need to know anymore after that article?

Steve Kayser is an award-winning business writer that has been featured in a marketing best practices case study by MarketingSherpa, “A Marketer's Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing,” Innovation Quarterly, B2B Marketing Trends, and Faces of E-Content magazine. His writings have appeared in Corporate Finance Review Magazine, CEO Refresher, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business 2.0, and Fast Company Magazine, among others.

In his spare time, Steve professionally models kilts for Un-Vanity, Non-GQ and The Manly Kilt Wearing Man monthly magazines.

Steve also headlines fundraising events for his run at an Olympic Gold Medal in the kilt-wearing mechanical bull-riding competition to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2050.

In addition, Steve is retained by Cincom (on a very tenuous, minute-by-minute basis) to inspire and motivate others by fulfilling a famous Mark Twain axiom,

“Let us be thankful for the fools;

but for them the rest of us could not succeed."

Monday, July 7, 2008

It's Complex to Write Simple These Days - - But Hemingway's Rules of Writing Can Still Work

Why Can’t New Marketing and PR People Write?

This article was in response ( or supplement ) to "When It Comes to PR Writing, Only One Thing Beats Talent... and there ain't much talent around," written by Don Bates, director of the Master's Degree in Strategic Public Relations program at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management. It was originally posted on the Media Bullseye site.

I’ve had Marketing and PR employees work for me right out of college, and found most were woefully unprepared for the real-world new PR environment. Not because of any inherent deficiency in the school they came from, but more from the frenetic pace of change in the PR industry. Blogs, Vlogs, Podcasts, Social Media, SEO, SEO PR, Tags, and on and on and on. The technology changes alone can be daunting or intimidating.

But the writing … the writing, that’s now part skill, part science and part art. It is the absolute foundation of being able to effectively use all the new technologies and communication tools.

Complex and Under-appreciated

It’s a skill and art that is complex, under-appreciated and, as far as I can tell, under-emphasized by schools. Or—if you have the teeth-pulling, Novocain-less pleasure of reading many press releases—companies, for that matter. Why is that? One of the main reasons is …

It’s Complex to Write Simple These Days

Ernest Hemingway had a clear understanding and vision of writing simply and effectively when he discussed the four rules of writing he learned as a journalist at the Kansas City Star.

Hemingway Four Rules (well, not really, they were the Kansas City Star’s actually)

  1. Use short sentences.
  2. Use short first paragraphs.
  3. Use vigorous English.
  4. Be positive, not negative.

“Those were the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing,” Hemingway said in 1940. “I’ve never forgotten them. No man with any talent, who feels and writes truly about the thing he is trying to say, can fail to write well if he abides with them.”

These rules still work. Rarely used. But still work.

However, in defense of most PR practitioners and writers today, Hemingway didn’t have to contend with the New PR. SEO PR. Google News. Yahoo News. He didn’t need to be Dugg, or Stumbled Upon. Or Mixxed. Or blogged about.

“Having your press release at the number one spot on Google or Yahoo News is the same as a front-page article in print.” - PR WEEK

From Their Eyes

For just a second, step into the shoes of a new PR practitioner, right out of school, or even an experienced practitioner, who has not kept up with the rapidly changing online PR processes and communication tools.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

The first thing (and it would be super if this happened) they might hear about is the Hemingway rules above. That’s probably a stretch. But they might hear something like, “to effectively use all the new technologies and communication tools in ‘New PR,’ you have to be able to write simply.”

Let’s start with the simple. A simple press release. Doesn’t get much simpler than that, does it?


What’s simple? Well that’s easy, simple is simple. Easy-to-read, easy-to-understand, with specificity and authenticity. Elegant simplicity will build trust and credibility for you and your organization.

Wow—that is simple. Sounds simple anyway. However, I forgot to add …


Make your headline less than 10 words with an imperative verb. Try to keep it around 65 characters if you can so it’s not truncated by news search engines. Oh — include a key word or key phrase (average search term is 2.67 words long) in that title for the search engines—and not just for the web search engines. “News search engines” have different algorithms than the normal web-based engines.

Of course, that’s simple. Everyone knows that, even a freshly minted Grad student. Don’t they?


Amplify the title. Try to include a keyword or key phrase here too, if possible. Test it for effectiveness. How strong is your keyword - your key phrase? Do you know? (Or, do you even know how to test it, might be a better question?)

BUT … also make it interesting, funny, mysterious, appealing, compelling … simple, easy-to-read and easy-to-understand.

Got it? Simple. Next …


Include a keyword/phrase in the first 50 words of the release (because you’ll be lucky if most journalists will ever get that far, so give it your best shot). Embed hyperlinks in the body of your press release to help draw your audience (prospects/media/analysts) into your story - prompting them to visit your website, or respond to a call to action.

Doesn’t get much simpler than that.


Yes, they’re boring. But you will use them. Hardly anyone will ever read them (except the Frankenquoted person). I’ve included some text below you can use — just insert your company or executive’s name.

We’re Great!

“We’re Great.” “Our company is great.” “Our customers love us.” “The industry analysts love us.” Here’s a video that describes Frankenquoting pretty well.

Remember the Rules!

Remember, though, you still have to make it interesting, funny, mysterious, appealing, compelling, simple, short, easy-to read, easy-to-understand and … use specific keywords and phrases.


Does anyone ever read this? Hardly ever.

Under-Boiled and Under-Valued Piece of PR Real Estate

However, the boilerplate is one greatly under-valued piece of PR real estate. Do not, I repeat, do not repeat any of your Frankenquotes in your boilerplate. But do use the Four Hemmingway Rules of Writing to answer the four questions that any reader wants to know;

  1. What do you do?
  2. How do you do it?
  3. Why are you different?
  4. Why should I buy from you?

Reinforce those four questions with embedded hyperlinks back to your web site with specific and credible information to back up your statements.

Money Makes You a Better Writer

We’re almost done with the simple press release. Important fact here - You also need to do all of the above in 400 or less words. Now, I know what you’re thinking: ‘What!?’ You inherited a corporate boilerplate that was 2,400 words long by itself! Why under 400 words? Typically the wire services charge you around a dollar per word after 400 words. Ouch.

Spend the money like it’s your money. It will make you a much better writer, better businessperson, and a more responsible and trusted employee.

Delete the 2,400 word boilerplate. Concentrate on a great eye-catching headline that’s less than 10 words long with a keyword/keyphrase. Nail the story angle with elegant simplicity in the first 50 words.

Money can make you a better writer … But only if you write like it’s your money you’re spending.

Whirling Dervish of the New PR World

Writing simply is hard. It is far easier to write long, complex pieces, believe it or not. But like it or not, writing simply is THE KEY to effectively communicating within this whirling dervish of a new PR world.

Good Can …

A good writer can adapt, learn and flex with the new PR technologies.

Bad Can …

An unskilled, lazy or bad writer, with a great knowledge of the new PR technologies can trash your credibility to a worldwide audience quicker than a supraluminal tachyon (a hypothetical quantum particle that never travels below the speed of light … Hey, I worked for a tech company).

Part Skill - Part Science - Part …

Writing for the new PR world is part skill, part science and part art.

The Art Part

The “art” part is putting the pieces above together so they’re interesting, appealing, compelling (take a digital breath here, breathe in, breathe out) easy-to read and easy-to-understand in ….

  1. Short sentences.
  2. Short first paragraphs.
  3. Vigorous English.
  4. Positive, not negative tones.

Simple isn’t it?

And that was just the press release. Are we ready to move on to the social media news release yet?

Steve Kayser is currently the director of PR for Cincom Systems, a global software and services company. In addition to his PR duties Steve publishes Cincom’s award-winning Expert Access E-zine which has grown to 135,000 subscribers globally. Steve is also an award-winning business writer. Steve can be reached at

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Charlie Rose Has BO ... Wish I Did Too

BO - The Greatest of Achievements These Days

I saw Charlie Rose speak with PR legend Howard Rubenstein at a media relations conference hosted by the Bulldog Reporter in San Franciso.

Charlie was fascinating. Really connected. I've seen a plethora, a bevy, a melange (I meant to say "a whole bunch" but got carried away) of good presenters and speakers.

Good Is Not Hard

All it takes to be a good presenter is hard work and practice. If you're not good - you have only one person to blame: yourself.

But to be great you have to be good - and connect. Connecting is pretty special; it's an art. Maybe a gift. A heavenly endowment. You have to be an expert, wise, personable, dynamic, charismatic, likable. And ... be able to tell your story with the ultimate in sophistication - simplicity.

Great Is

The only speaker I've seen anywhere near rivaling Charlie Rose was Steve Wynn.

He was unbelievable. Excellent. Saw him speak at an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year ceremony in Palm Springs.

Steve Wynn is dynamic, inspirational, charismatic. Best I ever saw (how's that for good English?).

The Circles I Don't Run In

And, up until I saw Steve Wynn speak, I had very little knowledge of who he was or what he'd done (shows you the circles I don't run in).

He had that movie star kinda mystique.

But being a gazillionaire sorta lends itself to that.

And, this was funny - he had an incredible Dalai Lama impersonation.

Charlie Rose Was Not Like That

Two radically different styles. His talk was on "The Art of the Story: Finding the Heart of the Drama." He spoke about what he looked for in stories and guests for his show (he's done over 20,000 interviews). It essentially boiled down to this.
Interesting people actively engaged in the struggle of life. Coming in conflict with each other for love, for celebration, for tragedy, for death, for war, for all the possible range of emotions. Overcoming obstacles and adversity. Authentic. And ... being able to tell their story - the story of the human spirit.

How Does Charlie Rose Find the Heart of the Drama?

Insatiable curiosity. Research. Preparation. He genuinely cares. Question arcs - a series of questions that, depending on the way the guest responds, he follows up on. Not a set, linear-based question, answer, question format.

Takes You Back To When ...

Charlie takes guests back (through questions) to their moment of greatest emotion, challenge, victory, defeat, discovery. He wants them to recapture the emotion, the time, the life-altering experience. If he does that – they go to the heart of the drama. The essence of the story. The essence of life.

Who Were Some of His Favorite Interviews?

Charlie Rose has 17 years of recorded interviews. A lot to choose from. Barak Obama. John McCain. Bill Clinton. Henry Kissinger. Stephen Hawking. Nobel Laureates, Academicians, and on, and on.

I'll list some of the ones he mentioned as favorites and include the video interviews at the bottom of this article. Check out the questions he asks to get to the heart of the drama. Also- try to guess who was his favorite (answer at the end of the article.)

Ted Turner -
A dream for any interviewer. Opinionated. Thinks big. Wants to talk. You don't have to engage him—just sits down and he's off and running.

Warren Buffet - Best for long-form interview. Captivating. Charming.

Bill Gates - Enormously interesting. Good as it gets. Brilliant.

Bruce Springsteen -
One of the most memorable, talked about interviews ever. Rarely does interviews, but people still mention and ask him about the Springsteen interview even though it took place 10 years ago.

Sophia Loren - Talented. Beautiful. Enchanting. Beloved. Enduring. Engaged. Charming. The Alpha and Omega (Okay ... Charlie didn't say that. But I might have.)

William Buckley - Cerebral. Smart and interesting; he had done everything. Television, wrote a column, he could talk politics, philosophy, music, and he’d written 100 books. Loved him.
What Made Charlie Rose So Special?

He was talking to a group of 600 PR professionals. Each one dreaming up ways to talk to him - pitch him, get his ear.

Almost holding up a sign saying, "LOOK AT ME!"

And what did Charlie Rose do when his talk was finished?

Get ushered out quickly behind the stage through some high-security, highfalutin steel curtain designed to protect him from the masses? (Some occasionally use the same word "masses," minus the "M," when referring to PR folks.)

Yes, I do own a gorilla suit - but that's not me. I swear. An amazing coincidence. Two Steve's owning a gorilla suit. What are the odds?

No - he did something totally unexpected. Staggeringly unexpected. He walked down from the stage and chatted with the sponsors, then slowly walked right out ... through the masses.

"So what," you say?

Charlie actually looked directly at each table as he passed. If someone made eye contact he stopped and spoke to them. He engaged. Engaged in the struggle of life. Okay. Maybe that's a little jib jab, flim-flam flummery, a tad melodramatic. But you get my point.

Never in the History of Business ...

Have so many PR professionals been rendered completely speechless.

Now - What About the Charlie Rose has BO Headline?

Oh, BO -- that's simple.

I mentioned I've been to way too many conferences and speeches? One thing I've noticed over the last year is the overwhelming proliferation of BlackBerry's.

Procreating, propagating, multiplying sources of annoying digital noise and distraction. And ... they're always in use. Especially during presentations.

Sometimes surreptitiously. Sometimes not. Depends how bad the presentation or speaker is.

This conduct is rude. Reprehensible. Unprofessional. Bad business etiquette. Just plain disrespectful of the person presenting.

I try not to do it more than 5 times a week myself.

But - there are some really lame and boring presentations being foisted upon the business public in the perverse name of Thought Leadership, education and training.

So, in an altruistic act of thoughtless leadership, I created and developed, at much cost ($0), and time (11 beers worth), a guidepost —a barometer if you will— (patent not-pending, intellectual capital totally suspect) called the ...

The BO Scale

It doesn't mean what you think. An average presenter scores a BO rating of 5. Scale tops out at 10. Think golf here. Low score wins.

The Lazarus Phenomenon

The absolute worst presenter.

The bore-the-dead type presenter.

The ones capable of provoking a Lazarus type resur-insurrection (resurrection- insurrection) of peaceful souls, drifting on the rivers of the Lethe, to awake and beat you senseless with their own tombstones—rack up a BO-10 rating.

This BO scale was developed after reviewing and analyzing reams of evidence. But, it's not just theoretical. I got out in the real world and tested it extensively. I engaged. Sorta like Charlie Rose. Well, maybe not exactly. But I found the bottom. The bottom of the scale is a BO-10.

How do I know that?

The Worst Presentation on Earth

I purposely created the most God-awful presentation ever.

Specifically designed to be horrible. (That means I tried my best to do a great job—but failed miserably. On second thought, I was a pretty successful failure. That might be a better way to spin it.)

A Real Stinker

It was terrible. (I thought, really thought, it was elevating, inspirational and my ticket to fame and $$$$$ as a writer).


I got on stage.

Did it.

And it came in at a BO-10.

What does that mean?

BO-10 means you're so bad, people throw their BlackBerrys at you to get you off the stage.

Do you know how expensive BlackBerrys are?


Means you're adequate.

Not bad.

Not good—but bearable.


Some people listen.

But about 50% of the people are shagging their BlackBerrys to do something else.

Anything but listen to you.

Having BO is the greatest of achievements these days.

means you have the audience enraptured.


You're great. You're humble. Regal.

Dynamic. Charismatic. Likable.

You're Real Real

Having BO means you've singularly conquered by thought, spirit and eloquent expression the mighty Mount Everest of human awareness and interest. KO'ed K-2. Toppled the Tower of Babel. Numbed the nattering Nimrods of negativity.

Because you're so good, that when you talk? Every damn BlackBerry in the place remains off.


Then, and only then, have you reached ... Charlie Rose status.

Faux End

Who was Charlie Rose's favorite interview?


Sophia Loren of course.

And ...

Charlie said he uses Google Alerts to monitor what people write about him.

Charlie, if you see this, I sure would like to get a peak at that list of questions you use as an arc for your interviews. You held them up on a hand-written page but never got around to talking about them.

On To... Favorite Interviews?

Ted Turner

Warren Buffet

Bill Gates

Bruce Springsteen

Sophia Loren

William Buckley

Rupert Murdoch

Steven Pressfield

Oh. Wait a minute. Hmm. Charlie Rose has never interviewed Steven Pressfield. Hey Charlie! He'd be a great guest for you - he's found the heart of the drama more than once. Plus - you guys are homeys. Went to high school together. Bet you didn't know that?


About the Faux Author:

Steve Kayser is an award-winning business writer featured in the June 2008 Amazon best-selling business book, "Tune In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities That Lead to Business Breakthroughs," a Marketing Best Practices case study by MarketingSherpa, A Marketer's Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing, Credibility Branding, Innovation Quarterly, B2B Marketing Trends, PRWEEK, "The New Rules of PR and Marketing"(2007 book by David Meerman Scott) and Faces of E-Content magazine. His writings have appeared in Corporate Finance Magazine, CEO Refresher, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business 2.0, and Fast Company Magazine, among others.

And he's won a few screenwriting awards including awards from; The Nicholl Fellowship Screenwriting Competition of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Project Greenlight and Writer's Digest.

A Model Too?

In his spare time, Steve professionally models kilts for Un-Vanity, Non-GQ, Maxim-less and The Manly Kilt Wearing Man magazines

And an Aspiring Olympian?

Steve also headlines fund-raising events for his run at an Olympic Gold Medal in the kilt-wearing mechanical bull-riding competition to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2050.


Steve is founder of Squareballs Enterainment, a non-leading edge, next-to-lost generation, un-scalable (but eminently sellable), not seamlessly integrated (although certainly unseemly), robusted (once or twice at most), rigidly inflexible, world class (minus the "cl"), geometrically challenged (totally true), inchoate “Thoughtless Leadership” prepubescent publishing empire dedicated to stories that challenge the shape of the mind. At least his - or anyone else that got through that sentence and thinks they know what they thought was said.

For more (or less) information contact (or don't) Steve Kayser at