Pitching a Pitcher

When I took over as the Atlanta Guide on About.com, I also inherited the email address used by the past guides. While this has been a great help because it puts me in touch with many local PR folks who were already sending mail to that address, it has also taught me a lesson about list hygiene, something all of us involved in email marketing should be wary of.

I understand that these PR agencies have large mailing lists that they blast to very frequently, but as someone with a background in the field, I also understand that getting coverage has a lot to do with relationship building. So when I get an email from someone that is addressed to the former guide, if I think it is an important relationship to cultivate, I write back with a friendly hello and let them know I've taken over as the site's writer and manager. No hard feelings for getting my name wrong this time around. However, it does irk me when I continuously get messages addressed to the former writer, after I've made the effort to write back and introduce myself.

Another thing I've seen frequently is just sloppy personalization. I've gotten a number of messages that start with the greeting "Hi Folio, Laura!" or something similar. This is just poor list organization.

I get a LOT of emails. If the content is compelling enough, an error like those I've detailed above it not going to prevent me from posting an event or story. But if I'm just shopping around for an interesting topic, the little things make the difference. If you don't care to tailor your pitch or at least update your database with my correct name, then I don't care to cover your news.

Moral of the story? Keep you database up-to-date and your lists clean. And be careful when you pitch to a pitcher!


Office Max "Life is Beautiful" Campaign Tempts but Doesn't Deliver

I am a 20-something woman who spends the day in a cubicle. My office is making a move next month, and one of the things I am looking forward to is personalizing my new space - something I've been putting off due to the impending move and, of course, plain ol' laziness. Recently, a piece on Marketing Daily about Office Max's new "beautify your cubicle" campaign caught my eye. This was just what I needed! This was designed just for me!

I visited the Office Max website but nothing on the homepage jumped out at me and directed me to where I could find these new, exciting office goodies. I see this as their first mistake - I actually took the bait and went to their website, only to find a dead end (ed note - there is a small ad for the ladylike Infuse line, but this is marketed for jazzing up presentations, not cubicles). Figuring that perhaps the actual ad would direct me to a branded microsite or something similar, I tucked it away in the back of my mind until a few days later I took the time to YouTube the advertisment and get a better idea of what the new campaign was pushing.

Colored staplers and manila (or non-manila as the case may be) folders? That's all? Call me crazy, but with the hype and flashy commercial, I was expecting something a little more innovative. Office supply stores, along will mass retailers everywhere, have been selling colorful folders for years now. Ok, so maybe a flowered file folder lightly tugs at my Trapper-Keeper nostalgic heartstrings, but I hardly think the aisles of Office Max will be filled with the sound of clicking high-heels as women rush to fill their carts.


The (Viral) Marketing of a Restaurant

This week I went to eat at La Pietra Cucina, a relatively new upscale Atlanta restaurant. It's a bit hard to find, to say the least.

It has no sign, with the exception of a small sandwich board on the side of the road that reads "Now Open" with the phone number printed very large and the name of the establishment printed very small. It has no website.

It is located on a very busy road, in the lower level of an office building, and is easy to miss, even if you pass by in the car every day. When you do manage to arrive, there is no indication of where you should park and you'll likely try to open the locked door that leads to the part of the restaurant that's currently being renovated before happening upon the less-grand, unlocked door a few paces down with a paper sign taped to the window displaying the hours of operation.

I even overheard a patron arriving after me comment to her dining companions, "You had to choose the hardest spot to find in all of Atlanta."

And yet, on a Tuesday night, in the midst of a recession, the restaurant was fairly busy and a large group gathered at the bar. This is likely due to a small number of respected, local food bloggers who have taken the new restaurant under their wing and written several rave reviews. It is a great thing that the internet allows word to spread and helps local businesses who are putting out a quality product (or delicious dishes in this case) get a real leg up, without doing a thing but excelling at what they do.


Personal Branding Rant - One For the Single Ladies

There's been a lot of hubbub about personal branding in the past few years. Today my MarketingProfs newsletter declares that I'd better work on my building my brand "before [my] name lands on the layoff list."

This prompted me to think on an issue that will be affecting all of us young, single, tech-saavy females who have spent years cultivating the perfect collection of Google results for our name.

We'd better all be planning to take the liberal route and keep our maiden names after marriage. Or at least plan to marry someone with a unique last name. Because all will be for naught when Jane [insert rare and distinctive last name here] marries Mr. Smith and has to start all over again. Good luck beating out all the other Jane Smith's out there.

My apologies to all those who were born with very common last names. I guess it has been an uphill battle for you all along. You'd better forget marrying rich and start looking for Mr. Perfect Last Name instead.

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