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Archive for September, 2011


September 30th, 2011

Local news and sources of information: Why your business needs to be present across several channels

Local news and sources of information: Why your business needs to be present across several channels

In this week’s Prompt newsletter, I talk about a survey into how we gather information about our local communities. If you haven’t read it yet, or don’t subscribe to our email newsletter (which you really should – it’s award-winning and everything), click here to see an online version.

The study in question was conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project, produced in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The researchers wanted to challenge existing assumptions that television is the primary source of information about local topics. What they found was that US audiences today use a combination of traditional and new media platforms, and how they use these channels depends on the type of information wanted and age group.

The survey was conducted in January this year. 2,251 US adults (18 years and older) were questioned about the information sources they use for 16 specific local information topics, namely: weather, breaking news, community events, crime, taxes, local government, traffic reports, political news, housing, restaurants, schools, jobs, arts and culture, social services, zoning and development and local businesses.

As it turns out, people do watch a lot of television – more participants watched local TV news more than any other source – but only for a small number of topics. They’ll flick on the TV for breaking news and weather reports. They’ll also use it for traffic reports, although radio was equally popular for that. Even so, TV’s dominance is looking a little uncertain – the younger participants (18 -39 years) used television less than the older age bracket (40 years +) on every category. Conversely, they used the internet a lot more.

In fact, the internet came out on top for finding out about restaurants and local businesses, and it tied with newspapers as a source for information about housing, jobs and schools. But the importance the net has on our lives becomes much clearer when you consider that of the 79 percent of participants who are online, the internet is the first or second most used information source for 15 of the 16 local topics investigated.

Perhaps the most surprising thing is that newspapers are the first port of call for many of the topics, including events, crime, arts and culture, zoning and development and more. Admittedly many of these are niche topics – people don’t look for information about zoning as often as, say, weather reports – and the category includes online editions, but it still implies that papers still have a role to play.

The survey yielded some other interesting tidbits. Social media, lumped into the internet category in the main results, is clearly becoming a factor in how people get community information. But it’s still less popular than other mediums – 17 percent of adults said they find information on sites like Facebook at least once a month.

The rise of the mobile devices has also had a clear impact. Close to half of all participants (47 percent) use portable devices to get local information – particularly for categories like restaurants. Smartphone apps as yet don’t appear to have much of a presence for community data.

The biggest thing I take away from this survey is that people are becoming more and more savvy at traversing the fractured media landscape. With so many different ways to find information, people are learning to flit between platforms to find what they want. And that has an impact on business – companies need to maintain a strong, consistent presence across all relevant channels because it’s likely your prospects and customers will be approaching from different angles and channels depending on what they need.

For more findings and analysis, check out the survey report – you can find a detailed rundown here.

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September 27th, 2011

Free Workshop: 'Ten Ways to Increase your Tech Company's Visibility'

Free Workshop: 'Ten Ways to Increase your Tech Company's Visibility'

At Prompt, we mean business and we’re dedicated to helping yours succeed. Please mark your calendars for Friday October 21 to attend our free workshop: ‘Ten Ways to Increase your Tech Company’s Visibility’. We’ll give you simple tips, great tools, and easy ways to nurture leads and increase sales. Check back here or follow us on Twitter (@promptboston and @promptlondon) for more information on how, when, and where to sign up.

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September 23rd, 2011

Toasting Saint Stephen

Toasting Saint Stephen

With Promptees now collaborating across the globe from London to Swansea, Suffolk to Edinburgh, Boston to New Orleans and beyond, it’s not so frequently these days that we actually seize the chance to team up in the real world. But this week myself and Max, together with cameraman Alan and survey specialist Barry, did just that – to cover a great exposition for one of our favourite clients.

And after a productive day interviewing, filming and tweeting at one of London’s most prestigious conference centres, what better for an Englishman and a Scotsman to do but to walk into a pub and see if we could find a decent punchline?

This was the view when we arrived (yup, 5:15, very civilised) at St Stephen’s Tavern, Westminster, complete with a red London bus and everything:

Big Ben (inside St Stephen's Tower), Houses of Parliament, Westminster

I only wish some of our American colleagues could have been there too – not only to help us collect surveys and sink a pint of Badger Ale or two, but to put right some of their country folk who were absolutely certain that ‘King Charles and Camilla got married over there’…

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September 20th, 2011

Our clients' customers have a story to tell

Our clients' customers have a story to tell

At Prompt we have the pleasure of working with our clients long-term: for example, two of the PR, copywriting and comms accounts I work on have been Prompt clients since 2003.

It’s a good sense of teamwork and working in tandem- we can almost finish each other sentences – or, in our case, press release distribution plans, product proof points, or twitter posts…

But however much we like speaking with our clients, I don’t think you can beat hearing about them from their customers. Which is why conducting interviews, whether it’s for an executive summary, a compelling download, or a solid proof-point case study, makes our day even more fun.

Working with a variety of clients exposes us to their clients in a wide variety of businesses, industries and verticals. I’ve been on a case study call this afternoon and I got to thinking about different industries and their different ‘personas’: media and entertainment spokespeople speak in soundbites, software testers are process-orientated, storage specialists are methodical, retailers readily share their company’s products, and hoteliers enthusiastically share their experiences.

The main purpose of a case study conversation is to understand real-world benefits and to create relevant and compelling marketing collateral – after all, marketing today is all about the content (and then how you share it*), but for me it’s also a glimpse into another person’s worklife, their challenges and passion. It’s that passion that helps us make the story just as compelling to read as it is to listen to it – whatever the industry they are in.

*Which reminds me, if you haven’t downloaded our free guide to get the most value out a company newsletter, then click here to download our US version and here for the UK.

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September 16th, 2011

Free download: How to create amazing value (increase sales, market traction and success) with a company newsletter

Free download: How to create amazing value (increase sales, market traction and success) with a company newsletter

If your business doesn’t currently send a regular newsletter to clients, prospects and business partners, what is holding you back?  After all, great businesses understand the value of creating and delivering great content – so the answer usually rests with a perceived lack of time, resources, confidence, support, budget or creative skills. Fortunately all of those obstacles and more can easily be overcome with just a little help. In no time at all you could be sending a vibrant, focused newsletter to all your stakeholders that your business would be really proud of.

As you know, we create our own weekly newsletter at Prompt. But we also help other organisations to write, design and promote company newsletters that clearly establish their market position, boost their visibility and ultimately increase the quality and volume of their sales. If your business has interesting information to share and the drive to communicate it, then there is significant value to be had in creating and distributing your own company newsletter. With a little help you’ll be surprised how quickly your own colleagues will start producing insightful news stories and service updates, features and surveys, social media plugs and video content. At Prompt we encourage our clients to produce newsletters that reflect their own style with confidence, supported by professional editors, researchers and designers that get the job done.

If you love the idea of great new content such as a newsletter that can ensure you are ‘perpetually prospecting’ but don’t know how to get started, then your first step should be to get hold of a copy of our latest free paper. It explains ‘How to get real value from a company newsletter’ while providing some top tips that will help steer you on the right path. Download it today and get in touch with us when you’re ready to begin developing a fresh communications channel for your business that will inform and entertain your target audience, while showcasing your core expertise and demonstrating the relevance of your products and services.

If you have any questions or would like some assistance with your own newsletter, please contact us via copywriting@prompt-communications.com.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for the Prompt newsletter via subscribe@prompt-communications.com.

View two different versions of ‘How to get real value from a company newsletter’; one for the United States and one for the United Kingdom.


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September 14th, 2011

Boston’s Digital Showcase at Future M

Boston’s Digital Showcase at Future M

Yesterday at FutureM, BostInnovation (with help from Microsoft NERD) put on a half-day seminar. Boston’s Digital Showcase highlighted eight of today’s most promising startups. All of the startups have already been launched, some more recently than others, and all provide services for consumers – tech or otherwise – in some way. Although all are noteworthy, four of the startups really stood out:

1. CLOVR Media:
CLOVR, which stands for ‘card linked offer virtually redeemed’, merges loyalty programs with linkable coupons in order to allow consumers to save more money where it is useful for them. CLOVR links to a credit card or debit card to allow consumers to click on and use digital coupons. Partnerships with the top 25 banks ensure sensitive information stays behind a firewall. Once a digital coupon link is clicked the user receives an email confirming the offer is in their CLOVR account. When the user goes shopping to use that coupon offer, CLOVR interacts with the banks to return the saved money onto their filed credit or debit card. Discount offers are being advertised based on specific consumer purchasing history.

2. Krush:
Krush was created to fill a void in the online space for action sport products. Krush, which pairs with leading action sports retailers, allows consumers to interact with their favorite brands via customer reviews. Incentive-based websites reward users with the most productive and accurate reviews, plus access to sports products before they go to market. In return, Krush provides retailers with real-time predictive data about how, where, and when their products will sell. Based on customer feedback, brands can learn that their new t-shirt in yellow sells better in Los Angeles than it does in Boston. This data creates revenue for the brands and increased incentive to release new merchandise to the customers who helped create the data.

3. RunKeeper:
RunKeeper is a mobile app turned interactive website that allows people to track GPS enabled activities including, running, biking, hiking etc. The website has expanded its capabilities to allow users to track everyday fitness, share races or training with social media accounts and buy classes from local gyms or personal trainers. The site aggregates personal health and fitness information into one location. With community at its core, RunKeeper has relied on word-of-mouth marketing to increase its user base, and it seems to be working. RunKeeper currently has around six million users.

4. Saving Star:
For all of our fellow coupon clippers, it’s time to learn about SavingStar. As the only paperless national coupon service, it provides customers with new ways to save on every day essentials. The average American goes to the grocery store 2.1 times per week. SavingStar allows its members to use only the coupons they need, saving time and energy. Even though we are in the age of daily deals, SavingsStar uses data feeds from consumer product groups, presenting users with only the coupons they want to use, getting even non-couponers to save.

The other startups that participated include Kinvey, Locately, Media Armor, and SocMetrics, all of which provide either web developers, retailers or customers with information they need to participate in the ever-expansive digital world.

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September 13th, 2011

The past, present and future of marketing

The past, present and future of marketing

There is no debate that we live in a technology driven world. It has changed the way we shop, decide what restaurant to eat at and how we connect to our loved ones far away. Although we sometimes struggle to keep up, technology often dictates our day-to-day activities in ways we haven’t even thought of.

This week in Boston, the Future M convention is underway, with seminars and panel discussions about the past, present and future of marketing. Prompt has already attended a panel discussion about the future and evolution of marketing for small businesses. According to the panel, three things are transforming marketing for small businesses – social and mobile media, support for local businesses (Google calculated that around 50% of all mobile device searches are for local services) and loyalty programs. In recent years, the mobile phone has changed everything; with just the touch of a button there are a plethora of applications and games on all smart phones and platforms. The best part is that apps and other programs can be created at very little cost to the small business owner. When it comes to successful marketing, the discussion panel stressed that businesses need to make their voices heard, find opportunities to differentiate themselves and relax on revenue drive. If you have a unique product, good customer service and patience, the revenue will follow.

At Prompt, we pride ourselves on being knowledgeable about and implementing successful social media and marketing plans. Although we are a B2B firm, some of our clients are looking to reach out to their customer base and it’s part of our job to help them do that efficiently and productively. At Prompt, we’ve learned that good marketing must be engaging. Blogs can’t write themselves. Neither can Twitter feeds, Facebook updates or LinkedIn pages. And although these things can be time consuming, extending your virtual presence will not only increase revenue numbers, but also your appreciation for the technology that’s allowing you to do it.

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September 9th, 2011

Unlocking a locked-out LinkedIn

Unlocking a locked-out LinkedIn

All of us have had to click on that horrible “Forget your password?” link at least once. And for a few of us, more times than we care to admit. In the past few days alone, lock-outs have happened to us and one of our clients. Retrieving a lost password is simple, but finding a solution for other issues is much more difficult. These days, social media sites are changing their formats, privacy settings and functionality faster than we can login, creating a learning curve that’s nearly impossible to master. So before you have a technology freak-out, follow these steps:

Search Google First:

Not all websites are made equal. Some make finding an answer to your question simple, while others lead you nowhere, or send you in circles. Instead of using the website itself, enter your question into a Google search. We recently wanted to find out how to add an administrator onto a LinkedIn Company page. By searching in Google we found possible solutions in places such as forums or blogs. We were able to find a step-by-step guide to solving our problem in one click.

Read the Directions Carefully:

Sometimes the solution to your problem is easier than you think; you may just have to do some decoding. Let’s stick with our LinkedIn Company page example—in order to make changes to the page, you must have a valid company email address. But here’s the kicker – you must also login to your LinkedIn account with the same company email. Since that tidbit was located on the bottom of the answer page on LinkedIn, it’s not surprising that simple answers sometimes go overlooked.

Make it a Team Effort:

When trying to solve a problem, more often than not, there is strength in numbers. If you’re facing a website lock-out and can discuss it with others, do so. Chances are that different people on your team will search Google differently, interpret directions differently, and implement solutions differently—making finding the answer that much quicker.

Most importantly, don’t throw in the towel. There’s a solution to every website lockout, you just have to be patient enough to find it.


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