Jess Todtfeld, former FOX News producer and President of Success in Media (www.SuccessInMedia.com) interviewed Scott Lorenz, President of Westwind Communications Public Relations about his thoughts on PR and the ever changing landscape of promoting a book, product or service. The in-depth interview is one of 15 such interviews with leading experts that Todtfeld is making available in the new The Ultimate Insider’s Toolkit for PITCHING THE MEDIA. The “toolkit” offers insider’s tips and techniques for getting your story publicized and is available at his web site. www.PRmarketingInsider.com
Jess Todtfeld: All right. PR in the 21st century media is the topic today here on the Speaking Channel. My special guest is Scott Lorenz. He runs Westwind Communications, a PR and marketing firm in Plymouth, Michigan. Scott helps doctors and authors and lawyers, entrepreneurs to help them get all the publicity that they deserve and more.
Jess Todtfeld: Today we’re talking about the ‘and more” which is the 21st century media, meaning the old school ways are okay, but there’s so many more choices that PR professionals are not necessarily leveraging, in my opinion – which is why I invited Scott to be on here today. So Scott, welcome. Let’s jump right in. You are not only sending the old style press release out to radio and TV and print locations, you are doing more is that true?
Scott Lorenz: That’s correct. I honestly can’t remember the last time I mailed some press releases out, although we do that on occasion. When we ship a new book out, we’ll put press releases in with the book.
Jess Todtfeld: It’s funny that you say that – and I’m a former TV producer and boy, I would get stacks and stacks of mail. And I hate to say, because it’s very wasteful – most of it would get thrown out because it was confusing.
Scott Lorenz: Let’s talk about direct mail for a minute – you’ve got to be able to compel people receiving the mail to rip it open because there’s something fantastic inside. And you’ve got to convey that in the message on the outside of the envelope, for starters.
Jess Todtfeld: Right.
Scott Lorenz: The problem is that that old school is kinda going by the wayside. However, what is interesting, though, now I think, is because so many people use electronic media and they’ve gone away from faxes and direct mail, that you can actually get a little bit more attention with direct mail with the right piece because publicists are not using it as much anymore – funny as that sounds.
Jess Todtfeld: That’s interesting, and I know you said there’s a number of different directions. You don’t just see your firm as a PR firm but as a PR and marketing firm.
Scott Lorenz: Right.
Jess Todtfeld: You employ marketing methods?
Scott Lorenz: Yes. PR is really a sales job. You are actually selling something. We are selling a client to a member of the media, and we’re selling it on the phone, we’re selling it by e mail, whatever methodology we use, face to face, but it’s a sales job. So I come from that marketing and sales side of things, and that’s probably why I’m so effective in the PR field, because of that background. I’m not a journalist, okay, and often times I find that journalists who enter this field exit it quickly because of the fact they’re really not salespeople, they are journalists and they have a different skill set and mindset.
Jess Todtfeld: I’m glad to hear you say that, because as a media trainer when I work with clients I’ll always sit there and say, “What’s the reason why you’re doing these interviews and talking to the media?” They’ll usually say, “You know, to get my face out.” “Why?” “You know, so I should be out there.” “Why?” “You know, to build my brand.” “Why?” And I keep going until they realize, “Oh, yeah – sales; oh, yeah – because I want my business to do better.” It’s “Oh, yeah,” because they get lost along the way sometimes.
Scott Lorenz: Right, exactly. What’s really great is if somebody has a book that we’re promoting and besides the book they’re selling speaking engagements or they have a consulting business. Now, that book becomes a calling card and a platform. You’ve got to sell a lot of books to make a few thousand dollars. But you can make several thousand with just one speaking engagement or considerably more if your book lands you a $25,000 consulting gig. Any PR we obtain helps with the overall building of credibility for the author and their brand and ultimately leads to new business.
Jess Todtfeld: So a book has really got to be part of a bigger strategy, right?
Scott Lorenz: Right. I like very much to work with people who have those other ancillary services that they could sell besides just trying to make money from book sales, there’s more upside potential for the author.
Jess Todtfeld: Let’s talk about Facebook – everybody’s all excited about Facebook, and this I’m sure has got to be one of the 21st century new media places to be for any of your clients. Is it?
Scott Lorenz: Well, I think it certainly has potential and some people have done quite well with it promoting their brand and business. One of the things that I like about it right now is from an advertiser’s perspective. I can go in and select people who’ll see the ad by several variables. For example I can say I’d like an ad to be seen by females, between the age of 21-35 who work at IBM who like yoga and biking who live in New York.
This selection by demographics and interests electronically has not been available until now. So it’s pretty exciting. I’ll give you an example. I have an artist in California who paints on glass using a special Persian technique. She’s one of the only artists in the US who does this. Golnaz Shobeiri is her name. I created a Facebook ad with a picture of one of her art pieces with 160 characters of ad copy. It targeted people in the USA and in certain counties in the Middle East and further targeted Americans who have Middle East interests, Persian interests, Iraq/Iranian interest, art culture interest and so forth. This allowed me to zero right in on the most likely buyers of her art.
I have another project that I’m working on that I can’t disclose but it has to do with advertising to people that are in the auto industry, So I discovered that in a certain geographic area there are 1,700 in Michigan working at General Motors that are on Facebook, and about 1,500 Ford employees. Then there’s another 1,200 Chrysler employees and a few hundred more with Penske and other auto-related companies. I can target an ad that will only show up on their Facebook home page or their Facebook when they sign on. This is important because I am not wasting money trying to reach people who would not be interested in the product being advertised.
And I can further target it to people that are college-educated, not college-educated, whatever. This is pretty good targeting as marketing goes. As a marketing guy, I’m very impressed with this. I like that kind of targeting; it has potential for authors as well. You just have to think about who it is that’s going to read your book, who is your target market, and zero in on them directly.
Jess Todtfeld: Right. And so anybody listening right now who’s still fuzzy on Facebook, it’s a place where not just young people hang out. In some ways, some circles, they’re saying it’s replacing e-mail as the place to go to communicate with other people. And Scott, you’ve taken a step further because you’re talking about now instead of just becoming a friend of somebody – that’s kind of the way that Facebook works where you go on there, you have your own page, your own area, and you try to become friends with people that’s there. You’re skipping over some of that because you’re figuring out how to use the advertisings and to target certain groups and to show up right on their page.
Jess Todtfeld: And I think for anybody that says, “Wait a second – this is not PR. Now, I’m buying advertisements.” The more what I keep thinking is what’s the end goal? If somebody says, “Wait, Scott, I just want you to get me in the newspaper article or get me on CNN tomorrow.” But what’s the goal? The goal is to be on there so people will be interested in you and buy whatever it is that you have to sell, whether it’s a service or a book or whatever. But meanwhile if you pop up in a place where they hang out and they click and they go and they buy what it is that you have to sell, you achieve the same goal. Am I right?
Scott Lorenz: Yes. People always ask me what is the most important thing we can do? Then let’s just do that. I could tell you time and time again it all works in concert just like a three-legged stool. Which leg does all the work? Well, you take away one leg you’ll find out – they all work together. If we can digress a second, I have clients, a doctor who performs a certain procedure that – and that procedure was kind of controversial. I’ll just tell you so you can get an idea what it is; it’s vagina tightening, okay?
Jess Todtfeld: Okay.
Scott Lorenz: Anyway, the point was that we published articles online about this topic. Then we placed Google ads as well. Then members of the media contacted us after discovering the ad and then the article and the doctor’s web site. One reporter in particular was researching this topic for a story. What do most people and reporters do when they research a topic? Of course they go to Google or Yahoo or Bing and search. This reporter researched it and came across my ads and all my material out there that we were using to promote this doctor. And she ended up contacting me as a result – it was a major national publication and a very nice article resulted from that. I even had HBO call me on the same subject because they discovered our ad which led to the web site. So I know it works.
So the point is that you can get press by having the right things online, with articles, releases that are electronically published along with a paid Google ad or Yahoo ad campaign and Facebook, for that matter, so it all works together.
Jess Todtfeld: I like that – I want to take another jump to another area that I know that you’ve been working in. You don’t have to give away any trade secrets here, but you’re doing something with Internet articles. What is that exactly?
Scott Lorenz: Articles – let’s say when people want to research something, they used to pick up an encyclopedia or they used to go to the library. If people wanted a product or service they would pick up the Yellow Pages but not so much anymore.
Certain people, certain demographics mostly those over 60 years old will still use the Yellow Pages. But the advertising is very regional, very localized because they divide the area codes up into 20 different slices and markets. That’s a big deterrent to using the Yellow Pages as well. In order to be really successful in their market area you’d have a book that’s two feet thick.
That’s what’s good about the Internet, because you can go online, search for any product or service you want. You’re not limited to who’s in your back yard. The whole world is an open book for you, and as a result the internet and Google is where people go to find what it is that they’re looking for whether it’s a product or service or information about their special interest.
I use it to make sure we have material out there about our clients online that people can search for keywords and then get directed to those articles, and then those articles lead to a website, which leads to the client.
Jess Todtfeld: Right. I see. And you have your secret sauce, your special way of getting them out there so that Google and other big search engines find it. I know even being the former TV producer I used to go to Google and I would type in some keywords and see where it took me.
Scott Lorenz: Of course.
Jess Todtfeld: If I’d see any important names, and before that we used to use Lexus Nexus, a very expensive service that lawyers and big universities use and pay a lot of money so that you could search old articles to get names of experts. But you don’t really need it any more, or we would rarely use it after that because you go to Google, a bunch of things come up, and there you go, there’s some important names, so –
Scott Lorenz: It’s only going to get more important, because here’s what’s happening. Kids of all ages whether in grade school, high school or college are used to using all of this technology. It’s all second nature to them. I was contacted by a 25 year old member of the media who was a producer for a radio show. He wanted one of my clients for an interview. I always try to track the origin of their interest in my client and ask “how did you hear about Dr. So and So. ?” He said he went online and searched it. He went inside Wikipedia. That was his starting point. Not Google. Not Yahoo! He started with Wikipedia.
Jess Todtfeld: It’s the online encyclopedia that regular people contribute to and creating a knowledge base.
Scott Lorenz: Right. So he just typed in the search of the topic area, okay, that he was looking for combined with the word expert or consultant, whatever, and he ended up with my client. Because my client had a Wikipedia page he was there to be found. I thought that was pretty cool, and for that young producer this is what was normal for him. It’s only going to become more important that people have a presence in all of these online locations, whether it’s Wikipedia, Facebook, online article sites, and so forth.
Jess Todtfeld: That’s terrific. And then you brought up Facebook ads, you brought up Google. I have to ask you of course about Google ads. Do you use them? Have they helped you?
Scott Lorenz: Of course. Absolutely. I represent people who are experts in their field. One of the things that members of the media will do if they’re looking for an expert is to add the word expert or consultant to the end of it. Just type in “Book Marketing Expert” and you’ll find yours truly! You’ve got to be there with Google ads or with your online material ranked high enough so that people can find you. So that’s critical. So again, I used them in tandem when my clients can afford it. Not everybody can afford it, and some of these ads for some of my clients can run $3 to $20 and up per click. But for the vast majority of people the price range is $.50 to $3.00 per click.
If you’re trying to sell a book for $20, you sure as heck can’t be paying $12 a click. So you’ve got to be very judicious and clever in how you attract people to your ads. However, there are plenty of places you can advertise. Use Yahoo too – don’t forget Yahoo because Yahoo still gets 20% of the search engine traffic. Google gets 50-60-70 percent depending upon who you believe. Just don’t forget Yahoo! and Bing. I buy ads on those sites as well and they are usually less expensive.
Jess Todtfeld: It really depends on the type of business you have to determine what the right price to bid might be. If you’re talking about top legal experts I’m sure that’s expensive, but if it’s some of the key words included with the expertise of that doctor you mentioned, that would be much lower because it’s specialty area.
Scott Lorenz: That was very interesting, coming up with the search terms for that, and what actually produced the results versus, you know, what produced some other non-important result. But it’s a project. It’s a project and it takes somebody who can really think about it and you know go through all the possibilities and then work with the client and come up with the terms that make the most sense.
Jess Todtfeld: Right, right. Wow. Okay, that’s some good stuff.
Scott Lorenz: Now, let’s go back to that for a second because that’s an important element. Through Google ads you’ll see the search terms that drive traffic to your site and that actually produce business because you can track the conversions for people that search a term and then click on your ad then fill out a form on your web site. This is called “conversion” So you can actually see the words that are most important, but those words you need to integrate into your articles prominently and also work them into the headline for press releases etc.
That’s part of the research of the whole thing. So it’s great to have an integrated campaign like this for PR and the pay per-click and all this stuff is working together.
Jess Todtfeld: And somebody that doesn’t really know what they’re doing with these Google ads could –
Scott Lorenz: Easily get killed by paying too much, bidding on the wrong words and not thinking like a customer thinks.
Jess Todtfeld: They could lose their behind, so to speak.
Scott Lorenz: You could get a large charge on your Visa bill, unless of course you limit your daily budget and place other parameters on the account. If you don’t watch Facebook ads you can get killed too. Frankly you can get killed on all this stuff if you’re not careful, okay.
Jess Todtfeld: How do you protect yourself?
Scott Lorenz: You set limits on the daily spend. You set limits on the clicks, the total daily spend, your monthly budget, and so forth. But hey, Google is out there trying to make as much money as possible.
Jess Todtfeld: Exactly. They want to make lots of money.
Scott Lorenz: They keep coming up with new ways to maximize your spend with them.
Jess Todtfeld: I want to ask you also about a Google-owned company but another way that PR professionals who really know how to tap into the new media, the 21st century using YouTube.
Scott Lorenz: Right.
Jess Todtfeld: Have you used YouTube ever to promote and help clients?
Scott Lorenz: Yes. There’s actually we’ve used a couple different methods. One client was a – used an item called TeacherTube. It’s just for schoolteachers and students.
Jess Todtfeld: Awesome. The other video sites – meaning they’re not the only game in town.
Scott Lorenz: Right. We – promoted my clients video using press releases which talked about how teachers could use music to help kids learn math, science, history, and so forth. The video was all set to hip hop rap music. And the actual singer is a school teacher. We marketed we used press releases and our phone calls and pitching to the media, and got placements and drove traffic to that site. That particular video became the most-watched video ever on TeacherTube with over 1.5 million views.
Jess Todtfeld: Really!
Scott Lorenz: Yes, and so – but just putting it up there alone it would’ve taken a lot longer to get to that kind of prominence. We pushed it along with the media exposure, and once it – then that’s actually taken off virally, which means people send it on to their friends, their neighbors, their, you know, mother, brother, sister, their schoolteacher, their superintendent, and, you know, next thing you know 50 teachers are watching it and then 500 teachers are watching it. So you see what I’m saying? So that’s what PR helps start the whole viral campaign for that. Now, on another case for a client who is in the recruiting business, he created some terrific videos directly targeting Merrill Lynch brokers who were in the process of being absorbed by Bank of America.
And so he targeted this very creative, very, very creative video, set to music, but it was very poignant and it basically said to the Merrill Lynch brokers, “Hey, before you sign up for Bank of America here and be part of their, you know, machine, think about leaving, you know, leaving Merrill Lynch and going to another firm.” So we put that out and sent it to our contacts – you know, the financial media contacts and so forth – and pitched it and, you know, it was picked up by the Wall Street Journal, CNBC and it pretty much went all over the country. That video’s gotten some thousands and thousands of views. And then that also took off virally because when one Merrill Lynch broker sees it he’ll shoot if off to his buddy, because he’s at Merrill Lynch.
He’s deciding what he’s gonna do with his career, or she, and so that took off virally. But you gotta get the ball rolling, though, and PR is the way to do that, okay.
Jess Todtfeld: But it all sounds like you like set up a backdoor way into getting into the Wall Street Journal and CNBC. Instead of just knocking on their door and they say, “Yes,” you and the last 50,000 people that knocked on their door –
Scott Lorenz: They knock on the door with the same old dried up stupid poorly crafted press release, okay, and you know – this is creative stuff. Now, it’s my clients and I working together, okay? I didn’t create the video for the Mr. Duey or for the R.J. McKay. They created it, but then I leveraged it, okay, and that’s –
Jess Todtfeld: Right. That’s not bad! I just went to TeacherTube – Mr. Duey popped up as still one of the top videos on there.
Scott Lorenz: Another very successful application for YouTube videos is through video book trailers as part of a book marketing campaign. In an effort to obtain book publicity for my author clients we’ll create a book trailer about the book. A book trailer is like a movie trailer in that it allows someone to preview a book both visually and via audio. A video book trailer brings the book to life and gives the potential reader a sneak peak at the contents. We’ll then post that book trailer on YouTube and… here’s the best part… we add it to more than 41 additional video sites online for even greater exposure.
One of the big benefits of a book trailer is how it improves search engine ranking for an author’s main web site, providing you carefully select traffic driving key words and titles. Check out examples of book trailers we’ve created at Westwind Communications YouTube Channel at: http://www.youtube.com/thebookpublicist
Jess Todtfeld: Are other PR people – not that I’m trying to knock any other people in your profession – but are they spinning their wheels in just the old ways of doing things and saying, “You know, I’m calling CNN every day. Don’t worry, I’m trying!” instead of trying some of these new methods? It’s almost like there’s other media out there that they’re just ignoring.
Scott Lorenz: That’s true. No question about it, no question about it. You’ve really got to keep on top of what’s going on, and technology is moving so rapidly that everything is changing. The methods that work today won’t work tomorrow. A technique mentioned in a book is 6-18 months old and may not work. You need to be on top of that dynamic and that’s what we attempt to do, and it’s a challenge. Google keeps changing how they rank their searches and you need to react accordingly. I’m a student of this stuff and it’s a project keeping up with it. Thankfully I’ve got some 20-year-old kids who are really sharp and who keep me on top of what’s happening.
Look how the Obama campaign utilized all these online methods to stay in touch with their constituency: Texting, YouTube, Twitter, Pay Pal and all these things that were not in the mix during the previous campaigns.
Texting – what politician’s ever used text on a national level – nobody. Obama was the first one to text. And imagine you’re sitting there in line or you’re at the grocery store and you get a text from Obama saying, “Hey,” you know, blah, blah, blah. How cool is that?
Jess Todtfeld: It’s very cool, and it was – they seemed to use every new type of media opportunity to reach out and get the voters.
Scott Lorenz: They did. It was terrific. That was their secret sauce and it’s also one of the reasons they connected with the younger voter. Older voters went to McCain, younger voters went to Obama because he talked to them, okay. Now, can somebody do that again next time around? You bet. Will the Republicans have their act together next time? I would think so, but I don’t know; at least electronically, they might.
Jess Todtfeld: I think they just realized it’s a whole other arm for their campaign, right?
Scott Lorenz: They got killed; they got killed. The Republicans got killed on the online stuff totally, and Obama’s people employed the new technology to near perfection. So I can’t wait for the book that describes the Obama campaign and what they did to come out, because I’m going to be the first guy to buy it. And in the meantime, there’ll be some magazine articles – I’ve already read a fair amount of stuff about it and I’ve seen them on CSPAN, some of their talking – guys that have been talking about what they’re doing. But they’re going divulge some secret sauce, and that’ll be great – I want to see that. And that’s what you gotta do. You gotta stay on top of what’s happening. They are the ones that executed on this beautifully. They put it together.
It was the best marketing campaign of any kind probably in U.S. history, not just politics – anything.
Jess Todtfeld: Right. And you’re trying to employ some of those methods? The book is being written as we speak and we’re gonna find out all the ins and outs. And before we go I want to ask you one last thing, which I think Obama was definitely using, was Twitter, and a lot of the folks who are listening right now keep hearing about Twitter. It’s confusing. Some people don’t know what it is. Should they even be a part of it? One, do you know what the heck it is, and have you, you know, been doing anything –
Scott Lorenz: We’ve used it. In short it’s a way to stay in touch with your constituency with short messages, 140 characters. It has a role, okay; where exactly it’s gonna be in the marketing side of things is still yet to be determined. I don’t wanna be twittered by like Coca Cola saying, “Hey, buy a Coke.” I don’t mind staying in touch with my friends but I don’t want hear about everything that they’re doing either, okay. So I’m looking for a happy medium in that department. Certain people I think it might be cool to get a Twitter from – you know, Obama, or from some of those folks like that, or maybe some, celebrities might be Twittering people and get some bang out of that.
Jess Todtfeld: Right.
Scott Lorenz: And certain family members – I’d certainly like to stay in touch with certain family members and what they’re doing and what have you.
Jess Todtfeld: But its on your radar, it’s developing. It’s a location that’s developing; it could turn into something, it could be part of another service. I think Facebook has a feature just like that, so who knows, Twitter might go away.
Scott Lorenz: It’ll be interesting to see what happens. It’s one of these things like, “Okay.” It’s like when cameras were put on phones. When it first came out we said “What were we going to do with that?” But now, it’s like, gee, my wife’s in a dress shop buying dresses for my daughter. She takes a picture of it, she sends it to her over the phone. My daughter says, “Oh, I love it!” or “Ay, keep shopping!” or whatever. So there’s ways that you can use these technologies that you hadn’t thought about. Go back to this – way back – the steam engine. When the first steam engine came out they said, “This’ll be a great thing to pump water out of mines with.” Then some genius said let’s put it on wheels and created the locomotive and that changed the world.
It wasn’t until they applied it in different ways that it really blossomed and that’s where we’re at with a lot of this technology. Where is it going to? Who knows?
Jess Todtfeld: Right. Wow, that’s pretty good. But it’s way on your radar. I know of on there but I don’t really spend a whole lot of time on there, but just so that as it really hits and becomes the next big place, and some people say it already is, at least I’m already there, and at least I already have an idea of how it works and how it functions.
Scott Lorenz: Right. And it’s important to do that because things develop and you see opportunities. For example, I’ll give you everybody has heard of TiVo, of course. Now, there’s the cable companies, ATT and everybody and their brother has DVRs so you can record any show and so forth. But when that first came out that was kind of astonishing, frankly, and it was pretty cool that you could record anything any time anywhere and forget about the VCR. But one of the neatest things, though, from a mining standpoint is now, you can order Domino’s Pizza on TiVo right from your screen.
Jess Todtfeld: Yeah?
Scott Lorenz: Yes. And now, and this came about because Dave Brandon, former CEO of Domino’s, said he wasn’t sure what the thing was all about because he’s noticed that people – he got less reaction from commercials because people were TiVoing past them, okay. And so he just dove into it and figured out, “Hey, this is a marketing opportunity.” Now, people can buy pizza online from – not online, but through their TiVo with Domino’s because he just stayed on it and tried to figure out how to make this thing work, he and his people, okay. And that’s how you gotta be with all this new technology – how can you use it for yourself?
Jess Todtfeld: I love that he said it’s a marketing opportunity, and I love that that’s been your approach with everything that you do where you say, “Boy, it’s not just PR, it’s a marketing opportunity, it’s an opportunity for sales.” That’s really what this is all about and you need to employ all the new methods to be able to really do the right job.
Scott Lorenz: Exactly.
Jess Todtfeld: So, Scott, great, great information, and I encourage people to find out about you. What’s your website, by the way?
Scott Lorenz: My website is WestWindCOS.com. WestWindCOS.com.
Jess Todtfeld: Very nice.
Scott Lorenz: And I’d love to talk to people about it some more. I mean I could talk about this stuff all day, but you’ve probably gotta wrap it up.
About Jess Todtfeld
President of Success In Media , is one of the leading speaking and media training authorities in the U.S. With more than 15 years of experience, Todtfeld helps CEOs, business executives, spokespeople, public relations representatives, experts, and authors to not just become better speakers, but become expert speakers. Todtfeld has trained clients from the United Nations, IBM, AIG Insurance, AARP, USA Today, The World Children’s Wellness Foundation, Land Rover, Edelman Public Relations, The American College of Emergency Room Physicians, The Fine Living Television Network, North Face apparel, and the ASPCA.
Todtfeld was a Television Producer on the National Level for networks including NBC, ABC, and FOX. During that time he booked and produced over 4,000 segments. 10 of those years were spent at Cable TV’s #1 news channel, FOX NEWS CHANNEL . Todtfeld spent 2 years with cable’s #1 prime time show, “The O’Reilly Factor”with Bill O’Reilly, and 7 years with cable’s #1 morning show “FOX & Friends.” For more information visit www.SuccessInMedia.com or call (800) 369-3421