Lee Sherman on Distributed Communities: Fresh Ground #5

In episode 5 of the Fresh Ground Podcast, Chuck Tanowitz talks with Lee Sherman, who runs the MintLife Blog. Lee brings over 20 years of editorial experience to Mint, including stints at Quicken.com and Worth magazine.

Chuck and Lee discuss how to create a content-driven marketing strategy, as well as the and differences and similarities between journalism and marketing. Lee shares some key numbers around Mint’s content-driven marketing strategy, and how to avoid thinking in terms of technological silos.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“I think that having a journalistic mindset has allowed us to create content that is compelling, and that leads to traffic, and traffic leads to conversions…”

“[At] the end of the day, we’re a software company, and we’re trying to get people to sign up and use a personal finance application… [You] always have to [keep] that in mind, but … building an audience through compelling content was key to our strategy….”

“[While] we’re very careful about protecting people’s privacy … we know a lot about how people are spending their money, and we’ve produced a number of infographics which illustrate trends in consumer spending, and those things tend to get picked up by other publications.”

“We would not have a publication called ‘MintLife’ if it didn’t actually bring in users.”

“[We] initially were thinking of building a community into the blog, but one of the learnings that came out of our discovery process … [was the] notion of distributed community…. Because of how people navigate to our content, the truth is that the conversation about our content is really taking place outside of Mint.com. [It’s] really taking place on Digg, on Facebook, on Twitter.”

“[We] embraced the notion of distributed community, and started to look at ways to bring the conversation into the blog. We haven’t fully gone down this road yet, but it’s a direction that we’re going to continue to go to, and there are tools like Backtype [and] Facebook Connect [to make this possible].”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Paul Gillin on Social Media Marketing: Fresh Ground #4

Fresh Ground Podcast #4In episode 4 of the Fresh Ground Podcast, Todd Van Hoosear talks with Paul Gillin, veteran technology journalist, author, blogger, researcher and consultant. Paul is a popular speaker who is known for his ability to simply complex concepts using plain talk, anecdotes and humor.

Todd and Paul talk about how to start in social media, measure ROI, give up control (and why giving up control can be so valuable) and “ditch the pitch.”

This interview was originally recorded a little more than a year ago.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“Starting small is fine. There’s no reason that you have to make a big enterprise-wide commitment to social media in order to start some spot blogging, launch a podcast or do some video … training.”

“[A] lot of what goes on in social media is in fact what we have been doing on television, and radio and in print communications and in newsletters… We’re simply using a different means to do that, and we are creating a two-way channel around it.”

“When you can take a company … as big and as conservative as Procter & Gamble and say this company is making a huge corporate-wide commitment to a new way of communicating with its customers, that is … a pretty compelling case that this idea has gone mainstream.”

“There are paradoxes in social media… The more control you give up, the more control you get… The more you give away, the more you get in return… The more transparent you are, the more control you have over information.”

“The trend is very clear that people who influence important constituents are important to institutions, regardless of the media they use. As mainstream media continues to decline, and crumble in many cases, this may be all we have left in some markets.”

“The traditional [PR] pitch is almost a scripted engagement, and I know that if I ever want to play games with a PR person’s mind, what I’ll do is start asking intelligent questions… When you’re talking with someone who has a high level of knowledge, as most bloggers do, you can’t deliver a pitch. They’re not going to listen to it. They don’t play the game. They’re not trained in the game like journalists are. They are going to challenge you right off the bat. So you can’t go in unprepared. You can’t go in with a scripted plan. You have to go in with a plan for a conversation, and that requires a fundamentally different approach to PR.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Eunice Feller on Chocolate, Marketing and Customer Service: Fresh Ground #3

FG_Podcast_Ep_3.jpgIn episode 3 of the Fresh Ground Podcast, Chuck Tanowitz talks with Eunice Feller, owner of Bread and Chocolate Bakery in Newton, Mass. Eunice founded Bread and Chocolate three years ago and has since gained a loyal following of locals. She’s not just attracting neighborhood attention, however: she’s also been named to the coveted Best of Boston list and has seen her confections featured on the cover of the Boston Globe Magazine.

The bakery is a labor of love, and while Eunice has plenty of passion, there is plenty of work. Chuck and Eunice talk about how, despite the glamor put on food prep by the Food Network, it is still very much a physical, blue-collar job. They talk about the tough decisions she needs to make so her passion comes to life and even how she crowdsourced a babka.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“Marketing here is everything that interacts with people, and that encompasses customers, employees and vendors.”

“Every facet works toward the brand and if Bread and Chocolate is a brand, the million details we try to pay attention to works toward who we are and what we want to be.”

“I want [my customers] to know my name so if they need a baked good or if they need a dinner because they are having a baby… a ride to the hospital. I want them to feel comfortable enough with us so they feel they can call us to do that.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast:

Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

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Subscribe to our podcast using our
RSS feed at http://feeds.feedburner.com/FreshGroundPodcast.

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Sree Sreenivasan on the “Tradigital Journalist”: Fresh Ground #2

Sree SreenivasanWelcome back to the Fresh Ground Podcast. Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

In today’s episode #2, Chuck Tanowitz, principal at Fresh Ground Communications, talks with Sree Sreenivasan, professor of journalism and dean of student affairs at the Columbia Journalism School. Sree is among AdAge’s 25 media people to follow on Twitter and one of 22 professors named to the “Top 100 Twitterers in Academia” by OnlineSchools.org.

Sree and Chuck talk about the weakening divide between journalism and the corporate world, and specifically about the influence that corporate owners may have on the journalism process and the skills that newly minted journalism school grads need to leave with.

Some of the more interesting excerpts from Sree:

“Even today, any time there’s a light bulb story or anything else connected to GE, [NBC afilliates] make the disclaimer.”

“I presume any time a company owns you, the forces that are at work are much more subtle, and maybe even unspoken and unsaid… When I worked at WABC, we were owned by the Walt Disney Company, and we used get letters saying ‘dear fellow cast members’ from Michael Eisner.”

“I teach reporting, and reporting is something that you can use in a variety of fields. While most of our graduates still go into journalism today, there has been for decades people who’ve gone on to other fields…”

“We can either spend our time being orthodox about what should work and what doesn’t…, or we say ‘look, as long as someone like Saul Hansell is comfortable with the decisions he makes and the stories he tells and the contacts he makes, his ethics are far higher than most people’s, so I don’t worry about it.’”

“Every student must leave here with a new media mindset and a new media skill set.”

“[We use] a term called a ‘tradigital journalist‘ … that Sig Gissler, the administrator of the Pulitzer prizes, [coined that means] ‘a traditional journalist with a digital overlay.’ So we absolutely teach the eternal, if you think about it: truth, ethics, getting the story right, doing it in a timely manner, and then you put this digital overlay over the that traditional stuff.”

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

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Saul Hansell on AOL's Seed.com: Fresh Ground #1

Saul HansellWelcome to the inaugural episode of the Fresh Ground Podcast. Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

For our first episode, Chuck Tanowitz, principal at Fresh Ground Communications, talks with Saul Hansell. Saul is one of 74 people who recently accepted buyouts from The New York Times — and who, along with Jennifer 8. Lee, is one of the biggest names on the list. In addition to his work covering technology and telecommunications at the paper, he also started the Bits blog and was one of the more regular contributors there. In all he spent more than 17 years at the times, 12 of those covering AOL, the company that he now calls his employer.

Saul and Chuck talk about media relations, the future of The New York Times and AOL, transparency, scaling content and the new role of journalism.

Some of the more interesting excerpts from Saul:

“AOL is just as much a journalistic organization as The New York Times, as Bloomberg, as NBC News, as all kinds of organizations new and old.”

“In my experience as a journalist, [the relationship between companies and their PR agencies] is a deeply dysfunctional … relationship that … never served either the client or the agency…”

The New York Times has a bunch of people doing great work and will continue for centuries to come…”

“I think all that kinds of media — big and small — give you voices to understand, and I think that one of the things that everybody is trying to figure out is [to] make sure that when you’re reading something, you know where the person is coming from.”

“AOL has a brand that needs to mean something, and it needs to mean trust if they’re going to be in the content business…”

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Listen Now:

icon for podbean  Standard Podcasts [ 14:31m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download | Embeddable Player | Hits (0)

Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.