Thanks to a pointer from @chrisbrogan, Mack Collier shares a Ggrreeeaaaattt! post today on Outreach and how companies can do it better. Solid, smart stuff:
The biggest point he makes is “EFFORT”. Outreach isnt a campaign. It isnt a CMR program. It doesnt have a defined beginning or end – it is an ongoing effort to reach and stay in touch. It doesn’t have an end-point. There need to be gateways/reviews (this is, after all, outreach in a corporate environment) but they need to be about refining the outreach efforts. Dont start doing Outreach if there isn’t complete commitment and a requirement that it is honest, transparent dialog.
One of the thing we did on a recent project was identify all of the different niches/affinity groups/communities that are out there that fit within what the client does (a fortune 50 global corporation). The idea being, lets connect with folks in the “sandboxes” where we also play, not as a big global company, but as a new neighbor. We connected with the clubs and meetups and independent bloggers who were talking about us already, but we also tried to introduce ourselves to users who might not think we were sharing their space.
Outreach is also not just relegated to bloggers. Videobloggers, Twitterers, Forums, Meetups, etc. should also be considered but with caution – THIS IS NOT MARKETING OR PR AS USUAL. Companies need to swallow a lot of pride, add a lot of fiber to their diet, get ready to take some dings and most importantly – BE HUMBLE. You are asking permission to join their conversation. You are trying to add value to them, not “monetize their attention”.
Twitter has been incredible for this type of outreach… @pandora_labs and @JetBlue are actually using twitter to listen to what users are saying on the live web about their products/company – then commenting back to the twitter user with answers to their questions or comments.
Outreach also doesn’t mean advertising. It isn’t about finding a new place to sponsor or personality to buy. It isn’t a transaction. The value exchange is light, the ROI is not really measurable and the direct results are fuzzy. Emphasize the “love” in “LINK LOVE”. Send links because you dig what these people are saying. Leave comments and trackbacks that add value – not because you want them to like you, but because you like them. Respect when they disagree and take shots at you – this is the one chance you have at starting a dialog. Add them to the blogroll, ask them for their ideas, respect their space.
You do it wrong at your own peril. If you don’t do it, you won’t know what you are missing. If you try hard, and commit…
They might start listening to what you have to say…