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Bonnie Harris on Traditional versus New Media (part 1)


Not every speaker proposal we got for BlogWorld was appropriate. Some were boring, over-done topics. Some were too self-promotional. Some were clearly thrown together in five minutes.

But some were fantastic. I don’t envy Deb, Dave, and Rick in having to pick from hundreds of awesome proposals for the relatively few spots we have open. Many proposals simply got passed up because there wasn’t enough space. Even more got passed up because multiple people wanted to talk about the same thing and someone else had more speaking experience. More still got passed up for other reasons, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t really great proposals. Bonnie Harris from Wax Marketing, in my opinion, had one of those proposals.

Luckily, I got a chance to speak with Bonnie about her top of choice – “Working with Old School Marketers.” In today’s world, there seems to me to be a great divide between those who understand new media and those who do not – which can sometimes cause problems when the two have to work together to create a comprehensive marketing plan for a business. Thank you, Bonnie, for agreeing to share you opinions and advice about this topic with everyone here at the BlogWorld blog!

Allison: Hi, Bonnie! Before we dive into this topic, tell us a little bit about your experiences working with traditional marketers and executives.

Bonnie: Most of the campaigns I work on involve integrated communications strategy.  We believe that a blend of messaging channels – traditional broadcast, combined with social media for example – is a powerful strategy if you pick the correct mix. For that reason I end up working with marketing executives at corporations, traditional publishers and agencies as well as new media consultants and bloggers in a lot of campaigns.

For example, I did a campaign for Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity to help promote  a series of videos on weight bias in schools and medical offices. We worked with the University’s public affairs office, the research scientists, bloggers in the “fatosphere” as well as mom bloggers ,  influencers on Twitter, traditional media such as the LA Times, and Good Morning America, medical trade press interested in obesity issues…the list went on and on.   My job as usual was to manage efforts across all these channels, and make sure they were in sync. We wanted to tweet at the same time our researcher was doing radio in LA, for example.  We blogged about weight bias when Jessica Simpson caught so much flack for her “mom jeans”. We used our celebrity spokesperson Emme to do interviews with mom bloggers and tried to time those just before her TV interviews.  That’s an example of what I do on a regular basis.

Allison: That definitely sounds like a challenging job. Do you find that there’s a disconnect between traditional marketers and today’s bloggers and new media experts?

Bonnie: I’m not sure disconnect is the right word. I think we simply have different perspectives and I’ve met great bloggers who really understand how to present ROI at a corporate meeting and marketing executives who are brilliant at social media. To me, if corporate bloggers and new media experts don’t understand how projects get justified in a corporate setting they will (and do) get very frustrated.  Also, they have to learn a greater respect for traditional marketing techniques and really get at least a baseline knowledge of what motivates sales. Because in effect, driving revenue is the bottom line in any for-profit corporation.

In return, marketing and PR folks need to stop treating bloggers like second class media. I was in a meeting recently where “mommy bloggers” were being discussed in an incredibly derisive tone. I luckily had some recent survey stats that showed the influence of moms on the internet, and they shut up pretty quickly. When we were doing the campaign for Yale, the mom bloggers and the “fatosphere” (they call themselves that, by the way) were the ones that really brought the videos to the attention of the traditional media, not the other way around.

Another thing traditional marketers need to understand is that the first place producers and editors look for sources and stories is the Internet. A strong digital footprint is an essential component of any modern communications strategy. (I say that a lot in meetings, by the way. It works.)

How can bloggers translate traditional stats into something traditional executives can understand?

I’ve never had any trouble with executives understanding web stats. Most of them get the principles of unique visitors, alexa rankings, etc. By the way, they tend to LOVE alexa…it shows them who is a their site in specific demographics, traffic percentages, and other really good information.

The problem is that bloggers need to show executives statistics that are relevant to them.  They could care less about unique pageviews. Show them that as your pageviews grew, it translated to something else that contributed to better customer service or higher traffic on the sales page. Then they’ll listen.

Just like web admins, bloggers need to think in terms of conversion. Traffic is great…but show them with Alexa that their key demographics are reading your blog. Show them that folks are going to a sales landing page from the blog. Show them that customers are engaging on the blog – or being driven to Facebook or Twitter from the blog and engaging there. Great blog content is a very small part of a corporate blog. You want to prove that it’s both a landing pad from other social media and a launch pad to other parts of the site where they can make money. You also want to show that it’s attracting and keeping readers with target demographics using Alexa stats, subscriber stats, whatever tools you have.

I do a small blog for a hearing aid company, it’s really simple but I post a couple times a week and tweet, etc.  An audiologist in another city saw the blog, and is now a client. That’s the ONLY justification I will ever have to do for that blog in my lifetime –  they are completely sold on having a blog now. It’s paid for itself already!  It’s really simple if you think according to management’s goals, not the goals of the blogger.

Wow, tons of information! So much that I’ve split up this interview into two parts. Check back tomorrow for more with Bonnie and traditional versus new media.

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