The best traffic driving press release I’ve seen in a LONG time

I remember how press releases during the bubble could make stock prices jump like crazy. Once, a press release went out to announce that SkyMall was partnering with MyFamily.com. Dick Eastman noticed the stock price jump immediately. Here is an excerpt from my personal notes database:

“Our goal at MyFamily.com is to help families use technology to bridge the distance between their various members,” said Curt D. Allen, chief executive officer of MyFamily.com. “Sending and receiving gifts is an important family tradition made easier by the addition of the SkyMall catalog to MyFamily.com. The breadth and quality of the SkyMall catalog merchandise, coupled with the MyFamily.com gift registry, gives our customers a simple, welcome way to remember those they love, regardless of where they live.” SkyMall is the largest in-flight catalog company in the United States. If you have flown recently on a U.S. airline, you probably found a SkyMall catalog in the seat pocket in front of you. The company also sells products via traditional mail order and via its website.

Here is a short excerpt from the press release issued by the two companies:

MyFamily.com offers families and other close-knit groups a free, private place to share and distribute family information on the Web. The personalized MyFamily.com websites are accessible only to invited visitors, providing ways for families to securely share news and photos as well as audio and video clips. A multi-user calendar on each MyFamily.com website helps track family events, and an e-mail reminder service helps people remember important family dates. The MyFamily.com gift registry allows family members to record their personal interests and gift preferences.

“We are excited to be a part of the roll-out of MyFamily.com and to offer its members quality, unique gifts from the nation’s leading merchants,” said Robert M. Worsley, president and chief executive officer of SkyMall. “MyFamily.com is providing families a new way to stay in touch, while at the same time capitalizing on a powerful marketing opportunity. We believe partnering with MyFamily.com and providing gifts through their gift registry and event calendar are excellent ways to expand distribution of SkyMall’s shopping programs.”

Mr. Worsley had a good reason to be excited. The stock price of SkyMall Inc. (SKYM) jumped 50% in extremely heavy volume after announcing that it has placed an online catalog on MyFamily.com. When asked, a SkyMall spokesperson said that it appeared that the announcement of the tie with MyFamily.com was responsible for investors’ interest. The company was unaware of any other reason for the big jump in stock price. Apparently investors were impressed with the amount of advertising the company would receive.

SkyMall’s stock was at $4.00 a share before the announcement on Tuesday morning but went to more than $6.25 by mid-afternoon. Some profit taking occurred during the rest of the week; the stock closed on Friday at $5.06 a share.

The amazing thing to me was that the MyFamily.com site had not yet launched. The deal was announced before the launch of our web site. Of course Ancestry.com had a lot of traffic, but the SkyMall deal’s success would depend on how much traffic MyFamily.com attracted after it launched.

It’s just that back then, during the bubble, any dot com-oriented press release could create fortunes overnight.

So, today I found a press release that went out on Business Wire on Oct. 17th that seems to have generated a huge spike in traffic to Hotsoup.com.

Check out this Alexa chart on Hotsoup.com.

The press release was smartly written. Check out all the prominent names in the title of the press release. The Clintons, Mitt Romney, Bon Jovi, etc.

Because Google News and Yahoo News index Business Wire press releases, and this release was stuffed with so many big names, tons of people would have found this while getting their daily news fix, and so would have clicked through to Hotsoup.com.

Stuffing a press release with the right keywords and doing it appropriately will get you far more exposure and traffic than using the wrong keywords–words that no one is searching for. I say appropriately, because in this case, all the people mentioned in the press release are presumably really going to be posting messages on the site.

The Alexa spike also happened because Hotsoup.com is now live and open for business. But I believe this press release had a lot to do with the spike. (I’d love to get someone from Hotsoup to comment on this and let us know how effective their recent pr effort has been.)

I just found the editor in chief of Hotsoup.com on LinkedIn.com, so maybe we’ll be able to get someone visit here and comment.

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Why people join social networks

From a MarketingVOX article:

Users join a social networking site to meet people (78 percent), be entertained (47 percent), learn something (38 percent) and influence others (23 percent), the study found.

The article also says that social networking members are becoming immune to advertising–they are influenced most by recommendations from others in their network.

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Google Click to Play Video Ads

It’s hard to stay current as an internet marketer. There are new options and channels to test every week. I quiz my BYU students every week on all the MarketingVOX headlines for the week, and literally every week there are new ways to spend online advertising dollars. The question is, which new channels and tactics will be profitable, and which will be a waste of time?

That’s where Provo Labs Academy comes in. We encourage the sharing of marketing information among our 30 or so startup companies, including our own portfolio. Soon, we will expand our audience to include entrepreneurs and marketers from around the world.

But I haven’t found anyone yet who has tested Google’s Click to Play Video Ads, which were announced back in May.

I’m interested in knowing if any readers have run a test using this new service. You don’t actually get to play a video on Google’s own search results page, but you can have your videos played on other websites that are in the Google publisher network.

I’m also curious if anyone has found Google Site Targeting to be a successful tactic for very expensive keywords.

How do you select the sites that you want to advertise on? Do you check each one out to make sure they are displaying their AdSense ads above the fold? Do you check the sites to make sure they are appealing to your target demographic?

How has your cost per acquisition compared to Google Adwords for search as well as for site targeting?

Finally, what online message boards and forums do you belong to where real marketers are continually sharing actual data from campaigns with each other?

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Better than Rocketboom!

I heard about Rocketboom last year, a simple, short-format daily news video broadcast that has attracted millions of views. They have a growing archive, of course, and they use a simple web 2.0 tagging system to identify the topics that are covered in each broadcast. (See the Rocketboom Alexa chart.

When you visit Rocketboom, your first reaction is, anyone could do this. But the fact is, they did it, and they did it early in the online video revolution, and they are still doing it. Unfortunately, Amanda Congdon, the original Rocketboom news anchor left the site earlier this year. Now the anchor is Joanne Colan.

I swear that when I originally saw Rocketboom I thought about my friend Lindsay Campbell, an actress in New York with a degree from Stanford University. She was my assistant at “Infobase Ventures” (the predecessor to Provo Labs). After graduating from Stanford she got an MFA from a very fine acting school in Colorado.

I actually thought she would make a better news anchor than Rocketboom’s. I tried to figure out something that worldhistory.com or one of my other companies could do that might put Lindsay in front of a daily online video news broadcast. But I didn’t figure anything out and never approached her about it.

So imagine my surprise yesteday when I got an email from Lindsay saying that she is quitting her day job to become the news anchor for a new online video news site called WallStrip.com.

It’s a better concept than Rocketboom because it has a more narrow focus, but it will appeal to millions of people who owns stocks and who want to know how changing trends will affect the companies they have invested in.

It’s about the stock market. It’s about highlighting one stock each day that is close to a 52-week high and then going behind the scenes to figure out what is powering the growth of that stock. They will interview people, figure out what is going on in pop culture that is fueling each company’s growth. Then, on all the Wallstrip blogs, professional investors and others will debate the company’s prospects.

Today’s Wallstrip news story is on Apple Computer, whose growth is fueled by the iPod as well as the retail stores that Apple is opening.

So the bottom line is: better concept than Rocketboom. Better anchor than Rocketboom.

I’ve never hired a news anchor before, but I can tell good ones when I see them. I was a huge fan of Soledad O’Brien early on, back when I watched MSNBC’s The Site, one of the programs that fueled the internet revolution.

I am extremely happy for Lindsay and the founding team of Wallstrip.com, and I wish them well. I think their format is excellent. I think Lindsay is perfect for this job. Her career is going to take off. I always knew she would go places!

Howard Lindzon, the founder of Wallstrip outlines one of his goals on a recent blog post:

One of my goals out of Wallstrip is to create a deeper conversation, a better MEME for stock bloggers, market investors and enthusiasts.

The tech nerds have MEME

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Free Seminar

My friends at Copper Rain Productions are offering a free seminar on how to use video to generate more leads, more customers, and more sales. Here is the info from their web site. Click here for more info and to RSVP.

What: Seminar: Show More. Tell More. Sell More.TM

When: Thursday, October 19th, 2006 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Where: Orem (Specific location will be provided to those who RSVP)

Who: Business Owners, Marketing Managers, and Sales Professionals
(Those responsible for filling prospect pipelines, converting prospects to sales, and gaining repeat sales.)

How Much: Complimentary (Thanks to our sponsors!)

I recently wrote a Connect magazine article about how everyone, IMHO, should be jumping into online video. I’ve watched what happens when videos get uploaded to YouTube and Google Video. I’ve seen web site conversion rate jump dramatically when online video is used.

This seminar would be a good way to learn more about how to use video if you are a marketing manager or business owner in Utah.

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Smartphone Sales: Blackberry #1, Palm #2

I still like Blackberry best, but if they completely walk away from their traditional keyboard, the exact one I have been using since 1999, I may be tempted to follow a lot of my colleagues and try out a Treo. I won’t switch to any new smart phone or PDA unless I can type 50+ words per minute on it. I’ve tried the newer Blackberry keyboards and they are miserable.

Maybe I’ll use my Blackberry 7290 for the next 10 years the way one of my friends still uses his HP Jornada with DOS from about 1992 for searching the scriptures. He says there has never been anything better…

Palm has made significant strides in the smart phone market, capturing 29 percent of U.S. sales, which is second only to BlackBerry, with 51 percent, according to IDC. Sales, though, have slowed in recent months, prompting Palm officials to lower its revenue forecast.

Of course, my father used an analog computer in 1959 for machine tool selection. It had 19 dials. You changed all the settings to get output. He said no modern all-purpose computer with machine selection software has ever been better for this function than the dedicated computer he used back then.

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What blog topics are most popular?

A new study on blogging shows that technology, culture and political blogs are very popular in the United States.

In the list of the top 100 blogs in the United States, 34 are about technology, 26 cover culture and 25 deal with politics. Personal blogs accounted for only 3 of the top 100 – far lower than in other countries.

The report also states:

Technorati ranks blogs based on the number of sites linking to a blog within the previous six months. It estimates that the total number of blogs at over 56 million, with over 1.2 million posts written daily.

Only 1.2 million daily posts? That isn’t an overwhelming number. If you haven’t started blogging but want to become an expert on a subject that you love, start blogging. You’ll meet some great people, become a better writer, and learn a lot in the process as you look for things to write about.

There aren’t that many great blogs yet, so it’s not too late to start.

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Tributes to Ray Noorda

This is definitely worth passing on:

Rocky Mountain Voices Syndicates Podcasting Tribute to Ray Noorda

Insights and Praise for the “Father of Network Computing”

From Those Who Knew Him Best

Salt Lake City, UTAH – October 12, 2006 – Rocky Mountain Voices, a social media community serving the Rocky Mountain Region, had the unique opportunity to sit down with colleagues and friends of Ray Noorda to discuss his great legacy as the “Father of Network Computing”. This 16 minute audio podcast entitled A Tribute to Ray Noorda contains conversational tributes to this great man from those who knew him best. Insights and anecdotes ranging from the workplace to the personal discuss the personal side of Ray Noorda, with a focus on his tenure at Novell, Inc. Noorda passed away on Monday, October 9, 2006, at age 82, leaving behind a great legacy for the technology community. Noorda was best known for taking network computing company Novell from as struggling start up with 17 employees an organization of more than 12,000 people at its peak.

The podcast is available in the MP3 audio format for download from Rocky Mountain Voices (www.rockymountainvoices.com), Silicon Valley content partner PodTech Network (www.podtech.net), and from Apple® iTunes®.

What: The audio podcast entitled A Tribute to Ray Noorda contains conversational tributes to this great man from those who knew him best. Insights and anecdotes ranging from the workplace to the personal discuss the personal side of Ray Noorda, with a focus on his tenure at Novell, Inc.
Who: Drew Major, a founder of Novell, talks about how Noorda funded Novell out of his own pocket, competed with Microsoft’s Bill Gates, and coined the term “coopetition”

David Bradford, former general counsel of Novell, praises Noorda as arguably the key definer of the technology movement in Utah

Ty Mattingly, right hand man to Ray Noorda at Novell, discusses Ray’s work ethic, including his 6:30 am start time.

Ransom Love, former CEO of Caldera reflects on the start of the Linux movement at Caldera

Ron Heinz, Managing Director of Canopy Ventures, tells of rooming in a budget hotel in Washington, DC with Noorda to save the shareholders’ money

Darl McBride, CEO of SCO, shares lessons he learned from Noorda on being a CEO
When: Thursday, October 12, 2006

MP3 URL:
Rocky Mountain Voices (www.rockymountainvoices.com)

PodTech Network (www.podtech.net)

Apple® iTunes® (www.itunes.com)

ABOUT PODTECH NETWORK

PodTech marketing partners include leading brands such as Intel, IBM, Seagate, and SAP. PodTech marketing partners benefit from our proprietary morecasting suite of services that combine social media planning, podcast production and syndication, and sponsorships to create powerful, profitable conversations with influencers and customers. PodTech was founded in 2005 and our investors include Venrock Associates and US Venture Partners.

ABOUT ROCKY MOUNTAIN VOICES

Rocky Mountain Voices is a social media company that serves the Rocky Mountain Region by creating audio and video podcasts. The Rocky Mountain Voices team reaches out to the community for stories, first hand report of breaking news, and local commentary on important issues. Rocky Mountain Voices launched an exclusive relationship with PodTech’s partnership designed to give technology companies in the Rocky Mountain area access to the extensive PodTech community, driving greater visibility for our companies and innovators. Rocky Mountain Voices was founded by a group of marketing technology professionals from four Utah-based companies. Rocky Mountain Voices is a property of mCast Productions. For more information, please visit www.rockymountainvoices.com/blog/about.

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Provo Labs Academy is Heating Up

Okay, so our building on Ninth East in Provo is not quite finished and we still have a portable heater or two. But the energy level is definitely growing, and things are starting to heat up.

Today an article came out in the BYU Daily Universe about Provo Labs Academy. We are so excited to be so close to campus and to be getting noticed already.

Yesterday we held a two-hour training session for about 12 Academy members on how to do pay-per-click marketing on Google. Two of our members thought we were going to teach “paper clip” marketing at first (and they weren’t too embarrassed to admit it!) but by the end of the training they totally understand the power of bidding on keywords at the world’s leading search engines.

Today we had a dozen people in a session about using the internet to generate leads. We reviewed or mentioned several web sites that have been very successful at capturing email addresses from prospective customers.

  • OneMinuteMillionaire.com
  • Lifeminders.com
  • MarketingSherpa.com

I suggested that perhaps we could have someone from Allegiance.com visit us and share with us the presentation they are going to give at the MarketingSherpa B2B Demand Generation Summit. We could let them do a dry run on us!

We also discussed ways to communicate with leads after they have been captured. One of our Academy members does a lot of lead generation for clients, and he showed us some sites that he has built, and how he used very targeted direct mail (postcards or letters) to send people to these web sites where a very high percentage of visitors sign up for more information.

Also, two members had experience with auto responder email campaigns and online email solutions that help you manage the leads once you get them. One uses Aweber.com (Alexa ranking 257-wow!). The other likes Streamsend.com. Both are very happy with these services. Streamsend apparently keeps up with all the spam laws, so you don’t get blacklisted when you use their services.

We have set up a group web site for all the Academy members so they can communicate with each other at any time, ask questions, vote on topics they want to learn about, and which guest speakers they want me to invite. They can also schedule the two conference rooms for their own business meetings or to have brainstorming meetings with other Academy members.

Next week, I think our wireless internet will be more stable. We got 100 more chairs this week. More computers are being ordered. The 2nd floor is almost completed, so the WorldVitalRecords.com genealogy team will be moving upstairs next week, leaving more room for startup entrepreneurs.

Visit the Provo Labs Academy website if you want more information or would like to schedule a visit/tour.

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Profile of a $3,000 TV advertising campaign

Interesting Inc. article about doing low budget TV advertising and buying remnant inventory from TV stations to generate new business for your company. The $3,000 brings in 100 calls (that’s $30 per call) and generated web site traffic as well.

All internet marketers may want to become familiar with all traditional forms of advertising and marketing, since Google is moving into all of them: print, radio, television. I’m sure they’ll do outdoor eventually too, and who knows about direct mail. Google is going into the $74 billion TV advertising market (read what CEO Eric Schmidt says about Google and television) and the $20 billion radio advertising market (they already spent $1.1 billion to buy its way into radio.

I wonder if Google Analytics will eventually try to integrate with all of these other advertising channels to provide ROI tracking for marketers on every campaign in every medium.

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