When Did PR Become This?

(See update at end of post.)

Because I’m not only the “head helper,” but also the “head recipient of email” at SmallBusiness.com, I receive an endless stream of pitches from people with titles like “PR manager.” Unfortunately, most (not all, but most) of the email is boilerplate crap sent to websites that sound like, maybe, they could be visited by small business owners.

Once in a while, I’ll see one of these worthless pitches and recall how long, long ago, I used to run a public relations firm. I can recall obsessing over to whom and how we would pitch a story. We would look for specific angles that benefit our client, but still provide the reporter plenty of opportunity to make it his or her story. I would often suggest people the reporter could talk with to get opposing or competitive sides of a story.

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Don’t Use Fake Research When Marketing to Small Businesses

Some research seems so obvious that it may as well be asking five year olds if they like puppies

Each May, I receive an avalanche of email pitches from public relations people (who now go by the title, “content strategists”) who want SmallBusiness.com to share with its readers the findings of a new surveys their companies have conducted just in time for Small Business Week.

The email is nicely produced and has links to: (1) A press release about the research, (2) research highlights (3) an infographic that looks like a PowerPoint version of their survey findings and (4) an offer to allow me to interview someone at their company about the survey.

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Learning by Doing Always Beats Talking About Theory

I’m also constantly amazed at how “not knowing what you don’t know” leads you to do things that don’t work…but provides you insight into what might.

We just flipped the switch on SmallBusiness.com’s first major technical and design upgrade since launching its daily-content Main Page section last November. (We call the new section, the “flow” side, to balance with the “know” side of the site, the 29,000 page SmallBusiness.com WIKI.)

The design changes are various, depending on what size screen you’re viewing it. However, the technical changes are all about increasing the speed of the site. And they worked. So long, little engine that could, but we know there are plenty of bugs that will show up.

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Small Business marketing words vs. words used in marketing to Small Business

If you are an actual small business, there’s a major possibility that you have no idea the meaning of marketing department jargon like like SMB, microbusiness and SOHO.

(Note: Much of this post can also be found on something I wrote recently for SmallBusiness.com. As “marketing to small businesses” is a topic I’m going to be writing about on RexBlog during the coming months, I decided to crosspost it here.)

As within any tribe of professionals, it’s normal for those who market products and services to small businesses to develop an inside language of buzz-terms and acronyms as shortcuts for long strings of words or common concepts. As business-to-business marketers can’t do what consumer marketers do when they describe customers as a set of demographics (women, ages 18-21, for example), marketing strategies for reaching small business decision makers tend to describe the customer by the size of a company (revenues or employees), the industry “vertical,” or other factors like location. For that reason, the proxies for consumer-like demographics have evolved into terms like:

  • Microbusiness
  • Small office/home office (SOHO)
  • Small and mid-sized (or medium-sized) business (SMB)
  • Small and medium enterprise (SME)

As marketing strategy terms, those labels may make sense. However, if you are not a marketer to small business, but an actual small business, there’s a big possibility that you have no idea what any of those terms actually mean. And even if you did, you’d likely prefer to be described as a small business, anyway.

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How to draw pictures on a whiteboard without knowing how to draw


On SmallBusiness.com, I’ve just posted the second of a 4-part series on how to use a whiteboard in any type of business meeting by practicing simple drawing and printing skills we all had when we were in the first grade.

In addition to the topic (the ways people use and misuse whiteboards fascinate me), we’ve been experimenting with the use of animated GIFs (instead of embedded video) in how-to posts and this seemed like a good topic for me join in that exercise.

It has turned out to be a much tougher task than I expected it, as the more I’ve deconstructed what I think makes for good use of a whiteboard, the more I realize that so few people, including me, really know how to communicate effectively with markers and a board. Or, even know the reason for why we do it. I’ve at least now thought about it.

My working theory is that whiteboards invite the same bad temptation that PowerPoint does: the desire to write as much as possible to fill up all the space. And like PowerPoint, the more you write and draw, the less you actually communicate.