After speaking at the min day summit yesterday, I was able to connect with a few publisher friends of mine I haven’t seen in quite a while. For one person in particular (who will remain nameless), I didn’t pick up their business card – and wanted to send a follow up email.
While searching online, I couldn’t find the person’s email address. Now, this is a very successful publishing executive. When I typed his name into Google, it was like he didn’t even exist. On the company site there was no direct contact information. After about 5 minutes of searching through documents in Google, I finally found his email in a pdf document.
I wonder – does he know how hard it is for people to find him on the web? Being a marketing and publishing executive today is all about being accessible. That aside, what does it say about his web knowledge, or how his company positions executives, that they make it a chore for people to get in touch with him and the company?
Seth Godin, in his book Meatball Sundae, has an excellent example about this very topic. In his example, he was discussing how getting the direct contact information for Bank of America’s CEO was almost impossible – guarded by layers of hoops, contact forms and gatekeepers. Not only does this present a customer service no-no, but it is exactly the opposite online perception of what the web was built for – transparency, easy access, openness, etc.
Because of this one small situation, my perception of the person and the company has changed – and I’m not even a customer. I wonder what customers must feel like when trying to get in touch with company executives.
Make sure as a marketing professional you are taking care of your own online persona, as well as your company’s. Here are some simple things that will help:
- Make Your Email Accessible – Put your email address and contact information on the “contact us” portion of the web site. Web forms are fine (we use one on the Z Squared Media site), but make sure executive emails are accessible. The easiest way to do this is to set up a Media Room on your site, that includes all your basic company information, including press releases and contact information. Here is what we use for Junta42’s Media Room. I have my direct email information on the contact us page (and my blog). The contact us page also includes other emails depending on what you need to do.
- Create a Press Release Strategy – Online press releases shouldn’t necessarily be leveraged to get you press. The key goal should be search engine optimization. A regular press release strategy makes sure that you and your company information can be found easily through the search engines. We use PRWEB for our press releases.
- Google Alerts – Most executives I talk with use Google Alerts for industry keywords, but many forget to use them for their own company, as well as their own names. Go to Google Alerts and make sure you monitor your company’s name (including misspellings), your key brands, as well as variations of your name. Whenever there is a mention on the web, Google will send you an email. That way, you know who’s talking (or not talking) about you on the web. You may also want to monitor your competitors while you are at it.
- Get and Update Your LinkedIn Page – Not only is LinkedIn a great way to stay connected to business colleagues, it also gets great search rankings. For my own name, LinkedIn makes the first page. From their statistics, I get about 20 people a week that find me through LinkedIn. I’m not sure why some people still send out MS Word resumes in emails anymore. Just send your LinkedIn page.
- Other Helpers – Creating a Facebook page, sustaining a blog and/or authoring guest blogs on other sites, and keeping your profiles updated on social networking sites such as Digg and StumbleUpon all help.
How accessible you are on web is incredibly important to your online brand strategy. Make sure you know how you are being perceived, and how easy or difficult you are making it for your customers to contact you. These are very simple strategies that are more and more a requirement in today’s connected world. I’ll be sending this link to my friend.