Articles Written by the Edge Marketing Team

Public relations is a powerful tool for influencing and changing behavior, but most companies don’t think of PR as a means to generate leads. After all, it’s hard to measure the effect an editorial placement or a graphic has on leads. Organizations often don’t want something that can’t be correlated to sales. How do you use PR to get leads? Strike a P.O.S.E. – through paid, owned, shared and earned media!

Paid Media

Paid media is simple to understand: It’s PR that you pay for and refers to external marketing efforts that involve a fee-based placement. This includes branded content, display ads, Google Ads, social media ads and other advertising. It boosts the performance of your “free” media. Paid media is one of the quickest ways to drive traffic and a good way of opening doors – even if just a crack – that would otherwise stay closed. Paying to promote content can help get the ball rolling and create more exposure. Be sure to test your paid media. For example, LinkedIn and Twitter often perform well for B2B media. Start with a small budget and see how you do.

Owned Media

Owned media is content you create that is unique to your brand. It exists to educate, inform and even entertain your prospects. This includes your website, blog posts, white papers, case studies, videos, e-books and social media channels. The more owned media you have, the more chances you have to extend your brand presence. This is perhaps your prime opportunity for utilizing calls to action and landing pages. Your content should compel viewers to want more, to take action. Having these calls to action will encourage them to sign up for a demo of your product, speak with a sales person and hopefully convert to a lead.

Shared Media

No matter what you’re selling, the bottom line is that people, not businessesare buying your products or services. And people are on social media. It’s where we research, get product assistance and socialize. It’s our culture. Shared media is content which is specifically designed for user-generated circulation. It primarily encompasses social media – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social platforms to distribute content. Being active on social media is not enough. Simply sharing content for the sake of visibility will not in itself generate leads. Sharing should connect your audience with a call to action.

Earned Media

Earned media is the equivalent of online word-of-mouth and the vehicle that drives traffic and engagement around a brand. It is usually seen in the form of viral tendencies: mentions, shares, reposts, reviews, recommendations or content picked up by various media outlets. Earned media provides critical, third-party endorsements for your company, product, service or management team. As opposed to advertising or direct marketing, communicating through a journalist provides valuable and sought-after credibility that other forms of communications cannot match. While there are different ways a brand can garner earned media, good SEO, content strategies and established media relationships are the most controlled and effective. This is perhaps the most desired type of media since others are essentially doing your PR for you.

Influencing audiences to take action is what public relations is all about. This makes PR a great tool to improve lead generation. It may be tempting to only try one media channel at a time if you have a limited time and budget. You might think that pouring all of your resource into say, paid media, is the best way to go. The reality is that in order to get leads, paid, owned, shared and earned media need to work together.

Is your creativity kaput? Wrangle it back into working order with these four tips.

The aliens have arrived – and they’re angry.

The one with the most arms, taller than a bodega, comes at you. You spit on the ground, casually reach for your weapon, and …


Wait …

Where is it?

Your holster is empty. Your sling holds no bow. And the knife in your boot is gone.

Your oomph is kaput.

I’m not talking about productivity, or willpower or actually fighting aliens (although we’ve all been there, right?). Instead, it’s that secret ingredient that makes a lot of what we do stand out – creativity.

Creativity plays into your job no matter what your title. A leader finds a delightful way to excite a team. A designer delivers an intriguing ad inspired by an everyday item. A marketer finds an overlooked service to monetize.

Everyone needs creativity.

But what do you do when it goes missing? When you’re slamming your head against a corkboard trying to brainstorm your way out of a problem and all you’ve come up with is “Ask Carl”?

Here are four ways to wrangle that creativity back to work.

Visit the upside down.

Creativity thrives with new experiences. But patterns sneak into all of our lives. We build them for comfort, for sanity. You get up at the same time. Drive the same routes. Buy the same groceries at the store down the street. Cheer on the usual heroes on TV. You get the idea.

If you’re feeling low on creativity, visit the upside down. Challenge the way you experience life – in small or large ways.

Walk backward.

Ditch your smartphone for a day.

Talk to a stranger in the checkout line next to you. (You get the best stories from strangers. A wedding planner once told me that her Chow Chow ate a chicken and “got the taste of blood” before showing me an itinerary.)

Swap desks with someone, or take a project to a conference room or coffee shop. If you regularly work from home, sit in a different room. My personal favorite: Go to a friend’s house and work there for a few hours.

Say yes to things you normally wouldn’t. Yes, I’d love to go to that Linda Ronstadt concert. A workshop on Ayurveda? Sign me up.

You get the idea. By shaking up your common patterns, you’ll reinvigorate your creativity.

Jolt your senses.

Does the smell of brass polish remind you of your high school marching band days? Or does the sight of a forest make you sigh happily? Our senses have a keen hold on our brains. Beyond their day-to-day activities of helping us interact with the world, they stimulate memories, moods, and mojo.

Unexpected smells in a familiar place can jump-start inventive thoughts, like eucalyptus, lemon, clove or cinnamon. If you’re feeling really adventurous, find some not-so-friendly smells like a dumpster or wet dog. (Something will definitely come up that way.)

Don’t forget sounds. Switch out your phone’s ring tone. Ask a coworker to pick a playlist for you. Listen to a foreign language. Or take the opposite route and go quiet, letting small sounds pack a big wallop.

Museums and art galleries stimulate vision, much like puzzles with optical illusions or finding designs and colors that inspire you.

Let taste pop you back into the creative zone with new cuisines, hot peppers, craft cocktails or delicate sweets. The more unusual, the better.

And don’t forget touch. Get a massage or manicure. Stroke a starfish at the city aquarium. Dig in the dirt or wade in a pool.

Move it, move it.

Yes, I just referenced a cheesy song to make a point. (I’ll wait if you want to Google it. Just remember to add “I like to” ahead of “move it, move it.”)

Sometimes physical activity is the best way to break through the cobwebs. Learn a new dance move. (I believe in your floss.) Take a walk or go for a hike. Ice-skate. Try one of those places that use a big fan to simulate skydiving. Jump on a trampoline. Engage your body in a new way.

Indulge the “why”

Curiosity fertilizes creativity.

Humor that part of you that really wants to jump down the rabbit hole. Find a subject that intrigues you – whether small or large – and spend 10 minutes or more, depending on your schedule, looking into it. How do you make pasta from scratch? How do family trees help police identify criminals? Why does helium make your voice go higher? Explore your way back to creativity.

Recapturing your creativity is all about the new. Have fun!

On February 9-12, 2019, ALT, the Association of Legal Technologists (ALT), held its second annual ctrl ALT del conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, bringing together nearly 100 legal tech vendors, consultants, and law firm IT and KM specialists to discuss current developments in design thinking. The goal of the gathering was to foster collaboration among professionals in the legal technology field and build on the momentum of the new organization’s first conference a year ago.

The two main days of the conference offered four excellent keynote speeches, followed by in-depth panel discussion from a variety of perspectives. Zach Abramowitz, CEO of Reply All, spoke about new legal service delivery and the technology underlying today’s new legal service offerings. Shawnna Hoffman, Cognitive Legal Co-Leader of IBM Global, addressed artificial intelligence and ways for attendees to better leverage AI tools to their benefit.

Dennis Garcia, Assistant General Counsel of Microsoft Corporation, addressed security and privacy, with a specific focus on developing security strategies and leveraging technology to execute those strategies. Finally, David Cambria, Global Director of Operations for Baker McKenzie, spoke on adoption and change management, outlining ways legal technologists can maximize their impact and user adoption by identifying the right tools and leveraging change management techniques.

Following each of the keynote speeches, Andy Peterson, co-founder of the consulting firm Design Build Legal, led panel discussions that probed deeper into the ideas presented at the conference. These sessions were also a valuable opportunity for attendees to collaborate on design thinking principles through small group exercises.

The Highlights

While many interesting and thought-provoking ideas were presented and discussed over the course of the four days, a few things stood out as real highlights of this year’s conference. The first was an overarching call for legal technology professionals to adopt new ways of thinking about technology and innovation. Lawyers and law firms were tasked with engaging in collaboration and considering different viewpoints in order to start thinking differently about the various technology possibilities offered in the marketplace.

To that end, Zach Abramowitz used his session on new legal service delivery to address how law firms can strategically position themselves to capitalize on new potential markets that might not have previously been on their radars. In encouraging this shift in mindset, he likened law firms to killer whales who have learned to adapt and beach themselves in order to catch prey. The panel discussion that followed highlighted the need for firms to analyze their own internal structures and processes, not just the available technology options, recognizing that sometimes that means developing internal innovations in order to remain competitive.

Change was also a central theme of Shawnna Hoffman’s speech on AI. Rather than simply discussing the benefits that AI can bring to legal practice, she also focused on some of the biggest risks and struggles lawyers face when it comes to implementing and using AI tools. Among the highlights were having enough good, clean data, taking the time to understand new technology and how it works, being proactive in thinking about regulations that will impact new technologies, and developing a clear idea of the benefits you plan to gain by implementing new tools.

Finally, on the privacy and security front, Dennis Garcia laid out a compelling list of 20 considerations that legal technologists and attorneys should always keep in mind as new technologies continue to emerge in today’s data-driven world. Among them were understanding the data you have, developing detailed security policies, investing in training, being aware of potential threats, implementing an incident response plan, and working with specialists both internally and for external security audits. Ultimately, the goal is to gain your clients’ trust when it comes to handling and securing their data.

Looking to the future, ALT is pursuing a plan to increase membership in 2019, with a goal of hitting 500 members by the end of the year. As part of that initiative, ALT has added a young leaders committee in the hopes of reaching out to younger technology professionals and encouraging them to join ALT’s ranks. Given the building momentum and the high quality of this year’s speakers, we should expect to see great things from the next ctrl ALT del conference in 2020.

Special note: I would like to personally thank Dave Umlah and the ctrl ALT del conference team for making this event happen. It is a unique environment and I can see the value of continuing down this path for legal IT leaders.

Open any industry newsletter or visit a news website and you’ll see announcements on the latest industry merger or acquisition. Companies merge or acquire other companies for a variety of reasons, perhaps to fill product or service gaps, broaden their geographic reach, obtain strategic technology or grow revenue. Given the high rate of M&A activity in technology, those of us in the legal or accounting technology industries will likely be involved in an acquisition at some point in our careers.

A merger or acquisition presents unique marketing challenges. At the heart of it, the merging of two organizations, no matter how carefully planned, brings strategic, logistical and cultural pressures that must be recognized and addressed in order to avoid confusion, errors, loss of customers or loss of key employees. Whether you are a company founder, executive or marketer, it’s important to plan the transition so that the two organizations smoothly combine as one.

Create a transition team that includes all functional areas of the company.

This should occur when the deal is agreed on, but prior to the effective date. The cross-functional team will identify and make plans to address issues in the areas of products, services, support, human resources and more. Marketing is a key participant in that team; their role is to develop and manage communication of consistent messaging surrounding the event.

Clarify marketing roles and relationships.

In an acquisition, every department faces the potential for confusion about overlapping roles, processes and responsibilities. Marketing leadership, as early as is practical, should communicate the roles and responsibilities to all members of the newly combined organization. Make it clear that “renegade” communications are not allowed. The message must be carefully controlled during the transition.

Address branding/rebranding issues.

Review and update the parent organization’s branding architecture, that is, the structure of brands within the organization.

In many cases the brands and corporate identities of the two organizations don’t easily fold together. Work with the executive team to understand the strategic goals behind the acquisition. Let the longer-term strategy and your knowledge of the market perception of each company or product guide decisions on branding or rebranding. If a product road map or long-term product strategy is available at this point, consider that outline of future offerings in the brand architecture.

Identify key audiences and tailor the message.

Most marketing organizations spend the lion’s share of their time focusing on customer or client audiences and the messages we direct to them in advertising, product collateral, social media and the like. In the event of an acquisition, it’s important to consider all audiences for whom this acquisition could be of interest or whose relationship with the parent company might be affected. Expand the messaging platform to include employees, sales channels, technology partners and prospective new hires, as well as clients of the parent company and the acquired company. A truly personalized message will be tailored for each of these constituencies. Work across the company with sales, support, HR and other departments to be sure that communications of the change are positive, detailed and offer additional resources for those who want to learn more. An internal FAQ document can be an effective way to quickly answer the most common questions.

Plan website updates to announce the acquisition.

At a minimum, the websites for the parent company and the acquired company should be updated to announce the acquisition to each new visitor. These changes typically go live on the day of the press release announcing the acquisition. In addition, if the value proposition for the new combined organization has changed, copy edits will be in order. Consider how the website(s) will help educate the market on the merger or acquisition and on the branding changes. Determine a transition timeline, (typically 3-12 months) when both sites will remain live, while the site of the acquired company will encourage visitors to move to the parent site. At a future date, the site of the acquired company will have an automatic redirect, sending visitors immediately to the parent site.

Take inventory of marketing assets.

The day the acquisition is announced, visitors to your website should find current content – product and service briefs, white papers, case studies and other assets that carry the current brand and contact information for the company. It’s not unusual for an acquisition to involve review and update of 100 or more pieces of content. Prioritization is key here; be familiar with site analytics to understand which pieces are most frequently downloaded and therefore a higher priority for updates. Lower-priority pieces might be pulled and put in a work queue for updating.

Build a PR and media relations plan.

All activities surrounding the launch of the newly combined organization will key off the PR announcement date. The messaging platform developed for the transition will inform the PR message and content as well. In addition to a press release on the acquisition, work with a media relations expert to strategize on garnering coverage of the announcement, including executive interviews or topical articles on trends or technology in your target market segment.

Build a social media plan.

Review content and activity levels of both companies on all social sites. If the parent account will become the primary account for the newly combined organization, update the branding, description, logos, etc. Refine the list of hashtags and terms, and create a social media policy to reflect those choices. As the transition progresses, merge the accounts of the acquired company into the parent account. This is relatively straightforward with Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Instagram and Twitter are a bit more complicated. Set your bio to redirect all potential followers to your permanent account. Post a “We’re moving” alert for several weeks to encourage followers to move to the new account.

Publish a project timeline with assigned owners.

While juggling the first eight efforts on this list, be sure to assemble a detailed project plan with a list of tasks by category. Each task should include an owner, approving person (if required) and deadline. Regular meetings or calls with the transition team will keep everyone up to date and allow opportunities for new questions and tasks to surface.

Plan the celebration!

In a well-managed transition, the real work and planning happen in the weeks or months leading up to the public announcement of the acquisition. Communicate continuously with employees about the strategy, messaging and changes they can expect to see. Engaged employees will generate great energy behind the transition if they feel they are a part of it. Be sure to add a line item in the project plan for an internal company celebration of the launch – icing on the cake, so to speak, after all the hard work is done.

Some of the most successful – and fun – client relationships we have at Edge Marketing are the ones in which we, the marketing experts, work directly with the sales lead at our clients’ companies. As marketers, it is our job to know the industry better than anyone else and, when we work directly with sales, we can give them exactly what they need to engage their target audience.

Aligning the goals of the sales and marketing departments sounds simple and obvious, and yet many companies just do not do it. Often, the reason is either structural or traditional: these are – or have always been – two separate functions, and the CEO has never held either accountable for being synced.

You might be saying to yourself, “Why bother?” From our experience, when sales and marketing are aligned, salespeople have better leads to work with, and marketing is able to prove return on investment. Still not convinced? According to the TAS Group, companies whose sales and marketing department goals line up have 36 percent higher customer retention rates and 38 percent higher sales win rates.

A new year is coming and if your sales and marketing functions are not yet working in tandem, now is the best time to start. Here are a few ideas to help your organization move forward:

  1. Start at the top. The executive team or CEO of your organization should set the goal and work with sales and marketing to create realistic, achievable objectives. And don’t just do this once at the beginning of the year to kick off the new initiative. Leaders should regularly monitor progress and make sure teams are working together towards targets.
  2. Meet regularly. It is important for sales and marketing teams to get together regularly to exchange information. This is the time to discuss developments in the marketplace, listen to challenges and opportunities and define solutions to problems. It is also the time to work to refine ideal customer personas and create content to help drive them through the marketing and sales funnels.
  3. Invest in good technology. A marketing automation system that integrates with your CRM will not only keep your sales and marketing teams organized and productive, it will also be able to give you vital information such as conversion points from marketing-qualified lead to sales-qualified lead, velocity of conversion from visitor all the way to closed sale, return on marketing investment and much more.
  4. Define (or redefine) a lead. With good technology, you will be able to pinpoint when a lead converts from marketing qualified to sales qualified. This knowledge enables sales teams to be more efficient with their efforts, because they are contacting a lead when that person has indicated readiness to make a purchase. The process of redefining what a lead is may reduce the quantity of leads within your organization but will increase their quality.

All companies need marketing expertise to generate, nurture and score leads, just as much as they need successful sales teams to foster customer rapport and close deals. When activities between sales and marketing are aligned, companies will generate more revenue, and everybody has more fun.

Five steps to follow when you experience bad press 

We’ve all heard the saying, “There is no such thing as bad publicity!” But if your friend wants to go to Chipotle for lunch, do you think twice and wonder if you will be sick afterwards? I know I do. I have heard too many news stories about people getting food poisoning and Chipotle locations being shut down (many times in many cities) to trust that I will not have the same issue.

Then there are the companies who experience bad press and their stock immediately plummets, sales go down and they have to spend millions to try to counter the negative publicity. Remember the BP oil spill in the Gulf? They had to shell out millions to rebuild their image and gain the market’s trust again. How about Target, Facebook and all the other companies who have recently experienced a data breach? Do you trust them when they want your personal data? Look at Harvey Weinstein. Would you ever consider working with his company? I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

So, the question remains…is any press good press? The answer is simple. No! This statement is one of the biggest myths of public relations! While it is great to get your name or company in the press, you want it to be there for the right reasons.

There are so many things in today’s world of technology that could go wrong – an employee could make a negative comment, your technology may not do what it is advertised to do for someone, your company’s security may be breached, etc. But whatever it is, you need to stay on top of it and make sure you are communicating with your customer base and the market about what you are doing to fix the problem. So, while we can’t always have only positive press, here are some steps to take if you have something negative written about your offering or company:

Step One: Make sure you have a public relations person you trust on your team that can help you craft the messaging needed to manage the damage. Pull together a crisis communication plan if necessary. Make sure the messaging you are bringing to the market is a better representation of the company.

Step Two: Use social media to respond. Address the negativity right away. Getting out in front of what people are saying and talking about it might be your best option. Sometimes this is as simple as correcting the information. Whatever the case, it’s important to keep in mind that information spreads very quickly in today’s social media-obsessed world so being on top of what is out there is very important.

Step Three: Be honest. If something was not done the way it should have been, be accountable. Say you are sorry. Offer a solution and show your expertise and dedication to the market.

Step Four: Continue with your PR and marketing efforts. Don’t stop marketing your company. While you need to acknowledge and address the situation, you still want to keep selling your product or service! Don’t let this completely change your efforts.

Step Five: Move on. While you may want to add some messaging to your efforts in the future to contradict or address whatever the issue was, don’t continue to beat yourself up. Work with your PR professional to get positive coverage in the market that you can promote.

The most important thing to remember is that, if your response is done correctly, you can regain the trust of your customers over time.

The response to Nike making Colin Kaepernick the face of its latest ad campaign was immediate. Those angered burned their shoes as the company stock price dipped in the days following the launch; but, shortly thereafter, online sales increased by more than 30 percent and, in just a week, the stock price rebounded.

Nike’s latest iteration of the popular “Just Do It” campaign may seem bold, but it isn’t shocking. In the ad narrated by Kaepernick, he says, “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy: Ask if they’re crazy enough.” The underlying message is about taking risks, pushing the limits – qualities the company has promoted for years. Nike has a reputation for more than just selling shoes. About innovation, the company says, “We dare to design the future of sport. To make big leaps, we take big risks.” This is a core part of Nike’s culture, so their deep dive into a hot political issue isn’t surprising.

While Nike strategically engages in politics, other companies get pulled into debates on which they’d prefer to remain neutral. Many have historically stayed away from politics entirely, but relying on a corporate strategy of avoidance no longer works the way it once did. As some have learned, saying nothing can do more harm than good when customers or employees expect a response to a political issue.

The key is knowing the right time to engage, and a few key factors can help determine whether your primary stakeholders, including customers, employees, and investors, will accept it.

First, is the issue relevant in some way to your business or culture? It’s not unreasonable for companies to speak out about topics that directly impact them. They have an obligation to stockholders, employees, and others to promote their own interests, even regarding politics.

Also, consider how a statement might align with the company’s brand. People are more tolerant of political viewpoints – including those that are controversial or different from their own – when the company has been open about its positions in the past. When an organization is transparent about its political leanings, most won’t be surprised when it makes a public statement, and many expect it. Some may even feel disappointment if a company holds back from taking a side in a political debate when doing so would be consistent with previously-stated positions.

Organizations that are honest and consistent in their positions, and that have a business interest in the issue, also have an opportunity to demonstrate real leadership by taking a political stand. Companies convey a sense of strength and purpose by assuming a leadership role, which most stakeholders will respect.

Corporate executives are paid to assess risk and reward in making difficult decisions. This is certainly true when determining whether to weigh in on any political debate.

“Believe in something,” Kaepernick says in the Nike ad, “even if it means sacrificing everything.”

For 30 years, Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign has included an impressive and very diverse collection of spokespeople, representing its very diverse customer base. Along the way, the company has been transparent and consistent in its positions on any number of issues. Taking a political stand on this polarizing issue was a bit risky, but it showed leadership. Nike understands its stakeholders well enough to know the short-term negative response to its new campaign would be outweighed by the long-term positive response.

So, did they really sacrifice all that much?

Marketers understand the power of buzzwords, but they should not ignore the buzz around blockchain. The rise of blockchain, and the dramatic change it drives in digital marketing, can unlock opportunity and drive results like never before.

A decentralized database – or ledger, if you will – blockchain creates new ‘blocks’ of information in a running collection. By design, the technology assures security, transparency, and authenticity of the content of a distributed database.

Blockchain technology is poised to drastically change marketing by providing users with greater control over personal data, and allowing them to receive monetary compensation for their online behavior and content.  Three quick examples:


The value of digital advertising is eroded by bots and fraud, to the tune of billions of dollars each year. Blockchain can remove the middleman in the ad process and assure greater value from ad spending.

With blockchain, direct connection with the user secures and authenticates the interaction, avoiding bots and fraud.   Users could earn cryptocurrency by opting in to view ads, read content, or subscribe to newsletters. This would be done in micropayments – a fraction of a cent per action. For example, the price of reading an email, could be .0025 cents. This way, marketers will be challenged to offer high value content to the customer, and find new ways to engage with them.

Social Media

Blockchain holds huge implications for social media. The very nature of blockchain technology provides users greater control over the privacy of their information and content. Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites have grown as a result of interest in articles, videos, and other user-generated content, and by serving up ads to users based on their profiles and interests, while the creator was not compensated.

Blockchain technology could put the power back in the hands of users, allowing them to control the privacy settings on their personal information, while at the same time, potentially receiving monetary compensation for the viral content they create.

Data Privacy

In May 2018, the Generalized Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect. This law presents burdens to marketers, requiring them to capture explicit consent from users and commit to supporting the ‘right to be forgotten’. Blockchain technology will play a huge role in allowing marketers to collect, process, and manage users’ personal data in an anonymized way, in compliance with GDPR and other data privacy regulations, while giving users direct control over their data profile.

Not Just a Buzzword

Blockchain is earning its wings in the world of technology and, as with any science, there is evolution. No one really knows whether the vision of a blockchain-based world will become a complete reality. It is in its infancy but, even if some of the masterminds that are pushing this along have success, it could dramatically alter the way marketers go about advertising, promotion and retention.

Image: By Davidstankiewicz [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Anyone with a child, or anyone who has ever spent an extended amount of time with one, can probably relate to the following conversation I recently had with my six-year-old son, James:

“Mom, you lied to me!”

“No, I didn’t lie; I was mistaken.”

“Actually, Mom, it’s ‘mistaking.’”

To my first-grader, as is so often the case for full-grown adults, James thought he knew best. He thought that a rule he knew to be true (that we say “-ing,” not “-in’”) applied in all situations.

We like to consider ourselves experts in our respective fields. We like to think that we’ve got a proverbial handle on the needs of our clients and colleagues and how to meet and exceed those expectations.

So what happens when you’re faced with a “mistaking” moment? Here are some dos and don’ts for how to react when you don’t have all the answers.

Don’t: Keep it to yourself

The longer you sit and stew over the issue, agonizing over the fact that you’re stuck, the longer you’ll stay stuck. Don’t let your pride get in the way of solving the real issue at hand.

Do: Brainstorm

As kids, we’re often taught to believe that we’re brilliant snowflakes who can do no wrong: we’re the prettiest, the strongest, and the brightest.  Revert to that time, when there were no stupid questions. A favorite songwriter of mine, Dan Bern, was once asked, “When did you start writing songs?” He responded, “When did you stop?” As children, we are blissfully ignorant and uninhibited. Embrace that, and you’ll give yourself permission to think beyond your typical scope.

Don’t: Put a band-aid on a gunshot wound or bleed out

When we’re faced with what we perceive to be an unsolvable problem, it can be tempting to either procrastinate and completely avoid dealing with the issue at hand or to throw together a quick, short-term fix. Although it’s beneficial to briefly take a step back and give yourself time to walk away, digest, clear your head and come back with a fresh outlook, nothing will help as much as getting to the root of the problem and getting out of your own way.

Do: Reach out

It’s invaluable to build and maintain relationships with other members of your team and other experts in your field so that, when the time comes, you have a network who can, at best, provide you with fresh ideas and insight and, at worst, give you a sounding board so you can talk it through yourself or point you in the direction of other resources. Just today, I had an issue and, after stubbornly trying to get to the bottom of it myself for much longer than I should have, I reached out to a small handful of trusted colleagues for help. Not only did one of those colleagues have the answer I needed, but putting my newfound wisdom to use, I was able to provide a deliverable to a client much more quickly.

Of course, despite our best efforts, there will inevitably be times when we fall short; however, as the poet John Sinclair wrote, “Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo.” Taking it one step further, Stephen Hawking said, “Half the battle is just showing up.”

So, the next time my son asks what my favorite Pokémon is and then tells me what my answer should be, I might just tell him that he’s “mistaking.”

MLB is in the midst of spring training, gearing up for the season of a beloved American pastime that signals the start of warm weather to be followed by lazy summer nights at the ballfield. Plenty of sunshine, baseball hats, less outerwear . . . to this native Minnesotan that sounds dreamy. And while I dream, bats are swinging, mitts are catching and an abundance of pitches are being thrown. You’ll get arguments on what is the most of important part of the game. It’s a team sport – I get it. You can’t be making errors in the field. You need to hit the ball and score runs, etc. But really it’s all about the pitch. Pitchers need to put the time and effort into their craft to get the results they’re looking to achieve.

As a marketer and public relations professional, how I approach and deliver a media pitch to a reporter is not that different than pitching a baseball. Follow these tips and you’ll be throwing strikes like Clayton Kershaw.

Size up your batter.

 Just like a baseball pitcher who has studied each batter and has a strategy before releasing the ball, you should be doing your homework with media outlets and reporters before hitting the send button.

Whenever I identify a new journalist I’d like to pitch, I write them a short email to introduce myself and ask if it’s okay to send over a brief overview of what our clients are working on that may fit their beat. This short but warm intro is a great way to gauge their interest before I make the pitch and has resulted in some great relationships with the media.

Think beyond just what you or your client wants to say, and consider how it fits into a larger trend. Telling a reporter about your client’s new product/service will be a much harder sell than talking to them about how your client and/or their product fits into a new trend. And be sure it’s a trend that falls within an area the journalist covers; otherwise your pitch will most likely be ignored by the reporter or considered spam.

If you build it, they will come.

 I’m talking about building relationships. Yes, the pitcher is responsible for getting the ball over home plate, but he also depends on the catcher, coaches and what is going on over the rest of the field before deciding on what kind of pitch to throw. He relies on and trusts the expertise of these other players because he has taken the time to build a rapport with his teammates.

Media relations is about relationships. Don’t always ask, request and expect things from your friends in the media. Show interest in the stories they tell, get to know them, engage with them, then pitch stories when they are relevant and newsworthy. Members of the media are much more likely to listen to you or read your pitch when you have taken the time to get to know them and where their interests lie.

And, always say thank you. Whether they accept the pitch or not, show them that you appreciate their time. You may have not thrown a strike this inning, but there may be another opportunity to do so in the future. Gratitude matters.

Don’t take too much time on the mound.

 Pick your pitch, wind up and let it fly. In terms of media pitching, that means get to the point. Don’t send these superlong emails about the company. Tell the story of why it’s important to the writer’s readership within the first sentence. Be straight – have a good angle that shows you understand what makes news. Once you have them, leave them alone to do their job and only help where you can or when asked. Stop checking in every few hours. Choose to be persistent, not a pest.

Remember there’s a whole season.

 Think big picture. Media relations is about more than just one pitch, inning or game. Journalists and marketers are in positions to help each other succeed. Marketers strive to build brand awareness by telling compelling stories. Journalists look to educate and entertain audiences about trending topics. The challenge, however, is that the media landscape is flooded and these connections can sometimes slip through the cracks.

PR is about much more than an initial placement in the media. It is about building and maintaining relationships with key media when you have a story to pitch as well as when you don’t.