The (only) three corporate messages that make sense right now

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My inbox is full of irrelevant messaging. There are the messages from everyone from my eye doctor to the bike shop about COVID-19. And then there are marketing pitches that were clearly created months ago and are totally irrelevant now. There’s only one thing on people’s minds: surviving the pandemic. If that’s all people are … Continued

“American Dirt” publisher steps in it, and admits mistakes

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American Dirt is an Oprah-recommended novel about Mexicans fleeing violence to find asylum in America. It’s also hugely controversial. The publisher and author are dealing with the blowback. It’s instructive to see how they’ve written about that experience. The unexpected challenge here is coming from Latino communities, some of whom feel that the author Jeanine … Continued

Death as a PR opportunity

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I got a pitch email the day after Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash. It was from a PR person, offering me the opportunity to interview and get quotes from a trauma expert. I found it ghoulish and appalling. But it made me wonder: there is so much death and so … Continued

Content marketing for freelancers: notes on tone and content

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When you’re a freelancer, leads are your lifeline. Where do they come from? Five years experience at this has taught me that while content marketing works, tone is just as important as content. Back up a bit. I have had six full-time jobs in my pre-freelance career. The first five of them I got through … Continued

This post smells like my navel

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Goop sells a $75 candle that smells like Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina. Paltrow and her perfumer came up with it. Look, I’m no prude. Bodies have smells, and smells generate emotions, some warm and touching. But that’s because the smell goes with the body. That’s why your girlfriend’s hands or your husband’s cuddle smell so good … Continued

The three sources of leads, or why it pays to be nice

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There are three basic ways for a freelancer to get business: inbound queries, referrals, and community participation. They have one thing in common: being nice pays off. Inbound is effective, but expensive Inbound marketers would have you believe that if you create awesome, SEO-enabled content, leads will roll in. They are right, but it is … Continued

The end of the No Name Restaurant

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There was once a seafood restaurant in Boston that had no name. It never marketed itself; the food did the talking. It lasted 102 years. Now it’s bankrupt and gone. When I first came to Boston in 1979, I lived in graduate student housing in Cambridge, a four-bedroom apartment with three other guys. The day … Continued

What’s your 3-second brand?

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A new year is coming up. Perhaps you want to try to get very well known for something this year — write a book, give speeches, become a thought leader. When people think about you, what will they think? What’s your personal brand? You may want to think very long and hard about that, and … Continued