Pinnacle Publishing is Hiring!

Posted by editor on June 30th, 2011

Pinnacle Publishing is seeking employees for the following positions:

The Yellow Pages Graphic Designer position is responsible for creating ads for use in the yellow pages, proofing, and preparing final pagination of the yellow pages for printing.  Requirements include computer skills with knowledge of multiple software applications, excellent communication skills, and strong detail orientation with the ability to consistently meet deadlines.  Minimum 2-year Graphic Design degree required.

Responsibilities include verifying advertising contracts, calculating sales executives’ commission and providing in-office support for the sales executives.  Additionally, the Sales Support position is responsible for keying, proofing, and maintaining advertising and online contract information. Requirements include the ability to work accurately while consistently meeting deadlines, computer software skills, strong detail orientation and previous office experience or related degree preferred.

If you are interested in either position, please visit for more information.


Top Tips for Creating a Podcast

Posted by editor on June 29th, 2011

Top 4 Tips for Creating a Podcast for Your Small Businessheadphones image
by Zachary Sniderman

Podcasts are an interesting challenge for small businesses. They require a little more know-how, energy and time than signing up for Twitter, Facebook or even Foursquare. But they’re not nearly as daunting as you might think, and they offer an excellent opportunity to build a unique audience and generate leads for your business.The number one tip to starting a podcast is to really enjoy what you’re talking about. It sounds simple. But that passion and enthusiasm for your subject matter is what will capture your audience and launch your podcast above any minor technical shortcomings.“Technical shortcomings,” you ask? Don’t worry, below we cover some basic tips and tools to get you up to speed. No one is expecting a small business podcast to be flawless out of the gate. They will, however, be looking for your voice, passion and know-how. Read on for four tips to creating a podcast for your own business and don’t forget to share your own experiences in the comments below.

Understanding Podcasts
Podcasts are not extraordinarily difficult to understand. They are simply audio files released through the web on a — more or less — regular basis. While iTunes has become a sort of hub for podcasts, it is not the only way to package and distribute your podcast. Many successful podcasters post their shows on their own sites. This is a good alternative if you want to ramp up your exposure slowly while you get the hang of the format. Like a YouTube video, podcasts don’t really have a set time limit. They can range from just a couple minutes to upwards of two hours. In the beginning, aim for shorter lengths as you hone your podcast format and presentation chops. You can always make your show longer as your audience asks for more. But unlike YouTube videos, podcasts rely more heavily on subscriptions, meaning people actually sign up to receive your podcast whenever it comes out (though they can listen without subscribing).Subscriptions are a blessing and a curse: It is more difficult to attract subscribers, but once you have them signed up, your podcast will have a more reliable fan base week over week. It’s important to release your podcast on a regular basis. It can be one a day, one a week, one a month, or even longer. Establish a comfortable release schedule and stick to it — your fans will learn to look for your podcast and you’ll help build loyalty. Remember to create a schedule that will give you adequate time for your planned features. For example, if you’re doing an interview-based podcast, make sure you leave enough space between podcasts to find guests and interview them. While you can of course add or remove sections of your podcast, your fans will figure out when this is a planned change and when you simply ran out of time.

Talk About Your Passion
This should be a bit of a no-brainer — talk about something you like to talk about. If that topic is already saturated with top-notch podcasts, try to find a content angle that is unique to you or mix up the format of the show. “People can speak well about the things they care about the most,” says Jesse Thorn, a host of several popular podcasts including The Sound of Young America. That enthusiasm and passion can compensate for inexperience as a presenter or podcast personality.The most important thing is to give value to the listener, whether that is a laugh or useful information. Thorn acknowledges that it was hard to hit the sweet spot between entertaining your audience and giving them tips. But that balance often depends on more than just your skill in front of a mic. “If you’re in the middle of a tornado, your ‘tornado podcast’ can have the most boring host in the world,” Thorn says. “The more useful and valuable you can make your content, the more a listener will tolerate your relative skill or lack thereof as a presenter.”Another option is to create two podcasts, one that is business-based and another one where you can be a little sillier and play around with format, says Peter Wells, host of film podcast FulltimeCasual and MacTalk. “For people who have never recorded before, the only way you’re going to get better is to constantly record yourself.” A silly side-project can be a good, stress-free way to hone your craft away from your business podcast.Still, it all comes down to speaking about your passion. “Just find whatever it is,” Wells says. “If you’re making bottle caps as a business, and you think no one in their right mind is going to think about listening to a show on bottle caps, well, you’re probably right. But there’s probably something about what you do that can be interesting… find that idea and bring it to the table.”

The Right Equipment
The really good news is that you don’t have to break the bank on expensive gear. “The essential skills of podcasting are knowing that you have to have a microphone for everyone that’s talking and knowing the basics of using a microphone,” Thorn says. “Beyond that you can form a solution that could cost $20 to my recording set-up which probably costs, in total, $5,000.” It’s possible to spend five times that on top-notch mics, baffles, and other sound paraphernalia — but ultimately it’s the content that is king.Wells says he records much of his show through Skype because it allows him and his friends to have better conversations, and it gives him more flexibility to find and record guests that may be further afield. Despite the drop in audio quality, Wells says his numbers have actually gone up since the switch to Skype last year. “Always record with the best quality upfront, but don’t kill yourself over it,” Well says. “If you can get a better guest by recording over the Internet (which you probably will be able to do), I’d say yeah, go for it.”Wells has a quick tip if you plan to record over the Internet: Have your group of speakers download and use the same recording program and have them all record the podcast and upload it to one source. You’ll get clearer sound and have a couple safety nets in case one Internet connection cuts out during the conversation. Wells recommends using Levelator, free software that helps balance your sound levels.Perhaps the single best advice is to get up-to-speed with an audio editing program. You won’t have to do anything crazy, but just even basic knowledge like how to cut a track or remove awkward pauses can make a podcast sound infinitely more professional. There are classes and online tutorials for many of the available programs, but often the best way to learn is to download a copy and start playing around. Mac users can use Garageband for a bare-bones option or join PC users and download Audacity for a solid starting block.

Dos and Don’ts
Thorn and Wells offer some golden rules of podcasting — what to do and what to definitely avoid. Thorn says simple is often best. “Many of the most popular and useful podcasts are short, tight and simple. Generally speaking, the simpler the better, and often a part of that is making it shorter. You reduce the chance of trying your audience’s patience.”Thorn also says to know why you’re making a podcast in the first place. He turns away from podcasts that don’t know who they’re for or are more about the presenter than their prospective audience. “Like any form of web publishing, you’ll be much more profitable talking about and recommending other people than recommending yourself. You don’t have to do a podcast about your business, you can do a podcast about your field of expertise … A PR podcast? No one wants to hear that.”Well’s comes back to the fun factor — his golden rule is to do something you really want to do and can have fun talking about. He says to avoid direct confrontation during podcasts. “There are ways to argue with someone without attacking them.” The best podcasts are ones that express opinion without making their guests feel like idiots. Finally, if podcasting just isn’t in your blood, Wells suggests finding an existing show that fits into your field and consider sponsoring or pitching them to gain access to their established audience.Podcasting is not the easiest thing in the world. It is, however, a lot easier than it first seems. It can establish you as an expert in your field and give you access to a whole new audience set. Let us know if you plan to jump into the podcasting deep-end and share your own experiences in the comments below.

Original content found HERE


5 Personalities That Ruin the Social Media Party

Posted by editor on June 28th, 2011

5 Personalities That Ruin the Social Media Party
by Chris Dolan

Social media is a giant cocktail party. I am not the first person to point this out, as the existence of this book would suggest (I haven’t read it but since the author’s title confirms my opinion, I am inclined to believe it’s brilliant).  I recently attended an interesting presentation at the Business Innovation Factory by Francois Gossieaux, author of The Hyper-Social Organization: Eclipse Your Competition by Leveraging Social Media. His main theme was that in order to successfully leverage web 2.0, you need to understand human 1.0. According to Gossieaux, businesses should worry less about what the latest and greatest technology can do and think more about the fundamental human behavior it can facilitate. He argues that humans are instinctively social creatures and the same basic principles apply online as they do in face-to-face interactions. I could not agree more. Yet so many social media marketing efforts ignore common courtesy and exhibit behavior you couldn’t get away with at a cocktail party. I must admit I am guilty of committing some of these sins myself, but hey, we are all still learning the best way to play in the world of social media, aren’t we? Here are five personality types that are sure to ruin the party.

1. The Blowhard
Nobody likes the guy who only talks about himself and never asks you a single question. Yet this is the way many companies interact with their customers, like a lunatic standing on a chair shouting into a megaphone about how great they are.  Would you do this at a cocktail party? No, so don’t do it on the web. Traditional marketing (think TV advertising) relied on this one-way approach because that is the only form of communication the technology enabled. Social media facilitates a two-way conversation. Respect your consumers’ intelligence, time, and opinion. Create content that is interesting, entertaining, and engaging.  Listen to their response and then react accordingly. It’s give-and-take. These are the elements that make for good conversations at a party and they all apply online. Don’t be the lunatic standing on the chair with a megaphone.

2. The Creeper
Picture this: you attend a party, have a few drinks, eat a few appetizers, and generally enjoy yourself. Two days later you get a phone call from a number you don’t recognize. You answer and a strange voice says “You don’t know me, but I was watching you at the party. I noticed you drank gin and tonic and were a big fan of the chicken skewers. Let’s get together some time.” If you are like most people, you would decline this invitation and probably wonder how they even got your phone number. This is essentially what companies do when they aggressively push themselves on consumers who have not asked to be engaged.

3. The Flake
It would be considered very rude to wander away from somebody in the middle of a face-to-face conversation. Yet, this is what companies often do online when they write a blog, release a video, or send out a tweet and then do not bother to respond to customer comments. This would be like clinking your glass to interrupt the party, telling everyone the hilarious tale of your recent unfortunate incident with a skunk, then making a beeline for the exit and driving away. If consumers are commenting on your content, then take the time to respond.

4. The Cornerer
I have a friend who is a great person to hang out with one-on-one but not my favorite person to attend a party with because of their tendency to attach themselves at the hip and talk my ear off, making it difficult for me to converse with anyone else. It’s important to give people some space. In terms of social media, this means avoiding the urge to constantly bombard them with push marketing. One of my most satisfying online activities is unsubscribing from email blasts. To be honest, there are an extremely small number of things in life I want to get updates, offers, and reminders about on a daily basis. Your business probably isn’t one of them. Determine when and how your target would appreciate hearing from you, and limit it to those occasions.

5. The Pull String Toy
There are some people who seem fascinating the first few times you meet them… until you realize the first four stories they told you are the same ones they tell over and over again. Once you realized it’s a canned spiel, you get tired of listening to it pretty quickly. The same is true when companies promote the same content ad nauseum. The story gets old pretty fast. Similarly, an auto-response is a major turn off as well. The best social media campaigns constantly provide fresh value.

Don’t be one of these types, whether in person on online.

Original content found HERE


Names & Faces: Kerry Steinert

Posted by editor on June 28th, 2011

Names & Faces: Kerry Steinert | Customer Service Rep

Kerry has been married for 15 years and resides in Amherst, WI with her husband, Knute, wonderful daughter Alex, and rescued dog, Christina. Her oldest son, Kyle, now lives in Milwaukee, WI. Kerry enjoys camping, boating, traveling and walking with the family’s best friend – their dog. She’s a fan of the Packers and Brewers, watching scary movies and cheering her daughter on at sporting events. She also teaches 8th grade CCD.

 “I believe that how we act towards our animals, says a great deal about who we are as people. If you can be cruel to an animal, you can be cruel to anybody. Also, if you are looking for a best friend (or two) please go to your local animal shelter and save a life.”

 Kerry feels fortune to be working at the Amherst Telephone Company with some fantastic people and has gained many friendships in the last 7 years. She was given the chance to work on the Amherst Directory around 4 years ago when a co-worker retired.

 “The people at Pinnacle were so gracious, and patient, with me, and answered any questions I had (and still have). You are a very pleasant company to work with.”

Favorite Quote:No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt


Confessions Of A Yellow Pages User

Posted by editor on June 27th, 2011

Confessions Of A Yellow Pages User

 by Andrew Shotland

Hi. My name is Andrew Shotland and I am a print yellow pages user. I know, I am one of those cutting edge online guys who makes his living off the “yellow pages are dead” thing. But, then, a main water pipe to the house started to leak and flooded my lawn. I ran to the computer and started to search – Ahhh Los Links! My wife gave me the hairy eyeball. Did I mention it was Mothers Day? I dug out the book and called the plumber with the two-page four-color spread. Crisis averted.

Last week I was reading about the War on Yellow Pages and I realized that many of us online types have been at war with the book because we have a vested interest in the book dying. There are plenty of good reasons to be down on print Yellow Pages as a marketing vehicle and I won’t repeat them here.

But today, because the Yellow Pages saved my ass, and possibly my marriage, I thought I’d return the favor and sing their praises.

Some factoids:

  • 75% of YP advertisers are service businesses or installed product (think floor covering) businesses. The more service-heavy, the more valuable the directory.
  • Businesses that have large, infrequent sales (roofer, divorce attorney, windshield repair) are very likely to receive a big return compared to a donut shop. A roofing customer is out of the market for 20 years after a purchase. That’s a lead worth capturing. 
  • When the customer’s location is the work site, local SEO is exceptionally difficult to optimize and a directory can assist in exposing a business to their desired service area. About 35% of YP advertisers are home-based businesses that need visibility. The print directory can act as one of their store fronts.
  • Categories that are dominated online by national brands and deep pocketed lead generation companies are also big beneficiaries of local directories. Examples are insurance (your local agent can’t outspend GEICO online), pharmacy, finance, real estate and educational institutions.
  • But print YP ads aren’t for everybody. Gas stations generally aren’t good YP advertisers because the decision to purchase is habitual, opportunistic, and more driven by price than research.
  • Another rule of thumb is research. The more a decision is researched, the better the ad return is.

Trust is also a major factor. If trust is necessary, (typically a requirement for a large purchase) the more valuable the ad. While advertising is not always a guarantee of trust, oftentimes online it’s harder to gauge trust when comparing a set of free listings or gamed review sites. A licensed, bonded, certified member of the local chamber of commerce with 30 years experience can look pretty similar online to a guy who knows a little SEO and will work for Gagaville credits.

Print directories are made for emergency services.  When my buddy Dick Larkin’s 2 pound new Maltese puppy got into the ant poison and was having convulsions, his wife did not research online for emergency vets. She looked at the book in her drawer, made a quick decision, and drove.

If a tree is about to fall through a house, the home owner won’t bother with a lead generation site that requires personal information and I doubt he’ll have a friend who’s the mayor of the local tree guy. And let’s never forget the Great Pleasanton Mothers Day Flood of 2011 (moment of silence please).

So how do you reach the local person who is actively making a buying decision regarding the products and services you sell? One way to reach that person is through skillful online development and optimization. Another way is through the directory that was delivered to their home (assuming they haven’t opted out). Both answers can be right.

Plumbers can get a much higher ROI via online marketing versus print if they know what they are doing. But print leads are still significant enough that they most likely can’t go without them. The fact is that for a number of big ticket businesses, an occasional customer pays for their YP ad.

If you talk to a print YP publisher off-the-record, they will inevitably show you a chart that shows a decline in usage, effectiveness and revenues related to the print directories along with a dramatic increase in the metrics for online directories and lead generation. Then, they’ll flip the chart to show you the margins for each where print dwarfs online.

Until those paths cross and the positions change (and it will), the print book will still be pushed by YP publishers. And until the leads dry up, print yellow pages will continue to be a piece of the puzzle for many local marketers.

Original content found HERE