Dan Morrison, CEO and Co-founder ITtoolbox 4343 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 280 Scottsdale, AZ 85251 http://ittoolbox.com
1.3 million monthly visitors
-> Morrison's background
Before founding ITtoolbox in 1998, Morrison was a management consultant working in various roles for Ernst and Young and Deloitte Consulting, among others, before starting his own small consulting firm.
Throughout his career, he began recognizing the need for a knowledge base of best practices for the IT industry. "I realized the opportunity was there to provide high-level information through collaboration," he explains. With ITtoolbox, he created a "knowledge base of reusable best practices that would be available to everybody, and would be built by everybody in the community."
-> Current editorial coverage
ITtoolbox is a community-powered network of IT best practices and knowledge, Morrison explains, with a goal of bringing actionable content to people making IT decisions, all of which comes from people "on the front line."
In addition to over 850 discussion groups, each catering to a specific specialty of the IT market, ITtoolbox publishes more than 100 blogs from "professionals writing about their IT experience." ITtoolbox also aggregates IT news in the form of republished content from news sources and press releases from IT companies.
The site is divided into 27 different "knowledge bases," each covering specific segments of the market (database warehousing, CRM, networking, project management, security, etc.).
-> How to get your own blog
ITtoolbox blogs are written by IT professionals about their relevant, firsthand experience. "The simple rule of thumb is that it has to have informational value," Morrison explains. For example, you might read about a CEO's fears of being sued, a CIO's challenges "in managing up and managing down," or a CEO's struggle to start the process of outsourcing in India.
To pitch yourself as a blog author, go to http://blogs.ittoolbox.com
and click on "Become a Blog Author" on the top toolbar. Fill out the subsequent form and, if he likes what he reads, Tim Ribich, Senior Product Specialist in charge of ITtoolbox blogs, will contact you for a more in-depth application.
-> What Ribich looks for in a blog pitch
Put some time into your proposal, show that you understand it's about sharing knowledge and best practices and that you're a useful professional resource.
Oh, and no abbreviated sentences, or Ribich will feel you're not serious about your blog proposal.
If you're asked to complete a more in-depth application, again take your time and be sure to show that you understand the work involved in a blog (that you'll need to update it at least a few times a week to make it effective, for example). Tell Ribich the depth of experience and knowledge you have to share in your subject area and how you'll be a resource to readers.
If you get past the in-depth application stage, Ribich will ask for a sample first blog entry. Here, he's looking for writing style and the ability to communicate. "We encourage them to use that first entry to introduce themselves to readers, tell a quick summary of their background, and explain why they're qualified to be an author." (Example: "I have over 20 years in the IT industry and lots of experience with Fortune 100 companies.") Then you can dive into the topic you plan to cover.
Showing your personality in your blog helps. "Our most popular authors have a certain style that attracts people," Ribich explains. "But if you're constantly posting off-topic entries, we wouldn't approve of that."
-> Other ways to get coverage in ITtoolbox
In addition to becoming a blog author, PR and IT professionals have several opportunities to get coverage for their clients/themselves: press releases, events calendar, and vendor directory.
Press releases are published on the What's Current page of each knowledge database and are often (about 60% of the time) also included in the newsletter distributed to subscribers of each database.
Getting your release covered is not a matter of crafting the perfect release; it's getting it to the right place in the right way, Morrison says. (Of course, getting users to read your release does depend on how it's written. "In general, they really like content that gives them relevant information on the topic that the product covers, as well as information about the product. They are really looking for informational value," he explains.)
There are two ways to submit your press release for coverage:
#1. Submit content directly online. Navigating your way to the correct place online where you can submit your release is far better than emailing it, Morrison says, but it's also a little more complicated.
Go to the knowledge database where you wish to submit your release. Click on the "Stay Current" tab on the top toolbar. Then find "Browse by type of content" about halfway down on the left and click on "PR."
On that page, look just under the top toolbar and you'll see "KB home / Submit Content." Click on "Submit Content," then click on "News/Events/PR."
Follow the directions there for submitting either a press release, an event for listing in the calendar, or a vendor for the directory.
Note: Including the full text of the release, rather than a link to the release, gets you a bigger probability of getting your release published.
#2. Email firstname.lastname@example.org You can email your press release to email@example.com, but this requires "more thought on where it should be placed, and the things that require more work are done second," Morrison says.
Each knowledge database hosts a number of Vendor Evaluation Discussion Groups, in which members of the IT community discuss a business need and ask for advice about vendors.
"Vendors are members of this community, too," Morrison says, so it's entirely fair for them to answer questions about vendors. However, the discussion groups are fully moderated and you must follow certain rules.
When you mention your product, you must say how it fits the user's need in concrete terms. In other words, you wouldn't say, "Our product is robust." Rather, you'd want to say, "Our product can meet the needs of 6,000 users."
"It can't be viewed as pushing," says Morrison. "No marketing materials. Answer the question with hard facts."
-> Pet peeves
Morrison didn't mention any particular pet peeves, but he did ask several times that I not publish his phone number.
-> Favorite professional publication
The Wall Street Journal