Category Archives: Marketing/Communications

Pitching Smarter: Gaining the Media Coverage You Want

I recently listened in on a webinar hosted by Michael Smart, an independent communications trainer. Michael works with PR professionals to help them land media coverage. Here are his tips and tricks for successfully pitching the media.

1) Frame Boring Content
Chances are your clients aren’t going to have a new product or “earth- shattering news,” every month, but you’re still going to be expected to get them media coverage. This is where framing comes in. You make the clients’ “boring” coverage interesting and relevant. One way to do that is to exploit pop culture. Even if your clients are B2B you can still draw parallels between what their business is doing and what is relevant in pop culture. Another way to frame content is simply to change the format. Think about what format works best for page views. Generally these are articles that incorporate lists, photos or GIFs. Tip: When creating your content try to get a link back to your client’s homepage. This is the best way to get SEO from your site.

2) Apply the 80/20 Principle to Your Media List
One of the biggest hurdles PR professionals face is time. We feel like we don’t have enough time to customize our pitches for each editor in our media list. Michael recommends spending 80 percent of your time pitching the top 20 percent of your media list. Focus most of your time on the 5-10 absolutely crucial influencers. Make sure your pitches are customized to meet the needs of the editor and publication. For the next 30 percent, do your best to briefly customize your pitches. You can send the same pitch to the last 50 percent of editors. You might ask yourself, “How do I know who the top 20 percent are?” All media relations should drive revenue and drive valuation. When determining who the top 20 percent are, think about which publications will have the biggest influence on driving revenue and valuation. Those publications are your top 20 percent.

3) Specific Formulas to Pitch Your Email
Once you have identified your 20 percent it’s time to do your homework. Be sure to reference the editor’s earlier work. Make sure to be as specific as possible. You want to let the editor know what you’ve actually read his or her past articles. Then tie in how your pitch relates. When tailoring your pitch makes sure it is short, specific and sincere. Even if the editor comes back with a “no,” showing editors you’ve done your research will help put you on their radar.

After your top 20 percent start using your database for the next 30 percent. Open with, “I know you cover…” Still try to be specific though. For example, if you are tying to pitch a tech story don’t simply say, “I know you cover tech.” Say something more specific like, “I know you cover start-up tech companies is San Francisco.” For the last 50 percent you can make the pitch very broad depending on the amount of time you have.

Tip: Snail mail editors’ pitches, content or products to get their attention and then follow up with an email. Also, don’t pitch via Twitter. Use Twitter as a way to build a relationship with editors. If they do happen to follow you back you may consider pitching them through direct message, but pitching on Twitter is too public. Many editors don’t want to pitches to be seen by competing publications.

 

Making the Most of Twitter Analytics

I recently attended a webinar where Jimmy Hang, Twitter’s SBM marketing manager, explained how to use Twitter Analytics to inform and improve your business’ marketing strategy.

For those unfamiliar with Twitter Analytics, you can login using your Twitter account credentials at analytics.twitter.com. Once you login you can see how your tweets have performed as well as your follower’s demographics.

The tweet activity dashboard displays your tweets, how many people saw them and what type of engagement they received – retweets, replies and favorites. This helps you see what your followers are engaging with and create content to match what you followers want to see. The best way to do this is to create a content/social media calendar to plan out what type of content you are going to post each day. Again, always be sure you are following the rule of thirds. One third of the content should be about your business, one third should be news and informational tips about your industry and the final third should be engaging with your audience.

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Twitter Analytics also shows you a breakdown of your followers’ demographics. You can see what your followers are interested in, where they are located, their gender and who your followers are following. This is a great way to gear your tweets and blogs for your followers’ specific interests. The location breakdown can help you geo-target news or try to branch out to new cities or areas you feel are underrepresented. You can also figure out when to time your tweets based on your followers time zones.

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Finally, Analytics gives you easy access to Twitter Ads quick promote. This allows you to promote your best tweets outside of your network to users that might be interested in your industry and content. 

Fighting Content Failure and Fatigue

I’ve been away from the blog for a few weeks so I thought this topic would be perfect, because it is something we all struggle with. You create an editorial calendar for your blog. You agonize over what to write about. You give it a withy title and pack it full of insightful content. You spend time rereading and editing it. You think it’s perfect, and you are sure that everyone is going to want to read it. You post it online and…nothing. The blog gets a handful of views and maybe a spam comment or two. How can this be? You were sure this post was going to be a hit. What I am describing is called content failure and fatigue, and it happens to the best of us.

It’s Not Your Fault
Millions of great blog posts, tweets and websites go unnoticed everyday. It’s not a content problem. It’s an audience problem. There is just an abundance of content on the Internet. Sadly, great content goes unread.

The Facts
Every minute:
• 571 websites are launched
• 350,000 tweets are tweeted
• 48 hours of YouTube videos are uploaded
• 3,800 blog posts are written and published

What can you and your brand do?
I’ve said this in almost all of my blogs, but it is about quality not quantity. Quality doesn’t just apply to your content. It’s also about your promotion. Brands can step down content production and step up promotion and distribution to get better results.

The solution is content promotion. Identify the key influencers in your industry, pitch them, get coverage and promote the coverage. You can promote it through social media or a content marketing strategy- like a newsletter campaign. You can also pay for sponsored ads or to get placed in the “Recommended News Articles.” These are sponsored links at the bottom of most news articles that are selected for you based on your search history.

Whatever method you chose to promote with just make sure you are being consistent and putting out useful, quality content your readers will enjoy. 

Keep Tweeting During the Holidays

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Merry Christmahanakwanza…Twitter?

With the holidays in full swing it’s easy to put your business social media accounts on the back burner. However, understanding how to engage with your Twitter audience during the holidays can be of great use to your business.

Have fun with your posts 
Since it is the holidays you can have more fun with your tweets. Post pictures of your office holiday party or what you are excited about for the New Year. This helps show your followers your business’/ brand’s personality. Use the hashtag #happyholidays to promote your brand with a trending hashtag. A Crimson Hexagon study showed that twitter holiday influence continues to increase until Christmas Eve. Also, try to relate your industry to the holidays. Many businesses continue right on through the holidays. Tweeting about having a happy holiday season is a great opportunity to include a link about your products and services.

Fewer tweets means more attention.
It’s true that a lot of people take off the last couple weeks December, but not everyone. Many professionals continue to work and check their social media accounts throughout the holidays. Fewer people tweeting means that your posts will get more attention. Also, work tends to slow down giving people have more time to give their social media accounts the due diligence they deserve. 

Scheduling your posts
Even is you’re out of the office for the holidays you can still keep up with your social media accounts. Use a platform like HootSuite to schedule holiday tweets before you leave. It’s a great way to promote your business and/or brand while still being able to enjoy your holiday vacation. 

-NP

Content Marketing: It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint

How PR Pros Converge Media and Content Marketing

Content marketing is a term that’s appeared many times on our blogs. We use content marketing every Monday, Wednesday and Friday when we put out our DW Security Update headlines. Despite content marketing being a trending topic in the PR world, many PR pros are hesitant to implement it into their PR strategy. Why you may ask? Marketing. The word marketing throws PR pros off. We aren’t marketers and we aren’t sales people so why should we handle content marketing?

In its simplest form content marketing is building relationships and trust with your audience. You create helpful content for current and potential clients and in turn they see you as someone they can turn to when they need help or information on your industry. This is exactly what PR is.

Why it “Fails”
Content marketing has a reputation of “failing.” The truth is content marketing isn’t failing. You’re just thinking about it wrong. When most people think of content marking they have this general outline in their heads:

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Just because someone reads your content doesn’t mean they are going to buy – just yet. Content marketing is a much longer process. It starts with making interesting, usable content. The hope is people will click on it. If they like what you’ve posted then they’ll remember you. You start to build trust and relations with people. You want to show them that you are someone they can trust –whether it be in the product or service you are selling or simply the information you can provide them. When they are ready to buy they will remember you and select your product or service.

It’s Not All About Sales
Content marketing is not about selling. Of course sales are vital to the growth of your business, but it has to be in the back of your mind. It is about building trust and telling a story. When you are writing content ask yourself these two questions: Why does you audience care about this? And, is this news just about your business? If this is just news about your business consider packaging it as an office memo instead of a press release or blog post. Your primary focus is being an expert and helping potential customers and clients do better in their businesses.

 

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Don’t Forget LinkedIn in Your Content Marketing Mix

Let me start out by saying that I don’t think advertising is dead.  There is a lot of talk out there that it’s limping along as content creation sprints forward leaving it in the dust.  But, let’s be real, good advertising still sells.  That said, content creation has been around for a while, but as a relatively newbie to the marketing tool kit it’s getting a lot of attention. There are some pretty compelling reasons for this. Study after study shows that people respond to informational content.  What catches people’s attention is useful content that provides some insight or understanding.  A good blog – one that tells your customers and potential customers something they need to know — is a perfect example of persuasive content.

The biggest challenge with a blog is consistency and providing useful information.  But, there is more to it than that. Once you have the blogs written and posted your work isn’t done. If you have spent the time and energy to put together a useful blog you have to market it to keep it alive and reaching as many targeted people as possible.  Good content is marketing gold, but only if you get people to see it.  You can create a great ad, but if you don’t place it, it doesn’t sell anything.

There are lots of ways to market content.  Social media like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ should all be part of the mix.  But, I think one of the most overlooked marketing tools for b2b communication efforts is LinkedIn.  We all know (or should know) that LinkedIn isn’t just for recruiting and job searches any more.  People use it to keep tabs on contacts, network with peers, follow industry groups and get company news.

According to reports, LinkedIn has 300 million worldwide users with 100 million in the U.S. alone.  And it’s estimated that 40 percent of those users check their accounts daily.  The average LinkedIn user has 150 connections and many have more than 500.  When you post something to LinkedIn it appears on the news feed of all of your followers (depending on your privacy settings).  If one of your connections sees it and likes it then it appears on the news feed of all of that person’s connections, if one of his/her connections likes it, it appears on the newsfeed of all of that person’s connections and if someone from that person likes it . . . well you get the idea.  The number of people who see your post adds up pretty rapidly and exponentially.  

If your post links back to your website, you not only get more visibility for your content but you also have the potential of driving more people back to your website.  And remember all of this is free.  All you have to do is assign someone (or your agency) to regularly post all blogs and news coverage to LinkedIn. It should be on the check off list along with posting to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.

LinkedIn works pretty much like Facebook, but I like it because it is a business platform targeted to professionals. Facebook is great for family photos, funny animal videos and personal opinions, but LinkedIn is for business. When you post on your company page that post appears in the news feed of everyone following your company. These are people who have shown an interest in you. Keeping them updated is important and should be a priority. These are your evangelists – people who will spread the word for you.

Part Two: What does our visual culture have to with your company?

Recently I explained why multimedia is important for companies to leverage coverage in important traditional and social media… In this blog, I’ll explain how to use photos/videos to get the best results with the media and your audience.

Start at home with the company website:

The 2014 Business Wire Media Survey shows nearly 80 percent of reporters and editors turn to a company’s online newsroom when researching an organization.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your online space constantly updated and relevant… Have a blog section? Keep it updated with lots of photos showcasing your work and expertise.  Have an online news section?  Make sure you are providing video links with photos of new product and events.   It isn’t a bad idea to dedicate a space to all multimedia. Collect it, organize it.  Either way you choose to do it, consider your own site a deep well of information- the starting point of all that you do online.

In your press release

Another interesting statistic from the BusinessWire survey is that 90 percent of responding journalists used a press release just within the last week.  That means that while journalists are seeing your content – that’s not a guarantee they will publish it.  Here’s how to increase the chances that they will:

When distributing a release on:

·       A groundbreaking: include a photo/video link showing the ground breaking/new facility

·       A product release: include photo/video link demonstrating product

·       An event: include plenty of action shots/key people

I advocate using photos/videos for good reason – reporters are more likely to see and use your news if there are accompanying visuals. This touches back on the fact that we’ve become a highly visual society.  Pictures are like shiny objects, they catch our attention and encourage us to click and explore.

On social media

At Daum Weigle, our experiences adding photos in social media – particularly Twitter – have been very positive. When we use more photos on our @dwpr and @Security_Update accounts, our analytics reflect more interest from our followers.  A good general rule of thumb: try to include/feature at least one photo in the Facebook/Twitter daily rotation. And don’t forget LinkedIn and Pinterest if they apply to your client’s business.  The photos will get more attention, which is what you are after, right?

Part One: What does our visual culture have to with your company?

 

It’s no secret that with the rise of social media, a highly visual culture has emerged. High quality, sharable images reign supreme online. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make when posting or distributing a press release/product/general announcement is to do so without an image.  It’s like throwing a needle in a haystack. There are several reasons why.picstitch

Picture-focused social sites like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook show how valuable photos are because of the “sharable” factor. Posting images can help increase engagement.  For example, photo posts account for 93 percent of the most engaging posts on Facebook. They average 53 percent more likes, 104 percent more comments and 84 percent more click-throughs on links than text-only posts. Check out how American Express uses strong visuals to “capture” and engage its audience. The page is interesting and makes you want to stay and explore.

Social media isn’t the only online space to consider when it comes to photos.  According to PR Newswire, a study analyzing more than 10,000 press releases showed the more multimedia you include in a press release distribution, the more views it receives.   In my experience, pitching releases is easier when you have accompanying photos. Editors know they increase readership and will be more likely to run your news.

Also, images are proven to affect local searches. Consumers are more likely to contact a business if there are accompanying images attached to any news/company blog site because it simply grabs their attention.

Aside from distribution and social media, maintaining a visually pleasing company blog and website are equally important.  Most companies have a specific goal in mind when it comes to their home page: to drive website traffic to it.   The most successful websites use photos in a way that makes cross posting on social media a breeze. You don’t want to make your social media sites look great only to drive traffic back to a stark website with nothing to see.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how to use photos in each capacity – for media distribution, social media and your company website. 

We need to talk . . . on Twitter

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We need to talk . . . That phrase is so often the prelude to breaking up, losing a job or some other dire life-altering event.  But not this time. In this instance I’m talking about Twitter and the fact that too many brands don’t get everything they can out of it because they simply don’t use it right. They use Twitter like an electronic billboard putting up tweet after tweet about their new products, sales meetings, personnel changes or maybe once in a while a job opening.  I hope you see the pattern here. It’s all about them.  They talk at the Twitterversus, not with it.  It’s like going to a party talking about your job, your family, your hobbies, etc., then saying goodbye to everyone and walking out the door. No matter how fascinating you are that’s going to turn people off and certainly not get you a return invite.  In Twitterdom that translates into getting ignored and losing followers – the death knell for any marketing/communication effort.

Social media is meant to be a conversation. You can post stuff about your company on the website and it can sit there for everyone to read, but you go to social media when you want people to share, comment and interact.  Talking with, not at, your social community is what makes it social and there is a lot of value in having a real conversation. 

  • It shows that you care about having an open dialogue – something customers highly value in vendors.
  • It gives you information about what is important to your customers, vendors and partner organizations.
  • You get feedback and questions from your customers, which is always helpful, but too often hard to come by.
  • You learn new things.  Twitter can be a valuable resource for information and news about what is going on in your industry and with your customers.

So, how do you start talking on Twitter – I mean really talking? Here are a few suggestions on ways to begin the conversation. 

It’s not all about you – Talk about more than just your company.  Look for interesting articles or news about your industry.  If, for example, you’re selling security cameras, look for news articles and blogs that support the use of your product.  It might be a survey from a research firm reporting about the booming camera market or an article talking about a situation where security cameras helped stop a potentially dangerous or criminal incident. It shows your product in a favorable light and it does it without chest pounding.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a place on Twitter for self-promoting tweets, but not all the time. In fact, the majority of your tweets should not be commercial. The soft sale is very effective and works well on social media.

Retweet, favorite and mention – Start interacting on Twitter by retweeting other accounts.  If you see an interesting tweet that would be relevant to your Twitter followers, by all means retweet it.  Your followers will appreciate the additional information and the fact that you are savvy enough to keep informed about your industry.  At the same time, the account you are retweeting will appreciate the shout out and will be more likely to retweet you in the future.  Also your retweet will show up in that account’s feed, so more people will see your post and you just might gain some followers.  The same goes for making a tweet a favorite and for mentioning accounts in your posts.  The more you start talking to people on Twitter the more attention you’ll get, which, after all, is the point.

Hashtags – Use hashtags, but use them sparingly and wisely.  Hashtags are a way of making your tweets stand out for people on Twitter who are interested in following specific topics and key words.  Do a little research.  Find out which hashtags are going to work best at reaching your target audience.  Again, if you are selling security cameras then putting a hastag in front of #security and #camera may work best for you.  But check it out first, you may find that many people are tracking security cameras by making the hashtag into a smash word and following #securitycamera.  It’s just a matter of working with Twitter to see how people in your industry are using hashtags.

Reply & DM – Reply to tweets, ask questions and thank people.  If you see an interesting tweet and you not sure about the source reply or send a direct message asking a question.  Thank people for following and retweeting. And definitely answer any questions sent your way.  Even if you don’t know the answer you should acknowledge the question.

Starting with these basics will get your Twitter conversation going.  It should get you noticed, attract followers and add real value to your social marketing efforts.  Obviously, the most difficult part of this equation is the time it takes to follow Twitter and get this dialogue in gear.  But once you have developed your strategy and you know the direction you want to take Twitter can be managed by the marketing communications team or even outsourced to an agency.  Making it someone’s job to talk on Twitter is probably one of the quickest ways to get the conversation underway and get everything out of each 140-character message that you can. 

Cindy Weigle
Follow me on Twitter
Connect with me on LinkedIn

 

 

Google and SEO, What You Need to Know Part II

 

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In my last blog I talked about new updates that were made to Google affecting a website’s SEO results. There are similar things happening with press releases. Starting this year Google’s update, Hummingbird, again changes the SEO algorithm. What does that mean for your company?

Hummingbird also targets press releases. Traditionally companies have spent hundreds to thousands of dollars issuing a press release on one of the news wires or other media distribution sites. Most of these releases are then picked up by media sources that simply post them without any editing. If that’s the case, Google now ignores your release and it will not be ranked in a Google search. Google will rank original, or at least edited content. This means that establishing and maintaining good relationships with journalists is the key to having content at the top of a Google search.

This doesn’t mean that you should abandon the news wires. But for the best results in Google searches your content needs to be original to each publication.

Of course, Google is not the final word in search engines. There are plenty other respected search engines with different algorithms. However, Google is the number one search engine used by 620 million people a day. There’s a reason why no one says “I’m going to Yahoo that.” Playing by Google’s rules is more important than ever.

Before you even send out your next press release, check out these tips:

Use Keywords

Think of a list of keywords relevant to your industry and your press release. Then be sure to use the words as you are writing. Avoid keyword stuffing and always make sure the keywords are relevant and add to the flow of your release.

Headlines- shorter ones are better.

Some release titles look more like a small paragraph than a headline. Keep your headline concise – 70 characters or less. Avoid using adjectives such as “industry leading” or “best in class.” These adjectives take up space and have very little impact. Above all, make sure your headline is clear. You want reporters and readers to know exactly what you are talking about once they read your headline.

Anchor Text

Highlight anchor text and keywords in your press release. Include “no follow” language on URL’s. Otherwise, Hummingbird will view this as advertising and it will negatively impact your SEO.

Press releases can help your SEO if the content is relevant and original to a media site. But if your news doesn’t apply to a wide audience, think about creating it as blog or other type of content. Save the press releases for your company’s most important news.

– NP