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PR Pitching 101

As a PR pro you want to find influencers, pitch stories and gain coverage for your client.

How Do I Find Influencers?

The best way to find influencers is to ask yourself what your end goal is. Are you interested in making a new connection? Are you pitching a story? Do you have a new client or are you expanding into a new industry where you don’t have any contacts? These questions should help guide you when looking for new influencers.

Take the Time to Know Your Influencers

Once you have narrowed down your search it’s time to learn a little bit more about your influencers. See what they have recently written. Start following them on Twitter or connect with them on LinkedIn. This helps them remember you when it comes time to pitch. Also, editors and reporters might tweet personal things like, “At my kid’s soccer game,” or “enjoying my vacation.” This is a good way to know that they probably aren’t going to have time to read or respond to your pitches. Interacting with an influencer on Twitter also helps when trying to achieve the elusive Twitter pitch. A Cision research survey of reporters and editors shows that, “Twitter pitches go smoothly when you have already engaged with the editor or reporter on Twitter.”

Pitching

After you have done your homework it’s time to pitch. When pitching, whether it’s be email, phone or social media try to be as helpful as possible. Offer to schedule any additional interviews with a client/expert, be able to answer any questions he or she may have or even offer to write or package content for them. You want to make it as easy as possible when pitching your influencer. Also, as a  rule of thumb, never send attachments. Send everything in the body of an email. Editors and journalists do not have time to open your attachments and large attachment files may slow down their email.

Organizing your coverage

Once you have pitched your influencer and they have agreed to place your coverage make sure you ask them when you can expect it to appear. Do this for every piece of content you place regardless of how big or small the coverage is. Gather the coverage and organize it neatly and concisely in a coverage report. This shows you client ROI. 

Google Plus 101

 

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A recent Social Media Benchmark Report estimates that in 2014 Google Plus will surpass Twitter and Facebook to become the top B2B social media channel.  Currently, Google Plus is the third most popular social media site for businesses with about 36% of businesses using it.  Even though Google Plus has a substantial amount of users, its features are still a mystery for some. 

What makes Google Plus so powerful is that it is owned by Google – increased SEO results anyone?  The key to this is the little “+1” at the top of your businesses Google Plus page.  Think of this like a Facebook “like” button.  The more people view and “like” your business, the higher it will show up on a Google search. You can also link the “+1” to articles or press releases about your business or client to show your influence in the industry.

Another “plus” to having a Google Plus account is that the images you post on your page have a higher likelihood of showing up on a Google Image search.  Posting pictures on social media sites has always been important in reaching out to more followers but having them show up on a Google search takes it to a whole new level.

Pictures on Google Plus are extremely important, especially the cover photo.  You may have realized in the past two years cover photos have become a great way to promote your business’s brand and logo and are now on all major social networking sites.  The cover photo is massive, which gives you ample space to leave a lasting impression on everyone that visits your page. 

Taking a page from Twitter (and now Facebook), Google Plus has hashtags.  This gives you the ability to see what is trending or create a personal hashtag for your business’s event, product or campaign.

A main selling point of Google Plus has been its circles.  These circles are categorized groups of “friends.”  This lets you, as Google Plus says “share the right things, with the right people.”  For example, businesses can create circles for coworkers, clients or prospective clients and choose what information to share.  This makes it easier to filter news and reach target audiences.  It also makes it easier for businesses to filter out posts.  You can also contact prospective clients through their Gmail accounts, show them what your business has planned through Google Calendar and give them Google Offers.

Apart from circles there are communities.  Communities are groups of people or businesses that share a common interest.  You can join pre-existing communities or create your own.  Think of them like Facebook or LinkedIn groups.  This helps you hone in on your target market as well as learn valuable information about your particular industry.  Communities are great places to engage followers, create discussions, and show your expertise. The only problem with communities is that they aren’t as regulated on Google Plus as they are on other social networking sites.  That means there is an increased possibility that your community will collect spam.

Another great feature about Google Plus is that it integrates video chats.  Although Facebook does let you video chat with people through its messaging system, Google Plus provides an easier and larger platform for video chatting.  These chats are called Google Hangouts. Hangouts let you connect with up to 10 people at a time.  They are great ways to: pitch a story to a client, take a conference caller give a presentation remotely.

Finally, all these features are accessible through mobile integration.  This is perfect for busy business executives on the go with their iPhone or android.  And it has been predicted that the future of social media sites is in mobile integration. 

I hope my rundown of Google Plus gives a better look at what it can do to help you grow your business.

-Niki Perri

@neperri

 

Need more proof the Internet has arrived?

 

If there is anyone who still doubts that the Internet is becoming the major source for us to gather news and entertainment, just look at a few estimates by leading research organizations:

  • This year, advertisers are expected to spend more of their money on Internet sites, than on newspapers. Within two years, Internet ad spending is projected to top the combined total for newspapers and magazines.
  • In 2012, mobile ad spending in the U.S. grew 180 percent to top $4 billion.  Google, Facebook and Twitter were the big winners.
  • Want to advertise in the venerable news magazine, Newsweek? You’ll have to do so online. The 79-year-old magazine released its last print issue on Dec. 31. Many other major daily newspapers and general interest and trade magazines have gone the same route over the past few years.
  • Even television, which remains the most popular medium, is facing its own problems with time-shifting and an aging viewer base. Adults age 65 and over spend far and away the most time watching TV — 60 percent more than the next highest demographic group. Ever notice how the network’s nightly news shows are heavily sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and their drugs to treat diseases of the elderly?

We may all find the end products of ad agencies to be largely irritating, often juvenile and rarely entertaining, but these people do their homework. They will lose customers if they aren’t hitting the media targets people are consuming these days.

Those of us in public relations need to take notice and follow the lead of our advertising colleagues.  We must make our clients aware that times are changing — and rapidly. No doubt, a placement in the print issue of the New York Times is still a big win. But we can no longer minimize opportunities to be in a NYT blog, the front “page” of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (online only since 2009) or making a splash on our client’s own Facebook site or Twitter account.

It won’t be long before clients will want to know the number of monthly unique visitors to a media Internet site, before asking about print circulation.

A similar trend is underway in the way we read books. Recently, a study showed the percentage of people reading printed books is declining, while e-book readership is on the rise.

And, as an aside, think of the added benefits to the environment as we use less paper, ink and fuel to deliver print publications and books to consumers.

What’s that word? Oh, #%&@ … just pour me a drink

Lately, I’d been seriously worried about my cognitive health. I can’t remember names of old acquaintances; common, everyday words have been erased from my brain’s hard drive; and I have an overwhelming desire to smack Honey Boo Boo, a darling reality TV child.

But I’m feeling better now. I just read about a Swedish study that found writers have a higher risk than other folks of suffering from anxiety, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, unipolar depression and substance abuse. Now maybe I don’t have advancing dementia. Am I’m just a depressed, uptight drunk?

Interestingly, creative types taken as a whole  — dancers, artists, photographers and writers — aren’t crazier than the general population. It seems it’s just the writers that spin off to la-la land.

That begs two questions. Are people more attracted to becoming writers because of their already poor mental health? Or does writing mess up our brains once we make it a career?

I need to go think about that while I fire a few more darts at a photo of Honey Boo Boo making funny faces. And I’ll be careful with the darts. Writers are twice as likely to commit suicide.

@JDaum

PR: There’s an App for That

Almost everyone has a smart phone, most likely compete with tons of downloaded apps.  I recently sat in on a discussion about which mobile apps are most useful for PR industry pros from Cision.  Here is the top ten list:

1.     Bump

Bump is like a virtual business card that allows you to swap info with people just by launching the app and then physically “bumping” your phones together.  It’s perfect if you’re on a time crunch and want to make a quick connection.

2.     CardMunch

This app allows you to take pictures of business cards and convert them into contacts right into your address book. The top perk to this app is that it will also show you LinkedIn profile information as well as any connections you have in common.

3.     Dropbox

This is a very popular and free service that lets you store/access your photos, docs and videos anywhere and share them easily. It’s so convenient to pull files your Dropbox account from your phone and share with others on the go.

 4.     Evernote

The Evernote app helps you remember your ideas, projects and experiences across all the computers, phones and tablet platforms you may use.  It captures text, photos and audio and then synchs it via the cloud.  These files can then be shared, edited and used to collaborate with your co-workers.

5.     TweetDeck and HootSuite

Either of these two apps are a great way to keep track of journalists’ feeds and also handy when you need to manage your Twitter/Facebook presence while travelling.  As far as layouts go, it’s really a Coke vs. Pepsi thing.

6.     Yammer

Yammer is an enterprise social network service and is used for private communication within organizations and pre-designated groups. This is a private way to collaborate with your co-workers and send them messages.

7.     Google Analytics (mobile)

This app gives you instant, mobile access to your Google Analytics.  It’s perfect if you’re travelling but still need to report back to the office about how a post is doing.

8.     Word Press

This app is compatible with almost every operating system.  For this reason, it’s a great way to update any blog on the go.  This is awesome if you are blogging from a trade show and want to share timely updates.

 9.     Tripit

If you travel frequently, this app is a lifesaver.  It basically takes and organizes all of your trip details (flight, car rental, reservations and anticipated weather) and puts them in one place where you can share those details with others and print out your tickets.

10.  Media Database Apps

If you need to look up a media contact and you aren’t by a computer, it’s helpful if the media database service you use has a downloadable app.   MyMediaInfo, CisionPoint and Vocus are among those that have them. Great for a last-minute pitch.

Do you have any good apps to add to this list?

Follow me @saraalisia

 

 

 

I don’t care what Google says – I’m innocent

The technology that’s meant to serve us sometimes comes back to bite us.

Imagine a perspective employer enters your name in a Google search and the autocomplete feature offers suggestions such as “sex offender” or “pedophile.”  Maybe someone with the same name fits those descriptions — or maybe the Google feature just made a poor choice.  Either way, you’re not likely to get that job.

Something similar recently happened to a Japanese man.  Google’s Instant Search linked his name to crimes and his employer fired him.  The man claims he didn’t commit any crimes and now he can’t find another job.  He took Google to court claiming an invasion of privacy.  A Tokyo court recently agreed with him and ordered Google to stop the use of its Instant Search feature.

Google of course disagrees and says that as a U.S. company it won’t change its business practices due to Japanese laws.  The problem the man suffered, says Google, wasn’t intentional or the result of a malicious company employee.  The Instant Search uses impersonal algorithms to suggest the most popular searches.

Instant Search is a cool tool that I’ve used many times.  But this story led me to check out my name.   Just to play it safe, you might want to check out yours.  Fortunately, mine came back clean.  I hope yours does, too.

–JD

Follow me on Twitter @jdaum

Facebook and Your Brain

Sometimes study findings are just too good to be true. Or in this case, too sensational to be true.

We recently came across an interesting new study that says the bigger your Facebook friend roster is, the larger your brain is.

Researchers at the University College of London took brain scans from 125 university students, all of who are active on Facebook, and compared those results with the number of Facebook friends each individual has.

Wait a minute, let’s stop right here! 125 university students? Active Facebook users?

So right from the start, we are dealing with a very specific sample demographic. If you aren’t a college-aged student who spends countless hours hanging out on Facebook then these results need not apply.

Phew. Now that us “adults” have covered that little demographic issue, we no longer have to live each day thinking our brains are smaller than average.  Now on to the findings.

According to the researchers, certain focal regions of the brain, specifically the areas responsible for processing, social perception and memory, have a higher gray matter density in the students with more Facebook friends.

Data also supports that a high number of online friends and a high number of real-world friends are linked to the same areas with high gray matter density.

Long story short, scientists are consistently finding trends in biological studies of the internet and human interaction.

So while the information doesn’t conclude whether the larger brain is a result of having more friends, or vice versa, the data is still a useful tool towards understanding how and if the internet is changing our internal wiring.

We have a feeling there will be more studies like this one coming out real soon. Stay tuned…

Merchants: Beware the Power of Consumer Influence

A glaring example of the power of social media in the hands of consumers was in clear focus when I checked my twitter feed this morning. A tweet from @TheBelleAgency alerted her 2,000 followers that an assistant manager at a particular Enterprise location treated her father with less than superb customer service.  What followed was a string of public complaints…and public apology.

It’s interesting to me that with a few strokes of a keyboard one consumer, or even a relative of a consumer, can influence so many others.  It’s the world we are living in now. In the PR perspective, to manage one of these accounts for a client is a never-ending battle, one I’ve watched my co-workers conquer each day, so I have a lot of respect for the person on the receiving end.  What’s awesome is that @BelleAgency gave the customer service handle @enterprisecares some love after they resolved the issue rather than let it hang to dry in Twitter land.

So, what is the moral of this post?  Don’t be a rude, especially if you work in customer service. You just never know how far reaching that person’s social media influence is and how damaging it can be.

@saraalisia