June 2013 Issue #4
The Role of PR Pros in Content Marketing
TopRank Blog / Xanthos
Content marketing may be considered a marketing function, but PR pros provide a competitive advantage to content creation in 3 key areas: storytelling, editorial-based marketing and influencer marketing, Lee Odden explains in IHow Public Relations & Communications Can Win the Content Marketing Race
. The PR storytelling expertise brings an emotional connection that some marketing pros can't offer — and "therein lies the intersection of PR and content marketing."
PR pros have long practiced "editorial-based marketing," the original phrase before content marketing was coined, Odden continues. Not only are they practiced at designing content to engage and inspire action, but those in PR also understand how news organizations work. Coordinating with media influencers over the years has trained PR pros to easily identify and engage with influencers. With the rise of "corporate journalism," which applies writing skills to marketing communications, PR pros are the solution to providing emotional connections and context to brand content. Public relations then becomes integral to marketing strategies.
For PR pros who have already crossed the bridge into the marketing department, Candice Landau sums up the most popular Idiosyncrasies of Marketing in the Digital Era
. Using humorous cartoon comics, Landau provides a helpful guide to creating and optimizing marketing content. As this article exemplifies, messages spread when they are funny, different, interesting or useful. The most successful content marketing and public relations articles must have at least one of those qualities, Landau advises. The newest trend in content marketing: link building. Use social media to increase links to your site, and remember that spammy SEO tactics should be left in the past and may penalize your website.
Best PR Practices for Acquiring Earned Media
Search Engine Watch
PR plays a key role in search engine optimization (SEO), the function of making website content "friendly" to search engines such as Google and Bing. One of the most effective ways to bring your content to the top of the page is getting reputable publications to pick it up, Brad Miller declares in Getting Published: The Search Marketer's Guide to PR
. He explores best practices for optimizing content from a search marketer's point of view by integrating PR, social media and SEO methods through the outreach and pitching process. Once you designate top media outlets in your industry and create the content, Miller advises it's time for the next, and most difficult, step: outreach. PR pros need to connect with the "gatekeepers" (editors) of target publications to briefly explain who you are, who the author is and why the content matters. Find and target editors by researching your subject matter, or use LinkedIn and search for "editorial" or "columnist" within the publication's employee list. Follow with: (1) a phone call, (2) an email and/or (3) a social touch like a Twitter direct message. A combination of two usually gets more attention.
Media Monitoring for Reputation Management
The most important rule in any reputation management plan, whether for small or large businesses, is to know what's being said about your brand. The tactic is to monitor mentions wherever they may be — social media, blogs, news articles, etc. — and then respond accordingly. Lorna Walkden outlines seven key areas to address in Brand Reputation Management: Your Seven-Point Game Plan
. All areas (social media, reviews, SEO, and customer service) depend on a solid media monitoring service. Walkden explains how to use monitoring results to deal with both negative and positive reviews. Negative buzz should be answered in a timely manner and, if it's especially critical, should include offers for a discount or a branded giveaway with a "Sorry" note. Positive reviews should be utilized for brand advocacy: PR pros can send those customers free items, invite them to take part in special events and ask customers to participate in company feedback. Such methods improve your brand's customer loyalty and keep the positive reviews circulating online.
Social Media Strategy to Mitigate Crises
Social Media Today
An ongoing social media program with loyal followers gives PR pros a decisive advantage when a crisis hits, Chris Syme maintains in How to Use Social Media to Manage a Crisis
. All crisis plans should address how your staff will respond on social media. Start by investing in good monitoring software, Syme asserts — free tools like Google Alerts and Hootsuite may be enough to get by on a daily basis, but you need something with more power to prepare for and manage a real crisis. What you should monitor: volume, sentiment, escalation and influencers. Track volume by monitoring key words and hashtags about the crisis' subject, and measure those mentions against non-crisis mentions of your company (escalation). If an event escalates quickly, it requires more interaction with stakeholder groups. Syme urges crisis managers to always address the crisis on the channel that is buzzing about it. If people are talking about the subject on Twitter, answer on Twitter,not through a press release.
Design Tips for Your Next Pitch or Presentation
Comm Pro Biz / Dashburst
Taking the time to create original visual content for your pitch or news release proves much more effective than embedding stock photos. Multimedia assets garner nearly 10 times more views than text-only releases, according to a PR Newswire study reported in Digital PR Tips for Earned Media: Use Multimedia to Tell the Story
. In 12 steps, Daniel Zeevi illustrates How to Create a Captivating Presentation
that serves as a helpful guide in the layout and design aspects for your next pitch to a journalist or potential client. For help in creating a presentation design theme, Zeevi shares free online color and background tools. Don't overdo it, though: Pick two or three colors to stick to a theme and keep a consistent font throughout the presentation, he advises. Font sizes shouldn't be smaller than 30 points, which makes it harder to fit many words into a slide (this is a good thing, he reasons, as graphs and images should dominate). Perhaps overlooked: image quality. The ideal sizing is 1024 x 768 pixels, a 4:3 ratio, as anything smaller or larger could appear blurry or over-pixelated in the regular slide view. Bottom line: Images and presentations should tell a compelling story that journalists will want to share.
A Guide to Creating and Editing Company Wikipedia Pages
Critics often chide PR pros for editing Wikipedia pages, a result of the "scandal" where a BP representative wrote half of the oil company's Wiki page
. Many PR leaders, like Edelman Digital's senior VP Phil Gomes, still believe that PR should have an active Wiki presence
to include credible sources and a company perspective. According to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales
, as long as a PR firm edits professionally and is transparent in disclosing its interests, there's no reason PR pros shouldn't be involved with their company pages.
If you're building a page from scratch, make sure to read Wikipedia's style guide first, Kate Frost advises in her Primer on Using Wikipedia for Businesses
. However, if a company page already exists, Frost warns to edit carefully, as extensive changes will raise a flag for Wikipedia. If your material does get flagged for "appearing to be written like an advertisement," the PR editor should go through the text and credit any claims that don't have support from third-party materials. Frost's tip: Go through the media coverage of a product launch and grab tidbits from press releases that reporters have repurposed.
6 Word-of-Mouth Drivers for Creating Contagious Content
People often think getting word of mouth is like capturing lightning in a bottle. You have to get lucky. Quite the opposite is true. In fact, there's a science behind what makes content go viral, according to The Secret Science Behind Big Data and Word of Mouth
. Jonah Berger employs six principles as "word-of-mouth drivers," including two that should already be key methods used in PR and content marketing: "Practical Value" and "Storytelling." Useful articles and narrative messages "that carry your brand along for the ride" both comprise the formula for getting more word of mouth. The remaining principles provide less-used ideas for content. Incorporation of high-arousal "emotions" drive users to share content, while "Triggers" encourage marketers to integrate top-of-the-mind topics in content so people are more likely to think about it.
Advanced Uses of Twitter for PR
There are the popular ways PR pros use Twitter — publicizing news and blog posts, retweeting and pitching to journalists and live-tweeting from events — and then there are ways to utilize Twitter a step further. In How to Use Twitter for PR
, Shonali Burke highlights how PR pros can make full use of the tool by taking advantage of Twitter lists and Twitter chats. By adding a user to a Twitter list, you're letting them know that you value what they write while also organizing content from influencers, journalists and clients into separate areas so conversations are easier to monitor. By frequently participating in hashtag-created chats, Burke promises that requests for guest blog posts, appearances on other chats and offline queries from prospective clients will grow.
Instagram to Drive Niche Video Audiences
Facebook's Instagram officially released video sharing in an update last week, essentially introducing itself as the leading competitor to Twitter's Vine. Vine shares dropped to 1.35 million, more than half of the shares a week earlier, just a day after Instagram's video launch. Instagram's video sharing is similar to Vine in its ease of usability, yet offers filters like its photos and an increased time limit of 15 seconds to Vine's 6 seconds. What does it mean for marketers and brands? First, it's a new channel that businesses can utilize for video placements. Early consensus of the new tool is that it's quite different than Vine: according to Daniel Terdiman, the two services are likely to appeal to very different types of users. In Why Instagram Video and Vine are Apples and Oranges
, Terdiman notes that Vine still reigns where Instagram fails in looping capabilities, a feature marketers seek in their videos. Eventually, marketers will see niche audiences develop in each app, which may make it easier to target your content. In an interview, U.S. Chamber of Commerce's social media director Jonathan Rick tells Wilson that much like LinkedIn offers a business network and Facebook breeds more personal conversations, he expects Vine will evolve into a news-oriented platform and Instagram will take over "the cute-kitten market." How the services evolve will determine how marketers can best use them to deliver corporate or brand messages.
Marketers can also expect more features and perks in social videos as the two apps compete for superiority, Matt Wilson affirms in Instagram Announces Video Sharing: What Does It Mean For You?
How the services evolve will determine how marketers can best use them to deliver corporate or brand messages.
For Better Blog Headlines, Start Experimenting on Social Media
The best way to find out which headlines are most effective for your blog is through the trial and error of an A/B test. Leo Widrich recommends using social media to test two headlines for the same blog in A Scientific Guide to Writing Great Headlines on Twitter, Facebook and Your Blog
. Post the headlines one hour apart and try to stay away from noon tests. Two morning tweets and two evening posts deliver more realistic results — then, use the headline that receives more engagement. Widrich also includes researched advice on writing great blog post titles. The most compelling titles have numbers and imply that they'll be teaching its readers, with words like "introduction" "guide" "DIY." Widrich's key lists include: "Words that make posts go viral" and "the 20 most retweetable words."
Why Social Media Monitoring and Measuring Sentiment Benefit Your Brand
Salesforce Marketing Cloud
More marketers and social media analysts are beginning to realize the value of qualitative metrics. In Why Measure Volume and Sentiment of Social Media Brand Mentions?
, Melanie Thompson affirms that the growth or decline in positive sentiment is an indication of your brand's health. When customers or potential customers search for your products, the goal is to have your brand should show up at the top of their search and in a positive light. Thompson provides a three-point plan: Find out what's working and do more of it, listen for opportunities and fix what's broken.
Use Customer Profiling to Increase Sales
Convince and Convert
Trying to sell products and services without understanding your target customer is like driving with your eyes closed, Greg Ciotti proclaims in How to Create Customer Profiles to Reach Your Target Audience
. Ciotti recommends creating simple customer templates that include brief descriptions, goals and needs of your ideal customers. Important questions to ask: Where does your product fit in with their needs? What is the best way to engage with this customer? What language (key words) would this customer use to identify his or her need or problem? Ciotti demonstrates how simple it is to construct messages tailored to those customers once you define what they're looking for. After you've established your message, the next step is locating where customers will find that message. Make a list of websites with communities that will respond well to your message (e.g. professional products are better received on LinkedIn, while entertainment products find their home on sites like BuzzFeed and HuffingtonPost).
Controversy: Tracking Consumers of Online Advertising without Permission
Nearly 70% of participants in a Consumer Watch survey reported they would not allow companies to track, collect and share data about them in exchange for a free service or product. Yet as most marketers are aware, many ad networks collect data about their Web users through cookies even if they opt out of receiving ads, Wendy Davis reports in Consumer Action: Most Web Users Want Control Over Tracking
. Is it ethical to bypass do-not-track settings, since most of the information gathered is harmless and for research purposes, or is it still a breach of privacy? Davis interviews Lou Mastria, of Digital Advertising Alliance, who says the survey results are slightly skewed by the wording of its questions: "tracking" usually generates a negative response. In fact, "When consumers are presented with the actual value proposition…surveys demonstrate they are overwhelmingly receptive to [tracking]." Bottom line: be cautious in publicizing information that was gathered with cookies. Honor your audience's privacy wherever possible.
Centralizing Measurement Data for Improved Insight
Measurement data spread across different departments and/or agencies creates a measurement nightmare and inhibits a 360º view of the data. Much like the rising social media command centers, measurement functions should also be centralized. Whether it's within the brand, the brand's agency or a contractor, there needs to be a single source of data to make well-informed marketing decisions, Anto Chittilappilly explains in Measurement Challenges within the Multi-Agency Ecosystem
. This centralized resource would be responsible for normalizing data from all the different channels into a common set of metrics. Chittilappilly acknowledges there are significant challenges in integrating data, especially in finding technology talent that you trust to handle your data. Nonetheless, companies should be moving toward measurement normalization "with all due haste" or risk being at a competitive disadvantage.
The Power of Marketing
A good marketing idea can turn companies around and establish national traditions, as The 7 Sneakiest Ways Corporations Manipulated Human Behavior
demonstrates. The title doesn't exactly condone the marketing ideas, but like them or not, they were clever and research-based theories marketers used to change the way people thought about a product. When coffee began to go out of style in the 1950s, former sociologist John B. Watson was hired by the Pan-American Coffee Bureau to make Americans love coffee again. Watson created a campaign introducing "coffee breaks," promoting the idea that "Good things happened over coffee." By the end of the year, 80% of businesses were giving their employees morning coffee breaks and, of course, the drink remains extremely popular today.
How Twitter Can Change and Save Lives
Twitter is a great tool for sharing information and marketing your brand, but it's also saved lives and freed a journalist from capture. Daniel Melbye has compiled a list of fascinating situations where Twitter has achieved some extraordinary outcomes in When Someone Says They Don't See the Point in Twitter, Show Them This
. Amazingly enough, an American journalist who was arrested while reporting on worker protests was freed from an Egyptian jail after he tweeted "Arrested" from his cell phone. The tweet attracted the attention of mainstream journalists and helped secure his release. The compiled list may trigger thoughts on potential new business applications for Twitter.
Advice for Being a Better Listener
Focusing during a long conference or early Monday meeting can be a battle. In Have You Mastered the Art of Listening?
Margaret Heffernan shares lessons from Sheryl Connelly, a regular TED attendant, who recently spoke at TED Global about how to listen well. Our favorite tip: Don't just nod and accept information as a given. Challenge yourself and ask "What do I know that affirms/contradicts this?"
Factoids of the Week:
58% of marketers believe that with the same investment, they can achieve a better share of awareness and engagement with online videos than with TV. (Be On)
hours per week, almost all marketers (92%
) indicated their social media efforts increased exposure for their business. (Social Media Examiner)
When asked if they would be willing to pay 2x more for content created by popular authors, 41% of marketers voted "Yes." (CopyPress)
Search engine users overwhelmingly click on organic results rather than paid results by a margin of 94%
. (GroupM UK and Nielsen)
Quote of the Week:
"Your mother used to remind you that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Being a good social media listener will help you immensely in a crisis." — The Guide to Social Media Monitoring
Upcoming Conferences and Webinars
New York Nonprofit Conference
, hosted by Direct Marketing Association, will be held July 25 in New York, NY. The cost to attend is $779 for non-members and $679 for members.
, hosted by Datalot, will be held Aug. 14 in New York, NY. The cost to attend is $695.
Recent White Papers and eBooks
2013 State of Content Marketing
. Survey results from more than 300 marketing professionals that provide a look at key areas of focus in the marketing industry for 2013.
IR Sites: A Guide to Requirements and Best Practices
. The investor relations industry is evolving rapidly, as is web communications technology. It is important to stay up-to-date with best practices and current trends in delivering your company's message to the investment community.
The Guide to Social Media Monitoring
. How monitoring can help you gauge the health of your brand, flag customer-service opportunities, generate leads, keep tabs on the competition, track industry trends and handle your next crisis.
PR & Marketing Job Openings
The listing for this issue includes PR job openings and marketing positions — with detailed job descriptions for each. Readers are invited to submit job postings to firstname.lastname@example.org
Best of Previous Issues
Determining Your Media Monitoring Needs
Print News Monitoring Vs. Online News Monitoring
Broadcast Monitoring for TV & Radio News
Selecting a Social Media Monitoring Service
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ONLINE SOCIAL MEDIA MONITORING
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