September 2013 Issue #4
Free Press Release Distribution Sites Drive Traffic and Readership
Press releases can produce major benefits in marketing and PR, even if they don't achieve placements in major media outlets.
Savvy PR departments and agencies use both free and paid distribution services to disseminate news releases, as each delivers distinctive benefits. Paid services promise media placements and syndication, while free services secure valuable links for web traffic.
Many companies, non-profits and PR agencies utilize paid subscription services like Business Wire
to assure their press releases appear in leading publications. The subscription services have arranged for automatic publishing of news releases in hundreds of online sites - thereby virtually guaranteeing placements for their clients' news releases. Even more importantly, press releases often serve as the basis for journalist-written articles in prominent, high-circulation news publications. As a result, news releases distributed by subscription services often achieve high rankings in Google News search results.
Free services usually publish the release on their site and seldom have the syndication/distribution clout of the paid services. The benefit of free press release sites is their ability to build on keywords, links, tags and meta-tags — which all contribute to the traffic on your website and your website's rank. These links all add to the number of total inbound links to your site, which page rankers like Google Page Rank and Alexa take into consideration when rating websites. As Bruce Clay, founder of Bruce Clay, Inc. marketing optimization agency, explains, "Press releases have been around forever and they are still good for what they were originally created for: traffic and branding."
Google's recent link scheme guidelines have driven controversy about whether press releases build SEO. Google frowns upon linking key words as anchor text in press releases and wants them tagged as "nofollow" so that they have no value for search engine optimization. However, "navigational links" that use anchor text of a domain name, company name or product name do not need to be tagged "nofollow" and most likely still produce search engine optimization value.
Matt Cutts of Google notes that he "wouldn't expect links from press release web sites to benefit your rankings." However, in response to Cutts' statement, a study by SEO Consult
proved that links in press releases can have direct SEO benefit.
Whether press release links boost SEO or not, one thing remains certain: publication on a free press release site — especially those with high page ranks — generates traffic and readership.
Both paid and free press releases can also positively influence online reputation. Announcements of new products, services and promotions present positive information in search results that can rank highly and therefore push down any negative comments and posts in the list of search results. Pushing negative articles off the first page of search results is a major objective of online reputation management programs.
A successful distribution plan also requires media monitoring to track the press release's placement. An effective media monitoring service will clip the publications that reported the press release, monitor conversations about the company or products following the release, and measure the reach and reader sentiment of the press release. Media monitoring services like CyberAlert provide national and worldwide monitoring coverage so public relations and marketing personnel can assess the full effect of their press release efforts.
To view a ranking of the best free press release distribution services, visit the CyberAlert Blog.
How to Respond to Negative Press
When your brand receives negative press, Brad Phillips urges PR pros to think twice before freezing the reporter out. Instead, he shares remedies to repair the relationship in Seven Ways to Respond to a Negative News Story
. Good reporters will listen to objections: be polite and don't make subjective opinions, Phillips instructs. Instead, point out only factual errors or missing information. If that doesn't work, it's best to respond to future inquiries from the journalist with short, clear statements that offer more control over quotes. Good media management means finding solutions to cooperate with journalists, not avoid them.
Reputation Management: Correct Issues Quickly with an Apology
RSVP MN Mag
With today's media monitoring technologies, consumers expect brands to respond immediately to issues and complaints. If reputation managers wait too long, customers can get angrier and issues can go viral. Your best bet is to respond immediately with an apology, whether or not it was your brand's fault, Christopher Lower asserts in The Art of Apologizing Online
. Using the same social channel where the issue was raised, apologize that the customer had a bad experience, and explain what went wrong. Then, relay steps the company will take to correct the situation. If no evidence is shown for changed behavior, the apology won't seem sincere.
Getting Media Coverage under a Deadline
Kate Finley shares Five Tips to Get Last Minute Media Coverage
for dealing with both clients and journalists when news must be announced against a tight deadline. First, remind clients that if coverage isn't achieved, media relationships can still be made for future opportunities. In midst of the rush, Finley warns not to skimp on research — if you don't take time to do homework, your pitch stands little chance. Be able to tell journalists why the information is relevant to them right now, and why it should be covered. Bottom line: PR pros should be flexible and move fast. You owe it to your client not to tell them, "We missed the deadline."
Google+ Activity May Aid Pitching Efforts
Google's link scheme guidelines improved the quality of press releases. Through Google+ and Gmail, Google also has the potential to improve the relationship between journalists and PR pros, Ian McKee states in How Google Could Fix the Press Release
. Gmail now sorts most press releases into promotions or updates, which McKee says helps journalists combat "information overload." Google already "learns" about relationships via Authorship, Author Rank and Publisher Rank. Those automated skills are now being applied in email, as Google sorts the relevant releases from the spam. When a PR person and journalist frequently interact, for example, their press releases will land in the primary inbox, not the promotions. Bottom line: Google+ is a valuable tool to interact with sources, as those connections may determine where your press release lands in a journalist's inbox.
Building Networks for Media Relations
Guest blogs guarantee awareness and SEO benefits for PR writers. The trick to building a network of bloggers and journalists who will publish your content: a relationship with the gatekeeper. Gatekeepers control what is published on the blog, Alicia Lawrence explains in 5 Strategies to Build a Network of Bloggers and Journalists
. The first step: find gatekeepers whose readers will take interest in your content. Lawrence recommends using online blogging communities like AllTop and Technorati to contribute to conversations and build contacts. Writers can also utilize Twitter tools like Twellow and Followerwonk to find gatekeepers relevant to their topics. Reminder: the best aspect of Twitter is its users' acceptability to random introduction. Gatekeepers are more likely to interact via Twitter than answer a phone call.
Business Insider Names the Most Influential PR Pros in Technology
In The 2013 PR 50: The Best Public Relations People in the Tech Industry
, Business Insider
crowned the most influential PR pros in the technology industry based on the opinions of their own reporters and editors. Among the PR pros: Ed Zitron of EZPR, whom editors Julie Bort and Kyle Russell praise has a knack for getting reporters to listen to his pitches; Carolyn Penner of Twitter, who transformed Twitter's PR strategy toward journalists; and Rachel Whetstone of Google, who is ranked at No. 1 for her communications efforts at Google. Key message: those listed are influential in their own right, not because of the company they work for.
How to Build & Maintain Relationships with Influencers
To build a relationship with an influencer, the conversation must involve real-life interactions that go beyond following content and social media accounts, Heidi Cohen declares in How to Influence the Influencers
. In her step-by-step guide, Cohen details her "influencer relations program" that identifies influencers and achieves business objectives. Questions to ask: Who is your target audience? Who are the influencers relevant to your target audience? What motivates the influencer to support your content? The relationship should focus on the influencer and his/her audience, not your blog or products. Show you care about experts and share their content on your blog, comment on blog posts, and sign up for newsletters. Reminder: you may need to put yourself in the influencer's shoes and provide incentives for him/her to work with you.
FTC May Establish Native Advertising Regulations
The thin wall that divides journalist-created editorial content from native advertising, also known as brand journalism and content marketing, has concerned journalists, customers, and now, the FTC, Zach Walton reports in Should the Government Regulate Paid Content?
In December, the FTC will meet for a workshop to discuss potential disclosure approaches that will help publishers maintain that wall. While it's too early to tell how the FTC plans to establish regulations for native advertising, Walton points out that Google has already made efforts to enforce it — including guidelines that instruct content producers to us "nofollow" tags on paid links (including links in press releases) so the links don't influence search ranking. Walton's prediction: the FTC will expand its current report, Dotcom Disclosures, to ensure websites use labels and visual cues to distinguish between sponsor-created content and the publisher's regular editorial content.
Cracking Down on Fake Online Reviews
New York Times
Nineteen companies were forced to pay $350,000 total in penalties for deceptive Internet reviews this week. Implication for PR and reputation managers: don't write your own reviews. In Give Yourself 5 Stars? Online, It Might Cost You
, David Streitfield reports on the yearlong investigation against companies that faked reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, Citysearch and Yahoo. While consumers can distinguish billboards and ads as paid media, online reviews deceive consumers because they think they're reading authentic customer opinions. The investigation proves fake reviews are now a legitimate target of law enforcement. Key message: brands must make genuine efforts to fix negative reviews. Producing false reviews out can result in fines and an even more damaged reputation.
A new study by Consumer Reports questions whether consumers can trust review sites. Angie's List misleads customers by promising that businesses don't pay — when in fact it allows businesses with a B-rating or better to pay to get their listing placed at the top of search results, according to Guess Who's Getting Some Pretty Awful Reviews: User Review Sites
. Customers that review businesses on Google+ Local are signed into their Google+ accounts, allowing businesses to reach out to the customer and potentially beg or bribe them to take down negative reviews. The fact that consumers are so up in arms proves the power and influence that online review sites hold.
Social Media Monitoring vs. Consumer Privacy
Brands must respect the privacy concerns of their consumers. (Courtesy of Warholian)
Social media monitoring has become mainstream among most brands. Yet some social media users are still uncomfortable with the way brands use and respond to their conversations. Invasion of the Privacy Snatchers: How Social Media Monitoring Impacts Consumer Relationships
reports on a Netbase study from last year that is still quite relevant, if not more relevant, today. In the findings, about one-third of those surveyed responded they had no idea companies listened to their conversations. The survey's implications: brands must avoid intruding into social conversations and be careful about how they respond. More than 60% of social media users, for example, expect companies to contact them only after the user first contacts the company. Key takeaway: social media monitoring delivers important data for reputation management and engagement, but when abused, can result in angry customers. Rule of thumb: engage consumers on social media only with the intention of delivering value.
Align Social Media Monitoring Program with Business Objectives
When monitoring or measurement results frustrate companies, it's because the supplier's services misalign with user objectives, Jeremy Hollow explains in Five Practical Tips to Help You Get the Most from Your Social Media Monitoring
. Ask: who
does your company need to listen to? Consider coverage, location, frequency and relevance, Hollow instructs. Different media monitoring platforms offer different results — some programs can deliver multi-country results in different languages, others cannot. A successful media monitoring program delivers valuable data that allows its users to transform inputs into action.
Storytelling Elements for Marketing Content
Marketing stories need a hero, goal, obstacle, mentor and moral to resonate with readers. (Courtesy of Brenda Starr)
Effective stories require key elements: a hero, a goal, an obstacle, a mentor and a moral. That's especially true for marketing stories. In The 5 Things Every (Great) Marketing Story Needs
, Sonia Simone asserts that successful stories keep the customers' goals in mind and demonstrate how products help reach that goal. Like all interesting stories, the narrative should include an obstacle, Simone adds — if a customer's goal were easy to obtain, they wouldn't need your product or service. The "moral" pulls the story together: it spells out how your product offered a solution to the obstacle and therefore helped the customer attain his/her goals. Bottom line: structure marketing narratives so they create a memorable, shareable experience for the reader. The story must designate the customer, not the brand, as the hero.
Cause Marketing Boosts Brand Sales & Reputation
Vancouver Business Journal
Companies actively involved in a cause generate more sales and a better reputation among consumers — and make a meaningful difference by increasing awareness. Implication for marketers: get involved in cause marketing, Ron Arp recommends in Break Through with Cause Marketing
. Arp's tips for getting involved: pick a cause that fits your brand, energizes your staff and that customers favor. He also cites brands that have successfully implemented cause marketing programs, including Tide's "Loads of Hope," which provides a mobile washing facility to help with the laundry needs of natural disaster victims. General Mills' Boxtops for Education now generates $75 million for schools annually. An effective cause marketing program utilizes social media and marketing tools to make the cause a part of the company's culture.
Marketing in 2014: Content and Targeted Techniques Will Rule
What does 2014 hold for marketing? According to Jayson DeMers, inbound marketing techniques will continue to prosper as the industry moves away from marketing to the masses through traditional advertisements. In The Top 7 Online Marketing Trends that Will Dominate 2014
, DeMers proposes that social media marketing will become more diversified. In addition to focusing on the big social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, marketers will turn attention to smaller niche networks to reach the optimal number of customers. With ad retargeting growing in effectiveness, DeMers also expects marketers to capitalize on browser cookies that track visits of website users. When users leave a site, they continue to see the product in advertisements across different sites, keeping the brand at the top of their mind. Bottom line: with inbound marketing likely to dominate 2014, marketers should aim for techniques that produce valuable content designed for a specific, targeted audience.
Guest Blogs: Finding Sites and Writing Content
Moz / Eddie Gear
Guest blogging requires strategic efforts to find blogs that match your values and audience, Mackenzie Fogelson declares in Five Steps to Finding (the Right) Guest-Blogging Opportunities
. Bloggers can define their audience by developing a persona of their targeted readers. If a company wants to attract people curious about media monitoring, for example, it might create a profile with the reader's title, company, desires and goals. An understanding of your audience will assist in filtering guest blogging prospects, Fogelson maintains. After assembling a list of potential blogs, writers can utilize tools like Open Site Explorer for data on the blog's domain authority, inbound links and social media activity. The final question to ask: Is this guest blogging opportunity a culture and value fit for your business?
How to Write a Popular Blog Post in 6 Steps
offers tips to produce a well-read, search-optimized article. Eddie Gear's advice: write simple, but long. Fancy language and jargon only appeals to small niche crowds, and short posts rarely rank well in Google. Reminder: always validate your findings and provide references. Linking to third-party sources can also secure a link back to your content. After publishing a guest post, Carrie Morgan recommends writing a post on your own blog that expands or addresses a similar topic and link to the guest post. This way, you build SEO and supply your readers with more value, Morgan explains in 12 Super Simple Guest Blogging Tactics to Supercharge SEO & Grow Your Influence
Linkable Assets that Drive SEO Success
Search Engine Journal
Experts swear by the standard SEO formula: great content, guest posts and influencer outreach. While the formula works, Pratik Dholakiya argues that the most successful sites rely on a different technique: linkable assets. In Creating and Promoting Linkable Assets, the Ultimate Guide
, Dholakiya points out that linkable assets dominate search rankings. He defines an asset simply as "something worth linking to" that is useful, interactive, relatable and arouses emotions. Types of linkable assets include tools, videos, crowdsourced activity, influencer activity, and original research. Crowdsourced activity gives users the chance to create something on your site, vote on it, and talk about it. The goal is to attract attention and build a native audience by empowering users. Influencer activity, the most overlooked tactic, involves working with an influencer and, in turn, growing your audience by leveraging their audience. Dholakiya recommends audio and video interviews, a compilation of influencer answers, or an "awards list" of the top influencers in your niche. Key message: stop worrying about producing daily content and focus on one linkable asset worth talking about.
SEO Tips to Improve Your Blog's Search Ranking
As Media Monitoring News
covered in last week's issue, social signals are now a key factor for Google ranking. Google+ and Facebook carry more SEO weight than the number of inbound links. Ian Cleary stresses the continued importance of long content, blogger outreach, and inbound links in Feed the Beast: 7 Practical Tips to Improve Your Blog's Search Ranking
. Aside from press releases and social media activity, a successful way to increase inbound links to a post is to link to it from older content on your blog, Cleary explains. He recommends conducting a site search on the article's topic to find former relevant posts where a link to new content will fit. Bloggers should also guest post on high-profile blogs and build relationships with influencers to increase their domain authority (high domain authority = better search ranking). 120 Marketing Tactics for New Blogs
offers further tools and tactics to get blog posts noticed and generate buzz. One idea: convert your blog post to a PDF and submit it to Scribd and other document sharing sites. The infographic also encourages bloggers to monitor their competitors; embed quizzes, charts and graphs into content; and announce follow-ups to posts to incentivize readers to subscribe to your blog.
Social Media Methods to Achieve Better SEO, Reach and Engagement
Social Media Examiner / Vocus
45 Social Media Tools and Tips to Improve Your Marketing
Dozens of tools are available to grow your social media marketing program. (Courtesy of mkhmarketing)
lists dozens of tools and ideas to manage, grow and enhance your social media accounts. Two free and simple ways to engage readers: use ClickToTweet to encourage people to tweet content in your posts, and install a "Pin It" plugin so users can easily share images they like in your content. Other plugins to consider include Broken Link Checker, a free tool that goes through your blog to find broken links and improve SEO, and WordPress SEO, which provides easy guidelines explaining where to place the keywords of a blog post to appear higher in search results.
Marketers can utilize Twitter to engage their audience without the use of add-on tools. In Six Successfully Innovative Twitter Campaigns
, Jim Dougherty illustrates case studies of brands using Twitter to promote television viewership, new products, and exclusive Twitter sales. When Comedy Central displayed the hashtag #trumproast on screen, it drove viewership to the highest it had ever been for that time slot. A Bonobos one-day Twitter sale brought in 100 new customers and 1200% ROI, Dougherty reports. Conclusion: no matter how active your brand's presence on social media, marketers should be open to new tools and techniques for improvement.
Company Culture Should Shape Leadership Style
Leadership Styles: 5 Most Common Techniques Decoded
analyzes the different ways company leaders guide and motivate employees. Identifying how you lead can help you run your team more effectively, Julie Bawden Davis asserts. All styles can be effective, but require a different amount of effort and communication from both the leader and employee. The "authoritarian" informs staff of a common goal and details employee responsibilities to achieve the goal; while "laissez-faire" leaders delegate decision-making and make themselves available for advice and input. But for each to work, authoritarian leaders must know and trust their employees, while employees under laissez-faire leaders must be self-motivated and creative. Bottom line: to improve communication and progress, assess the strengths and weaknesses of your team and determine the best way to respond to those qualities.
There's a Word for That
Many writers use rhetorical devices to enhance their copy, but few know the names of those devices. 14 Words about Words
defines ambigrams, contranyms, diminutives and other rhetorical terms. An antimetabole is a word or phrase repeated in the opposite order in the next phrase (Fair is foul, and foul is fair). A portmanteau — often used for celebrity couples — is formed from parts of other words (brunch, from breakfast and lunch).
Business Advice from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
The Motley Fool
Amazon dominates online business, so when its CEO Jeff Bezos speaks, it's worth listening. The 20 Smartest Things Jeff Bezos Has Ever Said
aggregates quotes from the entrepreneur about business success and innovation. Our favorites: "A company shouldn't get addicted to being shiny, because shiny doesn't last," and "In the old world, you devoted 30% of your time to building a great service and 70% of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts."
Campaign Ad Sets High Standard for Storytelling
Ann Handley praises a recent ad for breaking the mold in political campaign ads. Calling it The Best Political Ad Ever
, she explains it earned the title because it blurs the line between traditional advertising and content marketing, all while telling a riveting story in just over a minute. The ad features Carl Sciortino, who is openly gay and running for a Massachusetts Congressional seat, and his father, a conservative Tea Party advocate with the two humorously discussing their differences. The ad opens with candidate Sciortino saying "I'll never forget that conversation I had with my dad…where I had to come out and tell him…that I was a Massachusetts liberal." The ad manages to tell a compelling, emotional story and reflect Sciortino's political views without begging for attention. Key message for marketers: innovative content is more about brains than budget.
Factoids of the Week:
of American consumers will opt for a brand that is connected to a meaningful cause (quality and price being equal), while 20%
will pay more for a product tied to a cause they appreciate. (Cone, LLC)
— Tweet this Stat
of social media users expect companies to respond to positive comments on social media. (Netbase)
— Tweet this Stat
of businesses are integrating mobile into wider marketing activities. (Econsultancy)
— Tweet this Stat
Quotes of the Week:
"People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." — Theodore Roosevelt
"New? New is easy. Right is hard." — Craig Federighi, software chief of Apple
Upcoming Conferences and Webinars
, hosted by Bing, will be held Oct. 13 in Scottsdale, AZ. The cost to attend is $999.
APR Boot Camp
, hosted by PRSA, will be held Oct. 23 in Philadelphia, Pa. The cost to register is $385.
Word of Mouth Marketing Summit 2013
, hosted by Word of Mouth Marketing Association, will be held Nov. 18 in Nashville, TN. The cost to attend is $1,295 for non-members and $995 for members.
2013 Internet Summit
, hosted by TechMedia, will be held Nov. 12 in Raleigh, NC. The cost to attend is $149.
Recent White Papers and eBooks
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 email@example.com
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
F.r.e.e & Low-Cost News Release Distribution Services
|CyberAlert 5.0 - local, national, and worldwide news monitoring and press clipping service monitors 55,000+ online news sources in 250+ languages each day.
||CyberAlert TV - broadcast news tracking service monitors closed caption text of news broadcasts on all national news networks & channels plus all local TV stations in Top 100 U.S. markets.
ONLINE SOCIAL MEDIA MONITORING
|BlogSquirrel - blog monitoring service monitors 7+ million new postings each day in 75+ million blogs worldwide.
||CyberAlert VDO - monitoring of consumer-generated video clips in 200+ online video sharing and news sites.
|Netpinions - consumer discussion / word-of-mouth / buzz monitoring service monitors 100,000+ online message boards, forums, and Usenet news groups.
||Twitter & Facebook - Monitor your key words in all Twitter tweets and all Facebook public posts.
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