October 2013 Issue #1
Effective Customer Engagement Strategies: Content Marketing vs. Storytelling
Heidi Cohen / Adweek / CMO.com
Storytelling is an effective content marketing method. (Courtesy of DigitalRalph)
Content marketing succeeds only when it connects with prospects and converts them into buyers. In 3 Surefire Ways to Kill Your Marketing Content
, Heidi Cohen shares methods to avoid content marketing failure based on a recent customer engagement survey by IDG. The three causes of content marketing death: excessive marketing hype and buzzwords, lack of unbiased information, and bland, boring content. To improve content, Cohen recommends that marketers use simple, active sentences; share original research and third-party sources; and create visual content. The "secret sauce" of content marketing: answer customer questions and show them how to use your product.
However, Jon Hamm contends that agencies and brands should abandon branded content and instead become storytelling experts. In Embrace True Storytelling: Branded Content is Not the Same Thing
, Hamm claims that audiences always ask for stories, not content. "The Beauty Inside," a social film that won three Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions festival, proves storytelling succeeds. Intel and Toshiba sponsored the film, which tells a six-episode story fitted perfectly for social media: during filming, producers asked fans to send video clips for the film. Intel and Toshiba products were used frequently throughout the film, but never intrusively so that they stole the story's spotlight.
Unlike typical marketing content, stories stimulate emotions and motivate members of the audience to share. Scott Donaton advises brands not to focus on what they do or how they do it, but why
. A brand narrative should serve the same role as the product it promotes, Donaton asserts in The 10 Commandments of Content
. Bottom line: Customers will bypass irrelevant content that adds no value to their lives. Brands must determine a strategy so their content both engages readers/viewers and keeps the brand at the forefront of their minds.
The Most Effective Blog Promotion Tactics
Kikolani / Jeff Bullas / Sylviane Nuccio
Experts share their tried-and-true methods to promote blog posts. (Courtesy of SEOPlanter)
Top marketing and blogging leaders share their best tactocs in 32 Experts Share Their Best Blog Post Promotion Tips
. The experts answer one question: What's your most successful method for promoting a blog post? Leo Wildrich, co-founder of Buffer, recommends recycling social media posts in different formats. Once the shelf-life of a link on Facebook has expired, marketers should post an image that explains part of the post with a link to the content. The post will attract new readers without being repetitive. Neil Patel of Quick Sprout succeeds with emailing the people he mentioned in a post and asking them to tweet it. Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing blog advises writing a post that a particular top blogger would find interesting, and then reach out to that blogger through social media with the message "Your readers might enjoy this article."
Michael Horton suggests submitting blogs to directories to drive traffic. Well-respected blog directories include Blog Catalog, Bloggeries and Technorati, Horton shares in 7 Ways to Increase Traffic to Your Blog
. Sylviane Nuccio has found success with blogging communities like BizSugar, Feedage and Triberr. Nuccio's tactic: submit your best works using as many communities and platforms as possible, she stresses in 20+ Ways to Promote the Heck Out of Your Blog Post
. Other networks to try include Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Newsvine. Since SlideShare draws so much traffic, Nuccio also recommends turning blog posts into slide presentations.
Social Media Monitoring & Measurement Tips for Reputation Management
Holmes Report / HubSpot
PR executives should approach social media monitoring in the simplest way possible: focusing only on the most important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Anything further will only complicate and obscure the most important information, Loic Moisand declares in How to Cut the Social Media Monitoring Fat
. Moisand advocates using Net Promoter Score (NPS) to measure consumers' attachment to a brand, and then benchmarking your brand's reputation with your competitors. NPS asks consumers: How likely is it that you would recommend the company or product to a friend or colleague? While NPS provides "the big picture," PR pros should also identify short-term goals and associate each with a KPI to control social media activities. The KPI to analyze the success of a product launch, for example, might examine the volume of conversations it triggered. Moisand's final word: always keep an eye on your biggest threat. Monitor competitors for unusual influxes in online conversations and order real-time alerts on your most sensitive products and topics.
While social media monitoring presents endless opportunities, Mark Roberge acknowledges it can also be very time-consuming. In A Busy Sales Executive's Guide to Effective Social Monitoring
, Roberge explains he taps into customer conversations during "in-between times" in a lunch line or on the train. Since Roberge's media monitoring program alerts him by email when his keywords are mentioned, Roberge can access those mentions anywhere. He then prioritizes the conversations and responds accordingly.
The PR and Marketing Silos Must Fall
PR and marketing silos must fall to meet the demands of new technology and consumer behavior. (Courtesy of Anthony Arrigo)
Changes in technology and consumer behavior have triggered the convergence of digital marketing and public relations. Lee Odden's message: ignore the issues with PR and marketing silos, and you'll be left behind. In The Newest Rules for Marketing & PR: Optimized — David Meerman Scott Interview
, Odden talks with best-selling author and marketing evangelist David Meerman Scott on how to adjust to major changes in PR and marketing. With the exception of large brands with robust offline marketing and PR programs, a single content creation effort works best. One growing technique that requires the merge of PR and marketing: newsjacking, or injecting your ideas into a breaking news story to generate media coverage. Bottom line: break down PR and marketing silos and work constructively together to keep up with new consumer demands.
Hacker's Guide to Media Relations for a Product Launch
Customer Development Labs
In the typical product launch, the PR department uses one of the commercial media guides from Vocus, Cision, or MyMediaInfo to identify journalists who are interested in the product category. A computer hacker found a different — and more real-time — technique to accomplish essentially the same purpose. The Hacker's Guide to Getting Press
provides the actual hacker code and proves that unconventional PR techniques can complement traditional PR tactics. Entrepreneur Justin Wilcox explains the process he developed for identifying reporters, building a press kit and landing media placements to announce the launch of his crowdfunding tool ThingsWeStart.
Wilcox used hacker searching techniques to target reporters who had already written about similar tools and topics. He then used tools like Google API and Mechanical Turk to aggregate and sort the names and contact information of those reporters. Wilcox's advice for an effective press kit: describe the problem your new product/service solves and include screen shots, an infographic, a biography of the team, why you chose to launch the product, and why your brand differs from others. PR pros shouldn't immediately release the press kit to journalists, however. Gradually "prime the pump" and give reporters a heads-up first, following with another email that includes the press kit and an "embargo" on the information until it officially launches. Why the embargo? Journalists are less interested in publishing a story that has already been covered. There's no disputing the results he achieved — though admittedly Wilcox was promoting a new product in what was then a very "hot" space.
Press Release Errors: What to Write, What Not to Write
If PR pros commit any of the 10 Common Mistakes in Writing Press Releases
, they risk ruining its chances for publication. Submit only copies that are ready to be published — if the press release excludes vital company information like the company address or contact information, you're wasting the media's time. Grammar errors with commas — omitting them or adding too many — can also prove costly. Another tip: use quotes wisely. PR writers should place quotes strategically in the article so they support and amplify key points.
Best PR Strategy: Improve Company's Service; Don't Spin Stories
Harvard Business Review
Walmart's "Fighting Hunger Together" initiative changed its image and helped donate more than 1 billion meals to those in need. (Courtesy of Walmart)
PR has the obligation to improve the company, not just spin its publicity. In Don't Spin a Better Story. Be a Better Company
, Leslie Dach shares her experience as a PR strategist at Walmart. Before Hurricane Katrina, most of the information the public heard about Walmart came from its critics. When Hurricane Katrina hit, Walmart mobilized to provide meals, emergency supplies and cash. The disaster made then-CEO Lee Scott realize "doing well by doing good" proved to be the best PR strategy. From then on, Walmart's PR team listened to its critics instead of staying in the defensive position. It also got involved in causes like sustainability, women's economic empowerment, and healthy foods. Moral of the story: if your company deals with negative criticism or complaints, don't raise your voice above it. Stop to listen and commit to change.
Internships Require Valuable Work and a Paycheck
PR Daily / GigaOm
Public relations internships that task the intern with filing, answering calls and fetching coffee offer zero value. Heather Huhman instructs PR firms to not only entrust interns with more worthy tasks, but also to pay them. Interns can assist and learn from routine PR responsibilities like media relations, content creation, event planning and brand management, Huhman asserts in Why PR Interns Should Never Be Unpaid
. Existing labor regulations mandate payment for most all internships. After several court judgments fined companies for violating labor laws over unpaid internships, a start-up is calling on companies to sign the "Intern Bill of Rights," which promises fair treatment and pay for meaningful work. Big-name corporations like CBS, Viacom and Rosetta have already signed, according to Firms Sign on to "Intern Bill of Rights" Amid Ongoing Unpaid Labor Fights
. The voluntary agreement will likely create positive peer pressure on all companies to comply.
PR-Wikipedia Relationship Needs Mending
Wikipedia errors can significantly damage the reputation of companies, according to a recent PRSA study. Perceptions of Wikipedia by Public Relations Professionals
found that nearly 60% of PR respondents knew of one or more factual errors in their company's Wikipedia page. About one-third of these errors remained on the page for a year or longer, some of them even after a PR pro had attempted to correct it. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales adheres to a "bright line" rule that paid advocates must not edit Wikipedia pages. PR professionals must create a transparent Wikipedia ID that discloses their affiliation and request edits through a separate page. However, the majority of respondents indicated they were unfamiliar with the rule. A BP public relations rep who followed the rule still received negative media attention when he attempted to clean up the BP page. The study indicates the PR-Wikipedia relationship needs attention. Both sides could benefit from a better understanding of the other and a reminder that Wikipedia's goal is to serve as a reliable source.
Google Releases New "Hummingbird" Search Algorithm
USA Today / Search Engine Land / Econsultancy
Google's Hummingbird will focus on every keyword in a search query and recognize the intent of searches. (Courtesy of Mike Baird)
Google's "Hummingbird," a revamp of its search engine algorithm, will affect 90% of search results, USA Today
reports in Google Unveils Major Overhaul of Its Search Engine
. It's the biggest rewrite of Google's algorithm since perhaps 2001, built on both new and existing parts of the old algorithm. The new search algorithm, launched a month ago but only announced last week, will return more relevant results by recognizing intent, which is especially optimal for long-tailed searches (when users input complex questions). The "conversational search," created with voice-based queries from smartphone in mind — focuses on each word in a query rather than the most popular keywords. The PageRank algorithm isn't dead; rather, it is one of the major "ingredients" involved in the Hummingbird formula, Danny Sullivan clarifies in FAQ: All About the New Google "Hummingbird" Algorithm
. As Sullivan points out, no publishers have claimed to lose rankings or traffic yet from the new algorithm. Hummingbird's full impact on SEO and marketing are unclear, but marketing experts agree that mobile searches will feel the biggest impact. Additionally, a new focus on keywords could benefit small business and companies with niche products, according to Google's New "Hummingbird" Search Algorithm: The Experts' View
. Another weigh-in: through semantic searches, marketers will be able to assess the sentiment of organic searches just as they do through monitoring social networks.
Core SEO Concepts that Affect Page Ranking
Search Engine Watch
Marketers should place more focus on understanding core SEO concepts for their website. Signals like localization, domain history, internal link ratios and classifications all indicate how search engines rank your site, David Harry professes in How Search Engines Rank Web Pages
. Page-level signals like meta data and prominence factors — the amount of bold and italic fonts, lists and headings in content — also play a role. Harry encourages marketers to understand the personalization of Google searches. Searches turn up different results based on the user's search history, location, and social demographics. This is where Google+ activity takes effect: as Searchmetrics recently found
, Google+1s carry the most social media influence in a page's ranking. So if you interact frequently with your Google+ users, your content is more likely to turn up in the Google's search results.
Media Monitoring for Content Ideas
In 7 Ways to Generate Content Ideas People Actually Care About
, David Carrillo introduces "online conversation mining" that combines social media monitoring and content marketing. The concept is simple: find out what people talk about and create content based on those topics. Using your media monitoring program, identify conversations and news articles most relevant to your company and industry based on keywords. Don't overlook forums and review sites, which offer a powerful look into the interests and concerns of your target audience, Carrillo reminds.
Twitter Techniques to Improve Engagement, Online Reputation
Social Caffeine / Entrepreneur / Palmer Blog
Tips, questions and fascinating facts are the types of tweets that your audience is most likely to retweet and reply to. (Courtesy of Garrett Heath)
Social media places customers, not brands, in the driver's seat. However, several Twitter techniques can motivate your audience to reply, retweet and favorite. 11 Tweets that People Pay Attention to (and When to Use Them)
explains that handy tips, fascinating facts and questions all invite followers into Twitter conversations. Some of the techniques must be used sparingly, including the "Retweet if" method and contest tweets.
Brands don't need to respond to every customer comment, but they do need to be consistent and have a response strategy, Jim Joseph of Cohn & Wolfe claims in The Art of the Response on Social Media
. The article gathers answers from marketing experts on the best strategies to manage an online reputation. According to Jayson DeMers of AudienceBloom, it's unnecessary to reply to negative comments when the customer just wants to pick a bone with your brand. Respond to negative comments in a way that demonstrates your brand cares, and retweet and respond to positive comments whenever possible to encourage more positive feedback.
As Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake recently proved in their hashtag skit
, Twitter users often misuse and abuse hashtags. Drew Palmer lists clever ways to include hashtags as a marketing technique in How to Use Hashtags on Social Media
. Many brands show their creative side by coming up with a unique hashtag to start trends and promote products. Domino's Pizza created #letsdolunch and Ben & Jerry's uses #CaptureEuphoria to spark conversations. Marketers can also "newsjack" trending topics if they're relevant to the brand to enter into popular conversations, but beware that some brands have gotten burned in newsjacking attempts. Tools to find popular hashtags include What the Trend and Hashtags.org.
Social Media Marketing: Infuse Marketing Data into Strategy
Some businesses fail to align their social media marketing with the business's overall marketing strategy. Jen Horton points out in The Four Keys to Social Media Silo-Bursting
that social media specialists build better relationships with their audience when they know their buyers' social media habits. Utilize marketing and social media monitoring data to gather information on your customers' preferred channels, and determine where your target audience looks before making a purchase. By documenting their purchasing habits, Horton explains, you can discover what content customers need and how they prefer to communicate at each stage of the buying cycle. The best method to improve social media efforts: measurement. Ask: which conversions were influenced by your tactics? Horton advises tracking metrics like increased conversions from trial to purchase, or reduction of time between trial and purchase.
Social Media Metrics that Align with Brand Goals
Social media metrics depend on a brand's goals and measurement model, Andrea Fishman advises in Data Overload: Finding the Right Mix of Social Analytics Metrics
. Once marketers set a goal, they can establish which metrics will deliver actions to achieve the goal. For example, metrics like Net Promoter Score, shares and purchase intent best align with the goal for increased brand awareness. Broad metrics such as engagement, influence and sentiment must be defined before they can provide value, as their meaning differs across businesses, Fishman maintains. Key message: data collection and measurement are worthless if marketers fail to transform them into actionable recommendations.
Ideas to Increase the Value of Comment Sections
The 6th Floor
In Four Ways to Improve the Culture of Commenting
, Michael Erard proposes several methods blogs could implement to stimulate more robust discussions in comment sections. Comment sections with valuable insights to the article do exist, but how do you know where to go for comments that are worth reading? Erard's proposal: an Internet-wide system that uses sentiment analysis to track the commenting "weather" of various blogs and sites. Positively oriented threads = good weather, negative comments = bad weather. This would also lead to searchable comments, considering that today most comment threads are generally unsearchable. Such a feature would save bloggers time if they want to embed or mention a comment and need to find it quickly.
Time Management Tips for a More Productive Work Day
Keep yourself free of distractions when important work needs to be done. (Courtesy of Pelle Sten)
Time management planners don't work because they manage clock time, not "real time," where all time is relative. According to 10 Time Management Tips that Work
, real time should be managed by scheduling for interruptions. Techniques to manage real time: block out distractions caused by email and social media; use the first 30 minutes of your day to plan out your day; and assign more time to high-priority activities and conversations. If all else fails, put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door.
The Traits of an Influencer
How do people become influencers of their field? 25 Things Influential People Do Better Than Anyone Else
lists the traits of influential professionals like Brian Solis, Matt Cutts, and Jay Baer. The secret: communicating what everyone else already thinks, or what they should think. Cutts not only leads Google's fight against spam, but also finds ways to make the mundane interesting through frequent video updates. Another key quality: the ability to spot trends early and interpret their implications. Influencers must be at the hub of activity, conversation and sentiment about their niche.
Inspiration to Succeed: Excellence is a Choice
One word thwarts excuses that you don't have enough information about a topic to write engaging content: Google. Tommy Walker declares in 106 Excuses that Prevent You from Ever Becoming Great
that anyone can produce great content if they spend time educating themselves using Google search tools. The article is worth a read by professionals in all fields and provides an answer for essentially every excuse in the book. For those using the "money" excuse, Walker advises building savings (and reputation) through freelancer sites. Often, concerns about not being the "first" to create something worries marketers. To that, Walker points out: Which came first, Copyblogger or Problogger? Does it matter? Not really.
Factoids of the Week:
YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18 to 34
than any cable network. (Nielsen)
— Tweet this
LinkedIn is 277%
more effective for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter. (Top Dog Social Media)
— Tweet this
Per dollar, content marketing produces more than 3 times
as many leads as paid search. (Kapost)
— Tweet this
Quotes of the Week:
"The best customer service is to eliminate the need for customer service." — Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO
"The more you help reporters, the more they'll help you." — Justin Wilcox, founder of OnCompare, Nimbus Health and Fotozio
Upcoming Conferences and Webinars
Digital PR Summit
, hosted by PR News, will be held Oct. 16 in New York, NY. The cost to attend is $895.
Internet Summit 2013
, hosted by TechMedia, will be held Nov. 12 in Raleigh, NC. The cost to attend is $295.
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.
Recent White Papers and eBooks
Search Engine Optimization and Public Relations
. Optimized content requires a mix of SEO and PR skills. Since Google has changed its rules in favor of high-quality content, it has become even more important to balance the skills of both SEO and PR professionals.
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
F.r.e.e & Low-Cost News Release Distribution Services
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ONLINE SOCIAL MEDIA MONITORING
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