Toolbox Blog: resources, tips, tricks & info for creative professionals

5 Strategies for Creating Links and Traffic to Your Client’s Website

August 21st, 2009

Multiple HatsThe lines between PR, Marketing & Advertising are continuing to blur, especially on the web. And while there will likely always be professionals who specialize in one area or another, more and more people (especially those at smaller agencies & companies) are starting to wear multiple hats. In fact, some people are wearing all the hats. Many started out in a single role, but due to a variety of circumstances (e.g. layoffs due to the economic climate or their company wanting to jump on the social media bandwagon to name a few) they’ve found themselves the ‘go-to’ person for all things promotion. . There should be a new term for these people, someone get on that.

In the meantime, here’s a mini-guide for building buzz and traffic to a website to help out our PR pros who have found themselves thrust into the online marketing world.

  1. Move your press releases online: Chances are you’re doing this already (if you aren’t you should be!). Today’s press releases need to be focused on keywords so that the search engines can find and index them easily. Many of the distribution sites allow clickable links and anchor text – Voila!, instant quality links back to your website of choice. For tips check out our post about “SEO-ify”ing your Press Release.
  2. Twitter: Get a profile or, if you have one already, start updating it. Nielson has said that 60% of people who sign up for twitter post once and then never return. What’s the point? For Twitter to be a valuable strategy you have to commit to becoming a resource in your industry. This means that is it is important to ‘tweet’ information that people will actually find useful (they don’t care where you are having lunch today). Twitter pays off when you take the time to build up a group of followers who value your opinions and look to you for information, in short they trust you. The best part, it’s ok to promote yourself and clients (within reason & with disclosure).  Twitter can be a great source of traffic to the content you have elsewhere. FYI – you can follow us here: @PRChannel
  3. Create a Resource List: Encouraging clients to create quality content on their website or blog is a must, and creating a resource list is a great way to do this. Examples of resources could include free tools, magazines and blogs relevant to your industry, or case studies and white papers that would be valuable to clients. Make sure that the resource list is targeted and industry specific. Not only will customers appreciate the information, chances are others in the industry will find the information valuable and link to it.
  4. Article Syndication: Create great content that doesn’t go directly on the website. It sounds backwards, but writing articles on your client’s industry or products and submitting them to the plethora of article sites and directories will get you lots of links. You relinquish a bit of control on your piece, but the pay-off is worth it. Websites and online content publishers grab articles and re-publish them constantly. By submitting a quality article 2 or 3 times you can get 100 links back to your client’s site.
  5. Top 10 lists: It’s called ‘link bait’ and it is good. Whether it be Top 10, 50, 100 or 5 (see what we did here) lists tend to be fan favorites when it comes to earning links. Lists can also give your client valuable ‘expert status’ when packaged correctly. They can also be a start to a series, giving you automatic ideas for future blog posts or articles. They can be about anything, and as silly or serious as your client wishes. Doesn’t matter the industry, lists are always good. Don’t believe me? Hair Salon – Top 10 Cuts for Fall. Law office – The Top 20 Craziest Lawsuits in History. Restaurant – Top 50 Things You Can Use a Spork For. People even makes lists of lists (I kid you not) Make it unique and interactive, a good discussion post will bring in comments and links for quite some time.
photo from here by Shane Michael

PR Grads doing all the right things…

July 6th, 2009

A while back PRChannel published a series of posts on “Advice for the PR Grad“, PR pros from around the world wrote in to share knowledge and give advice to those recent grads just starting out.  This time we sought out a different point of view – recent grads who have followed all the advice, but in this economic climate are still finding themselves ‘jobless’. Here’s a spotlight written by a recent grad finding herself in a jobless situation despite doing ‘all the right things’.

There are endless tips out there from pros helping recent PR Grads take-off on their professional endeavors. Although I’ve done most everything the pros suggest, I still find myself jobless. Some say that if you haven’t landed a position within the first month after graduation, then it takes an average of eight months to find your first post-college position.

Well, I graduated two months ago, and have followed to the “T” every piece advice given to me from various sources in my efforts to put theory into practice. Thus far I have gained several contacts, secured a few interviews, even was a top ten finalist of the MS&L Worldwide Chicago Internship Challenge of 2009, but no full-time job. All (or at least most) of my efforts started back when I first set foot on my college campus; indeed, I’ve done everything from paid and unpaid internships to workshops on interviewing. But my efforts were put into high gear three months before graduation. Here are more details of what I’ve done.

  1. Get involved: Over and over career services, employers and professors will argue that “practice makes perfect.” I’m not perfect but practice has helped me decipher where I want to be in the future. My collegiate involvement and employment background have given me the opportunity to perform various PR activities, presentations—and most importantly—I have worked as a team leader as well as a team member. I completed a B.S. in Public Relations and Broadcasting, but when I declared them as my majors I was unsure what each profession really entailed. Getting involved and networking led me to my first internship in radio allowing me to learn, hands-on, what each was all about. My first internship was during the summer of my sophomore year at a local radio station. I was exposed to every department, including sales, promotions, productions account and even engineering. This hands-on experience started the ball rolling—and I’ve done a total of five internships in both PR and Broadcasting; only 2 were paid. These positions include: Promotions Intern at a radio station; Program Coordinator for a YMCA branch; Public Relations Intern for the Communication Department at NWMSU; Creative Promotions Intern for a television station and Firm Director for a Student-run Firm.

    These internships have helped me narrow down what I want to do. I’ve learned much about the industry, found some of the greatest people and advisers, networked and received stellar recommendations during my internships, but I have not found the position that I want to pursue.

  2. Build Bridges: Ever heard of “make sure to always leave a good first impression?” More than just making a good impression with the people you meet and/or work for, it is extremely important to keep in touch with them—they can be your ticket to a better job. This becomes especially important with the media’s rapid change because it not only shows you stay current with the media but it allows you stay connected to those who you are no longer working for but would like their support and, hopefully, their recommendation.

    I have created several profiles on online networks like LinkedIn, Monster, Experience and Facebook, which I regularly update and make sure they look very professional. I have a couple recommendations on my LinkedIn profile, some are from internships I did and the others of supervisors from the University (Northwest Missouri State University) I recently graduated from. I spend an average of 20 hours a week exploring twitter, LinkedIn, and other network links. Having said that, I think it’s actually knowing who I “follow”, contacting them, and the type of content I post on twitter that has generated such opportunities (including this one! I found PRChannel on Twitter) Through Twitter I have found and applied for a total of ten positions.

  3. Clean and Revamp: Speaking of updating and looking professional, I have reviewed my resume around fifty times within the last two months. I have cleaned it up so that it looks well-organized and, most importantly, so it shows results. I think of it as a cheat sheet for employers; they can see the results of my projects while I was an intern, or as an employee. I also had several contacts, who are all part of the workforce, take a second look. In addition, I subscribe to several different newsletters where I read about how I can bolster my presence online.
  4. Word of Mouth: Talking to everyone you meet and know is the key to networking. I’ve kept in touch with friends who graduated last year for their advice and/or leads as to who is hiring. Through this I found two different companies that I was really interested in and as a result I applied. I’ve found this process to be more efficient due to my friend’s influence and recommendations.I normally request to know more about the position available and who exactly to contact before I submit a cover letter and my resume—if it is through their website. In the case of the positions where I had a contact I will wait to see which method works best for the human resource office, which usually is through their direct email. This is always better than just emailing a generic company email address.

In my research I have also been very flexible about the location of where I apply. I do not mind moving to another state for a job position and I’ve made it very clear in my cover letters and emails when requesting more information.

A professor once told me that in order to be successful in your job search you must make it “a full time job to find a job.” His words remain in the back of my mind, making me restless as I’ve had to get a part time job in order to pay bills and stay afloat—sadly I’m still a “college student” in that sense.

This post was written by Alejandra Alvarez, a recent grad from Northwest Missouri State University with a double major in Public Relations and Broadcasting. She lives in the very center of the U.S. but hasn’t always; indeed, before moving to Kansas City she lived in California for a few years. However, her story starts in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Fluent in Spanish and English, she’s still looking for a full-time position where she can exercise them both. Want to give Allie a job? Get in touch with her using Twitter (@alliealvarez) or visit her LinkedIn profile.

10 Effective Ways to use Video in PR

May 15th, 2009

By Catherine & Andrew Goddard

Things have changed in the world of PR since my days as a worker bee in consumer agencies for eight years until 2005. In my early days, press releases were stuffed into envelopes and sent by post and photography was sent on ‘trannies’ rather than by email. Technology is keeping PRs on their toes – trannies are long gone and PR agencies have set their sights on video. My husband, an expert in video production, has collaborated with me to write a few pointers on how video is taking the PR world by storm…

10 ways to use video in PR:

1. Bolstering an online press release
Assuming a press release is genuinely newsworthy; adding video to the package increases its impact and widens opportunities for exposure. Here’s how:

  • Video that’s clearly aligned to the story of the press release can reinforce core messages in an engaging way
  • Video is easy to share – blogs, micro-blogs, forums and viral emails spread information and create a buzz about a story
  • Video attracts attention from search engines, especially when supported by a keyword-rich title and a paragraph about its content

2. Creating a VNR — video news release

A Video News Release is a press release in video format. Usually running 90-seconds, it’s distributed to television stations for airing in news programs. Quality content, striking footage and strong interviews are a must. A VNR is worthwhile if you have a launch, event or new research findings to publicize. The key is that the story must be newsworthy – programme editors sniff out publicity stunts a mile off, so there must be a strong ‘hook’ that passes the “So What?” test.

3. A promotional tool on your website or blog
Alert clients & business prospects to new video content on your website or blog. There are myriad ways in which it can be used to showcase the credentials of an effective, creative PR business; or to create a likeable personality for the company:

  • Upload a show reel of recent, impressive campaigns
  • Conduct short interviews to introduce key personnel
  • Create a video tour of your company office
  • Post video testimonials from existing clients
  • Create “how to…” videos that demonstrate your expertise

4. Creating jaw-dropping moments at events
Want a powerful opener to a conference? A dramatic montage for awards ceremonies? An eye-popping attraction at a road show or launch? Video brings an extra dimension to events; creating instant kudos for a brand, product or service, presenting information & emotion in a cinematic package. The video can be transformed into other life forms afterwards — such as a DVD show reel or webcast.

5. Go guerrilla with marketing video
YouTube is chock full of guerrilla marketing ads, the best of which attract attention from newspapers and TV news, as well as enhancing the page ranking of featured brands’ websites. Making a video and uploading it to YouTube is relatively cheap, but the exposure for a client’s product or message can be amazing.

6. A pitch tool to wow potential clients
With technology advancing every day, PowerPoint doesn’t look that ‘powerful’ anymore. Agencies that want to show a forward-thinking approach need to invest in smarter ways to present to clients. Video can create the necessary ‘wow factor’. A package might include Vox Pops, talking-head interviews, montages of news coverage, ‘mood reels’ and client testimonials. And, instead of tables to present data, motion graphics bring facts & figures to life.

7. Evaluating campaigns
A video presentation that demonstrates business benefits achieved by a campaign could be the key to building an ongoing relationship with a client. Presenting the brief given, strategy developed, tactics used and the results achieved, an exciting video presentation leaves clients wanting more. A journalist endorsement captured on film, or a street Vox Pop demonstrating a shift in public opinion, delivers rock solid proof that PR is working.

8. Show reels
The plasma screen in the office reception can be an advert for a PR agency. Instead of playing daytime TV, blast out a show reel highlighting the agency’s best work.

9. Team building & client bonding

Create a video of an office away day, or a hospitality event for clients. Play the film at the end of the day, or send it on a DVD after the event. The entertainment value will be a boost to the bonding experience between colleagues and/or clients.

10. A lasting record of a launch
Capture the vibe at a glamorous launch. Video offers a who’s who of attendees and conveys the atmosphere of the occasion. The PR team responsible can utilize the film as a promotional tool to secure similar projects, while clients can use it to big up their brand to retailers or attract sponsors for future events.

Catherine Goddard, a former PR, now works as a journalist and commercial writer. Find out more about her background and work at Andrew Goddard is a director of Cherry Corporate Video Production, a corporate video production company based in London. He has a decade of video editing experience having worked on scores of advertising campaigns, corporate presentations, DVD extras and movie commercials. Visit the Cherry Website for examples of their work including corporate video production, advertising, motion graphics and more.

PRChannel’s Spring Promotion…

April 27th, 2009

Spring is here, and to welcome the season PRChannel is running a promotion.

Starting today, if you sign up for a featured listing on PRChannel we’ll give you a banner ad on this blog for free!

We have several featured listing options available, and signing up for any of them will get you the promotion.  You’ll have to supply your own banners (120 x 60 pixels please) and they will remain live on our site for 1 month.  Just sign up for your listing and go through our automated process – after  your listing goes live one of our staff will contact you about placing your banner.

Read more about our listing options here, and hurry – this offer ends May 1st!

Updates to the PR Dashboard

April 9th, 2009

We’ve got a couple of great new resources that have been added to the PR Dashboard:

First up is a UK-based press release distribution service, at PressGo releases are distributed online, through RSS, Twitter and email to the UK’s largest online community of journalists.

We’ve also added Business 901, a great online pr/marketing reference site that also provides PR services.

Keep the suggestions coming!  We’ll do our best to add the links right away, with your help the PR Dashboard is becoming one of the most comprehensive public relations resource sites out there.

What Not To Do In a Crisis Situation

April 7th, 2009

All organizations are vulnerable to crises and the fallout can be severe (read AIG, Wall Street etc.) so it makes sense that Crisis Management is a big part of traditional PR.

Here are 5 common mistakes made when dealing with a crisis, and why they should be avoided at all costs.

  1. Assuming the truth will set you free. Perception can be just as damaging as reality, sometimes more so.  Even if your client was in the right, don’t rely on those facts to set the record straight.  Chances are the damage will already be done and you’ll need to proactively rebuild your image.
  2. Strictly sticking to ‘the plan’. Albert Einstein said it best: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  Most companies/PR agencies have some sort of crisis communication plan put in place, but rigidly sticking to said plan in the face of changing circumstances can hurt your recovery.  Example:  If you haven’t gotten results by sending in written statements to the media in the past, why would you continue to stick with that strategy in your current crisis? Maybe its time to grant a face-to-face interview or explore other sources.
  3. Ignoring the public emotion behind the issue: Take the example of a product recall for safety or health issues.  Of course you initiate the recall and maybe even discontinue the product, but stopping at that is a mistake.  Sure the issue at hand is resolved, but that does nothing to repair the consumer trust your client previously held.
  4. Thinking of the media as ‘the enemy’: It may be natural to form an us vs. them attitude when reeling from a recent crisis, but your PR team better not let it show.  Giving media the cold shoulder or being disrespectful to a reporter will only backfire.
  5. Attempting to let your reputation speak for itself: No matter what the reputation of a firm, any crisis that arises deserves immediate attention and action.  The public (your consumers) are fickle and have short memories; it’s been said a thousand ways but that does not make it less of a fact.  Not to sound all gloom & doom, but no one is immune here – a big enough crisis can take down anyone. Remember Arthur Andersen?

PRChannel Has 1,000+ Followers On Twitter

March 27th, 2009

Wow!  We’re pretty excited about this…

PRChannel has passed the 1,000 follower mark on Twitter!  We joined mainly as another way to stay up-to-date on current PR related news and topics, but have since found a range of other great uses as well.

We use it to share ideas and thoughts that don’t quite make it into full-fledged blog posts, we tweet PR related news items that happen to catch our eye, we give ’shout outs’ to new companies that sign up for the directory (that now reach over 1,000 people), occasionally do a bit of self-promotion and, probably most importantly, we use Twitter to interact and network with others in the public relations industry.  We don’t tweet every 2 minutes (not even every day), and it’s always meant to be of real use to someone.

Thanks for following! (If you aren’t yet that’s OK…follow @PRChannel here!)

Tip Sheets – Great Free Publicity Online & Off

March 26th, 2009

Tip sheets are essentially lists of a half dozen or so ‘tips’ that tell people how to do something or how to solve a problem.  They are a great way to get free publicity.  Traditional editors and reporters love them – they’re a ready to go piece that requires little to no extra work, and they cross into different formats (print, TV, radio, etc.) well because they can be used as short lists complete with bullet points.

Best of all, tip sheets are easy to write and can be pulled together relatively quickly.  Everyone has seen a form of a Tip Sheet in traditional media: “8 Ways to Lose Weight Fast”, “Top 10 Biggest PR Blunders of All Time”, “6 Proven Tactics to Lower Your Energy Bills”, the list goes on.

For those of you who spend time on, or are at least familiar with, the various online social networks (as any modern PR person should be) those types of titles should look familiar.  Go to the first page of and at least two or three of the top posts will have titles similarly structured.

The ‘tip sheet’ tactic has crossed from traditional PR to new online mediums, except the online marketers and SEO types coined a new term for it: Link Bait.

Hey, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”…

5 Great Tips for Putting Together a Great Tip Sheet/Link Bait Title Article

  1. Use numbers in the title and try to work in words like ‘Best’ or ‘Top’ – the whole idea is to make it exciting and easy to digest.
  2. Be Concise.  The first sentence should give the instructions, the second sentence should explain them – that’s it.
  3. Avoid promoting yourself or your client too much.  The temptation is there, but people will not trust your advice if they feel they’ve been pitched to.
  4. Use ‘action language’.  The tips should read like well-written instructions, start off with a verb whenever its possible.
  5. Make it short and sweet.  Limit the whole thing to a page; you want there to be enough information to  actually be of use, but people will not read through a huge laundry list: 5 to 12 tips is a good guideline.

When Times are Bad People Crave Good News

March 17th, 2009

It seems like common sense, when times are rough people crave good news and take it when and where they can.

It’s an important fact for PR agencies. With the dismal economy dominating the news recently, media outlets are asking for pitches on feel-good stories/items.  Even opening it up to the public – like NBC Nightly News, whose anchor Brian Williams requested on the show’s blog that viewers “tell us your good news.”

There is a market for the upbeat, the positive.  Stories of everyday people enduring difficulties and succeeding are especially attractive.  If you can tie value and social responsibility to your clients’ brand you’ve got a golden opportunity.  It will be a natural fit at a time when people are turning to these types of values regardless.

Examples are all around: the media frenzy surrounding Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger after his safe emergency landing in the Hudson, Goldman Sachs un-traditional, philanthropic homepage, people are desperate for a bit of hope and stories with happy endings.

Public relations professionals also need to pay attention to outlets that offer people an ‘escape’.   Entertainment news is proving to be recession-proof industry, with the public still reading People and watching Oprah – so going for that soft news angle can pay off big time.

And Now for Something Completely Different…

March 11th, 2009

Banks and Financial Services companies obviously need a PR face-lift.  With public opinion and trust levels plummeting to new lows some are ready to try completely different approaches.  Such is the case with the current Goldman Sachs website.

The corporate feeling, powerful, almost graphic-free save for a logo imagery we are all used to seeing for Financial Services homepages is gone – replaced with a site that looks more like it belongs to a non-profit organization for empowering women.  At first glance I thought I had made a mistake in typing the domain name, then I saw the Goldman Sachs logo placed subtly in the upper corner.

The new design highlights the firm’s philanthropic efforts far more prominently than any of their asset management services.  It’s clear the firm and their PR team is trying to project a more friendly, approachable – or for lack of a better phrase “warm & fuzzy” – image.  An interesting change to say the least, but will it help with the current public relations crisis the industry is going through?

Note: was, unfortunately, unable to give me a screenshot of how the site used to look.  However, for comparison purposes the previous homepage design was a cross between Fidelity’s and Merrill Lynch’s.

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ABOUT PRCHANNEL At its core, PRChannel exists to serve as a resource for agencies, whether they be into public relations, print, advertising, marketing or anything else. Here on the PRChannel Blog you'll find a mish-mosh of resources and thoughts that we think are worth sharing.

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