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Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

March 27th, 2009

PRChannel Has 1,000+ Followers On Twitter

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!)

March 26th, 2009

Tip Sheets – Great Free Publicity Online & Off

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 Digg.com 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.

March 2nd, 2009

Skittles’ Twitter Experiment

This morning anyone who visited the Skittles Brand homepage (www.skittles.com) was probably a bit surprised to find themselves suddenly on Twitter.  With a new slogan “Chat the Rainbow” Skittles linked their homepage to the Twitter search results for Skittles

Its generating a lot of buzz – and prompted everyone on twitter to try to get onto the skittles homepage by tweeting something about skittles.  Pretty brave when you think about it, with apparently no means of moderating the tweets Skittles has opened the door for open communication on their company homepage.

We like the idea…its a great PR stunt – get people talking about your brand in a completely new, trendy and different way.  However there is real potential for this plan to backfire.  First of all, Skittles isn’t active on Twitter, neither is its parent company Mars.  For a social media strategy to work long-term it’s got to be a 2-way conversation, which isn’t happening at all here.  What they’ve done is pull up a stream of anyone using the word ‘Skittles’ in their tweet.  Because of this there have been a few incredibly inappropriate tweets showing up – including offensive language and links to ‘adult’ sites.  Furthermore, what happens when the initial “wow” factor wears off and people aren’t tweeting about skittles every second?

Skittles also should have thought about the Fail Whale a bit before launching this.  Twitter, although getting better on this front, is notorious for not being able to support the amount of traffic it draws on a regular basis.  Especially with all the buzz surrounding this…is it worth relying on Twitter to keep your homepage up and running?

It’s a great PR stunt, but is it a good social marketing strategy?  We’re not sure…

Skittles

February 18th, 2009

Facebook Goes Back to Old Terms of Service

image from the cosumerist.comIt all started when Facebook changed their Terms of Service to effectively say that anything you share on Facebook Facebook now owns.  The fallout online and in various social media circles over the privacy issue was huge.  Several Facebook groups popped up protesting the changes, one with over 64,000 members.  Various websites and news sources picked up the story, including The Consumerist,  NY Times, Chicago Tribune, CNN and MSNBC…just to name a few.  Also, it was one of the most talked about topics on Twitter, it even prompted twitterati like Peter Shankman (@skydiver) to tweet things like ‘Ouch: Facebook to 170 million users: “We own you, bitches.” ‘

Despite blog posts from Mark Zuckerberg and co. attempting to explain why the switch was made the outrage continued.  The posts actually made very logical points.  The problem: It’s our guess that the majority of those people so angry about the changes didn’t bother to read them.

Well, yesterday Facebook went back to their old Terms of Service…at least for now.  They are still planning a change, but this time they are asking for input from users, using the newly created Facebook Bill of Rights (currently at 42,210 members and growing rapidly).  A much smarter strategy from a public relations standpoint.  If there was anyone left doubting the importance of social media and it’s role in public relations this should serve as their cue to embrace it.


February 9th, 2009

Online Reputation Management Matters

A new survey, Online-Reputation Management, from Weber Shandwick reports that 67% of top execs feel that their company’s reputation is vulnerable online.

This isn’t news to many PR/Online-Marketing people that work ‘in the trenches’.  The social nature of today’s internet allows for many more potential reputation damaging situations, and the fact that execs seem to be sitting up and taking notice is great.  The report shows that a majority of execs are worried about e-mails that can end up in the wrong hands, in fact 87% of execs admit to having accidentally sent or received some type of electronic message – and about 27% admitted to doing it intentionally.

Aside from rogue emails and traditional media outlets, companies (and their PR people) should be paying attention to their reputation in social media circles.  Especially in rough economic times, when layoffs are at high levels and pensions/compensation often suffer, employees are more likely to be dissatisfied and perhaps be tempted to bad mouth their employers online.  Only about a third of execs admitted to knowing about an employee engaging in this type of activity and their response to the problem is to pay attention to employee satisfaction surveys, attempting to resolve the issue before the employee takes action.

Perhaps the most alarming section of the report was that only 10% of execs consider building relationships with prominent bloggers is an effective strategy for online reputation management.  Depending on the industry this could be a mistake, bloggers and online personalities can wield a great deal of influence over their readers and having a good relationship with them could lead to great PR opportunities – or at least help to avoid potential online reputation crises.

Online reputation management is an increasingly important component of any company’s PR efforts.  While execs obviously realize this, they need to include newer social media strategies, as well as their more traditional strategies, in their efforts to manage the brand’s reputation online.

January 26th, 2009

Digg’s Hunt for a PR Agency and What It Could Mean for Users

It’s older news that Digg – the uber popular social news aggregator, is looking for a PR agency.  On Friday PRWeek said it was down to 4, MediaBistro’s sources say the decision is essentially made – but no one is officially talking.

No matter which firm lands them as a client, Digg having an official PR team has big implications for the site.  Digg announced last week it will be cutting it’s staff and mentioned that it would be downsizing the expansion plans that were in place for 2009.  In the current economic climate it is no wonder that the website is trying to focus on profitability, and a PR team can help them achieve those goals without alienating users.

Reports have also been circulating that several of the top power users on Digg are actually on the payroll of PR/Marketing agencies.  Power users’ stories are more likely to make it to the front page, getting them to submit your story essentially guarantees top-tier recognition.  Does this undermine the trust of users?  Sure, but it’s up for debate on whether or not this issue will have a lasting impact.  The addition of a formal Digg PR plan could tilt the scales.

January 7th, 2009

A PR Pro’s Simple Guide to SEO

The line between PR and online marketing strategy is becoming thinner and thinner.  An SEO professional’s job duties are more in-line with a PR campaign than the traditional marketing/advertising position anyway, and a PR professional will have a definite ‘leg-up’ if they understand the types of activities and strategies involved in creating good PR in an online setting.

So here is my attempt at an easy to understand guide to basic SEO practices for PR people- which I realize may be completely obsolete by next Thursday.

First off, you need to know there are 2 main categories for SEO: On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO. Here’s what these mean in a nutshell:
On Page SEO: everything you do specifically on your website, i.e. site structure and the web developer’s domain – as a PR person you may not have much control over this, but it never hurts to know what you are dealing with right off the bat.
Off Page SEO: everything you do outside of your  immediate website, i.e. your relationship to other websites

ON PAGE – The Good

✔ Have a site map. If you don’t have a site map stop reading right now and go tell your developer/client to make one. Its one of the easiest ways to make sure the search engines find your site (and any new pages you add) easy to crawl.
✔ Keywords. Put the keywords you want to rank for in your URL and domain name if at all possible. Make sure your web design team puts them in your your title tag and, just for fun, in the meta tag as well. Now, Google says in no longer uses the Keyword meta tag, but others do, so it can’t hurt to put them in there. Be careful though – every single keyword in the keyword meta tag MUST appear somewhere in your body text, otherwise Google will mark it as irrelevant and penalize you.
✔ Links. Your internal links should have keywords, and lower level pages should be linked together appropriately. A general rule of thumb is that a user should be able to navigate to any page on your site within 3 or 4 clicks from the homepage. As for external links, make sure you only link to reputable sites (no links farms or ‘bad neighborhoods’) and check to make sure your links are all valid.
✔ Be old and new at the same time. Google likes old sites because of the perceived ‘trust’ they have, it also likes ‘fresh’ pages. The best site in Google’s opinion has been around for a long time and puts new content up on a regular basis. Good to know, even if you can only control the second part.

ON PAGE – The Bad

Keywords. It’s a two way street, keywords are an essential part of good on page SEO but it can easily go wrong. Rules of thumb: Don’t have too many (keyword stuffing) and make sure every single one is 100% relevant to your site’s topic.
Bad language/ethnic slurs/’stop’ words. This is just PR common-sense. Basically don’t use any word Google has associated with shady dealings in the past.
All Flash with no HTML option. Most search engine spiders can’t read flash, make sure your developers give them an HTML option to read or they won’t index your page and your ranking may suffer.

OFF PAGE – The Good

✔ Links, Links, Links. Incoming links from quality sites are extremely important. You want stable (the older the better) links that contain your keywords in them pointing to you from a site that is a trusted source – you get bonus points if its from an “expert” site.  Bloggers/webmasters are just like journalists, so your PR experience in building relationships and pitching is completely relevant, it’s much easier to get a link from someone you have an established relationship with.  Also, everyone hates off-topic pitches, so don’t do it online either.
✔ Traffic. The more people on your site the better. If your site is new and you don’t have much traffic, you get a little boost if there is an increasing pattern, you also get a boost if people stay on your site for a long time (low bounce rate). If visitors bookmark your page…even better! I know this seems a bit out of your control – but by making sure you or your clients create content on your site people actually want to read and find interesting you can encourage better traffic.
✔ Article Submission/Blogs. By creating articles and submitting them to other sites you not only create links pointing to your site, you create interest among visitors. The same is true for having a blog. You’ll be creating new content on a regular basis (which Google loves) plus you’ll be building a loyal base of readers who may help your site to be seen as a ‘trusted’ source and give you a consistent stream of traffic.
✔ Page Rank. It’s based on the number of quality links pointing back to you, but other factors are included as well. There are differing opinions among SEO professionals as to just how important Page Rank is. Many say that it isn’t important at all anymore, some still rely on it. Our take? Don’t obsess over your site’s Page Rank, but don’t completely discount it either.

OFF PAGE – The Bad

Bad Links. Google is cracking down on link-buying by penalizing sites. Link exchanging is also an issue, while there is no penalty for exchanging links with other sites Google deems these type of links much less valuable than quality incoming (one way) links. You also want to look out for bad ‘link neighborhoods’ – sites linked together through spammy sites or link farms. If you link to these sites by accident chances are you’ll be OK, but if Google finds too many of these type of links on your pages you could be in trouble. Here is a tool to help check your links – Text Link Checker Tool.
Being “spammy” aka pitching off topic. Link building activities can get a bad rep because there are so many ‘techniques’ that are just plain spammy. Mass-posting links into forums, posting links into comment sections of completely unrelated blogs, or mass-emailing hundreds of bloggers/webmasters asking for links are just plain annoying and not all that successful anyway.  Do your research and find the right sources/outlets for your specific site or topic – just like in the ‘real world’.

Keep in mind these are just the basics, there’s a plethora of resources out there if you’d like in depth info on one specific aspect of SEO. Check out Vaughn’s Google’s Ranking Factors for more Google specific details, its a great resource if you’ve got the time to go through it.

If you have any SEO or online public relations resources you use or just a great informational site let me know!

January 5th, 2009

Twitter and the New PR

There have been tons of posts on PR blogs in the last few months about how Twitter is becoming an incredibly important tool for today’s ‘web 2.0′ PR professionals.

Check out this post on the PR Squared blog, aptly titled ‘Get Into Twitter or Get Outta Public Relations?’ That pretty much sums up the attitude in the industry right now, at least among early to mid-adopters.  Just take a look at the list they’ve compiled of PR pros (both new and old-school) who are currently on Twitter – its an impressive list and warrants attention.

Posts like these Twitter hacks and tips or this post on Ogilvy’s blog about Media Relations & Twitter are popping up all over the place in an effort to outline the benefits of using social media – twitter specifically – as a marketing strategy.

The benefits are somewhat obvious.  Twitter especially is a great tool for building relationships, a staple of good PR.  If you follow the big names in the industry an opportunity to forge a relationship that would never occur in the ‘real world’ may present itself and I think that this, more than any other factor, is why people are getting so excited.

Not everyone agrees though -read Twitter is Completely Overrated for some insight into the drawbacks of using Twitter and similar social media strategies.

It’s becoming a real debate – but something generating this much buzz is at least worth checking out.

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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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