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

Posts Tagged ‘PR’

August 21st, 2009

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

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

May 15th, 2009

10 Effective Ways to use Video in PR

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 http://www.catherinegoddard.com. 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.

March 11th, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different…

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: Archive.org 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.

February 17th, 2009

So, What’s the Difference Between PR and Marketing?

The terms are used almost interchangeably by some people, especially those in the growing social media/blogging for business area of expertise.  So, what exactly is the difference between public relations and marketing?

We think it boils down to the fact that marketing is all about the sale, and while this is (hopefully) an outcome of PR efforts it isn’t necessarily the main goal.   Good PR is based on the idea that any sort of success is derived from a mutual satisfaction between companies and their customers/clients.  This leads to more relationship management and conflict resolution type activities, with the PR person acting as a sort of go between for those involved, fostering goodwill along the way.

Marketing, on the other hand, is focused on the sale and ‘the bottom line’.  Remember those persuasive talks assigned in speech classes?  That’s marketing – it’s more about playing up the good, downplaying the bad, figuring out what people want and how to get them to think they want your product or service.

So why do companies focus so much time and energy on public relations if marketing’s domain is to influence actual sales?  Because when all other factors are equal consumers will buy from the company they like more, the one with the better reputation.  Some have referred to marketing as PR’s evil twin, always focused on the money and sometimes undercutting the efforts of PR – and the line between the two gets blurred when PR people start focusing on ‘image’ and the way a product is presented.

The truth is you need both, and it’s probably a better idea to keep them at least a little separate.  Marketing is essential to any business, it drives sales.  But what happens when a communications-related crisis pops up?  Personally, we’d rather have someone on deck trained in crisis management to do damage control and repair professional relationships than leave the task to a component of our sales force.

What do you think?

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!

December 22nd, 2008

PRChannel Launched!

Welcome to PR Channel!

Thanks to the success of our sister site AgencyTool.com and their web design directory and web design dashboard we decided to branch out and offer these valuable services to other industries.  We’ve launched the site and everything is now up an running, so feel free to take a look around.

Check out our PR Dashboard for helpful links to resources and tools for the PR professional.  The dashboard is broken up into categories like Media Management, Writing & Pitching to make finding the resource you need extremely easy.  We’ve spent a lot of time pulling together some of the best sites and tools out there, but we know we’ve left some great resources out.  That’s why we have the submit feature – so if you use a tool or know of a great PR related site don’t hesitate to let us know and we’ll add it to the list!  Hopefully we can built the biggest and best PR resource around.

Also, make sure you visit the directory at PRChannel.com – its empty now, but if the success of our first directory, AgencyTool, is any indicator spots will fill up fast!  Receive targeted traffic from our site that results in qualified leads and boost your visibility online.  Check out our Get Listed page for more details about signing up and getting listed.

That’s all for now – but be sure to check back here as well.  Our blog will post about resources that are added to the dashboard, as well as articles and other random PR tidbits we come across.

Cheers!

The PR Channel Team

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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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