- Get rid of the one-size-fits-all pitch. Don’t assume journalists are waiting for your fill-in-the-blank releases without requesting them. As an experienced journalist and blogger, let me tell you that they feel like spam and get deleted as soon as they appear in my inbox. (Check out the views of Social Media Explorer’s Jason Falls on email pitches.) Only use your old-fashioned press pitches for regulatory reporting reasons.
- Build a social media following. Engage on a variety of social media platforms and expand your circle of acquaintances. Connect with family, friends and business colleagues. Actively participate in the conversation, such as Twitter chats and Meetups. Your goal is to have a base of followers and associates who can help you spread your message when needed. Remember, social media is a two way street where reciprocity matters. For example, Ford’s Scott Monty was able to diffuse a potential PR crisis because he had a large Twitter following and he sent 138 tweets in one day.
- Become a go-to resource. Take a page from Peter Shankman, founder of Help-A-Reporter, and help get journalists the information they’re seeking and introduce them to other resources, even if they’re not your client. Leverage your social media contacts to help journalists and get them a bit of press. Be succinct and to the point. When I need information, I have a set of contacts I go to and they turn around my requests with lightening speed.
- Forget the “Oprah or Bust” approach to media attention. Don’t just focus on getting a mention on major television talk or news shows. Expand your media horizons. Plant lots of smaller stories to build word of mouth and don’t underestimate your story’s ability to have legs. Think in terms of getting exposure to new audiences. Consider adding a blog to your organization’s content mix to create your own media entity and following. Additionally, use social media news matchmaker Help-A-Reporter. It’s a free, thrice daily emailing containing media requests. Use it for yourself and your clients.
- Add to the action. Leverage hot topics and current trends to create related hooks for your clients. These stories can be used on your blog and Facebook as well as by journalists who are always looking for new angles.David Meerman Scott calls this newsjacking. You can publish these stories on your own blog as well as third party media sites.
- Intrigue people with your story. Build an irresistible story around your product or business. Then seek opportunities to share your tale and extend the narrative. Understand what pulls your target audience into your message. Share different variations of your tale on your blog, Tumblr or Facebook. For example, the Woods Hole Inn created a blog about their red chair’s travels across different inns on Cape Cod making it a ready-made local news story.
- Engage with the press on social media. Many established media outlets both online and offline use a combination of blogs, Facebook and Twitter to connect with readers and viewers. Use these outlets to engage directly on topics of interest to your business and connect with the journalist in the form of following them on Twitter and commenting on their blog posts.
- Get into the picture. With the meteoric rise of photographic sites like Pinterest and Instagram, consider how you can get your business, client or product in the picture. Use photographs of your product to intrigue prospects and customers. Also, get your customers involved by having them send in their images. A number of news sites like the Weather Channel display viewers’ videos and photographs.
- Do their work for them. Another way to leverage the media’s audience is to write guest blog posts. This works well for blogs in your category as well as for some media sites that solicit guest posts. Understand that you must supply the guest blog post in return for being exposed to the blog’s audience and getting a link back to your website. When contacting a blogger, make sure you check whether they have guest post policies before sending them your story.
- Test new social media platforms. Find ways to get your client featured in different forums. Social media options include being a guest on a Twitter chat, creating a video interview, and uploading your latest presentation. Don’t underestimate the value of emerging social media platforms. This works very well for smaller companies that are willing to take more risks. For example, Exude lipstick tested a photo spread using social commerce site, Svpply.
- What principles does your company stand for? This goes deeper than a PowerPoint presentation. It’s at the heart of your organization and reaches across departments. Why do you sell your products? How do they help people? How do you treat your employees, customers and the public? Beyond pushing your products, what are you doing to make the world a better place?
- What’s your firm’s positioning? What image do you want your firm to project? Consider this from a variety of viewpoints since your positioning extends beyond marketing and communications. It’s how you represent your firm to the public.
- What’s your firm’s human resources policy? Do you have guidelines for how your employees treat each other regardless of title or rank? Does this also apply to your customers, prospects and the public? Does this include civility and the absence of discrimination across a wide range of factors? Even more important, does your company practice what it preaches?
- Is your legal department on board with regard to relevant regulatory and other governmental organizations? Depending on your business, the specific role of legal will vary but it’s a good idea to get them involved with a cross-section of functional areas early. For examples, JetBlue had to work with the FAA and the flight attendant’s union when Steve Slater decided to grab a beer and slide his way to fame; Cook’s Source had to consider the intellectual property rights of the blogger whose article they reprinted without permission.
- What are your company’s social media guidelines? A corporate social media policy applies to what employees say as firm representatives and what they say in their private life that may reflect on their firm. It also covers what customers and the public may say on your website and related entities. Etsy has edited their Facebook page and deleted messages about the incident.
- Is your PR team ready to engage? Do you have staff focused on PR, media relations and social media to ensure that you’re on top of evolving stories and issues in real-time? Do they have access to the appropriate staff and information to respond quickly? Etsy’s being deaf to the press and bloggers didn’t make the problem disappear, instead the lack of response becomes the news. Do you have an online press center? Can the media and bloggers get through to your team via email address, mobile phone number and/or social media contacts? Further, do your people respond quickly?
- Is your customer service department proactive and empowered to handle customer interactions and feedback before they grow into issues? Is your customer service team trained to diffuse potential problems? Can they escalate difficult problems for special handling? Are they available across various platforms including social media? Can they detect potential issues that need broader corporate response?
- Is your senior management plugged-in or tone deaf? Senior management plays a critical role in real-time communications. They need to be able to respond quickly and on message. Are they empathetic to what’s happening and the people to whom it’s happening? This includes external and internal audiences. You don’t want to sound like BP CEO Tony Hayward who was more focused on his personal life than the BP employees who died or the Gulf residents affected by the oil spill. Further this means having someone senior ready to respond 24/7 in today’s never-ending news cycle.
- Do you listen to and learn from your community? In today’s social media connected world, most companies have at least one social media presence where they connect with customers, fans and the public. Use this platform to find out what’s on participants’ minds. Are they looking to you to take specific actions? Remember that you can’t choose just to have positive comments appear. Etsy removed comments related to this greeting card incident further fueling speculation.
- Are you paying attention to your competitors? While you’re monitoring the social media environment for mentions and conversations about your firm, brand and products, track your competitors as well because a discussion about them could easily spread to include your organization.
- Are you socially responsible? If your firm is using social media platforms, it’s especially critical to think through how individuals and other organizations may interpret what’s appearing on your sites and in your name on various networks. At a minimum, treat everyone with respect and don’t taunt anyone. You don’t want to be an online bully. It detracts from your company and your brand.
- Do you have a crisis management policy? Develop a crisis management policy and keep it up-to-date to ensure that your firm is able to meet unexpected challenges. Ensure that your staff knows who to contact in case of emergency and has other important contact information readily available.
Posted by Heidi Cohen on December 10, 2010
6 Tips to Improve Your Media Relations
Bringing your food in thirty minutes or less, Domino’s Pizza is known for speedy delivery, good quality and reasonable prices. As a columnist and blogger, these characteristics are equally important in a PR professional.
Here are six ways that PR professionals are like Domino’s Pizza.
- Make it easy for me to contact you. Be accessible across communications devices. As a writer, let me decide how I want to contact your firm. The more options, the easier you make it for me. Among the alternatives are phone, email, text, social media or online PR center. I’ve tried using PR Centers and corporate PR email addresses that took days to get a response. If your firm falls into this category, you should consider whether you really want press coverage and set expectations for inquiries.
- Be ready to take PR requests when journalists call. While Domino’s Pizza has employees ready to serve during their store hours, you must have a PR professional ready to respond when a story breaks in today’s 24/7 news cycle or the media may go to your competitor. (CheckDavid Meerman Scott’s new book, Real Time Marketing and PR.) Further, media can encompass a wide variety of formats including bloggers and e-zines. If you want to be part of the news, you can’t just wait for old media, print and television.
- Provide useful information quickly. Like Domino’s deliver what the press wants swiftly. As a columnist, when I’m on deadline and need help, there are a few resources that I turn to because I know that they will turn around my request in my timeframe. Empower and train your PR staff to be able to provide timely turn around without a lot of red tape.
- Know where I live. Just as Domino’s Pizza doesn’t ask for directions to get to your house, PR professionals should read my columns, examine the media for which I write, and learn what topics I cover. By doing your homework, you become a valuable resource to me and I’m likely to contact you when I need information.
- Offer me additional resources. Like the condiments that Domino’s Pizza adds, present other information or sources that might be useful for my story.
- Just deliver my order. Only give me the information for which I’m asking. Don’t send me useless press releases because, to me, they’re spam.
A great PR person is worth their weight in gold, even at today’s ever increasing rates. Follow these six easy steps and you’ll quickly make your way to the top of journalists’ autodial and get your story placed more broadly.
Do you have anything else to add to this list? It would be great if columnists, bloggers and PR professionals contributed their perspectives.
The following industry research seeks to define the most typical features and peculiarities of online marketing participants.
All marketing companies were selected according to their SERPs, the number of provided services and their use of social utilities.
The participants were all analyzed against 17 major types of content. Each type of content had a certain type of priority.
The following categories had the highest priority type: ”article”, “blog post”, ”case study”, “research and analysis”,” slideshows”, “ webinar” and “white paper”.
Such types of content as “podcasts”,”newsletters” and “microsites” were viewed as low priority. The other content types, which did not fit either of the categories, were considered medium priority.
Another research classification principle was “content category” which included the following subcategories: “breaking headlines”, “industry news”, “ongoing series”, “product/service reports”, etc.
According to its placement, all content was divided into: web site-core content, website -news item, blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
The last classification principle was “post frequency” and had the following periodicity: 3+ times a day, 1-2 times a day, 2-3 times a week, 1-2 times a week, 2-3 times a month and once a month.
Major company content
According to the search results, blog posts, case studies, research and analytics constitute over 98% of content. Judging by the search results, images constitute 86% of content, whereas infographics and PDFs only 6% and 5% respectively.
Diagram 1. Most Popular Content Categories: Portals
Although it’s rather difficult to determine blog periodicity, in the course of the research we arrived at the conclusion that, on average, online marketing companies update their blogs 2-3 times a week.
As for content categories, the most popular of them were industry news and events with ongoing series of “tips” in tow.
Speaking of content placement, it’s important to mention that the bulk of company information, including company services and the list of clients, is posted on the company web-site. The company blog is primarily used for industry-related issues.
Information portal content
Since the main purpose of portals is to give information and help analyze industry changes and events, the largest part of content here is presented by articles, infographics and images. The most popular content categories are tips, guides and events.
Diagram 2. Most Popular Content Categories: Portals
As for content placement, the majority of portals post their information on the blogs and web-sites at a post frequency of 2-3 times a week or 1-2 times a day.
Individual blogs content
As a result of the industry research it became evident that articles, research and analytics, images and E-books are the most popular content types on blogs.
Diagram 3. Most Popular Content Categories: Individual Blogs
Most bloggers choose to post their information either on Twitter or LinkedIn at a frequency of 1-2 posts a day.
“The best way to turn strangers into customers and promoters of your business.”
Sharing is caring and inbound marketing is about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.
Content Creation- You create targeted content that answers your customer’s basic questions and needs, and you share that content far and wide.
Lifecycle Marketing- You recognize that people go through stages as they interact with your company, and that each stage requires different marketing actions.
Personalization- As you learn more about your leads over time, you can better personalize your messages to their specific needs.
Multi-channel- Inbound marketing is multi-channel by nature because it approaches people where they are, in the channel where they want to interact with you.
Integration- Your publishing and analytics tools all work together like a well-oiled machine, allowing you to focus on publishing the right content in the right place at the right time.
6 Content and Social Media Leaders Speak Out: Rick Wion, Mark Schaefer, Ann Handley, Doug Kessler, Lou Hoffman, Michael Brito
1. Do you see content marketing becoming more or less central to marketing a brand?
Rick Wion, Director of Social Media at McDonald’s: “Content has always been essential for good brand marketing but it is more important than ever because good content will help for stronger bonds with your consumers and in the best cases give them a ready-made and highly sharable way to be brand ambassadors. As an example of how content is becoming so central to branding and marketing, at creative reviews at McDonald’s one of the measuring screens we use is sharability. We ask ourselves, “Is this creative something that that I would share with my friends?”
Mark Schaefer, CEO of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and author of The Tao of Twitter, ROI: Return on Influence and You Were Born to Blog: “I don’t think there is any question content has to play a bigger role in marketing if for no other reason than consumers are spending less time with traditional forms of media and advertising. People are sick of ads, sick of being sold to. But they will spend time with a good story from somebody who is trying to authentically help them.”
2. What are the main opportunities you see in content?
Ann Handley, Content Director of MarketingProfs, and co-author of Content Rules: “The key opportunity is the ability to communicate directly with your customers by owning the media, versus begging for attention or buying it. The key to success is to not squander that opportunity with terrible corporate-centric content, but instead to solve problems for your customers, or share resources with them.”
3. What are the main challeges or obstacles?
Doug Kessler, Co-Founder and Creative Director of UK-based B2B content marketing agency Velocity Partners: “The biggest challenge is that everybody is now generating lots and lots of content. So it’s harder and harder to make yours stand out and grab an audience. We did a slideshare on this called “Crap: Why the Biggest Threat To Content Marketing Is Content Marketing” and I still think that’s the biggest challenge for us all. (Editors note: Kessler just put out an excellent, related presentation “The Future of Content Marketing: Five Beyonds.”)
Michael Brito, SVP of Social Business Strategy at Edelman Digital and author of “Smart Business, Social Business: A Playbook for Social Media in Your Organization”: “Content marketing can be done in a silo. Any marketing manager can hire an agency to create an ad or a video. This lack of collaboration is causing brands to create disjointed content and engage in community management without have a solid vision.”
4. What notable brands do you think are doing a good job leveraging content?
Lou Hoffman, CEO of the global Hoffman Agency, which leverages PR, social media and owned media. “I think the brands doing a good job tend to be the ones willing to try new things. Even though it’s been around for some time, I consider Open Forum from American Express a trend setter. Very savvy to identify a void in the market and target small biz with the platform. They took the concept of corporate publishing to a new level.
I also like what Johnson and Johnson is doing, particularly the sponsorship of a channel on Huffington Post targeting moms. It blends paid, owned and earned media. They’re proving that if you deliver useful content, most people don’t care where it originates.
T-Mobile is known for creating ground breaking events that everyone talks about. It shines a light on the brand and seeks to offer consumers a reason to consider joining the network. T-Mobile’s mantra is Life’s for Sharing, and its products and services are all about this simple truth. The Royal Wedding provided a unique platform to bring this to life so T-Mobile created a short spoof film of the Royal Wedding entrance to give consumers something to share with their family and friends. The budget was very small to launch the film as most of the annual budget was kept back for a major re-launch later in the year. However expectations were high because of the success of previous campaigns and the cultural relevance of the content.
Celebrity culture is a massive area of interest for our audience. They read, listen, talk and blog about celebrities on a regular basis. It’s crucial social currency. We knew they would be following the Royal Wedding closely, sharing info on the dress, the shoes, the guest list, etc on social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.
Strategy and execution:
We wanted to build anticipation and buzz pre-launch and reward the online bloggers that had previously covered T-Mobile events so we invited them to the shoot and they tweeted what was happening (without revealing the details). We also released a teaser, to further build excitement, to other influential bloggers and key social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube. This started to create a buzz and fuel conversations about what T-Mobile were up to. Then on day 4 of the campaign we released the full 3 minute film and paid key bloggers to discuss and share it. We used sponsored stories on Facebook and promoted videos and pre rolls on YouTube to ensure consumers looking for wedding content would find our film. We ensured the video would appear in YouTube most viewed charts and top trending categories, therefore increasing popularity and exposure of the film.
It is one of the most successful launches of all time for an online brand video reaching 8 million YouTube views within the first week and 21 million within the first month. Justin Bieber tweeted to his 9m followers about it and Prince Harry liked it so much he even posted it on his personal Facebook page! It also got picked up by huge TV shows like “Have I Got News For You” on BBC1 and “Loose Women” – marketing gold! We saw a very positive uplift on T-Mobile brand health scores – comms awareness increased by +15% and brand consideration up +13%. When we asked consumers more specific questions like “does T-Mobile stand out from the crowd” scores were up +45% and “does a bit extra for customers” up + 62%!