Planning Your SEO Campaign

This just in! Journalists use search engines!  According to Top Rank, 91% of journalists and editors use search engines to do their jobs, so the higher your website ranks on search results, the easier it will be for a journalist to reach and use your content. And it would be safe to say that many bloggers use search engines to get their information too as 35% of bloggers still do or used to work for the traditional media.

Making a website more visible on search engines is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This kind of strategy can be critical for your media and blogger relations.

SEO can work for an assortment of different PR content like press releases, online newsrooms, blogs, newsletters, and everything else an organization puts online because if you can search for it, you can optimize it.

But before you start trying to optimize everything, there are strategies you need to know before you go according to SEO.com.

  • Have specific objectives for implementing SEO. Don’t just do it because you think you should, do it because it accomplishes goals specific to your company and is tied in to your marketing strategy.
  • Keep time in mind. Know when there’s increased activity regarding your industry. You don’t want to launch your SEO strategy when nobody’s searching. Google Insight, which I’ll highlight below, is a great tool to figure some of this out. Also, if you think you need to redesign your site, do that first before undertaking an SEO campaign. A new site affects SEO and can delay results during SEO implementation.
  • Be realistic. SEO won’t solve all of your issues overnight. You may have to wait anywhere from 6-18 months to see solid results.
  • Have a flexible Web developer. SEO requires constant management, attention, and adjustment. If you have a Web developer, make sure he or she is aware of this and is willing to work with you to make any changes to run an effective SEO campaign.
  • Have a trusting relationship with your SEO company. SEO companies are paid for a reason, it’s because they (hopefully) know more than you, so let them do their jobs! Trust them. Let them execute their plans in their entirety. Not letting them do so may hinder their success. In the same vein, give them the information they need to do their jobs well. Tell them your goals, marketing experiences, and other relevant information. Be open and honest, and because SEO is a full time obligation, stay in constant contact with your SEO company.

It’s also important to be aware of various tools that will help you research and measure your SEO campaign. There is a litany of them, but here are a few to help get you started.

  • Google Insight – This 4th tip from a great Mashable article on SEO is a great tool for your campaign as you can see what terms are popular in searches.  Type in whatever terms you want to search and compare, and you will find out which one people use more to search with.  Google Insight’s bread and butter is its search index map which shows the particular regions where specific terms are being searched. Categorize and put up parameters on the search to hone in on the words your company wants to use to help meet your SEO goals.

Google Insight Map Index shows regional search hot spots

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • GoogleAdwords: Keyword Tool – This tool suggested by Creare Communications lets you search terms and shows not only the number of searches for the keywords your are looking up, but the number of searches for similar keywords and phrases. This is great as it really helps you pick the exact words or phrases your campaign can focus on before plunging in. There are plenty of other uses Google Adwords has, so don’t be afraid to check it out and seeing how it can benefit your business.

Google Adwords helps you pick the perfect keywords

  • Rank Checker – Before you jump into SEO, you need to know how effective it will be. Using this tool will tell you where your website ranks in the top 100 says Grant Simmons of iMediaConnection. Finding out where you rank before and after your campaign is essential in assessing the success of it.
  • Google Analytics – Another bountiful resource offered by Google, Google Analytics tells you how many click’s you’ve gotten, measures your SEO effectiveness, trends, and a plethora of different tidbits of information you want to know for your business.  There are far too many “how to’s” for Google Analytics to list here as Grant contends, so take some time to explore this tool to take full advantage of it.

The great thing about a lot of these tool is that they are FREE!

So there you go. We have seen that search engine optimization can be a crucial part of getting in touch with bloggers and journalists. But of course, launching an SEO campaign takes time to implement effectively. Understand your goals, your environment, who you’re working with, and possible tools you can use to help you plan an SEO campaign.

Is Facebook Useful for Connecting with Journalists?

Facebook can be a great place to get professional help.

With 70% of journalists using social media networks to help them report, it almost seems obvious that the #1 “Social Network”, Facebook, would be a valuable resource for reaching out to journalists. We saw that Twitter can be a useful tool, but is this necessarily the case with Facebook?

To some, Facebook can be very personal. Jeremy Porter claims he would never reach out to a journalist for the first time via Facebook. In fact, Porter writes that he would only connect with a reporter he already knew as he believes it’s best practice to connect with journalists through Facebook if you already have a relationship with them, especially if it’s personal.

If you have preexisting relationships with journalists, then the social network giant can be a great place to bounce around ideas with them. If not, Twitter and LinkedIn are better media to connect through.

Although Jeremy shies away from using Facebook to pitch to journalists he doesn’t know, he says it’s a great place to promote yourself to those looking for your knowledge. And if you are trying to maintain professional relationships, you need to keep your profile professional. Be clear with who you are, who you work for, who your clients are, and the types of stories you can be a reference for. Also, update your statuses regularly with what kind of work you are doing.

A great article by Leah Betancourt shows that Facebook can be a very useful resource for journalists to find leads and sources as well as to connect with other journalists. Jeremy Porter’s  point about updating your status and page is proven in a story Leah tells us about a reporter who was friended by a bioethicist from Alden March Bioethics Institute named Glenn McGee.

Glenn wrote a status update complaining about work, wrote about lawyers, and was suddenly out of a job . The reporter’s curiosity was sparked, and he assigned a team to cover what was going on at the institute. Three stories were written.

Glenn’s Facebook page was a lead for that reporter, and although it may not be a great idea to start negatively commenting about your job on Facebook, this scenario displays some of this social network’s usefulness for journalists. Mandy Jenkins uses a similar approach. She looks at her professional friends’ news feeds and finds out what’s going on with them, what groups they have joined, and other important information.  By doing this, she can get a quote and gain a lot of inside information.

Leah’s article notes that reporters are also using their ‘friends’ to help with their stories by having them provide previously unknown sources, assist with asking questions, and give information about potential stories. This type of networking has gained popularity.

Help A Reporter Out (HARO) was originally a Facebook group predicated on this type of networking that connects journalists and sources. After reaching a then group capacity of 1,200 people, HARO expanded by creating HelpAReporter.com. Sources like this can be of great value to a practitioner looking to get a story covered.

HARO group page on Facebook

Based off of this information, conducting yourself in a professional manner on Facebook, displaying that you are a useful source of information, and getting involved with groups like HARO can be very valuable in connecting to journalists through Facebook.

Media Relations: Twitter Edition Part Deux

December 24, 2010 1 comment

Make Twitter a useful tool for media relations

Well, I apologize for not posting in a while.  I’ll start posting more frequently, and with Christmas just around the corner, what better time of year to continue blogging by giving you all the gift of knowing how to pitch on Twitter? Two posts ago, I gave some basics about using Twitter to connect with the media. As always, it’s important to form a relationship with journalists and other groups you are targeting, and it is important to realize the duties and constraints they have.  That is all well and good, but what are some specifics on what you need to do to get the media person you want?

Maya Wasserman offers 8 tips on how to pitch using Twitter. I’ll highlight seven of these tips while referencing a similar post by Nathan Hangen as well as a post co-written by Adam Vincenzini and Lacey Haines. The 8th tip is one from the Hangen article.

  • “Develop and strengthen your online brand first.” Maya covers some of the basics any twitterer…tweeter?…twittite? (nevermind) should follow: be credible, offer valuable information, engage others, and be interesting. Hangen makes a good point about not just trying to “sell” your pitch. On your own Twitter feed, offer some information other than your pitches. Show another side of yourself.
  • “Find the actual journalist, rather than the publication.” This one she admits takes time, but of course, the dividends can pay off. Resources like MediaOnTwitter, Twitter lists, and the journalists’ publication websites (as they are posting their staff’s Twitter handles)  are good starts for finding and organizing the journalists you may want to target.
  • “Build a relationship first. Chances are, you are going to follow what someone says if you trust him or her opposed to someone you don’t know. The same applies for journalists and communicators. Relationships are key, and to build a relationship with journalists, retweet them, answer their questions, and comment on not just their Twitter feeds, but their blogs and articles as well. Maya tells us that Twitter is a “great place” to be a resource for reporters so accommodate them by “listening and learning”. Hangen tells us (article posted here again) that using automated services to auto-tweet links is not the right way to go. They lack personality, so when pitching, be conversational and casual. Don’t come off as someone just trying to sell something.
  • “Brevity is not only key, it is necessary.” 140 characters isn’t that much space, so condense what you have to say by stating what is absolutely necessary for the journalist to know. Vincenzini and Haines’ article (posted here again) referenced people that preferred the limit on Twitter, especially in regards to an e-mail pitch, so not only can a 140 character pitch be done, it may be the best route to go. Hangen mentions that the pitch should not just be made on Twitter though, links to your blog, copy should be available too. Make sure that these and similar links are identified as such as people do not want to be “tricked” into clicking on something.
  • “Use PitchEngine.” Maya proposes this as a relatively easy way to format your pitch and connect with people in an efficient way, and PitchEngine lets you edit and interact with your pitch even after it’s been sent out.  The key here that Maya points out for Twitter, is that this kind of pitch can fit within that pesky (at times) character limitation. This reinforces the point Hangen makes about having more in your pitch than a 140 character message.
  • “DM when possible.” DM or direct message your pitch to your target journalist. This means the journalist has to be following you, so hopefully that is the case if you’ve built a relationship with them.  Wasserman states that “@ replying” is an option, but one must be aware  that the pitch is made public that way, so DMing is  journalists a good way to keep your pitch private. In the Vincenzini article, the authors note that some reporters prefer the DM because they already have a relationship with you, and because the reporter also does not want competitors to know who he or she is talking to.
  • “It helps if the client you are pitching is on Twitter, too.” Having one less obstacle/medium to get over is a nice advantage for getting your pitch out. This is the case if you, your client, and your journalist are all able to connect to each other easily on the same platform.
  • Use “Social Proof”. Hangen tells us to leverage your social network to help your pitch. Having others support your pitch or product is more effective than you pitching by yourself.

All of these tips are very useful when thinking about pitching on Twitter, and hopefully they can help you get your pitch out there.

Is the Press Release Dead?

I’ve written about the SMR as a newer way of disseminating information, but does that mean the traditional press release is dead?  We saw that Tom Foremski believes so, and that certainly others disagree, but let’s delve into this issue a little more.

Simon Dumenco’s article hailing the death of the press release was met with much criticism in his comments section. Several responses in opposition to this claimed that many firms still issue thousands of press releases everyday, and that many people preferred the traditional press release.  Some suggested that only the nature of the release is changing.

Is there a clear cut answer to this question? According to an article written by Ian Campstick, Todd Defren, who helped form the SMR claims that most PR people hate the press release.  Defren considers them to be too manufactured, overdone, and not newsworthy. Then again, according to a survey of journalists, 75% said that well targeted press releases with valuable content are still useful. As mentioned in the post, it seems obvious that a device that is highly effective, almost no matter what the medium, would still be an appreciated tool, but the fact that 25% of journalists still rejected the press release means that the 75% find something of value in the traditional press release.

These contradictions may make it seem like there is no answer, but perhaps the enthusiasm of the debate means that the press release is not dead quite yet. Some certainly still use it while some definitely do not. Knowing who to send either a social media release or a traditional press release may be the key.

Media Relations: Twitter Edition

November 8, 2010 1 comment

Web 2.0 technologies have made for practitioners to stay connected with constituents in new ways. Today’s audience is journalists.  In my first post , I discussed that the key to getting  bloggers to put your information out there is to build relationships with them.  For journalists on Twitter, this remains the same.

Robert Burns II, of Social Media Today says to think like a journalist,  become familiar with them, engage them, to build relationships with them, and to be patient.  The first step is to have them become aware of you. This involves subscribing to them and becoming familiar with what the journalist shares on a regular basis.  Read their Twitter feeds and blogs if they have them, and post useful comments.

Next, Burns says to engage them. The easiest way to do that is it use an “@ mention” in an authentic and relevant manner.  Delve deep into their stories, and offer unique and valuable information to them.   Another point he makes is to build a relationship with them when  you aren’t necessarily looking for a direct benefit. It appears more authentic, and it will help you out when you do need them. Be patient Robert says. Understand that journalists are in fact people too.

It’s always important in life, no matter what situation, to appreciate the perspective of whoever you are communicating to.  Burns mentions this in his article about relations with journalists via twitter, citing this post by Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer.

In it, Falls highlights points for journalists to consider when dealing with social media.  Falls notes that social networks and wikis are not the most reliable sources for serious journalists.  He wants reporters to realize time constraints, but participate in community discussion as well. Jason says reporters should be aware of local tweets as well. There are more, but by realizing these and the other issues reporters deal with, practitioners can better communicate with journalists.

Using this information, respecting journalists’ time limitations, understanding their location including what/where they write about, and providing reliable information can help reporters build a more meaningful relationship with you so that you and your journalist can enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship.

Let’s Braid! Journalism?

Citizen and traditional journalists are being woven around corporate strategy.

This post is all about braiding, so get your daughter, spouse, or best girlfriends over to read this, and get ready for some fun! Ok, you may not need to do that, but if they are interested in companies ‘weaving’ together citizen and traditional journalists into their PR plans, then you may want them to read this anyway.

Braiding, or braided journalism, is the concept of  citizen and traditional journalists’ roles becoming interlocked to fulfill some common need.  This is the definition Valeria Maltoni offers in her article describing the practice.  It generally involves embedding journalists in a company to write stories on its behalf. She believes that this can be very beneficial. By adding third party opinions to the company, the organization gains more credibility. It offers more consumer and non consumer opinion, it adds perspectives from researchers and experts, and it provides an entire story about a subject instead of just a quote to the media to just name a few advantages she lists.

What exactly does that mean? Shel Israel, who is commonly attributed for coining the term, gives examples in his post on the topic. One of them deals with Hoopgurlz, a blog about girls’ basketball started by a former NBA reporter. The blog gained popularity and received sponsorship from ESPN.  The typical citizen journalist role has turned into a professional one due to ESPN’s involvement.

One of the most impressive examples of this is The Power to do More site by Dell.  It’s composed of articles written by hired journalists on topics involving the company.  Shel recounts his experiences with Dell as one of their freelance reporters hired to write about its projects.  They were briefed by employees from Dell and were asked to pitch their ideas to Dell about potential article topics that the company was to approve. Assignments were given out to the journalists, and the reporters were asked to submit their stories to Dell’s PR department, which would also have the final say on the articles.

Shel  notes that he was skeptical of having the PR department edit his own words, but he was pleasantly surprised by Dell’s job. With both parties seemingly being satisfied by the results, braided journalism appears to be a potentially effective tool in public and media relations.

Categories: Journalism Tags: ,

The Social Media Release

November 5, 2010 1 comment

Example of an SMR

Technology is changing, and communicators are trying to change with it. In the “old” days,  practitioners would send a press release that looked like this. It’s very text heavy and written like a news article. Some people, like Tom Foresmki, argue that the traditional press release needs to die, while others believe it’s still a useful tool.  The biggest complaint Foremski has is the artificial nature of the press release. It is examined and reexamined by committees and lawyer making them look more like manipulators than communicators, and they contain a heavy slant. What would be the solution to this problem?

In 2006, Todd Defren led the way for the Social Media Press Release by offering up his template to practitioners. The IABC offered its own model too At first glance, it looks a lot different from a traditional press release.  It’s not the normal inverted pyramid style as the SMR (social media release) segments information into a fact sheet layout style, and it allows for many components that a normal press release can’t have like RSS feeds, audio and visual media,  comments (on some),  related links, and other features.  The segmentation also allows for journalists and bloggers to have an easier time picking out what to report on as it has its own section for attributable quotes.

Traditional news release. The difference is dramatic.

Kaukab Smith of SmartBrief tells us in her article that authors and analysts, Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakendridge state in their book that social media releases are chances to get information that means something to people in a way that actually reaches them.  This means information gets to people other than journalists. Smith explains that SMRs target traditional journalists (and other gatekeepers), bloggers, and the general public. Instead of sending a press release to just a journalist via email, an SMR can focus on mass accessibility Because of this, Kaukab says SMRs should be written for search engines, everyday people, and social-networking sites.

According to her article, creating a successful SMR means using a normal and friendly voice, not an uber-tailored voice that comes off as impersonal like in the traditional news release. Keep headlines short and interesting. Choose keywords that will help in your search engine optimization. Make sharing and feedback easy, and make your release easy to skim.  All of these things should make an SMR easy to digest for all of your audiences and will hopefully get your story out there.

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