Weekly Roundup: Posts from the PR World [8/29/08]

29 08 2008

It’s definitely been a busy week around here for me.  I was finally able to launch my new blog focusing on cooking, grilling, techniques/tips, recipes, etc.  If you are a foodie then check out Prime Cuts and let me know what you think.  Since I didn’t get a chance to post a weekly roundup for last week, this week will include some of my favorite posts from the past two weeks.

Today’s weekly roundup of books include a couple of books which are a couple years old but are ones that I have definitely added to my wishlist and I’d suggest you also check them out.

Weekly Roundup – Books

Branding Unbound: The Future of Advertising, Sales and the Brand Experience in the Wireless Age

Author(s): Rick Mathieson
Published: August 19, 2005
Summary: Mathieson takes a look at wireless technology and the future of mobile advertising.  He provides a thorough analysis of the various technologies and possible uses of this technology for marketing your brand.  Mathieson also discusses some of the problems associated with mobile marketing such as, for example, privacy issues.

Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking

Author(s): Andy Sernovitz and Guy Kawasaki
Published: November 1, 2006
Summary: Sernovitz and Kawaski explain the essential steps that make word of mouth marketing work and how to use them.  They also explain the importance and purpose of blogs, viral marketing, buzz and online communities.  This is an excellent book for anyone looking to attract the most important customers, those that have been referred by someone that’s already happy with your products or services.

Weekly Roundup – PR/Marketing/Social Media Posts

Weekly Roundup – Other Interesting Posts and Random Musings

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Want Press? Check Your Inbox

27 08 2008

Are you an expert at something?  We all are, right?  Have you ever wondered how you could be that expert that’s featured in various news stories across the country?  Some choose to start a blog to showcase this expertise.  But, what if you could have a list of queries from reporters emailed to you every day which you could skim though and pick ones that are in your expertise to respond to?  Sound too good to be true?  Well, it’s real and available to you for free!

The service I’m talking about is called Help A Reporter Out which is the creation of Peter Shankman, founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc., a marketing and PR agency in New York City.  The service is free and only takes a few seconds to sign up for.  After signing up and confirming your email address you will begin to receive up to three emails per day with a list of stories which reporters are seeking help on.  The only rule of the service is that you only respond to the journalist query if and only if you think that you can really help that reporter out.

About a month ago I had read about the service from Tiffany Monhollon.  I found it interesting but quickly forgot about it with a rush of pressing tasks that needed to get done.  A few days ago I remembered that I wanted to check it out and decided to sign up.  A couple hours later I received my first email query.  I anxiously scrolled through to see what this was going to be like.  Guess what?  I found a story to respond to!  I emailed the reporter, set up a time to talk the following day and viola….she is going to use some of that conversation in her article. 🙂

Everyone won’t have the same initial experience that I did of course but I encourage you to sign up.  This is a great way to help you gain some traditional media exposure and further develop yourself as an expert in your field!

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The New Rules of Press Releases

25 08 2008

In case you haven’t noticed, press releases are changing. The way they’re written, the way they’re distributed, and the way they’re used has evolved.In the “old days,” press releases were sent to, well, the press. They piled up on reporters desks (because they were physically mailed to them; no email back then!) and occasionally one got pulled from the pile and printed in the newspaper.

Today, we have email, Internet, and SEO to throw into the mix. Press releases use all these elements, and are no longer  held captive by a few key editors. Now bloggers and consumers are the targets of releases.

In his book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR , David Meerman Scott explains the “new rules of press releases:”

  • Don’t just send news releases when “big news” is happening; find good reasons to send them all the time
  • Instead of just targeting a handful of journalists, create news releases that appeal directly to your buyers.
  • Write releases that are replete with keyword-rich copy.
  • Include offers that compel consumers to respond to your release in some way.
  • Place links in releases to deliver potential customers to landing pages on your Web site.
  • Optimize news release delivery for searching and browsing.
  • Add social media tags for Technorati, DIGG, and del.icio.us so your release will be found.
  • Drive people into the sales process with news releases.

How are you using press releases? Are you still stuck in the “old days,” or have you evolved along with the process?

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Tips from an Internet Marketing Expert

22 08 2008

Earlier this week I had the chance to sit down with Mike Volpe, Vice President of Marketing at HubSpot.  We talked about the differences between inbound and outbound marketing strategies as well as the importance of using internet PR and social media.

Mike will be a part of a top-notch group of presenters at the upcoming Inbound Marketing Summit on September 8th in Cambridge, MA.  As of the last time I checked in with Mike, there were only about 20 tickets left so get over to their site and sign-up.  Let me know if you’re going to be attending as I’ll be there as well.

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Social Media Explained Through a Prism

20 08 2008

“If a conversation takes place online and you’re not there to hear or see it, did it actually happen?”

This is the question that PR expert Brian Solis, principal of FutureWorks, asked when introducing his latest creation, the Conversation Prism.

Solis, along with Jesse Thomas of JESS3, developed the Conversation Prism to be a “living, breathing representation of Social Media [that] will evolve as services and conversation channels emerge, fuse, and dissipate.”  This representation of social media is interesting because it helps you to visualize how many networks and categories of networks (i.e. social bookmarks) actually exist.  If Twitter or Facebook isn’t right for you, then maybe Plurk or BrightKite might interest you more.  The idea isn’t to necessarily be a member of every social network but instead to pick a few which help you to network or share your brand with those that are interested.  For instance, MySpace probably isn’t going to help you more than being a purely social medium unless you’re involved in the music industry, club scene, or other similar spaces.  For those people or companies, MySpace has been critical in exposing their music or events to a much larger audience that would otherwise be out of their reach (possibly).

But using social networks is a waste of company time! Many companies block social media because of the “wasted” time and money of employees spending hours per day updating their profiles.  However, what if a prospective customer doing a Google search on your company came across that employees profile and saw a bulletin they posted about an upcoming product launch or about how much they love working for the company?  Would that still be a waste of company time?  I don’t think so.  I understand that many companies are scared because of not being able to control the message that is being posted.  I would argue that the employee is going to use the social network whether at work or at home so why not embrace it and encourage them to post positive things about the company while they’re at it.

How does this relate to internet press releases? The Conversation Prism and use of social media only further solidifies the positive reasons why you should be using internet press releases to convey and distribute company messages.  In fact, the term “internet press release” is interchangeable with “social media press release”.  A PR that is distributed via a reputable internet service can be picked up by interested users of sites like Digg, StumbleUpon and reddit.  The PR then might be saved for future use on a social bookmarking site like delicious.  Also, a blogger might see the release and then decide to write about it on their WordPress, tumblr, BlogSpot, Blogger or TypePad blog.

The idea here is that using social media in conjunction with internet press releases to convey company messages, updates, product launches, etc. can help to improve your online reputation management as well as the chances of your next prospective customer finding you the next time they don’t know they need your service.

Social Media in Plain English:

For more information on Social Media, download Solis’ Social Media Manifesto and The Essential Guide to Social Media.  Also, stay tuned as I will have an interview with Brian later this week!

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Newsforce Gives Your PR Access to a Premium News Network

18 08 2008

Recently, Newsforce released a new product which is a paid placement network for press releases.  The new service, being called the Premium News Network, takes your press release and guarantees placement on major news sites.

To accomplish this, Newsforce purchases ad spots on the major news media sites and then displays their clients’ press releases within that advertisement space.  When a visitor clicks on the PR it brings them to a hosted article page which can include videos, photos, links, etc.  The Newsforce team then sends you weekly reports showing you how the PR is doing and allows you to tweak your headline or content whenever you want.  Each PR runs for 30 days at which time it can be renewed or you can submit a new press release.  Their pricing structure is based on the number of headline impressions you are targeting for your campaign.

Newsforce has already partnered with several media sites such as: Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Boston Herald, and a bunch more.  They also continue to add more partners each week.

What interests me about this service is that it’s not like anything that’s out there right now, at least not that I’m aware of.  Internet PR distribution companies typically take your press release and push it out through the news-wires and other services and then rely on these sites to pick up on the release.  Newsforce is taking this same press release and placing it onto the major news sites.  As you can see from the example on the right, Newsforce had purchased the top advertising block on the Los Angeles Times Health section and had 3 press releases displaying along with a short description of each and a link back to the full release.

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Weekly Roundup: Posts from the PR World [8/15/08]

15 08 2008

Wow, what a week around the PR blogosphere!  I’m not going to explain it all again as many others have commented on it.  Some of the links below are just a few of the many posts but you’ll be able to get a good overview by following the links on those articles as well.  Another busy week for me putting together the concept for another blog as well as planning some new interviews for this blog.

Weekly Roundup – Books

Saving the World at Work: What Companies and Individuals Can Do to Go Beyond Making a Profit to Making a Difference

Author(s): Tim Sanders
Published: September 16, 2008
Summary: Sanders believes that companies need to make a difference through their products, manufacturing methods, environmental efforts and community outreach.  We are no longer casual consumers, according to Sanders, but instead are mindful consumers who look beyond the bottom line price to judge which companies we will purchase from.

PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences

Author(s): Deirdre Breakenridge
Published: April 2008
Summary: Breakenridge teaches her reader a host of new PR best practices including how to utilize blogs, social networks, RSS technology, podcasts, visual and social media in releases, using analytic tools, as well as several other new ways of reaching your target audience(s).  Breakenrdige also includes interviews with some of the A-list PR 2.0 practicioners including Brian Solis who posted an excellent review on the book on his blog, most appropriately named, PR 2.0.

Weekly Roundup – PR/Marketing/Social Media Posts

Weekly Roundup – Other Interesting Posts and Random Musings

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10 Tips for a Successful Internet PR Campaign

12 08 2008

I’m often asked for tips on how to develop a successful internet-based PR campaign.  In the past I have covered some of the “unconventional” or non-traditional ways that a press release could be used to gain exposure.  But I wanted to put together a set of quick tips that will help point you in the right direction if you want to start using internet PR but not exactly sure how to go about it the right way.

So, below are a few tips that will help you when developing your next internet press release:

  1. First and foremost, read The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott.  While waiting for the book to arrive, start by reading the New Rules ebook.  These two resources will provide you with the fundamentals needed to dive into internet PR.
  2. Optimize your press release with relevant keywords that your target audience will use when they are searching for what they’re looking for.
  3. Use links in your press release to drive your potential customers to your website or to other relevant pages such as a recently published positive-related article, whitepaper or ebook which is referenced in the release.
  4. Include your contact information including phone number and website so that potential customers have a way to contact you directly from the press release.
  5. Submit your press release within approximately 7 days of when you want to begin creating buzz.  We typically see that our customers receive the most headline impressions and pageviews during the first 7-28 days that the press release is distributed.  However, a benefit of web-based press releases is that they will continue to live on the internet instead of a traditional print press release which is only beneficial during the immediate time after release.
  6. Use a distribution service who will distribute your release to a wide network of media outlets including opt-in journalists, bloggers, television, radio, newspapers, and broad range of other resources.
  7. Utilize social networks such as Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon to gain even more traction especially among those already interested in your blog, website or company.
  8. Post your press release on the media/press section of your website.  By posting the press release to the media/press section of your website, you create more linking between your keywords and your website as the search engines crawl your site and index this information.
  9. Submit press releases often and about any newsworthy event that involves your company, your products or your people.  As I have mentioned in a previous post, you should use internet-based PR like you use Twitter.
  10. Optimize the landing page that you direct your potential customers to within the release.  On this landing page you could have an interesting and informative video, a field to capture opt-ins to a newsletter, an RSS link to your blog, and/or any other information which will take that visitor and turn them into a potential customer.  An example of an excellent landing page is the home page of personal branding expert, Dan Schawbel.

While I could go into greater depth about each of these tips (and will in future posts), this will help you to start developing a successful internet-based PR campaign.

To learn more about why it’s beneficial to distribute a search-engine-optimized press release through the internet as opposed to traditional print channels, take a look at this video:

Also, here are some more resources on internet-based press releases:

  • Brian Solis of FutureWorks wrote a guide on how to write social media press releases.
  • Todd Defren of Shift Communications developed a social media press release template to help guide you during the development/writing process.

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Weekly Roundup: Posts from the PR World [8/9/08]

9 08 2008

I’ve decided to tweak the format of the Weekly Roundup a little bit.  Since I haven’t had as much time to read lately as I had anticipated, I am going to list a few new PR, marketing or social media related books each week which I think are important to pick up.  These books may be older (but new to me :)), oldies-but-goodies, or new books.  I may have read some of them, be currently reading, or have added to my wish list to pick up.

Weekly Roundup – Books

Title:Tuned In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities That Lead to Business Breakthroughs
David Meerman Scott, Craig Stull, and Phil Myers
Published: June 2008

Title:Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
Seth Godin
Published: October 16, 2008

Title:Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: No Schedules, No Meetings, No Joke–the Simple Change That Can Make Your Job Terrific
Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson
: May 2008

Weekly Roundup – PR/Marketing/Social Media Posts

Weekly Roundup – Other Musings

That’s it for this week’s roundup.  Lots of ideas to write about this week!

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Interview with a PressRelease-o-maniac

8 08 2008

Today I interviewed engineer-turned-marketer, David Butler creator and owner of PressRelease-o-maniac, a London-based press release distribution site.  PressRelease-o-maniac is only a few months old but is already getting an increasing number of PRs submitted on a daily basis and shows a lot of future growth potential.

Can you tell us a little more about yourself?

Sure, it might surprise you but I’m not a marketer!  I come from an engineering background – graduated from Cambridge University six years ago. I then worked in a start-up company developing graphics software for simulators until the start of 2008 when I decided to start working with a small team of web ninjas in the online business. Haven’t looked back since! PriceCutReview.com and MyPropertySpot.com (beta) are among our creations.

How did an engineer decide to venture into the PR world?

PressRelease-o-maniac came about from the realization that the old adage, “if you make it they will come” simply wasn’t true.  As an engineer I was interested in making products and services of value.  Coming up with a good idea, investing time and money creating it was hard enough, but I soon found out that marketing to a wider audience was actually harder.  A trickle of users actively searching the web might stumble across the product or service, however, the masses are left in the dark.

After a few mentions in the press (both online and printed) we noticed major spikes in our web traffic and learned that journalists wielded awesome power!  I did know that press releases were a way that journalists found stories, however, a quick trawl through the main press release submission sites showed that issuing releases was expensive!  In addition, I felt that they could be improved and given some of the “web 2.0” treatment.  So, I thought, why not create a PR site?  When there’s something we want to present to the world, It would become our virtual megaphone.

What are your thoughts on the importance of incorporating internet press releases into a company’s marketing strategy?

Predictably I’m going to say very important!  But it’s true. The first thing about the internet is that it’s here to stay and it’s only going to get bigger. It’s also a great tool that has the ability to provide quality feedback. Quantifiable stats such as how many people have seen your release, when and where they came from can be gathered. Marketing is a science and with the help of this data, lessons can be learned so that future campaigns become more successful.  The internet is still new and it’s relatively easy to carve a niche within it. Presumably your business is already is a niche of some description, otherwise it wouldn’t be profitable! So dominate your space online as well!

Just a note here about the engineering – I’d like to make a point using the Apple brand as an illustration. The iPhone would probably be able to market itself, being really very cool. But I bet Apple didn’t consider reducing their advertising budget because their product was good! There’s a multiplier effect at work. Apple can actually be criticized for letting marketing have more influence than the engineering department. Make your engineering dept of the highest possible standard and also empower it, because the better the service/product, the easier it’ll be to market.

How does a company utilize internet press releases to enhance their visibility on the web?

According to Steven Pinker’s The Language Instinct, most sentences we speak have never been uttered before in the history of the planet. So choose your words carefully, perhaps deliberately make them more similar to what might be queried in a search engine.  Also, be “remarkable” i.e. have a story that people want to talk about with their colleagues around the water cooler the next day. Those in the blogosphere happen to like a good story and that just means more links to your website.  Nothing increases search engines rankings better than quality inbound links.

What’s the future hold for PressRelease-o-maniac as far as site enhancements, additional offerings, etc.?

First of all, I think it’s interesting to compare the traditional newswire with social networking sites such as Digg and Reddit that are very big today. They’re not that different – they present lists of stories, only Digg and Reddit allow voting, such that seemingly more interesting stories float to the top. Today, journalists still seem to stick to the newswire. I suspect this is because stories are still usually found there first, then propagated to social sites. Journos also don’t want to be spoon-fed! That’s not to mention the bias towards sensational items of interest to the 15-30 year old male demographic.

Indeed there are changes coming to PressRelease-o-maniac… fairly imminently in fact, but the good news is that we’re going to remain free.  Submission quality will however have to be maintained with a more stringent filtering process – unlike Google’s somewhat lame “don’t be evil” we believe in “actively be good”, so releases that are “unhelpful” we would be inclined to ignore… So if say a large gaming complex was to open in some corner of Nevada, we probably wouldn’t bother publishing that.

The site’s minimalist appearance will probably stay, such that the focus is on the content! Guess we’re like Craigslist that way…

Each release will be categorized. Already you see the Google Map of stories and that releases from a particular country can be isolated, but sections like one on sport, health, finance etc will be added, tags too. Improving our distribution is another major challenge. After all, that’s what it’s all about. We’re going to work on growing our list of subscribers and get all those stories out there, 50K so far and counting…

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