An article by Mickie Kennedy, CEO and founder of eReleases:
The concept of a free press release distribution service is a real head scratcher to most PR professionals because it removes "reaching the media" from the equation. Free press release websites are recommended by SEO professionals, webmasters and business owners for one reason: to get one-way links and traffic. A note of caution: the one-way links to your site are from a deep-linked page on the free press release website -- not the homepage.
One Press Release, 12,800 Hits. Great, Right?
Most of these newly created pages are cluttered with ads and have no PageRank. Traffic is also misleading. Many of these free press release services have heavily streamed RSS feeds that are constantly pulling press releases. Just because a press release has been streamed, it doesn't mean it has been read. Most of these press release "hits" are not end-users but an RSS reader constantly updating its feed. I access my Google Reader every day but I only get to browse the latest 40 or so headlines. Several hundred headlines buried beneath my latest headlines, which have been streamed, will never get read but count as a "hit."
Free Traffic to Your Site
Free press release sites are also coveted for free traffic. The average free press release produces less than 100 visitors to your website, which is not bad -- until you realize most of this traffic isn't a potential customer but a website owner looking at his own press release and sampling other press releases on the website. I realize that any traffic and any resulting sales is a real perk, but I also realize that more than 99 percent of all free press releases will yield no real traffic, no leads, no sales, and phantom "hits" from RSS feeds.
This article by previously appeared in PR Fuel, a service of eReleases.com Press Release Distribution (http://www.ereleases.com).
Working with a PR firm is a great way to get your brand, company or product a placement in a top publication or website. We have all the tools to connect with journalists and bloggers to spread your message to the media.
One trick up our sleeves is using Twitter to have a dialogue with influential members of the media. We can follow editors, reporters and bloggers and interact with them casually to determine if our clients can be a source for any stories they are working on.
I’ve used Twitter to get my client placed in a top regional magazine by following a well-known writer and keeping tabs on the stories he was working on. When I read a Tweet that I knew my client could speak knowledgably and at-length about, I Tweeted to the reporter and offered a tidbit of information from my client. That resulted in a quote in a story in the magazine. After that, the writer tapped my client several more times for quotes in stories he was working on. Then the writer brought my client on the radio with him to serve as an expert source for a segment he was conducting. One tweet led to a strong relationship for my client with a top local journalist.
Another exchange on Twitter resulted in a placement in the Wall Street Journal for my client. Again, I followed a member of the media who I knew wrote stories about my client’s field of expertise. That reporter out right asked for sources for her story on Twitter. While my client didn’t fit the role for the type of source she was looking for, his clients did. So we offered to connect the reporter with his clients and after talking to my client for a few minutes, she realized she could use him too. The next week he was prominently featured in a national story in the Wall Street Journal.
It doesn’t happen all the time and you certainly have to wait for the right opportunity. But when it works it works!
Are you using Twitter to pitch the media?
I'm really blown away by how many large and important businesses leave their social media management or online community manager position to their interns. What in the world are they thinking?
In this post, I'd like to share with you why I think your PR agency should also manage your social media.
1. Above Par Communication Skills. PR people communicate for a living. A PR person doesn't go into PR unless he or she is a good communicator, good writer, and good with people. Life experiences and proper PR training counts - and an experienced PR agency can offer that right out of the gate. Don't forget that social media requires an immense amount of communication skills - which your PR agency has been trained in from the start.
2. Focus on Total Cohesion. PR people can smoothly marry your PR efforts with your social media efforts. Did your PR agency get you a hit in a major magazine? They can easily amplify that PR by mentioning it on social media, tagging the major parties involved, and celebrating the coverage cross-channel.
3. Great Problem Solvers. PR people are often some of the best problem solvers I know. They know how to handle customer service issues that arise on social media, just as they know how to handle a difficult reporter or client. They are always thinking about the best way to position their clients in the best light even when they're against all odds.
4. Fully Embraces Engagement. PR people are focused on engagement first and foremost. Just as PR people help companies engage with reporters, they too can help a company engage with their fans. They serve as a great go-between for the company owners, sales staff, customers/fans, and a technology/SEO agency. One company I used to do PR for used an SEO company to handle its social media. Every Facebook post and Tweet was a sales pitch - it drove me crazy that the company was willing to alienate fans to make a fast buck. PR people know that like PR, social media is truly about engagement, relationships, and a smart approach.
5. Has a Can-Do Attitude. PR people are focused on customer and client service at all times. They have a can-do attitude when it comes to communicating with all parties and findings solutions to make their clients, reporters and fans simultaneously happy.
Do you agree that your PR agency should also manage your social media? Why or why not?
I am often called by various business owners that want PR. They often start by telling me how much they need PR help. Then the "but" rears its ugly head. They tell me they "can't afford" PR after all.
When someone tell me they need PR but can't afford it, I think two things:
1. I think they lack confidence in their idea or business. Any business owner who wants to make things happen for their business will make it happen. The truth is most people say they want to be successful, but few people are willing to do whatever it takes to be successful.
2. I think the person who "can't afford" PR is ruled by negative thoughts and is attracting negative energy. When you think about what you "can't" do or don't have, it consumes you so much that the universe is giving you what you're thinking about. There is so much power in positive thinking. Your thoughts dictate what you can and can't do. If you think you can't, you're right, you can't. You are what you think you are.
So they next time you want to tell a PR agency you can't afford PR, consider what I said in this post and then change your thoughts. You can afford it, you just need to think you can, make decisions to make it happen, and then poof, your wish is the universe's command.
(If this blog post sounds hokey to you, I recommend you read the best-selling book, The Secret. I think you'll realize just how much your thoughts control your destiny.)
While I was browsing Facebook last week, I came across a post by the Wall Street Journal announcing that Warren Buffett was joining Twitter. Ironically it was on the same day that he was announcing an essay he wrote explaining why women are key to America’s prosperity.
With enthusiasm, I logged in to my Twitter account and immediately began to follow him. While Twitter was abuzz about Mr. Buffett’s new account, as someone who formerly worked in the financial services industry, I was quite familiar with many of Mr. Buffett’s successful companies and work with non-profits. What I didn’t know about was some of his more recent endeavors, one of which was established a few years ago and targeted children. Why is that so surprising? Well, I tend to think of myself as having my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the parenting world – after all – I am a parent that has spent the last 5 years working on PR and Social Media campaigns targeting families.
So, what is this endeavor he’s involved with? It seems that Mr. Buffett has worked with a grouping of nonprofits to create a supercool educational series of webisodes called The Secret Millionaire’s Club designed to teach children about fiscal responsibility, with lessons about investing in yourself (“the more you learn, the more you earn”) and entrepreneurship. Not being a cartoon lover, I watched a few minutes and then listened in the background to the storylines. I loved everything that I heard and couldn’t wait for my nine-year old daughter to get home from school to share it with her. We struggle with getting through the idea of saving for the future, however she has been bitten by both the entrepreneurial bug and is a budding philanthropist, so I had a good feeling she would be excited, inspired and entertained.
What happened from there is a great example of how social media can transcend beyond the Twitter and Facebook pages and into direct action. She had a sleepover planned and she asked to watch an episode or two with her friends – they loved it so much, they watched 5 webisodes!! The next day she and her 6-year-old brother watched several more in the car as we were travelling about. What was fascinating was that my husband and I were listening in and finding the webisodes informative and good reminders to us as business professionals, citizens and consumers too. Through our conversations in the car, my children now know who Warren Buffett is, why he is so successful, and how they, too, can achieve greatness in life and business if they set goals and work hard towards achieving them.
The part of this story that was disappointing, however, was to see the low usage of social media to help introduce and engage the target audience to share the “Secret Millionaire’s Club” so it isn’t quite so “secret” anymore. So here is why Warren Buffet should consider hiring Red Jeweled Media:
- Facebook/Twitter Moms are on these social media sites, they look to learn from their trusted peers on the latest and greatest in products, services, information, and advice. A goal should be to strive to engage a larger audience beyond 1,200 Facebook Fans and a mere 200 Twitter Fans.
- With such a brilliantly written essay on the ‘Power of Women in America’, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a large fan base (the online and connected women of America) already established to help further promote this new essay?
- Legacy – can you imagine the impact of truly capturing more children/teens with the messages instilled in your programming of Secret’s Millionaires Club and getting some of these teens to start having these conversations online? We can. We see many further partnerships with organizations that are constantly on the hunt for new ways to teach children about saving and investing – How about the Boys and Girls Scouts of America for instance? I’d bet that would help garner a larger following and further your goals for Secret Millionaires Club.
We have lots more ideas on how to reach women and moms in America, Mr. Buffett. We welcome a call from you and your team to help reach this audience you are “bullish” about!
The social media world is filled with many voices. Of course if you're a PR agency, marketing firm or social media community manager at XYZ Company, you're going to have your fair share of "voices" to sift through - you'll find supporters, detractors and everything in between.
So how can you, as a brand, make sure your social media listening involves only listening to and engaging with the right content and the right people? After all, in my humble opinion, not everyone on social media has good things to say, nor deserves to be heard.
I have a few thoughts on this:
1. Do Your Due Diligence. Just a few weeks ago, we learned that the AP's Twitter account was hacked and misinformation about a bomb threat at the White House was quickly being disseminated around the globe faster than a Harlem Shake video. While most of us trust the AP, we must remember to read everything with a grain of salt and do our own due diligence before believing - and even worse, retweeting - a single bit of information.
2. Be Discerning. Be discerning about who you listen to because like I said before, not everyone deserves to be heard by your brand. Try to verify you're listening to legitimate people behind the pages. Many celebrity pages are not "official" and are managed by fans or detractors, for example. Also, when you decide to listen to other brands, think about engaging with only those that are complementary to your brand and ones you'd be proud to be associated with.
3. Let It Roll. Because the anonymity of social media allows people to vent in ways they never would to your face, beware, as a brand, that your customers are doing just that, venting. Don't take it personally. There are a lot of detractors out there and their intentions are unknown (maybe they're the competition?), so let it roll right off your shoulder. Engaging with someone whose intentions are unknown can only wreak havoc on your business and life, so don't get into a negative exchange with anyone. I often will thank someone for their comments and tell them I've passed it on to the right people. If their comments are harassing or spiteful, I find that the unfollow, unlike, and ban from page buttons very useful. There's a reason they were invented!
Remember, as you do social media listening for a company or brand, do your due diligence on who you listen to, be discerning about who you engage with, and let comments from detractors roll right off your shoulder - and even into your trash box.
The FTC has long been the guiding light in protecting consumers and ensuring companies truthfully describe their products and services in marketing and advertising. This assurance from the FTC enables consumers and companies to breath more easily, as a fair marketplace means companies are free to compete without deceptive practices.
A common practice in the marketing and PR world is working with bloggers on various promotional campaigns. As we discovered in our inaugural Parenting Blogger Intelligence Report, many bloggers see themselves as "marketers" rather than as “journalists.”
As companies and PR agencies work in tandem with bloggers to promote their goods ands services, it’s important that everyone is following the FTC disclosure guidelines to a tee. In the PR world, these new guidelines most importantly impact how sponsored posts and paid brand ambassadorships are disclosed to a particular blog’s readers.
Here is a summary of the revised disclosure guidelines outlined by the FTC. (Disclosure, this blog post is only my summary and interpretations of the FTC guidelines and should not be considered official word from the FTC.)
Disclosures Must Be Clear and Conspicuous AND Prominent
The guidelines say that advertising must not be misleading, untruthful, and must have evidence to back up any claims. The FTC goes on to say that advertisers should adopt a perspective of a reasonable consumer. This means disclosures should be placed near the claim they qualify and advertisers should draw attention to any disclosures. The FTC writes, "Simply making the disclosure available somewhere in the ad, where some consumers might find it, does not meet the clear and conspicuous standard."
Further, disclosures should be made close enough to the claim without requiring a consumer to scroll. The FTC writes, "Requiring consumers to scroll in order to view a disclosure may be problematic, however, because consumers who don’t scroll enough (and in the right direction) may miss important qualifying information and be misled."
Further, advertisers should not use hyper links to display their disclosures. "Disclosures that are an integral part of a claim or inseparable from it should not be communicated through a hyper link. Instead, they should be placed on the same page
and immediately next to the claim, and be sufficiently prominent so that the claim and the disclosure are read at the same time, without referring the consumer somewhere else to obtain this important information," according to the FTC.
So what does this mean for bloggers and PR professionals? It means that any bit of compensation a blogger receives must be disclosed prominently within a sponsored post or sponsored Tweet, etc. No longer can a blogger simply send their readers to a page that features their disclosures, and no longer can a blogger only disclose compensation buried at the end of a post. Rather, disclosures should be made at the top of a post, in a prominent spot, so that a blog’s readers can see it prominently displayed.
For any sponsored blog posts we facilitate on behalf of our clients, we always ask for a disclosure (and we’ll ask for a prominent disclosure) to ensure all parties are operating in a truthful and forthright fashion.
Here’s an example disclosure that a blogger could use when doing a sponsored post – such a disclosure should be posted at the top and bottom of a post to ensure prominent disclosure as required by the FTC guidelines:
- Disclosure: I was compensated with product and/or payment by XYZ Company to write this post. However, the views expressed in this post are my own.
- Disclosure: I am a paid member of XYZ Company’s Blog Ambassador program. I am compensated, from time to time, with free products and monetary payments. Any views expressed in this post are completely my own.
Here’s an example of a sponsored social media post:
- Sponsored Tweet/Post: I tried the new all beef patty melt from McKing and loved it.
Remember, if you’re running a blogger campaign or blog ambassador program that involves compensating bloggers either monetarily or with free product, you must require the blogger to disclose such information to their readers whenever talking about your company on their blog or via social media. As a PR agency, it is important that we follow these FTC guidelines, and encourage bloggers we work with for sponsored posts to do so too.
What do you think of the new FTC guidelines? Do you think it will help keep the information disseminated on blogs more truthful? Will it impact what readers think of a blogger for accepting payments for a post?
Before hiring a PR agency to promote your business services or products, it is important to have an understanding of the time commitment involved to obtain your desired results. Instinct and experience in life often tell us to “try before you buy”, but it just doesn’t work that way with PR. You can’t try a PR agency for a month or two and expect to be able to make any sort of logical judgment on whether to continue the course with them.
A rule of thumb is a minimum of a six-month contract, preferably 12 months, to allow your PR team the time needed to get results. Here’s why:
RAMP UP TIME – Onboarding a new client is tedious and also considered the most important part, the foundation of the relationship. During this time, your PR agency takes the time to get to know your brand, work out the finite details of pitching strategies and preparations for responses to questions. If you’re going to hire a PR agency to talk about you, you want to be sure they have all the facts correct. During this time, your PR firm also will start to uncover new ideas and angles to pitch your story to press and bloggers that might not have been uncovered in your initial proposal.
OUTREACH TIME – It’s rare that the minute your agency begins pitching your story that they would receive an immediate response. Sometimes it takes days, weeks and even months of aggressive follow-up to get a “yes” or “no” or even a “maybe” from a busy reporter or blogger. Reporters and bloggers use editorial calendars and are constantly planning ahead for articles and posts; often they don’t reply until they are in need of content unless the story is earth shatteringly urgent.
BUILDING TIME – In the first through third month, sometimes you will have no placements or just a few placements. Now is not the time to pick up the phone and call it quits with your PR agency. It’s important that you remain patient and focused on the long-term. Your PR firm has been busy planting seeds that you can’t even see to make a clear judgment to continue working with them or not. Your contact should be sharing this information with you to help calm your nerves, but at the end of the day, you have to stay positive and focused. If you start digging into your PR agency for not having hits for you right away, you will only deter them from staying the course they set for you and you’ll be doing your business a huge disservice by not following through with the seeds you planted. If you don’t water them, they won’t grow, trust me!
If you are patient and positive, and your agency is persistent, you will find that the rewards of great PR placements will be right around the corner. Good things come to those who wait!
I was on a plane when the Boston Marathon bombings happened last week. It wasn’t until the plane landed that I turned on my phone and checked my social media sites. That’s when I learned what had occurred while I was in-flight.
As I was making my way through the airport to baggage claim, I continued to scroll through my feeds – particularly on Twitter – to get the latest updates on the most major news event to hit our nation in a long time. I was just one of the millions of people using their social media to follow developments from Boston.
Between the posts from news sources, I observed tweets from companies marketing their services and products during this solemn time. One local food manufacturer in particular was repeatedly telling me the retail locations where I could find their products on sale. Another company was promoting how to enter a contest.
As a social media marketer at a PR agency, I was put-off by the promotional tweets. They felt completely inappropriate, out of context and obviously automated.
I understand auto-tweeting and auto-posting are necessary in implementing a content marketing campaign. We can’t always be behind the keyboard, so as marketers, we often rely on an auto-posting service to spew out a few targeted posts every so often regarding our promotional or marketing campaigns.
I also understand that even in the wake of national tragedy, business must go on. I don’t think companies should just stop tweeting or using social media all together. In fact, I think just the opposite.
By pausing your auto-postings momentarily and putting your company’s social media manager behind the keyboard to interact and tweet live, you’re demonstrating that there is a heart and soul to your company.
Twitter and Facebook should be a way for consumers to interact one-on-one that is different from customer-service and advertising and more inline with a personal relationship.
Knowing that your company can put their marketing efforts on hold and have a real conversation that contributes to the dialogue of the nation will humanize your brand.
So as we all wade through the Boston aftermath together, let’s be more sensitive about our automated marketing efforts moving forward.
If you're looking for PR coverage of your product or service during the coveted holiday season, follow these 10 tips to getting Holiday Gift Guide PR coverage.
- Start Early. If you want PR in this year's holiday gift guides, or the December issues of your favorite magazines, then you need to start doing some serious planning now. The spring and summer are the best times to plan your coverage for the December issues because they work off a 4-6 month lead time.
- Build a Media List. You'll want to figure out what publications your target audience reads and create a list of holiday gift guide contacts to pitch. Our PR agency uses CisionPoint to build our media lists, but you can also do it manually by calling the magazines and inquiring who is the holiday gift guide editor.
- Craft a Pitch. You'll want to brainstorm a variety of pitch angles. Perhaps your product is a great gift idea for dad, or a gift for the crafty mama. Begin forming your angles so you put your best pitch forward.
- Ready Your Product. Think about what product you might want to promote in December. Don't pitch something for the summer; rather pitch something that can be enjoyed during the winter holiday months. You'll want to get some samples on-hand and ready to send out on a moment's notice (i.e., as soon as the reporter says, "Yes, I'd like a sample.").
- Send that Pitch. Once your pitch and product are ready to go, go ahead and send that pitch. Make sure it's clear, concise and typo-free.
- Track What You Do. Make sure you're tracking your efforts carefully. I usually use an Excel spreadsheet to note what pitch I sent and when.
- Follow Up. Follow up is crucial. Squeaky wheel gets the grease, will it be you? Send a follow up email and don't be afraid to call too. Editors get very bogged down and may not see your email.
- Send that Sample. Only if you get interest and confirmation from an editor to send a sample, go ahead and do so. (If you do not hear from them, do not send them something unsolicited). I suggest sending it overnight so it's there the next day and while it's top of mind with the editor.
- Follow Up... Again. If you sent a sample, you'll want to follow up shortly thereafter to make sure the sample arrived and to see if they have any questions or plans for coverage. Be discreet but forthright in your communications with an editor.
- Monitor for Coverage. If an editor gives you the green light and shows interest in your product, then you'll want to monitor the December issue for coverage. Have your website prepared and ready to capture any new leads that result from your great and hard-earned PR!
The process of getting into holiday gift guides is a time-consuming process for business owners, PR professionals and PR agencies alike. The payoff can be huge, or nothing at all. However, if you work hard and follow this PR pitch process, you'll likely have some success.
Remember, the holiday issues of major publications are where millions of companies want to be. Make sure your product and pitch are top-notch, your professionalism and approach unmatched, and your pitch process streamlined. Good luck!
If you want Red Jeweled Media to pitch holiday gift guides on your behalf, please visit our Holiday Gift Guide PR Campaign page for more details.