With the proliferation of social media, content has never been more readily accessible to all of us. But what content is trusted most by consumers? Is it third party news and reviews (PR), user generated content (review), or branded content (content published by brands)?
A new Nielsen study found that PR is 88% more effective than Content Marketing when it comes to driving consumer decisions.
This study, commissioned by inPowered, sought to understand the impact various types of content played in influencing a consumer's purchasing decision. The study compared familiarity, affinity and purchase intent across multiple product categories when it came to various content.
The study found that consumers rely most on third-party content, such as press coverage, and then user reviews. Brand generated content was rated as least reliable in influencing consumer decisions (albeit, still influential).
These findings support what PR agencies and PR professionals have known for years... that PR generates the most credible content around, building authority, trust and confidence in a brand like nothing else can. Whereas SEO firms try to inflate this kind of authority with link-building tactics, but nothing beats earned press coverage published on an authoritative news site. This study supports the case for brands to seek out earned PR coverage.
You can download the entire study here for free.
We (as PR agency pros and social media markters) know that in order to do good marketing we must get up to speed on how to create graphics, as well as understand what graphics are legal to use in our own posts, tweets and social platforms.
We also know, because HubSpot reminds us, that social media posts with images are 94% more likely to get shared in the social space.
In a recent and big industry shift, my colleague Maris Callahan explained how Getty images did an about-face earlier this month; the company removed its watermarks on its photography collection in early March, allowing its images to be public domain. At first, it appeared that an endless (and free) visual library was at our fingertips. Did I mention free? A closer inspection reveals there are many strings attached with these embeddable photos. In fact, it is best to avoid using Getty images (in my opinion). What if you posted it wrong?!?
So… now what is a PR professional to do if we want to share images alongside our social media posts (and we're not designers at all)?
Many options remain, even for the technically-challenged.
On his Elegant Themes blog*, Kevin Muldoon shares some great (read: legal) resources to find images for your blog, website or social platforms. Here are Kevin’s TOP 5 RESOURCES to get you going:
1. Flickr – This is home to more than a billion photos and a large majority of the images can be used as long as you credit the photographer.
2. Public Domain Pictures.net – This is a big collection of images available for free however, some of them have restrictions for commercial use, so be careful to read the fine print.
3. FreeFoto – Over 130,000 images can be found within this archive. You must create a link back to the image (commonly called attribution link) in order to use the images on your site or blog.
4. DeviantArt – A large online community for artists and photographers, who, in some cases allow their images to be used if you link back to their profile. Check out creative-commons.deviantart.com or do a Google search, “This work is licensed under a Creative Commons” site:deviantart.com.
5. Pixabay - Free, high quality public photo directory. It isn’t necessary to use an attribution link when you post these photos.
For Purchasing Images: A good site to purchase membership to is iCLIPART.com. This site contains millions of downloadable royalty-free images including clipart, photos, photo objects and web graphics. A subscription will cost $13 for the week, $25 for the month or $100 for the year. If you plan on using the images in a lot of printed materials (think printed postcards, pamphlets, etc.), you’ll want to purchase the annual membership.
For Editing Images: Once you have your photo or image selected, PicMonkey.com is an excellent online photo editing service (just make sure there aren't any restrictions on changing photos you've licensed to use). You can add filters, frames, text and effects in minutes. A subscription costs $4.99/month or $33/year.
For Creating Graphics from Words: If you wish to turn quotes, expressions or words of wisdom into graphics, you can try Pinwords, an app that lets you instantly add captions and text to your images. Note, the app is free, however, each picture has the Pinwords logo in the bottom right-hand corner.
Another free app, Quozio turns meaningful words or quotes into images in seconds. You can then share your masterpieces on your social platforms.
The bottom line: People don’t read plain blocks of text anymore. An image or visual has been proven to draw the reader in. Mastering some of these graphic resources is a way to engage and entertain more fans, viewers and readers.
The terms marketing and public relations seem to always be intertwined and thrown around together. While they do compliment each other, there's a vast difference between the two.
Marketing is what I often refer to as Image Development. This includes your website, logo, branding, advertising, networking, writing, social media development, press kit creation and professional bio. I recommend always using an experienced marketing professional for this work and remember when getting quotes...if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Experienced design professionals are worth their weight in gold and while it may be costly, you will save money in the long run by not having to pay someone else to "fix" what wasn't done correctly the first time.
On the other hand, Public Relations is Image Management. This includes media outreach (print, tv, radio & online), social media management and promotion, blogger campaigns, charity/non-profit outreach for partnership development, obtaining endorsements, industry and community awards and the distribution of press releases and press kits. Many people think that public relations is an area where they can save money and do the work themselves. Writing press releases and sending them to media outlets isn't quite as easy as it sounds. Think of the time involved in writing the releases and researching the correct contacts. Do you know the techniques involved in writing an eye-catching press release and how to obtain the correct contacts to submit your release to? Or how to "pitch" your story so that those reading it are eager to hear more and feature you?
Here are some tips on how to know when the time is right to hire a professional Public Relations expert or team:
You have a solid marketing plan in place.
You need more time to focus on income producing activities in your business.
You want to utilize a professional who has existing relationships with your target media contacts.
You understand the value of hiring a team experienced in executing successful PR campaigns.
You realize that while you may know (insert your industry or profession) you are not a PR professional and they can bring added value to the table with their ability to think outside the box in bringing awareness to your product or business.
The Power of PR is an amazing thing when done correctly. Why waste your time, efforts and money if it isn't going to be successful? Start with a solid marketing plan using experienced professionals, then launch an effective PR campaign with professionals who have the needed contacts and expertise. Next, watch the magic unfold as they do what they know how to do and you are free to tend to the day-to-day needs of your business.
Getty Images, one of the world’s largest stock photo agencies, recently dropped the watermark for the bulk of its vast image collection, allowing more users complimentary access to stock photography.
The shift accompanies an open-embed program that will let users drop any image they want into their content management system, as long as the service gets to append a brief footer at the bottom of the picture with a credit and link to the licensing page.
While this change will affect a number of industries, there are several implications for public relations (PR), social media, bloggers, content developers, and marketing professionals.
More Options for Social Sharing
As social media supplants traditional media as a mainstream form of communication, more and more brands and marketing professionals are looking for imagery to leverage in social communications.
Though original photography and creative content tends to have more staying power, there are plenty of services out there that still provide free or relatively inexpensive content. The new Getty embeds provide a native code for sharing in Twitter and Tumblr alongside the traditional WordPress-friendly embed code. Now, web publishers have a free, legal path to utilize images.
It’s still important to read the fine print.
While this move makes it easier for content publishers to source and use stock photography, Getty is not doing this to be altruistic, but rather, the company realizes that most people treat images on the Internet as public domain on blogs and social networks.
Getty Images says it retains the rights to collect data related to the use of the embedded image viewer or place ads directly in the viewer. They may also monetize the viewer without any compensation to the web publisher. If you regularly use Getty images, the service can sell ads specifically targeting your website and its readers, which may have negative implications on your published content.
The embed quality may not be as high as purchased images.
When you purchase image from Getty, you can purchase the size you need for your intended purpose. With the new embed option, you may not have as much creative control over the image, as you can change the embed size manually but it will require some math to determine the best ratio for the height and width. While the embed may be free of charge, it’s less user-friendly than the pay for play images.
The bottom line: While this change is helpful for web publishers looking for fast and inexpensive access to images, it may not be the best route for brands and marketing professionals who are in the content business. Try licensing photos from iClipArt or other stock image sites for a modest fee.
If you work with a PR agency, or you're simply doing your own PR, chances are you've sent a pitch letter to a reporter, producer or blogger in hopes they'll do a feature about you.
A pitch letter is basically your "pitch" to a journalist or whoever you want to do a story about your business. It must include these six components if you're PR pitch effort stands a chance:
1. Start With a Good Subject: Don't just put your client's name or company name in the subject line. Say something personal or give a good hint as to what your pitch is all about and why they'd care about it. P.S.: Change your subject line with EVERY pitch or risk ending up in their junk folders.
Subject Line Samples:
- "Liked your article on healthy lunches - check out this healthy drinkbox"
- "Hi Evelyn - thought you might enjoy learning about this beauty must-have"
- "The one thing every entrepreneur must know about leadership - story idea"
2. Open With Personalization: A reporter or blogger likes knowing you took the time to understand their interests before you pitched them. In fact, they'll be more likey to read and respond to your note when they know you took the time to write it just to them and it doesn't look like the spammy pitches they get over and over again.
Personalized Openers Examples:
"I really enjoyed your article about healthy lunchbox alternatives for kids. I agree, it is very important that our children are getting proper nutrition in order to curb attention disorders and obesity."
3. Explain the Why: The next part of your pitch should explain why you're contacting them. This is an important component to tell them exactly what you want... don't make them read paragraph after paragraph without them understanding why you're even pitching them in the first place.
"To add to this topic, and because I think you enjoy learning about ways to make a child's lunch better, I wanted to share a new product with you for your consideration for a future story. It's called XYZ."
4. Give the Story: The next section of a pitch should tell the story you're hoping will pique their interest in learning more about you or your PR client.
"XYZ has an interesting back story. Sarah Jones was on her honeymoon when she became violently ill. She went to the local doctors who gave her a special syrup. She felt instantly better and suddenly refreshed. She began to learn more about syrup and how it can heal one's belly..."
5. Call to Action: The call to action is your invitation to the producer, reporter or blogger and spelling out exactly what you'd like them to consider or do. I always end my pitches with things like, "Would you like to learn more?," "May I send you a smple to try for review?," or "Is this a story you'd be interested in exploring?"
Example Call to Action
"Would you be interested in having Sarah on as an in-studio guest to share her belly "healing" story as well as dish up healthy lunchbox recipes she has created that incorporate the syrup she discovered? It would be the perfect Back to School segment, helping to inspire your viewers to make minor changes when packing their child's lunch. She would bring plenty of visuals and would dish up lots of lunch ideas."
6. Sign-off and Contact Information: Don't forget to thank the reporter for her time and consideration, and then provide all your contact details so she can follow up if she's interested!
There you have it - the six components of a great PR pitch letter. Remember to personalize your pitch, offer a compelling story, and don't forget the strong call to action.
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The Internet was abuzz after the 2014 Oscars but it wasn’t the award for "Best Picture" that had everyone talking. Instead, it was how host Ellen DeGeneres grabbed a few of her famous friends for a star-studded “selfie” that included Jennifer Lawrence, Angelina Jolie, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Spacey, Jared Leto, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Lupita Nyong’o and Brad Pitt.
Previously, Barack Obama’s election-night photo of him embracing Michelle was the most retweeted tweet of all time with over 778,000 retweets. In under an hour, Ellen’s photo hit over 1.2 million retweets and continued to climb, even hours later, to 2.7 million retweets.
Though initially seen as a victory for Twitter – millions of people propagating a single message using the free microblogging platform – it was later revealed that the act was most likely a conceived stunt for Samsung, a major sponsor of the Oscars. Ellen snapped the now infamous shot with what appeared to be a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, but it was later revealed that Ellen had been tweeting backstage from an iPhone during other parts of the evening.
While social media has become a mainstay in most companies’ integrated marketing platforms, it’s situations like this one that suggest that traditional media isn’t going anywhere. This was not just happenstance, but rather a product of a very large company sponsoring the biggest Hollywood event of the year, and getting its product into the hands of some very famous people. Even if your company or brand doesn’t have a Hollywood budget, there are still plenty of ways that you can integrate social media into your traditional marketing program.
Use social media to promote your traditional media coverage. You might not be seated in Dolby Theater, but if your company spokesperson is booked on a local morning show, join them to live-blog the experience from your social network of choice. You’ll make people who are tuning into your updates from home feel as if they were “there” and they’ll relate to your brand all the better.
Develop an influencer program in your local market. Though Hollywood-gifting opportunities can begin at upwards of $5,000, they don’t always guarantee that your products will fall into the hands of the likes of Ellen DeGeneres. Instead of taking the A-List road, start local and seed product to your local news anchors, television personalities and authors, who may be frequently photographed or filmed when out and about on the town. You’ll create just enough local buzz that the national media might eventually turn an eye.
Develop social network programming around live events. If you want to maximize a live event the way Ellen did, you don’t need several million Twitter followers to do it! Next time your company participates in a live event – be in a trunk show at a local boutique or a chili cook-off at the state fair, come armed with your camera and a device with built-in WiFi. Create a fun contest, giveaway or coordinated chat around the event so that people who can’t attend in person have incentive to participate in home. No, you might not be able to snag Brad Pitt, but you’ll tap into people who might not have known about you if they hadn’t been tuned in online.
Update: Oh yeah, it's confirmed that this selfie was planned by Samsung. What an excellent example of how social media can amplify advertising, PR and other marketing campaigns!
Since October, I have assisted a bankruptcy law firm with both social media and public relations (PR). Before several months ago, bankruptcy wasn’t a topic with which I was personally familiar. As a person who has always been very fortunate to pay my bills and credit cards on time, (so far at least) bankruptcy was foreign to me.
Yet, at that point, I was charged to build the social media from the ground up.
So I sat there and wondered, “How can I make this topic interesting and relevant to people who might not be touched by bankruptcy?”
Here are a couple tips that have helped us along the way:
- Make it Relevant – While bankruptcy (or any topic) may not touch someone personally, they are almost always indirectly affected by it. Our ultimate challenge: Find that meaningful connection! Provide an example of how a subject that initially may seem unrelated or “foreign” is quite relatable and significant. Example: What do Donald Trump, Walt Disney and Henry Ford have in common with Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson? They all filed for bankruptcy.
- Weave in a Story – A story lifts your topic and associates it to something inherently more interesting. Example: "Each year Waterford Crystal designs a fabulous new pattern for the famous Times Square Crystal Ball that drops on New Year’s Eve. The company declared bankruptcy in January of 2009. It’s almost too painfully symbolic. As we put one of the worst economic years on record behind us, we celebrate by lavishing attention on a colorful crystal ball that is produced by a company that fell victim to the recession. We came into the year broke and we should remember that as we exit it, even if they say things are looking up." – Nick Obourn, The Culture Spoke, 12.30.09
- Thread in an Inspiration – Some people are motivated by inspirational thoughts. Example: Bankruptcy is not an end. It is a fresh start. It is the beginning of your next chapter in your life.
- Enlighten with Statistics – There is nothing like a startling statistic to open a reader’s eyes or even just make them feel appreciative of their situation the very day they read the post or tweet. Example: Did you know that one in three of your neighbors are struggling with paying their credit card bills and will most likely file for bankruptcy in the next 24 months?
- Humor – Depending on the sensitivity of the topic, a little levity can go a long way. Consider reserving humorous jokes for Friday and be sure to obtain approval from your client if you’re not certain of their style. Example: It is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy -- that the world owes the world more than the world can pay.
It can be a challenge to spice up a mundane topic. However, taking time to discover ways to attract readers and encourage conversation will always pay off in a deeper community interaction and increased brand awareness and to getting good PR!
About a month ago I was on a brainstorming call with one of my clients discussing the creation of an event at her New York City hair salon. As we chatted, my husband/wife client mentioned to me that their best friend happens to own a very popular Seattle Seahawks fan bar in NY. The Super Bowl was approaching and the Seahawks would be in the playoffs with a bid at going to the big game and my clients said they would like to do something to support their friend, his team and his business at the same time driving new business and potential media to the salon. “How about a discount for hair service?” the client asked. Sure, who doesn’t love a coupon, however is that going to really grab the attention you are looking for to bring new business to the salon during the Super Bowl craze? Probably not.
I quickly thought…how about super-fan styling? Let’s offer the patrons of the bar and visiting Seahawks fans a custom grouping of super-fan styling services – including Mohawks, colored hair, hairstyles with a lot of fanfare, etc. The clients loved the idea and quickly jumped on board to make it happen.
Sure enough, the fans responded, the Seahawks won the playoffs and we had 12 days to get the word out to fans on the other side of the country who would soon be barnstorming the greater NYC area for Super Bowl 48.
Enter Twitter and Facebook. Ahhh, the power of social media… we quickly logged into the Salon’s social media accounts to start the word of mouth campaign about the Seahawks fans styling, we joined NYCSeahawks fan groups, followed reporters coming into the area and planned visits to the fan bar, Carlow East, to be sure we didn’t miss an opportunity to connect with fans.
Within a few days we heard from CNN, NBC Seattle, NBC Sports, a Denmark reporter and other media outlets. Although I had emailed many pitches, most had found us on Twitter and Facebook and wanted in on the story, why??? They had a visual of what was going on at the salon and they knew that if they came in to check out the fan styling, they would have an amazing visual to share with their audiences. It was fun, a great pre-Super Bowl filler story and a fantastic visual.
We engaged the Seattle fans regularly and in no time we were booking an appointment with two diehard Seahawks fans from Seattle who would be arriving in the city in time for the ‘Blue Friday’ fan day. We booked the super-fan styling appointments, contacted the media and bought the area out of blue and green hair dye. As expected…some of the media couldn’t juggle their schedules to make it across town to the salon, however, much to our excitement, CBS Spokane called Friday morning and headed immediately down to the salon with their crew and joined the reporter from Ekstra Bladet Denmark. NBC Sports came in the afternoon for another story shoot.
The excitement in the salon was surreal. We had been tweeting back and forth with the Seattle fans and boy did they deliver, going for the most outrageous super fan hairstyles and nail and make-up to head out for a fun night on the town. Within a few hours, images of some of these fans were popping up on social media and even caught the eye of an AP photographer, which landed one fan on Yahoo! News, Newsday Print Edition, and many other news outlets.
The main point of this whole post is to show how the excitement would not have come from a simple coupon. We had to think bigger! The client was on board with creating super-fan hairstyles, loved the visual aspect of the story, and within two weeks their goals to attain media attention were happening. My client and I had a fun experience being a part of the Super Bowl excitement and we were thrilled when the Seahawks won too! (I know my Denver friends don’t approve – we are a Denver-based PR agency!).
Remember to dream big. If you have an idea, push yourself to take it to the next level. With risk, comes reward! With great visuals and the power of social media, you, too, can achieve your desired PR outcomes.
Photos: Bryan Sargent
With the Olympics upon us, all eyes are glued to the coverage of gold, silver and bronze medals. But the Olympics can teach us much more than how to get halfpipe air or stick that axel jump on the ice. Behind every athlete, every opening and closing ceremonial detail, to news coverage, there are aspects you can take to get PR gold and stand on the podium in front of the world.
As we’ve learned from Sochi mishaps, whether it is hotel rooms that aren’t complete and open manholes in the street, to water that you use at your own risk. It’s always best to be prepared. Take that to heart when it comes to publicity. Always have fact sheets on hand and talking points down pat. When a journalist asks a question, you are always ready for anything.
A Story for All
No matter who you are or what you do, you have a story to share. Something you may not think is necessarily newsworthy might actually go a long ways in the world of media. All athletes have fascinating stories whether it’s overcoming failure, losses, injuries or abuse. The public finds their determination incredibly inspiring. So dig deep and share your personal story.
It has been circulating that US snowboarders have been complaining about the halfpipe, and skiers have blamed their performances on Mother Nature at Sochi. So, with that said, it’s crucial to put your best foot forward. Not only will you make a great impression, it will leave a lasting impression. Remember the bobsled team from Jamaica? Exactly. They may not have medaled, but their perseverance allowed them to become an Olympics novelty. So much so, that the movie Cool Runnings was based off of this team.
The Olympics are all about competition, and so is business. Keep an eye on your competitors. This will give you an idea of what has worked for them to generate new business and get stellar media placements. Set up a Google Alert and constantly stay in the know of what your competition is up to. This will ensure you get the competitive edge.
There are those who get sick at the thought of public speaking and then there are those of us who get a rush out of it. Call us strange if you must, but the power to use your voice for the greater good is a remarkable thing and it can lead to a profitable future as well.
But first things first. What will you speak about? Why would people want to come and listen to you? Just because you enjoy public speaking, doesn't necessarily mean you should BE a professional speaker.
Here are a few tips to help you decide if you're ready to pursue the world of professional speaking:
- What's your message?
- Will you focus on business or advocate for a social cause?
- Do you have life or professional experiences that others will want to hear about & be inspired by?
- Can you keep a room's attention for 30 mins? An hour? Longer?
Once you've decided to jump in, the work has just begun. Now you must:
- Create your speeches and presentations.
- Write a Professional Bio.
- Create a Speaker's Kit.
And now that you have everything ready to present, you must market yourself and find your audience. This includes:
- Media pitches and interviews to establish your presence as an expert in your field.
- Submissions to organizations, conferences, businesses and events looking for speakers.
- Negotiating speaking fees.
- Reviewing and signing contracts.
- Updating your website and social media sites regularly and building your audience.
Sound like a lot of work? It is and not every speaker has the time or is experienced in the marketing, PR and writing aspect of building their brand. The great news is that those of us at Red Jeweled Media are experienced in this and can assist you every step of the way. Once you make the decision to pursue speaking and know what your message will be, we can take care of the rest!