Are Your News Releases Helping or Hurting Your Ad Agency PR Efforts?

How Social Are Your Press Releases Image medium_6330943490

In the past few weeks I’ve read warnings from a number of credible sources about the danger of linking key words in anchor text in news releases. Google’s new linking rules consider such releases, when distributed on other sites, as creating “unnatural” links.

These unnatural links are a big no-no from Google’s perspective, and they can be costly to ad agency PR efforts.

I’ve learned a lot this past year about how Google can make life miserable for a company’s search engine optimization initiatives if it runs afoul of Google’s standards, whether intentionally or inadvertently. One of my clients, a technology company, is 100% Internet-marketing based and the majority of its traffic comes from Google searches, so there’s really little choice but to play ball with Google or risk facing unpleasant SEO consequences.

The problem comes in when Google changes rules suddenly, giving the term “Google Alert” new meaning to organizations that live or die based on SEO rankings.

Google’s Panda and Penguin updates have been the subject of much conversation and angsts because of the way some companies that previously ranked high for certain key words no longer do so, while others that lagged behind now find themselves on top. There are many factors that go into rankings, and under Google’s new linking rules it appears that even news releases can harm a company if they aren’t done in a way that Google likes.

Frank Strong, director of PR for Vocus, which owns PRWeb, advises on his personal blog not to link key words in anchor text. Product anchor text is probably okay, he says, if you are linking a specific product or brand name to pages deep on a site.

As anyone who uses PRWeb regularly knows, releases must use links sparingly – on average one link for every hundred words.

SEO expert Jill Whalen writes in her July 25 High Rankings Advisor newsletter, “[C]ounter-intuitive to what we as SEOs have been saying for years . . . you may want to completely forget about using keywords in anchor text. My hope is that Google finally understands that real natural links rarely have keywords in them, and that they’ve adjusted their algorithm accordingly.”

Of course, no one really knows exactly how Google’s algorithm works (except the people who work there), and it seems as though it’s constantly changing. So what’s a PR person to do?

The universal advice I’ve come across is to focus on good quality content. This is what Google keeps pushing, and right now it seems to be the best path for SEO success. Until someone convinces me otherwise, I’m going to continue striving to provide excellent content and, for now at least, avoid using keywords in news release anchor text.

photo credit: PRNewswireGlobal via photopin cc

Why Ad Agency PR Should be Leading in Social Media

Twitter with Tweets Image medium_3231178720

It’s been a bit of a mystery to me why the public relations profession as a whole hasn’t been more at the forefront of utilizing social media strategically. The other day I read a post in Ragan’s PR Daily titled “13 reasons why PR should lead social media efforts” that shed some light on this puzzle.

The author, Elizabeth Sosnow, is managing director of BlissPR. You can read the reasons she believes PR is better suited than sales, advertising, human resources, etc., to be in charge of an organization’s social media efforts here.

She talks about how PR people are storytellers; how we build content; our training to empathize and converse with different audiences; our skill at earning and keeping attention; our ability to be sensitive to reporters’ needs, etc.

All this is true, but in my opinion she misses the bigger picture.

Social media is about engaging audiences, and that’s why PR should be front and center in social media efforts.

We need to focus on talking with people, not at them. Conversing with different audiences is as close as Elizabeth comes to this in her list, but to me the real strength of social media is the way it enables us build relationships and enhance trust in ways that other mediums can’t match.

Social media allows us to start or participate in conversations with individuals we might otherwise not reach. We can answer questions, solve problems, have constructive debates and gain a better understanding of issues and concerns from the other person’s perspective.

The hallmark of good public relations has always been two-way communication. PR is far more than telling a story, grabbing attention and being sensitive to bloggers and reporters. Each of those is important, but effective PR goes beyond making pitches and connecting with others. In a word, it is interactive.

Social media gives ad agencies and small businesses unparalleled ways of communicating one-on-one with customers, prospects, influencers and other interested parties.

As David Meerman Scott writes in his excellent book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, “…what all the new Web tools and techniques have in common is that together they are the best way to communicate directly with your marketplace.”

But if we are too busy pushing our story or point of view without actively listening and having a genuine dialogue, PR will take a back seat to other disciplines that are willing to do so.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to advertising agencies and businesses.

photo credit: JefferyTurner via photopin cc

Social Office Suite Is a Helpful Tool for Ad Agencies and Small Companies

Cycle of Social & SEO Image medium_4618683399

Social Office Suite (SOS) is a good option for agencies and companies that know the importance of building or monitoring their brands and of generating leads, but find it difficult to consistently invest enough time in social media to make their efforts pay off.

SOS helps organizations identify relevant conversations, including those about competitors, on social media networks. It provides a single dashboard to post, listen to and measure activity in a short period of time each day. Of course, companies can do these same activities themselves, but to do it right takes time and resources that often could be better utilized in other areas.

SOS gives small- and medium-sized businesses the ability to operate and complete with much larger agencies and companies at a fraction of the cost. It’s worth a look: http://socialofficesuite.com/SiteSos/Home.aspx

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to advertising agencies and businesses.

photo credit: toprankonlinemarketing via photopin cc

The Best WordPress Plugins for Boosting SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a vital part of helping prospective clients or customers find you. If you’re not satisfied with the level of traffic your agency or organization generates, check out this guest post from Laura Backes, a freelance writer whose work includes Internet and technology topics. She has some practical, easy-to-implement suggestions for boosting SEO through free WordPress plugins. Thanks, Laura, for this helpful post:

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is something that every blogger knows that they probably should be maximizing, but not everyone knows exactly how to go about doing so. Boosting your SEO means generating greater success from your content and increasing your website’s traffic, so making sure that you’re getting the most out of your blog’s SEO is clearly important. But wouldn’t it be nice if you could sit back and let someone else handle your SEO for you? Luckily, you can. There are several different WordPress plugins that you can download for free for your blog that will do just that.

1.      SEO Rank Reporter

Getting all your ducks in a row with SEO is important, but if you can’t monitor whether it’s being successful or not, then what good is it? With SEO Rank Reporter you are given a report every three days that updates you on how certain keywords that you have identified as important for your blog are ranking in the search engines.

2.      Headspace2 SEO

This is an all-in-one program that really does it all in terms of SEO. The plugin manages your meta-data and makes it easy to understand and implement. It also has a wide range of modules that help you create the site that you want. You also can go in and tag posts and create custom titles and descriptions, both of which will help increase your blog’s page ranking in the major search engines.

3.      Google XML Sitemaps

If you’re trying to increase your blog’s visibility within the major search engines, then you need this plugin. It creates a sitemap for your blog that makes it easier for search engines to crawl your website and index it, helping increase your blog’s traffic.

4.      SEO Content Control

Ever wondered which content on your site could be beefed up to get more SEO bang for your buck? SEO Content Control helps to identify weak content that is holding your blog back from its full potential and helps you clean up your blog, making it more appealing to your blog readers.

5.      SEO Smart Links

SEO Smart Links will generate automatically linked keywords within your blog posts, comments and other content on your website with common content in your blog to help you maximize on your SEO. You can also create custom keywords and create links, among a long list of other things geared at improving your blog’s SEO. It helps make managing your SEO simple.

These are only a few of the many plugins that are designed to help you simply enhance the SEO of your blog. Since SEO is directly linked to the success of a blog, it’s important to take on all the help you can get—something that’s easily done just by downloading these plugins!

Author Bio: This is a guest post from Laura Backes. She enjoys writing about all kinds of subjects and also topics related to internet service in my area.  You can reach her at: laurabackes8 @ gmail.com.

Is Your Organization’s Blog Making News or Reporting It?

One of the most important reasons for having a blog is to establish or enhance your ad agency or business as an expert in a particular niche. Being seen as a credible, trustworthy and knowledgeable source that provides useful (as opposed to self-serving) content can have big payoffs down the road.

Your organization’s blog also gives you continuous opportunities to demonstrate that you:

•       Are an effective communicator

•       Have the ability to solve problems

•       Are well connected within your industry

•       Know about important industry developments and trends

There are three basic approaches to business blogging:

1. Become a subject matter expert (SME) who provides fresh thinking, insights or commentary on a topic.

2. Make the blog a news channel that reports information readers may not yet have come across.

3. Create a blog that’s a mix of the two—part SME and part news channel.

There’s nothing wrong with using your blog as a news source, but ask yourself this: Is a prospective customer or client going to be more impressed with someone who is current on the latest industry buzz or with someone who’s creating it?

“The benefits of being an SME depend on the specifics of the industry, but the universal benefit is differentiation. And differentiation usually equals more business. For example, it could mean more leads or the ability to charge a higher hourly rate for consulting, speaking, or training,” writes Mark Faggiano, founder and CEO of Brand5, an Internet marketing consulting company.

I’ve been blogging for nearly three years now, and my content has been a mix of PR tips, insights and commentary combined with PR news. But after reading in Mark’s excellent article in Social Media Today about ways to become a subject matter expert on Twitter, I’ve challenged myself to apply his advice to blogging by focusing on creating more original content and less reporting of news throughout 2012.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to advertising agencies and businesses.

 

BloggerLinkUp Is an Important Resource for Ad Agency PR

BloggerLinkUp is a free service that should be on every ad agency PR person’s radar because it helps attract the attention of bloggers. Blogger LinkUp is similar to HARO, which stands for Help A Reporter Out. HARO is a wonderful resource page where reporters can post stories for which they are looking for experts to interview. More than 50,000 journalists use this service – as do a whole lot of PR people looking for media outlets to present their clients’ or executives’ areas of expertise.

BloggerLinkUp connects bloggers looking for help with guest posts with people who are looking to get links and exposure by writing guest posts. There also are opportunities to have products reviewed by bloggers and to get in touch with bloggers who do interviews and need sources for stories.

All it takes to join BlogerLinkUp is to submit your name and e-mail address. Once or twice a day, Monday through Friday, you’ll receive e-mails listing bloggers looking for expert sources; requests for guest posts; bloggers and web masters offering guest posts; and PR reps and others seeking reviews of products. When you see a request that fits, you simply respond directly to the requester.

Here’s a list of guest posts requests from this morning’s e-mail:

1) The Top 5 Things I would Show Visitors to My City

2) PR5 Comic Math Blog Wants Guest Posts

3) Need quality articles on personal finance

4) Looking for Guest Bloggers for just about any topic.

5) Christmas Apps for iPhone & iPad

6) Beauty Guru’s and their Favorite BeautyTip

7) Any travel subjects are welcome

8) Replicating His Love

9) Ways to lose weight and get healthier

10) Apps for “Your Topic”

11) Cat lovers and your stories

12) PR4 literary blog looking for guest posts on book reviews, author interviews and articles about the publishing process

13) Guest Posts for Green Living, Home Remodeling, Design & Construction Blog

14) Beauty, Wedding, Fashion, Health, Celebrity Posts Needed

15) Florida Holiday Vacation Blog

16) Looking for articles on Career Change, Family, Addiction or Assertiveness

17) Looking For Personal and Business Insurance Guest Posts

18) PR3 High Traffic Blog looking for Guest posts on Social Media, affiliate marketing, Freelancing, Internet Marketing etc

19) Need online monetization ideas?

20) Guest post for Tech Blog

Blogger are an important communication vehicle for reaching niche audiences, and I believe they will become increasingly important in the future. BloggerLinkUp can help you stay on top of blogging opportunities and ensure you or your clients aren’t missing out on important conversations.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to advertising agencies and businesses.

Seven Tips for Presenting Guest-Ideas to Bloggers

Pitching a blogger for a guest post really isn’t much different than pitching a print or broadcast reporter. Guest posting has to be win-win for everybody, so be sure to make it clear in your pitch why what you are proposing makes sense for that blog’s audience and how it will benefit them.

Just as you can build on local or trade-specific news media coverage to go to the next level, doing guest posts on some lesser-known blogs may help you get coverage on an A-list blog.

Here are 7 tips for presenting guest-post ideas to bloggers:

1. Do your homework. Research sites to find ones that are viewed by your target audience and develop a short list of places you’d like to approach. Alltop, Google Blogsearch and Postrank Topics are helpful resources to find bloggers who write about your topic.

2. Become familiar with the blog’s style, personality and content. Just as you should read a publication or watch/listen to a program before pitching it, read several posts on the blog you are targeting and make sure what you have in mind fits into one of its categories. See if you can bring a fresh perspective to a topic or address a something that hasn’t been covered recently or at all.

3. Establish your credibility. When contacting a blogger, include information about yourself and your credentials to write about the topic you’re proposing. Even if you are acquainted with the blogger, it doesn’t hurt to remind him or her about why you would be a good person to address this topic.

4. Get to the point. A good media pitch letter is brief, engaging and quickly gets to the point. Use that same approach with bloggers, and don’t waste their time. The more targeted and creative your pitch, the better your chances of success.

5. Make the blogger’s job easy. Rather than asking the blogger about topics he or she would like you to write about, suggest a couple of good ideas that would be of interest to the blog’s audience. Offer to provide images, video, URLs and whatever else may be useful.

6. Write to help the audience succeed. Once you have approval to submit a guest post, focus your writing to the specific audience you’ll be addressing. What challenges does this audience face, and what advice can you give them to help them overcome these challenges? What opportunities may they be missing that haven’t been previously covered? Are there trends or new research results you can discuss?

7. Don’t be pushy. It’s fine to see if you can get a timeframe of when, if ever, your guest post will run, but don’t hound the blogger. If you don’t get a positive response or you don’t get a response at all after a couple of inquiries, move on—and keep in mind that you may have an even better pitch next time.

Joan Steward has an excellent blog and an e-newsletter called The Publicity Hound that provides useful PR tips.  Because of the popularity of her blog, she often gets approached for guest posts.

Her advice: “Pitch a blogger the same way you’d pitch a journalist. Let them know, without coming right out and saying it, that you’ve read their blog. You know the kinds of topics their audience loves, and you have an idea that’s a perfect fit. Also, explain your area of expertise and why you’re the best person to write about it.”

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to advertising agencies and businesses.

YouTube Video Creates PR Disaster, Policy Change for Delta Air Lines

In yet another tribute to the stunning power and immediacy of social media, a YouTube video expose of Delta Air Lines charging U.S. soldiers returning home from Afghanistan a whopping $200 per-bag fee for extra luggage has brought about a change of heart and policy.

According to news reports, the video showing soldiers complaining about the charges was viewed nearly 200,000 times. The next day, a Facebook page popped up called Boycott Delta for Soldiers.

Sensing a disaster in the making, Delta apologized, reversed course and revised its baggage fees for troops, now allowing up to four checked bags for free.

Give Delta credit for quickly recognizing and correcting such an egregious policy rather than trying to defend it. But while the company’s actions shortened its crisis, the PR damage from gouging troops fighting to protect our freedom has no doubt tarnished Delta’s image,  at least until memories begin to fade.

Never before have average people had such power to make their voices and complaints heard. The Internet keeps companies—and the advertising and public relations agencies that support them— on their toes, and that’s a good thing for us all.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.

Increase in Web Advertising Has Implications for Ad Agency PR

It was bound to happen: Web advertising revenue in the U.S.has surpassed that of newspaper advertising revenue.

An April 14 article in The Wall Street Journal cites a PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP report for the Interactive Advertising Bureau that shows a rebound for Web advertising after a modest decline in 2009.

The IAB estimates that Internet-ad revenue in 2010, which rose 15% to $26 billion, surpassed that of newspapers, which amounted to $22.8 billion, as well as $22.5 billion from cable TV networks, $17.6 billion from broadcast TV networks and $15.3 billion from radio.

Given the growth of the Web and the decline in newspaper readership, this changing of the guard was inevitable. Still, it is amazing to think about the relative speed with which all this has happened.

The prominence of the Internet as an advertising vehicle also has implications for ad agency PR. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., as well as free and paid Internet news release distribution services, are important ways to get news out to key audiences beyond traditional print and broadcast outlets.

While social media plays a vital role in generating awareness for public relations initiatives, some are still not up to speed on its potential.

Commenting on the gap that exists between the percentage of time consumers spend using digital media and the percentage of spending that marketers allocate to the Web, John Suhler, founding partner with private equity and media forecasting firm Verohnis Suhler Stevenson, noted: “Dollars always follow eyeballs.”

More and more, eyeballs are turning to the Internet for news and information, and that trend likely will continue growing in the years to come.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.

Ad Agencies: Is Traditional Media on the Way Out as a PR Tool?

A major shift is underway in the public relations/public affairs world when it comes to the use of social media, according to a new survey by PR/PA agency mergers & acquisitions consultants StevensGouldPincus.

In a news release the consulting group said that the use of social media for public relations/public affairs purposes by U.S. communications consulting firms has increased 12-15% this past year.

While the percentage of work currently devoted to social media by these firms is 30% overall, that percentage will increase to an average of 42% new year.  For firms with revenue in excess of $3 million, the increase will be even higher, at 46%.

“If this trend persists, within the next two years social media will replace traditional media as PR/PA’s primary tool for reaching client audiences with news and information,” said SGP Managing Partner Art Stevens.

“When you consider that traditional media have been the bedrock of professional PR/PA practice for more than 100 years, the implications are profound.”

Media relations has the highest use of social media, averaging 36%, followed by product marketing (25%) and issues advocacy (20%).

While the amount of time devoted to social media varies each month, Facebook gets the most attention (31%), followed by Twitter (29%), LinkedIn (18%), MySpace (17%) and YouTube (14%).

The survey indicated the most important issue to public relations and public affairs firms is the ability to track and measure results, and quantify value.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.