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What Do Journalists Want?

December 9, 2014 by Kay Paumier

 

Why is it so hard to connect with journalists? Why don’t they respond? Why don’t they “buy” my pitch?

In short, what do they want anyway?

Many PR pros have asked themselves these and similar questions for years. In many ways, it’s easier than ever to get to know journalists, because their work is generally available online. At the same time, it can be harder than ever to connect with journalists, because their schedules are so demanding and they are overwhelmed with pitches and other material.

Fortunately, the Lawrence Ragan Communications report “What Journalists Want” describes many of the steps needed to develop good relationships with journalists. Here are some of their key points.

Engage with journalists on social media.

Follow them on Twitter. Retweet their tweets, but “don’t just click the retweet button. Instead, quote them in a tweet of your own, and include ‘RT’ or ‘MT’ and their @ handle. Tell your followers why the tweet matters, or even just add ‘Yes!’ or ‘I agree.’”

Target the right reporter.

Journalists have complained about inappropriate pitches from time immemorial. And today there really is no excuse to pitch the “wrong” reporter. Between online and social media, you should be able to confirm that you are approaching the right person.

Send appropriate email.

Most journalists (at least according to many surveys) prefer email to other forms of communication. But to get the reporter to read the message, you need a good subject line. Here are Ragan’s guidelines:

  • Be specific.
  • Use “you” when you can “connect the subject to a benefit.” (e.g., How your subject lines can make you famous.”)
  • Think SEO.
  • Explain “what’s in it for me?
  • Keep it short.

Make the body of the email “a short paragraph explaining what you’d like the reporter to cover.” In the process, answer these questions:

  •   Why should I care?
  •   Why now?
  •   How is this new?
  •   What can you offer? (Sources? Visuals? Video?)

The whole email should be about half a screen. And, in general, you should not follow up with a phone call.

The report has other great tips on press releases, online news rooms and media interviews, which I’ll discuss in subsequent posts. But I am only discussing a few highlights. I encourage you to read the report in its entirety.

Vocus State of the Media Report

August 7, 2014 by Kay Paumier

It’s the middle of the year, and it seemed a good time to take another look at the Vocus State of the Media Report 2014.

Some things really struck me, notably the not-so-encouraging statement that “PR practitioners may find it harder to place stories” because of social media. For years we’ve competed with breaking news and other popular stories. Now we have to compete for the attention of journalists “who have a worldwide web of blogs, social media and alternative news sources at their fingertips.”

All this means that PR professionals should not “expect more than 10 seconds” of a journalist’s time.

I agree that the competition has never been greater. But the basics remain. “It’s more important than ever to connect with reporters on social, comment on their stories, offer information that is relevant to their beat and build relationships.”

Findings about Social Media

The level of engagement that social media makes possible has changed the reporting dynamic. In the past reporters didn’t know what their readers were thinking unless they got a letter or phone call. “Now readers and reporters alike know what the other is thinking almost immediately.”

That said, I found some of the specific comments about social media interesting.

  • Journalists find social media highly relevant when reporting, with 50 percent saying they use it very frequently and 26.7 percent saying they use it frequently.
  • Reporters use social media to find new sources. Almost half the respondents found social media “very useful” or “extremely useful” for research.
  • Almost half the respondents (48.5 percent) said they primarily use social media to connect with their audiences.
  • However, an overwhelming 90.7 percent of the journalists chose email as their preferred method of contact.
  • Close to half (45.3 percent) preferred not to be pitched by social media. The most frequent way respondents received social media pitches was through Facebook and Twitter (77 and 73 percent respectively).

Getting High on Google Search: The 3 Secrets to Success in Organic Search

January 30, 2014 by Rosemary Brisco, ToTheWeb

This article was written by a colleague, Rosemary Brisco of ToTheWeb. It is “reprinted” here with permission.

Everyone’s searching for everything on Google. They’re going to find the company and content they’re looking for.

The question is: Will it be yours? To be successful with online marketing, you need to get high on Google.

Let’s look at the 3 secrets …

Secret #1 – Effective SEO Begins with Smart Keyword Selection

Keyword discovery is your first step. Determine the keywords your visitors are most likely to use when searching. They’re trying to solve a problem. Think about how customers would describe your product. They won’t use marketing jargon. Neither should you.

Avoid obscure industry words. Use natural language. The same product will be described with different, but related terms, so use variations of your keyword phrase.  This will lessen the impact from Google’s new search algorithm update called Hummingbird.

Google’s October big algorithm update is geared to understanding natural language rather than returning results based on a string of words.  Matt Cutts, Google’s search spokesperson acknowledged that while Hummingbird affected 90% of search queries but said it is a subtle change that most users won’t detect.

Secret #2 – Using Keywords in Your Content

You’ll be doing business with real people. Keep it real. Use your keywords in everything you do online—as naturally as you would when speaking.

Your keywords should be used in page titles, headings, file names, and as tags for images and videos.

Secret #3 – Create Great Content People Will Read, Share and Link To

The results Google serves are about specific topics—from sources proven to be credible. In search, this is called “authority.” Authority is based on links that point to your website. The authority of the source is the secret to your success with backlinks. As you might suspect, a link from the New York Times will have more authority than your little brother’s blog.

These are the top three secrets to your success.

Recognize also, companies that enjoy lead and revenue-generating success with search engine marketing are relentlessly dedicated to SEO. Create content continuously – as often as possible — on blogs, your website, to the press, on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

You’ll get high—because traffic, from qualified prospects, will keep going up.

About the Author: Rosemary Brisco is the president of ToTheWeb, which provides search engine visibility and lead-generation programs to deliver more leads online. For more information visit www.ToTheWeb.com or call 650-627-8800. 

Marketing a Service Business (Part 2)

October 24, 2013 by Kay Paumier

In my previous post, I discussed the importance of developing a good website, and of having good LinkedIn and Google+ profiles. Here are more ways that service businesses can market themselves online.

Blog

Blogging is useful for communicating your opinions and ideas to potential clients. Of course last year’s idea doesn’t always play well today, so you need to post new content and relevant ideas.

One good approach is to comment on other articles or issues. For example, a lawyer can comment on court decisions.

Another way to reduce the workload is to invite guest bloggers, or to find other blogging content and ask for permission to post it on your website. (Obviously, you don’t want to do this all the time, or you won’t be able to showcase your own expertise. That is, after all, the main point of the blog.)

In any event, post regularly. Although blogging purists would shudder at this suggestion, I think it is better to post every month than to post several times a week and then stop.

Include a way for people to comment. Also, comment on other articles and blogs. You can’t be promotional, but you can definitely showcase your expertise.

Finally, invite people to read your blog in the signature line of your email address.

Video

More and more companies rely on video to get their messages across. Video is perfect for product demonstrations, how-to segments, and general overviews. Animation can illustrate obscure and technical concepts.

Short (two- to three-minute) pieces are the most popular. The key is to think visually; have something to say and something to show. (A talking head does not cut it.)

Put your video on YouTube and similar sites, and link to it from your website. Promote it through LinkedIn and other online sites.

Facebook

Facebook is good for increasing visibility, giving useful tips, sharing information, starting conversations, and establishing yourself as a leader in the field.

Many companies find having a Facebook company page to be an important addition to their marketing efforts. In some cases, it can replace the company’s website. But, like everything else in the digital world, it needs to be kept fresh and new, with regular postings and updates.

Twitter

To tweet or not to tweet, that definitely is the question. The jury is still out as to the value of the 140-character messages for business development. However, many professionals report that tweeting helps build community, is a good way to get and share information, and can help drive readership of your blog.

One easy approach is to schedule your tweets using a service like HootSuite. And you can automate a great deal of the process through services like TwitterFeed.

In my next post, I’ll discuss ways to get the attention of mainstream media.

Marketing a Service Business (Part 1)

October 17, 2013 by Kay Paumier

All service professionals, from lawyers and dentists to accountants and therapists, have a similar challenge if they are to grow their businesses. They need to expand their pool of new business beyond direct referrals.

In doing so they need to overcome several obstacles:

  • They don’t want to appear to be “selling.”
  • They typically don’t “make news.”
  • They often work with people on a personal and confidential level, making case studies and success stories difficult, if not impossible.

Those are the challenges. The good news is that you really can market a service business assuming you understand your audience, target your activities to their interests, and connect with them “where they are.”

That said, here are some time-tested ways to market a service business. I’ll first discuss online activities, and then talk about getting the attention of the mainstream media.

Develop an effective website.

Having an up-to-date website is essential, although many service businesses don’t have good ones or don’t keep them current. An out-of-date website tells potential clients you are disengaged and not interested in promoting your services.

Your site does not need to be fancy, but it should have informative content and interesting graphics. Simply describe your services, tell visitors what makes you different, and describe your ideal customer. If possible, include testimonials and case studies. Regularly update the material.

Write with both your audience and the search engines in mind. That means putting keywords high up on the page, and in headlines and subheads, as search engines give more weight to words in those positions.

Display your URL (www.mybusiness.com) on your business cards and marketing materials.

I can testify to the power of an up-to-date website. Over the years, my website has been the source of a lot of business. I have done projects for people I have never met, but who contacted me strictly because of what they saw at www.communicationsplus.net.

Develop a good LinkedIn profile.

Increasingly LinkedIn is the “go-to” sites for people wanting to learn more about professionals. In a recent Women In Consulting (WIC) survey, many consultants reported generating business directly from LinkedIn.

So put together a good profile, not just a résumé but a statement of what you do, why you’re different, and why you’re on LinkedIn. Encourage others to link to you. Write testimonials and endorse others. (They’ll probably return the favor.)

Also participate in appropriate LinkedIn groups, being generous with your expertise and knowledge. (“Paying it forward” is a great way to market and be of service.)

For more information about LinkedIn, see the article “I’ve got a Great Profile. Now What? 10 Social Media Tips for LinkedIn.”

Oh, and don’t ignore Google+, which also deserves your attention. The service is becoming increasingly more popular, so develop a profile there as well.

I’ll discuss more online tools in my next post.

 

 

Twitter Tips

August 23, 2013 by Kay Paumier

Twitter can be exciting, daunting, or both.

However, the search engines now track tweets, so it’s a great opportunity to increase your online exposure. Some tips:·

  • Follow key people in your industry and retweet selected tweets.
  • Use an application like Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) to manage your tweets. You can organize it so you can easily view the tweets from the people you really want to follow.
  • Set a goal of retweeting or responding to a few tweets a day.
  • Take advantage of hastags (the pound sign in front of a keyword) that will categorize the message and allow other users to click or search for tweets. The more people use a hashtag, the better chance it has at becoming a “trending topic” and the better the chances others will run across the information.

Happy tweeting!

Evaluating Your Website (Part 2)

July 25, 2013 by Kay Paumier

In my previous post, I discussed four factors to consider when evaluating your Website:

  • URL
  • Messages
  • Comprehensiveness
  • Writing

Here are eight more factors to consider.

Navigation

Content and navigation need to work hand in hand. Too often a link is not clearly identified or is just plain incorrect.

Does your navigation work? Can people quickly get the information they need? How many layers do you have? (Generally people won’t go below two or three screens.)

Do your links describe the content of the pages they lead to? Are the “Back,” “Home” and “Top” links clearly labeled on every page? Are the major links available in two places per page (e.g., top and side)? Are the links in a logical order?

Is a site map available? Few people look at them, but they can be helpful, and the search engines love them.

Do all your links work? How often do you check them?

Do you have a built-in search engine to help users find information on your site?

Readability

Is your site readable? It seems silly to even mention, but many sites are hard to read. Copy is often too small or readability has been sacrificed for some visual effect (e.g., white copy on a colored background). So what size font do you have? What color?

Do you use sub-heads, bullets and other graphical elements to break up the copy and make it easier for people to scan? Most people scan Web pages. Only when they find what they’re looking for do they stop and read. Make it easy for them to find that information.

And avoid all caps except when required (e.g., acronym). All caps look angry online.

Layout

Is your layout pleasing, yet unobtrusive? Does it enhance your messages or distract from them?

Is the layout consistent? Do you use the same fonts and colors throughout? Do all the pages look like they came from the same company? Do you give the user the option to turn the graphics off?

How quickly does the site load? While fancy graphics and Flash demos may be pretty, most people are more concerned with getting information than watching dancing bears.

Accuracy

Are there any typos? Any grammatical errors? Has a writer outside the company reviewed the entire site? (I definitely recommend it, if only for proofreading purposes. I’ve found cases where the company’s name was misspelled on its site. This definitely doesn’t enhance the corporate image.)

Contact Information

Is the contact information complete, listing an address, phone, fax and e-mail?

Timeliness

Is the site up-to-date? When was it updated? How often is it reviewed?

Practical Matters

Is your site printable? We all know the paperless office is a joke. People actually print off Websites. Make it easy for them to get a hard copy, even if you have to include a “printer-friendly” button.

Also, do you have a response mechanism in place if someone sends an e-mail or fills out an online form? It is just polite to confirm that the message has been received, if only by an auto responder.

Traffic Patterns

What do your Web stats tell you? Check them regularly for key metrics, including:

  •        How many visitors are you getting?
  •        Is your traffic increasing? Decreasing? Staying the game?
  •        Where do your visitors typically enter the site?
  •        Which page(s) do they view?
  •        Where did they leave?
  •        How long do they stay?

Once you have that information, analyze your site to make sure the most important information is available on the most popular pages.

Marketing

How are you driving traffic? Have you registered with the major search engines? Do you include the URL in all your marketing and PR materials? Have you considered a Pay-per-Click options?

You need to drive people to the site. In spite of popular folklore, Websites are definitely not a “build it and they will come” proposition.

Evaluating Your Website

July 18, 2013 by Kay Paumier

Today, almost every company and organization has a Website. Some are more effective than others, but no one can deny the marketing power of an effective online presence.

How is your Website doing? Is it achieving your goals? Or does it need some revisions or even a major overhaul?

Here are some considerations to help you evaluate your Website and make the most of this powerful marketing tool.

URL

Is your URL easy to remember and to type? If possible, make the URL your company name (e.g., www.thehungersite.com).

Message

Is your message clear? Do you state who you are? What you do? Who your audience is?

Do you talk in terms of benefits, of how you can help that audience?

I don’t mean your vision statement, which is probably too abstract to interest a Web visitor. I mean a simple, straightforward statement of what you do, delivered in terms of how you help your audience.

For example, Women in Consulting (www.WomeninConsulting.org) says that it “offers consultants and small business owners a vibrant, diverse, and powerful community to help them build strong businesses.”

Your message should be clearly stated on the home page, with a variation on the theme on every major section. You don’t know what page your visitors might enter. Make sure you give them a reason to stay.

A note: some larger companies now use the home page basically as links, not as a marketing tool. Most smaller companies need to give their visitors a reason to care, a reason to continue reading. Make that your message.

Content

Is the site complete? Do you have the following sections?

  •        A home page
  •        Product or service descriptions
  •        About us
  •        News section
  •        Contact us
  •        Case studies, testimonials, FAQs and the like (if appropriate)

Writing

Is the writing appropriate for the Web? Many organizations simply take copy developed for print and transfer it online. That doesn’t work. Online writing needs to be tighter. Crisper. A Website is not just a “brochure with a mouse.”

Among its other attributes, good Web copy is:

  • Clear
  • Accurate
  • Relevance
  • Concise
  • Consistent.

For example, Robert Middleton, a marketing consultant for independent service professionals, clearly states his basic message and target audience on his site (www.actionplanmarketing.com): “Self-employed Professionals. Information and support for attracting more of your ideal clients.”

Is your message that clear?

I’ll give some additional tips in my next post.

 

I’ve Got a Great Profile. Now What? 10 Social Networking Tips for LinkedIn

June 20, 2013 by Sandra Clark

This was written by my colleague Sandra Clark. It originally appeared in the Women in Consulting (WIC) blog (www.womeninconsulting.org.) It is used here with permission.

Okay, you’ve been listening and learning some social networking tips. Maybe you’ve attended my webinar or one of my classes. You’ve done your homework. You have a great profile on LinkedIn, including:

  • Professional headline with your key words/talents
  • Customized URL
  • Labeled company website
  • Compelling summary that uniquely positions you and includes keywords for your specialties
  • Current job listed with your key words/talents listed
  • Past jobs listed with your key words/talents
  • Additional sections (associations, volunteer work, books, etc.) that show what else you bring to the table)
  • A good number of recommendations
  • Well on your way to 500 connections, each of them tagged or with notes so you know who they all are!

Can you sit back now and watch the leads and job offers come pouring in? Sorry, not quite, but now you’re ready to begin taking advantage of the power of LinkedIn. With sustained effort, LinkedIn can become a good source of leads and referrals, and you should consider it an important part of your marketing or job search efforts. Set aside 20-30 minutes every day for LinkedIn and follow these social networking tips to get the most from this platform. Set a timer so you don’t get carried away and come to fear it as a time bandit.

1)      Reach out and touch someone. The updates section on your home page is a good source of ideas.  If someone has changed jobs, send them a message to congratulate them and ask how it’s going.  If someone has listed an interesting link to a professional article, comment on it.

2)      Write something in your own status update, such as a link to an interesting article in your field, a mention of an association event that’s coming up that would be worth attending, etc. There are lots to ways to approach this and it’s different for each person. Do not regularly use this space for self-promotion. It’s okay if you’re doing something truly noteworthy such as speaking at an event, publishing a book or adding a new service, but you will lose credibility if you do this too often.

3)      Write an unsolicited recommendation for one of your connections. Of course that person will be flattered and think even more highly of you, but there’s more. Assuming they “accept” your recommendation so that it shows on their page, you will now show up in the updates to their connections and be permanently on their page and show up to everyone looking at their profile.   If you write a recommendation for a vendor, all his/her clients will see your recommendation – and they might be potential clients for you. If you recommend former co-worker now at a new company, once again you’re now in front of their connections.  Do this with sincerity and it’s a win for everyone involved.

4)      Request a recommendation. Tell the person what you’d like them to mention.

5)      Look at your groups and see if there are questions you can answer.

6)      Add a company to the ones you are following.

7)      Pay it forward. The queen of social networking tips and author of “I’m at a Networking Event – Now What?”, Sandy Jones-Kaminski, has many wonderful suggestions about paying it forward via networking and all of her advice also applies to online networking. Side note: I met Sandy through LinkedIn.  She reached out to me when she saw I was teaching LinkedIn and offered to send me her book. She practices what she teaches! Here are some ways to pay it forward:

  • Offer to introduce a connection to someone who might be helpful to them.
  • Call a connection (limit the time) and offer to go to a networking event with them.
  • Buy a copy of Sandy’s book and give it to a connection you’d like to take to a networking event (or read it first and then pass it along.)
  • Forward a useful link – a free webinar or low-cost event that’s coming up.

8)      Identify a prospect you might like to talk to who is connected to someone you know. Pick up the phone and ask your contact if they would be willing to introduce you to one of their connections.

9)      Look at the companies you’re following. Identify one where there might be a business opportunity or someone you to whom you might want to connect, and pursue it.

10)   Following these social networking tips, chances are you’ll probably see someone you know and haven’t yet connected with. Send a personalized connection request. Never use the default form email LinkedIn offers you.

A complete LinkedIn profile is like a good website or a good resume -   useful but not worth much unless you do something to drive traffic to your site or to call you for an interview. Try one or two of these social networking tips and start harnessing the real power of LinkedIn. Connect with me on LinkedIn, and let me know how it goes!

About Sandra Clark
Sandra Clark is the Principal of Silicon Valley Training Connect – a training company offering on-site, customized training in leadership, project management and technology to Silicon Valley companies. Sandra also specializes in coaching individuals to build an authentic and inviting LinkedIn profile to help grow their small businesses.

Video Marketing: 7 Tips for Getting Started

April 4, 2013 by Leilani Yau

Is video marketing part of your online marketing mix, or are you still sitting on the sidelines wondering where to begin?

Video marketing can captivate and convince people to hire you as a consultant or buy your products and services. YouTube, camera phones and editing software make it easier than ever to start building your online video presence.Your videos need to do one of two things: 1) drive targeted traffic or 2) convert viewers. Here are some basic traffic and conversion-oriented types of videos from a recent seminar I attended with James Wedmore, YouTube video expert and founder of Video Traffic Academy:

Video Marketing Tips

Video marketing is relatively new, but the basic principles of marketing still apply. Remember the concept of A.I.D.A. from a Marketing/Advertising 101 class?

  • Attention – Who are you? Briefly introduce yourself and grab attention with your promise/benefit/hook
  • Interest – Identify the pain points of your audience
  • Desire – Convey the benefits with proof of how you have helped others
  • Action – Tell them what they need to do next or how they can get what you’re offering

With that in mind, think about developing a series online marketing videos that make sense for your business, including the following:

  1. The Welcome Video. Create a short (60 seconds), simple introductory video for the home page of your blog or website.
  2. Video SEO or video blogging. Get ranked in YouTube and Google search results. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to identify what your audience is searching for and post a video to answer their questions. Optimize the title, description and tags with those keywords. Add your URL in the video description. Promote and drive traffic to your videos via social media channels.
  3. Lead Capture Video. Use online video to grow your email list. Where you’re collecting information on your website, communicate your message and get them to take action. What do they get when they sign up? Can you offer them a freebie when they submit their email address?
  4. The Sales Video. Drive sales online. Check out these industry stats:
  5. Case Study/Testimonial Video. Use videos to tell the story of your successful and happy customers. Train your customers for effective testimonials using this format:
    1. Who are you?
    2. What were your pain points?
    3. Where are you now?
    4. Why? (Because of your product or service)
    5. Call to action
  6. Demo/Tutorial Videos. Use screen capture video to demonstrate your software without you being seen in the video. On the PC, use Camtasia. On the Mac, use ScreenFlow.
  7. Video Training Course. Turn your digital content into video and sell it as a training course, on DVDs for instance. You can use Powerpoint or Keynote slides to do this!

Here’s the bottom line: With inexpensive video capturing and editing tools, YouTube, a little marketing know-how and some elbow grease, you too can easily and quickly produce videos. Are you doing online video marketing? Please share any other tips with us in the comments!

About Leilani Yau
Leilani Yau is a digital marketing consultant, specializing in social media for small businesses and non-profits, and helps clients L.O.V.E. (Listen, Offer, Value, Engage) their target audiences online. She served as Social Media Director for Women in Consulting.
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