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Don’t delete your Google+ profile just yet


Everyone seems to have an opinion on the future of Google+. A quick Google search of “Google+ is dead” nets several articles debating the future of the social network. 

The headlines read:

• “Google+ Is Walking Dead.”
• “Is Google+ Really Walking Dead?”
• “Google+ Isn’t Dead. It’s Just In A Coma And On Life Support.”
• “Google+ Isn’t Dead. Long Live Google +!”

In 2011, when I got an “invite” to join the new exclusive social network, I was excited about the possibilities. Would it replace Facebook as the social network du jour? Would Google finally launch a successful social media platform (R.I.P. Google Buzz)? I was disappointed when, within a few short months, Google+ seemed to lose its luster.

Speculators have been hemming and hawing over Google+’s longevity since just after its launch, but those questions increased last month when Vic Gundotra, head of Google+ social efforts,announced that he was leaving the company

To add to the PR firestorm, TechCrunch published an article citing a “source” that claims that “Google+ will no longer be considered a product, but a platform—essentially ending its competition with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.” Google denied the claims.

Regardless, you don’t want to delete your Google+ profiles just yet. Though the future of the social network isn’t clear, it still provides a number of benefits for brands:

SEO: Google is a search engine, so it makes sense that Google+ provides significant SEOadvantages. Google+ content itself—meaning content you post to your page—can rank in search results in instances where your website may not. Google+ also allows for near-instant indexing, whereas simply putting up new content and waiting it out usually takes a few days.

According to Forbes: “Linking your Google+ page to your content via Google Authorship markup will cause the headshot and stats from your Google+ profile to show up in Google’s search results pages next to content you have written. This includes your profile picture displaying within search results next to your content, which has been shown to draw user’s eyes and significantly improve click-through rates.”

Further, when someone follows you on Google+, it is much more likely that your content will appear higher in their search results. When other Google+ users give a link multiple +1s, the pages shoot up in the search rankings.

No “pay to play”: Facebook has more active users than Google+, but with the latest change to its algorithm, Facebook has recently become “pay to play,” which means it’s difficult for posts to gain traction unless the page owner pays money to “boost” them. This means that “free” Facebook marketing may no longer a viable way for businesses to reach consumers.

High-quality visits: According to a recent report from Shareaholic, Google+ actually has the second-highest social media post-click engagement. YouTube took the No. 1 spot, and Facebook is down at No. 5. So although Google+ drives fewer referrals compared against its competitors, it turns out the traffic it does drive is actually quite high on the quality scale. Google+ users spend more than three minutes diving into links shared by their circles, view 2.45 pages during each visit, and bounce only 50.63 percent of the time.

For these reasons alone, we recommend that brands include Google+ as one part of a comprehensive social media strategy. 

What are your thoughts on Google+? Is it dead, alive, or maybe just sick? Please join the debate in the comments.

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What ever happened to the ‘press’ part of ‘press release’?


Do you agree with that statement? 

Perhaps it’s a bit severe, but upon reviewing how press releases have changed over the years, this once crucial PR tool could be considered to be in critical condition.

The concept of the press release dates back over 100 years. Although social media has contributed to a change in how they’re used, most press releases stopped containing news for the audience for whom they’re intended—journalists—well before we were tweeting and posting them.

It’s safe to say that this traditional communication tool has evolved into a content marketing device used by marketers, advertisers, and social media specialists, not just by the media relations team.

Press release 2.0

The press release has splintered into a variety of formats to serve wide-ranging audiences and purposes: 

• Traditional releases announce real news;

• Marketing-driven releases chronicle everyday company and brand developments; 

• Online releases specifically influence SEO.

Marketers are even writing releases with customers—not journalists—as the intended target audience. We refer to these as “marketing releases.” This newer breed of releases has driven a significant change in how release text is crafted. Many press releases are now written like actual articles, pseudo impartial, crafted to be read by specific customers. 

In these cases we are basically eliminating the “middleman”—the journalist—delivering directly to end users our messages, exactly as we want them read. By doing this under the façade of a “press release,” the information often appears more official, timely, and credible.

We must say that along with new “interpretations” of the press release there has been a lot of creativity, transforming a once serious, respected and important tool in the land of public relations into personal lettersextremely long Facebook posts, and even cartoons.

Pushing the envelope

So where do the liberties taken stop? How far can people push a press release? Here are examples of releases that are complete embarrassments:

“Moms, are you closet alcoholics who can’t wait till the kids are gone to booze it up?”:This is actively encouraging women already depressed about their kids going off to college to abuse alcohol, while trying to promote a new cocktail. What could go wrong with that? We hope this tequila company—to remain unnamed here—has a good crisis communications plan.

Action Automotive—Auto Repair Eugene—(541) 686-0191: Why, when, and where would a headline that reads like a phone book be news or even appropriate for a press release? Giving the benefit of the doubt, maybe they have a new phone number? But no, this release is about aerospace engineers and technicians working together at a local repair shop. Confusing, huh?

BDD Corporation Plans To Utilize Twitter Research: How credible is this? There’s no news, no explanation, and no relevant information, yet this was issued by “BDD Marketing and Management, a breakout company with a fully customizable menu of business options to fit every need.” How can a breakout company issue a press release about a “plan?” Our team is planning to win the lottery—maybe we should issue a release?

Klein Honda reveals its huge inventory of Honda certified vehicles for its customers:First of all, what gives them the right to say Klein Honda is “the preferred Honda Dealer in Seattle area”—do they have data to back this up? Clearly they’re looking to sell extra inventory, so maybe they should have tied the headline to something timely, such as the economy, or even something fluffy, like Father’s Day.

We’ve accepted that press releases come in different flavors and serve many purposes, but please remember that well-written press releases are far from dead. When developed strategically, their opportunities, appeal, and benefits are expanding along with the groups of various influencers and consumers who rely on them for relevant information. Please be smart about it, though, and don’t abuse a tool that’s been a staple in our field since the beginning.

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Brief Facebook outage leads to Twitter commentary


For the second time this year, Facebook experienced a brief outage Thursday morning. People who tried to log in throughout the world saw this message: “Sorry, something went wrong. We’re working on getting this fixed as soon as we can.”

According to most reports, the outage lasted about half an hour, affecting Facebook’s plug-ins as well as Facebook itself. Facebook hasn’t given a reason for why the outage occurred, but it did offer this statement to CNET:

Earlier this morning, we experienced an issue that prevented people from posting to Facebook for a brief period of time. We resolved the issue quickly, and we are now back to 100 percent. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

For proof of the inconvenience it caused, one need look no further than Twitter.

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Myths about how people share content online

“People share more content on the weekends because they have more free time.”

“Millennials share more brand content than any other generation.”

These statements are lies.

OK, maybe “lies” is harsh. They’re myths about how people share content on the Internet.

An infographic from RadiumOne sets these and other myths straight. A few of them are below. Do any sound familiar to you?

Myth: Engagement peaks on the weekend when Internet users have more free time.

Fact: People engage with shared content 49 percent more on weekdays. They click on sports content four times more on Mondays and Tuesdays, and food content 10 times more on Thursdays.

Myth: Millennials share brand content more than other generations.

Fact: Actually, millennials are the least likely generation to share brands’ content. Those between the ages of 55 and 64 engage with brand content the most.

Myth: It doesn’t matter when you post a shortened URL; its lifespan will always be the same.

Fact: Shortened URLs have longer lifespans when you post them later in the week. If you share a link on Thursday (rather than, say, a Monday), it’s more likely that users will still click that link many days after you shared it.

There are more myths making the rounds. Learn what they are here:


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Increase your press release’s visibility up to 5,000 percent

​Do you include photos or videos in your press releases?

If you do, keep it up. If you don’t, your press releases aren’t performing nearly as well as they could.

PR Newswire recently analyzed all of the press releases in its system—more than 1 million—and discovered that press releases with visual elements receive significantly more views than text-only press releases.

You don’t need to include that many visuals to see a difference, either:

• A text release with just one visual element sees a 92 percent increase in visibility. 

• A text release with more than one visual element sees a 552 percent increase in visibility. 

• A multimedia release with links to campaign microsites sees a 5,092 percent increase in visibility.

But despite all of this, PR Newswire found that almost 90 percent (86 percent) of press releases don’t include visuals. Get on that, PR pros.

Take a look at this infographic for more: 


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Study: Most Facebook brand posts written at 5th grade level or below

What do you get when you analyze 5,800+ brand Facebook pages and nearly 1.6 million total posts?

Depressed, I assume.

But you also get some interesting insight into social media content. The Marketing Maven’s Guide to Facebook took this approach, and the results can be found here.

Some of the highlights from the study:

• The majority of brand Facebook posts (67.3 percent) are written at a fifth grade level or below.

• Lunchtime posts are most popular, but after hours posts (5 p.m. – 1 a.m.) see higher interactions per hour.

• Posts with photos are 37 percent more effective than posts with just text.

• Fewer than 1 in 6 posts contain hashtags, but those that do see 60 percent greater engagement on average.

• Posts with exclamation points more than double engagement.

Digiday took particular exception to the idea of most posts being written at a fifth-grade level or below, noting, “Facebook requires that users be at least 13 years old, or in seventh or eighth grade.”

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The Facebook reach problem: Pay to play or walk away?


Facebook has come under a lot of scrutiny lately for seemingly forcing brands to pay to reach their fans.

One of the first reports on this issue was a March 3 article by New York Times “Bits” columnist Nick Bilton. In the article, “Disruptions: As User Interaction on Facebook Drops, Sharing Comes at a Cost,” he offers evidence suggesting Facebook’s algorithm changes have indeed affected reach.

Bilton wrote:

I recently tried a little experiment. I paid Facebook $7 to promote my column to my friends using the company’s sponsored advertising tool.

To my surprise, I saw a 1,000 percent increase in the interaction on a link I posted, which had 130 likes and 30 reshares in just a few hours. It seems as if Facebook is not only promoting my links on news feeds when I pay for them, but also possibly suppressing the ones I do not pay for.

Facebook quickly responded via a blog post, which is no longer accessible, stating:

There have been recent claims suggesting that our News Feed algorithm suppresses organic distribution of posts in favor of paid posts in order to increase our revenue. This is not true.

The post goes on to “explain” how Facebook’s algorithm works, in an effort to refute Bilton’s claims.

The full text can be found in a article titled, “Facebook: No, We’re Not Suppressing Posts To Force You To Pay For Promoting Them.”

A mere two days later, Bilton’s claims were further validated when Social@Ogilvy published a report providing evidence that organic reach for brands had decreased by as much as 49 percent from October 2013 through February 2014, and as of March hovered around 6 percent. For those with more than 500,000 “likes,” the news was grimmer.

This Social@Ogilvy graph demonstrates the decline in reach:

Since then, many articles have been published on this subject, and most marketers agree that brands are being forced to make a decision: Pay up, or bow out.

Assessing your options

There are a few approaches brand managers can take to overcome this issue.

1. The first and most obvious choice is to pay to promote your posts.

I’m not suggesting you pay for “likes,” unless you want to reach a vast audience of fake accounts in Syria that will never engage with you.

I’m suggesting you pay to boost the posts that are most important to your channel in order to reach your fans. If your content is stellar, you might even earn some new fans.

This tactic has also come under fire by a number of key influencers, but I’ve seen firsthand the effectiveness of this strategy.

When I paid to boost a few posts for SecureState, an information security company, I saw an uptick in engagement and reach. I verified the accuracy of Facebook Insights by comparing its reporting to HubSpot’s. It was clear that paying to boost the post worked.

As a result, my recommendation to Access’s clients is to pay to boost the posts that you really want people to see, and track it outside of Facebook Insights.

My other recommendation is to stop creating brand-centric content. People don’t want to be sold to, and they don’t care how great a company says their products are. They want to read about what interests them, so create content that is interesting and helpful.

Never forget you’re competing for attention among your fans’ friends and family. Is your announcement about attending a trade show more interesting than Jenny’s new puppy? Probably not.

2. Forget Facebook, and move to a different platform.

For most brands, this is simply not an option; nor would I ever recommend it. Though if you’re just starting out, and you’re not a B2C company, then you may want to focus most of your attention on LinkedIn or Twitter. Though be warned, nothing in life is free; eventually all social channels will shift their operations toward monetization.

3. Optimize your posts to maximize the organic reach you still have.

Start by auditing your content. Look at several posts over a period of time, and take note of those that performed well. Determine what commonalities those posts had, which of your top posts performed the best, and what time of day earned the best engagement.

This is a strategy you should employ for all social media channels, whether or not you pay for promotion. This will amplify your reach, drive further engagement, and boost your SEO rankings.

4. Diversify your portfolio.

If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to create and curate a mix of content on a variety of social media channels.

Facebook is no longer the only game in town. Just last year, Google+ was named the second-largest social network. And don’t believe the rumors that Google is carving it up after Vic Gundotra’s departure; as of right now, it’s not.

Every channel has its own strengths and weaknesses, so figure out what type of content works best for each and build a strategy around that.

5. Build a time machine and go back to the days before computers.

Hey, if you can do it, it’s an option. Also, could you please take me back to my prom night? I’d like to change a few things.

The hard truth

Facebook’s not going anywhere, and hopefully neither is your brand. So, approach this problem head on by employing a variety of the tactics listed above, or by paying someone like me to do it for you. Whatever you choose, simply posting about your great new offering is no longer going to cut it.

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3 marketing strategy lessons from Dad


With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, I’ve been thinking about some of the advice I’ve received from my dad over the years. 

My dad’s an engineer, so my pulling marketing strategy lessons from his insight may be a bit unexpected; still, here are three nuggets of wisdom I’ve gleaned from him:

1. Not everyone will appreciate your sense of humor. My dad is great at puns and bad jokes. (Based on Father’s Day cards I see, I think a lot of dads have this “skill.”) He’s received countless eye-rolls from me, but that doesn’t stop him from telling them. He is who he is, and every once in a while he’ll still catch me off guard and get a genuine smile from me. In the same way, remember that not everyone will appreciate everything your business shares, from social media updates to media pitches. Keep your brand identity consistent, and appeal to your primary target audience.

2. Know your audience. Speaking of targets, it’s important to know your target audience. Something my brother clued me in to when I was in high school is that getting what you want from Dad takes a different approach from wheedling stuff out of Mom. This was important for me to learn, so that when I proposed something like a family vacation or study abroad, I could frame it in a way that he would respond to better. Do you know your company’s target audience and what they respond to best? It can be tricky to figure out sometimes, but it’s important. Remember to look at your Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to see what types of content your followers engage with best. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your customers questions. Ask them what they like about your business and what you can do better.

3. Repeat your message over and over again. When it comes to marketing strategy, this isn’t a shock, but it’s always worth repeating. When I think of my dad, certain phrases come to mind, like, “Sleep fast.” I’ve always hated bedtime (and still do), but he repeated himself so often that to this day, when I’ve stayed up too late I tell myself to “sleep fast.” That message definitely sank in. You want your company’s message(s) to sink in to your target audience, too. Remember to repeat yourself over and over, so that when they hear certain key phrases they think of you.

Have you learned any marketing strategy lessons from your Dad? Please share them in the comments below, and have a nice Father’s Day. Emily Sidley is senior director of publicity at Three Girls Media, Inc., a boutique public relations and social media management agency located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. A version of this story original appeared on the company’s blog.

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7 reasons to try out new tools—without wasting time


Whenever a new online tool hits the , you’ll find somebody ready to tell you why you shouldn’t waste your time with it. 

Critics have different reasons for rejecting the latest app: It serves no legitimate business or marketing purpose, it’s not ready for prime time, the potential risks haven’t been determined yet, it’s a flash in the pan, and so on.

When Snapchat was new, it was dismissed in marketing circles. What value was there in pictures that “disappeared” in 10 seconds? Besides, there was nothing like a brand page for people to follow. Now, Snapchat is fast becoming a standard marketing platform. Suddenly, there’s a cottage industry in articles and posts extolling Snapchat’s virtues, presenting case studies and listing innovative ways to use it.

Some companies that were first to test Snapchat’s waters—such as Rebecca Minkoff and Taco Bell—have developed big follower numbers. For McDonald’s and Taco Bell, Snapchat is a battleground for brand advocacy in the breakfast wars. Gary Vaynerchuk calls it his most valuable marketing tool.

Recently, we’ve had dismissals of Whisper and Secret, though both have been the focus of interesting communication efforts. A TV series paid Whisper to add its images to the mix. When users whisper a secret using one of the specified keywords, a related image is dished up as the background. As for Secret, Vic Gundotra’s departure from Google was first reported as a Secret post.

When a new tool seems to be drawing an audience—especially your audience—there’s little reason to hold off on undertaking an experiment or two, and there’s plenty of justification for taking the plunge:

• You have a content strategy, not a separate strategy for every platform, so adapting your stories and messages to new platforms is not a drain on resources. 

• It’s no big deal if the platform doesn’t take off. There’s no huge investment to lose, and maybe it paid off for a while. You can apply what you’ve learned to other platforms. 

• By testing the waters before a platform gets big, you have a bit more leeway than usual, because mistakes there won’t get the same kind of attention that a gaffe on Facebook or Twitter would. 

• If your target audience includes early adopters, an app’s first user cohorts fill the bill. 

• If the tool becomes a hit, you’ll already have content and fans waiting when the hordes arrive. Think about Red Bull on Instagram, for instance. 

• You’ll undoubtedly reach some people you’re not reaching on other channels. 

• Your experimentation will help your in other communication efforts as you adapt to the acceleration of online change. 

To temper this enthusiasm, a note of caution is in order. 

Jelly, shrugged off as a communications vehicle by many of the initial reviews, was so quickly adopted that one commentator said he was uninstalling the app because his feed was so overloaded with marketing. Personally, I haven’t experienced this on Jelly; the number of questions shared by organizations in my feed is still in single digits. But overwhelming an app that’s still building an audience with commercial material could kill it before it has a chance. 

Short of flooding a community with branded content, experimentation should be the norm for our organizations, not something we let our competitors do first.

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4 types of competitors that brands must battle


I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve talked to executives who say they don’t have any competition. They talk about their unique selling proposition, their software innovation, or the new industry their business has created. 

When I hear this, the first thing I think comes from the public relations person in me: “There is no way I can put this person in front of a reporter to talk about the business, the industry, or anything.” The second thing is from the consumer in me: “This person is clearly not listening.” 

All companies have competitors. Recognizing this should be the second step in any marketing, PR, or social media strategy. (The first is identifying the audience.) There is not a single company, service, or product in the world that is the only choice a customer has, even if the alternative is doing nothing. 

There are four competitor groups, and because communication invariably exists in the context of one or more of these, it’s important to create messages and strategies for each. 

Direct. These companies or organizations are very similar to yours in multiple aspects of a product or service offering. They may or may not compete with all the same services, the delivery might be different, or they may have a different marketing strategy. Maybe you sell red apples and they sell green. You market the sweetness of your apples and the competitor highlights the texture of theirs. Sure, in some cases there is not a direct competitor, but this is not the only type. 

Indirect. Some companies offer a product or service that is different, but intended to solve the same problem. This might make it easy for consumers—maybe they either like apples or bananas. You’ll never be a banana, but maybe you can convince more people that potassium isn’t that important. 

Perceived. These are the most challenging types of competitors to identify, because they require your marketing team to stop focusing on your business and concentrate instead on the customer’s point of view. Monitoring is the only way to identify this group of companies. (Social media tools like Twitter are great for this and provide more insights than marketers had even a few years ago.) Apple-flavored gummy vitamins may have nothing on the real fruit, but maybe your target audience thinks they get the same vitamin C from both. 

Partner competitors. We hear a lot about strategic partnerships in the business community today, and they can be incredibly important to your communications strategy. Businesses are always changing, though, and the company that might have been your best referral source is now expanding because what you do seems like a great growth opportunity. Say hello to the grapple (looks like an apple, tastes like a grape).

PR and social media strategies are most effective when they communicate what’s different about a company, product, or service, not what’s better. That difference should be based only on a well-researched, honest, and objective look at all the competitors in your fruit basket.

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Company markets protective blanket for school shootings


The shooting at Reynolds High School just outside Portland, Oregon, was the 74th school shooting since the tragic death of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

The prevalence of school shootings prompted one company, ProTecht, to take action. It has unveiled the Bodyguard Blanket, an orange, bulletproof pad with which children can cover themselves if an armed attacker comes into their school. (The company says the blankets can also be used to protect kids from debris from tornadoes, which is why they’re orange, making them easier for first responders to see.)

In a Tuesday post about the blankets, Jezebel characterized the company’s efforts as profiteering. Here’s what writer Madeline Davies said about them:

It’s entirely understandable that a parent would want to protect their children from tornadoes and mass violence, but there are better ways to do that than by buying a $1,000 Bodyguard Blanket. Instead, let’s increase school budgets so administrations can afford adequate natural disaster shelter for their students and ban all guns. Treat the disease, not the symptom.

Commenters on Facebook seem to have mixed opinions. One, Michael Koruniak, simply wrote, “It’s hard to imagine a society where an industry like this can flourish.”

Others said they believe the blankets are a necessary for child safety, while still others offer suggestions for making the blankets more effective. One said they should have flaps on the sides that kids could pull down.

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Report: 1/4 of top online retailers fail at digital marketing


Internet retailers that find themselves on the list of the Top 500 Retailers likely got there through hard work and a good product, but a quarter of them can’t credit their marketing department.

A new study from Wpromote found that 124 brands among the top 500 online retailers deserve a failing grade when it comes to digital marketing. Only two percent of the companies on the list deserved an A, according to the study.

“Digital marketing has leveled the playing field,” said Mike Mothner, founder and CEO of Wpromote, in a recent statement. “You don’t need to be a retail giant to be a successful digital marketer, but a holistic view of the customer experience differentiated the winners and losers. Retailers can’t provide a seamless e-commerce experience without organic traffic, for example, and still be successful.”

The study judged these online retailers based on the following categories: paid search, SEO, social media, E-commerce, email marketing, blog and mobile.

Don’t feel too badly for the 25 percent. They certainly have failed all the way to the bank.

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State of the Internship report finds PR positions are most popular

If you’re a public relations intern, you’re not alone—very, very far from it.

Across all industries, PR internships are the most popular, garnering almost 37 percent of the vote in the recent 2014 State of the Internship Report:

The InternMatch study polled more than 9,000 students from around the country.

Some key findings in the study include:

  • It’s a tough market for graduating seniors. Only 16.6 percent of seniors had full-time job offers as of April 30
  • Interns want to work at for-profit companies that aren’t too big or too small. About 43 percent prefer midsize companies, and 67 percent want to work at a for-profit firm
  • The majority of internships are unpaid. Only 48.3 percent of interns were paid.

Check out the infographic below for some more insights from the study:


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The ABCs of online marketing

Pay attention, class.

Below you will find the ABCs of online marketing. Each letter not only represents an important characteristic of successful Web marketing, but also contains hyperlinks to associated articles that might be helpful for your future efforts.

OK, are you ready? Let’s review our ABCs:

Authenticity: In case you’ve missed our recurring theme, Spin Sucks. Authenticity is key for successful Web marketing.

Branding: Make sure yours is consistent across all your digital channels.

Content: High-quality content leads the way. Refine your skills as a content creator, and encourage a culture that recognizes its importance.

Details: They matter. In everything you do, whether it’s your content, social, SEO, media outreach, or crisis communication plan. Take the time to pay attention to the little things—they have a huge effect on your brand.

Education: This field changes constantly. Therefore, must learn continuously so you can keep up.

Focus: We have a zillion and three distractions coming at us every minute. This is especially true when dealing with Web marketing. To be successful you must learn to focus, to prioritize, and to recognize when to take a break.

Grow: To expand a business is hard. It often requires not only the right digital strategy but also an associated strategy to get the financial resources you need.

Humor: Those who laugh with you buy from you, according to an increasing number of studies. Learn to use humor strategically to boost your Web marketing strategies.

Integrity: Integrity and reputation are the most important assets that you and your organization have. Guard them fiercely, and choose to work with others who do the same.

Journalism: Brand journalism is an exciting new area when it comes to digital marketing. It can take many forms, but it offers a big return on investment if executed correctly.

Klout: OK, we all know your Klout score isn’t the be-all and end-all, but what it stands for, influence, is an important part of Web marketing. Influence and thought leadership (not the buzzword version, but real thought leadership) in your industry are important components of a successful digital strategy.

Limits: Know yours. You don’t have to be everywhere at once. Figure out what channels make the most sense for your brand and for where your target customer is.

Mobile: Consumers are using mobile devices more and more both to interact with your brand and to make purchasing decisions. Do you have a plan to take advantage of this important communication channel?

Navigate: Navigate the business seas informed, but fearless. Have a plan, but don’t be blinded by it. Be aware of change, and recognize when you should change course.

Own: Why rent when you could own? Build a strong owned media presence, both in the content you develop and the community you build.

Paid: With social media platforms (we’re looking at you, Facebook) increasingly working to find ways to monetize, you can no longer ignore looking at how paid media fits into your strategy.

Questions: Engage your community with questions. Ask them what they think, what they like, how they feel. They want to tell you. Listening will strengthen your business and their trust that you are truly interested in their needs.

ROI: Sure, you might have 10,000 Twitter followers, but that isn’t necessarily going to translate into a strong return on investment relative to your business goals. Create a digital strategy that provides a ROI.

Strategy: You must have a well-researched, targeted, and actionable strategy to be successful. This reaches across all parts of Web marketing, whether community building, media relations, or content development.

Time management: Time management skills are crucial. Cultivate practices that help your productivity.

United: Effective communication is about how to unite all the divisions of your organization to work together. No more silos.

Video: Making video part of your strategy continues to rise in importance. It’s not just about going viral; video helps tell your story in a personal way to help your customers connect with you in a manner that no other digital channel provides.

Winning: That’s what you are doing as part of this community. Go, you!

X: The artist formerly known as integration. Imagine the four media types represented by the tips of the X. Build a successful strategy to bring them together. After all, every pirate knows X marks the spot.

You: You are an important part of your brand. Let your personality show, as well as that of the rest of your team. People want to connect with people, not with nameless, faceless brands.

Zebra: Who wonders what a zebra would tweet? I know I do.

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4 elements of your social media policy that may be illegal

A study from Proskauer, a business-focused law firm, revealed that companies routinely take action against employees for their behavior on social media platforms, even when it’s their own account used on their own devices on their own time.

Although the infractions that prompted the disciplinary action may have been consistent with the companies’ social media policies, the policies themselves could be illegal. It’s time for companies to revisit their social media policies.

According to the Proskauer report, more than 70 percent of companies reported taking disciplinary measures over misuse of confidential information (80 percent), misrepresentation of the company’s views (71 percent), inappropriate non-business use of social media (67 percent), and disparaging remarks about the business or fellow employees (64 percent).

Read through just about any company’s social media policy, and you’ll find that the document spells out employees’ obligations in these and other regards. But in a sweeping ruling last week, an administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board ruled these and other policy elements could violate workers’ protected speech.

To begin with, the judge ruled on a provision in Kroger’s policy (Kroger is a U.S.-based grocery store chain) barring employees from online behavior that would be inappropriate at work and that would reflect negatively on the company, deeming it overly broad. It could, the judge said, bar protected speech such as criticism of the company’s treatment of employees or discussion of wages, hours, and terms of employment.

I always look to IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines for best-in-class policy language. The eighth plank of that policy cautions employees not to engage in any “conduct that would not be appropriate or acceptable in IBM’s workplace.”

Between companies that used IBM’s policy as a template and those with like-minded lawyers and HR staff, a lot of organizations will have to consider whether they can retain this clause. But we’re not done yet.

The third item on IBM’s list instructs employees to “make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of IBM.” Kroger had a similar rule, also struck down by the judge. This, according to the ruling, “unduly burdens employees’ rights because it would be likely to chill employees’ willingness to engage in protected communications.”

The judge didn’t dispute that Kroger has a valid interest in not wanting it to appear that employees are speaking on its behalf, but did assert that so few employees’ social interactions could be confused with official Kroger statements that the company’s interest cannot override employees’ rights.

IBM’s 12th and final policy forbids employees to “misuse IBM logos or trademarks and only use them if you have the authority to do so.”

Not so fast. The judge found this provision overly broad, as it prohibits a lot of non-offensive uses of the company’s intellectual property that employees might be inclined to use as part of their protected communications.

The final IBM plan you’ll find in almost every social media policy reads, in part, “Don’t provide IBM’s or a client’s, partner’s or supplier’s confidential or other proprietary information.”

Again, the judge turned policies upside down by ruling that this restriction violates Section 8 of the National Labor Relations Act because it prohibits employees from having conversations about personnel matters and business plans, which are also protected under Section 7 of the act.

These four components often serve as the foundation for company social media policies. Each has been found illegal, at least as they apply to Kroger’s policy. If your U.S.-based company’s policy contains any of these elements, it’s time for a meeting to determine whether a major rewrite is in the cards.

PR firms agree to play by Wikipedia’s editing rules

Eleven large PR firms issue statement agreeing to comply with the online encyclopedia’s rules after an investigation into paid edits on the site.

In the wake of a dispute over paid edits of Wikipedia pages, 11 of the largest public relations firms have agreed to comply with the online encyclopedia’s rules.

The move comes after Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that administers Wikipedia, threatened a public relations agency last year with legal action for what it called “suspicious edits” of the online encyclopedia’s pages to promote organizations or products.

Acknowledging that “prior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationship” with Wikipedia editors, the firms vowed in a statement Tuesday to abide by the site’s policies and guidelines as well as its terms of service. The firms also promised to police their own industry and counsel their clients in regard to proper conduct on the site.

“On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource,” the statement reads. “Our firms believe that it is in the best interest of our industry, and Wikipedia users at large, that Wikipedia fulfill its mission of developing an accurate and objective online encyclopedia. Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices.”

The issue came to a head last October when the Wikimedia announced it had shut down more than 250 editing accounts as part of an investigation into an increase in paid edits on the nonprofit site by sockpuppets, or online identities used for purposes of deception. Reports in The Daily Dot and Vicelinked the rise to a service called Wiki-PR, which formerly billed itself as “Wikipedia writers for hire.”

Wiki-PR’s services pages formerly promised clients a “page management service” so that their Wikipedia presence wasn’t “left up to chance.” Although those references have been removed, the services page includes “crisis editing,” which is designed to help clients who feel they are being treated “unfairly” on Wikipedia “navigate contentious situations.”

After discussions failed to resolve the issue to its satisfaction, Wikimedia sent a cease-and-desist letter to Wiki-PR CEO Jordan French in November that warned it was “prepared to take any necessary legal action to protect its rights.”

Wiki-PR did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the firms’ statement, but French told CNET last October that Wikipedia had been overzealous in its investigation.

“Senior Wikipedia administrators closed the sockpuppet investigation after concluding that we were paid editors paying other editors,” French wrote in an email to CNET. “Volumes of Wikipedia pages we didn’t work on were wrongly swept into that investigation. We do pay hundreds of other editors for their work — they’re real people and not sockpuppets.”

Wikipedia’s Terms of Use expressly forbid “attempting to impersonate another user or individual, misrepresenting your affiliation with any individual or entity, or using the username of another user with the intent to deceive.”

The firms signing the agreement included Beutler Ink, Ogilvy & Mather, FleishmanHillard, Peppercomm, Burson-Marsteller, Ketchum, Porter Novelli, Voce Communications, Edelman, Allison+Partners, and Glover Park Group.

CNET has contacted Wikimedia for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

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Sunny Leone Set To Sizzle In DK With Prem


Sunny Leone is in demand and she is all set to add that extra zing in a Kannada film titled DK opposite Prem.

“I was in Mumbai recently to discuss the song with Sunny Leone. She has given her nod to be a part of the film,” says the director turned actor Prem, who had earlier roped in few Bollywood hotties for the item song in his movies.

Prem, who has earlier worked with Yana Gupta for his film Jogi and Mallika Sherawat in Preethi Yeke Bhoomi Melide caught much attention when he had brought in Scarlett Wilson for his film Prem’s Adda.

The trend continues with him bringing in the latest bombshell of Bollywood, Sunny Leone for a special appearance in his upcoming film DK directed by Udaya Prakash. As we know, Prem had previously tried to rope in Sunny Leone for a film but it did not work. Not losing hope, he took another chance and this time he has succeeded. Sunny will do an item song in DK and as per our sources, the actress has been paid a little more than a whopping 40 lakh to sizzle on screen.

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It would be interesting to learn how Prem charmed these beauties to work in his films. Ask him about it and he chuckles, “Yes, I have always brought in an interesting factor to my films, which has garnered a lot of attention. Sunny this time has agreed, but everything will be finalised once we are done with the agreement. Till then, I have to keep my lips sealed,” he says.

The makers of DK are planning to release a threatrical teaser in three theatres on the day of the muhurath, sometime this month.

Apart from Sunny Leone, DK has invited a lot of speculation. “There have been different thoughts about DK. Some think the film is based on the life of politician DK Shivakumar, who is currently the Minister of Energy in Karnataka, while few others think it is about politician HD Kumaraswamy. But I ask all of them to come and watch the film and then decide what the subject is all about.” stated Prem.

Here’s wishing team DK all the best.

Clients are the best teachers: 3 lessons learned


Ah, clients. Their success is our success, and their misery is ours, also. 

As an owner of a young agency, I know client relationships often become personal. After spending months working with you, clients can feel more like friends or family. We’re pouring all our brainpower, resources, and energy into helping them grow, rooting for them to win like a proud mama bird.

Not all clients are created equal, though. The best are generous, appreciative, and inspiring. The worst are impossible to satisfy, unavailable, and downright cruel. All have taught me valuable lessons, and here are the top three I’ve learned:

1. The time to act is now.

Whisper App is one of the hottest mobile apps in the marketplace, and CEO Michael Heyward taught me this very useful lesson. My firm was part of Whisper’s small founding team, and we made big decisions daily. 

Heyward’s decision-making process was both audacious and inspiring. It was not unusual for him to say things such as, “Let’s get 100 college representatives hired on by next week.” These abrupt, large-scale requests would cause my team’s jaws to drop, but ultimately—and shockingly—most of them worked. 

Under his leadership, I watched Whisper grow to be a multimillion-dollar company. I’ve adopted his “act now” attitude and applied it not just to business but also to my personal life. I used to spend hours deliberating over tiny decisions, from which top to buy to which person to hire. Now, I just make a choice and bulldoze ahead. 

2. My company comes first, yours second.

A client had a big press announcement coming up, and we were sending out an embargoed release. The night before the story was set to break, I overheard the CEO talking to a journalist at a publication that did not agree to our embargo. Minutes later, the story went live on its website. All hell broke loose.

My journalist contacts shunned me—they thought I had leaked the story. When I confronted my client about it the next day he refused to apologize, justifying his behavior by saying that what he did was in the best interest of the company and asking, “Wasn’t that my goal, too?”

This betrayal put me in a terrible position, because I knew I had to quit though I really didn’t want to. Despite the callous behavior of the CEO, I had worked with them for over a year, investing time, energy, and, quite frankly, a lot of love into their account. Plus, quitting meant not only losing my monthly retainer but also losing equity.

I was forced to choose between standing up for my company and maintaining my integrity orsweeping this offense under the rug. I chose the former and learned a very hard truth: Although your clients may feel like friends, your own company must always come first. 

3. When in doubt, trust your gut.

When I was starting out in my career, I was trying to get a client into Seventeen magazine.Seventeen has always been a favorite publication, and I knew I had the perfect pitch for them. I sent it along to their editors, and one of them wrote back expressing interest. I was so excited I was shaking. (Clearly, I’m in the right profession.)

She asked whether this client expert wanted compensation. My gut reaction was to respond saying, “Of course not! We’re just thrilled for this amazing opportunity!” But being green, I called the client to discuss. As a strong businesswoman, she was firm on the matter: She wanted to be paid. She listed a few other requests as well, and I hesitantly obliged, believing all along that this was not the best course of action.

A few days later, the people at Seventeen told me they had decided to pass. The client didn’t ask for much  and I knew it wasn’t about that anyway. We had lost the opportunity because we weren’t appreciative. Seventeen had been on my PR bucket list; I could have kicked myself.

Looking back, I should have put my foot down and explained to my client that in this situation, it was in her best interest to forgo payment. I had enough wisdom and experience—along with a strong gut instinct—to know that we should thank them and ask for nothing more. 

In the end, there was no dollar amount that could be applied to such an opportunity. Both in business and in life, that gut instinct is always right.

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Advertising and marketing among top industries for grads

Just graduated college? Congrats!

The good news is you don’t have to go to class anymore, and you have any number of graduation speeches to inspire you.

The bad news is that now you have to find a job. And if you majored in any of the 10 subjects listed at the top of this H&R Block infographic, you may have a hard time doing so.

But there’s good news, too. Advertising is ranked as the top growth industry for college graduates, and marketing is up there, too, at No. 6. So if you majored in one of those, you’ll have some opportunities.

And hey, PR isn’t among the worst majors (though English is).

Check out the info graphic, detailing the landscape for recent grads (and if you’re heading into the mining, quarrying & oil/gas extraction industry, well done):


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9 tips for managing your own marketing


We’ve made it to June—a month observed by entrepreneurs and small business owners as Do-It-Yourself Marketing Month. In honor of that, here are a few tips for some easy DIY steps to help your PR and marketing: 

1. Friends close, enemies closer

Perhaps the word “enemies” goes a bit too far—but you should identify your competitors. In marketing, this will help you to consider what they’re doing that appears to be working or failing (both in their business activities and in the marketing efforts). It provides you a chance to serve your market better or differently. Never close your eyes to who else is in your space, but don’t obsess about it, either. 

2. Budget brutal

How can you plan an attack if you haven’t prepared for the pennies and the pounds that it may entail? Take time to set out a marketing budget. Most of us in the industry suggest at least 15 percent of your sales budget should specifically go into marketing and PR—much more in certain cases. Setting a budget helps you define whether your marketing will encompass above the line advertising, printed matter, media relations work, or lots of old-fashioned “pressing the flesh.” 

3. And your point is?

You can’t begin your marketing until you’ve considered your key messaging. This might be as simple as defining the following: 

• Who are we? 
• What do we stand for? 
• Where are we trying to go? 
• What do people perceive us to be? 

This relatively straightforward analysis can be done in DIY form or by engaging a  research company. The results will help your marketing substantially. 

4. Online or out of the race

There’s a good reason telephone books have become doorstops in many business cases: We know modern savvy consumers shop for business services by searching the Internet. 

An online presence is essential. There are DIY facilities available for this, or you can take the guidance of a dedicated company that will help you create a brand presence online. 

5. Content marketing: Take off the dark glasses

Being online with a website is one thing, but the picture is not complete unless people have a chance of finding you. Without some effective content marketing, being there on a website is like blinking behind dark glasses. You know you’re doing it, but no one else does. 

Some of the simplest DIY approaches to content marketing lie in making sure you’re regularly updating your site—through blogs, news feeds, anything to keep the search engines aware that you’re an open shop and continually moving. 

If your budget is slightly more flush, talk to a PR agency about copywriting and content marketing work to help you. 

6. Socially savvy

You don’t necessarily want to know when the person down the road is having a cup of tea or watching his toddler cut its teeth, but updates by yourself and others on social media do encourage traffic and relationships. DIY is very easy to achieve initially. Take a look at what you think Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube could be doing for you. 

7. Network with intent

Many of us loathe networking, but the eyeball-to-eyeball factor in marketing is important. Look at what’s happening in terms of business networking events in your region or industry. You never know whom you might meet. 

8. PR power—with the who, what, where, why, when

They say there’s a  every one of us. I’m pretty sure there’s a story within every company, too. Media relations and the process of getting stories to journalists is a really effective way to boost your PR and marketing. When creating a press release, consider the who, what, where, why, or when of your story. Think also about a good photo to help tell the story. You can always phone a PR consultant for further advice if you’re stumped. 

9. Evolve and evaluate

Static marketing plans—and those that aren’t frequently assessed for effectiveness—can be more of a detriment than an asset. Keep looking at new ways to tell your story and to reach your audience.

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Don’t write Facebook and Twitter’s eulogies just yet


When it comes to prognosticating about social media, death is in and the future is subdued. 

After years of touting social media’s potential influence, many journalists are now trying to put social media in a hearse and collect Web traffic on the way to the funeral. Recently, some influential media outlets published headlines that made my RSS feed look like an obituary section. 

Here is a quick look at the headlines about the dearly departed:
• “A Eulogy for Twitter,” Adrienne LaFrance and Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic 
• “Facebook Is Dead,” Drew Magary, Deadspin
• “Klout Is Basically Dead, But It Finally Matters,” Jon Nathanson, Slate

The digital funeral movement is certainly concerning for marketers who are managing brands active on social media. Corporate marketing budgets don’t have bereavement leaves. Years of investment in time, ad budgets, and company culture sea changes are at stake. 

Although I don’t have a crystal ball telling which channels will prosper or perish (nobody does), I can tell you that as a marketer it’s largely a frenzied exercise in click-bait futility. That’s because, although channels will come and go, social media isn’t going anywhere.

Twitter’s struggle to attract more mainstream users to maintain growth and Facebook’s problems with tweens are notable strategy issues but are largely irrelevant if today’s CMO sticks to these two digital content best practices:
1. Treat every decision as an experiment.
2. Be where your audience is.

Whereas monthly active users and stock prices ebb and flow for various social media channels, the primary trend that speaks to social media’s investment value as a worthy marketing channel is overall use. 

This study from Pew Research Center shows that we’ve come a long way and that there’s plenty of room for growth among older audiences


If you dedicate resources to understanding which channels users are migrating to and how you can connect with them, the struggles of any particular channel become less of a concern.

That still leaves brand stakeholders with decisions about when to start investing in a new social media channel or jump ship altogether. There are plenty of variables. Here are two telltale signs that a social media channel might not be worth your brand’s time:
1. Social media content and advertising budgets are up. Engagement is down.

When you’re simultaneously trying to earn and pay for a social media following that isn’t engaging, something is off. Has your audience left town for something else?

2. Your audience is mobile, but your social media channel is desktop—or vice versa.

Make sure you understand how your audiences use social media. Smartphones are fast becoming ubiquitous. The content or ad you develop for a small screen vs. a 19-inch monitor can make or break your engagement levels. Reach the right people at the right time on the right device.

The only thing that is dead in social media is the mantra of “set it and forget it.” There is no place for complacency in a social media strategy.

Constantly track which channels your audiences are using. Seek to understand why they left a particular channel and what their new social media channel preferences say about the content you now have to deliver. Focus not on what you have to do for retweets and “likes,” but on behavior patterns. Look for what draws them to your brand, regardless of channel.

That way, if Facebook or Twitter does end up joining MySpace and Friendster in social media heaven, you’ve already moved to the next “it” platform.:

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How to make a bigger splash with your LinkedIn profile


When LinkedIn opened up its publishing platform in February to our members, many people jumped on the opportunity right away.

They were eager to make use of a powerful new tool to help define their professional profiles and share their expertise with people in their field and beyond. Consider my colleague Mike Gamson, who dived right in with a series of pithy posts, and David W. Andrews, a butler who talked about the evolution of that domestic role.

Others of us have regarded this swimming pool with a bit more trepidation. We like to get used to the temperature one toe at a time.

The fear is only natural. Maybe we don’t view ourselves as great writers? Maybe we write for a living, so the bar for an excellent post is very high? Or maybe we just want to say something brilliant enough to augment our sparkling professional profiles?

Or maybe it’s that nagging suspicion about the mediocrity of our LinkedIn profiles. A fellow mom at my daughter’s school said she was embarrassed to connect to me on LinkedIn, because she didn’t think her profile was good enough for me to see.

She’s not the only one.

Some of our members have confided that they’ve put off publishing on LinkedIn because they don’t feel their profiles are up to snuff and they want to spiff up first. That’s like waiting to plan a great beach vacation until you’ve lost five pounds.

In the interest of helping my fellow poolside professionals dive right in, here are a few quick fixes that anyone can and should do to improve their professional profile in less than 10 minutes:

  • Tip 1: Tweak your settings before making changes. This is more of a pre-tip: We know a lot of you might be shy about making changes to your profiles for fear of inadvertently alerting your network to your edits. Don’t worry; this is easy to prevent. Simply turn off your activity broadcasts under privacy controls. While you’re at it, run through all the settings for your profile, communications, groups, and accounts to make sure everything is set just the way you want it. For instance, I can’t keep up with all my emails as it is, so I make sure I do not receive emails from group members or leaders.

    Tip 2: Definitely use the summary section. This is one of the most overlooked opportunities to establish your professional voice and credibility. Think of it as what you’d say about your career trajectory at a dinner party to someone you’d like to impress, or what you’d hope your friend might say about you when recommending you to someone else. A good rule of thumb is to make it 40 words or more. If you are looking for career opportunities, be sure to include keywords featured in a description of a desirable job in your field, as it will make your profile more likely to turn up in a potential employer’s search.

    Tip 3: Share some personality. This is not the 1980s, when the paper   you chose for your resume actually mattered. In addition to the role descriptions and slots for outside activities (boards, interests, and volunteering and causes), you can convey a lot more about who you are as a person and who you might be as an employee. To quickly give your profile some pizzazz, visually enhance your professional story by adding slide decks, videos, and other projects to demonstrate the impact of your work, your company’s mission, or your team’s capabilities.

    Tip 4: Proofread, proofread, proofread. Though the tone can be informal and conversational, the spelling, grammar, and punctuation shouldn’t be sloppy. You should offer a well-written profile that reflects a well-put together professional—even more so if you’re in the communications field. Ask for help if you need a second set of eyes.

    Tip 5: Get a great profile picture. Our data shows that a strong headshot—full color and well lighted—is one of the best and fastest ways to improve your profile. It’s a lot like when you’re looking for a house to buy: If there’s no photo, you assume something’s wrong with the property. People like to put a face with a name. Make yours terrific.

With these few steps, you’ll be well on your way to a more enriching LinkedIn experience. You may even find yourself ready to start sharing news and your perspectives with your professional contacts. Let me know how the deep end feels.

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15 enduring keys to PR success

Without question, technology has significantly changed the practice of public relations. Stakeholder targeting has become more specific, new channels have emerged, and conversations have replaced simple news delivery. 

It has been transformative—though maybe not entirely. 

The keys to being an effective communicator remain the same. Analytical writing and counseling success have remained the same irrespective of whether a writer is pecking away at a typewriter and pulling copy paper and carbons from the carriage, or devising a digital strategy in a remote site thousands of miles away from the client. 

They are: 

1. Curiosity 

Successful PR professionals want to know why—along with asking all the other W’s. When they do, they apply the PR skills they learned in school and on the job. In the process, they are curious once again, wondering about outcomes and scenarios. 

2. Clarity 

Insist upon it—in your thinking, in your writing, in understanding your role. 

3. Active voice 

S-V-O: subject-verb-object. The subject is acting, as opposed to the subject’s being the object of the action. Remember? It conveys thoughts, recommendations, and ideas better than passive voice. It works. 

4. Messages, messages, messages 

Messages are not boilerplate. They are not slogans. They are not bumper stickers. Instead, they are the key themes that enable you to touch your audiences in a way that resonates personally with them. Develop them carefully; employ them consistently. 

5. Learning what words actually mean

While/although. Above/more than. Lists of common mistakes are available. Get one and learn from it. 

6. Owning it 

Every document you write, including early drafts, has your name on it. Your professional brand is being created or altered. An artist doesn’t sign a painting until it is as good as he or she believes it can be. You should apply the same standards to any piece of work that has your name on it. 

7. Audiences/stakeholders 

Shape your communications for your intended audiences. You are attempting to achieve a desired interpretation or action—not to show off your ability to construct grandiose sentences. Manage your instincts. 

8. Alignment 

Understand the business/commercial objective; then develop a communication strategy that aligns with it. Communication for communication’s sake doesn’t deliver any value. Therefore, it doesn’t work. 

9. Bullet points 

Think in bullet points. Talk in bullet points. Write your bullet points first, even though they may belong in the middle of the document. You can listen in bullet points, too. Teach yourself to translate the talk around the room into bullet points before your process it. 

10. Timelines and sequencing 

Statement, truths, assertions, denials—all can have a short shelf life. So, consider carefully what you are saying today. Best practice? Stick with “real-time truths” that aren’t dependent upon gimmicks. Stay away from “snapshot true,” “de facto true,” or “prospectively true.” 

11. Telling, explaining, telling 

Readers, listeners, and especially clients are impatient. A linear writing structure makes them wait. Don’t make them wait. Tell. Explain. And then tell again. 

12. Seeing it before you write it 

At some point in your career you should be able to visualize in your mind’s eye sentences, paragraphs, and even document structure. Work at it. When you get there, your job will be easier and you will be a lot better at it. Don’t write it to see it. See it first. 

13. Learning and unlearning 

Essays? Creative writing? From time to time—yes. For the most part, however, strategic communication writing is different. It requires new learning. 

14. Windows, not mirrors 

An effective PR program communicates “through a window” —that’s where the audiences are. “Mirror communications,” which is practiced far too frequently, means you are speaking to yourself. You might enjoy it, but it doesn’t work. 

15. Starting over when necessary 

Your supervisor or your client won’t remember if you are late, but they will remember if it is bad. If you need more time, alert them, let them know you believe you can make it as good as possible with a little more time, and then deliver the best possible document. 

The business has changed in a multitude of ways, and the successful practitioner has to embrace the new environment, but it’s important not to lose the essential keys to success.

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Why the PR industry is ripe for disruption


Ask any company looking to hire a public relations firm what attributes they’re seeking, and they rattle off a list of qualities they assume all PR agencies possess.

They want:

• A creative team that interacts regularly with the public and stays on top of all the latest cultural and industry trends.

• A group of hip strategists that chat on the phone for hours a day; they are everyone’s best friend and take the time to understand new phenomena.

• Most important, an agency that gets them results.

Though these are precisely the qualities a company should seek (and expect) from a PR agency. Unfortunately, the agency model has become antiquated—stifling creativity by focusing on the billable hour, maintaining old-school workplace policies, and enforcing obsolete values on employees.

This attrition is startling. Our industry has one of the highest rates of employee turnover. Nobscot Corp. estimates voluntary and involuntary turnover reached more than 55 percent over the past 12 months. Not surprisingly, when unhappy employees leave agencies, it results in unhappy clients. The average “agency of record” tenure has decreased dramatically.

According to the Bedford Group, client/agency tenure has shrunk from more than seven years to less than three years.

The PR agency model is ripe for disruption. All around us technology and the creative class are turning industry on its head, and I believe the PR agency model is about to undergo a dramatic shift—one that will better serve clients and provide greater meaning and value to employees.

Since the recent economic recession, we’ve already seen a shift in demand for smaller, more specialized agencies (which are typically more nimble and progressive). Public relations is a $13 billion industry, growing at a rate of 8 percent.

Small, midsize, and independent firms are outpacing large and multinational firms. These smaller, specialized firms report 10.4 percent revenue increases compared with that of publicly traded firms, which report revenue growth of only 6 percent. Clearly, the winds are beginning to shift, but there’s still more to be done.


In 2010, revealed that 73 percent of the PR industry is female, yet an overwhelming 80 percent of upper management is male. I’m not here to bash the male gender (I happen to love them), nor get on a “Lean In” soapbox about workplace gender inequality. The point is that countless human behavioral studies prove that men and women think very differently—especially as it relates to processes and problem solving.

The PR agency world is broken today primarily because of gridlock in idea creation and thought process. When men sit at the top of the org chart driving company strategy, their leadership (despite the best of intentions) doesn’t work for the majority female workforce in the ranks below.

Professional associations such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) should place more emphasis on developing female executives and encouraging female entrepreneurism within our industry. In addition, we should work to diversify our workforce and attract younger male professionals to seek PR careers.

Since 2000, PRSA has awarded 11 men and just three females its prestigious Gold Anvil Award. Clearly, we have a female leadership deficit that must be addressed in order to bridge and diversify agency thought processes.

Workplace culture 

In full disclosure, I’m a millennial and I’ve been called every name in the book by Baby Boomers—from “entitled” to “fantasizer” to “hard to manage.” In my experience, it’s not that millennials are horrible agency employees, it’s just that Boomer bosses resist workplace change. This gridlock only exacerbates employee and client turnover.

By 2025, three-quarters of the global workforce will be millennials. These fresh professionals bring with them a keen desire to work in a team environment, a desire for personal fulfillment, and the need for flexibility. To prepare, traditional PR agencies must shed their hundred-page employee handbooks, processes, strict workweek regimens, and heavy management styles.

The good news? Millennials are digital natives, which means we’re typically multitaskers and seek roles in which we can balance many initiatives. This makes us perfectly suited for an agency environment.

Some agencies are already embracing this trend. For example, Allison+Partners employees receive paid time off for individual community service activities of their choosing, and Coyne PR offers a “Zen den” with massage chairs, a pool table team room, a nail salon, and a bar for happy hours.

At AR|PR, our millennial-centric culture is rooted in one simple motto: Believe the best IN each other. Want the best FOR each other. Expect the best FROM each other. 

This enables us to infuse fun and teamwork into our everyday efforts, while always focusing on client results. It also means we don’t have a dress code, and we give employees unlimited vacation. To prove this decision was wise, I calculated how much time I would have given employees in sick, vacation, and holiday PTO over a six-month period, and they actually took less time off. It’s all about creating a culture employees want to be a part of and feel fulfilled by.

Shifting media landscape 

Today’s evolving digital landscape and media shifts are forcing PR agencies to adapt. Mediaplatforms are moving far more rapidly than traditional agency pace, and I predict the agencies that don’t change will die.

I once had a boss tell me that our agency should have a policy of turning press releases around in 48 hours, and clients shouldn’t expect same-day, priority treatment. Au contraire. When CNN2 (now known as HLN) launched in 1982, the 24/7 news cycle was born. Most recently, social media (Twitter, specifically) has ushered in a light-speed news cycle that forces PR practitioners to respond at a rapid pace.

Moreover, traditional news media outlets are morphing into digital news engines, churning out more content than ever before. At the same time, this content is more concise and is created with a social-media-savvy audience in mind.

Boomer and Gen X agency leaders must recognize that their millennial colleagues embrace new media platforms in a much more authentic way. For example, when I was in college in the early 2000s, Facebook was just being rolled out to selected campuses.

The younger team members at my firm today use social media in a way that blows even my young mind. For this reason, agency leadership should co-mentor with younger team members. I encourage older generations to learn and absorb the practices of these digital natives and empower them to lead the agency in these respective functions.

The future 

I understand that many readers will balk at my assertions, and I can now kiss my dreams of winning a PRSA Gold by The weDownload Manager”” style=”width:7.5pt;height:7.5pt;visibility:visible;mso-wrap-style:square” o:button=”t”> Anvil goodbye. But after representing dozens of cutting-edge, disruptive technology companies, I was inspired to share my perspective on how our 100-year-old industry can collectively dream bigger, do better, and work harder.

The world relies on PR pros to tell the stories that should be told. With innovation all around us, we now have the tools and knowledge to tell these stories with more gusto than ever before. Let’s move our agencies into a new era, one that preserves our industry legacy and credibility yet attracts a new generation of talented storytellers.

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Swimsuit retailer recreates Sports Illustrated cover with plus-size models


The problem with the models in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (besides the fact that they don’t have my number on speed dial) is that a number of people find that the models’ body types don’t represent that of the average swimsuit wearer. 

The company Swimsuits for All is living up to its name in its latest marketing campaign, showing that you don’t have to look like a Sports Illustrated supermodel to rock a two-piece. The brand is recreating some of SI’s swimsuit shots with plus-size models.
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PR Firms , Brand Promotion in the World Wide Area

The nature of PR Agency is not the content marketing itself. but increasing pressure from brands to pitch mediocre or bad content. Reporters, influencers, bloggers, and media channels are already swamped with a rising tide of bad content. Add aggressive pitching from PR professionals, and this will only make the situation worse while accelerating the degradation of the relationships between brands and their media sources.

We also must be well read in practically every aspect of their brands’ or clients’ industries to maintain current and be able to counsel clients about their PR marketing. This also means that PR will need to work in concert with marketing efforts, so that inadequate resources are not wasted producing bad content that will get no traction or attention.

With an eye on a year’s general Marketing, the Business man wants to hire a Delhi-based public relations agency.

Business man, is expected to make frequent visits to the market ahead of anther thing in Delhi .


The chosen agency will have to ensure at least half a dozen stories each in national, regional and vernacular newspapers based on the inputs provided by client, Executive said, client is also seeking at least one story each in national magazines and television based on its inputs every month.

We do social media PR for our client and give good traffic and reputation in the market . Discussing client, LinkedIn, Facebook or myspace, Tweets, Pinterest, video clip, social material, influencer marketing, social service and of course, statistic and statistics.

TCS are aware that the healthcare industry that includes medical professionals, event managers, content developers, brand managers, competent engineers and experts in the healthcare industry ensures that our clients in healthcare receive the best media exposure. Best PR agency for this all field.

There are many PR Company in Delhi India, deal with pr prospective but Teamwork Communication Solutions Pvt Ltd is one of the best PR Firms in Delhi. It deals with affordable price and return good out put out of the market.


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Facebook Knows When You’re About to Update Your Relationship Status


Facebook released new findings on Friday — Valentine’s Day — that hints when two people are about to change their status to “in a relationship.”

In the three months (or about 100 days) before a couple updates their status to make their relationship Facebook official, the social network sees a steady increase in the number of timeline posts shared between the two. In fact, posting to each other’s pages will peak (1.67 posts) at 12 days before the relationships begin and when the update is officially made (“day 0”) posts typically start to decline.

SEE ALSO: 12 Facebook Statuses You Need to Retire

Facebook only looked at couples who declared an anniversary date — and not just changed their relationship status — between April 11, 2010 and Oct. 21, 2013, and remained “single” 100 days before and “in a relationship” 100 days after that date. The findings are a part of a larger six-part series that looks at love.



“Presumably, couples decide to spend more time together, courtship is off, and online interactions give way to more interactions in the physical world,” the company said in an official blog post.

Less interaction isn’t a bad thing, and posts shared tend to get sweeter and more positive following a relationship status update. To determine this, Facebook looked at words expressing positive emotions — such as “love”, “nice” and “happy” — compared to ones with negative connotation (“hate”, “hurt” and “bad”). Check out the graph below to note the increase.


 Twitter also revealed which countries and U.S. regions tweet about being in love the most. Users in Israel say “I love you” most, followed by those in Sweden, Norway, Spain and Hungary. In the U.S., people in New York, Michigan and Nevada say those three words most on the site, while some of the least sentimental states are Montana, Idaho, Nebraska and New Hampshire.

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Twitter interactions your business should shun


Social media is a great and amazingly useful part of PR, but it’s not without its perils. One slip-up on Facebook and you’re in the middle of a scandal. One bad picture on Instagram and all your branding goes to waste. You have to be careful. 

That’s why you should be extremely wary of certain Twitter interactions before diving in. Not everything on this particular social media platform is as innocuous as it seems, and you can quickly become entangled in some unscrupulous exchanges. Let’s take a look. 

Using every hashtag 

One common tactic by many PR pros is to check out the trending hashtags at the moment and try to incorporate them into posts for the day. It’s a quick way to get exposure: People who click on the hashtag and scroll through other posts containing it see the tweet and (hopefully) click on the link. At the very least you hope they’ll check out the rest of your Twitter feed. 

This can be very dangerous, though. Just search “business Twitter fails,” and you’ll see countless lists of brands tossing up every tweet they can think of using hashtags that are wildly inappropriate. They accidentally link their products with shootings, plane crashes, and every other manner of disaster. Hashtags are fine, but make sure you look at why they’re trending. 

War of words 

Arguments never end well when businesses are involved. On Twitter angry customers and/or trolls feel like they can get away with more, considering not as many people see the messages. Only if they actively click on the profile do they see it, unlike Facebook where pretty much anyone who visits your fan page will see the angry words. 

Of course you want to answer everyone; it’s a good policy to have, and you never know when someone is genuinely upset or attempting to troll you. At a certain point, though, you can get pulled into a war of words, and that usually ends badly. 

Hopefully you realize early in the one-sided conversation they’re just baiting you to say something out of line. It’s best just to shut them off or at least turn the conversation private if you think they really need help. The last thing you need is someone retweeting something completely out of context and it spreading around the Web. 

#FF #TBT Etc. 

Joining in on the fun of Follow Friday, Throwback Thursday, and other Twitter “events” can be a great way to show your personality while gaining followers. There’s no reason to do them every week, though; it could be driving people away rather than bringing them in. 

For example, one week you think of a great #TBT post: a picture of your staff when you first opened 10 years ago. The next week, you think of another #TBT: your first tweet ever, how cute. 

Eventually you’re going to run out of things to #TBT, and it will just be annoying to your fans. They know after a point you’re just doing it to gain followers instead of providing them relevant content. Spread it out a little, and concentrate on important stuff rather than hopping on trends. 

What are some other annoying Twitter habits you’ve seen businesses embrace?

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Why PR blogging isn’t dead


  1. I recently caught Arik Hanson’s article suggesting that the age of independent PR blogging is over. I’m not sure I fully am on board with his assessment. Here’s why. 

    He suggested there’s too much noise. 

    I agree, there is, but the most wonderful attribute of the Internet is those who are the loudest do not rank the highest. It is those who provide the most valuable work who rank the highest. There’s a filtration system for independent PR bloggers; especially for PR bloggers. 

    If you think you’re part of the noise, you’re not creating enough value, you’re not connecting with humans, and you’re not standing out. It’s not the person who can juggle more balls or yell louder than the rest who gets the attention, it’s those who get in front, those who make themselves vulnerable and those who create the greatest value who get the attention. Quality can trump quantity. 

    It’s easy to say there is too much noise. It’s a whole lot harder to admit you’re part of it. Noise is what groups of mediocre people make. 

    He suggested early bloggers have moved on. 

    They have, but we need to figure out to where they have moved, and why. They haven’t moved on because independent PR blogging doesn’t pay off, they have moved on because it has. They earned attention and recognition for their work. They aren’t off somewhere else trying to get the same results they hoped for from blogging, they’re out there reaping what they sowed in their blogs. 

    He suggested you beware the content machines.

    Independent travel bloggers, such as, Mike Walsh with flight4sight, aren’t afraid of sites like Pursuitist. Consumer-centric growth blogger Steven P. Dennis isn’t afraid of content machines.Bernadette Jiwa isn’t afraid of sites such as Copyblogger

    Just because there are “wandering generalities,” content machines, if you will, it does not mean you can’t become a “meaningful specific.” 

    Courage is the key ingredient. 

    Writing as an independent PR blogger, I’ve shared all the same concerns as Hanson. I’ve feared I wouldn’t make it through the noise, I’ve questioned whether it would be worth it or not, I’ve worried what the point would be of investing by The weDownload Manager”” style=”width:7.5pt;height:7.5pt;visibility:visible;mso-wrap-style:square” o:button=”t”>  so much time in a blog if I knew I would eventually leave it behind (I won’t), and I’ve felt beaten by the content machines out there. 

    Recall the filtration system I mentioned. All the filters are right there. I understand the fear, the apprehension and the concern. It takes a lot of courage to blog about technology when TechCrunchis out there. But it’s that specific courage that makes you and your blog valuable. 

    If you’re going to plant any seeds, be sure to see their growth all the way through. 

    Trends don’t end. 

    A trend isn’t over if people leave. A trend is only over if people leave for something else, something better. Hanson notes Danny Brown is leaving the trend of independent PR blogging for his family. It would be different if Brown was leaving the blogosphere to start a new PR trend, or to join a content machine. He isn’t. 

    Spending time with family doesn’t produce the same benefits as an independent PR blog. It’s something entirely different (and very rewarding in itself). Trends end when people find an action they can take that has the same benefits as what they were doing plus some. 

    Trends don’t end. They change. 

    [Author’s note: I was privileged to exchange a couple of emails with Arik since first posting this story. There are dozens of benefits to establishing a group blog model, benefits that an independent blog model doesn’t have. However, it works the other way around, too. You can have the best of both worlds. In the early ages of PR blogging, guest posts gathered attention for multiple bloggers at once. Think of group blogs as guest blogging on steroids. Bloggers never stopped writing for themselves even though they wrote guest blog posts. Why should you if you’re also part of a group blog model?]

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AP Stylebook adds new religion section, ‘selfie’

The AP Stylebook has served for years as a bible of sorts for wordsmiths everywhere, and now that bible has a religion section to boot. 

The new section contains more than 200 religious terms. 

From the AP: 

Religion writer Rachel Zoll helped create the new chapter, which combines existing terms from the Stylebook’s entries with new and revised entries, covering the world’s major denominations. 

The new version of the Stylebook includes, in print, that writers can now use “over” to indicate greater numerical value. 

As an editor explained it to me earlier in my career, “You jump over your opponent as you scoremore than they do.” 

I think I’ll keep it “more than.” 

And in a sure sign of the impending apocalypse, there’s now an entry for “selfie.” Other changes include entries for “bitcoin” and “polar vortex.”

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5 Measurements for PR ROI

In today’s socially connected world, public relations is more important than ever before. Today, a single tweet from the right Kardashian could be worth more than your entire advertising budget. Your consumers are looking up your business online, reading reviews, tweeting about products, and crowdsourcing their experience with your brand.

But too many companies are still wholly focused on the ROI of it all when it comes to public relations results. Currently, the U.S. public relations industry is comprised of more than 7,000 companies, bringing in an estimated annual revenue of $11 billion.

The field is growing, with 70 percent of companies offering diverse services from media relations to event management. With such a wide range of services and expertise, it makes sense that modern PR professionals have a hard time guaranteeing hard and fast ROI numbers.


“Too many companies are focused only on the dollars ROI,” said GG Benitez, CEO of GG Benitez and Associates Public Relations, Inc. “While PR ‘hits’ are never guaranteed, when they do happen, they spur brand affinity. That results in an ROI that’s outside just the traditional dollar for dollar measurement.”

Here are five things your PR team should be worried about, instead of only crunching numbers:

1. Are You Keeping Your Competition Out of the Media?

Public relations isn’t only about keeping your brand in the media spotlight; it’s also about keeping this spotlight from shining on your competitors. Every placement you get, every article written about your company, and every positive mention you receive is chipping away at your competition. Ignoring your public relations plan is allowing your competition to overtake your niche and steal your brand awareness.

2. Is Your PR Team Forming Valuable Relationships?

At heart, the “relations” part of public relations is the most important. A good PR team will build connections to prominent figures, media tastemakers, and journalists. A great public relations team, however, will build lasting relationships by working as a bridge between your needs and the needs of the media.

“A brand’s PR rep is the one who is in constant daily communication with the media, gaining an understanding of what they are working on and how we can support their efforts through our clients’ offerings,” Benitez said. “As a PR firm, we aren’t trying to ‘sell’ our brands, but rather find a way that our brands can be of service to the media, and through the media, communicate their offerings to the consumer.”

3. Is Your Team Building Your Brand?

Speaking of brands, building up a recognizable brand identity is perhaps one of the most essential reasons to utilize public relations professionals. In a universe where Chipotle makes stop-motion-animation to tug on your heart strings and Old Spice deploys humorous (and hunky) spokesmodels on horses, your brand is more important than ever. You can’t afford to let the market decide what your company’s brand will be; you need to be proactive about getting out there and telling your story.

“Through the relationships PR professionals build, firms can work with the media to bring the consumer a wholly formed brand story,” Benitez said. “They help consumers understand at a glance what differentiates the brand from its competitors, what is unique and compelling about the brand and its founders, and why the brand is hot and relevant NOW!”

4. Are You Reaching Your Target Market?

Thanks to big data and new technology tools, it’s becoming easier to target smaller and smaller subsegments of your target market. Public relations professionals can not only help you determine which markets you should be focusing on, they also have ready-made relationships within the communities you want to enter.

Imagine you’re trying to target customers within the beauty industry with your new product. Advertising can gain you recognition, but PR can help you pinpoint the movers and shakers you need to turn from sceptics into fans. Your PR firm knows which publications your ideal customer reads, what they’re saying on social media, who the big digital stars are, which celebrities your market is obsessed with, and how to gain market share with your target audience.

5. Do You Have The Right Endorsements?

Endorsements are huge when it comes to selling your brand and telling your story. According to research by Nielsen, 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from family and friends more than any other form of marketing. Today, thanks to social media, the average consumer’s network also involves tastemakers, niche digital stars, and celebrities.

In fact, a recent survey of UK social media users showed 33 percent of all users follow celebrities. And positive mentions still have the ability to have a tremendous effect on a company’s bottom line — just look at figures showing brands received as much as a 20 percent increase in sales, simply for commencing an endorsement deal.

“PR is about creating an environment of authentic endorsement,” Benitez said. “A good publicist should work to make sure your name is known and your brand offering is understood amongst editors, journalists, and tastemakers, like celebrities and influencers.”

Public relations professionals can help you connect and build relationships with the movers and shakers relevant to your target market. Firms can help you signal boost your product, get it into the hands of the right individual, and secure authentic endorsements. Trusted thought leaders and celebrities can have as much consumer trust as a close friend or family member, meaning it can be enormously beneficial to form the right connections.

While ROI is certainly important, there are more ways to measure it than just a dollar for dollar immediate return it’s not the bottom line when it comes to receiving the most value from your public relations team. Your PR team is building your brand identity, keeping your competition out of the spotlight, and forming incredibly valuable relationships for your company. This might seem more intangible than a set of numbers to be crunched, but it can be essential for your company’s success.

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10 ways to build your Twitter following


A friend said, “I am having trouble getting followers for a new client.” Though she was general in her tweet topics (not just self-promotional), she was at a loss.

Here were my suggestions, generalized and tweaked as to not identify the asker.

1. Make sure you have a completed profile, avatar (logo), header photo, and background. Your Twitter background shouldn’t be clouds. Most of us are choosy and won’t follow eggs. See: “Baby Steps to the Tweet.”

2. Follow back. Unless they are spam, an egg, #TeamFollowBack, or porn, I follow. One thing I’ve learned in this business is that you never know who is behind the account, whom they know, or even where they live. All business is word-of-mouth, and social media just multiplies that. I have friends all over this country who have accounts that aren’t necessarily local, and we talk (and recommend each other).

3. Nerds like me have lists by geography and topic. Take advantage of the work we’ve done for you. For example, here is the list my primary personality has for my county. Follow those people. It’s a much better way to find new people than buying followers (which is spammy).

4. Make lists by county, clients, and topic. Spend time “lightly stalking those people.” See “Organize Your Twitter Stream—Use Lists.”

5. Start using a hash tag related to your industry, topic, and/or geographic location. Remember, the purpose of a hashtag is to filter tweets by topic. You will see tweets from people you don’t follow. Reply to those tweets, and follow those people.

6. Not everyone on Twitter engages. By now you all know I feel about the Retweet Button, which passes along a tweet but stops a conversation. That is just part of it. The fewer people you have following you, the more you have to work to engage in your home feed. If you want to have friends, be a friend. It’s up to you.

7. Ask questions. People love to answer questions. If you’re representing a bakery, you might ask, “What is your favorite cake to bake?” “What cupcake flavor do you wish you could make?” “Chocolate chip cookies: milk or coffee?”

8. Search on Twitter. Again, presuming you’re running a bakery account, search for “cakes,” “cookies,” “bread.” Reply to some of those tweets. This is what Gary Vaynerchuk (@GaryVee) did with He sat on Twitter answering people’s questions about wine pairings. Now he’s a social media rock star.

9. Sometimes you have to prime the pump. In tweeting for my job, I met a bunch of ladies (my think tank) who all tweeted for businesses. We support each other by replying to tweets and retweeting each other’s accounts. It’s not cheating; it’s networking. Surely you have mutual friends who will support you, even if they’re in other industries.

10. Join a Twitter Chat. This one might be tricky, and it is more advanced: Twitter301. I get high-quality followers from the chats I participate in. See: “Want to Meet More People: Join a Twitter Chat.” They’re also more industry specific and/or engaged users. Check or to find these communities.

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Why Instagram is a great crisis tool


What’s the latest and greatest tool for crisis communications? 

If you ask Maureen O’Connor of, it’s Instagram. Her article, “How Instagram Became the Best Crisis PR” details how public figures are tapping the photo sharing app to clean up after their messes. 

First, there’s Beyonce. You may recall that recent dustup between her sister, Solange Knowles, and her husband, Jay-Z, in an elevator. The cure for that PR crisis? A weird back-and-forth deletion/addition game of photos purged and added of the two sisters in happier, less PR-nightmarish times. 

Next, she points to the story of Jill Abramson, who was removed as The New York Times’ executive editor. In the wake of said removal and in response to criticism that had been laid out against her, Abramson’s daughter posted the following Instagram photo: 


Intended or not, moves like these are creating their own narrative. They follow the now famous Don Draper/Mad Men quote, “If you don’t like what’s being said, then change the conversation.” 

Instead of headlines about an ugly physical assault in an elevator, the conversation changed to Beyonce and her sister’s Instagram machinations. 

I see three reasons why Instagram has become such a powerful PR tool: 

1. It’s immediate. There’s no waiting for a reporter to tell your story for you with Instagram. You’re telling it yourself in the time it takes to push “go.” 

2. It’s direct. With Instagram, you’re connecting directly to the people who want to hear your message, and they’ll amplify it for you (that is, if it’s worth sharing). 

3. Images can tell a story that words can’t. The image of Jill Abramson wearing boxing is arguably far more profound than any well-crafted, saccharine statement could ever hope to be. Images have lasting power. 

As with any tool, it should be one of many in your arsenal. Fitting the message to the medium has become more of a needed skill than ever before. 

How have you seen Instagram used as a powerful PR tool?

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2 veteran journalists offer straight talk on PR techniques

The Journalist

‘The keys to pitching journalists successfully are building a solid relationship and making your content useful—and the core element of both is simply doing your homework.

So said veteran media professionals Chitra Nawbatt and Lauren Young as they discussed “What Journalists Want” in a webinar hosted by NASDAQ OMX in partnership with Ragan Communications. Nawbatt is a New York-based anchor and correspondent for CTV’s Business News Network; Young is the money editor at Thomson Reuters and hosts the Money Clip Series on Reuters TV.

The hourlong panel discussion featured key topics covered in a free white paper (also titled “What Journalists Want”) available to PR professionals seeking to improve their chances of cultivating media contacts and securing valuable coverage in an increasingly competitive landscape. 

Young urged PR pros to get to know the reporter through simple research, which is easy online. Specifically she said:

• Find a way to connect on a personal level and build a relationship.

• Look at a journalist’s work, and follow and connect with him or her on Twitter. 

Once you are ready to offer your story idea, Young said:

• Research before you pitch.

• Don’t always pitch a one-dimensional story; find what unique aspect would interest that specific journalist and craft your suggestion accordingly. 

For Nawbatt, the emphasis is on concise, cogent content. 

“When we were young, we all learned the 5 W’s,” and those fundaments are still crucial today. She warned against “data overload,” both in pitches and in online newsrooms—which can be a great help to journalists, if they are well organized and clutter-free. “Cut through the noise,” she said.

Nawbatt’s other guidelines include:

• Focus on what is desired for a news story vs. what is commonly offered.

• Give the reporter the essence of the article—what he or she needs to know.

• Find the “so what?” and explain.

• Pitch what is relevant and consumable (clear and concise). 

In the hourlong conversation, which included questions from audience members and the panelists’ responses, several other key points were offered:

• Press releases still have value as an official source, specifically for hard data and official quotes.

• Subject lines are essential to grab attention, so they must be clear and potent. Important: If the topic of an email correspondence changes, the subject line should be altered to reflect that. 

• Spelling errors and poor grammar get you attention—all the wrong kind. Don’t set yourself up as the target of ridicule.

• Follow-up methods vary according to the journalist and the relationship a PR pro has established; knowing beats and preferences, again, is a product of doing your homework.

• Once you land an interview, make sure your client brings forth energy, delivers useable sound bites, and stays on message.

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Marketing firm posts handwritten ad for copywriter in window

With all the technology that exists to help companies find the right job candidates, sometimes is best to just go old school. 

That’s what Toronto marketing agency trevor//peter communications decided when it sought a new copywriter. They just slapped a help-wanted style poster in the window that read, “We need a really effing good copywriter,” along with an email address. 

Someone took a pic and posted it to Instagram: 

This may not put Monster and CareerBuilder out of business, but it’s good to see the occasional throwback.

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7 social media trends in 2014

Organizations are finally starting to understand that social media is more than just a giant megaphone for marketing messages. (Better late than never, right?)

There are seven social media trends that are beginning to shape 2014, and an infographic from Media Mosaic examines them. Is your organization participating in any? Here’s a look at a few of them:

1. Social listening

Twenty-four percent of marketers plan to use social listening strategies in 2014. That’s up two percent from 2013.

2. Social advertising

Fifty-seven percent of marketers used social ads in 2013. An additional 23 percent plan to start using them in 2014.

3. Images as marketing tools

Images give customers a lot of information in a short amount of time. This benefits both organizations and their customers.

4. Social media teams

Almost 80 percent (78 percent) of organizations have a dedicated social media team, but only 26 percent currently approach social media holistically.

See the other three trends in the graphic below:



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10 digital tools recommended by social media pros

A while back, I attended a Ragan Communications Social Media Roundtable in Chicago. It was perfect timing, because I’ve felt lately as if my relationships with my steady collection of digital tools and resources has hit a rut. After getting more than a few ideas for spicing things up through picking the brains of some of the best in the business, I’m feeling much more optimistic about the future. 

So, for anyone who’s also feeling in a bit of a relationship slump, let the following 10 tools help you break free too.

1. Feedly. I was one of those people who clung to Google Reader, holding out hope until it smacked me with a breakup notification. I was forced to play the field. I reluctantly gave Feedly a chance, and now I realize what I had before: nothing. Feedly enables me to embrace my passion for organization. I can create folders for various topics and then add content to them, so everything is easily accessible. My inner journalism major digs the clean “magazine” view, which displays large images with articles.

2. Offerpop. I’ve planned dozens of social media promotions for clients, so I’ve tried out quite a few different apps. Offerpop offers a wide range of products across social platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, even Tumblr and Vine—and it’s not lacking in options for promotions, from Pinterest contests to Facebook and Twitter sweepstakes. Maybe most important: It’s easy to get along with. We can draft customized content for each promotion, and the text instructions and image dimensions are out there for everyone to see. So, our graphic designer can easily come up with visuals and drop them in, no coding needed.

3. PromoJam. Though it doesn’t have quite the number of promotion options as Offerpop, PromoJam is significantly more affordable (about $30 each month for a basic account), so it works well for one-off Facebook promotions and for clients with limited budgets. The interface is user-friendly and requires no coding, so customizable promotions can be set up quickly. I’ll also give them kudos for customer service. I had an issue a couple of weeks ago setting up a promotion on a client’s Facebook page, and they were enthusiastic about helping to fix it. 

4. GroupHigh. I was not a fan of GroupHigh a couple of years ago, but since its makeover it is growing on me again. I work closely with food bloggers on behalf of clients almost every day, so a database of bloggers sounds like it’d be a stellar fit for me. It is, to a point. GroupHigh is a useful tool for identifying topic-specific bloggers in various locations. It is also very helpful for quickly finding bloggers’ social media stats and information, which I often include in proposals and in reports for clients. What it isn’t is a substitute for creating genuine, strong relationships with bloggers and for really getting to know them. A food blogger does not want to know that you found them through a search on GroupHigh. They want you to read their blog, connect on social media, and get to know them before shooting off a blind invitation to get together.

5. Followerwonk. Just who are your Twitter followers? Scrolling through to find information about followers—and search for new users to follow— quickly becomes exhausting. Followerwonk enables you to see where Twitter followers are located, analyze Twitter profiles, and search for keywords in Twitter bios. It also has a simple display that organizes data into basic graphs and charts that are easy to understand and use. One other function I find useful for clients: Comparing the social graph of one Twitter account to as many as two others, such as those of competitors, friends, or industry leaders.

6. Sprout Social. People at the roundtable were raving about Sprout Social. I like that it focuses on a team approach, as there are usually multiple people managing social media within an agency. Also, all the functions to manage and monitor engagement across platforms are quite attractive.

7. Canva. Looks really do matter. Visual social media content has been on the rise since 2012, when Pinterest and Instagram saw a huge surge in popularity. Some predicted 2014 would be the year visual content truly takes over in social media, and that seems accurate. Think of Canva as an affordable personal stylist to help you stand out at the overcrowded social media party. This free app enables users to create basic design pieces in a snap, such as graphics for blogs and social media. It clearly makes the distinction between itself and pro tools such as Photoshop or InDesign. Instead, Canva simply helps with content layout, and it may be helpful to those who don’t always have access to a graphic designer and just need to create simple, attractive graphic content. 

8. Pulse. This app aims to simplify our news experience by delivering news direct from influencers (identified through LinkedIn) that interests us most, all in one place. Basically, it’s a personalized newsfeed.

9. Camtasia. Shorter is better when it comes to video these days, and this tool makes it a snap to edit or combine short videos. I’d like to try this out for projects that don’t require—or don’t have the budget for—professional video but still have to look somewhat polished.

10. LinkedIn tags. Did you know you could tag your LinkedIn contacts? Similar to Twitter lists (another one of my go-to tools), you can assign tags to your LinkedIn connections, such as “Clients” or “Social Media Roundtable Participants,” for easy access. 

I’d love to know about some of your favorite tools and resources, too, so please share them in the comments section.

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A guide to measuring social media ROI


There’s a popular misconception that it’s difficult to use targeted metrics to measure social media’s return on investment (ROI). That’s not true. Nor is social media only good for measuring brand awareness.

The fact is social media can offer some of the best metrics for measuring ROI. All you need to do is set your success guides—what you want to achieve and how long it will take—and measure your results against them.

Here are six simple metrics for the main social networks that you can use to measure your social media ROI across earned, owned and paid media:

1. Blogger outreach

A key component of many (if not most) social media campaigns, blogger outreach programs can offer some of the best results of any marketing tactic. Measuring your success isn’t too difficult, either. All you have to do is determine the answers to the following questions:

  • How many bloggers wrote about you?
  • How many comments did these posts receive?
  • How many social shares did the post get?
  • What was your traffic pre- and post-outreach?
  • How much product did you have to provide to bloggers, and how many sales did you receive?

2. Twitter

Twitter not only offers instant eyeballs, but great returns. Again, measuring your impact is relatively simple:

  • What was your retweet value (cost of manpower and resources versus followers who take action)?
  • How often did people use your hashtag?
  • How many times did people click your vanity URL?
  • How many new (genuine) followers did you get during your promotion?
  • If you used something like sponsored tweets, what was the cost versus the click-throughs and conversions?

3. Facebook

Although it has its critics (including me), Facebook offers some great built-in tools and demographic options to help gauge a campaign’s success:

  • How many new, worthwhile fans did you make, and how many did you target?
  • How many times did people like or act on your promotion message?
  • If you built a Facebook application, how many times did people install or share it?
  • Did you successfully reach your target demographic? (Facebook Insights can help.)
  • How much did you spend on a Facebook ad, and how did click-throughs and new sales/customers compare?

4. Google+

While we don’t quite know the effectiveness of brand pages on Google+ and in-line Google Ads complement Google+ content, there are ways to measure your activity:

  • Has Google+ raised your profile on search, as well as resulting traffic to your site?
  • How many circles have people added you to?
  • How many +1s do your comments and discussions receive?
  • How active is your community?
  • How many ripples do your discussions create?
  • How many attendees take part in your hangouts?

5. YouTube and other video sites

More than just a fun place to see kids hurt themselves on bikes, YouTube is a key tool in any marketing campaign—just ask the companies that used it during this year’s Super Bowl.

Here are the questions you should ask:

  • How many views did you get?
  • How many likes and favorites did you receive?
  • How many downloads did you get (on video sites that allow downloads)?
  • How many embeds has your video seen elsewhere on the Web?
  • How many subscribers did your channel attract?
  • If your video had a call to action with a vanity URL, how many times did people click through?
  • How many social shares did you get on the social networks your target demographics use?

6. Mobile

As marketing evolves, the different ways to reach an audience combine to create new outlets. Mobile marketing is the perfect complement to social marketing, and is easy to measure:

  • Did you use a push SMS system to drive traffic to a mobile-friendly site? If so, how many views did it bring?
  • Did you use QR codes? If so, how many times did people use them?
  • How many downloads did your mobile app receive?
  • How many times did people check-in on Gowalla and Foursquare?
  • What was the most popular operating system? (This can tell you a lot about your audience’s demographic and buying options.)

These questions offer just some of the immediate ways you can measure your social media success. There are more ways to measure your success, including monitoring tools and more defined analytics. Which ones you use will depend on the goals you’ve set and how you define success.

No matter how you collect the information you need, it all comes down to comparing man hours and financial outlay to your return.

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4 SEO elements that matter more than ‘search volume’


Volume matters, but it ain’t the only thing.

The term “search volume” refers to the numbers of times a keyword or key phrase is queried for on a search engine. Marketers use this metric to identify the terms around which they should optimize Web pages and other content to drive traffic to their sites.

Here are four things that matter more than search volume:

1. High conversion rates

If, each day for a month, 500 people visit your website, attracted by keywords for which your content ranks, but none convert into customers, you’ve got a problem. Despite getting big love from Google there’s little impact on your business.

SEO is more than just driving traffic. It is more about achieving higher conversions by marketing the right message to the right audience.

2. Writing for human beings

Website content has (at least) two types of audience: search engine spiders and humans who may consume it, though not in the same way they consume Big Macs. While optimizing for SEO be sure to produce content that matches the carefully developed archtypes you build of your ideal customers. Produce content that addresses their concerns.

3. Keyword research

Create your plan around keywords and phrases that you can realistically rank for. Don’t just go after terms with high levels of competition. While we’d love to be on the first page of Google for “marketing agency” we’re much more likely to get there for phrases like “marketing agency in Montreal.”

4. User experience

If your website visitors hate their on-site experience, bonne chance. Sites need to be brand appropriate, with fast loading pages and easy navigation. User experience has more impact on returning visitors (the kind most companies want) than your search rank for high volume terms does.

Search volume should guide your SEO strategy rather than define it. More than focusing on keywords, produce content that resonates with your audience and addresses the real-life needs of your customers.

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Study: Journalists and instructors differ on most important skills


The skills that journalists must possess aren’t exactly the skills that aspiring journalists’ professors think they should have. That’s the biggest takeaway from a recent Poynter Institute study. 

“The Core Skills for the Future of Journalism” reveals that j-school professors think multimedia and digital storytelling skills are more important than actual journalists think they are. 

From MediaBistro’s 10,000 Words blog: 

For example, with photography, regarded by many as an essential skill for today’s smartphone-wielding journalists, 53 percent of professionals said that the ability to shoot and edit photographs was important to very important as opposed to 79 percent of educators. 

There was also a gap between pros and educators regarding the use of audio where only 38 percent of professionals said the skills needed to record and edit audio were important as compared to more than 70 percent of educators. 

One thing they can agree upon is accuracy. A full 99 percent of professionals and educators ranked accuracy as the top skill a journalist must possess. 

But why the discrepancy when it comes to all the newfangled technology? 

It could have something to do with the fact that newsrooms believe that they can teach multimedia on the fly, but they can’t teach the basics of storytelling. 

Another theory comes from Howard Finberg, who co-authored the study. He tells MediaBistro, “…One theory for the gap is that professionals at legacy media are so focused on the day to day that they can’t see the horizon. It takes special leadership to make sure everyone knows what’s coming in the future and why it is important.” 

In its conclusion, the study offers this piece of advice for practicing journalists: 

It is time to raise the level of importance of all of these skills because it is time for newsrooms, regardless of platform, to value journalists who have a depth of proficiencies and a broader vision of the media world they work in. These skills are not just for the future; these skills are needed today to create dynamic, engaged and audience-driven publications and broadcasts.

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20 quotes to inspire PR professionals


I’m a bit of a word nerd. 

I jot down every good media-training quote I hear. I occasionally get to use one of the witty quotes in a speech or training session. 

Too many of the quotes just sit, unused, in a computer file, but they shall remain unused no longer. Here are 20 of my favorite media training quotes:

Media interview quotes

1. “Does anyone have any questions for my answers?” —Henry Kissinger 

2. “It is always a risk to speak to the press: They are likely to report what you say.” —Hubert H. Humphrey

3. “The most guileful amongst the reporters are those who appear friendly and smile and seem to be supportive. They are the ones who will seek to gut you on every occasion.” —Ed Koch, former mayor of New York

4. “The questions don’t do the damage. Only the answers do.” —Sam Donaldson

5. “No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause. —Mark Twain

6. “An orator or author is never successful till he has learned to make his words smaller than his ideas.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

7. “This business of saying the same thing over and over and over again—which to a lot of Washington insiders and pundits is boring—works.” —Michael Deaver, deputy chief of staff to President Reagan

Message development quotes

8. “I am sorry for such a long letter. I didn’t have time to write a short one.” —Mark Twain (also attributed to others)

9. “Short words are the best, and old words, when short, are the best of all.” —Winston Churchill

Crisis communications quotes

10. “By the time you hear the thunder, it’s too late to build the ark.” —Unknown

11. “It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only a few seconds to destroy one.” —Unknown

12. “If it’s going to come out eventually, better have it come out immediately.” —Henry Kissinger

13. “Always acknowledge a fault frankly. This will throw those in authority off their guard and giveyou opportunity to commit more.” —Mark Twain

14. “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Public speaking 

15. “A mediocre speech supported by all the power of delivery will be more impressive than the best speech unaccompanied by such power.” —Quintilian, Roman rhetorician

16. “Three things matter in a speech: who says it, how he says it, and what he says —and of the three, the last matters least.” —John Morley, British politician

17. “It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” —Mark Twain

18. “According to most studies, people’s No. 1 fear is public speaking. No. 2 is death. Death is No.2! Now, this means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” —Jerry Seinfeld

Body language and delivery

19. “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

20. “It is better to speak from a full heart and an empty head than from a full head and an empty heart.” —Dublin Opinion magazine (h/t Dianna Daniels Booher)

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Languages, from the easiest to hardest to learn

Some languages are tougher to learn than others. 

Spanish, French and Italian, for example, are considered by the experts to be easy to learn. Arabic, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, on the other hand, are the toughest. 

An infographic from English-as-second-language app Voxy lays out different languages by their difficulty levels. 

A few factors will make certain languages easier to learn, however. For example, if a language is already close to your own, it’s easier to pick up. 

Check out the full infographic here to choose which language you want to pick up next. Norwegian, anyone? 


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4 reasons brands can’t ignore native ads


There are many different varieties of native ads, from in-stream social media ads on Facebook, promoted accounts on Twitter, Google AdWords, to sponsored articles on Forbes.

All these marketing platforms and publishers are responding to marketers’ demand for more relevancy and engagement with these native ad formats.

Marketers are incorporating native advertising as part of their overall marketing strategy, because native ads are more effective and contextually relevant, thus better for brands to tell their story.

Here are the key trends that make native advertising a must for your online marketing strategy:

Native ads get noticed

Advertising viewed in the context of other content is more likely to be viewed and noticed. Native advertising is integrated seamlessly in a native format within the content stream of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

By contrast, online banner ads have shown decreasing effectiveness as demonstrated by their ever-lower click-through rates (CTRs) and plummeting market prices. In addition, for many content publishers, the native ad is incorporated as content, not relegated to the advertising section of its pages. As mobile use has surpassed desktop use, the native format gives native ads an edge, because they can be viewed within the dimensions of your mobile phone or tablet.

Banner ads are more likely to be ignored or harder to view. They are not customized for mobile screens, which is where more and more consumers are accessing content.

It might sound like a small format difference, but marketers are seeing big results from in-stream and native format advertising on Facebook and other social media platforms. According to a study from AdRoll, of 547 advertisers’ Facebook marketing campaigns amounting to over 1 billion impressions, native ads within the Facebook news feed obtained a CTR that was 49 times higher than “right-hand-side” ads, and at half the cost per click.

Native ads are more relevant

Native ads that appear on social media platforms help brands convey highly targeted marketing messages to reach specific audiences’ niche interests. For example, a dog food brand could advertise on a general interest website, or it could advertise on a Facebook fan page for dogs. Targeting a special interest audience allows the brand to get more for its advertising dollars.

Given the steep rise in the number of users who get all their news and information through social media, we now can take advantage of micro-targeting, or precise targeting of specific audiences, thus making the viewed content far more relevant to the viewers. Native ads, offered through social media, give brands an added advantage in attaining a significantly larger reach when communicating with niche audiences.

Although traditional banner ads might only achieve a 0.05 percent reach on a general portal site, native ads with surgical targeting could attain a 100 percent reach when geared toward a highly focused, highly engaged audience.

Native ads are more effective

Because native ads are seen more contextually relevant and viewed as content, they are simply more effective than other methods of online marketing and deliver higher click-through rates as a whole.

According to several industry studies, native mobile ads deliver an average expansion rate/click-through rate of 1.37 percent, compared with average click-through rates of 0.35 percent for standard mobile banner ads, 0.14 percent for desktop rich media ads, and 0.1 percent for standard desktop banner ads. As a brand manager, you just can’t beat this earned media exposure to a targeted audience.

Native ads help brands tell their stories

Native ads are about more than just obtaining optimal placement within the consumer line of vision. They open up a whole new channel for sharing brand stories. For example, some consumer brands are marketing their products through listicles with colorful photos that people are inclined to share on Facebook.

For others, such as a fashion e-commerce company, it’s an opportunity to leverage their styling expertise to provide how-to sponsored articles or posts. The key is to use sponsored content and native ads in a way that enhances the brand’s credibility, while also making it engaging for the viewer to read and share.

Brands benefit from native ads in the mobile/social sphere

More people are accessing the Web via mobile devices and are spending more time on social media for daily information and entertainment. All these trends point to a new paradigm in which native advertising will be the dominant, mainstream form of online marketing.

Because the implementation of native advertising is so flexible, brands can get extremely creative in their marketing strategy. Instead of interrupting people with display ads, smart brand managers will create compelling content that can hold its own in competing for people’s attention in context with publisher/editorial information and entertainment content.

The ultimate goal of effective advertising is to tell the brand’s story and engage, entertain, and deliver relevant content to the target consumer. In this way, native advertising is creating a more powerful and promising future for both brands and consumers.

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Should you pay bloggers for product reviews?



Is a new product in the works for your company or client? Then you’re probably preparing a blogger relations campaign to get it in front of that perfect niche audience.

Before you finalize that plan, make sure you understand what’s legal and illegal when it comes to blogger reviews—before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) comes knocking on your company’s door.

Is pay-to-play legal when securing blogger reviews? 

Paying bloggers to write product reviews is not illegal, but a paid product review is considered an endorsement and is, therefore, regulated by the U.S. government. Accordingly, bloggers and promoters of products must play by the rules.

Specifically, bloggers must disclose any payment or free products received in connection with products they review, and they must reveal any material connection that could affect credibility of the endorsement, as required by the Code of Federal Regulations.

It’s the PR pro’s job to stay on top of disclosures to make sure reviews don’t put the company at legal risk.

Full, honest disclosure is the best blogger relations policy. 

Paid online reviews went unregulated by the FTC until late 2009, when the agency announced revisions to bring the regulations of online endorsements in line with those existing for more traditional forms of advertising.

Though the FTC guidelines note that blogger compensation issues are decided on a case-by-case basis, the FTC says monetary payment or the receipt of products in exchange for a review are permissible only with proper disclosures. The type of compensation—be it money or product—makes no difference.

If a blogger does not make it explicitly clear that he or she was compensated, both the blogger and the PR pro are at risk of liability for false or misleading advertisements under the code or under federal trademark legislation.

Like bloggers, celebrities must also fully disclose when making endorsements outside of traditional advertisements. For example, a celebrity tweeting about a product or service should disclose whether they are endorsing it, unless it’s inherently obvious.

Still don’t want to disclose? Consider the costly consequences. 

If any blogger or PR pro is skeptical about the enforcement of these and similar regulations, they need to look no further than last fall: The New York attorney general’s office fined 19 companies a combined $350,000 for paying for fake reviews, according to The New York Times.

Many bloggers have become more sophisticated online when it comes to churning out misleadingreviews, but regulators have caught on, and they’re not as easily fooled as some consumers.

When in doubt, a blogger—or the company pushing a product or service—should disclose any material connection, even where the compensation may seem insignificant, and even if the PR pro is not controlling the content of the review.

As it was made clear in New York, knowingly forgoing disclosure could result in greater costs—both monetarily and reputation-wise—than any benefits received in exchange for a review.

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3 tips for starting a podcast


Podcasts are an often-overlooked element of online marketing.

Facebook and Twitter thrive by affording users instant access. Podcasts are long format and slower to update. In this case, long format and slower updates are good things—if you know your audience.

Think of all the people driving to work or going on their daily run. They’re probably listening to the radio or their iPod. Podcasts are a great way to connect with these people, and fortunately, it’s fairly easy to create a successful podcast.

Get the equipment

This is pretty obvious. Still, explore your options; there are a number of routes you can take. The cheapest option is to use your computer’s built-in microphone, but you could buy one. A decent headset costs around $30. Next, you’ll need editing software. Again, you can get this for free by using GarageBand or Audacity. For businesses, it’s worth paying a little more to use Adobe Audition.

Create interesting content

Podcasting is a niche-heavy form of media. iTunes has over 250,000 different podcasts. It’s a crowded market, but the best podcasts survive by knowing their audience and giving them relevant material. If you want to drive business to your company, focus more on issues related to your field than on yourself.

If you’re a restaurant owner, talk about different recipes or food history. Podcasts allow you to delve deeper and connect to your audience in a way other forms of media can’t. Be mindful; the average attention span for an adult is somewhere around eight seconds. Keep it short (five to 20 minutes) without diminishing quality.


Use social media sites to promote your podcast. Make sure to tag your podcasts and upload them to different directories like iTunes. Visit websites that pertain to your topic. A groomer, for example, could visit pet forums and make an announcement. Finally, join a podcasting community. A group of like-minded folks will have different insights and tricks to share.

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Survey: By Slim Margin, More PR Pros Use Facebook Than Twitter for Brand Communications


Sharing content across a variety of social media platforms is a part of life for PR professionals. But not all platforms were created equal. Despite their popularity with users, certain platforms are harder for professional communicators to use for business purposes.

With that in mind, PR News and Cision fielded the “State of Social Media for PR Pros” survey to take the pulse of the PR community and find out which social media platforms it’s using most, how it’s measuring success on those platforms and which sources of information it trusts most.

By a slim margin, PR pros who took the survey use Facebook more than Twitter on behalf of their brands or clients (87.6% vs. 85.1%). After Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, there is a big drop-off in usage of the other social media platforms and apps.



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7 ways to lose followers


The other day, a close friend of mine relayed a rather hilarious anecdote about a Twitter account she had recently unfollowed. “Every tweet,” she laughed, “was punctuated with seven to 10 exclamation marks. Every single tweet!!!!!!!!!!”

Though we chuckled about why anyone would want to waste 10 of their allotted 140 characters by violently exclaiming something, we began to think: What makes someone click the “Unfollow” button on a person’s profile? What are the underlying reasons behind a decision that is usually made instantaneously?

If you’ve ever wondered something along those lines, you’re in luck. Here are seven ways you can lose Twitter followers, and what you can do to prevent it:

Your Twitter feed is repost after repost after repost.

Whether you’ve set up your Twitter account to automatically tweet your Facebook posts, or you share every single one of your Instagram photos to your Twitter feed, don’t do it. It’s lazy and sloppy, and it’s likely your message is getting truncated (or worse, lost) beyond the point of recognition or clarity.

You have 140 characters to work your magic, so do so.

Caps lock is your best friend.

I’m a big fan of the occasional word or turn of phrase in all caps. But an entire tweet? 140 characters of nonstop screaming? We don’t think so.

Carefully consider what you’d like to emphasize and capitalize it accordingly. BOOM.

You have the word “followback” in your Twitter bio.

The word elicits a visceral reaction and sends shivers down our spines. “Followback,” and its evil twin, “#TeamFollowback,” have no place on Twitter—a platform meant for fostering meaningful relationships of substance. Just because someone follows you doesn’t mean you have to follow back. You should connect with accounts that can help you grow and learn, not because you like to see your follower numbers grow. Connect with the right accounts, and they will grow.

Shortened URLs? What’s that? and and were created for a reason. Use them to shorten unsightly, ridiculously long URL addresses. Your followers will thank you.

You only tweet about yourself, to yourself.

If, after scrolling through your feed, we see zero interaction, we can’t help but wonder if you are a human being. All those tweets and not one directed at another Twitter user? What are you even doing on Twitter?

People don’t want to just read your tweets. They want to interact with you. Engagement is everything.

#Every #thing #is #a #hashtag.

Life isn’t an endless series of hashtags. Your Twitter feed shouldn’t be, either. Hashtag keywords strategically and conscientiously—“#a” should never be a thing. Ever.

You’re a fan of subtweeting.

If you’re not familiar with subtweeting, it’s indirectly tweeting about someone without mentioning their name. Petty stuff, if you ask us, and it truly has no place on the World Wide Web—nor on your Twitter feed.

Now go ahead, clean up your act and keep those Twitter followers you’ve worked so hard to amass.

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6 tips for bite-sized technical content


“Snackable” content is a hot topic in business-to-business marketing. According to this recent post on B2B Marketing, the average human attention span is now shorter than that of your typical goldfish. 

In a professional context, we are frequently short on time and under pressure to juggle conflicting priorities and meet tight deadlines. There are countless statistics to show that easy-to-digest, short-form (and preferably visual) content wins.

Whether it is a white paper, infographic, or case study, marketers are often briefed to create compelling content. The information that we are asked to communicate is usually highly technical. It can seem like an impossible task to create bite-size material without oversimplifying the story or omitting essential details. 

So, do the principles of “snackable” content still apply when looking to communicate highly complicated messages to technically demanding industrial B2B audiences? 

The first question, of course, is what are the “ideal” length and type of content to use in their marketing activity? Well, the answer varies depending on the nature of the material, but you can’t get away from this simple truth: the shorter, the better. 

We don’t kid ourselves. Snackable content does require a shift in mindset for some technically minded individuals. Lead generation can throw an additional consideration into the mix. 

If they have been asked to provide their contact information, isn’t there a risk that the reader will feel short-changed? But the strength of the content isn’t measured by the word count. It’s the value of what you are sharing that matters; your customer or prospect doesn’t want to have to trawl through pages of dense copy to uncover key takeaways.

Producing material on a complicated subject matter is usually easier said than done. Too often, the writer’s eyes are too big for the readers’ stomachs. The reasons for producing snackable content go out the window, despite the best intentions. 

How can you create content that appeals, while including all the requisite technical information?

1. Back to basics. Ask yourself three simple questions: Whom are you looking to talk to, what are their pressure points, and how are you going to help them? If you’re not sure, keep thinking or get input from somebody else.

2. Be clear. Identify your key message and make it clear that this is the purpose of the content. If you can’t summarise what you want the audience to learn from the material, then your reader won’t know either.

3. Keep firm. Don’t succumb to pressure, whatever the source, to broaden the content’s scope or include unnecessary details. It will only dilute the impact of the communication.

4. Don’t try a one-size-fits-all approach. Think about creating multiple pieces of content for different audiences and stages in the buying process. If there is too much to say, then try a series of technical papers. You don’t have to give the reader all the information in one go.

5. Think of your reader. When creating content, remember that we are all people. We process information in different ways, whether we prefer visuals, audio, or hard facts and figures. If your budget allows, consider multiple tools to deliver maximum appeal to your potential audience. 

6. Evaluate the results. Always measure the success of a campaign and accept that you might not always get it right the first time. Try alternative approaches, and use the analytics to hone your approach until you nail it.

The most important thing is to enjoy the intellectual challenge. It is not always going to be easy to create “tasty” technical content, but if you think carefully about what you want to achieve, then your content is likely to work harder for you in return.

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How to rework your pitch for a guest contribution


It’s a tale as old as time—OK, maybe as old as the last five years: You have a piece of contributed content that you spent days pulling together with your client.

You’ve pitched and pitched, and it seems like no one is interested in your byline on “Why ABC is the Future of XYZ.” Inspired by my colleague, Elizabeth Yekhtikian’s list of “10 Ways to Get Out of a Pitching Rut,” here are the questions to ask yourself when your contributed content is falling flat:

1. Is this too self- serving? We spend so much time living and breathing our client’s messaging that it can be easy to become blind to content that is overly self-promotional. When your pitch isn’t being well-received, it’s time to go back to the content with an editorial eye.

Ask yourself how you can reframe it to be less about the client and more about the problem or issue they’re addressing. Is there a larger trend you can tie the content to? Are there other examples you can use to illustrate the problem that don’t point back to your client?

The most common reason content is rejected is because it’s overly self-promotional, so when your content isn’t working this should be the first angle you take in reworking it.

2. Is this boring? You and your client might get all excited about mobile collaboration, but that doesn’t mean everyone else will. Take some time to figure out how you can make your content more exciting. The “listicle” is Buzzfeed’s bread-and-butter for good reason—it’s a format that works well for reading and sharing on the Web.

Can you shape your content to work as a list or a how-to? At the same time, take time to read through your major target’s headlines and top stories. How can you edit your content to match their style and tone? Finally, ask how you can make the content stand out. Is there a news angle you can add? Is there a contrarian stance you can argue? If your content reads like corporate boilerplate, it’s not going far.

3. What can we add? Charts, pictures, multimedia: The days of straightforward op-eds are long gone. How can you make your content more compelling? Is there a chart or image you can you use to illustrate your point of view? Why not embed a supporting video or get really wild and embed some tweets that illustrate your argument?

An editor will want visual elements when it’s time to publish the post, so get ahead of them by crafting your content around something visually compelling.

4. Is this the right pitch? When content isn’t working, it may be time to rethink how you’re pitching it. Some editors like getting the full draft of the content as part of the initial pitch, which removes some of the back-and-forth, though sometimes this can kill your content before it even has a chance.

Consider approaching your targets with less “Here’s this great piece of content with a unique POV and it’s all wrapped and ready to go,” and more “Hi, would you be interested in a byline from really interesting person A about XYZ? If not, how about 123?”

Some of my most successful content pitches have come from offering the editor a selection of byline angles that they can pick and choose from. This way, instead of trying to force-feed them, you’re establishing a mutually beneficial relationship.

Placing contributed content can make or break your PR program. When there’s no news, it’s often our best bet for keeping the coverage flowing. So, as you craft your content, ask yourself these questions before you put pen to paper. Your content (and client) will thank you for it.

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Agencies wade into making their own products


When you work for an agency, the jargon buzz-phrase “core competency” tends to pop up every so often. As an agency, what are our core competencies? Is this outside of our core competency? How can we more effectively capitalize on this core competency? 

Speaking of core competencies, some agencies out there have tried to stretch theirs to actually having a hand in owning products. 

Digiday has the story of four agencies that have stepped outside the bounds of helping to market and promote products to actually making, distributing and, yes, marketing products themselves. 

• Omelet LA has partnered with chef Betsy Opyt on a line of peanut, almond and sunflower butters under the Healthy Concepts Food Company. Omelet made “a substantial financial investment” in the product, as well as offering marketing support, according to the article. 

• MRY spun off their proprietary software into Crowdtap, which saw $12 million in venture capital. 

• Red Tettemer O’Connell & Partners has a 50 percent stake in TuB Gin, and is providing support in distribution, sales calls and product production. 

The challenges for these agencies in stepping outside of their core competency tend to mount. Agency leaders point to stretched resources, added stress and added financial burden associated with backing a product.

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