In baseball, the perfect pitch rockets right past the visiting batter as they take a desperate swing at the ball, which is already in the catcher’s glove as the umpire calls strike three, much to the delight of the home crowd. In public relations, though, the perfect pitch is a soft, underhanded lob that the journalist smashes out of the park. Your company can certainly get a base hit by incorporating a typical press release into your SEO campaign, but a carefully crafted media pitch can provide the huge home run you’ve been looking for.
There’s nothing wrong with press releases – in fact, we assist our clients with creating and distributing them on a daily basis. They’re a great way to announce company news, promote an upcoming product release, or inform consumers of exciting things a business is doing. However, in some cases, it can be more beneficial for our clients to send out a media pitch instead of (or in addition to) a press release.
Press releases are typically posted online for mass consumption without any particular recipient in mind. The hope is that news sites, blogs, newspapers and magazines, and even radio or television stations will come across the release and find it interesting enough to publish or report on. Press releases are a tried and true way to get your company name in the news, but in many cases, media pitches can be more successful because they offer a more targeted approach to drawing attention to your business.
With a media pitch, your company (or an organization like WebiMax that helps with your PR work) sends a targeted news announcement, along with a “call to action,” to specific journalists and media organizations that will likely have an interest in the news. In addition to being more specifically targeted than press releases, media pitches usually offer something exclusive or particularly insightful that will entice a journalist to jump on a story before their competitors. Just like your industry is competitive, so is the news business, and reporters love an inside scoop. By extending an offer to a reporter and indicating your willingness to work with them on a story, you are giving them a reason to respond.
In sticking with the theme, let’s say your company makes sports equipment, and you’re ready to release a brand new kind of baseball bat that helps batters hit the ball further. If you put out a press release announcing the upcoming release of the new product, news organizations would undoubtedly be interested as long as you provided the pertinent information. Is the new bat approved for use in Major League Baseball? What players will be using it? Where can the general public buy it? How much will it cost? What type of research was done to prove the bat’s increased effectiveness over traditional models? As long as you include the answers to these basic questions, it’s easy for reporters to repurpose your release into a news story, and you there’s a good chance you’ll see it a few minutes later on your favorite sports blog, hear about it on the news that night, and read it in the paper next day.
However, if you were to send out a tailored media pitch to select journalists, it might result in more substantial and in-depth coverage. Perhaps you could put out a media pitch inviting some of the most respected sports writers to a preview event, where there would be a hands-on demonstration of the new technology. Or, maybe you could offer journalists an exclusive interview with the scientists who worked to develop the new bat, or with one of the star MLB players who will be using it. A media pitch includes that more personal, more direct, and more exciting call to action which a press release often lacks.
A media pitch can generate substantial press coverage, both online and in print, if done correctly.
Of course, sending out a media pitch means there’s going to be a bit more work on your end. You need to be willing to put in the effort to host the event you’re pitching, or to send out the samples you’re offering, or to provide the interviews you’re promising when journalists come calling. However, the time and effort you put in to make the pitch worthwhile can pay dividends when it results in a home run of positive media coverage for your company.
SEO is almost constantly evolving, growing and becoming more complex, but regardless of how search engine optimization techniques change; content will always be an important component of online marketing initiatives.
While a majority of my posts emphasize the benefits of rich content and multimedia within Internet marketing campaigns, the role of blogs, articles and other on-site text is as crucial as ever before. In fact, creating more effective and “SEO-friendly” content is a primary objective of many campaigns.
Since Google’s Panda and Penguin updates made their now-infamous debuts, words like “quality” and “relevance” have become prevalent in the SEO community, but creating strong, relevant content is only the first step. Search engines actually encourage the promotion and distribution of such content and have even developed useful tools to help authors achieve greater visibility within the SERPs. The following strategies are amongst the most effective in the industry for authors and marketers looking to enhance the reach and visibility of their content:
When properly utilized, Google Authorship can be an excellent resource for content creators and can help to increase overall visibility and social engagement within Google+.
Notice how a Google search of the term “Chris Countey” returns results from sites on which our own SEO guru is featured as an author? Additionally, when Chris is mentioned by other contributors with authorship enabled, those results appear prominently on the SERP, as well. Authorship offers distinct advantages to content creators and definitely provides value within SEO campaigns.
Social Media Promotion
Outside of G+, networks such as Facebook and Twitter provide prime promotional real estate. Sharing, tweeting and liking have played a part in social media marketing and optimization campaigns for quite some time now, but using these platforms to promote blog posts, articles and other content has also helped many SEOs achieve greater success and higher visibility.
PR & Media Outreach
There are opportunities for content creators that go beyond guest blogging and social promotion. PR efforts such as press releases, media outreach and interviews provide major platforms for content creators to enhance their audience on a local, national and even global scale. Some Internet marketing firms are already offering PR services and more are likely to jump on the bandwagon in the months ahead due to its proven success.
Speaking of PR, I’ll be presenting at next week’s Agile SEO Meetup and further elaborating on the role of public relations and media outreach within online marketing campaigns. Click the link to check it out live next Monday (the 12th) at 7pm EST or tune in online via Webex.
Link building strategies have come a long way since the early days of SEO and search algorithm updates such as Google’s Panda and Penguin have made the process even more complex. Formerly, link profiles existed merely to bolster the authority of pages within the SERPs. However, the quality of those backlinks was not deemed to be nearly as important as quantity. As the search engines have improved their functionality, quality and relevance have become crucial and certain link building strategies have been rendered obsolete.
Many webmasters find the task of building high-quality links to be particularly challenging and some may even wonder if there is still value in link building processes post-Penguin. Does a strong link profile still matter to online businesses? Yes. In fact, it may be more important than ever before.
Why Links Still Work
Although Google, Bing and other search engines now consider quality to be paramount, quantity still plays a part in determining organic rankings. Link building isn’t dead, it’s just different. Paid links that were once effective for gaining authority are now penalized and backlinks from reputable sites have become even more valuable.
An Optimized Profile
P.R. initiatives, guest blogging and social media are proving to be effective ways for business owners and webmasters to gain high-quality, authoritative backlinks. Additionally, these strategies also enhance overall brand awareness and visibility outside the SERPs.
The future of link building looks to be very secure. It always has been and likely, always will be, a key component in SEO and digital marketing. However, online businesses must be prepared to forge a new kind of link profile with quality at its core in order to retain their presence in the organic search rankings from here on out.
(Looks around) Psst. Hey you, come here. I have a secret. I’m not always ‘working.’ Well, better defined, I’m not always doing what I’m paid to do. You see, I’m not being disobedient or having a Peter Gibbons moment. I love my job. I’m just not always doing it. (Gets up, stretches, does some pushups, takes a sip of coffee, then looks out the window.)
Here are a few things I’m doing when I should be working.
(Puts down US Weekly) I don’t believe ‘reading’ is in my job description; yet, I do a whole bunch of it throughout the day. I’ve taken it upon myself to become completely immersed in my particular vertical. In my vertical of online marketing, many bloggers and associated sites exist. My eyes ravenously encounter a litany of lines during business hours. Shh – don’t tell my bosses I’m becoming more proficient in my respective area of concentration!
Well, maybe it’s not so roguish. A little while ago, one of our strategists of SEO, Chris Countey, sent me an email. It was to commend me on my ability to engage the community and vertical. He asked how ‘we’ can replicate such behavior for our clients.
I told him it’s sort of difficult to make suggestions without knowing particular clients’ verticals and goals. Actually, I caught one of Todd Bailey’s suggestions in a recent CNBC Google Penguin post:
“Businesses need to get rid of the philosophy that they need to get as many links and as much content out as there as they can,” Bailey said. “They need to look at a public relations strategy and try to produce quality content by pitching news outlets, doing press releases and guest blogging.
Wait. Todd’s thinks a PR strategy is a sound marketing decision. Well, that’s not in my job description either; yet, I think I’ve found something else to do when I should be working.
Actually, I read a great post on using social media for prospecting and building relations recently.
I used to engage in PR activities; now, I’m technically a copywriter; yet, I might as well summons what I’ve learned while I’m not working. There are a number of social sites like Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. Personally, I’ve cultivated an affinity for Twitter. I can cover a lot of people and information that way. It works for me in my particular situation.
I know I suggest otherwise in yesterday’s social media post; but, I’m a rebel, remember? Actually, I share a lot of other peoples’ stuff. As a result, I think people who want to learn more and be exposed to different information appreciate my shares and passion for knowledge.
As a peer mentioned yesterday, I’m an ‘outstanding Twitter citizen.’ That means a lot, to me and to the brand; because being a diligent and considerate socialite helps us make more connections and get more solidly ingrained in our respective space. Shh – Don’t tell my bosses I’m building rapports within our vertical!
If you’ve seen a guest post or two by me, it’s because I cared about building relationships in my respective vertical. It’s beneficial.
I’m not sure if thinking is listed on my job description verbatim; but, I’ll assume it’s indirectly implied; though in my younger years, I’ve heard, “You’re not paid to think” a time or two. Why would my bosses want me thinking when I could be working? Hmm.. I recently read a good post by Jon Morrow at Copyblogger (Do you want to learn how to write better copy for the Web, and just period? Read Copyblogger.) Jon’s post speaks of sleeping while making money. I haven’t tried sleeping while working yet…but, I’ll leave that to Jon for now.
In his description of learning ‘how to sell,’ Jon suggests listening to salespeople, or those who know the product/service. I’m ingrained in the online marketing world. I’m a worker bee. I know the service. As Jon suggests, brand messages should reflect that of those who know the product/service; because, those souls better understand how a service/product addresses a client need. Moreover, being on the internal squad, I’m marketing a marketing company; so, I also have suggestions on how to market ‘our’ company too. Shh – don’t tell my bosses I’m always thinking of ways to improve things for us and clients.
Those I report to encourage any ideas or thoughts of mine, which I believe could improve the internal and client process. There’s no quota or specific time of suggestion. I relate ideas and processes when such inspiration strikes.
As you can read, this was another tongue-in-cheek post. I want to get you thinking, and doing PR, and reading too; but, only if it makes sense regarding your vertical and personal contribution. I’ll assume you have a ‘job description’; but, does that mean you have to confine your workday to such? Yes, of course- attend to what’s expected; but, don’t be ‘shh’ shy about doing more professionally for you and your brand.
In yesterday’s post, I opened the discussion on reframing and described what it is and the background of why it is important. Today, let’s look at the tactics used and how it is relevant both at home and internationally.
In communication with your audiences, the larger conversation that captures the large-scale dialogue between a company and its audiences can be reframed through traditional tactics such as press conferences, events, launches, media placements, interviews, press releases, and statements. These forms of external communication are relevant to some organizations more than others, largely based on the size of the company, budget, and particular goals. If a company is a larger brand with a national audience, then they may be more inclined to seek the greater exposure through high-profile events, large media spots, and prime advertisements whereas smaller companies may opt for press releases, interviews, and small-scale media placements.
Now, regardless of company size, the smaller conversation is reframed one interaction at a time. This process has been revolutionized by social media. Businesses and the SEO companies that represent them can engage with audience members online directly through social media. They can do this to repair reputation and extend the brand (or to rebrand in some cases), engaging with people to present their image in a constructive manner. This is a long-term strategy and investment, but when done correctly, it can yield significant results.
The SEO marketers can take the opportunity to address concerns brought forth by customers and audience members individually through all types of posting, reposting, commenting, and other actions available on social platforms. Purposefully engaging people with compelling, quality content reframes the conversation to the core message in an equitable, non-manipulative way. This requires time, effort and ultimately staff to do this well though, resources that are often in short order – this is where SEO companies can assist in the campaigns.
Domestic and International Implications
This process is important domestically, as very often companies have a reputation that is instilled in the minds and experience of their customers – for better or worse. This happens in the environment where they have been operating the longest, typically on domestic soil. However, it also applies for businesses trying to stay on point in new international markets. As a company expands they make it a priority to build brand awareness, positive exposure, and customer loyalty in a place where they likely have little to none of these upon arrival.
Following this scenario, the brand itself may not have a reputation to fall back on as customers are working out their feelings towards the company. As a result, such companies are especially vulnerable to any negativity that arises as with such a blank canvas the, the “conversation” can quickly become an unfavorable one if a mistake is made or a negative development occurs. As such, companies need to be proactive in correcting any issues, transparent in their communications, and firm in addressing the issues but then reframing the conversation towards their core message.
As an example of reframing, I discuss in a piece on IBTimes.com how Glodman Sachs can use this practice along with consistency/core messaging and purposeful engagement to gain a better social presence with the brand management team they are expanding. For more information about reframing and its relevance for businesses domestically and how it relates to operating in international markets, reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and @ryanwbudd.
I’m an ‘armchair PR quarterback.’ I have experience in the field, but currently reside in PR hibernation, focusing professional attention on writing and internal marketing. However, my former professional sentiments can’t help but fuel my interest and inner passion. I regularly trace the PR operations of brands, shouting at the computer screen like an aged, high school quarterback who lends his voice to the television screen while assuming the Lazy-Boy position. “C’mon how could you make that PR play!”
Today I offer a few sentiments I would like to see better implemented into your public relations strategy.
Outsourcing is a choice for some and an absolute, immediate necessity for others. However, I suggest considering going with a boutique supplier of PR services. For one, there’s a learning curve associated with your respective vertical. A PR person really needs to know the ‘lay of the land’ to ensure effective campaigns. Don’t assume bigger brands, which address PR in several verticals, are going to assign you with a person well familiar with your vertical; it’s highly unlikely this ‘perfect match’ will fall into place.
However, the learning curve drastically decreases when partnering with a boutique service provider, which specializes in your particular niche. An immediate advantage is the list of apropos contacts and relations the boutique may have already established. Let’s face it; you’re electing to outsource due to a lack of internal resources, you want the outsourced entity to act as an ‘internal teammate’ as much as possible. You don’t have time to educate the person on your vertical; you expect momentum. Siding with a boutique service can expedite the process.
Products/Services Shouldn’t Need Attention, Consumers’ Needs Do
I take notice of brands after the production phase. It would likely be disappointing for some owners to hear my questions as to why some products/services made it past the production phase. In short, there are a lot of products/services out there of poor quality. PR won’t help as SEO can’t compensate for poor quality…
That being said, a PR professional should not have to do any work for the products/services. In short, products/services should ‘sell’ themselves; or, your company has many issues to address other than PR. I see a lot of PR efforts mirroring the error in logic of a lot of ad copy. Make the endeavor about the consumer and not about your services and products.
I’m sure some are confused; isn’t PR about my business? Yes, but PR is public relations, meaning the process involves relating (your brand and associations) to…the public. The public part is important. I don’t care what marketing processes are being leveraged; marketing is always about engaging the consumer. So, even if you’re involved in a product launch, the approach necessitates people-centric engineering. It’s not about how awesome the product is; it’s about what an awesome job the product does in addressing a consumer need and desire. I hope you understand; because, this is a crucial insight to ‘get.’
Service Person Neglect
As a copywriter, I sometimes felt neglected by clients. It was my job to create something based on little to no initial information. Many times, clients neglect to inform service providers, which is mind blowing. If I wanted another entity to do ANYTHING in my business’ name, I would most definitely ensure my provider was on the ‘same page.‘ That would a huge part of my responsibility regarding the partnership. Business owners, do you host the same concerns? I really hope you do.
Again the PR person is the translator, like a ghost-writer. It’s absolutely essential the PR person is using your words and sentiments, truly understands your brand and direction, and sees eye to eye with the executives and brand represented. PR is very important; whose mind are you letting make maneuvers for your company? It’s essential the public relations rep understands key execs and the essence of the brand. Otherwise, there’s no way an outside entity can properly represent your brand to your public. If there’s a lack of understanding, it’s in the best interest of your brand to address it. Any gaps or misunderstandings can be avoided through proper lines of communications. Never neglect communications with an outsourced provider. Each passing, neglectful moment negatively affects your brand.
PR and Social Media
Public relations probably needs a new definition or at least new consideration within the backdrop of online marketing evolutions. Yesterday we had PR; today we have social media, which can achieve a lot of the initiatives PR always has. PR is not extinct; but, such processes should include social media usage. I’m sure many PR providers are presently not social media providers too, making things complicated for service seekers. In my opinion, the two worlds need integration.
If you’re outsourcing PR but doing social media in-house, you need integration. If you’re doing PR and social media in-house, the processes need integration. If you’re doing PR in-house and outsourcing social media…well, you get it.
Formulate a strategy, leveraging the two processes, especially if different people are addressing them. Strategy enables more reach and efficiency on both fronts. You need the two marketing initiatives working together. For instance, your PR professional landed your company in a major publication. How are you going to perpetuate the exposure? Social media is a good choice. It’s not about choosing some processes over others; online marketing is about using available tools strategically, ensuring all brand endeavors are working in harmony. It all warrants a bit of quarterbacking…zero quarterbacking begets frustrations. I don’t want to be jeering your PR decisions from my computer screen; I want to be cheering them. The ball’s in your hands.