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.
In the early days of the Internet, text was the predominant medium through which information was shared with the masses. In a time before broadband connections, HD videos and even Facebook, the Web was more about functionality than style. While these technical limitations made for a lackluster user experience, they did create a solid blueprint for today’s Internet.
When the Web was ruled by text and rudimentary HTML code, pages had to be coded very efficiently in order to load quickly and images and videos were simply out of the question. Although text still plays a crucial role in the modern Internet, technological advancements have placed multimedia and rich content front-and-center.
A Tale of Two Browsers: From Mosaic to Chrome – The Evolution of Digital Content
A Changing of the Guard
As YouTube, Pinterest and other popular sites geared toward images and videos continue to grow, the focus has begun to shift away from text as the primary form of content on the Internet. Today, virtually every website utilizes extensive imagery or video content to engage audiences. Social networks are certainly no exception.
In fact, social media posts or tweets containing images or videos are more likely to be shared or “liked” than those exclusively comprised of text. The bottom line is – rich content is the key to a more effective Social Media marketing strategy.
How to Engage Your Audience with Photos & Videos
Though I specifically cited YouTube and Pinterest as “media-focused” networks, other social profiles can equally benefit from rich content. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn have all recently added enhanced video and photo integration capabilities for user and business profiles. This functionality allows users to more easily display rich and engaging content.
However, it is always important to consider your audience. When creating new rich content, first ask yourself if your consumers would find it helpful or intriguing. Originality, creativity and even humor are all elements of successful content. Keep it relevant, fun and informative. Developing infographics, instructional videos, customer testimonials and new or upcoming product photos are all engaging ways to reach your social following.
Every successful Social Media Optimization and Marketing campaign begins with delivering quality content to your followers. By offering up unique, captivating videos and images as part of your content strategy, you’re well on your way to Social Media success!
Want to learn how to get even more from your Social Media marketing campaign? Ask our Experts or share your thoughts in the comments below!
In 2001, Grammy award winning rapper and producer, Dr. Dre, announced his return to the hip hop scene…taking his song to #1 after a long period behind the studio glass. He returned to the microphone to record “Forgot About Dre”. The song emphatically announced his reemergence into the spotlight.
What made Dr. Dre so successful in the past was his ability to speak to the needs of his core audience. Upon his return, he continued to provide music that was focused to what his loyal fan base wanted to hear. When looking at SEO campaigns, it’s important to take a note from Dr. Dre and continue to provide high quality content that speaks to the needs of the people who will make or break your business – your customers.
During Dr. Dre’s hiatus from behind the microphone, his fans and fellow competitors forgot about him because he stopped releasing new music. In the same vein, many prospective clients of ours find that their past customers forget about their business. Why? Because they never utilize the touch points below. By taking advantage of the following seven touch points, your business will be much like the legend of Dr. Dre in the music industry – unforgettable.
Your website is often times the introduction to your brand or company offerings. Too often, the website is forgotten and pages that haven’t been relevant in ages continue to be both prominent and live on the site. The website is used in so many ways through:
i. Communicating through product visibility
ii. Being upfront about the offers, your brand
iii. Allowing a customer quick easy access to checkout
A customer-centric web presence is key to the overall success of not only SEO (visibility), but also for the customer experience and loyalty.
2.) Follow up from purchase
a. What happens after your customer makes the purchase? Are there follow up emails sent? Are they entered into a newsletter program to stay current on the latest news/offers?
Keeping involved with your customer is essential to maintain a relationship for future interaction. This can be accomplished through the methods mention above, which can make a huge impact for your business. Not only will it allow the customer to speak highly of your brand and experience, but also keeps you current and relevant while their next purchase decision is underway.
How in touch are you with your customer through online news outlets…they are reading online just like you are. Public relations in and around your community, city or state is a great way to remain current. Press releases can also bring national exposure as well as beneficial link building from an SEO perspective.
Have you ever seen retargeted ads that ‘follow’ your online click paths and online navigations? This is called retargeting in our industry and it provides extreme value in terms of brand awareness and relevant ROI clicks.
Customers can leave your site for a variety of reasons. Distractions, competition, and improper use of your site are just a few. Why not through retargeting, remain with the prospect over a span of 30 days or so, which will prove to be a very effective way for brand distribution.
5.) Paid Search
Exploring the paid search platform is not only a great way to gain quick exposure and traffic, but also allows a great deal of learning as your potential customers respond to the ads. Some ideas to test with paid search include:
i. Keywords and how your demographics respond
ii. Ad groups and the impression/click rates
iii. Landing pages to better conversions (includes call to action that could be tested during the paid search initiative.)
Your blog is not only an SEO powerhouse (still), but your customers in many situations look to read more about and support information your company or brand is involved with. They will often times look for news, product updates, information, etc. Your blog also gives the customer a platform to interact with your brand or products.
More and more, we are seeing a tremendous amount of mobile data from Google Analytics on many online businesses. If your site is not mobile ready, then you are indeed alienating a percentage of your demographics and customers. Creating a mobile ready site is often times quick, and inexpensive, but can make a world of difference for the potential customers shopping experience.
As you can tell, it takes some work to be remembered. After all, it took a Grammy winning song for Dr. Dre to emerge back into the consciousness of the masses. And his competition was just fellow rappers, our clients are up against something that has unmatched credibility on the streets – Google.
How many times have you clicked on a link in a list of search results only to sit there and watch the little circle spin on your browser tab? Like everyone else, you probably hit the back button and proceed to click the next link in the long list of results. The speed of a website is a very important aspect of SEO that gets overlooked far too often. It is important that site owners start to make page load time a priority when optimizing their sites.
But why is site-speed such a big part of SEO, you ask? What if your site was the first link that was clicked in search results like the one mentioned above. But the page didn’t load fast enough and the visitor left your site to try another. You just lost a potential conversion.
Setting high usability standards is a big part of SEO and site speed is an integral part in building a user-friendly website. Unfortunately, users are not very patient and getting your visitors to your pages as quickly as possible is something you should always be working on. The average visitor expects a page to load in 4 seconds or less; if not, most are willing to leave your site for a competitors.
Although usability is the main reason why I try to keep a site fast, a slow website can also affect your rankings as well. Studies have shown that when slower sites rank in search results, people actually use Google less. Not to mention the negative effects a slow site and server can have on your crawl rate as well.
What Slows Down Your Site?
There can be many contributing factors to a slow, bogged-down website. Anything from the type of hosting service you choose to the amount of code in your sites files. Below is a list of the major reasons why your site may be bogged down:
Large Images – Images that are too large or take too long to download is probably one of the biggest problems with site speed. Before inserting images into a webpage, they must first be resized and compressed to ensure a faster download time.
Server/Hosting Issues – The type of hosting and server your site is on can cause many issues. Shared servers can be fast at times and really slow at other times and in some cases a hosting/server package may not be adequate enough to handle a specific CMS you may be using for your site.
Too Many Ads – Ads are a great way to earn some extra cash but is it worth losing visitors because you’re site isn’t loading fast enough? If you have several ads on your site, try removing a couple and you will probably see instant results.
Uncompressed Text Files – Compressing text files on your server reduces the amount of bytes sent over the network and can really save on bandwidth use.
How to Test the Speed of Your Site
There are many great and free tools available for anyone to use to get a good look how fast a site really is and what may be slowing it down as well. Below are a couple of my favorites. And because all of them give slightly different reports, it is a good idea to run your site on all of them to see what problems one picked up that the others may have missed.
Google PageSpeed Insights – This one is my personal favorite. To use this tool, all you have to do is enter your URL into the field and click Analyze and in a few seconds you have a list of items that are slowing down your site organized in High, Medium and Low priority. You can even go further by clicking each item to find out how to fix each issue.
YSlow – This is another great tool that can be used to analyze the speed of your site. This one works a lot like a browser extension or add-on. Once installed you can run an analysis on any site you are currently on. After a few seconds of analysis, you will receive a letter grade for all elements pertaining to site speed and suggestions on how to fix them as well. But one thing that YSlow offers that PageSpeed does not is the use of some tools such as Smushit to achieve your optimization tasks.
Press releases can be great tools for promoting your company, but in order to reap their benefits you need to make sure that you’re writing your release the right way. Writing a press release can be tricky because you’re trying to find the right balance between news and advertising. But if you follow these tips you’ll be able to write an engaging release that promotes your company and has news value.
Pick An Interesting Topic
Press releases are designed to get the press excited about something that’s going on with your business, and if you want your release to be noticed by reporters you need to base it on a topic someone would find interesting. This can be difficult for some people because they already see the inherent value about what they’re pitching in their press release. When you pick a topic for your press release, ask yourself these three questions:
- “What is interesting about this topic?”
- “Why would a reporter want to write a story about my topic?”
- “Will anyone outside of my business/company care about this topic?”
If you can confidently answer each of the three questions, you’ve found a good press release topic!
Get to the Point
I did an internship at a newspaper when I first graduated college, and the reporters there would receive dozens of press releases every day. How would the reporters sort through all of the press releases they received you ask? It was simple. They would literally delete any press release that didn’t clearly explain the point of the release in the first few sentences. Reporters are very busy people. If they can’t figure out the topic of a press release in the first five seconds of reading it, they won’t even consider covering it for a news story. The first few sentences of your press release should clearly state every important point you want to make, so save all of your quotes and statistics for the body.
Inform, Don’t Promote
This is the biggest mistake people make when they write a press release. A press release shouldn’t be a sales flyer, it needs to be saying something newsworthy or attention grabbing about your company. In order to better understand this concept, take a look at these two samples:
Release A: Houston Cycling is having a 25% off sale on bike chains for the month of May. Houston Cycling provides their customers with high quality cycling supplies at a low price. They have some of the best cycling supplies in Houston, and their products are guaranteed to last long and keep you satisfied for years.
Release B: Houston Cycling is having a 25% off sale on bike chains for May. Houston Cycling provides the greater Houston region with biking supplies and equipment, and they have a wide variety of bike chains and other professional cycling equipment available.
Release A and release B both mention the merchandise the store sells, but release A sounds more like a sales pitch than a press release. Don’t focus on promoting your business in release, focus on promoting the topic of your release. If you keep that concept in mind writing your release will be much easier.
It is essential for every business owner, no matter the size of your enterprise, to have some sort of web presence. While some small businesses just have a Facebook page, it’s more beneficial to actually have a new and dedicated site built to serve as your business’ home base. A .com registered in your name is ultimately more reliable than a single page owned by a social network.
Now that you’ve decided that what you need is a professional-grade website, it’s time to sit down and come up with some concepts. How do you want the site to look? What would you consider a conversion (do you sell things directly on the site or do you want people to fill out a contact form)? What do you want the site to do? As you brainstorm and look at other sites for ideas, it’s important to point out that when it comes to web design, there is often a gap between what you want and what you need.
For the purpose of SEO, you may need to cut back on some of the frills that you think look awesome on other sites but are actually doing a bit of harm with regard to search engine visibility. Here’s a good example of something you may be tempted to have but should avoid: the splash page.
A splash page is that first “welcome page” that many sites have for whatever reason. All that’s on there is a big image and a “click to enter” button. Often this page is made in Flash. If all you care about is aesthetic appeal, then okay, that’s fair. But since you’re running a business, you want the search engines to actually see your site.
Your homepage is your most crucial piece of real estate. It’s most likely the page that is going to rank highest in the search results. It is also the gateway by which both visitors and search engines will follow links to view what else your site has to offer. If your homepage URL is the splash page, you’re forfeiting the opportunity to rank for keywords and establish a solid link structure. Your homepage should have quality content and clean navigation.
These are just a few of the points you need to consider when designing a new site for your business. While launching a new site is exciting and can open up many new opportunities, it’s essential that you do things the right way to maximize the benefits.