Next Tuesday PR News is hosting a webinar on a topic some public relations pros know a bit about, but nearly all of us would like to learn more: SEO for PR.
The topic couldn't be timelier as organizations across industries are pouring substantial energy and money into creating sophisticated content strategies because if target audiences can't find that content online, it has limited value. As luck would have it, PR people--who create a lot of the documents, videos, social media posts and graphics that companies intend for widespread consumption--are in a great position to support SEO.
David Cockburn, SEO and online marketing analyst at Texas Instruments, will provide tips on tools and talk about how to make time for SEO and Jolina Pettice, executive director of operations at TopRank Online Marketing, will offer pointers on things like how to identify keywords and optimize social content. I'll chat about how to optimize press releases, make PR support link building strategies and generally keep up with Google when it's not your full-time job.
I hope to see a few Schwartz MSL friends and family members there.
For more info, check out PR News.
P.S. If you work in the healthcare industry, you may also want to download Schwartz MSL's ebook on SEO for healthcare organizations.Tags: search engine optimization, SEO and healthcare, SEO and PR
By Laura Kempke on May 16, 2013 3:58 PM Permalink
Sometimes conducting media outreach can be a difficult activity for PR practitioners during a normal working environment, but in the aftermath of a national tragedy, such as the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt for the suspects, the playbook becomes more complex. Should there be a grace period when reaching out to reporters? If so, how long should it last? Is there an opportunity to become a valuable resource for the media without looking like you’re leveraging a calamity?
There’s no easy answer, but in this case, in many industries such as entertainment, high-tech and cleantech normal communications activities resume quickly. However, in others such as sports and healthcare, reporters were quickly consumed in Marathon-related stories. This means that PR pros had to be more sensitive to the scope of the news. PR pros and their clients in those fields were best served by erring on the side of caution.
The Marathon tragedy also presented an opportunity for some public relations representatives to offer assets to reporters. This is no time to push for a product or company feature, but there are people with expertise who can help reporters bring perspective and new insights to the public. For instance, trauma physicians or experts in limb amputation can offer important insight. The same can be said for terrorism and security experts. However, the line between helpful and insensitive is narrow. Pitching a product or service to reporters with the positioning that “XYZ could have helped save lives” would be in extremely poor taste. The sensible approach is to proceed with caution, and the paramount concern should be helping the public, selflessly.
The events of last week created an interesting dilemma for one of Schwartz MSL’s account teams. Our client markets a treatment for blocked arteries caused by peripheral artery disease (PAD) and recently launched a campaign that centered on the prevention of limb loss (if left untreated, PAD often leads to amputation). It is a noble and important effort, given that PAD is strongly linked to diabetes, a condition whose prevalence is rising rapidly among U.S. residents.
However, more than a dozen of the injured spectators at the Marathon lost one or both of their legs. In the immediate aftermath of these events, could we justify pitching a story on a treatment to prevent limb loss?
At the time of the tragedy, our media outreach efforts were focused on national consumer freelancers and local health reporters in New Haven, Conn. and Lexington, Ky. We could have resumed our normal activities in short order without tying in the events in Boston, and perhaps we could have generated some interest in a story on PAD. But it didn’t feel like the right thing to do. It was too soon.
We decided to cease all media relations activities for the week. This week, we are treading carefully and contacting reporters only when we are certain they are no longer covering Marathon-related health stories. We are proceeding with caution. Ethically and professionally, it’s the right thing to do.By Jon Siegal on April 24, 2013 8:20 PM Permalink
Marketers and communication professionals alike agree that social media is here to stay. Facebook and Twitter have proven to be an effective tool to reach a targeted audience and to engage in a conversation that’s relative and important to business, often resulting in an impactful ROI.
However, there’s one social media channel that all too often is overlooked. I don’t know if it’s because we associate it with our own personal brand, but with more than 200 million users, LinkedIn is an often underutilized resource for B2B marketing.
If you haven’t already engaged in a LinkedIn influence campaign—think about this:
Access to a Targeted, Engaged Audience
Who are you trying to reach? As PR practitioners we hear it all the time: “We want to reach human resource professionals, dentists, surgeons, building property managers, we need a Facebook page!” Wrong. Facebook is a great resource to reach consumers, but not the most effective at influencing strategic business level decisions.
LinkedIn is the biggest professional social network in the world; the Group space within the network creates a forum for colleagues to exchange best practices with industry experts and is a prime platform to exchange ideas and information for marketers. For example, a quick group search on LinkedIn for “human resources” shows more than 3,800 groups with thousands of members and active discussions. It’s an easy opportunity to directly engage with a target audience.
Bolster Your Image
Before you engage first make sure your own LinkedIn page is up to snuff. Are you following relevant third party groups, or industry organizations? Are your employees following you? Your own page is a perfect platform to develop expertise and thought leadership. Create a weekly/biweekly editorial strategy, identify relevant topics and trends and have several different employees post a discussion to engage followers. Remember, it’s not a one-way street, be sure to monitor what’s being said with other groups and chime in.
How do I know it’s working? When communicating with different audiences, include a bit.ly or Google URL tracker to allow for trackable/measureable results. This will permit you to see how many people clicked on the information and if your message is resonating. For example, if your business has an annual award and you’d like to drive nominations, tracking your group discussion posts makes for an easy way to see which group is engaged and interested in the award and furthermore, which of your messages is resonating with them. Be sure to mix it up, post at different times with different messages, rather than using the same message.
Don’t Be a Quitter
Like all social media programs, it takes time and consistent engagement to see results. With a strong strategy in place, active engagement, a clear direction, goals, objectives and a touch of patience, you’ll be a LinkedIn groupie before you know it. And you’ll even have measurable results to support your latest addiction.By Stacy Nartker on April 24, 2013 3:37 PM Permalink
Two SEO experts and a nice crew of PR practitioners gathered at Schwartz MSL last night to discuss the best ways for PR peeps to help clients achieve better results with Google search. The topic is not new, but conventional wisdom has changed dramatically in recent years and months. Here's what we learned last night:
1) Paid search (PPC) is very hard for B2B companies. The two experts, Lora Kratchounova from Scratch Marketing & Media and Ian Klein from inSegment, agreed that paying for placement in Google search results is difficult for B2B companies. It seems as though it's hard to sort out key words that are specific to a B2B audience against the backdrop of those terms appearing in Google searches for other reasons.
2) A company *should* bid for PPC placement on its own name. Apparently, Google offers discounted rates for companies to place PPC bids on their own company names (awfully nice of Google to do that). And even though a given company should have excellent organic SEO for its own name, it's a best practice to secure top paid placement for that company name as well.
3) BIG: For PR people, the little SEO press release tricks no longer matter. My co-worker Mark McClennan publishes an annual report on how PR pros fail to optimize their press releases for SEO. The numbers are stark. Three-quarters of press release headlines are too long, given that Google seems to prioritize terms that appear in about the first 65 characters. Well, as it turns out, the SEO tips and tricks I learned several years back are no longer applicable. Google is smart enough to understand context and to make very good guesses about the quality of writing. In general, PR pros don't need to worry about keyword density, links, etc.
4) What does matter is good writing. As Ian Klein mentioned, if a PR pro writes a solid press release that is clear and includes appropriate links to supporting content, then that pro will be rewarded from an SEO perspective. It's that simple.
I have experienced this fourth rule a few times. Sometimes, when I read an especially good press release or blog post written by one of my teams, I run a keyword density check on that writing. And I find a near perfect density for the keywords the client cares about. In these cases, the writer is merely trying to write something good; they are not paying attention to the SEO "rules."
It would appear that Google has improved its algorithms so that it can serve its users best--the best content is given the best authority. I guess that's the way it really should be.
Lora Kratchounova agreed that good content is key. However, she expanded the concept of content to include other deliverables besides writing. It could be visuals or games, even.
5) Media placements that link to client websites or pages significantly impact SEO. For good old fashioned media relations experts, Ian Klein nailed it. A high-profile placement with a link back to a client's site might take a lot of time and a lot of effort. The SEO benefit from that placement (and link) is equal to the effort that went into the process.
So the big takeaways for PR people affecting SEO? It's about good writing and media placements that refer to my clients.By Ross Levanto on April 10, 2013 9:07 AM Permalink
If you’re an SEC geek like me, the developments over the past few days concerning social media and simultaneous disclosure have been fascinating. This new SEC guidance, triggered by something Netflix CEO Reed Hastings did last July 3, has resulted in a short SEC document that is actually reasonably easy to understand (not always the case). This is a topic that often comes up with publicly traded companies so I’ll summarize it here, and include a few related links on the topic as well: the NYT Dealbook story and the CFO magazine story, as well as the SEC document (above).
(Caveat: I’m not an SEC or Reg FD specialist, but I’ve followed this for years and I play one on TV. NOTE: we are not an IR firm and we cannot give binding advice about regulated financial matters.)
So here’s a summary. In 2000 the SEC updated its ancient (1934) rules regarding disclosure of information that could impact trading of public company equities. This was a 584-page document usually referred to as Reg FD, or “the aircraft carrier.” With the rise of blogs and social media the SEC updated some of this in 2008 to address the trend of companies using online communications to convey material information. This was referred to as the Commission’s 2008 Guidance. This helped, but social media has evolved at a furious pace since 2008.
Then, in July 2012, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings used his personal Facebook page to brag that Netflix had provided one billion hours of streaming content in the month of June. This represented an enormous increase in Netflix streaming, and because previously Hastings had said that hours of streaming was a good metric for the company’s performance, the SEC viewed the Facebook posting as a potentially non-simultaneous disclosure of a key material fact. Hastings has 200,000 Facebook followers but the information took a few hours to spread and the stock rose 13% during that time. Netflix did not make an SEC filing of this information. So the issue was: did this violate SEC rules by being non-simultaneous, or is social media now so widespread that you could view this Facebook posting as simultaneous disclosure of material information?
On April 2, 2013 the Commission’s Division of Enforcement issued an eight-page report that reviewed all of this. To boil it way down: social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and company blogs are now acceptable ways for a company to disclose this type of information, but there’s a big “If.” Which is: a company must announce its social media disclosure strategy, specifying the channels it may use, so investors will know how to follow the company’s announcements. Also, a company must be consistent in using these channels, and if it changes its approach it must announce that change. Basically, if a company says something like: “we might use our Facebook page, Twitter or blog to announce material information” then interested investors can follow all those channels and the disclosures will be simultaneous.
Interestingly, the wire services that distribute press releases are all making the case this week that disclosure through social media is still is still too spotty and inconsistent, and there’s nothing like the good old-fashioned press release. They’re probably right, but now the SEC has cleared the way for companies to make social media channels a key element of their financial disclosure strategy.
Here are two useful sections from the Commission’s April 2 finding:
Specifically, in light of the direct and immediate communication from issuers to investors that is now possible through social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, we expect issuers to examine rigorously the factors indicating whether a particular channel is a “recognized channel of distribution” for communicating with their investors. We emphasize for issuers that the steps taken to alert the market about which forms of communication a company intends to use for the dissemination of material, non-public information, including the social media channels that may be used and the types of information that may be disclosed through these channels, are critical to the fair and efficient disclosure of information. Without such notice, the investing public would be forced to keep pace with a changing and expanding universe of potential disclosure channels, a virtually impossible task…
There has been a rapid proliferation of social media channels for corporate communication since the issuance of the Commission’s 2008 Guidance. An increasing number of public companies are using social media to communicate with their shareholders and the investing public. We appreciate the value and prevalence of social media channels in contemporary market communications, and the Commission supports companies seeking new ways to communicate and engage with shareholders and the market. This Report is not aimed at inhibiting corporate communication through evolving social media channels. To the contrary, we seek to remind issuers that disclosures to persons enumerated in Regulation FD, even if made through evolving social media channels, must still be analyzed for compliance with Regulation FD. Moreover, we emphasize that the Commission’s 2008 Guidance, though largely focused on the use of web sites, is equally applicable to current and evolving social media channels of corporate communication. The 2008 Guidance explained that issuers must take steps sufficient to alert investors and the market to the channels it will use for the dissemination of material, nonpublic information. We believe that adherence to this guidance will help, with minimal burden, to assure compliance with Regulation FD and the fair and efficient operation of the market.By Dave Close on April 8, 2013 3:35 PM Permalink
In previous blog posts and videos, we’ve reviewed some best practices for rolling out a global PR campaign. For instance, understanding regional differences in the way media works and customizing messages for each country or geography. While those tips are extremely important for PR success, managing a global campaign without centralized control and real-time communication among regions could lead to blurred messages and disparate results from country to country.
At Schwartz MSL, we employ a “hub and spoke” model to execute global PR programs for some of our largest technology and healthcare accounts. It works like this: One country is identified as a global coordination base, usually the country where a company’s corporate leadership is headquartered. Our PR leads would work closely with the corporate team, in this hub, to identify additional countries that require PR outreach. The hub PR team will define strategic direction, manage overarching PR activity and develop content, from news releases to creative campaigns and thought leadership collateral. The hub then coordinates with PR resources in other countries. A single path of communication between a team lead at Schwartz MSL in the U.S., for instance, and his or her peer at MSLGROUP London, or MSL China in Beijing ensures that a client’s corporate strategy is effectively pushed through to other regions where messaging and content can then be customized by local PR resources.
What does the hub and spoke model deliver to our clients?
- Control – With a centralized team in place, companies can control messaging and activity from country to country, making sure that campaigns roll out at the same time and key players in each region, including spokespersons and customers, are on board and available.
- Consistency – Whether it’s the details of a global news pitch or the way results are measured and reported, consistency is critical to PR program success. Working with top decision makers within an organization, the PR hub can refine goals and objectives as well as messaging. It’s then up to regional teams to customize activity.
- Cost Efficiencies – Understanding that companies are often strapped by the tightening of corporate purse strings, hub and spoke global PR execution enables Schwartz MSL to deliver cost efficiencies. Developing unique content or campaigns from the ground up in each region would require significant resources in each country. Instead, our colleagues in the "spoke" can quickly adapt content and focus their efforts on securing on-message coverage in each region.
Schwartz MSL, as a part of MSLGROUP, has a truly global network in place to accommodate companies’ communication needs around the world. The key to harnessing the power of the MSLGROUP network is to work with a team that understands your unique business needs from country to country and can develop a strategy for global success. For more information about global PR programs, contact us here or give us a call at (781) 684-0770.By Mercedes Carrasco on April 3, 2013 2:35 PM Permalink
Although Leo Durocher famously said “nice guys finish last,” as we all remember from first grade, you should be nice. Most people are nice, and most people do this almost subconsciously – luckily, for the state of society. It’s intuitively obvious, but research from a joint Harvard Business School/Wharton School experiment (first published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2010 and highlighted again in a new Harvard Gazette story) shows being nice has other benefits.
Researchers showed a group of 69 people a cover letter that was badly written and asked them to provide honest feedback to the writer. After they did this the letter writer sent a note to half the group simply saying he had received the feedback, and sent a note to the other half thanking them sincerely and expressing gratitude for their advice and suggestions. Of the group that received gratitude, 55 percent reported an increase in their sense of self-worth. Just 25 percent of the no-gratitude group reported an increase.
So, that’s pretty obvious. If someone says “thank you” in a sincere way, even if you’ve criticized them, you feel better about yourself. But in the next part of the experiment a different letter writer asked for feedback from the same two groups. Just 32 percent of the no-gratitude group said they’d help while 66 percent of the gratitude group said they would help. Meaning, when you show gratitude you are setting the stage for the next person who needs help to get it. Now that’s a virtuous cycle.
This has lessons for PR and communications. When your company or products are criticized it’s a natural tendency to get defensive, even to return the criticism. Years ago I worked for a communications executive who didn’t like the way an IT magazine was covering our products so he declared a total freeze on interacting with the publication. Wrong! Try it the other way – when you, your company or your product face criticism, say thanks to your critics. Say you’re grateful that they took the time to let you know, and say that you’re carefully considering their opinions. Ask them if you can have a more detailed conversation about it.
That’s not being wimpy and it’s not being a pushover. It’s strengthening the bonds between your brand and the market. And by the way, thank you very much for reading this post. I really appreciate it.By Dave Close on March 27, 2013 12:34 PM Permalink