The user conference is an ideal format for tech companies to connect with customers and partners, secure real-world feedback on products and services, and share their vision for the future. They can also be a great way to drive thought leadership with reporters and other key audiences.
There are three simple things you can do to extend the reach of your conference.
First, lock in media sponsors early! Many publications are willing to sponsor events at no cost. They may even provide free banner ads to publicize the event in exchange for being promoted as an event sponsor. Media sponsors typically send at least one editorial contact to report on the event. But don’t delay in lining them up as some publications limit the number of events they can sponsor in a given year.
Second, live streaming the event instantly opens it up beyond the confines of the venue. Keynotes and customer panels are usually the most sought-after sessions. . . live streaming those segments alone will go far in driving awareness for key topics discussed at the event. Plus it provides a way for reporters to hear from customers who may not be able to conduct press interviews.
Third, amplify the social presence of the event using a live Twitter Wall featuring tweets with the event hashtag. The immediacy of the wall encourages others to participate in the conversation, and shows the user community you are listening to them. The Twitter Wall can also be combined with a Leaderboard that ranks people based on their ability to engage their followers about your event.
But take note. . . providing such transparency isn’t without risk - the live feed will show both positive and negative Tweets and can be distracting in some situations. To play it safe, feature the Twitter Wall in general areas and not directly behind speakers who are presenting.
By Jill Reed on November 21, 2013 3:01 PM Permalink
MSLGROUP has just been named “Best Corporate Consultancy in the World, 2013” by the influential Holmes Group. This impressive award underscores what companies around the world have learned by working with MSLGROUP: that we are unmatched in our ability to help our clients with strategic communications and marketing. That’s because truly effective communications and marketing – the type that makes a positive difference in peoples’ lives – is far more than just the basics done well. MSLGROUP provides our clients with integrated communications and marketing campaigns derived from insights, analysis and creativity. Any agency can execute tasks. But only one is recognized as the Best Corporate Consultancy in the World. Think about what that can mean for your communications and marketing.
By Dave Close on October 16, 2013 12:11 PM Permalink
The answer to the crackdown on fake online reviews:
- For ethical agencies – nothing at all.
- For unethical organizations – it lets them know there may be a financial impact beyond dissatisfied customers, particularly if other Attorney Generals follow suit.
- For those that weren’t aware of the issue – it may serve as a wake-up call and shed some light on this increasing problem.
Let’s take a step back. On Monday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that 19 New York companies have admitted to “astroturfing” — although I prefer the term fake reviews, for A) astroturfing is associated most frequently with front groups, and B) it is a trademarked term — in soliciting and posting fake reviews on sites such as Yelp.
The 19 companies have agreed to pay more than $350,000 in penalties for breaking laws against false advertising and deceptive business practices. Some of the 19 businesses appear to be companies and some are agencies/consultancies offering services to companies.
According to what I read in the Christian Science Monitor some companies knowingly went to great lengths, spoofing IP addresses and setting up fake user IDs for fictitious people. This is more than just a few bad apples. A Business Insider story today, brought a Gartner report to my attention in which Gartner predicted in 2012 that 10% of online reviews will be fake by 2014.
While Gartner makes some interesting points, I have spoken to a number of companies about this issue over the years, and the vast majority of them would never consider fake reviews. Even the ones that don’t dismiss it out of hand, tend to justify considering it because they say their competitors are doing it. (It’s the steroids in baseball argument – if others are cheating, I need to cheat too).
Let me be clear. Fake reviews as a public relations tactic are never appropriate. MSLGROUP does not support it, and the PRSA Code of Ethics and two of its Professional Standards Advisories are adamantly against it (PSA-8 and PSA-7). The practice violates four code provisions and three professional values. PSA-8 makes it explicit, “The use of deceptive identities or misleading descriptions of goals, causes, tactics, sponsors or participants to further the objectives of any group constitutes improper conduct under the PRSA Member Code of Ethics and should be avoided.”
Like many, I take most online reviews with some grain of salt. I tend to look for volume of rankings and if the writing makes sense and is more than a sentence or two.
So what should ethical businesses do?
It’s not rocket science – disclose and don’t post fake reviews.
But what are some positive best practices?
- Ask your customers, and ask again. Ask in person, via email, via Facebook, via pop ups on the Web page. Online reviews are gold – but they are best generated by providing an outstanding product or experience and building strong relationships.
- Make it easy for your customers to post reviews. Post links to your listings and suggest they share their opinion
- Respond to the negative critiques. I have been swayed by companies that post responses to negative reviews and have given them a chance.
Aside from the obvious, what should a company NOT do:
- Have interns leave fake reviews and claim they are not employees so it is OK. The interns are working on behalf of an organization either for credit or fee. Fake reviews are not OK.
- Run a contest for good reviews or offer a discount for a review.
What do you think of the news? Will it have an impact?By Mark McClennan on September 24, 2013 11:06 AM Permalink
You are in the people business.
Your title may say that you are in sales, advertising, public relations or marketing, but all of these disciplines rely on the professional’s ability to engage with people. That is ultimately the nature of your business.
“Even if you sell technology or toasters or apartments or apps– your story is about people…”
Ann Handley, author of bestselling book, Content Rules
There is nothing wrong with being tactical and actions that provide the most engagement are the ones that show your audience that you understand them. By understanding your audience, you can tell a client’s story, position it well, and more accurately engage the key target audiences. If this sounds complicated, then just focus on this simple rule...
Having empathy for your audience is the key to fostering engagement.
This was a dominant theme featured at Marketo’s Marketing Nation JumpStart Tour event in Boston last month. This rule rings just as true to the PR professional as it does to the marketing professional. The ability to not only communicate with an audience, but also demonstrate compassion for an audience’s wants and needs is an ability that will create a powerful connection. This connection is what builds audience engagement.
So how can this insight about empathy help you as a professional? Start by taking a closer look at the content you are producing. It has never been more important to create content that is relevant to your client’s target audience. Creating content is one of the things PR professionals do best. However, how effective is all that “stuff” you spend so much of your time pumping out? Apparently not so much…
• 89% of marketers create content
• 55% of marketers are increasing content marketing budgets
• 10% have a content strategy
• 36% say that their content is effective
(B2C Content Marketing 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, Trends MarketingProfs, Content Marketing Institute)
How can this be, that only 36% of marketers say that their content is effective? It’s because the majority of content is missing the most important ingredient to engagement…empathy.
According to Handley, to produce empathetic and engaging content one must ask:
1. What will people thank you for?
2. Why is it important?
3. What value do you offer?
Answering these questions in your content and communication strategies will show your audience that you are in their corner. It will show that you understand their wants and needs and are committed to delivering them.
Furthermore, Handley explains how professionals can go above and beyond the expectations of an audience. Keep the following formula in mind when designing your content…
Useful x Enjoyable x Inspired = Effective
If your content follows this formula, your audience will not only consume it, they will share it. The correlation between engagement and “sharability” is a strong one. Sometimes it’s helpful to ask yourself, “What content will delight your audience’s audience?”
Tags: content marketing, Content Rules, engagement, marketing
By Matt Vazquez on August 19, 2013 10:13 AM Permalink
In case you missed it, Google announced a revision to its definition of Link Schemes, which they use to refer to “Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”
In the updated definition, Google calls out those who create “links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links,” which it considers a violation of its guidelines.
What does this really mean for your press releases?
Probably not much, unless you were one of the people who dropped in a bunch of links, attached to random anchor text, just to increase the number of incoming links to your website.
What this really points to is the same thing that we PR folks have been preaching from our soapboxes for a while now – you need to create quality content and include proactive media outreach in your PR plan.
Not sure where to start?
Here are 5 tips for getting the most from your press release under the new Google rules:
- Be Interesting: Face it, putting out press releases just to create links and drive traffic to your site will not help you if the content isn’t interesting enough to click on in the first place. Creating quality content that engages the reader will draw site visitors and keep them there.
- Go Natural: A link that directs readers to additional content on your website is considered a natural link -- it has a reason for being there. For example if you are sending out a press release highlighting survey results, include a line that encourages readers to visit your website for more information, i.e. “Learn what else the survey respondents had to say here: www.yourwebsite.com/survey”
- Get the Picture: Embed images, infographics and video in your distributed press releases
- Put on Your Pitching Hat: Reach out directly to journalists who may write their own story based on your news -- and might even include a natural link to your site in their article.
- Use Pithy Prose: Concise language is critical in press releases, especially in the headline.
According to Schwartz MSL’s Mark McClennan, “Writing for SEO and for Google is not just a matter of keyword optimization and social engagement. If a release headline is greater than 65 characters, it doesn’t display fully. If a headline is more than 23 words, Google News may not pick it up.” Check out more of Mark’s tips on making your headline more impactful in the 2012-2013 News Release Headline Optimization Report here http://content.schwartzmsl.com/2012-13-news-release-headline-optimization-report (See what I did there?)
If you are already employing these five tactics in your press release writing you are ahead of the game, and no change to Google will slow you down! If you are not, and you need a little more help in maximizing your company news releases, give us a call.
By Laura Finlayson on August 15, 2013 2:59 PM Permalink
So you’ve finally taken the leap and created a corporate blog. The layout and design are done. You have identified your top SEO (“search engine optimization” for any accountants who may be reading this post) terms. You may even have lined up a couple of regular authors. Well, now the real fun begins---finding a steady stream of topics to keep the blog momentum going and the readers engaged.
The need for posting consistency is often the most intimidating component of this social media staple. The challenge of finding authors to develop the content and interesting topics to build each post around can be daunting.
Fear not, however, there are a number of different places (some obvious, some not so obvious) where you can find timely and relevant topics for your corporate blog posts.
- Your own news announcements or announcements from customers, partners or industry associations and analyst groups often provide a nice backdrop for blog posts. While you don’t want to simply reiterate the content of the press release, summarizing the news and adding some information, from opinions to more details about the news, is a nice touch. And always link back to the original press release’s location on your website.
- The same method used to identify trends for a media-focused thought leadership campaign can be applied to blog topic research. Looking at the hot-button issues in your industry can help provide fodder for blog topics. For instance, a mobile technology company’s corporate blog might look at mobile device management (MDM) or bring your own device (BYOD) trends, while an enterprise software company may want to develop posts on big data or cloud-based applications.
- Pulling from the mainstream news or capitalizing on holidays and seasons is another proven method for creating quick-hitting blog content. Relating general interest topics such as elections or major sporting events to your company’s product or service can help bridge the gap during slower blogging waves. In addition, annual buzz topics such as holiday shopping or back to school provide fertile ground for blog post catalysts.
- Blogging about what you expect to see or learn at a trade show and then following that up with what you actually did see or learn is a great method for securing multiple blog posts from one event. Please note that adding pictures you took at the event can help boost readership numbers and even SEO.
- Industry or analyst statistics or studies empower corporate bloggers to share opinions on the reported numbers or results and often weave in some subtle language on the company’s own product or service.
- While often right under an organization’s nose, employees are often over looked as a blog topic resource. Not only can employees help develop content, but Q&A-style interviews with new employees help promote both the company culture and often a product or market that is of interest from a sales perspective.
These are just a few of the places where organizations can look for corporate blog post topics. Vertical market themes, case studies and even media coverage offer good jumping off points for blog posts. While it is important to keep a fluid schedule of corporate blog posts, it is helpful to develop a calendar of ideas that provides a general guide. It will also help alleviate some of that “what do I write about” blogging anxiety and make the entire process more productive.
Have some fun with that corporate blog!By Keith Giannini on July 10, 2013 2:31 PM Permalink
The latest buzzword is “digital storytelling” a term that is casually used to describe almost everything communicated on the internet. Bloggers, marketers, communicators and teachers have undermined the useful definition of this phrase by using it every chance that they can.
PRSA Boston and The Boston Globe decided to help professionals navigate the landscape of digital storytelling by hosting a panel discussion on June 12th. Panelists spoke about digital trends, strategies and tactics that create a definition of digital storytelling for the PR professional.
(From left to right, Julie Dennehy of PRSA Boston, Alvin Chang of The Boston Globe, Erin Hayes and Ian Barett of MediaBoss Television)
Here are the three insights that stole my attention during this event.
- Shooting great looking video is easier than you think…don’t sacrifice quality.
“Treat everything like it's going to be broadcast content...just in case CNN calls."
Creative Director, MediaBoss Television & Owner, Ian Barrett Agency, Inc
You never know how much attention a video is going to get. If the content gets picked up more than you thought it would, the last thing that you want is to be stuck with footage quality that does not do its content justice. Most people’s smartphones shoot HD 1080p quality video. The only other factors that you have to worry about are lighting and sound. Picking up an external microphone for your iPhone may come in handy more than you think.
- As content becomes more interactive, start to stomach the fact that you are not in control.
“Is it worth creating a playground even if kids are going to get hurt?”
Newsroom developer/ data visualization specialist
This is the question the Boston Globe had to ask itself before creating an interactive map of the downtown area following the April 15th Boston Bombings. Bostonians are invited to click on the map to pinpoint the location where they stood when the bombs went off. Then there is an option to type in the narrative of your experience at that location. Whether someone’s narrative is a tame reflection or an emotional nightmare, the commentary is the content.
Sometimes the creator is not the storyteller. Sometimes your audience wants more interaction than a distant comment section can facilitate. Sometimes people want content that creates community, and when this happens, be prepared to take a back seat to your audience.
- A big key to shareable content is quick digestion.
Why will people care about your content? What is the story and what is the language that makes it most digestible? This strategic positioning is still the beating heart of the professional communicator. The digital revolution did not change your job description as much as you think.
For example, The Boston Globe created another map that highlights every Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks location in the U.S. in two different colors. How long does it take you to understand the story being told? Dunkin Donuts has not expanded across the country as much as Starbucks and still remains very centralized around its northeast headquarters. Maybe America doesn’t run on Dunkin? You looked at the map for a half of a second and you got it. Readers don't have to waste any of their precious Twitter characters on a spoon-fed headline because they immediately have their own to write.
As the capabilities of digital content continue to evolve, so will the practical definition of digital storytelling by the PR professional. The individuals who have the courage to challenge the definition of buzzwords such as digital storytelling will be the ones that help move us forward on this timeline of innovation.
Photo Credit: Bill Bradley, Principal, Bottom Line CommunicationsBy Matt Vazquez on June 27, 2013 11:37 AM Permalink