Today was the first day of Inbound 2012, HubSpot's annual production for Inbound Marketing best practices and helpful how-to sessions focused on making social media work for us!
Since we are always working on clear and concise content, here's a glossary to get you going:
HubSpot: "HubSpot is an inbound marketing software company that helps businesses take advantage of the inbound marketing revolution" - Brian Halligan & Darmesh Shah, co-founders of HubSpot and college pals from MIT
Inbound Marketing: "It's all about getting found online, through search engines and on sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter- sites that hunderds of millions of people use to find answers each day!" (David Meerman Scott, bestselling author of The New Rules for Marketing & PR)
Social Mediasphere: The world where your company lives online. The goal is to have as many roads, highways, trails, routes, airports, bus stations etc. that bring people to your company's website.
And now for the main event, the topic du jour, drumroll please: Content Creation and Optimization!
Create the content: Keep those keyboards clicking and write the content! Content attracts links from other sites that sends us qualified visitors and lets Google know we are players. Additionally, content can be spread fast through social media, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc. Once it's written, it's easy to get it out.
Optimize the content: When creating a new piece of content, it's important to look back at how people are currently visiting the site through search. For example, lets say we are Boston's best dog walker. How do people find us? Do they search "help with my bad dog" or "licensed and insured dog agency"? Once you know how they found you in the first place, your new content will align better for organic searches! The more content you give out the more links, visitors, and leads the site gains and moves up the Google ranks.
Publish the content: There are so many options out there, why not use them all? Here's a refresher:
Blog articles- one pagers related to a specific industry or current news that's relevant
White papers- educational pieces about industry trends and challenges
Videos- pieces about something new and exciting within the industry
Webinars- power point presentations about a specific industry topic
Podcasts- audio interviews with industry experts
Webcasts- live video shows
Market the content: Who do we send the content to? Some strategies suggest we send it to everyone while others suggest finding your niche. No matter what, be the best! If you are the best dog walker in all of Massachusetts- send it to everyone. If you are the best dog walker in the southwest section of zip code 02067, you should only reach out to that market! By narrowing your market, you become THAT worlds best.
Measure what's working and what's not: There are so many tools in place to help us learn from our mistakes or to get more from our successes. Using HubSpot keywords and other metrics, we can watch a "marketing event" like a new whitepaper from the moment it's published. We can measure how many views the content gets and from there, how many people download it. Understanding these conversions helps us to create even better content next time!
There's only more we can learn here and I'm just at day one... but can't wait for day two and Cyndi Lauper, yes... she's performing!
For the second year in a row, the Schwartz MSL Research Group worked with Business Wire to determine how many PR professionals are optimizing their news release headlines for SEO. There was slight improvement compared to last year, but there is still a long, long way to go.
The two most important elements for optimizing a news release headline are keyword inclusion and brevity. In terms of brevity, a full release headline must be 65 characters or fewer to be fully displayed in Google.
Many search engine optimization (SEO) experts, including our experts here at Schwartz MSL, advise that companies try to keep the characters in the headline under 70 characters. Anything beyond that will be less effective in supporting a company’s SEO.
This year, the Schwartz MSL Research Group, with invaluable help from Business Wire, analyzed the headlines of more than 16,000 news releases issued over Business Wire in a 31 day period (July 26, 2011 to August 25, 2011). This is the same period we examined last year. Since Schwartz MSL cannot know the keywords that thousands of companies are hoping to use to optimize their content and releases, the Schwartz Research Group focused on headline length as a success factor.
Most PR professionals are not fully optimizing their headlines. (I am sure Schwartz MSL is guilty of that as well from time to time.) Our analysis showed that only 19.5% of all releases have headlines with 65 characters or fewer, a one percent increase over last year. When we look at 70 characters are less, the total is 23.7%, an increase of less than one percent.
While the majority of releases are under 150 characters, we did see some examples that were much longer than the recommended length. The most egregious cases were the 2% of releases with headlines in excess of 300 characters, with one headline that was over 1,800 characters. The shortest headline we found was 21 characters, which is also probably not ideal for SEO as it’s unlikely that enough of the company’s keywords were included. Overall, the analysis found the average headline length to be 123 characters, unchanged from 2010.
The Schwartz MSL Research Group has written a Research Brief that takes a more in-depth look at this topic. If you would like additional analysis, including buzzword usage, and the geographic headline faceoff, you can download it here
With the Mobile World Congress call for papers closing on Thursday, it is now time to turn your attention to the Global Mobile Awards which are now open for entry. The annual awards, now in its 17th year, will be presented at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday 28th February 2012.
Global Mobile Awards for 2012 will be presented in the following categories:
Apps of the Year
Best Mobile Handsets and Devices
Mobile Marketing and Advertising
Social and Economic Development
Best Mobile Services
Outstanding Achievement Awards
A full list of awards categories can be found here.
This year, 18 new awards have been introduced for a total of 32 awards across the eight categories. Other noteable changes to this years’ awards include:
'Apps of the Year’: the GSMA has consolidated the awards in the ‘Apps of the Year’ category. In that category, the GSMA has introduced three new awards, two of which will be based on statistical evidence of global downloads and usage, and one, the ‘Most Innovative Mobile App’ award, which is open for entry to all. This category will also include a ‘Judges’ Choice - Best Overall Mobile App’ award which will be determined by an independent panel of experts.
‘Best Mobile Handsets and Devices’: the 2012 awards will expand this category with specific awards for ‘Best Smartphone’, ‘Best Feature Phone’ and a new ‘Best Mobile Tablet’ award. In addition, a panel of judges will search for and select the best and most promising ‘Best New Mobile Handset, Device or Tablet’ on show at the Mobile World Congress 2012 event.
'Mobile Innovation’: focused on the convergence of mobile in the vertical sectors such as health, transport, automotive and utilities and education, this category will now also include specific awards aimed at expansion in mobile publishing and mobile money services.
Additional notable developments are included within the ‘Mobile Marketing and Advertising’ category to elevate and recognise innovation and creativity within this rapidly emerging sector.
New categories have also been introduced within the ‘Best Technology’ and ‘Social and Economic Development’ categories, with additions such as ‘Best Use of Mobile in Emergency or Humanitarian Situations’ and the ‘mWomen - Best Product or Service for Women in Emerging Markets’.
The Global Mobile Awards 2012 can be entered online and nominations close on Wednesday 30th November 2011.
For more advice on making the most of PR and marketing opportunities at Mobile World Congress 2012, download our free ebook, Blueprint for Barcelona.
Have you ever counted the number of Google applications you use on a daily basis? Google, Gmail, Google Reader, Google Talk, Google Maps and Google Docs are indispensible to me personally (the jury is still out on Google+) and it seems like at least once a week someone tips me off to a tool that makes my professional life more efficient as well.
Many of Google’s tools are designed to assist in ad targeting, but they can be incredibly useful for PR as well. Here are three you really should try if you haven’t already:
•Google Analytics: It came as a shock to me today that one of our clients wasn’t already using Google Analytics on their website and is the real impetus for this post. There is no reason why anyone with a website shouldn’t run Google Analytics, in my opinion, and hundreds of reasons why you should. This free tool enables you to better understand where your visitors are coming from and what they are doing on your site. Many of our clients share access to Google Analytics with us, and this allows us to examine the impact of media coverage we generate based on the traffic it sends. It helps us fine-tune our outreach and ensure we’re targeting the most important media outlets for our clients.
•DoubleClick Ad Planner: Enter a URL and Google will present you with traffic statistics and, more crucially, detailed demographic data. For example, the mom blog ConsumerQueen.com had 140,000 unique visitors last year. 88% were female, 61% were between 35 and 44, 73% had attended some college and 46% had a household income of $25,000 - $49,999. You can also see the sites those visitors also visited as well as their interests. This is valuable data for evaluating bloggers and getting the real insight behind a publication’s circulation numbers. The only downside is it doesn’t work for lower traffic sites.
•Google Adwords Keyword Tool: There have been loads of gripes about the accuracy of Google’s Keyword Tool but word on the street is that they’ve changed the algorithm and earned back respect from SEO experts. From a PR perspective, Google’s Keyword Tool helps you determine the best keywords to use to optimise the content on your website and in press releases by telling you how many searches there are for your search terms, and related terms, and what the competition is like.
Please do tell: what are your favourite Google tools for PR?
Social media should be a part of every company’s communications strategy. Even if the strategy includes deliberately avoiding a particular platform, such as a B2B cloud computing company opting not to create a Facebook fan page, social media has matured to the point that it can’t be ignored. With the scope of social media now ranging from Twitter to blogger relations, every company is involved one way or another.
Likewise, a social media policy is a must for any business. Far too often, companies fail to create a policy because they assume that employees will practice common sense--but that simply means different things to different people. Take any two smart, logical employees with the company's best interests in mind and they may have very different approaches to using social media. Furthermore, as social media creeps from public relations/marketing territory into the domain of customer service, human resources and sales, a set of guidelines needs to be established in writing.
While a social media policy offers no guarantee against a mistake, it can go a long way toward avoiding a serious debacle. Everyday issues, such as multiple employees creating LinkedIn groups or unofficial Twitter handles in your company’s name, can be better managed with a policy in place. At minimum, you should outline what your company is trying to achieve on social media, who is responsible for its management and a standard for content. You should also give employees guidance about how they can talk about your company on their own social media profiles. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that this document will probably be outdated as soon as you finish writing it. Be prepared to update frequently as the social media landscape changes.
With so much already written about social media policy, I thought it would be helpful to collect some of the best resources around the web for your policy-creation pleasure.
•The database of 177 social media policies on Social Media Governance gives you an invaluable peek behind the curtain at many major companies’ social media policies.
Today, Salesforce announced its plan to acquire Radian6 for ~$326 million in cash and stock. Radian6 is one of the main social media monitoring and engagement tools we use at Schwartz Communications. This is good news for Radian6 employees, but what are the takeaways for the industry?
To my mind, it all boils down to another company betting that even more companies will realize the power of listening, and as a corollary, the power of engaging. Salesforce.com is one of the top sales and CRM solutions.
This is enhanced when you add inbound marketing companies, such as Hubspot, that can help sales and marketing nurture the most valuable customers and promising prospects. That is one reason Hubspot makes such a big deal of their Salesforce integration.
The social listening (and to a lesser extent engagement) offerings provided by Radian 6 are another piece in the customer engagement puzzle.
Good PR has always strived to understand the needs and desires of the customer and other key stakeholders. Only by understanding them can we give the most effective counsel to the organizations we represent. The future tie-in of sales/crm, social listening and nurturing should help companies develop deeper, more meaningful and effective relationships with their customers.
I am intrigued by the possibilities of this acquisition, but it will be interesting to see how it proceeds.
Some of Radian6’s greatest weaknesses are Salesforce's strengths. But I can also see the volume of data that Radian6 regularly captures overwhelming the needs and desires of many users and too much less than useful information being integrated into the Salesforce contact stream. As my wife often tells me, just because you hear what I am saying, doesn’t mean you are listening. The data is only good if it is processed and acted upon.
I don’t think this is the final piece of the puzzle. Integrating capabilities such as Rapleaf into the new Salesforce/Radian6 would create some very targeted and meaningful monitoring and lead to even greater success.
No matter how this acquisition proceeds, the winners will be the companies that increasingly engage with their customers through tailored, proactive communications.
The last day of SxSWi 2011, I decided to take a brief foray into crisis management, specifically looking at how brands respond to Facebook attacks. The dynamic session was highlighted by Dell and Intel discussing how they handled the issue of brand attacks.
Ekaterina Walter, Intel’s social media strategist and Laura Thomas, a senior consultant at Dell who oversaw its Facebook presence consolidation, provided a few helpful tips that I thought made sense to share with our readers. While many of these are common sense, they shared some good data:
Facebook interaction changes perception—Over the past year, Dell interacted with more than 5,000 customers on Facebook. A set of them had 98% negative view/comment of Dell. After the Facebook interaction, 36% of the 5,000 publicly expressed satisfaction.
Social media crisis response still requires planning—Organizations need to have the right policies and procedures in place, but they also need to test them. Ekaterina from Intel shared an example where Intel had the listening tools in place, and the listeners alerted one department, but not her. This showed they needed to have more practice drills. Companies should plan a few social media crisis drills/year.
Explain your actions—If you are turning comments off, not responding to certain posts, or deleting certain posts, clearly explain why. Laura @Dell emphasized “Make sure you set up at the very beginning what you will/won't allow and enforce it.” For example, Dell allows negative comments but not R-rated language. They will highlight that a response was deleted due to profanity.
Another example that was shared by the panel: A Mayo clinic radiologist had allegedly made some racist comments. Protesters went in and posted the comments on Mayo’s Facebook wall. Mayo allowed the negative comments to run for 2-3 days, then created a discussion tab and thread there, and they posted to the wall, they had moved the discussion there, and if people continue to post on the wall, those posts will be deleted.
Volume (both positive and negative) matters—According to panelists, just 0.02% of posts on Facebook make it into people’s “Top News” feeds. This means a lot of Wall discussion is only seen if you visit the site. If you want to be visible, you need to encourage conversation on the Wall, not on discussion boards. Or as I like to say it: “Links are Google Juice, Wall Posts are Facebook Juice.”
This could also have been titled "When Surveys Go Bad."
Surveys are one of the most popular research tools in a public relations executive's quiver. Too often though surveys are abused, twisted and the methodology is tortured until it screams in pursuit of a compelling headline. Too many surveys don't use random sampling, or extrapolate from too small a sample size.
One of the most coveted placements for research for coverage is the USA Today "Snapshots" section. The editors there have high standards and typically require solid methodology, and an interesting angle.
Which is why I am scratching my head over today's (January 18, 2011) snapshot in USA Today's LIFE section.
Take a minute, click here and then on the LIFT tab and see if you can figure out what is wrong with the survey...
What struck me is the question: "Which utility or communication service is most important" (emphasis mine).
When you look at the results, they total 332%. Not 100%. You can't have more than one MOST important thing. That's the very definition of "most important." There should have been a forced ranking, or consumers should have been only able to choose one option.
Now don't get me wrong, I could have a lot of fun and see some interesting insight from the data. More than 1 in 3 Americans (More than 70 million over 18) would chose the Internet over water, heat or electricity (would they really)?
Cells phones are valued as much as the Internet.
The only way I can make this infographic make sense is if the question was "Do you agree with the following statement: X is the most important utility.") Where people could answer yes to more than one question.
The Schwartz Communications Research Group decided the best way to look ahead was to look back…specifically to look back at the lifecycle of the tech acronyms and buzzwords we have all grown to love (or hate).
This also gave us a chance to try Google Labs' new Ngram research tool. The search tool lets users examine the content of every book in the Google Books database, from 1800 to 2008, and determine how frequently a word appears. While this is by no means a comprehensive search, the database is large enough to identify some interesting trends.
For example this chart, which looks at some of the popular acronyms of the past few decades such as WYSIWYG and Y2K.
Sometimes when you analyze data, something jumps out at you that makes you really take notice. This morning, I was analyzing the social media volume and tone of the Charlie Baker and Deval Patrick campaign for Governor in Massachusetts. I had not paid much attention to it as Schwartz (and I) am not involved with either campaign.
Earlier this year, we analyzed the discussion around Brown vs. Coakley, and the data showed how Scott Brown clearly won the social media war (particularly among Twitter users).
When we analyzed social media conversations involving Patrick and Baker over the past 30 days, we found the following:
Overall, the conversation was relatively equal, with Patrick getting a bit more. But Gov. Patrick had a very significant spike on October 15 (which equaled 10% of all conversations involving Deval Patrick this month). The reason? President Obama came to Massachusetts to campaign for Gov. Patrick.
This really drives home the power of the presidency (and the power of personalities, influencers and mavens) to drive the conversation. There is nothing earth-shattering in the data, but it was interesting.
Some practical advice for all PR pros:
1) Look for influencers to help you move the needle on conversations.
2) Just because someone can generate discussion, doesn't make them influential. More in-depth analysis is required to determine if they just generate noise, or can shape the discussion and move opinion.
News release headlines are meant to convey information, draw a reader in, and aid SEO. But have public relations pros fallen victim to buzzword abuse in news release headlines?
Thankfully, the answer is no.
Earlier this month the Schwartz Communications’ Research Group released a brief that examined news release headlines and SEO. After analyzing more than 16,000 news release headlines from Business Wire, we found that more than 86% of news release headlines do not contain any of the top 20 buzzwords. Of course, that also means that 14% (or about 2200 releases/month) do contain a top 20 buzzword in the headline.
"Top" was the most overused buzzword, and it was used in only 1.9% of releases. This was followed by "solution" (1.83%). Following is the full chart.
The point here isn’t to say that you must avoid using these buzzwords at all costs, but it’s much more important to use the keywords being used in searches by your company’s target audience.
If you are interested in more information on this or other news release SEO topics, such as
Good writing should convey excitement, without the help of punctuation. A number of editors with whom we have spoken have a simple rule: you are allowed to use no more than three exclamation points in your writing your entire adult life.
While the Schwartz Research Group brief released this week looked at serious issues such as:
What are the most overused words in release headlines?
We also examined a few lighter issues. For example. The Schwartz Research Group analyzed the more than 16,000 releases issued over Business Wire in a 30 day period, and the good news is, only 0.5% of all releases contain “!”s in the headline. (Note, Schwartz excluded Yahoo! from the analysis, for that would skew the data).
Only 10 release headlines contained multiple exclamation points. For those who are curious, the Schwartz Research Group also found that only 0.4% of releases contained a question mark.
If you would like the full whitepaper, you can request it here.
The two most important elements for optimizing a news release headline are keyword inclusion and brevity. A company’s top keywords should be included in the headline when possible and should be placed early in the headline. In terms of brevity, a full release headline must be 65 characters or fewer to be fully displayed in Google.
Many search engine optimization (SEO) experts, including our experts here at Schwartz, advise that companies try to keep the characters in the headline under 70 characters. Anything beyond that will be less effective in supporting a company’s SEO.
The Schwartz Communications Research Group, with invaluable help from Business Wire, analyzed the headlines of more than 16,000 news releases issued over Business Wire in a 31 day period (July 26, 2010 to August 25, 2010). Since Schwartz cannot know the keywords that thousands of companies are hoping to use to optimize their content and releases, the Schwartz Research Group focused on headline length as a success factor . The findings of this analysis were that the vast majority of PR practitioners are still not fully optimizing their headlines. (I am sure Schwartz is guilty of that as well from time to time.) Our analysis showed that only 18.4% of all releases have headlines with 65 characters or fewer.
While the majority of releases are under 150 characters, we did see some examples that were much longer than the recommended length. The most egregious cases were the 2% of releases with headlines in excess of 300 characters, with one headline that was over 1,000 characters. The shortest headline we found was 18 characters, which is also probably not ideal for SEO as it’s unlikely that enough of the company’s keywords were included. Overall, the analysis found the average headline length to be 123 characters.
This shows that many companies still have room to improve their press releases (even the social media releases).
The Schwartz Communications Research Group has written a Research Brief that takes a more in-depth look at this topic. If you would like additional analysis, including buzzword usage, a geographic analysis of effective headline writing and other headline analysis, you can download it here
Some of the brightest minds in public relations research and measurement today gathered for the first day of the Institute for Public Relations’ North American Summit on Measurement. They are here to share their best practices on research and measurement, and to discuss the future of PR measurement.
It was great to hear so many research professionals recommending the types of benchmarking that the Schwartz Research Group does as a matter of course our clients.
The summit began with @kdpaine and Dr. Don Stacks reviewing a number of core measurement best practices. Some of the things that jumped out at me were that:
• 66% of time if people say will do something, they will • PR campaigns that address and engage values can make a seismic shift when it comes to behavior • Research without proper analysis is just pretty charts • You must benchmark at the beginning of an engagement to identify if you met your campaign goals and objectives
While much of this was common sense, there were also very engaging discussions on the evolution of online surveys and best practices for increasing response rates and avoiding accidental bias; seven steps to measurement perfection; and new ways of measuring social media engagement.
To me, the highlight of the afternoon was the opportunity for us to speak with Dr. James and Larissa Grunig, two of the deans of PR measurement. I remember learning about Grunig’s two way symmetric communications model more than 20 years ago, and it is great to see how social media is causing the death of other models, and driving more companies to engage in true dialog (what Dr James Grunig has advocated for decades).
Grunig rightly pointed out many of the growing pain social media is going through, but is confident of its continued evolution and ability to drive deeper connections. He made a point that I have been evangelizing for a while – the core principles of good public relations have not been changed by social media. It has made symmetry, strategy, and engagement even more crucial.
One of the key themes that came across during the discussion was the role PR needs to play in corporate social responsibility and sustainability. While CSR has been a core element of public relations for quite a while, Grunig is seeing some of the largest companies internationally start to want to measure not just at the program level, but at the societal level.
Grunig opined that companies need to beware the CSR trap. CSR does not equal publicity for charitable giving. True corporate social responsibility projects align with the needs of the organization and will positively benefit all stakeholders. Some companies Grunig spoke with in Brazil are starting to consider both the environment and the next two generations of humans, animals and plants as stakeholders.
Overall, an excellent start to the summit. Tomorrow will look at global digital communications measurement, measuring influence and other topics.
Follow updates throughout the day at @mcclennan or #iprmeasure.
This morning a crack member of the Schwartz Research team (Bill Bode) brought the recent Mike Wise kerfuffle to my attention. Basically, Mike Wise, a reporter for the Washington Post, was suspended for one month because he made up a story about Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and tweeted it out. Some media outlets ran the story and some people retweeted it.
According to the Huffington Post, he claimed he did it to
See which news outlets would pick up his report, and
Show the inaccuracy of social media reporting.
Wise is missing one key thing. As a proven sports columnist for the Washington Post he has both authority and experience. For years, people have believed what Mike Wise wrote. People also put their trust in the Washington Post.
What he truly showed is how if a credible source wants to spread disinformation, they can have some success the first time, but will then destroy their reputation. This isn’t limited to social media. If an analyst put out a false report, people would use the data, until the analyst was exposed.
This problem goes back to well before the dawn of social media. Remember Janet Cooke (also of the Washington Post) who had her Pulitzer Prize winning story “Jimmy’s World” exposed as fabrication? This was also showcased on WKRP in Cincinnati with Bailey Quarters and Les Nessman in the “Dear Liar” episode in Season four.
If I tweeted about Ben Roethlisberger and cited an inside source I knew at the NFL, no one would retweet it. Why?
I am not a sports reporter or blogger, and
Schwartz has great experience with technology, healthcare and green companies, but our football experience deals primarily with luminescent paper for championship game tickets – not with NFL headquarters.
So yes, Wise showed things can spread on Twitter and some folks don’t check their sources. But he is in actuality a better poster child for how someone with respect and authority can abuse their power, be caught and damage their reputation.
My post last week that highlighted the most overused words in a press releases was very well received. Since so many of you liked it, I decided to take it a step further and turn the top 25 buzzwords into Buzzword Bingo cards. I didn’t want to slight anyone, so I created one card based on Sherk’s recent post, and the other card based on David Meerman Scott’s post from last year.
Here they are for your viewing and reading pleasure. May you never complete a bingo!
I remember a time when everything was a robust, scalable, enterprise-wide, mission-critical, client/server, WYSIWYG, CORBA development solution with OLE.
Well, maybe not quite that bad, but there are definitely words that have been overused when it comes to press releases. In some cases, these words have been so overused, their meaning is completely devalued to the point the eye skips over them.
Recently one my clients sent me a link to a great post from Adam Sherk on The Most Overused Buzzwords and Marketing Speak in Press Releases. He did some great analysis of words overused in press releases for the past year. His post also reminded me of a David Meerman Scottpost on the topic from last year.
The lists are useful, but different people learn in different ways.
I decided to take Sherk’s list and turn it into a word cloud of the most overused words in PR. I weighted everything based on the actual frequency of appearance. To me the word cloud really drives home how some words are so overused they lose their meaning completely, even more than a list of the words.
So without further ado, the word cloud of the most overused words in press releases.
I applauded the effort, but didn't blog about it at the time, because it just seemed like common sense and the way Schwartz has been conducting public relations on behalf of our clients for years. As the Schwartz Communications Research Group continues to grow, though, I did want take a minute to chime in.
Some of the principles have always been the essential foundation of what we do as an agency and as responsible practitioners.
Measure results not activity
Quantify business impact when you can
Social media should be measured
AVEs (ad value equivalencies) don't measure PR
I was a bit surprised by the ordering of some of the other Principles as I have found more clients focus on message delivery/inclusion and would put that above tone. Typically, I would want to segment by message and then tone rather than the reverse.
These principles are essential for showing the true impact of public relations. Many practitioners talk about wanting a seat at the table. At Schwartz I have found we get our seat at the table by providing strategic counsel; showing the business impact of PR; understanding business drivers and challenges; and presenting creative ideas that support the business objectives.
I was recently speaking with a young man heading off to college to study engineering. I reminded him there are two key things every engineer needs to remember:
1) F=ma 2) You can’t push on a rope
I wish PR had a formula as easy as F=ma for calculating impact. But then I realized engineers don’t either.
For them impact is calculated: P=(Fimpact2L/2AE)=(m2σ2gh/LAE)=(m2gh/LAρ)=mgh
Just like there is no one measurement formula for impact, there is no one solution for PR measurement. What measurement is right for your company depends on your business objectives. Align measurement at the start of every engagement and measure results and you are off to a good start.
A cloud is approaching San Francisco, getting ready to pour down IT companies aplenty offering various management tools, platforms, servers, hosting models and so on at VMworld.
Though it might seem like a few hot summer months away, we’re now actually only six weeks out from the conference. Already there's a lot of noise. Any company involved in virtualization and cloud computing needs to develop a PR strategy to make the most of the conference, taking advantage of having nearly all virtual influencers, experts and buyers in the same place at the same time.
In a previous post, Ross Levanto, a VP in Schwartz Communications' data center practice group, noted the proliferation of virtualization and cloud coverage in tech trades, highlighting trending topics such as management, SaaS and desktops. This is an important first step in building out a VMworld PR strategy – determining the topics that will resonate with reporters at the show and thinking about news, messaging or customer deployment stories that might align with trends.
For Schwartz clients that are attending, we’re certainly talking about our plans for the show. But we’d like to help other companies prep for VMworld, too. Check out our tip sheet, “5 Tactics to Help Make VMworld a Visibility Engine,” available for free download from the Schwartz website. The tip sheet outlines PR tactics pre-event and at the conference. As we get closer to August 30, stay tuned for more analysis on trends in the virtualization space and more advice on how to maximize show presence.
Earlier this week, the Publicity Club of New England recognized the best public relations and social media campaigns and tactics of the past year. The Bell Ringer judges were senior practitioners from Chicago and Boston.
Schwartz is proud that we have continued the tradition of being recognized with more Bell Ringer Awards for work we have done with our clients than any other PR Agency in New England.
Most gratifying to us this year is that we won 10 Gold Bells for our clients, and that Schwartz was recognized for having the two best campaigns of the year, winning both Gold and Silver Bells, for its work in the business-to-business, healthcare and high-tech public relations categories.
When asked by many, how do we continue to win so many awards, we believe it is based on two key elements:
1) As a strategic communications firm, we understand that we don’t succeed by ourselves. Schwartz works closely with our clients to make sure our communications, content and public relations activities help them realize their business objectives. It is this close relationship, senior level involvement and comprehensive approach - including social media, content marketing and inbound marketing services - that help our programs succeed.
2) We don’t expect our clients (or Bell Ringer judges) to measure our work based on the “thud factor”, or in social media Thud 2.0. Our work, and our award entries, are judged on how we helped public relations close the loop with sales, patient recruitment or other business objectives.
For the 2010 Bell Ringer Awards, this ranged from driving qualified leads from trade articles to creating enough demand to crash one client’s servers. It included driving hundreds of patient inquiries to cutting consumer misperceptions in half. It is based on helping drive hundreds of thousands in product sales to opening new channels with key prospects.
We are proud of the work of our employees and our clients. If you have any questions about how we can help your company, let us know.
There was a lot that went on today at SxSW, but it all seemed to revolve around Twitter. From @Ev’s keynote introducing @anywhere to panels, hallway discussions and hordes of techies tweeting while dancing and singing at TechKaraoke.
Twitter does a good job of explaining the new service, but basically it allows any site to tag content to Twitter that let’ people follow feeds from the site (or people mentioned on the site) without leaving the site. It looks cool, but it did not blow the audience away. I see any savvy consumer technology or B2B public relations professional who is creating content making use of it eventually in the content they create for their brands.
The panel after the keynote was moderated by Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) and had a number of opinionated, passionate and interesting social media personalities, including @scobleizer and @pistachio.
They basically highlighted their favorite Twitter tools. I thought some of them might be of interest to our readers, so I wanted to highlight a few.
Oneforty.com – Basically, @pistachio’s Twitter App Store, complete with rankings and reviews. Spend time there if you haven’t already.
The most interesting panel of the entire show (for me at least) happened at 5:00 p.m. in a remote hotel. During the 90 minutes, Citibank revealed the process and procedures they used to secure approval for social media engagement in a heavily regulated environment. I will write more on it later, for it is worth a blog post on its own.
Today was my last day at SxSW. It lived up to the promise. Great sessions, good people and thought provoking ideas. The dominant themes of the conference were mobility, connectivity and crowdsourcing (with a very focused financial services minor). Over the next few weeks I will share additional insights on this blog. There is a lot that I didn’t cover, but hopefully the snapshots over the past few days will give our readers some useful insight. I will be digesting what I learned at the show in the weeks to come.
It’s a good thing I am a morning person and registered early, as this line demonstrates. Many of the folks in the line missed the first sessions. (This is the line to get into the exhibit hall to register)
The first session at SxSW dealt with social media marketing, and while it covered many thing I already knew, there were a number of interesting insights to take from it. One of the points the speakers (Chris Winfield and Tony Adam) made is one I have been making for years – Web 1.0 (forums) still matter. The power of niche social media sites and networks can trump the power of Digg, Facebook and others. You eliminate much of the chaff and keep just the wheat.
Two key things I was reminded of in the session that I thought might be of interest to technology public relations pros:
When trying to find the most popular niche boards, http://rankings.big-boards.com/ is a good place to start.
Being engaged (without spamming) on Yahoo! Answers can also advance thought leadership campaigns.
The second session, with Brian Solis talking about the themes in his new book, Engage, was a great session packed with good advice. A lot of it was a positive reaffirmation of what many companies engaging in social media are already doing, but there were some new ways of thinking about things that he drove home. He seems to have taken the Tipping Point categories and expanded on them to identify the types of people that you tend to interact with on social networks, and how you can impact their hearts and minds. This has some intriguing implications and is with thinking about much more than most people do.
He also reinforced a point from the first session. The networks don’t matter, the channels will change, it’s the human network that we are all a part of that is truly driving and advancing the social media change and the impact it is having on business. Companies that enter the network in the right way can have a significant impact. Those that do not, may do OK, but will never excel.
He also drove home a point Schwartz’s president, Bryan Scanlon, has been making quite a bit recently - listening and talking aren’t enough. You need content to drive the discussion. Every company is now its own CNN, and they need to promote what they do, listen, and interact. They can’t rely on the media to give them pre-made programs (articles) anymore. There is much more to the channel than their ever was and technology, consumer, green, and healthcare PR pros need to pay attention.
Some other elements on which I will expound in more detail in later posts include:
Most social networks are matriarchies
The social compass is a good guide to developing a coherent and effective social media strategy
Social media engagement fails if there is not a human in some way associated with the brand
B2B Tech companies were the first to adopt social media with developer forums. There are benefits many B2B tech companies are overlooking.
Banks and other location based venues should look at foursquare. Now 1500 venues are giving rewards to their mayors and driving traffic and deeper relationships.
Check back tomorrow for more highlights from SxSW.
If you are reading this and at the conference, what were some of the best lessons you learned today?
On Wednesday I had the pleasure of participating on a webcast panel with two other social media experts, Paul Gillin, the journalist, former IDG Editor and social media maven, and Amy Black, senior marketing communications manger at Kadient.
The webcast idea came from a conversation I had with fellow Schwartz employees in September 2009, when I lamented that numerous discussions with my clients about the role of social media in their PR programs had left me dismayed. Not because the clients didn't want social media in their programs; indeed, they understood our counsel---social media must be a part of any marketing and PR campaign when the people clients are trying to reach are online. It certainly is a part of the PR strategies that we create here at Schwartz.
The problem is the hype around social media had created unrealistic expectations. Many expect it's kind of like flipping on the light switch. Create some YouTube videos, and witness the viral boom. Start a blog, and hopefully your web servers can handle the resulting increase in traffic.
I thought discussing a few common social media myths would be a refreshing way to investigate the proper role of social media within PR programs. Wednesday's webinar is available on the PR Week website; Schwartz teamed up with PR Week to help promote the discussion.
The webinar was a panel, and any panel is only as good as its participants. Paul Gillin and Amy Black were fantastic. Hopefully you will have a chance to watch the webinar; also, Schwartz released a white paper that discusses the myths exposed during the panel discussion. You can download the white paper right from the Schwartz website.
At the same time, what's great about participating in a social media webinar is witnessing the reaction to the webinar---on social media. Searching for the hashtag #prwwebcast shows the discussion that ensued mainly while the webinar was in progress. Some interesting takeaways from the Twitter "gallery":
-- Content may be king, but interaction defines social media. @datingdad tweets that "without conversation, [content creation] is just broadcasting." It's a very important point. We talked on the webinar about the need to create content, given the reducing numbers of professional journalists. However, creating the content is one thing, getting it to the audiences that matter to a given company is equally as important.
-- Social media is a marathon. @sarahweddle notes how there are "no overnight successes." Just like many other marketing functions, repetition and ongoing programs are the key to long-term success from a social media program. Amy Black also described on the webinar how a social media campaign can create content that fuels many other programs. A YouTube video she created includes a song that is now the hold music for Amy's corporate phone system.
-- Mapping a company's level of social media involvement to their corporate culture. Paul Gillin noted how many companies have numerous internal resources capable of creating content for social media. @sarahweddle says that "companies have to decide how social they want to be." At Schwartz, we begin our engagements by mapping the level of social media involvement to a company's culture and the industry they are in. It's quite effective. @sarahweddle continues in her tweet "...but there should always be some level of involvement."
Special thanks to Paul and Amy for agreeing to participate in the webinar.
Our very own Liz Woodhouse, VP of human resources, will join a panel of industry experts from the Boston area on Tuesday, February 9 for the Publicity Club of New England’s second annual career seeker & networking breakfast. Kirk Hazlett, a professor of communications at Curry College, will moderate the discussion.
This is a terrific forum to hear how social media is impacting the “rat race.” Across the board, life as we know it has certainly changed with the advent of Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and the myriad of other social media tools. Liz will share her expertise on how to navigate and network via the social media landscape. Professional protocol, in light of these changes, will be a hot button topic at the program.
I'm a technology PR person and, as you'd expect, I read a lot. Most days, however, I don't have time to look at blogs that won't give me readily usable information. So lately I've been sorting out the stuff I really must read from sites that provide food for thought, but are maybe a little more academic or philosophical.
I thought I'd share a short list of blogs that I believe consistently give readers relevant, immediately usable information about B2B marketing and PR.
1. Social Media B2B--I recommend this one to clients every time I get the chance. One or two posts a day, many with an eye toward lead generation. This blog's total devotion to B2B is impressive; I think they know their audience well.
2. Journalistics--Practical insight into how media relations is really practiced today. (And no, it doesn't begin with a Vocus or Cision list.) If I were managing a PR agency or in-house program, I'd read this to help gauge whether my team was keeping pace with changes in the media and in PR.
3. B2B Ideas@Work Blog--If you like HubSpot and the concept of inbound marketing, as do a number of Schwartz clients, you'll be interested in this ad agency's blog.
4. CK's Blog--Help for traditional marketers who need a guide on getting going with social media and making it integral to their programs.
5. Social Media Today--Essential (yes, really) compilation of posts on all aspects of social media from dozens of bloggers. Theory plus execution ... what could be better?
As we all hear reports about some parts of the economy rebounding, while others still lag, it's natural to wonder where marketing budgets will land in 2010.
Many of the marketers we work with are either just finishing budget planning for 2010 or are working with their CEOs or boards to determine how much their budgets will be. As they're muscling through this process, some marketers are supporting their requests for more dollars by looking to their peers for signs of what they're doing.
It's with this in mind that we spoke with 20 top marketing and business execs to get their take on where budgets are going, as well as tips they'd give other marketers during budget season. We took their feedback and assembled it in this white paper with the hope that it will help those marketers still fighting the good fight.
Wikipedia is undergoing some changes and introducing a layer of editorial approval for certain entries, including living people. This news is certainly getting a ton of coverage; the best summaries are in Tuesday's NY Times and CNET. I'm not going to recap---both are excellent at examing the issues.
What I like about Daniel Terdiman's CNET piece is he nails a couple major issues. Most importantly, he explores human nature and what happens when "unfettered rights" are left to their own devices. Yes, innovation happens. Yes, discovery happens. And yes, there are amazing "gotchas" that uncover corruption and other attrocities.
But there's a flip side. In a perfect world, conscience would drive everyone to behave. But Wikipedia has a lot of individuals and corporations with reputations---and there always seems to be trolls and others out there ready to disparage whatever appears to be clean, just to do so.
Although there is some hand-wringing over this practice, it's actually a very positive thing. It recognizes the rise of Wikipedia as a more credible source looking seriously at the origins and evolution of its content. Wikipedia is often my first stop for information, as it is for 60 million visitors a month. There's a digital transformation underway and Wikipedia now has enough juice to be asked about credibility.
Simply put, this is the future of the modern editorial role. Tomorrow's Perry Whites are going to be found at places like Wikipedia, and whole new rulebook of ethics, values and codes is evolving for the digital landscape.
And if you're struggling with Wikipedia (it's a tad tricky at times), let us help. We're finishing up a Tip Sheet and you should be able to grab it in a week or so at www.schwartz-pr.com. You can also comment on this post, send me a Tweet, or fill out our contact form and I'll make sure you get one when it's published.
Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia. Originally appeared in Jimmy Olsen #22 (August 1957). Art by Curt Swan.
While some claim the summer months are a time when business slows down, anyone involved in retailing and consumer PR knows that it is when holiday planning swings into high-gear.
To help companies maximize their social media efforts (particularly around the holiday shopping season), the team at Schwartz Communications will be hosting a Webinar on July 22 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
The Webinar: "Groups, Handles and Widgets—Social Media Best Practices and Case Studies for Online Retailers," will explore how companies can leverage the latest online tools, measurement practices and social networks to maximize their communications impact.
Led by Mark W. McClennan, APR (BillMeLater, CheckFree) and Jason Morris (RetailMeNot, BeatMyPrice), vice presidents in Schwartz’s Consumer Practice Group, attendees will learn social media best practices and be presented with case studies of award-winning social media campaigns that drove business results.