Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hello, Springfield!

 


Approximately 200 public relations practitioners recently converged in Springfield, Mo., for this year’s PRSA Midwest District Conference.

While storms in the Chicago area delayed those flying through O’Hare Airport, travelers persisted and were rewarded with excellent learning and networking opportunities.
The conference, with a tagline of “Firm Foundations/New Horizons,” featured three keynotes:
  •       Minnesota’s James Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, spoke on “Gaining Influence: How to Have a More Important, Powerful, Influential and Fulfilling Career.”
  •       Joe Cohen, APR, the national chair of PRSA, discussed PRSA’s strategic plan, the evolving
    PRSA Leadership
    PRSA National Chair Joe Cohen, APR, addresses QuickStart attendees.
    role of public relations professionals, and the “seven deadly sins of PR.”
  •       Missy Maher of Edelman shared her insights on marketing to the modern family.
More than 25 breakout sessions provided plenty of choices for attendees. Topics ranged from content marketing to social media measurement to chocolate addiction and beyond.

Approximately 20 PRSA members either already involved or interested in PRSA leadership participated in the conference’s QuickStart session. They learned how to focus their leadership qualities for chapter success from Regina Waters, Ph.D., of Drury University, discussed best practices from around the Midwest District, and heard from Cohen on the role of PRSA National.

While a printed program provided an overview of the conference, attendees also were able to download the Guidebook app to create a personalized schedule and be updated about schedule changes on the fly.

The app proved its use when two sessions were scratched due to the cancellation of the speaker’s flight from Chicago.

In addition to networking opportunities throughout the day, attendees hit downtown Springfield for dinner at a restaurant of their choice and ended the evening with a gathering at Springfield Brewing Company.

The annual Midwest District Platinum Award, the district’s highest individual honor, was given to Debbie Harvey, APR. She was president of the Chicago chapter in 2012 and championed and led development of the 2012 Midwest District Conference in Chicago. Harvey works for the American Medical Association as the vice president of change strategies.

Thanks to the Southwest Missouri PRSA chapter for providing an excellent professional development opportunity!

To see tweets from the conference, search Twitter using the hashtag #prsamdc.

For a collection of more public relations tips, insights and reflections, buy the book "19 Tips for Successful Public Relations: Insights on Media Relations and Reputation Management" from amazon.com!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The art of the apology

 

Authentically saying "I'm sorry" can be a very challenging action to take.


Last week, however, Jonah Hill delivered an excellent apology on "The Tonight Show." While Hill was on the show to plug his new "22 Jump Street" movie, he insisted on clearing the air first regarding the circumstances in which he was caught on video using a gay slur directed at a paparazzo.



Hugh Grant also delivered a skillful apology on "The Tonight Show" in 1995 for his dalliance with a prostitute. Grant effectively summed it up by saying, "I did a bad thing, and there you have it."


 
Finally, David Letterman was deft in his apologies related to having sexual liaisons with female staff members.



How come these three apologies worked? They were sincere. They were timely. Above all, they essentially said, "I screwed up and I'm sorry."

For a collection of more public relations tips, insights and reflections, buy the book "19 Tips for Successful Public Relations: Insights on Media Relations and Reputation Management" from amazon.com!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Removing links from Google

 

removing links from google
What goes on the Internet stays on the Internet, right? Yes -- except for in the European Union now.* Thanks to a recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, Google and other search engines now also are in the business of being caretakers of people's reputations.

Here's how it works with Google:
  • Europeans can visit this page to complete a form requesting that search results be de-indexed from Google's listings.
  • The results must be “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed.
  • Google will "assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information. When evaluating the request, Google will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information—for example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials."
  • A copy of a valid form of photo identification is needed to complete the form, in order to "prevent fraudulent removal requests from people impersonating others, trying to harm competitors, or improperly seeking to suppress legal information."
  • Lawyers or other authorized agents may submit a request for someone they represent.
Google processes an estimate 90 percent of the searches in the European Union, a 28-nation bloc of more than 500 million people.

*In a USA Today article, Eric Schiffer of Reputation Management Consultants in Irvine, Calif., said, "There's nothing that you do on the Internet that can truly be erased. Even this Google ruling—it's the equivalent of destroying a library index card, but the book still exists."

For a collection of more public relations tips, insights and reflections, buy the book "19 Tips for Successful Public Relations: Insights on Media Relations and Reputation Management" from amazon.com!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How to write a tip sheet

Guest post by Sandra Beckwith

A tip sheet is a news release that offers advice or tips in a bulleted or numbered format. It’s one of the hardest working and most useful tactics available for generating publicity. Use a tip sheet to generate short column notes in a newspaper or magazine or to interest a reporter, editor or producer in a feature article or talk show interview on the tip sheet topic.

Here’s how to create an effective tip sheet:
  1. Use a press release format. The biggest difference between a tip sheet and a traditional press release is that the body of the tip sheet will include your tips or advice in a numbered or bulleted format.
     
  2. Start with a headline that mimics those on magazine covers – “5 ways to lose weight before June” or “Top 7 mistakes shoppers make.” Here’s an example from a tip sheet promoting a women’s health and nutrition book to newspaper living sections:
    Expert offers 10 nutrition tips for New Year’s resolutions
     
  3. Write your first paragraph so it explains why the tips are necessary. The first paragraph and introductory text for the nutrition tip sheet was:

    As any health club owner knows, “taking better care of myself” tops New Year’s resolution lists each year. Yet, many people – particularly women – don’t know exactly what it means to take better care of themselves.
     
  4. Present a quotation in the second paragraph. This should provide more detail about why the tip sheet is necessary and establish the subject’s credentials. Here’s the second paragraph in the New Year’s resolution tip sheet:

    “Traditionally, women have been caretakers of others in their lives – friends, family, neighbors, coworkers,” explains Susan Calvert Finn, PhD, RD, FADA, the architect of the American Dietetic Association’s Nutrition & Healthy Campaign for Women. “More and more busy women are realizing, however, that before they can adequately care for others, they must first care for themselves. It is clear that they must take charge of their own health. Nobody is going to do it for them.”
     
  5. Set up your tips with a sentence – “Here are Smith’s tips for saving money at the supermarket” – or a short paragraph, as we have here:

    Dr. Finn’s new book, The American Dietetic Association Guide to Women’s Nutrition for Healthy Living, provides women of all ages with nutrition information they can use immediately to eat right, maintain their health and prevent disease. Here are her top 10 suggestions from the book for women who need a healthier lifestyle this year:
     
  6. Then list your tips with bullets or numbers. When tips are listed this way, rather than in traditional paragraphs, editors can quickly scan them to see if they would be useful to readers – or not. Make sure you write your tips in an active voice with strong verbs. And make sure they provide advice, not reasons to do something or product features. Here are a few of the tips in Finn’s release so you can get a sense of how this works:

    Make an appointment with a registered dietitian (RD) for a nutritional checkup. Call the American Dietetic Association at 800-366-1655 to locate an RD near you.

    Switch your thinking from “ideal” weight to “healthy” weight. Remember, you are unique. Your healthy weight may differ from your neighbor’s – even if she is your height and age – because of other variables such as genetics, fitness level and overall health.

    Look for “aerobic opportunities” every day. Park farther out in the lot at the mall. Take a brief walk at lunch or dinner. Think of the stairs as your friend.
     
  7. Finally, add the concluding boilerplate paragraph that you put on most press releases. Here’s the paragraph for the nutrition book:

    The American Dietetic Association Guide to Women’s Nutrition for Healthy Living, published by Perigee Books, is available in bookstores nationwide for $14. Book proceeds benefit nutrition research by the ADA, a national organization of 70,000 nutrition professionals, 98 percent of whom are women.

    Look for ways to include tip sheets in your publicity plan; you’ll soon see how easily they generate results.

Sandra Beckwith, the author of Streetwise Complete Publicity Plans: How to Create Publicity That Will Spark Media Exposure and Excitement, teaches the online “Book Buzz” class for Freelance Success. Learn more at www.sandrabeckwith.com.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Public relations case study: Nestle infant formula

 

Infant formula is one of the products that helped create food conglomerate Nestlé when, in 1867, Swiss pharmacist Henri Nestlé mixed together a liquid food from cow's milk, wheat flour, and sugar for a neighbor's baby who wouldn't nurse.

nestle baby formula controversy
Infant formula also is the reason for a boycott against the company, launched in Minneapolis in 1977.


The roots of the boycott started in 1974, when the British organization War on Want published a booklet called "The Baby Killer." The booklet was widely distributed and translated into several languages. As a result, many church-related groups joined against Nestlé.

Nestlé responded by suing the publisher of the German-language translation, Third World Action Group, for libel. While Nestlé won the two-year trial, the defendants were fined only $400 and the judge told Nestlé that it "must modify its publicity methods fundamentally."

The topic of analyzing the marketing of breast milk substitutes in developing countries continued to gain traction with a U.S. Senate public hearing as well as WHO and UNICEF hosting an international meeting.

In 1981, The New York Times published a lengthy article on infant formula use in developing countries.

Problems when mothers of infants in developing countries switch to formula include: disease because of contaminated water; lack of means to sterilize water; and diluting formula to make it last longer.

Around the same time as the 1981 article, research demonstrated that breastfeeding is healthier for babies.

Nestlé met with boycott coordinators in 1984, and the boycott was suspended when the company agreed to adhere to the World Health Assembly's International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. However, the boycott resumed in 1989 when the International Baby Food Action Network alleged that formula companies were providing free and low-cost supplies to hospitals in developing countries.

Even though Nestlé issued guidelines for mothers on how and when to give babies formula as well as revamping its marketing materials, the boycott still exists today and even has expanded. 

For a collection of more public relations tips, insights and reflections, buy the book "19 Tips for Successful Public Relations: Insights on Media Relations and Reputation Management" from amazon.com!

Monday, April 28, 2014

How to do keyword research

 

keyword research
Keyword research is considered the most crucial element to search engine marketing.
Utilizing the appropriate keywords and phrases to connect with your target audience can greatly impact your search engine rankings.

According to Search Engine College, "Keyword research is simply the process you use to come up with appropriate keywords and phrases that you wish to target in search engines. In other words, the keywords or phrases that you believe your potential site visitors would type in to search engines to find products and services similar to yours."

Here are the steps for keyword research as recommended by Search Engine College.


Before You Start

Think about your search engine campaign requirements. Are you looking to connect with a certain demographic market? If so, where do they live? Are you trying to reach men or women? How old are the people in your target market?

As an example, Search Engine College uses a fictional florist located in Miami, Florida. Possible target markets include:
  • women in their early to late 20s
  • people living in Miami and surrounding suburbs
  • brides-to-be living in Miami and surrounding suburbs
  • dating males
  • couples (especially around Valentine's Day)
The next step is to create a "seed list" of keywords. As you yourself probably use a search engine every day, put yourself in your target audience's shoes and think about what you would type into a search engine to find the relevant goods and services.


Gather Your Seed List

As you think of appropriate search terms, write them down. Search Engine College suggests the following search terms for the florist example:
  • flowers
  • roses
  • bouquets
  • Valentine's Day
  • wedding flowers
  • florists
  • gifts
Since those seed terms are very generic, they need to be qualified.


Qualify Your Terms

Refining the search terms can help you connect better with your target market. For instance, the Miami florist probably wouldn't want to connect with people interested in growing roses or with people who live in a different state.

So, Search Engine College recommends adding the following terms to the original list:
  • [send] flowers [Florida]
  • [send] roses [Miami]
  • [wedding] bouquets [Miami]
  • Valentine's Day [gifts Florida]
  • [Florida] wedding flowers
  • florists [Miami]
  • [send] gifts [Miami]
That really narrows down the searches. After all, the goal is to connect with your target audience. You have something to offer them. By connecting with the target audience, hopefully they won't click away from your website.

One thing to note -- it's important to make reference to your target search terms in your website's body copy as well.

To expand upon your keyword list, ask people that you know what terms they would use to find your website. Visit your competitors' websites too -- you'll get some additional ideas there.


Keyword Research Tools

Each web page can be optimized for two to three keywords at the most. For a 10-page website, you would need approximately 30 target keywords. For good measure, your keyword seed list (in this instance) should have at least 60 phrases to choose from.

I like to use Raven Tools when conducting keyword research, as it provides a collection of tools. Google AdWords also offers its Keyword Planner tool.

These tools can provide you with information on how much competition there is for the keywords. You want to choose keywords that have enough traffic, but also aren't too competitive so your site has a fighting chance.


Refine

Remember your target audience for your website. It's no use to target very generic keywords. By targeting the keywords that tie most closely to your website, visitors will be pleased with what they find -- and hopefully convert to paying customers.


Allocate Your Keywords

The final step is to take your final list of words and decide which pages on your website they should be assigned to. By looking at the body text, hopefully this should be straightforward.


For a collection of more public relations tips, insights and reflections, buy the book "19 Tips for Successful Public Relations: Insights on Media Relations and Reputation Management" from amazon.com!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Importance of content marketing

 

"Content marketing is to 2014 what social media marketing was to 2007." As the opening sentence in Cision's eBook, "Power Your Story: Content Marketing Essentials for PR," it provides insight into how integral content marketing is becoming in communications.

importance of content marketing
So what is content marketing, anyway? According to Cision, content marketing is "the process of developing and sharing relevant, valuable and engaging content to a target audience with the goal of acquiring new customers or increasing business from existing customers."

While marketing professionals have essentially done content marketing for decades, it has changed with the advent of social media and other online tools.

Here's a summary of the highlights from the Cision eBook (which I would recommend downloading, by the way).

Having a plan with measurable goals is the core of the Cision eBook as well as the best way to start. According to Cision, the five essential elements to a content marketing plan are: creation, curation, optimization, amplification and analysis.
  1. Creation -- It's not easy to create compelling content on a regular basis. Having a strategy is crucial, and knowing your audience is key to a successful strategy. Examples of tools to get to know your audience can range from Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to forms that customers and prospects are required to complete when accessing information such as white papers. Content creation goes beyond the press release; it includes much more, such as email newsletters, videos, social media posts, etc.
  2. Curation -- Content marketing is more than creation. Curating content also can provide value, because you are saving people time by sharing quality content. Think about the blogs that you read and the people whom you follow on social media. Share their thought leadership with your audience.
  3. Optimization -- Even if you have created outstanding content, it can only be effective when it's read by your target audience. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. The Cision eBook provides a brief overview of the factors that impact SEO. You can also read my SEO-related posts on this blog.
  4. Amplification -- In addition to sharing useful content, social media provides the opportunity for two-way conversation. Be open to others' points of view. Engage with your audience by responding to their comments or having online chats. Be helpful. Identifying and engaging online influencers also can amplify your content. The Cision eBook provides some excellent examples of how to do paid amplification as well as its benefits and examples.
  5. Analysis -- Cision recommends using SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goals to measure your content marketing success. Look at some of the objectives of your content marketing, e.g., gaining new members, driving profitable business actions, etc., to determine appropriate goals.
Content marketing is more than just a buzzword; it's an integral part of connecting with target audiences.

For a collection of more public relations tips, insights and reflections, buy the book "19 Tips for Successful Public Relations: Insights on Media Relations and Reputation Management" from amazon.com!
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