Category Archives: Content Marketing

Google: How Earned Media Impacts Search & New KPIs for PR

Earned media and implied links, visualized by Brawn Media.

Summary:  Brand mentions and earned media comprise the implied links Google has patented as part of its search algorithm, codifying the impact PR has on search results.  lil tweet

In a patent for search engine ranking methods that was granted on March 25, Google codified the role earned media plays in search rank.  The patent describes how the search engine values “implied links,” which it describes as a reference to a target resource [i.e. a web site or web page] such as a citation, but does not include an express link to the resource, as part of its process for determining the search rank of a web page.

What are these implied links?  In a nutshell, they are relevant earned mentions, and run the gamut from media pick up to references on blog posts to mentions in discussion groups.

“What does all this mean? It means that once a connection is made by someone typing in a brand name or other search query and then clicking on a site it creates a connection in Google’s eyes,” SEO expert Simon Penson explained in a Moz.com post about brand mentions. “The search engine can then store that info and use it in the context of unlinked mentions around the web in order to help weight rankings of particular sites.”

The implications for public relations are significant.  The mentions your PR campaigns create in turn generate audience activity, which Google watches in the aggregate and uses to inform search results.   In an excellent blog post on this topic titled, “Google Validates that PR is SEO in Patent Filing,” Christopher Penn of Shift Communications concludes:

“Google is publicly acknowledging that every time your brand gets a mention in a story, that counts as an implied link that affects your SEO, that affects how many links there are to your website, which in turn affects how well your site shows up when someone is searching for your brand. In short, PR is SEO (or part of it). It singlehandedly validates all of the PR that you’ve generated for your brand, all of the mentions and citations that you’ve accrued through hard work, great products and reputation, and effective public relations, even if you didn’t necessarily get an explicit link in the coverage.”

I agree with Penn’s assessment.  Public relations builds awareness and credibility that influence audience behavior.  Part of the ongoing struggle we have with measurement is due to the fact that those coveted media clips don’t capture the follow-on changes in audience behavior they can inspire.

The new KPIs for PR & an important caveat

Don’t assume that more is better when it comes to “implied links.”  Google is a stickler for relevance and quality, and the company is continually refining its search algorithm to deliver ever-better results for users.   In doing so, Google have specifically targeted web spam and are emphasizing the value of authentic earned media. Tactics designed to create artificial references to a brand or organization won’t work, and brands employing them may risk incurring penalties from Google, disappearing from search results altogether.

However, it’s also important to note that what we consider “earned,” has evolved.   While Google’s search chief is on record saying that the company does not use social signals as part of its ranking algorithm, this does not mean that activity generated from social media users has no effect on search.  There’s no doubt that inbound traffic and time spent on a web page are important factors that Google watches.  Driving discovery and social sharing of your brand’s owned content is an important first step in generating the references to your company or brand that comprise the ‘implied links’ Google values.  And sparking social sharing under a relevant hashtag on Twitter, professionals on LinkedIn or interested consumers on other networks will generate the sort of quality traffic and ongoing activity on which Google’s algorithm places high values.

With all this in mind, here are a few KPIs (key performance indicators) public relations professionals should use to gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns in driving lasting value for their organizations.

Search query volumes:  Increases in the volumes of search queries that include either brand terms, or terms strongly associated with the brand, industry or product that lead visitors to the organizations’ web site are difficult to measure perfectly – Google masks a lot of search query data – but some does make it through to the web analytics programs organizations use to tabulate web traffic.   Talk to your web metrics guru about gaining access to the reports.    Important note:  you’ll also need to connect with team handling web site optimization for your organization about what keywords and phrases they’re targeting, and which URLs are associated with each term.    You’ll want to make a point of using those terms (or near derivatives) when relevant to your message and you’ll also want to include links to the related target URL in your releases, too.)

Inbound traffic to specific web pages: We’ve previously discussed the importance of including a URL to specific (and relevant!) web page in press releases, rather than dumping readers onto the homepage and forcing them to search for information related to what they read in the release.  These links are trackable, and working with your organization’s web team, you should be able to measure increases in inbound traffic to specific pages.  (Coordination with your web and inbound marketing teams is crucial.)

Lead quality or conversion rate:  What happens once someone has clicked on a link you placed in a press release?  The next step that visitor takes is an important one on the buying journey, and it’s something your marketing team is paying close attention to.  In many cases, a subsequent call to action on the web page will offer the visitor more content, such as a video or offer of a white paper download. The marketing team looks at the conversion rate (the percentage of time a prospect actually completes a transaction) and they may be scoring the quality of the leads the web site garners along the way.  The PR team can have a tremendous impact in generating an influx of well-qualified prospects to the organization’s web site.   If you’re tracking the traffic PR generates through trackable URLs, you can also track the quality of those leads, and the subsequent conversion rates. This is the sort of data that can be equated to revenue and will make a CFO sit up and take notice.

Improved search rank for key pages: Increases in search rank for key web site pages for specific sets of terms.  Over time, the implied links and earned media the PR team generates should have a positive effect on the search ranking of specific pages on the brand’s web site.  Garnering those results – and maintaining them, which requires sustained effort – are some of the truest measures of the value of the media and mentions the brand has earned.

The power of earned media has long been indisputable, but tough for PR to measure.  With Google’s acknowledgement of its role in determining search results, public relations pros can connect their campaigns to the online interactions that drive revenue for the organization.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

5 Best Practices for a Visual Content Marketing Strategy

visual content marketing summit

Today’s consumer is engaging with primarily visual content across a variety of devices and social channels on a daily basis. Due to this shift from text-based to image-based communications, it is proven that multimedia content experiences a greater amount of exposure and longer shelf-life among audiences, making visual storytelling more imperative for brands than ever before. Business Development Institute and PR Newswire recently co-hosted the “Visual Content Marketing and Communications Summit” which offered valuable best practices for how organizations can harness images, videos, and platforms to provide content that allows them to build, engage, and leverage their audiences.

Find the balance between content your audience is interested in while mapping to your business objectives.

“Your content must grab your audience’s attention and offer them a clear path to your brand,” says PR Newswire’s Chief Executive Officer, Ninan Chacko, “there is always an opportunity to link to more in-depth content, so don’t worry about getting the ‘war and peace’ version into the first teaser.” A coordinated approach such as an editorial calendar can ensure that your organization is sending out a steady stream of fresh content that does not overwhelm the audience with information. For example, a video can be curated into an infographic, which can be shared in a blog post, and distributed via press release and social media. Using a mix of content and distribution channels will ensure that your message reaches the greatest potential audience that returns the leads to help you meet your business goals.

Surprise and delight your audience with images that represent your brand

General Electric’s Global Manager of Digital Marketing, Katrina Craigwell, notes that driving interest among the next generation of shareholders is a top priority within her company’s content strategy.  As an innovator in science and technology, GE targeted enthusiasts with similar interests by sharing a video of a short science experiment on Twitter’s Vine app using the hashtag #6secondscience. The response around this post was so powerful that the company was able to launch a full blown #6secondscience social media campaign that creates and curates user-generated Vines capturing the miracles of science. Its element of surprise is what drove visibility and engagement for the GE brand.

Curalate’s SVP of Brand Strategy, Deb Berman, advises content creators that even if your business isn’t selling a tangible product or service, think about your business goals, who you’re trying to reach, and what they would care about. From there, push yourself to derive images, even if they are abstract, that speak to your brand voice and also surprise and delight audiences.

Capitalize on SEO and business intelligence opportunities by observing social media interactions

Over 1 billion images are shared across all social media channels daily, presenting a major opportunity for brands to learn what their fans are interested in. Trending hashtags and content tagging on image driven platforms like Pinterest and Instagram is an important indicator of how consumers are searching for and categorizing similar products, which you can use to your advantage in marketing campaigns that drive SEO. Compare the images that are most popular against the ones that are not and make note of the slight nuances that audiences seem to appreciate. “You don’t necessarily need to know why, you just need to know what is performing better and make sure it is shared,” Berman states frankly. Additionally, leveraging user generated content is a cost effective approach to marketing that directly engages your brand ambassadors.

curalate

via Deb Berman, SVP Brand Strategy, Curalate

Establish a brand experience that is identifiable without your logo

“A logo shows ownership – but everyone has a logo. What are you doing to differentiate yourself beyond the logo?” says Jessica Lauria, director of brand communications at Chobani. Content that is branding heavy overpowers your message and makes it less shareable to a wide audience. Also, if you’re sharing content on owned social channels, then people already know it’s coming from you. Use that opportunity to elevate the conversation and show people what they don’t know about your product or service without overt branding.

Build a narrative around your images that will be memorable to your audience  

According to Matt Peters, founder and creative director at Pandemic Labs, “Visuals make an impact. Visuals with stories make memories.” Therefore, if the story comes first, not all of the visual content you create has to be of the highest production value in order for it to resonate. For example, the Ritz Carlton used Instagram to tell the story of a stuffed giraffe that got lost on a family vacation, which strayed from the usual hi-res images of luxury getaways that audiences might normally associate with their brand, but told a memorable story that others would want to share.

“By using multimedia, you’re creating the best content in context experience” states Chacko, “think about how you want to visualize as you are creating your message.” Employing visuals in your content marketing strategy feeds your audience with the content that they crave on a daily basis and cements your brand’s longevity in an increasingly competitive market.

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator. Follow her on Twitter @sramloch.

 

 

Content We Love: A New Twist on an Old Favorite

ContentWeLoveApril is a month known to bring showers, followed by a month of flowers (or so we hope). A quick search online informed me that it’s also a month to celebrate humor, raise awareness about Autism, encourage people to Keep America Beautiful and according to the press release “SUPERPRETZEL® Celebrates National Soft Pretzel Month,” a time to commemorate one of America’s most beloved snacks. SUPERPRETZEL utilizes a number of new school PR tactics in this release to make their message truly stand out among the competition.

Humans are visual learners

Given that fun facts are the core of the release, SUPERPRETZEL provides their content to readers in two visually appealing formats to increase visibility. One is a charming infographic that the company is promoting in honor of the delicious occasion. It is ideal for social sharing which allows consumers to engage with the content and further generate awareness of the brand. Personally, I tend to absorb more information in visual format and, therefore, I’m a big fan of infographics.

Share interesting content 

Listing key messages in the body of the release is another method for sharing information in a visually appealing way. Did you know that the phrase “tie the knot” came to be after a pretzel was used in a wedding ceremony? Or that the largest pretzel ever made weighed more than 800 pounds? I wonder how long that took to bake!  These snackable fun facts are another way the brand retains the audience’s interest and fuels social engagement with their content.

Get your company’s name out there

Besides the new knowledge I’ve acquired about pretzels (great conversation starter), SUPERPRETZEL reminded me that press releases don’t have to be announcing a new product or accomplishment. They are a malleable tool that can be utilized to share relatable, breezy, and interesting owned content that can help to bolster a brand image, too.

Author Alyse Lamparyk is a Customer Content Specialist for PR Newswire. Follow her on twitter @alyselamp.

Satellite Media Tours: Moving Beyond the TV

A sure-fire way to gain TV exposure for your organization’s story is with a satellite media tour (“SMT.”)  SMTs enable your spokesperson or expert to virtually visit a variety of television markets in rapid succession via a series of interviews that are pre-booked with participating  stations.

In reality, though, SMTs deliver more than TV exposure.  Most stations have robust web presences, enabling online audiences to see segments even if they missed the newscast on which a piece originally aired. Additionally, by incorporating audio and online interviews,  the SMT can rapidly morph from a television-only campaign into one that encompasses radio and online audiences, as well.   We’re even doing Blogger Media Tours, focusing on delivering interviews directly to targeted bloggers.

 SMT options:  solo or co-op

Most organizations work with a vendor (such as PR Newswire’ s MultiVu™ division) that coordinates pitching the story to TV stations and other outlets, coordinating  media bookings and managing all of the logistics, including the recording location (whether in a studio or elsewhere) and the communications with the media outlets and bloggers.

 

There are two different approaches to satellite media tours:  your brand can either go it alone, or you can join a couple other brands telling related stories on a cooperative effort, something we call a “co-op SMT.”    The magnitude of your organization’s story as well as your budget are two of the key factors in determining which approach to take for your story.

A co-op tour is a satellite media tour featuring two to four participants focusing on a particular topic or event, such as fitness, beauty, personal finance or sports. Each participant is given 20 seconds to convey their message.  Because resources are pooled the participants, co-ops provide a cost-effective option for reaching consumer audiences.

 What to expect:

Once you have decided to go ahead with your SMT, your MultiVu representative will work with you to coordinate all aspects of your media tour and will ensure that your SMT achieves optimum results. MultiVu will advise on tour date as well as coordinate all onsite logistics, whether at a studio or at a remote location.  We will also discuss key messages, create a one page media alert for use in pitching and determine the most effective overall strategy.   Pitching ideally gets underway a minimum of four weeks prior to tour date.  Strong, up-to-date media contacts mean everything when it comes to booking a media tour.  MultiVu maintains excellent relationships with individual producers at TV, Radio and internet shows who we know will be interested in your story.

On the day of the media tour, plan to have talent arrive approximately an hour before the first interview, this usually means around 5:00 or 5:30 AM ET.  “Business casual” attire is generally most appropriate, and  spokespeople should not wear white or heavily-patterned shirts.  Once at the studio, the spokesperson will go into makeup and your onsite SMT producer will review the morning’s activities and ensure that all technical facets of the tour are set. If possible, sit the spokesperson down for a quick dry run interview before the tour gets underway.  TV interviews will typically be between 2 and 3 minutes long, radio and web interviews will typically be longer (up to 10 minutes.)  The spokesperson will be alerted beforehand as to whether the interviews are live or taped and where the interviews are originating.

The day following the media tour, MultiVu will provide a preliminary report listing airings, audience reached and equivalent advertising values, and if available, streaming video links to the TV segments.  MultiVu will also produce a DVD copy of the entire satellite media tour for your records, which can later be used to assemble a highlights reel.

An evolving resource for media:

Media tours have evolved significantly over the last several years in step with the changing media environment.  For example, in years past, a “traditional” SMT took place between the hours of about 6:00-10:00 AM ET and included interviews solely on morning TV newscasts. Now, SMTS are often extended to 11:00 AM ET or even later to allow for increased booking opportunities, as some stations prefer to tape segments for later use.  Additionally, we’re also incorporating radio and online interviews into the tour, as these additional bookings mean significant added audience and return on your investment.

With the proper guidance, media tours can be a highly effective tool to convey your messages to the media as well as to the public at large, via both broadcast and online outlets.  If you have questions or want to learn more, contact the MultiVu team.

Learn how to empower your communications with visuals — join next week’s free webinar – details below. 

Click to register for our upcoming webinar on utilizing visuals to boost the effectiveness of B2B content.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

 

Does Your Story Belong on TV? Look to Your Audience for the Answer

 

“How do I get my story on to TV?”

When we hear this question (and we hear it a lot) we know that the person asking it is really trying to meet a few different challenges. In reality, they’re asking “How do I reach a broad audience?” “How do I generate a high-impact message?” and “How do I tell my story visually?”

As you might guess, these few questions have a lot of answers. We’re going to tackle them over the next few days in a series of blog posts about using visual content to reach core groups.

multimedia comms webinar

Learn more about incorporating visuals into your B2B mix – click to register for our free webinar!

The best way to begin building a visual strategy is to start with your audience.

First, ask yourself who the brand really needs to reach with the message. That’s the key question you need to ask when setting the course for your visual story, and determining whether or not TV really is the best channel for your message. Morning talk and network news shows do reach a broad swath of consumers. If your story truly has broad public appeal, pursuing television coverage may in fact make a lot of sense.

It’s worth spending a few minutes thinking specifically about your story in the context of the audience, too. TV and radio producers are looking for “news you can use” content with easy-to-understand consumer messages. Stories need to be useful, interesting and relevant to the media outlet’s audiences if they’re to win consideration by the production staff.

Pro tip: Frame your story in the context of what the potential audience will find most relevant. That will give you the best shot at creating messages that will win media attention and resonate with target audiences.

However, if an honest assessment of your audience reveals that it’s more niche than national, TV probably isn’t the best route to take – but that doesn’t mean leaving video by the wayside. An array of online videos – including expert commentary, a real-life demo, and customer stories – can draw audience and be re-purposed for use in email campaigns, on social networks, in newsletters and on blog posts (to name just a few.)

Coming tomorrow: Getting your story onto TV (and other channels) with a satellite media tour.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Content We Love: Amplifying Owned Content

ContentWeLove

Click here to download to free ebook "Read It, Watch It, or Tweet It – How Americans Read and Share News"

Click here to download to free ebook “Read It, Watch It, or Tweet It – How Americans Read and Share News”

Today’s buying journey is heavily dependent on discoverability, peer or influencer recommendations, and trust. Attempting to promote the content you’ve worked hard to create by relying solely on owned channels such as your company website or social media accounts can prevent those messages from being discovered beyond the audiences you’ve already acquired.

Think about the people who need your help but are unaware that you are the solution to their problem — how will they find you? Having your message resurface on other trusted industry websites via search engines or mentioned by the media (either in an article, or a tweet) can make all the difference between a gain and loss of audience, prospects and ultimately ROI. Therefore, if your brand has invested resources into creating content, putting some muscle behind the promotion of those messages is imperative.

Today’s featured content from Inkhouse is near and dear to our hearts, in terms of both subject and format.  The firm used a press release titled, “In TV We (Still) Trust: 73 Percent of Americans Cite Television as Their Preferred and Most Trusted News Source – Topping Online, Print and Social Media” to share the findings of a survey they conducted with GMI Research on Americans’ news consumption habits.

This subject remains a hot button issue as the digital age continues to evolve traditional news formats and redefine what is newsworthy, and Inkhouse capitalised fully on the opportunity to make this information discoverable to the journalists, bloggers and other influentials interested in the topic, using creative content distribution  to amplify owned content.

INKHOUSE INFOGRAPHICAccording to the survey, Americans are consuming news in a variety of different ways but rely on certain channels more than others. Press releases are cited as the most trusted source of company generated news, more than blog posts or articles by the CEO and advertisements.

Audiences are particularly wary of being fed corporate propaganda, but press releases – which are on-record statements and disclosures –  are viewed as credible sources of news and information by public audiences.

Obviously, we’re interested in the subject matter and love the fact that press releases were found to be viewed so favorably by the public.  Content aside, however, the message shines for a number of other reasons:

  • An intriguing headline that includes a stat commands the reader’s attention and is almost perfectly tweet-able;
  • An infographic is included as a visual asset to fuel engagement and social sharing.  It beautifully illustrates the main findings of the survey in a concise format to help the reader process this information quickly;
  • A quote from Beth Monaghan, co-founder and principal of InkHouse promotes the company’s thought leadership and brings a human element to the brand message;
  • Tight bullet points neatly summarize other key findings from the survey for the readers who are quickly scanning the page for information most pertinent to them
  • Finally, a call-to-action that drives traffic back to the company website,  generating ROI.

This press release is a brilliant example of utilizing distribution in a creative way that reflects the convergence of marketing and PR. Kudos to Inkhouse on an A+ press release!

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator. Follow her on Twitter @sramloch.

 

Trust at Scale: Harnessing Authentic #Advocacy for Your Brand #SXSW

influencers v advocatesMedia fragmentation and information overload stymies ad effectiveness. Consumers are ignoring digital ads, and overall, trust in brands is declining, a trend which according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, is accelerating.

Influecers vs. Advocates

How can brands convey communications in a trustworthy matter that resonates with their audiences?  The key, according to Jim Larrison (@jlarrison) of Dynamic Signal, is advocacy, and this doesn’t simply mean paying an industry bigwig to tweet on your brand’s behalf.

Jim’s presentation centered on importance of finding passionate advocates amongst employees and the “mid-tail” of the influence spectrum – connected people who have enough social media pull to move the needle in a particular sector, and who really care about the industry or segment.

These trusted peers who are talking about relevant topics have the real ability to drive individual behavior.   And those ‘trusted peers’ include employees, who have significantly more credibility than the C-suite, according to the aforementioned Edelman Trust Barometer.

Why advocacy works is simple: it’s centered on trust, and done well, it’s trust at scale [tweet this].  But brands and marketers need to realize they’re not renting trust – it’s not a transactional relationship.  Herein lies the challenge, because most marketers today stop marketing at the buy.  They are optimizing for the purchase event, not building advocacy.

Rewards for advocacy can be surprisingly simple

The rewards advocates value are simple.  Employees are motivated by simple recognition, as are brand fans and followers.  Access to unique content and authentic relationships are also rewards they value.  And tangible rewards – membership in a group, swag and prizes, are also important — but not as much as the recognition and access.

Marketers who develop advocacy programs dramatically increase marketing effectiveness.   In addition to being authentic and credibility, empowering and cultivating advocates also covers more surface area within the marketplace.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.