Category Archives: Tools & Tactics

The Top 10 Grammar Conundrums of 2013

Over the course of last year, our beloved Grammar Hammer tackled a host of topics, ranging from verb tenses to punctuation,  and everything in between.

The most popular Grammar Hammer posts for the year focused on basics, for the most part, and here are the ten that garnered the most readers.

I thank you for your interest in Grammar Hammer and welcome your suggestions for topics I should revisit or add to my list for 2014!

Connect with me on ProfNetConnect (http://www.profnetconnect.com/cathyspicer) for a complete archive of my previous Grammar Hammer posts.

Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at catherine.spicer@prnewswire.com.

Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire.

The Future of Financial Services Communications

earlier this month,  I attended an event hosted by Business Development Institute and PR Newswire that focused on communications in the financial services industries, but included lessons most communicators can appreciate.

There were several short presentations with different speakers and topics that took place during the event. Here are some of the important topics and key points from topics each presentation:

Embracing Technology to Create Trust Among Small Businesses Presented by: Noah Breslow, chief executive officer of OnDeck

  • Technology is being disruptive to financial services.
  • Square is a form of classic disruption.
  • To gain trust with customers, you need to do the following: set the contrast; simplify your message; manage expectation closely; bring human to the online process; and engage your promoters.
  • Engage with your customers so they do not feel they are alone.
  • Use services like Yelp and build ratings to show customers they are not the first.

Big Data 101: What It Means for Business                                                  Presented by: David Ray, corporate vice president of corporate Internet at New York Life Insurance Company

  • “Big Data is data that is too large, complex, and dynamic for any conventional data tools to capture, store, manage and analyze.” (source: wipro.com)
  • Ninety percent of the data you have in your enterprise is unstructured.
  • If 90 percent is unstructured, at best, businesses are making decisions based on 10 percent of their data.
  • The present and future opportunity for big data may not be to process enormous amounts of data, but, rather, to tie together previously untied and/or isolated systems.
  • Lady Gaga uses big data. Her manager created a Gaga-centric social network by mining the singer’s Twitter and Facebook fans. This will effectively bypass other social media networks and allow them to keep 100 percent of future revenues.

Social Media and Compliance                                                                Presented by Joanna Belbey, social media and compliance specialist, and Victor Gaxiola, subject matter expert, at Actiance, Inc.

  • Social businesses can’t just use one collaborative technology to keep its      employees connected; they need to use them all.
  • Enterprises face the following challenges using social media: security, governance and enablement.
  • Successful financial advisors have been using social media all along, but now they have even more forms of electronic communications to further their reach.
  • Social media can be used to drive customer loyalty, leverage connections, and close new businesses.
  • The key is to come up with a communications policy in advance.
  • A salesperson emailed 200 LinkedIn connections and 158 got back to them. Perhaps social media will replace the cold call?

Finance: Community vs. Commodity                                                   Presented by: David Kelin, CEO and cofounder of CommonBond

  • You can’t buy a community; you have to build a community — and you need to build a community people want to belong to.
  • After someone applies for a loan with CommonBond, they will pick up the phone and call that person. It i a way of connecting on a human level.
  • Giving back is another important component to building a community.

Building Trust in a Content Rich World Presented by: Greg Matusky, president and founder of Gregory FCA

  • Consumers’ trust rate of financial services industry is at an all-time low.
  • Content bridges the digital divide between the business and consumer. It is the framework for building trust.
  • Eighty percent of consumers look for four sources of information before buying.
  • The five C’s of trusted content: compassion, credibility, creativity, contemporary, and compliance.

Allianz Global Investors Empowers Its Sales Force With Social Media Presented by: Erin Meijer, social media manager at Allianz Global Investors

  • Allianz uses social media to humanize their brand. Also, clients and prospects are on social media, so they need to be there too.
  • It is not social media — it is social business.
  • LinkedIn is the Google of the business world.
  • Your social media is your digital equity.
  • Here are some tips for social business: 1) Be visual (use charts/graphs, thumbnails with articles, infographics, etc.). 2) Create a content calendar for your social media. 3) Be authentic, and always add value. 4) Have a strong call to action. 5) Be social. 6) Use automation tools to minimize effort and maximize impact.

Optimizing for the Speed of Social                                                          Presented by: Sebastian Hempstead, executive vice president of North America at Brandwatch

  • Automation tools are absolutely crucial because you cannot manually deal with the amount of social data out there.
  • Some social media command centers are physical and some are virtual; some engage directly and some don’t; some are managed by social media teams and some are cross-functional.
  • Listening on social allows you to identify when there is a bigger problem going on, such as a system performance issue. When this issue happens, alerts are triggered among the different departments that this is going on.
  • To expand on social, engage with posts mentioning competitors, such as reviews and complaints.

Written by Polina Opelbaum, editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

MEDIA News: Wall Street Journal, Roll Call, Fortune, USA Today

http://prnbloggers.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/agility-logo.png?w=127&h=125&h=125PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department makes thousands of updates to the  database of journalists and bloggers that underpins our Agility media targeting and distribution platform.  Below is a sampling of recent media moves and news from the research team.  Learn more about Agility media targeting here.

WSJ Health News The Wall Street Journal (New York, NY): Jeanne Whalen (@JeanneWhalen) has become the new Deputy Health and Science Bureau Chief. Follow @WSJHealth for more health and science news. Nathan Olivarez-Giles (@NateOG) is a new Technology Blogger and Web Producer for the outlet.

Roll Call Roll Call (Washington, DC): Kieran Sharpe is the new Banking & Finance Editor. Leslie Hoffecker (@lesliehoffecker) is the new Immigration News Editor. And Stephen Walsh is the new Legal News Editor. There are five new analysts: Security Analyst Eric Hammesfahr; Capital Markets Analyst William Ardinger; Corporate Governance Analyst Alexandra Higgins; Mergers & Acquisitions Analyst Jad Chamseddine and Immigration Analyst Christina Carr (@ChristieCarr).

Freedom Communications (Santa Ana, CA): Freedom Communications will launch a new daily newspaper in 2014 called Los Angeles Register. Freedom is the parent company of the Orange County Register (@ocregister).

CSMonitor.com The Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA): Editor John Yemma will step down next month as Editor and Marshall Ingwerson will replace him. Stephen Kurczy (@KurczyBeast) is a new Correspondent and will be located in Rio de Janeiro.

Boston.com Boston.com (Boston, MA): Chart Girl (@_chartgirl_) Hilary Sargent (@lilsarg) joins as a Feature Reporter in January.

The New York Times Magazine (New York, NY): Editor Hugo Lindgren (@HugoLindgren) will be leaving after the new year.

NYT Magazine The New York Times – Washington Bureau (Washington, DC): Former Associated Press Pulitzer Prize winning Reporter Matt Apuzzo (@mattapuzzo) has joined the Times as a Justice Department Reporter.

Washington Post The Washington Post (Washington, DC): Ben Terris (@bterris) joins the Post (@washpost.com) as a Political Features Reporter after a stint at National Journal.

Fortune Magazine Fortune Magazine (New York, NY): Caroline Fairchild (@cfair1) is now a General Assignment Reporter at the magazine. Prior to joining @FortuneMagazine she was an Associate Business Editor at the Huffington Post.

LI Business News Long Island Business News (New York, NY): Former Senior Reporter Gregory Zeller (@QuantumAcres) has been elevated to Editor.

USA TODAY USA Today (McLean, VA): Former Associated Press Chicago Sports Writer Nancy Armour (@nrarmour) joins the team as a Sports Enterprise Reporter.

Popular Science Popular Science (@PopSci): Cliff Ransom was promoted to Editor-in-Chief at Popular Science.

VentureBeat VentureBeat (@VentureBeat): Dylan Tweney (@Dylan20) was promoted to Editor-in-Chief.

The Daily Beast The Daily Beast (@TheDailyBeast): PJ O’Rourke (@PJORourke) has joined the outlet as a Columnist.

Associated Press – Washington Bureau (Washington, DC): Political Editor Liz Sidoti (@lsidoti) has left AP (@AP) for a communications gig at BP.

Defense Systems Defense Systems (Vienna, VA): Kevin McCaney (@KevinMcCaney) is the new Editor-in-Chief at Defense Systems (@DefenseIT).

Business First Business First (Louisville, KY): Reporter John Karman (@BFLouJohn) has left the trade magazine  (@bflouisville) to join the University of Louisville media relations team.

Luxe Magazine Luxe Interiors + Design (Boca Raton, FL): Luxe Interiors + Design (@LuxeMag) has named Miranda Agee Features Editor.

PressHerald Portland Press Herald & Maine Sunday Telegram (Portland, ME): Michael Warshaw (@TechWarshaw) has joined the Press Herald/Telegram (@PressHerald) as their new Business Editor.

Idaho Press-Tribune Idaho Press-Tribune (Nampa, ID): Managing Editor Vickie Holbrook is leaving the paper to become the new spokeswoman for the city of Nampa, ID. She has been with the paper for over 30 years in a variety of roles.

MEDIAware’s full weekly version can be found at:www.prnewswire.com/knowledge-center/medi…

PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department provides daily updates on Twitter (twitter.com/PRNmedia).

Detailed outlet and contact information is available at Agility (agility.prnewswire.com).

Strategic PR Can Lead to Strong SEO

SEO has finally matured. It is no longer about tricks, games and hats of black and white. SEO is now about broader business strategies that take careful planning and time to execute. It’s about your PR approach and your content marketing. It is about excellent user experience and creating content people will want to share.

Conference organizers and former presidents of DFWSEM: @dansturdivant @marksbarrera @seanthinks @tonynwright

Conference organizers and former presidents of DFWSEM: @dansturdivant @marksbarrera @seanthinks @tonynwright

I recently attended the DFWSEM State of Search conference in Dallas, and what stood out most clearly at the end of the day was that wise PR strategies can have excellent effect on a site’s SEO.

“Make friends with PR,” said speaker Wil Reynolds. “Follow PR’s influencers and map the keywords that are important to them.”

Brand recognition and a keen understanding of a brand’s influencers can be leveraged for search optimization efforts, and that’s an area of expertise for PR professionals.

There’s no SEO bag of tricks any longer. Major search engines like Google and Bing are not favoring content that is keyword stuffed or optimized with hidden text.

Strategic branding and influencer engagement will pay off in the long run with quality links and social sharing that send strong signals to the search engines.

Relevant and timely content such as social posts, blog posts, multimedia and well-crafted press releases can lure and engage your audience.

Done well, “content brings them in , educates them, then keeps them engaged even after conversion,” said speaker John Doherty.

Just remember to make it super easy for your audience to share your content. “Social signals are expert signals to search engines,” according to Bing’s Duane Forrester.

And let us not forget about media pickup which can result in powerful earned links and quality traffic back to your site or product page. Concentrate on getting more buzz and authority for your brand.

“PR is how content marketing works,” said Sean Jackson. “Get your name out there!”

To sum things up, here are some action items for improved SEO (note that the top three were Duane Forrester’s top three focus recommendations):

  • Quality content: Create well-crafted content to lure quality traffic and social shares.
  • User experience (UX): Provide your audience with excellent user experience. Not only is it good for your visitors but it’s a signal search engines are watching.
  • Social Media: Create useful and sharable content to inspire tweets and other social posts that send strong positive signals to search engines.
  • Branding: Build brand awareness and authority.
  • Discoverability: Write content that people can find. Use keywords appropriately and make sure you distribute content to places where people will be seeking it.
  • Sharing: Make the sharing of your content super easy. This affects both traffic and SEO.
  • Media pick-up: Earning media pick-up can translate into very valuable links and quality traffic.

All of the above can and should involve the expertise of your PR department. To be sure, SEO is now a long game that requires strategic planning. No quick tricks, but lots of devotion put into building your brand, finding your audience and offering useful content people will want to share.

Victoria HarresVictoria Harres is VP, Audience Development & Social Media at PR Newswire and the original voice behind @PRNewswire. She speaks and writes about social media, PR and marketing…and occasionally SEO.

MEDIA News: The Weather Channel, ABC, The New York Times

http://prnbloggers.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/agility-logo.png?w=127&h=125&h=125PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department makes thousands of updates to the  database of journalists and bloggers that underpins our Agility media targeting and distribution platform.  Below is a sampling of recent media moves and news from the research team.  Learn more about Agility media targeting here.

The Weather Channel The Weather Channel (Atlanta, GA): Good Morning America Weatherman Sam Champion (@SamChampion) joins The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) to host a new morning show.

Good Morning America Good Morning America – ABC (New York, NY): WMAQ-TV Meteorologist Ginger Zee (@Ginger_Zee) has been promoted to Weekday Morning Meteorologist at “Good Morning America” (@GMA) from the NBC station in Chicago (@nbcchicago).

Roll Call Roll Call (Washington, DC): Christina Bellantoni (@cbellantoni) returns to Roll Call (@rollcall) as Editor-in-Chief.

The New York Times The New York Times (New York, NY): Reporter Peter Lattman (@peterlattman) has become New Media Editor.

The Denver Post The Denver Post (Denver, CO): Ricardo Baca (@bruvs) is the new Marijuana Editor covering the legalization of marijuana issues in Colorado.

Entrepreneur Entrepreneur.com (@EntMagazine) (pitches@entrepreneur.com): Catherine Clifford (@CatClifford) was promoted to Senior Writer at the outlet.

Gawker Gawker (@Gawker) (tips@gawker.com): Writer Adrian Chen (@AdrianChen) has left Gawker to pursue freelancing opportunities.

New York Magazine New York Magazine (New York, NY): Publishing weekly since 1968, @NYMag will become a biweekly in March 2014. The magazine’s website will increase coverage in the wake of this change.

The Sacramento Bee Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, CA): The Bee (@sacbee_news) has promoted Dan Morain (@DanielMorain) to Editorial Page Editor.

News & Record News & Record (Greensboro, NC): Jeff Gauger (@Jeff_GaugerNR) was promoted from Executive Editor to Publisher. And Mark Thompson (@mthompsonNR) joins on as a Sports Reporter.

SFBJ South Florida Business Journal (Fort Lauderdale, FL): Mel Melendez (@SFlaBizMelendez) is the Interim Editor-in-Chief taking over for Kevin Gale.

VANITY FAIR Vanity Fair (New York, NY): Alyssa Reeder (@alyssareeder) joins the team @VanityFair as Beauty Assistant. And Richard Lawson (@RiLaws) is joining as the new Hollywood Columnist.

Yahoo Finance Yahoo! Finance (New York, NY): Reporter Mandi Woodruff (@MandiWoodruff) has joined Yahoo! Finance. She will cover Personal Finance.

MetroPhilly Metro Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA): Sam Newhouse (@scnewhouse) is a new Reporter at Metro (@MetroPhilly).

MSNBC (New York, NY): Show host Martin Bashir has resigned.

U-T TV U-T TV (San Diego, CA): Luis Cruz (@NewsCruz) joins UT-TV San Diego (@UTTVSD) as News Director/Anchor.

Glamour Glamour Magazine (New York, NY): Marissa Gold (@TheNotoriousMBG) is the new Senior Online Editor.

Lucky Magazine Lucky Magazine (New York, NY): The new Online Beauty Editor at Lucky Magazine is Christa Lee (@ChristaJLee).

CQ Weekly (Washington, DC): Editor John Cranford has retired.

New Haven Register New Haven Register (New Haven, CT): Arts & Entertainment Editor Donna Doherty has retired.

The York Weekly The York Weekly (York, ME): Laura Dolce (@ladolce1) has been named Editor of the paper.

Rapid City Journal Rapid City Journal (Rapid City, SD): Scott Feldman (@Sfeldman231) is now a Business Reporter at the paper. Previously he worked as a Reporter for American News in Aberdeen, SD.

OC Weekly OC Weekly (Costa Mesa, CA): OC Weekly (@OCWeekly) Music Writer-Photographer Andrew Youssef has lost his battle with colon cancer at age 38. Our condolences to his family & colleagues.

MEDIAware’s full weekly version can be found at:www.prnewswire.com/knowledge-center/medi…

PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department provides daily updates on Twitter (twitter.com/PRNmedia).

Detailed outlet and contact information is available at Agility (agility.prnewswire.com).

Blogging Basics from Big Time Bloggers

The New York Women in Communications Foundation’s 2013 Student Communications Career Conference (#SCC13) was held earlier this month. The conference consisted of different breakout sessions relating to media and communications. One of the sessions I attended was about blogging. The panel was moderated by Lori Greene, digital content innovator/blogger. The panelists were:

Q: How do you know when your blog has hit and made a difference?

Morris: I knew it hit when it was being supported by the beauty industry. I specifically mean the brands that I write about, the publicists for the brands, and other writers in the industry. I also started getting real traffic to my blog.

Q: How do you get to those big traffic numbers on your blog?

Heitlinger: At some point I learned about Google Analytics and copied that code into my HTML. I spent a few hours every couple days digging in, learning and tracking things. I started seeing what time of day most people were reading; where in the country/world people were reading from; where they would click after coming to the homepage, etc. This information will really tell you a lot about your readers. And Google Analytics has improved a great deal since I started using it.

Dooling: When you’re first starting out, you need to really think about where you want to blog. If you want to have your own domain or be part of someone else’s that has a larger following. Also, you need to figure out who you want to work with.

Q: Elizabeth, how do you go about hiring bloggers? What do you find works? What’s the best way to pitch to be posted on a professional blog like Huffington Post?

Perle: For my section, anyone can blog. There are very few instances where we will say no to a writer (if it’s an offensive post). I actually think that our most effective posts aren’t the kids who are the best writers, but it’s about the strongest narratives. Readers can smell from a mile away if you’re being unauthentic. Also a lot of our best bloggers enjoy drawing infographics — there are many different ways to tell the narrative. Another important thing is being an active member of the blogger community.

Q: How do you make a living from blogging?

Morris: Making money changes by the month and even year. Sometimes I can find consistent work for three or six months at a time. The main way I make money now is through partnerships with brands, such as beauty, health and fitness brands – because that is what I really know. When you start a blog, you want to pick something you want to become an expert in and have a passion for.

Q: How do you keep your credibility to your followers when working with brands?

Morris: As an online blogger, I am always able to say when something is sponsored or when I am being compensated. I have picked everything I do that is sponsored very strategically. The power of no is bigger than the power of yes. I can’t tell you how many things, regardless of how much money it is, that I have turned down because it doesn’t represent me or my brand. The best advice I can give when starting a blog is to always put your audience first. It is not about you but it is about your audience.

Dooling: When I started blogging there were no guidelines about what you could and couldn’t say. Now the FTC does regulate what you do as a blogger. You need to have it listed on your post and About page if something is sponsored, and you need to list out any large partnerships that you have. There are many different ways to make money from a blog. I think freelance writing is probably what most bloggers do, because you’re already writing anyway. You can also do sponsored posts or banner ads for money. You can do this by putting on your About page that you are accepting banner ads. Another thing is to have your own following. There are many communities out there who are doing what you’re doing and you need to follow them.

Heitlinger: What I think is really important is having multiple streams of cash flow. For me, freelance writing did not work out, but being paid to come speak at places or hosting events is a great income. This is in addition to the sponsored content, banner ads, etc., on my blog. And the bigger your audience, the more you can ask for. You have a lot more power to say no to offers when you receive 30 requests a day for sponsored content and you’re only accepting 2-3 a month. You have that flexibility and freedom when you build that audience. However, when you start receiving income as a blogger, you should think about whether that is something you want to do full-time. You have to realize that you are taking your hobby and passion and associating a value with it, because once you start taking money it becomes a job. Knowing that you truly love what you’re doing and who you’re partnering with is much more important than the money at the end of the day.

Perle: If you’re going to blog for free, be strategic about it. Ask questions like, “Do I retain the rights to my own work?” Also, if you volunteer your time for free to write something for a publication, pick one that you want to work for.

Q: How often should you be blogging?

Heitlinger: I think it is a very personal decision, but I think they key is consistency. This doesn’t necessarily mean extremely high frequency, but it may mean that you write a killer blog post every Sunday night that goes up on your blog.

Dooling: Don’t put yourself in a position where you have to write something, because readers can smell that inauthenticity from a mile away. Figuring out when you have the time to put something up, goes very far.

Morris: Don’t make it into a chore, but always keep it as a passion. Your readers are coming to you because you are a source, so you have to be a source of credible information. You never want to post something to post it.

Q: If someone is starting their own blog, how much money should they be spending to start it?

Heitlinger: You should spend $0 starting your blog. Maybe buy the domain for $10, but if it is anything more than that, then find a new domain. The best thing you can do as a blogger is to spend as much time as possible building content, and then you can start to think about whether this is something you want to continue doing long term and if it will go somewhere. After all this, you can think about investing money.

Dooling: The best thing someone ever told me is that blogging is the great equalizer. Your dad doesn’t need to be a marketing executive to become a great blogger.

Q: How do you evolve your blog as something more professional?

Morris: You should crosslink with bigger blogs. You also need to really put yourself out there. So if your blog is fitness-related then a blog like Fitness.com might like something like that. Reach out to them by putting something on their Facebook page or tweeting them. Don’t be scared.

Q: If you want to publish original content and clips of content from another publication on your blog, do you need two separate blogs?

Dooling: I put my older clips on my personal blog. I differentiate them by adding an editor’s note at the top that says, “This was originally posted on [publication name] on [date of publication].” Or sometimes I will embed the image of the logo of where it was featured.

Written by Polina Opelbaum, editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

Using LinkedIn for Business & Personal Gain

A recent Social Media Club NYC held a meeting about the best ways for businesses and individuals to successfully utilize LinkedIn. The meeting was moderated by SMCNYC board member Danielle Simon, and speakers included:

Here are the questions presented to the speakers and their responses:

Q: What are the keys to being successful on LinkedIn and using it as a business building tool?

Dodaro: Have a great profile that is professional, credible, and well-optimized for search in LinkedIn. Mostly, the profile should speak to your ideal client. One of the biggest mistakes people make when they use LinkedIn for business is they use it as a resume site or they just post their professional bio. One of the things I say to business owners and entrepreneurs is nobody cares about you, but they only care about what you can do for them. Your profile needs to really speak to the target market you want to attract.

Egan: When we speak to a corporation, in our pitch we tell them that their employees are websites. To be successful on LinkedIn and build a social business, you need to wrap around this and embrace it. You really need to empower your employees to be using these tools for relationship management and communication purposes. For a corporation, they have to start to look at these tools as a strategic part of how they communicate, recruit, market, sell, and do research. It provides a competitive edge over other companies.

Simon: It seems like there are companies are afraid to let their employees do too much on LinkedIn, because they think are looking for a new job. However, I have been hearing more and more that there is a real shift where companies are trusting their employees and working with them to help them on LinkedIn, which in turn helps the company.

Quinones: It is a mindshift for companies to understand that employees are like mini-campaigns. I am working with a company where you see the referring traffic coming from all these employees LinkedIn profiles just because they put the company link on there or shared a piece of content.

Q: Since there is that fear of employees using LinkedIn to look for another job, would you suggest that companies show how they are embracing LinkedIn from a company standpoint and as well as from a personal standpoint (helping the employee set up their personal profile)?

Egan: The way I would explain it to somebody is that this is a new shared responsibility. It is called cobranding. This means, how does a company put your personal brand as well as the work you do for the organization together in a cohesive way that works for you and the company. It should be positioned as an employee benefit, because it is a real way to say that the company is investing in you and not monitoring you. The company would be telling their employees, we trust you and hired you because you have great relationships and experience, so enroll in this program and we will make you look better online and help you communicate more effectively.

Q: What are some things people can do better on LinkedIn to promote ourselves and the company’s they work for?

Dodaro: Start at the top of your profile – your headline. Make sure your headline is clickworthy, so it should be interesting and appealing. You want to add one or two keywords in your headline, because your headline is very powerful for LinkedIn’s algorithm, which basically determines where you are going to show up in the search result. Your headline can contain 120 characters, and you want to be able to use as many as you can. Also, what you are putting in skills and the amount of endorsements you are getting is affecting the algorithm. The five most important things to affect LinkedIn’s algorithm: 1) your headline; 2) your current experience, you want to have it in your title and in your description; 3) one past experience; 4) your summary section; 5) you want to use keywords in your skills, and hopefully you get endorsed for them. Of course, there are other places in the profile, but these five are the most heavily weighed.

Egan: Start with your settings. Do research about privacy settings and talk to people. Then you can work on your profile, network, and activity. I would be very careful to over-optimize for certain search words, because you have two audiences. You have the Web, which is what you have keywords for, but you also have people who are looking at your profile. Curate as if you were designing your corporate website.

Q: Can you talk about network building?

Egan: The idea of curating those in your network will not only be valuable for you, but it will also be valuable for your network. If I do a search to find a specific person, but you keep popping up as the person in-between because you have a ton of first-degree connections, then I will just think you don’t really know this person. I would even suggest that you not connect with your colleagues unless you really know and trust them. Even in my own company where we have 30 employees, I have a process before I let them into my network. I shut down the ability for people to send me invites without knowing my email address and that sort of stops one layer of it. However, if someone knows my email and sends me a connection request, I won’t accept it but will instead respond. If there is no message, I won’t even respond. If there is a message, I will try to build a relationship and then connect. I will also go through and drop connections about once a quarter, and I will then upload my Gmail contacts and add connections this way.

Quinones: I am also judicious about whether the person I am connecting to has a good audience. I join groups that are beneficial for me and are in quantity. I have really benefited from LinkedIn. I went to Greece earlier this year because someone looked me up on LinkedIn.

Q: How important is geography in your profile?

Dodaro: Geography is only important if you service a specific geographic region. If you work and serve only a certain area then it is great to put your city name in there. However, if you have clients internationally then don’t put in a specific region.

In the next part of the meeting, a few attendees offered to show their LinkedIn profiles. The speakers then provided the following tips to help improve their profiles:

  • In your summary include your specialties and strategic key terms that will valuable to your audience.  –Quinones
  • Have one recommendation per title, so if you have someone who knew you from two companies, get it for the one you don’t yet have a recommendation for. -Quinones
  • You get up to fifty skills, so when people are endorsing you for skills you haven’t added to your profile – be careful, because it might not be what you actually do. -Quinones
  • I would join some of the larger groups, because being part of those groups makes me more visible. You get up to fifty groups, so take advantage of it. You should be part of your alma mater group; it can be common shared history. –Quinones
  • Having a vanity URL for your profile is very important. It helps for coming up in Google when someones searchs for your name. -Quinones
  • Change the words “company website” in the contact info section to the name of your actual company or whatever else is being clicking on. This will help with SEO on the bigger Web and people will be more likely to click on the Web assets that you are promoting. -Egan
  • You should put your high school in your profile, because it adds a human element to your profile. People are more likely to do business with people they know. -Egan
  • Less is more in your profile. Be selective with what you put out there. If you have fifteen PDFs and a lot of rich media for people to select from, then put the one that you want them to actually click on. –Egan
  • Change up your profile. If you change your profile picture once every six months it will drive up your click-throughs. People want to see that. –Egan
  • Don’t status update too much. If you status update a lot, then people are probably hiding you. –Egan
  • In your summary section, I wouldn’t recommend talking about yourself in the third-party. It might turn some people off. Also, if the action you want the reader to take is to contact you, then give them a little blurb and phone number/email address. –Egan
  • If you have LIONS in your network, I would tell them they shouldn’t be a LION. People question whether they are real and not just spam. -Egan
  • In your summary section, you almost have to think of it as an article. Since most people scan instead of reading the entire section, you need to make sure there are certain things that jump out for the reader. -Dodaro
  • Listen to the language your ideal customers/clients use for figuring out the best keywords to include in your profile. You don’t want to put your marketing spin on it, but you want to use their language. –Dodaro
  • Put your board and volunteer positions in the volunteer section. Anything you are being paid for should be listed in experience, and anything you are not being paid for should be listed under the volunteer section. –Dodaro

Written by Polina Opelbaum, editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

The Q&A Team: A Google Helpout Primer

Dear Q&A Team,

My marketing team wants to learn more about Google Helpouts. We want to get a better understanding of this service as well as how we can use it to promote any of our products and/or services. We also want to know whether we should charge for Helpouts, and if there are any legal issues we should take into consideration.

Help Me Out

_____________________

Dear Help Me Out,

It is always exciting to see whether you can integrate a new service into your marketing efforts. Here are four ProfNet experts who answer all your questions about Helpouts:

Explanation of Helpouts

Andy Abramson, CEO of Comunicano, says, “When someone needs help or assistance with a specific question or situation, they can now turn to Google Helpouts, a free or pay-as-you-go video help line where experts are available, or can be reserved, to assist with questions or needs by providing real-time advisory services face-to-face.”

The experts can provide advice on the following subjects: art/music, computers/electronics, cooking, educations/careers, fashion/beauty, fitness/nutrition, health, home/garden, adds Melanie Trudeau, digital strategist at Jaffe PR.

Sarah Hill, digital storyteller at Veterans United Home Loans, also explains that Helpouts are really Google+ Hangouts plus services plus financial transactions.

Hill says, “Helpouts are a new layer of e-commerce, ‘See-Commerce’ if you will. The difference between Helpouts and traditional Hangouts is there is a Google Wallet integration and customers have the ability now to pay for a service from within that Helpout.”

Marketing Using Helpouts

“Whether a marketing department should use Helpouts depends on the nature of the company’s core business. Marketing departments should ask themselves: What service about my product or business could I offer to the rest of the nation,” suggests Hill.

Trudeau thinks that marketing professionals need to look at Helpouts as another “channel” to reach their target audience. They first need to determine whether Helpouts will reach their intended audience, and then decide how they will “package” and price their offering.

In addition, “Helpouts are searchable, meaning, when you type in a search query in Google, you could see results pointing to Helpout sessions. My guess is that Google’s review ratings will play a strong role in ranking Helpout sessions in search results, i.e., the sessions with better reviews will raise to the top of search results. This is important for marketers,” says Trudeau.

Abramson believes that marketers can use Helpouts for remote pre-sales consultations and walk-throughs that can be conducted with groups where apps and services are shown off. It can bring the actual product owners closer to the potential users to gain real-time feedback and interaction.

He adds, “Helpouts are ideal for new product introductions as they allow prospects to discover more about the product or service in more complete ways. Prospects can ask questions, and the Helpouts can be recorded so others can view it later.”

“In admissions at Colgate, we are planning on using Helpouts to help parents and students understand the application process. Last year we did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) about the admission’s process. This year, we plan to use Helpouts to help people in the same way,” says Matt Hames, manager of media communications at Colgate University.

To Charge or Not to Charge

Trudeau explains that a marketing department has three basic models to consider, they can: offer their expertise and charge for their services; offer free or paid support for their products; offer free information and advice that highlight their product(s).

If marketing decides to go with the first option, then they need to keep in mind that Google keeps 20 percent of their fees. Trudeau thinks that participants will be willing to pay for one-on-one attention to address their specific questions. But with free content readily available online, time will tell if personalized attention will command fee-based advice online.

If marketing goes with the second option, then people may be more inclined to purchase products knowing that they can get individualized support via Helpouts. Communicating this support option at purchase decision time will be crucial, warns Trudeau.

Last but not least, if marketing goes with the third option, it may give them the opportunity to connect with an audience that may seek out their product(s) and make a purchase after the Helpout.

Hill has another thing for marketers to consider. She says, “Offering your service for free can bombard your inbox with individuals wanting your service, so as a matter of supply and demand, you should seriously consider the consequences of offering a free Helpout as those sessions are indeed demands on your time. However, if your marketing department’s intent is simply to get individuals in the funnel and not as a money making endeavor, then a free Helpout is a great option.”

Abramson thinks, “Marketers should not charge for remote pre-sales consultations and walk-throughs. The idea is to service and support customers or prospective customers by being informational and demonstrative. Of course once it takes off, there can be a value added service offering based upon the same premise for more advanced discussions.”

Hames says, “We will never charge for Helpouts. Reddit, Hangouts and live chats are free, always will be.”

Legal Concerns

“Marketing should always be aware of legal and regulatory concerns as they always should avoid making false claims or misleading statements. The rule of thumb should be to never say or present anything that could come back to hurt you,” says Abramson.

Trudeau adds: “Certain professional services representatives may be excluded from using Helpouts due to state and federal laws. For instance, if lawyers want to charge for online advice, they must first contractually establish an attorney-client relationship, which would be impossible in Helpouts. If attorneys were to offer free advice online, they would need a fairly hefty disclaimer as dictated by the rules of their state bar. From a marketing standpoint, this may create a barrier to entry.”

“You must own the rights to the photos and videos used in the Helpout or the video trailer promoting your Helpout,” cautions Hill. “You have an option to decide whether to let your client record the Helpout. Both you and the client must agree to that recording and both of you get a copy of the video.”

Here are additional Terms of Service for Helpouts: bit.ly/18l0GoV

Have fun exploring Helpouts! Good luck!

Written by Polina Opelbaum, editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

image via Flickr user emiliarossijewellery

3 Reasons Why Active Workforce Engagement is Good for Business

internal commsGallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace study finds that 70% of American employees are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work, costing the US $450-550 billion dollars annually. On the other hand, organizations in the top 25% of Gallup’s employee engagement database report significantly higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings, than those in the bottom 25%. These startling results show that organizations need to improve the emotional connection between employees and their workplace through interactive communication.

Business Development Institute’s recent event “The Future of Internal Collaborations and Communications Summit” featured senior-level communications leaders who are challenging workforce disengagement. Their presentations offered creative, technology- driven solutions that enhance collaborative efforts among employees and improve business outcomes.

Active engagement enables collaboration around the globe

Trevor Loe, VP of compliance and investor services at Vintage Filings, explored the use of webcasting to communicate with internal stakeholders.  The ability to reach hundreds of employees anywhere in the world creates limitless possibilities for engagement. Webcasting can be especially effective for executive speeches with staff, employee training, and crisis management.

Active engagement increases an employee’s sense of worth and contribution

Patrick Durando, Principal at Enterprise Strategies, recognizes that employees are passionate about topics that may not be fitting for casual conversation. Internal company blogs are a valuable platform for expressing personal opinions about industry-related topics.

Nina Kelley-Rumpff, Program Manager and Knowledge Management at SAP, adds that enterprise social networks are a portal to the company’s skills and assets. “People want to be known for their expertise,” she says, “this gives them a vehicle to show what they know.”

Active engagement boosts performance outcomes

Jeff Corbin, Founder and CEO of theEMPLOYEEapp, believes that today’s costly apathy is due to the “struggle to communicate consistently and simultaneously with a workforce that is everywhere,” but the solution sits in the palm of our hand. As mobile engagement continues to rise at an astonishing rate, push notifications on apps cater to today’s on-the-go lifestyle and can reach target audiences at any time. Based on Gallup’s study, organizations that successfully engage employees and customers report a 240% boost in performance related business outcomes compared to organizations that don’t.

The discussions from “The Future of Internal Collaborations and Communications Summit” prove that there is a lot to be gained through active engagement in the workplace, and a lot to lose without it. Using social technology for internal collaboration can still have as much purpose in a professional setting as it does in our personal lives.  By fostering workplace engagement, companies are empowering their employees and creating a healthier work environment while driving business growth.

To learn more about the future of internal collaborations and communications, check out the presentation slides from the event’s remarkable speakers: http://www.cvent.com/events/the-future-of-collaboration-internal-communications-summit/event-summary-ca8eb79a547c42b6ac55955d22133e3f.aspx

Author Shannon Ramlochan is a proud Brooklyn native, a pop culture enthusiast, and a member of PR Newswire’s marketing team.

11/18 MEDIA Moves & News: Bloomberg Business Week, The New York Times, Business Insider

http://prnbloggers.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/agility-logo.png?w=127&h=125&h=125PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department makes thousands of updates to the  database of journalists and bloggers that underpins our Agility media targeting and distribution platform.  Below is a sampling of recent media moves and news.  Learn more about Agility media targeting here. 

Businessweek Bloomberg Businessweek (New York, NY): Kurt Soller (@KurtSoller) has started at Bloomberg Businessweek (@BW) as a Deputy Editor.

The New York Times The New York Times (New York, NY): Hugo Lindgren is stepping down as Editor-in-Chief of New York Times Magazine in December. Business Reporter Rachel C. Abrams (@rachelabramsny) has joined the team to cover financial news and Wall Street.

The Detroit News The Detroit News (Detroit, MI): Deputy Managing Editor Gary Miles (@GaryMiles_DN) has taken the reins as Managing Editor at the News (@detroitnews).

Business Insider Business Insider (New York, NY): Aaron Gell (@aarongell) joins @BusinessInsider later this month as Features Editor.

The Oregonian The Oregonian (Portland, OR): Rob Davis (@robwdavis) is the new Environment Reporter.

Yoga Journal Yoga Journal (San Francisco, CA): Carin Gorrell (@caringorrell) is the new Editor-in-Chief.

Montana Magazine Montana Magazine (Helena, MT): Jenna Cederberg (@jennacederberg) is the new Editor of Montana (@MontanaMagazine).

Washington Examiner The Washington Examiner (Washington, DC): Zachary Colman (@zcolman) tackles the Energy and Environment Reporter position at the Examiner (@dcexaminer).

Roll Call Roll Call (Washington, DC): Tamar Hallerman (@TamarHallerman) joins the team as a Reporter.

Garden & Gun Garden & Gun (Charleston, SC): Nancy Carmody is the new Publisher of Garden & Gun (@gardenandgunmag).

The Boston Globe The Boston Globe (Boston, MA): Sports Columnist Leigh Montville returns to the paper after 24 years.

The Lowell Sun Lowell Sun (Lowell, MA): The paper has promoted longtime staff member Dave McArdle (@DMacTheSun) from Executive Editor to Editorial Page Editor.

The Seattle Times The Seattle Times (Seattle, WA): Tacoma’s News Tribune Sports Reporter Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) joins the Times (@seattletimes) to cover Baseball.

Salt Lake Tribune Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT): Bubba Brown leaves Ogden’s Standard-Examiner to be a Sports Reporter at the Trib (@sltrib).

THE VICKSBURG POST The Vicksburg Post (Vicksburg, MS): Jeff Schumacher is the new Managing Editor at the Post (@TheVixPost).

news_gazette The News-Gazette (Champaign, IL): Sports Editor Jim Rossow has been promoted to Executive Editor at The News-Gazette (@news_gazette).

Trey Morgan KYSR-FM (Los Angeles, CA): Trey Morgan (@ItsTreyMorgan) is set to join the team in January 2014 as Assistant Program Director & Host.

Hunter Quinn KZZO-FM (Sacramento, CA): This CBS affiliate will welcome Hunter Quinlivan (@hqradio) as Assistant Program Director/Music Director in December.

KEARTH101-FM (Los Angeles, CA) Weekend Host Dave Randall has exited classic hits station @KEARTH101.
KCBS KCAL KCBS-TV (Studio City, CA): Anchors, Sharon Tay (@SharonTay888), Rick Garcia (@RickGarciaNews) and Meteorologist Evelyn Taft (@EvelynTaft) are joining KCBS-TV from sister station KCAL9-TV.

Telemundo Denver Telemundo – KDEN-TV (Denver,CO): Pedro Calderon will be joining the KDEN-TV’s (@telemundodenver) newsroom as News Director.

NECN New England Cable News (Newton, MA): Michael St. Peter (@MichaelStPeter) is now the VP and General Manager at @NECN.

Consumer Reports (Yonkers, NY): Kimberly Kleman is no longer Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Editorial Director at the outlet.

MattBai Yahoo! (@Yahoo): Matt Bai (@MattBai) joins Yahoo as a National Political Columnist.

The Wall Street Journal (New York, NY): Congressional Reporter Corey Boles has parted ways with the Wall Street Journal (@WSJ). In addition, Reporter Allison Morrow (@alliwsj) has been added to the World Desk.

CNN CNN (New York, NY): New York Times Reporter Brian Stelter (@BrianStelter) will part ways with the paper later this month and join @CNN as a Senior Media Correspondent and Host.

Alison Bowen Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL): Alison Bowen (@ReporterAlison) joins the Chicago Tribune, she will cover consumer electronics and technology.

Men's Journal Men’s Journal (New York, NY): Associate Publisher Vincent Krsulich has been moved into the role of Publisher.

SJ-R Breaking News State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL): Food Editor/Columnist/Blogger Kathryn Rem is leaving the daily (@SJRbreaking). Natalie Morris will take over the Sunday’s “A La Carte” column and Brien Murphy will take over “Off the Clock” and “Food”.

MEDIAware’s full weekly version can be found at:www.prnewswire.com/knowledge-center/medi…

PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department provides daily updates on Twitter (twitter.com/PRNmedia).

Detailed outlet and contact information is available at Agility (agility.prnewswire.com).