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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.

The “Slow PR” Trend: Building Traction Over Time

Dear Q&A Team,

I was reading an article that mentioned a movement called “slow PR.” I had not heard of this movement before, so it would be great to get a better understanding of it. What does it mean? How is “slow PR” different or similar to traditional PR? What should companies do to move into the “slow PR” movement?

Need for Speed?

_____________________

Dear Need for Speed,

Most people have heard of the “slow movement,” so it is interesting to learn how this relates and affects PR. Here are six ProfNet experts who explain this movement:

Definition of “Slow PR”

Steve Capoccia, account director at Warner Communications, says, “If you want to move your objective forward in a meaningful way, you want a firm that demonstrates empathy, compassion and knows how to tell a story that builds relationships – this is ‘slow PR.’”

Christopher Penn, vice president of marketing technology at Shift Communications, adds, “Instead of aggressive outbound pitching and mass emails, ‘slow PR’ (inbound PR) is about cultivating relationships with journalists first and foremost, putting the relationship first; asking detailed inquiries of journalists to make sure the pitches that do get sent are 100 percent on target; and creating a ‘house’ audience that you can selectively direct to newsworthy pieces.”

“’Slow PR’ is about building relationships, mutual respect, trust and credibility with reporters and through the product of that, the larger audience,” reiterates Edward Hershey, principal of Edward Hershey & Associates. “This was never about releases, press conferences or staged events.”

There is also a greater use of social media in “slow PR” — particularly Twitter, explains David Johnson, CEO of Strategic Vision. “‘Slow PR’ highlights getting to know a journalist, their interests, and how they write by following them and then pitching them via social media rather than through massive emails and media lists that are often ignored.”

Capoccia warns that “slow PR” must not be confused with “forever and a day PR.” Speed is important. You can have “slow PR” and achieve results quickly if you are using a firm that knows how to deliver meaningful content in an integrated way that is appreciated by the intended audience.

“Slow PR” vs. Traditional PR

Johnson explains, “‘Slow PR’ takes a step back and is less hectic and isn’t about being fast-paced and the number of pitches sent to a reporter.  The more traditional PR is about the number of pitches you sent, how many reporters contacted, how many hits and is more fast-paced.”

Anne Isenhower, principal of Anne Isenhower Communications, agrees with Johnson. She says, “Traditional PR too often employs a scattershot approach to outreach that can reach too wide and thus miss the mark. “Slow PR” ensures that outreach is very carefully planned to generate the best coverage results and the best long-term relationships with influencers.”

Penn provides this explanation: “In traditional PR — which is a lot like outbound sales — you have a product and you shop it around until someone buys. In inbound marketing and ‘slow PR’ (inbound PR), you create and manage the audience, and then fit the product where it belongs.”

However, “slow PR” strategies still strive to preserve traditional PR while also educating, planning, and evaluating without time constraints, says Aliah Davis-McHenry, president and CEO of Aliah Public Relations. “As we see now with social media, PR practitioners have to act and react in the now so those that engage in ‘slow PR’ cannot afford to not take advantage of these timely opportunities. There is a need for churning out our client’s information in a fast pace but there is also a need to build those meaningful relationships and use technology in a slow way as well.”

Penn agrees that you need both traditional PR and “slow PR.” “Slow PR” won’t replace outbound PR, it’ll supplement it.

Transitioning into “Slow PR”

Johnson thinks: “A business should begin by evaluating if their efforts at traditional PR with massive pitching is working or not.  From that evaluation they should then begin adopting practices that fall into the ‘slow PR’ movement and explain to clients if they are an agency how this ultimately benefits them with better quality stories and stronger relationships with reporters. “

In addition, “you must see the relationships with your influencers and media as being a higher priority than that of the stories and pitches, and be willing to invest in the time and people it takes to make those relationships happen,” says Penn. “It also means possibly no longer working with some clients who are pushing you to make short-term pitching choices that can harm the long-term relationships — you have to be willing to walk away from a story or even a client.”

Capoccia’s suggests avoiding “robo-contact” at all costs. This can be accomplished by setting it up as a best practice with an individual or several key employees who are in charge of analyzing how the team/s are approaching journalists to make sure they are offering information that will impact and support the client’s and journalists objectives.

Most importantly, Davis-McHenry believes, “A company can move more into the ‘slow PR’ movement by putting care and consideration into their public relations efforts by not engaging in ‘spray and pray’ via email and social media and developing meaningful relationships with journalists, bloggers, and influencers; companies will see that their PR initiatives will grow and build business.”

Successful Examples of “Slow PR”

Isenhower felt the effectiveness of “slow PR” after spending about four hours preparing a single pitch to a very senior editor at The New York Times. She says that five minutes after she hit send, the editor called her and said, “I get at least a hundred pitches a day about this column alone. Yours was the only one I opened today, and I appreciate the time and thought you’ve obviously put into it.  I’d like to interview your CEO.”

“A good chunk of what we do at SHIFT is ‘slow PR’ (inbound PR), focusing on the relationships first,” says Penn. “For example, we’ll have a lunch and learn with a reporter from a beat and ask them straight out what they need, what stories they’re looking to cover, what especially they do not want, and then we use that guidance to decide which clients and stories are the best fit.”

Penn adds, “You know you’re succeeding when journalists are calling your account staff asking if they have any stories on X topic, because they did such a fantastic job the last time they worked together, and that happens on a fairly regular basis to our staff.”

Capoccia’s company works with an industry analyst firm as a client. Even though they are often in “breaking news” situations, they are also very careful to deliver what they say to the reporter contact and “drip-feed” information to the reporter by way of background to further establish credibility and relationships.

The use of “slow PR” resulted in a blockbuster exposé that made a difference for Hershey’s client. His story: “When a lead emerged about a potentially significant story earlier this year that would accrue to my client’s benefit I contacted the managing editor of a local weekly and sold him on assigning his top reporter (a Pulitzer Prize winner) to pursue the story. The reporter, too, was someone I had worked with before. Over the next two weeks I connected him with sources (who needed buttressing and reassurance as well) and otherwise maintained close contact without crowding him.”

But keep in mind that “slow PR” is in its infancy, warns Johnson. Yet, “one thing is true; reporters appreciate it and are more willing to work with those who take a slow and nuanced approach.”

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

The Future of Collaboration and Internal Communications

Technology has drastically improved the way organizations communicate with internal stakeholders. The ability to transcend geographic boundaries through social channels has made collaboration more convenient and efficient than ever before. Business Development Institute’s upcoming event “The Future of Collaboration and Internal Communications  Summit” will explore how large organizations are incorporating technology to improve workforce productivity. Prior to the event, featured speaker Trevor Loe, VP of compliance and investor services at Vintage Filings, discussed the value of using social technology to strengthen internal communications.

Employees can share, receive, and digest information in a variety of ways

“Social channels allow people to pick the medium that works best for them, which is good because we all consume information in different ways,” says Mr. Loe. Webcasting, blogs, and Chatter are just a few of the channels that organizations are using to engage with internal audiences.

Social technologies are cost effective

Companies save substantially on travel costs by live-streaming presentations over the web. Additionally, the ability to share recorded presentations with employees overseas or out-of-office ensures that sensitive information is delivered in a timely manner.

Companies can customize social tools to meet their needs

Tools such as webcasting can be used for communicating new developments in a crisis, town hall meetings, or even continuing education courses. During his presentation, Mr. Loe will offer specific examples of companies that rely on social tools to communicate different messages.

Due to globalization and a rising number of home-based employees, technology has evolved to accommodate an increasingly virtual workforce. Large organizations can empower their employees by using social channels to improve internal communications. The variety of mediums available can be applied toward meeting specific needs such as real-time response to crises or career development. Sparking engagement amongst employees through social channels not only encourages productivity but also strengthens the employer brand.

Join us: 

To learn more about how social technology is improving internal communications, join PR Newswire and Business Development Institute for “The Future of Collaboration and Internal Communications Summit” on Tuesday, November 12th at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. Register here: http://www.cvent.com/events/internal-collaboration-social-communications-summit/event-summary-ca8eb79a547c42b6ac55955d22133e3f.aspx

PR Secrets: Master Digital Press Releases and Get More Journalism Coverage

An example of a release featuring embedded video, cited by Rosetta's Shade Vaughn.

An example of a release featuring embedded video, cited by Rosetta’s Shade Vaughn.

If you tuned in last week to the Bulldog Reporter PR University webinar Mastering Interactive News Releases: 7 PR Secrets of Digital Press Releases That Woo Editors and Wow the Public, you likely came out with more than seven secrets.

The powerhouse panel of social media and PR experts included:

  • Taylor L. Cole (@TravelwithTLC), director of PR and social media with Hotels.com;
  • Melanie Moran (@melaniemoran), executive director of integrated communications for Vanderbilt University News and Communications;
  • Shade Vaughn (@shadevaughn), director of PR and events with Rosetta;
  • Serena Ehrlich (@serena), director of social & evolving media with Business Wire; and
  • Sarah Skerik (@sarahskerik), vice president of social media with PR Newswire/MultiVu

It’s no secret that today’s Internet and media inboxes are overflowing with news releases announcing products and services, financial earnings, changing staff, and more. But with so many of these releases competing for the same eyeballs in newsrooms, standing out from the pack requires finesse and clever packaging, particularly in this digital era.

Some highlights that came out of the webinar (#realworldpr) included Bulldog Reporter PR University training director Brian Pittman’s list:

  • Consider multiple/tailored releases to different audiences and verticals.
  • Always use unique and trackable URLS. (Example: Bit.ly)
  • Include a “click to tweet” link within the press release, near the top of the content. 
  • Keep headlines to 100 characters or fewer. This is also good for subject lines when sending out release as a pitch ancillary/support.
  • Write for mobile first. Craft mobile-ready copy. Think short sentences and graphs, punchy quotes, and use micro content principles. (Example: The main facts/5Ws could be listed as bullets so they’re easily scanned on mobile.)
  • Always include a call to action. (Example: “Click here to download app” or “click here for a fact sheet.” This would then tie to the first bullet above and would be trackable.)
  • Make all content portable. When possible, generate your press release content so it can be “broken apart” into pieces of mini content. (Example: Can your pull quote stand alone and be tweeted or shared on Facebook? Can your graphic be shared with a cutline that provides the key facts? Can your video stand alone?)

The panel also stressed the importance of SEO keywords.

The right keywords can improve readership of your release, the group agreed.
Business Wire’s Ehrlich shared some of her favorite keyword tools: SpyFu and Google AdWords.

When it comes to paid distribution, wire services still tend to be the “best place to get your message out there,” Ehrlich said.

PR Newswire’s Skerik agreed, noting that syndication of press releases and other branded content drives discovery of that information by new audiences, which in turn seeds new social interaction and page traffic.

“You really need to look at press releases in the grand scheme of your overall success,” Erlich added. “Understand the real size of your audience. The smaller and more micro you go, the better chance you have of getting coverage. Build your superfans.”

These digital influencers require regular doses of good information to stay engaged. Skerik pointed to the fact that influence is changing.

“There’s constant feedback,” Skerik said. “Communications campaigns need to support this feedback loop. It’s less ‘Ready, aim, fire’ and more about connecting a living and breathing presence for your brand.”

hotels bulldog

This press release from Hotels.com featured an eyecatching visual, as well as relevant links to strongly related information.

Consider also the folks on the receiving end of content might be changing. Skerik mentioned the Chicago Sun-Times newsroom, which recently fired its photography department, Pulitzer Prize winners and all.

It used to be that large, glossy photos on the front of the newspaper would drive newsstand sales. With media moving farther in the digital direction, arming editorial departments with iPhones and simple photography basics appears to be more accepted.

Press releases with a multimedia strategy – photos, video, audio, or infographics – always will trump those without.

Why do these visuals work? Because photographs are worth about 60,000 words.

“Visuals have their own their own distribution networks,” Skerik said.  Shade Vaughn agreed, noting that for Rosetta, including visuals in press releases improves search visibility and brand awareness.

Online newsrooms also need compelling photos, must be easy to search, and have prominent contact information, added Moran, with Vanderbilt University.“A robust cutline describes the story,” Moran said. “That’s your news release in a few lines of text.”

Vaughn, with Rosetta, said the company focuses a lot of time and attention on thought leadership. Rosetta publishes white papers to its site, maintains a blog, and does a great deal of social promotion behind each piece.

Vaughn uses PR Newswire and said the Visibility Reports dashboard is particularly helpful in tracking metrics relating to the story’s online performance, something the company carefully manages as each message is structured.

“For every release, we create a page title and meta description unique to the press release,” he said. “Write [press releases] to communicate the purpose of the announcement, not to sell. Simplify.”

Finally, Hotels.com’s Cole advised working with other brands to extend the life of your news.

“If your release is the hub, you have to get it right. Headline, subhead, call to action,” Cole said. “Communications is a two-way conversation.”

Cole also reminded the audience how important it is to align PR messaging with other marketing and communications objectives, both in terms of how the press release will be used and how the results will be measured.   The links offered within press releases are a great opportunity for measurable collaboration.    Hotels.com always includes links within their press releases.

“Link once or twice to useful content that is really relevant to what your reader wants to do,” Cole noted, emphasizing the connection between digital messages and the subsequent actions readers take with the content.  PR messages can bring new people into the company’s sales pipeline, and providing useful links is one way to capture and cultivate audience interest.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. Follow her @cpcube.

Customer Security Announcement

There has been a lot of news lately about data intrusions at leading companies around the world. This is a challenging aspect of doing business today, but the privacy and security of our customers’ information are of the utmost importance to us.

We continue to refine our security approach in light of the ever-changing nature of threats, and implement security enhancements on a regular basis. Notwithstanding our efforts, we recently learned that a database, which primarily houses access credentials and business contact information for some of our customers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India, was compromised. We are conducting an extensive investigation and have notified appropriate law enforcement authorities. Based on our preliminary review, we believe that customer payment data were not compromised.

As a precautionary measure, we have implemented a mandatory password reset for all customers with accounts on this database. As a general practice, we recommend that our customers use strong passwords and regularly update them, not just on PR Newswire but on any website requiring login credentials. From an internal perspective, we continue to implement security improvements and additional protocols to help further protect user portals and customer and proprietary information.

For almost 60 years, PR Newswire has established itself as the premier global provider of multimedia platforms that enable organizations to leverage content to engage with their key audiences. We recognize that the trust and protection of our customers are critical to our success, and we will keep customers apprised of any additional important information.

We regret any disruption this may cause PR Newswire users and will continue to work diligently to prevent these types of events from occurring in the future.

Ninan Chacko

Chief Executive Officer

Content We Love: Uncovering gDiapers

ContentWeLove

“Content We Love” is a weekly feature written by a team of our content specialists. We’re showcasing some of the great content distributed through our channels, and our content specialists are up for the task: they spend a lot of time with the press releases and other content our customers create, proof reading and formatting it, suggesting targeted distribution strategy and offering content optimization advice. In Content We Love, we’re going to shine the spotlight on the press releases and other messages that stood out to us, and we’ll tell you why. We hope you find the releases enjoyable and the insights gained from discussing them enlightening.

On the cusp of NYFW, the rattlers were sounded when gDiapers released their version of the Fall trends– for babies!

gDiapers Introduces Mix-And-Match Coordinates And Diaper Covers For Fall 2013

The headline, complete with an action verb, covers more than fashion.

The priority with a headline is that it IS the first glimpse of a story. It needs to tell the full story in ideally 65 characters with spaces. Reason being: search engines index the first 65 characters. There isn’t a penalty for going over; simply keep the story in the beginning!

gDiapers’ headline showcases a new product which highlights the prettier side of diapers: fashion! The company makes diapers more eco-friendly by having flushable (or compost-able) inserts in festive covers.

gDiapers: A company dedicated to eliminating conventional disposable diapers from the planet. The new gVeggie gPant pictured here with coordinating gLegs.  (PRNewsFoto/gDiapers)

When introducing a new product, it is paramount to include an image. Images increase your chance of visibility which means more eyes will be potentially seeing your image! Scrolling through releases and seeing an adorable baby wearing a colorful diaper? Yeah. I clicked on that to see the story. gDiapers? #Winning.

Great headlines and powerful imagery deliver directly to readers (like a stork) and just like new baby smell, we can’t help but love it!

Big thanks to gDiapers for bringing beauty to dirty diapers everywhere.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/gdiapers-introduces-mix-and-match-coordinates-and-diaper-covers-for-fall-2013-225097352.html

Author Emily Nelson is a Customer Content Specialist for PR Newswire. Follow her adventures on www.bellesandawhistle.wordpress.com or on twitter www.twitter.com/emilyannnelson.

Grammar Hammer: Shall We Dance?

Trying to decide when to use “shall” or “will” in a sentence really comes down to whether or not you’re a stickler for old grammar rules or you’re a grammarian of the people, by the people and for the people. Both words indicate the future tense.

The stickler version: use “shall” to indicate the future when using the first person (I/we) in a sentence.  Example: I shall go to the garden center tomorrow to take advantage of their BOGO deal on hanging baskets. Use “will” when using the second or third person (you/ he/she/they). Example: You will finish raking the yard before you go to the baseball game.

Here’s another way to look at it: “shall” indicates determination or intention; it implies that the action is mandatory.

In American English, “shall” has been replaced by “will” in most scenarios, although it is still found in legal documents. In a legal sense, “shall” indicates an explicit obligation. Go back to any lease you signed for an apartment and there’s probably a sentence that starts with “The terms of this lease shall commence…”

Great orators and speakers will use “shall” to deliver uplifting prose. Everyone had to memorize the Gettysburg Address in school, right? Say it with me, “…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government  of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

“Shall” is also used in polite conversation, especially when offering an invitation.  “Shall we dance?” for example.

Still confused?  Here’s a joke for you:

A foreign tourist was swimming in an English lake. Taken by cramps, he began to sink. He called out for help:

“Attention! Attention! I will drown and no one shall save me!”

Many people were within earshot, but, being well-brought up Englishmen and women, they honored his wishes and permitted him to drown.

This week’s topic was suggested by a reader from New Zealand (yes, it’s official, Grammar Hammer has a global audience), and I thank you profusely for reading.

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.

Applying Android Design Vision to Communications

Android UXOne of the best things about SxSW is hearing the people behind the products and services,we use today detail their journeys, providing a behind-the-scenes view of the thinking and processes that went into product design.  A session I attended featured two of Android’s leading ladies in UX and design, and they revealed the principles they used to focus their design on people

Speakers Helena Roeber and Rachel Garb are two of the driving forces behind Google’s Android platform. Rober spearheaded Android’s user experience for the last five years, and Garb, who leads leads interaction design for Android apps at Google, summarized their people-oriented design vision simply: Enchant Me. Simplify My Life. Make Me Amazing.

Android UX3

Roeber and Garb found that design affects emotion and we now have an opportunity/responsibility as developers to tap into the emotions of our users in a positive way. When they created the vision, they intentionally created this in the first person so that it reflected the vision of their users, not of themselves. “We wanted to speak more to people’s hearts [with our designs]“, Roeber said.

I found this to be very interesting as this was a new concept for me.  As a product manager we often get caught up in the nuts and bolts of our product that we sometimes forget what the main goal should be: how are users feel when they interact with it.  Garb pointed out that for every interaction that triggers a negative emotion, 3 positive ones must be offered to lift your user back up.  People tend to blame themselves when things go wrong with technology.  So what Garb and Roeber did was look at the negative emotions through a year-long study of observations called the “Android Baseline Study” and asked themselves how they could turn these into positive principles and to use these principles to create beautiful, usable and innovative design.  They realized that little annoyances had the power to destroy all the magic you’ve created.

Example:  Feedback: Users tend to be overwhelmed by too many options and limitless flexibility.

Turned into the principle:  Only show what I need, when I need it.

They went on to contextually explain each principle and how they came to be and it was quite interesting, but in the end, it made sense!  Why wouldn’t positive emotions reflect a better user experience?   It even opened up my eyes to how things are phrased and worded in the user interface.  Android refuses to use the phrase “Are you sure?” in their UI because it invokes a negative emotion by placing doubt or uncertainty on the user.

What I also liked was that it wasn’t just about stimulating positive emotions, but individual emotions based solely on the things that are important to me.  In a world full of so much information being thrown at you from so many different directions, connecting to your user on an individual level is more important than ever!

Google Now, the newest technology launching from the Android team that was announced at SXSW was created using these principles.  It goes beyond any traditional method and applies the “Delight Me in Surprising Ways” principle on a whole new level by automatically pulling information that is important to you only by learning who you are.  What’s the weather like where you are?  What’s the traffic situation for your commute to work? What’s your favorite coffee shop, here’s a coupon. No preferences need to be made, it gets to know you and learns your habits.  This allows it to adjust to you and only shows you what’s important to you. The cool thing is that it reconfigures each time so it won’t remember old habits if things have changed in your life!

So what does this mean?  As a product person, this definitely gives me some guidelines in how to approach the decisions we make on how to make our products better.  So the next time we  are looking at what next new innovative feature should be applied to our product or what next NEW product we should develop, we’ll pose this question as our clients — Are you enchanting us? Are you simplifying our lives? Are you making us amazing? And remember the emotion involved when it comes to our users!

Resource: Design Principles:  http://developer.android.com/design/get-started/principles.html

Author Erika Kash is an online services product manager with MultiVu, a PR Newswire company.

A look at the future of search with Google’s Amit Singhal at SXSW

Guy Kawasaki interviewing Amit Singhal at SXSW 2013.  Photo: Victoria Harres.

Guy Kawasaki interviewing Amit Singhal at SXSW 2013. Photo: Victoria Harres.

Today, Guy Kawasaki interviewed Amit Singhal, Google’s senior vice president of search.  Billed as a conversation about the future of search in mobile world, the conversation ranged into devices and other future Google projects.

To put the conversation in context, it’s worth repeating a fact Singhal dropped on the crowd in response to Kawasaki’s question “What really is on the internet?”

According to Singhal, everything is on the internet, and it’s sitting on more than 30 trillion web addresses, which in turn reside on some 250 million web domains.

The evolution of search

According to Singhal, who’s been with Google for 20 years and has a PhD in search, at the beginning, people didn’t expect search to work.  That’s changed entirely today – searches are growing increasingly granular and complex.  Additionally, people are searching all the time.  When desktop search volumes go down – at mealtimes, for example, and in the evenings – mobile search volumes increase.

How to gain search rank

Once again, the advice was simple – publish useful content that adds value.  However, Singhal made an interesting point – that search engine optimization is really about marketing your content to search engines – telling them what it’s about, and why it’s important.

When it comes to the mechanics of achieving rank, it’s important to keep something firmly in mind: A perfect search engine should know exactly what you mean, and give you exactly what you want, and that’s Google’s goal.  As Singhal said, search engines need to be comprehensive, relevant and fast.

Inbound links are one signal, but they use more than 200 other signals, including: on-page content, words in the title.

What’s in development now?

Google Now is one project Singhal mentioned, describing it as “… the things you need to know, just coming to you.

“The future of search would be bringing knowledge to the world in a completely multimodal environment,” noted Singhal.

He envisions Google Now as a perfect assistant – it’s by your side, you can talk to it and ask it things.  But it should also tell you things proactively, such as when traffic is bad and you need to leave a bit earlier than anticipated to get to your next meeting.

Other things on the collective minds at Google include the knowledge graph, speech recognition and natural language understanding, brought together, as Singhal says, to create “search magic.”

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.