Tag Archives: PR measurement

The Really New Rules of PR & Marketing

Worthwhile reading from David Meerman Scott

Listening to the webinar with David Meerman Scott (@dmscott) hosted by MarketingProfs today reinforced the speed of change in the PR and marketing arenas.  Over the course of the discussion, David offered his perspective on how the communications arena has changed since he published the first edition of  The New Rules of Marketing & PR in 2007 (and has since been updated numerous times,) and the opportunities available to PR and marketing pros today.

His advice is great, but here are the three messages that really resonated with me.

Developing a real-time mindset:  Future planning is necessary.  But too much focus on a future email campaign or upcoming product launch will result in opportunity passing you by.    Newsjacking, the  art of getting in front of a trending news story and inserting the brand POV into the conversation & coverage, is one way to capitalize.  For an organization that gets it right, speed and agility are decisive competitive advantages.   To get there, the organization needs to develop the ability to monitor social media and identify news opportunities and develop response quickly.   This takes some doing – the organization will need to up its clock speed, streamlining a host of processes. Organizations that are focused on the future and don’t cultivate fast-twitch communications muscle will miss out on myriad opportunities. 

Buyer Personas:  You have to understand your buyer personas.  While this has always been important, the personalization of information on the web today makes crafting content that speaks to specific personas crucial.    David challenges us to create content around your buyers, not your products.

Gamification:  Don’t be put off by the term ‘gamification.’  Put simply, gamification means giving your best customers – the people who are engaged with and have a strong affinity for your brand – incentive to stay engaged, and to talk about their engagement.   Digital acknowledgement, such a badge, as well as real-life recognition can work together to give your customers a reason to keep coming back, and to keep talking about their experiences.  If you’ve ever wondered how to identify and cultivate your brand’s advocates, this is where you start.

If you issue press releases, you have an immediate opportunity to ratchet up your organization’s visibility and the business results your messages generate.  We hosted a fantastic webinar last week on new school press release tactics, in which the panel gave examples of using press releases to drive customer conversions, manage online reputation, build executive thought leadership and create ongoing media coverage and follow-on earned media.  The recap, slide deck and a link to the replay are here: New School Press Release Tactics

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


The Author’s Role in Press Release Optimization

12 seo factors

Yesterday we discussed how PR Newswire optimizes press releases. Today, we’ll focus on the role the content’s author plays in the whole optimization equation.

The search engines’ focus on the actual on-page content puts a lot of responsibility on the author of the content.  In fact, the content itself plays the most significant role in ultimately generating results.

All content has the same shot at generating visibility.  The difference between the web’s winners and losers isn’t in the optimization characteristics of the content itself.  The most popular content — specifically, the content that is at the top of the search engine results page — has been proven to be more useful and more interesting than its less visible brethren.

Creating content that generates visibility 

In addition to using PR Newswire to distribute press releases and other content, there are other tactics you can employ to improve the visibility of your press releases in search engines.   It’s hard to overstate the importance of the quality of the message itself when it comes to press release visibility; because the structure of our web site will amplify your message, and so will your audience.

For these reasons, we have written extensively on content optimization and  have just issued a mid-year update on press release optimization best practices that you can use right now . 

Out with the old, in with the new

Just as we have to continually fine-tune our web site, it’s also important that press release writers update their tactics, too. Our advice necessarily involves as search engines update and change their algorithms. Some tactics we recommended a few years ago, including keyword density guidelines and emphasis on using anchor text,  have fallen out of favor following the significant changes Google deployed in the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, which started last year and continue today.

13 google guidelines

Google’s webmaster guidelines emphasize content quality and utility, not SEO mechanics.

Today, SEO tactics focus less on technical aspects and instead are focused on user experience.   You’ll notice that a lot of the advice that we offer as well as the advice offered by SEO experts centers around creating content that  earns credibility when people actually read, use and share it in their social networks.    These interactions generate positive signals about the content that search engine recognize and reward, and are a crucial to creating lasting visibility for the message.

Arguably, it’s harder to “optimize” content now, because doing so requires the organization to ascertain what the marketplace is interested in and where the gaps in available information are.   It’s no longer as simple as weaving a few important keywords and links into the copy.  However, the results can be more profound and long-lasting, in terms of visibility and audience engagement,  and are well worth the investment in time and energy.

Stay up to date with what we’re thinking about the interplay of SEO, PR and content marketing: http://blog.prnewswire.com/tag/seo/


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

The Press Release as Discovery Tool

Today’s noisy media environment poses challenge for brands:  how to get for important messages when there is so much fragmentation of the audience — and competition for their attention.  People share and consume incredibly granular information, and a fundamental communications vehicle – the press release – is proving remarkably adaptable and effective, provided communicators refresh their approach to using this PR workhorse in this new environment.

“Press releases have a chance to be something so much more relevant,” notes Steve Farnsworth, chief strategist at Jolt Digital Marketing, and publisher of the widely-read Steveology blog. “But they have to be immediately specific and relevant.”

Who’s reading press releases (and why?)

A couple minutes' worth of press release tweets from this morning.  Click the image to see the live feed.

A couple minutes’ worth of press release tweets from this morning. Click the image to see the live feed.

According to research PR Newswire conducted with Forrester on the visitors to PRNewswire.com, a significant portion of millions of monthly visitors are engaged in researching a product or service, and they find  press releases through their use of search engines.  People are also accessing press releases increasingly on mobile devices –views to PR Newswire’s mobile site have almost doubled in the last year. 

What’s the attraction? Press releases, as on-record statements from the organizations issuing them, are viewed as credible sources of information, and they are read and shared by the public, as well as journalists, analysts and bloggers.

“Most press releases that are produced aren’t read by the media, they’re read by the people,” says Farnsworth. “Your readers are going to be your stakeholders, and you’ll reach more directly that way than through the media.”

The long tail of the press release

Many communicators distribute the press releases in one way or another, whether through an email to industry players, a newsletter to customers or a commercial newswire service.  Once distributed, press releases develop an amazing ability to work their way into key industry niches, attaining the credibility of earned media status as they are liked, commented upon and shared.

Additionally, press releases are read long after they’re issued and the PR department has moved on to other things.  PR Newswire’s data indicates that most of the views the average press release will accrue over the four months following the distribution of the message – longer than many communicators expect.   A good message can actually increase its audience’s attention span.

To capitalize upon the ongoing attention the message generates, the press release also needs to provide direction for interested readers to take.

“The press release needs to be a guide to something bigger or better than itself, such as an infographic or ebook,” commented Eddy Badrina, co-founder and chief strategy officer at BuzzShift, a digital strategy agency.  “In fact, all those things you spend time creating probably deserve a press release.”

The recent “Dove Beauty Sketches” campaign included a exemplary press release that – while also loaded with multimedia elements – was also masterfully written to capture attention behind-the-scenes information about the wildly successful social media campaign.

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


Social Media Club NYC Recap: Social Media Measurement

Last Thursday, Social Media Club NYC met to discuss the topic of social media measurement.  Doh Young Jung, data scientist at Brandwatch, was one of the speakers at the event. The second speaker was Martin Murtland, vice president of platform management at PR Newswire. The moderator for the evening was Howard Greenstein, president and organizer of SMCNYC.

Q: What is your role in your company?

Murtland: I am responsible for developing the roadmap for a lot of the products. Some interesting research is that 56 percent of brands and agencies are equating the value of their social media activities to their business outcomes. So we need to know how to show businesses the value of what they are doing with their social media activities. I am a firm believer that the key to this is for practitioners to talk the language of business, which isn’t necessarily talking about all the metrics you can have but more about trying to understand how you can link to those metrics with what you are trying to achieve from a business perspective.

Jung: I am part of the analytics team. We do a lot of consulting services with clients, and we try to help them understand social media as well as how to use our tools better. In addition, I do a great deal of reporting for clients when they have specific social media questions.

Q: What are we talking about when we say social media measurement?

Murtland: It goes back to what you are trying to achieve from a business perspective. You can look at it like a marketing funnel which you flip over, and then you have to push your leads through the different areas. And you have to work very hard to get them through. Try to think about what you are doing with your campaigns; what metrics are appropriate in each of those general areas, as well as what you are trying to do inside the marketing funnel. For me, it is important to look at where the industry is going and what companies are doing to create these tools to enable users.

Jung: Our goal is to always deliver relevant content in a timely manner. When we talk about relevance it is about understanding our client’s objectives in terms of the data that they want and knowing when they need that data. We always want to make sure that our tool is easy for the practitioner to use and the reporting is easy to understand. Many of our clients come from PR and marketing agencies, and then we also support their clients. In addition, we have some larger financial clients that use social media monitoring for their product offerings.

Q: Why is social media measurement more difficult than just turning on these tools that you offer and letting them do the work?

Murtland: The software providers know part of the puzzle but it also takes work on behalf of the user to understand what issue they are trying to solve. It is important to know what you want to achieve consistently over time. One of the key things from a measurement perspective is to benchmark yourself. Don’t worry so much about what metric you use in the beginning, but try to benchmark what are you doing — otherwise you will not know what’s having an impact and improving. If you are able to do it well then include in your benchmark some of your competitors. You want to try to create reference points to see how well you are doing. From there you can think about what kind of metrics you can cover and what metrics you should be covering from a business perspective. Then look for an overlap between these two groups of metrics, and that should be the metrics you use.

Q: You (Jung) are a data scientist, so what is the science of what you are doing?

Jung: We deal a lot with numbers. We do want to show the different trends going on with social media data. As companies start to collect this type of data and look into it, the more accurate of a vision they can have of relating it back to their business purposes, such as the their marketing or financial results.

Q: Do you consult with companies about the purpose of the stats they are collecting?

Murtland: We do have a team for that. The first question to ask is: What are you trying to achieve from a business perspective? No metric or tool will resolve your business problem, you have to start by identifying the problem and then let everything else drive it.

Jung: Our starting point for every discussion is helping clients ask the right question. For example, if there is a case where a company is starting with zero awareness about whatever they are releasing then we have to do competitive research. So if they are releasing something on the market that already has competitors, we go into competitive data sets and see how they are doing in the market and then we tell the client what the competitor is doing successfully or wrong. This gives them some type of strategy.

Q: Now that we have established a baseline and know what business goal we are trying to achieve with our social, what’s next?

Murtland: The next step is to understand some kind of cause and effect. It is important to log and record the type of activities you have been doing. You want to show that what you are doing is actually driving the change.

Q: Can you have a tool where you are can both send out your social and measure it?

Murtland: We have a product that is an engagement console where you are able to track some of your activities. Likewise we have different tools for more earned media. You are able to log your activities in there.

Jung: We started out as a monitoring tool, so that is our core focus. We have seen more requests for engagement, and this is an area we want to venture into.

Q: Not all the networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc.) make their metrics available, so how do you bring all this stuff together into one global picture that you can start to understand as a marketer?

Murtland: Work out what metrics you can measure and what metrics you should be measuring. The other thing to try to validate is where that data is coming from and what it means. I think there is a lot of jargon and ways to express different things, so try to understand it.

Q: How do you view a single metric vs. combo metrics, because the combo metrics seem more accessible?

Jung: It depends on your business goals. Also different types of clients have different things they are more interested in, so there is no one easy formula. PR agencies are more interested in influencer identification, which is trying to identify whether a tweet from a personal account is different than a tweet from a more influential account. They want to find those Twitter handles that have more influence and impact on social media.

Q: How do you determine what is influential for that particular brand?

Murtland:  What is important to me is the contextual influence, so what is the person’s domain and whether they are influencers around that. You can also check if they are an influencer by seeing if their followers are active; look for retweets.

Jung: Our tool can collect historical data as far back as two-and-a-half years. We begin by identifying Twitter handles or any sort of users that mention a relevant brand or marketing campaign topic. We then delve into what they are posting about and look for the topic in their conversation.

Q: How much semantic or sentiment analysis are you doing, and how do you decide if it makes any sense?

Jung: We do have built-in universal sentiment engines and they are based on things like swear words. We are able to customize syntax and understand the language better of certain conversations that have been surrounding positive or negative topics. We can manually change the rules, tweak it, and make sentiment more reliable.

Murtland: There are a couple things you want from a sentiment tool. They are: 1) automated sentiment, looking and analyzing large volumes of content and identifying trends inside it; 2) manually being able to override the scores.

Q: What do we need to do next to tie what we are doing (getting inquiries, selling products, etc.) to some sort of a business metric?

Murtland: You need to start by looking at the peaks and troughs, and try to see if there is a correlation between them. You can try to see the causes and effects that are happening and the correlations, then you can begin understanding and seeing what’s working and not working. Do more of what’s working and less of what’s not working. Repeat and then see the effect.

Jung: As a company becomes increasingly savvy about social data, one thing they can do is set a target to reach. For a lot of PR agencies, the target is often key message penetration. They want to see that a message they crafted is actually being delivered through social media to the audience that they want to reach. An increase in key message penetration has resulted in positive/negative business performance.

Q: How do you keep out confounding data? An example of this was when the “Old Spice Guy” first came out and there was a huge spike in sales, but then someone noted that P&G had a major couponing campaign going on.

Jung:  Our entire app is based on Boolean, so if we see a peak we are able to delve into it. We can cut it out and see what the marketing volume was about as well as the coupon conversation. Then we look at the relationship there, and if we see both things increasing then that can mean both have worked.

You can watch a video of the event here:

(If you’re unable to view the video on this page, please go to: youtu.be/TXGg6rXLMcs)

Whether you’re a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email — all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com.

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.

How Content Distribution Drives Message Discovery (and Results!)

Like any business, sometimes our own story needs telling.  Earlier this year, we decided that we needed to do some PR for our MultiVu business, which focuses on the production and distribution of multimedia content.   It’s cutting edge stuff, with some truly unique aspects, and it sits right between PR and marketing, and we needed to offer some explanation and raise awareness of these services.

So what did we do?  We did the same thing any of you, our customers, would do.   First, our team brainstormed the messaging.  They outlined the key points we needed to convey from a brand standpoint, and then approached the messaging from the opposite context – the questions our audience often asks has about producing video and other multimedia content, and the various struggles that can complicate these projects.

“The hardest thing to do is to distill what you do into a short-form, engaging video,” noted Bev Yehuda, vice president of web engagement products for MultiVu.  “We had to apply what we tell our clients all the  time regarding developing a video: if you don’t take the time out during the process to determine what your elevator pitch is, you run the risk of creating irrelevant content.”

With the messaging drafted, it was time to determine the medium.   Since this was about MultiVu, we knew we needed to use multimedia messaging.   We wanted to show our expertise (and our personality!) in a fun and friendly way, so we went with an animated approach.

Upping exposure with distribution

Once our animated video was done, we packaged it into a multimedia news release (“MNR”,) which combines a variety of distribution strategies and channels.

mv mnr explainer

Here’s a snapshot of the MNR we created to promote the MultiVu video. Click on the image to see the whole thing.


Of course, we could have simply shared the video socially – and we did post it directly to a number of social sharing sites – but the distribution component that is built into an MNR is crucial, for a number of different reasons:

  • Distribution drives discovery, delivering content to relevant audiences across the web – on channels, via news web sites and in industry niches.
  • Discovery seeds social conversation, amplifying your message, and increasing exposure to relevant groups.
  • Social conversations deliver third party credibility that can spur people to take action.
  • Distribution increases the number of digital touch points for your brand, and if your audience values the content, it will gain visibility in search results.  Search engines are informed by user activity and interactions around a piece of content.

How Content Distribution Drives Social Interaction

Prior to the release of the MNR, we shared the video itself on PR Newswire’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages. More than 1,400 of our Facebook fans saw the video, and it was liked by 6 and shared by 3.   It fared better on LinkedIn, where it was seen by 1,983 people, generated 30 click-throughs and 8 shares.  Decent exposure for the two minutes (if that) required to share the video with PR Newswire followers.

mv distribution effect on social

However, if you need proof of how distribution drives social interaction with content, you needn’t look any further than the sharing numbers the MNR generated.  Readers of the MNR shared it with their Facebook friends 196 times (as of this writing.)

Distributed content reaches qualified, interested audiences.  And social shares have a strong viral effect, triggering more shares.

Overall Multimedia News Release Results

The social sharing was just one aspect of the visibility the MNR generated for MultiVu.  Over all, adding distribution paid off for this project, tallying thousands of reads of the press release — and tens of thousands of video views.

mv explainer Multimedia News Release Results

It’s very satisfying for us to put on a “customer” hat and use our own services to promote our messages, and witness first-hand how our networks deliver lasting results and visibility.  And based upon the results of this campaign, you can look for more from these animated characters created by MultiVu – several more videos are in the works!

Want to explore creating your own “explainer” video or learning about how multimedia distribution can increase discovery of your brand’s messages?  We’d love to hear your ideas, and help turn them into reality. Contact us for more information.

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 .

Press Releases With Multimedia Get More Views

best press release format tips multimedia news release

Press releases that offer readers a variety of multimedia options (e.g. video, images, downloads) generate almost 10 times more views than plain-text messages.

A couple years ago, we looked at big chunk of press release data, and learned a lot about what drives results.  We’ve discussed press release writing tips and tactics – such as headline structure, release timing and embedding links – that contribute meaningfully to generating more readership and engagement for press releases.

But nothing – NOTHING – does a better job of driving press release reads than adding some sort of visual.   Today, we’re releasing the results of another survey of press releases,  and the benefits of adding visuals are clear – press releases with an array of visual offerings get almost 10 times the views logged by their plain-text counterparts.


I think we can all agree that competition for audience attention is fierce these days.    In addition to competing for attention in the newsroom,  our messaging also needs to compel social media denizens to share, like and tweet the content.   Search engines also pick up signals from readers of your content that ultimately determine where the content lands in the search engine results page (SERP) that users see when they use Google or Bing to find something online.    Suffice it to say,  the press releases and other content we publish are now wearing just as many hats as we do.  And when planning a campaign, it’s important to think about that.  The press release you write to communicate with key media will also be seen by bloggers, analysts, employees and customers – both current and prospective.   Including multimedia content that captures and focuses attention on your message will give your content real competitive advantage in today’s crowded information marketplace.

Need some help getting started with planning visuals for upcoming campaigns?  Take a look at our collection of blog posts about Visual PR.  We’ve collected all sorts of advice from best practices for brands on Pinterest to scripting video yourself to creating infographics.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

Award-Winning (really!) Content Distribution with the ARC Engagement Platform

While content is the cornerstone of most marketing strategy, it does a brand little good if people don’t see it.  That’s why content distribution, and the content delivery networks that power that syndication, are the subject of a lot of interest these days.

If you know PR Newswire, you know that “content distribution” is our middle name.    At its core, PR Newswire is a content distribution powerhouse, delivering hundreds of messages – including text, images and video – daily, via ultra high speed internet, lightweight apps, social networks, RSS, satellite and e-mail.

Our team are constantly pushing the envelope on this idea of distribution, because, simply put, unseen content doesn’t do its job.  To be effective, messages must be seen, heard and experienced.  Behind the scenes, we’re busy building the next generation of content delivery mechanisms, including lightweight widgets that simplify multi-language syndication, and dynamic media players that deliver refreshed content automatically.

We’re doing a pretty good job, too.  In fact,  the dynamic media player is at the heart of our award-winning ARC Engagement Platform, a content distribution tool that marries branded HTML page and an embeddable, shareable, interactive media player.  The ARC enables PR professionals and marketersto easily create, manage, and update digital content and connect with their audiences through multimedia content, national distribution, social sharing and specific calls-to-action throughout the course of a campaign or messaging cycle.

We’re proud of the fact that the ARC has been recognized with a slew of awards this year, including:

Custom Content Council – Pearl Awards Gold Winner for Best Microsite

PR Newswire and Mullen Advertising were recognized for Mullen’s use of the ARC as the primary vehicle to drive the Men’s Wearhouse’s Fifth Annual National Suit Drive.  By creating a branded, content-rich hub, sharing ongoing campaign updates and incorporating specific calls-to-action to drive clothing donations and online fundraising, Mullen successfully converged their earned, paid and social media efforts and executed an integrated, content marketing campaign that exceeded campaign goals.

PR News Digital PR Awards: Digital Marketing Campaign (under 100k) & Ragan’s PR Daily

PR Newswire and Apple Vacations received recognition by PR News and Ragan’s PR Daily for the use of the ARC to execute a digital marketing campaign promoting winter getaways in the Dominican Republic.   Apple Vacations tapped into the power of  PR Newswire’s ARC to not only share a complete library of visual content of their own and of their travel partners, but also to support their SEO strategies and help them align their traditional earned media efforts with their paid media efforts.  PR News awarded the campaign an honorable mention in their Digital PR Awards and PR Daily is slated to announce the winners of their Digital PR & Social Media awards in January 2013.

Expo Magazine E.X.C.I.T.E. Award

The ARC has also proven to be a successful tool to manage a communications strategy throughout the entire life of an event.  Earlier this year, PR Newswire,  Freeman  and Exponation for their use of the ARC as a dedicated microsite for the 2012 Digital Signage Expo (DSE).  The ARC, which housed a suite of event-related multimedia content, acted as a comprehensive microsite for both event exhibitors and attendees. DSE was able to generate significant event exposure, while also sharing relevant, timely content as it became available to maintain interaction with its existing audience, as well as attract new audiences.  The 2012 DSE show was their most successful to date.  (See our digital event marketing case study for details.)

We know that multimedia content generates more views and engagement than plain text, which isn’t at all surprising, since humans are visual creatures, and because most search engines and social networks give visual content more weight (and thus, visibility).   So we’re continuing to forge ahead in developing new ways to distribute content and connect with audiences.

Want to learn more about the ARC?  See some additional details and request more information about it right here.

Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.