Category Archives: Public Relations

Better Ways for Marketing People to Get Paid

As Tim Williams, author of TAKE A STAND FOR YOUR BRAND explains on this week’s episode of BRANDING BUSINESS (hosted by Ryan Rieches of OC’s biggest branding firm RiechesBaird here on, “for people who are supposedly creative, we don’t spend much time considering alternative ways to get paid beyond some hourly rate….as if creative work and manual labor were somehow both the same”.

Hear his ideas on alternative ways in which ad agencies, marketing people and other creative talent can get paid that more closely matches their corporate contribution and the true value of their work.  Definitely a conversation starter.

How to you pay for creative ideas in your company?

Use Storytelling Skills to Transform Your Web Content

Courtesy of PR NEWS.

By Stephen Terlizzi

Traditional PR approaches relied mostly on a well-defined network of contacts to whom you pitched news or an idea and some facts, and the reporter created a story. However, like that famous book about the moving cheese, many PR professionals are asking lately, “Who moved my reporter?”

As the economics of the information age have taken their full toll on the publishing industry, the “well-defined network of contacts” is looking more like a ghost town than a thriving metropolis. What’s key to remember is that these folks didn’t just disappear into thin air. Instead, many of the old school journalists have shifted and are now independent consultants who are writing for their own blogs and the Web sites of others.

The tables also have turned on traditional publications during the past 10 years, and they are now syndicating more content from major online sites. In today’s new ecosystem, a well-placed story in TechCrunch or GigaOM can have significantly more impact than any single article in a major local paper.

This means that if your company isn’t a major industry player, you shouldn’t expect to get much share of mind in a fast-paced digital world where everyone is competing for eyeballs—unless you have an exceptional story to tell.

Becoming the person who knows how to mesh “what will be published” with “writing what will be published” puts you in the perfect position to develop ready-to-go stories that will stand out from the digital noise bombarding online reporters, editors and bloggers. Let’s examine what makes a compelling story and how it translates to digital public relations.

Meet Both Needs
Regardless of the type of story, there are always two people in every story: the author and the reader. The author, or client, has a point to make while the reader wants to learn, be informed, entertained, amused, etc. An effective story meets the desires of both parties, whether it is written for an online audience or traditional media.

In the book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell, the author talks about three types of people that are critical to the success of any word-of-mouth initiative: connectors, mavens and salesmen. As you can image, the connectors connect, the mavens inform and the salesmen convince. I think it is an excellent analogy for the purpose of writing a PR story for a client—a story to promote, a story to envision or a story to validate.

Note the use of the word “or” in the last paragraph. You must write stories that have a single, simple objective and have simple elements, as online writing must be more direct and shorter. So focus on doing one of the three points well as opposed to doing none of them well. In today’s time crunched society, deliver the point succinctly and close the story. We are not writing Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

Stephen Terlizzi is the managing partner and head of the social media practice for Tanis Communications.

This article was adapted from PR News’ Digital PR Guidebook, Volume 4. This and other guidebooks can be ordered at the PR News Press online store.

The Agency of the Future


By Uwe Hook  Courtesy of IMediaConnection

A few weeks ago, news broke that ZenithOptimedia U.K. will be going through a restructuring. There are rumors that Starcom MediaVest Group might also shuffle things around in the U.K. And this is just the beginning: Every week we learn about marketing professionals coming and going, departments being dissolved, departments being merged or created. In addition, new agency models are coming to life, from the crowd-sourced to the brand innovation studio for the 21st century.

What will it take for agencies to prosper in the new marketing reality?
As the marketing industry continues to mature, and as new channels and platforms need our attention each and every day, it’s imperative for us to contemplate the structure of the agency of the future. Our livelihood will depend on it because not being ready for the demands of the future will likely lead to the demise of your agency.

Office mansion or garage? Neither.
Just this month, Bloomberg and Fast Company painted a black and white picture of the future of advertising agencies. Bloomberg believes in big agencies:

“The little hot shops, says Lubars, who are thumping their chests and declaring the end of mass marketing and the death of the Big Dumb Agencies, do so as a business posture, an attitude for journalists, and a sales pitch to clients. ‘They don’t believe a word of it,’ he says.

“What he sees instead is an evolution, firms heading to the same place from different directions. Technologically able marketers are trying to scale up into full-service agencies; and full-service agencies are mastering the new channels and a world with 6 billion individual markets. ‘They’re racing to figure out what an idea is,’ says Lubars. ‘We’re racing towards technology. It’s easier to pick up the technology. That’s why we got there first… They are desperate to take down the agencies that are doing it now.'”

Meanwhile, Fast Company predicts Armageddon for holding companies:

“In its fight for survival, the advertising industry is at war with itself. Generalists are competing with specialists. Interactive shops are vying to become full-service agencies, while traditional shops are yearning to become digitally integrated. ‘The Great Race,’ as Forrester Research dubbed it in March, drives a more intense competition over an already shrinking pie, and there won’t be room for everyone. En route to the center, agencies are chasing one another to the bottom. ‘I spoke to a high-level CMO the other day,’ says Profero’s Reitkopf. ‘She said, ‘I work with a holding company’s promotions company, its social-marketing company, its response-marketing company. Every time we’re in the room together, it’s fine, but the minute I walk out to get a cup of coffee, someone will follow me and tell me they can do what the other agencies do for cheaper.’ Adds Harley CMO Richer: ‘Agency networks supposedly combine all these experts together on your behalf, but it only really happens when the business is at risk of walking out the door. Before then, these creative entities are locked off in separate P&Ls. They’re not built to solve clients’ problems, they’re built to satisfy individual P&Ls.’

“That may be a vision for the industry as a whole. With all the defections of top agency talent over the past year — Alex Bogusky from Crispin, Gerry Graf from Saatchi, Kevin Roddy from BBH — it’s easy to imagine a new advertising ecosystem of pods built around industry stars who have left their lumbering institutions behind. The holding companies will still exist, but around them could emerge a chaotic pattern of startups, independent talent, and connectors who thrive with minimum overhead. That kind of industry would be a fraction of the size of the current one. It would create opportunities for the most talented and hurt everyone else. It would be harder work, with fewer assistants and fewer million-dollar paydays. But this smaller business would be aloft on its new creative potential rather than sinking under the weight of its past.”

As usual, the truth is somewhere in between: The likely solution is that successful agencies of the future will have a core group of professionals. This core group will accommodate both the size of the brand and the scope of engagement. Account management will continue to be crucial for client retention and, more importantly, better understanding the heart and soul of the brand. Small agencies often have challenges becoming part of the organization, while bigger agencies often see account management as being account servants. The core group will consist of highly paid professionals from all facets of life to serve the brand better and deliver real value based on insights.


Press Release Optimization


By Christine O’Kelly  WEBSITE MAGAZINE

Press releases tend to rank quickly in organic search and news results — often within minutes of publication. That is, if they are optimized and distributed following established SEO and editorial guidelines.

In the past, print media acted as an information gatekeeper. Companies would send press releases to the newsroom, hoping the editors deemed the announcement fit for publication. With limited space and a subscription demographic to please, most press releases ended up on the cutting room floor. Times have changed.

With instant publishing and search engines to filter information, individuals can filter and find the news that is useful to them. While news of a revelation in model train technology might not ever grace the pages of the local paper, model train enthusiasts can now freely find that news online through search engines — assuming that the creator has announced and optimized that news so that it can be found by those who crave it.

Publishing effective news releases online requires a three-pronged optimization approach that consists of search engine optimization (SEO), conversion optimization and editorial optimization. When all three sides of the triangle are balanced, press releases can have a dramatic impact on your online visibility.

Editor’s Note: This content is from Website Magazine’s January, 2011 issue – a professional-level monthly issue. To ensure you don’t miss a single issue of Website Magazine, upgrade now to a professional-level subscription. Get 25% off a one-year subscription right now!

PR Optimization Segment #1: SEO

In order for news to be effective, it must be discoverable by those who are interested. Optimizing your news so that it can be found in the search engines for strategic keywords provides a powerful way to reach highly targeted customers and influencers.

Title Optimization: The most heavily weighted factor that determines for which keywords a press release will rank is its title. Placing your primary keyword phrase toward the beginning of the title tends to have the strongest impact on ranking for those keywords. However, the title needs to reflect the news angle and be written with clickthrough in mind, and not only keywords.

Summary Optimization: The second-most heavily weighted SEO factor is the summary. The summary is an ideal place to introduce one or two additional keyword phrases while elaborating on the news angle introduced by the title. Within a well-optimized press release distribution site or news site, the title becomes the title tag and the summary becomes the meta description. The same technical rules apply to optimizing a title tag and meta description in terms of keywords as they do when optimizing a press release title and summary.

Keyword Anchor Text Linking: The ability to build strategic anchor text backlinks from trusted sources is one of the SEO’s most exciting reasons for publishing press releases. Because some press release distribution sites push full-page reprints of your press release out to additional partner sites, a single press release can net a significant number of backlinks using your chosen keyword phrases.

PR Optimization Segment #2: Clickthrough Optimization

The purpose of a press release is to hook the reader with the news release and then direct traffic to your website. Online press releases are essentially landing pages for your business designed to drive traffic. Optimizing for clickthrough helps you achieve that conversion goal.

Make Use of Multimedia Features: Including images, videos, logos, file downloads and links to other Web properties and assets allows readers to become immersed in your message through a variety of senses. When given the opportunity, make use of as many multimedia options as your press release distribution site allows.

Embedded Website Navigation via iFrame: If you have the option to add an iFrame in your release, choose to link to a page that is a natural extension of the message announced in your press release. For example, if announcing a new product, display the product page in the iFrame instead of the sites’ homepage.

Include a Call-to-Action: A press release is a tool used to entice readers to visit your site — give them clear direction on how and why to do so. Some ideas are to send them to your website to download a free ebook, or to read full details about the product, or to subscribe to your mailing list for tips and information related to the announcement.

PR Optimization Segment #3: Editorial Optimization

Press release sites are news sites and they take their role seriously in order to stay in good graces with Google. Submitting a press release that risks falling outside of the criteria of a press release in Google’s virtual eyes is likely to get kicked back for further editing.

In order for your press release to pass the human editing process, it should adhere to the following three critical editorial points:

A Valid And Clearly Stated News Angle from Within Your Company: The purpose of a press release is to announce something new and timely such as a new product or service, limited time sale or contest,
participation in an upcoming event, etc. That news also needs to originate from the company announcing the news. Writing about another company’s news is an article. The reader should be able to determine exactly what the press release is announcing by reading the title and summary.

Written in Third-Person: Aside from a direct attributed quote, a press release is written in third person and does not use causal language such as referring to the reader as “you” or the author as “I” or “we.”

Attribution of Claims: Claims that could be interpreted as opinions should be attributed in a press release. For example, instead of opinions like “…the best real estate software on the market,” present attributable facts such as “…deemed the best real estate software on the market by XYZ magazine.”

Done correctly, press releases can be a powerful part of your online marketing and visibility mix. The release itself ranks well in the search engines — few other types of user-generated content can rank almost instantly upon publication. Furthermore, optimized backlinks within the release work to build link value for your site for years to come.

Christine O’Kelly is an SEO content marketing strategist specializing in optimized press releases. She is the co-founder of, an SEO and multimedia press release distribution resource.

Seven Principles of Advocacy Communications


Courtesy of

By James Miller

Communication in the nonprofit, education and cause-marketing arena has its own set of challenges, opportunities and obligations. Here are seven core principles I’ve found to be helpful benchmarks in this unique communications environment.

1. Elevate disparate initiatives under a unifying platform.

Powerful communication begins when you frame your organization’s varied activities and assets under a single, compelling theme. Doing so elevates the organization beyond the sum of its parts. Be sure that your core theme is aligned with your mission and values, and integrate that theme into all of your communications vehicles. That means not only integrating into Web sites and collateral, but also talking points and Twitter feeds. With a core theme in place, disparate initiatives can gain strength through cross-pollination.

Ex. An education client invited experts from one program to serve as guest speakers in another.

2. Rally stakeholders with a clear call to action.

Communicating core messages as calls to action motivates and inspires stakeholders to get involved. It’s important to deliver your rallying cry from the top down through communication from your organization’s leadership. It’s also a good idea to conduct training sessions with the staff most central to your communications effort to standardize goals, benchmarks, messaging and measurement.

Ex. One client found that their members went from reluctant to enthusiastic participants in media interviews once they rallied around the cause of advocating for their profession through the press.

3. Speak with clarity, transparency and credibility.

Simplify your messaging to home in on core institutional goals, achievements and benefits to stakeholders. Use precise language and avoid overblown and meaningless marketing words. Institute a litmus test to reality check programs and services against real-world benchmarks. Substantiate your claims with facts and figures wherever possible. 

4. Personalize your story and make emotional connections.

Humanize your organization with stories that help people connect to it in a more personal way. To achieve this, canvas your organization to identify your best stories and best practices. For maximum impact, tell your stories through video and images, not just the written word.

Ex. A foundation that awards scholarships for advanced science research successfully broadened their reach beyond the scientific community by sharing the personal motivations behind their scholars’ research.

5. Engage in two-way communication with stakeholders.

Build trust in your brand by engaging in conversations. Listen to positive and negative feedback and respond to questions, criticism and praise. Engaging through social media is a big part of it, but participating in conferences and seminars is a great way to connect face to face. It’s important to approach social media with a commitment to continuous involvement. Better not to engage at all than to create the impression you are unresponsive, aloof or, worst of all, hiding something.

Ex. An organization dedicated to teachers established a Web portal with discussion forums for their fellows to share best practices, gain support from like-minded peers and ask questions from the organization’s senior staff.

6. Integrate educational components and teaching moments.

Develop educational opportunities to teach key constituencies about your mission and the problems you are trying to solve. Do it in such a way that you address real issues relevant to key stakeholders. Ask questions. Raise issues. Offer solutions. 

7. Validate with third-party endorsements and partnerships.

When voices outside your organization endorse what you’re doing, you should share the good news. Make your stakeholders aware of endorsements you receive from the public, press, government, business and academia. Be sure to leverage awards, evaluations and other forms of recognition. Integrating great quotes from third-party endorsements into your Web site, collateral and media outreach is a powerful tool unlike any other.

Ex. For one client this took the form of a change in venue. By moving an annual reception from a hotel conference center to a prestigious museum, the organization gained credibility and elevated its reputation. Call it validation by location.

James Miller is senior vice president and managing director of Dentsu Communications, a firm that focuses in nonprofit and education communications. 

When Pitching a Product, Ask Yourself, ‘What Problem Does It Solve?’


It’s been a very hot summer so far, but many PR professionals are already thinking about their winter holiday pitches, specifically the endless amount of holiday gift guides and how they can get their client to be included.

Amy Bates Stumpf, co-founder of New Product Events and Gift List Media, a gift guide pitching media database, says that regardless of the pitch, you need to stay focused on the problem and solution:

Write a compelling headline that states the benefits of the product, not the feature. The beginning paragraph should focus on a problem that the product solves.

Courtesy of PRNEWSER.

Bates Stumpf will talk about everything you need to know about pitching gift guides in our upcoming “20 Tips in 20 Minutes” PR webinar on Tuesday, August 17th. Click here for more information and to sign-up

The Most Used Press Release Buzz-Words


This past April, online marketing strategist David Meerman Scott analyzed 711,123 press releases distributed by North American companies in 2008 through Business Wire, Marketwire, GlobeNewswire, and PR Newswire to come up with the most used press release buzzwords.

According to his analysis, “innovate” was the top word used.

Now, Adam Sherk, search and PR strategist for Define Search Strategies, part of The New York Times Company, has taken a look at PRWeb’s archives and come up with the top 75 terms used in releases.

Not surprisingly, “leader” and “leading” are number one and two, respectively. Full list here.

Courtesy of PRNewser.