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.

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Introducing the NEW Facebook Timeline

Courtesy of SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY.

You may have heard that Facebook will be rolling out their new profiles and features, including “Facebook Timeline”. As developers for Facebook, the team at MarketMeSuite got early access to it.  This post explains the new lay out and features. The big change is actually on your own page, not so much on your news feed/homepage. The layout is completely new and different.

1- Cover Photo

The big change is the photo across the entire top of your page, the “Cover Photo”:

As Facebook themselves say, it will now be the first thing anyone visiting your page see. It packs a punch and the visual impact is something not seen o Facebook before. You have complete control over the photo, much like a profile photo and it can be changed and updated as often as you like so you don’t have to worry about it being set once it’s in place. However, it is not something you an opt out of and remove so be sure to pick images you like!

Do note though, that Facebook has banned using this space as a banner for advertising, commercialization or infringement of others.

2- Data Storage

New Facebook will be storing your data is a newfangled manner. All in one place! Whether it’s you photos, videos, your friends list, apps or anything else, they will all be located in the same place. This is not to say it will all be a jumbled mess on your page but rather set in a clear and precise row where you can select the topics of your choice:

It’s definitely much easier to see what you are looking for and access it easily. When things are set out clearly, time and patience are saved, this is something that may make Facebook much more stream lined and efficient.

3- The Activity Timeline

Here is one of the key new features, where the idea of the “Timeline” really comes into its own. The activity timeline shows all of your updates, friend making, photo uploads etc that you have ever done. From the very first day you started using Facebook. It is also where you will be controlling your privacy settings for all posts, past, present and future.

This data can not be seen by any of your friends or other Facebook users so you can rest assure that your information will be secure and private so you can be as selective in your publishing and topics as you like! Be aware, this is not your notification prompts, they remain the same in the top bar.

4- The Real Timeline

The timeline, of everything you do on Facebook and in your day to day life. Whether you log your events in updates or fill in the blanks, add photos or videos, talk to friends, it is all logged here from day 1 to now! Whether you want to scroll back manually or select a date form the side side bar, you can see every single piece of data you wish.

This is great if you wish to locate a certain update, photo, status update or “Liked” data. Knowing you can find it easily but date or just scroll through means you have all your data at your fingertips ready to share with others or keep for yourself.

For Better Or Worse?

This new Facebook has been an eagerly anticipated event. Even though it had not been released to even developers until last week, it’s a popular topic of conversation or many social media fans. And it’s caused a ripple and divide in opinion. Some consider it a masterpiece in social networking future technique. After all you have every single piece of data you would ever need, you have control over it and it gives you far greater control over your social media and online sharing and interaction.  However, others consider that it may be invading too much into ones personal life, as they will be asked to add D.O.B, key events, memories, personal events and feelings that happens outside of the social  network. Does Facebook really need to know this? Is it all just advertising and an act of power at showing how influential they are? But saying that, people have the option to opt out of adding that data and keeping it as limited as possible so do Facebook really hold any sway over its users? People also argue that Facebook make far too many changes and it’s hard for users to keep up with them and be constantly learning new ways of how it works.

Key Take Away

When this new Facebook is pushed out to everyone, the only person whose opinion matters will be yours. You get to pick what you add, which data to share with Facebook. It’s an objective view and it will be a change which will have provoke various outlooks and opinions, sure to be heard through many a blog and article and even among friends. One thing is for sure, it’s a change that you will have to get used to, love it or hate it.

Who Wrote This Article?

I’m Nikki and I work at MarketMeSuite, the social media marketing dashboard. We have some Great news! We are now free! Please check it out and be sure to let me know what you think!

When Your Brand Message Doesn’t Match How People Search

Courtesy of SEARCH ENGINE LAND.

SEO is all about words. Which words people search with; how to use them; and where to put them. Choosing the right keywords is imperative to the success of any SEO campaign.

Unfortunately, selecting these keywords isn’t always as simple as it would seem. Many B2B companies have very specific marketing and messaging philosophies that may not always line up exactly with the way prospects search.

What? We Can’t Use Those Words!

This is not a new problem. It is often said that SEO is the art of compromise. There are times when a B2B company is presented with SEO recommendations and the response is, “we don’t want to use that word/phrase on our website”.

While the keyword or phrase may be highly relevant and have great search volume, the phrase itself may not be appealing from a brand message perspective.

For example, your marketing team may refer to your service as “demand creation”, but the vast majority of your prospects are searching for “lead generation.”

Your CEO may be in love with the term “enterprise telecomm services”, but most buyers search for “call center.”

What should a B2B marketer do if their company’s brand messaging does not align with the way prospects search?

Six Factors To Consider

Here are six factors to consider when evaluating whether or not to include keywords in your SEO strategy:

  1. Keyword relevance
  2. Search volume
  3. Competition
  4. Searcher Intent
  5. Market Position
  6. Internal vs External Industry Jargon

Relevance & Volume

First, does this word or phrase describe your business or your products/services? Is it highly-relevant to your business? If yes, the keyword should at least be considered for inclusion in your SEO program.

Second, does research indicate that this keyword or phrase is commonly used?

Look at total search volume as well as the amount of variations of the keyword or phrase. If volume is high for both of these metrics, this phrase is most likely often used by prospects in relation to your business.

Competition

A third data point to consider is whether your direct competitors are using the phrase.

If a majority of competitors use these words on their websites – there’s probably a very good reason why! Be cautious about going against market trends when it comes to common search phrases and the way people describe your products and services.

Searcher Intent

Can you tell if the person conducting the search with this keyword or phrase is looking for your product or service offerings? Or does this word/phase have a variety of meanings and uses?

For example, acronyms often have high search volume, but searcher intent can be hard to determine due to different meanings.  ”ERP ” usually means Enterprise Resource Planning, but it can also mean Effective Radiated Power, and Electronic Road Pricing!

In order for a keyword to be an effective element of your SEO campaign, the intent of the searcher must be to find the exact service your firm offers.

Market Position

The next factor to consider is market position.

If you incorporate a keyword/phrase into your website, will it negatively impact your company’s position in the market? This may be the case if the keyword describes only a small part of your overall service offering or is not entirely reflective of your company.

Overall, if it is not likely that having this keyword (or phrase) on your website will negatively impact market position or audience perception then the risk associated with including this keyword or phrase in your SEO program is low.

Industry Jargon

Finally, the issue of industry jargon must be addressed.

It can be hard to remember that a word doesn’t always carry the same meaning to the whole world that it does within your company. B2B marketers often create a new description for products or services that they believe sounds better than the common name or search phrase.

While it is important to have a unique selling proposition, the new description may not match the way your target audience would describe your product or service.

Remember, successful SEO is dependent upon speaking the same language! Beware of building your SEO strategy around internal marketing jargon – rather than the words prospects actually use to search.

SEO Benefit vs. Market Position & Perception

In my opinion, an effective SEO program requires that a company stand behind all of the keywords and phrases they are targeting. These six considerations can help you evaluate the pros and cons of including keywords in your SEO strategy.

There are times when a B2B company must adapt their brand message and times they should stay the course.

SEO agencies and B2B companies alike must thoughtfully consider the potential impact a keyword can have on SEO results and how this keyword may influence the market’s perception of your firm.

Why the QR code is Failing (and How To Fix It)

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Courtesy of Sean X. Cummings and iMediaConnection.

They have become the standard violator appearing on advertising; in the corner of print ads, across billboards, on buses, or in pieces of direct mail — even peppered throughout this article. You’ve seen them; that little block of even littler squares. Unfortunately the technology behind QR codes was not invented for advertising and marketing; we are just co-opting its usage, and it shows.

From the relative lack of public understanding of what they even are, to the dearth of creativity in their usage, the QR code is destined to become just the little box that geek built. But if it does go the way of CueCat, only we are to blame. Here’s why.

The current use of QR codes in advertising is…
I could finish that statement with “stupid,” “useless,” “uncreative,” or “uninspiring.” Surprisingly, that is not news to anyone at advertising agencies or brands. QR codes seem to be a last ditch effort; an ignored piece of “Hey, throw a QR code on there that leads to our website.” But why bother? The general public seems largely oblivious to what they are used for, and why they are on all those ads. In my informal “on the street” survey of 300 people last month, I held up a sign with a QR code on it and the phrase: “Free gift if you can tell me what this is.”

I was not asking them to decipher it, just tell me what it actually was. Here are the results:

  • 11 percent correctly answered QR code or quick response code
  • 29 percent responded with “Some barcode thingy”
  • Seven percent guessed some variant of “Those things you stare at that get 3D when you cross your eyes. What picture is it? I can’t seem to get it”
  • The remaining 53 percent tried everything from a secret military code, Korean (uh really?), to an aerial street map of San Francisco

My survey was conducted in San Francisco, the veritable Mecca of the planet for tech, so it only goes downhill from here. When I asked those who knew it was some type of “barcode” how they could decipher it, 35 percent answered “with their phone.” When I asked them to actually “read” it with their phone? Only 45 percent of those were able to do it, and it took an average of 47 seconds for them to take out their phone and find the application to read the QR code — not exactly a “quick response.” Remember that agencies are putting these on moving buses and highway billboards.

To read the rest of the article, CLICK HERE.

Search…Out…Discovery…In

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Courtesy of Adam Singolda, MEDIA POST’s VIDEO INSIDER.

In the mid ’90s, webmasters started to optimize their site so that when a search engine had sent its “spider” to crawl the page, data would be properly extracted and visible to users proactively searching for it. That was SEO.

Better visibility on search engines meant more users landing on your website’s content. More users landing on the website meant more revenue.

That discipline later evolved to also offer a paid option for getting users into your sites — now considered one of the primary money makers for search engines.

15 years after, people still use search, true — but not as much as they used to, and in my opinion, will barely do so in the future.

Why? People have no idea what they want to do next, so how can they search for it?

The world is transforming from actively pursuing to passively discovering. People might search for an article or a video, but then discovery vehicles will get the user to bounce from one piece of content to another. In fact, I’m not even sure that search will remain to be the anchor as it is today for people to land on the first article or video. As an example — social channels are already getting massive momentum and users are spending more time on them (Facebook versus Google)

The biggest asset on the Web, in my opinion, is “owning” where users go. Today it’s primarily Google through its search engine — a very lucrative business indeed. In the not-so-far future, I think that discovery tools — from social vehicles to recommendation engines spread all around the web content pages, offering people content they might like from the Web — will win.

If that’s true, the huge market of optimizing search and paying for it (SEO/SEM) will slowly transform into optimizing and paying for Discovery tools that own users’ attention and help navigate them to the “best next thing.”

I would call it discovery engine optimization (DEO).

 

 

Steve Jobs…Job Well Done

After piling on yesterday with everyone else who felt that Apple blew it when they announced the new iPhone upgrade (not because of what they offered but because they let the rumors of what they might be offering…ie-a revolutionary re-think and re-design…get so far out of hand), I feel bad in retrospect, particularly after I hear today that Steve Jobs passed away today.

He, more than anyone else, epitimized the visionary new CEO we’ve come to expect.  The dreamer who could get it done.  Not only did he pioneer a whole new industry (personal computers) with his partner Steve Wozniak, but he proved that it wasn’t a fluke when he was brought back into the company he’d originally built and rescued it from the bean counters by bringing back passion and purpose again to their products.  And wonder….as in “I wonder what they’ll do next?”

That may come back to bite the company in the post-Jobs era, when a duller, drabber set of managers will try and continue to pull off that trick, again and again (as only Jobs could do it).  Let’s hope that there’s still some magicians within their ranks. For if they can’t create and control expectations (like they failed to do Monday when they rolled out the revised iPhone), then we’ll all be left to wonder “what if we never find another Steve Jobs again?”

“And one more thing…” as Jobs loved to say at the end of his presentation, as he pulled the rabbit once again out of his hat.  Just because someone shows you the trick, doesn’t mean you can really pull it off.  I think Apple’s new executives are just beginning to realize that.

Is This the New Apple?

Like everyone else, I was disappointed by the no news, “non-news” introduction of the “new iPhone 4S”.  They saw the hype happening and the anticipation of an entirely new, revolutionary platform.  So why didn’t they nip it in the bud?  Particularly with a new CEO taking the helm!

What I fear is this…Rather than still aspiring to be bold and “industry leading”,  the new Apple (under the bean counters again) is just trying to milk some more  profit out of the orignal chassis.  Then, next summer, they’ll make all  these iPhone 4S’s obsolete with their delayed iPhone 5.  Which explains  what the added letter “s” stands for…sucker.

Or will it turn out be “S for Stupid” in that Apple wasted a chance to get ahead of their competition and capture all those people who were ready to buy their product NOW (many of who may now go to Android rather than wait for the highly anticipated new platform the new Apple leadership allowed us to believe was coming).

A classic case of misreading the market and sending the wrong message (on mulitiple levels) to their disappointed fans and consumers.  From the one company we NEVER expected to get it wrong.

Read more: http://techland.time.com/2011/10/04/spec-spat-apple-iphone-4s-vs-iphone-4/#ixzz1ZqzAR8Rq