Facebook Marketing Tips for PR Agencies

Like most businesses, PR agencies can benefit from a well-thought out Facebook presence and strategy. Facebook is not only great for brand awareness, but is a proven lead generation and customer support channel. If you don’t already have a Facebook Business Page, it’s high time for you to sign up – it’s easy! Once the easy part is done, the fun part begins – check out these Facebook marketing tips for PR agencies to kick your social presence up a notch!

  1. Complete your profile, and pay particular attention to your address, phone number, hours of operation, category, and description – all of which help you turn up more frequently in Graph Search results. Make it easy for employees, prospects and clients to find you on Facebook!
  2. Add links to your Facebook page everywhere: your website, email signature, business cards, collateral, … anywhere you can think of! Again, make it easy for people to find you!
  3. Run a graph search query to see what your fan’s other interests are. To do this, go to your personal profile, and type something like this into the search box: Pages liked by people who like [your company page]. This will show you a list of other pages your fans like, so you can post related content. For example, if you find that people who like your PR agency also like Oreo, you can share content about Oreo’s PR stunts. Or, if you see that your fans also like PRSA, you should consider joining the organization, and/or sponsoring some of their events. You may also search for Interests liked by people who like [your company page], to get even more information about your fans.
  4. Follow other pages that your fans like, so you can more easily curate content and keep an eye on the industry. There are two great ways to do this: 1) follow the page as yourself (on your personal profile) and add the page to an interest list and 2) like the page as your page. Particularly when following other PR industry pages, other than direct competitors, engage with those pages as yourself, and as your brand page, to build relationships. Over time, you may form a mutually beneficial relationship where each you helps extend the reach of the other page by commenting on their posts and sharing their content.
  5. Post content to your page 1.5-2x per day and mix it up between original and curated content, and use different post types (image posts, link posts and text posts) to keep your content fresh and exciting. It’s easy to find curated content using the Facebook lists and your Page’s Newsfeed from the previous step. Also use hashtags and tag other companies in your posts to increase your reach – Facebook recently updated their algorithm to show your updates to another pages fans, if you tag that page in your update (meaning, if you tag PR Daily in a post where you share a link to their content, it may reach people that follow their Facebook Page, and not yours!). Build engagement with calls-to-action, such as Comment with the PRSA session you’re most looking forward to this year, or like this post if you can’t make it (but wish you could).
  6. Run a Facebook contest with a specific goal in mind: you may want to fan-gate some exclusive PR content to get more likes (maybe an E-Book on 5 Tips for Getting Media Coverage in Major Newspapers), or do a sweepstakes for PRSA tickets to build your email list.
  7. Measure your successes (and learn from your failures) with Facebook Insights. For example, find the best time to post on Facebook and find important information about your reach, engaged users, new likes, and negative feedback so you can repeat things that are working, and learn from things that aren’t. That way, you can continually build your audience without losing their interest – keeping you top of mind when they need some help with PR.

What tips would you add?

Media Monitoring Tip #16: Adding Value to University Alumni Relations

During my time in college, I worked at the Harvard College Fund calling alumni and asking for money. It was a fun job and I loved hearing stories from alumni, but it wasn’t always an easy sell. However I did learn more about how universities interact with alumni and solicit donations. For any university, maintaining a good relationship with alumni and encouraging them to donate is a critical part of ensuring future success. Thousands of educational institutions around the world use Meltwater News to help manage PR and marketing programs across departments ranging from University Athletics to Alumni Relations and Development.

While each university uses Meltwater differently, comprehensive news tracking is at the core of each program. The use case that follows shows how one American business school uses Meltwater News to help keep its alumni relations and development programs on track.

Media Monitoring for Alumni Relations & Development

The graduate school of business at a large public university in the US uses Meltwater News to keep track of alumni and donors in the news. In addition to search agents tracking the school, faculty, and competing institutions, they set up two alumni-focused searches. The information they gather is used to identify high-potential donors, inform university and student fundraisers, and generally promote the success of graduates on internal and external communication channels.

Search Agent #1: Tracking Alumni in the News

This general alumni search looks for any mention of any alumnus. The search returns results anytime the school’s name is close to words like “attended,” “graduated from,” or “MBA from.” Here’s an example of how you might build this kind of search using Boolean operators (ask your account representative for help tailoring the search to your institution):

(“university name” near/5 (“school of business” or “college of business” or “business school” or “college of management” or “school of management”)) near/20 (alumni or alum or alumnus or “graduated from” or attended or “graduate of” or graduated or “has a masters” or “has an MBA” or “MBA from”)

Alumni relations browses these results daily to look for any alumni who have made significant moves in their career – things like securing funding for a venture, a promotion, an exit, or other charitable donations. These high-potential alumni are then routed to the development office and distributed to professional fundraisers or student callers for follow up.

Search Agent #2: Advisory Board Members in the News

The second search tracks members of the business school’s advisory board. The advisory board is made up of alumni who give special lectures and seminars to MBA students and serve as mentors and career advisors. The names of the board members are put directly into the search, along with qualifiers, like where they work, to ensure the results are relevant. The alumni relations department tracks advisors primarily to drive internal and external communications. That can mean including advisor news in alumni or student newsletters, on the website and in materials sent to prospective students and parents.

Educational institutions big and small rely on the support of alumni for donations and there are several different ways to structure alumni searches to support those efforts. Some schools regionalize searches, while others segment alumni by giving history or graduation year. However you organize searches, using media monitoring as a part of alumni relations is a great way to feed content to communications and give context to your fundraising team. From experience I can say that whoever’s on the phone reaching out to alumni will appreciate the extra information!

If there are any other topics you’d like to see on the Meltwater Success Blog, or if you’d like to write a guest post, send me an email at chris.dotson@www.meltwater.com.

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5 Ways To Ensure A Newsworthy PR Pitch

A PR pitch must always be newsworthy, an OMG response is always a good thing!

When was the last time you opened your favorite magazine and found a story that simply didn’t fit with all of the other articles or the magazine’s overall theme? The answer to this question is – or should be – never.  Magazines, like all media, have one job: to deliver content that’s relevant to their audience. In other words, they choose the stories that are newsworthy.

As my colleague Jen Picard pointed out in a recent article, 5 Reasons Your Pitch is Falling Flat, one of the biggest disappointments for a PR pro is seeing a campaign fail. Doing your homework and making sure your story is newsworthy to its audience – both reader and journalist – is the most important step to ensuring pitch success.

A newsworthy story is one that is interesting enough to warrant publishing. Editors and producers look at the stories pitched by PR pros with an eye towards newsworthiness, evaluating submissions based on a version of following criteria:

  • Timeliness: Is the story new/current? No one enjoys reading about or writing about old news.
  • Proximity: Does it impact me? Stories in our own back yard are more interesting than stories that happen 10,000 miles away.
  • Prominence: Who’s involved? Celebrities, politicians and business leaders are interesting to readers.  If they’re involved in the story, you probably have a slam-dunk win.
  • Conflict/Incompetence/Scandal/Shock Value: Is there something shocking or scandalous in your story? If you’ve read a tabloid recently you know this rule well; like it or not, conflict is almost always newsworthy.  The old adage “If it bleeds, it leads” didn’t happen by accident.
  • Future Impact: Will this news shape the future in any way? Often a story fails the timeliness test but still gets a pass if it has future importance to a company, person or other subject people care about.
  • Human Interest: Human-interest stories are the newsworthy wild card. A story can fail all of the above but win based on human interest.  After all, everyone loves a heartwarming story!

A story doesn’t need to include every point above to be newsworthy, but it will need to nail at least one.  The best pitches usually include 2 or, more likely, 3 of the above.

Knowing, in a general sense, what a journalist is looking for in a story is half the battle.  The other half is putting the story through what I refer to as the “relevance test.” A journalist’s newsworthy test tells them if the story is right for their publication/audience. The relevance test tells you if you will pass that test.

Testing for relevancy does require objectivity. You’ll need to remove yourself from the mindset of an employee or agency PR rep and put yourself in the shoes of both the journalist and the reader. Pretend you know nothing of the story or the related company and evaluate your pitch based on the following 5 criteria.

Relevance Test: 5 ways to test the newsworthiness of your PR pitch

  1. Test 1: External Relevance: Is your story interesting to people outside of your company? Too often employees enjoy hearing about developments that are not too exciting for those who are not employees. How many times have you had a co-worker come to you with an idea for a press release that simply didn’t make sense? Right. It happens all the time. Just like you are forced to explain to that same co-worker that their story isn’t worthy of a press release, you need to be honest with yourself about whether your own story is pitch-worthy.
  2. Test 2: Personal Relevance: Would you read the story? This is the easiest test of the bunch. Simply ask yourself: if your story were to run, would you read it? If the answer is no, abandon ship!
  3. Test 3: Customer Relevance: Does your customer need or care about your story? If the answer is yes, proceed. But do so with caution, remembering that just because your pitch is relevant to your customer doesn’t mean it will pass test 4 or 5.
  4. Test 4: Journalist Relevance: Based on the stories the journalist you’re pitching has written recently, will they find your story relevant? As you build your media list think carefully about every person you add. Spend time looking at the stories they have written and be honest when you ask yourself this question “will this person find this interesting, or am I wasting their time?” If your story fails this test, that person should not be on your list.
  5. Test 5: Media Relevance: Determine if the story you’re pitching fits within publication you are about to pitch. On the surface this may seem simple, but in truth it can get complicated and will force you to think about your story and pitch objectively. Obviously you wouldn’t pitch a celebrity story to TechCrunch; technology stories belong in TechCrunch. However, that doesn’t mean that they will cover EVERY tech story. You need to decide if you have the type of story that they tend to cover, and this will take a bit of research on your end.

Just like a journalist’s newsworthy test, your pitch doesn’t need to pass every relevancy test. At minimum I would recommend that it pass tests 1, 4 and 5.

Putting the Tests to Use in Two Steps

Start by crafting your pitch messaging with an eye towards the newsworthy test a journalist will use to evaluate. Once you’ve crafted the story and feel you have passed the newsworthy test, put your story through the relevancy test. Decide if your story is worth pursuing (test 1-3), and then decide whom to pitch at which media outlets (test 4 and 5).

Is this a ticket to guaranteed success? No, of course not. In PR you need to be ready for rejections. Will this test and the research and prep work it requires reduce your rate of rejection? Yes, it will. Do your homework! Journalists will appreciate the effort and your success rate will improve.

 

 

 

5 Ways Your Business Blog Can Attract (or Repel) Readers

In Japan, the symbolic Maneki Neko (“beckoning cat”) is believed to attract good fortune and success for businesses.

Providing great content via your company’s blog is an important way to attract online visitors to your company’s website, which is one key to business success in today’s world. Having valuable content is also an important way to entice visitors to stay longer on your site, to learn more about your company, to educate (and entertain) them, to establish your company as an authority on industry topics, and to encourage readers to share your content .

Having worked with companies of all sizes across a variety of industries, I’ve found one key issue that often impedes a successful content marketing strategy.

What is it? It’s that content produced by companies is often focused on what the company wants to communicate out and not what the prospects want (or need) to learn about.

Companies can’t generate genuine reader interest and produce good (or great) content until they fundamentally change their perspective from internally-focused to customer-focused.

In addition, companies need to align with the target market’s preferences in terms of types of content and how it’s delivered.

Not sure if your content is Customer-focused enough? Here’s a quick checklist to get you started:

1) Does Your Content Address Your Prospect’s Pain Points?

No, introducing version 3.0 of your product and all of its features doesn’t count. Do you directly address your prospect’s pain points with an article like one of the following?

– How to Write a Living Will That Works (without breaking the bank)
– 5 Ways Doctors Can Market on Social Media (and tools to use)
– Step-by-step Instructions for Ceating an Explainer Video for Your Software Product
– 4 Resources For Finding the Right Retirement Home for Mom/Dad

2) Is Your Content More Interesting to Employees Than Readers?

If employees will be more interested in the content than 99% of your website visitors, then you’re probably too internally-focused.

Example of content that will not compel shares or interest from readers: Posts about your company BBQ, your company’s move to a new building, a customer case study with just summary information of the project, or the introduction of a new employee.

Example of content focused on you that may be interesting: How wine is made (with pictures or video), thought leadership from your CEO or VP of Marketing that presents a unique point of view about trends in the industry, or your products being used in a unique way (e.g. Lowes doing Vine videos of tools exploding like fireworks for the 4th of July (via the Content Marketing Institute)).

3) Does Your Educational Content Just Tease?

When helping your readers in a specific area, do you provide enough information to move forward? You don’t have to teach everything (or cannibalize your products or services), but readers want to get enough detail to be able to do at least one new thing. In addition, telling people what to do, but not telling them the tools needed or where to get them can be just as frustrating. Ask yourself, is your article teasing or is there enough to move forward in one area?

4) Does It Require Advanced Industry Knowledge?

If your audience includes newbies or people just learning about your industry, extremely advanced topics or industry lingo may severely limit your audience. If your target audience is very advanced users, then these posts on advanced topics focused on industry insiders may be just what you need. Understand the audience that you’re trying to address and make sure your content matches their level of understanding.

5) Is Your Content Easy To Digest? (Think Like a Magazine Editor)

If your content contains big blocks of dry text without any headers, bullets, pictures, graphics or video, then it’s about as interesting as the old school textbooks that were designed to pass information without any muss, fuss or frills. People like content that includes pictures, graphs, charts, graphics, video, bullet points, lists, and bite-sized content mixed with occasionally longer pieces. Think of magazines like Inc., Wired, Popular Mechanics or People Magazine and how they deliver content. Think of your blog as the part of your website that’s more like a magazine than a textbook, press release or product brochure. If you don’t, you’re probably turning off potential readers.

So, Is Your Content Customer-Focused?

Is your content internally-focused or is it focused on what your prospects and customers find valuable? Are you delivering it in a way that appeals to your audience? Is your content waving them goodbye or beckoning them?

Let me know in the comments and feel free to share your favorite ways that companies either attract or repel readers.

5 Reasons Your Pitch is Falling Flat

There’s nothing more disappointing than spending an inordinate amount of time on something, only to have it fail. Even worse than having it fail, though, is not learning from the failure. If you’ve had a pitch fall flat in the past, what have you learned from it? Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  1. The topic isn’t interesting. I’ve worked in the tech startup space for the past few years, and I’ve noticed what appears to be a very common problem: someone in the C-Suite wants to do a press release about a product release, a closed round of funding or a product update and, not matter how you “spin” it, it’s just not that interesting. If you have an existing relationship with a journalist or just happen to reach out at the exact right time, you may be able to sneak the announcement in to a larger story – but, chances are, you just need to come up with something better. Try tying your less interesting news to something journalists (and bloggers!) haven’t heard before. For example, if you hire a new high-profile data scientist, come up with a story around the data they’ve uncovered and sneak in the little tidbit about their recent move to your company.
  2. The content isn’t attention-grabbing. Once you’ve come up with an interesting topic, it’s important to present it in an interesting way. Nobody likes to read long paragraphs of text and, if nobody reads your pitch, nobody is going to write about it. So spruce it up with short paragraphs, bullet points, quotes, images, videos, infographics – whatever you can think of to grab your reader’s attention and make them want to share your story.
  3. You’re not targeting the right people. Technology has made it incredibly easy to take a “spray and pray” approach to pitching – PR pros have databases upon databases of journalists to spam reach out to with their stories, and can instantly send hundreds or thousands of emails with the click of a button. One of the big lessons I’ve learned from email marketing is that it’s all in the list. Taking the time to really hone in on your target audience can go a long way in getting a response – so think carefully about which publications and journalists would likely be interested in your story and start there. It may take a little more time upfront, but the payoff will be worth it.
  4. You’re not tailoring your pitch to the journalist. Building upon the previous point, carefully selecting your list allows you to research each journalist and what they’ve written in the past, so you can tailor your pitch specifically to them. Meltwater’s media database actually allows you to search for journalists by what they’ve written in the past, so you can reference related articles in your pitch and discuss how your story is relevant to their audience. Can we say, “winner, winner, chicken dinner?”
  5. You don’t have an existing relationship with the journalist. This isn’t absolutely crucial, but it can definitely be icing on the cake! Most of the time, you have some time to craft your pitch and build your list – why not start priming journalists early, as well? Once you’ve built your list, take a look at some of the articles they’ve written in the past and comment on them with insightful information or questions. Then, utilize social media to begin sharing their content and responding to their tweets. Building a relationship with your target audience before you actually need something from them will help you stand out and can be the difference between your story being published, or glossed over.

What else do you have to add to this list? Let me know with a comment!

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