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PR Results? Yes! Overnight? Not so fast…

By Lisa Samuelson | Published: March 1, 2012 – 1:44 am

Whether you’re looking to land your dream job, or your dream mate, sometimes, the best things in life can take time. The same can be true when it comes to securing national press coverage. If you’re looking to use the power of PR to land some high-profile coverage, then keep this in mind:

Results don’t happen overnight. Sure if you’re Microsoft announcing you’re releasing a version of Office for the iPad (let’s hope!) you’ll get instant results. And lots of them. But unless it’s really hot news or time sensitive you need to learn to be patient. And if you want coverage in national monthly magazines, be prepared to wait up to a year and sometimes longer.

Let me share a recent client example. The results didn’t happen over-night (more like 365 nights) but the national press coverage was well worth the wait.

I pitched a story to a journalist on May 3, 2011 and the interview happened shortly thereafter. The story finally ran on February 1 2012 in the Huffington Post. It also later ran on the home page of AOL. Not just any old story – it was a wonderfully written 1,000+ word profile of the business along with a gorgeous 28 picture slide show. Read it here.  Fabulous exposure for the company. In fact their website hits were up more than 70% immediately following the story.  And shortly after the story ran, they were told that the article had received 312,000 hits.

Do the math. It ran almost 9 months to the day after I first pitched it.  Worth waiting for?  Absolutely.  Instant gratification?  Absolutely not.

Lest you think this is an isolated case, here’s another example. I pitched the Wall Street Journal on May 9, 2011. I heard back right away from the News Editor. Which in and of itself is pretty amazing. Here’s what he said in part:

“We would be happy to add Ms. Gelb to our list of possible profiles. That said, please know that we have heard from hundreds of readers. We are trying to work our way through the pile as quickly as possible – but it’s going to take some time.”

The ‘back in touch’ happened six months later, on December 21. The interview took place between Christmas and New Year. The profile is scheduled to run April 19. (Wahoo!) It might be a daily newspaper but it will be almost exactly a year from pitching to print.

So an online news site and a daily newspaper took 9-12 months for an article placement. That would also be a typical timeline for long-lead (i.e. monthly print) publications.

 So the lesson here…. Don’t hire a PR firm for three months, or even six, task them with getting national press, and expect to get instant results. Create a long-term relationship and work with your firm. Effective PR requires a lot of things, not the least of which is a big dose of patience!

Does your logo have an STD?

By Lisa Samuelson | Published: June 10, 2011 – 4:25 pm

Patient about to receive needle

Finding cures for logos with Shamefully Transmitted Deterioration. Photo: RhizomeImages.com

Guest post by Jen Pennington, owner and creative director of Rhizome Design, Inc

There’s a lot of talk these days about having a sustainable brand in the marketplace. Experts will talk about branding, and marketing, and customer experiences, and these are all genuinely important aspects in maintaining a successful brand. But there’s always one thing that is rarely mentioned…could it be because it can be unsightly, hidden, and sometimes go undetected? Yes, it’s true. Your logo could have an STD or what I like to call a Shamefully Transmitted Deterioration.

Finding cures for logos with Shamefully Transmitted Deterioration. A brand is more than a logo, but a logo represents that brand at-a-glance. So as a designer, when I see logos that look pixelated or fuzzy, it’s like nails on a chalkboard for me. I feel the need to save it or cure it even if I did not create it. (more…)

Lessons learned from the dot com era applied to social media

By Lisa Samuelson | Published: May 24, 2011 – 8:29 pm

Why thye dot com era ended

Seems revenue streams do matter.

I still vividly remember my first dot com client. The CEO was 25, and the director of communications was 23. Not that’s there’s anything wrong with youth and fresh ideas. But every time we went in for a meeting, the business direction had changed and they wanted us to switch gears and promote something different to a new target market. When we asked silly questions like where the revenue stream was going to come from, what their strategy was or to see the marketing plan, we were told we were old school and just didn’t ‘get it’.  That the only thing that mattered was driving eyeballs to the site.  It didn’t matter what the cost of customer acquisition was as long as you had lots of clicks a month to report.

They were going to work hard for a couple of years, take the company public, make a bundle on their stock options and sail off into the sunset. I’m sure you’re shocked to find out that different happen.  And in the end revenues streams not just eyeballs did matter. 

That’s why I was so happy to read Peter Shankman’s post last week:  I Will Never Hire a “Social Media Expert,” and Neither Should You  He likened the current obsession with social media to the dot com era and says. “We’re making the same mistakes that we made during the dotcom era, where everyone thought that just adding the term .com to your corporate logo made you instantly credible. It didn’t. If that’s all you did, you emphasized even more strongly how pathetic your company was.” (more…)

Optimizing your press releases for SEO

By Lisa Samuelson | Published: May 10, 2011 – 12:28 am

key wordsBack in the day, press releases used to go exclusively to the media.  We PR professionals used to write them, post them on the wire and send them out to our databases. An editor would then determine whether it was worthy of their attention. That’s still how it works, but a press release is so much more these days. Not only are they read by your customers and anyone with access to the Internet, but they are also a great tool for  increasing rankings in search engines.

The elements of a good press release remain the same: use the inverted pyramid style; write a strong headline and lead paragraph; cover the five Ws—who, what, where, when, and why—in the first or second paragraph; avoid jargon, buzz words and hype.  See my earlier post about taking  a buzz saw to the buzz words. Oh yeah, and make sure you actually have something newsworthy to announce!

But what’s new is that you need to think about optimizing your releases for search engines. What does this mean? Make sure your releases are full of keyword-rich copy. Think carefully about what the pertinent keywords should be; the ones that would be commonly used by your customers to search for your product or service, not just the ones your industry uses to talk about itself. Need help figuring them out? Use Google AdWords for ideas. Try to use the keywords in your headline and in the first 50 words of the release.

Other tips:

  • Integrate anchor text hyperlinks within the body copy of the press release.
  • Post the press release to a news area on your site. This will create an additional page the search engines can crawl, index and perhaps show in search engine results.
  • Watch the length of your release. Some news search engines will not recognize a press release that is longer than 1,000 words or less than 200 words. Additionally, the longer your press release, the less keyword density it will have.

However, above all make sure your release reads well. Just like writing web copy it’s always a balancing act between pleasing the search engine Gods and pleasing your audience. Don’t stuff your copy with keywords to the point where you turn off your readers and customers.

For more tips check out the great resources that PRWeb offers.

Put the shoe on the other foot from time to time

By Lisa Samuelson | Published: April 8, 2011 – 4:47 am

These days I’m a guest blogger and occasional co-host to TableTalkRadio. In addition to feeding my foodie soul and allowing me to do fun things like attend the Seattle Top Chef tryouts or go to the media preview and menu tasting for The ‘Pen (a new concession area at Safeco Field with amazing food) it’s been a great reminder of what marketers/communicators should always be doing: putting themselves in their customers’ shoes.

I’ve been pitching the media for years. I know what makes a good story and a good pitch, I know that it’s my job to facilitate things and get them useful information in a timely fashion.  I admit it was a little weird to have the shoe on the other foot and to wander around Safeco Field wearing a media badge. But illuminating. When you’re on deadline and writing your story and searching for content, you view press releases and the people who sent them in a whole new way. I don’t know that I’d do anything differently but it has heightened my awareness of my customers’ needs.  Being on the other side of the fence has been good for me.
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Take the buzz saw to the buzz words

By Lisa Samuelson | Published: March 28, 2011 – 3:13 pm

Chainsaw Jen hates buzzwords as much as I do

I am forever telling clients that there are many words that are so overused as to be meaningless. Being a ‘leading solutions provider,’ ‘innovative leader’ or ‘award winning’ does not differentiate you nor add anything to your PR or marketing copy. In fact it can diminish your credibility. It certainly makes my eyes glaze over.

That’s why I love this article from Ragan’s PR Daily which reports on PR strategist Adam Sherk’s analysis of the top 25 most overused buzzwords in PR and marketing.

The most common word (used 776 times in press releases in a 24 hour period) is ‘leading’ followed by ‘solution’ (622 times).  Innovate / innovative / innovator was #4 on the list.

So please peoples, take a buzz saw to the buzz words and find more creative ways to express yourselves.

Outback Steakhouse campaign – confusing brand strategy?

By Lisa Samuelson | Published: March 22, 2011 – 7:32 pm

 

OK, first things first.  Full disclosure.  I had Vegemite for breakfast this morning.  And when friends from Australia come over to visit and ask what they can bring me, the answer is always Vegemite.  So there’s still some Aussie in me despite having no accent what so all anymore and living in the US for longer than I care to admit to.  And as someone born and raised in Australia I’ve always been annoyed by The Outback Steakhouse shtick.  There’s no Bloomin’ Onions in Australia.  And some of the other menu names are truly cringe-worthy.

Eat at Outback and the troups benefit.  This connects to their brand how?

But I can get past that. I get it, it’s a theme restaurant.  With these things come caricatures and schmaltz. But as a brand strategist, rather than offended Aussie, I don’t get their campaign: Thanks For Giving.  If you order off their Red, White, and Bloomin’ menu before April 5th, they’ll donate money to Operation Homefront, a non- profit providing assistance to US service members and wounded warriors.  They’re promoting it everywhere. You can share your hero story and they will feature it on their website and Facebook page.  When I first saw the ad on TV my reaction was, huh?  It was a complete disconnect for me. Please don’t misunderstand, it’s admirable and commendable to want to support US service men and women, but it’s a confusing brand strategy. (more…)

The scoop on Top Chef tryouts

By Lisa Samuelson | Published: March 16, 2011 – 6:45 pm

For those of you who are foodies and want more details about the Seattle Top Chef tryouts, here’s the guest blog post on Table Talk Radio:

Will Seattle Chefs Be Packing Their Knives For Top Chef?

 

Brand 101: Standing Out In The Crowd

By Lisa Samuelson | Published: March 10, 2011 – 3:11 am

Today I attended the Top Chef tryouts and had a great time chatting with some of the chefs who were auditioning for Season 9 of Bravo TV’s hot reality show. I’ll be guest blogging about it for Table Talk Radio and will post a link when it’s up.

Even though a lot of the chefs described some delicious and mouth-watering dishes, the descriptions of seared tuna dishes are all a bit of a blur. (Tuna was a popular choice for the culinary interpretation of the color blue.) It was a great reminder about the need to create ways to stand out from the crowd.

Bravo is conducting auditions in 9 cities across the country. Clearly, it’s a given that there will be many extremely talented chefs applying. So I was surprised that when I asked ‘what makes you stand out’ that many of them answered in what I would call ‘ante-in’ terms: ‘I’m passionate about culinary arts’ or ‘I have great cooking skills’ or ‘I’m creative.’ Really? That might be what gets your foot in the door but it’s not what will make you stand out. (more…)

Some Fonts Can Make Your PowerPoint Suck

By Lisa Samuelson | Published: March 2, 2011 – 11:37 pm

For those of you who enjoyed Chris Arlen’s tips on great presentations and are wanting more, here’s a terrific follow up from my friends at Artitudes Design on chosing the right fonts. While we all yearn to be creative, sometimes sticking with the tried and true is the right strategic choice. 

And the moral of the story? Always test your presentation on multiple machines to make sure the formatting hasn’t gone awry.

Some Fonts Can Make Your PowerPoint Suck