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Comments Off on Inbound Marketing Video Tips

Inbound Marketing Video Tips

A Screenshot of an Inbound Marketing Video
Inbound marketing is an effective way to connect with potential customers and strategically deliver information. One of the most successful tools is video. According to a recent Hub Spot article, the amount of videos posted to Facebook has grown 75% over the last year. On Twitter, visuals also produce 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets. Although you can’t deny the potential return, there is an investment associated with producing videos. Here are some factors you should consider if you are planning to create original videos.

  1. Viewing Platform
  2. Concept Planning
  3. Length
  4. Look & Sound: Production Values

Platform Where it Will be Viewed

If you are producing your video for television, there are various options associated with airtime to consider. Most inbound marketing efforts are produced for social media. YouTube is the most popular video hosting site. Vine and Snapchat are also gaining popularity. Although these outlets are free, advertising to increase the number of viewers comes with a cost. Facebook adjusted its algorithm to decrease the impressions companies get from their followers, paid advertising will increase your video views. No matter where the video is found, strive for quality in execution and content.

Concept Planning and Execution

Turning an innovative idea into a great video takes planning. Do not make the mistake of not including the value of this time in your cost estimate. Be sure to include the time associated with script writing, story boarding, shooting, any special effects, graphics and multiple sets of edits once the client has access to the video. Many companies do not make proper allowance for the time and costs associated with making a video. A pre-production meeting is recommended.

Video Length

Not all videos are created equal. If you are planning to create 15 one minute videos, or a 15 minute video the costs are different. Add up the number of days you will need to actually be shooting your videos as you are evaluating costs. If you do a more traditional video shoot using actors in a physical setting, remember to calculate the cost associated with staff. You will need a director, camera operator(s), grip, gaffer, and various other hands on deck for the shoot. If this is a longer shoot do not forget to include the cost associated with housing, travel and food. Locations themselves can also be expensive to rent or dress up to make fit your client’s desires.

The Final Look and Sound

Voice talent and music are a very expensive element of video creation. Music royalties or the cost of having original music recorded can easily amount to thousands of dollars. There are ways to get access to royalty free music, but with the reduced cost you may not get the exact sound you were looking for. Voice over talent is also a costly expense. Ensure you get the sound and read you envisioned for your associated cost.

Acting and graphics can make or break a video. Professional actors are another expensive part of video production, but they will come with the professionalism required to get the shots faster, saving you time and money when it comes to other elements of your video. If you decide to not use actors, but instead to use animation, it is also be costly. You again have to weigh the difference between professional and armature and determine where you want to invest your money. Also consider the software required to successfully complete an animated project.

Videos are an Almost Essential Part of Inbound Marketing

Make sure that your production costs don’t break the bank. Don’t forget the most important part of any video is the content. Educate and entertain your audience. That can be done in your office with a smart phone if it is what you have available or you can spend hundreds, of thousands of dollars on a set. When you are planning your videos make sure you know your budget and stick to it. Videos don’t have to break the bank to break you into a new market segment.

Our team can with with your budget to incorporate video into your inbound marketing campaign. Contact David Walker for more information.

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Comments Off on PR Insider: PR is the new SEO

PR Insider: PR is the new SEO

Guest Blog by: Uwe Schmidt, president of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN)

While Google has changed the search algorithms three times between 2011 and 2013, the latest one seems to be causing the most headaches to SEO specialists since it focuses mostly on content. And that’s – alas, dear techies! – first and foremost no technological approach. It’s an opportunity for PR professionals (who develop key message-driven strategies for their clients) to provide deep content and manage both sides of modern PR: the media and the SEO portions.

Here are five tips from a PR professional who’s been following SEO trends very closely over the last few years:

  1. Constantly create new user-oriented content on your website. This will guarantee visitors stay longer and Google will recognize higher relevance for your website.
  2. Create unique content. For instance, pitch bylined articles for placement on reputable websites such as online trade magazines, and get links to that content on your website secured. These links are invaluable for your Google ranking.
  3. Design website content, structure and technique so Google can analyze the content easily. Include keywords within all titles and copy. Eliminate large images and flash animations whenever possible.
  4. Avoid duplicate content. Also, do not book low-value placements on pseudo press portals or directories that were created to distort Google results. Google now ignores such entries and even might punish companies appearing on such “spam sites” by down-ranking their websites.
  5. Choose a smart PR agency as your company’s partner. Doing so will better ensure that each side understands both the content and the technological aspects of state-of-the-art SEO public relations.

This may sound easy, but in reality it’s not. In reality, few companies truly understand the current trends and how they can use them to their benefit, nor do they know how to find the right partner to work with them on the opportunity. At the end of the day, it’s all about including SEO in the content-driven communications strategy of a company and being able to shift a part of the marketing budget to one of the most effective tools that exists today: SEO-PR.

Uwe Schmidt is CEO of the German PR & communications agency Industry-Contact (IC AG) and the current president of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN). Follow Uwe: @IC_AG.


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Comments Off on Press Releases Generate More Favorable Reviews Than Paid Advertising

Press Releases Generate More Favorable Reviews Than Paid Advertising

Public Relations Word Cloud

A well-written press release generates far more impressions and favorable reviews than paid media (i.e. advertising). The most critical advantage public relations offers is “believability.” When your message appears as editorial (both online and offline), it carries with it the implied third-party endorsement of the publication’s editor.

Think about. Which of the following carries more weight in your mind? Which is more credible?

a. A web banner touting a new product or service

b. A social media post about a new product or service

c. A print ad showcasing a new product or service

d. A feature story about a new product or service in the Wall Street Journal, The Plain Dealer, Crain’s or on the CNN website?

Most people agree that editorial coverage is not only more credible, it’s far more in-depth and detailed than any advertisement could ever be. Here’s another big factor: public relations costs far less than paid advertising. Many large trade and consumer publications charge $25,000 or more for a single page print ad (one time). You could run a PR campaign for a full year for the price of one ad!

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Comments Off on Why Building Relationships with Editors is So Critical

Why Building Relationships with Editors is So Critical

A Rolled Newspaper

Getting content (e.g. press releases, feature articles, case studies, etc.) placed in the media is highly dependent upon developing relationships with editors. If you can become a trusted source for quality content, editors will actually seek you out for editorial. Over the past two decades Stevens Strategic Communications (SSC) has been fortunate to develop key editorial contacts all over the globe. Below are some of our best practices we use to get your content published.

Any relationship with an editor begins with a pitch. PR professionals spend hours crafting the perfect pitch to a news outlet that creatively highlights the intended message. From an editor’s point of view, it is the potential impact of the pitch that will get a message covered, not how much effort was put into perfecting the pitch.

Certain PR practitioners may have different philosophies about maintaining relationships with editors. Some don’t try to build relationships at all and resort to blindly calling a news outlet to pitch a story or gather information. It may be necessary to use this method at times; however SSC believes creating a strong relationship generally helps in getting your work noticed.

SSC never gives an editor false or useless material. Giving them unreliable information is a sure way of getting your pitch deleted or thrown in the trash. We always provide them with verified messages, and are available to answer any follow-up questions they may have. It is our job to be a dependable source, and an editor or reporter should be able to rely on us to get the correct information they need.

We don’t pitch all the timeWhen you are constantly focused on pitching your clients to anyone who will listen, you lose sight of the bigger picture. PR is all about relationships and savvy publicists know when to pitch a client and when to hold off and come up with a better angle, strategy or pitch so that their communication with editors is as efficient as possible.

The most important thing to remember is the relationship between an editor and PR practitioner is mutual. A significant amount of the information editors gather comes from PR professionals, so they need us just as much as we need them. All communication experts value relationships. Maintaining strong and functional relationships between PR practitioners and editors will help accomplish the ultimate goal of both professionals, which is to disseminate meaningful messages to key markets.

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Breaking News: Ed Stevens, APR+M Assumes Three Industry Leadership Roles

Ed Stevens

Ed Stevens, APR +M, has just been named President-Elect of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), the fourth largest group of independent PR firms in the world. He has served PRGN as Marketing Officer for the past four years. “I am honored to be selected by the people who have helped my clients grow their businesses both internationally and domestically. We have some of the world’s best PR minds as members.”

In addition, Ed also holds two high-visibility positions with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). As a member of the executive committee for the PRSA Health Academy, Ed will be heavily involved on the committee charged with bringing the academy’s annual conference to Cleveland in the spring of 2015. “It is estimated that this event will bring over 300 professionals to the city as we place a spotlight on Cleveland as the center of excellence for healthcare in America,” said Ed.

Finally, Ed will be the next president of the PRSA Northwest Pennsylvania Chapter. “I am excited to be a PRSA president. It is my third stint as a president, having served as president twice with Greater Cleveland Chapter.” Stevens Strategic Communications believes it is great to give back to our community, our industry and PR professional people in Erie and Cleveland.

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Comments Off on Fixing Data Breach PR- Guest Post by David Fuscus of Xenophon Strategies, Washington, DC

Fixing Data Breach PR- Guest Post by David Fuscus of Xenophon Strategies, Washington, DC

“Year of the Retailer Breach” was how Verizon recently described 2013 in their annual Data Breach Report, saying that it “was a year of transition… to large scale attacks on payment card systems”. The report documented 1,367 confirmed data breaches, the largest and most infamous of which was the massive amount of customer information stolen from Target during the busy Christmas shopping season.

Target’s initial handling of the breach was so poor that the iconic bull’s-eye logo had rested squarely on their corporate forehead for months and the Board of Directors finally pulled the trigger and fired CEO Gregg Steinhafel and Chief Information Officer Beth Jacob.  Target’s struggles and executive replacements can only lead one to speculate that their next financial results will be ugly.

Target’s initial communications response was particularly bad because they acted so slowly; media reports started on December 12, but the breach wasn’t publically acknowledged for seven days. Target finally instituted a comprehensive response program (including free credit reports) and a PR campaign to repair the damage, but it was too little, too late — the data breach steamroller was already in motion and crushing customer trust.

And it wasn’t just Target; Neiman Marcus stands out as another retailer who bungled public communications about a massive data breach.  Rumblings of multi-breaches at Neiman’s first appeared in mid-December and a forensic firm discovered evidence of the breach on January 1st, but it wasn’t until January 10ththat they were forced to acknowledge the crisis after security blogger Brian Krebs broke the story  and they didn’t officially announce the crisis until January 23rd.  Their initial media communication efforts were pitiful, mainly an on-demand only statement for journalists.  A key rule of crisis communications is to define yourself rather than be defined and Neiman-Marcus took few and inadequate actions to communicate on a broad level to the public and their customers.

Data breaches are the worst type of modern corporate crisis because they directly impact masses of individual customers on a financial and emotional level. When people are personally hurt or threatened, they can become powerful influencers when those stories are amplified across social networks; when millions are individually threatened, their reaction can severely damage an entire business, regardless of size.

So how could sophisticated, well-managed, companies like Target and Neiman-Marcus bungle their data breach communications so badly?  It’s not like the basics of crisis communications are mystical:  define rather than be defined, fast self-disclosure, respond directly to customers and undertake public facing actions to ensure it never happens again.

While the reasons for Target’s and Neiman-Marcus’s communications decisions are only known within the company, there are some likely candidates:

  • Legal vs Communications.  In a crisis, the first priority of competent communicators is to publically define the situation and exert some influence with the media and customers.  The first priority of legal professionals is generally to put the company in the best possible position for litigation, especially when litigation will be massive.  If a company hasn’t addressed the balance of brand damage vs. litigation before a crisis, it inevitably leads to delay as senior executives tend to defer to their legal teams.
  • Speed vs Full Information.  In any data breach, having a full understanding of what happened can take days, weeks or months. Target’s internal investigation and report on their breach still isn’t done five months after the event.  Waiting for full or robust information can waste precious time and allow the story to break from another source.  Arts and crafts giant Michael’s suffered a data breach shortly after Neiman’s and Target, but they announced a potential breach as soon as they discovered it, engaged with the media and opened a CEO-level dialogue with their customers.  By jumping out ahead of the story, Michael’s was viewed as competently managing the crisis and working to protect their customers.
  • Communications Infrastructure.  When a crisis explodes, public attention is almost instantaneous and can be massive both in the news media and on social channels.  The level of attention and potential ferocity is outside the experience of most business executives and, with no base of experience, ill-informed decisions can reign.  Corporations need to plan for crisis communications, build infrastructure and have the proper outside resources on tap so that they can instantly ramp up and engage with both the media and their customers.

Public communications after a data breach needs to be comprehensive — a company needs to understand its ability to respond to the media and customers, whether it is through the press, social channels, call centers or stores.  And the execution of fast, meaningful, communications depends on the advance identification of issues that can slow down a public response — be it lack of preparation, communications infrastructure or insufficient planning between a company’s communications, legal and technical functions.

David Fuscus is the president and CEO of Xenophon Strategies, a leading U.S. PR firm specializing in crisis & reputation communications and brand management which is headquartered in Washington, DC.  Follow him on Twitter at @DavidFuscus or @XenophonPR.

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Comments Off on How to Write a Press Release

How to Write a Press Release

Paper with penWhen done right, a press release can bring you a great deal of attention, hundreds (if not thousands) of hits to your website and ultimately more sales and revenue. So what is a press release?

In essence, a press release is simply a statement prepared for distribution to the news media announcing something claimed as having news value with the intent of gaining media coverage.

Your press release should contain the following vital components:


The headline is the first single line of text and announces what the content press release. It can be a very effective tool to grab the attention of editors, so writing it from a journalist’s perspective is very important. Think what headlines catch your eyes in the newspaper or trade publications.  The headline should be descriptive but not too long.


– Dateline –This contains the release date of the press release and usually also the originating city of the press release.

– Introduction –This is the first paragraph in a press release, that generally gives basic answers to the questions of who, what, when, where and why.

– Details —This section gives further explanation, statistics, background, or other details relevant to the news and also serves to back up whatever claims were made in the introductory paragraph. Leave a blank line after each paragraph for good visibility.


The about section is also called the “boilerplate” as it is used over and over again. It is generally a short section providing background information on the press release issuing company or organization.

Media Contact

This section can go either at the top of the release or the bottom. This part contains the contact information such as name, phone number, email address, mailing address, etc. for the media relations contact person. For good credibility, the email address should be the same as the organization referred to in the press release.

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Comments Off on No Longer Your Typical Graphic Artist/Designer

No Longer Your Typical Graphic Artist/Designer

A ComputerIt’s safe to say that since the advent of desktop computing, business has been changing at a rapid pace. Many jobs have molded and changed to adapt to the latest and greatest technologies available, or they have vanished altogether. Graphic Artists that have been in the industry for the past 20 years know this all too well.

A typical Graphic Artist, Graphic Designer or Art Director must now have the ability to perform many additional tasks that were once additional positions held within several small companies. Such tasks may include being an Interactive/Web Designer, Illustrator, Photographer, Videographer, Video Editor, Computer Technician or even a basic Web Programmer. Modern computers, cameras and software have helped to make this a reality.

This may sound a little overwhelming for people just getting their start in advertising, public relations, design and multimedia productions. Believe me–it is! If you’re looking to get into this field of work, be sure you have vast knowledge and a great skill-set because you’re going to utilize it on a daily basis. In a small business atmosphere you need to be able to wear many hats, not just the one printed on your business cards. This holds true for just about any job at a professional small business today.


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Comments Off on Keeping Clients Happy

Keeping Clients Happy

Illustration of Handshake

Relationship.  Relationship. Relationship.

In the public relations world, it’s not location, but relationship that counts at almost everything you do.  And, if you are part of a public relations agency, it starts with client satisfaction.  Without great clients and your relationships with them, you cannot be successful. At Stevens Strategic, our team has served many of our clients for more than 20 years, even over 30 years.

When it comes to client service, there are a few things that drive the process.

1.        Listen.

A long time ago in a land far away, I learned from Henry Eaton that listening was the single best way to help clients succeed.  Through listening, we learn why clients stay up at night and how PR or other communications techniques can solve problems.  How we can create a team with the skills our clients seek.  And, what triggers success.

2.       Exceed expectations.

It is sometimes easy to meet expectations.  But, it is a true bonding experience when you exceed expectations—especially when you can do it over and over again.  Now, this doesn’t mean you set the bar so low that you will succeed.  It does mean that you should always be looking for that extra twist that makes the client experience “memorable.”

3.       Be there through good times and bad.

In today’s economy, our clients have faced some very challenging waters.  Some have come very close to shutting down operations.  When times get tough, we are there for our clients.  If a crisis arises, we are ready to lend a hand.  When it is necessary, we provide services beyond the call.  Our clients become our family.  When our family members hurt, we share the pain.

4.       Know their business.

Every day is a learning experience. That goes for learning your client’s business.  You will never be able to be as savvy as a client or their technical staff about their products, but you can come as close as you can.  You hire technically smart individuals to move your firm forward, and you reward them for their achievements.  By knowing your client’s business, you go a long way to retaining the client.

5.       Continue to reinvent yourself. 

I had a former client compliment me by saying that he was impressed how many times that Stevens Strategic has been able to reinvent itself to stay competitive and provide top notch services.  It used to be you had to reinvent yourself every three to five years.  Now, it seems like it is every year.  You do this by hiring smart people, staying current with technology and looking in the mirror and asking “am I the best I can be.”

6.       Track results.

We are doing everything we can to monitor, track, count, compare, evaluate and measure what we do for clients.  We have a responsibility to provide the best report card we can for what we do.  If a client invests in our firm, we invest in the research and tracking mechanisms able to tell us whether what we do works or does not meet expectations.  Information is power.  What we know helps our clients win.

— Ed Stevens, APR, Stevens Strategic Chairman

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