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3

Dec
2015
Comments Off on The Certifications You Need to be a Digital Marketing Expert

The Certifications You Need to be a Digital Marketing Expert

Jennie Ford

Jennie Ford

Stevens Strategic Communications (SSC) is thankful to have hard-working and results-driven employees. When it comes to working in the digital age, continued education is even more critical. We encourage our employees to embrace opportunities that enhance their talents and deepen their skills. One of the most educated and driven women on our team is our Director of Digital Marketing, Jennie Ford. Since joining our company, Jennie has been laser focused on growing her pool of knowledge and expanding her department’s capabilities to provide our clients answers, exceed their expectations and blow their minds with fresh and creative tactics to engage their target audience.

Staying up-to-date in the quick-changing realm of digital marketing is more than a full-time job. With social media strategies, search engine optimization, pay-per-click campaigns and analytics, it seems that there is always something new to learn. Jennie knows the importance of staying current and she is on top of it even encouraging everyone at SSC to embrace learning opportunities as they arise.

Jennie realized early that Google Analytics can tie PR success to client website traffic. With Google Analytics certification in hand, she can track key metrics and understands the best ways to implement changes to improve campaigns. Along with certification in Google AdWords Jennie has certifications for HubSpot, Hootsuite, Woo-Rank, Search Marketing, Marketing Measurement & Analytics, Marketing Copy Writing and Email Marketing.

No matter what direction digital marketing takes, we know Jennie will stay one step ahead. If you want Jennie to discuss your digital marketing situation with you, she has a wealth of knowledge that she loves to share. Send your questions to her.

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22

Sep
2014
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.

http://www.prnewsonline.com/featured/2014/09/05/pr-insider-pr-is-the-new-seo/

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15

Aug
2013
Comments Off on Five Web Design Trends in 2013

Five Web Design Trends in 2013

webprogramming

In the ever evolving web community in which we all live there are numerous design elements and choices that have begun to arise and will continue to keep popping up throughout the remainder of the year. Some of these trends will disappear as quickly as “Crystal Pepsi” or the McDonald’s “McLean Deluxe.” Some may stand the test of time and emerge as the new standards web designers live by.  Here’s a look at five of the hottest trends of 2013.

Responsive Web Layouts

Almost half of web browsing is now done via smartphones or mobile devices. So it stands to reason that you want your website to look and function the same across all web browsing platforms. Utilizing a responsive web layout is a trend that began in 2012 and is moving to web standard status in 2013. Clients not only prefer this method of web development, they expect it.

Fixed Header Bars

Again this isn’t exactly a “new” trend but we’re seeing more of this design element lately. This design trend significantly enhances a website’s user experience with quick access to the navigation menu. It’s one of the more basic trends, but it’s going to stick around for quite some time.

CSS Transparency

With CSS3 you now have the control of opacity for any element on a webpage. From a programming standpoint, this makes creating a layered web page look relatively easy. This is a new trend that is gaining tons of popularity throughout the web. Look for this to stay around forever.

Infinite Scrolling

This is not necessarily a new trend because it has been around for years. Some of the new websites that have gained mass popularity as of late–such as Pinterest–use this technique where the page just continuously populates as you scroll downward. There’s no need for any navigation or to remember what page a certain image was on because it’s all one page; simplicity at its finest. Look for this trend to stay around for a while for very specific types of websites.

Sliding Web Panels

What was once Flash and action script and became a big web development no-no has now become JavaScript and JQuery, which is almost a must have. The rotating images you see regularly on website homepages are prime examples of a javaScript image rotator. A complete web page that slides in from left-to-right is another cool example of the JQuery trend. Many more websites in the future will benefit from these dynamic website techniques as designers implement them into their web projects.

So there you have it, five design trends for 2013. None of them began this year, but all of them will continue to grow in popularity as time progresses.

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18

Jul
2013
Comments Off on YouTube: A Great Source for Brand Awareness

YouTube: A Great Source for Brand Awareness

youtube_logo_v3_400x300

Some companies, large or small, feel they don’t need a presence on YouTube. This could be because the product they sell is a necessity and not very intriguing, like insurance or accounting. Some may believe if you can’t create a video that will go viral, what’s the point? What these companies are failing to understand is that you don’t have to create a video that will get a million views in an hour to be successful on YouTube. And, there’s no set list of criteria on how to make a viral video. Sometimes, it’s just luck. There are other uses for YouTube; one of them is to increase brand awareness.

If your business is looking to spread the word about the services you offer, YouTube is a great place to make this happen. Creating a short, one to three minute corporate video will not only increase brand awareness, but also draw out potential clients and promote customer loyalty. Seeing the faces of the people behind the scenes at your company will make your current customers feel that there isn’t just a robot answering questions and collecting feedback. Your team can take the time to make a video that highlights your company’s mission and showcases your staff.

Another way to utilize YouTube is to create a video with some general tips to help your current and prospective customers. If you are an insurance company, obviously there are some pieces of information you can’t share with the public for liability reasons. However, creating a video on why you should contact an insurance company or how-to videos that demonstrate how to navigate a complex website could be useful (and harmless to your company). Also, consider creating a video that includes some helpful statistics, depending on the type of service you offer. For instance, if you offer auto insurance, provide some stats on how many accidents happen per year. This could even be a segue into how your insurance is better than others.

Remember to think outside the box when it comes to YouTube. You don’t have to be a musician or actor to make it work for your business. You don’t even need expensive equipment. If you are on a limited budget, short clips can be created with a webcam or even with a high-end smartphone camera. And, don’t forget to take your new YouTube clips and cross-share them with your other social channels such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word even further.

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19

Jun
2013
Comments Off on Best Practices for Web Monitoring: Don’t Just Google It

Best Practices for Web Monitoring: Don’t Just Google It

searchengines

In public relations, we all know there is more work to be done after a news release is distributed. For an agency to show its worth to a client, we need to track the news release and see what print publications, online news sources, blogs, wires, etc. pick it up.

Most PR firms use a news release distribution service such as Cision, Vocus, BusinessWire or PRNewswire to make sure the appropriate media outlets receive the information. These distribution services will usually send a report letting the agency know which outlets received the release. However, even though these reports are pretty good at letting you know where the release was picked up, they can miss a couple of key locations.

If you think a few good clips are missing from your pile, where should you look first? Of course just about anyone will tell you, “Google it.” And, they would be right. Checking Google for clips is a great place to start. You can either copy and paste the headline of your release into the Google Search bar, or you can search for specific keywords within your release. You will probably find the majority of the clips that came in with the report from your distribution service, but you may be surprised that you can find several other clips that the report missed.

OK. You “Googled it.” The search for clips doesn’t stop there. Though Google is still the world’s most popular search engine, there are other search engines to try if you want to be thorough in your clip search. Aside from the all mighty Google, Bing, Yahoo and Wolfram Alpha are some of the other top search engines to use.

Also, if you really want to stay on top of clips about your clients, consider signing up for Google Alerts, Bing Alerts, or both. That way, you can be notified about your client’s placements as they happen, once a day or once a week. The more methods you use to track your release, the more clips you will find.

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8

May
2013
Comments Off on Seek and Ye Shall Find: Tips on Search Engine Usage

Seek and Ye Shall Find: Tips on Search Engine Usage

search-engines

How often are you asked for information that could just have easily been googled? Now there’s a website for that. It’s called Let Me Google That For You (www.lmgtfy.com). It creates a link for you to send that shows a how-to animation of Google usage.

But maybe your questioner is overwhelmed by the search results and can’t find exactly what they are looking for. That’s where a Google advanced search comes in (http://www.google.im/advanced_search?hl=en). When you use it to enter more search parameters, Google will narrow its results.

If you are looking for web pages via Google that have been recently updated, use the “last update” field. If you’re looking for something on a particular site and its own search engine isn’t helping, try a Google advanced search with the “site or domain” field filled in. If you know the desired information is stored in a PDF file, for example, select that as the “file type.”

If any of these applications sound useful, create a bookmark for Google Advanced Search in your browser’s toolbar where it will be easy to find.

Here are more hints for googling:

– Use quotation marks around a multiple word search to get results matching the exact phrase.

– Did some obscure error message just pop up? You aren’t the first person to wonder what it means. Copy and paste the text into Google for some links as to the cause.

– The Google home page is simple and fast. Use it to test whether you have a connection to the Internet.

– Create a bookmark for Google in your browser’s bookmarks toolbar. If you only use the search field above the
bookmarks toolbar, you’ll never see Google Doodles (www.google.com/doodles).

– Try other search engines. Bing is another general-purpose search engine. WolframAlpha.com is geared toward
scientific research.

As for the title of this blog, your instinct is right; it’s from the Bible. A Google search quickly tells us it’s from Matthew 7:7. This ancient phrase could be Google’s corporate motto but they chose “Don’t be evil.” That sounds biblical as well.

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1

May
2013
Comments Off on WordPress isn’t just for Bloggers

WordPress isn’t just for Bloggers

wordpress

WordPress was once just considered a platform to be used exclusively by traditional bloggers. Now it’s the base for over 60 million websites worldwide. With its extremely intuitive dashboard (content management system) which allows non-tech savvy users to easily edit content, it is becoming the platform of choice for many new business website development projects. The core software is developed by hundreds of volunteers and is “open source” at its finest, free to use for all who wish to venture into the world of widgets and themes.

Being highly customizable with the use of widgets is one of the most appealing aspects of WordPress. Widgets such as a twitter feed, java image rotator and embedded video player are some of the most popular choices. Within the dashboard you can add these widgets to the body of the website, sidebars or footer. Repositioning of the widgets once they are installed is as easy as drag and drop, upload and test.

Now that WordPress has become so popular, different styles or “themes” (the user interface design/or front side of the website users see) are in abundance. There are many free themes available to download. If you’re looking for something a little bit different or a very specific type of design, you may have to pay for premium selections. Luckily even these are extremely affordable from most online sources.

For blogging, WordPress is very much the product of choice. The easy to use dashboard makes posting a new blog entry simple. You can easily copy and paste a pre-written article or type in something new in the editor. Pulling a video feed or placing image files within an article is simple as well. Having the additional elements within the blog article can really liven up the look and feel of the post. Being able to do it easily yourself makes it that much more fun — and downright cool!

Becoming familiar with WordPress will take some time. If you’re looking to build a website on this platform, hire a professional to do the development. Once the website is complete, spend time with the programmer and get some hands-on training. Also, be sure to watch some tutorials. There are plenty of resources for these videos online. Just ask your programmer where to find these videos. Once you choose and use this platform, you’ll never want to use anything else for your website content management.

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17

Apr
2013
Comments Off on Don’t Forget the #: The Value of Using a Hashtag on Twitter

Don’t Forget the #: The Value of Using a Hashtag on Twitter

hashtag

The hashtag is a commonly known symbol used when sending messages over Twitter. Placing the hashtag symbol (#) before a keyword in your tweet will make that keyword searchable by others on Twitter. Even using a hashtag during a Google search will bring up different results than searching for a keyword without a hashtag. (Did you know that? If not, you should go try it now.)

Oftentimes people don’t understand the value of using a hashtag in a tweet or why you would use so many hashtags in a tweet. We’ve sent out many tweets that were heavily loaded with hashtags, and we’ve been questioned as to why we include so many of them. There is a method to the “Twitter madness,” and it goes back to what I just mentioned about hashtags and Google.

Twitter is great for search engine optimization, and that is thanks to the hashtag. When you post a press release to Twitter with a few hashtags in your tweet, your release is going to pop up more often in a Google search. Furthermore, Topsy, a social insight tool used to track Twitter trends and offer analysis services, is going to show up with more of your tweets in a Google search if you use a hashtag.

Guess what? You could double or triple your reach just by remembering the #. So, if you want to reach a larger audience with that press release, use a hashtag when you tweet about it.

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2

Apr
2013
Comments Off on Running a Public Relations Firm

Running a Public Relations Firm

SSC-logo_Stacked

The debate rages on.  Just what is a public relations firm?  Over the years technology and our economy have caused the definition to change.  In many ways, when I think of the words public relations, the word Catholic or universal comes to mind.

In essence the public relations firm is one that deals with our relationships with all of our publics.  That means our customers.  Our employees.  Our communities.  Our world.

We create messages for audiences and determine the best ways to reach that audience.  Is it advertising?  Social media?  Videos?  Media relations?

Yes, we used to have advertising agencies, public relations firms, and specialty shops.  We even had agencies of record.  Now we provide the best we have to our clients.  Timing, messaging, quality and cost are critical.  Now that we have an understanding of what a public relations firm does—just about everything in terms of communications—then how do you staff?

In the military, I was always impressed with our Special Forces.  These were teams of soldiers with more than one refined skill.  They are linguists, mechanics, snipers, medics, demolition experts.  They are people who accomplish their mission.  In fact, in the military we learned the value of being resourceful even when we weren’t green berets.   So many of us were crossed-trained to do more than our primary military specialty.  That’s how I see the public relations firm of today.

We have social media people who are great account executives.  Crisis specialists who know advertising.  Video producers who know how to write.  Engineers who can create speeches.  Art directors with audio engineering expertise.  Research executives who can handle direct marketing.  Wow.  Our guys are talented.

Survival in the business world today requires that we have many skills, stay up to date on trends, and work hard to stay ahead of the pack.  We want to do all of this while we are having a good time helping our clients succeed.

(FLASH) That is my snapshot of running a PR firm today.  It’s providing the right climate for great, talented people—so they can do great things for great clients!

— Ed Stevens, APR
President, Stevens Strategic Communications

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19

Dec
2012
Comments Off on What You Can Learn from Social Media Experts

What You Can Learn from Social Media Experts

2012 Midwest Social Media Summit in Mayfield Heights, Ohio

2012 Midwest Social Media Summit in
Mayfield Heights, Ohio

The 2012 MidWest Social Media Summit held at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights, Ohio was a fantastic event sponsored by Smart Business and Blue Technologies.

Experts gathered to share knowledge and useful tips on how social media can help businesses prosper and potentially bring in additional revenues. Representatives from organizations such as the Cleveland Clinic, the American Red Cross, the Cleveland Cavaliers and General Electric were great panelists for this event. A plethora of helpful information was shared amongst the panelists and the 400 summit attendees.

Here are some quotes from the panelists:

From Jim Kukral, best-selling author and professional speaker for University of San Francisco – discussing “social media is business” –

            “Create amazing content and get it shared. Win. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.”

From Amy Neumann, CEO of Good Plus Tech and contributing writer to Forbes magazine – discussing “strategy and branding” –

            “Social media does a great job of making the pie bigger. How can we reach a larger number of people? By showing a little personality, solving a problem and entertaining people, you can reach a whole new audience.”

From Matt Smith, senior talent acquisition leader for JCPenney – discussing “researching candidates through social media” –

            “LinkedIn is the place to be in social media during a hiring process. We use it every day…Social media helps you point out key people in companies and can help with your job search.”

From Thom Fladung, managing editor for the Plain Dealer – discussing “social media and the media” –

            “Social media is not a threat – it’s an opportunity!”

From Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital – discussing “management and measuring” –

            “Remember to look at quantitative information. Not everything that counts can be measured and not everything that can be measured counts. Get a feel for the results you’re getting.”

From Roger Lowe, senior vice president of communications for the American Red Cross – discussing how the Red Cross uses social media –

            “Social media is having something to say when people are listening… it’s not just about having the tools or technology; it’s having the right thing to say when people are in need.”

From Mike Maleski, vice president of digital sales, marketing and operations for the Cleveland Cavaliers – discussing “big data and social media” –

            “We do engage our fans during events. We have a team dedicated to monitor the social channels, specifically Twitter, during events. We want to be able to respond quickly. We take real-time questions and comments very seriously. We have a social media response team. If there is a seat broken in a specific section, we need to fix that.”

From Jon Hyman, partner at Kohrman Jackson & Krantz P.L.L. – discussing “legal ramifications of social media policy and use” –

            “Employees need to understand what is private and what is public, but that divide is no longer there…The issues aren’t new. The method of communication is.”

And, lastly, a quote from Kelly Waite, marketing and database manager from one of the summit’s sponsors, Blue Technologies – discussing “strategy 201: what do I do now?” –

            “Encourage your sales force to share your company’s social media initiatives with their networks to increase reach.”

 

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