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Comments Off on YouTube: A Great Source for Brand Awareness

YouTube: A Great Source for Brand Awareness

YouTube Logo

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

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

Google, Yahoo, or Bing?

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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Comments Off on Five Tips for Improving Your B2B Email Marketing Efforts

Five Tips for Improving Your B2B Email Marketing Efforts

An Email

B2B email overload is at an all time high, making it more challenging than ever to get noticed and get results. By following these five simple tried-and-true tips, you can achieve better open and click-through rates for your B2B e-blasts.

Build and Refine Your Lists

A relevant and accurate database is the primary key to email marketing success.  Use every opportunity you can to build your email list including trade shows, web registrations and orders. Gather pertinent information about each contact so you can create segmented, targeted lists.  Refresh your list after each mailing to delete bounces, update addresses and correct errors.

Strive for Preview Perfection

The sender’s name and the email subject line are the two elements recipients will evaluate to determine whether to open the message. Make sure the sender’s name and address will be easily recognizable, trustworthy and familiar to the recipient. Keep your email subject short and sweet—about 50 characters or less. Avoid all the “flash” including all caps, exclamation points and other symbols. Instead, focus on quickly conveying the value of content inside.

Craft Compelling Content

Your copy should be chock full of useful, timely information that leaves the recipient enlightened and excited for more. Use targeted copy designed specifically for the group you are reaching out to. Instead of producing one general blast, send out customized versions with a narrow copy focus that speaks directly to each targeted list. Pure and shameless self promotion is quickest way to turn recipients off and send them straight to the “unsubscribe” button. Finally, consider including a special offer, promotion code or incentive available only to recipients.

Remember, Timing is Everything

Reports indicate that the best time to send B2B email is Tuesday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to maximize your open rate potential. The worst is Monday between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. This rule of thumb should only be followed for B2B email blasts. Consumer emails oftentimes get the best results when sent during “off hours” (between 8 p.m. and 12 a.m.).

Pay Attention to What Works

Study the correspondence that wins you the best open and click-through rates. Look for a pattern.  Do incentives equal clicks? Are you getting the best open rates when you include certain keywords in the subject line? Once you get to know your audience and what makes them click, you can follow a template approach for all your future blasts.

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Comments Off on What To Do with Those Negative Social Media Comments: Engagement Flow Chart

What To Do with Those Negative Social Media Comments: Engagement Flow Chart


Have you laid down the rules on how your social media manager and/or team will handle negative comments you receive through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc? We constructed a flow chart that shows how to react to certain types of negative social media posts. Feel free to use this as your own guide to handling social media engagement, or use it as a starting point.

Social Media Engagement Flow Chart: You see a post about your company.  Is it positive?  If so, either leave it alone or engage with it.  If not, is it degrading?  Stand up to it.  Is it a real issue?  Monitor it.  Is it erroneous?  Fix the facts.  Is it from an unhappy customer?  Make good with them.  Bottom Line: Respond if it feels appropriate, but if it seems to be an insignificant comment, there is no need to reply.  If you do respond: always be friendly, no matter how insulting the comment; provide references, pictures, links, etc. if applicable; try to respond within 24 hours; and make sure your information is accurate.

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Comments Off on WordPress isn’t just for Bloggers

WordPress isn’t just for Bloggers

Wordpress Logo

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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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

Pound Sign

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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Comments Off on Running a Public Relations Firm

Running a Public Relations Firm

Stevens Strategic Communications, Inc.

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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Comments Off on What to Look Out for on Social Media During a Crisis

What to Look Out for on Social Media During a Crisis

A Screaming Bird

When you’re handling a crisis for a client, it’s important to keep the media informed and up to date at all times. Crisis management is essentially a 24/7 service. So, knowing that, have you started checking social media platforms for comments and news about your crisis?

You would be surprised to see how fast a crisis can spread across social media. On day one, maybe only a few people are talking about your predicament on Facebook and Twitter. But, by day two a hashtag has been created, thousands of people are talking about it and the word is spreading to corners of the world you never dreamed of reaching.

After checking for articles, editorials and rants written about your crisis, go on Facebook and look for pages created by both parties involved in the situation. See if others connected to the crisis indirectly have created Facebook pages. Check on these pages frequently, but do not LIKE them. If the page is private, see if you can find another page that is public. Liking these pages will simply add fuel to the fire.

Think of the possible hashtags that could be created around your crisis and search for them on Twitter. See if the parties involved have created specific Twitter handles to spread the word. And, think of keywords associated with your crisis and search for those without a hashtag. Depending on how long your crisis has been going on, you could find that there are just a few tweets about what’s going on—or maybe there is a large quantity.

Don’t forget about YouTube. If you think people aren’t going to take the time during a crisis to get their point across by setting up a webcam and videotaping their comments, you are wrong.  There may not be a lot of people doing this, but don’t be surprised if you come across one or two channels dedicated strictly to your crisis.

Remember, though, you are going to find comments with derogatory remarks, slander, bashing, etc. Use your best judgment in filtering the useful information from the trash talk.

Check social media accounts daily to see what updates have occurred. It is an essential tool for crisis management.

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Comments Off on See the Bigger Picture: Social Media is a source for Free Advertising

See the Bigger Picture: Social Media is a source for Free Advertising

Button that Says: Free Online Advertising

In this digital age of information overload, you may look at social media and think “Well, why should I tweet or post on Facebook if there are going to be 1.2 billion other posts pushing mine to the bottom.” That may be true, but you need to see the bigger picture.

Social media is a way to advertise your company, its products and its services for free. There are several blogs that say using social media for self-promotion is wrong, and those blogs are somewhat right. Social media is more than just a way to advertise your company and it should be used to its full advantage. But, don’t put self-promotion to the wayside. There has to be a balance between posting promotional material and quality content. Share links to your website, post news releases, share internal information or what have you, but mix that in with some industry-related content, a few retweets and a couple shares.

If your company is thinking social media isn’t working because they aren’t gaining enough likes or followers, tell them there’s more to it than that. When we conduct social media management for clients, we tell them the main goal is to get that prospective customer back to your website. If you get five prospects to the website and sales are made, there’s the evidence of your ROI. Having 50,000 likes isn’t evidence of anything other than you doing a good job of getting people interested and engaging with your page. Likes and followers don’t necessarily equal revenue.

Use social media for all its worth. It really is a great tool for free advertising and just one more place to post your news releases, products, new ventures, etc. If you can stop worrying about likes and followers for a month, you may realize you didn’t need to worry about that aspect of social media so much in the first place.

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Comments Off on Social Media in 2013

Social Media in 2013

People Online

Social media news sites and blogs across the web are posting infographics, leaving useful tips for readers and suggesting plans when it comes to social media in 2013. If you haven’t been keeping up, here are some statistics on what happened with social media last year.

According to mediabistro.com:

–          One out of every seven minutes spent online is on Facebook

–          340 million tweets are sent every day

–          Pinterest is the social network that is heavily populated by female users

–          Google+ is predominately used by men

–          300 million pictures are uploaded to Facebook every day via Instagram

–          61 percent of LinkedIn members use it as their primary professional networking site

The 1 billion people on Facebook, 500 million on Twitter, 400 million on Google+, 175 million on LinkedIn, 100 million on Instagram and the 25 million on Pinterest are seeing how important social media was for 2012, and how important it will be for businesses in 2013. That’s why the social media news sites and blogs came up with predictions for 2013.

–          ClickZ says to watch out for the emergence of the social data cloud. Several leading brands trying to manage multiple social platforms at a time are going to implement a strategy to make collecting data a little easier.

–          Huffington Post says social media teams are going to bring in dedicated content strategists who can deal with fragmentation, visualization and, of course, content.

–          Inside Facebook says Facebook users will continue to get bored with the platform as it focuses more on helping brands than personal users. It also says Google+ will make a comeback, visual content will rule and Pinterest will get into cahoots with third party developers.

So, what will be on your list of goals for 2013 after seeing these stats and predictions? Will you tweet more? Will you find a way for Pinterest and Instagram to work for your business regardless of the industry? Will you give Google+ another shot?

Time is up and 2013 is the next year of many for social media hype. If you are still baffled by social platforms and need to know where to start, here are some tips:

–          Stop the resistance! If you are still wary about using social media for your business, it’s time to jump the hurdle. You’re getting left behind and you’ll regret it if you wait until 2014 or 2015 to be at the end of the line.

–          Obtain a Facebook, Twitter and YouTube account at the minimum and manage them properly – no squatting!

–          Make sure your content is amazing and make sure you have a lot of it.

–          Find a way to monitor all your social platforms in one place by using services such as Hootsuite or TweetDeck.

–           Have an employee who will be dedicated to managing, monitoring and analyzing your social platforms.

So, what does your 2013 social media plan look like now?

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