April 12th, 2010.
I read an article on Marketing Week “Advertising industry and green charities welcome code changes“.
The story reports on some changes in the codes guiding TV and radio advertising, and one significant change will be that charities will be allowed to run adverts comparing themselves against another charity.
The new advertising code takes effect from September 2010.
I believe it is unlikely that this kind of advertising will go out during prime time TV, or drive time radio; it is too expensive and finger pointing in the middle of Coronation Street isn’t the best way to open up the nation’s purses and wallets.
I do think though that the temptation to run comparative adverts during day time TV will be irresistible to some young up and coming marketing manager. The cheaper costs would be quite a lure, and let’s face it, day time advertising is really boring.
Where I see the some real change happening is in the search market, and given that Google has relaxed its stance on bidding for brand names, we can expect to see a whole raft of guerrilla style PPC campaigns such as “Donations to us go to good causes, not to fund new offices” or “We’re better as we don’t use chuggers” triggered by searches for charity names.
The meta description section of HTML code will become the marketing manager’s secret weapon, and will be “optimised” to within an inch of its life with remarks the activities of other charities alongside traditional calls to action.
The meta description content does not appear on the pages visitors browse, and is only ever seen as a summary of the page in natural search results. Where better to put some unsettling comments and inconvenient truths about charities competing for the hearts and minds of the donating public?
Any bets on which charity will be the first to step up?
This document is a great guide for anyone company setting up a Social Media policy for their company and employees.
Coca-Cola’s approach is mature and shows the situation that we have arrived at: that is to say that they cannot restrain their staff from writing about their job and their company in which they work but that in doing so this also comes with (social) responsibility.
I cant remember where I first found this but it was floating around on the Internet so apologies if you have seen it before.
June 26th, 2009.
Christmas 09 is only 4 months away.Â No doubt you’llÂ already have your products organised and maybe some ideas on offline marketing butÂ what about online marketing.
Because online marketing can take 4-6 months to “kick in”Â thereâ€™s no time like the present to activate your Christmas strategy.Â Â So belowÂ areÂ 12Â timely remindersÂ on what needs to be in place to ensure that your site delivers this Christmas in a way that would make Santa Claus proud.
1. Blogging â€“ sounds similar to â€˜tobogganingâ€™ and is just as much fun
- Simply, unless you are willing to put the time into adding useful and interesting content on your site then there really is little chance that the search engines will bother ranking you for anything more than your domain name.Â You have to deserve to be number one.
2. Social Media â€“ itâ€™s time to get social (both online and off line) â€“ and we donâ€™t mean just churping along with the robins
- Marketing is no longer a one way monologue.Â It’s all about dialogue now and if you’re not up for a chat then users won’t listen.Â Â If youÂ say somethingÂ interesting then others will refer to it and pass it onto their friend – if it isn’t then they will talk about your competitors products instead.
3. Link Bait â€“ lay the foundations now and reap the rewards by Christmas
- How would you like say 500,000 more visitors to your site. Content will go viral ifÂ written properly – but before it goes viral make sure that your website can take the strain of the increase in visitor traffic.
4. Mouse tracking â€“ discover how your customers behave online and throw them a lump of cheese…
- Find outÂ where people are clicking on your site and where they are getting confused. You’ll be surprised by how quickly and easily people get lostÂ and moveÂ on elsewhere.Â Make sure buttons like “Add to Basket” are big and easy to find (and look like buttons)Â
5. Cross-selling â€“ if your customers have a basket, fill it!
- Seems pretty obvious thing to do but many companies still miss this easy opportunity to up the customers’ spend by 10% or so.Â Ask your web programmers to implemenet basket based offers.
6. Communications â€“ ensure your data management system is working for you and send glad tidings to all your customers
- I’m presuming you already have an email database.Â If not, why not?Â But continue to refine your database so that you can target relevant offers at different people.
7. Seven swans a-swimming â€“ (well we had to give some reference to the twelve days of Christmas) Will your customers be able to swim through your site without any hold ups?
- Should you really be making your customers register before purchase?Â Are you hiding your delivery charges? (Hidden delivery charges are the 2nd most cited reason for people abandoning a shopping cart). Is it obvious how to make the order?Â All these issues will effect conversion rates.Â Get friends to perform specific tasks on your site and see how they perform. You’ll be surprised.
8. Content management system â€“ check that your system will enable you to do everything you require. Weâ€™re still working on a turkey cooking programme but we are happy to cover off everything else.
- Got a great idea for a Christmas offer? Have you checked that your e-commerce software is capable of handling this type of offer.Â Find out now and don’t leave to last moment.
9. Reputation management â€“ discover if you are featuring on your customersâ€™ Christmas wish lists this year
- Find out what people are saying about you with Datadial’s reputation management software and then respond to these commentsÂ and start a dialogue.Â See how Love Film responded to a post I wrote about them – this was a classic bit of Reputation Management whereby they quashed my negative comment about them.
10. PPC â€“ Pretty Perfect Christmas?Â We believe Pay Per Click is the icing on the cake of an online marketing strategy (never the key ingredient)
- Multi channel marketing includes PPC as well as snail mail.Â PPC is expensive if implemented incorrectly.Â Get this sorted before the Christmas rush starts.Â Â Do all your experimenting with what works and what doesn’tÂ or else you’ll find all the money coming in one end is going out the other end.
11. Online PR â€“ You donâ€™t need to bring frankincense and myrrh but if you’re doing anything quirky orÂ different then let the blogosphere know about it
- Do not presume that your PR company can do online PR.Â Online PR is an entirely different science to Offline PR and most PR companies do not have a clue about how to create buzz on line.
12. Online optimisation â€“ creeping round every corner making sure everything is as â€˜friendlyâ€™ as possible
- This is the most important thing to get right – If your website is not optimised for search engines then it has no chance of being ranked for its keywords.Â Ask us to provide a website analysis for you.Â If you ask nicely we might even do it for free, seeing as it’s nearly Christmas!
If you’ve got it all covered then you can join our happy Santa on the beach
Online PR has been a huge growth area in recent times. As the shift from print to digital media becomes more pronounced, the relative importance of digital PR continues to grow against its more traditional equivalent.
The problem for many companies is that there are some fundamental differences between the two disciplines, while at the same time it’s increasingly important to maintain as much synergy as possible between your online and offline PR messages.
Where Does Online PR Fit In With SEO?
It’s often confusing nowadays where SEO ends and digital PR begins, the two disciplines are complimentary and do overlap to a large extent. There are certainly two differing objectives, I view SEO as being more metric orientated, it’s about maximising revenue through increasing traffic sent via search engines, ultimately raising search rankings. Online PR is more about client perception, managing exposure, and building relationships with key influencers. Where some confusion lies is that very similar techniques are now used to achieve both goals.
Developing Key Relationships
Certainly the largest difference between online and offline PR is the diverse and fragmented nature of online media. Your offline press targets may consist of 40-50 publications, online that total may well run into several hundred, potentially more. These contacts themselves will almost certainly be diverse, spread worldwide, some professional writers, many part-time amateurs.
Obviously maintaining one-to-one relationships with all of these people is unrealistic due to time constraints, however, be aware of the key influencers in your industry, find out which sites are the highest trafficked or have the most RSS subscribers and make sure you try to forge relationships with them.
A valuable alternative to forming direct relationships online is community participation. A key part of any campaign is being aware of where and how your industry communicates online, these days most industries now have forums and message boards, influential industry blogs and Twitter communities. It’s vital that you’re not just aware of these, but active participation will ensure that you have a direct line to these influencers at what should be a minimal time cost.
Writing For The Web
Often the bane of the offline journalist, mundane press releases and content along the lines of “We’ve just hired John Smith” or “Our new Widget 3000 is the best Widget since the Widget 2000″, these kind of topics just don’t cut it as content any more – they never really did. Whereas before a cosy relationship with a tame journalist may have helped snooze inducing releases get published, online it really is the content that counts. You will find yourself having to water down brand messages and promotion in order to maximise your take-up rate.
Before you sit down and write anything, ask yourself what’s in it for other people. Despite being a great bunch, bloggers (I’m one myself) are generally pretty selfish. They’re not going to publish something just because you ask them to. You have to give them something in return.
6 Great Paths To Publication
- News – Bloggers can’t resist genuinely newsworthy stories that aren’t already published all over the web. A possible alternative to this is expert commentary on breaking industry news.
- Humour – everyone loves a bit of humour, especially bloggers.
- Controversy – Be careful here, controversy works very well at generating publicity, much of it negative. Be prepared to defend yourself and field some awkward questions – Ryanair, we’re looking at you.
- Tools and applications – Building great tools and apps and making them available for free is a sure-fire way of getting great publicity.
- Resources – Articles that act as how to guides or resource lists are usually well received.
- Poll and survey results and data – Try conducting customer and industry surveys and publish the results via press release and offer them to key industry sites in advance of publication.
- Be aware of the keywords that people use to find your products/services, and be sure to use these in key areas such as press release titles or page headings.
- Keep it short and punchy. People tend to scan text online. Bullet points and lists work well.
- A punchy attention grabbing headline is key, this is what readers will see first and influence their decision to read or not.
- Work an angle – where possible relate the content to something topical that is happening in the news or your industry.
Time For Release
Once you’re happy with the content of your press release there are several dedicated syndication sites such as PR Newswire, PRWeb and PR.com. However, by just syndicating to these sites you’re almost certainly missing a huge proportion of your market. Contacting news sites and blogs directly will bring far better short term success and will also help to develop a long-term relationship.
- Start by creating a list of blog and news sites in your industry. Google is a good place to start, use searches like [your industry]+news and [your industry]+blog to find some established sites. Follow their blogroll links to find out who they link to. Search blog directories and Technorati to create an extensive list of your press targets.
- Contact them all individually, introduce yourself and your company, ask them if they’re happy to receive press releases from you, and ask about their editorial policy
- Keep a spreadsheet of information such as URL, contact email, key staff, editorial policies and notes on the site content. This will help you later when it comes to choosing who to send individual releases to. For example, some sites may be happy to conduct product reviews, others may prefer to concentrate on industry news. The key here is to continuously add to this and to keep it updated over time.
Pre-release be sure to publish the release on your site and link to it, rather than emailing the whole thing to people. Bloggers don’t generally like to just republish releases, they’ll generally want to rewrite them and offer their own opinions. The editorial integrity of blogs is pretty sacred to many bloggers, don’t try to ride roughshod over this.
Be sure to include high quality images that you’re happy for people to re-use. Again, don’t email these, give them a link to them
Some Examples Of Successful PR/Social Media Campaigns
Will It Blend? – A great example of a brand using the humour hook to generate publicity. Blendtec got around the problem of having a fairly mundane product by videoing their blenders being used to destroy all manner of interesting items.
Compare The Meercat – A fantastic integrated campaign, engaging users on a variety of social media, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and of course the microsite.
Ryanair – Ryanair are either the kings of the contraversy hook, or they just don’t care about PR at all. I’d go for the latter, especially when carfully crafted stories such as this, this and this manage to get them a disproportionate amount of media attention from the national press. How damaging some of these stories are to the brand is of course debatable.
Barack Obama – The Obama presidential and nomination campaigns both focused on listening, engaging and getting people involved. Another cross channel campaign, engaging on Twitter and a range of online tools to increase participation.
One of the advantages of the internet is the fact that almost everything is measurable. Whereas offline you may be relying on a press cuttings service and measuring success in column inches, online you can measure an almost infinite number of metrics, such as visits, sales, links, search rankings, social media mentions etc.
Of course, to be able to do this you need the correct tools. Some of my favourite ones are,
Google Analytics for measuring traffic, referring sites, keyword search data.
Blogpulse – for tracking brand/story mentions in the blogosphere
Google Alerts – Sign-up to receive an email alert each time you brand is mentioned online
Technorati – Another great way to search what blogs are talking about.