Much has been made in the PR industry of the so-called death of the press release but what Ive seen from many of my clients at SBX is not an abandonment of the press release, but rather a new way of thinking about them. Instead of crafting the traditional, buzzword-laden release, most savvy marketers and PR people are using the press release (or news release as several of my college professors insisted we call it so as not to leave out those in broadcast and radio) to help with SEO. Releases are doing double duty by both spreading the word about a specific news item and associating your company and its products/services with relevant industry keywords.
While the idea of press release optimization has been around for a few years, it is just now starting to be fully embraced by many. So here are my lucky seven tips for press release optimization:
Choose your keywords
wisely. These words are one of the quickest ways to associate your company with key industry phrases. This is not the time to be cutesy or creative stick with words and phrases people are actually searching for. Check out tools like Wordtracker.com
or Google AdWord's Keyword Tool
to see what searchers are looking for.
Put your primary keywords (e.g. company, product or executive name) in the title and first paragraph. Clever headlines that tease the reader might be fun to write but they do nothing for SEO.
Use keywords an appropriate amount of times throughout the release. Typically, 2-3 mentions per keyword is considered enough for optimization; anything more that that will sound awkwardly written and overly repetitive. Check out Katies January 10th post on Plugged In
for some more info on keywords and their usage.
When possible substitute keywords for pronouns. For example, instead of Its capabilities include time travel, x-ray vision and mind reading say The Awesomenators capabilities include
Familiarize yourself with the wire services (BusinessWire
, PR Newswire
) and their SEO features. Whats right for one company might not be right for another so take the time to research pricing and SEO-friendly options.
Add multimedia content if you have it. Not every company has YouTube
videos, podcasts or cool images but if you do, this is the place to flaunt it.
Last and possibly more important, add links. Link to your homepage on your companys first reference and then link to relevant pages on your website or create special landing pages for the release. Links make the release interactive and are an easy way to drive traffic to your site for readers to learn more. Be sure to include the almost-quaint "http://" as some systems will not recognize a link without this preface.
- Jennifer Becker
Below is the long-awaited (well, by some at least) third installment of our Meet the Influencers feature here on The Sounding Board Blog. We're posting Q&A's with industry influencers every few weeks, so keep checking back for more insight right from reporters and analysts themselves. If you have a question you'd like answered or influencer you'd like insight on, let us know and we'll do our best to get some answers. Todays influencer Q&A is with Maria Trombly
, a freelancer for Securities Industry News
and other SourceMedia
publications and the owner of Trombly Ltd
., a Shanghai-based provider of outsourced China bureau services to United States business magazines.
-Jennifer BeckerA lot of your writing focuses on the use of technology in the financial services industry. Those are two very technical and complicated industries how do you get a handle on the topics you write about without losing your readers? (is it sources, research, experience or some sort of combo thereof?)
When I first started covering financial technology for Computerworld
... oh, about eight years ago ... I read every general business tech pub I could find. BusinessWeek
were my favorites then (and still are now) but I also loved Business 2.0
and Industry Standard
. Their whole point was to explain technology in a clear and accessible way. I tried to absorb as much of that style as I could.
I also had great editors at Computerworld. Whenever they came across a piece of tech jargon or gobbeldygook, they would kick it right back to me for rewriting. Sometimes, if I was quoting an official company statement, I wouldn't even know what something I was writing meant. This was usually an indication that I needed to call someone back and ask more questions.
Sometimes, the technology is really difficult to figure out. For example, I was one of the first people to write about Web services -- I did a tech "quick study" on this for Computerworld way way back. For this story, I called all the major vendors -- IBM
-- and a bunch of smaller ones and asked them all to explain what this was and how it worked. I happened to be at my mother's house when I was writing the story, so I explained web services to her. After a few tries at this, I finally got my head around it enough to explain it to her -- and to myself. And this wasn't easy -- my mother is a Russian immigrant with bad English skills who never uses computers!
A common practice for me when dealing with difficult technology issues is to get the vendors' salespeople to explain the technology, then I'd call the users and ask them if it actually worked and get the business side of it.
That usually provides a good tech vs. business balance to stories. Throw in a couple of analysts, and you've got all the bases covered.
You've been freelancing for several years what is it about freelancing that appeals to you? What are the downsides? How does being overseas affect your work?
I started freelancing because my husband and switched off the household stuff and it was my turn. When I was at Computerworld, I was on the road a lot and worked long hours. As a freelancer, I worked fewer hours, made more money, and only traveled to New York or Boston -- day trips.
Given the whole more money, less work thing, going back to a staff job never made much sense, even after my kids were older, though I do miss being in an office.
In 2006, I incorporated, and started hiring staff. Today, I have employees in China, India, Philippines, and Europe and the company is growing quickly.I noticed you have advice for PR people pitching you on your website do you find people follow that advice? What's your view of the PR-journalist relationship?
After the dot-com bust, there was a lot of consolidation in the industry -- and the flakier PR people got out of the business. I rarely see wildly inappropriate pitches anymore, or PR people hounding my every move. There's a strip in Dilbert where a company decides it's PR strategy is going to be to have employees grab onto the legs of tech journalists. For a while, it really felt that way! Phones were ringing off the hook with people pitching story ideas, I would get weird stuff in the mail, people were offering me junkets. It was a little insane.
Today, most of the pitches I get seem to be relevant, and decently written -- though I still see the use of the words "end to end" and "solution" a little bit too much and press releases clearly written by dysfunctional committees.
For the most part, PR people do a good job setting me up with sources, background information, and photographs. I'm still seeing snapshots of executives instead of real photographs - please, someone, take the digital cameras away from those people.
The worst part of the journalist-PR relationship is when you get a bitter ex-journalist on the other side. Normally, PR people are cheerful and helpful, so it's hard for a cynical, sarcastic journalist to do anyway. But if the ex-journalist is bitter on top of it -- say, because he lost his job in the dot-com meltdown -- then it's a nightmare. The first thing they do is tell you that they used to be a journalist, so they know what they need. Then maybe they'll reminisce, or complain about their new company. Then they disappear and you never hear from then again. Maybe they're drowning their sorrows at the local bar.
Anyway, those bitter ex-journos seem to be gone. Either they got therapy and have become adjusted to their new jobs, or are on Prozac, or were laid off for their bad attitudes. Or maybe they just started to enjoy their higher salaries, better hours, and nicer working conditions and stopped being bitter. A friend of mine just switched from heading up a news bureau here in Shanghai to handling PR for a major international bank because he and his wife had a baby -- and he tripled his salary overnight. It's not too bad. He doesn't seem bitter at all. :-)
(Photo Credit: AllPosters.com)
Greetings from Seattle! This week, I accompanied our client TerraGo Technologies to Seattle for GITA's (Geospatial Information & Technology Association) Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference to support the launch of its Map2PDF Professional for Acrobat product. An ideal GIS mapping solution for emergency responders and state/local government divisions such as tax assessment, public utilities and departments of transportation, the solution creates indexed mapbooks in easy-to-use Adobe formats called GeoPDFs. Thanks to our friend Joe Francica at Directions Magazine for providing his take on the announcement today.
After a grueling day of product demos and media interviews (Jaymes Pardue from the sales team told me hes never given so many demos in one day!), the TerraGo team celebrated the product launch with more than 60 customers and partners at Seattle's infamous Space Needle. What a nice touch when I happened to witness a romantic fellow pop the question to an unsuspecting lady on the Space Needle observation deck at sunset. She said yes. :)
- Julie Buckley
(Photo Credit: Mashable)
On Wednesday night, Lisa Throckmorton and I headed down to the MashMeet DC Remix. It was a great night of networking, and, even though the sound system left a little something to be desired if you were standing towards the back of the room, there were some excellent presentations from Lumifi, Kluster, Voxant, Mixx and Searchles.
Searchles has the presentations available here:
And here are some recaps from others who were at the event:Adam Ostrow
The Buzz BinEast Coast BloggingGoogle InsideMashablePost I.T.
- Stephanie Stadler
We seem to always be in some phase of engagement around a product launch around here. For many of our enterprise technology clients, product announcements are the cornerstone of each companys ability to make trade news during the calendar year. Proactive outreach around trends and customers provide additional and more regular opportunity for validation and expert status, but product news coverage is the rare time when the vendor gets the spotlight.
If you are in the process for preparing for a launch, I thought Id offer a few musings on things that may be less pro-forma in terms of approach.
I imagine that journalists are thanking higher powers that SEO
has become increasingly important to marketing strategies. When it comes to product announcements, for years, companies have been chastised by reporters for best-of-breed, cutting-edge and state-of-the-art announcements (see Stephanies February 25th post
). SEO has given companies pause to stop and articulate what, in laymans terms, is new and different about their products. If SEO is a priority for you, it will be important to assess what key words your prospects will be searching when looking for your solutions and make sure that they are optimized in your release. Journalists have long begged just the facts, please and finally search is backing them up.
Influencers are everywhere. It no longer suffices to only focus on print and online publication coverage when it comes to product news. As evidence, last spring, SpeakerBox was working with a client on a product news campaign. The push resulted in coverage in their target pubs, which was great, but it turns out that the coverage that generated the most traffic to their Web site came through a personal/industry blog that was actually penned by an individual who works for a larger, competitor company. It underscores the importance of taking time on the front end to determine who your customers and prospects turn to online (and otherwise) for third-party validation and making efforts to build those relationships.
For interim product announcements (minor upgrades), consider using your corporate blog to spread the word. Our client Red Hat
does a great job of this. They understand the balance between the not-too-news worthiness of these types of announcements and the importance of getting the information to their community. This approach gives your user base an opportunity to not only get the news, but interact as well, which may lead to useful feedback and unsolicited customer evangelism.
Product launches and reviews are an on-going process and as with any process, its always good to take a step back from time to time and make sure that all bases are covered.
- Lisa Throckmorton
(Photo credit: Winmarkets)
I'm a bit late to the game on this, but February was a busy month...
We talk a lot about influencers here at SpeakerBox -- determining who they are and how to reach them. In terms of locating the top blogs on any given topic, Technorati
used to be the gold standard. Recently, however, its been a different story
for the blog search engine.
So how do you find the top blogs for your market? Marshall Kirkpatrick over at ReadWriteWeb
pulled together an excellent comparison
of six different ways (including pros and cons) of identifying the best blogs in any niche: Technorati, Del.icio.us
, Google Reader Recommendations
and Ask.com Blogsearch
Well worth the read.
As chair of the Business to Government committee
of the Northern Virginia Technology Council
(NVTC), I organized the Feb. 20 panel of industry experts on what is affectionately referred to as the federal brain drain.
These experts talked about the impact of workers retiring from the federal workforce and knowledge management initiatives that are a primary focus for federal agencies, and respectively, the systems integration community around the world.
The panel included a roundup of spokespersons on the subject:
o Dr. Ramon Barquin
, President, Barquin International (moderator)
o Dr. Robert Neilson, Knowledge Management Advisor to the U.S. Army Chief Information Officer
o Mr. Gabriel Galvan, Principal, MITRE Corporation
o Dr. Michael Kull, Knowledge Management Coordinator, Nuclear Regulatory
o Angela Styles
, Esq., Crowell & Moring and former Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, U.S. Office of Management and Budget
Below are some takeaways from the panel, which spoke to a packed room of NVTC, SECAF
, and TiE-DC
o Sixty percent of the federal workforce and ninety percent of the Senior Executive Service are eligible to retire during the next ten years
, according to Galvan. Retirements are projected to peak in 2009 with an estimated 62,000 workers projected to leave government service. The aging workforce reflects the US population in general with generation of 78 million baby boomers starting to turn 65 in 2011.
o As a result of these high numbers, human capital initiatives must be expanded to address the loss of workers eligible to retire in the next decade
. These strategies must be combined with knowledge management processes to determine what and how information is retained and the technologies required to enable sharing in an enterprise environment.
o "It's equally important to determine what information is valuable as it is to develop the systems to retain knowledge when so many workers are leaving government service,"
Neilson explained. Knowledge has a life cycle and a temporal perspective."
o Barquin elaborated: "There is the need to retain knowledge independent of people. Institutional memory is lost as the workforce changes." The problem is exacerbated by functional stovepipes that prevent enterprise-level integration, the lack of content management, and a cultural unwillingness to share information. Knowledge management tools and processes must be used in an architected environment to obtain maximum returns from data, information, intelligence and knowledge.
o Who is doing it well?
-- The U.S. Army
has taken an enterprise focus to meet its knowledge management requirements. According to Neilson, a doctrine of collaboration is being promulgated. "This replaces the concept of the need to share with the responsibility to provide." The Army also has initiated two successful programs to attract both young people and retirees into service: its Young Leaders and HQE (Highly Qualified Experts) programs.
-- At the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
, these issues are compounded by a "nuclear renaissance," declared Kull. For nearly 30 years, no nuclear reactor licenses have been issued, and now dozens of applications are anticipated in the next five years at a time when its most experienced staff is eligible to retire. The NRC is aggressively addressing the people issue with programs that have resulted in its ranking at the top of the list in the 2006 Federal Human Capital Survey
in categories like Best places to work, training and leadership and knowledge management. NRC has also established a Knowledge Management Steering Committee to ensure critical KM issues are examined and that best practices are adopted and shared throughout the agency. NRC has found that new media and social networking are key in implementing new programs and attracting a younger workforce.
o Crossing all federal agency lines are the workforce and knowledge management challenges posed by the reduction in the acquisition workforce by half during the last ten years and the doubling of federal acquisition budget to over $400 billion. Styles stated substantial investments need to be made to increase the size of the acquisition and contracting workforces and to improve their ability to manage complex technical projects. In addition, since contract employees have filled many government positions, the issue of organizational conflicts of interest must be addressed.
Presentations by Barquin, Galvan, and Kull are available
on the NVTC B2G Committee web site.
- Mary Ellen Knuti