Archive for the ‘PR’ Category

7 Ways to Take Your Outreach Pitch from Good to Great

Today’s guest post comes from Brad Shorr, the B2B Marketing Director of Straight North, a SEO agency headquartered near Chicago. Brad writes frequently on content marketing, SEO and social media.

Publishers are inundated with spammy content pitches 24/7/365. Thanks to the plethora of pitiful pitch slingers, a good pitch from a serious SEO is no longer good enough; it takes a great pitch to get the attention of busy, successful publishers.

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Being a writer, a publisher and part of our agency’s SEO group, I see content pitches from all sides. Based on that experience, here are several suggestions to transform your good pitches into great ones.

 

1. Pitch seasonal topics

Many publishers crave seasonally themed topics, and pitch slingers don’t take the time to develop them. A few examples using the Halloween theme:

  • For a dental site, an article about healthy alternatives to Halloween candy.
  • For a DIY site, an article about how to make your own costume out of recycled materials.
  • For a small business site, 10 scary things a customer can say.

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Bonus tip: Pitch your seasonal topics early, so publishers have enough time to review them – and you have enough time to follow up. November is a good time to be developing and pitching topics for New Year’s.

 

2. Include links to relevant work samples

Most publishers are more impressed with what you’ve done than with what you’ve claimed. A link or two showing off your best work, relevant if possible, adds enormous credibility to your pitch.

 

3. Use a referral

If your pitch kicks off with so-and-so suggested you contact him or her, you immediately separate yourself from the pitch-slinging pack. Of course, the effectiveness of a referral hinges on the clout of the referrer. Good places to cultivate referrals include:

  • Prominent bloggers of content in the same or related niche
  • Readers of the target publisher’s blog
  • The target publisher’s social media connections

Cultivating referrals takes time; great pitch preparation means spending a lot of time networking on social media sites to deepen your understanding of the target publisher’s online community.

 

4. Be clear and concise

Too many pitches beat around the bush. Respect that publishers are busy, and tell them exactly what you propose in as few words as possible. Always close with a specific and clear question, such as, “Would you like us to begin writing this article for you?” If the publisher has to think about how to respond – you won’t get a response.

 

 5. Don’t always ask for the same response

With some high-profile publishers, breaking the ice before getting into a specific pitch is the best first step. We’ve been successful reaching out to a publisher mainly to say we really enjoyed or really benefitted from an article on his or her site. The “soft close” on an email like this might be to ask if the publisher is interested in discussing ideas for a submission.

 

6. Watch the details

Publishers look for reasons not to respond to your pitch – so don’t give them any easy outs. Review and edit every pitch before it is sent, giving special attention to:

  • Is the publisher’s name spelled correctly?
  • Is the pitch free of grammatical errors?
  • Is the pitch clear and concise?
  • Does the email signature contain the FULL name of the sender, the sender’s title, and the name of the business the sender represents?

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Photo taken from: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/31037/5-Real-Life-Examples-of-Awful-PR-Pitches.aspx

7. Think Like a Salesperson

If an SEO activity can be automated, sooner or later it becomes useless – and the same holds true for many other business activities. Mechanical, assembly-line pitches cannot succeed with high-quality publishers, nor do those pitch results generate good organic visibility.

The key to successful pitching is getting away from assembly-line thinking and instead, operating like a sales superstar. Superstars treat every prospect like the only prospect. They research the prospect and his or her work situation in depth to understand the decision-making dynamics. They concentrate on a handful of great prospects rather than trying to juggle 100 opportunities.

This formula leads to fewer links than an assembly-line approach, but far better ones. And today, quality, not quantity moves the SEO dial.

Want to learn more about pitching bloggers and journalists? Check out our Outreach Tips from Bloggers and How to Pitch Journalists posts.

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How to Create a Winning Content Promotion Plan

Many content marketers view “promotion” as a phase that begins once content goes live. The truth is, promotion should begin much earlier than that, running parallel to production, and most of the promotion work should be completed before launch. Here’s a plan framework you can use for your next content campaign.

Planning

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A good promotion plan begins with audience research and the development of targeted messaging.

Audience Research

If you have the time and budget, doing research like survey analysis is really helpful. At BuzzStream, we’re a bit more informal. Our planning stage usually involves a discussion of who we’re creating the content for and what their needs are. We use analytics data from previous pieces, information about what we’ve seen performing well on Twitter, and insight from conversations we’ve had with customers. (more…)

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How to Pitch: Outreach Tips from Lifestyle Bloggers

We’ve talked before about best practices for pitching journalists and bloggers when you have news to share, but what should you do when your goal is partnering with a blogger to promote a product or brand? I reached out to a few lifestyle bloggers to see what they had to say about pitches, priorities, and PR people. Read their advice below.
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First, A Little Bit About the Bloggers

I interviewed bloggers from Hither and Thither, OhDearDrea, PopCosmoand Small Fry Blog. According to Moz, the bloggers had Page and Domain Authority scores ranging from 34-54. Most have at least a few hundred linking root domains. Each of the bloggers had between 6K and 16K followers on Pinterest, 1K and 5K followers on Twitter, and 2K and 40K followers on Instagram.

Advice on Pitching and Partnerships

The bloggers talked about how many PR people screw up the basics – getting names right and making sure the blog is a fit for what they’re pitching – but they spoke more deeply of professionalism and authenticity. They don’t expect fake compliments about being a huge fan of their site. “Just be honest and be direct. We’re both professionals.” said Ashley from Hither and Thither. Bloggers expect you to respect their time, value the audiences they’ve built, and to be straightforward about your intentions.

What makes a good PR pitch stand out?

Ditch the mail merge. Personalized messages go a long way to earn bloggers’ trust. You can still use templates to save time, but you should do research and customize each message before sending.

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 “A concise, simple pitch combined with a personalized approach.” 

– PopCosmo

 

Small-Fry-Blog-Oval
“We respond to genuine, heartfelt correspondence. It’s easy to spot a canned email a mile away. Just take a moment to personalize it, actually LOOK at our site and gather intel before approaching.” 

– Small Fry Blog

 

How do you decide to work with a company you’ve never heard of before?

It’s easy for big brands, like Target, to partner with bloggers. It’s much more challenging for smaller brands to stand out. When I asked bloggers about what makes them want to work with new brands or brands they’ve never heard of, the overwhelming response was fit. They want a good fit, not just in the traditional sense of “Would my audience like this?” but fit in terms of aesthetics and brand values. They also appreciated the brands that compensate them for their time.

Hither-and-Thither-Oval

“If the product or service is relevant; if I haven’t already covered the same product/service by another brand;and if it’s clever. Sponsored posts are of course most enticing, because they value my time and support me to continue to grow the audience I’ve built.”

– Hither and Thither

 

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“Branding and style. Secondly, I do my research. If it’s not a quality company, I can’t promote it.” 

– ohdeardrea

 

Have you ever gotten unreasonable requests from PR people?

When working with bloggers, understand that they know their audiences best and understand that they’re doing you a favor. Try not to force them into a rigid promotion plan, and be respectful of their time.

ohdeardrea-oval“I’m not a blog that promotes-promotes-promotes— I like things to be thoughtful and planned out— or things that are incredibly fitting for my life. It always feels a bit off when I’m contacted from companies (big and small, but especially the big ones) asking for a lot of free or trade work. My blog isn’t one big ad— no one would stop to care about it if it was. What I write is valuable, to me at least, so I don’t like when companies act as if it’s not.”

– ohdeardrea

Hither-and-Thither-Oval

“Unreasonable… no. But if you’d like coverage free of charge, be clear about: “would you be interested in sharing this with your readers?” Don’t pretend like it’s a fabulous opportunity to hand out free advertising, even if I might be interested in arranging that.”

– Hither and Thither

 

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“We just had a PR company repeatedly asked us to promote an event in a city where we are not located. And we had another PR company that kept sending the same request over and over. We wanted to work with them and responded, but they never answered.”

– PopCosmo

Small-Fry-Blog-Oval
“We understand that every company has requirements and goals to meet for campaigns but flexibility is key! Don’t ask us to re-write a tweet because we said May 23rd instead of May 23. True story.”

– Small Fry Blog

 

What do you expect from the PR people you work with?

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Webinar Recap: 500 Writers and Editors on How to Pitch

Perfect Pitches

Kelsey Libert, VP of Marketing, and Ryan McConagill, Promotions Supervisor, oversee the Media Relations team at Frac.tl. Libert and McConagill partnered with BuzzStream for a webinar to share exclusive research on what publishers want for content creation and media outreach. They interviewed over 500 writers, editors, and publishers to present a story about a noise:value ratio that has gotten out of whack.

Libert created a survey that helps us master the art of the perfect pitch. Here are her findings:

 

And here’s the video from the webinar:

 

Did you know: In 2014 the US department of labor announced that for every single journalist, there are 5 PR professionals beating down that writers’ door. Editorial voices are outnumbered by PR professionals by almost 5:1 and on average, PR pros earn 40% more than journalists.

Q: About how many stories do you write per day?45% of writers write one story per day
The majority of people you’re pitching to only write ONE STORY per day. These are not favorable odds. Therefore, it is imperative that you craft a perfect pitch.

Q: About how many pitches do you receive per day?

How many pitches writers receive per day

Although most writers publish one story per day, 44% of them get pitched a minimum of TWENTY TIMES per day. According to Harvard Business Review, the average worker receives 12,000 emails a year, while writers at top tier publications receive 38,000. Because of this, many writers are unsubscribing – so make sure to never put writers on mailing lists unless they have given you permission. Make sure to wait until after big conventions to follow up or send a pitch- sending one while the writer is at a convention will be a waste of time.

Q: How often do you write a story based on something that was sent through a pitch?

How often do writers write a story based off a pitch?

Although writers are inundated with pitches, only 11% often write a story based on content that was sent through a pitch. However, 45% said sometimes, so there is an opportunity for change. Here are some tips on how to find out if the writer is a perfect fit for your content…

1) You want to make sure you’re doing your research. Go through the writers’ posts  from several months back, and go through publisher’s bio.

2) Look at their twitter timelines to get a sense of their personality.

3) The Principle of Liking, based off a Northwestern Law Study states, “The degree to which we perceive another person to be similar to ourselves in traits and attitudes and to be worthy of our generosity or assistance, depends on the extent to which we perceive a personal connection with that person, no matter how trivial.”

4) Do a cursory google search for the writer.

Outreach Strategies

Q: Would you rather be pitched ideas that you can collaborate on or get a finished asset?


Would you rather be pitched ideas that you can collaborate on or get a finished asset?

STOP spamming writers with poorly matched assets. Instead, collaborate on mutually beneficial ideas. Here are some tips on how to go about collaborating…

1) Tap into existing publisher relationships to see if they would be open to collaborating.

2) Try to collaborate with editors.

3) Always use a static asset, a lot of publishers have said that their content management systems can’t handle embedding interactive content

4) Have your standard assets smaller with your option to make them bigger upon publisher requests (work with designers, many publishers can only hold content 600 pixels wide).

5) Don’t make the pitch all about you, it should be about your relationship with the writer and how you’re connected in some fashion

Q: What characteristics does the perfect piece of content possess?

What characteristics does the perfect piece of content possess?

There is a vast difference between what writers prefer.

Q: What types of content do you wish you saw more?

What types of content do you wish you saw more?

Networking Lesson

Q: How important is it for a person to establish a personal connection with you before pitching content?

How important is it for a person to establish a personal connection with you before pitching content?

Strive to make a personal connection with every writer that you pitch. 64% of writers think it is of some importance that you establish a personal connection before pitching. Use Twitter as a platform to socialize with your prospects weeks prior to the pitch. Engage in blog posts. Try to get on their radar and connect on a personal level by favoriting or retweeting their tweets. Dig deeper than just “hey great post I really liked it.” Write them a friendly email if you’ve noticed an error or a typo to engage in conversation.

Q: Which of the following channels do you prefer to be pitched on?

Q: Which of the following channels do you prefer to be pitched on?

Put down your cell phone. Stop spamming on social media. Start writing sincere emails to the best-fit person for your campaign. Use CRM such as BuzzStream to manage your relationships.

Pitch Lesson

Q: What time of day do you preferred to be pitched?

Q: What time of day do you preferred to be pitched?

Use a pre-scheduling tool, like BuzzStream, to send your emails in the early morning hours. Pitches are generally more successful when sent during the mornings on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Enable a pitch freeze around holidays and long weekends.

Q: What email length do you prefer?

What email length do you prefer?

88% of writers prefer a pitch be less than 200 words. Make sure to check your word count before sending. Get to the meat of the data as soon as possible. Make sure your intro has value and isn’t just fluffy.

Q: Do you open an email based on its subject line?Q: Do you open an email based on its subject line?

Test your subject lines in your inbox. What stands out? The golden rule is 45-65 characters. Have a call to action. Don’t be vague, be descriptive.

Q: Which of the following subject lines catches your attention the most?

Q: Which of the following subject lines catches your attention the most?

An overwhelming number said they want a subject line that is:

  • Direct
  • Concise
  • Descriptive
  • Includes keywords relevant to the writer’s beat

Q: How likely are you to delete a pitch based on a spelling/grammar error, regardless of the content’s quality?

Q: How likely are you to delete a pitch based on a spelling/grammar error, regardless of the content’s quality?

Avoid errors by clearing your head and taking a walk before sending your pitch.

Q: Do you auto-delete pitches that contain certain words?

Q: Do you auto-delete pitches that contain certain words?

Refrain from using these words in your pitches at all costs.

Q: If you could give 1-3 points of feedback to people who pitch to you, what would you say?

  • Do your research
  • Know the publication
  • Be relevant
  • Make it newsworthy
  • Know my beat
  • Don’t use all caps
  • Be personal
  • Be concise
  • Don’t cold call
  • Does it fit my beat?
  • Use spellcheck
  • No giant attachments
  • Don’t pitch on social media
  • Know my audience
  • Avoid phony friendliness
  • Get my name right
  • Avoid the fluff
  • Tailor your subject lines

Q: What characteristics does the perfect piece of content possess?

  • If your content isn’t top notch, the pitch isn’t going to matter
  • Breaking news
  • Exclusive research
  • Emotional stories
  • Timeliness
  • Relevance
  • Data
  • New hook
  • A story
  • Interview opportunities
  • Data visualizations
  • Useful information
  • Innovative
  • Interesting analysis
  • Storytelling
  • Well-researched
  • Meets editorial mission
  • Original content
  • Solutions to problems
  • Engaging
  • Amusing
  • Useful insights
  • Humor
  • Unique Angles
  • High-quality graphics

 

Do the findings match your experiences? Share them below or tweet to us @BuzzStream. You can also follow Kelsey and Ryan, our wonderful webinar speakers.

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How to Find and Analyze Your Competitors’ Campaigns

When you understand what your competitors are saying and doing, you become more confident in what makes your brand different and special. You get better at targeting and create more compelling messaging. An audit of your competitors’ marketing campaigns is a great place to start.

5 Steps to a Competitor Campaign Analysis

The following process will help you conduct an audit of your competitors’ marketing campaigns.

Step One: Determine Who Your Competitors Are

Spend some time brainstorming who your competitors are. Ask business executives who they consider to be your biggest competition. Look at who else is performing well in search results for your keywords. Check out tools like SEMRush and SimilarSites. Don’t be afraid to include businesses that are significantly larger or smaller than your own.

Step Two: Research Your Competitors’ Online Properties

Look at each competitor’s website and all of its social media properties.

Website

  • What’s being merchandised on the homepage?
  • Are there any products, categories, or themes that are getting special attention?
  • What categories or themes is the blog focused on lately?
  • Are there any weekly or on-going post themes?
  • Does it explicitly mention any campaigns or contests?
  • Do any specific bloggers or influencers get mentioned on the blog?

Social Media Profiles

  • Is the competitor using any hashtags that indicate an organized campaign?
  • Are there themes that stretch across platforms, like Twitter and Instagram?
  • Has the competitor shared any specific content they’ve created?
  • Are there any topics mentioned frequently?
  • Does the competitor regularly point to specific bloggers or websites?
  • Is there any unique content (like videos or photography) hosted on the social media platforms?

Step Three: Research Your Competitors on External Sites

A backlink analysis (using tools like Ahrefs or OSE) is a great place to start, but results can be muddied if one of your competitors is a megasite like Amazon or Target. In those cases, consider looking only at relevant subdomains or categories. (E.g., If I’m a local garden center competing with a huge brand like Home Depot, I’d pay attention to the backlinks for gardenclub.homedepot.com and homedepot.com/gardenclub.)

Try to find the referring sites that look like blogs, then run a Google search for “Competitor Name” site:theblogname.com. You’ll be able to find when the blogger talked about the brand, what they said, and whether the brand/blogger relationship was a one-off mention or an on-going relationship.

You can run searches for Competitor -site:competitor.com to begin to find similar results. Again, look for the domains that look like blogs or editorial sites. You can get more advanced by including keywords with campaign types:

  • Brand -site:brand.com
  • Brand review -site:brand.com
  • Brand guide -site:brand.com
  • Brand sponsors -site:brand.com

Tip 1: As you go, keep track of all of the sites that could be an opportunity or fit for your brand in the future.

Tip 2: The BuzzStream List Navigator can save you a ton of time here. Watch the video.

Step Four: Analyze the Campaigns

As you review all of the internal content and external sites that mention the competitor, you should start to get an idea of what the competitor is prioritizing. Maybe they’re working on product reviews within a certain category, or maybe they’re trying to get in front of a specific audience.

Ask the following questions for each campaign:

  • What type of campaign is it? Sponsorship? Review?
  • Who are they targeting?
  • How are they positioning themselves?
  • What are their main messages and tagline?
  • Are there offline components to this campaign?
  • What behavior are they asking for? What are they ultimately selling?
  • Does it seem like they’re using a PR, Social, or SEO agency?
  • What is their goal with this campaign?
  • Why might that be their goal?
  • Does this campaign look natural or does it feel a little forced or spammy?

Step Five: Find Opportunities for Your Own Brand

Now that you have an idea of what your competitors are up to, you can begin to glean insight and ideas for your own brand.

Ask yourself the following about your own brand:

  • What strategies are my competitors missing?
  • Where does their messaging fall short?
  • Which audiences are they missing out on?
    • Why are they running these campaigns?
    • Has the business prioritized a category?
    • Are they after something like coupon use? Does that mean coupons convert well?
    • Are they getting links for the sake of links? Are they at risk for penalty?
  • What do bloggers generally expect from these campaigns?
  • How are my products or services different from what my competitors are promoting?
  • What can I offer to bloggers that my competitors can’t?

Going back to the Home Depot gardening example I mentioned earlier, my research helped me find that the company ran a blogger review campaign last year with the hashtag #DigIn. Rather than looking for links, though, it seems Home Depot was really after email signups. If I were a small, local garden center, I’d think about a few things. First, I should consider an email newsletter of my own. Second, it seems like the Home Depot missed out on local bloggers, so maybe they’re the ones I could go after.

Did we miss any key questions? What do you usually look for when doing competitor audits of your own? Leave a comment or tweet to us @BuzzStream.

P.S. Special thanks to our intern, Olivia Polger, for her help editing this post.

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Actionable Tactics to Get Great Links with PR

Good PR tactics in the hands of SEOs can get big links from major sites with little or no budget spent. In this post, we walk through 5 PR-inspired tactics that you can start using today. 

Table of Contents:

Get Big Links by Tracing Stories to Their Source

Coverage from a major news site like Yahoo! or TODAY can be great for business but hard to achieve. Since they employ so few writers, pitching these sites directly is often a waste of time. A much better tactic is to spend five minutes looking to see who is writing for the site and which blogs are syndicating to it.

Live Examples

Yahoo! News regularly gets its tech stories from sites like BGR News. BGR News, in turn, puts its writers’ email addresses on every story. While not all BGR News stories end up on Yahoo!, a lot of the good ones do (and BGR is a much easier pitch). Alternately, if you have an infographic that you want to end up on Yahoo!, consider posting it to Visual.ly first. The Business Insider team uses Visual.ly as a regular source, and many of those BI posts feed up to Yahoo! News, as well.

The Today Show’s website is written mostly by freelancers. Lesley Kennedy, for example, is a regular contributor. Unfortunately, TODAY doesn’t list any contact info. A quick Google search for her name, however, shows that she also writes for The Huffington Post, iVillage, and ParentDish (all great press targets) and that she can be reached via her Denver Post email address.

Where to Start

 Here’s a quick walkthrough of how to figure out where stories are coming from:

This tactic also works on a more macro level. Once you start paying attention, you’ll begin to see how stories spread from small, niche sites to major news outlets.

Skip The Press Release: Publish News and Data on Your Own Site

When you have news or data to share, post it on your own site (either to your blog or a virtual newsroom) and do outreach, instead of distributing it via a wire service.

“No one in the media reads press releases. Not a single person, I promise you…. The only time I ever, ever hear a media person mention a press release is to mock it.”

Amy Westervelt, Freelance Journalist & Contributor to Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Slate, & More

Posting information to your own site gives you maximum control over its look and feel. You can structure your story for easy reading, using subheadings and lists. You can include as many high-res images, video embeds, and product page links as you like. You can showcase related content. Most importantly, you can provide a branded experience to bloggers and journalists, instead of being yet-another-standard-release.

It’s also better for link building, for two reasons. First, some news sites avoid linking to commercial pages. This provides them with an alternate, non-ecommerce option (your blog). Second, many sites post quick blurbs and then throw a “for more information” link over to the actual press release. When your press release is on a site like PRWeb, then PRWeb gets the link instead of you.

Live Example

Buffer is a company that’s doing this right. Check out Buffer’s press page for layout ideas and all of the inbound links to its blog for proof that it works.

Where to Start

If you need inspiration on how to visualize and share data on your site, check out The New York Times’ 2013 year-in-review post on interactive storytelling, Wil Reynolds’ diigo page, or this guide that Ross Hudgens shared.

Earn Fresh Audiences via Partnerships

Bloggers and journalists are hesitant to trust (and write about) brands they don’t know. Instead of pleading your case, just get somebody they love to vouch for you. In B2B, this is where you see testimonials, case studies, and sponsorships. In B2C, it can be a lot more fun.

Live Examples

YouTube is a great place to start. Games that get featured on Wil Wheaton’s YouTube show, TableTop, usually sell out at game stores within a few days. Felicia Day’s The Guild  got a limited edition Jones Soda set and Jones was written about on geek sites across the web. More recently, YouTube vloggers Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart made a movie called Camp Takota that’s been written about everywhere from BuzzFeed to Glamour to The Washington Post, and it’s earned a ton of coverage for Camp Takota distributor, VHX.

The trick with these sponsorships is creative freedom. The more strict you are about brand guidelines, the more unnatural your sponsorship will seem. Content creators have huge communities for a reason. Let them do their thing, and their followers will love you for it. Plus, being nice usually means more brand mentions when creators are talking to the press and to fellow creators.

Where to Start

Not sure where to find opportunities? Ask employees (or better yet, customers) about who they’re reading, watching, and following.

Control Anchor Text by Choosing Words Carefully in Outreach

You can’t tell people what to think, but you can tell them what to think about. In mass communication theory, we call this “framing.” (It’s part of the second-order effects of McCombs and Shaw’s Agenda-Setting Theory.) It means that, while you can’t just force opinions on people, you can influence the factors that help them form opinions, as demonstrated in this classic research study and this Jimmy Kimmel video

Examples

If you’re doing outreach, you’ve seen this effect firsthand. It’s the difference between asking for a guest post and offering to contribute. If you’re writing for PR, you already know that the features you write about in your news release will be the features that journalists call out in their stories.

Take it to the next level by thinking about social media. Keeping your headline or description under 100 characters makes it easy to tweet. People can copy, paste, add a link, and call it good, without having to think too much. (It means your getting rid of prohibiting factors, too.)

Where to Start

You can use this theory to affect (or not affect) anchor text. If you do outreach with an anchor text link to a certain page, people are will link to that page using your anchor text. If you instead do something like, “We want to feature this page:[URL]” people will usually link naturally.

Maintain Relationships with Quick Email Blasts

Building relationships is one of those things that we talk about but rarely accomplish (unless you’re community-building rockstar Jen Lopez). It’s understandable: success is inversely related to time available for cultivating relationships. Little email blasts are a pretty simple solution.

Once you do something successful with a blogger who you’d like to work with again, add them to a list. Categorize this list however it makes sense to do so (mom blogger, women’s fashion, shoes, geek trends, etc.). Do it in Buzzstream or make a spreadsheet. Then, the next time you do something awesome that’s related to what they write about, ping them.

Example

Your email template can be really simple:

Hey Cori,

Wanted to let you know that the headphones you reviewed a few months ago are on sale 20% off. If you want to share with your readers, they can also use this code for free shipping: FREESHIP10. Hope everything is going well!

Cheers, Stephanie

or maybe something like:

Hi Cori,

You worked with me on the headphone review a few months ago. It seemed to go over pretty well, and I’d love to work with you again. Would you be up for reviewing something else? I’m promoting our DJ equipment right now and laptop speakers next month.

Cheers, Stephanie

The trick is to spend at least 2 or 3 minutes personalizing your email. Be specific about how you worked together in the past. Provide a special code for readers if you can do so. Call out something from the post they wrote last time. BuzzStream comes in handy here. Use it to make good notes about your contact, view the last time they linked to you, and update your template before sending.

Where to Start

Once you’ve worked with someone more than once, send a little thank you gift and hand-written note in the mail. Go out of your way to tweet something of theirs if you can. If you’re going to keep reaping the benefits of this relationship, you should put back into it as much as you can.

More Thoughts on PR Tactics for SEO

Here are a few more ways to use PR tactics to improve your link building:

  • Read the news. Follow influencers. Read niche sites. Watch videos. Consume the same information that your customers consume.
  • Keep detailed notes (on both people and websites) about how you worked with someone, what they’re like, and whether or not you should work with them again. You can use BuzzStream’s relationship status, a tag, or a custom category to do this at scale (and for easy filtering), then add details in the “notes” section.
  • When you’re pitching major news stories, offer bloggers and journalists the opportunity to interview important people.
  • Treat bloggers/journalists as the gatekeepers to your audience. Give them something that they can easily pass along to their readers. Make assets shareable. Make headlines tweetable. Most importantly, be interesting.

Have more ideas about how SEO and PR can work together?  Add them in the comments below.

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The Problem with Influence Scoring

Jeremy Porter has a post on Journalistics today about influence scoring and the challenges associated with it.  Jeremy’s post does a nice job of pointing out some of the challenges with trying to use influence scores like Klout, PageRank, etc..  Most notably, when looked at them by themselves, they’re not particularly useful because, unlike a search engine that includes both relevance and influence/trust in its algorithm, there’s no contextual relevance.  So Justin Bieber may have a Klout score of 95, but if I’m selling fly fishing equipment,  the guy with a klout score of 20 who only writes about fly fishing and who is very active in a number of fly fishing community sites is much more important to me.

I don’t think this problem is unique to klout…this is a very difficult problem to solve.  Frankly though, given the changed face of media, I’m not convinced it’s even a good idea to rely on fine-grained scores like this at all.  Knowing that one influencer has a score of 64 while another has a score of 78 might be useful in a world where a relatively small set of traditional outlets have significant reach (and you’re going to be extremely high touch with a small number of outlets), but when you have a completely fragmented landscape, you just don’t need to be this fine-grained.  It’s a bit of a dirty word, but frankly in a world where everyone is an influencer and where links and social mentions drive search performance, the biggest issue is scale – like it or not, you have to build a lot of relationships in order to move the needle for the business and spammy approaches just don’t work.  So the challenge is this – how do I build REAL relationships with LOTS of people without hiring an army of people to do it?  When you rely on these fine-grained scores, inevitably you get caught in the discussion of  “is this person really more influential than this person in my niche.”  It’s a total time suck and it really shouldn’t impact how you engage.

Given that you need to engage with a lot of people in order to have an impact, I think you’re better off thinking in terms of broad groupings – i.e., a person’s level of influence is either high, medium, or low.  Then you can focus your efforts on the thing that really matters – developing the processes and tools that will allow you to engage with more people (in a real, relationship-oriented manner).  Specifically, you need to reduce the time required to: 1) find out when influencers are talking about the topics you care about (so you can engage), 2) keep track of the conversations you’re having with influencers (so your conversations are more meaningful and relevant), and 3) engage with more people in less time without sacrificing personalization and relevance.

So, given this, you’re still left with the challenge of developing a methodology for classifying people into the “high/medium/low” influence categories as a starting point.   I think the details for this are probably best covered in another post, but at a high-level I think there are three things you look at:

  • Are they relevant?  (using tools like listorious, alltop, google searches, monitoring, etc)
  • What percentile do they fall into for some of the key engagement and reach metrics? (e.g., average comments, uniques, retweets)
  • Who’s in their network (i.e., do they have relationships with some of the known influencers in the space)?

All of this info is available, the key is developing a way to quickly aggregate it and leverage it to classify people.  I’ll cover this in a follow-up post.

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Major Product Update: Inline Editing and Customizable Views Are Here!

When it comes to managing relationships with influencers and managing links, people have a love/hate relationship with their spreadsheets.  On the one hand, spreadsheets become impossible to manage as you scale your efforts.  On the other hand, they’re flexible and fast.  So, for us, the trick is building a system that makes it easy for people to scale their efforts without sacrificing any of the speed and flexibility.  With the release of Inline Editing and Customizable Views this week, we think we’ve made a big step towards that goal.

Our customers have played a big role in the development of both of these. They really drove the vision of these as they were being developed.  So thanks to all for your input and insights as BuzzStream continues to evolve. All right, let’s take a closer look.

Inline Editing (See Video)

This is kind of the “2” of a “1-2 Punch” that includes Customizable Views. We’ve added in-line editing to the list view. This is a huge time saver when having to make a few quick edits on the fly. Instead of clicking into each individual record to edit you can do so from the list view. Just click the record you want to edit and update the the fields you need. This makes doing multiple edits a breeze.

Customizable Views (See Video)

Now you can see your Contacts, Media Outlets, Link Partners and Links how you want. Select the columns you want to see, and move those columns where you want them be. We’ve made it super-easy to customize the “list view” of all your information so you can work with it how you want to. This is our first stab at it and we will be refining as we go.

Other Quick Fixes and Changes

Twitter Messages

Fixed a small bug that was effecting the collection of Tweets between you and your contacts.

Blank BuzzMarker

Our beloved BuzzMarker would show up blank when reaching your Contact or Link Partner limit during BuzzMarking. You will now receive a handy prompt to upgrade your account.

Relationship Stage Updating

The relationship stage was not updating for individual records copied across multiple projects.

Better Delete Messaging

We’ve cleared up some of the messaging in the product to make it more clear when you’re deleting a contact and when you’re just removing it from a project.

Twitter ID’s in the BuzzMarker

Fixed a small issue where “twitter.com/profilename” was being marked as the Twitter ID.

Twitter OAuth Verification Fail Message

You will now get a friendly error message when Twitter fails to link your Twitter account to BuzzStream.

Import Feature Loading Faster

We were experiencing a little lag time after clicking “Import” and the feature opening up. We thought it was a bit annoying, so we fixed it.

Faster Tag Loading

If you have a bunch of Tags things may have slowed down a bit for you when you needed to edit tags in bulk, edit a records’ details or use the BuzzMarker. We put in a fix to speed things up.

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Geolocation’s (soon to be) Place in PR

[Infographic Credit]

Yeah, I Foursquare. I even have a Foursquare profile for BuzzStream. You can watch me check into one of three coffee shops in the morning, the office for the afternoon, maybe a happy hour spot around 6pm and then a couple random spots at night. Am I always at where I check in? No. I try to Fakesquare a few places when I’m stuck at a stop light. Foursquare is doing its best to catch cheaters like me. This begs the questions, why do I Foursquare? I’m not sure yet, but I keep doing it and now that Twitter “Places” is live many more will be joining me in the location game.

What does this mean for PR? What’s compelling is the opportunity to integrate location data into a relationship management service. Think of a SCRM or like platform keeps tabs on the location of your contacts in proximity to you. What if you got alerts when specific contacts came with in “range”. A kind of “set it and forget it” option that thinks for you in the background.

Twitter says, “By turning on this feature, you can include location information like neighborhood, town, or exact point when you tweet.” Exact point? That might be a little much. It feels a bit too “big brother” and I see the opportunity for a whole new level of stalking. But the advantage of knowing the proximity of your contacts provides for possible offline interaction. A more memorable and personal interaction that builds the relationship in ways that phone calls, emails and Tweets can not. It builds trust, faster.

For this to make sense we need mass adoption. Twitter is the first step, especially for B2B and last month Facebook said they were getting into the location game. If that’s true for Facebook then the lever for mass adoption will be pulled and with it comes a profound increase in location accuracy because it’s not a game. There’s nothing to win, so trying to game the game goes away. No more random check-in’s but specific locations attached to everyday communication. If done right, this information could be a boon to the busy PR pro wanting to efficiently connect with their contacts offline. Perhaps my Fakesquaring days are over.

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New Release: Twitter OAuth, Media Metrics, Advanced Tagging and Filtering

We’ve been busy implementing some new features that speed up BuzzStream, allow you to better manage/search your tags and show you a more in depth snapshot of your media outlets, influencers, links and link partners.

Again our customers have come up with some great ideas and we listened. All told this release is pretty deep and adds some solid punch to BuzzStream. Let’s take a look.


Tag Manageability

In the past you’ve only been able to view all of your tags as a lump sum across all of your projects. You told us that this can easily become bulky and overwhelming. Now you can easily view and apply your tags by breaking them down to particular projects or a specific user.

Advanced Filtering Updates

We also added “and/or” filtering to Tags, Custom Fields, Link type, Link Partner Type, Media Outlet Type. This addition gives you a powerful parameter to further distill your search results.



Media Outlet Twitter Metrics

Get an accurate and fast snapshot of the potential influence and reach of your media outlets Twitter metrics (Follower, Following and Updates).



Twitter OAuth Support

We’re now supporting OAuth for our Twitter integration.  You can now keep track of Twitter conversations with your influencers without having to input your Twitter credentials into BuzzStream. Twitter handles this for us now.  Just click on the Twitter icon under Settings > Configuration and you can link your Twitter profile to BuzzStream. If you have a BuzzStream account just click here to make the change!



Faster “Bulk” Actions

We’ve sped up the time it takes to apply bulk actions when moving or copying records across projects, deleting records, changing overall rating and editing tags. You should see a substantial improvement in the time it takes for these changes to apply when you are making changes in mass.


Other Quick Fixes and Changes


BuzzBox VCard

With one click your BuzzBox email address is exported as a VCard for easy importing into your email client or address book.

Easily Import Merged Person’s Names

No longer do you need to separate first and last names that live  in the same cell of your spread sheet. Our import feature automatically separates those into two separate fields in your BuzzStream contact profile.

Hide Custom Fields

Use or don’t use all those Custom Fields you’ve created, it’s up to you. We’ve made it possible for you to enable or disable each you create depending your preference.

Import Now Supports Over 50 New Fields Including YouTube and MySpace

We beefed up our import options by adding over 50 new fields that you can import.

Urls in Custom Fields are Now Linkable

Do you have urls as part of a custom field? It’s no longer necessary to cut and paste those into your browser.  We’ve made them clickable from within BuzzStream.

Easier-to-Read Task Notification Emails

We have cleaned them up a bit so you an quickly see what you need to do for the day and get to it.

Added “Notes” to Import

“Notes” are an important part of any imported record and now you can add one note to each record you import to BuzzStream.

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