Archive for the ‘PR’ Category

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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New Release: Improved Filtering, Link Checking and Reporting

photo

We always receive great feedback from our customers and the in the last couple weeks you’ve given us some great ideas. We love it as your ideas play a huge role in the feature additions and updates we make; so please, keep them coming. A majority of our recent updates revolve around organizing, labeling, reporting and assigning. Let’s dig in

Quick Search Filters for Links & Link Partners

We love anything that makes a process faster for you. Sorting through your link relationships can be a bit tedious so we’ve added a couple Quick Search filters to ease things along. To use them just click on Filters and you’ll see Quick Search at the top of the drop down. We’ll be adding more search filters in the near future. If you have some that you’d like to see, let us know via customer-service@buzzstream.com.

quick-search

Ad New Users to Projects

Small changes can equal big differences and we’re glad that this was pointed out. It’s tough for a new user to work on a project when one is not assigned. Now from the get-go, you can assign new users to a project while setting up their profile. The first time they log in they will already have projects assigned and can get cranking on projects.

new-user-project

Added Link Type and Link Partner Type

Categorizing your links can be a big help, especially with large campaigns. To ease the pain we added two customizable fields allowing you to add “types” to both the Link and Link Partner. Name them what you will, it’s up to you. These “types” will show up in Buzzmarker, link partner records, links and filters. The big plus is once we add reporting (coming in a couple weeks!) you will be able to break down link building performance by type (blog/media mention, social bookmark, guest post, affiliate link, general directory, blog comment, etc.).

Here’s how you do it:

1. Click on “Settings”

setings

2. Click on “Configuration” tab

config

3. Click on “New Link Partner Type” or “New Link Type” (not shown)

link-partner

4. Enter in link “Type” and click Save

enter-link

Filter Memory

You’ve gone through all the trouble to set up a bunch of filters and they go up in smoke once you have logged out or leave a page. Yes, very annoying, so we fixed it. If you leave a page or happen to log out you can return with all your filters in place. An added bonus is you can now see what your current filter is with out jumping into your filter preferences.

filter-save

Backlink Checker Update with Email Reporting
It’s been easy to get the current state of your link but the reporting has been a bit light. You told us you needed help identifying changes to the actual links and wanted those changes sent to your inbox. We are happy to meet the need. We’ve beefed up the Backlink Checker and added some simple email reports that give you an accurate snap shot of any crucial changes to your links.

Backlink Checker

  • Changes to the page it is linking
  • Changes to nofolllow/dofollow status
  • Changes to anchor text
  • Changes to the number of outbound links on the pages

Email Reporting

  • New links that were added since the last check, including critical info you need to evaluate it (PageRank, #of links on the page, presence of “flagged words,” whether it’s a dofollow or nofollow link)
  • Links that you’d previously received that have changed (also includes the details of what changed)
  • Links that have been removed since you last ran a backlink check

Upcoming Features

Your feedback keeps us going so please don’t hesitate to comment below or send suggestions straight to customer-service@buzzstream.com. Thanks for helping us make BuzzStream into the tool that you need it be. Check out new updates and features we’ll be adding in the coming weeks.

  • Easier Import Utility: Making it a breeze to import your own links
  • Custom Fields
  • Reporting
  • Contact Info Highlighting: When the Buzzmarker finds contact info, we’ll highlight the place on the web page where we found it.
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BuzzStream Release Notes – 3/7/2010

It’s about that time. Time to lay out what we’ve been up to since our last post. It’s been a while; we know it and it’s no OK with us. Why the blackout? A ton of new customers, continued product enhancements and infrastructure upgrades have had everyone juggling fire. We don’t like burns so unfortunately the blog has taken a back seat. Now that the acrobatics are over, we’ve got a bunch to share. Let’s get to it.

Speed of the Link Buzzmarker

If you’re using BuzzStream for Link Management, you’ll see huge improvements in the time it takes for the Link Buzzmarker to scan the page.  This will make your link research and link documentation efforts much more efficient.  I was testing sites last night that had been taking 10-15 seconds to load and they’re now loading in 2 to 3 seconds.  We’ll make similar improvements to the Media Buzzmarker in a future release.  This will be a continuous process…the end goal is to get it to where there’s virtually no wait time when you click the Buzzmarker.

Tag Management

One of our most frequent requests from people who have been using the product for a long time is that tags quickly become unmanageable once you have a lot of contacts or a lot of people using the product.  We’ve taken the first step to addressing this by adding tag management capabilities.  Now you can select multiple contacts and add, edit or delete contacts for those contacts.  So suppose one person was using the tag “social media” and another person was using “social_media,” you can now fix this by filtering on the tag you want to remove, selecting all the contacts, removing the one tag and adding the other.

Enhancements to Tasks

We continue to extend our Task Management capabilities so that you can better track and manage your influencer outreach efforts and your link management activities.   Here’s a list of the things we added since our last Release blog post:

  • The ability to add a task while Buzzmarking a contact
  • E-mail notifications of your daily agenda as well as notifications when tasks are assigned to you by someone else
  • The ability to add follow-up tasks when you’re adding notes, editing links, etc (for example, after adding the note “Talked to John about the product review,” you can create a follow-up task titled “Send screenshots” that’s associated with the note)
  • Task filtering on the Dashboard – this will enable you to see tasks associated with a specific project, tasks that are due at a certain time, and tasks that are assigned to someone on your team.

BuzzStream's task management capabilities

Bulk Operations

In addition to Tag Management, we’ve added  a number of other operations that can be conducted on multiple contacts at once.  This is particularly useful when you’re working with a large number of contacts.  Our bulk operations currently include:

  • Select specific contacts to copy or move to a different project: you no longer have to move/copy all of the Link Partners that are in the current filter…now you can specifically select the ones that you want to copy or move.
  • Bulk delete
  • Ability to change the “assigned to” field for multiple Link Partners at once
  • Ability to change “relationship stage” for multiple Link Partners at once

BuzzStream bulk operations - changing influencer ratings for multiple contacts

Improvements to Search

We implemented Lucene as our search technology, which will give us much more power for searching.  In the near-term, this means you can now search on any term in the fields we look at.  In the long-term, it’ll mean that we’ll be able to search across much larger data sets.  This will become much more important as we enhance our influencer monitoring capabilities (i.e., you’ll be able to do things like look for any of your influencers who have written about a certain topic in the last X weeks).

Improved Performance

We added a number of large customers last week and we’re optimizing to make sure that performance keeps up.  We’re addressing this both with code optimizations and by adding more hardware.  Things seem to be humming, but please let us know if you see any issues.

Usability Improvements and Bug Fixes

In addition to these new features, we also made a number of usability improvements and fixed some remaining bugs.  Here’s the list:

  • The Quick Search box now clears when you click “Clear Filters”
  • For monitoring, the “Manage” tab is only available to Administrators
  • Fixed a bug that was preventing retrieval of Twitter metrics when you’d click “Update Metrics”
  • Links to external websites now open in a new tab (instead of a new window)
  • Fixed a bug that was making some social profile URLs unclickable (e.g., some facebook URL formats)
  • When you click outside the Projects drop-down, it now closes automatically
  • When you finish an Import, the “Cancel” button now changes to “Close”
  • Increased the character limit for the “About” fields on People, Media Outlets and Link Partners
  • Fixed a set of user interface bugs on Internet Explorer.  These include:
    • Cursor wouldn’t turn into a pointer when you hovered over the Delete icon
    • “Link out” icons were getting cut off on some pages
    • Text in “Recently Viewed” section of the Dashboard was getting cut off

Lots of tasty goodness in our near-term roadmap as well…some of the things we’re working on:

  • Reporting: our highest priority for our next major release
  • Filter memory: BuzzStream will remember your filter.  So, for example, suppose you’ve filtered your list to only show contacts assigned to you.  If you go to a different page or log out, the next time you return to the list, you’ll only see those contacts (this is a first step towards Saved Filters).
  • Highlighting contact info found by the Buzzmarker: When you Buzzmark a page, we’ll  highlight the section of the web page where any contact info is found.  This will reduce the time required for research.
  • Complete upgrade of the Backlink Checker e-mail in the Link Management product
  • More bulk operations
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PRHack: How to Be a Ninja 'Expert Source' with ExpertTweet, HARO, and PitchRate

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time creating press opportunities… finding people who are interested in your niche, connecting with them, building relationships, and ever so softly pitching your company.

But sometimes journalists go looking for experts. And chance favors the prepared mind. If you know where they look, you can be standing by to help them out. This post covers three free services you can monitor to find PR opportunities.

Traditionally, the major service that connects journalists with experts was ProfNet, which charges both parties experts to participate. I say, “nuts to that” in the digital age. Enter Help A Reporter (HARO). Peter Shankman is an uber-connected PR guru who receives requests from the press (the serious mainstream press) all the time looking for experts of various kinds– anything from professional gardeners to Fortune 100 CTO’s. Peter compiles all of these expert requests and sends out a daily email to his massive subscriber base of PR pros and experts.  Another service, PitchRate.com, launched this year and is similar in concept to HARO but saves expert requests on their website where you can search them (and manage your pitches) and also will send you a daily digest of requests via email. PitchRate is newer, so it has a much smaller user base than HARO.

The newest entrant, ExpertTweet, announced today, was launched by Jeremy Pepper Porter at Journalistics (a fantastic blog, btw).  They take this idea to Twitter. Just follow @experttweet and you’ll see journalists’ expert requests as they’re posted in real-time. I really like this format because the requests are very brief and to-the-point, which makes them easier to follow.  They’re also easier to search and filter using Twitter (more on that in a second).

Filtering

One thing that’s true of all these services is that you’re going to have to read through a lot of irrelevant posts to see the requests that you can act on. Unless you have lots of clients in many different niches, monitoring these services can be like reading through all the For Sale ads on Craigslist to find a kayak.  So, to fix this problem, you need to glue together some RSS feeds and create filters.

How to Filter ExpertTweets

  • Run the search (it’s ok if there aren’t any results at the moment) and right-click “RSS feed for this query” and copy the link location.
  • Now go to FeedMyInbox, paste the feed, and enter your real email address (the one you actually have time to read).

Viola. Now you’ll receive an email each time ExpertTweet has a request that matches your keywords.

How to Filter HARO & PitchRate

Since these are email-based services, you’ll need a way to get the email going somewhere you can generate an RSS feed. For that, we’re going to use my buddy Josh Baer’s service, OtherInbox.

  • Sign up for an OtherInbox account. OIB gives you an infinite email address like *@[username].oib.com which you use to create custom emails for each site you want to automatically filter into their own folders on OIB.  It’s a great for giving out emails to e-commerce vendors, but it’s also handy for managing your HARO and PitchRate emails because every OIB folder can be exported into an RSS feed.  For example, I subscribe to HARO with haro@[myusername].oib.com and PitchRate with pitchrate@[myusername].oib.com.
  • Login to OIB, navigate to your HARO or PitchRate folder.  If you’re using Firefox, click the RSS icon in your browser’s Location bar. Choose the one that says “Inbox messages for HARO” which should cause the RSS feed to appear in your browser. Once the feed loads in Firefox, copy that URL.
    OIB RSS Export
  • Now you have the RSS feed for all the HARO content, but you need a way to filter the messages so you only see the emails that mention your keywords. This is where a service called FeedRinse comes in. Create a FeedRinse account and paste the HARO RSS feed into Feedrinse.  Then setup the keywords that you want to filter your HARO messages by. Feedrinse will generate you a new RSS feed that only contains the HARO messages that matched your keywords.  Copy that RSS feed’s URL.
  • You’re almost there…  Now visit FeedMyInbox, paste the RSS feed URL from Feedrinse, and you’re all set. Now you should only see HARO and Pitchrate messages that match your keywords.

Alternatively, you can paste your filtered RSS feeds into BuzzStream and manage them using our workflow tools. As new results appear, you will see them in your monitoring results alongside regular stories, blog posts, comments, and other press opportunities. From there, you can manage ExpertTweet, HARO, and PitchRate requests like any other engagement opportunities– assign them to other users, add notes, and use the BuzzMarker to convert opportunities into contacts and start tracking your outreach.

I realize I breezed over using Feedrinse pretty quickly, so if you want more info about that step, please post a comment and I’ll put together a screencast if there’s interest.

PS: Not familiar with BuzzStream?  BuzzStream is a social media monitoring service that enables you to find press coverage and social media conversations, research and convert them into influencer contacts in one click (automatically capturing contact information and making them searchable by web metrics), and then track your relationships via email and Twitter.  Join our private beta here.

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Measuring Inbound Marketing

I just spoke to the Austin Web Analytics Wednesday on the topic of PR, Social Media, and SEO measurement. Great group with really thoughtful questions and good conversations. I discussed my view of Inbound Marketing as a funnel: Listening > Engagement > Relationship > Coverage > Links > Search Rankings > Traffic > Leads > Sales. Would love to hear feedback. What did I miss?

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PR Spam is a Tools Problem

I ran across this post from a few weeks back by Drew Kerr talking about how AllThingsD writer Peter Kafka Tweeted out that he’d hit the breaking point with PR spam.

“Message to clients of ‘on demand’ spam PR firm Vocus PR.  Please stop using them. I’m setting up a filter to delete all their pitches.” — Peter Kafka

Drew then writes, “Let me save you a lot of money and aggrevation: if you want to ‘engage,’ first get an RSS reader like FeedDemon and actually read the journalists and bloggers you are contemplating.

My eyes filled with tears of joy at that.  Yes, yes, yes!  The problem is the tools.  Vocus is a spam-enabler because it invites PR people to build a giant list of reporters and blast the same pitch to all of them.  PR people aren’t bad people, they just have bad tools.

Drew’s suggestion that you subscribe to the RSS feeds of journalists on your media list is spot on.  I’ll take that one further and say that you should build your media list based on social media monitoring.   There are perfectly good free tools to do this, which I’ve covered in a previous post.

The Vocus process looks like this: SEARCH DATABASE -> PITCH
What I’m suggesting works like this: LISTEN > RESEARCH > ENGAGE > PITCH

Instead of searching for reporters, you start by LISTENING to what people are writing.  All it takes is setting up the right searches in Google Alerts or Social Mention.  Monitor for mentions of competitors, obvious keywords, and a few non-obvious phrases or jargon that pinpoint people who know your space.  Once you find someone, then and only then should they be added to your media list.  And ideally, you should follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their blog, friend them on FriendFeed, and generally try to get as much information as you can about them.  As a side benefit, this technique will surface mid-tail influencers that may be invisible to Vocus, and enable you to get to them before they’re bombarded with pitches.

BuzzStream will soon be unveiling our PR & Social Media product to connect the dots between identifying a journalist (or other influencer), researching them, and managing engagement (i.e. relationship-building) efforts over time and across mediums.

If you want to stop spamming, get the right tools.

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