May 23, 2011

How to Get Publicity with Social Media

I had the pleasure of attending the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) conference held in New York. The conference, for writers at every level of their career, featured more than 70 sessions covering a variety of topics, and I’ve been posting some of the recaps over the last week or so. See: Breaking into Finance Markets, Writing for Women’s Magazines, Beating Blog Burnout, Writing White Papers, Building a Platform: How to Promote Your Blog and Yourself and Negotiating a Book Deal.

In this post, I share the text of the presentation given by Dan Janal as part of the panel, “Tweet, Blog, Like and Link: Using Social Media to Build Your Platform.” Thanks to Dan for kindly sharing this with our readers.

TECHNOLOGY CHANGES EVERYTHING

Technology changes everything. It even changes the way we communicate with reporters to get publicity.

When the Internet first became a tool for general business use back in 1994, I wrote an article that was printed in many PR journals. It was called, “The Internet Ushers in a Golden Era for PR.”

I wrote about how we could now control the message our audience receives, we can go directly to our audience and bypass the media, and how our stakeholders would gobble up every word of every long report we wrote because they cared. Meanwhile, reporters could write their 500-word article based on our 400-word press release and intersperse the comments and opinions of our competitors and analysts.

Hindsight has proven me to be 100 percent correct — in fact, in some ways more than I could even imagine.

Yes, we can print our press releases on our websites and have them indexed by Google so anyone searching for a book or product or service like yours could actually find the original source material exactly as we positioned it, free from interpretation or misinterpretation from the media.

Yes, we could even send the press release to our followers via email and newsletters. Today, of course, we can use social media, as well, to tell the world what we are up to.

And yes, our followers could indeed follow us back in 1994 by joining our e-zine lists.

Technology had its upside and downside. We could easily send press releases and pitch letters to hundreds or thousands of reporters for free because email is free. And unfortunately, too many PR people actually did this. This was a bad move for reporters, PR people and clients.

TODAY’S PERSPECTIVE, TODAY’S OPPORTUNITIES

So that brings us to today. How can we use technology to improve our media relations and get the visibility we need to sell more products more easily?

First of all, social media is a key. Reporters blog and tweet. You need to be following the 5 or 10 reporters who really matter to you.

Read their stuff.

Comment.

Befriend them.

You will stand out from the thousands of lazy PR people who blanket the emailosphere – is that even a word? — with untargeted pitch letters. You’ll be rewarded in two ways:

  1. When you pitch reporters, they very well might remember you and listen to you.
  2. Some reporters are posting their own requests for information to their followers.

GOOGLE CHANGES EVERYTHING

People go to search engines to find people like you who offer services they want. In fact, they probably use search engines more than they use the media to find new products and services. After all, you can’t count on the New York Times running an article about how to be a better parent on just the day you think you need to be a better parent. That’s what search engines are for.

Reporters type, “How can I be a better parent?” and they find an article you wrote or an article you were quoted in that has a link pointing back to your website. Or they see a press release you published on your website or had reprinted on a media site.

More about that tactic later.

The point is that they find you or a competitor on Google. So now you have to think about how to stand out on Google.

Google is as famous for their secret formula on how to rank websites as Coca Cola is about their secret recipe for Coke, or McDonald’s is for their Big Mac sauce. However, nearly all SEO gurus agree that one key factor is the number of quality websites that link to your website. So if you get a link from me, that’s nice. If you get a link from the person sitting next to you, that’s nice. But, if you get a link from the Boston Business Journal or CNBC.com, that’s fantastic.

So how do you get those great hits? Two ways:

  1. Choose the right keywords.
  2. Send the press release to a place that prints press releases.

I’ll explain. 

KEYWORDS CHANGE EVERYTHING

Are you a marketing guru hoping that prospects find you on Google? I hope not! Did you realize that only 6,600 searches are conducted each month for the term “marketing guru”?

Don’t feel bad, though. The terms “online marketing guru,” “social media guru” and “PR guru” have even fewer searches!

I found this out when I researched keywords for Terri Langhans, who said she is frequently referred to as a “marketing guru” when she is introduced at her speeches and workshops by overzealous emcees. She said she hates the term and wouldn’t mind finding a more popular term for her press release that promotes her new conference, “Help Them Hire You: A 24-Hour Marketing Retreat.”

What are people looking for? If you’re a “marketing expert,” you’ll fare better with 14,800 monthly searches. However if you want to get real traffic, consider using “marketing consultant,” which tips the scales at 74,000 monthly searches. That’s a far cry from “marketing guru,” by nearly 4 times as many searches.

If marketing is a numbers game, then consider the numbers for popular keywords.

You can do this kind of research to find the most sought-after terms that describe who you are, what you do, the market you serve and how they will benefit. Or you can hire me to do that for you. Or you can attend a webinar where I’ll show you how to do this research yourself. Click here for info.

By the way, don’t even think of using “Marketing for Dummies.” It has only 14,000 searches. 

PRESS RELEASES CHANGE EVERYTHING

Remember I said there were media sites that print press releases? It’s true. There are nearly 100 media websites, ranging from the business journals to CNBC.com and TV stations with websites that print nearly every press release they receive from PR Newswire.

Why do they do this?

I’m guessing they do it for the same reasons you do:

  • They want to inform their audience so they become the must-go place for news.
  • They realize that Google ranks a site higher if it has more content. So for the same reason you want to rank higher than your competitor, CNBC.com wants to rank higher than CNN or Fox or any other network. They have competition too!

We’ve been very successful in getting our clients’ press releases printed on these websites. In turn, these sites rank high for the search terms we explored for our clients. There’s a wall of fame on my website that shows this on my blog: www.PressReleaseSender.com

More importantly, the press releases and SEO tactics get more traffic for my clients, which results in more sales. It must be working, because they keep on ordering more press releases.

It’s the combination of keywords and a willing media that lead to success. You can’t have one without the other. If you can do SEO, that’s great. If not, come to me. I can help you. I can also get discounts on PR Newswire, since I buy in bulk. Check out more info at www.PressReleaseSender.com

DEVICES CHANGE EVERYTHING

Many reporters now use tiny little phones, not computers, to interact with the world. Just like you. And those tiny, little phones have tiny, little displays.

That means that if you have a long subject line for your pitch letter, it might be truncated and they won’t be able to figure out what your subject line really says.

That means that if you have a press release with lots of pictures, it might not display properly.

Have you ever received a message on your iPhone asking you to download the rest of a message? I have. Chances are I won’t download or even read the message if it is from someone I don’t know.

YOUTUBE CHANGES EVERYTHING

On the other hand, technology opens more doors. Steven Spangler has appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” a zillion times. He’s the science guy and has cool toys or tools or experiments. How did he achieve such success?

Well, he didn’t send a press release or a pitch letter. Fortunately, he didn’t send an exploding box.

He did post videos on YouTube showing his toys in action. And some of them did explode. On purpose.

Ellen’s producers found the videos and they invited him onto the show. He was a good guest and they invited him back and back and back.

The lesson is simple: Post your content on the Web. If it’s good, producers and reporters will find you. So will your prospects.

One last piece of advice: Don’t send anything to reporters that explodes. That would not be a good use of technology.

To read my latest thoughts, please subscribe to my weekly e-zine, “Dan Janal’s Irreverent Monday Marketing Memo.” You’ll receive it every Monday. It’s a fun read.

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