Keys to Making a Bang with Your Media Relations Campaign

Your company has worked hard to develop its product, service or mission. Now it’s time to explode the industry with your first attempt at media exposure. But, before you light that fuse, first make sure your brand is ready to be showcased to the world. Whether the media relations campaign is done by your in-house team or through a hired agency, it’s important that your brand is polished and professional before the first detonation.

We’ve put together a few basic tips to help make sure you are prepared and ready to nail your media relations campaign when you make your big bang.

  • Remember that your website, blog, social media, and any offline collateral will serve as a potential source for journalistic research and story development. It is imperative that all of your content has clear and consistent messaging, originality in its presentation, and a professional design and purpose. If you think the website will confuse journalists, prepare a good old fashioned fact sheet that is clearly intended for the media
  • Take the time to stand out from the crowd. To be an industry leader you must know your competition and then further develop your brand with a message that differentiates your company.
  • Know your intended goal for media relations. Make sure to structure your campaign with tactics that caters to your mission. Making more sales and gaining visibility may mean a very different set of tactics.
  • Have a clarified message. Make sure your spokespeople get media training whether or not they want it (LOL). At a minimum, make sure your spokesperson has all of the facts and key messages about the news, and can speak well to the product, service, or mission of the company.

By taking the time to prepare before you make your explosion into the market, your opportunity to hit your target increases and all these efforts will maximize the desired results.

Gaining Coverage with Placed Editorial During the Holiday Season

Holidays are a great time to do editorial placement campaigns.

I just finished pitching a New Year’s pitch that was a whopping success.  While many companies tend to see the holidays as dead air time, some even shutting down their PR efforts altogether, savvy PR folks see huge opportunity.

The truth is the time period between Thanksgiving and a few months after the New Year presents an opportunity to leverage the perceived news lull with a year-end or year-beginning storyline.  Often editors and media outlets are looking for interesting ideas to “fill their pages” during this holiday down time.  Also, with the general slow-down in corporate productivity around the holidays, more people are reading news sites, blogs and following social media channels than during busier times of the year.  So smart holiday PR campaigning can be a powerful way to get your company noticed.

Some of the most important keys to effective holiday editorial placement are:

  • Leverage popular trends and storylines

    Even if your product is a nerdy, seemingly non-interesting component in the technology stack – look for the larger story lines and market trends you can connect your company or product to.  This may require thinking outside of the box but it always can be done.

  • Mention the year you are recapping or making a prediction about in the headline

    Let the reader know up front you are providing interesting tidbits about the year end – year coming and what matters about it.  Media outlets are expected to drench their readers with these very specific storylines.

  • Use a sensationalistic headline

    OK, you should always write a compelling headline (stay tuned for an upcoming Attain blog post on headlines) but year end/year beginning headlines need to be especially dramatic.  Remember, you are about to make a sweeping statement about what has happened or will happen in an entire market or industry.  Your headline needs to stand out among a litany of these types of stories.

  • Be inventive

    Perhaps you can leverage a partner or customer to jointly address an interesting angle or co-sponsor a year-end study.  The holidays are great times to announce results of surveys or make predictions about New Year trends.  This is also the time to consider something a little more catchy or gimmicky as these types of news stunts often seem to fit in better with the sense of sensationalism surrounding the holiday season.

  • Be believable

    You can claim that any pitch is related to the holidays, but that doesn’t mean an editor will believe it. In order to achieve the best success, there must be a valid, relevant holiday tie to your story idea.  Are you working with an expert source who can predict trends that relate to the Christmas season? Do you have a customer or partner that offers a great product perfect for holiday shoppers? These are the sorts of things that make for successful holiday editorial.

  • Start early and pitch well into the New Year

    Many pubs have their Christmas content picked out early, so make sure to get a jump on the crowd  If you start early enough you can also leverage editorial calendar opportunities to add momentum and additional stories to your PR campaign.  Also, New Year predictions can be placed through February so don’t give up the holiday editorial idea too soon.  The appetite for predictions never seems to end.

If thoughtfully crafted and executed properly, year end, New Year editorial placed content can be a very effective way to keep PR momentum through the holiday lull while possibly netting some great attention for your company you might not otherwise have received.

Attain Wins “Awesome Campaign of the Year Award” from PR World

At Attain, developing winning PR campaigns is what we do.  We are especially proud of the team for its work on the Riding the Mobile Payments Wave campaign. Designed for the French security company, INSIDE Secure, the campaign netted the win of PR World’s Awesome Campaign of the Year.

The campaign included a comprehensive plan with a full arsenal of PR tactics deployed.

First, we targeted third party influencers leveraging analyst briefings with top payment security analysts, including Gartner heavyweight Avivah Litan, who gave our client two 1 hour briefings, which is very non-standard for non-clients of Gartner.

In tandem, we were busy getting the news out about INSIDE Secure by launching a rolling thunder campaign about the product, which included a momentum release about key wins with brand name customers.

Also during this time frame, we submitted the product for multiple industry awards.  The product line ended up claiming 4 major wins with information security and technology leading publications.

One of the successful components of the campaign was the use of both a short and long word article placement which had amazing success.  The longer piece was either placed verbatim or content was used in 8 different publications, all top payment trades.

Finally, we hired a survey firm and launched a holiday payments survey around a thought provoking trend and mobile payments.  The coverage for the associated press release with survey results netted almost 18 feature stories in a variety of popular trade and even business press publications.

As part of the survey, the graphics team developed an eye-candy infographic that was used in additional stories about holiday payments.

This comprehensive approach to PR campaigning is the most successful way to really make an impact across a vertical sector, gain credibility with industry influencers, produce insane coverage results and make a lasting impression with the target audiences you wish to reach.

We are honored to have received this recognition!

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Communicating Under Pressure

One of the fastest ways a company stands out from the crowd (for better or for worse) is how they communicate with the world when facing difficult circumstances. The tone that is set during these challenging times will resonate far and wide.

It is likely that your company will experience a delicate situation at some point in the future. (Perhaps you’ve already been through one.) What’s most important is how you communicate internally — with your executive team, other company leadership, and your employees. It is this tone that will then be conveyed outside your company, so you want to be sure to do a great job communicating internally before doing anything else.

Rumors of layoffs, potential buyouts, and pending lawsuits can spread like wildfire through your organization. Those rumors are often more frightening than the situation itself. Honest, clear communication from company leadership can put a halt to speculation and ease fears that may otherwise halt productivity and focus.

Yes, at times the details are classified or confidential. But if an information leak has occurred, it is better to devise a communications strategy before the news spirals out of your control. Rumors flying around internally soon make it outside of your company walls, and the media can disseminate the information — whether it is true or not — faster than you can contain it.

After communicating what you can with your teams, relaying a unified and thoughtful message to the rest of the world becomes priority. Your investor and public relations departments will be key in crafting and then communicating your message. Press releases, media alerts, television or radio interviews, blog posts, and social media, when used properly, can all relay your message quickly and clearly.

Honesty and transparency mixed with some tact and thoughtful compassion is a great formula for setting the tone of your message.

Accessibility, willingness to communicate, and reasonable response times can halt negative reactions and criticism.

Setting expectations appropriately and then meeting those expectations keeps trust in tact. (It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver than over-promise and under-deliver!)

When a sensitive situation arises, balance out your speed of response with the time it takes to craft a thoughtful response. A hasty reaction without considering all of the potential impacts it may have is a mistake. The phrase, “slow is steady, steady is smooth, smooth is fast” is a good one to remember here!

Above all else, remember that you’re dealing with people and their lives. The situation you’re handling will have an impact on your employees and your customers. By being willing to put the people first, ahead of the company, you’ll gain loyalty and trust.

Let me give you an example.

The popular investment show Shark Tank recently featured a small home-grown business run by a young couple. They literally ran their business out of their garage, had no employees, and made many of their products by hand. They received a rather large investment from one of the “Sharks” and the moment their episode aired on TV, they sold out of every bit of product they had in stock.

Even factoring in the show’s estimated increase in business based off of past companies’ experiences, they surpassed those estimates by over 100%. They had to scale, and quickly! The holiday season was approaching, they had tens of thousands of new customers, and they simply could not keep up with demand.

What did they do? They communicated! They communicated often. It was with honesty, integrity, and compassion. They did their very best to ramp up production, hire a team, set up multiple manufacturing and fulfillment partnerships, train an entire customer service department, and handle the overwhelming response to their product.

Were they perfect at this process? Absolutely not. Some of the promises they made still weren’t met, they still had a large amount of unhappy customers, and it took them a number of months to get on their feet. But through it all they communicated with grace. When they were all caught up, they sent out an apology email with a large discount coupon for a future purchase. I’m certain they retained most of their new customers.

No company knows exactly what is coming around the next corner. No team or individual will always make the right decision in how to communicate during a crisis. However, making wise communication a priority during the tough times will strengthen your relationship with your employees and your customers. It is absolutely essential to success.

What is Communication?

com·mu·ni·ca·tion [kuh-myoo-ni-key-shuh n] noun

  1. the act or process of communicating
  2. the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs
  3. a connecting route, passage, or link; a joining or connecting

Communication is one of the single most vital aspects of running a successful business. Great communication draws people in, informs them, and helps them engage in what you’re trying to accomplish. Poor communication drives rifts (often times irreparable) between companies and customers.

Communication is “the act or process of communicating.”

It is an “act” or a “process” – it requires deliberate action. Communication doesn’t just happen on its own. It requires careful planning and preparation, such as developing key messaging and a story that can be told, or putting together an elevator speech for that perfect once-in-a-lifetime moment you have to pitch your big idea. It includes crafting honest and genuine responses to questions, complaints, and criticisms that may come your way, and planning ways to say “thank you” to those loyal fans and followers who support you no matter what. Communication is deliberate.

Communication is “the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information…”

Communication is freely giving information to others. It requires anticipating those questions or concerns that you may receive, and providing answers before the question is even asked. It is sharing the details that go into why a decision is made or how you developed your idea. It is letting people in and trusting them with the details. And it is being brave enough to accept the flow of thoughts and opinions back to you, and then addressing that information.

Communication happens “…by speech, writing, or signs.”

I’d like to add that it also happens with behavior patterns, facial expressions, and what is not said. Companies communicate with press releases and press conferences, with magazine articles and televised interviews, with corporate filings and radio shows. They also communicate with blog posts, public forum responses, and Twitter and Facebook updates. Company spokespeople communicate with their body language, similes or sighs, and savvy avoidance of certain questions, too. They even communicate certain things by their style of dress, or the company culture that is portrayed on a website or in photos.

Finally, communication is “a connecting route, passage, or link; a joining or connecting.”

Communication is the way in which we reach our audience. It is how we relate to them, connect with them, and draw them in. It’s how we gain a team of loyal customers and followers who turn into spokespeople and brand ambassadors. Communication connects the business world to our personal lives, and makes others feel a part of the solution to the problem, or part of the team accomplishing the mission.

The way in which company leadership communicates with their Board of Directors, their executive team and managers, their employees, their shareholders, their customers, and their prospective customers sets the tone. Is there clear, open, two-way communication between leadership and workers at the company? Is there clear, open, two-way communication between the company and its customers?

If the answer to those two questions is not a resounding YES, then a communications check-up may be in order. Some people are fantastic at leading, motivating, rallying, and steering a company in the right direction. Others are fantastic at planning, structuring, engineering, and developing the products to sell. And other people are truly fantastic at planning and implementing that “connecting route” of communication that allows a company to gather loyal employees and loyal customers. Make sure you have those communicators on your team! They can help you set the tone that is appropriate for your company and then convey that tone to the world.

Thought Leadership: How to Put Your Technology Company on the Map

In today’s noisy marketing and PR world, recycling doesn’t work. Markets are evolving, influences shifting, the media changing, and so are the mechanisms for reaching all the cross sections of ideas, influence and buyers spread across various social networks.  And even though we know “Content is King”, just pumping out content won’t put your company in the limelight.  To be seen as a thought leader in your specific technology market, your company needs to paint a vision of the key issues, challenges, needs and requirements that truly concern customers. In doing so, companies become an invaluable resource to the media and potential customers.

Future-focused companies that provide meaningful insight and guidance to support buying decisions (vs. just providing marketing fluff) are often rewarded with more press coverage, better lead generation results, and a shortened sales cycle. We recommend companies stretch beyond the “cookie cutter” approach to marketing and deliver fresh ideas and campaigns that have the potential to really capture the attention of industry influencers.

Here are some proven tactics that can help technology companies emerge from a crowd and be seen as a thought leader in their space.

  • Find a unique but defendable position for your company, gather up a crowd of customers, partners and other third party influencers who are willing to be evangelists around your market (not product) message.  Next, systematically meet with industry anaylysts that can validate your position and become leading advocates in your efforts.  If it’s possible, can you define a uniqiue category of coverage where your company is seen as the originator and leader in this new space?
  • Continually promote your company’s spokespeople as thought leaders among key constituents – customers, partners, media, bloggers, and analysts – so they become trusted sources for stories, blogs and other industry commentary.
    • One great way to get this tactic rolling is “rapid response” PR which puts you on the offense instead of the defense.  Simply begin tracking the topics where you’d like to be seen as a thought leader.  When a story is published, take time to contact the blogger/editor and introduce your company and why its credible – then offer up your stable of experts to provide valuable commentary on future stories.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of your prospects’ business and vertical market issues and suggest timely and relevant solutions to those issues.  You may even offer to include them in an editorial article or feature their company in a leaders roundtable, where super performing, forward-thinking companies are discussing the industry’s hottest topics.
  • Build credibility, trust and interest with key constituents by fostering relationships based on an industry-centric vs. product centric approach.  Never ask for a product endorsement.  Invite them to offer their unique insights utilizing your campaigns as a vehicle for their objectives, not yours.

Finally, the key to being successful in your thought leadership efforts is innovation and consistency.  If you’re willing to push the envelope with unique approaches and commit to these efforts with the required budget over the necessary time frame, it’s possible your company can become a true leader in your market space.

Putting the Relations Back in Public Relations

A few years ago, Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge wrote a landmark book about the shift in public relations to a social media world titled Putting the Public Back in Public Relations.”  This book helped many PR professionals cross the chasm to where mainstream PR exists today, and for that, many are thankful for their work, including me.

Though I would never claim this to be a landmark blog, nor do I intend to write a book on the subject, my assertion is that the wide adoption of technology in media practices has left a void when it comes to basic human relations and the value they bring to the table for successful media relations.  Perhaps this void exists in all areas of life, but I contend it definitely exists in the PR world.

In my own practice, I’ve seen where genuine relationships I’ve forged through years of common courtesies and best practices have yielded tremendous results for my clients. In a highly competitive and results driven field, it’s absolutely critical to remember that human relations are still the most valuable commodity in the business.  As a PR professional, it’s our job to care about the press, analyst and bloggers we work with, not because we want something from them, but it’s our job to help them be successful in their quest for good news stories and compelling technology updates.  This shift in attitude alone will kick start better results immediately.  You’ll find you’ll do a better job at bringing innovation and compelling stories to the table because your motivation is right.

If you’re sensing the need for better relationship building in your PR efforts, here are some tips that may help:

  • Show genuine concern.  Every person can sense whether or not someone really cares about them or not.  You may say, how does this apply to public relations, but I say if you care about the people at the end of the telephone line, skype session or video camera, they know it, and it makes a difference.  Take time to learn and remember important facts or personal interests of the media folks you are working with.  Consider their requests, constraints or personal challenges as important as your own.  You may want that interview, but if you ignore common courtesies in lieu of results, you may jeopardize a valuable long term relationship that could eventually will bear great fruit.
  • Do your homework.  We all know that nothing can be more irritating to a journalist than a PR person who fails to do their homework and sends an irrelevant pitch because they don’t know what the journalist’s beat is, or where their true interests lie.  I know we’ve all been guilty of this at one time or another in the throes of a mass PR campaign, but targeted, thoughtful pitches based on genuine research will put you on good footing every time.  You know what they say about first impressions, you get one chance.
  • Use more sugar than vinegar. It’s true that it’s easier to attract bees with sugar than vinegar; and in PR it’s no different: genuine friendliness and kindness can double your results.  A word of caution here: be yourself and don’t add too much sugar; like sweet tea in the south, it can be sickening. The media is being hounded by PR people who want their attention all day and every day so they are well aware of non-genuine attempts at friendliness.  Keep your personal tone and attitude of concern in line with what’s appropriate for the relationship: if you’re being genuine, this will be natural and appreciated.
  • Take time to say “Thank you.”  Again, this probably can be applied to all of life, but nothing can be more irritating than someone who never says thank you. A close tie to this principle is follow-up.  Once you get the interview or article, take time to read what’s been written and get back to the writer who took the time to cover your company.  You’d be absolutely floored at how many articles go without a word of thanks and if you take the time to follow through with the editor, how much they appreciate your thoughtfulness and will remember next time your pitch comes across the desk.
  • Go the extra mile.  This one can’t be overstated; if you get away from the “it’s all about me”, your relationship building efforts with the media will take on a new level of depth and long term success.  For example, take the extra time to track a story that you know is interesting to an editor even if it has no guarantee of producing results for your company. Spend the extra time to find a spokesperson for the media, even if it means you have to re-educate your entire executive and sales team about what it takes to build a customer testimonial program. Leave no stone unturned for providing innovative ideas for your media contacts.

These are a few examples of how to put the relations back into public relations but the list can be endless.  And while social media tools are great and a perfect way to send a quick note or tip, remember that the human voice and communication skills are still irreplaceable, even in a technology driven world.  The greatest relationships in life are built with genuine care, concern and investment of self and time.  This is certainly true in public relations and thoughtful consideration of these principles can organically grow your media relations efforts  and build long term successful results for your PR program.

Give Your PR Program a Boost with Media Alerts

If your press relations efforts are failing to achieve the results you desire, media alerts could be just the thing you need to breathe life back into a flat lining PR program. When used in tandem with press releases, media alerts can help to further nurture media relationships and ultimately earn your company more news coverage.

Press Releases vs. Media Alerts: What’s the Difference?

Press releases (a.k.a. news releases or media releases) have long been the mainstay of media relations. Written like news articles, with quotes and facts, their purpose is to initiate pick-up by online news channels and generate broadcast, print and online feature stories through larger outlets. Well-written press releases create an image and story that journalists can use alone or as background when writing a story.

Conversely, media alerts (a.k.a. media advisories or press advisories) are used to notify the media of something (like an upcoming press conference, product unveiling, tradeshow appearance or speaking engagement). Media alerts are written to answer the important questions of Who, What, When, Where and Why.

Defining Success

While the press release’s main goal is facilitate news coverage, the media alert’s main goal is to get the media to take a specific action (attend an event, download a report, review survey results, etc.). Think of the media alert as an invitation, while the press release is the actual dissemination of newsworthy information.

Press Release Goal = News Story Written by Media Targets

Media Alert Goal = Action Taken by Media Targets

Filling the News Gaps with Media Alerts

For many start up companies, media alerts are a rarity. Some public relations practitioners never issue them. But the press release’s lesser-known counterpart, the media alert, is growing in popularity within the B2B tech sector and here’s part of the reason why… (the rest of the reason has to do with Internet marketing, which you can read about in my colleagues post, “How to Use PR to Improve SEO Results”)

Many young tech companies set out with good intentions to support a robust calendar of media communications and relationship building activities, but find that they struggle to deliver newsworthy press releases month after month.  Soon after comes the realization that it can be difficult, if not impossible, for their company to maintain productive media relations without consistent outreach (remember the old adage, “out of sight, out of mind”).

With a little ingenuity media alerts can help fill the news gaps and provide a continuous stream of communications that will help to keep your company top of mind. Which will in turn translate to more news coverage in the long run.

How to Get Started

Remember that the purpose of the media alert is to notify the media of something that they might find interesting – with the goal being that they take a specific action. To come up with media alert ideas, review both your existing and in plan content assets (case studies, white papers, survey findings, etc.) and calendar of events (webinars, speaking engagements, tradeshow appearances, press conferences, product unveilings, etc.). Then compare the content against the topics covered by your media targets to determine what might be “media alert worthy”.

Before you write the media alert, put yourself in the shoes of the editors and journalists that you are targeting. Give careful consideration to how they might use this information as background when writing a story or how it might help inform them of an important trend. While it is not necessary for you to develop a news story in the media alert, the media will not take the desired action unless you clearly communicate to them the “what’s in it for me?” (view media alert example)

Share Your Ideas and Success Stories

If you are using media alerts in a unique way or getting good results from your media alert communications, please feel free to weigh in and share your insights or success tactics with our readers…

How to Use PR to Improve SEO Results

If you want to improve your search engine optimization (SEO) results (or squeeze out a competitor in page ranking), a properly leveraged PR program could be just the boost you need.

Relevant keywords. Link building. Delivering fresh, quality content. These tactics top the list of requirements for a successful SEO strategy – and a well-executed PR program can deliver on all three with just a little extra effort and planning.

Use these tips to make get the best SEO results from your PR program:

  1. Choose Keywords Carefully. Keywords should not be approached as an after thought once a release is written. If you have a list of keywords already in use for SEO campaigns, deliver the list to your PR writer, if not, do your homework and come up with a laundry list of relevant keywords that can be leveraged across all communications. When brainstorming keywords, consider which terms your target audience is likely to use when searching for your type of products or services. Free tools like Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool or WordTracker, will provide useful search volume data that can help you refine your list. Eliminate words or phrases that cannot deliver significant website traffic due to insufficient search volume and consider cutting any popular terms that put you in competition with 1M+ search results. Try to create a list of 10 – 15 targeted keywords that can be leveraged repeatedly in your press campaigns over time. (Note: your actual list may be shorter or longer depending on the size of your company, scope of offering and SEO budget).
  2. Be Aware of Keyword Placement and Frequency.  Each press release should be optimized for 1-2 keyword phrases. Include keywords in the title, subtitle and first paragraphs, but don’t over stuff your press release with keywords. This practice will dilute the effectiveness of your media communications – remember ultimately, humans, not bots, read press releases. Ideally in a 500-word press release, your chosen keywords should appear 2-4 times.
  3. Include a Call to Action with Hyperlink.  Search engines favor sites that have a high number of inbound links from other popular sites. Press releases can be a very effective way to earn those inbound links. News distribution sites that copy content from newswire feeds often convert full URLs into hyperlinks. Use this to your advantage by making sure that every press release distributed across the wire includes a call-to-action with a full URL link to your site (not an embedded hyperlink). Also, be sure your PR person asks journalists to include inbound links in any feature news stories (To be successful, you may need to get creative and provide a reason to include the link, i.e. come up with a special or exclusive offer for the publication’s readers). This strategy won’t always yield results, but it’s definitely worth a try – just a few links from top tier publications can do wonders for your SEO program.
  4. Add Images and Video.  Multi-media can give your company added visibility in search engines and make your press releases more shareable. To get the best SEO results, add descriptive titles that include your chosen keywords to all embedded images and videos. News distribution services charge extra for the inclusion of multi-media, so you may want to strategically plan which press releases are worthy of the added cost or stagger your distribution of multi-media releases throughout the year.
  5. Create an Online Newsroom and RSS for News Distribution.  Search engines, especially Google, love blogs for the fresh content and highly structured data. If you don’t already have an online newsroom, consider adding a blog style newsroom to your website. By posting releases to your site and distributing through RSS, you can get even more mileage from your PR program. Be sure to choose a SEO friendly blog platform and include tags for your keywords with each post. Bookmark and share each post and provide sharing tools so that others can easily do the same.
  6. Make Headlines Tweet Friendly. Keep your press release headlines short (less than 70 characters, if possible) to improve tweetability or consider adding suggested Tweet text at the end of your release to make sharing of your news easy for readers (and be sure to include a shortened URL that links back to the full-text release on your site).
  7. Automate Distribution of News Across Relevant Channels. By using a news distribution service like BusinessWire or PR Newswire, you will be able to extend the reach of your news and get pickup of full-text press releases (complete with keywords and hyperlinks to your site) on thousands of downstream sites, including Internet portals, search engines, websites, financial services and database systems. Choose the level of distribution service based the relevancy and newsworthiness of the communication you are distributing. For instance, you may want to consider lower cost “online only” distribution options when the primary goal of the release is to aide SEO efforts (as may be the case with a media alert announcing the availability of a company sponsored informational report), while a larger distribution would be more appropriate for a press release that is likely to earn your company feature news stories.
  8. Keep a Steady Pace.  Ideally companies should aim to distribute a minimum of 2-3 releases per month to help boost SEO results. Understandably, it can be difficult for smaller companies and start-ups to keep this pace. Having a back up strategy in place can help fill news gaps when they occur. Momentum releases (that package multiple smaller news items into one communication) or media alerts (that publicize events/information vs. news) can keep your SEO-friendly PR program afloat despite a slump in media-worthy news.
  9. Measure Your Results.  Web analytics are essential – if you don’t already have a web traffic-monitoring tool, get one. Google’s free web analytics offers a wealth of information on the origin of website visitors and keywords. Use this information to track the progress of your efforts and identify areas for improvement.
  10. Be Patient.  Neither PR nor SEO are about instant gratification. Often it takes months to see results and this is especially true for smaller or new companies. Set realistic expectations from the beginning and give the program a minimum of 6 months to deliver measurable results.
  11. Make Adjustments.  SEO isn’t a one-time event. Search engine algorithms change regularly, so the tactics that worked last year may not work this year.  Keep up with SEO best practices and make adjustments as algorithms change to ensure the best results. SEO requires dedication and a long-term commitment but the pay-off will be worthwhile for those that keep with it over time.

Give a gift to Sales: Thinking outside the Holiday PR Box

A lot of companies tend to see only two options for PR around the holidays: holiday story lines and New Year trends.  While these may be the perfect recipe for a good holiday PR campaign, it’s time companies think outside the box.  As noted in my blog post last year “Tips for Successful Holiday Campaigns”, I do believe the time period between Thanksgiving and the New Year presents an opportunity to leverage the perceived news lull with a year-end or year-beginning storyline.  Often editors and bloggers are looking for interesting ideas to fill their “pages” during this holiday down time.

However, as is with every good strategy, over time everyone gravitates to it.  So now, the noise around obvious holiday trends is so great, it’s difficult for a company to rise above the crowd.  Time for some holiday innovation, how about it?

With the general slow-down in corporate productivity around the holidays, more people are reading news sites, blogs and following social media channels than during busier times of the year.  So smart holiday PR campaigning can be a powerful way to get your company noticed.  And everyone knows Sales is desperately trying to make their year-end numbers, so give the readers something that will potentially translate to a sale.

Customer case studies, product innovations and discounted products and services are three great alternatives to the holiday trend approach.

#1 – Customer case studies: I can promise you that in your existing customer base there is a hero waiting to rise to the forefront of your PR efforts.  Here’s the catch.  They don’t have to come from a behemoth company.  They just need to have a passion about what they are doing and believe your product is an enabler of their cause.  Also, with smaller companies you don’t need to maneuver the dreaded corporate PR watchdogs – many times these spokespeople have an open microphone to speak freely about what they are doing with your product and /or service.  Seek them out and then pitch their story.  Nothing is more helpful to a customer sale than a great customer testimonial.

#2 – Product Innovation: A lot of companies hold product innovation news until the New Year has rung in.  Why not be bold and let potential customers know what your product can do for them now.  In the midst of holiday “do’s and don’ts, a strong product announcement is like a breath of fresh air to writers who have been pitched trend stories ad-nauseum.   And it certainly won’t hurt your sales team’s efforts.

#3 – Discounted products and services: Let’s face it; we can’t get around this one.  Everyone is looking for a bargain during the holidays, so give your customers what they want.  With the advent of location-based offers at ridiculous prices, you can’t escape the fact that everyone is expecting at companies will make some incredible offer at some point.  Why not during the season of giving?  Instead of offering tips, offer a promotion.

Again, I do believe the holidays are great times to announce results of surveys or make predictions about New Year trends – or to consider something a little more catchy or gimmicky as these types of news stunts often seem to fit in better with the sense of sensationalism surrounding the holiday season.

But please, they’ll be enough boxes under trees –  don’t let your PR campaigns get stuck in one.

Wishing all of Attain Marketing’s clients, colleagues and friends a safe and truly joyous holiday season!