Manchester-based Freelance B2B PR professional and copywriter

Blogger relations

After delivering a couple of lectures on blogger relations I thought it would be useful to highlight some of the key differences when contacting bloggers as part of a PR campaign. I have several friends who are influential bloggers and say that there are a lot of people still getting it wrong.

Here are my top three tips for blogger relations’ campaigns, yes similar to traditional media relations but some distinct differences:

1. Remember bloggers do not have to write, they do not have a number of pages to fill or deadlines to meet. If they don’t want to write strictly speaking they don’t have to.

2. Know the content and what they write about, do some research before you approach a blogger. Collate all your information in a spreadsheet so you can use it in future campaigns. Remember to update your research regularly though.

3. Dont underestimate the influence of bloggers, in many consumer fields bloggers are key to reaching a particular audience. There are a few key indicators of how big a bloggers audience is: look at the number of comments/shares on each post, the number of followers, or stats from alexa.com can also be quite useful.

Hopefully these three tips shouldn’t see you far wrong.

 

No such thing as bad PR?

A client said to me in a meeting the other day: “I am a strong believer that there is no such thing as bad PR, right?” Well that’s not strictly true was my reply. And here’s why:

Bad PR has no real strategy or plan and no real purpose, it doesn’t build a consistent image or reputation of a company or its products/services.

It is reactionary in nature and sends out a press release just because one hasn’t been sent out in a while or to merely justify a monthly retainer fee. Nor does it follow up to see if the company is utilising PR efforts to support its sales team or provide new content for its website.

Anyone could write a press release and for some companies with limited budgets, it is the only option but sending out bad PR is in my opinion a waste of money. Poorly written press releases, pointless case studies and articles packed with blatant sales messages do nothing for the reputation of the company.

Interestingly I am talking to a group of third year students at MMU today about reputation management in particular via online PR.

So my question is: Is it better to have no image rather than a bad one?

Keep On Blogging

Ironic isn’t it? I spend most of my time preaching to clients about the importance of writing regular blog posts and keeping it as up to date as possible, and here we are – only my second post of 2012. In truth it’s due to the fact that I have been so busy working hard on PR and social media projects as well as lecturing at MMU and the University of Chester rather than a lack of content.

However, it just goes to prove the point that a good blogging strategy needs to be planned well in advance as well as having flexibility to respond to current trends. So here are my top tips for blogging success:

  1. Create an editorial calendar: It’s always to best to plan ahead and in the majority of cases blogging is going to come second to your actual day job. Before you start, pull together about six months’ worth of content ideas for blog posts and put them into an editorial calendar (i.e. when you are going to write and post them). That way if there is nothing topical happening then you will always have something great to write about.
  2. Brainstorm content ideas: Get together as many people within your business as you can, everyone brings a different perspective and the best blogs are those that make you think differently about a subject. A few basic ideas for blogs could be new legislation, research on your particular industry, trends that your salesforce has noticed, topical debate or even common customer questions.
  3. Appoint a blog editor: Sounds like a grand title but it’s simply someone who has overall responsibility to ensure that there are regular blog posts added. It is always worth making this person responsible for editing individual blogs, especially if you are having different writers to make sure there is a consistent overall tone.
  4. Promote your blog: Ensuring regular content is just half the battle, a successful blog hinges on getting regular readers. Therefore, it is important to promote your blog as much as you possibly can, promote individual posts across all your social media platforms, on e-newsletters and even on email signatures.
  5. Remain flexible: While I’ve concentrated on the importance of planning ahead, it is also important to be flexible and respond to topical subjects as and when they arise. This will keep your blog fresh and ensure readers come back regularly.

There you go – it is now my pledge to follow my own advice to the letter and blog regularly.

Happy blogging, if you have any tips please feel free to comment below.

You automatically assume the answer to that question is you – but don’t be so sure, especially if part of your role at work is to tweet.

I read an extremely interesting article in Marketing last week on this exact subject. For example, a legal case currently going through in the US is against an employee of the mobile phone site ‘PhoneDog’, who left the company and took his 17,000 followers with him. Dropping the brand from his Twitter handle could cost him somewhere in the region of $340,000 if the case is successful.

It got me thinking, is this yet another consideration that is going to have to be included within employment contracts and social media guidelines? But what happens if when you arrive at a company you already have 1000’s of followers? Who owns those followers you or the company? Where do you draw the line?

The more you think about it the more complicated it gets. The article in Marketing also gives a great example of journalists – most of whom have a large following on Twitter. What happens if they move to a rival media outlet and simply change the company name on their profile (afterall it takes just seconds)?

Many brands are keen to add some personality to their social media accounts, and rightly so, but perhaps now is the time for companies to put some thought behind guidelines as to who exactly owns what on Twitter? Save some large legal bills!

What is a list broker?

Here is a guest blog provided by my friends over at Databroker, so find out what exactly a list broker is and how they can help your marketing campaigns become more effective, enjoy:

Essentially, a list broker (also known as a data broker) works on your behalf, sourcing data lists for your direct marketing campaigns; so that could be telemarketing, direct mail or maybe email broadcasting.

Buying and sourcing business data (B2B) or consumer data (B2C) can be an onerous and time consuming task. Where do I buy data? What data shall I buy? How do I know this data is right for me?  How do I avoid scammers and bad data?

A list broker not only has the answer to all of these questions but they also do all of the hard work for you.

A good list or data broker will have years of experience sourcing all types of marketing data for an array of different clients and different types of campaign.  They will have built relationships with the credible data suppliers and know the good from the bad and the ugly.

Benefits of using a list broker

So why should you use a list broker?

Let’s cut to the chase.  Using a list broker will save you money and gain you more customers from your direct marketing campaigns.
Here’s why:

  • List brokers are impartial.  You get unbiased recommendations on the data which will work best for your individual campaign
    without any sales spin.
  • A list broker has access to a vast array of data sets; B2B data, B2C data, email data, sms data, niche lists and foreign data.  If you need it, they will find it.
  • Advice on who to target.  They have seen it all before and know what works and what doesn’t.
  • A credible list broker will only recommend credible data: Quality Data = Less Wastage = More Customers for Less Money.
    Brilliant.
  • Leveraging their supplier relationships, list brokers can negotiate the best rates on your behalf.

And saving the best until last….

  •  Their services are free.  List brokers work on commission given to them by the data suppliers, which means you get their advice, experience and service for zip!

Now you can’t say fairer than that, can you?!  For more details and benefits of using a list broker plus handy direct marketing and data tips, please visit the Databroker Blog

Databroker are an independent list brokering service providing free advice on sourcing B2B data and B2C data.  We have 10 years experience doing this and with our advice you will gain more customers.
As DMA members we are committed to upholding the DMA Direct Marketing Code of Practice and providing our clients with expertise and trusted advice. If you need any free and friendly advice on data and direct marketing then give
Databroker a call today.

Getting Social Media Write

As a B2B PR professional the written word is my main tool of the trade (ok and the ability to talk endlessly!) so I thought it was just me that got annoyed by the amount of spelling and grammar mistakes on social media platforms but apparently not. I read a great piece on Fresh
Business Thinking
the other day professing how much it grated on the author too.

Yes, yes I know that on Twitter you only get 140 characters and I don’t mind a few abbreviations to get the point across and I am not that old that I don’t appreciate the fact that it’s supposed to be a more casual form of communication. But surely that doesn’t excuse a poor grasp of the English language and over use of punctuation?!

Personally, I think it’s particularly prevalent in the B2B arena – if you’re managing a company’s social media presence or using any platform for professional purposes then shouldn’t one of the main aims be to get your key messages across in an appropriate and eloquent manner? Building relationships is a key element of social media but would you trust a firm of solicitors, for example that couldn’t spot a typo in their LinkedIn profile? You get my point so my top tip and one that I feel like shouting at my computer screen sometimes is:

Social media is another marketing channel, treat it in the same way you would an e-shot or brochure – proof read the copy!

It’s important to remember that all the little things combined form your online reputation – don’t fall at the first hurdle. I’d be interested to hear other people’s comments on this subject so tweet me @deegoldstraw.

As part of the University of Chester’s Public Relations employer group, I have continued my support of PR’s future stars with an address to third year students that aimed to enhance the undergraduates’ employment prospects by providing a glimpse into industry requirements.

Forming part of a final year skills module centred around integrated communication campaigns, the lecture focused on the application of theoretical knowledge within a practical context. Aiming to engage the students in a wider discussion on the importance of creating a technical edge in the PR industry, I provided an invaluable taster as to what daily life in an integrated agency entails.

Susan Kinnear, senior lecturer and programme leader, University of Chester, commented: “While we are keen to emphasise a strong critical awareness within the graduate programme, advice from on-the-job professionals offers students invaluable insight into the real-life operations of contemporary PR and marketing agencies. Using practical exercises to demonstrate the relevant skills required by employers, Dee provided invaluable tips on securing that all important first job.”

As it is coming up to the time when undergraduates are trying to get that all important jobs I wondered if people would be interested in sharing any advice here?

InMaps is LinkedIn’s connection-mapping tool and unlike Facebook’s 2007 Friend Wheel which was multi-coloured and extremely pretty to look at didn’t tell us anything that we didnt already know. On the other hand I have found InMaps really useful – not only is it fabulous to look at but it tells you a lot about your networks.

The clusters, for example give you an immediate and in-depth visual representation of your key business networks and where they overlap, which can be difficult to see in a simple list of contacts. This helps you to make sense of your networks as you can also label each of the clusters.

Understanding the connections between people in your network can be important especially when you need to get things done. Knowing who connects to who when pulling together a team or project means you can work with people who already know each other.

Keep an eye out for clusters around particular sectors or areas of knowledge as if these fit with your business these contacts have the potential to be hot leads. InMaps will also show you who is best connected in your network, as these ‘influencers’ appear as larger dots within the map, so you know who you should be networking with.

Check out my InMap here:http://inmaps.linkedinlabs.com/share/Dee_Goldstraw/72454832153201863313162184555341297202

I am interested to find out any other ways that people are using InMaps?

My answer to this question is of course: Yes!

Everyone in business is aware that one of the best methods of growing a business is via referrals but can you do this on Twitter? Mark Shaw (@msrfr) is a leading authority on Twitter, and is trying to do just that by using #rfr – request for recommendation. At present it broadcasts about 100 business leads throughout the day.

So what are you waiting for? Follow @msrfr and see if there are any requests for products or services that you can provide – hopefully it should prove that Twitter is an effective and valuable tool for lead generation and it’s free!

This got me thinking about how I use Twitter for my own business and over recent months I have found hashtags such as #journorequest, #ukjourn and #prrequest incredibly useful putting me in touch with specific journalist requests. Therefore, I would be interested to find out how anyone else is utilising Twitter and hashtags in their daily business life – please leave your comments.

As of 1st March the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) started to regulate marketing communications (marcomms) on websites and that includes blogs and social media sites too. This means the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code) applies in full to any marketing messages online.

A time to worry? Or a time to give your online marcomms a once over? Fear not, it can only be a positive for online marketing as it brings it in line with the rules that apply to offline media. Put simply it is a crackdown on the crazy promises that are made by some unscrupulous traders, as a result trust in online marketing should increase.

Here are a couple of points to consider:

  1. Know what on your site constitutes marcomms: it’s not just the obvious large adverts but also subtle claims about products or services or delighted customer testimonials that aren’t quite true that could fall foul of the regulations.
  2. Check your social media platforms: as the rules apply to sites such as Facebook and Twitter too, don’t make any unsubstantiated claims about your products or services. Instead engage followers in industry debate or comments on issues in the news.
  3. Keep an eye on your blog too: especially as it is one of the most informal parts of your website it can be easy to slip up. Do talk about your products or services’ benefits but only if they are true and can be substantiated.

I hope that goes someway to helping you understand what the new regulations mean – in conclusion just make sure that everything you write online is truthful, transparent and not likely to mislead or offend.