Those in the know, know two things about search engine optimization (SEO) – 1) it’s critical to any business that wants more website traffic, and 2) it is constantly evolving. With Google rolling out new algorithms and consistently updating versions of those algorithms, understanding what to do and what not to do is challenging.
What is the first thing you do when searching for a service or product? You Google it and see what comes up with organic search first. So does everyone else. A strong SEO strategy will increase your chances of showing up in the first few pages of results.
Here are a few basic steps you can take to ensure your content is optimized and your audience is finding your site –
1. Keywords: Research what keywords are best to attract the readers you want. There is a lot of competition for certain keywords, so it’s wise to spend some time doing keyword research. Once you have identified keywords that are relevant to your brand, use them originally and naturally. Search engines look for engaging, well-written and authoritative content. Any content written specifically to use a high volume of keywords will actually be punished in search – so don’t just stuff your content with keywords! It’s also important to be consistent with these keywords whenever you are sharing that piece of content on social channels and to always link back to your website.
2. Images! Images! Images! Compelling images appeal to readers, and because images drive more traffic to your website, the time you spend creating or finding the right image is time well spent. Include original images or pics in blogs, Facebook posts and tweets whenever you can. If you don’t have great original images, use a stock image site for easy access to images.
3. Use SEO Plugins: Most content management systems offer free or inexpensive SEO plugins. Don’t ignore them. Here are a variety of plugins for the popular WordPress platform. When used correctly, these SEO tools will guide you towards the best search strategies. Keep an eye out for using your keywords in META tags, title tags and on your webpages, too. This is an area where SEO tools really help beginners!
4. Leverage Social Media: Share your content on all of your social channels. Search engines favor social content. Using multiple social media platforms expands the reach of your content, and when that is paired with an engaging message and image, it encourages sharing. When yourcontent gets shared it drives more traffic to your site. When you get more traffic to your site, search engines reward you with a higher SEO ranking; it’s that simple. Just be sure to customize for each social channel. Expand that 140 character tweet for Facebook and Google – but not too much. Wordy posts can seem daunting for busy social audiences.
5. Talk to a PR pro – We have covered just the basics of SEO here. For a more in-depth explanation and approach to SEO, seek advice from a PR firm that understands the nuances of digital marketing. The good firms are adept at telling your story AND developing content that will drive the right traffic to your website.
SEO is tricky, but the tips above are a good way to at least get started improving the search engine ranking of your website. There are many other ways to boost your SEO. Understanding search is critical to your digital marketing mix, and ignoring it could mean losing customers to your competitors. Paying attention to SEO will most certainly pay off with more clicks, customers and currency!
This blog was contributed by Ryan Sabatini, Account Coordinator at Clearpoint Agency.
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Social media has fundamentally changed the way we do business by giving voice to millions of consumers in instantaneous, global (and very public) communications networks that operate around the clock. The speed and intimacy characteristic of new communications models like Facebook and Twitter have forced reputation from the number three to the number one ranked strategic risk currently facing large companies And with good reason.
Fifty percent of the public now cites the Internet as a main source for national and international news (Pew Research Center, 2013) far outpacing traditional sources like newspaper and radio. Businesses no longer have the luxury of time to prepare their responses to criticism or crisis. Simply put: today’s public relations practitioners must be prepared to put out a fire in 140 very crafty characters to proactively mitigate reputational damage.
The good news is that there are ways to prepare and proactively control a crisis using social media. Here’s how:
- Don’t hide. Digital silence is conspicuous. Social media offers a unique opportunity to publically address consumers in real time – use it meaningfully.
- Plan for crisis. There’s no need to pre-script tweets and status updates, but the tone and timing of your online strategy should be discussed and integrated into your existing crisis communications plan ahead of time. Bonus: Advance planning gives you the luxury of being able to run your ideas by your legal team, making it even easier to determine exactly what your response can and cannot say.
- Be quick, but don’t rush. Benjamin Franklin must have been dreaming of the Twitterverse when he said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” Don’t allow the speed of social media to force an ill-crafted or rushed response you’ll regret. You can’t take it back.
- Be human. Digiorno’s new media team, lauded in the past for their savvy, apologized with a personal tweet to each and every user who noticed that they had mistakenly weighed in on the anti-domestic violence hashtag #WhyIStayed with an inappropriate tweet (AdWeek, 2013). Although it must have taken the company hours to respond to each individual user, it made the brand appear human, which made the mistake easier to understand.
- Use your newfound #ALSIceBucketChallenge prowess. Among the many takeaways from the now famous #ALSIceBucketChallenge, one is that it is possible for even the largest of companies to capitalize on a 24-hour turnaround. Crisis plans are bogged down with cumbersome top-down approval processes that just don’t make sense in social media. Develop a process for getting your tweets and status updates approved in the quickest way possible, while keeping in mind who needs to see each message.
- Assign a social media gatekeeper who can pivot gracefully. Most crisis management plans outline not just what but who is assigned to handle each step. It is critical that you have a social media gatekeeper who can quickly implement the plan and pivot to accommodate changes to the situation. When rumblings began about #ALSicebucketchallenge participants were spending more on bagged ice than ALS research, social media teams evolved their strategy to include a significant donations from the company along with their CEO’s ice bath . One savvy company, Zodiac Pool Systems, even added a social element to their donation strategy by increasing their donation by one dollar every time a Facebook user liked or shared their video.
In short, recognize both the opportunities and the challenges that social media affords in handling crisis communications, and develop a plan that includes social media for when the inevitable crisis hits.
This blog post was contributed by Sam Peterson, Account Executive at Clearpoint Agency, Inc.
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Have you heard of digital snacking? It’s about consuming succinct, interesting, engaging and visually-appealing morsels of content that can easily be digested on a mobile device.
There are numerous examples of sites that serve up digital snacks. Take Buzzfeed for example, a company that runs news snippets alongside celebrity gossip, funny clips and lists. Investors’ confidence in this trend was proven most recently with Buzzfeed’s ability to raise $50 million. Some estimate Buzzfeed is valued at $1 billion, not far from the market cap of The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT), which sits at about $1.9 billion (source: 247wallst.com).
Not only does content need to be short and engaging to be a worthy digital snack, but it also needs to be easily accessed on a smartphone. Martin Stoll calls it “The One Thumb Rule”or information that can be retrieved with just the click and scroll of your thumb.
At our firm, we believe there will never be a replacement for the in-depth reporting and thoughtful article writing taking place at great news organizations such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and thousands of special interest and trade publications across the country. But we’re living in a mobile world where people want news in the palm of their hand, and alongside funny videos and memes. To get attention, organizations must embrace the latest digital communication trends and get creative.
So here are some tips on how you can sandwich “digital snacking” between your meals of more meaty articles and content. A little snacking is OK – even good for your content strategy – but make sure you infuse your content diet with a healthy dose of in-depth content too.
Five Digital Snacks to Incorporate into Your Content Diet:
1. Videos and images – Vine and Snapchat are viewable on mobile phones and encourage sharing if the content is funny, unique or trending. Using images on Facebook and Twitter will yield high share rates. Platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram are perfect for consumer products and destinations, but with a little creativity and imagination they can work well for B2B too.
2. Snack-sized blog posts – It’s often more difficult to write a concise blog post. But if you want it to be truly snack-sized try these tips:
- Come up with a short and compelling headline
- Entice readers with an interesting introduction
- Use short sub-titles if possible and keep paragraphs short (2-3 sentences)
- Incorporate a great image
- Write your opinion on a recent article and incorporate a link to the article
3. The infographic – Infographics are the epitome of quickly digestible information. Text is mixed with graphics to communicate an idea or brand message in seconds.
- Make them easy to share on social media, websites and blogs by providing an embed code
- Embed them in your own blog posts
- Share them across your social channels
- Send to infographic sites
4. Tips lists – We’ve found people love a good tips list. Make it 3-5 tips about anything your audience is interested in.
- Put the number of tips in the headline
- Use interesting titles for the tips
- Keep the tips themselves concise
5. Quotes – Use quotes sparingly in your content diet – kind of like that chocolate cake, every once in a while is fine. They can help out in a pinch when you need to post something quickly. Start a library of good quotes that convey what you and your organization are about, and use these only when you need to.
This blog post was contributed by Bonnie Shaw, President of Clearpoint Agency PR and Digital Marketing
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So, your company has signed up to participate in a tradeshow. Your staff is excited, schedules are blocked off, and you can’t wait to rack up those airline miles on your roundtrip flight. But what will you and your staff actually do once you step off the plane? What’s your overall goal in exhibiting? What will your tradeshow booth look like? How can you leverage the PR value of exhibiting? That’s where reality hits – and a good PR team steps in.
I recently participated in helping one of our clients prepare for the Drug Information Association (DIA) 2014 conference, a 3-day event that brings together an international community of professionals working in pharmaceutical and medical product development-related fields. I’ve been working in public relations for a few years but had never been involved in planning for a full tradeshow booth and exhibition (luckily, the team at Clearpoint Agency has decades of experience in it).
Let me tell you – I learned so much! Over the course of four months, the Clearpoint team worked closely with our client and a creative design team partner to create a dynamic tradeshow presence, complete with a large booth, a rotating schedule of speakers, iPad® and PowerPoint® presentations, giveaways and more.
Here’s an overview of how a PR agency can help prepare you for your next big tradeshow:
- Determine key messages: In the planning stages for the tradeshow, our PR agency was instrumental in brainstorming ideas for the main creative theme of the booth. We knew we needed a unified idea that would tie every element together, both supporting our client and appealing to our audiences. It wouldn’t make sense to simply bring old brochures, posters, and banners; every piece of the booth needed to have a purpose. Knowing that the audience for this show predominantly would be emerging biotechs that need guidance in the clinical trial process, we settled on the theme “We have your answers,” and from there, we began planning the details of the other exhibition components. It was important to have us involved in the initial stages because over the course of our relationship with the client, we’ve fine-tuned the messaging. We know what language works.
- Create engaging collateral: In addition to putting together messaging and content for the booth graphics, our team developed a significant amount of marketing collateral. Clearpoint created content for ads in trade publications, wrote and updated presentations for company spokespeople, developed a pocket brochure for booth visitors, wrote content for a DIA-specific landing page on the client’s website and more. It was our task to keep the content consistent with the “We have your answers” theme. Everything down to the 5×7 recruitment cards we had available at the booth had to match the look and feel of the overall plan.
- Drive social media traffic: Publicizing tradeshow happenings before, during and after the event is key so that both attendees and non-participants can stay up-to-date with activities. For us, Twitter was a big part of the DIA tradeshow experience. Of course, the conference had its own hashtag, but we decided to try our hand at making our own DIA-specific one. Weeks in advance of the show, we publicized “#DIA2014answers” by tweeting it, announcing it on the client’s website, including it in pre-show email blasts and more. During the conference, we live tweeted and posted photos to our client’s Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.
- Make media meetings happen: Journalists with specific beats frequently attend tradeshows to get the inside story on different companies. A good PR agency plans news announcements that can be made at the show, pitches meetings with media in advance, develops media talking points for company executives, creates briefing books with interview schedules, facilitates interviews, and manages the follow-up to be sure reporters have the information they need. We were pleased to arrange several interviews for our client at DIA.
Tradeshows are fast-paced, busy and expensive events that require thoughtful planning to ensure a return on your investment. Consider outsourcing the work to a skilled PR team that can partner with you and bring your vision to life!
This blog post was contributed by Amanda Whitlock, Account Executive at Clearpoint Agency.
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Videos are a mainstay for the modern marketer and for any business wanting to compete for attention online. Engagement rates are often higher with video than with other forms of marketing content today. Competing for attention in a vast marketplace is challenging, demanding and often confusing for marketers and content managers. Utilizing video will help get attention for your brand by reaching overwhelmed audiences with creative and compelling content. Here are 5 of the biggest reasons Clearpoint Agency suggests using video content in your digital marketing strategy.
- Immediacy: The Content Marketing Institute asserts that there is simply “no content on the web today has the same viral potential of video, and few forms of content can match it for immediacy.” Video impacts directly, and is absorbed very easily; with the sights and sounds an audience experiences, video provides the most direct contact besides actual face-to-face interaction.
- Traffic: Cisco recently estimated that video will account for nearly 70 percent of all Internet traffic by 2017. Using video to create traffic to your site is a great idea not only because of the size of the market, but due to the fact that 64 percent of people are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it. Having your videos in multiple locations drives customers directly to your site to make purchases.
- SEO : YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world, accumulating more than 30 million viewers per day and more than 1 billion viewers every month. High-quality videos with the proper tags and key words often earn very high search rankings. Having well-produced videos linked to your site, or to your social media accounts can really go a long way in terms of search engine optimization (SEO).
- Engagement: Videos are a great way to become more important on social media because visual content yields high levels of engagement, and video content surpasses still images. Social Media Today reports that companies with Vine (a popular video sharing app) accounts see a 400 percent higher share rate with Vine videos than any other form of video content.
- Retention: Consumers are much more likely to remember video content than other marketing materials. Text and pictures simply cannot compete for space in the viewer’s memory if there is video present. According to TechSmith, 80 percent of people can recall a video ad within 30 days – that’s the retention rate every marketer dreams of.
As the Internet and social media landscape continue to evolve, adapting to changing trends will elevate your content marketing program and drive results. Video has evolved into an indispensable marketing tool to grab your audience’s attention and boost engagement with your brand.
In short, people love video – USE VIDEO!
This blog was contributed by Ryan Sabatini, Account Coordinator at Clearpoint Agency.
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Today it seems like everyone is on Facebook. That’s probably because more than half of the United States population has a profile. Even Grandma writes “happy birthday” on your timeline. The good news is Facebook isn’t just for catching up with grandma or posting pictures of your cat anymore, it is an effective marketing tool for business! According to HubSpot social media produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail, or PPC. So, how does your business get a piece of this marketing pie? Here are five tips to develop your business Facebook page into a successful marketing piece.
1. Always keep an eye on your end goal, otherwise you run the risk of getting caught up in all the Facebook chaos. Set up a list of objectives to accomplish through the use of Facebook. This will prevent straying from the path. Questions to consider when establishing goals are “Why should the company have a Facebook page?” or “What is the company trying to accomplish through social media in general?” For example, some companies invest in social media to increase brand exposure, to increase web traffic, or to gain market insights, according to Social Media Today. Decide what’s important to your company and stick to it. Remember to keep your expectations realistic, too.
2. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Stay dedicated to the plan you have committed to. There are many social networking sites out there, and it’s tempting to join every one so as not to miss out. However, too many companies set up a social media profile, update it once and then forget about it. The profile turns into a “ghost” of your former ambition. It looks careless and inconsistent. Best to have just one or two profiles and do a good job managing those.
3. Stay relevant. This goes back to posting pictures of cats, and other stuff people don’t care about. For example, it’s not effective social media if a pharmaceutical company posts about a celebrity’s tragic outfit. Facebook is an opportunity to present your company as a highly credible and knowledgeable industry source. Post about topics that your audience is going to be interested in and find valuable.
4. Have fun! This is a chance to swap formality with personality. People like to see companies as humans too. This opens up possibilities for great brand and customer relationships, and to build trust between the two. Show your brand’s personality and your company culture with cool images, fun pics of your team, feel-good posts about your community and other human interest posts.
5. Be generous and you will be rewarded. Share the posts you find valuable from other Facebook pages. By sharing you not only help a customer, partner or influencer reach your audience, but you will benefit from reaching a wider audience because their followers will see your share when you tag the original post with that Facebook’s handle.
This blog was contributed by Samantha Forth, Account Coordinator at Clearpoint Agency.
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The value of press releases has been a topic for debate for a few years now, and we heard it discussed recently on a PRSA Google+ Hangout with several top Los Angeles tech reporters. That inspired us to give our answer: we contend the press release is not dead! Coincidentally, so did all of the LA reporters on the Google+ Hangout.
Here are three reasons why the press release is still a knockout tool in public relations –
1) Helps reporters fact check: Whether or not a reporter interviews a source, they still rely on press releases for the important details. Several of the reporters at the PRSA Google+ Hangout said they use press releases for fact checking. Releases provide pertinent details such as dates, properly attributed quotes, features, pricing and availability in one quick, accessible resource. Is the press release dead? “Absolutely not,” said Natalie Jarvey, tech writer for the Hollywood Reporter. The details are especially important for time sensitive news. “[The press release] has all the information you need,” says Ben Kuo, of SocalTech.com.
Pro tip: Make sure your release has those key data points. Hard facts, quantifiable numbers, and real data is important to give your press release life.
2) Provides SEO and general visibility: Your press release can increase search engine optimization (SEO) and help your company be seen by current customers, potential customers, and the media. Thanks to Internet distribution, these key audiences can see your press release on RSS feeds and news portals, and be inspired to give you a call. We regularly get calls from reporters who saw a client’s latest press release and wanted more information.
Pro tip: Use professional newswires for the best distribution online, know the key times to release news for optimum visibility, and always do custom pitches for coverage.
3) Builds your content marketing toolkit: To continue to rank well in search engines, websites and blogs need regular updates with fresh content. Updating your website’s News section with the latest press release is a great way to keep it refreshed. The same goes for your blog. And press releases really get nine lives when they’re used as posts on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
Pro tip: Make sure when updating your website or blog with a press release that you use a platform that can be easily read by search engines. Some methods are easier than others.
The press release IS learning to share: Those are several reasons why the press release is still alive. But it is evolving, as are other news-dissemination tools. The press release is no longer the only viable platform for public disclosure. In March 2013, the US Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Facebook and Twitter were considered valid for corporate disclosures. Some companies strictly use their blog as the place to share company news.
The important thing to remember is the press release tells your story, and it has to be legitimate news backed by real facts. There are still people out there who wrongly believe press releases can use “spin” to make something out of nothing. That is not the case! Sometimes, a press release is just not the right option. For example, if someone important said something nice about your company? Great – put it on social media. Or your age-old software got its 15th update? Unless it’s a major change, put it on your blog and send the update to specific audiences. Your latest news may be best suited for another tactic.
We see great value in press releases and were so pleased to hear several reporters agree with us. We encourage our clients to use press releases to share newsworthy information, and we’re always happy to provide guidance on what is, or isn’t, appropriate for a press release.
Long live the press release!
This blog was contributed by Lexy Haynes,Director of Client Services at Clearpoint Agency.
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Throughout the last 100 years, a number of new technologies have shaken the foundation of marketing strategy. New rules, ideas and tools capitalized on the weaknesses of the popular trends before them and opened up exciting ways to reach target audiences. Before there was TV, there was radio, and before radio, there was print. Each time a new technological innovation came along, a new trend in the way an audience could be reached emerged. Marketers adjusted and adopted strategies to be successful in the marketplace; those who failed to adapt died off. The same is true today.
The most recent shift in marketing trends has been the heavy focus placed on mobile marketing. In the first six months of 2012, marketers spent $1.2 Billion on mobile advertising, compared to $3 Billion in the first six months of 2013. The fast-growing budget isn’t slowing down either. According to a LinkedIn Marketing Solutions report on Mashable, 64 percent of marketers and agencies will increase their mobile advertising budgets this year. In fiscal terms, mobile ad spending is projected to surpass $13 Billion in 2014.
Why are these budgets skyrocketing? It’s because the average consumer spends more than half of their time online on a mobile device or smartphone. The latest TapSense mobile marketing report on Forbes.com mentions why marketers see this as a great money-making opportunity. According to the report, “79% of smartphone users are ‘smartphone buyers.’” This enormous market is still increasing in size, but there is no clear-cut path to reach them.
Currently, the most popular way to reach this demographic is through social media. According to the LinkedIn report, “17% of the time people spend on their mobile devices is on a social network.” This large target demographic already spends more than half of their online time on mobile, and a large chunk of that time is to access social media. Because of this, TapSense identifies social media as the best tactic for marketing to a mobile audience, and advises agencies to tailor their content to social network apps.
Our advice to you is to figure this mobile game out as well. The experts at MarketingProfs agree, expecting marketers “to significantly increase their investment in mobile,” because those that do “will find significant ROI from mobile marketing in 2014.”
This blog was contributed by Ryan Sabatini, Account Coordinator at Clearpoint Agency.
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B2B companies use social media to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic and generate leads. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 87% of B2B brands use social media to engage audiences and distribute digital content to prospective and current customers. If you’re looking to increase engagement, it is important to have a strong social media strategy. Here are six core elements to keep in mind when you implement your social plan.
1. Make sure you know your audience and the social channels your customers and potential customers prefer. If you don’t have the bandwidth to manage all major social channels out there, pick two or three your audience seems to prefer and concentrate your presence on them.
2. Polish your social channels to perfection. This includes having a custom design or background, aligning your logo to fit the space provided, filling out accurately all fields of content, and making sure everything is consistent with your company messaging, website and brand.
3. Create an editorial calendar for your posts. News can change based on company developments, but having an ed cal handy won’t hurt. This is meant especially for holidays, national industry days, charity events and so on.
4. Monitor engagement regularly. Show your fans and followers that you are on top of it and respond to their comments promptly. Setting up email alerts will help you monitor your social media activity closely.
5. Track your analytics. If you consistently look at the analytics, you will get a better understanding of peak times when your audience is more likely to engage, which kinds of posts they find more interesting and how often you should generate activity.
6. Lastly, don’t forget the visuals. It has been proven that posts that include appealing images generate more engagement. Make sure you own the rights of the image or use public domain photos. It’s a good idea to set aside a budget for a stock image subscription.
There is no perfect formula out there to guarantee social media success. Once you know your audience well and have created solid social media channels for your company, monitor the analytics and engagement and enjoy the social space. Also, remember that you need to be ready to experiment with your posts, visuals and timing. Happy sharing!
This post was contributed by Antonia Genov, Account Executive at Clearpoint Agency.
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I was recently asked to create a video to share with Public Relations and Marketing students at SDSU. The goal was to hear from PR professionals about their experiences working in the field. In particular, they had two questions: what I wish someone had told me about PR, and what my favorite part about working in PR is. We thought it’d be a valuable thing to share on our blog too.
Check out the video for my answers here: http://youtu.be/CTiF7EqpF0M, or read highlights below!
What do I wish someone had told me about PR before I entered the field? I had two answers:
- Lead with your writing skills. There is a misconception that PR is all about hosting events, networking, and engaging in-person with people. The reality is that the majority of our work in PR is sitting at a computer writing. When you prepare to enter the field of PR, lead with your writing skills and make sure they’re great. Because you’re going to need them.
- Be prepared for a never-ending balancing act. In public relations, your day is never the same. We are constantly getting requests, both expected and unexpected, from coworkers and clients, and we have to be able to manage an always-changing list of priorities. You have to be flexible and organized.
My favorite part about PR? My answer is simple, but I think it really is the true essence of what I love about the job:
- I love being a problem solver to our clients. Just doing great work that takes care of their needs and helps them do their job better. Whether it’s analyzing survey data, writing a creative press release, or crafting an award nomination that wins, I love creating and delivering a beautiful piece of work that solves my clients’ problems. It’s very gratifying and I get to do it every day.
If you ever have questions about the life of a PR pro, feel free to contact me at the office or on Twitter at @ayates. I also highly recommend checking out your local PRSA chapter. In particular, San Diego has a great chapter for new professionals, click here for more info. (Shout out to our own Antonia G. who is currently serving on the New Pros board.)
This post was contributed by Lexy Haynes, Senior Account Executive at Clearpoint Agency
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