10 Ways to Improve Your Small Business Media Pitches

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Contacting the media and garnering coverage can be intimidating, and sometimes tricky business. Maybe you’ve tried it before with no results and don’t want to face the rejection (or being ignored) again. I’m here to tell you to do it again, and again, but in a more intentional, strategic way. Because attention means more visibility for your company.

The inBLOOM team has tons of experience pitching media and gaining great coverage, but we’ve also learned some lessons the hard way. Today I’ll share some of what we’ve learned on the job, with some bonus inside knowledge from the media trenches. (Some of us are even former journalists, so we’ve got some insight into why some pitches fall flat, while others get a quick call back.)

Here are 10 ways to make you and your business stand out through the barrage of emails media get on a daily basis:

1. Have a compelling story

Not every idea is newsworthy. Ask yourself what is unique and different about your story and make that your angle. Example of something not newsworthy, you’re moving your business to a new location. This is a fact you need to advertise, but it’s not a news story. Crafting a pitch around that is a waste of your time and a reporter’s. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a news nugget in that moving story. Does the new location have a unique history? Are you significantly changing your services? Are you being forced to move because of changes in the town or the industry?

2. Focus on people and narratives, not products

If your company founders have deeply rooted qualities that shape the organization – patriotism, innovation, risk taking – then there are stories to tell around their business decisions. Unique angles can come from anywhere. Think about tapping employees and customers to help determine the most newsworthy and creative story and ask them to help you tell that narrative. Like, why did you even start this business? Or why did you close your storefront and move your operation online?

Once you have an angle, it’s time to use narrative to tell your story. In Entrepreneur Magazine, Al Lautenslager uses Nike as an example of a company whose culture and marketing is shaped by stories. “Stories create buzz,” he says. “The more buzz about a product or service, obviously the more awareness there is about that brand.”

3. Offer up thought leaders

Members of the media love to talk to experts in whatever field you’re pitching them, and often won’t consider taking on a story without them. Thought leaders are people who have innovative ideas in their respective industries, and know how to talk about those innovative ideas. Figure out where your thought leadership lies by looking at your business experience. Is it software? Design? Manufacturing? Healthcare? Where ever you are invested through your business is an opportunity for you to be a thought leader. Use your blog or social media, or even your email newsletter, as a forum. Write about what’s bugging you in your industry or comment on the changes in the economy around your industry. If you can relate it to a current event you’ve given a reporter the news hook she needs to pay attention to your pitch.

4. Be a grammarphobe 

An email that comes through riddled with grammar mistakes is the first one tossed out. All the more reason to spell check, double check, and even triple check your pitch. As small as they may seem, mistakes using your and you’re, their, there, and they’re, and other common errors can make or break a pitch. The writers at inBLOOM have years of editing experience and are happy to create tailored pitches free of grammar errors for you and your small business.

5. Avoid over the top language  

Clichés are an everyday way of speaking, and sometimes they can even make their way into writing. But phrases like these — along with over-the-top language, such as world acclaimed, first of its kind, and cutting edge — can clutter a pitch. While these phrases may sound great, journalists can sniff out marketing buzzwords and chose not to pursue the story. It’s best to keep things short and succinct, and most of all, clear.

6. Consider a listicle 

What’s a listicle you say? Just what it sounds like. It’s a list of your main ideas, most commonly in bullet points (kind of like this blog you’re reading). Breaking out the pertinent information can be a great way of getting a reporter’s attention without losing relevant info in wordy paragraphs. If a busy member of the media can glance at your email pitch and pull out the necessary information, along with the unique aspects of your story, they’ll be more likely to pick it up and run with it.

7. Be responsive and available 

The last thing you want is an interested and ready reporter trying to contact you with no response. Just like you, reporters are busy and will move on to another story with someone who answered that phone call or email. Make sure to give the reporter the best means to contact you, whether that’s email, phone, or even Twitter. Once they contact you, be willing to answer their questions and provide any additional information they may ask for. (And don’t ask to review the story before it’s published. Just don’t.)

8. Target the right contacts

Your story isn’t a fit for every media outlet out there, which is why a good strategy is to research specific publications or broadcasts that deal with the topic of your pitch. Own a restaurant? It’s useless to pitch to a boating magazine. The same is true for a reporter. Before you pitch a media person, find out their area of expertise. Read their past stories so you don’t pitch something they’ve done. Your story should be one related to their past experience but focuses on a new idea.

9. Use visuals

Our society is a visual one, and our eyes are drawn to pictures or graphics that get our attention. Consider including an image with a pitch. If you have a great photo of your story in action, include a high-resolution image with the pitch. Don’t have a photo? Think outside the box. Maybe a graphic related to your idea will suffice. If your pitch is regarding a process or product, an attention-getting way to illustrate it might be using an infographic showing the method or development. Be sure to always include proper credit for images as well as a caption.

10. Follow up is key

Once your pitch is perfected and sent to the right contacts, your work still isn’t done. The key to media pick up is most always in the follow up. Emails get lost in the shuffle and voicemails sometimes get ignored. Following up ensures that you stay on a reporter’s radar, and a phone call can allow you to explain the idea in more detail, potentially sealing the deal.

Pitching the media isn’t complicated, but it does require attention to detail, thoughtful execution and time. A quick hit email once in a while isn’t going to garner the media attention you’re hoping for. When we pitch media on behalf of clients we start first with relationships. We nurture our media contacts by keeping in touch regularly on social and via email offering helpful connections, story ideas and feedback, even when it doesn’t benefit us directly. Nurturing those relationships today gives us the privilege of the media’s attention in the future.

If your business has a story to tell (and they all do) we can help you shape, pitch and promote it to the right media, so you can get back to business. Not sure if your story is newsworthy? Drop us a line and we’ll help you figure it out.

cover photo: ceBIT Australia

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Crisis Management and PR in a Viral World

Do’s and Don’ts of Crisis Management and PR in a Viral World

In a world gone viral, bad news can spread in the blink of an eye. Literally.

Companies and organizations both big and small are at risk for potential crises that may hamper profits, destroy reputation, and cause general harm to assets. When a public relations crisis strikes, there are things organizations can do to help minimize the negative effects of a negative situation.

But first things first…

Are you really in a crisis?

Just because another electronics store opens down the street from your electronics store, doesn’t mean you’re in a crisis. That’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. W. Timothy Coombs, a leading guru in the public relations crisis management world, defines a crisis as “an unpredictable event that threatens important expectancies of stakeholders and can seriously impact an organization’s performance and generate negative outcomes.” That being said, a crisis is perceptual. If your organization’s stakeholders believe the company is in a crisis situation, you are, and you must act accordingly.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

No organization should be caught unprepared for any crisis. And these days there are more opportunities for crises to arise than ever before. Social media escalates the rate at which undesirable news spreads, and online review sites can spread negative comments like wild fire. A crisis management plan can ease the pain of dealing with a crisis, and possibly prevent the situation from crippling an organization. Identifying potential crises is a good place to start. Is your organization at risk for a widespread impact from a flood or another natural disaster? What would reports of employee misconduct do to your company? Murphy says anything that can go wrong, will. So prepare for it.

Once potential crises have been identified, a crisis management plan, complete with a communication strategy, designated crisis team, and post crisis plan, should be created. When a crisis occurs, this complete plan will prevent many headaches, and serve as a guide for handling negative situations.

So you’re in a crisis. Now what?

The Do’s

  • Yes, social media can work against an organization in crisis, but it can also work wonders to connect audiences and stakeholders. When Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012, energy company Con Edison took to the Twittersphere to communicate power restoration efforts to its anxious customers. Over 1,650 tweets went out, and Con Edison was able to communicate directly with those who used Twitter to get in touch with the organization. Twitter, along with other social media platforms, allow organizations to communicate quickly and effectively with large audiences, which is vital in a crisis when time is of the essence.
  • Public relations professionals must keep their fingers on the pulse of public opinion at all times, and during a crisis this is especially true. People talk, good or bad, and responding to questions and comments is a good way to be transparent and honest in trying times. Know what’s happening before, during and after a crisis.
  • Any good communication plan has an entire section entirely focused on post-crisis, where all the lessons learned from dealing with a negative situation can be evaluated. Then a plan for the next potential crisis can be made based on those lessons.
  • Image restoration tactics should be implemented once a crisis dissipates. After the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP rolled out a multi-level image repair campaign, focusing on its connection to the people impacted most by the disaster. The hope was that the campaign would rebuild trust with publics and restore its image with stakeholders.

The Don’ts

  • Don’t wait; deal. If a crisis arises, the first reaction can be to ride it out until it goes away, but often it does not. Begin to communicate with the public early and work to reassure them that the issue is being resolved.
  • Don’t lose focus. Crises can snowball quickly. Don’t lose focus on the crisis at hand, and make sure your communication efforts are firmly grounded in your communication plan.
  • Don’t forget about employees. Employees can be the best resource for spreading the good word about an organization, and they are usually eager to do so. Image restoration efforts should include employees, who can be used as brand ambassadors.
  • Don’t take advantage of consumers. Many businesses, such as American Apparel and Urban Outfitters, showed a lack of sensitivity to the citizens affected by Superstorm Sandy, using marketing ploys offering discounts for those impacted by the storm. The backlash from these gimmicks was harsh, and hurt the companies’ images.
  • Don’t say ‘no comment.’ Saying ‘no comment’ to any question implies guilt and is often just a bad as saying nothing at all. Stick to a crafted message until more details about the situation emerge.

When disaster strikes, take a deep breath, keep a cool head, and delve in to the issue. Guided by a strategic crisis communication plan and an ace crisis management team, a public relations crisis will be much easier to handle.

cover photo: Kriston Lewis

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Tweet Tweet! Twitter Turns Nine

Tweet Tweet! Twitter Turns Nine

Tweet, tweet! Twitter turns nine today, March 21, 2015.

Twitter has connected people during times of war, elections, and tragedy, as well as, entertained us and bridged the divide among businesses, charities and the general public.

By far it’s inBLOOM’s favorite social networking tool and has produced real results for us from securing sponsorships to attracting the media.

It’s a huge platform for creating awareness for personal brands, organizations and businesses. Hashtags like #SocialGood, #CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), Nike’s #makeitcount, and #tweetchat have brought millions together and sold billions in products and services.

Read here for the history of Hashtags.

To celebrate the big occasion, here are some of inBLOOM’s top Twitter posts:

4 Reasons You Should Be Tweeting

10 Tips to Organically Grow on Twitter

Attract Publicity with the Right Strategy on Social Media

How the Media Uses Twitter and Tips for Tweeting Them

Gabriel Stricker, Twitter’s Chief Communications Officer, shares a look back at some of the landmark moments followers have created – moments that have defined our history, and perhaps yours. Read it here.

Listen to Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Dick Costolo on StoryCorps as they share memories of their first meeting 9 years ago.

Happy Birthday Twitter! Enjoy your time on the platform and let’s follow one another at @inBLOOMbuzz.

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Charitable Marketing: Which Charities Make Good Partners?

Charitable Marketing: Which Charities Make Good Partners?

Most businesses, both large and small, want to generate the most profit possible. But in order to gain, sometimes you have to give. Partnering with a charity or non-profit organization is a smart marketing strategy to grow your business. Even if your marketing campaign involves donating a portion of sales to the partner charity, your business will surely benefit.

Charitable marketing not only builds goodwill for your business and establishes positive associations for your brand, it’s also a great way to gain exposure for your business. By leveraging the audience and trading on the recognition of the charity, you’ll broaden your reach. You’ll also increase traffic to your website and place of business as your promote the charitable activities on social media, and through email marketing and press releases.

When people know certain businesses share their values and support a cause that means something to them, they will often choose to support those companies. According to the 2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study, 89% of U.S. consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality.

Some people will even pay more for products and services that support a cause they care about. According to the Nielsen 2013 Consumers Who Care Study, 50% of global consumers said they would be willing to reward companies that give back to society by paying more for their goods and services (44% in the U.S. and 38% in Canada).

Lifestyle brand Alex and Ani has established a great charitable campaign, Charity By Design, to sell charm bangles supporting different causes. They work with non-profit organizations on an international, national, and local level to support causes by building brand awareness. Charity By Design supports philanthropy in many ways, from donations and in-store events to the creation of symbolic, creative designs. On their website you can either shop by charity or bracelet. Twenty percent of each charm bangle’s purchase price goes directly to whatever charity it’s associated with.

After four years of giving back through Charity By Design, Alex and Ani has donated 20 million dollars to the thousands of charities. The considerable amount of money they’ve been able to raise proves just how much people care about giving to the charities they care about.

Now that we’ve encouraged you to partner with a charity that supports a meaningful cause, how do you know which one would make good partner? From a business standpoint, here are five qualities good partner charities possess:

1. THEY ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS AND VICE VERSA

Similar to a marriage or friendship, if your business and your partner charity don’t value each other’s work, then the relationship just isn’t right. It’s important that your business supports the charity’s mission, and also that the charity cares about your product/services and employees.

Our client Purr’n Pooch Pet Resorts and the non-profit United States War Dogs Association have an outstanding partnership because they both value each other’s work tremendously. Purr’n Pooch chose to partner with this organization because they support their mission to educate the public on the history of military war dogs, honor the memory of those who sacrificed their lives, and assist the military dogs and handlers in need today. The United States War Dogs Association appreciates all the work the business does through the Purr’n Pooch Foundation for Animals.

Throughout the holiday season, Purr’n Pooch Pet Resorts collects donations for U.S. Military Working Dog Teams who have been deployed to the Middle East. They also host a volunteer day to write letters to the military dog handlers overseas and prepare packages for shipment. Former and current U.S. military dog handlers join them for the day to give presentations and assist the volunteers. The event is covered by many media and attracts all ages from around New Jersey, bringing attention to both Purr’n Pooch and the United States War Dogs Association.

2. THEY ARE FINANCIALLY STABLE

Trust is key with any kind of partnership. With a partner charity, you want to be able to trust that it is financially stable, meaning that it is able to stay out of debt and fund its current programs. You also want to make sure the organization isn’t hoarding money. A charity that hoards rather than spends the donations it receives is not operating in line with the goals of most donors.

Rather than just taking their word for it, refer to the charity’s IRS tax Form 990 to see financial statements. If you aren’t comfortable reviewing financial statements, there is an alternative way to find out if a charity is in financial trouble. Check the “Independent Auditor’s Report” (IAR) to see if the charity has a “Going Concern” audit. If so, this means the outside accountants who audited the charity believe the organization may not be able to continue its operations for more than one year due to the charity’s debts and other factors.

3. THEY ARE INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY

When your partner charity is involved with the local community or multiple communities, your business will be able to directly reach those community members, broadening your exposure.

inBLOOM works with the non-profit EarthShare New Jersey (ESNJ), which is greatly involved with communities and environmental causes throughout New Jersey. ESNJ supports the work of both statewide and national non-profit organizations as well, and many businesses partner with the charity because they appreciate the organization’s community involvement.

4. THEY HAVE A STRONG ONLINE PRESENCE

A strong online presence will allow you and your partner charity organization to both further broadcast your relationship. Check to see if they maintain a well-designed website, blog and social media accounts.

Just like with a business, having a good website is extremely important for any non-profit or charitable organization. The organization’s website should be informational, updated frequently and include a portal for online giving that is supported on mobile devices. The organization should also be blogging often.

Social networks provide a central place for charitable organizations to connect with donors and the media. Frequently posting, conversing, maintaining relationships and building new ones on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+ are all signs that the organization values lasting connections.

5. THEY ARE MEDIA SAVVY

It’s a great sign if you see a lot of news about an organization in newspapers, magazines on the radio and TV because it means they have a good relationship with the media. There are many things a charity might like to inform the media about, including major donations, new projects, and partnerships.

Keeping the media up-to-date with what’s going on is essential to the charity because it can help promote its work, which in turn brings in donations and ultimately allows the charity to continue its mission. Your business will also benefit if the news is about your partnership and goodwill.

If you need advice on whether or not a certain charity would make a good partner for your business, or you need guidance on how to go about searching for a partner charity, feel free to comment on this post or contact us. We’d be glad to help set you on the right track.

Resources:

Don’t Judge a Not-For-Profit by Its Profits, Charity Watch

Statistics Every Cause Marketer Should Know, Cause Marketing Forum

photo by gfpeck

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4 Ways to Give Your Local News National Mileage

4 Ways to Give Your Local News National Mileage

Can a local story attract the attention of national media? It sure can! Local news has the power to resonate with a larger audience if it offers a greater level of relevance and importance to the media. The tricky thing is it’s hard to tell what’s on an editor, producer or reporter’s mind, unless you’re a full-time publicist.

There are, however, several reasons why the media prefers one story over another, and you can give your story more mileage by doing a few simple things. Let’s review four ways your local story can resonate nationally by attracting the media’s attention from the start:

1. ARRIVE ON TIME

Your story may arrive just in the nick of time for a source working on a related topic. Often, it’s better to send a story you know the media is looking for, rather than just pitching it to the wind and hoping it sticks. You can plan by reviewing editorial calendars, which are yearly coverage schedules used to organize advertising campaigns and editorial pitching efforts. Many magazine editors and bloggers publish annual calendars of the upcoming articles and topics they’ll be covering. Deadlines are typically 90 days prior to publication. You can contact each outlet for this information.

We also recommend signing up for HARO alerts. Help A Reporter Out connects news sources with journalists by sending daily alerts with the content reporters seek. If you spot someone with an interest in your story, respond fast because HARO has grown to gigantic subscriber proportions and many people have their eyeballs on the inquiries.

2. UPLIFT AND INSPIRE

Everybody loves a story that hits them on a personal or emotional level. You’ll find all kinds of inspirational stories featured in the media every day, whether it’s online, on television, in the newspaper or on the radio.

LifeBuzz, one of our favorite sites, is dedicated to inspiring, uplifting and fascinating content. Other news sites like Mashable and the Huffington Post also frequently cover social good and inspirational stories. Their stories all do the following:

  • showcase strength
  • trigger emotions
  • motivate action
  • resonate
  • leave an impact
  • empower to take action

Review your story, and if you have the goods listed above, you may just grab the attention of a widely read and circulated media outlet and be on your way to becoming tomorrow’s national news.

3. OFFER CREDIBLE SOURCES

The media are hungry for credible and authentic content from seasoned professionals. If you know your stuff and are well known for it, people are going to want to hear from you. Maybe you’re a professional dog trainer looking to share your expertise on positive reinforcement training and tools. Gather a list of national pet-related media and pitch away! Be sure to include your bio, links to pics and video, and the expertise you bring to the table.

If you have a story involving well-known people or organizations, there’s a good chance national media are going to take an interest as well. Make sure to include this exciting information in the subject line of your email in order to grab the source’s attention.

4. BE ON TREND AND EXCITE

Trends come and go, but when something is a hot topic, the media is eager for sources and content. Emerging trends are new, fresh ideas or products that are becoming increasingly popular. People like hearing about the latest and the greatest so naturally, emerging trends attract the media. Some of the emerging trends we’ve recently seen floating around the news are smart machines, wearable technology, millennial behavior, the wavy bob (adorable new hairstyle), and STEAM in schools.

With a little research online, you too can find out what’s being talked about and maybe you’re on target to be the next trend to sweep across the country.

Getting your local story covered by national media isn’t always easy, and sometimes it seems impossible if you don’t have the resources or time.  But, if you follow the above guidelines, you’ll have a better chance of getting the most media miles out of your local news.

If you have a story and are unsure if it has the goods to be picked up by national media, feel free to comment on this post. I’ll be checking in to answer your questions and look forward to hearing from you.

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TEDx Inspires 3 Lessons in Self-Promotion 

TEDx Inspires 3 Lessons in Self-Promotion

Looking to jump-start your career? Attend or organize a TEDx event in your community.

Started 26 years ago as a conference in California, TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It has grown to support world-changing ideas with many initiatives. At a TED conference, the world’s leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less. Three major TED events are held each year: in Los Angeles, California; in Vancouver and Whistler, Canada; and in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Today, TED’s TEDx initiative grants free licenses to people around the world to organize TED-style events in their communities. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual events are self-organized. At these events, live speakers combined with TEDTalks video spark deep discussion and connection.

Since 2013, community members from across Monmouth County, N.J. have come together to organize the TEDxNavesink conference. Each year, a different theme is chosen to build the day of non-fiction theater. In 2015, speakers and attendees will explore how accelerators are shaping our emerging and upcoming future. TEDxNavesink: Accelerators will be held on Saturday, April 11, 2015, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J.

For the past three years, inBLOOM has assisted TEDxNavesink with its public relations and co-marketing efforts. We love everything involved with promoting a TEDx event – the passionate conversations on and offline, meeting new and exciting entrepreneurs, sharing talk topics with media, and co-marketing with local organizations and thought leaders. Most importantly, it’s an energized event that motivates entrepreneurs and innovators of all ages to jump start their careers.

Here are inBLOOM’s three TEDx inspired lessons in self-promotion to inspire you to attend the conference of ideas worth spreading:

1. LEVERAGE A BUILT-IN SOCIAL NETWORK

TEDx presents a wonderful opportunity to leverage the social networks of others in order to bring awareness to your personal brand. Take a look through the speakers list and do some digging to see which people are social influencers and part of large networks. Get on Twitter and follow the speakers. Tweet before and during the event, mention speakers and use hashtags to initiate conversation with a broader audience.

Read our tips for tweeting.

2. GIVE THE TALK OF YOUR LIFE

Something you must know before getting involved with a TEDx event is that it’s not a typical conference. It’s a known fact that every speaker giving a TED Talk gives the talk of their life, which is why the audience always has high expectations. Not everyone can captivate an audience; it’s a skill that takes time to develop. However, there are ways to instantly improve your speaking and presentation skills, which you will learn by watching the TEDx Talks.

TED and TEDx speakers make a good impression through body language –something extremely important during any presentation. The way you stand, move on the stage and interact with the audience are all factors that determine whether or not you will give a successful talk.  Even your level of mental alertness and preparedness are key to keeping the audience’s interest.

Not only are TED speakers in tune with their body language, they also wear their heart on their sleeve. There’s no need to worry about listening to an emotionless monotone voice – the speakers let their emotions show. By doing this, they create a meaningful and lasting connection with the audience.

3. MAINTAIN AND STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS 

One of the most rewarding things you get out of participating in a TEDx event are the connections you make with everyone involved: organizers, volunteers, speakers, and sponsors. Make time to establish relationships by conversing and connecting both on and offline.

Many of the people involved in TEDx events consistently blog, host podcasts, and communicate on social media. Stay in touch on social channels and comment and share their content regularly. This is an excellent way to stay top-of-mind and can open doors for potential work and collaborations. Most importantly, meet up every few months for coffee and conversation. These in-person meetings hold much value in a hurried, digital world.

 TEDx Inspires 3 Lessons in Self-Promotion

Make sure to reserve your spot at 2015 TEDxNavesink: Accelerators. Learn more about TEDxNavesink and purchase tickets here.

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8 Reasons To Work On Your Relationship with SEO

8 Reasons To Work On Your Relationship with SEO

Like an old boyfriend’s name, the term SEO pops up in conversation here and there. But unlike the old boyfriend, deep down you know you need to work on your relationship with SEO in order to improve your online ranking and reputation.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a way of indexing content on Internet search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! SEO continues to play the starring role in any website development and content marketing plan.

When I meet with business owners, they often ask, “How can I improve my website ranking?” or “How can my business show up when people search the Web?” The answers to these questions have changed over the years as SEO experts have responded to the ways search engines value content and rank website authority.

Today, marketers and writers can access much of the same data used by SEO experts to create content that is loved by search engines and the people using them. Businesses can take control of their SEO with organic and paid marketing campaigns that include content marketing (blogs, podcasting, videos), Google analytics, and social media.

For years, web development companies have promised their clients better Google ranking with SEO tricks and schemes, but now the search engines have made it clear quality counts, not technology workarounds. Instead, marketers, writers, and publicists are drawing visitors to sites with consistent, optimized content, daily social media engagement, and inbound links from cross-marketing relationships, social influencers, and media coverage.

But please don’t disregard many of the helpful tools and resources available online, many for free, from SEO experts and software companies. We aren’t against a little help from the tech gurus. Together, the SEO community, marketers and publicists are helping their clients to share the most valuable and relevant content to attract site visitors and better rank results.

Here are a few of inBLOOM’s favorite SEO resources and tools:

Yoast WordPress SEO plugin

Yoast WordPress SEO plugin is the most complete SEO plugin available for WordPress. It offers everything you need to optimize your site. You can easily optimize your site’s titles and descriptions for Google and learn how to write better content with the built-in content analysis function.

Google Analytics

The SEO reports in Analytics provide Google Web Search performance data about the website that you have set up using Webmaster Tools. You can use this data to identify opportunities and prioritize efforts to increase the amount of traffic to your site. The Search Engine Optimization reports in Analytics use four metrics specific to Google Web Search data: impressions, clicks, average position and CTR (clickthrough rate).

KeywordSpy

Through this keyword tool and keyword software, you can perform advanced keyword research and keyword tracking to study what your competitors have been advertising in their adwords campaigns and other PPC campaigns. You can now get complete in-depth analysis, stats, budget, affiliates and ad copies of your competitors.

If you’re still finding it hard to fall in love with SEO, here are eight reasons why you need to work on the relationship:

  1. Businesses that focus on SEO without having a strong content plan in place will fail and will need to shift their focus to the creation and distribution of high-quality content in order to achieve significant search engine visibility.
  2. Search rankings will increasingly become more about building relationships and less about technical strategies. Businesses realize that focusing on merely creating content and optimizing its technical components for SEO just aren’t enough to achieve their goals. Businesses that humanize their brand are the ones who are standing out.
  3. High search rankings linked to blogger outreach campaigns, building relationships with brand advocates, reaching out to influencers and engaging on social media.
  4. Negative SEO will be a bigger threat than ever. Negative SEO is when dubious people build thousands of spammy links pointed at a competitors’ website with the intent of causing their search rankings to plummet.
  5. Inbound links are the most influential signal of trust and authority. This isn’t going to change — not in 2015 or anytime soon. The days of building links on irrelevant blogs and chasing large quantities of links to game the search results are over. Earning a single link on a high-quality relevant website is valuable for multiple reasons including SEO, attracting referral traffic, leads, sales and branding exposure. Look for traditional PR and SEO to work closer together in 2015.
  6. Studies suggest that the top organic and paid spots in the Google search results get about twice as many clicks as the second spots.
  7. Google Analytics is used by somewhere between 10 million and 25 million websites worldwide, and various surveys suggest over 50 percent of business websites (both large and small) use Google Analytics.
  8. Social media practices that boost SEO include growing your number of followers, encouraging external inbound links, optimizing your posts for searches, influencing social sharing, locally-optimized posts, and increasing brand awareness.

If you would like assistance running marketing and pr campaigns, contact us.

Resources:

The Top 7 SEO Trends That Will Dominate 2015 by Jayson DeMers, Forbe

20 Google Facts & Stats that Every Marketer Should Know by Andrew Garberson, LunaMetrics

6 Changes Your 2015 SEO Strategy Must Focus On by Jonathan Long, Entrepreneur

photo by Viktor Hanacek 

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The Future of Social: 9 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2015

The Future of Social: 9 Social Media Marketing Trends 2015

It’s 2015 and sadly, many of Back to the Future’s predictions failed to come true. As the Hollywood Reporter mentioned, power shoelaces, Garden Center fruit dispensers, robotic dog walkers, mid-powered video games, food hydrators and size adjusting clothing just never happened. They were way off on the fashion, too! Two things that have come close though are flying cars and hoverboards, thanks to how advanced we’ve come with technology.

This year, we’re going to see more of 3D printers, context-aware security, smart machines, apps you can use simultaneously on multiple devices, smartphone technology advancements and technology embedded everywhere.

Along with these new technologies, expect to see big changes on social media – new features, new algorithms, and new trends. Change can be fun, but also overwhelming! This year you’ll need to change things up and think of new social media marketing strategies.

Although you might not have a DeLorean time machine to see how these new social media features and trends will affect your business, if you stay on top of your social game your business will thrive. Here are our predictions for social media marketing trends you can expect for 2015. Be prepared to get those creative juices flowing – these trends involve authenticity, originality, personality and creativity.

1. Visuals dominate social media 

Video marketing is expected to take off in 2015 in exciting ways that will allow you to be super creative. Regular video segments, like podcasts and blog posts, are expected to come into their own as a form of content. Short behind-the-scenes style videos which give audiences a glimpse at the people who are behind the product or company will also be trending this year.

Video is the preferred communication style for customers. By 2017, it expected that 74% of all internet traffic will be video. So now is the time to start taking text-based information and turning it into a video. Have fun with it and get creative, but also keep your audience in mind. Will they enjoy watching? Or maybe you’re trying to attract a new demographic?

In the past, when we thought of posting a video on the web, we would immediately think to upload it on YouTube and share the link. Now, video posting has moved away from YouTube towards Facebook, Instagram and other social media networks. Statistics show that in 2014, Facebook videos received significantly more shares than YouTube. Check out Buzzfeed’s Facebook Page and enjoy their many short, humorous and relatable videos.

Not only do we see more video on social, but also more photos and graphics. But because visuals are trending like crazy on the web, users expect higher-quality images, resulting in a lot of competition.

Here’s a tip: If you’re taking photos with your phone and posting them on social, make sure they’re not blurry, too dark or unclear – people will be less likely to share your photo if it’s unattractive.  Read our post on free photo usage for blogs and social media for a list of our favorite free photo databases along with guidelines for using them.

If your business is on Instagram, we recommend using Iconosquare. It lets you manage multiple Instagram accounts, browse your most important statistics, search for users and hashtags and monitor competitor and hashtag feeds. Iconsquare is also available on Hootsuite.

The Future of Social: 9 Social Media Marketing Trends 2015

 photo: picjumbo

2. Mobile devices used more than ever to access social networks

For several years now, a majority of internet users have been consuming most information via smartphones and tablets, but this year the percentage is going to increase. In 2015, being plugged in at all times is essential, and the easiest, most effective way is with a mobile device – especially for those with an on the go lifestyle. Not only are mobile devices the go-to for searching the web, checking email and recently for making in-store purchases, they’re also first choice for accessing social networks.

In 2014, 80% of users engaged in social media through a mobile device, and that number is set to hit over 90% by 2018. These statistics mean big adjustments for marketers. We will need to put mobile first in our social media campaigns, which means creating designs intended for mobile devices.

Even social media managers are using mobile devices to update social pages –it makes our job so much easier when we’re on the go! Social media apps are used far more than the mobile friendly versions because they’re user-friendly and convenient.

Speaking of social apps, if you’re having issues with updating your Facebook page, try out Facebook Pages Manager App. If you manage several Facebook Pages, you’ve probably noticed it’s not easy to update your Facebook Page from a smartphone or tablet –the app can be a bit glitchy. The Facebook Pages Manager app helps administrators manage their Facebook Pages from mobile devices a lot easier.

3. More content, less promotion on Facebook

On Facebook, 2015 is the year of authenticity, creativity and wit when it comes to content. No longer can you be too pushy or promotional with call to actions like “click to see more” “enter here” “download now.” As you may know, this month Facebook will begin showing less promotional posts on News Feeds. According to Facebook, these are some of the consistent traits that make organic posts feel too promotional:

  • Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app

  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context

  • Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

Pages publishing great content — content that teaches people something, entertains them, makes them think, or in some other way adds value to their lives — will reach their followers’ News Feeds. Be sure to monitor the reach of your Page posts by checking the bottom of each one to see how many people you’ve reached. You should also be checking Insights to monitor post engagement and organic and paid reach. All of this will give you an idea of what works for your Page.

You should also be avoiding content that is too promotional on your other social media networks as well. Your followers don’t want to constantly see your brand with logos, products, etc. Heavy branding just isn’t necessary, and it isn’t effective. Focus more on sharing experiences, interesting stories, high-quality visuals, and user-generated content.

4. Republishing updates grows your social reach

Between Facebook’s Newsfeed changes and the continued growth of social networks like Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin, it’s not easy to always make an impression on your followers. In order to be sure content is seen, social media managers are republishing updates multiple times throughout the day, week and even month.

On Twitter and Linkedin, post several other updates in-between the original and republished update, otherwise followers will see that you constantly post the same thing over and over. On Facebook, you can change up the message a bit with different visuals when you republish so it’s not so repetitive.

We recommend using Hootsuite to manage your social media accounts and schedule updates. This way, you can schedule your republished updates so you won’t forget, and you can keep track of how often you’re republishing.

The Future of Social: 9 Social Media Marketing Trends 2015

 photo: HubSpot

5. More personal interaction with fans and followers

You’re business’ employees are not robots – they are real people with personalities and interests! In 2015, your followers are going to want to want to get to know the people behind logo and see who it is they’re engaging with. Companies who are one step ahead and have already gotten more personal see more interaction on their content and a higher level of trust.

This is where the video comes in. By hosting a podcast or video segment, you’re introducing your audience to the people that make the company. You can even have a video Q&A and create a hashtag for it so viewers can join in. By having a Q&A like this, viewers get that personal interaction as you read out loud and answers user-submitted questions.

Connecting with followers on your personal Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Google+ accounts are excellent ways to establish relationships. Sharing what you know about your industry and interests outside your company allow people to meet the person behind the logo.

Be sure to respond in a timely matter on both your business and personal pages. This is very important for keeping that personal connection by letting people know that you’re there, and you care.

6. E-commerce and social media integrate        

In 2014, both Twitter and Facebook began beta-testing “buy” buttons, which appear alongside certain tweets and posts and allows users to make purchases with a simple click without leaving the page. Be prepared to see e-commerce and social media integrate in 2015.

For customers, the payment experience will be safe and secure – credit and debit card information will not be shared with other advertisers. They will also be able to save payment information for future purchases.

With this integration, businesses will truly profit from the direct relationship they build with their followers on social media. It all sounds fantastic for both customers and businesses. Facebook and Twitter have said they’ll be sharing more information in the future. We’re excited to see what comes of this integration!

7. Facebook uses voice-recognition technology

Microphone check 1, 2… In 2015, you might  be talking to your Facebook Page rather than typing. Facebook has recently announced it acquired the voice-recognition startup Wit.ai that claims to “turn speech into actionable data.” Wit.ai’s technology could allow Facebook users to speak commands that could be converted to text as posts or messages. The technology could have other uses as well.

This move could give the social network more information for targeted advertisements. If Facebook integrates this technology into apps and home-automation devices, it would allow Facebook to gather more data. It will be interesting to see if there will be any privacy settings.

8. Businesses and organizations budgeting for paid media

With the drop in organic reach and less promotional content appearing in the News Feed, you may want to consider budgeting for advertising on social media for any content you want to push. The great thing about advertising on social media is that the cost can be as low or high as you want, and you can target people based on their location, age, interests and more.

Although it is possible to reach your followers still organically, creating advertising campaigns with objectives such as to boosting posts, promoting your page or raising attendance at an event will help you expand your reach.

The Future of Social: 9 Social Media Marketing Trends 2015

 photo: picjumbo

9. Public Relations professionals manage social media

As we enter 2015, you may be wondering if you should change your social media strategy. With all the new changes and things you should be doing in order to succeed, it can seem overwhelming. Maybe the person managing your social media pages is wearing many hats and doesn’t have enough time to focus solely on staying social online. So what are you to do? Does your business need a separate social media division? Who should be managing all of this? The answer: your PR team.

If you’re a small or medium business, you probably have many things on your plate, so developing a social media strategy may seem overwhelming. Your PR team is your best bet for managing your social media pages. They should know that social is different from traditional marketing/PR and how to leverage those differences.

Social media is extremely public and whatever is said can be seen the second it’s posted. When a customer posts a review on your page, good or bad, it will stay there. If someone comments on your post and you don’t like what they said, you need to respond in an appropriate manner. When managing social media pages, be prepared to respond to both positive and negative feedback consistently. A customer complaint can easily turn into a PR nightmare. Let your PR team take the reins and handle everything for you.

Who knows – maybe sometime this year you’ll see us riding hoverboards while we tweet!

Have any questions about the social media trends for 2015, please feel free to comment on this blog or contact us. Subscribe to inBLOOM’s blog alerts, and you’ll get Social Media Marketing and Public Relations tips for success emailed to you weekly.

If you thought this blog post was helpful, here are similar posts on the topic:

cover photo: Terrabass

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3 Ways to Tell Your Story on Social Media

3 Ways to Tell Your Story on Social Media

In this digital age, it’s nearly impossible to miss local, national and world news in real-time. No matter where you are or what you’re doing chances are you most likely have breaking news in the palm of your hand via your smartphone. In fact, 30% of American adults get their news from Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center.

Surely your heartstrings (and attention) have been tugged by all those feel good people and pet stories in your News Feeds. If you dig deep enough, you’ll discover similar stories within your own business or nonprofit. It’s just a matter of being open to listening and discovering the human-interest and news pieces that attract today’s busy editors, reporters, and producers.

After you write your story and take some high-quality images and possibly some video, you’re ready to post and share your news on social. Review these three ways to tell your story on social media:

1. Tweet to meet and engage media sources.

In addition to emailing a release, engage in dialog on social media to build your media network. According to ING’s 2014 Social Media Impact survey, 57% of journalists consider social media to be ideal for contacting PR professionals and vice versa. Use social media to build relationships with journalists and bloggers to gain a better understanding of what they write about, when they need resources, and how they prefer to work with you.

According to a 2014 report from the Indiana University School of Journalism, 40% of journalists said social media networks are very important to their work. Over a third said they spent between 30 and 60 minutes each day on social networking sites. Twitter was the most popular type of social media used by journalists, and over half of those surveyed said they regularly use the platform for gathering information and reporting stories.

Use your website blog as a home for your story, images and video to live and use a tool like Hashtags.org to incorporate trending hashtags into your tweets for greater visibility.

2. Be in the know about Facebook’s new tools for media publishers.

Facebook recently introduced new and exciting ways for news accounts to target posts, remove posts that are no longer relevant and identify popular links that they haven’t shared. One widely anticipated and requested change is Facebook’s Smart Publishing tool, which identifies and publishes stories that are popular with people on Facebook. Once the setting is enabled, frequently shared links will appear more in the News Feed for people who like a publisher’s Page. Make sure to like news sites covering your industry and region to get a sense of the news stories being shared on their sites and thus popping up more in your News Feed.

Once you understand and follow how the media will be using the new tools, you can deliver producers and editors the type of content that’s being shared on social media. Facebook will regularly share announcements and tips on its News Feed FYI.

It’s wise to learn firsthand from Facebook and its content creators what’s trending in the news. Your research will give you a better chance of securing media coverage when pitching a story.

3 Ways to Tell Your Story on Social Media

3. Proofread your social media story teasers.

Make sure to proofread your tweets and posts for accuracy and working links. Check the spelling of key names (brands, people, etc.) as well as contact information. Editors may use your release or blog post for the facts and as a potential resource for larger features. If you spell a name two ways or a phone number is wrong by one digit, this will frustrate the contact who has to get ahold of you to double check.

Here’s an example of a tweet with a typo from Grub Street, a blog about the New York City restaurant scene from New York magazine.  Their fans were pretty accepting of the typo and appreciated the afternoon chuckle. I’m sure the editors, however, were pretty crabby about the error ;).

3 Ways to Tell Your Story on Social Media

Start engaging with the media on social and best of luck on your PR efforts in the New Year.

Have any questions, please feel free to comment on this blog or contact us. Subscribe to inBLOOM’s blog alerts, and you’ll get Social Media Marketing and Public Relations tips for success emailed to you weekly.
 

Resources:

Pew Research Center: How Social Media is Reshaping News

ING 2014 Study impact of Social Media on News: more crowd-checking, less fact-checking

 The American Journalist in the Digital Age:  Key Findings from Indiana University.

 photo: picjumbo

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5 Ways to be #unselfie on #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday and the True Holiday Spirit

Among the holiday rush to shop and celebrate is an observance that rings in the month of December with a big heart and a special opportunity to get into the true spirit of giving. #GivingTuesday will be held on December 2 and has become a tradition among millions of people from charities, businesses and schools around the globe. On this day, donors come together to celebrate generosity and to give via the #GivingTuesday conversation.

Last year on #GivingTuesday, online donations increased 90% for 3,800 nonprofits–more than $19.2 million–compared to 2012, according to Blackbaud, a nonprofit technology provider. In 2013 there were 320,000 tweets using #GiftGiving and that number is sure to double with all the new interest and activity. Bill and Melinda Gates, The United Nations Foundation, PayPal, Facebook and LinkedIn are just a few participating partners.

But you don’t need to be an entrepreneur, international peacekeeper or startup to participate on #GivingTuesday. All you need is the creativity, motivation and ability to take to the social networks to raise awareness.

Although only a week away, there is still time to get involved and inspire others to give to your charity of choice. Let’s review five steps to get started:

1. Choose a nonprofit organization that is meaningful to you. 

During the holidays, many nonprofits are in desperate need of volunteer hours as well as in-kind and cash donations. You could inspire others to give non-perishable goods to a food pantry or pet shelter, contribute to a coat drive, or fund the building of a school overseas with one tweet or post.

You can also use sites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar to measure the effectiveness and financial stability of your chosen organization.

When getting the word out on social media, keep your post short and sweet for the best chances of engagement. Use the hashtag #GivingTuesday, #unselfie, include a link to your charity, and add your own personal message.

Here’s what Melinda Gates is sharing on Facebook:

#GivingTuesday and the True Holiday Spirit

2. Get giving with CrowdRise.

An exciting addition to #GivingTuesday is the crowdsourcing site CrowdRise. The company has created an App called the Giving Tower, which will help individuals setup a fundraising page and choose a charity to fundraise for the day. Each brick on the Giving Tower represents a donation to a great cause. It looks like it’s going to be a fun mobile tool to use on #GivingTuesday! According to CrowdRise, the Giving Tower App allows you to see the world’s charitable efforts grow in real time in the form of a tower made in augmented reality. They want you to think of it as a really cool hologram.

#GivingTuesday and the True Holiday Spirit

3. Match those gifts.

If you’re a business owner or an employee your company may want in on the giving action as well. Inquire about matching your donations on #GivingTuesday. They could match your time donated to helping a charity that day by giving you time off or they may even double your dollars.

4. Inspire others with your story.

Consider writing an op-ed piece for your local paper about your cause and experience on #GivingTuesday. You could also submit your story as a guest blogger. By keeping the story going, you may extend the giving beyond just the one-day experience and may even recruit givers for December 2, 2015.

5. Amplify your reach. Share your cause-related or company news with #GivingTuesday.

It seems they really want to hear from their partners around the globe and encourage you to use their branded materials. They offer many tools and resources on their website to get you started including videos, graphics, volunteer forms and case studies. In fact, people donate 38% more on branded donation pages than compared to generic ones.

On Facebook, GivingTuesday asks,What are you plans for the big day? Twitter Chat? GoogleHangout? Giving Party? Share your #GivingTuesday plans with us and we will promote and participate. Email us at Givingtuesday@gmail.com with the subject “Plans”.” You can also attend their upcoming free events to help you plan and promote your giving campaigns.

#GivingTuesday Inspired by a Special Friend

#GivingTuesday and the True Holiday Spirit

This #GivingTuesday inBLOOM is raising a paw and donations for the Grey Muzzle Organization and their efforts to give homeless senior dogs the love and dignity they deserve in their final days. The choice was inspired by the passing of Little Girl, a sweet senior pup who lived with my family for two very special years. Here’s a bit about her that I shared with friends when she died in September at the golden age of maybe 16:

#GivingTuesday and the True Holiday Spirit

♥ Little Girl 

We picked up Little Girl in Brooklyn after seeing her on an Urgent Death Row Dogs post on Facebook in Sept. 2012. She left her big, beautiful world this evening. We learned so much from her and enjoyed getting to know her. She was a little fighter. I nicknamed her Lazarus because she always rose up no matter how creaky her bones. No animal should ever leave this world feeling afraid and unloved. Consider adopting a senior. They give back so much even if for only a few years. We now have an eternity of love thanks to our Little Girl.

All of us at inBLOOM hope you’ll consider making a donation to honor Little Girl or a senior pup in your life by supporting the inspirational work of the Grey Muzzle Organization.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @inbloombuzz, Instagram @inBLOOMlife and inBLOOM Communications on Facebook to help share our message of support for homeless senior pups on #GivingTuesday. We’ll share back!

Learn more about the Grey Muzzle Organization here.

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