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Automated public relations options for brands on a budget

If your budget is smaller than a late night taco at Jack in the Box, then this automated crisis management guide might be for you, but caveat emptor.

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Mistakes are an inevitability in business

Accidents happen. Maybe you spill your coffee on the way to work (I’m going to get a lid today, I swear), step on the dog’s tail, or rear-end Jack Nicholson at a stop sign (reaaaar’s Johnny).

The consequences of all of the above vary in degree of severity, but one theme is consistent: the actions – and their repercussions – are on you, the perpetrator. In a workplace environment, this dynamic is radically different.

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Maybe today, instead of staining your brown khakis with slightly browner coffee, you tell an off-color joke by the water cooler. Your colleague finds it entertaining, and posts it on Twitter. Unbeknownst to the both of you, your joke has just become a PR case, and while the original poster (and, to some extent, you) will have to own the content itself, the true fallout in this case comes to rest on the shoulders of the company that you represent.

Handling any sized public relations nightmare

This scenario is a PR nightmare. Luckily, the Crisis Communications Playbook has your back. PressFriendly specializes in startup PR, citing crisis management as one of startups’ generally weakest links.

The site offers examples of common (or not-so-common) workplace goofs, from the jovial “made a joke about dongles” to the less hilarious “stored passwords in plain text”; it then asks, on a scale of “not sorry” to “very sorry”, how apologetic you are. Finally, based on your feedback, the site generates a series of pre-written tweets as guidelines for how to react to the public (or as shameless plagiarism material, depending on your ethics).

Think of crisis management as insurance

There are a few different levels of service provided by PressFriendly. Their entry-level, basic plan (starting at $149/month) includes their automated media lists mentioned previously, as well as press CRM and an online editorial calendar, and a monthly consultation with a PR pro. The next level up runs $449/month, but comes with an additional myriad of services, such as custom media lists, PR plans, and training sessions, as well as a bi-weekly meeting with aforementioned PR pro. Finally, the “pro” level runs a whopping $999/month, but showcases a weekly consultation, as well as tons of opportunities, social media applications, and support. There are also discounted annual plans.

Think of PressFriendly’s services as insurance: you don’t want the thing for which you’re paying for protection to happen, but if it does, you want to be covered entirely and without a doubt. With that in mind, the Crisis Communications Playbook is an incredibly strong contender in an ever-growing market of PR-related guides and self-help. Though pricey, its easy-to-use interface, scenario support, and wide variety of tools to help prevent further situations from occurring make it worth the cost.

Note from the Editor: it remains our firm belief that companies should budget for a full time public relations team member, or at least keep a consultant on retainer, as the experts can do your business a tremendous service. The above option truly is for brands on a budget.

#AutomatedPR

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

Business Marketing

Reddit put on their big kid pants to attract ad dollars

(MARKETING) If your company is scared to engage Reddit, they’re trying to button up for you, and it’s worth a second look. Maybe.

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While Reddit remains to be one of those strange sites where advertisers still aren’t sure if they want to use it (whether it’s because Reddit is a little confusing, or companies are turned off by it’s well known strange subcultures and tendency to be a magnet for a lot of uh, weirdness – we don’t know.)

Reddit has been working to improve their ad platform over the past year, mostly recently taking pixel from tracking only a single conversion event to eight conversation windows with an improved attribution window of 1, 7, or 28 days.

This builds on top of the cost-per-click buying that was added as a feature last month.

Reddit putting on big boy pants for marketing is a big deal. In case you missed it – Reddit generates over 1.2 billion visits a month – and remains one of the most popular sites on the internet. It’s the sixth most popular site in the United States, and it’s not afraid to boast a moniker of being the “Internet’s Front Page.”

Marketing on Reddit has some pitfalls of course – if you just go in blindly and without care, you wont’ get anywhere – the platform is not friendly to self-promotion and flagrant marketing.

But if take the time to generate valuable content, the ability to share that content to a very specific audience in the right subreddit. Marketing effectively will still require getting your material to the right place, but there’s a lot of opportunity for marketers to use both the uniqueness of the forum, combined with these new marketing tools, to reach this vast sea of Redditors.

If you don’t know about Reddit – here’s some good places to get started:

Short summary – Reddit should be somewhere you could consider advertising. It has an easy potential for some modest returns, but has a lot of possibility if you take the time and leverage the tool. So go forward, and subreddit smartly, marketers.

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Business Marketing

A more environmentally sensitive Pantone color of the year

(MARKETING) Why is Pantone’s coral color causing a ruckus? Marketing is just marketing, right? Maybe not…

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pantone unofficial color of 2020

Every year Pantone declares the Color of the Year and for 2019, the institute declared Living Coral to be the “it” shade calling it “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.” And it totally is. Imagine bright red orange swimming in a sea of crystal blue water.

Pantone’s Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman even goes so far as saying it that Living Coral was what “consumers craved” and that it incites “human interaction and social connection” which might be a stretch. It is just a color after all.

However, some found this messaging to be anything but convivial and well, off-color.

Jack Railton-Woodcock and Huei Yin Wong, partners at Jack and Huei, a Melbourne-based design agency, took umbrage with this decision and for good reason.

Their native Australia has front-row seats to the dying of the Great Barrier Reef and for them, coral is anything but lively. If anything, it’s on life support.

To call attention to the tone-deaf decision, the duo preemptively christened Bleached Coral as the Color of the Year 2020.

Touche.

The duo furthered their burn, saying, “It’s the responsibility of all of us, creative or otherwise, to find creative solutions to big problems, and right now there aren’t many problems facing humanity that are bigger than climate change.”

Oof, way to pull back the curtain, guys.

As much of a buzzkill as this pair might be, they’re not wrong, and they bring up the larger question of social responsibility in marketing.

But it’s just marketing, right?

Wrong. The very root of marketing is aspirational. We see ads for luxury cars, we imagine ourselves behind the wheel and believe that maybe we can get there. We see beauty products that promise flawless ageless skin and maybe we decide to take better care of our skin. We see Living Coral and we’re blinded to the reality that the coral just might be a thing of the past.

Yes, Pantone’s Color of the Year is one of those fun end-of-year things we in marketing get excited about, but when you’re living in a world where climate change is our reality and we see it in unnatural weather patterns and the dying off of one of our greatest natural treasures, it’s time to take pause. We can do better.

These days it’s hard to please everybody. Try as we might to make everything for everyone, if we’re going to attempt to talk about a unifying the human race through color, we sure as hell shouldn’t choose a color that reminds us all that our environment is in rough shape and it’s largely humanity’s fault. Bleached Coral isn’t the color we need, but right now, it’s the color we deserve.

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Business Marketing

Video marketing is here to stay – 5 ways to change your SEO strategy

(MARKETING) Video marketing now constitutes the majority of all web traffic – is your brand getting lost in the shuffle?

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Video marketing has grown as a content strategy over the past several years, as the explosion in mobile devices and fast mobile internet has made it more feasible to stream videos on the fly. And considering more than three-quarters of all business using video marketing are seeing results, it’s unlikely that video marketing is a trend going away anytime soon.

If you’re a search marketer, video content isn’t a trend you can ignore. You need to adapt your SEO strategy if you’re going to thrive in this new market and capitalize on the new opportunities that video provides.

Videos as Part of SEO

How exactly do videos impact your campaign?

  • Platform-specific optimization. Google gets all the attention in SEO, but it isn’t the only search engine you can optimize for. Video-centric platforms, like YouTube, function as independent algorithms with dedicated audiences. That represents an additional ranking opportunity, and the chance to get your content in front of new audiences.
  • Onsite value. Videos are also powerful ways to improve the authority and value of your onsite pages. Integrating a video into your how-to guide, for example, can make visitors spend more time on your pages and engage with your content in more meaningful ways. Accordingly, high-quality videos could increase your onsite authority.
  • Brand reputation and links. Good videos have the potential to quickly improve your reputation as a content creator, making you visible to more people and making people appreciate your content more. That means you’ll have opportunities with more external publishers, and you could potentially attract more links to your domain.

How to Adapt Your Strategy

So what steps should the average search marketer take to adapt their SEO strategy for the future of video marketing?

  1. Create more videos. For starters, you can spend more time creating and publishing video content as part of your overall content marketing strategy. Including them onsite, as part of your articles and guides, can bolster your onsite strategy, while including them offsite can help you optimize your offsite presence. Learning to create high-quality videos isn’t as hard as it seems; you don’t need expensive equipment, nor do you need much experience (though it does help). As long as you’re focused on creating content that your viewers want to see and are converting your videos to the appropriate file formats, you should stand to gain from the efforts.
  2. Leverage multiple mediums of content. Your videos don’t have to exist exclusively in video form. In fact, if you transform your videos into multiple different formats, you can benefit from it in multiple contexts. For example, publishing your video content, then including a written transcript and a downloadable audio file can expose you to multiple audiences simultaneously, while giving Google more content to crawl.
  3. Learn to title and tag your videos appropriately. Depending on where you publish your videos, you’ll likely have the opportunity to label them with a title, a brief description, and possibly categories and tags. These are incredibly valuable for helping algorithms “understand” what your video is about, and an opportunity to captivate your audience at the same time. For example, a catchy or compelling video title will attract more clicks when you’re featured in search results, and including the right tags can ensure you come up for more searches.
  4. Take advantage of YouTube’s algorithm. Don’t optimize for YouTube the same way you’d optimize for Google (though there are some similarities to consider). Instead, learn how YouTube’s algorithm works and use strategies to capitalize on its functionality. For example, you can tweak your content to get more likes and comments or optimize your channel to get more subscribers. You can also look at how your competitors are tagging and categorizing their similar videos, and either mimic or complement those strategies.
  5. Foster a video-centric community. Finally, take the time to build and nurture a video-centric community. Engage with the people who are commenting on your videos, and reach out to people on social media to see what they think of your video content. Doing this motivates people to continue following your channel, and will attract more people to your brand at the same time. Best of all, earning more regular subscribers and viewers will increase your authority as it’s perceived by algorithms like those from Google and YouTube search.

You don’t have to include videos as part of your content creation strategy to be successful in SEO, but it certainly has the potential to improve your performance. At the very least, you should be aware of your competitors making use of videos in their strategies, and adjust your tactics to reflect the nature of this new era.

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