Sword and the Script

Balancing PR with Content Marketing



by Frank Strong

Balancing PR and Media Relations with Content Marketing
Part of any job is choosing the right tools. For PR pros, especially those focused on media relations, the right tools also convey meaning. This is what Marshall McLuhan meant and he conveyed his messages in a book.

In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman unbundles the concept:

For although culture is a creation of speech, it is recreated anew by every medium of communication – from painting to hieroglyphs to the alphabet to television.  Each medium, like a language itself, makes a possible unique mode of discourse by providing a new orientation for thought, for expression, for sensibility.  Which, of course, is what McLuhan mean in saying the medium is the message. Read More…

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A Classy and Creative Mother’s Day PR Pitch



by Frank Strong

One Creative and Classy Mother’s Day PR Pitch

There’s a mantra in PR that goes something like this: Write, edit or otherwise communicate in terms your mother can understand.  The point of course is to avoid jargon that might prevent people from understanding a message.

If mother’s are a PR litmus test, then perhaps a better question to ask is do our moms understand what PR pros do? That’s precisely the question Lou Hoffman, CEO of The Hoffman Agency posed to his mother, Ruth Hoffman, for something akin to a timely and well-conceived PR stunt.

Lou tipped his hand for his video plans in an interview the gang of The Friday Hangout in late April.  A week later he published the video shown nearby to his blog with a short post titled: Mother’s Day Special: PR Agency CEO Grills Mom on Public Relations Profession.

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The Brand Hashtag Hijack isn’t the Problem



by Frank Strong

brands hashtag hijack
When the NYPD decided to launch a hashtag campaign with #myNYPD the po-po organization might have been betting the campaign would be the social media equivalent of COPS – or community oriented policing services.

Instead of photos of a charitable officer giving a homeless man a pair of boots, the hashtag was flooded with images that border on police brutality: An officer (allegedly) shooting a homeless man’s small dog and an officer (with tall brass no less) pulling the hair of a handcuffed women. Read More…

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Content Marketing *is* PR



by Frank Strong

Content Marketing is PR

Some of the conclusions drawn from a recent study — The Role of Content in the Consumer Decision Making Process – are missing the mark from my perspective.  

One finding from the study:

A brand new in-lab study by Nielsen, commissioned by inPowered, shows that expert content—credible, third-party articles (earned media)—is the most effective source of information in impacting consumers along all stages of the purchase process across product categories. More specifically, when measured against owned media (branded content) it showed that earned media is 80 percent more effective at the bottom-of-the-funnel or purchase consideration stage, 80 percent more effective at the middle-of-the-funnel or affinity stage, and 38 percent more effective at the top-of-the-funnel or familiarity stage.

Based on that data, the conclusion is: PR is more effective than content marketing. Read More…

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9 Timeless PR Positioning Strategies



by Frank Strong

positioning strategies PR

The word “positioning” gets tossed around almost carelessly in corporate documents, and I often feel as if the word is misunderstood (that’s foreshadowing).  Positioning isn’t what we say, it’s what people think and to that end any “position” that is coveted by brands has to be plausible, or anything brands say will be misaligned.

Gartner positions vendors in its Magic Quadrant reports along four categories: Leaders, visionaries, challengers and niche players.  Positioning as a “leader” is generally a difficult proposition because every company claims to be a leaders.  If everyone is a leader, then leadership as point of differentiation has lost its luster. Read More…

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Google Beats a War Path for Guest Posts; PR Needs to Listen



by Frank Strong

Google is on a War Path and PR Needs to Tune In

Google is on a war path, it’s personal, and the company is seeking to make public examples in an effort to dissuade the behavior it’s campaigning against.  Algorithmic changes like Penguin and Panda may have extended beyond SEO and into the PR lexicon, but soon the terms “manual penalty” might as well.  A manual penalty is when Google artificially depresses the visibility of a site in search because the company believes a site is gaming its algorithm.

Yes, they can do that.  And when they do, you have no choice but to yield to its demand, or forgo the search rankings.  For most organizations, whether it’s a savvy search marketing organization or not, forgoing search isn’t a viable option.

Although there are many factors that determine search rankings – and your results for any given term are likely to be different from mine – links are still the strongest indication of relevance and value of a site.  A link is a vote of confidence and generally speaking, the more quality links a site earns, the better it ranks in search.  PR pros tend to pitch a lot of content (if you’re not, you’ve got another issue) and whether they are aware of it or not, that content often earns links.

These links really matter because for most organizations, Google is likely to be the single highest source of referral traffic to a website.  This is the sort of traffic that online marketers and SEOs dedicate their time to converting – to webinar registrations, white paper downloads and ecommerce transactions. Read More…

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Influence Marketing puts Salespeople into Marketing Hats



by Frank Strong

Influence Marketing puts Salespeople into Marketing Hats

Tom Webster was shopping for a pair of shoes so he did what people do when they are looking for something: he turned to search.  And that’s when it happened. He noticed reviews from blogs were ranking higher than even those by mainstream media.

That’s an anecdote I recall from Webster in a recent podcast with Mark Schaefer called Influence Marketing is hot and about to get hotter. How it is that content, from the lowly blogger, could possibly outrank an article – written by a bona fide reporter and published by an authoritative domain of traditional news site – in search? Read More…

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Product Review: Primeloop for Tracking Engagement



by Frank Strong

PrimeLoop how it works

Over the last couple months, I’ve been testing Primeloop as a tool for tracking mentions all around the web using my own employer as a guinea pig for a real-world testing environment.  It’s a very simple tool, but I’ve found it to be quite useful and a viable alternative to either labor-intensive spreadsheet-tracking, or the hideously expensive monitoring tools that currently dominate the PR industry.

The central product was originally developed in 2011 by Thomas Knoll and was formally launched before SXSW last year as clippPR.  The company has recently rebranded to Primeloop, a namesake that aims to articulate the value proposition: a way to loop brands back into the conversation by tracking and reporting on engagement. Used in conjunction with a free tool like Talkwalker, which I’ve found to be a useful replacement for Google Alerts, you’ll be able to easily stay abreast of brand mentions.

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The PR Road Less Traveled: In-House to Agency Life



by Laura Spaventa

PR In-House to PR Agency
Note:
  The following is a guest post by Laura Spaventa who recently transitioned from working an in-house gig in PR to working for a firm.  By my observation, few PR pros are able to make a switch like this as agencies often note “PR firm experience preferred” in job postings. Laura and I once worked together.  

When I graduated college in 2009, I had planned on working for a PR agency. Little did I know, the economy had other plans for me. Fortunately, I was introduced to Peter Shankman, the founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO), and became one of the original editors of the newsletter.

Once Vocus acquired HARO, I found my way to the company’s in-house PR team. However, I still had an itch to work for an agency, which led to my current role at LaunchSquad, a PR firm specializing in servicing startups with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Boston. I recognize my PR career has been a little backwards (I’ve never been good at following ‘the norm’) and I have a few tips for PR professionals who are looking to make a similar transition. Read More…

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PR Winners and Losers from House of Cards



by Frank Strong

PR winners and losers house of cards

Note:  There is nothing that will spoil the show for anyone who has
yet to watch the show in this post.

Like so many people, I’ve been glued to the second season of House of Cards, or #HoC on Twitter.  Aside from NFL games or the occasional Discovery channel documentary, I do not watch much TV and do not subscribe cable television.

Yet every now and again there’s a show that sucks me in – House, MD was one – and certainly House of Cards did as well. I justify the mindlessness of watching a show like this with the rowing machine parked in front of the television, which is not a credit to Frank Underwood’s choices in exercise. Read More…

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