Sword and the Script

Enduring Questions on Press Releases and SEO


Do press releases have SEO value

As I was taking this screenshot, I noticed that in Chrome, “SEO” is marked as a spelling error in Bing.

by Frank Strong

Press releases.  Few topics get the PR community spun up more with the exception of the definition of PR.

We argue over how they should be used.  We argue over whether or not they should be called something else.  We argue over the best time to issue a press release. We argue over which wire service performs best.

Have heart, PR pros, we are not alone.  Press releases spin up another community too:  SEOs.

SEOs get their whirling dervish on over press releases because they are forever debating whether or not they have search value, or more precisely whether or not links in press releases have value.

Google’s most public facing expert, Matt Cutts says links in press releases do not have value.  Even for the mighty Matt, that’s a challenge to SEOs, who will go out of their way to prove Google counts press release links.

Ivy Lee could not have possibly imagined what he started when he issued what is recognized as the first press release. Read More…

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Tapping White Space for Creative Blog Ideas


creative blog ideas

A handful of the audio books that are often the catalyst for creative ideas.

Everyone has their methods for coming up with blogging ideas — or in screwing up their blog strategy.

Some prefer a strict enforcement of an editorial calendar, while some prefer to simply wing it.  There’s a good case to be made on either side, but for me, what works best is a little of both:  dance like nobody’s watching and keep a running list of creative ideas.

That’s all fine and well, but the key is getting those ideas and the secret to that is to expose yourself to ideas:  reading, or better yet, listening.


A Shift in Information Consumption

There was a time when I devoured books…the printed kind. While I still keep many of them as references, my reading habits have largely shifted online.  Books are hard for me to get through these days, but I’ve discovered a little secret:  audio books and podcasts. Read More…

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The End of Free


The End of Free

The End of Free

by Frank Strong

Free.

It was a model championed by websites, let alone social networks, for nearly a decade. Offer a service for free, build the user base and then sell ads on the platform.

With the possibilities of the Net, Free was a disruptive model, that worked a bit like a forest fire:  it ignited, burned fast, but ultimately died of natural causes while also leaving fertile ground for new growth.

Napster arguablly set the conditions for .99 cent download on  iTunes. It costs us a $1.29 today. Perhaps $1.99 tomorrow.

“Ideas are the ultimate abundance commodity, which propagates at zero marginal cost,” wrote Chris Anderson in his book Free. Anderson was right.  But he was also wrong.  Free is a lifecycle. Read More…

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What a Politician can Teach Marketers about Relationships


Politician, marketers, relationships

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr visits LexisNexis offices in Cary, NC

by Frank Strong

He arrived a white Hyundai Sonata.  A hybrid.  He drove himself.  He was on time.

In a country of more than 300 million, there’s only 100 sitting U.S. Senators. And yet here was one of them, making a stop at our offices, one stop among several on a three-day road trip to visit his constituents.

Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, was attentive, engaging and most of all he listened. He listened attentively to our division CEO’s overview of the business.  He listened during a product demonstration. And he listened to employees.

Occasionally he commented, or asked a question, but what struck me the most was how he listened.  Read More…

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Should the Taxpayer pay for Public Relations?


taxpayer public relations

To inform or persuade?

by Frank Strong

As the national debt approaches $17 trillion dollars — that’s about $50,000 per citizen — how do you feel about the government spending tax dollars on public relations?

Amid the tussle of sequestration, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) which is part of National Institutes of Health (NIH) found itself in a bind over it’s PR spend recently.

According to an O’Dwyer’s report, House to Probe NIH PR Spending (sub. req.):

Two House committees have kicked off an investigation into PR spending at the National Cancer Institute after an editorial in the respected journal Nature questioned spending in the NCI’s office of communications.

How much is NCI spending on PR?

Read More…

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PR: Don’t Sell Past the Close


dont sell past the close

PR can learn a lot from sales. Photo credit: Flickr

by Frank Strong

The first time I heard that phrase I was pitching my former boss on a creative PR idea. It was always a lively debate with him, and you had to prove the value convincingly; so I came to the meeting armed with data and proof points.

I was ready.

It was late on a Friday afternoon and the meeting had just started when he bought into my idea at the mere suggestion. That never happened. Except this once. Without needing all the arguments I had prepared to win him over — I was a little surprised.

Alright. That’s it. Meeting adjourned.

Not so fast. I continued, I mean after all, I had proof points to cement that agreement so it could never move. He put one hand up singling to me to stop.

Read More…

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Market Research Mistake: Falling in Love with an Idea


Market Research Mistake

Self-checkout proved a costly market research mistake for Tesco. (Photo: Flickr)

by Frank Strong

In a perfect world, one grocer might have begun their market research with a null hypothesis.  “The null hypothesis assumes that any kind of difference or significance you see in a set of data is due to chance.”

Instead of setting out to prove the American consumer would enjoy the efficiency of self-checkout in the grocery store — they might have done better to set out to presume prospective customers did not gravitate to self-checkout until, “statistical evidence nullifies it for an alternative hypothesis.”

Or they could have walked into any grocery store — Kroger, Costco or Safeway — and watched as customers preferred to stand in line over using self-checkout.  Or how those taking the caculated risk in hopes of completing their shopping experience sooner, waged battle with a machine seems to assume every customer is either trying to steal groceries or is a teenager attempting to purchase alcoholic products.  Read More…

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Spam Two Saturday: Louis Vuitton and What?


Spam Two Saturday

You will die if you try to consume spam like this. Photo credit: Flickr

I’m starting a new series about spam comments.  As this blog has grown, the bad PR pitches — from my peers I might add — has grown exponentially.  So too have the spam comments.

The difference? Spam emails are a hot button but spam comments are humor. Because spam comments are captured in Akismet I can review them at my leisure…when I need a chuckle.

Here’s the Spam Two Saturday: Read More…

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Autotweets Are Not Comparable to TV or Radio Ads


autotweets, schedule tweets

Photo credit: Flickr

There’s a debate over autotweets, or scheduled tweets during times of tragedy

This post kicked it off: Guy Kawasaki is too ‘popular’ to stop autotweets during Boston bombings. This post reinforced the point, with kinder language, but with words that bite: A Letter To Those Of You With 1,500 Twitter Followers Or Fewer.

And we’re off.  Knock down.  Drag out.  Online scrap.  It’s not productive.

The point of the post?

While the news about the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon was just being broken, and for several hours afterwards, most companies shut down their promotional efforts on Twitter and other social media.

Most people and organizations rightly came to the conclusion that to continue to hawk their wares while a national tragedy was unfolding (and people were using Twitter to get and exchange news) was a little insensitive, to say the least.

Most brands stopped. And while I generally dislike the term “personal branding” because I believe within a company — that is a team environment — it is divisive  some people have become brands. In a company, this means there’s an inverse correlation between productivity and ego.   Read More…

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Three Observations the Morning After Tragedy


Thinking of Boston.

Thinking of Boston.

by Frank Strong

I first heard about it on Facebook.  A friend had posted this link to The Atlantic. Initially, the article simply had a couple lines of text and a few screenshots of tweets.  The site has since updated it to provide more complete coverage.

Senseless killing. Tragic. Incomprehensible.

My first reaction was: this is terrorism.  The last time we had a terrorist attack we went to war for a decade. In fact, we are still fighting it.  However, it’s worth noting, before 9/11, the predominant form of terrorism was from domestic lunatics, like the duo from Oklahoma City.

As of the time of this writing, no suspects have been identified and officials have simply said, they currently do not know. Read More…

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