Sword and the Script

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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13 Statistics from an Inc. 500 Social Media Study



by Frank Strong

social-media-study-Inc500
UMASS Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research is out with new research as part of its long standing study of business and its relationship with social media. The Center has been publishing research focused on either the Inc. 500 or the Fortune 500 since 2006.

I’m partial to the Center’s research because it includes some academic rigor – that is more or less absent an agenda. The current study focuses on the Inc. 500 and is a two-step methodology of reviewing use-cases and later conducting surveys by random sampling.

Key findings from the UMASS study Read More…

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Infographic: Search Ranking Made Simple



by Frank Strong

google website rankings
Neil Patel published an infographic that describes how Google determines pagerank.  According to Google’s knowledge graph, which scrapes an explanation from Bruce Clay’s blog, page rank is, “is a link analysis algorithm used by Google to help determine the relative importance of a website. Every website is given a Google PageRank score between 0 and 10 on an exponential scale.”

Though Google’s algorithm is secret and no one knows exactly how it works, the infographic provides a simple explanation widely accepted by the SEO community. Some of the concepts include: 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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Survey Says on Twitter, Small Business is Likeable



by Frank Strong
Survey Says on Twitter Small Business is Likeable

Conventional social media wisdom says people don’t like brands on Twitter – which in part explains the movement for humanization. Contrast that with “personal branding” and we indeed live in strange times where brands strive to be human, and people strive to be brands.  

Whether it’s the humanity or branding, there’s something inherently likeable about small business. Clearly there’s a lot to like – according to the Small Business Administration, small business makes up more than 99% of employer firms in the U.S. and provide for nearly half of all private sector jobs.  A new survey by Twitter – Small Business Customer Insights – says small business socially likable too. Read More…

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Infographic: Big Brands and the Evolution of Logos



by Frank Strong

logo-evolution

Wikipedia says the word “logo” is derived from the Greek word “logos” meaning word or idea. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a logo as “a symbol that is used to identify a company and that appears on its products.”  It also says the first known use of a logo was in 1937, but it doesn’t indicate which company.

That date seems off by a wide mark in my own marketing experience. We had the first advertisement in an American newspaper in 1704, the first billboards in the 1790s, and the first press release in 1906 – all mediums that require text or print. Form the cave dwellers to the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians – symbols far preceded words. I find it hard to believe that the first logo ever was in 1937. 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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Too Focused: When Data and Tools Paralyze Sales



by Frank Strong

Too Focused on the Tool

SportClips is a franchise that aims caters to men; it has a tagline that reads, “The ultimate haircut experience.”  Its shops have a sports-themed layout with enough flat screen televisions to rival any sports bar. 

Over the last ten months, I avoided SportClips even though there’s one nearby my home that makes the location very convenient. Often I’ll drive several miles out of my way to avoid going there, but this past weekend, I made the mistake of giving the chain another shot:  Because it’s so close, I hoped to drop in and get a quick haircut and be on my way to a weekend adventure.

It was a bad move on my part. Read More…

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3 Takeaways from Neal Schaffer’s Maximize Your Social



by Frank Strong

Neal Schaffer Maximize Your Social

Ever get two birds with one stone?  I did this past Monday.

Zen Yinger sent me a note on Twitter telling me Neal Schaffer was in town for a book signing at a local Barnes & Noble.  I “met” them both somewhere along the social media trail about two or three years ago – and this week I was lucky to meet them both in person.

“Social media complements everything and replaces nothing,” Neal said as he kicked off his book signing talk (video posted nearby). What’s interesting about Neal is that he comes at things from a sales and business development perspective, rather than a marketing and PR perspective. I often find his views refreshing – and outside the doldrums of the echo chamber. Read More…

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