Forget Half of What You’ve Learned. Mastery of Google is Key to Public Relations Succes

Google GIF

via Giphy.com

There is a growing dependence on search for information in the digital world. In fact, 89 percent of consumers use Google and other search engines to find information about products, services, and businesses prior to making purchases. And of those people, 87 percent won’t scan past page one of search results.

Google continues to improve its search engine so that users receive the most relevant content to their searches. Public relations professionals need to recognize the importance of having an SEO strategy and integrating Google Tools, such as Google AdWords and Google Analytics into that strategy.

OVERVIEW

Google AdWords is a pay-per-click marketing service that allows you to create and run ads for your organization. You can bid on the keywords you want to generate your ads appearing in the search engine results page. Google decides which ads are displayed and in which position based on each user’s maximum bid and quality score. Having a high quality score lowers your cost-per-click and leads to more impressions. You can improve your quality score by implementing relevant landing pages and keywords throughout your content.

Say that you work for Lego and want to set up a Google AdWords campaign. While current Lego customers are likely to search for the business by name, prospective customers are more likely to search by topic. So, you want ads to appear when people type in keywords and phrases related to Lego. Words and phrases like toy blocks, educational toys, minifigures, building blocks, and family owned toy company are just a few that come to mind.

It is important that the keywords and phrases describe what the organization actually does. It wouldn’t make sense for a Lego ad to appear for the search term “Star Wars,” for example, even though Star Wars is Lego’s most licensed toy set. It wouldn’t be smart for Lego to limit its brand to just its Star Wars sets. When in doubt, use Google’s Keyword tool to help you find relevant keyword ideas.

AdWords comes equipped with plenty of metrics that help you measure what is working in your campaign and what is not.

Google Adwords dashboard

The service will give you detailed reports on where and how often your ads appear, how many people click on them, which search queries drive the most visitors to your site, which keywords are most effective, and how many AdWords visitors actually order a product or service on your site.

If AdWords helps people get to your site, what happens when they arrive? This is where Google Analytics comes in. Google Analytics allows you to keep track of the unique people that visit your website, exactly when they visit, how they got there, what they do once they’re there, and how they interact with your content. This applies to blogs and other sites, too. By understanding the user interactivity, you can work the content around your users — an incredibly valuable strategy to the commercial success of your organization.

Suppose your marketing / PR campaign isn’t as successful as you’d have liked. Google Analytics will provide a real-time report with information about audience engagement and conversion activity to show you where your campaign is lacking. The service tracks which pages retain users the longest and when there is a spike in traffic, so you can better tailor your content.

Google Analytics Dashboard

Google Analytics shows you exactly which sites and search engines refer visitors to your website, as well as the search terms they used to get there.The platform also tracks what people search within your site. This shows you what exactly it is your buyers are looking for, that way, you can provide your audience with the content they seek and convert one-time users into loyal customers.

In addition, by tracking the type of people who visit your site, where they are from, and how loyal they are to your organization, you can understand the real origins of your traffic and find the best places to invest in new opportunities.

Google Analytics will save you time and money and provide you with valuable information to help reach your goals. It is perhaps the best measurement tool for public relations practitioners and communications professionals. To ignore Google and its powerful tools would be a huge mistake. Instead, you should embrace it, learn it, use it and master it. It is the key to public relations success.
Related Posts:

Crisis Communications: Steps to Prepare for and Respond to Crises

crisis-communications

Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” It is certainly true—take Bill Cosby, for example. For decades he was “America’s Dad.” Today, he is a trending meme, his reputation in tatters due to numerous sexual assault allegations.

As President of a student-run public relations firm, I have encountered a few crises with clients in the food, law enforcement, and governmental sectors. It can be chaotic, overwhelming, and very stressful. While there is no foolproof strategy to preventing a crisis, there are some steps you can take to best prepare for and respond to crises when they arise.

Preparing for Crises:

crisis team

Anticipate Crises List out all potential situations that occur at your organization. This should be a joint effort within the company—you don’t want to miss a thing. Once you’ve identified all potential situations, have a plan for how to react should any crises arise, and be specific. Think about possible responses, best and worst case scenarios, etc.

Identify Crisis Communications Team This should be a small team made up of senior executives in the organization that are the heads of major organizational departments. The company CEO should lead the team, which should include the company’s top PR person. You might even want to retain a public relations agency that is specialized in crisis communications. It’s good to also have subject-specific experts to handle unique crises.

Designate and Train Spokespersons Spokespersons should be comfortable speaking to large groups of people, to the media, and in front of a camera. They should not be afraid to correct the media when they misreport facts. They should also understand and interact on social media. Depending on the crisis, you are likely to have different spokespersons.

Establish Notification and Monitoring Systems Know how to best reach your audiences when dealing with a crisis. How do they prefer to get their updates? Where do they communicate? Social media is often the best and fastest way, but don’t wait until a crisis to create these channels. Always be listening and monitoring what people are saying about your company—or your employees, products, or services. While the task may seem overwhelming, it’s necessary. And luckily there are tools to help, like Google Alerts. By monitoring, you have the chance to respond quickly and prevent minor situations from becoming full-blown crises. Monitoring will also help you adapt your messages and strategy during an ongoing crisis.

Identify Key Stakeholders Identify, in order of importance, your stakeholders, both internal and external, and assure they receive your messages. Johnson & Johnson decided its customers were most important to the company long before the 1982 crisis due to cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules. The company made the swift decision to pull all Tylenol bottles from shelves, despite it costing millions of dollars. The customers were more important than the investors.

Develop Holding Statements Although full messaging isn’t developed until the outbreak of the crisis, you can create statements for immediate use in advance of a crisis, such as, “Our hearts and prayers are with all of those affected, and we hope that they are well.” The team should regularly review and update these statements.

Source: Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc.


Responding to Crises:

managing crisis

So you have your crisis plan and team in place, you are regularly listening and monitoring, but you begin to notice a negative trend developing. What’s next?

Set Expectations Let the public know when it can expect a response. It takes time to gather all of the facts and make sense of everything. If your organization is small, it can take even longer. Be exact, but be sure to stick to the expectation you set.

Get the Full Story What are the facts? Identify what happened, as well as what people think happened. How has the public reacted? What about the media? Which channels need immediate attention?

Be Honest and Open Don’t lie, and don’t say, “no comment.” If you are transparent and authentic, rumors will eventually go away and the situation might even blow over. Be transparent through all communication channels.

Communicate Early and Often Adapt your key messaging that you developed in your crisis plan to fit the situation. As you learn more, be the first to tell your audiences—all of them. As soon as you know, they should know, too. Otherwise, rumors will fill the silence.

Feedback Make sure your customers and other audiences know they are being heard. Reply to them directly and answer their questions in a timely manner. Although tempting, do not delete negative comments—people will think you have something to hide.

Learn From It Learn what worked and what didn’t. How could the situation have been prevented? What will you do differently next time? Go back to that crisis plan and update accordingly. It will help you majorly in the future! Related Articles:

Media Relations: How to pitch better

Too many PR professionals still don’t understand media relations. They are still spamming journalists with pitches that are irrelevant, inauthentic, and non-targeted. Too many public relations professionals are fixated on the short-term coverage opportunity rather than building long-term relationships. They see a journalist as a tool rather than a person. All of this worsens the negative feelings journalists have already developed toward public relations professionals. So let’s change it.

It starts with a better understanding. Think of how annoying it is to get a sales pitch that has nothing to do with you or what you want. It’s irritating, right? This is how a journalist feels when s/he receives an unrelated, non-targeted pitch from a PR person.

Don’t be that person. Be the person who offers something useful—something that will make a journalist’s job easier. Remember that they too have a job to do. Your broadcast pitches are a waste of their time.

An infographic from Nowsourcing offers tips on how to pitch better.

media relations infographic writing pitches

What’s the best and worst pitch you’ve ever seen?

The Difference Between Marketing and PR

The distinction between marketing and public relations can be frustrating when you’re starting out in the communications field. When I was declaring my major at the end of freshman year, I realized I was confused about the difference between the two. I shyly asked my professors and peers, but none seemed confident in their explanation.

Well, thank God—err, Al Gore?—for the Internet. It was around this time that Google became my favorite teacher and most trusted source of information.

And I knew others shared my need for distinction, too, when I saw the magnitude of findings on the search engine results page (about 14 million today). Luckily, it only took a few high-quality articles and blog posts to gain a sufficient understanding. Here is a summary of my findings:

  • Marketing focuses on products and services. Public relations focuses on relationships.
  • Marketing is a line function. PR is a staff function.
  • Marketing is paid media. Public relations is earned media. (Owned media can be either function.)
  • Marketing is telling people how great you are. PR is when others do the telling for you.
  • Public relations requires persuasion. Marketing requires $$.
  • Marketing is trading and sales oriented. PR is public oriented.
  • Marketing is about the 4 P’s: product, price, place and promotion. Public relations is about enhancing a company’s reputation.
  • PR creates the population around the product. Marketing sells the product.
  • Marketing you pay for, public relations you pray for.
  • An analogy: Marketing is the ingredients, PR is the cake displayed in the window.

marketing ingredientsCake Public Relations

But recently, the lines between marketing and PR are blurring more than ever. What’s the cause? The move to digital media brought by the Internet! Notice the irony here?

In the latest edition of his book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, David Meerman Scott explains, “Prior to the web, organizations had only two choices: to get advertising or get third-party ink from the media.”

However, in a digital world, there is so much more: blogs, e-books, video, e-news releases, and other forms of online content that let companies communicate directly with audiences. Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn allow people all over the world to share content and information and connect with people and companies they do business with, or would like to.

It’s hard to tell anymore which department is creating and managing all that content, but I think it varies from company to company. Both are certainly capable. Marketers and public relations pros have both adapted to the changing technology. Marketing brought the traditional billboard ad to Facebook, and PR brought the media pitch to bloggers.

The convergence of marketing and PR online has to do with content. Technological advancements in how we receive our news updates, and how that content is delivered, and even the content itself, blur the lines between marketing and public relations. A simple tweet or Facebook post can introduce a new product (marketing) or explain a company’s take on an issue (PR). Similarly, a company blog can focus on what the company has to offer (marketing) or on building a company’s image (public relations). It’s all about the tools used.

Related articles:

marking pr advertising branding

The Ten Critical Things Public Relations Students Must Know About Google Analytics

Knowing how your audience interacts with your website is crucial for your success. Google Analytics is free and relatively easy to use for tracking websites, blogs, Facebook pages and more.

 google analytics

  1. Google Analytics provides information on who visits your site, where they come from, and who is most valuable to your organization, which allows you to better identify your key audiences.
  2. The platform tracks the search terms people use to find your site and what they search within your site, which provides information on what your buyers are really looking for.
  3. You can learn how people find your site, whether from search engines, direct links, or referral links on other sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
  4. Google Analytics tracks how many people visit your site and when spikes in traffic occur to show you what content is most popular.
  5. It tracks how much time people spend on your site and which pages retain users the longest so you can better tailor your content.
  6. The platform shows how people interact with your site, whether they download your documents, play your videos, or click your call to action links to help you best position your content.
  7. You can discover what keywords drive people to each page on your site and which keywords bring the most conversions.
  8. Google Analytics tells you which browsers/OS your audience uses to help you make smarter decisions on your sites layout and design.
  9. The platform shows which marketing initiatives and online ads of your campaign are most effective.
  10. It also allows you to pinpoint where people leave your site. If you know what exactly drives people to leave, you know what to focus your efforts on improving.

How Businesses Are Using Pinterest: the power of visual images

Pinterest is a web and mobile application that offers visual discovery, collection, storage, and sharing. Users create and share collections of visual bookmarks, called boards. Boards are created when a user selects an item and pins it to a new or existing board.

Basically, it can be seen as a counterpart to Google, in which users know what they are looking for. Pinterest, however, is all about discovery.

Pinterest

Photo found at http://bit.ly/1wxi5HO

More often, people are using Pinterest to shop. In fact, 70 percent of users use Pinterest for inspiration on what to buy, and 69 percent of consumers claim to have found a product on Pinterest that they bought or were interested in buying. Businesses such as Target, Nordstrom, and Whole Foods are tapping into the visual-oriented social network to promote their brands and drive users to their e-commerce websites.

Target, for instance, launched its Target Awesome Shop, which features the top-trending items on Pinterest and the top reviews on Target.com. When you click on a pin for more information, you are redirected to Target.com, where you can add the item to your shopping cart. As a result, Target has seen a 70 percent increase in traffic from Pinterest to Target.com, according to Target Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Jones.

Quick Tip: Publish high-quality images and use Rich Pins for a higher chance of your post being viewed and shared. There are five types of Rich Pins: product, place, movie, recipe, and article. If you’d like to promote a product, Rich Pins allow you to provide information on pricing, location and availability. Pictures that contain a product’s price have a higher click through rate than those that don’t.

Nordstrom uses Pinterest a little differently. It uses Pinterest to decide which merchandise to feature in stores, with a special red tag on shoes and handbags most popular on the social network.

Whole Foods uses Pinterest boards to capture the company values in areas such as community and the environment, healthy eating and education, and natural and organic foods.

For inspiration, check out How 5 Businesses Are Using Pinterest to Creatively Promote Their Products


Good News For The Holidays

Pinterest has proven to be a major force in holiday retail, helping consumers find products and retailers identify trends and market to the right consumers.

Pinterest Grid

Photo found at http://bit.ly/1pO9auh

A study of Pinterest users by market research firm Lab42 found that 54 percent spend more time on the site during the holidays and 94 percent say it has changed the way they make their holiday preparations.

Over the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday, Pinterest doubled the revenue sent to retailers on Black Friday. And on Cyber Monday, Pinterest revenue more than tripled.

Marketers and retailers, take note.


How Does Pinterest Compare to Other Social Media

Compared to other social medias, Pinterest generates double the referential traffic than Twitter, Google and LinkedIn combined. This is a great opportunity for marketers and retailers, who have the opportunity to capitalize off the power of visual images.

Pinterest shoppers spend significantly more, averaging $140 – $180 per purchase, compared with $70 – $100 per order on Facebook.

Check out this Pinterest VS Twitter VS Facebook infographic for more information.


Some Key Facts About Pinterest to Consider

  • The majority of users (68.2%) are female
  • Fifty percent of users have children
  • The majority of users (27.4%) are between the ages of 25 and 34
  • Annual household income is $100,000+
Pinterest Infographic

Infographic by Modea, found at http://on.mash.to/1wxhohG

How are you using Pinterest?

The Ten Critical Things Public Relations Students Must Know About Google AdWords

Google AdWords is a pay-per-click marketing service that allows you to create and run ads for your business. Advertisers can bid on the keywords that they want to bring up their ads in the search engine results page. Google decides which ads are displayed and in what position based on each user’s maximum bid and quality score.

google adwords

  1. The single most important factor is relevance. Google wants to connect searchers with ads that match their search query and give them what they are searching for.
  2. AdWords has customizable options that can be used to narrow your audience by location, time of day, language, browser, or device type to help you hypertarget your audience.
  3. You can discover how effective your keywords are and refine them to develop effective campaigns.
  4. AdWords provides a Keyword Tool in case you have writer’s block to help you find relevant keyword ideas.
  5. It gives you a major advantage over your competitors with potential to receive more clicks from search results.
  6. The service enables you to advertise to prospective customers who are more likely to search by topic rather than your organization’s name, as current customers might.
  7. You can target your ads on mobile phones, tablets, and other devices, which are becoming increasingly popular.
  8. High quality score lowers your cost-per-click and leads to more impressions. You can improve your quality score by implementing relevant keywords and an easy-to-navigate landing page.
  9. You can set a limit on cost per day, allowing you to budget your campaigns.
  10. You can use Google AdWords in other ways, such as selling your car, getting accepted to college, landing a job, or even a date!

Sources:

10 Tips for Establishing Strong Client-Agency Relationships

Excelling at client relations is an invaluable skill to have at a public relations agency. While it is a learning process, and every client is different, here are 10 sure-fire tips to help keep the client-agency relationship on the right path:

  1. Set realistic expectations. The agency should understand what challenges the client faces with regard to timing, budget, priorities and limitations. The client should also know what timing and results are possible and realistic for the agency.
  2. Get to know the client personally and professionally. It’s easy to want to get down to business instead of building the relationship with the client. When the time is right, learn a thing or two about the client without being intrusive.
  3. Add value to weekly meetings. Weekly meetings shouldn’t be a reading off of the to-do list. You should be contributing up to three new ideas every week and reporting progress made from the previous week.
  4. Call the client. Email is great and has its purpose, but you should engage with the client in other ways, too. Pick up the phone or meet face to face. Some of the best ideas are generated during these conversations.
  5. Acknowledge all client emails. Even if you don’t have the answer to a client’s question right away, always respond acknowledging you received the message and say when you’ll be able to give a proper response.
  6. However, it might not always be a two-way street. Don’t get upset if the client doesn’t respond to your calls or emails in a timely manner. Clients have a lot going on internally and spend many hours in meetings and conference calls. Cut them some slack.
  7. Build trust. Mutual trust is critical. It is important to build a solid foundation. You should set and meet deadlines and communicate with the client often. Demonstrate willingness to go the extra mile.
  8. Deliver results. If you are not delivering results for the client, the client will find someone else who can. To ensure their needs are met, check in regularly to make sure campaign efforts are in line with client priorities and expectations.
  9. Share bad news early on. It’s better to share bad news with the client sooner than later. No matter what it is, the client has the right to hear about it as soon as possible. Be upfront and then work on the solution together.
  10. Be the client. Within the agency, the account team is the client. The team is an extension of their marketing team and represents the client to the rest of the agency. Therefore, the team should always have the client’s best interests at heart.

Some additional articles I found helpful:

I’d love to see what you can add to the list!