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29th August 2014

CIPR State of PR in 2014

CIPR state of pr

Take alook at the 2014 CIPR State of PR report.

You can see the full report here

One of the areas I was particularly interested in is how the profession sees their skill level.  65% say they are satisfied that they have the appropriate skills and knowledge required at the current time.  Only 1 in 6 says they have the required skills and knowledge for the future.

The PRSA National conference held in Philadelphia last year called “big data” the future of public relations. Yet only 53% of attendees said they understood what Big Data is. At a recent gathering of some of the most senior PR executives at Fortune 100 global companies less than one-third could define Big Data and only ten percent of those in the room had the knowledge and skills to use it.

Technology is changing the practice of PR at an alarmingly rapid pace.  Keeping up with the changes means constantly learning new skills.  Monitoring, analyzing and creating a measurement plan that show the value of PR activities and content should be a priority for every PR practitioner.

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28th August 2014

Brand Consistency and Trust



brand consistency builds trust

Social media is here to stay. That isn’t even a point of debate anymore.  The 2014 PRESSfeed survey of the Fortune 100, Fortune 500 and Inc 500 companies shows that 89% have account son the main social media platforms –  Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts for customer support, LinkedIn and YouTube.

However, a lot of what you see on these profiles looks like someone just threw together some random content and with a profile photo that had no thought put into it. It would appear that their social media is tactical, not strategic. There’s no background image or brand specific header on the account and they just assumed that because they “have a Facebook page” that they can check o ff that box and forget about it.

Social media is a constant conversation, not a one-off action, It’s not a campaign.  “If I build it they will come” does not apply.

Social media requires constant attention and relevant, fresh content being posted consistently. But the most important element is engagement. Unless you are engaging with your audience, you’re not being heard. Literally.

And speaking of consistency, from a design standpoint your social profiles must follow your branding look and feel. Visual consistency is key. Consistency translates into reliability and trustworthiness. Even on a subliminal level. But it does translate.

As users move from channel to channel to complete a specific task or many different tasks over time, they are exposed to the visual design, functionality, interactions and overall tone of voice of the company or organization. Creating consistency across these disciplines, regardless of channel, helps users build expectations for future interactions with the organization. Users crave consistency and companies that can provide consistent experiences across channels will quickly earn users’ trust. The Norman/Nielsen Group.  Consistency in Cross-channel Experience

Branding is everything when it comes to the public’s first impression of your business. If your social profiles have zero effort put in to maintain brand consistency, there is a negative mental impression left with the viewer. And that old adage – you never get a second chance to make a first impression – holds true online.

Your social profiles are an extension of your brand, and should deliver that seamless, consistent experience that builds trust.

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25th August 2014

Digital PR Analytics


Graphs and Charts Report

As a rule, PR folk are not stats and metrics buffs.  Few university communication courses emphasize the need for metrics. Some teach a statistics course, but not many teach online analytics. In the digital age, however, this is a vital part of the practice.

[A benchmark for you: If you are not spending 30% of your time with data, Ms/Mr Marketer, you’ll fail to achieve professional success.] Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google.

Does this statement apply to PR people too?  After all, we’re not the ones watching the website and the traffic. True, but the parameters of your job have changed and a large part of it is done online now. You’re producing content – or you should be. You have an online newsroom that also serves as a content hub – or you should have one.  And it needs to be under the control of the PR department, not I.T.

It’s time for PR pros to step and join the online team. So yes, that 30% statement applies.

One of the joys of digital content is that we can measure everything. What to measure is the trick.  How to measure it requires learning new skills.

Google Analytics is a great tool for PR practitioners. It’s free and it’s not hard to master. Start by reading SAMS Teach Yourself Google Analytics in 10 Minutes. Once you have that under your belt follow Avinash Kaushik and read his blog, Occam’s Razor.

The Top Digital PR Google Analytics Reports

1.     Traffic Overview:

What to look for – what is the percentage of traffic coming from search, referrals from other sites, people who type in your URL directly and campaigns you’re running. For PR a campaign could be a press release with a link to download a whitepaper or outreach to bloggers.

What it tells you – A growing percentage of direct traffic indicates increased brand awareness.  Increased search traffic shows you have more phrases ranking highly and being found.  An increase in referral traffic means others are mentioning your content and linking to it.

 2.     Landing Page Report

What to look for:  You’ll find this report under Site Content.  You should be including a call-to-action in all your digital content and directing the reader to a specific landing page where they can get more information–either on your  website or in your newsroom. Check how many visitors came to each landing page and what the bounce rate for each page is.

What it tells you – You can get a sense of what people are responding to.  The bounce rate means that the person only looked at that page and then left.  It might mean that they found what they wanted on that page. But it also means they did not look at any other content on your site, blog or newsroom. If your intention was to lead them to other content and the bounce rate is high, it tells you that you need to fix the content on that page.

  • Is the content not relevant to the call-to-action in the release?
  • Does it have broken links?
  • Not enough content?
  • Too much content?
  • Form too long?

Test using new content till you get the bounce rate down.

3.     Top Referrers

This shows you who is mentioning your content and sending traffic to your blog or newsroom.

What to look for – Which are the top twenty sites sending you traffic. Are these sites you have been working with are are they new to you? You might be surprised by what you find.

What it tells you – Which sites have mentioned you and linked to your content. It indicates which sites you should reach out to and which ones you should build a relationship with.  It will reveal blogs and media sites that have mentioned your brand. When you are doing blogger outreach this report tells you who your real influencers are.

4.     Social Traffic

Google Analytics now has a Social Media Dashboard. To have this report show up in your Google Analytics you should have social sharing buttons on your website, blog or newsroom, have set goals and assigned a value to each goal.  An easy way to create a social dashboard is to use this plug in from Dashboard Junkie

What to look for –

  • How many new visitors came from social sites
  • The value of those visits( if you have set up goals)
  • Traffic from social with visits and bounce rates
  • The most socially shared content

 What it tells you –

  • How effective your social media activity is
  • What content is being seen and shared
  • Where people are talking about and sharing your site
  • Where your social traffic comes from and how much it’s worth
  • Loyalty of your social visitors
  • How many social shares your pages get on-site

You can curate all your monitoring and Google Analytics charts in an easy to use Dashboard by Netvibes, so you can see it all at one glance.

There is much more you can learn once you master analytics.  A data-driven content strategy is much more effective than flying by the seat of your pants.

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24th August 2014

Nurturing your Digital Following


fb like icon

The increasing interest in metrics and analytics had led to many brands questioning the value of fans and followers.  Turns out that they do have a value.

According to a study sponsored by digital ad company Socialvibe 70 percent of actively engaged social users make a purchase as a result of being connected to a brand on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ or Pinterest.  61 percent say they consider these brands first when making a purchase. IN January 2014 a report  from Javelin Strategy & Research revealed that almost 1 in 5 social network users will make a purchase directly through a social platform this year.

So does this validate the scramble to gather more and more fans and followers?   Does a large community automatically guarantee you a boost in sales?

Read that survey result again – it says 70 percent of actively engaged social users.  Just having a large fan base does nothing.  Admittedly you can’t engage with someone who is not even there, so building the community of like-minded people interested in your content and your brand is a valid first step.  But once they are there you have to get them actively engaged. If you want to know how many of your social community have your brand top of mind when they purchase, figure out how many of them are actively engaged with you.

What does that mean?

The dictionary definition of engaged that fits this context is:

“to occupy the attention or efforts of someone, to be involved”

That means that you have to actually get their attention and get them involved. How do you do that?

In the trend report by Arnold Worldwide almost 60 percent of people polled said they expect brands to respond to social media comments regarding service, at least most of the time.  When  fans or followers communicate with you, you do have to respond. If you ignore their communication they will never be actively engaged.

Imagine that your social media community was a real social gathering.  You are in a large room with all these people who have come there because

  1. They genuinely like your brand
  2. You invited them to participate in a deal or a giveaway
  3. They entered a contest in the hope of winning something
  4. Their friends are there

How could you tell which ones are actively engaged with you?  That’s not hard.  Just scan the room – how many are sitting at tables and not talking to anyone, how many are standing quietly against the wall watching.  How many are actively in conversation with your team members and one another?

If someone came up to you and asked a question or made a complaint would you look at them blankly, turn away and continue your conversation with your team?  I bet you wouldn’t.  It’s called social media for a reason.  It’s the online version of a social gathering.  And we do know how to behave in a social gathering.  We do know what is polite and what engages people.

It is of course possible to run your followers off.  If you monopolize the conversation, talk too much, get preachy or sale-sy,  your audience will quietly wander off to find a more interesting group.  The most common reason for un-following or un-liking a brand is too many boring or pushy updates.

How can you find your sweet spot? Use your own analytics.

There are tools you can use to analyze your fan and follower activity.  Find out when they are online and how many of them are commenting, liking, re-tweeting, favoriting and sharing your content.  When they do these things you have their attention and they are involved and active.  They’re doing something.  Figure out the rhythm and volume of communication that gets you the best results. What works for one brand may not be best for another.

It is a valid goal to build a large social following, but take it a step further. Once they have raised their hands and said they like you, get them engaged. Be consistent,  publish good content that meets their needs and interests, and most of all, be there and respond.

A better goal than just a bigger fan base is to increase the number of engaged and active social users. After all, it’s 70 percent of them that are buying your product.


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22nd August 2014

The Digital Marketing Roadmap

A study commissioned by Adobe shows that new digital technologies and social media are keeping marketers up at night.

Less than half (48%) of the 1000 marketers surveyed feel they understand digital marketing and can get results.  82% have had no formal education in digital marketing and have had to learn on the job. Their lack of skills and concern about results are quite understandable – new technologies and platforms are popping up all the time.  Just keeping up is a full-time job, never mind evaluating which ones would be best for your business goals.

A simple Digital Marketing Road Map that makes it easy to plan, implement and measure digital marketing is sorely needed.


  • Do your homework before you dive in. While Facebook is effective for most businesses it might not be the solution for you. Find out where your ideal customers hang out online.  You need to “fish where the fish are”.
  • Monitor what is being said online about your brand and your competitors.  Listen to what your customers are interested in right now.
  • Analyze this content and establish interests, intent, trends, opportunities and threats.
  • Set goals for your digital marketing based on your research and your business goals.


  • Decide on the content you need to develop, based on your research in phase 1.
  • Choose the right channels and platforms, based on the digital footprint of your ideal customers.
  • Publish your content on those networks and channels, taking into account the best time to post.
  • Get organized. Use a dashboard that makes it quick and easy to post the right content to the right audience and keep track of responses.
  • Amplify content that’s getting attention with paid social syndication.
  • Identify and build relationships with industry and media influencers. Use them to spread the content to new audiences.
  • Watch for comments and engagement and respond as fast as possible.
  • Use these engagements to start positive conversations and build a community of interested, supportive fans.


  • Monitor the traffic you get to all content published.
  • Monitor engagement on all content.
  • Use this data to drive your content strategy going forward.
  • Track successful actions that drive traffic to your blog and social accounts.
  • Track which social and digital channels are referring traffic back to the website or newsroom.
  • Track where those visitors go on your website, time on site and bounce rate.
  • Track download, leads and conversions.

There is ample evidence that a company that has a successful digital marketing program in place does better than one that does not.  Your team might need training in order to put this road map in place, but now that you know what they need to know make this a priority for 2014 and beyond.


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21st August 2014

How Google’s Panda 4.0 Affects PR

panda news

 Watch the one-hour webinar with Sally Falkow  and Doug Brown of Newswire.net. http://youtu.be/9Ip0_WZJf0s 

About 10 days ago Google started the roll out of Panda 4.0 – a major update to their search algorithm. The goal of this update is to remove what Google calls “thin content” from the search rankings.

Why is this of interest to the PR profession? Although most PR pros are not SEO pros, we have realized that search is one of the big game changes in the news industry.  In fact, back in 2011 Pew Research stated that search was the one factor that had most influenced the news in the past decade. Whether your news content ranks in search is important.

There have been signs that Google is not too thrilled with press releases. Matt Cutts, Senior Search Engineer at Google stated that Google regards a press release as owned content and does not give the links in a release any SEO value.

Barry Schwartz, founder of SERoundtable.com and news editor at SearchEngineLand.com did an analysis of how Panda 4.0 has affected press release sites.  His results show that the major wire services have lost significant visibility and traffic as a result of this update.

“This drop seems to have come right after the Google 4.0 update. The controversy around press release sites were mostly about links flowing from those releases, not necessarily the issue with the duplicative nature of that content. But let’s be honest, many many press releases issued are content thin and spammy on the content end, not just on the link end. So maybe, just maybe, Panda 4.0 adjusted for it and the big sites felt it?” writes Schwartz.

What does that mean for companies using these wire services?

Tom Foremski, former Financial Times journalist and founder of Silicon Valley Watcher, warned the PR industry about Google’s new rules for press releases almost a year ago. Here’s his take on this new Panda 4/0 update:

“Google considers PR firms and other marketing companies, to be similar to its hated search engine optimization (SEO) firms because they all work to boost visibility for their clients through paid activities rather than through merit. Google wants search results that reflect the natural, “organic” popularity of web pages because they contain useful information. Anything that is done to try to game the Google algorithm is considered against its rules of service and can result in a ban from the search index. This means that traditional PR and marketing practices fall into the SEO category, in Google’s view of the world.”

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