And while what’s important to cover isn’t always agreed upon, any savvy PR rep knows the value of a harmonious relationship with the news media—particularly when the pool of reporters covering each story is often the same.
As a former reporter, I’ve been a part of some great (and not-so-great) working relationships with many PR reps. I’d like to offer the following tips if you’re looking to maintain an affable relationship with your local news media.
1. Don’t assume the worst.
I can’t count the numbers of times I asked what I thought was an innocuous question about a company, only to be approached with suspicion. Ask yourself this: Is the company you represent currently embroiled in a scandal? No? Then don’t play defense. Approaching every media inquiry with suspicion looks, well, suspicious. Reporters aren’t always looking for the most salacious angle they can find—in fact, most of the time, they are just trying to do their job professionally and accurately.
Essentially, the Hummingbird algorithm helps Google better understand conversational search queries. While before, Google’s search engine focused on finding matches for key words, it is now equipped to process the meaning behind the words, as well as the context in which the query is made: Who is searching, where they’re searching from, when the search is happening, etc.
Up until now, Google had trained us to search in a very particular way – we had to pose questions in short “keyword” phrases, see what results came up, and potentially reword those key phrases over and over until we found, by trial and error, what we were looking for – something that has been undoubtedly frustrating to anyone who has ever surfed the web (i.e. everyone). Effectively searching for the information you need has become a desirable skill.
The Google Hummingbird update will ideally release us from the tedious trial-and-error search query, while also allowing us to pose questions the way we would in a conversation. No more caveman-esque fragments; you can now type complete sentences into your search bar.
This approach will be particularly helpful as voice searches via phones and tablets grow in popularity – if you’re speaking aloud, you’re much more likely to speak naturally than if you’re typing on a keyboard.
Here at Pivot, we highly value WordPress as an effective and intuitive tool for designing websites. Our clients can easily make changes to their sites — update pages, write blog posts, edit comments, etc. — without touching any code at all.
This saves them a lot of time and frustration, and keeps us designers from having to fix the code if they make a mistake. On top of that, customizing your design is much simpler than building a website from scratch. WordPress is a win-win for both the client and designer.
As with any site where you need an account, WordPress always has a login screen. This appears for anyone who wants to edit the website. The login page has a simple gray background with the WordPress logo.
If you build a website for your own personal use, this may not matter at all. But when you’re designing for a client who wants to make changes down the road, you might want something more personalized. The standard WordPress-themed page could be confusing for the client, making them think they’re in the wrong place. Customize WordPress’s login page to help them feel more comfortable and to create a more professional look.
In a recent meeting with a client, we were discussing the brand strategy: what the client stood for, why it mattered to their customers, and how to keep the messaging uncluttered so it connected with the intended audience. One of the senior managers remarked, “I’m not sure I follow what a brand is.”
What is a brand? It is something that lives in your prospect or customer’s head. It’s a promise that links a product or service to a potential consumer. It includes words, images, emotions or a combination of these elements to generate associations that help shortcut decisions to select or support your product, service or cause.
Pivot recently completed another season of crosswalk safety education in five Boulder-area elementary schools. Funded by a Safe Routes to School Grant, the focus of the campaign, called Heads Up Boulder, is to teach and remind children – and the rest of us – how to cross the street safely, especially at the crosswalk. The campaign kicked off in the spring of 2012, and will continue twice annually until the spring of 2015.
Creating an effective awareness campaign requires strong visuals, hands-on activities and recurring reminders about your message. During the Heads Up Boulder campaign, for example, participating schools kick off the crosswalk safety program with a school assembly performed by five actors and the safety mascot, C.W., with his long neck and “Heads Up” hat. The assembly closes with a memorable and catchy rap:
“Stop and wait, activate, check the street, then use your feet.”
CEOs, executive directors, and anyone else who speaks on behalf of their company can benefit from media training. Media training is largely undervalued, viewed by many as an expendable expense. Yet, if you don’t understand the basic rules of media relations, you risk misrepresenting your company.
Preparing a written statement for either a newspaper or social media platform, such as Twitter or Facebook, is considerably easier than preparing for a radio or television spot. Writing affords you the time to carefully craft your response, think about the ramifications of your words and bounce your ideas off your coworkers. Missteps occur when an individual fails to do these things, as exemplified by the recent problematic Home Depot tweet.
Radio and television don’t afford you the same luxuries the written word does. Yet, the same thoughtfulness needs to go into your interview, so you need to adequately prepare. If you fail to choose your words wisely when talking to the media, you can create a communications crisis for your company.
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Working with the media can be beneficial to your organization and yourself. Even with such a diversity of communication channels available today, it’s likely your target audience—the people who you want to educate and persuade about your products and services—consume information that originates from a media source.
While most folks are petrified of talking with the media, it’s really not that bad. They are people, with many similar interests as you, and they are typically open to hearing what you have to say if it can help them to better inform their readers. But don’t wing it. In fact, no matter how experienced you are working with the media, don’t forget it is a professional encounter and you should prepare like you would for any client meeting.
Here are six tips for working with the media:
1. Be brief
Did you know a common questioning technique for journalists is to stay quiet after you answer? The awkward silence prompts most interview subjects to fill the void, and that’s when they get gold. Instead, answer the question and wait for the next. Take your time, compose your thoughts, and then speak.
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Writing (successful) content for the web differs from writing for print publications. To keep users on your website and ensure their return, here’s what you should know:
Web users SKIM!
Just think about how you navigate the Internet and this should come as no surprise. The Internet is full of a ridiculous amount of information—reading all of it is impossible!
It’s like sifting through thousands of books at the library. Of course you’re not going to read every book on the shelf. You’re looking for material on specific subjects. And you want to find the most helpful material on those subjects.
Internet users scan pages for keywords and phrases to find the specific information they’re looking for. So when they visit your page, they look for clues that your page has what they want. If they can’t easily find these clues, they’ll leave.
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The first Tuesday of November is nearing, which means it is time for campaigns to roll out to persuade voters to support or reject issues they will face at the ballot box (or mail-in ballot). How does one win public support for a cause? Here are 10 tips to help you succeed:
1. Define your problem, in the simplest terms.
The KISS doctrine—Keep it Simple, Stupid—is essential. Boil the issue down to a few key points, and build your campaign around them. Remember, people are self-interested. Tell them in clear terms what’s in this for them, and why they should support your issue.
2. Focus on the heart of the issue.
Don’t get sucked into tangential issues that will distract from the message you want your audience to hear and the action you want them to take.
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Back in the day, you could merrily stuff keywords and hide links on your way to a high search result ranking, pausing only to add more cloaking, irrelevant keywords, tiny text and other black hat search engine optimization tricks. Then the Algorithm got wise and started to care about what was actually on your website, lending more weight to a whole slew of white hat SEO tricks, like meta keywords and URL name construction.
Lately, the eminently unknowable Algorithm has become even pickier with what type of web content it rewards, making all content creators work harder to attain the Holy Grail—a No. 1 search ranking. Of course, no tricks or tips or tactics will ever beat the easiest way to impress the great Algorithm—useful, original content—but here are five still-relevant white hat SEO tricks that will help augment that content.