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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Social Media PR - Press Releases for Online Business Buzz

A big two thumbs up to Jennifer Laycock of SearchEngineGuide for her discussion of the Social Media News Release" as it relates to SEO. While I've seen this concept discussed in the New Media Release discussion forum at Google Groups, among those involved in developing the concept, I've not seen it discussed by SEO's until now. I'm a staunch advocate of traditional PR making the move to using social media and am often surprised at the resistance to change within the industry.

Highly recommend a visit to Jennifer Laycock's excellent post on the topic where she discusses the Social Media News Release Template from Shift Communications, seen below:Social Media News ReleaseI took notice that Jennifer's SMNR post at Search Engine Guide makes use of the AddThis bookmark and feeds buttons, which incorporate all the social bookmarking sites into a single button, she didn't stop there, she includes a "Sphinn" button from the social media portion of SearchEngineLand to the mix. Good job Jenn - got me to go look up how to add the Sphinn button to my own page. ;-)

During a job interview about a year ago, I was asked what I thought the newest thing to come along in SEO was and I had just joined that Google Group to join in the discussion (mostly listening) and my reply to the interview question was immediately about the new hRelease. I had also been reading up that day on Lee Odden's TopRank Blog his positive views on the New Media Release.

Interestingly, tonight when I clicked on the "Sphinn It" button at Jennifer Laycock's post, I saw Lee Odden in the comments there, seeming to talk down the hRelease in favor of "Proper Media Pitches ... by email and phone". I'll repeat my comments from Sphinn here, so you don't have to hop around to complete the story ;-)

Lee, I'm surprised you appear to be on the fence here, supporting social media in PR, but acting the devils advocate here and suggesting that the Social Media Press Release is "before its time" and that "journalists are definitely not responding like they do to proper media pitches via email and phone."

"Proper media pitches?" Sounds like you've tried SMNR yourself and it didn't work for you.

Let me ask you, How long has email been a part of "Proper" media pitch? OK now that all journalists seem to use email - how long before they expect RSS feeds, technorati tags, links, embedded video? When they become available routinely in social media press releases - journalists will expect them and look for them. This is added juice - if they want it - and they will.

You can still use the phone and email if you like for those "proper media pitches" - but why not add the social media tools to the mix?

The SMNR may take a bit longer to move to the mainstream, but it will come.

Can't wait for that and will promote it until mainstream PR folks start to listen. It will come - maybe not exactly in the way that Shift Communications see it in that template above, but it will come. PRWeb already incorporates the bulk of the elements in their hosted versions of press releases.

Here's a video by a British firm WebitPR on why the hRelease is coming and should not be ignored.

Thanks again to Jennifer Laycock for pointing it out and bringing the hrelease one step closer. SEO's should care about social media press releases - I hope more of us wake up to the value and begin recommending this avenue to clients so it becomes mainstream.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

SES PR Train Wrecks Don't Address Search Engine Marketing

I attended my first session of the day at Search Engine Strategies (SES) San Jose in order to learn more about bad PR as it relates to SEO. Oops, no search discussed here.

The session was titled, "Public Relations Train Wrecks in the Interactive Biz: Disaster Can Be Avoided!" I assumed we'd hear about how things like the Microsoft/Edelman PR Blooper. I figured it would address how search results can haunt a company like Walmart, that handles their PR badly. I thought it may be at least peripherally about how bad PR search results are persistent due to bloggers linking to results using the company name.

The session description says,

"Interactive marketers know that public relations and marketing are hopelessly intertwined. Yet many in the interactive space do not understand how to develop a successful relationship with key publishers. Don't just issue a release and hope for the best. Learn the difference between productive efficient contact and annoying drivel. This unprecedented and candid discussion with today's top interactive marketing editors will reveal train wrecks (no names please) and best practices for you.
I chose to attend this session thinking, since this is a search conference, that it would have to do with search. I guess I'm going to have to carefully read session descriptions to be sure they aren't talking about things that have little to do with search. Hmmm.

Rebecca Lieb of ClickZ, (sister site to SEW under Incisive Media ownership) and Brad Berens of Imedia Connection (I'm not sure whether to be embarrassed that I haven't heard of them) were the only panelists introduced by moderator Kevin Ryan (of Incisive media). The two panelists sounded as though their days are spent under a constant flurry of bad press releases, follow-up emails, and pitches from PR firms, followed by endless phone calls from annoying publicists. The session description might have been accurate, but what does this have to do with search?

Don't get me wrong and think that I'm suggesting that this wasn't a good presentation by some worthwhile panelists on an interesting topic - but I spent a good deal of my time waiting to hear the relevance to search. It never came.

Both Berens and Lieb strongly emphasized how important it is for PR representatives to "Know thy Editor" and to know the Audience of the publications they seek coverage from - that they not "waste" the time of editors (and publications) that have little to do with the topic being pitched to them.

Were Berens and Lieb told they were speaking at a search conference? Do they know the audience at SES is made up of SEO's and SEM's? "Know thy audience" might be suggested to speakers at search conferences. The session was sparsely attended, but if PR reps are lacking at a search conference - I hardly find that unexpected. Perhaps if that description were changed a bit to include a bit more SEARCH relevance, and the speakers covered a topic expected at a SEARCH conference - or even skewed this topic toward search topics, the attendance might increase just a bit.

Mike Valentine is an SEO Specialist offering occassional commentary on Search Engine Developments through his Reality SEO Blog and developed WebSite101 Small Business Ecommerce Tutorial in 1999 to help educate the little guy to the intricacies of online business.

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