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Monday, December 31, 2012

10 Reasons Why Public Relations is a ‘Must-do’ for SEO in 2013

10 Reasons Why Public Relations is a ‘Must-do’ for SEO in 2013

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Many people today recognize that search engine optimization (SEO) and public relations (PR) have much to offer each other.
The latest Google changes have put a real emphasis on high quality, unique content that is linked to by quality sites. And this is where real public relations – as opposed to crappy news release distribution – can play such a crucial role.
There are real opportunities for great business. What follows are 10 reasons why SEOs should really get to grips with PR in 2013, based on my conversations with the people who are making the two work together.

1. The PR Industry is Definitely ‘Getting it’

Most of us who have been in link building for a while have in the past experienced a certain degree of frostiness from the PR industry. But that is clearly changing and people are breaking out of silos.
Mike Cherenson is a former Chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and is EVP of Success Communications Group. He sees the importance of SEO and link building.
“Authentic and relevant link building, aimed at driving engagement, informing publics and building mutually beneficial relationships should be a part of every public relations and SEO effort," Cherenson said.
But not only should link building be a part of every public relations effort, public relations also has much to offer SEO.
“Public relations professionals are skilled storytellers and content generators and should be a part of every SEO effort," he said. "The future of SEO is not in the technology, it’s in the ability to tell stories that readers and Google will find interesting… and that’s public relations.”
And Cherenson understands the value of linking.
“Links need to provide value to the reader," he said. "Media will be more likely to link to content that is compelling and provides information that goes beyond the original reporting.”
Another PR professional is Ken Deutsch, EVP of JPA, a healthcare communications firm and a seasoned specialist in public affairs.
His company takes SEO and link building very seriously. But that’s still not the case throughout the industry.
“Many PR people stop at getting media coverage and think their job is done. They get a placement in the New York Times but they don’t follow up to make sure a link is put in. So they’re not taking advantage of the SEO side of the story.”
And while many media outlets provide links, there are some that don’t link out as a matter of policy.
That influences the targets he goes after, “because they don’t put links in, it’s not worth putting as much energy into getting placement there.”

2. There is a Tremendous Synergy Between SEO and PR

Putting it simply, SEO enhances a press release. Use popular keywords and the press release, never mind any stories it generates will continue to bring search engine traffic. And the editorial links the press release generates bring direct click-throughs and lead to higher rankings.
Public relations enhances SEO by focusing on what’s newsworthy, crafting a great story, finding editorial opportunities, getting coverage and building relationships with reporters and editors. And of course, they got the negotiation skills to ask for a link without really asking for a link.
“PR helps SEO directly by increasing branded traffic," said Lindsey Kirchoff, a Media and Speaker Relations specialist at HubSpot.com. "We always see a bump in branded traffic after a big campaign! Indirectly, PR helps SEO generate inbound links from quality sources that not only gets first-touch exposure to new audiences, but credibility in the eyes of search engines.
“SEO grounds PR with hard, measurable data. PR has always been notoriously difficult to pin down, but SEO adds hard numbers to the equation. I also think that SEO allows PR to be less isolated from the rest of the team – sometimes PR can feel like an island. SEO helps PR connect their work to the rest of the company's business goals.
“Finally, SEO establishes credibility for PR for keywords. You look much more credible to a news source if you come up high for the term they are reporting on!”

3. Editorial Links Bring a Big SEO Boost

Most PR links are extreme quality links, according to Jordan Brannon, the SEO guy at Coalition Technologies. Why? "Because getting them is not a free for all – you have to earn your media placements,” he said.
But the rewards are worth the effort.
“If you get 200 high quality editorial links, it’s worth more that 20,000 low quality links,” Brannon said.
However, most reporters work to a deadline and you have to be swift in your response to get in.
“Most editorial opportunities are time sensitive and you need to act quickly. That means you need to have the authority to reply on the client’s behalf," Brannon added. "And you have to have an email account on your client’s domain – it’s not good saying you’re a marketing agency.”
Will Marlow was formerly a Press Secretary for two congressmen before founding a company that specializes in search engine marketing. He knows that to get those all-important editorial links, sticking to deadlines is crucial.
“You need to understand that you’re dealing with someone who has a hard deadline. It’s like a train going by in the night and there’s one open boxcar that can take you wherever you want to go," Marlow said. "But jump too early and the reporter won’t write about you: jump too late and the reporter won’t write about you. You got to get it just right.”
And it’s not unusual to miss opportunities.
“If an SEO was learning from any PR guy, they would all have stories about how they missed opportunities because someone internally didn’t get back to them or didn’t give the reporter what they need," Marlow said. “If the reporter wants to talk to the CEO and the CEO is playing golf, then you’re not going to get the story. So you’ve got to collaborate with people within the company and make sure that the right people are available.”

4. There’s a Big Cascade Effect

Journalists will often quote, comment or enlarge upon other journalist’s work. Bloggers are also constantly citing other stories.
So if you get your story covered in one prominent media outlet, you’ll quickly see a cascade of similar stories and links spring up.
You’ll get links you never even asked for.
Miranda Miller wrote about How Google Rakes In Over $100 Million in Search Advertising Daily, based on research from Larry Kim of WordStream.
In writing that report, Kim was directly targeting the Wall Street Journal for a link – and succeeded. The story really benefited from the cascade effect and attracted coverage and links from literally hundreds of quality media outlets.

5. You Win Bragging Rights For Your Client

Clients just love to write “As featured in ..." on their website, whether its the Washington Post, Inc. Magazine, or whatever.
That builds consumer trust in their brand and makes it more likely they’ll buy.
And you also increase trust from other reporters. If you’ve already been quoted or covered by a respected publication, then other reporters will think you’re a safe bet to write about, too.

6. PR Skills Can be Learned – or at Least Understood – Easily

Kirchoff has this advice for SEOs who know little about PR:
“SEO experts should think of PR as a way to build strong referral links – something that should be on their radar already. If you have a PR expert in the office, start by taking them out to lunch and chatting. After all, PR is all about building relationships.”
But of course, learning about public relations will help you understand the process – but it might teach you that there’s a lot you don’t know. If that’s the case you might do better to partner with a PR resource.

7. It’s Easy to Partner With an Up and Coming PR Person

Mona Moore is an SEO who has teamed up with a small PR company, Hepner Communications, to pitch their services together.
“I think SEOs are always so focused on getting those links back to the client, we sometimes forget how important it is to nurture those long-term relationships necessary to continue working with specific media outlets,” Moore explained. “And PR reps are great at finding opportunities - but, they don't always take full advantage of those opportunities from an organic SEO standpoint. By working together, SEOs and PR people are able to maximize exposure to a higher level than either of those entities by itself.
Joel Gross, who works with Brannon at Coalition Technologies, describes himself as the SEO tech guy.
“I know how to build and code websites so that they are search engine friendly, and I understand that in order to achieve visibility and revenue for our clients we need to build high quality links and work in tandem with traditional and social media," Gross said. “I know what needs to be done, but Jordan is able to bring in the creative aspect and wow factor that is needed in order to gain the attention and keep it focused where it needs to be. He devises how we frame the content and package it for the consumer in the most digestible and memorable way.
“The best advice I’d give to an SEO would be to get to know your client’s people, their background and story, what’s unique about the company," Gross said. “And remember, this is news and human interest so your stories don’t always have to be selling product. You can have perfectly good story and link from a story on say, ‘work places that are pet friendly’!”

8. You’ll Build Media Contacts That You Can Use Time And Time Again

Contacts are essential both to PR people and to reporters.
“One mistake I made at the start was sending out too much poor stuff," Kim said. "Blasting out press releases is over-rated. What you need to do is get to know the reporters or bloggers you’re targeting.
“Read their articles every day, get a sense of what they’re interested in and only approach them with what you know they’ll be interested in,” Kim continued. “Start small and work your way up. Once you’ve built a relationship, they’ll start contacting you.”
He said he has found that PR is the fastest way to generate those backlinks on related industry websites, but you’ve got to go past distribution services and build your own contacts.
“We are diligent in keeping a database of related editors here," Kim said. "So we're sending press releases directly to the editors and not through a service. However, we also post the press releases to PRweb or PRnewswire to get the added Internet news site exposure (i.e., Yahoo News)."
Kim said those personal relationships increase the chances of coverage so much it’s "unreal."
"We now get lots of calls from editors who ask – is there an engineer over at such and such a company that we could talk to?" Kim said. “Now, when they see our press releases, they always read them. And they’re more likely to publish them because we’ve been helpful.
If you’re an SEO who new to PR, the best place to start is by reading the editorial guidelines of the publications you’re targeting, Kim advised. Then you know what they’re looking for and can pitch accordingly. Don’t pitch something they clearly don’t want.
And don’t forget editorial calendars – you can see months in advance what the publications are going to be covering.

9. It Strengthens and Extends Your Relationship With the Client

If you learn how to do proper public relations effectively or bring in a competent professional that you work well with, then you increase the respect your client has for your work. That can only strengthen your relationship and help ensure that they’ll stay with you.

10. It Opens up Additional Income Streams

It probably goes without saying that with the increasing interest in this area, it should offer some profitable and additional income streams to your agency.
There are tremendous publicity and quality links available through effective public relations. You’ll probably have failures to start with but if you keep at it, your skills will grow and you’ll get the benefits.
How do you cope with failures?
“I don’t believe in failures – it’s a matter of setting your expectations," Kim said. "You can’t start out and immediately get coverage on CNN. Far better to pick a local target and learn from it. Every time you do it, you have more experience. Say you approach 10 journalists and you get nothing but two reply and say I’m not interested because it’s not exactly what I do – you’ll get a better idea of what will work next time.”

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Marketing owns telephone lead qualification

Marketing owns telephone lead qualification

Marketing and Sales have long been at odds over whether it’s better to generate a large volume of leads or if it’s better to generate fewer, higher quality leads. Anyone involved in Sales or Marketing today, however, knows that the volume game is over. But the question still lingers: How do you get Marketing to deliver the high quality leads that Sales wants and expects?
While there are several ways to improve the quality of Marketing leads, I think one of the best solutions is to have Marketing manage the telephone lead qualification process. Here’s why.

Marketing Doesn’t Have Near-Term Quotas to Close Deals

The reality of Sales departments is that salespeople live quarter to quarter, and they have to hit a quota each quarter in order to stay in the good graces of their department. While this is a great incentive for keeping your sales team motivated to bring in revenue, that same incentive be counterproductive in the lead qualification process.
If a salesperson is worrying about whether their going to hit their quota for the quota, most are going to go after the low-hanging fruit or the big deals because this is what will bring in near-term revenue. It’s part of the reason that, according to a SiriusDecisions report, sales only calls 20 percent of all leads sent by Marketing.
Unfortunately, not every lead is ready to buy–or even ready to speak with a salesperson. So that prospect needs to speak with someone that can move them along the qualification process and find out more about their needs. While many companies keep this function within their Sales department, I think that Marketing is better equipped to handle this process. I think this for two reasons.
Firstly, Marketing isn’t worried about hitting near-term closed deal quotas. This allows the marketer to engage a prospect in a more open and honest conversation about their needs, purchase timeframe, budget and other factors that comprise typical qualification criteria. Beyond that, Marketing departments need to become more responsible for the quality of leads that they send to Sales. By asking Marketing to manage the qualification process, they’re intimately tied to the quality of lead they’re asking Sales to close.
In order to make this work, however, Marketing departments need to be methodical about who they hire, how they compensate and how the lead qualification process is managed–and improved. Here are four tips for managing this process.

1. Hire at the Junior Level

In any role, hiring the right person is critical. For the role of lead qualifier, you want someone energetic, competitive and willing to a lot of spend time on the phone. And you want them to junior enough to grow into a different Sales or Marketing role. Beyond that, you want someone that can really drive a phone conversation and has the inquisitive nature to to dig beneath the surface to uncover information from the prospect.

2. Compensate with a Sales-like Pay Structure

The biggest driver in increasing the quality of Marketing leads is to tie compensation to the sale. The easiest way to do that is to start them off at a base salary and offer a commission based on the total revenue of closed deals. You can also add incentives for qualification accuracy such as an additional bonus for a great Sales-accepted lead metric.

3. Decide How to Route Leads

The natural lead category breakdown is to create three buckets of leads: qualified leads, disqualified leads and leads that need to be nurtured. All of these are fairly self-explanatory but the last one is worth elaborating on. The real opportunity for shifting this role to Marketing is that you can dedicate someone to nurturing leads with a human touch. As such, there should be an intense focus on the nurturing aspect of lead qualification.

4. Improve Sales and Marketing Alignment

While this is a long-standing issue in companies across the globe, it’s a necessary area of focus for making this model work. You need Sales and Marketing to have regular meetings about lead qualification criteria to have Sales understand why Marketing is disqualifying certain leads (and to double-check that they’re not disqualifying a few hidden gems). The best way to manage this process is to have Marketing and Sales meet frequently. Start off having weekly meetings, then move to once a month afterwards.
While this is not an exhaustive list of what needs to happen, I think these are the key areas of focus. If you follow these steps, you can create a Marketing team that both drives more sales and is more accountable and better able to see its contribution to revenue.
What do you think about this approach? If you have some thoughts, I’d love for you to contact me at Software Adviceon my blog at: Marketing Should Own Lead QUalification or to simply email me directly atderek@softwareadvice.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Social Media Is a Corporate Blind Spot for B2B Execs

Social Media Is a Corporate Blind Spot for B2B Execs

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More than one-third (36%) of US executives say they either never consider (7%) or rarely consider (29%) their company's social media reputation when making important business decisions, according to a survey from Zeno Group.
B2B executives are even more likely than their B2C counterparts to ignore their company's social media reputation when considering a business decision, and they tend to be slower to respond to damaging online articles or social media posts.
Below, additional findings from the 2012 Zeno Digital Readiness Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive.
Among the executives surveyed:
  • 43% of those working for B2B companies say they either never consider (10%) or rarely consider (33%) their social media reputation when making a business decision, whereas 57% either always consider (21%) or sometimes consider (36%) social media when making a decision.
  • 30% of those working for B2C brands say they either never consider (1%) or rarely consider (29%) consider their social media reputation when making a business decision, whereas 70% either always consider (35%) or sometimes consider (35%) social media when making a decision.

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Moreover, B2Bs are slower than B2Cs to respond to negative online content.
When confronted with a damaging article or social-media post, 43% of B2B execs say they believe their firms can respond effectively within a 24-hour period, compared with 63% of B2C execs who say the same:
Some 13% of B2B execs say their firm would not engage an audience online at all to defend its reputation, compared with only 6% of B2C execs who say the same.
Execs in larger firms (those with more than 10,000 employees) are more likely than smaller firms (fewer than 10,000 employees) to say they always or sometimes consider their company's social media reputation (71% vs. 55%): 
Similarly, the findings by company size in terms of revenue show that larger firms (with revenue of $10 billion or more) are more likely than smaller ones (less than $5 billion in revenue) to respond within 24 hours to a damaging issue online (63% vs. 42%).
Geography also plays a role in social readiness. Execs in the northeast are far more likely than those in the western region of the US to be concerned about their company's social media reputation (72% vs. 49%).
About the data: The Zeno Digital Readiness Survey was conducted online among 300 US corporate executives (VPs, CEOs, presidents, and chairmen) at companies with revenue of $1 billion or more, by Harris Interactive, October 4-11, 2012.

Read more: http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2012/9718/social-media-is-a-corporate-blind-spot-for-b2b-execs#ixzz2FPvsEG3K