Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Posts Tagged ‘SEO’

Top tactical tips for interactive marketing

Posted by thecastlegroup on August 13, 2010

Our on-site partner MK3 Creative’s world is expanding with the recent addition of Jay Lozada, VP of Interactive Services.  Jay brings fantastic interactive, marketing and advertising experience that is a great complement to MK3’s unique storytelling abilities.  

Jay’s top tactical tips for interactive marketing?     

1.) Always be testing     

2.) Design and develop with SEO in mind     

3.) Keep content fresh     

4.) Don’t make the user think     

5.) Define your goals up front and measure against them     

6.) If you’re in social media, listen closely to your audience  

To learn more about Jay, his work, where you should invest your interactive dollars, what social media can do for you, and more, visit here.

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Can you find me? Click here.

Posted by thecastlegroup on April 7, 2010

Writing for the web is changing communications. Every client has a different voice, with a tone and style that must shine through in written materials.

We will always embrace AP style, follow grammar rules and avoid words like “leading” and “robust,” yet we are cognizant that our beautiful prose may not always be the best way to communicate a client’s message. As companies move from being media consumers to media producers, it’s no longer enough to write clearly — whether a press release, speaker abstract, event microsite copy or more — we must write so the content can be found.

Search is a great equalizer, but also a great segregator for those companies that are not writing content with Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines in mind. Much like with website copy and behind-the-scenes tools like meta-tags, when we create content for distribution, we must consider both the audience and how they may find it — which is usually through search.

Most news release distribution companies, for example, now offer “Enhanced SEO” tools and other up-sell services. PRWeb was built on the premise of optimizing content for search.

These services aside, there are critical steps to consider when writing anything that will touch the web. If you’re mailing a letter, write it any way you choose; for just about everything else, consider these ideas:

  • Keywords: How is your information found? Do you know? You should. Embed those words and phrases into your documents to improve their chances of showing up in search. Also consider the phrases that attract traffic to your competitors’ sites and use those words. Google’s AdWords has great tools for seeing search density of specific terms. 
  • Links: Live links allow those perusing your content to find out more, directing people to your site, videos, Facebook page — wherever you want them to go. Don’t include just your website (but do include it!); also focus on landing pages and other places specific to your product or service offering.
  • Headlines: For press releases especially, make sure your headline is crystal-clear. Sometimes that’s all that will show up on sites that aggregate news. If it’s vague — no company name included, obscure language used, etc. — no one will read it.
  • Your website: Make sure your distributed content also lives on your site. Your inbound site visitors should be able to access your information as easily as those finding it elsewhere.

While this information is fairly basic, it still doesn’t happen as much as it should — which is any time (all the time) content is distributed online. We practice the above for clients with each piece of content we create and distribute. We know these methods work — a client recently experienced the most online inquiries they ever had, following our issuance of a press release written solely for web audiences.

If we can’t find, we can’t read it.

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Social Tuesday: SEO, crisis communications

Posted by thecastlegroup on February 17, 2010

Start linking everything possible and build SEO traffic. Sounds easy enough, right? Not if you want to raise your rankings. In order to make your linking more effective, you need to take a more strategic approach. Jinger Jarrett offers some suggestions.

Think you know what people are talking, or in this case, tweeting about? Would you be surprised to find out that teen sensation Justin Bieber received more tweets than Haiti-related topics? Check out this week’s Top 10 Twitter Topics.

One of the many great things about social media is that it can be customized: you can speak to different individuals about their specific interests; there is no need to speak to a whole crowd. What are you doing to make yourself stand out and add that little extra something to your interactions? Chris Brogan believes that “custom is everything,” and gives an example of how Disney made Hanes feel special with some flowers…made out of socks.

Traditional media has changed greatly with the integration of social media, and it is critical that PR and other communication agencies adjust their strategies to meet these new needs. One key way to do this is to develop a better understanding of SEO.

For the past couple of weeks, we have been bombarded with negative headlines criticizing Toyota and their reaction (or lack there of) to its vehicles’ mechanical failures. Since many PR agencies provide crisis communications for their clients, we have to ask, “what could they have done better?” B.L. Ochman believes that if Toyota better understood social media and its influence, it wouldn’t be receiving quite as much heat.

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Content convergence and the new world of PR

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 19, 2009

 

 Dan Crodella and his bowling ball

Dan Cordella and his bowling ball

 

I asked my friend and former Castle staffer Dan Cordella of Agency.com to review and weigh in on concepts regarding the role of public relations in a digital world. As a former in-house and PR agency pro, and current role as an interactive copywriter (and the words behind the new Skittles campaign), Dan has as broad a perspective on marketing channels as anyone I know. His thoughts below serve as our first-ever guest post. Enjoy.

 

 

 

Castle’s ideas about the convergence of four media, or content, channels for marketing (owned media, earned media, purchased media, social media) is spot on.

What people need to realize most of all is that social media is a two-way street. Don’t force a message on your consumers that they don’t want to hear. Or if it is a message that they don’t want to hear and you still need to tell it, explain why you are telling them that message. They will be appreciative of you listening and addressing their concerns.

The ones who do this best are JetBlue (customer bill of rights), Michael Dell (computer fires) and Southwest(general niceness). JetBlue specifically has done a great job with Twitter. I subscribe to that keyword on my Twitter feed. For example, they sent a ton of updates to people on their way to the SXSW interactive festival wishing them a good trip – just awesome.

As someone who works with offline agencies all the time, I can’t stress enough the importance of collaboration from the start when integrating all content channels.

Owned media: Direct can be interactive. It doesn’t have to be a straight messaging banner or an ad. Digital provides people a unique opportunity to have an experience, not just receive a message. Best of all, the consumer can have that experience in the medium (or web page) they prefer. They don’t even have to click through in order to book a flight, play a game, etc.

Earned media: Bloggers and brand advocates should be mandatory in PR outreach. Giving an established advocate a chance to sample/test your product early will go a long way in terms of free media exposure.

Purchased media: This is a great opportunity for behavioral and contextual targeting to deliver a more relevant message than ever.

Social media: Not a flavor of the week, social media is here to stay in some form or another. Consolidation will happen, but brands must be flexible and ready to move to the medium that it needs most. Too many people get stuck in the mindset of “we NEED to be a part of XXX.” The brands that are most successful are the ones that aren’t afraid to play in a new playground. Companies just need to be willing to try.

While a brand could be hit with bad comments, the ones who get stuck with a negative perception are the ones that don’t have a conversation. Social media provides a unique place where negatives can be addressed and turned into positives. Why pay tens of thousands of dollars for a small room of people when social media gives you a virtually infinite free, easy and responsive focus group?

Search engine optimization needs to be in the mix as well, especially for smaller businesses. It’s a low-cost with high-result medium. 

Measurement is a needed tool for all channels, but the variables are very different on all of them. I never bought into the ad equivalency measurement so many PR companies do. I did a lot of measurement for my prior agency, and really thought the true benefit was breaking coverage down by type, audience, publication, message, etc. The clients loved it and that method helped us actually sell in strategy for the next year. Social media gives companies all sorts of new measurement, though interpretation is still subjective. Measurement tools like Nielsen BuzzMetrics and others are starting to do a good job of measuring social media.

It makes all the sense in the world to combine these content channels, or at least make sure they are delivering the same message. Of course, all efforts are null and void if you don’t create good content.

 

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