Not All Media Coverage is Created Equal

Every client wants media coverage, but sometimes they just want a lot of stories and don’t really care exactly where they appear. I have heard some people say, “The more coverage and back links to the website the better.” However, I really believe not all coverage is created equal.

I work with a lot of consumer product goods and my clients always want coverage from Mom bloggers and online influencers. We usually contact these mom bloggers and offer them free product in exchange for an honest review. Bloggers with bigger followings usually charge a few.

I just got a daily newsletter that had some shocking stories about mom bloggers.

  • One blogger the publication found readily admitted that she was offered trips and high-end products to review, and she jokingly confessed, “My blog doesn’t even get read by more than a dozen a month.”
  • In another case, they analyzed a client’s web traffic for the past five years. They did get coverage in over 1,000 mommy blogs. Only two resulted in actual sales.

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Thank you Captain Obvious, that’s exactly how I felt! I have experienced this firsthand. I have sent dozens of products to Mom bloggers just for them to never respond to my follow up emails. There was never a contract written up, just an agreement via email. There is definitely some risk on our side but now you understand a little on why I think not all coverage is created equal.

After some of the mom bloggers I worked with posted their reviews on social media I would see that they only received one or two interactions. I don’t care if you have 10,000 followers, but if you are only getting one engagement per post there is something wrong.

So for me one Buzzfeed (or other big publication) article is equal to about 100 mom bloggers, or more!

The Power of Real Influencers

For the last several months I have been focusing on Instagram influencers.

Just in the month of October my co-worker and I were able to get 49 different links from influencers on Instagram. We didn’t pay them anything, we just sent them some free products.

Example: One influencer posted three recipes last month with one of our client’s products. Those three photos alone had a total of 4,170 likes and 290 comments. Those are just engagement numbers, that doesn’t even count the amount of people that saw the post.

Those numbers were just to further illustrate my point that not every link or story is created equal. The engagement that I got from those free posts was probably more views than all of the mom bloggers views combined that I secured before.

I try to balance my work to make sure that I am focusing on outlets or influencers that are worth while for the client. Make sure you are getting valuable pieces of coverage and not just the scraps.

Line Between PR and Advertising is Blurry

I have been working in Public Relations for just over two years now. In college it was very easy for me to tell the difference between advertising and PR. Advertising is paid and PR is free (earned). The more I continue to work in PR the more I see that is not true.

Here is an example. I mostly see this with magazines, but it can occur anywhere. Some magazines are not be willing to publish editorial content unless my client is advertising with them. I have only been in the game for a couple of years, however my more seasoned colleagues tell me the editorial and advertising departments used to be completely separate. The line is now blurred.

Here is a direct quote from an Editor/Publisher after I pitched a great well-research idea for their magazine. “We usually run editorial in conjunction with our advertising packages.”

Even though the idea was interesting and relevant to the publication it would never see print because my client wasn’t advertising. To an extent I get their dilemma, it’s because print is dying.

Occasionally I will also submit different clients for awards. One Marketing Director told me that my client would have a better chance of winning if they were a regular advertiser. When I heard this for the first time I was shocked. Shouldn’t the product be chosen because it’s a good product? That is not always the case. I have one client that consistently wins an award every year because they are a regular advertiser.

I was also talking with a co-worker that was a former editor of a magazine. He specially mentioned that they wouldn’t run editorial on a product if they stopped advertising, or weren’t advertising a lot. Even though the information was newsworthy enough for the magazine it was not included. AS the publishers they have the discretion to do that, but it was very eye opening.

I don’t run into this every day. I have a lot of success working with social media influencers and other publications that are willing to publish relevant content. I just think it is interesting that the line between PR and advertising is crossing.

This has been my experience, but I am excited to see if this anyone else has had a similar experiences.

Here are a two examples. One more recent and one from a couple of years ago.

My friend showed me this video where Martin Garrix did a concert for deaf people. It was awesome! So, is this advertising or PR?

In my opinion this is PR. My rationale is because the video was made to evoke emotion and to make you think highly of 7UP. Most advertisements are meant to push products and they have that “buy me now” feel. Those aren’t the feelings that I get from this video. I would also have no problem sharing this video on social media but I would definitely not share a 7UP commercial. I don’t even like 7UP.

This is where things get complicated. This video wasn’t free. Martin Garrix was obviously compensated and there were thousands of dollars spent on the concert and video production. Per my definition above, PR is anything that is free, right?

Here is a definition that I came up with for these type of videos.
PR Driven Content: Content that is created in order to evoke emotion, but is not necessarily focused on pushing or selling products. Most of the videos that I have seen like this are funny and relatable to any audience.

Here are two other examples:

Lyft:
Recently Lyft has created a campaign by having celebrities go undercover as Lyft drivers. They are hilarious! It’s a funny video that people would have no problem sharing even if they were a constant Uber user. Their undercover videos have a combined amount of around 16 million views.

By my definition all of these PR-Driven Content videos cost money and were sponsored by a product or service. So what do you guys think, are they advertising or PR?

Websites and Public Relations Go Hand-in-Hand

If you didn’t already know things are pretty digital these days! It still amazes me that some companies don’t have websites. I know some companies don’t have social media, but how could you not have a website?

Obviously there are many other factors that play in to why a company would not have a website. I found an interesting article that mentions a few reasons. If you want more details check it out, but for now I will mention a few of the main points.

  1. We would like to have a website, but it costs too much
  2. We already advertise in different ways, change is scary
  3. We are too small to have a website

I would like to talk about how websites affect public relations efforts.

Public relations is all about influencing the publics’ opinion through communication, right? Does a website communicate to the public? It certainly does, that is the whole point of a website.

Most companies are trying to sell a product or service and a website is a great information center. The information on websites needs to reflect the values of the company.

First, let’s take a look at superficial details of a website. If I go to a website that is ugly and cluttered, I automatically think the company is not credible. Is this just me?

While I was researching doctors for my wife I came upon a horrendous website. I would never go to that doctor’s office just based off his website. He may have the best care in the world but I would never know because I left his site immediately and kept searching.

Take a look at these two websites and you tell me who you think is more credible.

Pure Healing Foods

Nature Nate’s

Second, website content is important, but let’s be real, if there is no visual appeal not many people are going to waste their time reading the content. When was the last time you meticulously read website content?

81 percent of shoppers conduct online research before buying! If that statistics doesn’t want to make you get a website then I don’t know what will. Here is another statistics, 61 percent of shoppers read product reviews before making a purchase!

I never buy any huge purchases without researching it online. I do understand that not everyone is like that. There are a lot of impulse buyers out there.

If consumers are doing research on your company, you want to have something aesthetically pleasing for them to look at. Imagine car shopping and then you come upon this website: Ling Cars.

I am sure this website was made to be intentionally bad, but you get the point.

My main point is that if companies are going to have a websites, please make them presentable. It doesn’t have to be crazy fancy like this website, but it does need to make a good impression because it certainly affects the public’s opinion.

 

A Year and a Half in PR

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I have been slacking on my posts! I have now been working in the Public Relations department of an Advertising Agency for almost a year and a half. Here is what I have learned about Public Relations since graduating college.

In college I learned that public relations is a planned process to influence public opinion, through sound character and proper performance, based on mutually satisfactory two-way communication. I can thank my PR professor for drilling that into my head.

PR is a Planned Process:

The first thing that I have learned since being in the work force is that if the process is not planned it’s not going to be effective. Here is an example. I was in charge of doing community outreach for a small event for one of clients. I had several clients at the time and this event wasn’t a huge priority. Since it wasn’t on the top of my mind I didn’t start reaching out to media until it was too late. PR professionals can’t expect to send information late and then expect the journalist to publish information about the event on short notice. Journalists have deadlines too.

I work with magazines and their editorial deadlines are months before the issues print. I contacted a magazine editor in December about content for their April issue. I was able to secure an interview and coverage. This would not have happened if I reached out in March. The editor would have already written the story and had the necessary sources.

Two-Way Communication: Journalists like Emails, Don’t you?

Sometimes it can be hard to process large amounts of information during a phone call. When pitching reporters ALWAYS send an email before calling. If you call and ask them to write about your new product or amazing event, the first thing they are going to say is, “Please send me an email with all the details.”

I have tried this and it doesn’t work. Send an email and if you don’t hear back follow up with a polite conversation phone call. There are two reasons why the reporter probably didn’t call you back. One, they saw the email and didn’t think the idea was newsworthy or relevant and deleted it. Two, it got buried because they receive hundreds of emails a day. There have been times when I followed up it worked out great. There have been other times when I could tell they were audibly annoyed I was following up. It’s part of the game.

Journalists and PR: Love, Hate Relationship

Since I have started working in PR I have had the chance to speak with many reporters and editors. The feelings toward PR are obviously mixed. There are reporters that absolutely hare PR and don’t like receiving pitches. There are reporters that don’t hate PR, but they like it when it works to their benefit. Then there are the reporters how have no idea what PR professionals do.

I am sure there are many different other feelings toward PR that can be placed in between, however this is what I have experienced. I would be happy to know your thoughts below in the comments.

I was an editor before and I have received tons of terrible pitches so I totally understand each of the feelings I have described above. The best way to help cultivate relationships with reporters is to send good thought-out, newsworthy pitches. They may not be able to cover it every time, but that’s where the relationship starts. This leads me to my last point, research.

Research Before Sending Pitches

This sounds obvious, but it is very important. I learned this lesson the hard way. About a month into my job I sent a pitch to a Huffington post contributing writer. I skimmed (did not fully read) some of her articles and I felt I had a good grasp of her stance on a subject. I sent her a pitch and she ripped me apart. I didn’t’ read enough because the stance I thought she had was the exact opposite. She ended up writing a nasty post about me on her blog and said that I didn’t look old enough to be working in PR. This hurt. I apologized and she responded with “ignorance is no excuse.”

Keep this in mind while pitching. Make sure you ask all the necessary questions before pressing send on that pitch. Asking one more good questions could save you a lot of time, and embarrassment. The reporter even took my LinkedIn profile picture and put it in the blog post! Don’t let this happen to you.

Hopefully you have been able to learn a little bit from my experiences. If you have had different experience with PR I would love to hear them.

 

 

#ChevyGuy: Public embarrassment turned unplanned PR Stunt

Public embarrassment turned into great PR for GM after the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in Game 7 against the Kansas City Royals.

After every World Series victory an MVP is chosen and they usually get a car. This is usually not that memorable of an experience unless you are the person receiving the car.

That all changed when Rick Wille, zone manager and liaison between GM and its Kansas City-area dealers made a huge blunder while presenting the car to Madison Bumgarner of the Giants.

If you want to watch the video, here it is!

When the time was turned over to him he was totally shocked. He stumbled and had to look to his notes. He ad-libbed a line that would bring guffaws on social media: “It combines class-winning and leading, you know, technology and stuff, with Wi-Fi powered by OnStar.”

That was the line that made Rick Wille a star on Twitter and he became the Chevy Guy.

According to an ESPN article, #Technologyandstuff was trending on Twitter, as was #ChevyGuy, with many comparing Wilde to the comedian Chris Farley.

“ChevyGuy is the most hilariously awkward person ever,” one person tweeted.

“Chevy really sold me on their new Colorados with that class leading technology and stuff and immediate recalls!!!,” another tweeted, an obvious reference to GM’s safety problems.

Although people were mostly talking about how he messed up they were still talking about the brand. His blunder turned into a great unplanned PR stunt.

If you don’t believe me look at these statistics!

According to a Bloomberg.com article, Chevrolet, the official vehicle of Major League Baseball, has received at least $2.4 million in media exposure from Rikk Wilde’s unconventional presentation, much of it on social media, according to sponsorship evaluation firm Front Row Analytics. That’s six times more than the $392,000 it would have brought in with a more polished performance.

More people have talked about this year’s car presentation than ever before. I don’t care about trucks or Chevy, but I took the time to write a blog post about it!

Chevy even joined in the fun by using the hashtag #technologyandstuff

According to the ESPN article, Michael Albano, the brand’s top spokesman. Said that they saw quickly the ‘technologyandstuff’ tagline kind of take off and start to trend.

chevy

He said when they saw that trending that’s when they realized that they have something there to embrace.

GM should be thanking Chevy Guy for his gaffe. They got so much exposure from this it is not even funny!

Even if jokes are directed at him, Chevy is still in the hashtag and people are talking about GM.

Funny #ChevyGuy tweets:

Rob Stone ‏@RobStoneONFOX 
Disgusted that I am not going out as #ChevyGuy for Halloween.

When the world series mvp trophy was being given really inspired me to buy the Chevy Colorado. Because it has
Love ! We like technology & stuff!

We need to see you somewhere on this week

Are internet Ad Blockers making companies waste advertising dollars?

logo-adblock-plus

I love advertising, don’t get me wrong! I love a good commercial, especially creative commercials!

However, I want to watch ads when I want to watch them. If I want to watch the sports highlights I don’t want to have to watch a 15 to 30 second ad for every single video.

I watch a lot of highlights so I used to watch a lot commercials. Then I downloaded Ad Block Plus for Chrome. It’s amazing!

This begs the question, how many people are using ad blockers? Virtually no one I have talked to knew about Ad Block Plus or ad blockers at all.

At my new job one of the clients decided to run an ad on Pandora. While in the meeting I thought to myself, ‘I would never see that ad, I have an ad blocker’. That’s when the following question dawned on me!

Are Ad Blocks on the internet making companies waste advertising dollars? Should they invest that money in public relations or in other departments?

After thinking about it for a few days I thought that only a small percentage of the population would actually use ad blockers. Then I looked up some statistics and I was shocked!

When you go to download Adblock Plus on Chrome is shows that there are over 10 million users.

I went to Modzilla Add-ons section and they have a staggering amount of users using ad blockers too.

Modzilla ad blocker

That is a lot more people than I thought! Are companies throwing away money on internet advertising?

A recent report from PageFair, a service that websites can use to measure the extent of ad-blocking, sheds some light on just how afflicted those sites are. Based on data from 220 clients, PageFair found an average ad-blocking rate of 22.7%. It estimates that one if its “typical” clients, with a 25% block rate, loses about $500,000 a year due to blockers. Based on data from a small sample of clients, PageFair says ad blocking is growing 43% every year!

Looks like I was just proven wrong! Those numbers are way higher than I thought!

It looks like it is time for companies to invest that money in PR. Of course I am bias, but is PR a better option? I don’t have all the answer, but I do know that consistency is key. So, if you have an advertising budget that is bringing in revenue then don’t mess with it.

If you see that money slipping away with no return, then it is time to take a step back and evaluate where you are spending those advertising dollars!

I am by no means saying that just because of this report that people should stop advertising on the internet. It does however shed some light on growing ad block use. I also show the fact that companies should step back and evaluate.

If the internet ads are being blocked then where do you advertise? Traditional media is slowing down. I would never pay to place an ad in a newspaper or Yellowpages. Unless I was targeting a demographic above 65!

To finish off I would like to close with this point! I usually visit a site and there are a lot of ads on it. I recently tried to enter the site and it would not let me enter in without disabling my ad blocker. Why would they do that? Companies must have been getting mad because people weren’t seeing their ads.

In the last 8 months my ad blocker has blocked 41,784 ads.

Now it’s time to hear from you! Do you use ad blockers? Are companies wasting money?

CIA Twitter account, Good or Bad PR?

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Over the years Twitter has grown and most companies have a Twitter account. Twitter is known mostly for its ability for instant breaking news, but mostly for its humor.

In my opinion funny tweets get the most engagement.

If Twitter is known as a humor platform should companies or organizations try and be funny on Twitter?

I am asking question but to be honest I am not sure if there is a blanket answer here.

Let’s take the CIA for example, yeah that CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency. They recently just got a Twitter and they have 720,000 followers in just over a month.

How did they get all of those followers? Humor. It is ironic that an agency that is sworn to protect information would get a social media platform to publish information to the entire world.

Here was their first tweet.

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However, my favorite tweet was their second one. Look at how many favorite and retweets it got.

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 4.38.43 PM

After looking at the CIA Twitter feed they don’t just post funny tweets, they have newsworthy content. However, the tweets that get the most engagement are the funny tweets.

Some people might say that the CIA shouldn’t be funny and that it hurts their image, but I think that it is hilarious. I am now following the CIA because I want to see what they have to offer.

I think it would be stressful to run the CIA Twitter account, that would not be fun!

I asked a few people around me of companies or organizations that it would be inappropriate for them to tweet out funny things. Here are some of the answers:

  • Funeral Homes
  • Religious Groups
  • Charity groups

I agree with these, it would definitely be OK for these companies to have humorous Twitter feeds! I think that large corporation like Taco Bell, Walmart, Target and food places can get away with being humorous on Twitter.

There is one catch to that, there is always a catch. People can tell when companies are trying to hard to be funny.

Let me know what your thoughts are! below!