By Dave Yonkman
Clients’ desires can run a little high. PR pros have to temper them with reality.
A client once approached Camille Jamerson with grandiose expectations of securing high-level placements, sitting down for interviews with the networks and tripling their media reach within 90 days.
Then, Jamerson watched as the principal delivered a short speech in which he did not articulate his vision, nor read the audience, nor relate the main points of his message.
“We slammed the brakes on everything,” Jamerson recalls. “Putting him in front of a seasoned interviewer would have been disastrous for his brand.”
By Dave Yonkman
Blogging has become fundamental to the success of businesses, organizations and individuals. They increase search engine traffic, build authority in competitive industries, generate more leads and improve conversion rates.
Small businesses employing blogs report a 126 percent increase in leads, search engines index 434 percent more pages for websites with blogs, and companies that blog receive 97 percent more inbound traffic from outside links.
Those are the success stories; creative and sustained efforts have built their success.
The following are four reasons why those blogs win and why so many others fail:
By Dave Yonkman
So, what do you do?
I hear the question nearly every day. I recite scripted answers such as “I get your name in the paper” or “I create and destroy reputations for a living” before elaborating if invited.
I miss an opportunity nearly every time because I lack a concise follow-up. It’s a travesty because everyone asking that question is a potential new customer. After consulting numerous public relations pros, it turns out that I stand in good company.
Many of them best describe PR in association to its two sisters, advertising and marketing.
“Mostly everyone knows what advertising is and most people have a basic understanding of marketing, but PR seems to fall short of general knowledge,” Alex Belanger with seoplus+ says. “They might know it relates to marketing, but that's about it. I even get asked more often than you’d imagine if it’s the same as HR, because reasons.”
By Dave Yonkman
Legacy media such as newspapers, radio and television neared their end in 1999 because of their limited column inches and only 24 hours available in a day.
The internet would soon replace them because it offered unlimited space and time and therefore eliminated such antiquated 20th Century constraints, or so conventional wisdom taught us.
Nearly 20 years later, core messages become worthless if they don’t fit into 140 (now 280) characters. Rarely does anyone have the time for a 3,000-word article or an hour-long broadcast when the American attention has dwindled from 12 seconds in 2000 to only eight seconds today.
So is the world finally ready to toss the final traditional media holdouts into history’s recycling center? Not quite, public relations professionals say.
Social Reinforces Traditional
Traditional storytelling will always exist. It has simply transitioned onto the web where consumers share it with one another.
The more reputable and credible the news source, the more readers will trust it and return for more. The less reputable and credible sources – or #FakeNews – will last only so long as it takes someone to expose them.
Top social offerings such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn amplify the most meaningful content.
“We constantly analyze our social media efforts to determine which posts generate the most bang for the buck,” says Scott Baradell, CEO of Idea Grove in Dallas. “Do you know which posts are always the most effective? Those posts that link to client coverage in reputable news outlets. There's no substitute for that, and I don't think that there ever will be.”
‘Earned’ vs. ‘Shared’
Earned media falls into the category of age-old outreach, such as investing the time into developing relationships with producers and reporters through learning their interests.
Shared media – social – turns earned media into an electronic icebreaker. It provides brands with conversation starters to engage consumers in their targeted markets.
“PR gives you something interesting to talk about in your social channels,” says Stephen Gibson, founder of Vyteo.com. “Got featured in The New York Times? Now you have an update to share that people will get excited about.”
Social is the New Normal
Katie Kern with Media Frenzy Global, LLC offers an alternative view.
“In many ways, social media has a greater impact on traditional PR methods when reaching the masses for self-promotion,” Kern says. “Consumers crave personalized interactive experiences that social media provides and traditional PR practices may fall short.”
Case in point, she says, live streaming.
“We live in an always-on world where people anticipate events, stories and experiences to unfold in real-time. FaceBook Live and Instagram stories allow PR pros to create immersive and highly engaging content that viewers can be a part of. In return, PR professionals are building a loyal and hyper-targeted following that relies on their insight.”
Teana McDonald with 3E Connections in Coral Springs, Fla. said that the advent of social opened an entirely new world for her to creatively interact with the press.
“When I started in the business it was all about ‘how’ you pitch the media,” McDonald says. “Certain editors like a full release, others like a teaser and some just like bullets answering the who, what, when, where & why. When social media hit the scene it became a playing field that I could get used to. In addition to the traditional press release I can now follow and interact directly with individuals in the media (game changer!).”
She adds that when establishment media lack interest in a pitch to bypass them and head straight to the bloggers and influencers with significant followings to spread the word.
PR + Social = Powerful Messaging
Public relations coupled with an equally aggressive social plan generates a formidable force.
“In the absence of traditional storytelling, clients are left to curate content or create content solely for social media, which is a big investment with only half the return and only a portion of the audience reached,” Amy La Sala with Off Madison Ave says. “People still read newspapers or digital news content, they listen to terrestrial and satellite radio during drive times and yes, some still watch TV. All of which is garnered through media outreach.”
She said that she often educates clients on how to foster coverage and engage journalists through social to produced desired results.
“PR and social media – when aligned and working in concert – can be the most efficient, targeted and impactful effort of a client’s overarching marketing communications strategy,” La Sala concludes.
Dave Yonkman is a former Washington Correspondent for Newsmax Media, Capitol Hill Communications Director and the founding principal of DYS Media, LLC.
By Dave Yonkman
PR firms that crank out boilerplate content and bill by the hour might as well snail-mail handwritten press releases about how their client is “thrilled” about something.
Technology and consumer preferences for receiving information change daily. Google – which dominates online search engines with 90 percent market share – updates its algorithm at a minimum of 400 to 500 times per year. The supreme social player, Facebook, regularly changes how it presents messages in its newsfeed. New influencers break out on blogs and vlogs every day.
Professionals who incorporate measurable analytics gracefully into the fundamental need to tell a brand’s story will earn the most money in 2018.
“Agile marketers are constantly experimenting, adapting and pivoting to determine how to bring the right content to the right audiences at the right time on the platforms and channels where they congregate and consume,” says John Corey, president of Greentarget.
New Avenues & Influencers
TV and radio producers, as well as editors and reporters at legacy newspapers are no longer the gatekeepers of news. Consumers curate their own content and decide how to receive it.
This fracturing of media will force PR heads to compartmentalize services and focus on the methods that best work for select audiences, Kimberly Eberl of Motion PR says. It demands that agencies build deeper relationships with online opinionators, bloggers and mid-tier publications that people historically do not think of as PR.
“The agency of the future will take a more holistic view of how people interact with information and become nimble enough in their offerings to tailor their strategies for every client,” Eberl continues.
Search engine optimization, social, blogs, online forums, customer reviews, webinars, informational videos, apps and the proliferation of influencers shattered the old PR model.
The challenge in 2018 lies in how to measure traffic, which customers have come to expect.
Tools such as Google analytics, Facebook Insights and more powerful platforms enable pros to compile the necessary reporting.
“Being able to showcase the online buzz that you have garnered for your client will be crucial, especially for those who would rather pick up the newspaper to read an article about their business,” Emily Trogdon with The Brandon Agency says.
Pricing models have changed to reflect the new Wild West of public relations, with the nebulous line item invoice wasting away, according to Gerard T. Rogan, COO of Dreamweaver Brand Communications.
Inna Semenyuk, founder of InnavationLabs and SnapchatDaily.com, says that businesses can still find individuals who charge as little as $100 to write a press release to a few hundred dollars for basic media outreach.
Then there are sophisticated PR experts who command an average fee of $7,000 per month or a PR agency that charges $15,000 per month. With the latter, customers will work with a team of experienced PR people who write detailed media plans that include customized pitches for specific journalists.
“That's the way things are right now,” Semenyuk adds.
Moving forward, she says, PR companies will need to provide new services, including training in digital storytelling and dedicating substantial time to create and define a press strategy. With the right story and story angles, firms can charge higher fees and run campaigns more efficiently.
For example, they might begin with $15,000 for strategic planning and client training and then build out tailored digital content. They will bill on a project basis, with the price defined by the extent and complexity of the undertaking and level of talent involved.
The More Things Change
Regardless of the medium, storytelling will always rank paramount in the land of public relations.
The only constant in 2018 will be that the topography will mature dramatically, meaning that the conventional, nuts-and-bolts expertise public relations professionals offer is as relevant as ever, according to David Erickson, vice president of online marketing for Karwoski & Courage.
“You still need the skills to develop relationships with those who command an audience, be that traditional media, online publishers or individuals with large followings,” Erickson says. “The difference is that the tools and channels through which we develop those relationships are changing. The trick is to demonstrate your understanding of and savvy in using these tools.”
Readers, how do plan to make money in 2018? Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.
CLICK HERE to read the article at Bulldog Reporter.
Dave Yonkman is a former Washington Correspondent for Newsmax Media, Capitol Hill Communications Director and the Founding Principal of DYS Media, LLC.
Companies cannot simply purchase a positive reputation and credible image — because they aren’t for sale. Building strong relationships with markets requires relentless honesty and compelling storytelling directed at the desired audience. Great publicity must be earned.
Businesses and individuals can certainly work on public relations campaigns themselves with existing resources, but they often need help from consultants or agencies.
So how much should you pay them for establishing trust and enhancing the image of their products and services?
Many consultants and public relations firms offer individual items off-the-shelf such as TV, radio and print placements, thought leadership op-eds, press releases and blog posts.
It often represents the best option for those without much experience and who want to stick their finger in the bathwater before committing to a specific person or business.
Lamont Johnson with The Art Department typically invoices $800 to write and distribute a press release on wire services such as PR Newswire and PRWeb. Without wire distribution, Johnson charges $500 to write the release and send it to his own proprietary media contacts.
John Stellar, president of Everyone’s PR based in southern California, bills clients $1,000 to draft two media documents — including the company biography and a press release — and a $250 per month subscription fee. After that he adds $250 for each local print and radio placement, $500 for local television coverage, $750 for national print and radio placements and $1,500 for national television placements.
Stellar also sends invoices for payment only after an article appears or a TV or radio interview concludes. His approach reflects an industry trend toward ‘performance-based’ pricing.
“Our clients love this approach and it has given many more people the opportunity to use our services because in this recovering economy they don’t have that $2,500 to $4,000 a month retainer fee to risk,” Stellar says.
The gravitation toward performance-based pricing and away from hourly rates resulted from customers’ demand for measurable value.
As freelance consultant Ryan Waggoner explains, “When you bill hourly, you are putting yourself in a position where you are incentivized to take as long as possible to deliver the results that your client is trying to buy…Wouldn’t it be better for your clients if you were incentivized to constantly be looking to deliver the results they’re trying to buy even faster and more efficiently?”
Still, hourly rates remain a staple of PR pricing and vary depending upon experience and deliverables.
Leigh Dow with the 48 West Agency in Phoenix, for example, charges between $120 and $140 per hour.
Tami Belt with Blue Cube Marketing Solutions in Las Vegas bills $100 per hour with a 15-hour monthly minimum. She breaks it down into five hours for a typical press release, 10 to 15 hours for a feature media pitch, two to four hours for bios and one to three hours for testimonials.
Rhonda Rees in the suburbs of Los Angeles offers the options of a $150 hourly rate, $500 and more on special projects and monthly retainers of between $1,500 and $2,500.
“Since I’m small, and more of an independent, I find that these rates are now in line with today’s marketplace,” Rees says.
Typical retainers begin at as little as $1,500 per month and max out at around $20,000.
“In terms of dollars and cents, I’ve seen budget ranges under $5,000 per month, at or near $10,000 per month and then much higher,” says Chicago-based Motion PR CEO & founder Kimberly Eberl. “For the smallest amount — $5,000 a month or less — expect a narrow focus (i.e. just local media pitching, solely trade media, etc.). For larger amounts, you can build in more tactics, reach a wider audience, conduct events, utilize third party experts, etc.”
The Edelman’s, Weber Shandwick’s and FleishmanHillard’s of the world don’t get out of bed for less than $25,000 and command fees of $100,000 or more per month. Major clients at the high end of their scale include major cities, global corporations and nation states that require large staffs dedicated to single accounts.
Southern California’s Tracy Bagatelle-Black worked for one of the world’s largest firms and dissects how retainer pricing worked there.
“When you figure out what a project will cost a client, you plug in an account coordinator at one rate and how many hours you expect to use them and a Senior Account Executive or two at a different higher rate,” Bagatelle-Black says. “For the most part, account hours are mostly filled with more hours from the junior staff than the senior staff because they are much cheaper.”
CLICK HERE to read the article from its original source in Bulldog Reporter.
By Dave Yonkman
My website mentor advised me to toss out a book on search engine optimization (SEO) that I bought when we worked together on building out DYS Media.
“It’s worthless,” said Rebecca LeClaire with RL Marketing and Consulting in Saugatuck, Mich., even though the book was only a few months old and I had not revealed its name.
It didn’t take much searching to understand her guidance. Google changes its algorithm 400 to 500 times per year, and those are the updates about which we know. SEOs must maintain fluency in Google’s changing code as it owns nearly 90 percent of the online search market.
Professionals in such a competitive field can quickly fall behind after only a few days or weeks. After a month, they might as well move in with the Tanner Family on Muppet Treasure Island.
Danielle Miller with Miller Media Management offers a helpful infographic on the most consequential improvements and sanctions over the past few years. RankWatch provides a more exhaustive historical analysis.
Google became such a successful company because it consistently fills an elusive human need. It hosts a nominally free market in which vendors sell the best possible product or service to the highest bidder. Buyers, conversely, are always looking for the best possible product or service at the lowest price.
The tension between the two requires Google to constantly improve its algorithm.
Do you really want to compete with those who game the system by keyword jamming and stealing content for the numbers? It is an unsustainable quick buck. Customers will notice something wrong when the ad equivalency or publicity value doesn’t stack up to sales. Worse yet, Google might boot you from its search engine altogether.
LeClaire says you’ll cover yourself and eventually rank #1 on Google if you regularly load your site with meaningful content that links to even more relevant content.
She advises newcomers to do the hard work of best identifying and retaining customers by listening and speaking in their language as opposed to buying disingenuous lists and followers. Stay honest and you will have no trouble growing your business online.
Readers, how do you maximize your presence on Google? Please share and post comments below!
CLICK HERE to listen to the full interview TRT 7:19
American Petroleum Institute Director of Upstream and Industry Operations Erik Milito previews a press call at 11am ET on SiriusXM Satellite Radio to announce a new environmental initiative by the energy industry to reduce methane emissions.
Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes greatly to climate change. The Oil and Gas Environmental Partnership is already turning heads because its leaders are not environmental groups. They are the oil and natural gas companies themselves.
ExxonMobil, BP and other energy firms don’t typically play the role of environmental crusaders. Yet, they are convinced they can slow the pace of climate change while boosting bottom lines and slashing energy costs for customers.
The takeaway is that energy companies don’t let methane burn in the air because it’s fun. It’s literally burning money to them. The Partnership will enable them to capture more of it.
The Partnership – which begins Jan. 1, 2018 – provides the industry with an opportunity to collaborate with experts, learn from one other and share scientific data, as well as best practices to improve environmental performance.
CLICK HERE to listen to the full interview with host Tim Farley.
The odds, it seems, are stacked decidedly against press releases, but they still serve as lures in the tackle box of PR pros and as such demand a deft approach. Below are tips for crafting compelling and effective releases.
By Dave Yonkman
The press release is fighting for its life in a world of spammed inboxes and 140-character tweets. Meanwhile the debate about the press release’s viability continues. Syracuse University professor Michael Meath argues, “The traditional press release is dead…many of us still use them, but if the intent is to gain the passionate interest of reporters and editors, we are going to be disappointed.”
The press release still has diehard supporters, however. Najeeullah Khan of InterloperInc.com says press releases “worked before the internet and they work just as well now.”
The odds, it seems, are stacked decidedly against releases, but they still serve as lures in the tackle box of PR pros and as such demand a deft approach. Below are tips for crafting compelling and effective releases.
Answer why anyone should care. Or, why is this news? The first line of the release should answer concisely the who, what, why, where, when and how. “If journalists are ignoring your press releases, there’s a good chance it’s because you’ve buried your top line or lead – i.e. the most important part of the story – right at the bottom of your press release,” journalist Janet Murray says. “Get your [lead] in the first line of your press release and you'll have a much better chance of getting a journalist interested in your story.”
Tony Panaccio, a partner with Wilson Media, likens the press release to a dental appointment. As such, he urges you to abandon the standard format and try to make the experience as painless as possible. PR pros and reporters “hate press releases like poison…if you MUST send out a press release, make it an enjoyable read,” he says. “To hell with format – give [reporters] a lead they’ll want to read.”
He relates a story about a press release he wrote years ago about actor George Peppard starring in a stage adaptation of The Lion in Winter, a period piece about King Richard. In the play, the actors donned accurate period costumes, which meant nobody wore underwear. “My lead? ‘George Peppard isn't wearing any underwear. Honest.’ The show sold out its entire run in Miami.”
Include quotes from relevant personalities. Quotes provide the press release with color and a human element. Against all odds, Samantha Waranch, senior publicist with JAG Entertainment, booked a memorable performance by Corey Feldman on the Today show. It was a coup.
Waranch says she kept her press release succinct. In addition, to make it stand out, she inserted album art, linked to Feldman’s official music video Ascension Millennium and, most important, included a quote from him to personalize the release.
“In regards to the scope of his upcoming album, Feldman states, ‘Angelic 2 the Core is my 1st-ever double album. I’m excited for people to experience this musical journey. I feel it’s a rare album and there is truly something for everyone as the album covers all fields of the music spectrum: part Pop, part Rock, part EDM, part Hip Hop, and all soul.’”
Another tip: Never quote someone asserting shallow expressions such as “delighted,” “thrilled” or “excited.” More often than not journalists discard such quotes.
Show, don’t tell why your news matters. Elucidate your news with character limits in mind, but don’t discard important material such as verifiable facts and figures (provide links) that support the narrative. Acronyms can save space, but avoid using them. Ditto for industry jargon. Acronyms and jargon make releases less relatable.
Brittany Larsen, PR director at The Summit Group, says it’s important to “paint the picture for journalists. This can include referencing industry trends and how the news is relevant to a larger audience.”
Sally Kane of PaperStreet stresses the need to include keywords and phrases that resonate with the targeted audience. Tools like Uber Suggest can help to identify the best words and phrasing.
“Weave the keywords into the press release in the most natural way possible,” Kane says. “You don’t want it to appear forced or spammy. Also, don’t overstuff the content with keyword phrases. Using the phrase once in the headline and once in the body is plenty.”
This article originally appeared in PR News.
Seth Arenstein edited this article.