It’s rare when significant parts of business, government or sports change dramatically. Incremental change is far more common. Yet we find both incremental and significant change in a new Nasdaq Corporate Solutions/ PR News survey of nearly 400 communicators regarding press release distribution and SEO. Nearly 75% of those surveyed last month said the most important objective of sending a press release is to “generate media interest and/or press coverage.” That’s a traditional reasoning. Yet a full 25% said their top priority in sending out a release is “to be seen in web search results” [see infographic and chart on page 4]. That finding about SEO seemed inconsistent with another result: nearly 40% said they fail to consider SEO when it comes to allocating time and resources for press releases. In other words, while PR pros want their press releases to be found in web searches, nearly half are ignoring SEO when they prepare their releases.
It could describe nearly all the data sets we’ve been looking at recently. The 30 most-engaged U.S. brands on a social media platform turned out a bit less content than they had during a quarter the previous year, yet consumer interaction with the content rose. Once again, consumer engagement with mobile video drove that engagement. Filling in the blanks, this week’s Shareablee data, provided exclusively to PR News, examines consumer actions, or engagement, with U.S. B2B brands on Twitter. Actions are defined as the sum of consumer likes and retweets. Brands listed have significant B2B revenue, although some also have B2C businesses. Specifically in Q1 ’16 (Jan 1-March 31), total consumer actions with U.S. B2B brands on Twitter rose 31% compared to the same quarter in 2015. The increase occurred despite a 3% reduction in the number of tweets the brands produced. An increase in consumer engagement with U.S. B2B brands’ videos, up a gargantuan 240%, and more retweets, a 14% rise, fueled the growth in actions.
After a reported two years of testing recipes, researching and listening to consumers, PepsiCo admitted June 27 it had goofed regarding artificial sweeteners. The result: Not even one year after spurning aspartame and launching Diet Pepsi with sucralose, the soft drink brand was forced to reverse course. Amid falling sales and consumer outcry, it said Diet Pepsi with aspartame will return shortly. Adding a touch of confusion to the situation, PepsiCo also will continue to offer Diet Pepsi with sucralose. Importantly for communicators, this sour episode occurred when it’s easier than ever to gather information about customer preference via social media.
You know how bloggers have invented a writing subgenre of mocking the PR pitches they get? Recently I saw a lengthy takedown of a PR firm’s effort to publicize what the blogger felt was a hollow startup. The blogger portrayed the PR firm’s pitch as comically superficial. I’ll forego linking to the post because I prefer to avoid boosting ad revenue for crass blogs that bully people. Admittedly, the pitch material was superficial. It went against every principle of clear writing that I teach. All things being equal, the PR firm’s staff should have pushed back on the startup to get more concrete facts about the new company’s goals, what it does and why it’s credible. But that wasn’t the main problem, and it didn’t prevent the startup from ultimately succeeding elsewhere; more on that below. The biggest problem is where the startup’s material landed: in other words, where the material was pitched. Granted, the pitch was directed to a blog that’s well read among the startup’s target market: millennials. But this particular blog also is known for snarky opposition to PR outreach. It was like putting red meat in front of a gaunt, stray dog.
Just this week, Snapchat added a feature called Memories, which enables users to save their snaps and stories and find them again easily. PR News’ followers on Twitter have been complaining that Memories is just one more step in Snapchat’s transformation into a Facebook wannabe. The ephemeral fun’s gone. For some, it’s time to move on to—what, exactly?
No matter how great the current state of analytics is, the experience of putting together a visual campaign on social media may bring back nostalgia for the days when data was harder to come by. There’s just too much to measure. With the various types of media available—video, still images, infographics, etc.—the task of developing a fitting measurement framework at the beginning of a campaign can be uniquely tricky.
On July 6 Snapchat began rolling out Memories, a new feature that, depending on your point of view, adds to the app or chips away at something unique to the platform: impermanence. Users will now be able to save their Snaps and Stories to Memories, find them again by opening Memories (located under the camera button) and scrolling or typing keywords, and re-Snap them to your friends.
First and foremost, you have to understand your audience, says Chad Mitchell, Walmart’s senior director of digital communications. Not even a brand as big as Walmart can boil the ocean when it comes to audience. So you have to ask questions like, “Who wants to hear from us?” or “Who needs to hear from us?” and then build a content and channel strategy that’s tailor-made for your audience.
PR News’ Measurement Hall of Fame members have a thing about data or, rather, a thing about the casual disregard of data in the PR discipline. Few things aggravate them more than a PR professional who worries openly about proving the value of communications efforts yet shies away from taking the first steps toward using data to inform their work and show the effect of their work on an organization’s goals.
There is no secret recipe that will ensure good press—or even coverage. But executives still want their companies to be written about, so there has to be a way to improve your chances of getting picked up by the media. Media pitching is hard. It takes equal parts knowledge, skill and luck, but there are still new and engaging ways get the kind of coverage that’s sure to make the C-suite salivate.