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Lights, Camera, Enter Product Placement

27 May

For those of you who know the world of public relations, you know that our work centers largely around relationship building, crafting important messaging and sometimes naming our first-born child after a reporter (yes, this is a joke), just to secure important editorial coverage. The value of unpaid placements is not often questioned and that is why the new trend in television and film product placement has thrown us all for a bit of a loop.

Television and film viewership numbers often rank in the multi-millions and it is no surprise that clients are jumping at the opportunity to have the newest, hottest A-list celebrity hold and promote their product on camera. The challenge that we as publicists are facing is the blurred line between which of these opportunities are paid, and which are not, and arguing the value for each. For example, the sparkling bling featured on the cast in the movie The Devil Wears Prada is unpaid product placement, the promotion of in the new celeb series Who Do You Think You Are? is a paid sponsorship, and the episode-long iPad promo on Modern Family a couple of weeks ago, still remains a mystery.

Don’t be fooled by the categories of paid and unpaid product placement. Whether paid or unpaid, the clever weaving of products into a TV or movie script is not just luck. With a lot of proactive effort on the part of a skilled publicist and in some cases the use of pay-for-play as well, these items were carefully selected from a list as long as the Nile River. Brand integration is very competitive and some of us in the public relations business spend years and years developing valuable stylist and set director contacts for a chance to have our client’s newest gadget get its 10-second, famed moment in the spotlight.

So by all means, embrace the value of product placement on camera. Just be prepared to recognize the time and resources involved, and the value of having a qualified publicist to take on this monumental task.

– Samantha O’Lea

Top List of Top Lists (or, trying to predict the future)

24 Jan

There is nothing like the start of a new year to inspire predictions and top lists. So in the spirit of the first month of 2010, a roundup of the top lists and predictions for media & PR.

Edelman’s 10 Ideas for the New Decade
“The bigger opportunity for clients, we believe, is to identify the global societal and technological trends that are reshaping how we think, act and buy – and to pivot into them early. Trends today tend to develop more slowly and are harder to see, allowing clients to take a more thoughtful, thorough and systematic approach,” says Steve Rubel. The document encompasses 10 essays on trends that reveal 4 key themes:

  1. Shift to digital technologies by consumers & marketers is pervasive across all aspects of our life and growing daily.
  2. Our engagement with each other is migrating from computer to handset
  3. Companies & interests are waking up to the engagement imperative (I like that!) – and how to fund and develop it over time
  4. Future is about carefully using the data people generate to make smarter decisions, while adhering to concerns over privacy.

VOCUS’s 2010 State of the Media
How’s this for a depressing start to the report –
“According to Vocus Media Research Group, approximately 293 newspapers folded, with nearly 100 of those shuttering in the year’s first quarter alone. Meanwhile, eight magazines with a circulation of 1 million or more ceased publication, and 600 staff members were laid off from top tier publications. Including print and online, a startling number of magazines shuttered this year, totaling 1,126. In broadcast, radio stations are down from the previous year, and more than 10,000 jobs were lost. Meanwhile in television, bankruptcies were common as more than 100 TV stations were affected by their parent companies filing Chapter 11.”

In addition to looking back at the trials and tribulations of 2009, the team of VOCUS researchers make some media predictions for 2010, including:

  1. Large newspapers will continue to form content sharing partnerships (ala Dallas Morning News & Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)
  2. Nonprofit, investigative journalism sector of online journalism will continue to grow (Like the new Bay Area News project)
  3. More newspapers will join the paywall model, but most likely won’t find success
  4. Magazines will decrease their publication frequency and more will develop editions ‘re-imagined’ for digital distribution (ie – electronic readers)
  5. In television, on-air talent will (continue) to be cut to make room for low-cost staff as stations continueto work with diminished crews as they have for the last decade.
  6. To retain more viewers, local stations will gravitate to a less news-based format.
  7. More radio stations will continue to stream on-air signals on their websites and provide links to previous material.
  8. More interplay between radio and portable music devices (ala fusion of FM radio with the iPod Nano & Zune)

PRSAY’s 2010: What Lies Ahead for the Public Relations Profession?
A bit of an echo chamber, but a decent summary of the belief among many public relations professionals that in this time of convergence of communication disciplines – those with journalistic and public relations backgrounds are the most adept at guiding companies, organizations and individuals through the new landscape of engagement, transparency and constant conversation.

MetricsMan’s Public Relations Measurement 2010: 5 Things to Forget, 5 Things to Learn
Found this top list intriguing when it came out this summer (way to get a jump on 2010!) The ongoing debate on how to measure the effectiveness of PR efforts continues and it’s refreshing to read a post of what we should think of leaving behind (AVE’s, impressions/multipliers), and what we should be wrapping our minds around (like the Total Value Cube)

Waggener Edstrom’s Thinkers & Doers blog had two great December posts on what to expect in 2010 in the social media realm

Guest Post on PR-Squared2010 Predictions for Communicators
Todd Defren’s PR-Squared blog is one of my favorites in the industry – and the fact that he let a competitor guest-blog on his site ( Lou Hoffman of the Hoffman Agency) makes me love it more. Plus – Lou’s put together a great tongue-in-cheek crystal ball post with some specifics that hey, could actually hit the target a few times this year! Post includes predictions involving Tiger, Michael Arrington, the FTC, semiconductors and politicians. Definitely worth a read.

– Jess

PRSA: Top 10 SEO Tactics for Public Relations Professionals

9 Nov

(Live blogging from the PRSA International Conference in San Diego)


Stepping into Lee Odden’s panel (TopRank Online Marketing) on the Top 10 SEO tactics for PR pros. Very curious about this section, since it often feels the number of ‘social media experts’ that have popped up in the last year is rivaled only by the number of ‘SEO gurus’ that have appeared. I’ll be very interested in how Lee culls down the most key information PR pros need to help their content be found, and be relevant, online.

TopRank Journalists Survey – what type of search do you use most often?

91% – standard search
27% news search
27% social search

Push PR: Outreach through wire service, networking, pitching RSS
Pull PR – Optimized press release, news room, social media, media coverage

SEO all comes down to content and links

Top 10 Tactics

1- One Thing – it depends on the problem

  • Make sure the website is crawlable – remove barriers to crawlers
  • Make sure your web page title tags are editable, and not duplicates

2 – PR Tactics that affect SEO

  • If content can be searched on, it can be optimized
  • PR content that can be optimized: Press releases, letters to the editor (i.e. titles), online newsrooms, media kits, corporate blogs, white papers, webinars/demos, newsletters, real-world interviews
  • Digital asset optimization: images, video, blog posts, news items. People are empowered to publish – and will include your links
  • Micromedia optimization: Optimizing Twitter content. How are you using keywords in your tweets? Your Twitter links?
  • Think about when you create news, how to use different channels of distribution to get the word out. By making it available to an audience empowered to publish they can write about it and link to your ‘stuff’

3 – When is PPC (pay-per-click) better than SEO for PR?

  • SEO is long term, part of the content process and contingent on content and links over time
  • PPC is on demand, immediate, pay to play (Pay more to scale), alternative and complimentary to natural search
  • 4 Steps to Keyword Research: Brainstorm phrases, look at competitor content, think about your audience. Then import your phrases to a keyword reearch tool to find popularity of those terms and variations, then create a keyword glossary.

6 Keyword Research Tools

  • Google Keyword Tool
  • Google Insights & Trends
  • Google AdTracker
  • Woord Trackery
  • Keyword Discovery

Structure of a Keyword Glossary to support your content creators in incorporating keywords

  • Categories
  • Primary phrases
  • Derivatives
  • Permutations
  • Popularity
  • Relevance

5 – Basics of on-page SEO

Now that you have them, how do you use them? In title tags, on-page titles, navigation links, body copy, keyword text links, image alt text, URLs. ABA – always be adding content. Add often! Search engines reward you by visiting more often.

6 – Get more from Press Releases

  • They may not be great for media relations, but they are great for SEO
  • Research keywords – 1 to 2 phrase words per release!
  • Include a call to action and then link to a landing page so you can associate how eyeballs got to your page.
  • Think ‘high and to the left’
  • Optimize for people first, search engines next
  • Don’t obsess over keyword density – 2-4 times of those 1-2 keywords.
  • People don’t search by humor or irony  – remember that
  • Add media! – images, podcast, video, pdf/word docs

Meta Data – The title tag is what’s used to describe your page in the search results. Write it in a way that motivates someone to click through.

7 – Newsroom Optimization

  • Utilize Blog software for your newsroom
  • Share/save bookmarks – make it easy for people consuming your content to share it
  • Keyword categories – Goes beyond organizing newsroom content chronologically, utilize keywords to organize content by how search engines will find you.
  • Site search
  • Subscribe RSS feed
  • Incorporate cross links
  • Checklist: do your keyword research, Incorporate title tags that are dynamic & hard coded, Use keywords in categories, document titles, file names, links, make it easy to bookmark and share, optimize your RSS feeds, optimize digital assets and other file formats
  • Relevancy is more important than popularity

8 – Link Building

Links ‘electrify’ content in search. They power up a webpage. If you have a page that’s perfectly optimized, but if no one is linking to it, it doesn’t live.

  • Think about how you title things –  be more enthusiastic
  • Use key words in link text
  • Earn your links with compelling content
  • Link up with partners
  • Embed links in your release

(also check out Lee’s recent post on 25 Link Building Tactics to Improve Blog Search Engine Rankings)

9 – SEO & Social: Yin & Yang

The role of SEO in a social media effort is to directly influence discovery of social communities or content via search. Indirectly, social content can boost links to website content, improving search traffic and online sales.

  • The power of the ReTweet
  • Newsroom blogs can be social – automate your posts to various social networks and therefore attract links

10 – Measurement – 11 metrics for News SEO

  • News wire service metrics
  • Web analytics for landing pages & web site
  • Google
  • Monitor blog search engines via RSS
  • Press release landing page conversion tracking –
  • Social Media monitoring
  • Inbound links
  • Pickups on blogs
  • Pickups on other websites
  • Pickups on other pubs
  • Search engine rankings

So how do you compare with the competition?

Use the power of embarrassment! Show the visibility of your organization, news, product and compare it to your competitors and do a ranking report. Research a keyword glossary and run a ranking report on those phrases. Show the lack of search visibility by competition, or run a test of a few optimizedd news items, take a benchmark, then show progress.

SEO is all about keyword, content and links. Whoever is responsible for publishing content – SEO must be part of that process.

Download TopRank Marketing’s Online Marketing Guides (and see a much more in-depth overview of what Lee discussed in this session!)

– Jess