Category Archives: Digital PR

Annual reports don’t have to be boring

corporate communications + public relations agency vancouver

This year, instead of creating a glossy, expensively printed annual report filled with dull content, the Calgary Zoo released the world’s first annual report entirely on Instagram.

The annual report copy was formatted to fit Instagram’s style sheet, and the result is a one-of-a-kind, shareable and environmentally-conscious insight into zoo life.

The on screen format allows for a much richer media experience with interactivity and eye-catching images. At the same time, the organization was able to demonstrate the Zoo’s message about conservation.

This is a great example of how an annual report can be an opportunity to express an organization’s achievements in a clear and engaging way to employees, shareholders and other stakeholders.

It also shows how forward thinking communicators can use annual reports as a PR opportunity to summarize a client’s yearly activity beyond the numbers, facts and figures and include more colourful information about corporate culture, community relations and social activities.

Another example: The folks at the Amazon Conservation Association decided to create an annual report as a comic strip masterpiece entitled: The Los Amigos Moore Project Final Report, NON-BORING VERSION

The comic was produced with an application that turns photos into illustrations. This annual report probably took a lot of time to produce but everyone involved likely enjoyed the process and it’s another inspiring example for the rest of us on how to be more creative with annual reports.

One final example: incorporating  a video message into an annual report where the information is boiled down to its essence in a more engaging way. Unlike most printed annual reports, video does not involve a lot of long text; it’s something you can spend five minutes listening to get a quick overview and sense of the key themes and highlights.  The example I have provided of this CEO introducing The Waterfront Development group’s annual report is ‘just okay’.  I applaud the organization for taking the time to record the footage (outside using the waterfront as a backdrop, which is very fitting for this group) but I think that they could have taken the 55-second clip one step further by incorporating more dynamic b-roll footage or images from their annual report.

Hopefully I’ve provided you with some inspiration and ideas for you to consider this year as you plan your 2013 annual report! – Maria LoScerbo

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Filed under Corporate Communications, Digital PR

30 ways to promote your blog

The adage “build it and they will come” definitely doesn’t hold true when it comes to online content.   Just because you took the time to painstakingly create engaging content in a variety of online formats, doesn’t mean a loyal following of fans will magically appear.

You have to promote your content.  In today’s interconnected world, dozens of opportunities exist.  Are you seizing them?   LaunchGrowJoy.com has created an attractive infographic that outlines 30 ways to promote your blog posts and I’d like to share it with because I think it does a good job encapsulating a variety of tactics that you might want to think about using.

I recently promoted an infographic for a client that was posted in their corporate blog and found that, despite my best efforts to make it go viral, the number of views in the company’s blog wasn’t as high as I would have personally liked; however, the ‘sticky factor’ for those viewers that took the time to read the blog entry was about 4 minutes, which is quite impressive!  Our unique visitor count wasn’t sky-high, but it did attract quality visitors who were interested in the content.  It’s quality traffic, not quantity that matters.

epic public relations

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Optimized Press Releases: Press Releases on Steroids

In this era of online media, PR and social marketing pros are providing value in new ways.

The gold standard for a brilliant press release today extends beyond mainstream press coverage and includes well-thought out SEO that generates direct traffic to an organization’s website and provides self-published news directly to the customer. The reporter or editor is no longer the middleman.

Third party endorsements from news media and bloggers are still valuable but a well written, keyword rich press release can generate thousands links and help “bury” bad news, poor product reviews and customer comments that show up in Google. Continue reading

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Filed under Digital PR, Media Relations, PR Planning & Strategy, Social Media

Pinterest PR Primer

The hottest tool to hit the social media scene is Pinterest, a digital bulletin board of sorts where users post theme-based image and video collections.  It connects everyone in the world through shared tastes and the “things” they find interesting.  It’s fun, easy, visually appealing and highly interactive.  And it’s catching on like wildfire!

Pinterest has nearly five million users, and is rapidly growing. Nearly 1.5 million unique users visit Pinterest daily, spending an average of 15 minutes a day on the site. While the primary users are currently women who post lifestyle-based vision boards, some brands are beginning to use Pinterest as a heavy-hitting marketing tool.

How can your company use Pinterest?   Here’s a short PR primer to get you started:

  • Create a Pinterest account – don’t forget to include a photo, your company’s website address and a brief  description in the “About” section.
  • Create a variety of boards.  Remember, the more creative and interesting your board names, the better.
  • Connect your Pinterest account  to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  This is a great way to attract followers.
  • Post a Pin It bookmarklet on your website and social media channels.
  • Pin lots of stuff.  It’s better to do it in spurts to maximize your exposure and engagement. Continue reading

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Filed under Digital PR, Public Relations General, Social Media

Keep press release headlines short to get Google SEO love

While both Google News and Google Search both reward brevity, what many people don’t realize is that Google News is a very different beast than Google Search, and has different SEO requirements.

The two most important elements for optimizing a news release headline are keyword inclusion and length. There are many other factors that go into whether a release will show up in Google News, but keeping the headline short but full of keywords is essential.

In terms of length, a full release headline must be 65 characters or fewer to be displayed in Google, yet only 18% of press release headlines meet this requirement.  For a news release to show up on Google News, it must have fewer than 23 words in the headline (subhead not included).

A study conducted by Schwartz Research Group in Boston last fall revealed that the average headline length is 123 characters. The firm analyzed over 1,600 press releases over a one month period and found that 22% of online press releases were completely ignored by Google News because the headlines were 24 words or more.

Clearly the lesson here is that while the content of releases should be the primary focus, overlooking headline length could mean limited exposure for a well-crafted release. If you want to avoid slamming the door on Google News, you might want to consider brief, keyword rich headlines for your news releases. – Maria Loscerbo

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Make your social media messages relevant

Many companies that foray into social media yield nothing more than wasted time and effort. Before you establish a company Twitter account or start a Facebook page, step back and think about what messages will be relevant to your stakeholders or potential customers. If your brand and your communications aren’t useful or interesting to them, you might as well be tweeting into a black hole.

Start by understanding the conversations that are already happening around your brand. Then craft messages accordingly. Before sending anything out, ask yourself: What value does this message carry for our customers? What action are we hoping to inspire? If you don’t have a sharp answer to each of these questions, it’s time to return to the drawing board.  Make sure what you say is relevant to people. You do this by listening to conversations that are already taking place online and offline, about your brands and about other brands or affiliated areas.

I like what Brian Solis says in this article about playing the role of an anthropologist.  What cultural components do you observe in social media exchanges? What do you see the participants valuing in these exchanges? Until you understand what kinds of conversations are taking place, who is in them, and what they value, it will be hard for you to attain this first critical step of producing relevant, shareable social objects. Continue reading

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How one customer used social media to vent his frustration after receiving poor service

Here’s how one disgruntled (and creative) customer decided to get back at United Airlines for giving him the run-around after damaging his luggage and refusing to resolve the issue to his satisfaction.  Check out his YouTube video here. (If you don’t have 4 minutes, watch it later when you need a good laugh.)

The customer in this case is Canadian musician Dave Carroll who had his favourite Taylor guitar broken by United Airlines while on a flight from Nova Scotia to Nebraska. This hilarious video about the incident and United’s indifference has been viewed more than 8.6 million times and reported widely around the world.

I believe part of the reason this video was so popular is that United had very little in its customer “trust bank”.  People in the social media sphere will come to your defense if they have an affinity and trust in your brand.

In contrast, when a well-known American Hollywood director with more than one million followers on Twitter was refused a seat on a Southwest Airlines flight, there were many people in the social media arena who came to Southwest’s defense after he posted his complaint. In my view, it’s because Southwest has built a large bank of customer trust.

This is another good reason that your company should consider using social media as a vehicle to communicate with your target market.  When something negative is said about you, you will be setup to react quickly. When customers give you kudos, you will be able to engage with them then too.  Don’t wait til you’re thirsty to dig that social media well!  If you had to honestly assess your company’s trust bank today, how would you say its doing?

maria loscerbo Maria Loscerbo

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Filed under Digital PR, Social Media