To integrate PR and SEO?

Brands utilize search engine marketing to help become more visible to consumers, in particular, when consumers are doing Internet searches. Utilizing search engine optimization (SEO) with your website allows your site to appear first in search engines, based on keywords and in-bound linking, which in turn gives your site more visitors. SEO allows marketers to define keywords and phrases that correspond with the brand to be part of more search results. Coming up with these keywords and phrases means knowing how the company is perceived by consumers. SEO gives a website presence as PR gives a company presence. Positive perception is a public relations goal, and aligning PR and SEO can yield in greater results. Social media channels are important avenues for marketers to connect and engage with consumers. PR gives a company presence and works to create a community of brand followers and determine perception. PR can help to define the perception and in turn help marketers know which keywords and phrases will increase SEO.

Another strategy combining PR and SEO is to create relationships with avid bloggers and encourage them to incorporate content that includes the brand’s SEO keywords and phrases. There is a Forbes article written about the PR and SEO marketing relationship which advises that “it is a lot simpler to grow relationships with bloggers and additional social media users who have engaged, substantial readerships which make them a precious link to go after.”

Aligning PR with SEO can be beneficial as “PR pros have already-established, real relationships in the industry and with news organizations that can get you links that are earned and not built”; Heitzman offers more reasons as to why PR is becoming the future of SEO here.

Below is an infograph of a guide to PR and SEO integration. As a marketer, have you attempted to integrate PR and SEO? Based on this symbiotic relationship that has been presented would it be a tactic you implement?

PR and SEO infograph

New ways to tell stories

Marketers have to continue to be creative in reaching out to consumers in the digital age with emerging technologies allowing consumers to fast-forward through commercials and stream shows and movies online. Storytelling is a way for brands to connect with consumers as they can relate to stories and foster a connection. In the digital age marketers continue to find new ways to incorporate emerging media and in doing so create short-films in place of commercials to catch the attention and keep consumers entertained. For instance, Nike released a short-film called The Last Game which reinforces its “Just Do It’ slogan with the message “Risk Everything”, and delivers this message with an entertaining story about human (and popular known) soccer athletes competing against the artificial intelligence soccer robots.

While marketers can create interesting digital stories for brands, marketers can also use digital platforms such as Vine to encourage participation from consumers to help create and share the digital story. Urban Outfitters launched a micro-video campaign encouraging “Chuck lovers” to submit 6 second Vine clips of their amazing adventures wearing their Chucks. 3 other examples of brands utilizing Vines to tell stories can be found in this article “Top 4 examples of Vine brand story telling to date“. Using Vine to encourage consumer stories about the brand is a great way to engage with consumers and help spread stories about the brand which people can relate to and find entertaining. There are many digital platforms and emerging media that can be used to help a brand tell and spread its story, what other ways have brands found success in telling stories?

How do you know the difference between unofficial blogs and endorsed blogs?

Sometimes there can be confusion when viewing a blog as to whether the blogger is being endorsed or if its blog is entirely unofficial without any gain or influence from the brand. The FTC guidelines for blogging are becoming more strict and I like that it is clearly defined when a blogger becomes an endorser and how it should be disclosed. Here is an article, “Disclosures for Bloggers and Brands” that discusses the changes, helping readers know when they are reading a blog that is endorsed or unofficial. Companies receive good and bad promotions through unofficial blogs, while it is mostly good it is also uncontrolled. When it comes to endorsing bloggers in an attempt to control what is communicated, I think ethical practices are important.  It is my belief that a company should believe in its product to trust what people have to say freely (even while being endorsed); if you have a good product or service then even endorsers will express that without being coerced into being fake or simply giving positive reviews for the sake of payment. While some could simply be “puffing” up the product because they are paid, I feel the company is responsible in ensuring endorsers are true in their statements.

Take Ford for example with its Fiesta Movement campaign. They were upfront about giving Ford Fiestas for free to bloggers to compete in challenges and blog about their experience and car. The company believed customers would be satisfied and wanted to prove it with real life people giving real accounts of the car and their experiences. The company first initiated the Ford Fiesta Movement in 2009 and promoted television commercials featuring real-footage from real customers test driving the Ford Fiesta for 6 months and their thoughts on switching to own a Ford Fiesta. Ford then relaunched the campaign in 2014 with the added bloggers and challenges associated with the Movement. Read more about it here: “Ford is giving away 100 cars to people who promise to blog and tweet” Prior to the campaign launching people were aware of the disclosed endorsers. The public even had the opportunity to participate as one of the 100 bloggers to receive a new Ford Fiesta for 6 months. Mlot details how “Anyone interested in snagging a sweet ride for half a year can sign up by creating an account, then sharing a video explanation of they should be a Fiesta agent.” in the article “Ford to lend 100 Fiestas in social media experiment“. I think this is a great example of a company initiating a word-of-mouth social media campaign while following FTC guidelines involving endorsed bloggers. Do you think endorsed blogs receive as much credibility as unofficial blogs?

Short-films and mini short-films built into commercials

Short-films are a way for brands to tell a story that resonates with consumers and entertains them as a means to foster a connection. While these stories are entertaining, they also reinforce traits of the brand. With the digital age it is becoming more popular to create a short-film that is released and shared online. However, stories can also start with traditional media in a commercial and with the help of emerging media be spread online and reach the same viral effect as if it resonated online. For instance, Audi’s commercial titled “Prom” gives an entire story with a beginning, middle, and end to promote the message of bravery, as that is how the brand defines itself.

The story begins as The scene opens with the boy’s reflection in the window as he’s looking out and he gives out a sigh, then the boy’s mom is pinning his boutonnière on and trying to make the boy feel better about going alone saying lots of people go by themselves, which doesn’t help, and to emphasize the ‘terribleness’ his younger sister states no they don’t. But wait, his dad steps in and wants him to have a good night so he throws the boy the keys to his Audi which instantly brightens the boy’s face. There is a close up shot of the Audi and the headlights turning on and zooming in on the boy’s face as he now has a sense of renewed confidence, using upbeat music to add to the feeling. Once he gets to the prom, the climax of the story is when the boy goes right up to the prom queen and lays a big kiss on her, which she receives kindly, until her boyfriend, the prom king, sees and starts to walk over, angry. The scene quickly cuts to the other main character, the Audi, speeding away and then cuts to a close up of the boy who has a black eye, we were not shown what happened, however we can assume. The scene also cuts back to the prom queen to show a close up of her reaction to the kiss, implying that she actually liked being kissed by the main character. The boy then emphasizes how great his night was with a yell, the scene cuts to show the car while the yell is still going on to let us remember it’s because of the car that this boy had a great night, which would not have happened if his dad did not give him the keys to drive the Audi. The commercial then cuts to one word, bravery. Followed by, It’s what defines us.

This story can resonate with consumers as even if this isn’t the type of night you had at your prom, it could still speak to you as a night you would have liked to have or you could have this feeling of pride for the boy or a feeling of happiness for him for having a could be bad night turn into a great night.

The timing of these commercials is influential in them being spread digitally. It was shown during the Super Bowl in 2013. Other ways to help spread a video is with consumer participation. For instance, consumers were asked to vote on the ending prior to the commercial airing, Rooney discusses the strategy behind the ad here. To date, the story has been viewed over 11 million times and still continues to receive comments from consumers as recent as two weeks ago. Such tactics help to build buzz and find new ways to incorporate traditional and emerging media.

Billboards that actually make you stop and read them

How do brands utilize emerging media to spread its message while maintaining consistency? Two companies that come to mind are Nikon and Sharpie, both incorporate traditional media of a billboard yet utilize emerging technology to create interactive billboards that coincide with the message of their respective campaigns.

Nikon launched a user-generated video contest “Your Day in 140 Seconds or Less” which allowed participants to submit entries with or without a Nikon brand camera. This enables Nikon to reach a wider audience rather than being limited to those who only own a Nikon. Further, it sends the message that Nikon is concerned with interaction and building brand awareness, connecting with people on an emotional level through their photos rather than selling the product Nikon. As part of this campaign Nikon implemented an interactive billboard that flashes camera flashes as people walk by. This billboard not only attracts attention, but also encourages people to linger around the billboard longer. This billboard can entice a person to feel as though they are being photographed by the paparazzi at some big event, or as though they are a celebrity going about their day.

nikon-guerilla-marketing

Would this make you stop? Would it encourage you to interact with the brand and find out more information?

Sharpie also launched a campaign encouraging interaction with user-generated content. Participants submit creations of their own using Sharpie and can create a custom music video mashup to be shared via Facebook and Twitter. Like Nikon, Sharpie also incorporated an interactive billboard in which people can write on a cast and share their individuality with the brand. The Sharpie Blog discusses this tactic as well as other social media marketing tactics, “choose some colors, write a message and Sharpie makes it possible for anyone to leave his permanent mark on the side of the bus stop or the public phone or anywhere else billboard adverting may be experienced”.

sharpie

Would you want to interact with this billboard? What would you want to write?

Both brands encourage interaction in non-traditional ways. Nikon utilizes one type of interactive billboard where audiences become part of the billboard when it assimilates a paparazzi affect, and Sharpie utilizes an interactive billboard one step further by having audiences participate in the creation of the billboard. Click to read more about Interactive Billboards, they are “imperative to companies because it makes the person interacting with the billboard feel as if they are important and making important impacts on the future of the product”.

This is one way to put a twist on traditional media and spread a consistent message, what are some other ways traditional media can become emerging media?

Migrating away from Facebook?

I heard a conversation on the radio about how younger generations are leaving Facebook for other social media networks. While I also am one that is migrating away from Facebook, it isn’t for the “teenage” reason. The main reason being Facebook just isn’t cool anymore, basic teenage make-it or break-it for a company. A comprehensive study examining teenagers cites this reason; “It is nothing new that young people care about style and status in relation to their peers, and Facebook is simply not cool anymore”.

I joined Facebook one year after it first started right before starting my Freshman year of college, as back then you needed a valid college/university email address to be able to sign-up. The dynamics of Facebook then rapidly changed when it was opened for anyone to sign-up with any valid email address. Once it was opened up for anyone to join, parents had a new way to keep up or keep tabs on their children and his/her friends. Teenagers became concerned with the dreaded friend request from their mom. The same comprehensive study found that “Facebook is ‘dead and buried’ to older teenagers… as the key age group moves on to Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Snapchat”. This is exactly what was deduced from the conversation on the radio, even mothers called in saying their kids are uninterested in Facebook anymore because it’s not “the thing” anymore, what’s in now is Instagram as the #1 frontrunner with Twitter closely behind it. Concerns over friend requests from their parents is gone and all of their friends are on there. What I found most interesting is that with Instagram it’s not about quality, but rather about quantity. People will have hundreds of followers, and!, if a post does not get at least 20+ likes shortly after posting the person will remove it because it is believed to be uncool. I find that fascinating as it comes from the instantaneous results that people have begun to expect since the Internet and social networking.

I also found this cool infograph detailing Facebook users in 2011 versus 2014, what’s interesting is the loss in high school and college aged people and the tremendous gain in the 35 to 55+ age of adults.

istrategy-study infograph

All of this information makes one wonder how do you design a site that has the ability to keep the audience’s attention and interaction in an ever-changing digital world? Finding what is important to the audience, and how changing of the site changes their opinion for the better or worse and adapting accordingly. Keeping up with competition as well as being able to incorporate it is also key. For instance, a consumer has the ability to link their Instagram post to their Facebook account. Facebook has many other platforms that have the ability to link, which is one way it tries to keep its site dynamic and updated with the latest trends.

Social media: My experience as a consumer versus a marketer

While I find the emerging media of social media to be a great tool in reaching audiences and sharing, I also find it inhibiting. As a marketer, I believe social media is one of the most powerful tools one can utilize to reach and more importantly engage with target audiences. However, as a consumer, I dislike how much it rules the lives of our society. For a marketer, it is great that a person shares comments/experiences about a company’s product/brand which can amplify marketing efforts. However, as a consumer, I hate that the first thought is to capture and share just about everything one does. This in turn leads to people making their lives to seem better than they really are in order to impress others who are doing the same, or feel validated that their life is just as good as other people’s. On the flip side, it can also cause people to feel depressed about their lives. The amount of importance that is placed on social media frightens me. And while some may not be as affected (I’d like to say myself included) it still doesn’t stop me and many others from feeding into the social media phenomena. I dislike how much power and influence is spread via social media, mainly feeding into society telling us what looks good, what is trendy, what you should buy, how you should feel about this, and keep up with the Jones’s. However, I also think it can be beneficial when the messages are positive.

Facebook began when I was a senior in high school and really took off as the thing to be a part of before my freshman year of college. All throughout college I used Facebook and other social media tools in the negative light that I spoke of earlier. It wasn’t until a couple years after graduating college and seeing how widely popular and used Facebook is by everyone (not just college-aged students with a college email, but also young adults, middle-aged adults, older adults, teenagers, and children) that I really started to be aware of how Facebook is used. As a consumer I dislike social media being an outlet for people to share every detail of their life or airing dirty laundry; on the flip side as a consumer though I do like the ability to stay in touch and communicate with friends and family. As a marketer, I dislike marketing that feeds to being a certain way in society (however, that may be another topic as a lot of marketing intends to sell via showing people how they fit in). And, on the flip side, as a marketer, I love social media as a tool to understand consumers better. Whether it is liked by me or not, people share information and while it may not seem pertinent on a micro level, I can see how relevant and important this type of communication and sharing is on a macro level for marketers. It allows for two-way dialogue rather than being talked at, it allows for consumers to feel part of decision making and important to companies which in turn builds stronger relationships. I enjoy the sense of community that social media gives, as like-minded people can come together about a topic/product/event/etc and people can feel connected to others like them that they would not normally encounter without social media.

One thing distinctive about social media, is that there is a level of control in which you can choose which conversations you participate in as a consumer; and as a marketer you can get in front of any negativity by responding immediately or directing the conversation while also promoting and building awareness. I like that social media helps to hold companies/brands accountable by being more transparent to consumers and forces companies to listen to consumers, shifting the balance of power back to consumers. While I have some negative views about being a participant in social media (mainly how it rules consumers’ lives), I also see the value and positive nature of social media. While I may not have liked to participate in social media and generating content when it comes to promoting a company/brand in the past, I do find reviews and social media content from other consumers helpful when making purchases. And, as a marketer, the information gained about consumers via social media is priceless when creating and pitching a brand/product. Social media has a lot of influence and power, and like anything, can be used in a good or bad manner (which is relative/subjective to each consumer/marketer).