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Ready for the Pitch? Or Just Another Press Release?

Published by Christina on December 4, 2014, in Career Advice, Case Studies, General, Grammar, Social Media, Startups

I stumbled upon this article a few days ago and it resonated with me on so many levels. I hope you feel the same after reading. I’m astounded that when it comes to PR we are still plugging away utilizing old school tactics. Guess what, they work – as long as you work also.

Kate Finley is going to give you a few tips and I will add my two cents by stating that if your intent is to obtain more positive press coverage in 2015, be sure to print this blog and put it on display in your office. To boot, visit another blog from a hip new agency in my hometown http://theabbiagency.com/top-5-tips-writing-perfect-press-release/ and check out their top five tips to writing a press release (beware, you may crave a cupcake after you absorb the sample press release). The synergy between the two is astounding!

One last thought, don’t worry if you’ve already made a few mistakes, we all do. I was guilty of one myself this past fall. Buck-up, take responsibility for your efforts, strive to reach a new level within your media relationships and don’t fret about the past. What’s done is done. Onward.

Kate Finley is founder and CEO of Belle Communications, an integrated communications agency in Columbus, Ohio specializing in PR, social media and content marketing for food, restaurant and startup brands. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists by searching their bios, tweets and articles, and pitch them to get more press.

11 reasons why journalists don’t reply to your pitches

Don’t automatically blame the arrogant reporter for ignoring your pitch. Instead, assume the problem lies on your end. You might be surprised at the ROI of your attitude change.
By Kate Finley | Posted: December 2, 2014
No matter how long you’ve been in PR, there are times when you feel like you pitch into an abyss of silence and rejection. The lack of replies causes you to feel insecure. You question your ability to get coverage for your client.The good news: The lack of a reply almost never means a journalist hates you. Take that off your list. Often no response simply calls for assessing your pitch and making needed adjustments. 

To increase your odds of a reply, use this list of often-overlooked mistakes:

1. You have the wrong contact. Even if you worked with the journalist recently, she could be on vacation. Her publication could have shifted coverage or moved to a different outlet. Her job in her media outlet could have changed. Even after you consult Muck Rack, it’s better to be sure before you send that pitch. Call the receptionist or newsroom to ask if so-and-so is still the correct contact for what you’re pitching. Warning: Don’t ask for “the person who covers news.” You may get stuck with a gatekeeper who promises you he’ll “pass your information on,” i.e., a dead end.

2. You didn’t research. It’s essential to conduct due diligence before pitching a story. I can’t tell you how many pitches I’ve gotten that had nothing to do with our business blog. Warning: Great writing won’t save your pitch if it goes to the wrong inbox.

3. Your pitch is too long. Journalists are very busy. For every relevant pitch they receive, dozens or hundreds of pitches miss the mark and get deleted. Get to the point right away by answering these questions: Is my news tailored to this outlet and its editorial preferences? Is my news unique and interesting? Is my news time-sensitive? Does it have a clear call to action?

4. Your email subject line was misleading or uninteresting. Keep your subject line short enough for mobile. Capture attention right away and don’t mislead. Warning: If you try to use trickery like adding “Re:” or “Fwd:” before your subject line, you risk being pegged as a spammer. You can count on that journalist promptly deleting your emails.

5. You didn’t offer a compelling story. Just because you’ve been asked to “place” a news release doesn’t mean journalists want to cover it. Home in on the story. Humanize your pitch as much as possible. Consider moving beyond the simple facts. Propose potential story ideas.

6. You didn’t create a sense of urgency. This seems basic, but it’s very easy to forget a call-to-action (CTA) in your pitch. You don’t just want the journalist to consider it. Get the idea across that this pitch is on a time-sensitive event or issue. It’s important for her to consider it now.

7. You waited too long to follow up. This trips pitchers often. Don’t wait weeks to follow up. Send your pitch; wait a few days to re-pitch; be sure to add value with each contact. Warning: If you wait too long, your pitch will be forgotten. You’ll have missed a prime opportunity.

8. You didn’t follow up. I’ve heard reporters say that if you don’t get a reply, they’re not interested and there’s no need to follow up. My experience has been quite different. Journalists are busy. Pitches rarely get picked up on the first contact and follow-up is necessary in most cases. If your research has convinced you your idea is a perfect fit, follow up. Be ready to explain WHY.

9. You didn’t allow enough lead-time. It’s November and you have a fabulous New Year’s idea for a national publication. Even better, you see a perfect opportunity in the publication’s editorial calendar. The problem? Lead-time. Particularly when you work with national media, allow four to six months. Check editorial close dates before you pitch. If you pitched without enough lead-time, point out the error in your follow-up email and offer an idea for months later.

10. You pitched like you were selling something. I see this often; it still makes me angry. PR is not advertising. Your pitch must be descriptive, compelling and persuasive, not pushy, self-promotional or obnoxious. Your pitch should be about the reporter and her publication’s needs, not your own.

11. The reporter just isn’t interested in your story . This item is last on my list intentionally. In my experience, if you craft a well-researched, tailored pitch and follow the above steps, you’ll get a reply.

It may not be the reply you hoped for. Often you’ll get a quick reply thanking you for your idea and explaining that it can’t be covered now, but they will keep you in mind. It’s still a no but it’s a reply, which allows you some closure.

A good pitch is a pitch treated as a piece of art created for the journalist you contact. It should inspire an appreciative response, even if she doesn’t cover your story. Pitches like these result in positive, high-quality, mutually beneficial relationships with journalists.

 

Keywords Are It!

Published by Christina on January 3, 2014, in Career Advice, Case Studies, General, Grammar, Social Media

I absolutely love this piece by Titus Hoskins, Hostway  Web Resources or http://www.hostway.com

Seven Powerful and Useful Keyword Marketing Tools

By Titus Hoskins

After years of running Web sites and earning a full-time online income, I am constantly reminded that it all comes down to keywords. Actually, it all comes down to obtaining top rankings for your profitable keywords in the search engines, mainly Google.

And that statement has to be refined even further, it’s all about obtaining top keyword rankings and keeping them at the top. You must consistently keep your keywords in the top spots on that all important first page of SERPs since your keyword rankings can make or break your online marketing.

If you’re targeting extremely competitive and profitable keywords you will have your work cut out for you; unless you have tons of money to buy your way (links) into the top spots, expect to spend months if not years, getting to those top listings. Google has frowned upon link buying and has taken steps to fight it, but this practice is still widespread throughout the Web.

Most beginning and honest Webmasters want to take the proper route and earn those top rankings by providing good quality content that Web users will actually find helpful and useful. They build those links the natural way by offering viral link bait in the form of videos, ebooks, articles, reports… all branded with backlinks to their sites.

Gradually over time, these links will build up and your keyword rankings will go up in the search engines. People will find your content and bookmark it in all the social bookmark sites like Digg, Facebook, MySpace… and your rankings will climb even faster.

However, since keyword marketing has become extremely competitive, you do need a little help with achieving those top rankings. Over the years I have tested and used many keyword tools and I have listed some of the best ones below. (Just Google to find links to these tools and programs.)

1. Internet Success Spider

One of the first keyword tools I ever used was The Internet Success Spider by Neil Shearing which is now free. The Spider is a very simple, yet powerful keyword tool because it shows you the major players in your keyword niche. It slowly works in the background to give you valuable information on your keywords. I realized very quickly, with marketing (like most things in life) that information is what separates the losers from the winners.

2. Keyword Elite

Later, I tried and am still using Keyword Elite by Brad Callen, it remains one of the best keyword research tools on the market. I can directly link many of my keyword successes to my early use of this tool.

Brad Callen simply creates some of the best marketing tools for online Webmasters and marketers. KE is no exception. It will do some very comprehensive keyword research for you and let you easily arrange that information. Keyword Elite has earned a well deserved reputation as a very useful marketing tool.

3. Brainstorm It — Site Build It

Another, perhaps even more powerful keyword tool is Brainstorm It! which is offered through the Site Build It marketing/hosting system run by Ken Evoy. This is a powerful keyword analyzer and finder, which is now in its third version.

SBI run by Ken Evoy creates many tools for Webmasters, and Brainstorm It, Version 3 is simply one of the best. This keyword tool will do both vertical and lateral keyword research to give the most comprehensive array of information for your marketing online. Only negative, you only get so many Wordtracker credits and you have to pay extra when those run out. Actually, Wordtracker should be at the top of any keyword tool list, but I have mainly used it in conjunction with other programs like Brainstorm It.

4. Google Keyword Tool

Then again, there is Google’s own keyword system run through its AdWords program. Like everything Google does, this keyword tool can be very helpful especially for the novice online marketer.

5. MSN Commercial Intention Of Keywords

Not to be outdone, another helpful tool is Microsoft’s Online Commercial Intention tool, which tells the probability your chosen keyword has a commercial value to it.

6. SEOBook Online Keyword Tool

For very quick keyword references, I like using Aaron Wall’s keyword tool on his SEOBook site. It’s quick and gives very good stats for your chosen keywords.

7.SEOQuake

Still yet another SEO (sort of related to keywords) is the SeoQuake Toolbar, which you can run on Firefox. It will slow down your browser but it will cough up valuable information about your site and more importantly, it will give you valuable information on your competitors’ sites. One feature that I find very helpful is the SEM Rank and SEM Price, which tells you how much your Search Engine keyword traffic is worth.

Plus, you must not ignore your Web site stats and traffic logs for they can supply you with your most valuable keyword information regarding your site. Closely examine which keyword phrases are bringing in the traffic and/or sales. Develop these keywords with your marketing, especially any “long tail” keyword phrases visitors are using to find your site or products. These longer keyword phrases have proven to be the most profitable because many times consumers using these phrases already have their minds made up on what they’re going to buy.

Why Am I Using All These Keyword Tools?

Simply because obtaining and keeping top rankings for my chosen keywords is my livelihood. Unless I can keep that focused traffic coming from these keywords via the search engines; it’s game over. Therefore, I use all the tools and information I can gather in order to keep those keywords at the top.

Google is always changing, you really have to stay on your game if you want to keep your keywords at the top. It all boils down to producing quality content Web surfers need and want. The SEO pretty much takes care of itself as long as you keep promoting your keywords with good viral branded content like videos, articles, ebooks, PDF reports… and you must mix up your online link building to include links from such places as Facebook, Digg, Google Bookmarks, MySpace… I have always used the free “AddThis” button to all my important content and this has resulted in 100’s of free links that your visitors will build for you!

I also believe you have to be careful when using viral articles to vary your anchor text (clickable part of a link) so that you don’t have the same keyword phrase repeated hundreds of times across the Web. Just use different versions of your keyword phrase and if you can, get those keyword links in the body of the article, as near to the top of the page as you can. This will make your link building look much more natural in the eyes of the search engines, especially Google.

Overall, you must have hundreds, if not thousands of keywords that you’re targeting with your marketing. You must constantly keep building links for those keywords from related sites on the Web. Sometimes it is helpful to truly view your keywords as organic, something that keeps growing naturally on its own. But you must first build a solid foundation with good quality content and then keep nurturing those keywords with good quality link bait so that others will bookmark, recommend and link to your keyword content.

Over the years, if there is anything I have learned about keywords which always holds true, it is this: you must be persistent. You must keep at it–building links, building content– it will usually take months, if not years, to get those top rankings for very competitive keywords, and it will take some further work to consistently keep those keywords in the top positions. But you will quickly learn keywords are well worth it since they can easily make or break your marketing.

About The Author

The author is a full-time online marketer who has numerous Web sites. For the latest Web marketing tools try: BizwareMagic.com. If you liked the article above, why not try this Free 7 Day Marketing Course here: http://www.marketingtoolguide.com.

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Grammar, A Quickie

Published by Christina on June 29, 2009, in Grammar

As my command of the English language continues to grow (as I consider myself an eternal student), bear with me.  I suspect, time and again, you will find a typo or two.

As we live in such a fast paced world of communication, it happens, right?  Although, in effort to look like the professional you are, please take grammar seriously.  In addition, try to steer clear of too much slang (which, in my opinion, is quite unbecoming).

A few quickies for today:

  • Alot is NOT a word.  A lot means “a large number.”  A great trick a friend, teacher and fellow Trails and Vistas Board Member recently recommends that her students use “a great deal of” which encourages her students to steer clear of the common errors presented with the use of a lot.
  • Affect typically means something to influence or to change (usually used as a verb).
  • Effect tends to reference a result (usually used as a noun), “the rain had a terrible effect on the clean windshield.”