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Using RSS Feeds for Better PR

Using RSS Feeds for Better PR

September 29th, 2014

RSS feed readers have been around for a long time, but few people even know what they are or how to use them. I’m here to tell you that having a good RSS feed aggregator list is an extremely valuable tool to help you understand what the press is writing about and to get your business covered.

What is an RSS Feed Reader?

An RSS feed reader aggregates news articles into a single space. It’s kind of like Microsoft Outlook, except instead of emails, it pulls in news articles and blogs from the sources you tell it to. RSS feeds are a great way to spot media trends and peruse the most important stories of the day as they are published in an organized way.

How does an RSS reader benefit my PR efforts?

Public Relations is a bit like trying to predict the weather. PR professionals are constantly trying to gauge the whims of the press which can change on a dime based on an innumerable amount of variables. It can seem overwhelming, but the value it can generate for a business is substantial. Companies should strive to become recognized for their authority in their industry, but the reality is that the press doesn’t care about specific products, they care about compelling stories that capture the imagination, or at least get people thinking.

Lucky for you, PR isn’t all about getting people to write news stories about your products, because unless you’re a multi-million dollar tech company with the latest app that’s going to change everything, it’s unlikely the conditions will be just right for that. PR is about finding the intersection of your industry and the interesting compelling things people are talking about every day, and then injecting yourself and your company into the conversation.

While the press is out there trying to recognize trends in what their readers care about, PR managers are trying to figure out what the press cares about. The best way to do that is to start reading articles, lots of articles. Now you don’t have to read the entire thing, you can just scan it, or glance over the title and read a few paragraphs, but the point is that knowing which way the wind is blowing in PR is all about volume.

Your RSS feed will be your muse for generating relevant pitch ideas and compelling content. At a glance you can see what others in your industry are buzzing about, or what the latest news is and where those things overlap with your industry. Good PR and good press alike are both about getting the latest stories or scoops in a timely manner. Once a story breaks it’s only a matter of hours before the press stops writing about it.

Where can I find a good RSS reader?

First for a little history: In 2005 Google launched its RSS feed Reader – Google Reader which soon became the preferred RSS feed reader on the planet, but, Google was of the mind that RSS aggregators were a thing of the past, and it was a little over a year ago that Google shutdown the beloved google reader, much to my chagrin and that of a lot of other PR folks I’m sure. Luckily the internet has answered the call and numerous companies have stepped up to provide plenty of rss reader options similar to Google Reader. The two most popular are Feedly and INO reader.

How do you use one?

• It depends on which one you use but essentially it becomes very clear once you start. I have been using INO reader, but there are plenty of other good options out there.
• When you find a source that you find useful, look for a symbol that looks like this:

 

 

 

 

 

• That should bring you to a page that looks like a bunch of code.

 

• Just copy the URL of that page into the “add subscriptions” area of your RSS feed reader and voila! You should see a string of headlines pop up in your reader. If you can’t find an RSS graphic, sometimes it works just to take the URL from the main page or the sub-topic page of the website that you want to be your source and copy that into your feed reader. I would say 90% of the time, this works just as well.

• In many instances you can find sources for your feeder from the feeder itself. They usually display a large number of popular categories that you can browse, which will be helpful to get you started, but I tend to view those sources as low hanging fruit and try not to use them too much.

• Once you have the feeds, there tends to be a lot of ways to customize your view of the feed ,e.g., just the title, title and short description, pictures or no pictures etc…

• On the left pane is where you want to start organizing things into folders so you can easily navigate between the topics, writers, and publications that you care about. With a robust feed, articles will come up fast if you ‘view all’, and you will really get a feel for how fast things are published and covered. Selecting to view individual folders will slow down the feed to only view the sources inside. You can also select individual sources inside each folder.

 

Some tips on how to find great feeds:
News sites: First off, you should always have your finger on the pulse of the biggest news stories of the day. USA Today, CNN or TIME would be some good examples of who to follow here.

Industry publications and blogs: There are undoubtedly some magazines or publications that write about your industry or something closely related to it, add those feeds.

Blogs of your competitors: I know it seems faux pa, but if you are trying to figure out what people in your industry care about, this is like a free peak! Remember you’re not looking at these things to copy off your competitors, but to try to get a better understanding of what people in your industry think is important that maybe you haven’t thought of.

Press source blogs: after you’ve spent some time reading through your RSS feed, you’ll start to notice that press that covers your industry are all sourcing the same blog. You should definitely add that blog to your feed reader and check it every day.

Specific journalists and journalists that have covered your company: If there are reporters that you have thought your company would be a good source of information for, add their feed to your feed reader. A lot of news sites will break out a page for a specific writer and you can just look for the RSS button or copy the URL of that page directly into your feed reader. If you’re familiar with an author’s work it, then it makes it a lot easier for you to introduce yourself to them later when you have something that you want to pitch to them.

Politicians and government agencies: There is always some Congressman, Senator, Department or Agency that is dealing in either legislation or regulations that will have an effect on your industry. Every single one of them has a news section on their website. You should find those people and groups and add those page’s URLS to your feed reader and monitor them closely. When one of these folks makes or proposes a change that affects your industry in a way that only someone like you or others in your industry would understand – who better to pitch it to the press than you?

Once you have your RSS feeder all set up and you have gotten to know its features, you won’t believe how much easier it is to find relevant information on the things the press and people in your industry care about. Pitch ideas and content for blogs will pop into your brain at the speed of well, an RSS feed. Imagine trying to type in the URLS or doing a google search for the sites of each of the articles you can now see at just a glance. Even trying to utilize bookmarks or google alerts will seem quaint. The only tool that really compares is using twitter with lists, but that’s a blog for another day. Using the two in tandem is what I’m all about anyway.

3 Easy Things You Can Do Right Now for Your Brand Management Strategy

3 Easy Things You Can Do Right Now for Your Brand Management Strategy

September 3rd, 2014

As a business owner your brand is everything. Every day your company’s reputation, and potential sales, are affected by both positive and negative online influences so it remains imperative for you to understand these factors, allowing you to proactively maintain your reputation. Do you know what the general sentiment is about your company on social media? Do you know how your brand appears in the search engine results pages (SERPs)? Here are three quick tips to keep you on top of your brand mentions and reputation.

Feedback and Comments and Reviews Oh My!

What are your customers saying about you? As a business owner you may have experienced the hardship of reading a one-star review, an unpleasant tweet, or negative feedback from an unsatisfied customer. You’re not alone – these daunting situations do typically arise for all businesses from time to time; the key thing is how you anticipate, mitigate, and respond to these occurrences. It is important to monitor and know what customers are saying and thinking about you as a first step in maintaining a strong online standing. Start by browsing popular business review sites such as Yelp and see if anything new has appeared. (A quick note on Yelp – the recent Google Pigeon update has resulted in Yelp reviews now taking up increased prominence on page 1 of branded search terms.) Then do a quick search of your business name and related branded terms on Google, Bing, and Yahoo to get a good handle on what your online reputation is saying about you. And don’t forget Social Media – the ease of slamming (or praising) a company on Twitter and Facebook means you likely have more mentions there than on traditional review sites that require email addresses and other steps to verify reviews. There are some handy tools out there for sentiment analysis that are extremely thorough and can save you some time in these endeavors…a big subject we’ll save for another post.

• Spread the Word

Does your business regularly donate to the ASPCA, collect yearly for the Toys for Tots Foundation or sponsor your local breast cancer walk? Why not tell people about it. Spread the word about all the positive things your company is doing for the community, the environment, or any endeavor that you are passionate about, big or small. Sharing some photos to your company’s Facebook friends or tweeting a flyer to get others to join you in your cause is a great way to build a positive reputation. Not sure how to let others know of all the great things your company is doing or maybe how to share an interesting story of your involvement? Seek help with tip number 3.

• Online Reputation Assistance

Don’t like what you see or not finding the results you want associated with your name? Many companies seek out help from professionals when it comes to managing their online reputations. It is shown that 80% of today’s consumers are influenced by the reviews and comments they read online and experts can help design specific plans to ensure your company maintains a positive online reputation. Experts that specialize in brand monitoring and online reputation management services can help you fight the battle of negative reviews, monitor your social engagement and much more to position your company as a highly regarded online brand.

Start taking control of your online reputation today with a free consultation.

The Importance of Brand Development and an Online Presence

The Importance of Brand Development and an Online Presence

December 19th, 2013


When it comes to running a business, you’re going to want to stand out from the rest. And if you’re a first-time business owner, using Internet platforms for brand development is a great way of establishing yourself.

Although it’s true that some companies gain their positive reputation through word of mouth, it never hurt anybody to develop a strong online presence. When you combine brand development with an online presence, you can essentially create something magical—something that is accessible, dependable, and a simple click away.

These days, people rely on the Internet for everything. From finding recipes to sourcing materials for complicated research papers, the Internet—search engines in particular—have dramatically improved our ability to learn about a plethora of different topics. When we hear about a new business, one of our first instincts is to reach for our laptop, get on the Internet, type in the name of the company, and attempt to learn more. But what happens when there is virtually nothing to work with? Your target consumers might take their business elsewhere.

Without a good online presence, your brand can appear less valuable than it is. This is not to say that it actually is less worthwhile, but think of your company’s website almost like a store in the mall: would you go there if it were messy, hard to get around in, or had terrible service? The answer is most likely no. In addition to the world being desperately hooked on the Internet, we also expect fast results. If your website is difficult to maneuver or looks outdated, a potential client could lose interest quickly and search for a similar company instead.

Utilizing social media platforms can help you to develop a strong online presence for your clients; 500 million people alone are using Facebook. Currently, there are 554,750,000 people tweeting away on Twitter—and let’s be honest—that is a gigantic number. By building a strong online presence with clear and consistent branding, it will be easier for your future customers to access your company’s information and to take advantage of your services.

PR Disasters 101: Four Mistakes People Make When They’re Dealing With A PR Problem

PR Disasters 101: Four Mistakes People Make When They’re Dealing With A PR Problem

December 4th, 2013

Maybe your company’s CEO took an unpopular stance on a current hot button issue, or perhaps your newest product or service is getting less than stellar reviews from customers. Either way, you have a PR problem on your hands and you’re scrambling to find a way to deal with it. Media relations have become essential for recovering from a PR disaster, but there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to handle it. If you hire a good PR company to help you weather the crisis you’ll be fine, but when some businesses and companies work with them they still insist on doing things their own way. If you find yourself in the middle of a PR problem, avoid making these mistakes at all costs.

Distancing yourself from the problem/ignoring the problem

There’s a controversy surrounding your company, and pretending that it doesn’t exist will only make the problem worse. Even if the allegations made against your company are false, you have to address them head on unless you want to be unfairly judged in the court of public opinion. Consumers and customers want to hear you explain your side of the story, and not hear you make excuses or pretend like nothing is wrong. Don’t wait for anything to “blow over”, and don’t refuse to talk about it in the media (PR rule #1: adamant silence makes you look guilty). Work with a PR company and find the best way to address the issue.

Not appearing sincere

When you’re trying to deal with a PR disaster, one of the worst things you can do is not appearing sincere when you explain your company’s side of the story. Sincerity is very important to consumers, and issuing an apology that your company doesn’t seem to stand by can significantly hurt your business. Sometimes it isn’t the apology that upsets people, it’s the way employees and important company managers act during a problem. If your company is the middle of PR crisis, it isn’t the time to throw extravagant employee parties or to give yourself a raise.

Only doing one thing to deal with the problem

Doing a single public apology or releasing a bland press release isn’t going to be enough to sway consumers to your favor again. People hate effortless apologies from companies almost as much as they hate insincere apologies, and doing one single thing to deal with the problem won’t make your company look good. Address the problem again once it’s fixed, tell the public exactly what you’re doing to fix the problem, or even donate to a charitable cause that’s loosely related to the problem at hand. Do whatever you can to help your company, and make sure you just don’t do one thing.

Hiding your owner/CEO

When you’re in the midst of a PR nightmare your owner or CEO may want to lay low, but that’s never a good idea when you’re trying to win back public approval. Like it or not your owner or CEO is the figurehead of your company, and when trouble rears its ugly head people are going to want to know what the person in charge is doing to help it. An invisible owner or CEO during a time of crisis doesn’t just look suspicious to outsiders; it also will make your employees worry and wonder if something is seriously wrong.

Four Press Release Writing Strategies that Demand the Spotlight

Four Press Release Writing Strategies that Demand the Spotlight

October 8th, 2013

The relationship between press release writing and SEO isn’t what it used to be. While you may have once considered your press release to be simply a valuable home for a link, competition for attention is now on the rise, and treating your PR piece more like social media may be a more successful strategy. Content and structure in your newsworthy piece are far more important to the message’s visibility than anything else in the current SEO climate, so if you want to garner attention (and results!), you’ve got to be strategic.

Know your Niche

Don’t cater to a general audience — in doing so, you might as well be calling into the void. Instead, identify your target audience and, more importantly, what gets their attention. What are they sharing on Facebook? Who are they retweeting? What are they interested in right now? Sure, the main goal of a press release is to inform your audience about what’s going on with your industry, but you’ve also got to provide interesting and useful content if you want them to read and share it.

Calculate your Title

Your title has to be a lot of things: it has to be attention-grabbing; it has to appeal to the average Internet user, who is likely scrolling through a list of headlines, all of which are competing with yours; perhaps even more importantly, it should be somewhere around 100 characters so that anyone who likes the piece can easily share it on Twitter. In this day and age, your title is one of the most important aspects of the content – treat it as such.

Link Wisely

You’re probably accustomed to linking to your company’s website for potential customers in the call to action, and that’s a good practice. That being said, where in the content are you locating your call to action? PR Newswire recently acknowledged that their users have far more success when their call to action is located toward the top of the press release as opposed to near the bottom, so this is something you might want to consider.

If the only link in your press release is to your own website, your press release could probably be better. If you’ve quoted someone, link their name to their blog or bio! If you’ve cited an interesting statistic, link to the study so the reader can learn more. Remember, you’re trying to engage and inform.

It’s also never a bad idea to consider embedding a Click-to-Tweet link on some important text within the content. This makes it effortless for readers to share the content socially, which only benefits you further.

Be Visual

Visual strategy applies to both the appearance of the text and associated images. Maximize the use of white space to send a message that is concise and informative, rather than verbose and overwhelming. Add a picture that adds to the content, like a screenshot, a graph, or a never-before-seen photo, as opposed to an obvious-choice stock photo that doesn’t attract any attention.

Press Releases vs. Media Pitches – Which is Right for You?

Press Releases vs. Media Pitches – Which is Right for You?

September 30th, 2013

There is a common misconception in Public Relations about the difference between press releases and media pitches. Contrary to popular belief, press releases are not necessary to get media coverage. Press releases should only be used if your business has something newsworthy to announce about the company, whereas media pitches provide a great platform to comment as an expert on a trending topic in your industry.

Press Releases at a Glance
extra extra newspaper - imagePress releases are written in a journalistic-manner, which is objective and impersonal, meaning that the writer is simply reporting the news. In order to be successful, a press release must read as news and be able to be published as is or quoted in a bigger news story.

Media Pitches, Simplified
A media pitch, put simply, is a letter to an editor or journalist. The pitch should touch upon a trending topic within your industry, on which you offer your expert opinion. The main objective of a media pitch is to catch the reader’s (the journalist’s) attention – enough to be offered an interview, guest blog, or spot on a radio or television program.

As opposed to a press release, a media pitch isn’t a complete story and should include the most important information — but not all the details — as a teaser for a story would. Media pitches can also offer a creative tone and are less formal in format and language. Unlike press releases, they are never published as is.
To recap, press releases should be written only to report on something newsworthy within your business, such as event marketing, a product launch, or a release on new research findings. Media pitches are great for reacting to trending news items to get your name in front of journalists. Both provide excellent opportunities to increase your visibility and get you or your brand’s name out there. When you know how to utilize both for maximum efficiency, it becomes much easier to build connections and put your business in the public eye.

Promoting Reviews Through Press Releases

Promoting Reviews Through Press Releases

May 8th, 2013

Promoting Reviews Through Press Releases

Your brand’s reputation is integral to its success.  By utilizing Press Releases to tout positive reviews and other user-generated content, you can improve your reputation and your bottom line.  PR professionals know that through Press Release distribution, your company can receive high-profile placements on major news sites and add significant value to your brand’s identity.

PR for Your Reputation
Gaining recognition for your company’s achievements and milestones is essential and Press Releases help to facilitate this important element of your business’ success.  Using PR to announce positive news and updates as well as awards or consumer feedback can add SEO value as well as boost Reputation Management efforts.

By issuing Press Releases to tout customer satisfaction rankings and other topics relevant to your client base, you can effectively diminish the presence of any negative reviews in search results as well as paint a more positive picture of your brand to your audience.

The Value of Press Releases
Besides brand recognition, Press Releases are useful in building rankings for branded terms and other relevant keywords.  Recent studies indicate that Google and other major search engines do include Press Releases as a ranking factor for specific keywords.  This provides a great channel for your customers and prospective clients to discover your brand and its offerings.

Additionally, Press Releases can lend to your overall credibility and growth.  With over 80% of consumers researching a brand online before conducting business, it is important to provide valuable, positive content to potential customers.

Press Releases are an extremely powerful resource for all businesses and are the cornerstone of a successful Public Relations campaign.  Going forward, using PR to boost positive reviews and company insights will be a major component in virtually every business’ online marketing and PR initiatives.

Using PR to Counter Bad Reviews

Using PR to Counter Bad Reviews

May 8th, 2013

Using Public Relations to Counter Negative Reviews

A strong public relations strategy is not only effective at building your brand’s reputation and credibility, but also can be used to counter negative publicity online.  Every PR professional understands the value of utilizing press releases and media/news placements to enhance their clients’ brand awareness; but many businesses are now beginning to understand the power of PR as a reputation management resource.

Managing Reputation Through Public Relations
Every brand can be impacted by negative reviews, ratings and comments.  Such user-generated content can affect sales, revenues and even long-term success.  However, brand positioning can be used to rebuild a negative reputation.

Creating the framework for a solid PR strategy is essential for brands facing potential reputation concerns and developing public relations goals can also add value to a business’ identity, both on and offline.

How PR Can Rebuild Your Brand
Press Releases, Media Placements and Guest Commentary opportunities all provide an opportunity for your brand’s “voice” to be recognized by your audience.  The value of PR is virtually immeasurable, as high-profile media placements or commentaries will be recognized by search engines as reputable content.

This content will not only help positive mentions of your brand’s name and key figures gain visibility, but will also help to negate the prevalence of negative reviews or ratings.

Additionally, PR has long been known to help to establish credibility with consumers and is a key component of brand-building.

Designing a Winning PR Plan
An effective Public Relations strategy involves Press Releases to announce important changes or milestones within the company and Media Pitches to gain relevant placements.

These elements are crucial in not only PR, but can supplement Reputation Management efforts, as well.  Combating negative content online is important for any business and PR initiatives play an instrumental role in defending your brand’s image.

The Power of the Press: Utilizing PR to Enhance Your Brand’s Identity

The Power of the Press: Utilizing PR to Enhance Your Brand’s Identity

November 29th, 2012

Every business should strive to make their brand the best and most recognized in their industry.  In order to achieve maximum brand recognition as well as a higher level of awareness throughout the competitive Internet marketplace, it is necessary to position your company and brand as an industry-leader on authoritative sites as well as significant news and media outlets, both on and offline.

Additionally, it is important to monitor your company online in order to maintain that valuable reputation in the future.  Virtually every can benefit from the power of the press and generate more mainstream recognition through PR efforts, which can substantially impact your revenues on a long-term basis.

The most proven approach to a strong Public Relations strategy begins with a comprehensive, data-driven analysis.  What does your brand’s current online reputation indicate about the company and its leadership?  Are there any potential concerns that may influence your reputation in the marketplace?

Once these questions are addressed through extensive online and offline research, it is then important to develop a unique and aggressive strategy to keep any reputation issues from becoming problematic while creating fresh, engaging content that can be utilized by the media.

PR experts are able to leverage their expertise to proactively reach out to journalists, producers and others within the news and media to construct newsworthy, relevant “pitches” which can you’re your brand maintain a positive brand image.  By positioning your company’s experts as thought leaders within the media, your business will gain significant exposure to a broad audience and achieve greater SEO success, as well.  Press releases also help to gain authoritative backlinks to your site, while also raising awareness of new products, services or other changes and additions to your brand.

By utilizing a strong Public Relations campaign, your company can expect to see an increase in not only awareness, but revenue and an increased presence throughout the competitive digital landscape.

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