Search Engine Optimization

Thanks to Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications, the newest version of the social media release is now available. Now, the next most pressing question is how to position the information in the release to get the most from search engines like Google, Yahoo or MSN. Fortunately, Todd Defren has also created tips for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

In its most general form, SEO is just the process of making sure search engines can understand and categorize your message. According to Defren’s newly released tips, there are 20 main “tips and tricks for SEO-friendly press releases.” As a summary, I have recondensed his information into five rules of social media press releases to obtain search engine optimization.

1. Determine three relevant keywords for the announcement and repeat them at least three times in the release. Make sure these keywords are in the subhead of the release.

2. Include anchor text hyperlinks linking back tot he appropriate links on your page, and place these in the first two paragraphs. However, do not over-hyperlink.

3. Keep the press release between 300-500 words.

4. Include images and videos that will be picked up by Google Images or Google Video. Tag them with the appropriate keywords.

5. Post all releases on their own page on your Web site in addition to sending it out on wire service.

Of course, there is much more that may be addressed here, but this is the real meat of the information. It will be really interesting to see how the use of SEO and the new social media release will change the field of PR in the next year or so. As always, I welcome any questions or comments. Please let me know if you think there is something else that just MUST to be on here.

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Benefits?

As some may have read in the “about me” portion of my blog, I am a receptionist at the Downtown Athletic Club. While this may seem like a brainless-just-get-the-bills-paid kind of position, lately it has become my sounding board for opinions, thoughts and analysis of the “social media” topic that has been so widely discussed.

I have heard and read a lot about the positive implications of this forum in terms of business networking, communication with consumers, and the fact that there is now a medium for which open discussion can happen in real time. However, as one club member asked me in our conversation about it, “What price do we pay in terms of personal communication with a few in order to potentially reach thousands on a much less personal channel?”

In my opinion, the use of these outlets keeps me connected to the world around me. However, this is coming from someone who gets separation anxiety from my cell phone if I leave it at home. As Elizabeth Harney wrote in a recent post, “How much is too much?” And maybe more importantly, what are the future implications in the personal lives of PR professionals and the bloggers they are trying to reach with regard to the 24/7 industry social media has become? Sally Whittle touches on this in her Getting Ink post, Work Life Balance. I’ve heard of it.

I’d be very interested to hear comments about this. Do people feel like we are giving something up by dedicating more time to this, or in the end will the connections and messages we write and hear in these channels really benefit us?

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PR, Customer Relations and Social Media

In my previous post I spoke briefly about the time implications of social media outlets when they are used for entertainment purposes. For the purpose of this post, I would like to elaborate on the professional uses of social media sites (like this blog) in the realm of public relations.

On a recent post on PR Squared, Todd Defren begs the question, “How much tweeting (or other Social Media interaction) is ‘too much’ while on the clock?” In response, Doug Haslam of Topaz makes an excellent point about the positive uses of social media like Twitter. He says that Twitter helps him communicate with the media and analyst communities, in addition to employers, clients and colleagues.

Furthermore, in a post by Marcel Lebrun, he points out that because of the recent surge of the Internet and the social media sources on it, businesses are lining up for customers instead of the other way around. A new and innovative way for businesses to create customer relations has been born, and those who take advantage of it first are likely to benefit the most. He shows how Comcast is a great example of this.

Social media outlets give companies an opportunity to reach out to their customers, remain transparent in their business decisions, brand themselves and provide the opportunity for customers to weigh in their input. As the 21st century pushes away the option of personal consumer relations, the future of social media provides an outlet for gaining it back.

Sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn have become customer service tools that supplement other social media like blogs and e-mail. It is important for businesses to realize the potential of these sites, take advantage of them and utilize the appropriate outlets effectively.

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Social Media Addictions

As most college students will boldly admit, I too am a facebook junkie. According to the home page of the site, “Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you.” And boy, does it! These days, for an often procrastinating college student, it is also a wonderful distraction from homework, a mode of stalking friends whom you wouldn’t normally know so much about, and a way to stay in contact with friends from the past whom you wouldn’t normally think to call. But more than anything else, it’s an addiction.

As part of my advanced PR writing class, our professor, Tiffany Derville, assigned and recommended that we sign up for even more social networking Web sites. These included Twitter, Linked In and PR Open Mic. Appreciating the idea of being better networked in the realm of public relations, I signed right up without a second thought. Now, however, I have come to realize the time-sucking implications of being more involved. Now, not only do I have a facebook infatuation, but like David Alston and other PR professionals, I am a social media addict.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I have become so interested in the possibilities associated with these sites that I’ve begun to research other possible uses for them. Twitter, for example is not simple the update mechanism I initial assumed it was. It has been formed into a tool for connecting people in a web-like network that can be a support system, a job leveraging tool, or a way of asking questions to a large group of people with a variety of interests, careers and knowledge.

In my 48 hours of Twitter use, I have become an enthusiast.

I would be interested in hearing the pros and cons that others have found using the world wide social-media web.

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PR Abroad

During this last summer, between June and September of 2007, I worked for the non-profit volunteer organization, Women in Progress. Based in Cape Coast, Ghana, the position came with the most amazing cultural experience I have ever had.

While I could talk for pages about the incredible people, food, music, sights and traditions I had the pleasure of discovering, for this blog entry, I will limit myself to the explanation of the business, what it did for Ghanaians, and how I was able to contribute what little public relations experience I had.
Global Mamas, the business associated with the volunteer organization, Women in Progress, was developed by co-founders Renae Adam and Kristen Johnson. As a non-profit, it works to alleviate poverty in Ghana by organizing, training, and aiding in the sale of batik clothing items made in Ghana and sold abroad.

During my stay in Ghana, Global Mamas was expanding into the bead industry. For that reason, some of my volunteer tasks were to pick out the beads for the catalog, hire women from the bead-making area of Ghana to create the beads, and organize the catalog.

In addition, I worked on fundraising coordination for future interns, creating a new catalog for the expanding products, hiring new women in another village, and doing market research for the co-op.

While I honestly believe that the most important experience I received in Ghana was that of personal discovery and cultural understanding, what I learned through the business side of Global Mamas was invaluable.

I would highly encourage anyone who has considered volunteering abroad (or even those who haven’t) to look into ways that the skills they have learned for their career may be applied to organizations like Global Mamas.

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Ready, set, write!

As the ever-changing, ever-undefined world of public relations evolves, so do the lessons for students of the PR field. As such, public relations professionals are required to encompass a set of skills ranging from market research and press release writing to media relations and online networking. The most recent phenomenon to hit the online world and the world of public relations in particular is the blogosphere. This technological twist on media, consumer and professional relations has made both companies and professionals step back and review their strategies for both business and personal networking.

As a junior in the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, I have focused my degree on the public relations field. By doing so, I have been exposed to the large realm of what is to be expected of a PR professional upon graduation. A skillful hand within the blogosphere is just one of those expectations. Hopefully, by creating my own blog, I will be as blog-savvy as it gets.

This blog will be written for readers interested in learning more about the world of public relations, the culture and requirements it faces, and the ways it has and will keep changing through the years. I plan on writing about the ever-so-looming internship and job search, the importance of an image as a public relations professional, and the value and drawbacks of networking sites, such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and PR Open Mic.

While I nervously hope to have something positive to add to the blogosphere of today, I am excited to learn more about the blogging phenomenon and share insight into the experience.

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