WriterAccess Webinar Archive
Reaching a Global Audience
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 – 1:00 PM ET
Making your website an engaging place that your visitors trust is no easy task. You can start by making a site that allows visitors to easily find, discuss and share resources.
Join iPressRoom's Chris Bechtel and ideaLaunch founder Byron White for a webinar on Reaching a Global Audience to Drive Influence, Reputation and Outcomes.
In this webinar you'll learn reasons why upgrading your website capabilities is a necessity if you want to turn site visits into relationships, and relationships into outcomes. Outcomes like greater brand awareness, higher measures of favorable response and revenue growth.
The slidedeck from this webinar is available for download.
Byron White: Welcome everyone, this is Byron White; happy to be here with everyone. Welcome to the 23rd content marketing webinar. Wow, I think I'm getting old. Chris, welcome; are you here?
Chris Bechtel: I am. Hello everybody; thanks for joining us.
Byron White: Indeed; thanks for joining us as well. Chris, we’re very excited to learn more about your world over at iPressRooms and the fabulous new technology that's been launched. I’m really excited to hear about your presentation today, reaching a global audience that drives influence, reputation and jillions of dollars in revenue. Well, actually I just made that up, but we’ll try to get to that as one of the outcomes.
Chris Bechtel: That sounds great, exactly.
Byron White: Without further ado, I think I’m going to dive in and walk through our presentation; I’ll give everybody some quick ground rules here on the presentation itself and how works, but the net of it is, everybody who joined in can get a free copy of my 101 Content Marketing Tips book; so that's good news. We’ll shoot that out to you at the end. Number two, Chris and I both will be fielding questions at the end of the presentation today. If you could, please list your questions as you think of them in the chat area of the actual tool you're listening to this on, and we’ll flush through any of your questions, and dive in, and answer them at the end.
Without further ado, let me give a quick lay of the land. I'm going to go through about a 10 to 15-minute presentation here that I’ll blow through very quickly, leaving plenty of time for Chris to dive in with his presentation. The first part of what we do annually every month is to go through just a quick review of the content marketing revolution, which we’ll do. I then prepared 10 sensational press release writing and strategy tips that I think will be extraordinarily helpful for you in trying to get the attention of your customers, as well as any target audience including the press. Finally, we'll look at some ways to measure on that, which you'll find interesting as well as part of my presentation.
A quick take on the content marketing revolution; what is it, and why is it gaining such momentum? It's essentially defined as the art of listening to your customer’s wants and needs, as you can read from this slide. This is probably the trickiest part of the actual process for content marketing; how do you listen to your customers’ needs? We’re seeing some very new technology being developed; I just heard a pitch last week on some new technology related to press release distribution and optimizing press releases, which I think will become public sooner rather than later. I saw a demonstration of that and played with that over the weekend actually; very exciting stuff that I can disclose in the future.
We can look at our search box to see what people are looking for on our website. We can look at our analytics to see what our most popular pages are; we can look at the keyword popularity. We can talk to our customer service representatives to learn more about what our customers are really saying, and wanting and needing. That is the critical element to really anything you're doing related to content on the web, and anything you're talking about investing in or publishing. It’s also the science of delivering content to them in their wants and needs in a compelling way, and that portfolio has very simply widened tremendously in the last six months to a year.
It's no longer blog posts or Tweets or Facebook posts; you need to be starting to think much deeper about your content, and your reach, and catching customers orbiting at high speeds. It's constantly testing campaigns to learn what works and doesn't work, with A/V testing and multivariate testing. There are all kinds of new toys coming into play with geo-targeting and segmentation; very complex tasks and we’re really getting excited to see how it all pans out. It’s measuring customers’ engagement as well; we can do that by tracking the type of assets they're downloading, how much time they’re spending on page and some other metrics that I’ll get into.
It's trying to catch readers with innovative tools and anytime content, as I like calling it, and other people tend to use that word as well. We’re using applets and desktops, of course, as well as mobile and all kinds of other ways to get the words out, and the links and traffic in. Finally, it's developing a pipeline to educate, and earn trust, and drive sales in that pipeline that we’re seeing integrated into salesforce.com, and scoring leads and all kinds of interesting things are helping us to pinpoint who is an appropriate person to talk to about your products and services. It's changing, and it’s changing fast; I think scoring content is going to be the driver for trying to weed through who’s hot and who's not, and there are all kinds of interesting ways that’s being done.
Let me walk you next through these ten steps for press release success. This has been developed with a number of different people over a great period of time, back before I even started my first company called Freelance Access, which was a graphic arts placement agency. They grew very quickly for a whole bunch of reasons which we'll get into here. The first tip is to just really get very creative with what you're going to write a press release about, and these are just some really interesting things for you to jot down or take a look at. By the way, this deck will be available in ideaLaunch for you to download, probably by Thursday of this week. You can just go there and download this on ideaLaunch, and get a copy of all this.
I think that the secret to press release success and assembling a number of different stories is thinking very creatively about what you can write about. I’ve bolded some things that have really worked well for me, like promoting this webinar. I’m going to show you a live example of that later in the stack, where we actually optimize a press release that I did about a year ago for a strange phrase called Press Release Magic. You'll see that we’re now number four at Google for that phrase as a result of just sending a simple press release out promoting a webinar.
Talking about speaking engagements; I spoke 28 times last year, which gave me an excuse and an opportunity to promote a lot of those actual speaking engagements in a press release form to show that I’m a thought leader and somebody that’s active and an authority in the space. Green initiatives; you can look at some of the conversion metrics and data on going green for your own company and how that invigorates and empowers not only your employees, but even your customers, to want to buy more from you and support your efforts and your initiatives.
Finding remarkable employees within your company and taking their story out or supporting their story. Maybe some of them are involved in charities or other things that they are spending their valuable time doing. It's worth finding those employees, helping them gather ideas and develop stories to help make your company better. A remarkable company policy is another great one; I remember HubSpot recently in their rise to incredible success. Their CEO Brian Halligan decided to just in one swoop let employees hypothetically take as much vacation as they wanted to, as long as they were doing their job of hitting their numbers, and doing the things that matter to grow the business.
These are truly remarkable policies that need to be talked about, and celebrated, and disclosed to try to get attention and distinguish you from the competition. Lots of ideas on this page and worthy of really thinking through, and finding a way to get good information out to prospect customers for the sake of the information, not so much for the sake of growing in popularity.
Speaking of research and competition, there are so many great tools out there for you to consider. We have some tools but researching the competition is something that we do ourselves. We’re always monitoring the competition; ideaLaunch competes with Genta42 for many different keyword phrases like “marketing profs.” We ask questions like, “How are we doing versus themselves versus the competition?” We’re constantly doing that research and that research is helping us to identify opportunities for us to focus on for SEO strategy as well as press release strategy.
I mentioned finding customer’s wants and needs. I think you need to go way beyond just talking to your customer service reps, surveys, and phone calls, and monitoring their behavior in the social media sphere looking at your analytics account. You've got to dig very deep these days to help understand what the wants needs of your customers are, which should be what you're writing press releases about. Participation in the events people are talking about and following events people are talking about; participating in the conversations for those events, or those activities, or those hot products, whatever they are. It's all about listening to those wants and needs; that’s really where the stories are coming from.
I mentioned finding the stories within your own employees, but dig deep here; are your employees winning awards? One of our employees, a CTO, won a Microsoft award a couple of years ago; that's a big deal for a company like ours, for a small business like ours to have a CTO who has won a major award. Are you submitting your website or your stories on certifications, awards and programs? Do you have industry-recognized leaders who are part of your company? Have you received any recognition, even your individual employees? This is all the kind of stuff that you need to dig very deep on, and reward your employees with going public with the press release for that story.
Keyword research tools; there are lots of them. I’ve listed some of them here; there are many, many more, but I would encourage you to play with any and all of these to try to find out the hot keywords that you need to use to optimize press releases. Optimizing images is another big part of the press release game; even taking customized stock images and customizing them. Here's an example where we took a stock image with this person holding up a ball, but we put content marketing on it, which we now use on a lot of our decks. Can you customize stock images to make them your own? I think it's an innovative idea. Of course, optimizing them for the bots is important as well in naming those images. Even taking yellow creative captions or headlines, and pulling them out of the body of the copy.
Hyperlinking the text within the press releases is critical, but not over linking. Optimizing image names; this is a critical part of the process. Trying to centralize the publishing to maximize the results is also critical here; these plans that we develop are critical to that, so what we’re trying to do here is to create an SEO plan that helps you really get a holistic view of what you're going to publish. For example, an editorial calendar looking at the personas of who you're writing for, and looking at all of the keyword analysis that needs to go on by looking at the entire year layout for all of the releases that you’re going to optimize for.
Then the content plan; what is the overall short-tail and long-tail plan. I see I have my old deck here, but the content plan gets more into the actual style of the content and the personas that I have created and all kinds of different aspects of how much content you need to create, which silos do you need to create the content in, and all kinds of other variables you need to look at. You need several plans to help you have an effective press release strategy.
Certainly, looking over the press release calendar is key, as is looking over a steady stream of press releases to distribute. Look at your upcoming shows and stay ahead of the game with regards to speaking events and any employee news to develop that steady stream pipeline. It seems that press releases often are generated out of, “Oh, we have something coming up. Maybe that's worthy of a press release,” when in fact, you should be way ahead of the game, and thinking way beyond the scope of particular events, and starting to drum up and create events throughout the course of each month there are that are worthy of taking to that market.
Optimizing the search release tools is certainly key; Press Release Grader by HubSpot is a great tool, Word Vision is a proprietary tool that we use. You can also go to pagestrengthtool.com and SEO Content Grader, which are both available on ideaLaunch to help you score particular pages on your website and/or content, so you can get a feel for how well it's optimized for particular keyword phrases that you enter.
Let's get to the tracking performance; overall, there are a lot of different ways to track performance. The key with tracking performance, however, is being sure you tag the date that any press release or content asset that you’re publishing on your website and/or distributing a wide pool. Tagging that specific date is the key factor here for driving and measuring and tracking performance.
Let me show you a couple of ways that we can track performance if you're effectively tagging the date that something was published or distributed. On the left bar chart here, we see a whole bunch of different content assets that we published, of which there were some press releases that were published during this track. On the right, you can see that we've improved listing positions at Google for hundreds of keyword phrases. We’re tracking improved listing positions correlated with the publishing of content assets.
Another way to look at it is to look at the correlation of content assets you’ve published or distributed to increase traffic. These two charts that you're looking at here, as well as the two on the previous slide were from Word Vision technology. This is proprietary technology that we run for our customers that tries to track that impact, and measure it on an ongoing monthly basis. It can also look at repeat visitation and engagement on your website, which is another metric for tracking ROI. You can look at time on-site, and whether a press release might've had certain variables of stickiness to it, which you can track and measure. You can look at lead generation that may have come from press releases that you’ve published on your website with links that link over to those downloadable pages. In the right column of a press release, you might have a “Download our free guide” or whatever the case may be, a call to action.
You can actually start looking at how press releases are generating leads. You can look at overall improved conversion rates from any traffic that you're driving from those press releases and publishing on your website to isolate that traffic. You can look at increases in sales from any of the leads that came in, this happens to be in Salesforce, that allows you to actually go in and see what conversions happen from leads that might have generated through press releases.
Here's their case study where we wrote a press release on a webinar we were having, and sent the press release out through PRWweb. We optimized the press release for the keyword phrase “press release magic,” and within about three weeks of watching that press release, we were in the top 10 at Google. We’re now in the top four at Google for that particular phrase. It’s not that there’s a lot of traffic on that phrase, but this was accomplished by simply putting up a page on our website that featured that particular promotion for the webinar, running and distributing a press release out through PRWeb that linked over to that page. That one single link in the actual landing page on our website enabled us to achieve a top 10 listing at Google. Without further ado, let me turn things over to Chris. I’ll change the presenter here for you, Chris, and onward you go.
Chris Bechtel: Excellent; well thanks Byron, that was terrific. I just want to confirm that everyone can see my presentation.
Byron White: All set.
Chris Bechtel: All right; well, perfect. I want to talk about what I think most of the people looking to achieve, of course, which is reaching global audience or least reaching your audience. Sometimes they might be hyper local, sometimes they’re regional. In many cases, it is global to drive influence, manage your reputation and really, to deliver outcomes. My focus is really about the website today; that’s what I’m going to be talking about.
iPressRoom, to give a little background, primarily develops web content management software. Our clients include Yahoo!, Xerox, Epson, Target, UCLA, Central Michigan University. We have cities and municipalities such as the city of Carlsbad or the city of Calgary, and counties across the spectrum from public to private and small to large, use our software platform to publish their press releases, photos, video to an online user. That's really what our central focus is; clients also use our platform to deliver content to their website or to micro sites.
The real business challenge is what Byron was talking about; content. What we want to do in our press room is make it easy for our clients to publish that content, and distribute it, and make it available. What I want to talk about today is really 10 reasons why we want to consider upgrading our current website capabilities what we have connected to our corporate website. Typically, these are the goals, which are really about increased web visibility, brand awareness, managing our reputation, trying to facilitate traditional mainstream media coverage, as well as nontraditional coverage such as online, blogger and influencer relations.
These are the types of things, back to what Byron was just talking about, that are ultimately going to drive link value; getting links from other online publications, getting pick up from our news releases and an actual hyperlink for that keyword. Ideally, to supercharge Byron’s case study even further, he could've gotten a high-level blogger with a good page rank on that blog with an actual hyperlink for “press release magic” that links to the ideaLaunch website; that’s going to get an an even higher visibility in Google search.
That’s the kind of thing we’re trying to facilitate, and the goals are sales and stock price increases. Your outcome or goals might be community involvement, or support, event participation, whether it's digital or physical off-line event participation, word-of-mouth and referrals; also, to support crisis communications, whether that's corporate crisis reputation management or actual crises such as tornadoes, earthquakes, or that type of thing we’ve been seeing lately. My point of view is that your website is the center of your online world, and we talk about how their social media is prevalent everywhere and is extremely important. Everything is becoming social, and that really means that our website needs to talk with people, not necessarily to people, but our website, and your website is really the center of your online world.
I see other social networks such as Twitter or Facebook or other places as other neighborhoods, and these are other neighborhoods where people spend their time. Your website is really your home and we ultimately want all roads from those other neighborhoods to lead back to you. This is an example of what Xerox's home looks like, and one of the proof points of that is a recent survey that Altimeter Group did on the top social media strategists in the US. The number one priority for those strategists in 2011 was increased integration with the corporate organizational website and social media.
The reason for that is that social integration with your website allows readers to stay on your site longer and encourages social sharing and community in a location; your website that you have more control over. We have all seen that Facebook and Twitter have fantastic channels with lots of people spending a lot of time in them, but we don't have control ultimately over the content or over what happens on those sites. Again, I see other social media sites and destinations as other neighborhoods.
Furthermore, I was on a panel recently with the professor at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. Professor Jonathan Kaplan leads the innovation lab at USC's Annenberg School of Journalism and I participated with him recently at USC in a panel discussion. His point of view was that social media sites, he calls them milieus, are not necessarily networks. A milieu is a place that I would call a neighborhood, but his point of view is that in a milieu, people can leave at any time. They can come and go as they choose, and what’s going to keep them there is the quality of your content; that's really what it goes back to.
I’m going to go through here quickly, and again, feel free to think about questions. I’m going to leave enough time at the end to answer questions of any nature, and we’ll get to as many of them as we can. I’m going to go through 10 reasons why I think we all need to be thinking about improving the capability on an organizational website, and that's both the technological capability to host content of all kinds, and it's also the capability to focus on content and content creation.
Reason number one for why I think we need to focus on upgrading our capabilities is really about the shift, and that's the shift in media. All of us know intuitively that we have now shifted our focus on where we’re consuming media; where we are getting our information just as information consumers. That also means that media, both traditional journalists as well as nontraditional journalists are all working online, and many outlets are exclusively publishing online. Many journalists are now sourcing information exclusively online via Twitter, via the corporate website, via PR professionals that they are connected to on Twitter or other means; this is the shift. Of course, we’re now seeing more and more of a measurement less by the number of actual hard clips and mentions that you get, and more by web traffic and sales. It's easier now to measure the return on our investment now that things are online, and we’re seeing more and more social media and search engines driving more eyeballs than traditional media.
I lecture quarterly at UCLA and occasionally, I'll bring in a newspaper and show the class what an actual newspaper looks like, for those of you who haven't seen one. I think we can make the case that it's more valuable in many instances to be within the first five search results for one of our primary keywords than it is to be on the front page of the LA Times, for example. That visibility in search is going to become for more valuable over time than a front-page result on a mainstream newspaper might be.
Reason number two is that content is king and we've heard this phrase many times. In regards to your website, do you have the capabilities today for your website to be dynamic, for it to spread frequent, authentic, relevant and engaging content? At iPressRoom, we use the acronym FARE; F, A, R, E. My catch phrase is, “Engage in FARE content or pay the price,” FARE again being Frequent, Authentic, Relevant and Engaging. But what does that really mean? Well, again thinking about the target audiences, you have many target audiences; mainstream media, nontraditional media, influencers, customers, analysts, investors, partners and public policy makers.
All of you, I’m sure, are fairly clear on who your audiences are. Then, if you were to think about those audiences and segment them, how are you going to be communicating to them, and what is appropriate in terms of frequency? In some cases and in some channels, our frequency might be once an hour. In some cases, it might be once a week, maybe once every other week. Authentic; we see authenticity being a critical component of our communications online, and we’ve all seen numerous examples that consume news and information, about those organizations, those public officials, those companies that are not authentic. When they are not authentic, the truth becomes revealed and usually, it doesn't go well for that organization. When things do go wrong as they do go wrong, these are opportunities to reveal ourselves to be authentic.
A few years ago JetBlue, the airline, had some sort of a tremendous baggage fiasco and the stock price plummeted. The CEO of the company got online and did a very authentic video that was very straightforward wasn't slickly polished and produced but he was genuine in his message and said, “We made a mistake, here's what we’re doing to fix it.” Obviously, they had to back it up by real action but that authenticity really is why we see traditional advertising becoming less and less effective because it's less authentic, so ensure that you are authentic in your messages.
Relevancy, of course; search is all about being relevant. Think about what is relevant to your key audiences, and ensure that you’re going to deliver the content that’s going to meet the needs of information that they're looking; that goes back to the final pieces. Engaging; what is engaging? Engaging can either be entertaining or informative or both; that's really what we’re trying to do in every piece of our communication, so our recommendation is frequent authentic, relevant, and engaging content, and to be able to deliver that through your website.
The third reason is, “Does your newsroom mirror your website?” We see your newsroom as the central communications hub of your newsroom, but there may be other sections. In some cases, our clients have blogs that are associated with their newsroom, or the newsroom is aggregating blogs, or they have an additional blog in addition to their newsroom; but there are sections of your website that are usually around or connected to the newsroom that is the central communications hub of your organization online. Does it consider all of the various audiences as I talked about a moment ago; journalists, consumers, investors that might visit your home, or are you thinking about mainstream media only?
I see many organizations at times that are just seemingly addressing mainstream media, and not putting content up there that might address influencers or bloggers or others, that might have a significant impact on the outcomes that you’re trying to go for. Again, as I mentioned at the top of the presentation, if you could get a key blogger to mention your content product, event, campaign, program, community service and provide a direct link to a specific page on your website, that's a significant win.
Reason number four is about multimedia; now, all of us have broadband and it’s absolutely expected today that you have more than just text; certainly images and ideally, audio and video. We’ve certainly heard studies about how we don't necessarily read everything on the web; we scan. We certainly watch video increasingly, so it's really a must to have video and ideally, you have news releases. For example, in addition to the news releases, our client UCLA has news releases that also have related video, so they have full multimedia press releases on their own website. You don't have to be Xerox or UCLA to have that; you absolutely can have a news release with related video and multiple videos associated to packaging up that story and making it easy for people to share that content and consume it.
Reason number five is social media; now, there are multiple components of adding social media to your website capabilities, and that includes the ability for people who visit your site to share that content. No, not in all cases are press releases great vehicles for sharing. If you take many of Byron’s ideas and you create compelling news releases, and you add multimedia to it and related links and related content, then you might have a news release that's worthwhile for people to share. However, there's other content in your newsroom or your website that’s just blog posts, articles, video, photos, infographics and other types of content that people might find valuable enough to share. You want to make it easy, so your site needs to have the tools to make it easy for people to share that content right from the site.
Also, we want to enable people to see what you are posting in social media; if you’re on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn or other sites, we want to enable visitors to your website to see that content and encourage them to connect with you on those sites. There are multiple levels of integration with social media and, finally, we also want you to have that ability when you're publishing a news release, video or photo to your website. At the same time, you need the ability to schedule publishing to various social media networks as appropriate. If you’re publishing a press release to your website, you also need to be able to push that to Twitter and Facebook at the same time, so that you have a central point for publishing, integrating and ultimately populating those neighborhoods with your content, allowing people in those neighborhoods to share it, discuss it and bring people back to you.
Reason number six is back to search engine optimization and SERPs, Search Engine Results Pages. Byron presented his case study about improving the position in a search engine result for a specific keyword. The question is, “Does your website and website newsroom allow search engines to really easily find your site?” I mean, in this day and age where we’re 12 years into the commercial Internet and Google is a word in the dictionary, we still find websites that Google cannot find, or sites that have been built in such a way that search engines can’t find it.
If you or your clients are encountering your website that the press release says is a PDF that can't be found in Google, or if it's built in such a way that your site can’t be found, that obviously needs to be addressed. There's much more that can be done as Byron suggested, once the basics of ensuring that your site can be easily found, and it’s structured in such a way that would ultimately be able to analyze the content in those pages to ensure that the relevancy for our content is very, very high.
Reason number seven is the content and the design that is the presentation of the content; modern, clean, simple and utilizing best practices. Is it difficult? Do people get lost? Again, one of our messages today is to encourage everyone to increase the volume of quality content. That's really our message; that you increase the volume of authentic, relevant and engaging content and distribute that content across all of the available channels that people are using today. That is what is going to increase our effectiveness and outcomes; but once we have more content on our website, we now need the ability to add content easily because if we start to double, triple and quadruple the amount of content we have on our website, but not have an effective clean and simple design, people are going to get lost in that content and they're going to get frustrated.
Studies show if journalists can't find what they're looking for, it might impact how they write about us, or whether they write about us at all. Obviously, the website needs a clean and simple design, one that can present a high volume of content in a way that's easy to find and then subscribe to the content; that's critical.
Reason number eight; does our site enable you to refer traffic back to your main site? We need to have a content hub that puts out quality content into these other neighborhoods and drives links back to that content hub. Does that content hub then have easy navigation, easy links, easy calls to action that can then clearly drive visitors back to other places on your main website that you want people to go? In many cases, clients of iPressRoom add to their website; they add our platform, they add on to their existing website because certainly in many cases, there are sections of their existing website that worked just fine and don't need to be changed.
They just need a more powerful content hub, and therefore typically what happens is the case of Xerox, for example, or Target or Epson. We’re taking over a section of their website; their newsroom primarily, or other sections of the site. Even Yahoo!, who could obviously build their own website, but they outsourced the news, the content hub section and the communications section of their website to us, because it was the fastest way to get a high quality best practices capability. Now, we’re bringing traffic back into other sections that are that are not hosted by the iPressRoom platform.
Other main sections that might be, in Targets case, the e-commerce sections so people could actually buy a product. In Yahoo!'s case, it may be Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Mail and other products that Yahoo! wants customers to use. This is what we want you to be thinking about; once you get people back to your newsroom, what’s the action you want people to take? Of course, you want a journalist to take the action of writing a story and contacting PR to get a quote, but what other actions might be taken? How can you take advantage of that traffic that you’re bringing back to your website?
Reason number eight for upgrading your capabilities is privacy and security. We definitely have to strike a balance between being transparent, being fully available, publishing all of content and making everything publicly available, but also protecting your contact information from unwanted guests. This is an example of what IPressRoom does on all of our sites; the media contacts need to be readily available, so that if you do get a journalist or a blogger who wants to contact you and set up a time to interview your CEO or get additional information, you as a PR contact want your information available. However, you don’t want every spammer in the world to get your e-mail or sign up for your automated e-mail alerts. We protect all of the sign-up forms with a CAPTCHA code, which basically means you have to be human, not a spam robot, in order to sign up. These are important things to consider, and do you have that capability today?
Reason number nine to improve is really about increasing the distribution channels; we've all seen the importance, and there’s so much buzz out there about social media. How do you manage it all? All of those tools for managing publishing to those channels; are they dispersed across all of these different toolsets that you have to use? Ideally, we see the importance of having one central dashboard to publish content to your website, your blog, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds and to e-mail as well as to distribute content directly to newswire services.
iPressRoom is integrated with NASDAQ and the Associated Press; you can deliver photos directly into the AP. These are important components so that you can focus on creating content, not the business of trying to upload stuff to all these different platforms and distribute it. Again, the goal is to make your relevant, authentic and engaging content available in all of these different channels.
Finally, we need to measure it. Do you have the capability, and Byron shows very good examples, to track visits? Where do they go within your site? What content are they consuming sharing commenting on? What are they engaging with? How can you get more than just a very, very high level view of what's happening on your website? What outcomes are you able to achieve? Are you able to convert people who land on a page and then distribute?
This is my reason number 10, and there's a lot of discussion out there about PR measurement. Measurement can go far beyond simple monitoring and listening. There's a lot of ways to measure; I ultimately would measure based on outcomes, because that’s really what we’re going. For what outcomes are we looking to achieve with a specific announcement campaign or strategy? What are those outcomes that put in place the ability to manage and measure to those outcomes, and in addition to that, abilities such as sign-ups for an event and participation at that event. We might also be looking for increased levels of engagement; ultimately, what I would also look for is sharing; people sharing, discussing, writing about and linking to our content. Those are the types of examples we want to really look for.
Finally in summary, to really deliver on these goals, my recommendation is to really make your website a place that people will be able to find, hear about, discuss and share, and be seen as a trusted engaging resource. That will enable you to turn those visits into relationships, and convert those relationships into outcomes. Those outcomes might be increased news coverage, increased online engagement, greater brand awareness, higher measures of favorable response, and ultimately, revenue growth and sales.
Those are the kinds of goals that I think the combination of ideaLaunch and iPressRoom, and the combination of quality content and the ability to easily publish and distribute is really going to help you to deliver. That’s the end of my presentation, and now we can all pass it back to Byron. We can certainly moderate any questions we have and take it from there.
Byron White: Great job, Chris. I really enjoyed the presentation very much, lots of good ideas. I have several thousand questions for you based on your presentation, so I’m going to dive into a couple and then some other people can dive in as well, if you have any questions. You talked quite a bit about the functionality of a press room and what your layout is all about; you dug into that a little bit, but do you have a sense about the customers using your product? How are people really using press releases? Is it getting more and more creative and what about the volume of press releases? Are you seeing people publish from your perspective to really get in the game to be relevant, to be a player, to be a leader in the publishing space? Can you give us an insight with what kind of volumes you’re seeing out there?
Chris Bechtel: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think that we have a long way to go. In a sense, I think there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity that is not fully utilized in the sense of being more creative with press releases and having more content like multimedia and photos. We see some statistics that press releases with photos get twice as much the level of engagement as press releases without photos. We are seeing a definite increase in the volume of press releases, and we’re definitely seeing an increase in the volume of press releases that are more creative.
I would say, for example, that many clients such as Target and Xerox, they put on a lot of press releases, but not all of them go out on the wire. These are examples of press releases that are put on and published on their newsroom, that are distributed via e-mail, Twitter and on the web, but they're not necessarily using a national news wire for every single press release. I also see colleges, universities and cities and municipalities putting out many, many more news releases because again, they have a local audience and special universities. UCLA puts out a very high volume of news stories because of the amount of activity that’s happening, and I think that tends to be the challenge for smaller organizations, or BTB organizations as they feel like, “Well, we don’t have any hard news.”
I think that as you've suggested, there are many opportunities to create what traditionally has been called soft news, but as demonstrated by your case study, there is significant business value to be accomplished by looking for opportunities, any opportunity, to put up content. It doesn't necessarily have to be a news release; it could be a blog post, an article or a hot topic. It could be content on your site that's not necessarily called a press release, but its short-form content might highlight an internal spotlight on a product expert within the organization. I would encourage everyone to look for those types, and those are the kinds of things we are seeing, so some of our clients might do audio podcasts, video podcasts or short blog posts; the type of thing that may not necessarily be a press release.
Byron White: What is the next generation of press release? I ask that because we've been stuck in this 8 ½ by 11 sheet of paper that’s defined by press release and a date on it. What's next, Chris? Are we going to see more mini-newscasts as forward-thinking companies are starting to think more like publishers? Are we going to see more creativity with a “press release newsroom”?
Chris Bechtel: Yeah, I really do. I think many of us have heard of the social media news release or the social media press release, and this is really just formatting of content. What makes a traditional press release a social media press release is the fact that a social media press release has the ability to share that content as I talked about, but it also might have a video embedded with it, in addition to the text, photos and images. Maybe a little Twitter pitch so there’s a short version, but that's really what makes a traditional press release a social media press release; it’s not much more.
I think that's sort of the next evolution, and I think you pinpointed on the idea that we are all publishers now; we’re all content creators, and I think it’s just really the style, content and release that’s makes up a press release so that it reads more like a traditional news article. It’s engaging enough that I’m going to get enough value out of that content that it has the quality of the same type of news article that you might read in any other type of online publication. I think that’s the next evolution and it’s threefold. One; going beyond just text, so ensuring that the news release, in addition to text, has multimedia, images and infographics. Number two; the ability to share that content and distribute it into other social media channels. Number three; taking the press release content beyond just the mundane announcement and trying to really tell a story.
Byron White: Let’s talk about sharing. Sharing is probably the critical component, Chris, these days. The more your story gets out, the more it gets shared, the more value it frankly has. What are some of the hot tips and tricks that you’ve seen with encouraging people and praising them to tell the story in a different way?
Chris Bechtel: Yeah, that’s absolutely a good question, and obviously, it starts with the headline and those of us who have been writing press releases for years know how important the headline is, but we now have to think about the headline being viewed in multiple contexts with different forms and formats. Certainly, when we’re picking the journalist via e-mail, the subject line of our e-mail may be a version of our news release headline, but we might need to change that headline to make it stand out in e-mail. Similarly, when we put it out on Twitter we might want to make sure our news release headline is compelling enough to get somebody to click through on that headline.
Thirdly, as you've presented, we need keywords in that headline, so that there are relevant keywords that are overly competitive, meaning if I try to put out a press release about computers, I might have a hard time trying to rank in search engines for computers, because it’s such a very competitive term. Again, as you showed in the example “press release magic,” something that is very specific, I might have a better opportunity. My recommendation is definitely to focus on the headline, focus on what people are going to get value out of consuming. This is why you see a lot of things like “10 tips for,” “three reasons to” and “survey data.” People want metrics; those are the kinds of things that are shareable, like “75 percent.”
It also goes back to the basics of communications in terms of what are compelling stories, the unexpected something that might go against the grain of common belief. It’s all those ideas that we all know intuitively that we studied in journalism and communications; what are the kinds of content ideas that are compelling, that are maybe the unexpected? Those are the kinds of things that again, we need to think about how to package up that idea into 140 characters for Twitter and a short headline. I think those are my recommendations as to really think about how you can sum up your story, provide value in a very short headline and ensure that once people click through on that headline or link that they're going to get something of value. It’s really twofold; first, we need people to click through and secondly, once people do click through they need to consume something that they feel is valuable. This could mean that either: a) they learned from it or b) they’re entertained. That's how they're going to be willing to share it.
Byron White: Chris, you and I connected with the tremendous advancements that we've had with WriterAccess and your company, and where you're going and where we’re going. Wouldn't you agree that the biggest bottleneck, the biggest pain point, right now is content creation when it comes to finding the stories, developing the stories and creating a steady stream of high-quality content that you can feature in a press release and get out on the news room?
Chris Bechtel: Absolutely, it’s creating the business of actually creating that content, and the logistics of trying to publish it and distribute it to all of these places.
Byron White: Well, we are excited. I want people just before we chime out to just hear a little bit from you about your actual technology platform, because it's just really cool; it is really amazing and being used by some pretty big companies. Can you describe it and how it would interact with an existing CMS or platform that a company is using? Maybe they have their own website; can explain how your technology platform works as an isolated animal?
Chris Bechtel: Absolutely; essentially, iPressRoom is a very specialized content management website/content management platform that’s been specialized for communication. We have prebuilt templates and layouts for all of the different types of communications in a full-featured news room, so we can basically deliver to the smallest of clients the ability to look like their own cnn.com, allowing them to publish content with all of these forms and formats.
I think that's the three critical components of what we do that I think is different. One, we add on to an existing website and we brand it, so that it's a seamless experience and a visitor to that site doesn't feel like they’re somewhere else. Secondly, we bring to bear all of the best practices to easily get up and running and easily manage content in all the forms and formats today, such as a communications hub, newsroom, blog channel, multimedia portal or podcast portal. Whatever the end destination that we’re creating for our client, it’s full-featured with all kinds of multimedia, it’s easy to use, it's easy to upgrade. In the third piece, it's also easy to update and distribute that content. The big piece that we have that other content management platforms don’t is integrated distribution with wire services like the Associated Press and distributing to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Those are the three big components and what we do essentially is for every client, we have a small, medium and large package. We match their existing branding and we enable their website for them, and we become an extension of their team. We train them, so that they have full control over their content, but they also have really high level customer support, so that's what our clients need. They need the ability to control and distribute that content and distribute it on all of these channels. They also need support 24 hours a day, seven days a week at a moment’s notice if they need to get something online.
Byron White: Chris, you just have a great product; I’m real excited to partner with you when we get our distribution feeds over from WriterAccess right over to iPressRoom; it’s going to be really cool and exciting, so we’ll look forward to advancing that. Question for you: who do you want to get a hold of you, as this is recorded, and how can they get a hold of you if they registered your product and need more information?
Chris Bechtel: Yeah, absolutely. People can follow me or certainly connect with me on Twitter and it’s at chrisdechtel; C, H, R, I, S, D, E, C, H, T, E, L. You can also follow iPressRoom at ipressroom. You can connect with us on Facebook, which is facebook.com/ipressroom.inc, or the easiest way for everybody get immediate information about the product or anything else they want is to send e-mail; it will go to me as well as other key individuals here. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. If anyone wants to send direct e-mail to us and ask a specific question about your specific needs at email@example.com, and we’re here to be a resource. We’re here to be a resource; we practice what we preach, just like Byron is doing, and that's to share a whole lot of valuable content and provide insights, and support and help everybody to be successful. If we can answer any questions, even if that means you don't need to be an iPressRoom client right away, but you have some questions about what we've been talking about or about some of the things that we've seen others do, we’re happy to help because we know that everybody's working within organizations. Sometimes, they need help talking to others providing information to get internal buy-in for what they're trying to do. We would be happy to help everybody with that as well.
Byron White: Well listen, Chris. I really appreciate you tuning in today, thanks for joining us.
Chris Bechtel: Thanks Byron, and thanks everybody for joining and thanks for the time and we really appreciated it.
Chris Bechtel: Right on; until next month, everybody. I hope you learned a lot, and next month I know we’re going to be running with the CEO of WordStream, so we’ll look forward to another great webinar next month. See you next month everybody, and if anybody is looking to get a free download of my book, you will get an e-mail with the download to the PDF for all the attendees and anybody who registered as well. Thanks again for listening everybody, and we’ll see you next month. Bye-bye.