My Top Do’s & Don’ts For Pitching & Writing Guest Blog Posts

My Top Do’s & Don’ts For Pitching & Writing Guest Blog Posts

It’s raining outside and I’m feeling lazy, like curling up with an afghan, a full french press of coffee and a great book. Trust me, I have hundreds of books to pick from. So…. in my haste to wrap up work for the day, I think I’ll bang out a quick listicle!

Content marketing is on my mind quite a bit this week, for a variety of reasons, so we’ll use that as our topic.

Busy week! I landed a new digital agency client for strategic work in repackaging what they package, sell and deliver to their clients as they change from link-building services to content marketing – so my mind has been tackling some of their major issues in preparation for launching work.

A second client tasked me with building a list of recommended next steps to move their content marketing forward, AND I’ve been working on my own 2015 content marketing strategy for Rock The Status Quo.

See why it’s top of mind?

Don’t Overlook Its Importance

When I think of content marketing, one of the primary tactics that comes to mind is guest blogging. It’s critical and, as bloggers now outnumber journalists, it’s a public relations tactic that can’t be ignored.

That being said, here are a few dozen “do’s and don’ts” to help you in your pitching and writing efforts.   [Read more...]

Newsjacking Tragedy

Newsjacking Tragedy

The Robin Williams suicide hit me hard. Very hard.

I’ve had decades of exposure to depression, addiction and mental illness with friends and loved ones, spending agonized months – years – trying not to lose them when their pain became unbearable. Navigating the healthcare system across years of misdiagnosis, trying medications that didn’t work, finding new doctors who had a clue. Afraid of closed bedroom doors, because you couldn’t see what was happening on the other side, always worrying they might be doing something harmful or dangerous. Keeping secrets because of other people’s ignorance, misperceptions or stupidity.

Seeing others lose the fight brings home just how tenuous winning that war can be sometimes. It breaks my heart and terrifies me, because it’s a battle that doesn’t end. Every day you start over.

Regardless of the masks people wear in public, you just never know what private battles they face.

I never met Robin Williams in person, but he was one of those people who effortlessly won people’s affection through his combination of self-depreciating humor and deep love for the world around him.

His death caught the nation completely by surprise and many of us will continue mourning his loss for a long time to come. For family, the feelings of shock and horror might never go away.

It certainly didn’t help that some media outlets were all-too-eager to report intimate details of his death. If I am shocked by the callous disregard for privacy, I can only imagine how his family feels.

Edelman Crosses The Line

On Wednesday, one of the largest PR firms in the world ran a blog post by Lisa Kovitz called “Carpe Diem: Seize The Day” explaining how to get publicity from William’s suicide.   [Read more...]

How to Create an Online Newsroom That Journalists Love

How to Create an Online Newsroom That Journalists Love

Creativity counts when it comes to a media pitch, the headline of your press release and share-worthy blog posts. But what about your online newsroom?

An archive of press releases is useful…. but investing a few hours to add fresh resources can take it from meh to fantastic.

Most companies treat the news section of their website as a laundry list of press releases, never aiming higher, yet it’s the first place a journalist looks when something about your company sparks their interest.

And when they need a well-packaged story? A robust newsroom that delivers exactly what they need can make or break that story opportunity.

Have you given it enough TLC… or is it a snoozefest of corporate-speak with minimal value?

[Read more...]

Rock The Pitch #7:  The Anti-Facepalm Formula

Rock The Pitch #7:
The Anti-Facepalm Formula

Today’s GOOD(!) PITCH submission comes from Lindsay Bell, the fabuloso content director over at Spin Sucks. Why did she like it? It was humanized… and relevant.

There is a certain irony that, as PR professionals who earn a living based on our pitching skills, our own industry blogs are smothered with a constant deluge of bad pitches. You’d think the difficult part would be picking from so many GOOD ones and that all are relevant but, alas, that is SO not the case.

I’m not convinced it is related so much to PR pros, though, as it is the fact that so many MARKETING generalists (and entrepreneurs) are taking on PR with little or no PR-specific training.

If this isn’t the case, please, I’m begging you. Don’t burst my delusional bubble. It would just be too darn depressing.

(Names and email content used in this post are included with permission from both the original sender and the publisher, lest you think I’m doing something sneaky.)

THE PITCH

On Jul 24, 2014, at 8:42 AM, John Larkin (kudos, John!) wrote:   [Read more...]

PR Metrics Deconfuzzled.

PR Metrics Deconfuzzled.

For many people, PR metrics leave them completely confuzzled. Bamboozled. Too confused to see straight. Giving up before they even begin.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The trick is to focus on metrics at THE BEGINNING of your campaign, project or initiative – not the end.

What end goal do you want to accomplish? What action do you want the reader or viewer to take?  Think it through and track that.

Create your content or campaign with your end goal in mind and figure out a metric that works.

Integrating metrics doesn’t have to be done at a complicated, cross-departmental, c-suite level. (Well, unless you are a CMO, of course…) It is okay to either work with a supervisor to define goals and critical metrics and/or use a level of metrics that commensurates with your scope of work and skill level.

PR Metrics: You've GOT THIS.

It can be as simple as pointing a SlideShare document, guest blog post or byline article to a specific website page, then monitoring traffic to that page. Or creating content that points to a “subscribe now” button, then looking at how many new subscribers you end up with. Or looking at the percentage of website referral traffic coming from specific social media platforms or editorial placements using Google Analytics. Or launching content and conversations tied to a specific hashtag. These are all great places to begin.

What IT CAN’T BE, is determined after the fact. It’s a thousand times more difficult. Successfully implementing metrics that deliver value long-term require discussion and strategic thinking from the very beginning.   [Read more...]

Rock The Pitch #6: Will You Keep Me In Mind For Next Time?

Rock The Pitch #6: Will You Keep Me In Mind For Next Time?

An EPIC tweet was sent by a deputy tech editor at the New York Times yesterday afternoon… shared by the delightful Maura Lafferty (follow her at @mlaffs).

Are you peeing your pants with laughter, or cringing in guilty embarrassment?

Read on; there’s more.

I’m guessing if Quentin bothered to answer Mark’s last question, it would be a resounding “YES.”   [Read more...]

Pitching Big Bug Creek

Pitching Big Bug Creek

Community Newspapers & Small Town Media Relations

Whizzing down the Interstate 17 highway on my way home, I just flashed past a sign for Big Bug Creek. Two seconds later, it was gone.

I’d venture a guess that this small community has less than five hundred residents. It’s one of those “blink and you miss it” towns with a fascinating history dating back to the Gold Rush era, Daniel Boone and a “Battle of Big Bug” skirmish between miners and Apache Indians. There is even a connection to cannibalism, since the founder’s father actually traveled with the Donner Party. It isn’t clear if he was a survivor of that snowed in winter or if the timing was mercifully off. Let’s hope the latter.

Did you know that more than half of the Donner Party survived? I didn’t.

Forty-eight people staggered out of the Sierra Nevada’s that Spring, rescued FOUR MONTHS after being snowbound. It wasn’t one family in a cave, as I’ve always imagined it; the nightmare started with 87 people.

Yikes.

… Back to Big Bug Creek. Abandoned in 1910 and now considered a ghost town, a few families still live there. (The older I get, the more appealing a tiny town like this becomes!) Thinking about living in a small town like this one naturally makes my mind turn to small town media.

Big Bug Creek might be small, but it is large enough to support a community newspaper: Big Bug News.

How many times as a new PR pro did I include that poor editor in my mass blastings of press releases? Probably more than once. Ack. It sticks in my throat like a bad hairball. Since my training was nonexistent, I wouldn’t have known any better.

[Read more...]

Rock The Pitch #5: The New Product Launch

Rock The Pitch #5:
The New Product Launch

A friend of mine – we’ll call him Harzog The Bold – runs a technology blog out of New York City. When I asked him for samples of good or bad pitches, he was only too happy to spend a few minutes searching his inbox. This is what he came up with.

As I see more and more pitches come across my desk for this blog column, it’s interesting to see common trends begin to emerge, in terms of gaps and processes.

One of the most frequent mistakes is confusing content from a press release as a pitch. Journalists and publicists alike do it.

They aren’t the same thing. 

Why? Because a pitch takes a piece of news, such as a product launch, but repackages it as a customized story for a specific publication and journalist. It isn’t about resending the same thing they’ve already dismissed as uninteresting; it’s creating a new story based on your news.

This is different from using email to distribute a press release. Nobody expects a press release to be customized, right?

Here is the pitch Harzog The Not-So-Meek sent me.   [Read more...]

Public Relations, Steampunk Style

Public Relations, Steampunk Style

My son turns eighteen tomorrow and I’m not sure if I’m more horrified or thrilled.

Equal parts of each, I guess. My empty nest is looming like a tsunami but I’m completely delighted with the adult he is becoming. My talented daughter isn’t far behind.

These pictures are from our little celebration last night. Since I hardly ever get time with him lately, I grabbed him on the fly when he strolled into the house to raid my fridge and turned a quick trip to Sonic for tater tots into a party.

The photos tell the story perfectly if you look at them in reverse, right to left. The first one is my son completely embarrassed (yet secretly thrilled) at the brouhaha when I made him wear a giant, puffy birthday cake hat.

Yup, that’s a birthday candle stuck into his burger.

My gift was a fabulous steampunk hat that I discovered in Prescott, AZ last weekend. He’s wearing it in the next three pictures. Can’t you see him on stage, wearing it and playing his bass guitar? I can.

What is steampunk? Wikipedia says it well. “Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power.”

Translated – it’s a creative blend of victorian and western clothing with found objects such as old pocket watches, bullet casings, skeleton keys and more.

Think of steampunk as the love child of Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock and Lady Gaga. It’s fantastic. (tweet this)

Steampunk'd!

Example of a steampunker. CC photo credit: Alexander Schlesier

He’s been lusting over steampunk guitar modifications and clothing for over a year now, and once I recovered from sticker shock, I simply had to buy the hat.

It was so perfectly, totally Adam and I could easily visualize him on stage with his band wearing it as his signature look.

I think my debit card is still smoking from that transaction, but the stunned delight on his face when he opened the box made it worth every single penny.

You only turn eighteen once, right?

Public Relations is a bit like steampunk.  (tweet this) 

[Read more...]

A Delicious Facebook Brand Page Case Study: Smash Cakery

A Delicious Facebook Brand Page Case Study: Smash Cakery

I love cake. Who doesn’t? And it’s the perfect business to grow organically via Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – the three social media platforms best suited to drool-inspiring photography.

With almost 14,000 likes, this small business in Texas is clearly doing something right with their Facebook page.

And the best part? It’s for a home-based business operating under the Texas Cottage Food Law. I love that!

Since the owner is completely booked out for almost two months in advance, according to a post early this summer, I think it’s safe to say that her Facebook strategy is working.

Don’t get caught up in the number of likes – since everyone likes cake and admiring the creative ones, there is a natural advantage built in to help boost page popularity. It also helps engagement, since women love to enjoy cake without calories and comment on the design.

It’s simply too fun NOT to leave a comment behind, right?

Let’s take a look.   [Read more...]