Tag: Blogging

Why SEO is a key component of a PR plan in 2016

By Amanda Kerr, Consociate Media Writer and Media Strategist

Public Relations is a time honored pillar of entrepreneurial endeavors for any business.

The role of a PR team is to nurture and maintain a favorable relationship between consumers (i.e. the public) and a company. Traditionally PR has taken the form of messaging, branding, press releases and earned media through news outlets, such as newspapers, television or radio.

But in today’s digital world, those time honored methods just aren’t enough to make sure your business’ message is being heard. Search Engine Optimization, commonly referred to as SEO, must be a key component of any PR plan in 2016. It’s the only way to make sure your company isn’t getting lost in the Internet jungle.

Goals and strategy

The intersection of SEO and PR is a natural one when you think about it. Much like PR, maximizing SEO requires understanding your audience and setting clear goals and objectives.

What is it that you want to achieve with your digital presence? What do your website traffic numbers look like now and how can they be improved? All of these questions must be answered in order to define your SEO strategy.

Then you have to take that data and merge it with the tastes and preferences of your audience. What kind of information do you want to share with consumers? What kind of platforms does your audience prefer? And what tone and style should your content contain that will appeal to potential customers, while meeting your SEO goals?

The best way to create a PR plan that incorporates SEO is to think about each campaign as it comes. If a campaign includes an upcoming event, think of real phrases people may search for and incorporate them as part of your SEO and content strategy. Then concentrate on maximizing content reach by promoting the event on the website and through social media.

Now you’re creating a partnership between SEO and PR.

Technical challenges

Just blending SEO and PR strategies isn’t enough, however, to guarantee success. SEO can become a little tricky in the ranking systems and algorithms search engines use to position a company’s website.

Researching keywords and searcher intent are critical to having solid SEO performance. But remember words and tags you incorporate into your content should be authentic and carefully selected. Wildly peppering your website with keywords can actually hurt more than it helps. Search engines, such as Google, penalize websites that overuse keywords.

How well your website functions can also impact SEO. Things like user friendly features, speed, design and conversion rates matter, too.

And are you successfully using link backs to drive web traffic? Search engines evaluate incoming links when ranking a website. High quality SEO content can help attract incoming links from social media, bloggers and news outlets. Getting those links in front of the right audience can improve your SEO success.

Content matters

Once you fix any technical barriers to SEO success, then you’re back to matters of PR. In the world of the Internet and SEO having fresh, organic content is crucial to keeping your business’ website relevant to search engines.

What does good content look like you ask? Well, it could be blog posts, press releases, website content, white papers, case studies, product copy, podcasts or visual content. But don’t go crazy. Keep any content, whichever form you decide to pursue, meaningful, informative and valuable to your audience.

Having reputable content matters in the world of SEO. A plethora of marginally useful copy laden with keywords isn’t the way to go. Quality over quantity should always win out.

Good content should bring consumers to your website, keep them there and hopefully convince them to make a purchase. Regardless of what form that content takes, it must effectively communicate your business’ values, services and brand.

The most important thing to remember is this: tell your story well. When you do that, the rest will fall into place.

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How To Perfect The Art Of The Interview

By Lucy Smith, Consociate Media Winter 2016 Intern

Google “how to give a good interview.” The majority of suggested searches feature advice on how to respond to “The 15 Most Common Questions Asked During A Job Interview” or “10 Tips to Make a Lasting First Impression.”

But what do you read if you aren’t the one being interviewed, but the interviewer?

The advice for persons on that side of the table is much harder to find.

Interviewing is an art, a craft, a muscle to be trained and practiced and honed just like any other skill.

If you aren’t yet ready to be the one behind the questions, or simply need some advice to improve the skills you already possess, I have adapted some advice from Consociate Media’s own CEO and founder Stephanie Heinatz to help get you from start to finish.

How do you take an interview from a reserved time slot on your schedule to the next trending blog post, magazine article or front-page story?

Before the interview starts…

Preparation, preparation, preparation. One of the worst mistakes an interviewer can make is coming equipped only with questions that are public knowledge. Think of it this way: the person you are interviewing is the one who knows the real story- that’s why you are having the interview!

So why waste precious time asking questions whose answers you can find on their website?

You want to enter an interview with those thoughts already in mind so that you can move past the yes or no questions, the factual questions, into the kinds of questions that ask why and how- the questions that drive the conversation forward. The better your questions are, the better your story will be, and the more preparation that you do on the front end, the easier the writing will be on the back end of an interview.

What kind of interview will be the most rewarding in your situation? There are three main types:

The in person interview

With his or her permission, bring a recording device to both review statements and questions but also to review your own approach to interviewing. How do you sound? It will be uncomfortable to hear yourself at first, but it is a great way to learn about your strengths and weaknesses firsthand. Along with the recorder, bring a writing utensil and paper to take a full set of notes as if you weren’t recording.

Technology can be touch and go; so don’t depend solely on the audio file for all of your data.

The Phone/Video Call

This type of interview allows the flexibility of location with the personal feeling of an in person interview. If possible, try to record your conversation on another device. For an on the phone interview, use headphones with a microphone piece for hands free conversation. Have a Microsoft Word document open or a pen and paper in front of you for speedy notes.

The Email Interview

By email you can often lose the spontaneity of an interview, the body language, personal stories, so make sure your questions are leading questions and avoid yes/no questions.

During the interview…

Start with easy, conversation based questions. Relate to something they are interested in- if he or she is a marathon runner; mention you just began to train for your first 5k. Make that person comfortable by asking easy questions, like how they spell their name, confirming where they attended school, or even just how they are doing today. It will break the ice and set the tone for the rest of the conversation.

Be open to the possibility of your conversation to delve into uncharted territory! If your interviewee is inspired by a question of yours, he or she may grace you with a small back-story that further explains his or her answer to the question. You never know where these side bits will lead: in fact the ultimate main point of your piece might be found in a bit of information you would not have know to ask about!

Don’t feel embarrassed to ask people to repeat themselves or to clarify the statement they just made. It is far easier to ask in the moment than it is to send an email a day or so later, when the thought has already left their minds. Furthermore, it is a sign of confidence: this tells your interviewee that you are committed to accurately recording their statements and views, and really are focused on reiterating what they want to say in this article or blog post. Thirdly, asking someone to repeat themselves on a point offers an opportunity for them to refine their message, or to reflect on a relating point for which they might not have had time to if the interview had moved on to another question or topic. Asking someone to repeat him or herself during an interview ensures you receive their intent exactly.

At the end…

To finish, add one largely open ended question at the end to tune of “Is there anything else you want to add, anything that you want to address that I haven’t asked you about?” Most of the time, people will search for something to answer your question with. Many times, this tidbit will lead on to a few more questions, extending your interview.

After the interview…as you start writing.

All the hard legwork is done! The work is to read through all of your notes and find the story.

What should you focus on? Before submitting the final version, be sure to fact-check, even when interviewing an expert.

Stephanie Heinatz often quotes from her old newspaper days the age-old journalism tip of “if your momma tells you she loves you, check it out.”

A misquote or an incorrect statistic can ruin your credibility for future publications.

She adds “anyone that has a website or a blog or a news page, they are a publisher just in the same sense that a newspaper or magazine is a publisher.”

With great power to publish, comes great responsibility.

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The Pulse of a Website, The Personality of Your Blog

I once heard someone refer to a blog as what gives a website a pulse. Stop and think about that. Powerful, eh?

Then think about the things that have a pulse. You. Men. Living beings. And that’s what a blog should be. A living piece of your web site. Something that is new and fresh. Something that’s first post is vastly different from its most recent because it’s grown and changes and morphed. And most important, something that has a personality.TellStoryREV2IMG_6203

Blogging is not only extremely important for your business but it helps your audience connect to your brand. Your brand, especially for small businesses, is you. It’s the culture of your company.

Adding a personal touch to everything you write will allow people to connect to YOU more on a personal level. Besides, we all crave that personal touch in any aspect of our lives. We have an innate desire to relate to one another. We want to connect to other people through life, experiences and knowledge. We want to feel like someone is speaking directly to us.

Being a writer with Consociate, we tackle a wide range of diverse clientele and write on a variety of subjects. We help bring the voice of many blogs alive. Here are some lessons we’ve learned in doing that and hope you can use in your blogging…in bringing your website alive.

Tell a personal story.

Sure, you can research and find information on almost any topic. But our goal is to produce original, meaningful content. Personal stories are powerful and engaging to the reader and can trigger an emotional response from the reader. Use a personal story and then relate it to your brand, your product. Then watch people connect.

Speak in first person.

Speaking in the first person is another way add personalization. That doesn’t mean you have to use “I” this and “I” that. Sprinkle that in where it feels right, of course. But on a larger level, it means you can write with authority. This is your story. Your business. Speak with confidence and people will feel like you are talking to them.

Be emotional.

Have you ever read a blog and literally laughed out loud? Bring the reader along on the joke! Allowing the reader to feel an emotional connection with your story will keep them coming back to read more. The end result? A reader connecting to your brand through your voice.

Be conversational.

You know the way you tell a story to your mom or your best friend? Write like that. In a blog, as compared to a press release or news report, you can use more casual language. Being conversational may also lead to engagement – comments and shares across social media – and present additional opportunities to discuss your topic.

Find your voice.

The most important thing when writing a blog is to find your voice. Sometimes this may take time to develop, but readers will soon to learn your writing style and hopefully will love it. Not to worry if your voice is evolving and growing. That’s normal. That’s living. That’s the pulse part.

Interested in learning more about how blogging can help your business and bring a pulse to your web site? Contact us today!

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