Sure, after reading the above title, you probably immediately thought publicity activities support far more than SEO. Without a doubt that’s true. We’ve always been a huge fan of activities that create or cause publicity (public awareness), particularly ones that lead to online or print coverage like pitching a story to appropriate reporters/media, or sending them a press release. Publicity tends to be a fairly “free” means of creating awareness, or driving sales or engagement, although there’s the cost of time spent drafting a press release or a pitch, and then, time spent outreaching to various media. And, if you use a media service to distribute your press release or there’s an event associated with the publicity, there’s those additional costs. Still, publicity can be far less costly than buying advertising.
The SEO Pay-off of Pitches and Press Releases
But, the purpose of this blog post is not to discuss ALL the merits and benefits of implementing publicity tactics, but rather it’s specifically about why and how publicity activities can support your organization being found on Google, which is what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about. When a news publication or some other organization either publishes information you shared with them in a press release or writes a story (based on a story you pitched them and their interviewing one or several individuals associated with your organization), and then shares it on their website or blog, they’ll almost always include what’s known as a backlink to your organization’s website.
As we discussed in our blog post about the benefits of backlinks, a link to your website or blog — placed on the website or blog of an external organization — increases the likelihood that Google will serve your website up in search results (and higher up in results) as long as the website/blog that is providing the backlink is considered reputable/creditable by Google. This is how publicity directly influences SEO.
But, even if individuals reading the online article/post about you don’t click on a backlink to visit your site, they may Google you later or type the URL they see in an article directly into their browser or search engine and visit your site via those means vs. the backlink. The aforementioned holds particularly true for printed articles, such as articles that appear in a newspaper or magazine. Regardless of how visitors get to/land on your online site or blog, increased traffic volume supports SEO. In general, Google views sites that have greater traffic volumes as ones that are more creditable/reputable, and Google prefers to serve up the aforementioned types of sites. This is how publicity may less directly influence SEO.
In sum, both print and online story and press release coverage can support SEO, even if the support is less direct!
Reach Out To Our Boston SEO Company To Talk About The Overlap Between SEO and Publicity
Regardless of the size of your organization, it can be confusing to figure out what type of marketing agency or marketing consultant to hire to help you create awareness, and ultimately cause sales of your products, services, and solutions. The ability to market digitally/electronically — that came with wide-spread adoption of the internet — brought with it the following changes when it came to organizations engaging outside help for their marketing (outsourcing their marketing), whether it be for one-off/one-time work or ongoing work.
How Digital Marketing Leveled The Playing Field For Both Advertisers and Ad Agencies
Organizations who couldn’t afford the high costs associated with producing TV, radio, transit, or outdoors (billboards or other) advertising, found new, more affordable marketing activities were now available to them in the form of social media posting and advertising, tactics that support websites being found on Google and other search engines for desirable search phrases (organic search tactics/SEO tactics), paid search engine ads/marketing (SEM), e-blast and e-mail marketing, and more.
Since many organizations looking for marketing help no longer required the infrastructure and diverse skillsets associated with marketing tactics that involved large production activities and costs, some realized they no longer needed to hire a full-service large advertising agency — think the type of agency featured in the acclaimed TV series, “Mad Men,” or on “BeWitched,” as smaller marketing shops, like ours, could meet their digital marketing needs and/or traditional marketing needs related to activities that don’t require a lot of production, such as Public Relations (PR), or print advertising.
How To Figure Out What Type Of Marketing Firm To Hire And Questions To Ask
Branding and Design Firm. A firm that refers to themselves as a branding/brand and design firm primarily focuses on helping you figure out the look and feel of your brand, including the logo, colors, and graphic elements that will be associated with your brand. They usually offer website design services, but not always. And, some do offer other digital marketing or traditional marketing services thru collaborations or partnerships with digital marketing agencies, advertising agencies, or marketing consultants, or marketing freelancers. So, if you know you will need particular digital and/or traditional marketing services after working with the branding firm to develop or execute a new brand identify for you, ask in advance if they offer those services, so you will know whether you will have the burden of hunting around after for someone to help with traditional and digital marketing services — particularly to drive traffic to any new site you engage them to design for you.
Digital Marketing Agency. Digital marketing agencies tend to offer both higher-level strategic planning services, as well as hands-on/execution services, related to any marketing tactic that is digital or electronic related, including: e-blast/e-mail strategy and execution services, social media strategy and voice (actually writing and scheduling of social media posts), online advertising (social media/display advertising, Google Ads or other search engine advertising), blog strategy and voice work (actually writing and posting of blogs to your website), and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Most will offer content marketing services as well to help you figure out what content your target audiences are most interested in, and an editorial calendar for serving up such content on your website. Website content writing services likely will be available as well.
Marketing Consultant. In the almost nine years since we launched Results C & R, we’ve met a large number of marketing consultants. The degree to which they offer hands-on/execution work vs. developing high-level strategic plans tends to really vary. Some offer a number of hands-on services, in addition to helping you develop a strategic marketing plan, while others don’t do the actual marketing tactic execution work. If your organization has a number of internal marketing people who can actually oversee or execute the marketing plan developed by a consultant, a marketing consultant may be just what and all that you need.
Public Relations Firm/PR Firm. The focus of public relations firms is to get your organization unpaid-for-advertising/marketing. By helping your organization develop a strategy for causing various reporters and media to cover your story, they help your organization get mentions and attention without the cost of an expensive advertising campaign. PR firms also tend to offer event planning services since an event may be the perfect way to create awareness of your organization and/or create good will among your target audiences. Keep in mind that if you only need help with putting on an event vs. getting regular/ongoing press coverage, you could consider hiring an event planning firm. Many event planning firms also have experience getting media/reporter coverage for an event as well.
In general, the biggest overlap between a digital marketing agency and a Public Relations firm is that they both tend to offer social media services, since social media posts — particularly organic vs. paid/boosted social media posts — can help to generate good will and create awareness of an organization’s products, services, and solutions.
Advertising Agency. Nowadays, when people think of, or decide to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency, it’s related to the fact that advertising agencies can pull in the right team members or hire the right contractors for a marketing campaign that requires heavy-duty production. As we mentioned above, scripting and executing a radio, TV (network or cable) or streaming advertisement requires the collaboration of a bunch of individuals with diverse skillsets, the renting of studios and/or locations in which to film, the hiring of “talent” for the broadcast spot — whether it be aired on the radio or TV. Activities like the aforementioned are often the reason why, in our current day and age, an organization would look to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency. Although, most advertising agencies offer digital marketing services, in addition to traditional ones.
Web Design/Web Development Firm. Web design and web development firms are exactly what their name indicates — firms who help design and develop websites for clients. Many also offer logo design or other graphic design services because of their web designers’ ability to successfully complete such work. All web design/web development firms DO NOT offer SEO services nor do they always understand SEO, so if you expect or want to receive SEO services as part of your new website launch, be sure to ask any firms you are considering to design and develop your site, what knowledge they have of SEO and/or who they have on their team that has an SEO background. Otherwise, as we explain in this blog post, you’ll end up with a website that is not easily found via search engine searches.
Unfortunately, we regularly interact with prospective clients who had someone develop a beautiful, effective site for them, but the site is not being visited/found by target audiences because SEO tactics weren’t put in place by the web design/web development firm as part of the site development and design engagement.
What Should I Expect To Pay A Marketing Agency Or A Marketing Consultant?
Based, again, on our 9 years of marketing agency and marketing consulting experience at the time of writing this post, we’ve found that, in general, the bigger the agency/marketing shop, the more expensive their hourly rate and marketing project fees are. Why? It mainly comes down to overhead and the costs of maintaining and marketing a larger organization, offering a large number of employees benefits, etc.
We’re A Boston Digital Marketing Agency, Boston SEO Company, Boston Marketing Consultant, and Boston PR Firm All In One!
Due to our Principal’s more than 30 years of corporate marketing and consulting experience, we offer all the services called out in the heading directly above! We regularly meet with both start-ups and long-standing organizations — both for-profit and non-profit — for complimentary discussions about their marketing challenges and opportunities, so feel free to use our calendar app to schedule a FREE initial consultation https://calendly.com/gail-moraski.
A Joint Blog Post by Gail Snow Moraski, Results Communications & Research and Nick Bartos, Social Motion
Where to begin? First of all deep breaths, everyone. We are all in this together and we will get through this period of crisis in our country and in our world if we all continue to remember that it is our purpose in life to look out and be there for others the way we are there for ourselves.
Now, on to the mission at hand. We – Nick and I – have been chatting a lot this week about the nature of content to include in social media posts, currently and in the short-term. It’s a very tricky time for organizations. Many for-profit organizations have already experienced or expect to experience a significant loss of income due to customer work being cancelled or delayed, or an abrupt end to a robust product sales pipeline or stream. And, many nonprofit organizations’ financial and human resources are being stretched to a degree for which they aren’t prepared.
Where we landed is this; these are unprecedented times. Yes, there have been pandemics before, but at least in the U.S., there are likely only a handful of individuals who have lived through something similar. And, there’s never been a time in our country’s or world’s history where we’ve been as digitally and electronically advanced, and therefore, where we’re expected to be continuously communicating and providing updates online. Given all the aforementioned, as we’ve been saying to a number of the people, ”there’s no official guidelines or rule book for this.” The best we can offer, therefore, are the opinions of two digital marketing and PR experts in this blog post that we hope can serve as an “unofficial” rule book for your organization related to your social media voice & presence now and in coming weeks.
Social Media Is Meant to Be Active and Interactive, Not Passive
Social media is, and always has been, a tool to connect with your audience fairly intimately. Social media is not a passive form of interaction, and thrives on conversation, emotion, and the sharing of ideas. Whether for-profit or non-profit, organizations should be utilizing social media — in this situation in which we find ourselves — as an opportunity to demonstrate the values your brand encompasses. While it is important to not profit off of, or appear to profit off of this crisis, it is important to express that your brand empathizes with and is a part of your community. Furthermore, your brand likely has a great sense of what your community’s needs and struggles are, and you may be able to offer valuable insights to your audience during this difficult time.
For example, a construction company may share information relating to grants, or low-interest loans that help contractors, electricians, and plumbers during this crisis. The construction company may also share the precautions they are taking, or share the standards/procedures they have created to protect their employees. Additionally, the company may reach a broader audience by demonstrating their commitment to the cause — like a photo or video of the masks they are donating to a local hospital. Again, social media is a place to build relationships and offer value – if you can do that, respectfully, during this crisis, you are already ahead.
Social Media Do’s and Don’ts During a Pandemic
In general, speak from the heart, demonstrate empathy and support; think about how you can truly be, and can be seen as, part of the solution. We saw a fellow communications professional post the phrase “innovate, solve, or stop” when speaking about current social media. We think that the first two in this quoted series sum things up pretty well – if you’re going to post or share others’ posts, then offer creative, meaningful, effective solutions to challenges faced by individuals and organizations right now. We’ll speak to the “stop” piece in our “DON’TS” section.
Post or share, comment on, like, retweet posts that:
Express appreciation to/acknowledge those who are working overtime and/or risking their lives during the pandemic, including police officers, firefighters, EMTs, healthcare providers, pharmacy and grocery store employees, gas station employees, home and office cleaners, and anyone else who has to tirelessly continue to work to keep us all safe and well.
Speak to the good work that various national, state, or local nonprofit organizations and agencies are doing to help vulnerable, at-risk populations, and the general public.
Ask for help. If you do ask for help, make it clear what kind of help would be useful. And, whether you are requesting financial donations, tangible goods or volunteer time, be very specific about where those contributions will go, how they will help, who they will support, etc.
Remind others to check on elderly or health-compromised neighbors, or anyone they know who lives alone and who may feel isolated; plus, creative ways to make these individuals feel connected and supported – glass door and window visits, signs you make and show outside their window, texts, e-mail, phone, and video chats, and anything else creative you can dream up
Announce that you are there/here to help and on what fronts
Describe promotional offers or new products or solutions that will be received as heart-felt and legitimate and reinforce a true desire to help, such as a discount on any kind of services that would help a business keep running or get back up and running again
Provide updates about your hours, reduced staff, open or closed locations, etc. that indicate potential impact on customers, i.e., use your posts to manage client expectations
Share ways for your followers to donate to causes in your local community, or industries that you serve, where people may feel most connected
Create an image such as the one below (created by the Girl Scouts) that contains your brand/logo, or create a short video or video snippet along the same lines that shows heart, desire-to-help, or innovation — We are here and glad to help you with this!
Provide helpful information about the pandemic vs. creating fear (for example, sharing scary statistics related to the virus and its impact or frightening videos showing suffering of victims). Helpful info. may include:
Where/how to get help if you think you or a loved one has COVID-19, where to get food or other assistance, e.g., websites, phone #’s, text lines
Federal, state, or local government mandates or recommendations, such as group size limits and social distancing guidelines
Thoughts on or links to others’ thoughts on how to reduce anxiety level during our pandemic
Ideas for crafts for children to make with supplies that are likely on hand in any home
Family games and other bonding experiences, such as reading a book together, watching a movie, baking, or playing card games
Thoughts on or links to others’ thoughts on how to stay healthy during the pandemic, such as a daily walk or eating as healthy as possible (recognizing somehow that everyone might not have easy access to nutrient-dense food)
Reminders to find gratitude and appreciation somewhere, somehow in every day (aka “silver linings”) – whether it be taking advantage of unexpected free time, or additional time with loved ones
Thoughts on how to work efficiently and effectively from home
In general, don’t post, like, share, retweet, or comment on any content that might be offensive or seen as heartless, un-empathetic, or completely oblivious to or out-of-touch with what is going on in our world presently.
Don’t post about:
A new product or service you are offering that might appear as trying to prey on others’ misfortunes/take advantage of them in their darkest moments
Services and products that would seem like an incredible luxury, or irrelevant to or off-limits to many at this point in time. For example, some investment and insurance company advertisements about helping one prepare for retirement just don’t sit well right now. Audiences may be feeling that they won’t be able to retire, or must work much longer than anticipated before they are able to. Restaurant and vacation ads feel out of place as well when we’ve all been asked to “stay put.”
Services and products that encourage individuals to engage in activities that ignore mandates and guidelines set forth by federal, state, and local officials.
I’m sure most individuals’ immediate reaction to reading this post will be, “of course, Gail’s recommending that organizations outsource their social media presence since that’s part of the digital marketing services she offers.” But, as someone who has pledged to never encourage prospective or existing clients to invest time and energy in marketing activities that don’t make sense for them — economic, business, sales, or logistical — I do believe, per the reasons outlined below, that there is great value to many organizations in outsourcing their social media presence to a contractor/freelancer or small marketing agency/consultancy, such as mine.
Why You Should Consider Outsourcing Your Social Media Voice & Strategy Work
Top Reason #1: Priceless General & Local Social Media Landscape Knowledge –Contractors or agencies who have been serving as the social media voice for their own and client organizations for any length of time get to know the following:
what hashtags (#s) are used by your peers, competitors, and target audiences, so they can naturally include those #’s in your posts to ensure they are easily found and read by appropriate audiences
subject matter experts (SMEs) for the services and products you offer, so they can capitalize on SME content for your social media posting/sharing
who you should follow in your particular marketplace. If you hire a local contractor/agency, they should know what community/civic, business, and other organizations to follow, particularly, ones that will provide a good source of social media content for or create goodwill for you
what topics are trending on a daily, weekly or monthly basis on which your organization might capitalize
best overall practices related to social media use and voice, regardless of an organization’s physical location
Top Reason #2: Cost Savings– To have an effective social media presence, an organization should be posting/sharing its own and other appropriate organizations’ information very regularly. Because of wanting and needing to make sure that any and all information-sharing that occurs on behalf of your organization is thoughtful, appropriate, and relevant, this will likely require the time-consuming involvement of a more senior leader/manager at your organization. But, does it really make sense to have a high-salaried individual spending so many of their working hours and associated paycheck on a task you likely could outsource to an individual or agency who knows the ins, outs, benefits, and pitfalls of social media? Outsourcing your social media is a cost-effective way to protect your organization from any liabilities that could occur while also optimizing awareness of your organization among prospective customers and their opinions of you.
Top Reason #3: Client Synergies – When and where appropriate, a contractor or marketing agency who serves as the social media “voice” for several or many organizations of all shapes and sizes can tweet, post, retweet, and share one client’s social media posts via another client’s presence. Let’s say the marketing contractor or agency has one client who offers services to small businesses, and a second client who offers non-competing, different services to small businesses. Often, the target audiences of both clients would be interested in the information shared by both, so why not let a contractor or agency capitalize on that scenario on your organization’s behalf?
Wondering if outsourcing your social media presence makes sense for your organization?We’re glad to have a complimentary, open, and honest discussion with you about your particular organization’s social media situation to help you determine if social media outsourcing makes sense for you in 2018.
An organization that knows how to create memorability related to both its brand and its marketing activities is going to give itself an immediate leg up against its competitors. You’ve all probably heard the expression that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” because it creates brand awareness, which then may prompt sales or revenue growth. I’m not so sure I agree that it’s a good idea to create memorability through strictly negative associations or activities, but I do believe is that if you can create something memorable that’s positive about your brand and/or in your advertising, your organization is likely to benefit from a brand awareness perspective, at a minimum.
A couple of well-known and simple ways of creating memorability related to both your advertising and your brand are with a jingle, a mascot, or both. I was reminded of this at last week’s Braintree Relay for Life event, sponsored by Frito Lay, and attended by their furry tiger mascot, “Chester Cheetah”, who is highly associated with Frito Lay’s Cheetos snacks. He was one of the major attractions at the event for children of all ages, including me!
My last employer, BMC HealthNet Plan, has employed a mascot for years, “Sunny” (a big sun character who wears big black sunglasses) , to create good will and brand awareness. Sunny has attended literally thousands of community events and children and adults alike flock to him.
As far as jingles go, we all must admit that there are certain ones that we find appealing and that just stick with us. We find ourselves humming or singing them in the shower or in the car or they run through our heads while we lie in bed at night — and I don’t mean songs recorded by artists that are used as advertising background music — I mean jingles that were created to be used repeatedly in conjunction with a brand’s advertising for many years, or just for a particular marketing campaign of a brand. Here’s one of my favorites.
In addition to mascots and jingles that can be associated with a brand for years and years and continue to contribute to the brand’s success, another means of creating brand or marketing campaign memorability is through messaging and visuals/creative that evoke emotion. And, it’s actually a good thing if a brand or its marketing tugs at your heartstrings a bit, as long as there is an accompanying positive message. For example, an advertising campaign can focus on a personal challenge or societal problem, but then offer an inspirational solution or show non-stoppable people rising above that challenge or helping those less-fortunate.
So remember, mascots, jingles, and emotional messages/creative that show something positive rising out of tough circumstances, can all create memorability for a brand or the particular products, programs, or services it promotes. Despite the fact that lately it would appear that human beings just want to hide behind their hand-held devices and not interact with others, songs, likable and cute creatures, and emotional, but inspiring messages, all provide individuals with an opportunity to connect. And, that’s probably even more valued now by consumers than it ever was.
During my thirty years of working for various sized organizations in a variety of industries, there’s been one activity that has worked consistently well regardless of industry or company size to both create awareness and effect sales growth, and that is the creation of goodwill. But, what I really love as both a marketing professional as well, as the decent human being that I believe myself to be, is that goodwill is good for all. While it helps organizations succeed, it helps the communities that the organization serves prosper, so everybody wins.
: a kind, helpful, or friendly feeling or attitude
business : the amount of value that a company’s good reputation adds to its overall value
As the above definition from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary supports, I believe creating goodwill is all about being helpful. Since there are many ways to be helpful, there are many ways to create goodwill. I’ve listed below some of the more common examples of how businesses (and, of course individuals themselves) can be helpful, but any organization that really understands and fully participates in the communities it serves, can think of lots of other innovative and unique activities.
organize a group of employees to volunteer their time to assist with a community event — whether it be helping with preparations for or promotion of the event, or simply helping to staff the event
solicit a group of employees to pitch in on manual tasks that need to be done at a particular location operated by a non-profit/community organization — such as a homeless shelter, park, or school
purchase a table/booth at a community event such as a health or street fair, or purchase a table at a breakfast, lunch, or dinner event which senior leaders at your organization can attend to show their support
donate tangible new or used goods that are on the “wish list” of a particular organization such as new gloves and socks for a homeless shelter or used coats for a coat drive
donate $$ that can be used as needed by the non-profit/community organization; sometimes, these donations will be reciprocated by the non-profit/community organization via the opportunity to have a display table of informational and promotional items at an event and/or a program booklet ad, or to be listed as a key sponsor on any event promotional materials the community organization produces
I’m sure you’ve found, as I have, that most individuals want to make a difference in their communities. By providing employees with an opportunity to donate or volunteer, you are likely to enhance their engagement — another of the many reasons why goodwill is “good”. And, most non-profit/community organizations are more than willing to share via a press release, an announcement at the podium, their web site, and/or some other activity your organization’s contribution to their success.
I’m always glad to brainstorm with you about what type of goodwill creation activity might be the most effective for your organization as well as best serve the communities in which your organization operates.
Make today the day you do some “Goodwill Hunting” by starting to research upcoming community activities you or your organization might support.