Archive for the ‘About PublicityShip’ Category

How many media contacts on your PR firm’s database?

Many PR firms or news distribution services will attempt to win your business by boasting a database of hundreds or thousands of media contacts. Impressed? You shouldn’t be.

Long Tail author, Chris Anderson, recently declared that he was fed up with being spammed by PR people, and had decided to block all but those who contact him for the right reasons:

“I only want two kinds of email: those from people I know, and those from people who have taken the time to find out what I’m interested in and composed a note meant to appeal to that,” says Anderson.

Here are responses from marketing gurus Seth Godin and David Meerman Scott, both of whom explain the value of keeping media contact lists small but targeted.

Some of the comments on Anderson’s post complained about the difficulty of tracking down media contacts and creating a tailored database. Much easier to buy a list and spam it. But Anderson’s response is a good example of why this is a bad idea.

As a former magazine editor, I can sympathise with the spammed, and this is one of the reasons we have established a policy of creating shorter, more targeted media lists and take the trouble to find out who to send our releases to.

Sometimes this is all but impossible and publications insist on all press releases being filtered through a ‘newsdesk’, and that’s their prerogative.

But when a PR agency takes the trouble to research publications and channels that match a press release with the audience demographic, build a targeted list, include a personalised email message to the top contacts showing how the release is relevant to the target audience, and encourage a dialogue, the results are much more impressive.

Launching OM4 for our Online Marketing services

OM4 LogotypeBack in July 2006 Jane posted on the topic PublicityShip?. We had just changed our name from Release Writer (our first name, from March 2006) to PublicityShip.

We think small business publicity is very different to traditional PR, and deserves a better name.

Well online marketing is very different even to our ‘New Rules of Marketing & PR’ blend of online and offline publicity. So we are creating a new business name to operate under.

The new business is OM4. The name was chosen because its nice and short, and not hard to spell :)

OM4 is a good name because there are four powerful tools associated with online marketing:

  • Content Marketing
  • Search Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Affiliate Marketing

We haven’t forgotten Keyword Analysis, its just that we can’t give it a snappy name like the others (Keyword Marketing isn’t right). And then it would be OM5 (see below).

OM4 is also a good name because we could then launch OM4Tourism, which is of course Online Marketing For Tourism. This is where we apply everything we know about online marketing to help smaller tourism operators get their story out to the world. Jane will do a full post launching OM4Tourism soon.

So if you are interested in improving your online marketing, subscribe to OM4 by email or RSS. I’ll be doing a series of posts designed to help business owners and those responsible for running online marketing to understand what resources are available to them, and how they can get more value out of their online marketing efforts.

Also what do you think of our new OM4 logo? What does it say to you, could it be improved?

Resources to help launch your summer press release campaign

GerberaHave you thought about planning your pre- and post-Christmas press release campaigns?

Christmas lead-up is a great opportunity to create content that captures the imagination of the media at a time when they are looking for light-hearted and captivating stories. Catch your audience when they are feeling high-spirited and generous!

The post-Christmas period is notoriously slow for news, so the press will be glad of stories that fill the gaps – a great chance to jump in with a message that can be turned into a good read.

Then it’s time to kick-start your 2008 publicity plan – what’s the most important news you want to convey as the new year shifts into gear?

We’ve put together a guide – 7 Steps to Creating a Press Release Message for the Media – to inspire you to get started.

And we’ve developed a special Summer Publicity Campaign Offer. The offer is available to everyone on our new Offers List, so if you’d like to join the list, send us an email with the words “Offers List” in the subject line.

Being on the list means you’ll be the first to find out about our special offers, which will then be publicised via our blog and newsletter. It’s worth getting the heads-up because, like all good special offers, ours are always limited in some way. They will either need to be taken up by a deadline, or they will only be available to a limited number of businesses.

Once you are signed up to the list, you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription by clicking a link. This is a necessary step in our list management, and is there to protect you from unwanted spam. Details of our Summer Publicity Campaign Offer will be sent out to you as soon as you click to confirm.

My next post will give an entertaining example of great publicity, explaining why it works and linking it directly to our 7-step guide.

Getting the most out of your press release

It’s great to see some of our clients really making their press releases work hard for them. Once we’ve prepared a release for a client, they are free to do whatever they want with it, from hanging a framed copy in the dunny to worldwide distribution!

We distribute releases to a carefully targeted list of media contacts, and our results speak for themselves. Even so, it’s worth being opportunistic with your release.

One of our tourism clients took copies to a trade show, resulting in an Australian tourism commission PR manager in Europe picking up on the story and distributing it to her media contacts there.

There are also opportunities to make use of a release when you are contacted by advertising departments wanting you to part with hard-earned dollars. Send them the release with thumbnail images and you may get editorial as well – which is generally considered to be significantly more effective than advertising.

Press releases don’t always have to go direct to the press either. Include them in promotional packs, send them to potential distributors or wholesalers, and post them on your site for customers to read. A well written release provides good, informative content that helps to build knowledge and trust.

7 reasons for the success of our press release campaigns

We have run eight press release campaigns for the winners of the PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Awards for small tourism operators.

Faraway BayThe campaigns continue to run, with more publicity expected later this year, but the publicity achieved so far is worth both celebrating and examining to discover the reasons for the success.

Whenever you experience success, do remember to celebrate, but also ask yourself what you did to deserve it. This is just as important as working out why something fails. So here goes:

1. We worked hard to find a hook for each story. For example, the health benefits of walking brought attention to Auswalk’s tours from a different angle, while Faraway Bay focused on the corporate market to grow that part of their business.

The message here is that just talking about your product or service isn’t usually enough. The story needs to take a new perspective, offer something different or be carefully targeted.

Bookabee2. We harnessed the passion of tourism. This worked wonders for Bookabee Tours’ Haydyn Bromley, whose genuine passion for his tours into the Flinders Ranges helped win him a feature in an international trade magazine.

Our recent interview with the magazine’s editor also draws attention to this quality of passion – something that even the most hardened journalist can’t resist!

3. We insisted on good quality, compelling images. This was definitely a factor in much of the coverage – including Faraway Bay’s stunning coastal camp, Live History’s costume drama, and Bookabee’s experiential tours.

Again, we have heard from more than one editor that images can make all the difference to a decision to publish. For many campaigns, especially in tourism, they’re just as important as the press release itself.

Live History4. We applied writing experience to produce press releases that could be easily turned into news stories without further research or pressure on journalists to completely rewrite the story.

News publications, both print and online, will often run stories that are virtually ready to publish without making too many changes. We saw this happen for four of the Hidden Jewels.

5. We included enough links and contact details to make it easy for a journalist to extend the message into a full feature without too much hunting around. Quick responses to enquiries are all part of that process.

This worked particularly well for Bookabee Tours and Faraway Bay, with features on other Hidden Jewels in the pipeline.

Anangu Waai6. We tapped into the zeitgeist – or spirit of the times – by understanding what tourists are looking for and linking our Hidden Jewels to those wants. For example, Ningaloo Blue and Undara Experience appeal to the increasing number of visitors wanting an engaging and moving encounter with the natural world; and Anangu Waai, Tribal Warrior and Bookabee Tours offer the cultural authenticity that is now in high demand.

The message here is, keep your finger on the pulse of your industry and tap into growing demands, needs and trends.

7. We didn’t give up easily! Some messages will hit the editor’s desk at a busy time or simply get overlooked. Far from being disheartened, when this happened to us, we sent out follow-up messages and/or extra images with friendly emails, and made a few calls to discuss stories with our contacts.

This made a big difference, getting us attention from contacts who had previously placed our message on a backburner.

To find out more about the campaigns, go to our Client Gallery.

Our publicity campaign success rate

We’ve completed an analysis of the success rate of our publicity campaigns over the last 12 months.

Metric Result
Delivered %
(delivered to target contact)
Read %
(confirmed read by target contact)
Target Outlet Conversion %
(coverage achieved in target outlet)
Campaign Conversion %
(coverage achieved for campaign)

Delivered. Every press release has reached the chosen media contact. We research our contacts carefully for each campaign and keep our database up to date – it’s part of our cost base, and because of it we expect a 100 per cent delivery rate.

Read Delivering a press release to the correct email address is a good start, but only the start. In practice, it’s another matter altogether for the press release to be read and understood. For our targeted lists, we pay a lot of attention to making sure the release gets to the right person. Sometimes the person who receives the release – despite our research – isn’t the best person (or is away). In these cases, we find during our follow-up that the person we talk to can advise us of the correct person. This year, 100 per cent of our press releases were read by an appropriate person. We can measure this because we personally follow up every contact by phone and email.

Target Outlet Conversion. When we run a campaign, we help the client identify the specific media outlets where coverage is sought. We send press releases to the list and follow up. If editorial coverage follows, we consider that a conversion.

We measure results from two separate lists – our primary target list (i.e. usually around eight carefully chosen contacts) and then a short supplementary list. The supplementary list includes those media outlets considered, but that don’t make the short list. As we always have an email address, we send the release to the supplementary email addresses anyway, but do not follow up personally.

The majority of editorials and broadcasts (25%) resulted from the targeted lists, but some (7%) also came from the supplementary lists. We have found that a targeted contact was almost two and a half times as likely to run a story than a contact on the supplementary list. I’ll repeat that, as it is important: a personal follow-up increases editorial coverage conversion rates by approximately 250%. As the supplementary list comes from quite a selective set of outlets already, the impact of follow-up – when compared to a non-targeted bulk email list – is likely to be a lot higher.

The benefit of personal follow-up is to be expected for two reasons:

  1. Relevance: The targeted lists focus on the media we believe are most likely to run the story.
  2. Attention: We follow up all contacts on the targeted list. A personal call helps increase the chance that the potential story angle has at least been considered.

Campaign Conversion. A campaign consists of a press release being delivered to a primary and supplementary list of contacts at the target media outlets. We assess a campaign as having converted if we get editorial coverage from at least one of the target media outlets. During the financial year, 83 per cent of our campaigns resulted in media coverage.

Our median result is two editorial placements or broadcasts per campaign; almost half (44%) of our campaigns achieved this. I would love to know how that stacks up from an industry perspective, but I’m not aware of many PR agencies or publicists who make these kinds of metrics available.

We did have campaigns with no coverage – 17% to be precise. I will write that again … no coverage. Ouch, that really hurts when it happens. Try as we do, editorial coverage in premium media (and this is very distinct from advertorial) can never be guaranteed. The unpredictable nature of the media means anything can happen at any time. For example, we had a great editorial story (pictorial and all) pulled at the very last minute because of a text message sent by Shane Warne.

We do look at each campaign that is struggling to get traction and try to identify the cause. The strength of the angle is critical, and (given the the vagaries of our free press) is the number one way we can influence outcomes. We plan angles carefully up front, doing what we can to try identify angles that have relevance for the audience of the target outlet. On a number of occasions we have discussed potential story angles with a prospective client, only to recommend they not proceed; if the angle doesn’t have a reasonable prospect of success with the chosen media outlets, then it’s not in anyone’s interests to run a campaign.

While we did have campaigns with zero coverage, we also had outstanding successes. Our best campaign achieved no less than nine editorial placements, gaining coverage in 35 per cent of the target outlets.

A key advantage for this story was the perceived lack of commercial content. Some publications and channels will baulk at running a story that they view as promotional (and on a few occasions even try and create an opportunity for their advertising department). But they will happily promote a non-profit venture, even if the ultimate result is profit for someone. It’s all part of the equation.

We will continue to measure the results of our publicity campaigns, and keep you updated.

Is your website building your business?

You know that online marketing is essential to your business – but did you know that many websites are no more effective than brochures piled up in a warehouse?

Imagine you’re off on a fishing trip to capture that ever-elusive barramundi.

You’re enjoying the beautiful weather, the stunning scenery, the lapping of water against the boat – but you’re not catching a thing – not even a nibble. Yet there’s another guy in another boat across the bay hauling in one after another.

Why? Simply because he’s done his research and he knows where the barra are biting.

It’s like that with a website.

You can put thousands into a new and beautiful site – but it’s unlikely to get more than a few nibbles (visits), even fewer bites (enquiries) and virtually no catches (bookings).

So how do you get your website in the right place? How do you get it in front of your target audience so that they find you, bite and book?

That’s where online marketing makes the difference between having a brochure in the warehouse, and having a dynamic presence that builds your business.

So if you’re planning to revamp your site, want to know more about marketing online, or want to upgrade your site with online marketing tools built in, get in touch with us.

Take a look at our Hidden Jewel national winner’s site, which is already enjoying great results in terms of traffic.

Using video to talk to journalists and clients

For the launch of their Internet video chat service in Australia, SightSpeed used their own product to prepare a video for us to distribute to journalists along with the press release.

Now that this quality of video communication is available in Australia at an affordable price for small business, it makes sense to consider using it in your publicity and marketing campaigns too.

As well as including a videolink with your press release, there are many ways of using visual communication to engage the interest of both media and clients in a more direct and personal way.

Use video in your email campaigns, on your site, in your media pack, and in your blog, and consider uploading an experiential video onto social media sites such as YouTube.

For small businesses unable to physically reach a widespread clientele, this is an important step in online marketing.

Sound marketing advice for tourism operators

Tourism Australia’s latest round of research has led to a profile of the travellers most receptive to – and most likely to book – Australian travel experiences.

Described as ‘experience seekers’, what’s really interesting is Tourism Australia’s advice to tourism operators on how to communicate with them when marketing the experiences they offer.

In its recently released Australian Experiences Industry Toolkit, Tourism Australia explains that “copy should be conversational in tone …, addressing the reader directly as you would in a conversation”.

The tone “should be informal, relaxed and not too polished”.

They talk about telling stories that “highlight ‘authentic’ and unique experiences”, and teaching something new about the destination.

They advise tourism operators to “share local secrets that only Australians would know… and offer an insider’s knowledge on travelling to and within Australia”.

This is an excellent description of the kind of communication that’s going on right now online, via email, blogs and social media sites – the perfect media for direct, conversational and authentic communication with lots of opportunities to share inside knowledge, expertise and news.

Tourism operators are increasingly using online media to market directly to their audience, as travellers increasingly search online when they are planning and booking their holidays.

Tourism Australia’s own research (published Feb 2007) shows that over 70% of international tourists to Australia researched and booked their holidays online in 2006. And the figure for domestic tourists is over 50%.

This is why we’ve developed services specifically for tourism operators to publicise and market online more effectively – and capture the huge proportion of those ‘experience seekers’ searching the web.

You’re never too small for an online newsroom

Have you ever visited a corporate website and been impressed by all the head-spinning self-praise? Something that always helps raise a profile is having a media page on the site – also known as online newsrooms. This is the place to store:

  • press releases relating to the company with links to the releases themselves and relevant images available for download
  • links to media coverage achieved
  • a press pack with essential information on your business for journalists, including contact details and images

There’s a much more important reason for this than just growing your head bigger. Having press releases and news about you on your website also enhances your online presence, keeps the news available over an indefinite period, and increases the chance of both journalists and potential clients finding information that interests them.

For example, Google News works by trawling sites looking for news content, and press releases are a likely target. Journalists also search online when preparing articles or looking for stories to fill space. And the additional content provides more search terms to capture potential clients browsing the net.

So – far from being a corporate spin – an online newsroom makes sense for any business, however small. And if you don’t have any press releases to upload, you need to start preparing your first one now. We recommend distributing one press release every three to four months.

PR Influences has some useful advice about online newsrooms. Although aimed at larger businesses, a simplified version of what they recommend is certainly worth considering. And David Meerman Scott makes the point that a newsrooms are no longer the territory of journalists only, so prepare your content with your potential customers in mind.

Take a look at our Client Press Releases page, which lists and links to all our clients’ releases and sites. This is not only good for our clients but showcases what we do and provides a service for journalists searching for stories. Next I will be creating a page documenting media coverage of PublicityShip itself.

A very simple structure for online newsrooms that any small business can follow entails:

  • a page linking to each release about your business,
  • probably one page of images for download, although you can place specific images at the foot of each release,
  • a page showing media coverage received,
  • if you have a media or press pack – an online version in your newsroom.

And make sure your contact details are easy to click.

Of course it helps to be working with a self-managed site so that you can upload each press release and series of images quickly and without the cost of a web administrator. Our platform allows for this, thanks to OM4 – our online marketing business, which will be officially launched shortly.

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