Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

What editors want from public relations firms

Talk to any public relations firm and they will tell you how hard it is to get useful feedback from a magazine or newspaper editor. It’s not that editors want to be unhelpful or brusque, they’re simply very very busy, and chatting to publicists or businesses wanting to get their news release noticed – well, this isn’t top of their agenda.

I can vouch for this because I used to be an editor before hopping over the fence into public relations.

On the other hand, editors DO want good content for their readers. And whereas most editors are unwilling to discuss individual media releases, they are often happy to give general advice to businesses and public relations firms that are genuinely looking to fulfil the editors’ requirements.

So if you want to know what editors are looking for, ask them. And read this interview with Alan Dean, Editor of Selling Down Under, an award-winning online magazine and blogsite selling Australia to the overseas travel industry.

Online publicity – how blogs get you attention

Bloggers are rapidly taking on a similar role to traditional press editors in the world of online publicity. As blogs become more prolific, there’s an increasing number of highly authoritative ones being trawled by the search engines and subscribed to by a quality audience.

ProBlogger Darren Rowse’s 13 tips on asking other bloggers for links struck me as remarkably similar to the approach good publicists take when talking to the traditional media.

Replace the word ‘links’ with ‘press releases’ and the fit is almost perfect… which makes sense, because the intent is the same: you want the editor, or blogger, to notice your story, read it and publish it (or link to it) so that their audience gets to see it.

It costs next to nothing for a blogger to publish your content, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be asked to advertise in order to get editorial exposure, as is often the case with traditional media. Good quality content is the priority, and if you can provide this, you stand as good a chance as anyone else of getting attention.

This means including blogs in your publicity strategy, in the same way you would target other media. When you carry out your initial research, check out the content and readership of relevant blogs, and offer them good quality information that isn’t purely promotional. The kickback to you comes in the link at the end – it’s the authority of your content that attracts the publicity.

Not only that, but the link is a valuable part of your search engine optimisation: attracting links to your site from authoritative sources will help to bring you up in the search rankings.

Even better, posting news regularly on your own blog will also help your search optimisation, and including links to your target blogs will encourage those bloggers to sit up and take notice.

Suddenly you become one of the editors generating your own authoritative content and attracting your own readership.

It’s this authenticity, interactivity and ownership that gives Internet publicity the edge over traditional media, where the editor or producer is all-powerful and advertising dollars are paramount.

Small business has a crucial advantage over big business

I read Mike Moran’s epic Search Engine Marketing, Inc to learn the fundamentals of search marketing, and have enjoyed reading his blog since. He has posted recently on the question Should Small Business Ditch The Web. He doesn’t agree with that sentiment, and neither do I.

Small business isn’t ditching the web because it is disadvantaged. Its quite the opposite. By the way, I worked 5 years for IBM (in Australia). Its a great company, but I decided to leave to start my own business precisely because the web offers such incredible *advantages* to small business (reading Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail was what did it).

Rather than disadvantage, small business has a crucial advantage over big business. Large businesses often already know how to engage with not only their home country market, but also a global market. Now small business can as well. And transform their business in the process. It might mean changing a product or service. But there are enormous opportunities that come from the accessibility of new markets, either national or international.

Today, someone can launch a global business with zero capital investment. That is a truly extraordinary change.

#1 rankings on top keywords is not a pre-requisite for strong business outcomes. That said, top rankings can be achieved by small business, but it does take persistence and a strong emphasis on content marketing.

A small business can benefit greatly from search engine marketing. Right now many web sites are built on poor foundations (from a search engine perspective), and small business suffers from that. Curse the advertising-centric folk who captured ‘web site design’, and roll out impenetrable (for a search engine) flash, javascript and other ways of hiding good content from search engines. But it won’t take too long before this turns around. A good search engine platform with good content is a very powerful combination for small business.

Small business wont’ be ditching the web en-masse any time soon.

Setting your site page width to 1024 pixels affects 7 percent of visitors

Screen Resolutions of PublicityShip Site Visitors Jul 06 to Jun 07Reading Brendan Buttar’s post on Screen Resolution for Web Design prompted me to publish a recent analysis we completed to see how many people are viewing our PublicityShip site with 800×600 screen resolutions.

Stats for the last 12 months show that:

  • a width of 800 pixels supports 99.95% of visitors
  • a width of 1024 pixels supports 93% of visitors (or annoys 7%, if you prefer)

If you go beyond 1024, then immediately you mess up the experience for over 50% of your visitors.

Rising in the search rankings through back links

In his blog post on search engine optimisation, Glenn included an important point about link-building:

“Another big clue the search engines use as to how relevant your web page is are the other web pages that link to you. If 5,000 golfing sites link to your golf page, the search engine will see this as more relevant that another golf page with equally good content, but no ‘back links’.”

What does this mean for a small business like yours?

I asked Elizabeth Fleetwood, who runs Hobart Historic Tours, about the importance of link-building to a business like hers:

“Link-building is huge for a small business. It appears that websites are noticed according to the links one has. The search engines are becoming so sophisticated that it is now no longer simply a matter of how many links, but whether they are relevant – i.e. from related organisations.”

Elizabeth builds her network of links by looking for other sites that are relevant to her business, and then setting up reciprocal links. She suggests starting with businesses you deal with regularly, or who have a high status within your industry.

“If this means talking to many different people and sharing industry experience/info, that is all very good for everyone.”

I would take this a step further by recommending two other important strategies:
1. Good, relevant, authoritative and regularly updated content on your site will help equally relevant and authoritative sources to find you and link to you as a natural part of their own content.
2. Linking to pages and blog posts that are useful to your audience, and commenting on posts in other blogs, will naturally bring you to the attention of those sources – again encouraging them to link to you.

Thanks for your input Elizabeth – you won yourself a back link!

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.

Email and Gmail

Gmail LogoFor a business, its good to have your own email address.

A lot of people prefer it to a hotmail or gmail account. As we help quite a number of businesses run their websites, we also run their email server for them. So goes with (rather than or

But if you’ve tried to set one up or run one, you know your own email server can be a headache. I now recommend a simple way of running email using Google’s Gmail service that is a lot easier than a setup using only your own email server.

Here is how it works:

  • register your domain and setup your email addresses in the usual way. So your email is
  • setup a Gmail account – free, with around 2.8Gb of storage. Lets call this
  • forward your email to your
  • while you are at it, simplify your life and forward to your Gmail account as well.

This way, all your email sails straight through into your single Google account. And you can still send email to people from any of your addresses.

A great reason for using Gmail is that the interface is better than PC email applications such as Outlook or Mac Mail. Mainly because Gmail shows you – on a single line for each email – who the email is from, the subject, and the first line of text. This means you don’t need to scan each mail, you can see at a glance. Just sending/receiving email is easier, and of course you can access your Gmail account from any browser. However, if you like Outlook or Mac Mail or whatever, you can still access Gmail from that (its just a POP email account).

But an even better reason for using Gmail is that the spam filters are flat out the best, better than any filters (such as Spam Assassin) that you can put on your own email server.

With around 2.8Gb of email storage and good search, Gmail has really done the job. There are only two drawbacks, and these may not apply to you. One is that I have a single address book on my Mac’s Address Book application. This synchronizes to our phones (separate lists for Julia’s and mine) and across my office Mac and laptop. With Gmail, I can’t sync my Address Book into Gmail (or I can, but its a one off, not much help), so while I can reply to an email, composing emails lacks addresses. So to get around this I send new emails from Mac mail, and a copy appears in Gmail. Secondly, I like the way my Mac’s Spotlight search can scan the content of all documents and emails – currently it doesn’t scan Gmail content. I’m hoping a plugin will appear for both of these features.

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of different email addresses. Because I am in business online, it just works that way. Using this setup, you can establish a new business presence and the email isn’t a headache.

For our customers with their own site and email, we still operate an email server for them, but forward their email to their gmail account rather than spam filtering/storing/managing the actual email content. Gmail is better at that.

Click on the icon above, or here to find out more.

Ningaloo Blue and their new look website

We’ve been having a great time working with Ningaloo Blue, the overall winner of our PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Award.  Getting a publicity campaign up and running while launching a new blog-enabled website during one of the busiest whale shark seasons on record has certainly made it interesting! So, here is an update on what has been happening. WebsiteThe new new website at was launched in May. Keyword research was used to identify the sorts of queries that are being used, to maximise the opportunity for Ningaloo Blue to be found. The site structure was redesigned to make it easier for travellers to find out about the different adventure travel options available at Ningaloo.   

The site was indexed rapidly by Google, and has already started drawing traffic on some of the new keywords.  It will take a while to get better rankings on some of the highly competitive travel keywords, however we are confident we will get there.  This is the sort of strategy that will pay long term dividends for Ningaloo Blue, as the cost of pay-per-click search traffic on the competitive keywords is already significant, and will only increase.  

Once strong rankings are achieved, they should be able to be retained on the strength of content rather than advertising spend. The blog is getting good visibility including through Technorati, where it has a blog authority ranking (Technorati), a good result for less than a month’s exposure. The new blog helps capture some of the excitement of swimming with the whale sharks – this year has been a fantastic season, just this week they had two days where they swam with 10 or more separate whale sharks.

Ningaloo Blue are already seeing enquiries coming in via the site, including a query from a New York journalist wanting more information on the whale shark tours, and queries from travellers seeking advice on getting to Ningaloo. This is great news for Ningaloo Blue, who are aiming to raise awareness of the tours in the US and Europe as well as getting a better profile with independent travellers.

Their publicity campaign planning started earlier this year, and has already been delivering results. As a result of the publicity campaign, the West Australian and Sunday Age have featured Ningaloo Blue in their travel news, and the high-ranking global news site,, has expressed interest in Ningaloo and requested information on tours that include Ningaloo Blue’s whale shark tours. Whether this results in coverage or not we’ll have to wait and see, the awareness-raising is invaluable.Please let us know what you think about the new site through email or comments, all feedback very welcome.

PublicityShip uses Rimuhosting for WordPress

Rimuhosting LogoPeriodically I get asked about how we manage all of our client blogs and online marketing websites. So here is a bit of technical explanation of what we do.

PublicityShip uses virtual private servers (VPS) from Rimuhosting for our WordPress and WordPressMU sites. Our clients share the same platform we use for our own site. Rimuhosting are based out of New Zealand, but offer VPS hosts in Australia, the US and Europe. Their support is excellent, and the servers are reliable. They don’t make a song and dance about their support for WordPress, but its all there.

Using a VPS for WordPress works really well if you want to run your own installation. Shared hosting is the most common form of hosting. Issues can arise however, particularly if the hosting provider limits access to DNS or has security settings that make some plugins impossible to use. These problems compound if you are using WordPressMU.

Dedicated servers are also used, but recognised to be expensive. I’ve seen a lot of discussion about WordPress hosting on the various forums, and am surprised that the VPS option isn’t more widely used. You get all the flexibility of a dedicated host, but without the cost. And when the day arrives that you need a dedicated server, you can migrate your VPS onto its own host with only a small management overhead.

To run your own server install for WordPress on a VPS or dedicated server, you should have (or have access to) a reasonable level of Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP and security expertise. And expect to pay more than shared hosting. With your own VPS or dedicated server, you will have the maximum degree of flexibility in relation to themes, plugins and integration with other applications.

For us, this means we have been able to add in a lot of features for our sites to support various online marketing strategies. Its a very important part of our extended PublicityShip business model.

For the record, I don’t have any affiliate arrangement with Rimuhosting. But I do recommend them to anyone looking for a reliable and helpful VPS provider.

Ningaloo Blue and their new site

Ningaloo Reef Whale SharkNingaloo Blue has gone live with the Ningaloo Blue Adventure, their new blog-enabled website. Its peak season right now up at Ningaloo, with lots of whale sharks in attendance. Read Kat’s latest blog entry to get the latest.

The site has been launched in parallel with their existing website. Why have two websites? Well, we will be measuring how effective each of the websites is in terms of drawing traffic, establishing a conversation (initially email subscriptions) and converting readership to bookings.

Naturally the existing website has a head start (the new site has only just been launched, and has been indexed already), so its going to be interesting to see the comparative performance.

Our focus has been on getting the content right. The main objective of the site is to generate bookings for tours. We did some research into where those bookings might come from, both in terms of geography and also buyer personas. Then we did our keyword research, and sifted through the evidence. We know the keywords that drive the current traffic, and we were able to contrast this with new keyword sources.

The site provides a lot of information for prospective visitors to Ningaloo. It also provides a great target for search engines looking for result pages on specific keyword searches. The organic search results will naturally take time to materialise – six to twelve months is realistic. But we have also started triallling some search marketing with Google AdWords. Analysis of the site will be undertaken with Google Analytics and Advanced Web Rankings.

For now, bookings are being fed to the old website. Potentially a direct booking form may improve conversion on the new site, however we’ll get a view on traffic and conversions first.

As a blog-enabled website, it has been designed to get Ningaloo Blue up and running with:

  • Search Marketing (PPC) – AdWords search campaign based on keyword research
  • Content Marketing – blog facility to add ongoing content about the tour experiences, with RSS and email subscription facilities. Ningaloo Blue can add new web pages or update existing pages whenever they want.

In addition, the site is online marketing enabled, meaning it is ready for:

  • Email Marketing – the site has self-managed facilities to enable email subscription boxes to be added (menu bar or sidebar, as well as within a page). With an AWeber autoresponder account, Ningaloo Blue can easily add multi-part emails, for example, to educate about the wide variety of adventure travel opportunities in and around Exmouth.

We’ll describe a few more of the features in subsequent posts.

Can’t wait to see how the visitors respond to it. Please drop on by and let us know what you think!

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