Archive for the ‘Updates’ Category

PR and Advertising and the Web

Recently I presented at the Public Relations Institute of Australia’s annual conference. The New Media session was arranged by the PRIA Young Guns.

The YouTube copy of the presentation is below.

The rules of marketing and PR have changed. But the way people think about PR hasn’t changed anywhere near as much. Mike Moran sums it up very neatly is his post on Public Relations Pros and Internet Marketing:

public relations folks don’t consider what they do marketing”.

In the new world of PR, quality link builders are emerging as the equivalent of PR professionals. The online world presents an increasing number of mediated channels to an audience, and the best way to reach them is to earn a link. The skills applied by professional link builders are remarkably similar to those used by PR professionals when they are pursuing coverage.

The skills used in online advertising are not that similar to those used by traditional advertising agencies however, but they are very similar to those used by direct marketing professionals.

The new world of PR and advertising is new and yet old at the same time.

PRIA Young Guns New Media Presentation Part 1
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PRIA Young Guns New Media Presentation Part 2
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Writing press releases – 10 tips

In giving feedback to a PR student recently on a press release she had written, she responded as if I had showered her with droplets of gold!

Anyone who is writing press releases for a small business knows that it isn’t as easy as it might seem. And it’s hard to get advice on how to do it better.

So I’ve gathered the most salient points from my feedback to the student, and reproduced it here, on the assumption that if these tips helped her, they might help others who are writing press releases for small businesses.

To put the tips into context, the press release we were working on together was about the effects of tree-felling on tourism in Tasmania, and how small tourism businesses were battling to protect the ‘wilderness frontier’.

  1. Putting a positive spin on a story gives it an energy that negative spins don’t have. In this case, my advice was to angle the main headline to highlight the brave battle being fought by the tourism operators, rather than focus on the damage inflicted by the forestry giants. The headline I suggested was: Small ecotour operators take stand against forestry giants. Suddenly a release that could have been just another whinge about logging becomes an appealing ‘David & Goliath’ story.
  2. Most press releases contain way too much ‘spin’. Every good story has a natural spin that you don’t need to add to, and in the end, it’s the journalist’s job to write the story and impose their own angle on it. So use words economically and let the facts speak for themselves. If there are views that need to be expressed, you can do this by quoting the personalities involved. For example:
    Tasmania’s wilderness frontier is under siege, say local tour and accommodation providers.
  3. Statistics are great! Use them as much as you can and make them up to date, relevant and newsworthy – this will really help to get you attention.
  4. Beware of inaccurate statements. It’s human nature to exaggerate for effect, but remember journalists are trained to weed out inaccuracy. Here’s an example from our draft press release:
    Without the wilderness there would be no tourism in Tasmania.
    You can see how this statement arose – but it’s factually incorrect.
  5. Tempting as it is to use your press release to promote your business, it’s imperative to stick to the issue most likely to get the story published. Any extraneous information that might be of interest to the journalist can be included via links in the ‘Further information’ section at the end of your release. Here’s a paragraph that crept into our press release:
    There are many relaxing and challenging activities for the holiday-maker to enjoy, including the 480km Tasmanian Trail, hiking, caravanning, camping, canoeing, boating, kayaking, mountain biking, four wheel driving and fishing…
    Suddenly we’re into promoting the destination, and a journo will stop reading at this point. So if you find yourself writing text that’s really advertising, cut it out. If it’s useful background information, but not part of the main message, put it into the ‘Further information’ section.
  6. Apply the ‘who cares’ rule. Our press release was about losing the wilderness experience if logging continues. The underlying aim of the release was to gain exposure for the central personality initiating the release – a small tourism operator with a vested interest in protected the wilderness. However, take this beautifully written paragraph:
    Wilderness tour guides know too well the effects of logging on their businesses, which rely on the ecosystems and natural beauty in the State Forest and World Heritage Area.
    Now ask the question, who cares about the tour guides and their businesses? Most people are interested primarily in themselves – in this case, about the threat to our chance – and our children’s chance – to experience the true wilderness. We also care about the economy, which is why stats were important to the story too. The tour operator was the lynchpin but not the issue. You, your business, your products, will be vital to the stories told in your press releases, but does your story pass the ‘who cares’ test? You are the lynchpin, but you’re probably not the issue.
  7. Be hard on yourself when you edit your press release, and literally delete anything that doesn’t add to the story. Here are a couple of examples from our draft release. The first states an obvious truth and wastes space on the page – it certainly isn’t news and may therefore be the point in the release where the journo stops reading:
    Eco-tourism operators want growth within the tourism industry, not decline.
    This is also a pointless sentence:
    There is no doubt why there is concern over the future of Tasmania’s forests.
  8. Never use exclamation marks in a press release!!
  9. Links in the ‘Further information’ section are a good idea – as long as they are useful and take journalists straight to the background information quickly. It should also be clear in the press release itself what kind of information the links are going to give them. If you link to a business report pdf that’s 10mg in size, journos won’t thank you and they certainly won’t plough through it – that’s assuming it doesn’t crash their computer first!
  10. My final point is worth taking away and pondering. Writing press releases about your business can become an introspective task if you’re not careful. Good journalism is just the opposite. It’s about the reader, not about the journalist. So when we produced our press release, it wasn’t about the tourism operator himself, although he is involved in the issue and quoted in the release. The message is about an issue likely to interest readers, viewers and listeners. The attention our client gains from publicity is incidental to the central story – but it’s still attention, and it’s good publicity.

Publicity Campaign for Fly Fishing Book Hooks Big Fish

It has been such a pleasure to work on the campaign for Daniel Hackett’s book In Season Tasmania – A Year of Fly Fishing Highlights.

Our client H2Media have seen their new publication reviewed in Australian Traveller, The Weekend Australian, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. Australian Traveller also ran a feature story.

There is no doubt in my mind that the attractive photos in the book really helped in getting the coverage. I think this is particularly true when you are trying to attract the attention of magazines.

Editors have limited budgets and if your story comes with stunning photos it really puts you ahead of your competition.

Congratulations to Daniel on his successful book launch and all the best for the next fly fishing season. To find out more about fly fishing in Tasmania you can visit Riverfly.

Eurisko – Affiliate Marketing is smart public relations

The internet changed public relations forever. Because it changed the way people get information.

Don’t get me wrong, print and broadcast media are still very important. But we now have to consider internet media in our public relations mix as well.

Internet press releases have similarities and differences to print/broadcast press releases. The main difference being that you can talk direct to your consumer.

But the internet has created many other channels to use for public relations. Content marketing (using blogs and social media) should by now be firmly in your awareness (and if it isn’t, please come and talk to us over at OM4).

Affiliate marketing isn’t usually associated with public relations. But I think it is smart public relations, and needs to be looked at in a different light.

Consider Mike Bullen, who has just launched his new business Eurisko. Mike shows that affiliate marketing makes sense for business.

Check out the case studies showing how smart tourism marketers are using affiliate marketing to publicise campaigns, build brand awareness and generate leads.

Time to look carefully at how affiliate marketing might fit into your public relations strategy.

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.

How to turn a worthy story into a newsworthy one

When I talk with clients wanting to get their message into the media via a press release campaign, one of my first tasks is to get tough.

Finding a message that’s newsworthy – i.e. one that is attractive enough to persuade editors, producers, journalists to run editorial or devote airtime to you – is a tough job for most businesses. Yet the success of a press release campaign rides on it.

So as you develop your message and write your news release, be tough with yourself. Keep on asking yourself the same question – who cares? And make sure you can answer it –

“This group of people will care because my service answers a ‘want’ among this particular group that isn’t yet being met … / addresses an issue that hasn’t yet been tackled effectively … / taps into a hot new trend that can be used as the main focus … / rides on a surprising statistic that is likely to grab attention.”

Still struggling? Here are five ideas for turning a worthy message about your business into a newsworthy one:

1. Keep an eye out for new publications or articles revealing evidence-based research or statistics that support the need for your product or service.
2. Tailor your product or service to suit a particular segment of your market and launch it.
3. Establish a new partnership or affiliation with a complementary business.
4. Initiate an event such as a competition, or sponsor a charitable event.
5. Invite a local celebrity to use your product or service and agree to be photographed.

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.

Four reasons our clients are getting publicity

Our four most recent clients have all achieved some excellent coverage, so I thought it might be helpful to pinpoint the reasons for their success.

First up is Melbourne Fashion Experience – a small operation that fills a gap in the top-end fashion market. Proprietors, April Duck and Deborah Boreckyi, have created personalised tours of Melbourne’s tucked-away designer outlets for busy women wanting a top quality shopping trip. The designers themselves are highly supportive of the tours, and will arrange to be on hand whenever a tour is coming through.

Coverage in Shop Til You Drop with a full feature in Melbourne Weekly Magazine were achieved thanks to the unusual and appealing character of the tours. Not only do they offer unique experience, but the visual appeal is strong, making for a more compelling feature-style story.

AllGayCruises proved more of a challenge, with plenty of interest in gay and lesbian publications, but a tentative response from mainstream media, which was the central target for this campaign. Despite having all the elements of a great story – the first gay cruise in Australia, lots of colourful events on board, and plenty of visual appeal – we had our work cut out following the initial press release distribution.

But after umpteen phone calls and hours spent on working up angles, we finally cracked the Sunday Age, and the story was also picked up by travel industry media. In this case, success was largely due to newsworthiness and persistence.

Third, something completely different – business coach Greg Chapman recently launched the Australian Business Coaching Club, an online tool for small and remote businesses to gain access to top-quality business coaching at low cost. As another Australian first, Greg’s story was news, but needed something more than a straight announcement.

So PublicityShip worked with Greg to come up with a ‘business school of the air’ angle. This was picked up by the Daily Telegraph in Sydney and Herald Sun in Melbourne, who ran features in their small business sections.

And finally, the Supertalent Network asked us to publicise this year’s Australian Dance Idol competition for 5-19-year-olds, running this week in Sydney.

Thanks again to newsworthiness and fabulous visual appeal – who can beat children dancing? – the competition was showcased on Channel Nine’s Mornings with Kerri-Anne on Easter Monday, and has raised interest among local media for coverage of the finals.

To sum up – our clients’ success comes from:
1. being newsworthy,
2. having visual impact,
3. finding an appealing angle, and
4. sheer persistence.

You don’t necessarily need all four elements, but the more you have, the more likely you are to get publicity.

Measures and metrics for niche blogging

Niche blogging will eventually change the way people measure the value of blogs. Most of the media attention for bloggers is based on high volume blogs, as measured by traditional website metrics (unique visitors, pageviews) and blog traffic metrics such as Technorati.

But for a small business owner who runs a niche blog with no advertising and yet gains a lot from each new customer, a very small amount of traffic can lead to enough conversions to make a huge difference to his or her business.

Niche bloggers don’t all care about massive amounts of traffic. A highly successful niche blog won’t show up in the top anything at Technorati, and may never get a high page rank. But they have an audience, in many cases a highly profitable one in their niche.

So, if you are a niche blogger, don’t be disheartened by the metrics of the big sites. Track your new clients, track your acquisition costs. Measure and test. And enjoy the benefits of niche blogging!

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