Survey: PR wins, advertising loses

In the theories of media effects the impact of advertising and PR is still a controversial topic. A current study by the University of Applied Sciences Mainz now repeated the analysis of this topic. The result shows: PR works especially, when it comes to communicating knowledge and if arguments have to be believable and convincing- like for so called “High Envolvement”- products, with which the costumer specifically deals with before purchasing, for example a new car or a new television.

The classical advertising has the most impact when it comes to products which the costumer is paying less attention to and which are regarded as interchangeable, like products in daily use such as cleaning agent.

„That’s what I always thought about it” is what many PR colleagues might think now, because that’s exactly what I thought when reading the press release.

The same – though not representative – feedback is what we are often getting from our costumers, because IT and Clean Tech are typical High Envolvement products. For example: I recently compared the page view numbers of the company’s website together with a client of mine, just because of interest. Everyday when a press release has been published, the number of vistors grew rapidly. In contrast, when an advertisment for junior employees has been placed, there were only marginal deflections for this period. Since we do also support the HR-campaign of the company, there are clearly more applications.

And a customer profit can be followed in parts in an article in the trade press (of course the company’s products are also simply good): a Sales Manager was able to send a link to the article in the attachment of an offer. This was the loop for a much personal sales talk and finally the decision for our costumer.

Another interesting story ist he case of a customer, whose view numbers of his Xing profile raise up into double digits just in one single day and clearly more contact queries came in, when we shared a press information to expand the german team.

With this study of the University of Applied Sciences Mainz, the effects of PR have finally been proved scientifically by using latest figures and facts. Prof. Dr. Lothar Rolke, head of the study, believes that “the communication-mix is going to change a lot”. I’m keen to see in which direction. At the moment the trend in companies is to reduce the advertising budget or replace it with PR, to the disappointment of the media and certainly not consulting for all participants.

I think sooner or later new mixes of PR and advertising will assert itself. We’ll see which ones.

Jessica Schmidt

The Social Media Revolution Continues

I’m amazed that people are still questioning whether social media is a fad or not. Social networks and online interactions have exploded over the past few years and are continuing to grow, without any hint of a plateau. Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, says it best in that “we don’t have a choice on whether we do social media; the question is how well we do it.” I found this video really interesting to show just how much social media is taking off.

The video shows stats from Qualman’s book and I’ve listed out just a few of the jaw-dropping numbers below:

  • 80% of companies use social media for recruitment – of those, 95% are using LinkedIn
  • 50% of mobile internet traffic in the UK is for Facebook
  • 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brads are links to user-generated content
  • 34% of bloggers post opinions about products and brands
  • 96% of millennials (generation Y) have joined a social network
  • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, but only 14% trust advertisements
  • Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate positive ROI as 90% of people skip ads via TiVo or DVR
  • 24 or the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation

The video notes an important shift in the wake of social media – we no longer search for news, news comes to us. This is something I’ve noted before, but still marvel at the implications and challenges, especially the challenge of reaching new audiences. How do you reach a new group of people who only have select news topics delivered to them? This dilemma presents opportunities for creative campaigns, which are sure to be centered around social media.

As word of mouth and peer recommendations are such high influencers now, it’s important that you are being talked about. If you, your company, or your clients are being left out of conversations in your field or industry, you will likely be forgotten.  Qualman notes that the real ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in 5 years… yikes!

So with the explosion of social media, I was surprised by a recent surveyreleased by Citibank that found 81% of small businesses (of the 552 surveyed) are not using social media.  The survey, asking if small business owners use the Internet for business growth, also found that 37% are not even using their website to expand their business. It seems like these companies are really missing an opportunity.

Almost two years ago, Cone released results of a research study that found that 93% of social media users think companies should have a social media presence and 85% believe companies should also interact with its community via social media. These statistics can only have increased since social media has continued to grow exponentially with more and more users joining social sites like Twitter and Facebook every day.

So why wouldn’t companies take advantage of social media?  How are you, your clients, or company making social media work for you?

This post was first published by Meredith L. Eaton on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.

How to use Microstock Images for PR – Stockphotorights.com

Not only shrinking budgets but also the need to get images within a very tight timeframe are factors making microstock images a choice used by more and more companies and PR agencies. Microstock vendors offer licence free image (and video) material for a much lower budget than traditional photo agencies and the material can be purchased online at any time.So far so good – but there are some gaps in the legal  understanding of picture licensing frequently causing confusion and restraints towards stock photo usage among the users.

There is no such thing as “images for free”

While some users are still struggling with the question weather it is safe to use stock photo images there are still other users who think they can just google some images and use those. But however nice it might seem – there is no such thing as ‘images for free’. Numerous verdicts by courts like the federal court of Hamburg certify: the usage of images found via Goole or other search engines generally infringe copy rights. Using those image would require the rights to reproduction of the original image. Even if the practice temptingly easy it doesn’t rectifies a violation of the image owner’s copy rights – media lawyer Jens O. Brelle, Hamburg, summarizes the market situation.

In this situation licence free images of microstock agencies are a feasible alternative. Unlike traditional photo agencies which sell licence rights only for a specific placement of the image licence free stock images can be used worldwide and without time limits. This makes microstock images ideal for PR purposes as their goal usually is to issue a text and the illustrating images in as many outlets as possible.

Sounds very convincing doesn’t it? But as often the devil is in the details because the term “licence free” consistently causes misconceptions. Despite the term “licence free“ users still have to follow certain rules and restrictions regarding the usage of licence free photos, illustrations and graphical images. Especially in the PR practice these restrictions can appear to be quite complex.

Stockphotorights.com

Some of the largest stock photo companies now launched Stockphotorights.com. The site was created to clear up misunderstandings about the legalities of image usage and to provide information and advice on how to license images with confidence. The initiative was a response to a survey of image users that showed many gaps in legal understanding of picture licensing.

Stockphotorights.com was built by Getty Images, owner of iStockPhoto, and is supported by leading stock image vendors such as Shutterstock as well as industry associations like PACA (Picture Archive Council of America) and BAPLA (British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies).

Wibke Sonderkamp

Do You Share TMI on Social Network Sites?

In one of my college courses, I learned the phrase “TMI” (Too Much Information) from one of my professors who did not want to hear details about student’s personal lives. I hope she stays away from Facebook and Twitter because these days, many people are over sharing information on their social media profiles. A recent survey of 2,000 households found that 52% are posting some form of personal information online that falls under risky social media behavior. The survey also showed that 9% of the social network users were victims of some form of fraud or abuse in the past year ranging from malware to identity theft.

Consumer Reports has come up with a list of seven things that users should stop doing on Facebook — Here are 3 that I did not realize were so important for protecting privacy online. Do not:

  • List a full birth date — Of course you want to include this information in your profile so that all of your Facebook friends wish you a happy birthday, but removing the year can help protect against identity theft.
  • Overlook privacy controls — Social media sites are always making changes to how your personal info can be used so make sure you are aware of the most current policies. We discussed this back in December when Facebook adjusted its privacy settings.
  • Let information be found in search engines — Did you know you can turn off this option to decrease the chances of a stranger finding you?

They also encourage users to not use a weak password or mention being away from home. For parents, make sure to avoid posting your child’s name in a photo caption and monitor your child’s use of social networking sites. Some of these tips may seem like common sense, but the more you do to protect your privacy, the better! Do you have any helpful tips for keeping your personal information safe?

This post was first published by Danielle Sherman on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.

Read or view? Video Interviews in Online Magazines

More and more magazines produce video interviews and case studies for their online versions.

Recently we met an editor and video team of Chip magazine with our client SugarSync. Laura Yecies, CEO of SugarSync, was asked to present the options the cloud service offers for end users and SMBs in a video interview.

With the flood of information growing every day many magazines try to offer their customers an alternative to reading and present new products or services in short videos. In some cases – e.g. Chip magazine – the video is part of an article. This way the recipient can choose whether he prefers to read the information or watch the video.

For editors focused on producing written content, the new format presents a variety of challenges. Some editors enjoy the spotlight and discover new talents, but not every journalist is suited to be a video editor as well. Depending on the format the editor is also requested to act as translator and to transfer the answers of the interview partner – often given in English – directly into the local language.

Whether media houses choose to establish in-house video teams or to cooperate with external partners, they all agree: the investment pays out as click rates proof that the videos are very well accepted by the recipients.

Wibke Sonderkamp – GlobalCom PR-Network Munich

Looking to Boost your Clients’ SEO?

Jani Virtanen of Marketwire came and visited the March office for a ‘Training Tea’ session—he gave us insight on how we can increase our client’s online visibility and SEO and elaborated on the in’s and out’s of Marketwire.  What was useful about this presentation was Jani’s tips and recommendations on how we can best utilize press releases for our clients.  But before we dive in to these helpful tips, it would probably be helpful to know what actually influences SEO?

SEO Factors:

  • How frequent does your content changes?  This is one of the main reasons why having a company is important.  Everyone a new post is added to the blog, it registers with Google and bumps up your SEO that much more.
  • Use of keywords.  Identify keywords that are important to your client, and what people are searching for online to find your client.  A good start is to identify 20 or so words.  Try and include these in your press releases, website copy, blog, etc.  The more frequently these words are used, Google will begin associating these words with your client.
  • Hyperlink to credible sources.  If you link to a source that already has a high SEO with Google; Google will associate that particular source with your hyperlink.  Your hyperlink should be linked to a descriptive word—instead of hyperlinking “to download, click here”; try “download Immunet Protect”.  Also, quality matters with hyperlinking—don’t hyperlink 15 words to your company’s website.  Google will recognize this and disregard your content.

Now that we know how SEO plays a role.  Consider these statistics:

  • 98% of the media start each new trend by doing a Google search
  • 76% of the media search sources and experts on Google
  • 73% of the media search for press releases on Google.

Nearly all of the media are using Google to research and identify new trends and three-quarters are using it for background purposes.  From a PR perspective, knowing the influence Google plays on a journalist’s stories and news, don’t you want your client to appear within these searches?  To increase client’s SEO efforts and have them appear within these searches try the following:

  • Use Multimedia—if your news wire service allows for multimedia, whether it is graphics, videos, podcasts, etc., upload them.  This registers well for Google and will increase your client’s product or company in a search result.  This feature is also more appealing for the user who is viewing your press release, as it is more engaging and interactive.
  • Use Google Ad Words—this allows you to identify the right keywords when you are writing for your client.  Try and use these keywords in all of your online content.  Particularly for press releases incorporate these into your headline, first paragraph, body of release and boilerplate.  Ideally, the optimal keyword density for press release should be 2% —this is the percentage your keywords should account for in your press release.

This post was first published by Nicole Miscioscia on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.