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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Crisis? What Crisis? Crisis PR



I've noticed a lot of customer relationship problems being labelled "crisis" by digital experts.
Left unresolved, they undoubtedly have the potential to have a negative impact on the business. With good management, however, the business can often come out of such incidents with an enhanced reputation as a caring organisation, willing to listen and respond to customers, and to make changes based on their feedback.

But are they crises? 

The defining nature of a crisis is that it is unexpected, otherwise it is not a true crisis: just a management challenge.
Customer complaints are often fairly predictable if the basic processes involved in the marketing, sales, payment, supply and delivery plus aftercare pipelines are examined in detail.
As long as you have effective monitoring in place and act effectively and quickly, they become management issues.

Crisis PR

To be crisis resilient demands regular analysis and planning to create a heat-map of different levels of threats to help protect the business. Plus scenario practice sessions. That all sounds like big company stuff, but it doesn't have to be very complicated to make a difference. I know of not-for-profit organisations that have screeds of crisis planning material. And large companies that can crunch a likely scenario down into just a page or two of key issues and key messages. Which do you think would be more effective?

Why should you bother with crisis planning and practice? 

Crises don’t just happen to larger companies. For example, even a small cafe or food shop has the potential to kill vulnerable customers with food poisoning.
Or what if someone was badly injured or killed on your premises?
Making it up as you go along is not a great option in these circumstances, even for cool, calm, collected heads.
In these cases, the first priority is sympathy for the family and friends from your highest level.
But forward practice and preparation will help.

Be Prepared

You may not know the actual crisis coming down the line, but having good relevant background material and pictures to post, and help you answer enquiries, will help you retain your position as the main information source in your particular crisis.
You can also plan ahead to make sure that all the relevant people know at all times how to quickly cancel automated social media posts that are making your company look as if you are all oblivious to the problem. You can also plan how to quickly set up relevant dark tabs on social media.
For larger or higher profile organisations, having a dark site up your sleeve that can be quickly adapted to the particular crisis will help to avoid giving an uncaring "business as usual" impression. Know who authorises and effects that dark site deployment (and the back-up people if the key people are out of the office).
Plus how you are going to man the keyboard and phone 24/7 if need be to answer queries and issue updates? Who is authorised to speak? What instructions do you need to give to staff re social media and other communications channels? Do you have the right policies and guidelines in place? Sorting all that out during a crisis where seconds count is not an option.

Protecting Reputation

There's also a lot you can do on reputation management in advance. Joining the relevant trade or professional body (or other relevant qualifications provider), attaining the appropriate qualifications, maintaining any CPD requirements and going public on these activities shows you are staying up to date.
Obtaining relevant awards and kite-marks show that you are not just adopting industry standards: they show you are an externally endorsed outstanding example in your field. Awards and kitemarks demonstrate that you successfully seek out and adopt best practice to improve and certify working systems and practices. Making that activity known on your website and release boilerplate will help to defend the business reputation.
Of course an ill-judged remark on social media when handling a complaint will put a dent in the reputation, but it's also an opportunity to prove you do care, by getting on top of it.
And a crisis may seriously damage a business, but a reputable business with the kite-marks and awards will often get the benefit of the doubt - unless an independent investigation proves otherwise. But if best practice is encouraged and celebrated, that is less likely to happen, so awards and kite-marks are not just a self congratulation exercise. They are a useful reputation defence strategy.

No matter what you do, an actual crisis won't exactly match your practice scenarios.
In a true crisis a shedload of crisis experience will help, but in its absence, planning and preparing, plus good reputation management could well make the difference between saving a business - or not.



PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.

URL: http://www.phpr.co.uk

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Monday, 24 November 2014

Wonder why clients do well with PHPR's B2B international PR?


























PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.

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Friday, 21 November 2014

Are you setting up a Better B2B Business in 2015 today?

PHPR red in night jungle shot



The nights are getting longer, but there's no need to feel  in the dark about your publicity! Now's the time to begin to think about next year, before the party season starts, so you can get a head start on 2015.

For B2B businesses:

  • Maybe things you usually do aren't working any more? Are you as clear as you can be about what you do, or has the message got more complicated over time? Go back to basics and get your 7-word summary - including an emotional hook sorted out and work from there
  • What's your conversion rate of new business enquires vs actual conversion to sales? That statistic tells you whether you need to take action and provides a baseline to work from.
  • What's your referral rate like? Do you have a Referral Plan - that's often the fastest way to boost a business . We have over 100 referral tactics and most are do-able immediately and won't make you cringe. It's not all about content marketing and social media. People come first and the rest are just tools. But check out Dan Pink's TED talk about why money doesn't necessarily motivate (and can do the opposite) if you were thinking about paying referral fees... 
  • Is it time to look for new things that work - having conversations with existing clients is a great way to find out what they're using and resolve to meet clients on their chosen platforms, or events or.... 
  • No idea why you are beating your head against a brick wall with some potential clients when you have a great solution for them? Sign up for a free Future Sales Factory session to see how you are missing out on half of your true potential clients. It's an eye-opener, I promise and we are not affiliated or in any arrangement with them at all.
  • Ditch the "7 steps to a successful business" generic approach. Bottom line? There is no one-size fits all magic formula for business success. What works brilliantly for dyslexics (and dyslexics are often brilliant communicators) won't work for people who rely on their notes. And vice versa. Like most common sense, it seems obvious, but it's only by playing to your people's strengths that you will create sustainable and authentic content and publicity. Maybe you will find you need to plug some gaps, but that can often be done cost-effectively on an ad hoc basis. 
  • Not making the most of social media and other publicity channels because you have too little time? Take a half a day out to work with us on "doing more with less in 2015" session to get powerful content and authority behind your business to create a platform for success. Practical fusion of strategy and tactics tailored to personally suit your people. Including a 90 day publicity plan, with monthly follow-ups to hold you accountable.

If you want any help, call my PA on  0131 669 5190 to express interest in "A Better Business in 2015", starting with that call today. I'll get back to you to fix a date on either side of the festivities.

And whatever you get up to, have a brilliant 2015, starting from today!







PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.

URL: http://www.phpr.co.uk

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Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The hidden factors that seriously boost your B2B PR and online content

Are you hiding your business personalities?


Most people now understand that Google means business when it says quality content is guiding search results. To be fair, they have always said content is king, but until relatively recently found that hard to enforce. Now they are enforcing quality, everyone has jumped on the content band-wagon.

Creating content such as blogs or video is a great way to raise your online B2B business profile to the point where potential customers find you in searches.

But one type of content creation in particular stands head and shoulders above the rest and that's video. It doesn't just help you be found: Forrester Research reckon one well-made video is worth 1.8m words of text online (that's the equivalent of all the words in the Bible & Shakespeare's complete works together, plus another 200,000 words!)

Can you imagine what 50 videos would do for your business...?

The best bit is: if you feature your key people in your videos, you also significantly increase the chances of getting well-disposed new business enquiries. 


Most people don't realise that videos show enough of your personality to enable a potential buyer to decide whether they can work with you or not. Since many B2B relationships are based on trust, that feeling that they can "do business with you" is very important. It's also important to avoid wasting time on the ones that won't gel with your people, and that decision is made for you by the video viewer.

By capturing speech, vocal intonations and accent, facial expressions, fleeting micro expressions, plus gestures and body language, video delivers enough information to accelerate the initial stages of building trust and pre-qualifying well disposed sales leads. Video does this in a way that other forms of communication just don't - bar face-to-face.

By unleashing all these hidden people assets, your business stand to benefit while most of the others hide behind corporate-speak, confining their personalities to static text and profile pictures. 


Just imagine how you can supercharge the reach of your business by posting videos online to make their impressions on people - and Google -  24/7/365.

And of course, any topic that is a good subject for a video can be re-worked for blogs and social media.

Contact us on 0131 669 5190  for help in setting up a video desk or corner to transform inspiration into helpful videos that send your experts out to work 24/7/365 to boost your business. We can help you with media coverage and social media too.


PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.

URL: http://www.phpr.co.uk

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Monday, 5 May 2014

How video story-telling boosts accountancy practices




In evolutionary terms, TV and smartphones haven't been around very long. But story-telling, music and dancing have been around for millennia - so long -  that our brains are "hard-wired" by evolution to respond and remember them.

Story-telling in particular is the mode where people take in messages rather than directly participating. Out of these story forms, there come some particularly successful story formats and characters - the archetypes.
We use these tools a lot every time we need to add interest to a conversation on or offline. When the small talk is dying, it's quickly revived with a story prompt: "Did you see that story about....".
It's also our favourite device in writing interesting case studies, where the problem is described as mountainous and our client rides in as the hero who saves the day.

That's why we are particularly looking forward to the next free webinar on video from The Profitable Firm. It features Chris Payne on how to make compelling video.

He'll cover:

    - Adding a splash of "Disney magic"
    - Making stories compelling
    - Using the the hero journey format
    - Testimonials in story form

If you don't want prospective clients to just think about you, along with all the others on their shortlist, why not discover how to compel them to act?

Register now for the free webinar on compelling video for your accountancy practice on Tuesday 13th May. at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/338885769




PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.

URL: http://www.phpr.co.uk

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Nuts and bolts of video marketing online for accountants webinar












The second free webinar on training accountants to use video to attract clients was run by #TheProfitableFirm with Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR and David Calder BitWeb.tv on May 1st.  Billed as "the nuts and bolts of video marketing",  we showed participants how video marketing fitted into The Profitable Firm's marketing ladder to create success for accounting practices and some of the equipment to make that a reality. The highlights from that webinar are noted below.

We were joined by an audience on both sides of the Atlantic, showing them how to extend their partners' reach well past the normal limits of personal contacts and networking to the "always on" 24/7/365 online world.

The next free video is with Chris Payne who is showing how to create compelling video, covering:

    - How to add "Disney magic"
    - Creating compelling stories
    - Testimonials
    - The hero's journey model

Sign up for this free webinar on the 13th May to get the inside scoop on producing compelling video for your firm.

Join us on Tuesday 13th May, register at:
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/338885769

Meanwhile, here's some highlights from the Nuts and Bolts webinar.

Sector expertise expands practice reach:

Penny emphasised the way video allows accountants to cross normal local boundaries by demonstrating their expertise in specialist sectors on video, to attract more profitable business. Who wants a general accountant, when they can have one that has lots of experience with e.g. the construction industry (if you happen to be a builder)? Everyone believes their own individual sector is unique - after all: jobs often depends on experience in a sector. So an accountant explaining how lots of their clients in a specific sector are benefiting from a particular tax break (or other benefit) will look a lot more attractive to someone in that sector who stands to gain from that break. They will also want to use that accountant to get an edge over their rivals.

Personal attraction before the first meeting!

There was interest in the way video saves sales time by self-selecting the clients that want to work with you and closing off the ones that don't. That's because video shows enough personality clues to allow people to form immediate "first impressions", attracting well disposed clients to a firm, and saving lots of time on new business enquiries that would fall flat at the first meeting.

The final clincher is personal chemistry. No-one wants to work with someone for very long if they don't get on with them. That crucial personal chemistry is often an involuntary reaction which can be totally unrelated to anything you say or do. For example, it could be down to past experiences (positive or negative) with people that resemble you.

The important thing is to get that decisive personal  element out of the way early on to avoid unnecessary sales effort. The end result is less time wasted and better disposed potential clients that develop into better client relationships and more frequent referrals: a virtuous circle that can accelerate your business.

And all the time, your partners are out there attracting well-disposed people 24/7/365 online - without any extra wages or overtime!

The nuts 'n' bolts of online video marketing

Our first webinar at the beginning of April emphasised the benefits: particularly boosting authority on Google to influence search performance: Forrester Research now reckon one well made video is equivalent to posting 1.8m words of text (that's the whole of Shakespeare's works and the Bible, plus 200k words!).

David got down to equipment basics with an overview of equipment to cover a range of video options.

He pointed out that many accountants may already own an option better than most video camcorders if they have a good DSLR camera with a video option. The light hitting the sensor through the comparatively large lens on a DSLR will capture much more detail than the standard tiny size of lens with a plastic cover fitted in a smartphone, even if the smartphone has a more powerful sensor. He has trialled the current basic level Nikon DSLR (around £350 when we bought it from Costco) which has a separate audio input socket - essential for capturing acceptable sound quality - something that is sadly missing from most readily available camcorders. Many domestic camcorders have woefully inadequate microphones built into the sides if the camera, which happily record all but the sound in front of them! That's one of the reasons why "Digital Video for Dummies says, "The quality of the audio recorded with your camcorder's mic never exceeds "adequate."

Research shows that viewers will tolerate acceptable, but not great picture quality, if the sound is good quality and informative.

How to never be at a loss for words on video

David came up with some handy tips to hide the camera behind invisible prompts (you can see them, but the camera can't) using a teleprompter that works with a smartphone app to ensure that you doesn't miss out a key point. The teleprompter also hides the camera lens which can inhibit people.

He did acknowledge that a smartphone on a tripod could be an effective way to collect spontaneous video: maybe a video testimonial from a very happy client? It's certainly easier to carry around, but it needs stabilising. He demonstrated a neat smartphone holder that fits onto a tripod, available online for around £13. The tripod or some other means of stabilising the recording device is crucial to creating watch-able video for a professional firm.

David outlined how to set up a permanent video recording station to capture video easily and allow people to gain confidence in speaking to the camera.

DIY video vs Outsourcing? 

There's a good case for using both: a recording station for recording comment or news, speaking direct to the camera, or capturing testimonials (as long as the quality of both picture and audio is very good and the client approves the final video).

He explained why some video is best outsourced: including anything that involves complex audio capture and tricky indoor lighting will be better with professional input, such as seminars, for example.  They may require several very expensive radio microphones as the camera needs to be behind the audience to avoid blocking their view - so the camera is too far away to capture the sound even with a separate directional microphone.

Indoor events usually also need supplemental lighting to avoid window light turning the speakers into silhouettes. Plus standard room lighting is often mixed source and will show up on camera with an orange or blue tint. More powerful lighting is needed to overcome the existing lighting in this case.

Longer events like seminars also need several cameras positioned to capture detail from different focal lengths and angles to provide enough footage to cover voice-over links and provide visual variety. Footage and audio from several sources needs an experienced editor to create a satisfying record of the event.

Shooting outdoors or in premises open to the public is fraught with potential snags, to the extent that professionals need to be competent at performing health and safety risk assessment sheets. We know of professionals who have had very serious life-changing accidents due to the intense concentration needed down the camera lens to record quality footage. This means it's all too easy to become momentarily oblivious to the general surroundings. Many serious photographers may have already experienced this phenomenon, but it's prolonged by the ongoing nature of video footage. It's good practice to wear high vis vests and have a minder watch the camera operator's back (and sound operator if applicable) at all times during filming.

In all filming situations, there are added risks from equipment lying about, cables trailing, and various electrics, tripods and stands to trip over. Any contractor who appears not to understand risk assessment may be an expensive liability and all contractors should be able to prove they have substantial public liability insurance.

We went into a lot more detail on equipment and lighting but the above are the highlights of the one-hour session. We'll be going into even more detail in the associated video course.

Looking forward to the upcoming compelling content webinar!



PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.

URL: http://www.phpr.co.uk

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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Test



Google+

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.

URL: http://www.phpr.co.uk

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Saturday, 15 March 2014

Profitable video for accountants training course - free taster webinar

PHPR is proud to be working with accountancy marketing specialists, The Profitable Firm, plus the intelligent video production and training company,  BitWeb.tv* in producing an online Profitable Video for Accountants course.

There's a free taster session on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 10.00am – 11.00am called "Leveraging Video to Get Your Best Clients Ever" where we will be outlining the benefits of online video to accountants - and the research that shows why this works.  Plus giving solid tips because we'd rather demonstrate our expertise by being informative and useful than boring the pants off people with a long sales pitch punctuated by the odd nugget of wisdom.

As Karen from The Profitable Firm points out: "Video has quickly become one of the biggest lead generation tools available online. The opportunities for accountancy firms are massive." We agree.

It's exciting and not a little challenging as we are putting a lot of research into this to make sure it's bang up to date. And have unearthed some spectacular new statistics from reliable sources as to why this is going to be an accelerating opportunity for those with professional expertise.

If you're an accountant, all I can say is: "be there, or be square!" Register for the free webinar here.

* Disclosure: I may be biased as BitWeb.tv is run by my husband but I notice their clients keep coming back..


PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.

URL: http://www.phpr.co.uk

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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Video driving sales for accountants

Profitable video services firm set up by leading marketing, video and PR pros




















Analysts, trade press, key contacts and bloggers - I'm picking up the same message from them all: 2014 is the year of the video as the Return on Investment for video has shifted from creating brand awareness into actually converting to sales.

Plus video content viewed on mobile devices has gone up 300% in the last year!
It's not that hard to create video nowadays, but for professionals like accountants, it's not always immediately obvious how to use video. A quick search for accountants on YouTube yields plenty of disasters, from the stilted and stuffy, to the plain silly - all nestling amid the inappropriate ads and cute cats. Hardly the place for placing client testimonials - yet they do. As a PR professional, I'm a reputation manager: acutely aware of the big picture: the context around marketing communications activity.

Don't get me wrong: YouTube is good for SEO and general branding, but it's not the place to engage clients.
That's just one of the developments recently around the tactics for effective video. Changes in tactics that broadly echo the wider changes (for the better imo) on Google, YouTube's parent company.

BTW: did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world?

As for embedding YouTube videos on your own website, I heard that practice described at a great webinar run by web hosts Brightcove today as "the equivalent of putting exit signs all over your site..." for very good reasons.

We have been especially focused on video over the last few months as we were approached to join an  interesting JV to accelerate accountants' videos into profitable videos.

The JV involves my husband, David Calder (30 years producing, presenting and reporting at the BBC on news and The Money Programme, plus communications skills trainer, not to mention speech-writer for a  former CBI Director General). He's a fellow professional with a degree in law under his belt.

Plus Karen Reyburn at TheProfitableFirm - the leading specialists in marketing for accountants with an international clientele - see her profile and while you're at it, download some of her freebies.

I'm currently starting to softly create a publicity platform for @accountantvideo on Twitter and we make use of the hashtag  #VideoForAccountants across social media.

We'll be developing a series of webinar based training together, but in the meantime, we're happy to help on a one-to-one basis, from a simple technology advice session on Skype or brainstorming content, to actually helping you set it up and do it.

David is great at getting people to feel comfortable in front of the camera and passes on great tips - so you never have to worry about remembering your words again - or seeing the camera lens ... but more of that later - and no, it doesn't involve surgery or a new brain - or wearing silly specs!

.


PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.

URL: http://www.phpr.co.uk

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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Redeem expands European mobile buy-back footprint with Envirofone acquisition

Redeem is headquartered at the Pyramids Business Park near Edinburgh.


Delighted to report that Redeem Holdings has acquired Eazyfone Limited, trading as Envirofone, a leading consumer mobile recycling brand. This will increase Redeem's processing capacity and provide access to new sales channels in new markets across the world 

Claes Svensson CEO of Redeem Holdings Limited says, “This addition to Redeem’s portfolio improves our capability to deliver market-leading buy-back, trade-in, refurbishment and wholesale solutions for mobile network operators, retailers, corporates and consumers across Europe.”

In the UK alone, Envirofone’s consumer focus opens up an estimated £11 billion* direct-to-consumer market for Redeem, with around 124.5 million unused handsets thought to be languishing in British homes.

Redeem now provides sustainable, data secure, recycling services to mobile network operators (MNOs), consumers, retailers and corporate clients across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas through offices in the UK, Estonia, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong.   




PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.

URL: http://www.phpr.co.uk

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Friday, 10 January 2014

New year, new name? It pays to run these checks when looking for the right name

Naming a new venture affects every aspect of the business













An appropriate and memorable name is a major asset to a company or brand, but available ones are thin on the ground thanks to the low cost of registering domain names.

Online availability is important, but it isn't the only criteria. If a name has been registered as a limited company or a trademark, it may be almost impossible to use in case of legal action.

And if it's been blacklisted or has notoriety attached, the associated negativity and hassle factor is not a great start to a bright shiny new brand. I know of at least one new company that was chased hard for substantial debts racked up by another outfit  trading under the same name. That takes time to deal with and causes considerable anxiety.

We do get asked to help with naming, usually after a team have spent a lot of time and failed to find a name that nails the offering, and is also available in the desired domain(s).

The domain availability is usually as far as they've gone in the checking process. When we are commissioned to run a search, we use a raft of creativity tools, some of which are unique to us. Everyone has their own way of thinking up ideas. Whatever you use, keep notes and remember, the wrong name is often a stepping stone to something much better. To be sure of coming up with really strong ideas, we usually generate enough names to create a list of around 100 available names online. We then whittle that down to c10 and yes, the hidden names do include some stepping stones! Before we show the shortlist to the client, we run more detailed checks and recommend the following:


  • Online availability (usually we're asked for the .com  and co.uk). If other suffixes have been taken (for example.org or .co) we will show who owns the other versions if that info is available 
  • Companies House check
  • Trademark search (basic)
  • Google search to see if there's anything obviously amiss.

We also run the telephone test. The what? I hear you ask Well, if the company or brand is going to be a hit, you are going to be contacted, possibly by phone. When your staff or virtual PA answers the phone, does it trip off the tongue? If so, it should also be easy to say with confidence at networking events and presentations - and be remembered fairly accurately.

Even if the first shortlist doesn't nail it, it will have teased out a whole raft of secondary criteria that were not obvious from the initial brief. Quite often that's enough to bring other available solutions we've already discovered into the frame. And if it significantly alters the brief, we are starting from a point much closer to a solution and should be able to nail it with a shorter search.

It sounds like a lot of detailed work, and it is, but all of your marketing and branding effort is affected by a name. It sets the tone for the entire venture. So getting it right rather than bagging the first available name you see could mean the difference between success and the also rans.

If you get stuck, by all means contact us if you need help finding the right name for a business, a brand or a new development.


PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder founder of Edinburgh PR agency:  PHPR Ltd

URL: http://www.phpr.co.uk

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Sunday, 22 December 2013

Seasons Greetings from PHPR













May all your ventures bear fruit in 2014!




PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.

URL: http://www.phpr.co.uk

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Quality Content for PR Impact Post Hummingbird




Even if most of your sales are done offline, there is almost always a point somewhere in higher value sales processes where the website is checked out. It may be the first time the potential customer finds you, or a double-check by a procurement or finance officer before you are short-listed for the contract, or the site is the primary source of information about the product or service you offer.

Regardless of when that search happens, the results served up by Google almost certainly have changed as Google has got much better at serving up relevant information. There has been a sharp decrease in the rubbish included in search results recently. Gone are the multiple entries from poor quality sites that auto-approve articles that are poorly written, and other spurious content. Finally search is about delivering what people need, not just page views and clicks. This may mean fewer people on the site, but if your web copy is really useful, you'll get more sales. The answer is to invest in great content, which Google has been saying all along - the difference is their huge investment in natural language parsing means they are much better at spotting quality content - and its opposite. With a background in journalism, editing, publishing, we are breathing sighs of relief.

Hummingbird  is good news as quality results will save everyone time and lead to more effective information gains. Quality is where Google is rapidly heading as it strives to deliver the best-possible answers to questions: to become in effect an answer engine rather than a search engine.

We've been watching what's been going on, and although I can see where it's going generally, there's not much in the way of an all-embracing understanding of what to actually do, post-Hummingbird. Maybe other people are much wiser than me, knowing that it's not possible to make sense of all of it. I doubt anyone can really, but I don't like working with publicity in bits and pieces: it has to a good mix of strategically sound activity designed to fit together into a coherent whole that delivers raised profile, interest, engagement, reputation, information and 1 to 1 conversions to sales or recommendations. Nor do I like great long convoluted book-length explanations.

So, for what it's worth, here is a long blog post, (but a short book) on what I think is going on - and it's a real seismic shift in online PR and content marketing. I offer it with the proviso that I am stronger on B2B PR than consumer publicity and I don't know it all: no-one does. I have been online since 1985 and actively learning as I go. But the more I know, the more I know I need to know...

Some of the observations will already be familiar. What to do about it in the round is, I think, the bit that has been mostly missing. Some of it is obvious, but in 26 years of running a business, I've repeatedly discovered that the obvious is only obvious when it is pointed out.

I've put in my Penny's worth. Your input will be much appreciated.

"Hummingbird has already had an impact on 90% of all search results"

The new Google iteration is called Hummingbird and it has already had an impact on 90% of all search results. If your own business traffic and sales / new business enquiries has not been impacted, then great. We seem to be performing as per usual for our main key search words. But a lot of businesses have been impacted. If that's the case with you, what can be done?

Recent copy seems to be much more valued now than older material, so if you haven't updated your site, or your blog recently, put plans in place to remedy that with good quality content on a regular basis.

Google's own advice is to write naturally, and they have spent millions on tools to parse language to pick up unnatural word groupings and over-frequent use of terms. Rather than absorb a gut-full of books on grammar, Google's advice is: read it out aloud and if it sounds stilted, rework it until it sounds more conversational. The good news is that, if you adopt this tone without resorting to sloppy language, it will be easier for your site visitors to absorb, so your sales conversion rates or new business enquiries may improve. One thought is to pile right into the spoken word and create your content using a speech to text dictation program like Dragon Naturally Speaking - you can pick up older, but still relatively recent versions that are pretty good if you just want the basic speech conversion facility. .

If your site is not delivering new business enquiries or sales, look at:

  1. Spell and grammar check, especially if you do use the dictation method suggested above.
  2. Sharpen up your calls to action on each page. "Click here" doesn't hack it. Give site visitors an incentive to click.
  3. Get someone who doesn't know your site to test it by performing the tasks you want customers to perform and watch what happens without helping. This will probably throw up unrecognised areas of confusion that sabotage your site. Don't help the tester(s). Just get them to talk you through their experience and be prepared to be surprised.

Have you been penalised?

If your ranking has unexpectedly fallen drastically and reworking the web copy hasn't helped, even after user-testing, then you may be getting penalised for bad links from known paid link sources or for obvious irrelevant / unnatural links to your site that appear to be there only to influence search engines. That's the reason better quality online press release distribution services now automatically convert links in press releases to "no follow" links, which tells Google to ignore them rather than incur a penalty. Certainly, if you get a notice from Google that your site has link problems, don't ignore that.

If you are not happy with your web performance, it would be worth using Google's free webmaster tools to examine your links. It is possible to disavow poor quality links if you can't get them taken down by contacting the site involved. If you are not sure whether something is a quality link, there's a handy web rank extension for the Chrome browser that can be set to show the page rank for the page or domain that you are visiting.

When you have cleaned-up natural-sounding copy and removed poor quality links, and have re-submitted the site to Google, and things seem to be improving, what next? 

More copy! In more formats and places. Regular updates are valued. 

Content Conversation is king! 

The new Google algorithms have been designed to cope with mobile search, which now accounts for the majority of searches. Since typing is fiddly on mobiles, search is increasingly being dominated by voice searches, which are longer and more specific than traditional typed keyword searches. Hummingbird caters for this, which means you need to add much more variety to the terms you use in your content to catch more detailed queries. The advice is to focus on the "long tail" - if niche keywords are the front end of a comet, the long tail is composed of the many and multifarious conversational snippets that people use to refine their description of what they want. Given that, it's not surprising that the new buzz word is "conversational search". 

Conversational searches are likely to feature a word or phrase that indicates intent, and that intent is now something that Google can pick up. Key in a search on cleaning a brass candlestick, for example. The old Google would have offered lots of sites selling brass candlesticks.  Now you are more likely to get appropriate cleaning products and methodologies coming up.  

If the variety of search words has expanded, so has the variety of places that you need to be found in order to be placed higher up Google's results. More use of social media and video, well signposted with long tail phrases, will all help underpin your offering. Plus a lot more content, posted regularly, re-purposed extensively and spread widely on social media, with engagement strategies to have 1-2-1 conversations with people, not search engines.

The advantage is weighted towards well-resourced brands and niche players....

If all that sounds like hard work: it is. I believe Hummingbird starts to hand the advantage back to the quality content producers and the big brands with their larger budgets and resources. The nimble-footed smaller company will find it harder to continue to punch well above their weight, as was previously the case if they were smart. It was harder for the big boys to be nimble, but there is more technology now that allows for better customisation, monitoring and targeting - big data crunching - plus pretty shameless data collection by social media sites on our preferences and interests. That all adds up to the big boys being able to get their act together. 

Smaller businesses can still nibble away at specific niches using their intimate understanding of their customers to generate lots of creative and relevant content with sub-niche variations, plus empathetic engagement. They can:

  • Put strategic joint ventures together faster to leverage contacts and devise win:wins for both parties
  • Make intelligent investment in content producers:  knowledgeable quality writing, editing, creative video and design. 
  • They can turn on a sixpence compared with larger companies. 
  • Niches, speed and flexibility are their trump cards, but there has to be a remorseless and relentless underpinning of content creation to make a mark online - or some good old fashioned lucky breaks with creative content - but luck is all about having put the hard work in first, with contacts, creativity and quality.

... and fortune favours the brave

Making an impact looks increasingly like it involves a lot more in-depth work and understanding. But it's easier than ever to harness resources online, including crowd-funding to by-pass conventional barriers to the resources needed to create more impact both on and offline. That's why I am bullish about PR and content marketing to drive the engines of post-recession growth. 

Local search for local people

Local search is another strong factor in search. In fact, local terms feature in 40% of searches. 
At the very least, include local maps and your address - a surprising number of businesses still don't say where they are on their website, despite that omission being the business equivalent of an unmarked white van on the road - not to mention breaching EU regulations for limited companies. 

All this localisation may seem irrelevant for e-commerce, but with the fragmentation of the package delivery market, P&P prices are increasingly variable with distance, size and weight impacting on the overall cost. For some e-tailers, the local customer will get the best deal and it makes sense to play up to that advantage.

Content, Content, Content

Do more with less. Focus on your best information and ideas. Re-purpose your best content into lots of different formats to appeal to the widest possible number of people, but avoid creating duplicate content which could be seen as trying to hoodwink search engines. 

Stimulate user-generated content and opportunities to engage. Reactions that bubble up from engaged communities. Explore which platforms are preferred by your customers, meet them there and experiment with what engages them. 

Consider producing:
  • User guides and data sheets - write individual ones for different niches if appropriate
  • Case studies
  • Demonstrations/how to guides
  • Tutorials
  • e-books
  • FAQs - add new ones every time you answer a question online or on the phone or face 
  • Instructions
  • Updates and news
  • Expert comment 
  • Expert Guides
  • Research nuggets, studies or papers
  • Company stories - we remember them and they are the building blocks of a memorable culture - a powerful differentiator. 
  • Polls involving your constituencies built up on social media, groups and forums, and/or through list-building, email or direct mail
  • Facts and statistics relevant to your niches
  • Press releases - quality media coverage boosts PR online and offline
  • Maps
  • News letters
  • Blogs
  • Webinars
  • Slideshows, 
  • Reports, 
  • Videos, 
  • Podcasts, 
  • Blogs, 
  • Newsletters, 
  • Landing pages
  • Info-graphics
  • Charts - comparisons, features and benefits, ranges, distribution, polls etc.
  • Testimonials
  • Groups and forums
  • Keynote speeches
  • Cross post to social media and engage to get user enthusiasm, ideas, feedback on new and existing offerings, sales boosts through multi-buys and discounts and other offers,  plus user-generated content

In a nutshell: 


  • Sort out your site to boost quality and conversational tone, plus sales conversion rates.
  • Work your content much harder with a much more varied set of key words and phrases, platforms and formats, as per ideas above
  • Plus PR online and in the media
  • Local mapping
  • Build communities and engagement to boost business and deliver user generated content . 



PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.

URL: http://www.phpr.co.uk

PHPR TV Channel on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/PHPRtv

  

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Thursday, 17 October 2013

Great to see Bathgate-based mobile recycler, Redeem doing so well. They have just announced that they are moving into Brazil at the start of November. Although Redeem is often described as a recycler, the company is an international environmental marketing services company that runs the handset trade-in or buy-back schemes for major MNO (mobile network operators) and corporate clients throughout Europe, the Middle East and North America. 
Certainly, the Brazilian opportunity looks huge. The Latin America region is estimated to have seen a 77% increase in sales of smartphones this year.
Redeem's entry into Brazil is in partnership with Intellibox, which allows Redeem to use the Intellibox system to automatically access a customer’s handset and provide an instant buy-back price and payment voucher. Redeem are already acknowledged as one of the UK's fastest growing companies according to the Sunday Times Fast Track 100. As PHPR has a long history of involvement in both technology and environmental performance, we are particularly proud to be publicising Redeem's moves into foreign markets.

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.

URL: http://www.phpr.co.uk

PHPR TV Channel on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/PHPRtv

  

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