IPN

  • Experts Reveal Best Practices for SEO and Digital Reputation Management at IPN Meeting By Henry Stimpson, APR

    In IPN on

    Do you want to know what search terms people are using to find your site? There’s an easy way to find out.

    Just sign up – or have your client sign up – for the Google Search Console at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home.

    That’s just one of many tips shared by Sam Michelson, CEO/Founder of the digital reputation management firm Five Blocks, and chapter member Nancy Sterling, APR, senior VP at ML strategies, at the May Independent Practitioners Network meeting.

    The duo provided a succinct overview of strategy and tactics need to both boost SEO and make negative comments online less prominent.

    Success at managing online reputation requires a strategic view and holistic approach, they said.

    Even so, some important tips, secrets and best practices that will help you surmount some common hurdles.

    Tip #1

    Avoid duplicate content – Google won’t rank the same content twice. It won’t help your cause to have verbatim or nearly verbatim text in multiple places on your website, press releases and so on.  There’s no problem with reusing the same ideas.  You just need mostly fresh copy.

    Tip #2

    Each executive should have his or her own page on the corporate website. It hurts SEO to have multiple executives crammed into one page.

    Tip #3

    Search results vary by geography. This reflects Google’s assessment of the interest in each location. Be aware of this and accordingly to get the best results.

    Monitor by your results by location. Then you can determine if an issue is location-based in order to formulate solutions.

    Tip #4

    There are many ways to remove content – don’t limit your thinking. Sometimes it’s a simple as asking someone to take down content. Occasionally, you might even buy out an offensive site.

    Tip #5

    Context is important – track peers and competitors to understand which ones are being treated better in search and why. Identify opportunities.

    Tip #6

    The Google Knowledge Panel is powerful – learn how to influence it, especially via Wikidata.

    Google now allows you to do this on behalf of your client by verifying the control of social media properties.

     

  • As The Globe Goes Digital, News And PR Still Rely on Personal Relationships by Dick Pirozzolo, APR

    In Career, IPN, Media Relations on

    Larry Edelman, The Boston Globe deputy managing editor, told independent PR agency heads that, while declining print subscriptions portend an all-digital newspaper, building good old-fashioned relationships still counts when it comes to news coverage in New England’s biggest newspaper.

    At a recent meeting organized by the Boston Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, Edelman told some 30 small PR agency owners, “We have 95,000 paid digital subscribers, the highest among regional papers,” which is fast approaching half the total subscribers as “print subscriptions slowly decline.”

    With classified advertising for autos, employment and real estate no longer able to support the operation, The Globe has had to increase the cost to the readers for providing them with information. “When we’re charging a lot for the product it really has to be good, and when readers log on they want to get the highest-quality journalism. The paper has to be sold on the merits of quality,” Edelman added.

    Given changes in the way people access information, especially international and national news, The Globe has reduced its commitment to staffing bureaus in Washington, DC and overseas. “Our motto is to provide journalism you can’t get anywhere but The Globe.” For media relations pros, that means offering its reporters exclusive, newsworthy information about local businesses and organizations and their impact on the community.

    At the meeting, run by public relations consultants Hank Shafran, Edelman emphasized, “It comes down to building individual relationships” for both PR pros and reporters as well. “Even though information is available online, reporters still have to get out of the office to cover stories in person and PR folks have to build relationships with reporters. News is a relationship business – a good batting average though is worse than a major league baseball player,” in terms of successful placements.

    Edelman urged PR professionals to look beyond your own client for broader stories with greater impact. He pointed out, “A hotel company that was building properties in the outlaying parts of the city such as Allston and Brighten pitched a story about the business.” Rather than publishing a story about this one company, “The Globe did it as a trend piece, which made it a stronger and more interesting article.” Everybody won.

    When asked about whom to contact, he recommended sending email pitches directly to reporters since they know more about the topic and editors have too many additional responsibilities to focus on content, though alerting both the reporters and their editors is acceptable.

    Joshua Milne, who focuses on sports promotions and media relations, asked whether editorial visits during which company executives visit the editorial staff in the newsroom to provide background information, with no expectation of coverage are still viable.

    Both Edelman and Hiawatha Bray, who has been covering technology for the Globe since 1995, encouraged the visits, especially when the executives are willing to come to the newsroom. Bray joked, “I just met with a company and they were all from MIT, so I figured it must be important.”

    Veteran business reporter Jon Chesto is known for taking a lot of editorial meetings. “He meets more people in a day than I meet in a month,” quipped Edelman. Notwithstanding, when publicists pitch stories they need to know the topic. Bray said, “It’s disrespectful to call a reporter and not know what your product is or what it does and then fill the void by using terms like ‘best-in-breed’ or ‘disruptive technology.’”

    Bray chided PR people who call at 5 o’clock to pitch stories, and for trying to be creative, “Don’t write a story like ‘Once upon a time,’ just the facts please.”

    Other changes at The Globe include The Express Desk, which was started last year and is staffed with 25 reporters and editors to deliver breaking news – “immediate news drives a lot of subscriptions,” Edelman said adding that Express Desk tracks readership and revises headlines if an interesting story isn’t drawing readership.

    In addition to the Spotlight Team, the famous investigative reporting unit featured in the eponymous Oscar winning movie about sex abuse in the Catholic Church, Edelman, noted, “We created a subset of the Spotlight Team that, instead of spending months on a story is poised for quick investigations that might take only a week or two. One of its latest accomplishments was an investigative report on a recent Massachusetts State Police scandal over no-show traffic details.

    Despite the modern newsroom in the heart of the financial district, the absence of the monster Web press, and a hugely successful formula for a digital newspaper of the future, Edelman said some things in Boston remain constant: “Who’s driving the most subscriptions? It’s still sports.”

    Dick Pirozzolo, APR of Pirozzolo Company Public Relations is a Boston communication consultant whose credentials as a professional journalist include membership in The Society of Professional Journalists, The Foreign Press Association of New York and the National Press Club of Washington, DC.

  • Fast Five with Peter Brown, Principal, Peter Brown Communications

    In Fast Five, IPN on

    On February 28, IPN member Joshua Milne and Peter Brown will speak before the Independent Practitioners Network at the Wellesley Free Library about media and PR around the Boston Marathon.  Click on this link for more details and to register to attend the event.

    Peter’s relationship with the Boston Marathon dates back to 1983 when he first produced the race for WBZ-TV and then did so for more than 20 years. When he left Channel 4 in 2004, the Boston Athletic Association asked Peter to volunteer in two ways:  first as the BAA media liaison riding in one of the vehicles that precedes the elite athletes on the course and the other as a Governor of the BAA’s Board of Directors.

    Peter says some of his best TV memories are producing those live events.  After WBZ, Peter went on to become Vice President of Public Affairs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  His boss at the Brigham became CEO of Partners Healthcare and asked Peter to join him as his Chief of Staff.  In this role, Peter worked directly with the CEO and senior leadership to support the mission of Partners and its hospitals and oversee external affairs.  In May of 2015, Peter left Partners to open his own communications consulting business, Peter Brown Communications.

    The IPN Network recently sat down with Peter to chat with him about this career.

    Q: What sort of things do you do at the Marathon?

    A: When I left Channel 4 in 2004, Jack Fleming, now COO of the BAA said, “You’ve know this race.  We need someone to be on the lead media vehicle.”   How do you say no to that?  My role on the truck is to make sure the still photogs are in a position to get the pictures they need and to serve as a backup to the systems that are in place to track the runners.  Sitting in the truck in front of the elite athletes, I always say I have the best seat in the house on Marathon day. The race is evolving right in front of us.

    Q: Why did you make switch from TV to public affairs?

    A: It was a great opportunity to join BWH. I always believed the heart of journalism is good storytelling. Brigham brought a depth and breadth of extraordinary human-interest stories involving doctors, nurses, patients and staff members — a treasure trove of compelling stories to share with the media. I kept my foot in the media room by offering them good stories.

    Q: How did you make the transition to chief of staff at Partners happen?

    A: My boss at the Brigham is an inspiring leader, Dr. Gary Gottlieb.  Gary and I worked together for close to 12 years.  He left partners in March 2015. Our deal was, when he goes, I go.  I stayed on to help with the CEO transition but always wanted to start my own communications business.

    Q: When did you go out on own, and how’s it been?

    A: I launched my firm on May 3, 2015 – my birthday, a date I would remember.  My only challenge is with my “boss,” who makes me work weekends and nights!  Actually, it’s been a delight. When I was at Channel 4, I supervised more than 100 people.  Now as your own boss, you set your own schedule. You are the architect of your fate.

    I’m a communications consultant, not a PR person per se.  I work with people and organizations to create and develop their stories and work with them on how best to tell their stories to their audiences, both external and internal.  I also do crisis communications, media training and public speaking coaching.  Overall, it’s been a lot of fun and another great learning experience in life.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 

  • Join the Independent Practitioners Network: Fun, informative and free

    In IPN on

    If you’re an independent PR practitioner, you should be in the PRSA Boston Independent Practitioners Network.

    It’s fun, informative, and FREE as part of your chapter membership. Sole proprietors and owners of agencies with fewer than five employees are eligible.

    We hold regular lunchtime meetings with topnotch speakers at convenient locations. The topics are specially chosen to help independents be more effective.

    And networking and just getting to know one another are big benefits.

    If you’re not a member—or aren’t sure—just drop us a line at IPN@PRSABoston.org. It’s that easy!

    At our next meeting, on Jan. 17, Julie Dennehy will cover top tech tools for PR.

    And see https://prsaboston.org/ipn/ for more info about the group.  And follow the IPN on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/PRSABostonIPN/.

     

  • IPN Event: The Art of Storytelling

    In IPN on

    Where does a professional communicator fit In a world of “alternative facts” and high profile corporate biographies? Recently, PRSA Boston hosted a workshop for its Independent Practitioners Network (IPN) in the Boston area on “Squeezing Your Creative Juice” – specifically, penning a novel, either fiction or nonfiction. Led by PR practitioner Dick Pirozzolo, author of “Escape from Saigon” (Skyhorse), Pirozzolo talked about his own experience as an Air Force information officer who was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Saigon in the early 70s, and how he parlayed his experience into a work of fiction about the draft, the last month of the war, the fear and the loneliness of a Vietnam veteran coming home.

    To get us started, the workshop opened with an exercise inspired by Ernest Hemingway. Using photos for inspiration, attendees were encouraged to pen a six-word short story in an homage to “Papa Hemingway” and his bite-sized tale: “For sale. Baby Shoes. Never worn.”

    “Leadership is taught through real events,” said Pirozzolo, and gave examples of Jobs, Wozniak and Ben & Jerry’s as leaders who are also master corporate storytellers. Tension, romance, a story arc and great characters all make our corporate storytelling more interesting and force us to look at the characteristics of the individuals we represent so we are seeing them through a different and more captivating lens. Pirozzolo advised: “As communicators, we need to sell the story, and not just the product.”

    Think about the basics of storytelling when it comes to telling your clients’ stories:

    1. Character: what makes a person interesting?
    2. Story arc: how does the story build and show continuity?
    3. Conflict: find the tension in your story to make it more compelling. “All art is the resolution of conflict, and with conflict comes suspense and surprise. That’s what sucks us in ’till the end.”
    4. Relationships. Love is a universal emotion: find the love story even in a corporate story.
    5. Closing: How does your story end? Who solved the problem? Make it real.
    6. Props: The products drive the story and reveal characters and their development. “How do you set the stage for your CEO’s press exposure?”
    7. And of course, write for a visually-oriented generation. Be descriptive and creative in your descriptions.

    “If you don’t think ‘story’ and great narrative do not matter, remember: without story, ‘Casablanca’ would be but a pushpin on a map and Ben & Jerry’s would be just another ice cream stand.” — Dick Pirozzolo

    Many thanks to all the engaged attendees of this fascinating workshop for reminding us that the core of what we do is simple: good storytelling.

    By Julie Dennehy, APR, Dennehy Public Relations, via Curious and Clever.

     

     

    About IPN

    A Special Interest Section founded in Boston, the Independent Practitioners Network was formed as a collaborative of seasoned PR professionals operating as consultants or as small firms in and around eastern Massachusetts. We facilitate partnerships to win or service business; share best practices across our many specialization areas; provide each other with client service or practice management support; and foster community and collaborations among the independent PR people who belong to PRSA Boston. @PRSABoston #PRSABos

  • Boston Globe’s Larry Edelman Looks To Digital Future with IPN

    In IPN, Media Relations on
    Larry EdelmanThe Boston Globe business editor, offered his take on how one of the nation’s top newspapers—the biggest in New England— is meeting the challenges of new information technology and a rapidly shifting readership.

    Edelman told the dozen-plus Boston Public Relations Society of America members assembled in The Tom Winship Room, just off the newsroom, “The Globe is tailored to be an online news operation that also happens to print a newspaper,” except now the overhead and salaries have to come from subscriptions rather than advertising. “When subscriptions pay my salary, we have to give readers something they are willing to pay for.”

    The Globe’s online paid circulation is over 70,000, the highest among any regional newspaper in the US and, between BostonGlobe.com and its free regional website Boston.com, the paper garners a million unique hits a day.
    The Globe has to stand out Edelman said, “We don’t want to be in the commodity news business. We want to cover ideas, not companies with obligatory news stories simply because they are big and old.”
    Edelman told the group he believes the Boston economy is well positioned with a diverse range of forward- looking industries such as biotechnology,real estate development, medicine and education. “We’re in a bubble but it’s a lucky bubble.”
    The emphasis is also on covering those industries from the perspective of how they impact the lives of people in the region. Explained Edelman, “We are at the intersection of people who create and the money,” adding that Trump’s “preposterous 20-percent cut to NIH [the National Institute for Health] would be disastrous to this area.”
    Given the importance of medicine and biotechnology regionally, The Globe last year launched STAT a premium subscription service offering exclusive reporting about the pharmaceutical and biotech industries as well as newsletters, invitations to events, early access to special reports, and other reader benefits.
    The Globe is evaluating its news beats to reflect shifting interests as well. “The business of food is an increasingly popular topic that pulls in new readers and is getting more attention editorially.”
    Deadlines have changed too. “Our readership swells between 6 AM and 1-2 PM so our best stories have to be up in the morning—when our readers are online. Filing new stories at 4-5 PM in the afternoon should be for the next day’s edition.”
    The editorial staff is about half of what it once was during the heyday of print, The Globe is moving to smaller quarters in downtown Boston with the printing plant located in Taunton and run as a separate business. It prints the competing Boston Herald and other publications. The Globe’s emphasis on great journalism and its institutions will continue. Notably The Spotlight Team, which was awarded an Oscar for the motion picture “Spotlight” will remain firmly in place.
    Though The Globe, and other newspapers are moving inexorably to publishing exclusively online, we’ll probably still be calling them newspapers for many years to come.
    No matter. We still dial the phone.
    By Dick Pirozzolo
    dick logo
    About IPN

    A Special Interest Section founded in Boston, the Independent Practitioners Network was formed as a collaborative of seasoned PR professionals operating as consultants or as small firms in and around eastern Massachusetts. We facilitate partnerships to win or service business; share best practices across our many specialization areas; provide each other with client service or practice management support; and foster community and collaborations among the independent PR people who belong to PRSA Boston. @PRSABoston #PRSABos