Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Public Relations versus Marketing Part 2: Every job creates an impression

In the past, marketing focused on sales and public relations focused on internal and external publics. Marketing focused on one-way outbound communication of a message promoting sales. Public Relations focused on inbound and two-way communication, or interaction with publics, working to find out what the audience wants and finding ways to give it to them.

But today I tend to look at marketing as an overarching theme for sales, which focuses on the product, and public relations, which focuses on relationships. In fact, many sales and marketing professionals are finding that people are demanding that they be put before the product. Thus, many sales people/marketers are spending more time producing information unrelated to their products than they are spending promoting their products.

When you think about it, public relations has a part in every person’s life and in every person’s job, including that of the marketer, sales person, or advertisement manager. Every interaction, every ad creates an impression. While public relations can be used to promote sales, it can escape sales. Sales, however, cannot escape public relations. Marketing is the art of impressions.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Public Relations versus Marketing Part 1: Integrated Communications

My understanding of public relations is a constantly expanding and changing one, especially in light of what the profession is compared to Marketing, Advertising and other similar communication professions. In many ways, all these elements have been integrated. Biola’s University Communications and Marketing is one example of integrated marketing and public relations. They don’t even call it public relations. UCM has an event planner, a media relations person and a group of professionals overseeing various Biola publications including the Biola website and Biola’s social media efforts.

My recent internship with Sierra Repertory is another example of integrated communications. I worked under a one-person marketing department. My supervisor performed all the duties of the typical public relations professional and more, yet she was given the title of Marketing Director. Maybe this is just a misunderstanding of what marketing is, or maybe marketing and public relations are more alike than we realize.

Are marketing and public relations similar? The same? Integrated? What's your take?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Successful businesses use social networking sites, study finds

From the Boston Herald:
A new study from the University of Massachusetts’ Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research finds that the top thriving companies nationwide are rapidly turning to social networking sites, relying on them as a marketing tool that is no longer considered a nuisance — but a virtue — in the workplace.
Read more at the Boston Herald.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Convince yourself and your boss of the success of mobile strategies

If you're having trouble convincing your bosses to go for a mobile marketing strategy, show them this graphic highlighting the many uses of cell phones, the popularity of mobile apps, and the growing market for mobile strategies.

Cell Phone Usage
Via: Online IT Degree

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Branding with an extra layer of love: Delicious Girl Scouts cookies

I bought some Girl Scouts thin mint cookies the other day. They were delicious. Not any different in flavor from the store-bought chocolate mint cookies or the healthy version my mom buys, but far more delicious.

Why are Girl Scouts cookies so much better than store bought cookies? Remember when your mom used to make you a sandwich with an "extra layer of love"? I do. The Girl Scouts brand, not to mention the cute young girls who sell the cookies, give the Girl Scouts cookies that extra layer of love.

Girl Scouts has built a name for themselves. Everyone knows who they are - far more than they know about the Boys & Girls Club of America. Not only has Girl Scouts branded themselves with that memorable green logo and publicized themselves through their contributions to the children
of the world, but they have also put their name into the mind of every cookie lover in America. That's successful branding for you.

I could ask you what you've done to successfully brand your company, but I think I'll just ask the fun question: What's your favorite Girl Scouts cookie?

P.S. Mine is Thin Mint

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Media effects on society

I speak from experience saying that past reviews influence present reviews. I've written tons of movie and book reviews, and have often modeled them after previous reviews while providing unique content based on my own honest opinion.

Taken to an extreme, this can lead to "group think." It's a factor in the many debates over just how much media can influence the trends, issues, and individuals of society. The issue of how media affects society is also the basis for several of the journalism and public relations classes I have taken dealing with philosophical and ethical scenarios and issues.

The messages and information you publish and contribute do influence people. Is that unethical? Is it ethical persuasion? What about the negative effects of a negative story about something like a crime?

Does copy cat crime justify wiping out media entirely? I don't believe so - there will always be a need for information - but there's a lot more to consider than I have time or room to write about here.

What is your take on media influence? How have you dealt with and encountered the issue?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Frequently misspelled words and names

Let's play the name game. My name is Harmony. My mom's name is Meleani (think Melanie). I get called Melody and Melanie all the time, while my mom deals with telemarketers who think she's from Hawaii and who pronounce her name Mel-eee-on-eee.

Misspelled words and names are common errors in every profession. From the simplest words to the most technical jargon, words are weapons and tools that we need to use carefully.

My mom's name is not the only example. Mallary Tenore writes on Poynter that her name is frequently misspelled and mispronounced by journalists and peers alike. She writes:
Craig Silverman, author of “Regret the Error,” said academic research shows that misspelled names are the sixth most common newspaper error. Misquotes are the most common, followed by incorrect headlines, numerical errors, general misspellings and incorrect job titles.
So the spelling game or name game isn't as easy as it sounds. Spelling may seem easy, but having mindset that spelling is easy will keep you from accurate writing. Newspapers don't like corrections, bosses don't like it when you spell their names wrong, and the public does not trust inaccurate publications, so watch out for those uncommon and common spelling errors. They'll get you.

And we're not just talking newspapers or press releases here. My mom is a singer and has had her name misspelled in numerous show programs.

How do you fact check and spell check your writing?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The rise of social media ads

According to Social Times, social media ads, such as Facebook Ads, are on the rise. The blog writes:
Ad spending on social networks in US will reach $3.08 billion mark by the end of 2011, according to revised estimates by eMarketer. This years estimated spending would be 55% ($1.99 billion) higher than what advertisers spent on social networking sites in 2010.
The rising popularity of social networking ads on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, in addition to the services Google Adwords provides, makes online ads something worth considering. But the increased popularity equals increased competition.

Does the increased competition in social networking ads make the online ad tool useless? What tools do you use to make your ads stand out?

Friday, February 4, 2011

David Meerman Scott on dealing with negative comments

David Meerman Scott writes on HubSpot that negative comments should be dealt with.

Too many companies try to hide instead of fix their faults. It reminds me of classes where teachers tell us to give and take constructive criticism so that we can become better students and be better at our chosen fields.

In the business world, it's important to monitor what others say about you so you can take constructive criticism and turn it into something positive. I personally prefer Google Alerts.

If we were all spoiled brats we would never grow up and we would never live and learn. That kind of life is an unpleasant one, and, more often than not, catches up to us. Not to mention that ignoring negative comments only leads to a negative public perception, something that will not allow your company to fully succeed.

David reminds us not only to deal with constructive criticism and negative comments, but also leaves us with the important reminder that not all negative comments are worth worrying about. Some comments are pure bullying and can be ignored.

Read more on HubSpot.

How do you deal with negative comments? How do you use negative comments to create positive results in your marketing strategies?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Darth Vader and the Volkswagen

*Update: According to HubSpot, the Volkswagen commercials have gotten over 1 million views now - and before the Super Bowl. Maybe it's a good thing to release Super Bowl commercials before the Super Bowl. What do you think?

A commercial so good I had to share it. What makes it successful is pretty self-explanatory.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Guest Post: SEO Search Engine Optimization Tips Part 2

The second of two posts on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips from engineer, researcher, and technical writer Richard Wheeler:

We pick up where Richard left off with SEO tips 6-10 (Read tips 1-5 here):

6. Search engines count hyperlinks to your web pages
, including links within your web site. See #8, below. For example, an article on different pocket designs could say, "For an example of this design,click here," which would take readers to a product page. This exposes readers to your products, and the hyperlink increases search engine ranking.

7. Search engines like fresh content. Updating all your pages at least once and ideally five times per week boost your rankings. You probably won't have time to update all the pages, but you should at least make minor changes to the top level pages such as the home page.

8. Customers are drawn to useful content. Combining this with #7, above, might be the most fun of the whole business. Here are some ideas for
  • Add some pages for the histories of baseball and softball.
  • Add a page with news content. It could have links to current scores and to important baseball and softball stories in the news.
  • Add a Reference page that provides links to sites about rules and trivia, team home pages, the history of the games.
  • Add a page with your own content related to your products. What is the difference between an infielder's glove and an outfielder's glove or between a baseball glove and a softball glove? What are the differences between the brands? How did we get two versions of the same sport?
  • Add a page for posting customer testimonials.
  • Update pages with comments. For example, on the Support page, you might document a customer's problem and how you solved it to demonstrate your winning personality and the high quality of your customer service.
Content pages draw more visitors to a site by presenting more subjects that they might search for. Frequently updated content such as scores or commentary will turn visitors into repeat visitors. If your product line changes infrequently, non-product content will give you the excuse to update your site. More pages on your site also means more pages listed in the search engine results, as well as more links between the pages of the site.

So set a goal of giving search engines a reason to keep scanning your site and giving visitors a reason to return for more information.

9. Resubmit your web site to search engines after making changes. Otherwise, you could have to wait weeks to see the results of your work. Again, how to do this is out of scope, except to say that I would never hire a service to do it for me.

A service could submit your site to hundreds of search engines, but most people use only a few, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and Ask. (Besides, a lot of search pages are "powered by" the major engines.) You could submit your web site to the few search engines that will get you the vast majority of your visitors in less time that it takes to hire a service to do it for you.

10. A lot of web marketers make people establish "accounts"before letting them access content such as the content pages or free e-books. They only do this for one reason, which is to build a mailing list for newsletters. Newsletters is a polite word for advertising. Or at leas an excuse to slip advertising through the mail slot. Newsletters can become quite a commitment, but they are a way to draw in the most likely paying customers.

I know, #10 has nothing to do with SEO, but the purpose of SEO is to draw more visitors so you can make more sales, so it sort of fits.

Some people have SEO down to a science. Major web sites can profit from gathering massive statistics and fine-tuning their sites' search engine rankings. However, just these nine steps (I'm not counting #10) will give you the greatest return on your investment of time and effort to draw more visitors.

What SEO tips has Richard missed? Add your own tips in the comment box below.

Engineer and writer Richard Wheeler posts regularly on his blog at

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Guest Post: SEO Search Engine Optimization Tips Part 1

A post from engineer, researcher, and technical writer Richard Wheeler:

A family friend has started a web site to sell baseball and softball gloves and mitts, but she's discouraged due to low search engine rankings and even lower sales. I would like to sell stuff through an internet store some day, so I've paid attention enough to know that her site needs search engine optimization (SEO).

First, a bit of background about search engines:

The Internet has computers "out there" that function like the phone book's white pages. They maintain lists of all the addresses on the internet. Computer programs called search engines use these lists to look for web sites and then read the sites' contents. Search engines are smart enough to recognize hyperlinks, so they explore all the linked pages, too.

Search engines use lists of vocabulary words to recognize the contents of web pages. They look in the URL, in the text, in headings, in hyperlinks contained in the pages, in the names of files such as pictures, and in a lot of hidden text that web pages contain. They also collect information about when pages were changed.

The search engines then generate statistics about what words are used in which pages. When somebody searches for something, the search engine compares the search words to the words on the web sites. These matching words are called keywords. The search results supposedly list the best matches first.

The art of creating a web site so it lands high in the list of search results is call search engine optimization (SEO). How high a site lands in the search results is called its rank. Ideally, your page lands at the top of the first page.

A new web site has several strikes against it. Many web site owners pay advertising fees for higher rankings to companies like Google. Many web site owners have already optimized their sites to score higher in the search results. And many web sites, thanks to advertising and connecting to other web sites, have more links pointing back to them from other web sites.

Even with these disadvantages, a new web site owner can move his or her site up in the rankings.

Here are some ten things you can do to improve your site's rank through search engine optimization (SEO).

1. A search engine that sees keywords in the URL of a web page will rank the page higher.

For example, my blog has my name in it. That's fine for people looking for me by name, but somebody looking for a systems engineer will find me lower in the search results.

I'm going to use as an example for the rest of this article. The address contains softball,baseball, and gloves. That should bring it some hits from sports fans in the spring.

As you explore the Softball Baseball Gloves, site, you find that it has more pages. Each page that has an address containing words indicating the page content will rank higher in search engines. For example,

would score higher in Google if it read

I left in AC-MCFB100R because it's an easy way to distinguish the page for this mitt from the pages for other first base baseball mitts.

2. Google Trends lets you determine the best keywords -- that is, the words that people search for the most.

Notice the exact words, baseball-mitt-first-base-youth: Is this the best order, and are they the best words? To determine that, you need to ask,
  • What words get this page the best ranking in search engines?
For example, which do people search for more: mitt, mitts, glove,gloves, baseball mitts, baseball gloves, etc?

To find out, we first write a list of comparisons we'd like to make:
  • glove, gloves, mitt, mitts
  • glove, baseball glove, mitt, baseball mitt
  • first base, firstbase, first baseman, firstbaseman
We might think of more comparisons to make as we go.

We can compare search terms at

To see the result for glove, gloves, mitt, mitts, click here or copy-and-paste this into your browser:

I assume you can read the graph and connect the boxed numbers to the notes on the right. You'll see that, by far, the most commonly searched-for term is gloves.

The graph shows that in early 2008, mitt surpassed gloves. The notes show why: People were searching for Mitt Romney! Also note thatgloves spikes before Christmas each year. Perhaps people want to give warm fuzzies during the gift-giving season or want to avoid frostbite during winter. We need to refine the search.

We need to know whether baseball fans search for glove, gloves,mitt, or mitts. This time, copy and paste the following into the search form:
  • baseball glove, baseball gloves, baseball mitt, baseball mitts
The results show that people search for baseball glove and baseball gloves about equally.

(Notice also that they do it after the first of the year. The site owner can use such information for planning.)

Let's do the same for softball to see if the same trend holds up:
  • softball glove, softball gloves, softball mitt, softball mitts
(I assume you can copy-and-paste that into the search form without being told to.)

The graph shows a similar trend. So, while we want to use correct terms such as catcher's mitt, we will get more visitors by includingglove or gloves somewhere on the page.

Does the order make a difference? Let's try another variation:
  • softball glove, glove softball
Apparently, the difference is not significant. It might make a difference in other contexts, such as first base versus base first.
That reminds me: I didn't like one of the vendor's terms, firstbaseman's mitt. We can let Google Trends settle the argument.
  • first base, firstbase, first baseman, firstbaseman
As you can see, only the first term shows a significant number of searches, and I bet baseman applies only to the player, not to the glove. It does not hurt to have less-used terms* on the page, but it does help to have the most common terms, too.

(*In fact, some web masters will hide synonyms and variants of the keywords at the bottom of the page. I doubt this hurts anything. Some pages, however, include irrelevant keywords such as naked and obama just to draw more visitors. This over-the-line practice, calledkeyword stuffing, can actually move you down in the search engine rankings. It also brings more visitors that will not buy, which can jam up your site's Internet Service Provider' servers.)

In such naming, the most important word should come first. Try these terms in Google Trends:
  • baseball, youth, glove, first base
Baseball is searched lot more than youth. Glove barely registers, andfirst base doesn't register at all. So that's the order I would use.

I would not leave out glove or first base just because so few people search for those individual terms, though, because I would want to draw the visitor who might search for first base gloves. That's a judgment call based only on my intuition.

To get the highest search engine ranking for this page, then, I would use this URL:

3. Search engines look throughout web page at the terms used.Since gloves is a home run and mitts strikes out, you must use these lessons in the titles, headings, text, and meta tags of every page.

Meta tags are headings hidden in the code of the page. They give information such as the title of the page, lists of keywords that search engines can use instead of reading the whole page, and the date the page was updated. Blogspot pages put keyword tags out in plain sight. Explaining how to edit the hidden codes lies beyond the scope of this posting.

Update: Google's chief engineer states that Google does not use the keywords meta tag in calculating web search ranking. He does not speak for other search engines.

4. Search engines also look at the names of pictures files. You want to name your picture files using the same naming conventions. You can abbreviate designations such as th for thumbnail and lg forlarge.

For example, one picture on was named7.jpg. Google would give the page a higher ranking if the file were named, baseball-glove-your-first-base-AC-MCFB100R-th.jpg. Yes, it seems long, but when you are organizing your files, you will thank me.

While we're talking about pictures, please indulge a pet peeve: Webmasters often use pictures of text instead of using actual text. It might make sense in a graphic design, but search engines don't read pictures. Using, for example, a button where text would work throws away a chance for your page to contain a keyword.

5. More hidden text: The code that makes a picture download provides for Alt text that displays while the picture is loading. Alt text helps visually impaired users browse your website. Use this code. It adds content to a page when somebody has their browser set to skip downloading pictures to speed up access, and search engines like it.

Read tips 6-10 in tomorrow's post: "Guest Post: SEO Search Engine Optimization Tips Part 2."

What tips has Richard missed? Add your own tips in the comment box below.

Engineer and writer Richard Wheeler posts regularly on his blog at