digital pr General PR marketing online pr tech pr Technology PR

79 out of 100 top UK PR companies don’t offer online PR services: Bigmouthmedia

I’ve just come across a recent survey from Bigmouthmedia that claims that 79 out of the 100 top UK PR companies don’t offer online PR services.

They also say that only 14% of the operations that claimed to have new media covered published their own blogs. And that taken as a whole, only 11% of UK PR Consultancies use blogs to communicate with clients, colleagues and the wider marketplace.

I have to say I found these figures overly low. On the basis of the above analysis, there are only 11 agencies out of the top 100 that have a blog. Surely not.

Then again, I remain curious about the terms online PR, digital PR, etc. Most people I talk to seem to think there is no real semantic difference between them – they are simply different ways of describing the same thing.

However, in terms of their relative search popularity, there clearly are differences. Here are the figures for October 2008 in the UK:
Online PR 2,900
Online public relations 1,600
Web PR 880
Digital PR 590
Internet PR 260
Internet Public Relations 170

Digital public relations 73

Taking Google’s Insight for Search Tool, you can see that interest in the term “online PR” for example was at its highest back at the beginning of March 2008 – and has been bouncing around below this figure ever since. Google Insight also shows the regional breakdown for the term – and it would seem no one outside of London searches for “online PR”.

So what are the implications of all this for the UK online PR market?

This suggests that although interest is growing, it still remains a niche. For example, the term “fashion PR” was searched for 6,600 times last month. Indeed, the term social media scored 9,900 (though its variants such as social media PR, social media marketing, etc hardly registered).

Adam Parker, Chief Executive of online news distribution company webitpr commented on the Bigmouthmedia survey saying: “Despite finding that an increasing number of UK PR professionals are on the ball when it comes to online PR, this survey confirms our experience that a high proportion are still more focussed on traditional media. However, given that this is most probably a reflection of client budget and resource allocations, perhaps what we should be asking ourselves is what this says about UK business’ attitude towards online communications.”

Indeed. Though I’d argue that there is a difference between being aware of the need for online PR and being “on the ball”. Based on the above, it seems that interest in online PR (or whatever term you prefer) is largely confined both client and agency side to a hard core bunch of London-based converts. That surely has to change.

As Adam Parker added: “On a positive note, we feel that with steadily growing interest in the online world from both agencies and in house departments, the tide is beginning to turn. But if it is to properly address the challenges and opportunities that new media offers, the industry must invest in relevant services and training at all levels. Those failing to do so run the long-term risk of losing out in the inevitable battle for the online communications market.”

That I think nails it on the head. Agencies understandably are reluctant to offer services their clients aren’t going to pay for – but unless clients are given the option to actually try or buy a new service, then how can they invest in it? Those agencies that take the risk of developing new online services are clearly going to give themselves a better long term advantage.

General PR tech pr Technology PR Web/Tech

Google reveals keyword search volumes – and why you should care

Don’t know how I missed this one, but last week – and without much fanfare – Google announced that it would now reveal approximate search volumes from within its Keyword Tool.

The excellent Jason Baer at the Convince and Convert blog makes some very good observations as to why this is going to have a big impact on digital marketing. In particular when he says:

“If Google makes the marketing and advertising business as transparent as travel planning and stock purchases, the only agencies that will be able to survive are those that can add real value in messaging, creative, and integrating data into actionable tactics.”

I would of course include PR in the above too. So why should the availability of search volumes bother the PR community? (Or at least the tech/B-to-B world?).

If you accept that 95pc of B-to-B purchase decisions involve search, then you can now put a real figure on just how many people are actually searching on terms that you believe they find important – and are relevant to your business.

Let’s take an imaginary example. The Borked Corporation makes dilithium consoles. Av. profit on a console is $20. The company is aiming to make an additional $1m in profit over the next 12 months. That means selling an extra 50,000 consoles – or just over 4000 consoles a month. All marketing to date has been based around the key term “dilithium consoles”. The company has invested a lot in PR-ing the term dilithium console. Their digital agency has persuaded them to invest heavily in PPC. As of last week, Borked Corporation can see actual search volumes on “dilithium console” – a mere 1000 for the month and an average of 1500 for the last 6 months. It doesn’t take much to work out that Borked needs to answer some major questions – what terms ARE our potential purchasers searching on? How we can understand and influence the non-line buying process and incorporate the most relevant and impactful content at the appropriate juncture? Or more fundamental, is there a big enough market for our products at the current price/profit point?

Let’s not forget that Google’s Keyword Tool can be segmented by geography. For example, here’s the results for the UK last month on the terms digital PR and online PR.

It makes for interesting reading. For example, the keyword term digital PR was searched for in the UK 480 times last month. Online PR got 2400. Exactly 5 times the volume. Or thought of another way, a total of 2880 searches for combined digital/online PR. Or around 100 times a day. And how many of those searches are from people looking to buy digital/online PR services? This is the kind of thinking that helps to bring a forceful clarity to all PR and marketing activity.

Why not see how many times your company/product name was searched on last month? The results may surprise you.

Books tech pr Technology PR Uncategorized

Why journalists ignore most press releases. And why they will continue to do so.

Press releases suck says Sally Whittle.

She lists five reasons why most press releases get deleted:

1. Your sentences are too long

2. Your client descriptors make no sense.

3. Your quotes come from robots.

4. Jargon, jargon, jargon.

5. You sent it to the wrong people.

Read Sally’s post for the detail behind each of these. She says: “I can’t help but think that something has to change.”

Sadly, things probably won’t change. In fact, she nails the reason why in a comment to her own post: “The problem is that nobody dies when this stuff happens, and nobody is really offended.”

Journalists have simply come to regard poor press releases as a necessary evil – a constant background noise. Like tinnitus.

Clients still approve copy. And PR firms still get paid.

Can it really be that hard to follow some basic rules of copywriting?

For want of a few pounds spent on reading the books of David Ogilvy or Alastair Crompton, an entire industry could pull its socks up.

(One of Ogilvy’s many memorable lines was: “Always give your product a first-class ticket through life.” So why do so many clients and their PR advisors allow 4th class press releases?)

However, I suspect there is a much deeper reason for why press releases will continue being deleted in droves by Sally and her colleagues.

Any fule knos that a headline should contain a benefit statement – whether an ad or a press release. Scan SourceWire or ResponseSource and see how many headlines contain a discernible benefit.

Not many, eh?

And whether a journalist receives a press release via e-mail or RSS, the headline is the route to success. Given the dire standard of headline writing, is it any wonder so many releases get ignored.

Why is that?

It must be either:

a) The PR company hasn’t done enough homework to work out what the benefit should be. Or the client hasn’t briefed the PR well enough to allow a benefit to be discovered.

b) There are no real distinctive benefits.

I suspect in most cases, the answer is b).

That would explain reasons 1 – 4 on Sally’s list. Long sentences are usually a sign that you have difficulty in clearly articulating what you want to say – because there is nothing to say.

Or attempting to obscure the fact you have nothing to say.

Client descriptors make no sense because again they are attempts to make the mundane sound new and interesting – but with no basis in reality. Robotic quotes exist because they have been constructed like Lego. If the person writing the release actually uttered the quote aloud, they’d soon realise that no one of sound mind would pay any attention to it. And jargon is of course another example of trying to dress up mutton as lamb.

The fact is, many press releases should never have been written in the first place – but press releases levels are probably going to continue unabated – and no one will bother.

Then again, perhaps it leaves the field clear for those who can write good headlines and great body copy.

digital pr General PR tech pr Technology PR Web/Tech

“Embrace digital till it hurts”: Chime Communications CEO

Well, almost. The latest Daryl Willcox digital PR video is now up – and according to Chime Communications CEO Chris Satterthwaite PR agencies should “embrace the digital world so firmly that sometimes some of your clients say you’re almost excluding everything else”.

Couldn’t agree more.

Technology PR Uncategorized Web/Tech Weblogs

Wikipedia’s definition of Digital PR

This Wikipedia entry for Digital PR is curious for a variety of reasons.

First up, it has clearly been flagged as an orphan entry (ie few or no other articles link to it). Second, it has been marked as a blatant piece of ad fluffery.

And when you read it, you note the very poor use of English. The final line had a certain odd quality to it:

“Digital PR is also a new style of pr not just an agency! Many agencies do this form of pr not just the above group.”

Which seemed a rather mangled way of saying “other PR agencies are available.” As well as a lame attempt to make out that this item had been written independently.

I was curious to know more about this H&K division – clearly I’d missed something. On checking out the Digital PR web site, I discovered that they are: “an agency specialized in the research and implementation of the most advanced digital communication tools.”

Hmm. Lots of non-existent links. Garbled English at every turn. The most recent “news” dated from May 2007.

Perhaps these guys could do with some help. It was only after looking at the contact page that it revealed they are based in Milan (they also have an office in Madrid). I’m sure the copy is fine in Italian and Spanish – but it felt like they’d hired a cheap translator to do the English version.

However, I came away with a general sense that they were shooting themselves in the foot – as well as, by association, tainting the view someone might get of H&K’s overall capabilities in this area.

Having a key search term like “digital PR” linked to a high ranking Google slot (via a Wikipedia entry) would on the surface appear to be a good thing – but allowing this entry to remain there –  as well directing English language speakers to unhelpful content – (if they can even be motivated to click on the link as most people will realise it is a very unsubtle plug) does seem rather counter productive – both to Digital PR and H&K.

Anybody who feels like helping Digital PR to remove this unhelpful Wikipedia entry can of course go here.

Not only that, but we could do with someone writing a more detailed and objective entry to replace it. Any takers?

Wikipedia entry on Digital PR