Michelle Sullivan Communications

HubSpot Press Release Grader (beta v 0.86)

HubSpot does it again, with another great online tool for PR practitioners. This time, it’s a press release grader. The concept is simple : you cut and paste the content of your press release into the tool, add the company name and website address and you’re off to the races.

The results is an online report (with copy emailed to you) which shows you where your release falls short. Particularly useful for those of us interested in incorporating SEO strategy into our communications plan.

The report provides you with information like :

  • Word count (recommending between 250-750 words)
  • Link count
  • Readability (minimum education needed)

Confirmation that the release includes :

  • a phone number and email address
  • an ‘About’ section
  • a link to the corporate website
  • an End of content marker (defined as ###)

It looks for what it calls ‘Gobbledygook Words’ – apparently ‘unique’ is one of these, overused and lacking specific meeting. Based on The Gobbledygook Manifesto by David Meerman Scott.

It conducts a link analysis which recommends the following :

  • URL links should reference a permanent (not redirected) URL
  • Links to the website should appear early in the release
  • The anchor text of the link should match some of the words in the page title of the target page
  • Press releases should generally contain on or more links that use anchor text incorporating relevant keywords

It also has a Word Cloud, where size of the word indicates frequency. This is a particularly interesting tool that allows us to be sure that the key concepts of our releases are coming across strongly from an SEO point of view. Words are clickable, allowing you to see very easily exactly where they appear in your text.

From the looks of things, the social media press release would do well, here, as long as certain conventions continued to be respected.

This tool isn’t French release-friendly … or language other than English for that matter … which is a shame, since most of my client drafts are written in French, then translated once an official version has been negotiated. That said, it’s certainly a well-presented and interesting tool worthy of consideration.

But it’s 3pm on Friday, so I will now begin to consider the weekend. Enjoy!

Pour néophytes

Un nouveau livre sur les médias sociaux qui semble parfaitement adapté pour répondre aux besoins des néophytes :

The New Influencers is a book for corporate marketers and executives who want to understand and engage with the vast new channels of influence that are emerging online.

It’s a book about the people who are using online media to drive what may be the greatest change in market dynamics since television. Internet-based communications platforms like weblogs (blogs) and podcasts are giving individuals the power to reach global audiences without the restrictions of conventional channels or editors. These “social media” are changing markets in dramatic ways.

L’auteur, Paul Gillin, est blogueur, journaliste et consultant média pour des entreprises en TI

Voici un résumé du contenu

Voir aussi ses commentaires au sujet des canadiens qu’il a rencontré lors de son passage à Toronto.

Étrangement, son bulletin électronique répertorie ses articles plus efficacement que son blogue.

Social media : those who get it and those who don’t

In the most recent Pew Internet and American Life report, released May 19th :

37% (of respondents) said the Internet led them to buy more music than they otherwise might have

39% of online music buyers reach out directly to artists’ websites

While offline sources continue to dominate,

56% (of respondents) say they find out about music through various online tools, such as going to a band’s or artist’s website or streaming samples of songs to their computers

44% of music buyers have done at least one online activity relating to their music purchase, such as going to an artist’s or band’s website or reading blogs about the artist or band

13% of Internet-using music buyers either post their music to a social networking site such as Facebook or post their own reviews of the music they purchase

That’s free promotion, folks. Word of mouth gone exponential.

Social media being a relative newcomer to the PR strategist’s toolbox, it’s to be expected that there will be those who get it, and those who don’t. This, despite the fact that you must be living in a cave not to be hearing about blogging, MySpace, Facebook and the like, especially if you’re in the music business. Podcasting is admittedly lower on the mainstream radar, which may explain why the reaction of two Ontario festivals recently faced with a podcaster’s request for media accreditation couldn’t be more different.

Here’s the backstory:

I met George Motoc at PodCamp Toronto. Nice guy who does a Romanian- and English-language podcast out of Toronto called Canadian Immigrant Song.

George had promoted a couple of summer festivals in his podcast so, as he says, his listeners could mark their calendars. As is his usual practice, he sent a note with a link to the podcast episode to festival organisers to let them know about the visibility received. (Wouldn’t life be nice if all media did that? But that’s besides the point) This time, he also requested media accreditation.

Here’s his email:

Hi all,
Just to let you know that I mentioned (ed. note: insert festival name here) in the latest episode of my podcast: http://georgeradio.podomatic.com/entry/2008-04-28T20_29_01-07_00
Is there any way for a podcaster willing to cover the fest to get a PressPass?
Thanks and cheers from Toronto,
George Motoc
podcaster


Luminato in Toronto received his request as follows :

Hi George,

Thanks so much for letting me know about your podcast! And thank you for mentioning Luminato.

Yes, I am open to having a podcaster cover the festival. Just let me know what events you are interested in. I will send you a link so you can pinpoint the shows/dates/times you are available for, or interested in, and I will see what I can do for your tickets.

Thanks again George!

Laura Erika Barron
Public Relations Coordinator
LuminatoToronto Festival of Arts & Creativity

George also received a followup email from a second member of the festival’s PR staff thanking him for his interest and his patience and reminding him to forward his interview requests.

Professional. Nice. Someone who gets it.

Not everyone does …

Same request, different reaction, this time from the Ottawa Blues Festival:

Short, curt and to the point, I guess.

Hi George, Please see our media access policy for 2008.
http://www.ottawabluesfest.ca/en/index.php?page=82

I’ll stay mum on questions of etiquette, for the purposes of this post. I’ll also stay mum on another thing : George has asked me not to name names, so I’ll respect his wish for some level of discretion. That said, I’d invite the Ottawa Blues Festival rep to out himself and join the discussion. Maybe there’s something I’m just not getting.

Here’s the Ottawa Blues Festival’s media accreditation policy. Note the insistence on known, main-stream media:

Please note: Media representatives that provide proof of affiliation with a known, main-stream media outlet will be given access to the festival site for the day(s) they are assigned to cover the event.
Photo calls for main-stream media representatives will take place each night, 30 minutes before final acts. Access to front-of-stage photo area will be granted ONLY when approved by artist management.
We will NOT begin fielding requests for media access until June 1, 2008. If you are assigned to cover the event by a known, main-stream media outlet, send your request for access to Joe Reilly
joe.wavelength@sympatico.ca; state Media Access to Bluesfest as your subject line.


And by the way, when I say the folks at Luminato get it, I’m not kidding. Check out their online ‘Share Your Festival’ contest.

As for George, nice guy that he is he still plugged one of the Ottawa Blues Festival artists, Adrien Belew, providing a link to his MySpace page. I checked him out. Not bad. Wonder if his music’s on iTunes ..

Social media : those who get it and those who don’t

In the most recent Pew Internet and American Life report, released May 19th :

  • 37% (of respondents) said the Internet led them to buy more music than they otherwise might have
  • 39% of online music buyers reach out directly to artists’ websites

While offline sources continue to dominate,

  • 56% (of respondents) say they find out about music through various online tools, such as going to a band’s or artist’s website or streaming samples of songs to their computers
  • 44% of music buyers have done at least one online activity relating to their music purchase, such as going to an artist’s or band’s website or reading blogs about the artist or band
  • 13% of Internet-using music buyers either post their music to a social networking site such as Facebook or post their own reviews of the music they purchase

That’s free promotion, folks. Word of mouth gone exponentia

Social media being a relative newcomer to the PR strategist’s toolbox, it’s to be expected that there will be those who get it, and those who don’t. This, despite the fact that you must be living in a cave not to be hearing about blogging, MySpace, Facebook and the like, especially if you’re in the music business. Podcasting is admittedly lower on the mainstream radar, which may explain why the reaction of two Ontario festivals recently faced with a podcaster’s request for media accreditation couldn’t be more different.

Here’s the backstory :

I met George Motoc at PodCamp Toronto. Nice guy who does a Romanian and English-language podcast out of Toronto called Canadian Immigrant Song.

George had promoted a couple of summer festivals in his podcast so, as he says, his listeners could mark their calendars. As is his usual practice, he sent a note with a link to the podcast episode to festival organisers to let them know about the visibility received. (Wouldn’t life be nice if all media did that? But that’s besides the point) This time, he also requested media accreditation.

Here’s his email :

Hi all,

Just to let you know that I mentioned (ed. note: insert festival name here) in the latest episode of my podcast : http://georgeradio.podomatic.com/entry/2008-04-28T20_29_01-07_00

Is there any way for a podcaster willing to cover the fest to get a PressPass?

Thanks and cheers from Toronto,

George Motoc
Podcaster

Luminato in Toronto received his request as follows :

Hi George,

Thanks so much for letting me know about your podcast! And thank you for mentioning Luminato.

Yes, I am open to having a podcaster cover the festival. Just let me know what events you are interested in. I will send you a link so you can pinpoint the shows/dates/times you are available for, or interested in, and I will see what I can do for your tickets.

Thanks again George!

Laura Erika Barron
Public Relations Coordinator
LuminatoToronto Festival of Arts & Creativity

George also received a followup email from a second member of the festival’s PR staff thanking him for his interest and his patience and reminding him to forward his interview requests.

Professional. Nice. Someone who gets it.

Not everyone does …

Same request, different reaction, this time from the Ottawa Blues Festival :

Short, curt and to the point, I guess.

Hi George, Please see our media access policy for 2008.

http://www.ottawabluesfest.ca/en/index.php?page=82

I’ll stay mum on questions of etiquette, for the purposes of this post. I’ll also stay mum on another thing : George has asked me not to name names, so I’ll respect his wish for some level of discretion. That said, I’d invite the Ottawa Blues Festival rep to out himself and join the discussion. Maybe there’s something I’m just not getting.

Here’s the Ottawa Blues Festival’s media accreditation policy. Note the insistence on known, main-stream media :

Please note : Media representatives that provide proof of affiliation with a known, main-stream media outlet will be given access to the festival site for the day(s) they are assigned to cover the event.

Photo calls for main-stream media representatives will take place each night, 30 minutes before final acts. Access to front-of-stage photo area will be granted ONLY when approved by artist management.

We will NOT begin fielding requests for media access until June 1, 2008. If you are assigned to cover the event by a known, main-stream media outlet, send your request for access to Joe Reilly joe.wavelength@sympatico.ca; state Media Access to Bluesfest as your subject line.

And by the way, when I say the folks at Luminato get it, I’m not kidding. Check out their online ‘Share Your Festival’ contest.

As for George, nice guy that he is he still plugged one of the Ottawa Blues Festival artists, Adrien Belew, providing a link to his MySpace page. I checked him out. Not bad. Wonder if his music’s on iTunes …

The Shel Holtz Report

Last night, Montreal had the pleasure of welcoming Shel Holtz to its monthly 3e mardi Third Tuesday event. Shel’s an interesting speaker and a good storyteller. His talk about the role social media … particularly blogging … can play within and beyond the walls of a corporation is certainly timely in a market such as ours, where agencies and CEOs are starting to explore social media strategies.

One story that stuck with me is the following :

On my walk home from elementary school back in the early 1960s, I frequently stopped at the corner liquor store and bought a one-cent Bazooka bubble gum. The gum was usually great (unless it had gone all hard), but what I really wanted was the Bazooka Joe comic that came with it. One of those comics has stuck with me all these years later. I can’t say why, but it has. In that strip, Joe is walking down the street at night when he encounters a fellow on his hands and knees under a street lamp.

  • “What are you looking for?” Joe asks.
  • “A quarter,” the character says.
  • “Where’d you lose it?” Joe queries.
  • “Across the street,” comes the reply.
  • “Why are you looking here?” Joe wonders.
  • The fellow answers, “The light’s better.”

The insistence that organizations cannot embrace social media for one reason or another is the equivalent of looking for the quarter where the light’s better : Companies prefer the comfort of message control over the messiness of conversation.

Source : Shel Holtz

Shel’s point is well taken. It’s certainly not by ignoring conversations that happen online that they don’t exist. Companies need to, at minimum, be monitoring what’s being said about them using tools like Google Alerts, and talking about whether a more direct use of social media tools for internal or external communications might not be appropriate.

We’d take notice if things were written about us in the paper, wouldn’t we? Why not consider keeping an eye out for what’s being said … and archived … online? After all, Google has a long memory.