vendredi 30 mai 2008

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!

jeudi 29 mai 2008

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:
Is there any way for a podcaster willing to cover the fest to get a PressPass?
Thanks and cheers from Toronto,
George Motoc

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.

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; 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 ..

mardi 27 mai 2008

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.

dimanche 25 mai 2008

Hipsters, Scenesters, Artsers and SEO

CT Moore has some interesting things to say about SEO in this weekend's blog posting, including the fact that using bold for Michelle Sullivan Communications will make Google like me even more.

To sum up his thinking, I present to you his SEO strategy recap :

So, what I’ve done for SEO here is:

  • emphasized certain keywords by emboldening them: Montrealer, hipster, geekster, and scenester (as far as I know, I just invented artser, so it doesn’t really count).
  • employed those keywords extensively throughout the body of the text
  • wrote a post that was longer, rather than short — Google love 1,000+ words, not that this post was that long, but generally, the longer, the better (more to index)
  • leveraged internal linking: that’s linking to stuff I want indexed, using anchor text and alt tags so they rank for the keywords I want them to.
  • and linked out plenty so that (1) the internal linking doesn’t look spammy, and (2) others notice that I exist and possible link me back either soon or down the line, in the long-tail, after they’ve discovered and followed me for a while

So thanks CT. And thanks to Julien, Rudy and Casey for doing whatcha do. Oh. And for helping me with my Google juice.

Now I just need to fill up this space with a longer post with, oh, say 1000+ words.

If only it weren't so late. If only I weren't so tired.

Shel Holtz at 3e mardi Third Tuesday Montreal Monday May 26th at 6pm. Be there.

lundi 19 mai 2008

Shel Holtz is coming to Montreal

If you're in Montreal next Monday (May 26th), be sure to drop by 3e mardi Third Tuesday Montreal for a special session with Shel Holtz.

If you can't make it (so sad) then feel free to leave your 'I've always wanted to ask Shel this question' questions here, in the comments of this blog, and I'll be happy to ask them on your behalf and report back to you.

samedi 17 mai 2008

Le monde selon Reuters

Yet again, thank to CNW, I had the opportunity to participate in an interesting event yesterday, this time with Robert Melnbardis in the offices of Thompson-Reuters. Melnbardis held court, covering a variety of topics centering around the ways in which Reuters is adapting to a media world in full technological mutation.

Take-aways :
- Reuters is working with a new platform with bells and whistles that allows its journalists to follow stories of particular interest to them
- We need to write releases with newsy headlines, because Reuters' automated system is programmed to pick up content and publish it as-is on the Reuters site. These early texts are revised by journalists and editors in a second phase.
- Stock code in release headlines is important (see above).
- Hyperlinks are available on the Reuters platform and, in fact, they are able to receive full multimedia social media press releases.
- Many of the headlines of generated in Reuters' India offices, so, again, be sure to specify currency, as the default for $ is USD.
- Simplify the process : get key messaging and facts as upfront as possible to make the journalist's job easier
- Reuters avoids the CEO quote, as they find them vacuous, not adding anything to the story.
- Reuters will cover local stories, but only if they have global implications. While Robert used to cover the Montreal Jazz Fest, he doesn't have the resources anymore. He will assign reporters to the Toronto Film Festival, however, because of its economic impact. This is where deals are made.
- Reuters is always looking for experts, so are open to pitches of this kind
- Context is vitally important to Reuters. For this reason, they will avoid unnamed sources and will not propagate rumours. They are very careful to specify sources, as well as situating quotes and facts in time.

Interesting for those of us looking at social media and social media press releases :
- Reuters' system already breaks our releases into point form key messages - the social media release would save them that step while allowing us to be clear about the messaging we're trying to communicate.
- Reuters is a media company which also sees itself as a tech company, constantly investing in new technologies
- Robert believes that multimedia will become increasingly useful, as Reuters prepares to launch its new editorial software in the next few months, with more video and graphics.
- Reuters is investing in citizen journalism. At the start of the war in Iraq, Reuters had 17 journalists on the ground. Since giving cameras to locals, they can now say that they have 150 people supplying them with photo and video.

Robert's wish list for improving relationships with PR reps:
- be easily accessible - give him your cellphone number
- implement a call-back policy
- be attributable
- be clear and transparent
- provide context (ex: if talking about layoffs, don't just give numbers, but explain the impact as proportion of employees, financial impact etc)

The Reuters Summit is an opportunity for PR reps to have their CEOs sit down with Reuters journalists for a one-hour Q&A session. Upcoming summit sessions include Technology, Media and Telecom, happening in NYC, Paris and Tokyo. It is possible to participate in these sessions by telephone. These are by invitation only, but pitches help get you that precious invite, so be sure Reuters has your CEO on their radar screen.

A big thanks to Robert for taking the time. I'd encourage everyone who hasn't visited a newsroom in the last couple of years ... whether they be fresh-faced or consider themselves to be experts ... to sign up for a tour as soon as possible. Technology is changing the way journalists are working and we're going to be aware of these change if we want to keep up.

vendredi 16 mai 2008

Gestion des attentes

Dans un monde où Paris Hilton est la cible des paparazzis pour la moindre niaiserie, il n'est peut-être pas surprenant que nos clients, qui s'investissent corps et âme dans la réalisation de leurs projets, soient déçus quand leur nouvelle ne fait pas la Une de tous les quotidiens de la province et que le nom de leur entreprise ne monte pas aux lèvres des Derome de ce monde.

Mais leurs attentes sont parfois loin de ce qui est réalisable. Les campagnes de notoriété prennent du temps. La crédibilité ne se gagne pas du jour au lendemain.

Comment bien gérer les attentes de nos clients?

On penserait que la franchise et que la mise en garde suffirait pour calmer les ardeurs et mettre les choses en bonne perspective.

Et lorsqu'ils semblent bien comprendre mais demeurent quand même déçus quand leur nouvelle ne prend pas plus d'importance que le décès du pape au Téléjournal? (Je vous jure, ça m'est arrivé). Eh bien à ce moment là, j'avoue que je baisse les bras. Quoi dire à un client dont les attentes demeurent irréalistes? Ou, ce qui semble encore pire, se plaint d'une présence et une couverture médiatique qui aurait ravie n'importe quel autre client?

Grunig et Langdon ont peut-être une partie de la réponse. Selon Pierre Bouchard:
Scott Langdon propose de s’éloigner de l’évaluation de la production pour se concentrer sur les changements de comportements des publics ciblés. Scott utilise la formule : From output to behavioral outcome.
Si vous avez des trucs à partager pour affronter cette réalité qui semble grandissante, j'apprécierais vos commentaires.

Grunig, vu par Langdon, vu par Bouchard

Malgré nos meilleurs efforts, nous ne pouvons être partout. Voilà pourquoi je tente de partager ce que j'apprends dans les ateliers et conférences auxquels je participe ici, dans les 'pages' de ce blogue. Et voilà pourquoi j'apprécie ceux qui font pareil.

Pierre Bouchard nous parle cette semaine de l'atelier La pensée de Grunig, offerte par la SQPRP en collaboration avec McGill la semaine dernière. Ayant été celle à qui Elizabeth Hirst avait proposé la conférence il y a environ un an, à l'époque où j'étais toujours membre du comite du développement professionnel de la SQPRP, j'aurais bien aimé pouvoir y être, car Elizabeth en parlait avec grand enthousiasme. Heureusement, Pierre a pu être là à ma place pour nous livrer le compte rendu que vous trouverez en série de deux .. et bientôt trois (sinon plus) ... billets très intéressants.

Je vous invite à faire un tour .. et d'ajouter Pierre à votre blogroll ou aggrégateur, car ses billets sont toujours intéressants. Merci Pierre!

jeudi 15 mai 2008

Media take-away : breakfast chat with journalists

Robert Melnbardis of Reuters and Martin Vallières of La Presse were on hand at this morning's CNW breakfast conference and I have to say it was worth hauling my tired carcass downtown at 7:30 this morning to attend.

Some take-away items of particular note:

- both Cyberpresse and Reuters are in the process of revamping their web presence. Reuters will unveil something next month, which Cyberpresse will be doing the same in September. La Presse's Affaires section will become dynamic .. I almost wrote more dynamic, but really, that would presume that it was dynamic to start off with. I think Vallières would probably be the first to admit that a nice burst of fresh air will do that online section a world of good.

- La Presse's online and traditional newsrooms will be physically moving onto the same floor in La Presse's St Jacques offices, in order to better work together. A concrete sign of how important online media presence has become.

- Getting financials out as early as 6:30 am is a practice Melnbardis encourages, as it gives him time to research the companies he's covering before attending press conferences mid-morning.

- Melnbardis exhorted financial PR professionals to stop being so provincial : Reuters offices around the world receive our financial releases, so we have to start being very clear as to which currency we're using right in the top paragraph of our releases. So if your quarterly earnings are in CAD, be sure to say so, because Reuters' Man in Mumbai wants to know.

- Reuters also wants to see corporate websites with clarity of presentation and quick links to current and past financials. Melnbardis stopped short of giving concrete examples, which is a shame, because a good model always helps sell a concept to a client à la 'Well Melnbardis likes this site, so you really need to rethink stubbornly refusing to do the same, Mr. X.'

- Reuters is also pushing multimedia - it is now accepting photos from citizen journalists, even going so far as to provide 'civilians' with cameras - and invites us to follow suit. In fact, both Reuters and La Press were supportive of the concept of social media press releases with hyperlinks and multimedia. Melnbardis confirmed to me after the event that providing a video of press conferences online would be a valuable resource to members of his team unable to physically attend our clients' events.

- Surprisingly, both Melnbardis and Vallières seemed at a loss to explain the virtual disappearance of the press conference, saying that they appreciate them as long as they offer added value, such as access to directors and upper management. They definitely don't want a rehash of the press release. They seemed to come to the conclusion that the press conference is a dying art form because PR professionals want to be sure to control the message. I didn't have to get out of my seat to defend our profession, as my former employer and colleague Ahmed Galipeau did the honours, stating what I imagine most PR professionals in the room were thinking : we don't do press conferences because no one comes. Interesting that such a disconnect in perception and cause and effect exists between our two professions. Would be worth exploring further.

A little bio info:

Robert Melnbardis is Editor-in-Charge, Canadian Equities at Reuters News, where he has also been the Montreal-based Quebec bureau chief since 1995, covering business, politics, general news, culture and sports. Mr. Melnbardis manages a team of equities reporters across Canada who report on the country’s publicly traded companies.

Martin Vallières is back in Montréal after spending several years in Toronto as economics, business and finance correspondent for La Presse. He also spent two years at the Washington office. Before joining La Presse, he worked for ten years as journalist and editorial assistant for the business weekly Les Affaires.

On a personal note, I have to say I was silently pleased to note a photo of Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe from my April 21st event at Moisson Montréal being used as stock footage on Cyberpresse and within the pages of La Presse. Vallières had it up during his presentation. No one knew but me, but I have to say I love that feeling you get when you're the only one in the room with a little secret.

Mitch Joel, freelance journalist

The Montreal Gazette has a new freelancer on the payroll - at least I presume they're paying him ..

Montreal's English language daily is has begun publishing excerpts from Mitch's Six Pixels of Separation blog, starting with 'The seven highly effective corporate blogs', originally published online on April 19th.

Congrats, Mitch!

lundi 12 mai 2008

Nouveau podcast : Réno-éco, de Moisson Montréal et la CECD

Mon client, Moisson Montréal, vient de lancer sa première baladodiffusion, en co-production avec la Coalition énergie et construction durable (CECD). Disponible sur le blogue et via iTunes depuis cet après-midi, Réno-éco vise à faire partager l'expertise des experts en bâtiment et construction durable de la CECD avec le grand public, mais aussi avec l'industrie de la construction, les décideurs publics et les propriétaires de bâtiments des parcs industriels du Québec.

Je dois dire que ça fait bien plaisir de réaliser un projet qu'on prépare depuis longtemps. Le blogue est beau, les entrevues intéressantes et le podcast sur iTunes. La vie est belle.

samedi 10 mai 2008

Facebook contest pages

One potentially interesting use for Facebook is for contest promotion ... and one interesting use for contests is buzz creation. Everyone loves a good contest. The combination of the two can give an interesting result.

One such example is the Frank Sinatra - The Chairman of the Board contest:

Frank Sinatra passed away 10 years ago on May 14th 1998. To honor Frank Sinatra, we are having a World-Wide contest. Enter now! You Can WIN!... no matter where you live! WIN *** all 6 BRAND NEW *** Frank Sinatra collections.5 DVD collections and the release of a CD with 22 remastered and remixed Reprise hits. Enter before May 14th 2008 - and if you win, you'll get a bonus prize of the Best-selling book "The Way You Wear Your Hat"

Admittedly, not a huge budget here. There are no million dollar prizes or trips to Vegas. But there's definitely enough to attract true blue Sinatra fans, which is the point.

Who's behind the contest? Fan pages make that challenging, as, contrary to Group pages, site creators aren't listed.

My guess? All you have to do is ask the eternal crime fighting question : Who benefits?

Dave Domenicano.

Toyota sales manager by day, crooner by night, Dave does a pretty mean Sinatra impression, if his tribute videos are any indication. And his video is front and center in the Sinatra fan page.

Not a bad way to get your name circulating among true Sinatra fans. Better yet, as a Fan page administrator, Dave now has access to a great marketing combination : Sinatra fans living in the Montreal area.

Now I like Sinatra as much as the next chick, but I really joined this Fan page to see how long it's going to take for an invitation to Dave's next show to pop up in my Facebook inbox or in the advertising bar.

Meanwhile, Dave's probably going quite nicely with the Amazon and Google ads on his contest registration page.

Pas fou le gars. Bada bing.

mardi 6 mai 2008

Podsafe Anji Bee and

Anji has got a very nice Brazillian podsafe music selection online since March.

Unfortunately, my brain just can't seem to turn off lately, so while listening I kept reading and stumbled on a little gem in one of Anji's posts. She mentions that Adam Curry turned her on to, which, among other things, allows podcasters to swap promos.

Maybe someone at PAB will explore this a little and let us know what's up. Meanwhile, here's a piece from Techcrunch, which leads us to an even cooler app called Voice :
Every drop page has a phone number and extension associated with it. Call the number, dial the extension and record an unlimited length voice message (subject only to the overall 100 MB file size limitation). The file will appear momentarily as a MP3 file on the drop page.
How practical is all of this? How useful is it to be on drop? If anyone out there is using, let me know what you think.

lundi 5 mai 2008

RIP Hélène Richer

Il y a de ces collègues, devenus amis par la force des choses, qui nous marquent indéniablement. Hélène Richer était de ceux-ci. Webmestre responsable du portail corporatif de Microcell Télécommunications/Fido et ma voisine de bureau à l’époque où le maître de Fido était André Tremblay, Hélène impressionnait par la richesse de ses connaissances, par son professionnalisme et, pour ceux qui réussissaient à la connaître, par sa grande générosité et sa gentillesse sans bornes. J’ai beaucoup appris d’Hélène et conserverai toujours une grande affection pour celle que je considérais mon amie, même si on ne se voyait plus tellement souvent. Combien de fois me suis-je dite ces derniers temps que je devrais l’inviter à prendre un café … avant de replonger dans les dossiers qui me tiennent archi-occupée depuis des mois? Je tenterai de me consoler en gardant en mémoire tous les bons moments passés en sa compagnie.

Les adieux sont difficiles. Il me semble approprié de lui rendre ce dernier hommage sur le Web avant de prendre l'après midi pour moi, au soleil, loin des dossiers qui m'accaparent et qui me font négliger ceux qui me sont chers.

Merci Hélène. Merci pour tout.

samedi 3 mai 2008

AGC Communications lance son blogue

Félicitations à mon ancien patron Ahmed Galipeau, à Serge Vallières et à tous les employés du cabinet AGC Communications pour le lancement de leur blogue.

Je sais que vous avez des choses à dire et j'ai bien hâte de vous lire!

jeudi 1 mai 2008

La sous-valorisation de la profession

Se pourrait-il que la sous-valorisation de la profession des RP explique la quasi-absence d'hommes inscrits aux programmes universitaires en communication?

C'est un peu cruel de vous lancer ça comme ça, après une petite absence et sans développer davantage. Mais bon - voici ce à quoi je réfléchis de ces jours-ci.

Quand j'ai soulevé la question lors d'une conférence offerte par Alain Charbonneau à la SQPRP hier soir, on m'a proposé d'autres hypothèses qui me semblent insatisfaisantes, du moins à première vue. Je vais devoir y réfléchir davantage. À suivre.