I know it’s been a while since I’ve put anything up, but now that the holidays are (finally) over, I have a little bit of breathing room. Since my time has been sparse lately, I’m going to batch up several different post ideas into one. They all revolve around local PR.

Aside from some brief info on radio advertising, all these methods are completely free.

What Does PR Have to do With Search?

I’m a firm believer that PR is a stones throw away from search and social. They make great accents to each other, especially if you’re focusing on local markets or brick and mortar businesses.

Think about the visits your business or client gets when you get a review on a popular blog. An interview on a local news section or paper has the same potential with physical visitors. In person traffic also has a higher chance to convert since they’ve committed to going to your establishment, however it’s an absolute bitch to track. I’ll cover that later, but for now here are some examples.

All the below examples are for Skinny Limits, which provides vegan products in retail locations and raw juices nationally.

Example 1: Local Paper Excerpt

This is going to be one of the easier ones. Local papers always have sections about what’s changing in the area. The content varies drastically depending on the size of your city, but there’s always something.

Below is an example of something we caught in a paper:

local news PR

I know the image is a little fuzzy, so basically this is a monthly section that tells you every establishment that’s opened, had an anniversary, or is doing something out of the ordinary in the city. Considering we had both an anniversary coming up, as well as new establishments popping up, this was an easy win. There was a contact column for this section of the paper, as seen below.

finding newspaper contact

They couldn’t have made it any easier. Local papers are getting a little more savvy (desperate) and are making it easier for people to reach out. Our marketing associate reached out with a simple email as seen below:

pr contact example email

From here it lead to a phone call and then a listing in said section of the paper.

Easy!

Example 2: Radio Mention

This ones a bit tricker. Radio advertising is massively over priced, so you can’t just ask for a mention.

Skinny Limits had a customer who came into the shop a few times and we discovered he ran a radio segment. Everyone made sure he was well taken care of when he visited.

I also found his twitter profile and tried to interact with him through our company account when possible. Basically, everyone made an effort to build a relationship with him.

radio lunchbox

Weeks later one of his co-hosts mentioned he was considering doing a cleanse and he gave Skinny Limits a shout out.

This is the traffic we received for that day:

analytics radio mention

At the time, this was a pretty successful day for us and brought in extra business for several days. However, it was short lived.

If you’re curious about the actual segment, you can listen to it here – Skinny Radio Mention

Soon after, they approached us about advertising on their show. Considering we got a decent amount of business from the one segment, we decided to give it a shot. For the next 2 months our segment ran, and while we got some extra trickle in business, it ultimately didn’t seem worth the cost.

I noticed it performed better as an introductory step to other forms of advertising. For example, we had an expo event soon after and several people mentioned hearing our ad on the radio. This was one of our highest converting days in expo sales, as people knew about us before they saw our booth.

Would I pay for radio advertising again? No. Would I try to target a natural mention again? Fuck yes.

Example 3: Live News Segment

Ok, while the example I’m presenting comes off easy, I attempted this several times before I got a bite.

The first thing that happened, is a follower we noticed on our twitter account:

fox reporter on twitter

After searching for any sort of contact information, the most valuable thing I could find was her Facebook account. So, I went for it.

news outreach on facebook

And she responded:

fox facebook outreach

I can’t share the entire conversation, but basically we were willing to bend over backwards and accomodate them with anything they needed to create their segment. This was the end result:

This became one of our busiest days at our store locations, but had little effect on our online sales. That was surprising considering the outcome of our radio mention.

Ultimately, it required little effort from us and was absolutely worth it. However, it necessitated some persistence. I reach out to roughly 12 people from various news networks before bearing any fruit.

Example 4: News Paper Article

Here’s another one for the paper, but for an actual article. We spotted a food section in a local paper, as seen below:

local austin food paper

This looked like a great section for us to be in, so we sought out a contact. After a minute of searching, it ended up being right in front of us:

local austin paper contact

I also did a quick search for her name and found some additional contact info, although it wasn’t necessary in this instance.

newspaper contact

Knowing this wasn’t as simple as asking a blogger to write a review, we attempted to soften her up a bit and mentioned we wanted to send her some samples to get her opinion.

newspaper outreach example

We went through the entire process of setting up a sample pack and got it out to her. I followed up with her the day she received her samples and she enjoyed the product. Soon after, we got a section in the paper:

pr in newspaper

Example 5: Magazine Article Mention

Lastly, here is how we landed a free shout out in a magazine article that costs well over $1k to advertise in for one month.

By chance, one of Skinny Limits’s owners picked up a magazine while in a waiting room and stumbled onto an article mentioning juicing. The editor stated they wanted to try juicing next month.

magazine outreach

This was an obvious opportunity for us to provide the author with their juice, in hopes of a shout out in the magazine.

After some digging, I found that this author was part of several different groups and was well recognized, but they did a damn good job of hiding any direct contact. I resorted to reaching out to them on Twitter, as it was the only direct contact I could find.

twitter magazine outreach

Another easy win! Our mention wasn’t huge, but it did give us a spot alongside much larger competitors, when normally we’d have gotten no mention at all.

magazine mention

We also got a nice positive review post on the magazines blog, which wasn’t the intention, but was absolutely welcomed!

skinny limits review

How to Spot PR Opportunities

I think people make this more complicated than it is. You know all those blogs you follow, comment on, and tweet about? Treat traditional media the exact same way. Subscribe to several local magazines and newspapers, follow local news social handles, and set up Google Alerts for relevant local terms.

Scan it all on your lunch hour until you find something even slightly relevant and just reach out. Do whatever you can to help that person find something to write about you. Provide them with whatever ammunition they need.

It isn’t more complicated than that. A lot of you do these same exact things when targeting blogs.

What do I Offer for PR

This isn’t straight forward. Every business is going to be different with divergent expendable resources. In most of the above instances, we were able to offer samples. However, just because you don’t have an inexpensive resource, doesn’t mean you’re screwed.

Let’s take the automative sales space as an example. If you run a dealership, you obviously can’t giveaway cars in exchange for PR (unless it’s a damn good deal).

But here are some things you may be able to do:

  • Sponsor a car for an event
  • Sponsor a van to help someone less fortunate move
  • Cut a percentage of your next few sales and donate it
  • If you’re expanding into a new space, offer that space up to an event until you move in. (It’s just sitting there anyway)
  • Create a reoccurring event for awareness and anticipation, for example a bi-yearly run that is donation based.

I’m going to be straight up, I have no experience in the automotive space and I pulled these entirely out of my ass. These could very well bomb. The point is, there’s always something expendable aside from your product.

How to Track PR Performance

This is probably the most difficult thing I ran into, and to be blunt, you’re not going to find a perfect way to do it. Here are some things we used for various instances.

  • If it’s something on print, but are selling a digital product, try a coupon code
  • If it’s digital, but want to sell in the physical world, try a printable coupon
  • If it’s print that’s in a neighborhood close to your physical location, try a coupon insert
  • If it’s a radio or tv broadcast, make it easy and have them mention the segment to redeem a discount
  • If it’s an expo or physical event, give them a coupon they can redeem at a physical location
  • If you have cashiers or clerks, simply have them ask the customer how they hard about you, and keep a list they can tick off
  • Create a survey card where customers receive a discount for submitting

I’m admittedly telling you these are not full proof, and you’re going to end up with a giant stack of coupons and papers that are going to be equally hard to organize, but it’s something. Anything you can do to track, helps.

Conclusion

A lot of you have already done these same exact things, but focus on the digital side of it. They work just as well with other forms of media.

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Youtube Outreach Tutorial [Real Examples]

by Peter Attia on August 22, 2013

To continue the outreach theme I’ve been doing with my last few posts, I wanted to add one more I’ve been working on: reaching out to popular Youtube channels. I’ll go over how I found them, how I found their contact info, show a couple correspondence examples, and go over some points to consider along the way.

What are Youtube Video Bloggers Good For?

It depends on your goals, but wether people accept it or not, Youtube is a strong social search engine. I’m not talking about viral videos, more about people having a massive amount of followers on their channels. It’s like a blog, it’s just video instead of text.

Along the same lines of my last few posts, these examples are geared towards product reviews. There are many more ways to take advantage of strong Youtube channels, you just have to find something that makes sense for your industry and demographic.

Followers of channels get reminders via email and through Youtube’s main page. If you find a “vlogger” that has followers that fit your target demographic, you have the opportunity to get exposure in front of people with potential interest.

How to Find Popular Vloggers

I used good ol’ Follower Wonk for this. The one tool SEOmoz has that’s worth a damn. Go to the “Search Twitter Bios” tab and use search terms like:

  • “Keyword” Youtube
  • “Industry” Youtube
  • “Keyword” Vlogger
  • “Industry” Blogger Youtube
  • etc

I always sort by social authority, because it tends to weed out the people that have fake followers, but use whatever statistic makes the most sense for you. You’ll get a list similar to this:

(sorry for the blur, but you know how it is)
follower wonk search results

From here you can scour for folks that are video bloggers in a relevant industry. If they have a decent Twitter following, they’re likely to have a decent Youtube following. However, I did run into folks with a massive Youtube following and a surprisingly low twitter following. I didn’t notice any detrimental effects from this either way.

Spotting a Good Candidate

The first thing I looked for, was how high up they were on the social authority stat on Followerwonk. After that, I just read their bio to make sure they fit the bill. You will spot profiles in your results that only randomly mention your search phrases instead of being leaders in it. There’s no point in contacting these people. Even if they DID want to do a video, you’d be targeting the wrong demographic.

When you find one that looks solid, check out their channel’s statistics. Look for a high subscriber count, share ratio, views per video, and last post date. Here’s an example:

popular youtube blogger

These are all signs of someone who knows what their doing video blog wise. If one of these stats don’t match up, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not worth perusing. Do a little web stalking and see if you can find confirmation that they have a reputable presence all around.

Additional Prospects:
A good way to squeeze out some more candidates is by going to each vloggers’s about page and checking out their “Favorites” section near the bottom. Here you’ll find several relevant video blog channels and you can see their follower counts. You can easily scrape up a huge list by continuing to search in the favorites section of the previous vloggers favorites section.

additional youtube prospects

Finding Contact Info

In most cases, this is as easy as clicking the “About” tab on their Youtube Channel.

finding youtube contact information

90% of the time it’s that easy. If they don’t have their email listed, they tend to have a social channel or blog where you can find their contact info.

Youtube Outreach Examples

Here are a couple of correspondence examples. One thing I will expand upon later, is that this will most likely cost you money! I’ve rarely gotten a decent video post that was free!

This correspondence only shows the main points of the email exchange for obvious reasons.

Example 1)

youtube email outreach exampe

Example 2)

youtube corresponse email example

This is Not Free

I know I already said this, but one thing I want to be clear about, is that this isn’t free. For most popular video bloggers this is their full-time job. Approach it like a good old fashioned paid link on a high quality site. These guys will not pussy foot around. They’ll respond with their rates and ignore you if you can’t meet their demands. However, they will negotiate just like anybody else. A decent video review can cost anywhere between $500-$3k. More if you’re looking for something extravagant. It’s not that dissimilar to infographics in terms of pricing and quality.

Blog Reviews vs Video Reviews

I’m going to base this off of the “typical” video review or blog review. Obviously, if you get a review on a site like Mashable, you’ll get more traffic than a Youtube Channel with 100k subscribers. Here’s a view of some blog reviews surrounded by video reviews.

video vs blog analytics

This is only one example, but I see more traffic from videos compared to blogs pretty consistently. Videos also seem to lose their traffic at a slower pace than blogs. What I mean, is a blog review will typically bring a spike of traffic for 2-3 days then everything goes back to normal. With a video, it seems to last for a week or so before flattening out.

Things to Consider

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind before tackling some video outreach.

1) The response and conversion rate is much lower when contacting video bloggers. I have to contact about twice as many as regular bloggers to get an agreement completed.

2) Video posts will take much longer to go live after an agreement has been made than with a blog. It can easily take a couple months after the agreement before the video will go live. This completely depends on their schedule, of course.

3) Ask them to post the video on their blog to get more traffic and a backlink. If you ask them to put your video in a blog post as well, they usually won’t mind; but if you don’t ask, they probably won’t do it!

4) Good video bloggers are not desperate for work. You need to make it worth their while to do their video, or they’ll just walk away.

5) Video reviews are more likely to convert viewers compared to blog review readers. Not just from the initial post of the video, but also from people looking for more info on the product and seeing tons of positive reviews.

Conclusion

Video reviews can bring in some great traffic, but it also takes a good bit more time, effort, and money. However, the payoff is well worth it. Video reviews also bring in more conversions than traditional posts. Also, keep in mind that Youtube is a search engine in itself and the 3rd most visited site on the web. If someone wants to do research on your company, there’s a chance they will go to Youtube first. Not Google.

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Reverse Outreach Through Twitter [Real Examples]

by Peter Attia on June 19, 2013

I know I’ve been on an outreach kick lately, but I’ve been having much fun with it. I wanted to go over a topic I don’t often see mentioned, which is finding opportunities that come to you first. Basically, when someone mentions your brand on their own volition and taking advantage of it. I refer to this as reverse outreach, because they’ve made the first attempt. These are great opportunities, because the prospect in question already has interest in your company or product.

Twitter Reverse Outreach Process

Ok, so I’ll jump right into what I’m talking about. Here is an opening mention I caught on my Twitter feed:

twitter mention

This thread quickly got a couple of responses.

twitter response

Not only is this a mention of my company, but also a mention of competitors. I wanted to respond as quickly as possible so my competitors didn’t get a chance. Obviously they’re concerned by the cost and health factors, so I focused on these in my response.

twitter company response

One thing I regret, is undermining the competitors in the response. I by no means want to get on the bad graces of competitors. However, the competitors never responded to the entire thread, which makes us look far more caring.

The quick response gave me time to dive deeper into the profiles of everyone in the conversation. They all ran blogs and one of them ran a fairly successful blog. The person with the more successful blog also happened to respond positively.

twitter positive reply

So obviously, they’re still worried about the pricing. Since I’m a huge advocate for product reviews and they ran a decent blog, I jumped at the opportunity.

twitter outreach

And I got a great response.

positive twitter response

This spurred a great response from others who saw the conversation. People love seeing companies stay active in the social community. The end result was me getting a review of our product and a happy closing response.

twitter community management

The entire conversation with everyone involved was about 25-30 tweets long, but the above is the gist of what’s important. Because they already had interest in my company and I actively made an effort to show we appreciate them, I know I’m going to get a solid review. That’s why I consider these opportunities far more important than a standard outreach review.

Twitter Outreach Example #2

This is another example of a quick and easy one that worked out well. This was a person who reached out and ran both a solid blog and Youtube channel. To be honest, I’m still a little new to working with Youtube reviews, but since diving into it, it has driven a massive amount of traffic for us.

twitter youtube response

Conclusion

Always be on the lookout. There are outreach opportunities other than sending out several emails to bloggers and waiting for a response.

I know I’ve mentioned it a couple times above, but people Love seeing companies stay active on their social profiles. Make a conscious effort to respond to questions on Facebook and Twitter especially, because they Will be seen by several other users.

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If you’re trying to get on a big blog with several writers, the best way to pitch your idea is to contact authors directly. It’s damn near impossible to get a response if you pitch to the blogs standard email. The issue with this, is that their profiles typically don’t have their email address. You usually get their social profiles and then have to do a little research to see if you can dig up their email.

Basic ways to find emails through social profiles:

  • Check their twitter profile for a link to their personal site/blog
  • Google their name and pray
  • Do an about me search, for example: “site:about.me peter attia”
  • Check their Google+ profile and see if you can find their email from another contributing site

As excited as I get when I find a hidden email, sometimes I just can’t. I avoid it as much as possible, but occasionally the only way to reach out is through one of their social accounts.

Here are a couple of examples for you guys that have worked out for me.

Facebook Outreach

I haven’t crunched any specific numbers, but out of the two social networks, Facebook seems to have the higher response rate IF you pay the extra fee to send the message.

Incase you haven’t noticed it (as it’s kind of hidden), here’s a quick snapshot of how to send the message straight to a persons inbox, as if you were connected as friends on Facebook.

facebook message

Then you’ll see this:

facebook dollar message

It’s only a dollar and completely worth it for higher profile contacts.

Note: I recommend using your personal account for this type of outreach, as it may come off as a little invasive from a company profile.

Most Facebook responses come from mobile devices, so you should be quick and to the point.

Facebook Example:
facebook outreach

Twitter Outreach

Twitter outreach can be frustrating. Normally, I use twitter to make a quick connection with someone before I send them an email. However, sometimes I just can’t find an email and it’s my only point of contact.

Twitter’s 140 character limit makes it difficult to work with. Because of this, I usually ask for an email and continue the conversation through there.

Twitter Example:
twitter outreach

Once you get someone’s email it’s drastically easier and more straightforward to discuss with them. In the example above, I ended up making an agreement with their coworker who they referred and not the original contact itself.

Important Note:
The first time I started doing this type of outreach, I wasn’t thinking about the fact that people would look at my profile and twitter feed before replying. I had someone get pretty irate with me, because they could see my last 8 tweets were all outreach tweets. To combat this, make sure you schedule your tweets out so you have some regular stuff in between your out reach tweets.

Things to consider

With email, if you don’t get a response from someone, it’s ok to wait a few days and follow up. Social profiles are a little different. They’re faster paced, often used through mobile, and easily missed. Because of this, I usually follow up a single day after, if I don’t get a second response. I typically won’t follow up if they ignore my first response, however, unlike email outreach.

You’re contacting peoples personal social profiles it’s a little more invasive and something to be weary of. Use a personal account (with your actual face, not a cartoon) to make a better connection. This will have better results than them seeing a company logo.

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If you’ve spent much time developing WordPress sites, you’ve likely encountered a staggering number of choices for where to begin. Different developers have different styles and preferences. I know some folks who like to just grab Twenty x (-Ten, -Eleven, -Twelve…) and chop it up. Others prefer “boilerplate” starter themes (like Blankslate, Underscores). Lots of developers love using a framework (like Thesis, Genesis, Hybrid Core) as a parent theme upon which to build. Some people like to literally start from scratch and write every single template file by hand. All are valid choices, and all have pros and cons. I won’t give a sweeping endorsement of any particular choice, nor will I get into anything technical here, but I’d like to share a few reflections from my experience with these methods of developing for WordPress.

What’s Your Goal?

planningOkay, so this should be beyond obvious, but during initial planning stages, you really need to determine your intended user experience (and target market), what functionality is needed to provide that experience, and what features or sections the site should entail. Will you have a blog? Are you displaying a list of products for sale? How about an extensive multimedia area with audio and video? How much social interaction should the user have on the site?

Once you’ve really narrowed down what you do want out of the project, you can start thinking about what you don’t want. Does your e-commerce store really require an RSS feed? Do you actually need a portfolio display template on a tech spec site? I like to streamline my code and focus on just what’s needed, which brings me to my next point.

Eliminate Cruft

cruft /krəft/
noun

Excess; in computing: superfluous or dysfunctional files, code, or elements.

Cruft StreetI love the word cruft. It’s one of those words that, spoken out loud, sounds like what it means. One of the things I’ve come to realize from creating child themes is that along with the flexibility of quickly developing with one-size-fits-all frameworks comes a lot of code that you aren’t going to use at all for your particular project. So what? That’s not the worst thing ever. But depending on the framework, you’re sometimes talking about thousands of lines of code in functions, styles, and scripts that don’t need to be parsed.

There are loads of “blank” starter themes and boilerplates that include zero styling and just the minimum functionality needed to display the loop and proper markup, leaving you free to build out only the features you absolutely need. I sometimes prefer this route, especially if I just really don’t need a lot of the stuff that comes with it, and I can easily hand-code my own widget areas, post types, page templates, and so on to fit exactly what the project calls for.

Power and Flexibility

transformersOn the other hand, you could certainly argue that the power and flexibility of a framework system is more than worth any of the “excess” code. We’ve all said “if I only had more time, I could ___.” In terms of project management, that means to me that frequently, efficiency and quick delivery are far more valuable than anything gained by a meticulous approach to hand-coding elements of the site that the end user may never see anyway.

Sure, you might not need a particular website feature right this minute, but the ability to swap in features and functions with a quick add_action(‘before_header’, ‘that_function_you_didn’t_think_you_were_ever_going_to_need’); is pretty useful, especially when you’re busy. Furthermore, many of the popular frameworks have great documentation and vibrant discussion/support forums full of folks who are eager to lend a helping hand.

Extensibility, or, What Does This Lever Do?

giant jengaOn one hand, depending on how extensive the documentation available may be and how much you know about the framework you’re using, building out features using all the built-in filters and hooks may become second nature. Many theme frameworks have benefited from the work of dozens to hundreds of contributors over the years, and can provide rich functionality out-of-the-box for all sorts of integration with social platform API’s, SEO optimization, data structuring, and lots of things that could take one person a very long time to put together.

On the other hand, especially if you already have lots of your own code snippets and plugins that you like to use, and a markup structure that you are happy and familiar working with, you can build your own theme from the ground up with every bit of functionality that you need, comment your code accordingly, and be confident that when it comes time to grow your site, you’ll be 100% at home with your own work, and able to extend the code in a natural, fluid way.

Trying Something New Is Good For You

hey mikeyI’ve frequently seen endorsements of various frameworks calling one or another the be-all, end-all, best-ever tool for developing WordPress themes. I can definitely relate to that level of loyalty to something that works extremely well for you. But I also have to say that for me personally, half the fun is in finding yourself in slightly unfamiliar waters and devising a great solution for the task at hand.

Yeah, it’s smart to have something very consistent to rely on at times, but it’s also a great challenge to take yourself out of your element from time to time, whether that means using a theme with a set of action hooks you aren’t familiar with, coding a whole theme from scratch, or just drinking tea instead of coffee. It’s up to you!

No Wrong Answer

no wrong answerOf course, as I said at the beginning, I’m neither endorsing nor opposing the use of frameworks or boilerplates. I’ve had success with many different methods of developing WordPress sites, and I think it’s always better to have more options in your tool kit than to limit yourself to one way. In the end, it comes down to what works the best for you. Experiment and find out what you like! Hopefully this offers a little food for thought for your next project.

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