Archive for Juliana Allen

Simple Tips for Increasing Your Web Traffic

New York Times Gadgetwise blogger Azadeh Ensha wrote a post earlier this week on the 10 Ways to Build Traffic to Your Site.  I felt this was an appropriate blog topic for several reasons.  First, as a small boutique agency, we’re always looking for new ways to ramp up our own blog; and second, the majority of our clients are young international tech companies looking to increase their visibility or start out completely new in the States.  We also work with clients like ASI to build corporate blogs. 

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Here’s a 100-foot rundown of Azadeh’s tips I found the most useful, with a bit of my own commentary here and there:

  • Self promote – add a favorite or bookmark option, as well as an “email this” and “share” tab; add your blog or Web site to your email signature, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Write useful, original content – write regularly and make sure everything is well-thought out; think about your headlines and make sure you include simple key words – This is one tip I could not agree more with.  Most companies have a blog now a days, and if they don’t, they’re probably thinking about it.  Sure the ideas are going to be similar, but you can make it your own by adding your own personality and your own ideas.  More importantly, make sure you’re writing appropriately for your audience.  People are so inundated with information and with options to get that information that you have to stand out to keep a following. 
  • Bring on guest bloggers [with an established name] – This tip is fairly self-explanatory, but is a great idea, particularly for smaller companies looking to gain awareness.  Include the person’s name in your entry title and post it on Twitter or have them link the post to their blog.  Having that recognizable name associated with your company is sure to drive at least a few new people to your site.
  • Link and tag – Link to other sites within your post and submit your site to blog directories; make sure you’re using appropriate headers, titles and meta tags for SEO – Cheapflights comes to mind as a great example of a company that has really embraced the idea of optimizing their site for SEO.  Anyone that does a Web search on “cheap flights,” the Cheapflights.com Web page is always at the top of the list.
  • Engage the reader – Promptly answer any emails or comments; show your personality – let the readers get to know you; create an online poll or survey

For a complete list of tips, visit here. 

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Another Indicator of the Changing Agency Landscape…

A recent article in Advertising Age discusses Coca-Cola’s industry-wide push to a “value-based” compensation model.  Under the model agencies only reap profits if they perform to Coke’s standards.  If the agencies’ work meets or exceeds those standards, they can generate as much as 30 percent profit margins – otherwise they only get recouped costs.  Coke plans to implement this model across all of its ad and media agencies by 2011.

Several questions around this model immediately come to mind– two of which have been heatedly debated for some time; how do you define value?, and how do you determine ROI?  Additionally, if a company is only being paid on results, are companies less likely to be creative and go down a safer route that they know will generate targeted results?

According to the article, Sarah Armstrong, Coke’s director of worldwide media and communication operations and the driver behind the company’s move, that’s not a concern.  However, I’d have to think that an agency faced with the decision of doing something radically new and innovative with the possibility of delivering mediocre results, over a pretty creative idea that promises more targeted results, might go with the safer path – especially in this economy.  One poor showing could not only cost them a large client like Coke, but also give them a bad rep for potential future clients.  Under a traditional retainer model, agencies have more leeway to take those creative risks.

Coke’s move is just another indicator of a trend we’ve been seeing for some time now:  PR and advertising are no longer what they used to be – and I don’t mean that in a bad way – merely just the fundamentals of them have changed.  Between the groundswell of social media applications and their rapid adoption, the decline of print journalism and the demise of traditional advertising, we’re seeing them change every day before our eyes.

Despite my questions about the model, I can definitely see the benefits.  For one, it would force agencies and their clients to design more targeted campaigns.  Additionally, as the economic downturn continues, it gives companies a way to guarantee their “bang for their buck.”  What’s more, it would make competition between agencies much hotter, quickly identifying the agencies and individual employees that can’t cut it.

It’ll be interesting to see how this model plays out, as well as the continually changing landscapes in these industries.  Regardless, I think compensation models are – and will continue to be – different for each client and each agency depending on the objective, resources and company awareness.  It’s all about setting expectations appropriately and defining beforehand what constitutes as value.

More thoughts on the topic from my colleague Liz Caradonna here.

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Tideway Makes an Appearance in the Wall Street Journal

On Friday, our client Tideway was featured front and center in the Wall Street Journal – and by front and  center, I mean the first company listed in the story above Microsoft and Adobe and on the front page of the MarketWatch section – in an article by Ben Worthen, highlighting the company’s Community Edition software.

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The article was a great success on many fronts.  For March, it was an opportunity to build a relationship with an influential tech reporter at the Journal, as well as another way to show our value and understanding of Tideway’s business objectives.  For Tideway, it was a way to reach numerous potential new customers, and as they say about Community Edition, a way to “scale the market.” 

As with any grade-A media hit, the opportunity didn’t come without some valuable refreshers on PR and media.  First of all, the opportunity never would have resulted if we didn’t call Ben to follow up on a pitch.  While most of the media tell you not to follow up with a call, I’d argue that 90 percent of the time, it’s that call that’ll actually get you into the story.  While I firmly believe in being as respectful as possible to comply with reporters’ preferences, a good ole’ fashioned conversation is still one of the best ways to build a solid relationship.

Once the article hit, it took a somewhat different direction than we’d initially thought.  This happens all of the time with stories, regardless if it’s business or trade press, broadcast or even social media.  Maybe the editor cut something out to make it fit the layout or the overall idea had to be tweaked a bit to more appropriately encompass all of the companies profiled…either way, the company is still in the Wall Street Journal, which will most likely boost its awareness and add credibility to its name.  It’s the PR agency’s job to appropriately highlight that and work with the client to brainstorm supplemental initiatives to showcase its technology.  For this opportunity specifically, we worked with Tideway to write a post for its blog, highlighting its appearance in the Journal and serving as a forum for interested parties to learn more about Community Edition.  Tideway also leveraged its fantastic customer relationships and had one of its former customers comment on the story online.

This experience showcased one of the things I love most about working in PR – everyday you experience something different; the scenario could be the same, but the circumstances are always different. 

I’m eager to see the results – i.e. lead generation, increase in Community Edition downloads, traffic increase, etc. – from Tideway’s inclusion in this article.  As with any client, we want our results to have a direct impact on increasing their bottom line, and if we’ve done that, than we’ve done our job.

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Can Personalized Magazines Save Print?

Two of the biggest challenges for traditional media companies are saving print and increasing diminishing ad dollars.

Time Inc.’s new experimental magazine “Mine” aims to tackle both of those.

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Mine is designed to deliver readers a magazine that matches their personal interests – much like an RSS or social media feed.  Readers can select stories from five of eight magazines including Time, Sports Illustrated, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Money, InStyle, Golf, and Travel and Leisure.  Editors then pull specific stories from those issues and package them into your personal Mine magazine.

As far as targeted advertising, Toyota Motor Corp. is supporting all of the ads in the magazines, paralleling its customizable nature to the customization of its new Lexus 2010 RX sport utility vehicle.  According to an article in the AP, “A sample ad tag line for a respondent named Dave, who lives in Los Angeles and eats sushi, might read: “Hey Dave: your friends will be really impressed when you drive down Van Ness Avenue on your way to get sushi.”

I think Mine is a great idea and definitely innovative, but I think it’s too early to predict how much it will really do to boost print readership.  I also wonder if the articles included in Mine have already appeared in print, and if so, if a reader will get board if they’ve already read one or two of the magazines separately.  If you’re a girl that’s not interested in sports or finances, your choices among those eight magazines are fairly limited.  And the targeted advertising – how will they get that level of detail to create an ad that knows what type of food you like? 

Hopefully these questions will be answered as the experiment gets underway.  In the meantime, if you’re interested in trying it, you can sign up here.  The first 31,000 subscribers get the print version for free (an online version is available for another 200,000).

I’ll let you know what I think once I get my first issue…   

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Twitter: the Next, Biggest Threat to Paparazzi?

Will Twitter become the paparazzi’s new biggest competitor?

After reading Andy Greenberg’s article “Why Celebrities Twitter” in Forbes earlier this week, it definitely seems to be one of its hottest contenders.  Most importantly, it gives celebrities a way to control their privacy.

At first this may sound like an oxymoron – writing a 140-word description of what you’re doing at all times is anything but private – but for celebs, it’s a way for them to beat the paparazzi to the punch, and reveal to the public only what they want, when they want.

According to Laura Fitton, a social media consultant and one of Twitters most-followed users (@Pistachio), who Greenberg interviewed for the article, Twitter is a savvy, new form of media control for celebrities.

It definitely makes sense, and is a smart way to build celebrities’ brand, as well as show a more personalized, down-to-earth side of them.  How can you help but have a soft spot in your heart for MCHammer when he Tweets about “daddy goes to school day” with his son: hammerrt5hammerrt23

The downside to be being a celebrity in the Twittersphere is that it’s often hard to know if you’re following the real celebrity or an impersonator.  Film School Rejects has a good top eight list of the most entertaining fake Twitter users.  My favorite is the William Shatner copycat who changed his Twitter name to @WilliamShatner2 after being outed by the real one.

It’ll be interesting to see how the “paparazzi vs. celebs themselves” war for the inside scoop plays out.  Until then, check out these articles in the Guardian, Mashable and Telegraph will lists of celebs on Twitter.  Hopefully they are all the real deals…

 

 

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Where is privacy hiding?

Privacy issues are surfacing everywhere…

Two weeks ago Facebook suffered its third outrage around user privacy after announcing terms of agreement changes that had users horrified that their data and content could become property of the behemoth social network; on Monday, New York Times reporter Saul Hansell wrote an article about the World Privacy Forum’s most recent report on cloud computing privacy concerns; and just yesterday, John Foley covered a new survey by Kelton Research in InformationWeek’s blog Plug Into the Cloud, showing that security concerns are one of the top two reasons holding businesses back from adopting cloud services.

While the connection between Facebook and cloud computing may not seem that clear at first, they both support the undeniable fact that everything is moving online.

To give you a better example of how closely these social and high-tech applications are connected, take a look at Google’s Gmail outage earlier this week. While Gmail accounts via Web access were down for approximately 2.5 hours, Venturebeat reports that people accessing it through their IMAP accounts – what you might use on an iPhone – never even noticed there was a problem… a clear “victory” for cloud computing, according to Tim Beyers of Motley Fool.

It’s clear that cloud computing and social applications like Facebook and Gmail are here to stay, but until we can find ways to adequately meets concerns for privacy, people – and businesses – are just going to have to decide if potentially losing some privacy is worth the benefits.

(…As I was writing this, TechCrunch tweeted a new story on Facebook’s plans to open it’s terms of service for user input – staying true to its roots of promoting a more open and shared environment. Will be interesting to see what ensues….)

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