Strategy : Supercharged Publicity - 21st Century Public Relations Tools
Bruce Prokopets is Executive Editor of Press Direct International and Managing Director of Marketing World News.
Visit his website www.pressdirectinternational.org
Everyone knows that good publicity is the best advertising. A well placed article, a positive radio show, the right interview on TV, these are all what good publicists dream about. A public relations firm that can CAUSE these events at will, well, they are worth their weight in gold. I followed such a firm, InTouch Media Group (www.intouchmediagroup.com), during a one week period, as it used an array of high tech PR tools to build great publicity and high volume web site traffic for its clients. What was surprising was not just the results, which were undisputable, but how methodically they achieved what they set out to do. In addition, they accomplished their goals during one of the most traumatic periods in US history—the virtual destruction of the gulf coast by Hurricane Katrina. Getting effective press for one’s clients during this period, through the media storm of this national catastrophe, was a testament to a system that works.
My assignment began the day after InTouch Media announced the release of this new high powered publicity service. ITMG prides itself on the fact that every online marketing service it sells is tested successfully on itself first. I was shown the results of the pilot program that ITMG did using its chief technology officer, Steve Blom. The Chairman of InTouch, Bob Cefail, described the challenge he had set out for his company. “I knew that Steve was virtually invisible on the internet so if we could get some publicity for him we knew we had something” stated Cefail. “The big challenge was the fact that there was ‘another’ Steve Blom, some marketing Guru” warned Cefail, “and we would have to dislodge and replace him with our Steve”.
ITMG dreamed up an ingenious two part plan to virtually guarantee success. Instead of simply sending out a press release on some wire services, they put themselves in an editor or program director’s shoes. “We knew that an editor has a publisher they have to answer to.” said In Touch Media Group’s Vice President of Operations, Kris Nickerson, “They may like what they see in a press release but that won’t be enough. They will do searches on the internet to potentially proof up their story concept”. What was then developed took me by surprise. Apparently there are large article sites, Nickerson calls them “content hubs”, that are repositories for tens of thousands of articles. Reporters, authors, and writers submit content to these sites allowing limited or full use of the articles. Tens of thousands of users access these hubs to supply their own sites with content. Once an article is placed in a content hub the piece can be picked up by hundreds, if not thousands, of sites with the article proliferating across the internet.
“We figured out that we should write an appropriate ‘linked article’ in conjunction with a press release”, describes Cefail, “and place the article into as many of these article hubs as possible. The effect was breathtaking when we saw that the article we had written was sweeping across the internet”. What ITMG figured out was to first lay the ground work for a press release through the use of a well designed article. The test subject, Blom, is well known for his knowledge of search engine technologies. He publishes a highly respected Google training search engine advertising training blog (www.adwordstraining.org) and he describes how he used some “special sauce” to assist the test program. “We use software that allows us to look down the internet cloud and find popular search terms on any subject”, lectures Blom, “We then can ‘seed’ an article with these terms making it search engine friendly”. By adding Blom’s special sauce to the article it becomes a search engine magnet, attracting the attention of the likes of Google and Yahoo.
Once the article is placed and stretches across the internet, the press release is ready for submission. Well, not before Steve’s sauce is added to the press release itself. This extra fire power makes the ITMG article/press release weapon a truly deadly combo. Now, when an editor or program director does some side checking on a press release, through a search, they find an avalanche of articles moving steadily across the internet, This causes the “I don’t want to be left behind” effect, compelling the decision makers to act now, and book shows with people involved in the press release. So goes the theory.
Here is where this story gets interesting. Cefail was ready to show me the results of the initial test involving Steve Blom and a brand new web site used for the test. Remember Steve Blom’s blog? The site, adwordstraining.org, had no past history on such internet ranking sites as Alexa, which is considered by many to be the Neilson rating system for the internet (www.alexa.com). ITMG wanted to find out if its new publicity service could raise the overall traffic rankings of any company’s web site. Here was yet another challenge for ITMG--get a brand new site to move up the Alexa rankings in a significant manner.
The first thing we did was to see if we could even find Blom on the internet. That question was answered immediately and demonstrably! ITMG’s Steve was everywhere. The “guru” Steve Blom was now thoroughly displaced by the new Steve Blom in page after page of search engine results.
Then we went to Alexa to see if Blom’s site could get close to breaking into the top 5 million sites worldwide. Remember that the total web sites across the planet could number in the billions. Many search engine optimizers try to get their clients in the top 500,000 sites on Alexa, typically without success. Here is what we found. Awordstraining.org reached as high as one of the top FIFTEEN THOUSAND SITES on Alexa—in just a matter of weeks!
What happened on the publicity end? Within 48 hours of the submission of the press release Steve Blom was booked on a national business talk show broadcast to over 400 stations. For weeks to follow, Blom was booked on a host of various media outlets. While on assignment at ITMG headquarters, I watched as Blom was booked for two more shows.
While interviewing InTouch Media staff about their new publicity service, I watched as one high profile client after the another signed up for this new public relations breakthrough. The creators of the highly acclaimed 9/11 documentary, Answering The Call, which was just being released the following week, signed up to use the service. The World Christian Times founder, Rodney Sampson, contacted ITMG about the use of its new publicity service to help promote a Hurricane Katrina relief organization.
One particular client caught my eye though. Although I am unable to say exactly who the client is, I can reveal that it concerns a national political announcement involving a potential candidate. I watched as the ITMG editorial staff developed the story line, and I was allowed to review the draft article just prior to insertion into the content hubs. I can safely say this story will make big news.
I can report that the results for the movie release were no less surprising than those for the test involving Blom. At last count the Answering The Call press release had been picked up by approximately 370 media outlets. Needless to say the producers of the documentary, Lou Angeli and Bunny Dubin, were ecstatic about the results. The press release distributor, Prweb.com, reported that the press release itself had been accessed over 37,000 times. This was all happening during the period when news about Hurricane Katrina was at its zenith.
Another public relations organization involved with Dubin and Angeli, was surprised at the response from the submission of the movie company’s press release to PRWeb’s news distribution service (www.prweb.com). They asked Cefail whether or not he was using some type of new service that PRWeb must be offering. “I told the company that we not only had our own direct list of over 500 media contacts”, describes Cefail, “but that we also were using article content hubs”. Cefail followed this comment up by telling me that the PR company in question wasn’t even aware of what a hub was.
What Cefail didn’t say was that ITMG now uses over 120 different hubs when they submit their client’s articles. He also didn’t talk about Blom’s “secret optimization sauce”, which adds to the potency of every article and press release they distribute. I wonder if there any other secrets that Cefail and ITMG didn’t “mention” as I moved around their offices. I bet their competitors will soon find out and will be scrambling to discover ITMG’s recipe for publicity success.
Ó Copyright Bruce Prokopets, 2005