CRACKING THE BLOGGER CODE

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BY: JASMINE WALTON

In the world of PR, blogger outreach is one of the sharpest, new arrows in our quiver. Why? More laser-targeted impressions, which means the right reach. And it’s only natural that followers are more likely to trust a blogger’s word over a branded ad.

Our zcomm team taps into the blogger world, in addition to other digital marketing tactics, to target specific audiences in industries including health, beauty, food, consumer and non-profits.

One of our key partner bloggers is Kimberly Vetrano, the founder of “She Scribes.” Kimberly doubles as a mother, wife, photographer and freelance writer. She decided to become a blogger because she loves to write, and blogging was a way to write about her life.

Kimberly prides herself on blogging about a variety of topics for a diverse readership. Her tag line is “A little bit of this, a little bit of that.” In fact, her blog topics are heavily influenced by her readers. She makes sure to read her fans’ comments, and even does yearly “polling” to find the topics that her readers find most interesting. In addition to blogging about her life, she also tracks and writes about what’s trending — crafts, recipes and style posts are all hot topics now.

When asked how she keeps her blog so active, Kimberly says her blog is her business, and she treats it that way. Kimberly says, “I make it a priority to post at least once a day, 7 days a week. If I have something planned on the weekend, I’ll write a post ahead of time and schedule it on the weekend.”

Kimberly tries to engage her followers through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. “Social media influences my blog in a big way…there are plenty of readers who share the same interests and can engage with you about them on social media channels or via comments on the blog posts.”

Kimberly’s favorite social media outlet is Facebook. “I feel like I can connect with readers more on that platform. I can scroll down and read comments and reply to them when I have a chance. I feel like Facebook is more personal.”

When relevant brands come to zcomm for blogger outreach, we call Kimberly (and lots of other bloggers) with the kind of content that she loves. Because we know what she likes. So, when reaching out to bloggers, take time to read the blog on a regular basis BEFORE you contact them so you know exactly what they write about and the content that floats their boat. That’s the key to cracking the blogger code.

Ruffled Feathers

Who wudda thunk it?  That Big Bird would become a political hot potato in the home stretch of presidential election season?  Only in America could that big, feathery, loveable symbol of childhood get caught in the crossfire.

There’s no debating it, ever since Big Bird was named as a target for cost-cutting by Romney last week, the yellow guy has never seen this much ink.

It all started when Mitt took the mitts off and ran over poor Jim Lehrer while he was asleep at the moderator chair.  Hard-hearted Mitt told the global audience that he would actually cut PBS, Big Bird and poor Jim if he’s elected the next prez.  (I got very nervous about my Masterpiece Mystery! addiction).  But, hey, folks, that’s at least one cut he’s telling us he’ll make.  When it comes right down to it, Mitt is showing us he can make the tough choices.

So, what did Big Bird do?  He goes on a media tour and appears on SNL with Seth Meyers.  Quite a coup for the bird on the street.

But, now the candidates are flippin’ the bird all over the place.  Obama is now using Big Bird in an Anti-Romney ad and in stump speeches, and Romney countered with none other than the Count to show that 2 can play the same game!!  It’s obvious these guys are playing hardball.

This might sound funny, but Sesame Street is NOT laughing.  They do not want to be seen as endorsing either party and want all Sesame-Street-related ads pulled. The Obama Campaign is thinkin’ about it.

Guess that means Big Bird is down for the Count.

YouTube Generation

YouTube is blowing up and it is no surprise. Anyone can create an account and upload fun videos to gain attention. YouTube is quickly becoming a resource for people and brands to express themselves. There is more video content uploaded to YouTube in a 60 day period than the three major U.S. television networks created in 60 years. That is a lot of content especially for a company that was only founded seven years ago. With so much content being uploaded daily you might be wondering how you make yourself or your brand stand out.

First, identify your target audience. Are you a brand? Who is listening to your message? Once you pin down the identity of your audience you can then choose how you want your YouTube branding to be. Is YouTube a resource to help get your business message out there? If so, then your content should help describe your business and showcase the company culture.

Second, you want to keep your content fresh and innovative. Once you have built an audience you don’t want to lose them by posting irrelevant information and not sticking to your brand identity. The best way to keep an audience engaged is by making your channel personal, posting often and incorporating your channel with your other social media platforms.

Last, ask for feedback from your audience. What do they like that you are posting? What are the video’s with the most views? Another way of asking for feedback is on your other social media sites. Once a video is up you can post a Facebook message saying “Check out our new video. Click LIKE if you want to see more videos like this.” This also helps your audience feel engaged with your channel and helps you gain insight for future videos.

Now that you have all the tools needed to create a successful YouTube channel you can get out there and test the waters! Don’t forget to have fun and for old times’ sake check out the first video ever uploaded to YouTube here. Have fun YouTubing!

My Path to Public Relations

This post is part of a series written by zcomm interns. Be sure to check back each week for their take on the latest in the public relations industry. This week, Hailey discusses what led her to a career in PR.

When I was in high school I came up with a brilliant plan for my future. I was going to become a meteorologist and go by the name of Hailstorm Mayhem. When deciding which colleges to apply to, I specifically researched meteorology programs to make sure I’d pick the school with the best one. Penn State was looking like a good option, so in mid October I drove up to State College to take a tour. It was snowing… in October.

I spent all of five minutes thinking about this potential career path, and then realized that I hate weather. I don’t like the snow unless it gets me out of class or work. I’m terrified of thunderstorms (still am). Rain is the most annoying thing in the world. Humidity is gross. So that was settled. Meteorology was not for me, and neither was a college that gets snow in October. Long story short, that’s how I chose the University of Maryland. And yes, I know it snowed in Maryland Halloween weekend in 2011.

I didn’t want to stray too far from my meteorologist aspirations, so I planned to go to school for broadcast journalism. However, I messed up that plan early on, forgetting to mark it off as my major on my UMD application. It’s a limited enrollment major, so I had to take prerequisites and wait until my junior year to officially declare it as my major.

I was just as inpatient then as I am now, so I just wanted to pick a major. The thought of technically having a major of “undecided” for two years was unsettling, so I chose Communication. The Public Relations track sounded nice, so I went with that. I wasn’t sure if I would stick with the major or not, but I figured I would give it a go.

My first class specific to public relations was News Writing and Reporting for Public Relations Majors. For those of you who went to UMD, it was COMM231 with Professor Toth. For those of you who did not, this class was sometimes referred to as “boot camp.” I looked at it as a type of initiation. If you survived this class with this specific professor, you were in. An overwhelming amount of people dropped the entire major after only the first day of COMM231.

I didn’t enjoy the class, largely because of the teacher, but I was really interested in the content. Apparently I also understood it pretty well. I was asked to be a teacher’s assistant for the class that next semester. After I accepted the position, I knew I would stick with the public relations major.

It was a decision I don’t regret. I’m sure some of my classes would have been easier if I were a general Communication major, but choosing the PR path helped me find my niche. My classes helped me develop a specific set of skills that I actually use in the real world. It’s pretty cool when I have to work on something that mirrors an assignment I completed in school.

Although it seems like just yesterday, it’s been more than a year since I graduated. My education and my experience at numerous internships supports the decision I made years ago to major in communication in the public relations track. It’s solidified my desire to be a public relations professional, even though I can’t go by the name Hailstorm Mayhem.

 

Women dominate PR, while men still hold the higher-level positions

This post is part of a series written by zcomm interns. Be sure to check back each week for their take on the latest in the public relations industry. This week, Hailey talks about public relations being a female-dominated profession.

Photo: archives.gov

Walking into my first public relations course at the University of Maryland, I immediately thought “Wow, where are all the boys?” It was a small class with fewer than 20 people, and only two of them were guys. It struck me as odd.  Like most small classes, we started with awkward ice breakers and everyone had to share their reason for choosing to major in public relations. The two guys both said they wanted to do sports PR.

This trend continued throughout my college career. Although the sports thing turned out to only be a coincidence, my classes were pretty much female-filled.  Some had no men, others had only one, and some had no more than a few.  I never quite figured out why this was the case.

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Happy Birthday Twitter and the Press Release!

This post is part of a series written by zcomm interns. Be sure to check back each week for their take on the latest in the public relations industry. This week, Hailey takes a look back at the history of the press release.

On March 21, Twitter celebrated its sixth birthday. Although this social media tool has become an important part of public relations, we can’t forget about the oldest trick of the trade, the press release. This year marks its 106th birthday, making it an entire century older than Twitter.

Ivy Lee (Photo: ereleases.com)

The first press release was written in 1906 following an Oct. 28 train wreck in Atlantic City, N.J., that killed more than 50 people. To prevent the spread of rumors, Ivy Lee convinced the Pennsylvania Railroad to issue a statement outlining all the facts of the accident.

His written description of the Who, What, Where, When and How was so useful, the New York Times was said to have printed his statement as is. The concept stuck, and the press release has been an integral part of the public relations industry ever since.

During the 106 years that have passed since Lee birthed the press release, it has seen some changes. Thanks to technology, it’s changed for the better.

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What Happens in Vegas?

So, I’m back from Vegas, where I spent the holidays. I won some money at roulette, but lost my hearing at Cirque de Soliel “Love.” I didn’t know they had speakers in the back of each seat. As if the four-ton woofers, tweeters (the old-fashioned kind) and speakers placed around the theater weren’t enough!

For a while Vegas tried to be a “family” retreat – easy on the wallet with low-cost rooms and enough food on the buffet line for even Calista Flockhart to qualify as freight post-meal.

But that didn’t quite work for the Las Vegas tourism folks, so they went back to “naughty.” Ad agency R&R Partners came up with “What Happens Here Stays Here” and then a woman pulled a fast one and trademarked “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas.” What a kerfuffle among the agency, tourism board and copycat copywriter. No matter, the brand slogan is pretty accurate. Whether it’s “stays here” or “stays in Vegas,” there’s lots that should just stay there.

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