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A Client On American Idol?

A client on American Idol? After spending my career in mostly business to business public relations, marketing communications and more recently content marketing for the chemical manufacturing industry, I now have a client who is a very talented singer and songwriter. But that is not the point of the story. The point is to introduce an  extremely bright, talented young person who at the age of 16 was organizing national publicity for a new song. Not a cover of a song by someone else but an original tune. A new song she had not just performed but had helped write. Her name is Mary Desmond. You can read more about her in the release below. The surprise (and frankly source of pride) for me was how I came to know her and what I learned from her.

Mary Desmond with her “golden ticket” to Hollywood Week as part of the farewell season of American Idol.
Mary Desmond with her “golden ticket” to Hollywood Week as part of the farewell season of American Idol.

Last summer I had just started getting serious about consulting on a full-time basis and it was slow going. Anyone who transitions from employee to entrepreneur will tell you that this is not an easy change. To get the ball rolling, I had done several things to introduce the business including press announcements and even some advertising on Google. One afternoon my phone rang. A nice young lady on the other end asked if did press releases? Yes, I do! She described a new song she had co-written with another songwriter and that they were looking for publicity. The release was for their song ‘Lily’ which has a touching story behind it, but we’ll save that for another time.

I wrote the release, put together a media list and went to work. The news was reasonably well received by the entertainment media, and her You Tube hits on the song jumped from a few hundred to over 10,000 in just a couple of days. Noteworthy results  for an original song by accomplished artists, though neither was a household name.

A few days later I spoke to Mary again about her schedule and the possibilities for her to make time for some interviews. She replied, “I have school during that time.” School, of course. I wondered aloud where she went to school, thinking it was probably UCLA, USC or Cal Berkely. “I go to Mission Viejo High in Orange County,” Mary said.

During this time, Mary had paid her bill on time and was easy to work with and understood the value of publicity. That she was a wise beyond her years as a 16-year-old was what was interesting. I do not know what anyone else was doing when they were 16, but organizing public relations campaigns for my career was not on my list. So what can the rest of us learn from this story? The value of focus and determination.

Mary has a single vision and goals for her career. She works hard on achieving those goals every day. While she experiences occasional rejection, she shakes it off and keeps going. Of course, she is talented and has a great family and those things count. But what counts more, in my opinion at least, is just the sheer grit, sticktoitiveness and optimism a girl in southern California has for her future. That is remarkable.

Since then we have had the chance to work on several things together, including work to help benefit the California March of Dimes. Along the way her father asked me to help promote the non-profit “High Hopes Head Injury Program” where he and Mary’s mother both work. They too achieve great results and inspire me as well.

Regardless of how things turn out for Mary on American Idol, my opinion is that young Miss Desmond will be extremely successful. I appreciate the example she sets and hope others will as well. And yes,  a guy who spent most of his adult life doing public relations work for a really big chemical company, now has a client on American Idol. Isn’t that cool!

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Media and Public Relations Introduces New Press Release Writing Service

Media and Public Relations (mediandpublicrelations.com) is introducing a new press release writing service for North America. The service will help those who know they could benefit from a news release but do not have the skills or the time to produce one. images-1

The press release is the best way to communicate news about any type of enterprise to editors, reporters and bloggers who cover an industry, practice, non-profit or charity. Unlike ads, direct mail or blogs, the press release is formatted and written in a no-nonsense way that helps journalists inform their audience about news that will be meaningful to their readers and listeners.

Business writing in general and journalistically styled releases in particular are difficult to produce and then get published. Not everything is newsworthy. Reporters hate it when businesses send them what amounts to commercials in the guise of a news release.

If any information is not right for a release to the news media, the public relations veterans at Media and Public Relations will edit information into a newsworthy format. For those  starting with only a blank sheet of paper and nothing written, no problem. The people at Media and Public Relations can do an  interview over the phone to draft, review and edit a news release in the format and with the content needed. “I’ve got a soft spot for start ups and entrepreneurs,” said owner Harold Nicoll. “I especially like those who have some very cool product or technology or skill that will make lives better, cheaper, faster, and at the same time reward them for their know-how. So many of these folks know a lot about their respective field but nothing about how to market and sell their wares. I can help.”

Release Basics To Get Me Started

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Your Name’ type=’text’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Your Email’ type=’text’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Your Website’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Your Company Name’ type=’text’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Nature Of Your News ‘ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’New Product or Service?’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’New Location?’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Award? ‘ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’New Employee(s)’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’New or an important discovery or breakthrough?’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Is Your News Time Or Date Specific?’ type=’checkbox’/][contact-field label=’Is Your News Confined To A Specific Place Or Geographic Location? ‘ type=’checkbox’/][/contact-form]

Or Contact Me Directly

My e-mail is haroldnicoll@gmail.com and my phone number is 979 292 8026. Or, fill out the form and I will go to work for you. Payment is via Pay Pal. But first things first, fill out the form or call or e-mail me and I will get back to you within a single work day or sooner.

About Media And Public Relations
Harold Nicoll, APR is the owner of Media and Public Relations. He a veteran public relations, marketing communications, content marketing and public affairs expert. He started his career at Hill & Knowlton Public Relations followed by 23 years at The Dow Chemical Company. He is “Accredited to Practice Public Relations” by The Public Relations Society of America. He has a Master of Strategic Public Relations Degree from The George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from The University of Houston.

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Why You Should Advertise On Face Book

Locally targeted ads on Facebook are an excellent value for new and/or local business.
Locally targeted ads on Facebook are an excellent value for new and/or local business.

There are more and more small businesses with Face Book pages and others still who join or start interest groups with the idea that these will help them promote their trade. I do not think Face Book is a good venue for corporate business or for those involved in business to business sales. On the other hand if you own a small or just starting put brick and mortar store, or professional practice then Face Book is ideal. Setting up a page on Face Book is free and easy and that is good. But getting it and you in front of potential customers will require some advertising. While not “free” it is very reasonable and a good value, in my experience.

Local Focus

If you own a business with customers that come to you based in some part on proximity, then here you go. Data supports the use of location-based advertising. Gannett’s G/O Digital released a recent survey and found that 60 percent of users viewed a local business’s Facebook page before visiting the business itself. Looking at the reviews on the page was also part of this process. According to a research study from Google, 32 percent of customers visited a store or made a purchase after viewing a location-based ad. Additionally, 19 percent of those customer visits or purchases were unplanned. As far as I know neither Gannett or Google have any direct financial stake here.

Face Book For Local Business

Face Book now has the capabilities that will allow the local merchant the ability to target his or her ads to people located near by. Face Book also allows advertisers the ability to target potential customers by different demographics. Face Book calls these “local awareness ads”.

These ads allow you, the advertiser, to target people who live in your area or even recently paid a visit. Previously the only way to target people on Face Book was via zip code. Anyone with a little experience in direct mail advertising knows this is not efficient. For example, if you owned an auto repair shop there are plenty of people who live in your zip code who could benefit from your service, but most will not. In that zip code are people who do not drive, do not own cars, lease vehicles, have company cars etc. And yes of course, the new local awareness ad targets people in your area now, whether visiting or living there. But wait, there’s more!

You can target your ads based on age, marital status, education, interests and zip code. Most people who own cars and need them repaired fit into a certain demographic category. And if you do not know exactly who those people are, make your ad choices based on the customers you already have. So if most of the people who come to you shop own vehicles that are less than 4 years old and were imported from Germany, bring children with them, wear gear from a university but are clearly too old to be students you can assign them the following on Face Book:

  • income greater than $100,000.00
  • married
  • age 30 – 45
  • college education
  • zip code

Face Book will take that information and point your ad at others on Face Book who fit that profile. There are other options as well. You can assign your ad to an event, like a concert, parade or other special happening. This function can also be linked to the web site that sells tickets for those said events. More often though, the ad needs to point back to your web site where you offer some kind of value added information, coupon or other special offer. This will drive more traffic to your web site, which is almost always the best place to send a prospect.

Costs

The cost of ads is based on a few things. Broadly, the amount of time you want it to run and the budget you assign to it. Like Google Adwords, you can set the amount of money you are willing/able to spend and keep it to that. For the special event option, charges can also come based on the number of click-throughs, again just like Adwords.

Another plus is the reporting feature. Face Book will tally the reach, clicks and expense for all of the above. On top of everything it is really easy. If you can post a photo on Face Book, you can set up advertising. I do not mind sharing with you that I have advertised for clients and causes on Face Book with results that were very worthwhile. I hope you also have success with this channel to your prospective customers.

 

 

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Non-Computer People’s Ten Additional SEO Steps

Technical shit happens.
SEO is evolving and the bigger your site, the more work you will have to do to make sure that search engines can find you.

Non-Computer People’s Ten Additional SEO Steps. No posting I’ve done got the reaction that my “SEO for Non-Computer People” did. So I thought give the people what they want, more SEO. While I’m not a web or computer beginner by any stretch, I am also not an expert by any stretch either. More often than not its both trial and error that help me stumble forward with new web, software or hardware applications. SEO was different, at least for me. It was not intuitive, there were no patterns to copy, and since I work alone, no one to ask.

Throw money at the problem? Sure. I was contacted by plenty of people who promised to get me on the front page of Google, but that sounded unrealistic. I was born at night but not last night. So when I decided to get serious about blogging and consulting it was time to learn more about this topic.

Why does this matter so much? Because in an era when so many of us “transition” from good jobs at nice companies to single practitioner status we have to be able to compete with others who do know how to do this. And since so many of us make this transition after we turned 50, we did not grow up learning and doing the way younger people did. (Was that transition after the age of 50 for so many of us just a coincidence?)

  1. Will Google find my content if I do not submit my site to Google? Google says they will, but I think you should submit it to them anyway and here is why. My experience is that unless you do submit your site to Google you will not be able to use Google analytics. Since Google is the 800 pound gorilla on line, follow their directions. If you are using Word Press, there is a Google Analytics capability on your dashboard. Go there and it will ask you to paste a line of code into it. To get that line of code you need to go to Google Analytics, set up your account and enter the information for your web site. To do that, you will have to have submitte your site to Google. Full confession, this took me hours to sort out. But once I did, it was learned forever.
  2. What is “robot.txt” file and why should you care. According to Google Webmaster, a robot.txt is “a file at the root of your site that indicates those parts of your site you don’t want accessed by search engine crawlers. The file uses the Robots Exclusion Standard, which is a protocol with a small set of commands that can be used to indicate access to your site by section and by specific kinds of web crawlers (such as mobile crawlers vs desktop crawlers).” So in other words, if you have something on your site that you do not want seen, use this function. Google also has a way for you to test which URLs Google can and cannot access on your website, try using the txt Tester. Of course you will have to register.
  3. Links or content? The landscape of SEO has changed. I read that link and key word building were once a very important part of SEO. Accordingly, on line marketers were investing in that. But now, linking is not the numbers game it once was. Yes, you should include links that are meaningful to your content in your posts and articles. But if you have only the resources to focus on links or content, focus on content.
  4. Meta tags, and meta key words? Before the changes in process by Google, web programmers could jam a bunch of keywords onto to a site and trick the search engine into ranking it higher than it actually warranted. That will not work any more. So what does matter for META?
  5. META descriptions. META descriptions do not impact where your site is listed or ranked, but they do influence people searching for information. The META description is the opportunity to make your site stand out. If you are going to invest your time in SEO for your sitework on the META description.
  6. But I hate this, shouldn’t I just hire someone? You can hire someone who is technically adept but will he (yes it will be a “he”) know your topic like you? Probably not. My opinion is that with any media content site, do the content first. As fast as you are writing about and sharing your expertise, the wizards at Google are figuring out ways to make the SEO process better. And by better I mean a fair system of ranking based on what is there and not based on clever programming designed to game the system.
  7. Key word optimization is king/queen of SEO. Key words are important, no doubt. But like I said earlier, stuffing keywords onto your site will no longer do. Instead of counting and ranking sites by the number of words that shows up, Google is learning how to understand the intent behind those words, ergo, content.
  8. So put your key words in your headline. Write your headline with the keywords in it that are relevant to your content. Google hates it when you try to trick it and will actually punish those who try to cheat the system. It’s not nice to fool mother nature, but far worse to mess with Google. Speaking for myself, I am not qualified to try and game the people at Google. Sincere authorship of something you want to share that will help your fellow citizens is the best way forward for all of us.
  9. Present the most important concepts first. The people you are really working to optimize the site for are the readers. Like we say in journalism, don’t bury the lead. Put your best ideas first.
  10. Please don’t say it’s easy or that I missed something obvious. If it was obvious, I would have listed it. No one was born knowing this. But in the era of outsourced workers who have to compete for work on line, getting your head around the how to’s of some basic SEO skills is a good idea.
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Easy WordPress SEO For Non Computer People

If you are like me you want to be able to use your blog and/or web presence to promote yourself, your products and services. The only challenge is that you do not have any background or experience with computers, writing code or anything technical to accomplish this. Yes, you can type and send e-mail and post on Face Book but that’s pretty much it. You can spell “SEO” which is short for Search Engine Optimization, and you know that whatever it is you need some. Welcome to my world.

SEO tactics even people who are not computer programmers can do.
SEO tactics even people who are not computer programmers can do.

The goal for optimizing your blog is to make it stand out or at least easy to find. That is what SEO does and why it is important.

Since I use WordPress like over 50 million other people, this article is directed for us. I have read that WordPress is reasonably well optimized but there are still some things that a novice can do.

  1. Keep posting. Writing and posting something interesting and unique as often as you are able to is the best way to get noticed.
  2. Use more images. I am not very good at this, particularly since there are so few images that help communicate “blogging” or “marketing”. But if your blog is about horses, plumbing or go-carts you have a better or at least more reasonable chance of taking or finding good photos.
  3. Give your photos a good name. And by photos I mean image files. Google uses images to calculate relevance. So if your photo is of a red go-cart, name the file “red go cart”.
  4. Exchange backlinks. Backlinks are also known as incoming links, inlinks or inward links. The number of inbound links is significant as it signals how important or popular your site it. Avoid the temptation to use “linkspam”, just putting links to your site everywhere regardless of the context. It’s not the way to attract the right audience. Link farms are another scheme for artificially boosting SEO and page ranks. As programmers become better at seeing which links are the most relevant, the likelihood that you will be punished or even banned by the search engines increases. Honesty is the best policy and hard work is its own reward. You will be rewarded by working hard to write and post something new every day or more if you are able.
  5. Use short permalinks and keywords. A permalink is the URL address for individual posts in your blog. The first 4 words in a link are the ones that are most important. So if your website address is http://wordpress.yourname/websitename/host/112, etc. shorten it. The address for this blog is mediandpublicrelations.com. Simple is good.
  6. Highlight important words, titles and subtitles of an article or important sentences. Use the <strong> command too, but don’t overdue it.
  7. Avoid the use of Flash. It is like invisible ink to search engines.
  8. Plug Ins. Say hello to easy. Use one of the dozens that WordPress makes available like Yoast. There are others you can buy. I’m going to try out 1clickwpseo and see what it does. I will let you know.

Content is king and queen. There are over 200 search criteria for Google alone including things like how old your site it, meta description and use of tags, how active your blog or site is, etc. Follow the instructions o WordPress and get the most out of what is already available and don’t sweat it too much or grow impatient and try “black hat” shortcuts. Keep writing, podcasting and posting. The audience will find you and so will all the Googlebots