How to master the art of following up with journalists  

As a rule of thumb: if a journalist is interested in your story, he or she will likely respond immediately. So, if you haven’t heard back it’s probably because your pitch note didn’t make the cut.

Having said that, it’s also important to remember that reporters are a notoriously busy lot and often don’t have the time to read every email they receive. So, how do you catch their attention?

Following up after sending a press release or pitch note can feel a little awkward, but it’s a necessary part of the job – and if done right can help to make your placement happen. Here are some tips to do it in a tactful and non-intrusive manner:

Say something original

A journalist may have inadvertently deleted your email or simply chosen to ignore it – either way it is important that your follow up focus on conveying information that wasn’t in the original pitch. Read the reporter’s last few articles to see what he or she is currently tracking and then relate the information in the press release to relevant and related trends.

Know your client

Pitching is one thing, but answering questions from journalists as they decide whether or not your client is worth covering is another. You’ve got to know your client inside-out. The details that matter may vary depending on the publication you’re speaking to, but keeping tabs on your client’s business model, revenue (if that’s public), growth and leadership team will help you and your pitch stand out.

Personalise your pitch

Lack of personalisation is one the biggest reasons pitches get declined. For one, it shows you haven’t done your homework, but more importantly it’s downright rude. Journalists receive dozens of emails a day – so make their lives easier by sharing stories that are relevant to their sectors. Take the time to get to know journalists, the beats they cover, and the stories they track.

Don’t make multiple calls

While twiddling your thumbs waiting for a response, resist the urge to make multiple phone calls, spam reporters’ inboxes, or worse, reach them on social media. Instead, let some time pass (ideally 2-3 days) – and then call them on the phone to present your case and determine their interest in the opportunity.

Pick a good time

Research shows that journalists prefer to be pitched to between 9 am and 11 am because that’s the best time for them to figure out what they’re going to write that day and present it at editor meetings, which typically happen after 11 am.  And remember, you’re not the only one under pressure to deliver a story!

Looking for some inspiration for your next pitch? Drop a message to [email protected] 

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Google and Facebook are changing the game for PR

It’s hard to imagine doing PR in a world without Google and Facebook. Headlines have to be snappy and featured photos must be ‘thumb-stop worthy’, while the copy needs strategically chosen keywords to rank higher on search. Most importantly, editors are always looking for a new tech PR story to keep their sites timely with engaging content.

Here’s a quick overview of how PR is changing in 2017 – the year Google and Facebook took 20% of global ad revenues:

Competitiveness among publications

The only constant in the world of news has always been change, as websites and magazines are battling for the reader’s attention. Traditional hard news is in decline, while soft news pulls people in with bite-sized content, punchy headlines and provocative images. The difference in 2017 is the algorithm, which now cares about how much time readers spend on a page. The more and the longer readers stay, the higher the page will get ranked on search. As a result, publishers are now looking for meatier content that is still highly engaging.

The upside is that good content is being rewarded more. The downside is that there will be even more content for the reader and the media space becomes even more competitive. We need to create even more and better content, as otherwise, editors will shoot it down faster than a North Korean missile is trying to fly across the Pacific.

PR measurement

For many years now, PR has been moving from a nebulous, immeasurable territory to something that needs to be justified to the management. Gone are the days of archaic metrics like AVE (advertising value equivalent). As publications and journalists are now sharing their stories across traceable social media channels, campaign measurement is no longer estimated by just pickups. Everything can be measured in comments, shares and likes.

Crisis prevention

A scandal or a spokesperson’s misjudgement can spread like wildfire. Just remember how Kellyanne Conway’s ‘alternative facts’ created an outcry around the world. The real-time nature of social media makes a capable PR team a necessity. The only thing better than a curing the crisis is prevention. A brand’s sentiment is subject to many factors outside their business, but good PR is still key to maintaining timely, appropriate and on-brand responses.

The speed of the news

Facebook’s feed is real-time and Google updates take mere seconds. If something catches fire, the whole forest burns. The difference now is that search and social will quickly blow a trending topic. The recent WannaCrypt incidence, for example, was instantly trending, generating four million search results in a few days. Once a topic is hot, everybody wants a piece of it. Jumping into the media cycle, there’s a higher chance content will be searched for and appear in Google’s Trending Topics sections or will trend on Facebook. As news outlets want to break more hot stories, brands have a chance to create tremendous traction.

Following up to maintain engagement, building towards the next campaign and measuring the results are always key. But given the trend towards shorter, softer and more timely stories, PR needs to change with the way the news move. It’s no longer about getting into a mainstream newspaper and giving yourself a pat on the back.

Need help with your PR campaign? Drop us a message at [email protected]

4 tips on creating news out of thin air

Come on, a reader knows when you’re out of ideas. Every company goes through a phase where there is simply nothing news-worthy to announce, no new products to launch, and no new events to promote – and that’s ok so don’t panic.

It takes lots of resources and large amounts of money to execute new brand initiatives, and many companies simply can’t keep the momentum going for 365 days straight. In saying that, it is important to stay active and current. In today information age, consumers are discovering and taking in so much content every day and can easily forget about you if you’re active enough or relevant to them.  

So how exactly can you keep the fountain of content and news flowing all year around?

Leverage on trending topics

Stay current by looking out for trending topics and find ways to relate them to your business.

IKEA Singapore were very quick to leverage on the Brangelina split. They released this creative Facebook advert on the day the world heard the news. It’s both clever and creative, don’t you think?

IKEA-Brangelina

 

Got data?

If your company is lucky enough to have collected any customer or industry data, now is the time to use it. Better still, if you can link it to a popular event – such as the F1, the Olympics, Easter, Christmas, or even a seasonal change – this will help drive interest and engagement. If you don’t have your own data, you can always create something informative and useful using credible third-party research sources which you can find on the internet.

HOT TIP: Set up a spreadsheet, list out all the relevant events for the year ahead and brainstorm creative brand ideas around these events.

Get your creative juices flowing

Coca-Cola is known for creating great interactive ads that are timely and always pull on people’s heartstrings. They don’t always have a new product to promote, so instead they come up with different interactive initiatives that engage consumers. It has become their way to stay at the forefront of mind even though the product has been around since 1886.

Check out Coke’s First day of College interactive ad.

Share relevant content

You don’t always have to produce your own content. With the help of the internet and different social media platforms, search for articles, videos, blogs, or infographics that are relevant to your business. It’s a good way to keep your pages alive and drive engagement.

Need help creating some newsworthy content? Get in touch with us at [email protected]

 

Up your PR game with data

There are many ways to pitch and attain news coverage for your brand, from launch announcements, funding announcements, acquisition announcements to profile features. But unless you have an extremely strong story angle or a PR team behind you, it can be hard for journalists to pay attention to your big news.

Luckily for us, the use of data, trends and statistics is another increasingly popular storytelling tool. These figures are capable of turning observations into facts, and on a larger scale, impact industry or economic movements as people watch the news closely to make strategic business decisions.

Collecting data is a great start, but it is only half the job done. How you interpret and package the data is what can essentially land you the desired coverage.

Here are 5 reasons why you should be incorporating data into your media pitches:

1. Data doesn’t lie

The media thrive on interesting, accurate stories. Without credibility, they lose value, readership and profitability.

Data today can be easily doctored to serve an organisation’s agenda or to fit story angles, but don’t forget journalists have access to multiple data sources. This means they can easily fact check the accuracy of your story, especially when they notice a huge discrepancy.

For greater transparency, include vital information such as your data research sample size, data collection methods and the period of research. All these factors play a part to the overall credibility of your data.

2. Data makes stories easier to understand

Between simply stating the economy is slow, or telling people how slowly the economy is growing backed by GDP figures, which one would you report as a journalist?

3. Journalists trust data more than gut feelings

A good press release is not without a quote from your company’s spokesperson. But these quotes more often than not solely rely on the opinion of the spokesperson.

Incorporating data into quotes can substantially strengthen and build credibility around your brand and spokesperson.

4. Data doesn’t beat about the bush

Data-led news conveys a stronger story. When sharing data with the media, we always ensure it’s easy to digest. Use imagery such as infographics, visualisations, graphs or charts to present your story.

Journalists can easily pick out what they need, which becomes extremely helpful when they are pressed for time.

5. It’s all about the baby steps

While journalists may not always run your data as a main story on its own, they may use it as a reference point to a larger story. So don’t worry if your research is not published today, just keep in touch with the journalist and see if they can use it in a upcoming story.

Need help transforming your next announcement? Get in touch with us at [email protected].

 

How I got schooled by a 16 year old while trying to do my job

I thought the times of me being put on the spot at meetings were over. I’ve had practice of dealing with different personalities at many different meetings before, both professional and personal. We all have that one difficult friend or client that deserves an honest piece of your advice.

But what I wasn’t prepared for, was a simple, innocent question by a 16-year-old high schooler at a business meeting. I was there to discuss about a social awareness campaign that involved charity work by students from different secondary schools. They were packing meals for the needy.

A client was sponsoring the initiative so we had to step in and help out with some PR. Our conversation went something like this:

Me, overzealous: “I think this is a great media opportunity, maybe we can discuss some great story angles and objectives about the campaign to pitch to the media.”

Student, sassy: “Well, the objective is to stop world hunger and feed hungry people, who are dying everyday from starvation.”

That, I did not expect. It was a legitimate argument, because shouldn’t world hunger be enough of a reason for media to care and write about?

I wasn’t angry, nor did I blame the student. The poor guy was sincerely puzzled and confused.

I calmly gathered my thoughts and realised that it was time to take a step back, and bring it back to the basics. As PR professionals, we need to help our clients understand what it takes for us to do our job properly, while helping to achieve their goals.

So what is it that we do exactly? Here is a simple break down:

  1. Angles (Gathering of information)

We need as much information as possible. With this information, we will pick out the most important angles we can use for the press release. Tell us about the who, the why, the what, the when and the how – we’re all ears.

Stopping world hunger is a legit reason, but what sets Stop Hunger Now apart from Oxfam, Red Cross, or The Salvation Army, who are all sharing the objective of feeding the needy?

  1. Press release (Storytelling)

We help tell the story about your brand, and why it is worth writing about in the media. Yeah sure, we’ll add a bit of fluff in there – but most importantly we only write about the facts, nothing in there is made up or a lie.

  1. Media pitching (Persuasion)

Journalists are very busy people, they get tons of emails and sometimes our emails get buried under piles of other releases. This is when we pick up the phone, and have some one-on-one time with a specific journalist.

It can get quite nerve wracking, speaking to someone unfamiliar on the phone and trying to pitch an idea to them. This, thankfully, only gets better with practice. Once you know the journalists, their style and personality, you’ll gain confidence in persuading and become more eloquent in trying to deliver your message.    

     4. Media coverage (Public opinion)

This is what it’s all about! Getting your story published and hearing people talk about your brand can be a great feeling. People read the news, and we always aim for a positive story. This plays an important part in informing and swaying public opinion, about the good and bad of your company.

We help educate about your brand and to support it. Media coverage is one of the best and foolproof ways to do this.

If you need help with your PR campaign, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

 

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet To Building A Powerful Media List

Behind every published news article, is a compelling media story and a PR pro’s powerful stash of press contacts. This stash comes in the form of a targeted list, consisting of the contact details of new editors and journalists.

Pulling a new list together for your business is no easy feat, and can take hours on end. With the availability of media database programmes, this task’s been made much simpler. These programmes however, often involve hefty fees.

To those who are feeling the pinch of investing in such programmes, this cheat sheet is made just for you.

Who do I want to read my news?

Building your own media target list is not rocket science, but it does require some thought. For starters, consider who your audience is, and the most relevant media outlets to best reach out to them.

Besides naming these publications, break the publications down into their individual sections – think the business section of a local newspaper, or the food section of a magazine. This will effectively narrow down the scope of your search, saving you a great deal of time.

Look into major newspapers and relevant magazines

Luckily for us, most newspaper journalists have their email addresses embedded alongside their news stories. If a writer touches on a topic or story you consider to be relevant for your business, take his or her email address down.

For the magazines, check out the foreword section. It will give you a quick overview of the magazine’s editorial team and the details of the various magazine section editors.

With this, you are well on your first step to building your targeted media list.

Get online and social

If you can’t seem to locate a particular journalist’s contact details within the print publications, tapping into the online counterparts of the news outlets can be helpful. If not, move on over to the journalist’s social media pages such as LinkedIn, Twitter or even blogs.

Along the way, you will probably even learn much more about the journalist – everything from their high school, the event they have just attended and a collection of past stories they’ve covered. This knowledge can come in handy as talking points when you are in touch with the journalist.

‘Make up’ the journalists’ email

If you pay enough attention to the email addresses of journalists from the same publication, you may begin to notice how the make up of their emails remain consistent across the board.

When necessary, play around with the journalist’s first and last name to try and “guess” his email address in context of the others in the same publication. If you have the journalist’s name right, chances are, you will get the email right as well.

For example: A journalist’s email in a certain publication could look something like [email protected], combining the journalist’s first and last name to create the email address.

Suppose you’re seeking the email of another journalist within the same publication or group, your guess would then reflect the above.

If still you still can’t locate a journalist…

Simply pick up the phone and get in touch with the editorial department of the various media outlet. When on the line, be clear with the purpose of your call and whom exactly you are after.

I’m sure these friendly folks will be more than glad to assist you.

Retain the list, keep it up-to-date

Getting your list ready is one of the stepping-stones to getting the word out about your business, but the work does not end there.

Due to the nature of the industry, journalists move around, and they do it fast. As such, you will need to be on top of these movements, ensuring that your media lists are always updated with the freshest press contacts, or risk having your news stories fall off the face of the earth.

Repeat the steps above over and again – including new contacts when you spot them, and removing contacts when their emails stop working.

Need assistance on maximising the reach of your press materials? Get in touch with us directly at [email protected].

 

Pitching perfect: 6 tips PR pros should know before picking up the phone

Media pitching takes tact and research. It’s a means to much of what the public sees today, whether it’s a published news story, a successful media event or the general hype surrounding a brand or product.

Securing a media placement can be the best feeling in the world, but here’s what happens along the way that no one will tell you about:

Journalists want to know how you can help them

Not the other way around. When pitching a story make sure you tell the journalist how your product or service can benefit their readers. With multiple editorial deadlines looming above their heads, journalists are no-nonsense individuals.

To make things easier for both of you, avoid engaging in too much small talk when you’re on the phone. Cut to the chase on what you have to offer.

Don’t pitch between 9 and 11am

You’ve got a piece of news you’re so excited about and you just want to pitch it over the phone first thing in the morning. But guess what? The newsrooms are the busiest in the morning, as editors and journalists come together and work hard to gather all the news to be published or broadcasted.

This also means that no one’s going to be available to pick up your call – for a couple of hours at least.

The trick to get around this is to drop a pitch email early enough in the morning, so journalists can pick the story up and bring it into the newsroom. Who knows this could even mean your story gets picked up without much pitching or following up!

Skip the pitch on a Friday

Like you and I, journalists wrap up for their week on Fridays, getting themselves ready to wind down for the weekend. Even if it’s just a pitch email, a seasoned PR pro will know to stay clear of Fridays.

Unless it’s breaking news, the probability of journalists looking into your pitch is almost non-existent. By Monday, your pitch would have been drowned out by hundreds of other fresh pitches for the week.

Pitch at your own risk!

A friend on the inside helps

Cultivating a healthy friendship with a member of the media can help with achieving far greater results in a shorter amount of time – think picking up the phone and sharing a story with a friend.

When you’ve established that relationship, your media friend will be more open about sharing with you the reasons your pitch wasn’t picked up, or even what they’re looking for to supplement their stories.

Do however be mindful that not every journalist is comfortable or open to becoming your best buddy. Respect their boundaries when the time comes and remain professional.

Tailor your pitches like an Armani suit

Before picking up the phone, write down the name of the journalist, their title, their beat, the publication, and your angle.

The secret formula to landing a news story is to never get started without any prior research about whom you’re calling. By research, I mean reading up about the journalist you’re pitching to, learning more about what they write about, and what they’ve just written about.

Grow thicker skin

Rejection can be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s nothing personal. There are a number of reasons why you got turned down: The angle doesn’t fit with the editorial brand or audience, it had already been covered, or there is just no sellable angle.

At the end of the day, this will all mould you into the toughest PR pro who can remain unfazed in face of rejection. Don’t be dejected, pick up the phone and keep dialing.

Need advice on pitching your next big story? CTA desingns (1)-01

Get in touch with us at [email protected] for help with your next pitch!

How to get the media to attend your event

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From weddings to birthdays, the presence of quality guests can really make or break your event. Sometimes the more the merrier, other times… not so much.

Just like personal celebratory occasions, when it comes to corporate events, product launches or press conferences, there are some people you will most certainly want to attend – the media!

Media presence is an important element of any event; they provide leverage to the awareness and purpose of what you, or your business, is doing.

Journalists, radio hosts, bloggers and TV presenters are very influential. Consumers (aka your potential customers) follow their news and respect their opinions, and inviting relevant, quality media to your event can do so much for your brand.

But anyone who has attempted to contact media themselves will know they are a fickle bunch. A journalist’s main objective is to cover news that is relevant to their target audience. Grabbing their attention amid a sea of news and events is no easy feat, and personal relationships go a long way. Not to mention they can work long, erratic hours, pounding away on their keyboards to constantly meet deadlines.

It can be a challenge to entice the media to an event, but challenges are good!  Contrary to popular belief, there’s more than promises of free booze and food you can offer to grab their attention (although, we won’t lie, that definitely helps!)

Make them an offer they can’t refuse

Journalists receive many invites every day about everything – food tastings, new product launches, store openings, movie premieres, and press conferences. What sets your invitation or event apart? Do you have a special guest speaker flying in? Is he or she an outstanding thought leader who will be sharing valuable insights about the industry, or local trends?

Journalists need an angle – i.e. a reason your event matters to their audience. Is your product the first of its kind in your market? Are you releasing a new white paper or piece of research of interest to their market?

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Make your invite enticing by targeting it to them. Depending on your budget, you can even mail them a physical and specially designed invite. Get creative with the exclusivity, and make it an event that even you wouldn’t refuse.

Invite the right crowd

Do a little research on your media guests and ensure their relevance. It might seem impressive to get the senior current affairs correspondent along, but how relevant are they for a food tasting? Instead, you want to get in touch with the food reviewer or editor.

This is an important but often-neglected process for novices. It is pretty unassuming, but building up relevant media lists takes patience, time and effort.

Timing is everything

Besides events, writers often have to struggle with constant looming deadlines – so send your invitation at least two weeks in advance. If you don’t hear from them in a few days, follow up with a phone call. 

Send out an email reminder with the date, time, dress code, and map of the venue a few days leading up to event – they will appreciate the gesture and it will reappear on their radar in case they have forgotten about the event.  

Successful events with the media take practice and time, and forging sincere relationships with journalists definitely helps. They will be more compelled to RSVP and attend an event with a familiar face. 

Spoil them

If you do get media to attend your event, it’s okay to be excited about it. Now, don’t waste the opportunity. 

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Make sure you give them attention (but not too much – no one likes to be hovered over). Keep them happy, make sure they have all the information they need, and let them know they can come to you if they have any questions. If you make them feel welcome and special, they’re more likely to remember you the next time you get in touch.

If you would like to know more about coordinating or successfully engaging media for an upcoming event or launch, get in touch at [email protected]

Image credit: Eugenio Marongiu / Shutterstock.com

 

6 leadership lessons from Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

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Like most of the world, I was glued to the TV on Sunday morning for the “Fight of the Century” between crowd-pleaser Manny Pacquiao and undefeated bad boy Floyd Mayweather. And, like most of the spectators dotted along Boat Quay in Singapore and across the globe, I was in Pacquiao’s corner. Everyone likes an underdog story.

But, alas, it was not to be. Despite Pacquiao being the favourite it was pretty much universally accepted that Mayweather would remain the champion, and we’d all go home cursing the powers that be for not giving us our Disney ending.

However, despite the disappointment there were a few lessons that came out of Fight Night, particularly around leadership, inspiring others and terrible singing.

1. You can be admired, but not loved

I wonder what it feels like to succeed in your profession of choice, and get booed while you do it? As the cameras focused on Mayweather’s face as he stood atop the ring, expecting to be adored by his fans for taking the title (again), I am certain he looked hurt and confused. “Why don’t people like me?” I imagined him asking himself in that moment, forgetting (as many people have) about his appalling record as a woman beater.  

Meanwhile, Pacquiao lost and is universally loved, proving that it’s not the destination you reach but the journey you take that wins people’s hearts.

2. If money is your main motivator, you’ll probably be rich

I hate to admit it, but it’s so often true that it can’t be ignored. The people who reach the top of their game, in whatever field, tend to do it by pushing aside all other factors except the desire for money. The wealthiest people in the world didn’t get there by being nice (necessarily) and they have more likely than not stepped over people, hurt feelings, burnt relationships and more in their ascent. Floyd “Money” Mayweather is a true example of this. Just check out his instagram.

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3. You need to believe in yourself

In Mayweather’s 19-year boxing career, he has spent 18 of them as world champion. He was constantly told by people in the early days (his father included) that he wouldn’t amount to anything, yet he persevered. Whether you like him or not, you cannot deny his determination to succeed, with an unwaveringly arrogant belief in himself that he is “The Best Ever”. 

4. You need to have a strategy to succeed

Mayweather’s win was no surprise. Even Pacquiao’s trainer said the Filipino would have to fight the perfect fight in order to beat Mayweather. Why? Because Mayweather is a strategist, and an incredibly good one at that.

He is an efficient fighter, throwing only the punches when needed. He knows he is phenomenally accurate, and all he has to do is spend a few rounds figuring out Pacquiao’s combinations and patterns before slipping in his lightning fast jabs when he’d calculated exactly what he needed to do. It didn’t take long. When the crowd erupted because Pacquiao pinned him against the ring a couple of times, Mayweather simply shook his head and spun away. He was expecting this, and it was part of his strategy. Everything about Mayweather’s approach was calculated and planned – and it worked.

5. Work with a team, stay grounded and remember it’s not all about you

Part of what makes Pacquiao so popular is his unwavering spirit and belief that greatness cannot be achieved alone. Being a leader – a true leader – is about inspiring other people enough that they want to follow your example. When Manny throws punches, you know it’s not about money or the title, it’s about doing something he loves for the team who works so hard with him and for his people.

6. Don’t fear failure or let it stop you

Pacquiao lost, but he is a winner in the eyes of millions. From an entrepreneurial point of view, his determination, focus and desire to get up and keep fighting is admirable, and an excellent lesson in business and leadership.

It is inevitable that you will fail at something, or many things, in the course of your life and professional career, but it’s not the failure that matters – it’s how you handle the outcome and what you do next that gets people’s attention, and keeps you at the forefront.

BONUS LESSON: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I’m looking at you, Jamie Foxx.

Jamie, I like you. You were transcending in the Ray Charles biopic and we all know you’ve got an impressive set of pipes on you. But please, don’t ever warble your way through “The Star Spangled Banner” again.

 

“Mayweather Vs. Pacquiao Press Conference” by Prize Fights.com is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 



8 tricks to write a viral headline

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Before you pen your next blog post, stop what you’re doing and read these writing tips for more clickable and shareable content.

It’s fairly easy to argue that the headline is more important than the article. It’s not always true, of course, but when most people only read about 50% of your content, drawing them in with a strong, attention-grabbing headline is a must.

It’s easy to leave the headline as an afterthought, but it’s what gets you noticed. Amid millions of articles, tips, advice and blog posts out there, you need to stand out and get in front of your audience in an interesting, unique and confronting way.

But the art of the headline is a difficult one to master, and it often takes even experienced writers years to understand how to construct one effectively. To help you in your quest for excellent content, we’ve got a few headline tips to get you started.   

1. Keep the headline to 6 words

Your audience is lazy. They like to have loads of content available to them, but they can’t be bothered actually reading all of it. It’s reason the inverted pyramid exists in news writing, and why a former editor told me to “write as though you are targeting a bunch of fidgeting 12-year-olds, rather than educated adults”.

You want to draw people in as fast as possible, and a succinct headline is the best way to do that. Keeping it to six words isn’t a hard and fast rule (sometimes longer headlines can work in your favour, depending on the content and platform you are writing for) but it’s a decent guideline to make sure you don’t waffle on.

2. Tap into your audience’s insecurities

Don’t feel bad about this – the news media has been doing it for decades. For some reason, the human race responds better to negativity. I’m not sure whether it’s because we like being miserable or because we have a morbid fascination with things that are bad and wrong (or both.) All I know is that it works.

For example, these are taken from a mix of the BBC and CNN’s homepages this morning:

Hiring? Avoid the friend zone
Google doesn’t care about your alma mater
China’s growth set to be slowest since ‘09
The worst place on earth

Negative headlines work best (i.e. get more clicks) when they inform and alert. Think about how you can use words like “no”, “stop”, “can’t” and “without” in your headlines or sub-headlines for added impact.

3. Track keywords

Let’s all take a moment to praise the development of analytics!

With the ability to track and follow the traffic your articles are generating, it’s very easy nowadays to pinpoint (over time) the types of articles and headlines that work well for you, and the ones that don’t.

At a previous job, we worked out pretty quickly that our audience liked to read about money; headlines with the keywords “money”, “salary”, “cash” and “pay” got significantly more clickthroughs.

It highly depends on your audience. If you’re writing for parents and mothers, words like “baby” and “childcare” might be some of your top keywords, while for a restaurant words like “menu” or “food” could be gold.

4. Make sure the headline matches the article

It’s easy to get caught up in writing the most attention-grabbing headline, only to end up with something that is actually misleading and over-inflated.

If you’ve managed to pull someone in to click on your article, don’t send them running and rolling their eyes when they realise they’ve been duped by clickbait. I personally dislike it when an article claims to have 7 unbelievable ways to [insert promise here] – especially when the tips are actually quite believable. Useful? Yes. Unbelievable? No.

The same applies for amazing” and incredible”. Unless it really is amazing, try to be a bit more creative.

5. Use numbers

99 things to do in New Zealand works so much better than Ninety-nine things to do in New Zealand.

Using a number is easier on the eye, and it stands out from the rest of the sentence. As we’ve already established, people are lazy – they want to read the most interesting articles in the most efficient way possible. Numbers and lists will do this for them.

6. Use a trigger word

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What you need to know to write the perfect blog

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Why you should seriously consider content marketing
Where to go for the best content marketing tips

The trigger words are a must for viral content. People read blogs not only to look for information, but to find answers to questions they didn’t even know they needed answers to.

Using the ‘how, what, when where, why’ method indicates immediately to a reader that they are likely to learn something by clicking on your post.

7. To question or not to question?

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The question headline can be incredibly effective when targeted at the right audience you know are looking for answers. It can sometimes sound a bit advertorial, but the power of the question should not be undermined.

8. Create a formula that works for you

I once read a formula for the perfect headline which went something like:

Number/trigger word + interesting adjective + keyword = PERFECT HEADLINE

So, say you want to write about how to peel an orange (because, why wouldn’t you?) start by thinking about the formula. Instead of “How to peel an orange” you might end up with:

12 effortless ways to peel an orange

or

How to peel an orange in less than 30 seconds

or (in question form)

Is your orange peeling technique out of date?

It can often add an extra impact to include an assurance or guarantee in your headline. It could be to do with time (hence the “in less than 30 seconds” in this example) or something more substantial like, “How to peel an orange like a professional chef”.

Go forth and be viral! But if you need some help crafting, planning and putting a strategy around your content to drive business leads, feel free to get in touch with Rebecca at [email protected] 

Content marketing checklist

Mutant Communications Set to Expand with Backing from Industry Leader

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Acclaimed entrepreneur Harry Dewhirst invests in the growing PR and content marketing agency, joining the board of directors as Non-Executive Chairman.

 

Mutant Communications has received investment from acclaimed entrepreneur and media executive Harry Dewhirst, who now takes stake in the company. The funding is set to propel the Singapore-based PR and content marketing agency’s expansion in 2015.

Mutant will expand its specialised public relations, content marketing and digital teams with the investment, to provide even more robust, quality services for current and potential clients. To kick-start its growth strategy, the agency appointed former Human Resources editor Rebecca Lewis as Account Director of its HR and recruitment practice.

Dewhirst’s investment sees him joining the board of directors as Non-Executive Chairman, where he will be involved in the company’s business strategy and growth plans.

“Mutant has been going from strength to strength since its launch, and has a proven track record of achieving real results for clients,” says Dewhirst. “I am impressed by its strong blend of industry expertise and talented approach to PR and content, which has set it up for impressive growth. It’s a privilege to be involved in the next chapter of Mutant.”

A successful entrepreneur and seasoned investor, Dewhirst co-founded advertising technology firms Amobee and RingRing Media. Amobee was acquired by Singtel for US$321 million in 2012. He is President of global big data and advertising technology firm, BlisMedia.

Moving ahead, Mutant is focused on expanding its three practices – HR and recruitment; luxury, lifestyle and events; and media and technology.

The company is planning to grow to a team of 20 this year and will expand its clientele in those specific industries. The agency specialises in building brand profiles for targeted audiences through media and online content campaigns, with a strong focus on developing brands as thought leaders in their fields.

“Harry’s investment places us in a fantastic position to expand our team of experts and offerings for specialised industries,” says Joseph Barratt, founder and Managing Director of Mutant Communications.

“Combining our PR and content expertise with a growing market position and Harry’s experience in developing global companies, Mutant is positioned for strong growth in the coming years.”

Mutant Communications specialises in highly-tailored public relations, content marketing and digital campaigns. Since its founding in 2012, the agency has experienced record growth and has developed a committed team of consultants who have helped establish an extensive portfolio of local and international clients. Its clients include Exhale, Monster.com, font talent, BlisMedia, Brilliant Basics, Singapore Yacht Show, Magners International Comedy Festival and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

Fashion faux pas: #BoycottDolceGabbana and the art of crisis management PR

It’s the latest scandal involving fashion, celebrities, babies and LGBT – which, in short, makes it media gold.

Over the past few days, we have seen the rapid response to Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana’s (D&G) comments that in vitro fertilization (IVF) is “unnatural” and produces “synthetic children”.

The comments, made in an interview with Panorama magazine, have raised a furore among the press and the entertainment industry. Media commentary has lambasted their shortsightedness, while celebrities have initiated a boycott of the designer brand.

This boycott was led by no other than Elton John, thanks to a spat on Twitter, which generated the trending#BoycottDolceGabbana hashtag. It has since received support from a league of celebrities, including Madonna, Courtney Love and the Beckhams.

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It’s a dramatic turn of events, which provides an interesting and essential case study for some pointers in crisis management.

It’s not clear if there were broader motives behind D&G’s comments, but chances are they were off-the-cuff remarks made without the foresight to see how it would affect their brand identity.

From a PR perspective, there are numerous lessons you can learn about avoiding potential media nightmares – and how to react once the damage has been done.

There’s no such thing as “off the record”

It’s a game of trust. During interviews, you always have to be prepared before speaking with the media. One would have expected D&G to be aware of this after years in the spotlight, but goes to show that even media moguls can forget, and fall prey to the obvious rules.

Always err on the side of caution and be aware that anything you say can, and will, be held against you.

Don’t fight fire with fire

After Elton John led the boycott, D&G decided to go on the offense on Instagram with #boycotteltonjohn.

Although their efforts to make a point about free speech received considerable support from punters, their response was unnecessary. It is easy to forget the virality of social media, and these public spats only provide an opportunity to spawn more undesirable news.

A wise man once said, “An eye for an eye makes the world go blind”, and it is always good to be the bigger person, take a step back to assess the situation and see the best way to go about handling it with integrity.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

If you do something that upsets millions of people, the right way to respond is to say sorry. A response carefully crafted to at least include the word “sorry” or “apology” isn’t difficult, and a quick turnaround can do wonders to backtrack on a flippant mistake.

Instead, D&G sat down for an interview with CNN, in which Dolce defended his comments and made it clear that they were his personal beliefs.

“It is impossible to change my culture for something different. It is me… I respect all the world, all the culture,” he said.

He went on to say he “loves the music of Elton John”, and that while his views were private, they could have definitely expressed their views better.

While D&G came across as very frank and honest in the interview, there was no apology. Sticking to your guns is one thing, but not acknowledging and expressing remorse at the damage their comments may have inflicted is an oversight.

Need help with your PR? Drop a message to [email protected]