March 6, 2014
by Roger Pynn
One more reason not to trust anyone who utters or prints the words “breaking news” came today at OrlandoSentinel.com where unsuspecting readers were lured to click their way to a story about an incident that took place in 2011.
Sure, headlines have always been intended to capture reader attention. But when a newspaper positions something as having just happened, when in fact it is more of an educational story about something readers may not have known before … it is clear the headline is a blatant promotional effort to build ad revenue.
The headline under the Sentinel’s Orlando Breaking News banner read: “Otter kills gator at Florida wildlife refuge” and it promised photos if you clicked the link. It even said the story had been updated at 10:15 a.m. Here’s where the click took readers … to the paper’s “Gone Viral” blog, positioned as “trolling the Internet for news and not news.”
If it isn’t news, how can it be “breaking news?”
March 6, 2014
by Heather Keroes
I’ve been using Google Trends and AdWords recently for keyword planning and when I saw this article posted on Ragan’s PR Daily, I thought it was pure brilliance. The author talked about using Google Trends to determine the best timeframes for holiday-centric marketing.
If you’re not familiar with Google Trends, it’s a free tool by Google that lets you search for what people are saying online (common topics). You can search as far back as 2004. It’s a great way to forecast when topics may be of high public interest.
Google Trends isn’t simply for seeing what people are talking about, but when they’re talking about it. But why stop with just holidays? If you represent a great destination for families, search for summer or family vacation.
Here’s a search I did for “summer vacation” with my region set to the United States. Orange represents 2012, red represents 2013 and blue represents 2014. As you can see, June is a popular time for searches about summer travel, then there’s a sharp dip once we get into the fall, which starts going up again in January. It also tells me where most of the searches originated from – the Northeast, Florida, Texas, California and Illinois.
So how can you use this information? As suggested in the PR Daily story, it’s a great way to see when news editors and programs may be running their stories on these topics, so you can plan ahead, especially when combined with a quick Google News search. It may also tell you the best time to start running a particular promotion.
As public relations professionals we strive to anticipate and plan ahead for our clients. While we may not have a crystal ball, this gets pretty close.
March 4, 2014
by Kim Taylor
Despite its longstanding reputation as being the card for the jet-set elite, American Express has expanded to a new-to-them market: moms.
Moms are a powerful segment of society and it’s been known for years that they are considered the decision-maker of the family for everything from travel purchases to health care. The “mommy blogger” boom has been in full-swing for several years now. In 2012, there were nearly 4 million bloggers identified as such.
Amex EveryDay rewards users based on frequency of use, rather than focusing on how much is spent on each purchase—a decision that was clearly driven by research. And, with a double-points reward for grocery store purchases, there’s little doubt who they’re targeting.
Our work for clients is always research-driven; following a seemingly simple four question approach to audience identification and desired action. So, thumbs-up to Amex execs who, armed with “mounds of research,” aim to reward the unrewarded.
February 27, 2014
by Dan Ward
It’s pretty rare to see a headline that misses the point as badly as this online story from USA Today: “Yellen: Harsh winter slowing economy.”
I found the story after a breaking news tweet from @USAToday to its nearly 1 million followers blared that same headline.
But here’s the lede: “Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told Congress Thursday that the economy has shown signs of weakness in recent weeks, suggesting that a hard winter may explain only part of the slowdown and that the Fed’s generally optimistic forecasts may be at risk.” [emphasis ours]
The story goes on to point out how the Fed chair said economic data had “softened” in recent weeks, and that economists point not only to the weather but also to factors such as rising mortgage rates.
We focus a lot on headlines when drafting articles and releases for clients, and like this headline writer, we work hard to craft headlines that will grab our audiences’ attention. But we also ensure the headlines we write reflect the meaning of the story.
Think of it this way. If we represented the Federal Reserve and issued a news release with the same headline and body copy as this article, would any journalists take us seriously?
Apparently, I’m not the only one to have seen the discrepancy, and USA Today has already updated the headline to a more appropriate, yet still inaccurate “Yellen: Winter’s harm to economy hard to gauge.”