The Power of The Press Release – Part 3

Yesterday I went to see Richard Taylor of Marlborough World to discuss his online marketing and of course we chatted about the latest Press Release that we had ‘masterminded’ for him.

Three Stories + for the price of One

He was over the moon with the way it had gone, as not only had he got three stories in the local press (with more set to come from his forthcoming apprenticeship placement scheme), but he also saw a dramatic rise on Web Traffic to his site, something that is sure to help his business in the long run.

Lots of Potential Corporate Work

Better still he has now got a meeting with the Edgbaston Cricket ground that could lead to lots of corporate work, and all just from the one Press Release.

So, if proof were needed, here it is, Press Releases, done in the RIGHT way do work.

So three Cheers for PR2Go whose expertise in this area proved worth it’s weight in gold (plus an odd cheer of two for SOM for suggesting it in the first place!)

The Power of The Press Release – Part 2

Last week I talked about how important it was not to just rely on Search Engine Marketing in order to raise the profile of a website and that Press Releases are one good example of these ‘other means’.

So when one of my customers ‘Marlborough World‘ moved premises, I thought that a Press Release was just the thing and contacted the Press Release agency I use, PR2Go.  They produced a punchy release and sent it out to the local press.

Within hours the phone started ringing and the very next day the photographers were there, a rather good piece appearing both in the paper and on their website – http://www.expressandstar.com/business/midlands-business/2011/03/25/183730/

We will have to wait and see just how much extra business this release will bring in, but whatever, it can do no harm and you never know where things will lead too do you?

Customer Service Online & Offline

Over the past few days I have had some very interesting experiences of customer service, both online and offline (in the flesh so to speak).

Bearing in mind how fast online sales are increasing these days, I’ve often been worried for the bricks and mortar outlets, for whilst many of us may well go and visit the shop, we may well then search online and buy it at a much better price. If this happened too much, surely many stores will in the end close.

Of course, they have their place, one area that they ‘could’ excel is that of customer service and advice. If they could be good at that then they could be saved, but in the real world are they any good??

My two experiences don’t hold out much hope for them, the first was at Comet. Here I asked how I could connect my PC to my TV and was told that I’d have to buy an expensive bit of kit to do this, rather than simply buying an HDMI connector. True he might not have been an expert in the area (he was only a young lad), but surely, if he did not know, he should have referred me to someone who did.

The second was at B&Q, here I needed a washer for a sink plug. This was the second time I’d been in for this simple item, the first time being given totally the wrong washer. This time I took the plug in and was told that you had to buy the entire waste unit as you could not get a washer…

I asked if I could just use a normal plug instead and was told no, it would not fit. I could not quite understand this so bought one of the same size, took it home and guess what it fitted.

This was a simple enough question and here I was talking to the expert in the store…

If this is any indication of the level of customer service / advice that we can expert offline, then surely the days of the store are numbered??

On the other hand, I also bought nightdress for my other half from M&S. This was delivered quickly, but it was damaged so I complained about having to pay the delivery charge for the ‘priviledge’ of receiving damaged goods (something that I did not expect from M&S).

Here the result was startling, within hours of my posting my email, I had a call from M&S who not only aplogised, but also made me a full refund (including the delivery charge) and told me that I need not even take the item to one of their stores (as I had planned).

As you can see, in this instance at least, the online area win hands down. OK, the above covered different angles of customer service, but if this is an indication of just how well both areas provide service, then online stores are going to continue to give offline stores even more problems in the future.

The Power of the Press Release – Part 1

I’ve always been a believer in the fact that you cannot as a business just rely on Search Engine Marketing to bring in the customers qne have always made it a point to tell my customers that they should be doing other forms of promotion.

I see the act of raising the visibility of a site in the same way as a  General looks at his army. It is never the infantry alone that wins the day, as they need support from the artilery and the cavalry too. It is the same with a business (and it’s website) you need more than just good copy and links to really make it sing.

That is where a good press release can come in really handy, but as I have found it is not always easy to find a story that is good enough to catch the eye of a journalist.

The three main ingredients to a successful  Press Release are of course:-

  • The Story itself (best if there is a ‘people’ angle)
  • The Way that it is written
  • The Manner in which it is distributed

Of all of these it is the first one that has caused me issues in the past, but as for the other two, well there I have the answer.

Horses for Courses and all that

I have always been a believer in the fact that no one can be an expert in everything, even in such a ‘narrow’ line as marketing. After all there is so much to know and to learn. With that in mind SOM have always used experts to help them deliver the goods to our customers, using experts in website design Joomla, EMail marketing etc, whenever the need arose.

With that in mind we found and ‘paired up’ with a Press Release agency called PR2Go. They offer just what we need in that once given a story, they can create a Press Release that will catch the eye of the reading journalist, whilst of course having the means to select and target the right media in the first place.

This relationship has already born fruit in that the release they sent out for the Leather Goods manufacturer Marlborough World created an immediate response from several areas, and looks like resulting in a good number of stories, all of which can only help our customer.

So the moral of the story is don’t forget good old PR and if you can’t afford to use a full blown agency, do have a chat with PR2Go (you can find their blog here: http://www.pr2go.com/blog)

More on this story later.

How to Grow Your Blog – A Really Good Resource

Just been altered to this excellent post about how to grow your blog, some 17 ways of making your blog really work for you being listed.

At SOM we have our own methods and in April will be launching both our new look site as well as our new Blogging package (so new we have yet to come up with a name!), but whatever, this article will help all who are interested in making a name for their blog.

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/17-ways-to-grow-your-blog-from-top-bloggers

Are Links Counted on Non Indexed Pages?

I was pointed to this blog by a colleague and although it is quite an old post (July 2010) it may well still be correct today. Of course, the recent Panda / Farmer update MAY change things over the next month (for UK sites) but as I say, I have seen this sort effect before, some sites having rankings that they, in the normal run of things, do not seem to deserve:-

An Excerpt from this excellent Blog:-

“When I hear things in the SEO or internet marketing industry I always like to check them out for myself. I am a typical questioner, despite the authority of the source I have to go out there and trial it anyway, this is sometimes a good thing and a bad thing.

I have always been a stronger believer that the only links that can possibly send weight are those that are indexed. If Google doesn’t index a page surely it can’t possibly consider any of the links on it are valuable right? Well my opinion is, WRONG!

Links that Google finds but decides not to index definitely count, in fact I strongly believe you can rank a site based on these type of links.”

For the full story please visit the blog at:-

http://www.seowizz.net/2010/07/links-do-not-have-to-be-indexed-to-count.html

 

Google to the Rescue & a Sherlock Holmes Moment

Google saved me twice this weekend, both times guiding me to the place I needed to get to, once because I had forgotten to print a map out and the second time because the business I wanted to get to seemed not to have any contact details (like the address of the store they wanted you to visit) on their site, at least not on the version I was viewing on my mobile phone.

In the first instance I must say how impressed I was. I put in the hotel’s name (the Overwater nr Keswick) into Google and was presented with a ‘Places’ page that allowed me to get directions. All I had to do was to choose ‘driving instructions’ and I was away, Google guiding me GPS style right to the door (my GPS on the other hand could only get me to within 2 miles). It certainly saved my day and is a lesson for all businesses that want to get people to their door should bear in mind..

The next time Google saved me was when I was trying to find the Paperwharehouse. I did not know their name at the start of my quest, my only info being that they were a paper supplier in Kendal,  which was not exactly an address.

My Sherlock Holmes Moment

So, what did I do. Well the first thing was to type the term into Google, that gave me a list from which I could decuce the business name and website URL. This I hoped would be enough, but that was not the case, as the site, although it talked about it’s store, did not give me an address. I could not find an About Us page or Contact details on the site (at least I could not see any on my mobile phones screen) either.

Being no closer to an actual address, I searched for the name of the company on Google and found from that they they were on a business park in Kendal, and so searched for that on Google and again got a map.

All I had to do then was to ask for driving instructions again and I was there…

So Google (and some Sherlock Holmes style detective work) saved the day, not once but Twice!

Just hope the tip helps you if you find yourself in a similar fix sometime

SCS Does Not Care – Want to join in an experiment?

Anyone who has bought anything will have had some good and bad experiences when it comes to customer service. Some businesses bend over backwards to help, their staff being more than helpful, always there and they always, always listen and help whenever they can, even when, as oft is the case, it is the customer who has got something wrong.

But there are other companies that just don’t seem to care. I have come across two that stick out, one was a company called crazycameras which was based in the USA but made it look like they were a UK business. They were totally impossible, but did not care as they were used to using the ‘Phoenix trick’ whereby they just closed up shop and started trading under a different name. This was an OK strategy (for them) as they had no ‘bricks and mortar’ stores to worry about, just a web site.

Others you would imagine, with a good brand and lots of stores would be more interested in behaving properly, but that is, it seems not always the case. One look at the review sites around the web will tell you that.

So, what have I in mind? Well I have had trouble with SCS and by the looks of it (from those self same review sites) have others. My idea is therefore to see if we can use the weight of public opinion to teach them a lesson, not for my benefit, but to ensure that they change their ways (to protect future customers) and also to give a message out to all businesses that ‘don’t seem to care about people’s views or valid grievances’.

If you would like to join in, then please do two things:-

1. Search on Google for ‘scs sofas does not care’ and click through to my site or if it appears the scs main site.

2. If you can, link to the scs site using the term ‘scs sofas does not care‘ from your blog or Tweet this message using your Twitter account (or mention it on your Facebook page).

As I say, I  am not doing this for any reward, just want to try to get a message to them and others that they must treat the customer in the right way.

Your support is appreciated

Are Businesses Really Worried About Internet Comments?

My recent brush with SCS Sofas has got me thinking. SCS seemed totally unconcerned by the fact that I was going to use the Internet’s review sites, Twitter etc to say what I felt about their lack of good customer service (is this a British disease? – another story perhaps).

This led me to think of the issue I had with Crazy Cameras, as they do did not care, although in their case I have been told they just go for so long and them change their website / company name and just go on doing the same old ‘bad things’ under a different guise.

But with SCS, I thought it would be different, an established brand spending a lot on TV advertising, was one I imagined would be more ‘sensitive’. As it seemed not, I did some research and found that the huge majority of reviews were saying that SCS was rubbish, the customer service angle being one that annoyed people the most (I won’t tell you what the S in ‘S??? Customer Service’ stands for in my view).

This made me think, ‘Heh, was all the fuss that people like Starbucks made when Google started putting Twitter comments in the results just a PR exercise?” I mean were and are they (and companies like them) genuinely worried about what people think about their businesses?? It is said to be a fact that reviews are taken into account by Google when handing out the Google Places positions, so one day perhaps they will do the same for the normal results (they may be now for all we know), and if so that would be a reason to keep a clean nose.

But until then are businesses really worried?? Another reason they may be unconcerned is that of ‘dilution’, as with so many ‘Review’ sites around maybe they are actually diluting the messages about companies so much that they are never heard in a single clear voice?

It must be said that many businesses do keep a close eye on areas like Twitter. Tweet something about a Broadband connection and you will more than likely get a Tweet from BT asking if they can help. Others too I’m sure scan the Twittersphere for their business name or Brand and are quick to comment, all of course to protect their position and maintain good customer relations.

So, I think that some businesses are worried about ‘negative’ comments, whilst others are not.

Perhaps, this is a good test of how a business is likely to treat you as a customer? I say this as if they don’t care enough about the negative comments to mount some form of spirited defence, perhaps they are just either too complacent or as I say ‘not bothered’.

Either way they are best avoided, or at least that is what my experience has shown

How come ‘Bad Press’ on Social Media does not matter to SCS?

I’ve been involved in Search Engine Marketing for years now, and saw with the event of Social Media Tools that some big firms were getting increasingly worried about what a disgruntled customer might say and how that could loose them business.

Good show I thought, it was about time the ‘little man’ could stand up to the big companies of this world in order to get the ‘right’ sort of response.

It thus came as a bit of a shock when I was dealing with SCS (the sofa people) and was told in no uncertain manner that any problems were my problems that they had done their job and that they could not care a hoot what I said on the Social Media channels.

I was amazed, I thought that they would mind, but they did not and would not help us one bit, basically calling my partner a liar and instead taking their own staff’s words as gosbel, even though they had agreed that they had misinformed us.

However, the main thing to worry about is not that they are willing to ignore me and my complaints, but that they hold the general public and Social Media in such contempt.

Being the nice soul I am at heart, I am not only worried for the public (as their stance may well say something about their customer care) but also for them, as if they do ignore Twitter and Facebook and the like, surely they will one day come a right cropper and that could mean jobs lost at a time when no one wants that sort of thing to happen.

Be interesting to see what people think of SCS (doing some research on the matter now – perhaps too late I think).

Any comments on SCS and how big business is treating Social Media gratefully recieved.