Defining Public Relations in the 21st Century

In 1978 at the inaugural World Assembly of Public Relations Associations, PR was defined as “the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organizational leaders, and implementing planned programs of action, which will serve both the organization and the public interest.”

It was a somewhat convoluted definition of PR and may be responsible, in part, for the difficulty the public relations industry has had in defining itself for decades. Today, a more widely accepted definition of PR is as a communication function that seeks “to foster and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and its target publics.”

What do Public Relations Practitioners Do?

PR practitioners help their clients to reach their target audience positively and often utilize the media to provide a third-party endorsement for a product, service, individual, business or organization.

PR helps you get noticed by your target marketWho Needs Public Relations?

Any individual, business or organization (party) that relies on public support for continued operation should implement some form of PR activity. Public relations will help to build reliable and consistent branding by working with a party to refine its public image, develop key messages, seek open communication with target publics, identify opportunities to solidify relationships and adapt as the market changes.

How do Public Relations Practitioners Reach Target Public?

Traditionally, PR practitioners help parties to shape news or feature-style story and sell it into the media using their knowledge of news values and the inner workings of the media. This tactic may include developing a media release, media alert, informative documents and spokesperson profiles; holding a media conference or event; media training spokespeople; and liaising with journalists.

PR practitioners also write speeches; letters; award, grant and tender submissions; website copy and printed materials.

How is the Public Relations Industry Evolving?

As media consumption moves away from newspapers and magazines to online and digital formats, PR practitioners are becoming very familiar with the benefits of social media in building relationships between parties and target market.

Many PR practitioners will recommend that traditional PR tactics be complemented newer ones such as social media presence and smartphone-compatible platforms.

What is the Difference Between Public Relations and Advertising?

In the eyes of the consumer, PR tends to carry more credibility than advertising because PR introduces a third-party – the media – to vouch for a product, service or party. While it is well known that all advertising space is paid for by the company behind it, many people don’t recognize when a PR company was the driving force behind a news story. However, even when people can identify a news story as the result of public relations activities, they also know that the story must have some merit for the media to cover it.

Public relations is a dynamic industry and an effective means of communication that many experts believe is yet to reach its full potential. Nonetheless, most large corporations and many smaller ones have embraced the PR function and are much better for it as they can continually gauge the attitudes of their target publics, adapt to them and build stronger, more sustainable relationships and better business.

Google and the Monopoly of Internet Search

A monopoly is a company which, according to Dictionary.com, has “exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices.”

First, one must understand that Google made $5.7 billion dollars in net revenue and $6.63 billion in profit for the entire year. Their primary business, for those uninitiated, is charging “per click” for those links on the right-hand side of a search under the heading “Sponsored Links.” Advertisers pay between $0.10 to $20 or more for a single “click” which represents a qualified web site visitor.

Google is accused of monopolizing internet searchConsider this: Google receives 72% of all Internet searches. And, Google shows ads for almost half of Internet searches performed on its site.

Is Google a monopoly? Of course not. Is Microsoft a monopoly? Of course not. But they both are near-monopolies.

A monopoly has relevance when it pertains to a few things for consumers and businesses alike:

  • The lack of any choice in choosing a vendor for a particular service
  • The consolidation of power into the hands of a single entity with whom we must trust

So, given the above, where does Google stand?

For example, say I am a small business owner who wishes to attract customers to my web store. I would consider doing pay-per-click marketing and have a choice of Google AdWords, or Bing AdCenter, and some smaller players.

Given a limited budget and limited time to manage my advertising, which one would you choose? 72% of the market? Or 17%?

Now, let’s change the scenario and we’re a large company which wants to attract more customers: Would you NOT advertise on Google?

I think the “choices” above (or lack thereof) shows that Google is a near monopoly. In short, you have to advertise on Google to play in their space, because they are the dominant player in the market. You have no choice.

Now consider the volume of online traffic that Google “sees” through its servers:

  • Google sees 72% of internet searches out there
  • Any site which uses AdSense (which are those “Ads by Google”), including this site
  • Any site which uses their free analytics (Google Analytics)
  • Any web browser with the Google toolbar installed sends every page view back to Google
  • Any web browser which uses “auto-suggestions” in the search box sends the keys you type into that box to Google

Given the above: Can you estimate how much of the total internet traffic that passes through the Googleplex in Mountain View, California?

Some will state that Google can be trusted to be on the receiving end of so much browsing information (and personal information that is typed into a search engine). Would you want some engineer at Google to know that you search for “Yeast Infection?” How about “Divorce Lawyer?”

The question is not whether we can trust Google, it’s whether it’s a good thing to have so much power and information in the hands of a single company.

Finally, like other “near-monopolies” out there, when a company has 6 billion dollars in profit each year, it puts them in a position where they can buy other companies to cement their position further, making it almost impossible for them to have any reasonable competition. Google has recently purchased the number one video site on the internet, YouTube, the number one banner advertisement firm, DoubleClick.

Of course, calling Google a monopoly or near-monopoly does not discount what Google has accomplished, nor does it blame them for performing well. Google has exceptional technology, fast and comprehensive search, and they offer a myriad of tools which make many people’s lives easier and better.

This debate is also not about what the government should do about a monopoly or near-monopoly.

However, like the checks and balances of the United States Federal Government, it is important to have anti-trust laws which protect consumers and businesses alike when a company is in a position of power.

Why is Cheap Website Hosting Service Not Worth It?

You want to make the most of your investment when you are managing a startup. You want to cut costs but still be able to do the strategies that you want to do for your business. Some of the most prominent business expenses are for administrative, operational, and marketing aspects, among others.

In the past, businesses had to pay for slots in newspapers, magazines, yellow pages, and on the radio and TV, to advertise their brand and new products. These were costly but prove to effective marketing strategies.

Reliable hosting service means better uptime that benefits SEOIn this digital age, however, the website is king when it comes to advertising your business online. Your site is similar to your company business card. People get to judge you based on what you present to them, and your business card or website is the first thing that they see. It used to be the case that having a website was not compulsory among businesses. However, today, it is a must to have a site if you want to succeed in your enterprise.

Many website-building platforms make it easy for anyone to start their sites. Due to the ease of use, even business owners can launch their company’s website. And because many owners want to save money, they either do the job or do the web building in-house. There are now many themes to choose from, so even if you are not an expert, you can build professional-looking sites in minutes.

But even with the rise of DIY sites, website professionals are still here to stay. For one, there are lots of site features that amateurs do not know about, such as configuring the site to be SEO-optimized and putting in a high level of security features on the site. These are not readily inputted in website-building platforms, so technical know-how is a must.

It can be hard to choose a professional because there are lots of options to choose from. You must not only rely on gimmicks and fancy advertisements. Check the professional’s portfolio to check if this person or company can deliver the results that you want. Go with companies that tend to under-promise but over-deliver.

You don’t only want to save with how the website is built; but also, with how your site is hosted. There are now so many hosting companies to choose from, with varying costs across the board. You may think, “Why is there a big difference with the prices?” When you look at the advertisements, you will see that the services offered are almost the same. The difference goes with the storage capacity and general features such as free email hosting and a fast-loading site.

A cheap website hosting service may sound alluring, but there are hidden costs in the low price. For one, there is the high possibility of system breakdowns as mentioned in reviews of those who tried these affordable hosting services. Privacy is also not ensured since the site’s privacy certificates are not transparent. One feature that is not robust in cheap website hosting services is the email system, with reports of emails and attachments failing to get sent. There is also the danger of site content being lost, where lost data cannot be retrieved anymore.

A cheap website hosting service may appear affordable, but there are hidden costs that you do not know about. These hidden fees can be costly to your business, and you don’t want to undermine your company’s success just because of wanting to get a budget service for your site’s hosting.

Online Marketing Innovations of 2017

The year 2017 has brought in a lot of changes for online marketing. Search engines define and put forward the rules of what’s accepted and what should be trusted online, so the rules always change. If you want to be successful with your business, then you must keep in tide with the trends in online marketing.

2017 SEO strategiesThe marketing strategies we’ve seen for 2017 are either new or improvements of former tactics. Some are poised to stay for a while because of their success rates, while other tactics had ended before they even got famous. You may think, why do some strategies work while others do not?

One of the reasons why some tactics work is because they have a vision that looks far ahead. These do not only attempt to make your brand viral for now, but also for the future. Don’t get me wrong. These strategies are challenging to put into work. However, it is worth it if we’re talking long-term.

Some other tactics are way easier to pull through but are unsustainable. Therefore, you end up spending more on these tactics that would have been more effective if you chose the strategies that won’t work in the short-term but will, eventually, in the future.

What are the critical lessons for 2017? Authenticity is essential, and search engines are recognizing that now. In the past, fake likes, reviews, and links may have been useful, but search engines are now smarter than ever before. It is good news for everyone who wants more quality with what they see online.

What lessons have the year 2017 taught us about online marketing? Here are some of them:

1. You need a mobile site

It used to be optional to have a mobile version of your site. It is not the case anymore because it is now expected for every business owning a website to have both desktop and mobile versions of their sites. Many people now check for information on their phones or tablets, and usually, PCs and laptops are used for work. So, if you want to have a bigger audience, then you must publish an excellent mobile site for your brand.

Sticking to the best business practices2. Sponsored stories are now frowned upon

Hidden affiliate links on articles were accepted before by search engines. There’s been a crackdown on these this year, and it is great for everyone because it means this type of tacky behavior is not tolerated anymore. Search engines now make it compulsory for all websites to inform the audience adequately should there be a sponsor of the post.

The year 2017 has taught a lot of lessons for SEO marketing. The key takeaway? To succeed online, you need to be authentic and genuine. Search engines will always find a way to put holes on your faults. But if you remain faithful to the best business practices, then surely, your efforts will be rewarded.

Now is the time to revamp your site if you have any of these mistakes. It is not too late given that there are three more weeks before we welcome 2018.

Tim Ash’s Seven Deadly Landing Page Sins

Tim Ash, from Site Tuners gave a great presentation on landing page optimization. Tim’s presentation entitled, “The Seven Deadly Landing Page Sins” was so good we decided to pass along the information.

landing page sins

Here’s the list:

  1. Unclear Call To Action: Make sure your call to action is obvious. Clear, concise calls to action need to be the most prominent part of any landing page.
  2. Too Many Choices: Keep the number of links on your landing page to a minimum. Remember, we want the reader to click on the link that’s associated with the call to action, not everywhere else
  3. Asking For Too Much Information: Minimize the barrier to entry by not trying to capture all of the reader’s information. Quiz: How much info do we ask for to download TMC’s Digital Marketing eBook?
  4. Too Much Text: The marketing strategy behind your landing should always be for people to act. Muddling the page up with a lot of text is a great way to lose your audience.
  5. Not Keeping Your Promises: This one is simple; deliver on your call to action. What ever it says you are going to do, you must do.
  6. Visual Distractions: Whenever possible use a minimalist design. Tim remarked, “keep your designers on a short leash.” Makes sense to me.
  7. Lack of Trust: There is a good possibility that people don’t click because they don’t trust you. Publish who your company works with and what associations you are involved in prominently. Place logos or symbols of trust above the fold whenever possible.

Really, when you look down this list – it’s rather simple. You don’t need to be rocket scientist to optimize your landing page. Follow these steps and stay away from the Seven Deadly Landing Page Sins and watch your conversion rates increase.

PPC for Small Businesses

Pay per click management is vital in your site’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization) if you decide to spend money to get hits. If you are planning on paying for each click directed to your site by search engines, then you naturally want to maximize those keywords for best results.

Plenty of companies are willing to handle pay per click management for you — at a hefty little price. These companies are quite adept at handling PPC, but if you want to invest a little time and effort into learning the intricacies of pay per click management yourself, you can save a little money.

Pay Per Click Management: Keyword Selection

Finding the best keywords to drive visitors to your site is the most significant part of the game. Write down the words you feel web surfers will use to find their way to your site. Go to Google Adwords and enter the keyword combinations you came up with. You will get statistics on some hits the keywords are expected to generate, as well as the approximate cost per click.

The PPC ProcessThe balancing act is to find a combination of decent traffic keywords, without spending a ton of money for each click. While high-density keyword combinations would seemingly yield more results, if your cost per click is too high, it eats into your potential profitability.

Pay Per Click Management: Carefully Choose Where Your Clickers are Sent

Once you have determined your keywords and want to begin your campaign, make sure you have set up a right landing page where your visitors will be sent. Many times, people have the clicks go directly to the homepage. It might prove very beneficial to send them instead to a page that details why your product or service is invaluable, speaking directly to the topic the selected keywords you used would suggest.

If you have something free to offer, an e-book or some other type of digital doo-dad, have them land on the page with that offer. Develop a good, strong relationship with your customer before you hit them with the “give me your money” page. The key is, the landing page you set up has to immediately capture the prospective customer, based specifically on the keywords used to find your page. Above all, don’t forget that fact.

Pay Per Click Management: Make Sure Your Site Creates a Relationship

Be acutely aware of who your potential customers are, and what you feel they would find interesting and attractive on a website. Remember, you are trying to develop a personal, yet business, relationship with them.

Give them all the information they might need or want regarding your goods or services, and do it in a manner that is friendly and accommodating. Make them want to build a relationship with your company, which will likely result in them spending their money with you.

Pay per click management is very conquerable if you go into it in an intelligent, deftly planned manner. You can do it.