Digital PR Lessons from Romney’s Really Bad Week

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Celebrities and big companies are some of our favorite teachers when it comes to learning about brand engagement. From old directors who talk to furniture to stage moms who show up wasted on talk shows, the last few weeks have been filled with tons of great “What Not to Do Lessons” in online PR. Yet nothing has been more powerful than those Romney videos — you know the ones — that have been making waves this week.

In case you slept through the last three days, a video from a fundraiser last spring made waves this week for featuring the Republican presidential nominee describing 47 percent of Americans as government-dependent, self-defined “victims.” This bitch-slap to the American population was explained in a stumbling, sweaty press conference. Romney didn’t really apologize in this clearing of the air and in fact sort of made things worse. Then another video featuring Romney’s thoughts on Israel and Palestine was leaked on Tuesday where he claimed that Palestinians are not interested in peace. He went from casually ticking off the people of the U.S. to basically spitting on the rest of the planet. If PR disasters were big-budget movies, Romney’s week would make Titanic look like an independent film.

The first thing we can never, ever do (that Romney has done repeatedly) is forget that everything will eventually go viral, especially if you’re on a national stage. What planet does he and his team live on where what we say doesn’t eventually end up in an online video? This baffling arrogance regarding the digital media has cost Romney dearly. As marketers and small business owners, we owe it to our brands to carefully watch our language, social media messages and appearances at events, regardless of how casual they seem.

The second lesson here is to skip the apology and explanation press conference if you’re not going to really do either. Press conferences and Twitter statements all have their place if the message is sincere and really talks about the issue at hand. In short, only apologize if you’re really sorry.

The final thing we can all learn from Romney is to have a good team around us. From day one, this campaign has suffered from sloppy marketing, confused social media strategies and weird public relations choices. Someone paid by that campaign should have told him what to say and how to say it and that, hey, everything’s gonna end up on the Internet.

Keeping knowledgeable people around us and listening to their advice is essential for great PR, online marketing and social media management. Obviously, Team Romney didn’t get that memo.

Searching on Twitter Just Got Easier

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Let’s be honest: Searching on Twitter is awful. Twitter for business professionals have often lamented how difficult, inaccurate and downright irritating searching for other users, specific tweets and hashtags can be. Our universal annoyance with Twitter’s search engine has not, however, gone unnoticed. Since the ever-growing social media megastar severed its search engine relationship with Google last summer, Twitter has been trying desperately to make searching easier. Now, new innovations released last week might actually make social media marketing specialists smile.

If you were tweeting late last Friday, you might have noticed a couple of changes in Twitterland. For one, Twitter has gone automatic. Any search engine worth its salt has an autocomplete feature, and now Twitter is just like the big boys at Google and Bing. According to Twitter’s official blog, “Search autocomplete shows you the most likely terms for your query as you enter it — especially useful if you’re trying to follow the hashtag for an event or you’re looking for a certain Twitter account. You can select your query from the drop-down menu even before you finish typing it.”

Marketers frustrated with Twitter’s picky spelling matrix will also rejoice with the news that “if you misspell a term, we’ll automatically show results for your intended query,” the blog reports. The new search engine can now also find real people’s names as well as usernames. Yet perhaps the coolest change in the search engine is the addition of “results from people you follow.” This feature produces results of terms, trends and what everyone’s talking about. This little trick could turn out to be a goldmine for analysts and marketers looking to see the popularity of promoted topics and hashtags.

But enough out of us… let’s hear from you. The new Twitter search engine: love it or loathe it? Holler about it in the comments section below!

Why Everybody’s Talking About Mobile

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In the wide world of content marketing, we see waves of buzz words wash over our industry and stick around until every blog on the planet is muttering the same phrases. This month, the phrase on everybody’s lips is “mobile marketing.” Sure, mobile marketing has been a force to be reckoned with and a platform to be tackled for years. But all of a sudden, everybody from big brands and billionaires to politicians and social media moguls are mad about mobile marketing.

For example, hedge fund manager Eric Jackson made news this week when he predicted on CNBC that Facebook could wind up in Yahoo! territory if they don’t figure out the mobile problem — and fast.

“Facebook can buy a bunch of mobile companies, but they are still a big, fat website and that’s different from a mobile app,” Jackson said.

And Facebook agrees. The company admitted in a regulatory filing that its struggle to monetize mobile platforms “may negatively affect our revenue and financial results.” Even Oprah Winfrey has focused her efforts on mobile and tablet marketing to keep in touch with her audience of devoted followers. Now that her talk show is kaput, Winfrey reaches out via social media and is bringing back her famous publishing juggernaut Book Club. The new book club will be an all-mobile, all-tablet affair. After a two-year book club hiatus, this new mobile strategy is a sign that shrewd marketers like Winfrey are ready to march forward into the mobile era. In addition, Disney, Gap, Twitter and more brands have all made big moves to put mobile on the front burner.

Small businesses can breathe easy, though, when it comes to implementing mobile into their online marketing plan. Starting with a mobile-friendly website or blog is an easy move and something a good web designer can handle with ease. SMS campaigns, tablet newsletters and inexpensive app development are also things to consider. The big thing is to have something in place to make sure your brand isn’t left out of the mobile conversation.

7 Quickie Content Solutions!

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Here’s a common scenario in the digital era: You’ve just whipped up your new business and you’ve got to get your name out there like yesterday. Only trouble is you don’t have the time to design a website and wait for people to find said website. Thankfully, we’re kind of masters at getting brands big and small found online in record time. Here now are ten tips for quick custom content that will put you on the map in no time!

1.) Like Pages at Lightspeed: While not everybody loves the ever-commercially-bent evolution look of Facebook pages, it can’t be argued that setting up a page for small businesses is faster than ever. We recently put together a Like page for a comedy group in less than 15 minutes and the Likes came rolling in immediately.

2.) Tumblr Those Photos: Got a visual business that needs to be seen rather than heard? Tumblr is fabulous for getting photos of what you do out there in a timely manner. No waiting to load or formating required, Tumblr blogs can serve up feasts for the eyes in mere moments. Here’s one we put together for a local frame shop in a few minutes that is currently getting re-blogged while showing what the company does best.

3.) Tout it Out Loud: Tout is the video status updating site that lets brands and individuals say it on camera. The fairly new platform is a hit with celebs, sports heroes and CEOs. Tout puts your face out there in minutes and is growing like crazy.

4.) Make a Mini-series: Instead of vomiting out a 3,000-word blog post that no one will ever read, how about chopping that sucker up and serving it in bite size portions that can be doled out over the course of several posts? A blog series is a great way to fill up a week’s worth of writing without having to search high and low for topics, saving you time and your readers from boredom in one fell swoop.

5.) Tweet and Repeat: Twitter is a super-fast way for a newbie brand to get its message out. Using 140 characters, new companies can say, “Hello! We’re here!” without using up a whole bunch of man hours. Also, Twitter’s excellent new search features make it easier than ever to find folks tweeting about the same things you are.

6.) Get On Google+: If you’re already on Google+, setting up a page takes minutes and the page in question gets the marketing moxie and search engine power of Google right behind it. I personally set up two a week ago and it took less than 30 minutes.

7.) Give ’em Something to Watch: Videos (only the ones which relate to your industry, of course) are great filler for an empty blog and website. Original videos take time to make, so until you get your film-making magic on, post pre-existing videos to your site that your followers will find interesting.

Your Content and Google Penguin Can Be Friends (Really)

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Content marketing gurus and SEO mavens alike were in a tizzy earlier this week as Google rolled out its Penguin update. Penguin, like Panda, is an algorithm update aimed at catching webspam. Sometimes these updates, which Google routinely does, do really have an impact on online marketers outside the SEO world. But Penguin is unique. Being smaller than Panda, its focus is more direct and strict. And if blogging for business or article marketing is your thing, you could get bounced by Penguin and not even know it. Luckily, there are ways for your blog to play nicely with Penguin and they come straight from Google’s mouth.

Google’s top 8 things to avoid via WebProNews on Penguin are:

1. Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
2. Don’t use cloaking or sneaky redirects.
3. Don’t send automated queries to Google.
4. Don’t load pages with irrelevant keywords.
5. Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains or domains with substantially duplicate content.
6. Don’t create pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans or other badware.
7. Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
8. If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.

These are all great tips — especially the keyword stuffing — Penguin or no Penguin. We’ve seen clients eager to jam as many keywords into a blog or article as possible and it never seemed like a good idea. Now we know it isn’t. Things like sneaky redirects, hidden links and multiple pages of duplicate content have always been looked down on by Google and now Penguin is better way combat it. In short, Google is getting smarter all the time and updates like Penguin are on a mission to take out bad, spammy content.

The good news is that these updates actually help those of us who create original, non-shady content. By playing along with Penguin, instead of against it, your content can now be found faster and read by more people!

Five Things You Might Have Missed!

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Tech oddities! Branding delights! Social media marvels! Step right up and enjoy the little online marketing circus we like to call “Five Things You Might Have Missed!”

1.) Meet the Social Pizza: What’s more social than sharing a few slices of pizza? How about actually creating a pizza on social media? Domino’s in Australia is calling on Facebook fans to create the ultimate social media pizza pie. Through March 25th, Domino’s fans down under will have the opportunity to vote on favorite sauce, crust and topping combinations, with the winning concoctions featured on Domino’s menu. Amateur pizza chefs will also get a shot at $1,000 bucks for coming up with a great pizza name.

2.) Skin Vibrations: Here’s one from the “What the Tech?” files. Nokia is reportedly working on a patent to help smartphone holders literally feel when they receive a call. A small patch of fabric or a tattoo can be attached to the skin and will vibrate when an incoming call is received. While still in the developement stage, the vibrating tattoo officially ushers in the era of humans being literally attached to their phones.

3.) Main Events: Like the rest of Facebook, Facebook Events got a big-time makeover this week. Unlike Timeline and some of the other updates, however, this one is bound to make plenty of people happy. Easy for brands and individuals alike to use and keep organized, the new Facebook Events is the must-use use tool of the spring on the planet’s biggest social media mecca. Check out Social Media Examiner’s in-depth look at Facebook Events to learn about all the new features.

4.) Holy Phileas Fogg! So they might not be able to make your skin vibrate today, but Nokia claims its battery can last on a trip around the world. Inspired by the 140th anniversary of Around the World in 80 Days, Nokia sent its phone to 12 cities and 4 continents with a single charged battery and no charger. The results are a globe-trotting, good-time viral hit.

5.) Help for Your Ugly Office: We close out our list with a drool worthy digital contest from Turnstone. Those makers of pricey but awesome office accoutrements, Turnstone is giving away 5 office makeovers to startups with great ideas and amazing stories. Wannabes are encouraged to pitch their dream office ideas to Turnstone via video. After a judging committee sifts through the submissions, Turnstone will post the best videos and users will vote for their favorite. It’s a cool contest with a great prize from a brand that encourages vision and personality.

Five Things You Might Have Missed

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With the heavy political mudslinging, depressingly overzealous marketing campaigns and lame social media sniping of late, we think it’s time we all lighten the funk up. After all, it’s spring and there’s tons of companies and individuals using online marketing in surprising, hilarious and inspired ways. Here’s a handful of some of our current favorites on a little list we like to call “Five Things You Might Have Missed:”

1.) That Viral Video Smells güd: Makers of yummy body and skin care Burt’s Bees came up with a “scentsational” way for fans to get a whiff of its new line, güd. Scratch and sniff cards were shoved in fashion magazines like Lucky where readers were prompted to visit Burt’s YouTube channel. There, viewers are treated to sparkling animated video with “scratch-along” numbers that give them that olfactory sense of inhaling whatever scent is on the screen. Smells like genius to us!

2.) ATMmmmm: Los Angeles-based cupcakery Sprinkles gave its Beverly Hills branch a one-of-a-kind ATM-type of machine that dispenses the company’s famous cupcakes, Sprinkles merchandise and even recipes. The machine itself is a candy-colored feast for the eyes, sure to inspire drivers to pull over and make late-night withdrawals.

3.) Tweeting with Friends: Scrabble, that O.G. uber competitive word game, is launching a new product called Scrabble Trickster. To celebrate, it’s taking the fun and games to Twitter. In what can only be described as “why didn’t we think of that sooner?” Twitter marketing, Scrabble is offering a chance for followers to play the game in real-time with other tweeps and even giving away some prizes to the winners. We love Scrabble and adore brands that tap into the light-hearted side of Twitter, so this campaign is a winner.

4.) How do you say WTF in Japanese?: Dying to see a singing supermodel drinking tea handed to her by some weird hooded dude? Then this list-making video starring Miranda Kerr is just the ticket. We can’t promise that you’ll be inspired to mix in such bold images in your own viral marketing, but we can promise you’ll be amused for 16 seconds.

5.) Does Craftsmen Make Those?: And, finally, Sears recently yanked this t-shirt off its website. Duh. For a company that features family-friendly ads and corny all-American imagery, this t-shirt doesn’t really gel.