NewspaperGirl – Online PR, Blogging, Social Media

@Newspapergrl PR and Marketing Tweets of the Week 2014-10-14

Fun Christmas Digital Marketing Campaign From a Zoo


Last Christmas, Turtle Back Zoo in New Jersey ran a highly successful Christmas digital marketing campaign on Facebook, called “Elf at the Zoo”. It played off the popular Elf on the Shelf phenomenon.

Here’s how it worked:

  • Each day Dec 1 – 24, the Elf on the Shelf appeared in different behind-the-scenes locations (usually with animals) in photos on the Facebook page.
  • They posts appeared each morning at 6am — early enough so that moms and dads who were just getting up might have a reminder to move their own elves before little ones awoke.
  • Parents enjoyed showing the posts to their children. Each photo had a fun, Christmasy headline that went with it. They were made into memes that were highly shareable.
  • They sent a press release to the media.Here’s an example of the playful nature of this campaign:
Christmas Facebook marketing campaign example

Example of one of the Facebook posts – incredible engagement! Click the photo to see it on Facebook

In the above photo, the Elf (Clarence – whom the Facebook audience named as another way the zoo engaged with their Facebook audience) is on the head of our Draft Horse, Dante, grabbing his ear. The headline “Oh what fun it is to ride!” is instantly recognizable, but now with a new meaning for the zoo. It’s also an instant smile-maker.

Want to see more? Here is photo 1, photo 2 and photo 3.

Since it was Winter there weren’t as many people visiting the zoo in person, but they could still visit online on the zoo’s Facebook page.

“The main goal of this was to connect with our fans at a time when they are not usually visiting the zoo. Many of our fans already have an “Elf on the Shelf” in their homes, so this added that recognition point. Plus, having the zookeepers all take photos of the elf was energizing from an internal morale-building perspective.”

This Christmas campaign sprinkled magic on the staff and on their Facebook fans. It also really engaged the fans: 38,040 users were engaged over 24 days! It also got attention from local bloggers, which was one of their goals.

In addition to being an award-winning campaign, and more importantly, Elf at the Zoo captured people’s hearts. The elf was photographed with so many different animals, that everyone was really able to see a glimpse of their favorites. Fans were tuning in every day, commenting, liking, and sharing our posts.

What more can you ask for from a Facebook campaign? Hope this inspires yours this year!

Thank you Denise Blasevick @AdvertGirl, and CEO of The S3 Agency for sharing this great campaign!

What I liked besides the heart behind this campaign, is that it was a series. People came back day after day, and it built suspense that increased engagement over the entire campaign.

If you have a Christmas marketing campaigns to share with me, I’d love to feature it. Please contact me or leave a comment!

Pinterest Marketing Tips for Growing your Email List

Marketers and business owners should take Pinterest seriously as a way to drive qualified email signups. Hold on to your cowboy hats and check out how these Western-themed retailers used Pinterest to grow their email lists using Pinterest.

My first example is from a small retailer and involves no outside budget. The other is from a retailer with a large budget who could use it to reach influencers on Pinterest.

CASE STUDY: Rustic Artistry a retailer of handcrafted furniture and home decor

I interviewed owner Carole Rains about how she has grown her Pinterest page for Pinnable Business, but how did her marketing affect her email list?

Her secret to getting email signups starts with creating vertical pins that have pictures of her products and a call to action in the middle. Example: this pin, “How to rock cowhide” generated 112 email signups. Carole used PicMonkey, a free graphic design tool (I use the professional level which is quite affordable and has more options), to create this image.



Then in the pin description she puts a link to a landing page to sign up for her email list:





Here’s a screenshot of her landing page:


Rustic Artistry has almost 800 followers on Pinterest. She has now generated 172 email signups.

Here are some examples of pins she has used:


CASE STUDY: Bourbon & Boots online fashion retailer

Online store Bourbon & Boots worked with Pinterest marketing firm HelloSociety for a campaign to drive email signups. They paid approximately $95,000 for 2 campaigns which involved paying tastemakers that have anywhere from 200,000-10 million followers to pin products. Pinners got paid a certain dollar amount per e-mail address they got for the retailer.

My favorite takeaway is how revenue was affected. Notice that the second campaign increased over 3x from the first campaign. It looks like the second campaign had a huge impact and so when testing, be sure to do more than one push.


  • In 6 days they got 30,000 e-mail addresses.
  • Site traffic from Pinterest increased 10-fold when these campaigns were running.
  • Revenue from Pinterest went up 305% during the first campaign and 1,300% in the next campaign, compared to the days just prior running them.
  • Revenue from Pinterest usually represents 10% of total sales.
  • The campaigns got a better ROI for them than paid search campaigns or targeted ads on Facebook.
  • Shoppers who come to the site directly from Pinterest are 20% more valuable, “because they tend to spend more and buy more frequently.”

One such influencer is Holly Ledingham who is one of the top 250 pinners on Pinterest.

Bourbon & Boots moved 75% of their Facebook ad spend to this campaign. It paid off. Here’s the full case study on Internet Retailerhttp://buff.ly/10jbxqM. Today the retailer has over 14,000 followers on Pinterest.

I interviewed Carole for the press release below, about how Pinterest helped her go from being a chef who worked long hours, to living her dream of owing her own business.

Facebook Contest Mixes Ice Cream and Guns

Facebook Contest Example

A Utah company that sells soft ice cream with mixins, is mixing in some politics with hot fudge and crushed Oreos.

Farr’s Fresh in South Ogden, Utah (about 5 mins. from my house), likes to do edgy marketing campaigns that feature guns.

Here’s their latest Facebook Contest:

It’s not the first time they’re marketed this way. There’s a day every year they encourage their customers to show support for gun rights. On that day, customers who bring in their concealed carry permits get a $1 discount. On the news story about this unusual marketing (especially by a franchisee), it’s quite popular. The story, from 2013, has over 3k likes on Facebook.

It’s an interesting tactic given that their brand is creating a happy place for people.

Farr ‘s Fresh Mission statement: Farr’s Fresh ® is your happy place and home for fresh serve premium ice cream,
frozen yogurt and custard. 

I don’t see anywhere about it being a place to exert your Second Amendment rights. I don’t know about you but happiness and rewarding people who carry a firearm aren’t a happy combination. In fact, this comment on Facebook expressed my sentiment precisely:


Obviously they are marketing to men, an interesting tactic for an ice cream shop. It looks like it’s working in one sense, it’s being share and talked about. If that’s their goal, they reached it.

It reminds me of another Utah business who has an edgy marketing campaign: A Utah Company Charges Liberals More for Smoothies from the I Love Drilling Juice and Smoothie Bar in Vernal. It looks like business is thriving. Yes, we Utahns love to add politics and religion to our marketing mix.

What do you think? Is this smart marketing?

The Science of Blog Design and Recommended WordPress Plugins

I have learned more about blogging this week than I have in years and I’m anxious to get some issues fixed and then launch a new look. For bloggers it’s Q4, the quarter that usually brings the most traffic and as a result, the most income. I wrote a post for The Blogger Network about plugins and other essential parts of optimizing your blog so you get the most benefit from the extra traffic. It also has plugin suggestions.

Today I added these WordPress plugins. 

Hello Bar – top bar across your blog to ask people to sign up for email updates or for short announcements. What I love most is that you can change it very easily at any time and it gives you stats on your conversion rates. Be sure to test the call to action and button text to see what works for your blog.

Sharebar – to add social media sharing buttons on the left side of every post. Ideally you have just three choices, but again, test.

Social Image Hover – this plugin will show social buttons when someone hovers over an image. Make sure that you open the zip file and install the plugin with the zip file inside of the main file (it’s called tc-social-hover.zip) Cost: $16

These suggestions came from Quick Sprout along with this handy infographic that explains what is shown to be the most effective blog design elements.

The Blueprint of an Optimal Blog Design
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout


Free Press Release Leads to Media Coverage

press release example















One of the most common questions I hear from clients is which press release service to use, including which free press release site is best. It seems every PR pro has their favorite newswire or site.

For me, it depends on your news (is it local or national), goals, budget and how timely your news is. In the past, I haven’t endorsed using a free press release service, but if you don’t have another choice I recommend PRLog.org. Here’s why:

  • They give you basic stats
  • Quick publishing (same day)
  • You can insert links
  • You can use an image and/or logo
  • You can delete or edit a press release after its live
The reason I don’t like PRLog or a lot of free press release sites, is because they typically only publish your news on their site.  They do not distribute it or republish it anywhere else. They simply run ads on the page to make money from your content. PRLog does have some online distribution though, though it’s limited unless you upgrade to a paid option. PRLog doesn’t look especially professional, I don’t think it’s changed in all the years I’ve known about them. However, using PRLog or another free press release service (such as PR.com), you can still get media coverage, if your story is strong and you’re lucky!

PRLog Press Release Case Study

Thank you to Camille at Power Image PR who shared her success story with me. Here is her press release:

Online Men’s Fashion Brand Celebrates Successful First Year. Notice that her press release is not much more than a solid story. It doesn’t have an image or any links, but it was still good enough to get press. It tells the startup story for Tie Society, an online service that rents ties. It doesn’t follow the traditional press release style, it’s written more like a feature story. There are no buzzwords about the company being innovative (everyone says that). It’s simple and straightforward.
















The press release went live on PRLog on November 15, 2012.  On November 22, one week later, Gigaom ran a story, called “Looking for Gift Ideas for Dad? Consider Tie Society, the Netflix for Ties.”

Gigaom story



















Two months later, the company was featured on a TV segment for Brittney H Levine.

I thought it was interesting that the press release wasn’t trying to sell overtly but both the story on Gigaom and the TV show were very much selling the product (for them). There is no hype at all in the press release, it lists no prices, it just tells how Tie Society got started and how the service works. There are some trust elements too, as the press release names the brand name ties they carry.

This case study shows that even brands with a small budget can score big press if they have a strong story. Here’s another press release case study about a press release I wrote and distributed on a local press release service that I use for local stories. I also helped a local author get on the front page of the newspaper with a press release in this example.

Note: if you want wider distribution (especially for big stories that are timely) I recommend PR Newswire. I arranged a special offer for my readers, you get a free 1 year membership and they will give you a very valuable add-on service so you email your news to a media list at no additional charge. You just need to sign up using my link, a rep will contact you and help you choose the paid distribution model that fits your goals. More details here.

How the City of Provo Hyped the Google Fiber Announcement

I’m starting to notice a trend in content marketing and in my own marketing. I spend a lot of time on building solid content, but my ability to build up to the release of that content and continuing to market the content once it’s live, is lacking. So I began to look for examples of people who were good at the art of build up. That led me to remember the announcement that Provo City was the third city in the US to get Google Fiber and the epic way they built up suspense to the news.

viral hashtag

Provo city’s epic marketing – how a hashtag went viral


How did the city build so much anticipation for this announcement, in a way that was unlike any other city who got Fiber? I wanted to know. I requested an interview with Mayor Curtis, who is easier to book than most CEOs. It was featured on Forbes.com, by my friend Cheryl Connor. You can read it here: Power Marketing: How to Make a Hashtag Go Viral. The story that Mayor Curtis got kudos for his social media power on Forbes also picked up by local news station KSL. This type of press has got to make the Mayor look good but even more, it’s not an act. He’s involved and invested in being part of and showcasing the city. He is part of the social scene and activity of Provo both on and offline.

Even though I don’t live in Provo I started to see references to #ProvoEpicAnnouncement show up on Twitter and Facebook. At first I didn’t care, but as I saw it more, I became curious, and later I became hooked. People began to guess what the announcement was and the social media team played into it by sharing guesses and otherwise fueling speculation. I remember my anticipation as I listened to the press conference and followed the hashtag, and how I reloaded the page to see what everyone was saying. They had my full attention and curiosity. They broke through the clutter of my day. That says a lot.

John Curtis and his team are respected for their use of social media, but this news was a high point. Most of his success is from being actively engaged in, being transparent on, and planning for social media every single day. I believe this announcement took their marketing of future news to a higher level. From now on they don’t simply tell the city council or the public something, they market the announcement with teaser video, blog posts or clues. He told me when they announced a $1.1 million deal to keep mining out of Rock Canyon (yay) that they deliberately built up to the news. What was telling is that the press tweeted about it using the #ProvoEpicAnnouncement hashtagThe hashtag has become a way to describe any big news from Provo. I believe it elevated the city in everyone’s minds. Not only that, many people feel like they are friends with Curtis, we feel like we know and like him. That’s what social media can do.

I decided to apply what I learned from Curtis for an event that I’m hosting. Rather than just spring the news of the event on everyone, I decided to hype it a bit. I created an image that said, “something big is coming” and posted a teaser about the event on Facebook. I asked everyone to reserve the date and let them know that more details were coming soon. That got a lot of people talking.

A few weeks later I teased the announcement again, this time with a photo from my client’s business and a little more information. In that post I said, look for the announcement to go live tomorrow.  The next day I got so busy I almost forgot to post the invitation to the event. However, someone said she could hardly get any work done she was so excited. Many people were waiting for my announcement! I posted the invitation immediately. The hype was not made up though. I know this client will put on an incredible event. He understands and uses social media already. He’s also knows and uses the power of beautiful design in marketing. So I had the right materials. We got a recognized name as a sponsor. I’m genuinely excited for the event.  I don’t believe you can fake it, it’s got to be real.

What happened shocked me. As soon as I posted the event, I started to get RSVPs. Every minute there were more coming in. So I commented on the post letting everyone know that I was blown away by the response so far. I texted my client and emailed our sponsor to let them know that this was going to fill up. Signups kept coming in and the event was full by the end of the day. I was hoping for 30 people. I got over 100. The conversation with my client became how to keep the party going and how to expand everything. I loved that conversation (and so did he).

In my career, I managed to market a meeting so well that the whole office was buzzing about it. I became friends with the presenter (whom I’d never met) and we’re still friends today, years after that meeting.  It was memorable for years after. It created a friendship. That is the power of marketing. It can add life to everything. It can elevate. It can turn the mundane into epic.

Please share examples you’ve seen of brands or others build up events or content. I’ve done it, I want to get better at it still. I’m still learning…

Build your Blog Conference – Early Bird Pricing Ends Sept 1, 2014

The Build your Blog Conference is coming up this February. If you want to go I have a discount code for you. If you use it before September 1, 2014 you get early bird pricing, plus $25 off!

Build your Blog Conference discount code

Build your Blog Conference 2015

Build your Blog Conference
Feb. 20-21, 2015
Starting at 8 AM

Salt Lake City, Utah
Little America Hotel

Tickets are $149. Prices go up September 1st to $199. Make sure to register today! Use code BYBCon25 to get $25 off.

Go here to register: http://buildyourblogconference.com

The conference, started by bloggers, the Six Sisters and will teach you how to grow your traffic and income. There are classes for all levels, including advanced. I posted about it in a Utah bloggers group I started on Facebook. People were raving about it.

Here are some comments from bloggers who went to the Build your Blog Conference:

“I went to BYBC last year (my first conference) and it helped me jump from under 100,000 monthly page views to over a million just this year. Even if the classes aren’t valuable to you, it was the networking that has been INCREDIBLE for me. I didn’t know many other bloggers before the conference, but now I have so many “blog friends” that I am able to collaborate and bounce ideas off of. I would definitely recommmend BYBC. That’s where things really started for me. Plus, it’s inspiring to listen to the “bigger” bloggers and know that it’s possible to make an income off of your blog if you’re willing to be teachable.”
-Kristina Coleman Manscill of Mother’s Niche http://mothersniche.com


“Can’t wait for it this year. Conferences are such a great way to make connections, and I always enjoy this one. It’s really what kick started my blog back in 2013. If you are in the area, I would definitely not miss it!”
- Katie Barker Clark, Clarks Condensed blog www.clarkscondensed.com


I’ve been to the last two and for sure plan on going to this one! Each time the conference has gotten even better and I come away with so much knowledge, so many contacts, and new friends. It’s 100% worth the money for me and the girls I blog with, and price wise…it’s for sure one of the least expensive…more bang for your buck!
– Paula Quesenberry Iniguez, The REAL housewives of Riverton blog www.housewivesofriverton.com

I plan to go too and I’m looking forward to going for the first time. In the past many blogger conferences were too light on content for me. I go to learn and that’s why I like that this conference focuses on building your blog. This conference has substance and I think it’s worth attending it no matter what level of blogger you are. I’m passionate about helping bloggers succeed, including how to increase the income from your blog.  Hope to see you there!

P.S. If you want to learn affiliate marketing for bloggers, come to my conference on September 20, 104 in Highland Utah. ABC Conference (Affiliate Blogger’s Conference). It’s a shorter, hands on conference with local sponsor and affiliate network AvantLink.

Behind the Scenes of a Successful Food Blogger: Kalyn’s Kitchen

food-blogger-smI recently (re)met Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen blog. Since I’m fascinated with food blogs and love good food, I asked her if I could get a sneak peak into her kitchen. She told me she would be cooking all day on Thursday and I could drop by.

Kalyn’s motivation for blogging started when she wanted to lose weight. She was already a good cook but now she needed to adapt recipes to fit her new way of eating.  She based her recipes on the South Beach diet and lost 40 lbs! Friends began to ask how she did it and asked her to share her recipes. She emailed the recipes but it became a lot to keep up with. Then in 2005, someone suggested she start a blog.

From that point Kalyn took her blogging as a professional endeavor. That still comes through in everything she talked about. She was an award-winning elementary school teacher and spent any free time she had blogging. For four years she told me she hardly read a book, watched a movie or socialized. She eventually quit teaching and makes a full-time income blogging which is almost all from ads on her site.

Here’s Kalyn’s kitchen on cooking day:


Kalyn’s nephew Jake (the chopper) is her assistant and right hand guy (pictured above). They tested three recipes.

Kalyn’s tools:


Kalyn’s props:


Random Facts

Most popular recipe: Chicken green chili mock casserole
Number of crockpots owned: 10 – and she has at least three timers to go with them

Cameras used: 2
Jake’s opinion: “she’s a genius at pasta salads”
Favorite places to buy groceries: Costco and Harmon’s
Favorite food blogs: The Perfect Pantry, Simply Recipes, and Oh My Veggies
Number of food blogs she follows on Feedly: 300-400
Best blogging tip: make your blog useful to readers. It’s not about you. Too many bloggers lose sight of their audience.
Favorite social media tool: Buffer
Favorite image editing tools (besides Adobe Lightroom): ipicki and PicMonkey.
Favorite blogging conference: BlogHer

This is one of the dishes we made: Vegan Red Cabbage Bowl with Tofu and Peanut-Sriracha Sauce and here is my picture of her assembling the salad:

and the final product from her blog:


Thank you Kalyn and Jake for letting me in on the secret life of a food blogger, for all the delicious food and for the great company!

Looking Back: Top Online Marketing Trends of 2013

online-marketing-trends-2013Now that 2013 is over it’s time to look back and see where we’ve come as online and social media marketers.

Here’s my list of the most popular trends of 2013.

Marketing buzzword of 2013? Content marketing.
The most buzz this year was around  the term CONTENT MARKETING. The link shows how a p0rn site does content marketing – also check out this handy tool to get ideas for content. I’m sure content marketing will continue to be hot, but with more help from apps and tools than we’ve previously seen (more on this in my next post).

Content marketing isn’t slowing down, in some ways, it’s just heating up. This stat is telling:
58% of B2B Marketers Plan to Increase Content Marketing Budgets in 2014 http://buff.ly/1hrFqAt

Facebook loses teens to other platforms.
As more parents and relatives have joined Facebook, loses are turning to Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat (or this social network for introverts that grew over 500% in a month). Still, ambitious teens see social media as a way to make money rather than as a way to talk to their friends. I still love stories like this one about a teen who makes around $500k on YouTube just being herself and showing off the new clothes she bought.

Facebook makes marketers pay.
Any time supply goes up (more marketers have pages) without a corresponding increase in demand, prices go up. Facebook is more popular and saturated now, so you’re competing with more content than ever. If it weren’t for the newfeed algorithm most people would see 1,500 stories/day from friends and Pages. According to this story, with the algorithm changes, that number has been pared down to about 300.

Facebook admitted they scaled back their algorithm to show less content from brands, telling them:  “The best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it.” That angered marketers and bloggers who resent having to buy ads to reach their fans.

If you want to grow your Facebook page organically, it starts from the beginning with how you position your page. This article shows it’s still possible to start a new Facebook page and get over 500k fans without paying for any ads.

Making a living off Facebook still possible.
Facebook can make or break companies. For example: Upworthy. They optimized for sharing and Facebook favored them. The result? In just a month visitors more than doubled – from 42 to 88 million.

I’ve seen a few bloggers wonder out loud if it’s worth keeping a Facebook page. It definitely asks more of us and has been kind to social media managers. I’ve managed more Facebook pages in 2013 than in my entire career.

This teen entrepreneur who makes his money on Facebook claims it’s your fault if it’s not working for you.

Social Network Popularity Inflation Continues.
Nobody wants to go to a restaurant with an empty parking lot and similarly a social media profile with almost no followers is an instant credibility killer. So, not surprisingly, brands pay to get fake followers. According to this post, around 30-40% of followers on YouTube & Twitter s are fake.

Selfie: the word of the year.
First, Oxford Dictionary named selfie the word of the year. If that’s not enough, tou  know seflies have  gone mainstream when President Obama and farmers jump on the trend. If you’re interested in brushing up on your selfies, check out this infographic on how to take the perfect selfie. Marketers jumped in when they saw the popularity and potential. If you want to try it out, I collected a list of selfie marketing campaigns to inspire yours.

If you further need inspiration when planning your year, check out 2013 Top 10 Influencer Marketing Award Winners.

Here’s to an adventurous and prosperous 2014!

Did I miss any? Be sure to leave a comment if you have any top online marketing trends of 2013 to add.