Category Archives: Online PR

April Fools: 5 Social Media Campaigns That Failed

For my April’s Fools post I’m not going to play a joke on you. I won’t tell you the name of my business has been changed or make up new products for a laugh. Instead I’m going to point out the real fools who thought it would be a good idea to launch a social media campaign.

My favorite is when someone responds to a misguided social media campaign in a way that overtakes the original purpose of the campaign.

Here are my top 5 Fools of 2015. These are the social media campaigns that backfired this year so far:

1. Starbucks: for the #RaceTogether campaign.
The one-week campaign asked employees to write “Race Together” on coffee cups and try to engage people in a dialogue about race. I’m not sure why they didn’t try to hold dialogue between customers by bringing leaders to stores for informal discussion groups about local issues.

Why were they fools? For thinking their customers would be interested in launching into politically loaded conversations while getting a cup of coffee.

2. Hamas: for their #AskHamas campaign 
This was also a week long campaign and it was international (but in English). Hamas is the largest Palestinian militant Islamist groups. It has a PR problem and decided to encourage people to ask questions on social media. Just news of the campaign invited mockery.

Why were they fools? For blowing people up to reach ideological and religious differences then ask the world what they think (and expect it to turn out well).

3. Mall of America: for the#itsmymall campaign

If you have something that you’d rather not be exposed, go ahead and trumpet something that others criticize. The Mall of America asked people to share stories about the mall on Twitter for a chance to win $500 gift cards. I don’t think the tweets about racism won the cash. The hashtag #itsmymall trended on Twitter and there wasn’t a lot of brand love.

Why were they fools? For acting “confused” about the backlash that happened and being out of touch with how their customers are treated.

4. SeaWorld: for their#AskSeaWorld Twitter campaign

SeaWorld has been criticized about their treatment of killer whales after a documentary criticizing them came out in 2013. Feeling maligned, they hoped to educate the public about they are doing to protect whales. They touted some good and then asked people to join in by asking questions using the hashtage #AskSeaWorld. That’s like asking environmentalists what they think about fracking (don’t expect to get any love).

PETA took the bait, asking:


Why they were fools: For thinking you can reverse years of bad PR by putting out some positive messages and asking what everyone thinks.

#5 Budweiser: for not thinking through their #UpForWhatever campaign.

Bud Light tweeted a picture of five smiling young women on St. Patrick’s Day. It said: “On #StPatricksDay you can pinch people who don’t wear green. You can also pinch people who aren’t #UpForWhatever.”

Why were they fools? The tweet was taken as giving an OK to sexual assault and was later deleted.

Lessons learned: when your brand is in trouble it’s probably a bad time to have public dialogue with the public. It’s too little too late. You can successfully address politically-loaded topics with advertising, but it’s more along the lines of rallying the troops than convincing naysayers.  One reason it’s probably a bad idea is because they expose just how out of touch the company is with public opinion.

Next up: a social media strategy (rather than a campaign) that is paying off well for a California doughnut shop I recently visited.

When Curiosity Kills the Brand

This morning I read a case study from Neil Patel on Quick Sprout: What Spending $57,000 on Instagram Taught Me. In a nutshell Neil bought an Instagram account with over 100,000 followers and then switched the brand to promote his brand. He lost a lot of followers but he kept a lot too.

We bought an existing lifestyle account that had roughly 131,000 followers and changed its name to @whoisneilpatel.

A social media consultant came up with the idea and Neil went for it. The paid sexy women with large followings on Instagram to give away big ticket item prizes in exchange for following Neil on Instagram. Classic marketing to men (GoDaddy is/was king of and Carl’s Jr. is giving it a shot). It didn’t go over well with everyone though.

Right away on the top of the post you can see the apology of sorts:


When I checked, all the images except one have been removed and I’m not going to post it. The comments are telling. Men and women who know Neil’s brand and follow him saw the campaign and couldn’t believe it came from him. It didn’t fit what they expect from him and many were very turned off by it.



First, I get it. As a PR person I recommend that people ride a wave rather than create one (especially since my followers are mostly small businesses). In other words, when something is being talked about or successful, see how you can leverage the attention or take part of the conversation if it fits your brand. In this case, Neil noted the success of Dan Bilzerian – a man who built a following of over 5 million Instagram followers by showing off his wealth (he reminds me of the Rich Jerk). The problem is that Dan’s style doesn’t work for Neil’s audience. While Neil might get some followers from this, it cost him more than money. It broke trust.

I used to blog a lot about the porn industry because they are pioneers in online marketing.  I stopped when I realized it attracted people who cared about the porn industry to my blog. It’s not an industry I want to be associated with or like, so I stopped. It doesn’t matter how interesting the tactics, it’s just not what I want to be part of my brand. So I talk about ideas or think about them but don’t reference the industry. Lesson learned.

On Facebook I’m part of a social media masterminds group. I usually want to ask how someone is doing something that is working well. Sometimes what they are doing is spammy or won’t work for my brand, but I’m so curious. I want to know if there’s a way to learn from what they are doing. Sometimes the effect is that instead of people deconstructing with me, as I hope, they call me out on the ethics of what I’m asking. Both sides are frustrated and I wonder if it’s bad for my brand to ask questions like that, even in a private forum.

When I first started in online marketing, I was a single mom with $217 a month child support. Having been a stay-at-home mom I needed to find a way to make money and spend time with my son. I was looking for answers and direction. I met a friend who was making a huge amount of money who offered to teach me what he was doing. First, I quickly realized what he was doing was way above my tech skills. Second, I realized what he was doing was working well but wasn’t sustainable or ethical. This was confirmed when I read an article in Wired Magazine that called him out by name as one of the top sploggers in the nation. Since then he’s gone on to do things that are more sustainable.

My point is: I love to experiment and learn. However, if I experiment with my own brand I have to be really careful not to risk my brand. That post I made on Facebook about an essential oil deal, didn’t work and it diluted my brand. It didn’t serve them. I never talk about health or essential oils so it was not congruent. I listened to a friend who really wanted me to do it. I’ve seen so many friends do so well on doTerra that I felt like I had to try. Mistake.

Nothing I’ve ever tried that was tricky in the slightest has ever paid off long term. It’s sad how many times I have had to learn this lesson. I’ve steered clear of partners who use methods that are unethical or who don’t fit my brand. I even try to avoid clients who don’t. I need to avoid anything that doesn’t fit my brand and the trust I’ve worked so many years to build.

Experimenting is powerful because you learn what works. It was brave of Neil to share what he did and how it went and to include numbers. I love it when bloggers share their income and lessons from their journey. I respect and love when someone is willing to be vulnerable and open up about what they’re doing. I learn so much from it.

The problem is, spammers and sleezy marketers are prevalent in our industry. You’ve got to stay far away from them or you risk being seen as one of them. Trust takes so long to build but can be gone so quickly. In this case Neil risked being hated by his loyal followers. If you’re not careful you can be perceived as one of the spammers. As marketers we know perception is everything. So here’s my advice to myself, Neil, and other marketers. Keep the curiosity — just don’t let it kill your brand.

2 Pinterest Case Studies for Gathering Email Addresses

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 Retailer 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.

Utah Kid Raises $1700 on Kickstarter – Launches His First Comic Book

Some kids mow lawns for a summer job. I sold tie dyed tshirts. Then there’s Luke. He’s my son’s friend who launched a Kickstarter campaign to make a comic book for his summer job and became an author at age 12. I told him it took me until I was in my 30s to do that!

Luke is a funny kid and he’s always drawing comics. So he had the idea to sell them – beats running a lemonade stand, right? Thanks to the genius of Kickstarter, many people can realize their dream of making money doing what they want to do most. That’s exactly what he did. He explains it here:

Here’s Luke’s Kickstarter page. His goal was to raise $1500 but he ended up with just over $1700, enough to publish and send out the book, which is now on Amazon. It’s called Stickman Symphonies.


One of my favorite parts of his Kickstarter campaign besides the video, is how he drew comics to explain his funding goals.


Technically Luke isn’t old enough to do a Kickstarter campaign, but his dad Adam helped out. Adam is a talented graphic designer and has access to a green room to film video, plus the skills to do the book layout. So lesson one for kids: think about how you can leverage your parent’s skillset.

Since the campaign was so well done and authentic it got some attention. In fact, people from all over the world were pledging. Luke has even gotten fan mail from Norway. “We got a really nice letter from Kent Coleman’s sister that made us cry it was so nice,” he wrote.

They expected their family and friends to support their campaign but they were shocked to see just how many people they didn’t know joined in. Statistically, just less than half of the projects are funded.  “It gave us global exposure. More than half of those who supported us were strangers who found it on Kickstarter.”

At the time we talked he’d sold 75 copies and was busy packaging them up to mail off. He even started a Twitter profile @ComicsLucas. I heard the story while attending Comic Con in Salt Lake City, Utah (which set a record for the most attended and did it by leveraging Facebook). We all went to a panel about Kickstarter campaigns. Plus he’s good friends with my son (who has gotten a birthday card with Luke’s comics – maybe we should have it autographed).

The panel had some kick*$!& presenters. Some tips I learned from these Kickstarter pros are featured in this Forbes article below. Thanks to Cheryl who wrote it! I think I’ll print a copy for myself and highlight the part where she says I’m brilliant. I’ll carry it in my purse and pull it out when I need a boost of confidence. But back to the article.

Read on  9 Secrets For A Successful Crowdfund Campaign

Luke says it wasn’t easy to take his drawings and turn them into a book. “It was a lot more work than we imagined, but it will be worth it.” I think what’s best is that he has a talent which will keep paying long after the summer is over. Plus, that’s a great thing to put on his college resume!

Congrats Luke and Adam on a entertaining and successful launch!

Utah’s Kickstarter Pros

After attending the panel I did some research on the speakers. I had no idea that in addition to YouTube celebs, we have Kickstarter celebs here in Utah. You should learn from the best and here are four examples:

Jake Parker of Provo had a $10,500 goal – got $63,483 in
pledges. See

Howard Tayler of Orem had a $1,800 goal -got $154,294 in pledges. See

Crabby Wallet of Ogden, Utah. Raised $308k. Had a goal of $10k.
“Project Fedora” adventure game by Tex Murphyof Centerville, Utah. Goal of $450,000 but raised $598,104
This is just a sampling of the talent here. Utah is already known for YouTube talent and celebs. Looks like we’re not too shabby at Kickstarter celebs either! If you know any I missed, please note them in the comments.

3 Free Online Publicity Tips Every Local Business Should Use

My friend Staci runs a skin care business from her home recently asked me how she could promote her business better on Facebook. I talked to her about the various types of ads you can run and the advantage of each.

The big selling point for using Facebook ads is that you can target your ads very specifically and only show them to people who live nearby. The drawback is there is a learning curve and it’s always changing. Also, in addition to investing the time both to learn and manage an ad campaign, you will need a daily budget. If you have the budget, unless you enjoy doing it, I would just hire someone like Avalaunch Media to run them for you. They’ll create the ads and run the campaign for you.

There are many free ways to promote a local business online that are easy and don’t require as much maintenance that every small business should use and maximize. Here are my top 3:

1. Maximize your Facebook business page with custom tabs
This is obvious, you need a Facebook page for your business. But after that, then what do you do? I found this business page from a Facebook ad asking me to like their page. It’s not a local business (in other words, it’s not in Utah) and so normally I would gloss over it. This time I wanted to do some research so I went to the page and I liked it. I found it was a good example of effective Facebook marketing for a local business.

Besides having a decent level of engagement and following, her cover photo (the large photo) clearly  tells you what she does. The custom tabs give you more information.

Imaginary Jane is in a crowded space – she is a graphic designer who creates logos, business cards and other collateral for small businesses. Her page is at

Note how she has created tabs (where it says “services” “prices” “contact”) which link to corresponding sections of her website. They have a nice style, which I’d expect because she’s a designer. There’s a consistent design for each button that fit with the overall theme of her page (color, look, font, etc). If you don’t have a website you can simply put the information right on your Facebook tabl. I liked that she put her pricing because immediately I knew what to expect. She is priced right for a small business and I thought to myself: I’d hire her!

It’s a little tricky to learn how to make custom Facebook tabs but you can learn or pay someone to do it for you by using a site like Elance or Odesk, maybe even on the cheap at Fiverr.

Note: Here’s an online scheduling tool: that you can use if you create appointments, so people can schedule online. I’m sure there are Facebook apps that do this too (please suggest one in the comments if you have one you like).

2. Create a free profile on Yelp
Yelp is a community that rates and recommends businesses and most people know it as a good place to find restaurant reviews. However, Yelp features many types of businesses. You can create a Yelp business profile so you come up in searches on the site.

This is how I found someone who does eyelash extensions, who also has a home business. I went to Yelp, typed in “eyelash extensions, Kaysville” and found this business:

She was one of two businesses that came up but she had no reviews.  I needed someone immediately and she could fit me in so I took a chance on her anyway and was really happy.

3. Create a Google business profile.
If you type a type of service or business along with a city and/or state name, you will usually see a Google listing come up first. You should create a business profile on Google, which is now technically a Google + profile.

I searched on, “eyelash extensions Kaysville Utah” and the top result was for a business called Eyecing. They also has a Google business listing with the address and a map on the right hand side of the page. They have no competition for their business listing because they’re the only business shown, and they didn’t have to pay for any of it.  It’s really amazing how much real estate on the page you get free as a local business, simply by getting your business listed. People can also leave a review and Google will display them, adding further credibility to your business.

These are some of my favorite tools for a small business to get free publicity and rankings, free. There are tips and tricks you can apply to further enhance your listings, but this is a good start. Please let me know if you have any additional tips you want to share about free ways to promote your local business online, by leaving a comment below.

How General Mills Rewarded the Guy Who Ate 1 Million Cheerio’s

Here’s another great PR story that I just love. First, a little backstory. General Mills is taking the heat on Facebook for using GMO’s in Cheerio’s.

PR Fail: Cheerio’s GMO Backlash Goes Social (MediaBistro)
Cheerio’s GMO Backlash Facebook Campaign Fail (CheeseSlave)

They haven’t deleted the complaints (at least not all of them) but the complaints continue to pour in, mixed in with cute babies enjoying their favorite breakfast cereal.

So not all is going grand for the brand right now.

However, they did something that I know will make Cheerio’s fans happy (and increase loyalty). It’s a great example of how to reward your best fans, plus a brilliant PR move.

This guy told General Mills that he ate his 10 Millionth Cheerio in November. Not only did they celebrate it on Facebook (not sure why they didn’t use the image of the poster, but still, they highlighted the post). They contracted an artist to make a picture of Chris and his history eating Cheerios.

Even though right now they have just created original artwork to commemorate the milestone, they could turn into an entire ad campaign (think of the way Subway incorporated Jared into their marketing after hearing how much weight he lost eating there). They could ask their fans: how many Cheerio’s have you eaten and where?

Chris posted about it on Reddit and it’s been going crazy since.

How did he count the # of Cheerio’s he ate?
“I estimated the number of Cheerios in a bowl and an average of how many I’ve had each day. The actual date was not really accurate, more that I just chose a date, emailed them with some funny ideas and they ran with it.”

Amazingly, Chris gave them the idea of using his story in their marketing. Here’s what he sent General Mills:

“Hi, I’m following up on my post regarding me about to eat my 10,000,000th cheerio. Just so you know how I came to this, I am guessing that I’ve eaten an average of 650 cheerios each day (1.2 average bowls) for 42.5 years (give or take). So the date may not be exact but it is very close.

Now, this can be done if a couple of funny ways. First we can do something for my “preparation” of the 10 millionth cheerio (preparing the dinner table with the good china, having it with nice wine/champagne. Wearing a tuxedo while I cross the threshold. Another way could be to have a “look back” at where I was when I ate my 1 millionth, 5 millionth, etc. We could have a little fun with this. Kind of like “The Onion” does, just “G” rated. Maybe on my 4 millionth I was getting ready for prom. 7 millionth I was really hung over after seeing my favorite hockey team lose in the playoffs the night before and I was drowning my sorrows. We could have milestones for my international cheerio moments when I had my first cheerios in London, Manila, San Juan, Toronto, etc. Maybe talk about the “purity” of the accomplishment as I have never eaten Honey Nut or other flavor cheerios including imitation brands (which are the Devil).

Anyway, this could be a funny/lighthearted marketing campaign (and it can be done by anyone, not just me).”

Someone from the company called him and discussed the possibilities and even though that was in November, they’re getting mileage out of it now.

Which brings me to my point.  Take a cue from General Mills! How can you creatively reward your biggest fans?

Newspapergrl’s 7 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2012

It’s that time of the year when everyone is either looking backwards (at 2012) or forward (to 2013). It’s also time to talk about old and new trends.

The trend for me in 2012 has been to blog and tweet less often on my own properties and do more writing for others or paying other bloggers to write. I was however, recognized in a local business magazine as one of Utah’s top business people on Twitter and I’ve done more blogger campaigns than ever. When it comes to content I write for my readers, I’m posting on Facebook the most. I never would’ve predicted this.

If there is a theme it was a year of Pinterest marketing. My friend Paul and I launched and started a blog (now you know where I’ve been blogging). This was to market my newest book about Pinterest marketing, which is still not done  (that is on my list for 2013!). Our biggest story was scooped on Venture Beat but we still made it on Mashable for a successful launch.

I did get a few clients on television this year, which is a first since most of my press releases are for traffic and usually get picked up by print media or blogs. That’s most often because I work with small businesses. The biggest challenge is to find something newsworthy that the media would care about. It’s having lower budgets that would go to pitch the media or do a lot more outreach.

I learn a lot by being on the TV set, but would rather watch in the wings than be on the air. Writing allows editing and time to think, but the exposure of being on TV is irresistible because of the reach. One of my favorite parts of my work is to see my clients succeed.

Enough reminiscing. Time to list my most popular posts.

Top Posts of 2012

7 Christmas Social Media Campaigns that Rock – this is going to become an annual tradition.

Why your Facebook Fans Aren’t Seeing your Posts – this is why small business owners have hired me to help…it’s a job to keep up with Facebook changes and maximize your exposure. I’m getting around 30-50% engagement rate.

5 Pinterest Tools I Love – I mentioned PicMonkey, even though there was an uproar when they started to charge for some of their premium features, it’s still one of my favorites.

How to Pin a Blog Post that Doesn’t Have an Image

Pinterest Case Study: A Designer who Gets Direct Sales

OrangeSoda Acquired by Deluxe Corp for $27.7 Million – Former CEO Jay Bean amazes me, he’s not a one-hit wonder, this is the second company he’s sold. He made work fun and coworkers were like family while the company grew dramatically and then got bought out, something I predicted in my interview almost 5 years earlier.

How GungHo Tapped the Power of Social Media for an Incredible Product Launch – I found the company via a press release on PRWeb, learned they were local, interviewed  them, and we were both on TV!

How News Coverage Helped Raise $3K in One Day for a Little Boy with Brittle Bone Disease

I love cause marketing. Not when it’s manipulative but when it’s authentic. This is one of those stories. One of my friends on Facebook asked me to do some PR for his grandson. I told him I was too busy and would like to help out, but had to decline. Then he sent me the story and having the hippie heart that I did, I couldn’t turn it down. I’m glad I didn’t because it illustrates how much a strong story can sell your cause, your business or your ideas.

This is what Les said: Thanks for willingness to help. Any help at all will be greatly appreciated. What I need most is publicity right now. We’ve had lots of volunteers for everything else. Here is the story.

Then he told me the story (condensed). It was too good to pass up!

My grandson Nathan has brittle bone decease. He is an amazing little guy with an incredible attitude in the face of averaging one break a month. He is a miracle because he wasn’t supposed to live past birth…Nathan proved all the doctors wrong and will turn 6 years old this November. In that time my daughter has set more broken bones that most doctors will in a lifetime. Through it all Nathan is one of the happiest boys you will ever meet. He has an excitement about life that is contagious. Everyone who meets him instantly falls in love with him.

We are trying to raise money to help make Nathans life a little easier and help him to gain more independence. The community has come together to help in the effort and we are holding a benefit concert/art show for him. 

He told me more about the event and gave me links to the Facebook page devoted to Nathan. He linked to past stories in the media about Nathan. Essentially he sent me a very effective story for a press release. I used it as the basis for one and sent it to media in Utah. That is all that I did –  just distribute the story to reporters. I didn’t make a phone call, email anyone, or do anything else, besides send a press release. That’s the last I heard of it until Les messaged me after the event.

He said:

The evening went very well. All of the acts were wonderful and the artists were great as well. We raised about $3,000 from the event and close to $6,000 from online donations due in large part to the news story. so all together it boosted our totals by close to $9,000 dollars. It also inspired someone to contact us about doing a golf tournament for Nathan.

One interesting note. Nathan broke his arm just before the event. He didn’t tell anyone because he didn’t want to ruin the fun. My daughter didn’t catch it until the KSL video. He did the video with KSL with a broken arm. I can’t even imagine that. the kid is amazing.

Thanks for your help. You made a difference in his life.

The story was picked up by KSL and the response was immediate. Before reading it, I admit to feeling guilty that I didn’t attend the event or do more to follow-up with the media. Still, it was gratifying to see that the little work that I did helped Nathan and his family. Also important to the story is the new opportunity that opened up – a golf tournament.

There isn’t a better feeling than helping kids out, especially since I became a parent. These stories tear my heart out. This  reminds me of the power of PR and what it can mean to businesses and people’s lives. It’s why I love what I do. Like I say in my book, the key to getting news coverage starts with a strong story, especially a story that resonates with people emotionally.

I’m so glad I said yes.

Killer Press Releases: Examples from a Discount Ticket Broker

press release examplesI always love when PRWeb publishes their list of their most read press releases. When looking through their most recent post, I noted that Queen Bee Tickets, a small business that sells discount event tickets, has two press releases in the  top 10.

So I reached out to Andrea Pedersen, the owner of Queen Bee Tickets, to learn all of her secrets (and share them with you).

The tactics she uses are similar to the examples of killer press releases in my book, I Need a Killer Press Release, Now What?? If I were to update it, Queen Bee would be an ideal press release case study.

Overall, I noticed that Queen Bee has longer titles and descriptions so as to include their top keywords. They also use keywords in their URLs. Their approach might not be very visually appealing, but as you’ll see from reading, it’s very effective. In fact, the results in terms of ROI are “staggering.” In other words, who cares what it looks like, it sells a lot of tickets!

Here are examples of top rates press releases from Queen Bee tickets:

This press release took the #3 spot
Title: Cheap One Direction Tickets: One Direction Concert Tickets are Selling Fast for the Band’s Return to North America — Discount Tickets are Available at!

Keyword phrases: “Cheap One Direction Tickets” “Discount Tickets” “One Direction Concert Tickets”


This press release took the #10 spot
Title: Tickets For Justin Bieber Concerts: Has Obtained More Justin Bieber Tickets And Is Offering Them To Fans At Some Of The Cheapest Prices Available!

Keywords: “Tickets for Justin Beiber Concerts” “Justin Bieber Tickets” “Cheap Justin Bieber Tickets”


Online Pickups: 36
Total Impressions: 79,444
Total Reads: 12,063

I’ve never seen total reads this high in all of the years I’ve been writing press releases!

Here’s what I learned from Andrea:

1. Experiment to find out what works for your small business.

Most of my clients are small businesses and are not expert marketers but they still succeed with press releases (better than the bigger companies). Larger businesses might be better at getting media coverage, but smaller companies can outperform them in terms of getting sales from their press releases.

Andrea readily admits that they learned by experience, not from because they have a large marketing team. “ has had very little exposure to “best practices” or advice in the area of press release writing or distribution. Rather, we’ve employed our own strategies, customizing them along the way based on what seems to work best.” You can do the same.

2. Press releases can sell products (or tickets).

Press releasesare a major part of Queen Bee Tickets’ overall marketing strategy. They are not specifically looking for media coverage, but like most small businesses, want to reach potential customers directly.

“Press releases allow us to provide information to the general public regarding upcoming concert, sports, and theater events.” Result: We sell a lot of event tickets!”

Their press releases strategy has proven to be very profitable for Though they didn’t reveal their ROI, they did say say that it is staggering. It might look sexier to get your name in print but it won’t always impact sales. Besides, it’s nearly impossible for a small business to keep getting major media hits.

3. Keep the quality high – be careful not to spam search engines

“Putting out as many press releases as we do is risky business. Unless our releases remain unique and of the highest quality, news and search engines may think that we are pushing spam, diminishing our reach to potential customers. The secondary ticket market is one of the most competitive markets there are, so competition is another contender. It’s a fragile balancing act that requires time and patience.”

Queen Bee Tickets has an advantage in that they have new topics to write about all of the time. Since there are always events coming up, they can send out a press release frequently.

Don’t try this strategy if you cannot come up with regular content that is new and interesting to your target market. I’ve seen businesses employ spammy strategies to stay in the news search engines, but long term this is a strategy that can limit your distribution.

4. Do keyword research then use those keywords in your press release

Don’t rely on your own common sense for your keywords… go ahead and do the research! Caveat with keywords: Be very aware of keyword density. Do not even try keyword stuffing or let your densities accidentally get too high. You do not want to be considered spam! Using keywords can help you get traffic from search engines.

Example: If you type “Discount Lady Gaga Tickets” into Google, their press release from a few days ago is holding the #1 spot.

Where do you put your keywords?
Choose a primary keyword plus two other keyword phrases. Include that keyword in the beginning of the title and the beginning of the summary. Use 3 keywords (but no more) in the description. Naturally, the summary will need to be a little bit longer in order to incorporate the keywords this way. Use your primary keyword again in the first and last sentences of the body. Use the other two keywords where they fit best in the body (as evenly spaced as possible).

5. Push your press releases through your own channels 

PRWeb will publish your press release on hundreds of websites and sends it to their email list of bloggers and journalists, but don’t forget to do your part. Send your press releases to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, our website, and sometimes, your blog.

6. Be consistent and try to be first to publish the news.

This is probably the most surprising part of the interview I had with – they (carefully) publish 6-7 releases per week with PRWeb at the $200 level. This is a huge volume that I’ve never seen before, but again, it’s working well for them.

They have the most success with this on weekdays, especially Friday mornings and schedule most of their releases to distribute at 2:00 AM. That way they have a full day of distribution plus “it seems to take around four hours for the release to settle in to its position on Google’s first page… just in time for peak traffic.”

Another tip is to try to be the first person to publish new news. It will stay within top search results for a long time and hold a higher position than the competition. Create optimized  landing pages BEFORE the release is published (using the same keywords as your press release).

Bonus tip: Do not to choose the exact same distribution channels for every release.

7. Use lots of images and optimize them for keyword phrases.

QueenBee adds images to each release. They use public domain images of artists in their releases. Then they add keyword-rich names, titles, and alt-text to each image. This also helps bring search engine traffic.

There you have it, an excellent example of killer press releases that bring this small business staggering results. Thank you Andrea for sharing your excellent tips!

Quora: If None of the Well Known Tech Blogs Write about my Startup…Did I Fail?

One reason I love LinkedIn Answers and Quora is the quality of answers (and people answering questions). You can ask just about anything and get answers from experts or people who’ve had first hand experience. Of course on LinkedIn it’s all business. On Quora you can ask just about anything.

Case in point: This is a great question that I saw from a discussion about how to charge clients to do PR and social media work. Some charge a retainer and others by their hours/results. Either way, it’s easy to think that getting media coverage could make or break your startup. Getting media coverage can do that but more often it doesn’t. This is one reason I like blogging (tell your own stories) and press releases (for bigger stories, more formally told). Both can bring targeted traffic to your website or phone calls to your business. You don’t need to rely on the media or bloggers.

What if you try but don’t get covered on major tech blogs to launch your business, is your startup doomed? And, if you do get covered will you get deluged by sales? You should click on the link and read all of the answers, but I chose some of my favorite answers. The quotes come from various perspectives, from PR pros to reporters and even other startups.

First, from Robert Scoble (the king of startups):

Success can be achieved without being in any blog. How? Well, get featured in the Apple store, for instance. Or build a viral loop into Facebook. Or write a blog that gets into Google’s search engine for something that’s often searched for. Those are far better ways to acquire customers anyway.

Blaming the press for your lack of success just tells me you really haven’t studied how to build a great company or product.

This startup’s strategy for getting everything from press to landing new clients is to give away content and tools (such as apps):

Having experimented with conventional ads, press, exhibitions etc, we found our best marketing strategy was giving stuff of value away. That stuff ranges from unique content (videos, articles) to fully functioning tools that we were able to get 15,000-20,000 people using each month.

-Oliver Emberton, founder of Silktide

I love this quote from Karin Husslage, Editor of Sprout magazine. Her advice from the media side? Don’t expect the media to cover your product if it’s just like another product that’s been covered.

We hear so many stories of ‘better versions’ of Instagram, Youtube and Twitter that we could write a copy cat manual. 

Instead, Karen recommends that you share data about your product or show that it’s needed in the marketplace:

How many customers are using it? How many times has your app been downloaded? Do you have well-known launching customers that are very satisfied with it?

If you are just starting now and don’t have numbers to prove your idea is great, just wait a while before you send press releases. Or present studies that show how many people have the problem you solve.

Last of all, even if you do land coverage on the big tech blogs or even The New York Times,  it doesn’t mean you’ll get sales or traffic from it:

I have gotten my clients in TC, Mashable, Entrepreneur, Wired (print), NYT and pretty much every top tier publication and the results vary from almost absolutely nothing to servers going down. If you rely on the media to be successful then you will ultimately fail because they cover so little of what’s actually out there. Make sure to set your expectations accordingly.

– Trace Cohen, President of

This topic would make an excellent article in Entrepreneur Magazine. With my clients I’ve seen these patterns and many times the big wins are unpredictable. Here are some examples:

  • A client got on the local news and it led to sales almost immediately.
  • An author made the front page of the local newspaper with a picture of her book cover, but didn’t get a lot of sales of her book.
  • A ticket business sent out a press release just about every month. A few months later customer service asked about the press releases, because they were getting a lot of calls whenever we released one.
  • A golf cart company made hundreds of direct sales off one press release. It was a limited time offer (getting a golf cart almost free after a special tax rebate) that probably will never happen again.
  • GungHo energy shot company landed an appearance on the local news after I found their press release on PRWeb and called them for an interview for a blog post. I shared the post with a reporter and they were on the next day.
  • A pest control company got a front page story in the local newspaper from a press release followed up by one phone call to a reporter. I wrote the press release from a blog post they wrote and I thought would make a great story.

Have you been successful getting media coverage, either on a major tech blog or publication? How did it benefit your business?