Alternative Social Media Week 2013: New School PR For Journalists and Bloggers

Last night I attended an event from the meetup group Content Creation Collective, organised by Natalie Harris. This group is all about the new game of Content Creation that is becoming a growing concern in the industry. It’s a relative of the also brilliant OMN group run by Gus Ferguson– I advise you to sign up for both of these immediately.

The title of this event: "Alternative Social Media Week 2013: New-school PR for Journalists and Bloggers". The speakers this evening were Richard Kirk (Performics) abetted by Stuart Dunsmore and Samuel Pinney (Digital Editor-in-Chief, Heat and Closer).

I must admit that I missed a few minutes of the introduction and Richard’s talk – so if I missed anything important do speak up!

The main points that I took from his and Stuart’s talk were:

  • Reviews are very important. We trust the judgement of strangers, and we’re even more likely to if Google are telling us that they’re an expert on the matter! Best SERPs would be a review which tells you that they are a specialist and that you should listen to them – you want to be that specialist.
  • Google+ is like a digital byline, allowing you to claim all authorship on all the content that you produce. This also allows Google to build up a picture of your expertise and relevance to any given field.
  • He talked about the wonder of Google Now. Owning a Nexus 7 I’m familiar with it, though it has yet to blow my socks off. As Richard pointed out though it is far more advanced in the US than it is here. That being said, it does remind me when I need to leave for work and suggest the best route dependent on the state of public transport – so no excuse for being late now!
  • Author rank is of growing importance, Eric Schmidt’s recent comment had the SEO community buzzing.

"Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance."

  • This highlights the necessity to claim authorship of your work, and *sigh* make sure that you’re using Google+. It’ll be necessary to get involved with communities and simply to ensure that you’re verified and more than that, that Google considers you to be an expert in this field. The danger as Richard sees it is that it will start off as a popularity contest, and simply those with the biggest networks will dominate the SERPs (though we should expect that Google wouldn’t let that rest for long). In the meantime it’s important to find your relevant communities and be as active as possible in them.

Stuart took over at this point to talk about claiming authorship and preparing for author rank.

  • It’s about relationship between Google plus pages and author pages. Link from Google plus pages to content, telling Google that you’re the author. You can read about how to set up this rel=author on your site here.
  • You can check that your rel=author tag is working with this Google tool.
  • There’s naturally no definitive way of building author rank, as it’s not active yet and like all Google algorithms it is closely guarded. But engaging in relevant communities and building your profile can only help. It’s important to be adding value to these communities; creating relevant and useful content, and also sharing others’ content.
  • You should go back and claim content that you’ve previously written.
  • Ideally you want to be growing your author rank about a specific subject, as the goal is to be considered an expert in your chosen field which would be hard to achieve if you’re writing about hundreds of different topics.

Richard took over again to reiterate his main points; Claim authorship. Build Author Rank.

He then took questions from the floor:

What if you’re an expert in 5 subjects? As long as you’re active in each community it should be fine, but you need to put in the work in each one; you need top come across as an expert in order to be able to rank. It’s about connecting searchers to best content producers in your niche, the experts in the niche. You need top be very visible in the community.

If you don’t own the site can you still claim authorship? Yes, the site will have to add line of code to make it possible and you’d need to add in that you’re a contributor to that site on your Google plus page.

Is there a WordPress plugin to help with this? Yes, lots.

Working in an agency with lots of brands, how will it work? Rel=publisher is great for brands and possibly a solution for agencies working with big brands, but is not necessarily a replacement for rel=author.

Is it still worth claiming authorship for old content if it’s no longer to a relevant industry? Yes, it will still add value to your author rank.

What will happen if you’re quoted on another website etc – if it’s most of your work, can you claim authorship? Dependent upon the site and author, if it seems dodgy don’t do it. You won’t be able to associate 2 authors with one piece of content – not yet anyway!

Samuel Pinney now took the floor. Now I know that I definitely missed some of his wise words because I was distracted by his pictures of random celebrity pairings that had definitely not had an affair… I did catch the majority of his talk though, and these were the main points that I jotted down:

  • Your readers don’t matter, it’s their friends that count. If they’re already on your site you’ve won them, the next step is to get them to share it.
  • Write great content. Simple as that. His tips for achieving this included; be brave, be different, be funny, be controversial and when all else fails include either a cat or Ryan Gosling. Or ideally Ryan Gosling holding a cat… Oddly there isn’t such a picture (clearly something for the media to work on). I wonder if Ryan Gosling carrying a dog would be as successful….

Ryan Gosling Dog

  • Be present on social network sites and choose a name that makes sense. Update your profiles regularly and develop a circle of blogging friends.
  • Be on twitter #allthetime
  • Think like a reader. Ask yourself "what would the person looking for this story type into Google?" and let this influence your presentation of the story.
  • More people are reading now, including people who don’t like reading. So there are lots of possibilities for short content.
  • To become successful you need to have million of something – shares/impressions/users etc. and at that point people will sit up and pay attention.
  • Always ask yourself, why would anyone actually read this? Will anyone care about the story in 6 months?

Do – have an opinion and be provocative. Read reddit (if you get on the main page it will be huge for your site). Be funny, get a reaction. Be careful what you say and do; things can’t really be taken down. Be pervy, anything pervy always does well (naturally this depends on what sort of site you’re writing for…).

Don’t – care about Klout. Write survey stories, people rarely care about these. Write about boring things.  Care what people say, someone will always complain, people are morons. Give up.

Again the floor was opened up to questions:

How long did you work on your blog before being picked up? 2 months, but I’d another blog for 5 years so I didn’t exactly land a job straight away.

Will you be claiming authorship for old work (as he used to be anonymous) Yes I will, it’s worth doing for the author rank.

Some final tips from Samuel:

  • Good fast writers will always do well – no matter what they’re writing about.
  • Get work experience if possible, as you’ll learn so much more and hopefully make some useful contacts.
  • Video trumps everything else. In his experience it get more traffic than any other content – particularly in a competitive industry where you need to stand out.

I found this event incredibly useful, it was great to hear from real content creators and it was an excellent atmosphere with plenty of time for questions. I’m already looking forward to attending the next event and I would encourage you to attend if at all possible. If I missed anything or mis-represented anything do feel free to let me know!

By: Anna Champ

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