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Picks of the Week: June 26 - July 2, 2010

Still working on this pre-4th-of-July Friday? Before you start the long holiday weekend, we bring you, once again, our favorite marketing articles for the week. Continue on for insight about: how search engines are ever-adapting to provide the best search results possible, what corporate brands do wrong in social media, how corporations can use social media to empower their employees, copywriting lessons from Bach, how to be a better proofreader, how to get the media to notice your company, and why your press releases may not be showing in Google News.

Search Marketing

Search Engines Get Major Tuneups
A look at recent and upcoming changes in how major search engines find and display results, and understanding search intent to help searchers find the exact information they’re looking for. These are key things to keep in mind for any search marketing strategy, as the old rules of SEO are becoming less and less relevant, while content (granted: optimized) and community continue to rise as the dominant players in helping your site rank long-term. By James Temple for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Social Media

Why Corporate Social Media Fails
A great overview from Sysomos on why some companies falter in their social media efforts, including: lacking both strategic and tactical plans, insufficient resources (e.g. time, skills, experience and content), and failure to build relationships. Says Sysomos, “the number of social media failures vastly outnumbers companies that are thriving.” Take a peek and see how you can proudly become part of the minority.

In our hyper-connected society, how can brands manage their employees’ online activity, keep negative comments at bay and stir up positive chatter about their companies? Forrester’s Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler, in this article for the Harvard Business Review, share insight about how companies can successfully embrace the “empowered employee” to their benefit. Includes case studies from Best Buy, Black & Decker, Vail Ski Resorts and Aflac.

According to Bernoff and Schadler, “With all this powerful, inexpensive, easily accessible technology available, every manager has a choice. You can fight your employees’ natural impulse to connect with customers and build solutions. You can lock down the systems, ask IT to block the sites, and ensure that no unauthorized technology-driven activity takes place… But you will spend a lot of energy proving to your employees that you don’t trust them and you don’t want them to innovate. Or you can recognize that your employees are the solution to customers’ problems and find ways to stimulate, harness, and channel their innovations.”

Content Marketing

7 Essential Steps to Creating Your Content Masterpiece
In this post on Copyblogger, Mark McGuinness shares copywriting lessons from Johann Sebastian Bach. (That’s the classical composer, not the hair metal rocker… though that may be a new post waiting to happen.) Money takeaway? Researchers have found that the best classical composers, such as Bach, have one thing in common: an abundance of work. Says McGuinnes, “The truly great composers produce more masterpieces than the others, mainly because they produced more work overall. What distinguished them was not effortless genius or leisurely perfectionism, but relentless productivity.

Tips and Tactics for Effective Proofreading
Advice from Mignon Fogarty (a.k.a. Grammar Girl) on how to effectively proof and edit copy. Though Fogarty admits that the occasional error is inevitable, she offers helpful tips to avoid typos at all costs, such as reading your work backward, out loud and in print. The number-one takeaway, however, is to have someone else check your work whenever possible. 

Included in her sage advice is a telling anecdote about business copywriting: “In addition to the fact that most people don't get a good grammar education, I believe a significant reason you see so many typos and errors on Web pages is that most Web copy never gets reviewed by anyone but the writer before it goes live. By contrast, copy that you see in newspapers and magazines (in addition to being written by professional writers) goes through an extensive editing process.”

(This is actually a reprint of a 2006 Grammar Girl article, but every word is relevant today, perhaps even more so as content publishing becomes an increasingly more popular marketing tactic.) 

Public Relations & Search Marketing

Media Relations 2.0: What Journalists Really Want from PR
Great statistics and insight for PR pros from Tressa Robbins, regarding how to connect with today’s busy journalist. Are press releases dead? Maybe, maybe not. But are reporters stretched thin and actively seeking story information online? Absolutely. (91 percent use Google for research and source-seeking.) The key to reaching them? Developing optimized content (75 percent of reporters see blogs as a helpful source for story ideas and information) and getting active in online communities (almost 50 percent of journalists “lurk” on social networks). The key takeaway from Robbins is: “If you aren’t telling your story, then someone’s telling it for you. If the media can’t find the information they need from you, they will find it elsewhere – and you may not like what they find!”

(Note: It isn’t really made clear in the article where all the stats come from, so I suppose the exact figures should be taken with a grain of salt.)

Why Your Release Might Not Make It Into Google News
Cool informatino from Business Wire on what Google looks for when indexing press releases in its news section. This post outlines some of the most common errors that keep a press release out of Google News, and how to avoid them.

Happy 4th of July!

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