Stephanie Johnson

Stephanie Johnson

These are my thoughts about online marketing and industry practices, both good and bad, to help you understand the importance of controlling your image in today’s media-rich online environment.

You can also find me on

Friday, 26 December 2014 00:00

Top energy blogs

Kudos to Delphian Ballistics, a self-described "true technology business" specializing in perforation systems, for the best year-end PR idea:  The Dec. 8 posting of a list of the top 50 oil-and-gas blogs and news sites.

The post in the company's Well Perforating Systems blog was a guaranteed winner on LinkedIn, a huge public service for all of us working in the industry, and great PR for inkybee, a market research firm.

Why do we think the listing is so ingenious? The right kind of analytics via a very indirect sales pitch. As twinengine.com observed Oct. 13, "we continue to see an increase in social media adoption in the oil and gas industry over the course of 2014 ... Overall, social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing. Social media is all about the effectiveness of connecting with your target audience wherever they are looking for information, and communicating the information they are searching for."

As the energy industry heads into yet another bust, expect service providers like Delphian Ballistics to up their editorial game. Content isn't just "king" -- it's the key to survival.

Wednesday, 08 October 2014 00:00

Stop flirting with Google

google"But I should be No. 1!"

Business owners can't understand why the “SEO company” they paid $300 a month to improve their search rankings ... didn't.

Many even trusted established media outlets that promised results like “you'll be number one in just a year.”

The problem is that Google has outgrown the fun-and-game relationships it previously fostered with online businesses. So-called SEO companies know this -- but like the business owners that hire them, they're looking for a quick fling. 

Google doesn't like one-night stands with meta-tags any more.

Google wants a committed relationship that includes background checks, lots of talking, mutual respect and strong evidence of a sparkling personality. Want to be No. 1? Stop flirting with Google and get serious. 

It takes time, commitment and dedication to execute a real SEO campaign. But the payoffs can be huge for your business.

Google must find you worthy

The search giant is obsessed with giving users of its search services good experiences. If your site can't deliver the best, most-relevant content to user searchs, forget it.

Google likes online partners it deems “real,” who look and sound confident. Your website must reflect success in your field. Others on the Internet, including on social media sites, should talk about you in positive ways because you’re an authority on your particular topic.

Google’s indexing algorithm will size you up, and determine your authority and reputation based on your site's ability to attract visitors with the most relevant content.

To be loved, your website must be dynamic (you add content regularly). Your site and all linked social media should be active with people talking up your business. Visitors to your site should be feel compelled to add blog comments, make Facebook posts and comments, share your site's content with social media, and talk about you on their own websites. And don't overlook Google+. You may have heard it's reorganizing, but Google+ is still obsessed with finding ways to deliver the best content to its users. Your Google+ page will continue to be a strong indicator of quality content.

Looks are important

Google is attracted to websites that keep their shape. How does your site look and feel? Trendy? Lots of images? Videos? Great slideshow? All of these should deliver a great experience for the visitor.

Your website must meet current technical criteria for things like load-times and latest updated versions.

Also, a flashy mobile site is a real turn-on for Google. Google wants your customers to be able to find you at any time. If you don't look good on the iPhone or Android, Google's algorithms will be turned off by your appearance – regardless of whether you think your business needs a mobile site.

Don't forget to use headlines and sub-heads, bold-faced and italics in your body copy. Google places extra emphasis on these elements.

Intelligence is sexy

Google listens closely to what your content says. Everything you post should uniquely reflect your business, your online business model and your authority in that line of business. There is no room for exaggerations or half-truths in a Number One Google relationship. As one SEO expert observed, “Your website should reflect your company’s very DNA.”

So don't whisper sweet nothing’s into Google's ear. The first rule of marketing is to never dilute your brand. Develop a specific mission statement or a key message and be 100-percent certain that all of your content derives from this one promise to the search giant. There are many ways to say the same thing, and Google will love them all (especially if you blog about them).

Don’t be coy

Google also wants you to show your love with press releases and earned media. Nothing excites Google more than seeing how much others validate your messaging with a great story in local media.

Use old-fashioned PR to score an article in your city newspaper. Upload information and images about an upcoming event onto every media site you can think of. Don't overlook local or suburban newspapers. 

The first rule in both the Googlesphere and journalism is, be credible. Nothing makes you more believable than a byline.

Treat Google to PPC

Google rewards cold, hard cash through its Pay-Per-Click or PPC campaigns. Those little ad boxes that appear above and to the side of every search query? One of those could be yours. Research key words relevant to your business and set a budget. Google will flash your ad every time one of your potential customers enters search queries that meet your parameters. You'll also be rewarded with a little bump in your rankings. 

Grow on Google

Our clients tell us their businesses feel the Google love. A major law firm we represent realized a 35-percent increase in business in one practice area just six months after we commandeered its site. Our personal favorite? A small, neighborhood deli that feeds us fresh, red lentil soup and Reuben sandwiches now resides at #2, just under world-famous Kenny & Ziggy's. Google them. "New York Deli Houston."

SEO really, really works. But there are no quick fixes. Living happily ever after isn't easy with Google. Its rules change constantly. But the No. 1 rule for making it to No. 1 is be yourself. Your authentic self. Amplify your online presence by paying attention to what Google really wants. Stop flirting and get serious.

Tuesday, 06 May 2014 00:00

Online C-O-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y

Christel Quek, regional content lead at Twitter, offers some great advice on how to build communities using any online forum.

C - Collaboration

O - Openness

M - Mediation

M - Magnetic

U - Utilitarian

N - Nice

I - Integrity

T - Tact

Y - Yield

Play nice and have fun in the big, online sandbox!

Monday, 05 May 2014 00:00

'Ask the editor' speaks

One of LieberJohnson's Monday morning highlights is reading the best of the AP Style Guide's "Ask the Editor" column from last week.

AP Style is the Bible of journalists and flaks alike, so it was with great chagrin that we failed this one:

Question: "Does one put a comma between 'anyone' and 'anywhere' in this sentence? Anyone anywhere can participate in the event."

Answer: "Comma not needed."

Those of you who attended the University of Missouri-Columbia probably heard Brian Brooks' voice in your head as you read this.

Guess we'll stick to Oxford commas and the third-item rule.

Monday, 05 May 2014 00:00

He said/she said

What do BP and George Clooney have in common?

Over the weekend, both the oil-and-gas giant and the suave heart throb of millions attempted to explain their positions on wildly contentious issues.

In BP's case, chief spokesperson Geoff Morrell and lead attorney Ken Olson faced off with Scott Pelley on CBS' 60 Minutes to defend the company against charges it's "backpedaling on a settlement with oil spill victims." You can watch BP's masterful defense of its brand here.

Now that we've grabbed your attention with our lede . . . 

Clooney decided it was time to settle a score against Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn. In April, the two got into an argument which resulted in each using the "d" word to each other. And the "a" word, as Clooney's publicist told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Clooney, the self-appointed world conscious once lampooned on South Park, also claimed he was defending President Obama against Wynn, who purportedly used the "a" word to describe the president.

Wynn struck back on Bloomberg, describing Clooney as a mollycoddled actor cocooned from the real world by yes-men and yes-women who are solicitous and caring.

Fresh off his engagement to classy human rights champion Amal Almuddin, Clooney opted to flip Wynn off with a blow-by-blow diatribe. Highlights? "Again, he can make up whatever story he wants, but these are the facts. He said I drank 16 shots of tequila. I didn't drink one shot of tequila, not one. We were drinking but it was early and we still had two events to attend."

Too bad he's not on Twitter, which famously limits character counts, forcing the impugned to limit vitriol to a clever, pithy sentence, hash tag and hyperlink.

If Clooney wants to become a world-class thought leader - and, rumor has it, run for political office - he needs to follow basic tenets of media relations and stakeholder engagement employed by BP. 

At the very least, he should hire LieberJohnson to script his public statements and make sure at least one obseqious lawyer reviews them before release.

 

Friday, 02 May 2014 00:00

Gray Lady digitizes

The Gray Lady digitizes...if The New York Times bows to online media - shouldn't you? We can help!

Friday, 04 April 2014 00:00

Twitter tips

In PR, the more you can think and act like a journalist, the better your media placements. In internal communications, the more you write and mimic the journalistic style, the more-credible your content.

LieberJohnson was surprised by some of the pointers Mark Luckie, manager of Journalism and News at Twitter, shared yesterday with multimedia photojournalist Heather Martino on pbs.org's Media Shift/Knight Projects. The Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism focuses on fostering new business models to ensure the sustainability of high-quality journalism.

Read the interview here - the quick tips below will help, but proper usage is nuanced.

1. Live Tweet

2. Use hashtags

3. Use Twitter handles

4. Retweet others

5. Use media

Other takeaways:

"Video is the fastest growing thing on Twitter."

dev.twitter.com offers custom-player cards for videos

"The more hashtags you use, the less likely someone is to interact with that Tweet."

Call us if interested. The publication seeks to interview a VP of sales/business development who sets sales strategy for a company whose revenues exceed $75 million. Query courtesy of helpareporter.com.

Friday, 04 April 2014 00:00

Social-media graham crackers

Nabisco wasn't amused by haters who blasted their  "wholesome" graham-cracker commercial supporting families of all colors and sexual preferences.

Yesterday, Consumerist posted this about how Honey Maid Graham Crackers dunked One Million Moms in a little negative publicity of their own making, printing out letters they sent or emailed in protest of gay marriage and sculpting them into a cursif version of the word  "Love."

The original Honey Maid commercial aired March 10. By the way, it was originally derided as a knock-off of Cheerios' lovely homage to a bi-racial family's breakfast. Who says big companies can't recover from a lazy ad campaign and, respond proactively in real time?

It's nice to see brands defend themselves in creative ways guaranteed to increase sales. Brands knock themselves out trying to create word-of-mouth buzz about their products. This ploy succeeded beautifully, for all the right reasons. 

As the clever copywriters at Jezebel.com noted: "This is the absolute best way to respond to trolls who have nothing better to do but write dumb comments to companies that make honey graham crackers."

Tuesday, 01 April 2014 00:00

Nice one, HBO!

Stand down, Peter Dinklage fans. Cap the umbrage. HBO's marketing department was just kidding.