How to Keep Your Online Video Out of Court

Sue Stolov

Sue Stolov, director, producer and writer with Washington Independent Productions in Washington, D.C.

Chances are pretty good that if you have been producing online video for your clients, you’ve probably included several of these:

  • A TV news clip
  • Stock images
  • Government provided b-roll
  • Several seconds of a song

Think you can do all that? Think again.

While new technology has made it easier to edit and post quicker, the laws are still the same. In fact, according to media and internet law attorney Laura Possessky “it’s gotten pretty challenging for PR to avoid legal issues with online video,” because “PR use is by definition not necessarily a commercial use, and it is not necessarily a news event, so the legal rules on this are more gray than black and white. That means PR professionals are always having to make that critical judgement—what is the piece going to represent and what is the context here.”

Combine that with the latest trend—the ramped up speed with which YouTube and other internet distributors pull down a video even if there is only a hint of copyright concern, and you’ve got a challenging situation. No one wants to waste their client’s money by producing a video that gets pulled, and no one wants that client’s video to wind up in court.

So how do we improve critical judgement skills? Learning some basics about copyright and fair use will empower you to know what you can and can’t do. And making some of these tips part of your video modus operandi can go a long way. So here’s what to look for with each of the above scenarios:

Using TV News Clips

This is probably the copyright issue that comes up most often in PR, and it’s where you really get to flex your judgement skills. Remember the Fair Use Doctrine that you studied in college? Here’s where it applies. At risk of simplifying something complex, media and internet attorney Joy Butler says it’s ok to use copyrighted material without obtaining permission under certain circumstances including “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship and research.” This has been such a gray area, American University’s Center for Social Media and Washington College of Law put together a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video. It’s a great document and worth taking a look at. A co-author cautioned me that it focuses on online video and not specifically online PR video, and they would love to help our industry come up with its own code of best practices for PR video! If this is something that you think would be beneficial to PRSA membership, please let me know and perhaps we can form an exploratory committee.

As with most copyright issues, how you use the material is key. Using a snippet of a TV news clip to show how something was covered in the news media at the time would likely be considered fair use, as long as you’re not indicating that the news station endorsed your subject or product.

Using Stock Footage

Most people assume that paying a stock company for footage or images has them covered, but that is not necessarily the case. Butler, who has written a useful book and companion blog, The Permission Seeker’s Guide Through The Legal Jungle: Clearing Copyrights, Trademarks and Other Rights for Entertainment and Media Productions, says it’s really important to look closely at rights. Most stock footage releases permit use in promotional videos, but not videos about sensitive material. And she says a good example of this is a case filed against Getty Image in which a stock shot was used in an ad that implied the talent was HIV positive. The talent was not and she sued. “The license granted by the stock house frequently includes only rights related to the copyright of the image,” Butler explained, “and leaves the PR firm on its own to clear any additional rights triggered by the use of the image like privacy, publicity and defamation.”

Working on a Federal Government Project

Copyright is approached differently on government projects. Videos made by the federal government, by government employees, are not protected by copyright—that’s not a green light, though, to use footage from a government video. While copyright may be a non-issue, you’re still responsible for any privacy issues or releases from the people who appear in the video. And, if your firm’s producing a video for the government, you’ll need to have the producer sign a work made for hire agreement, otherwise the producer retains the copyright, even if it is paid for by the government.

Can I use that song I heard on the radio last week?

Only if you have a very big wallet and at least a month to obtain clearance! Any music that is used to move along a piece or create mood must be licensed. Get a copy of this license from the producer so you’ll always know how long you can use the music and you will have it if you or your client ever needs proof. Once the term is over, delete the video from the site. Even if you keep the video on a back page that no one can find without a specific URL, content trollers will find it. Music licensing companies have software that locates their music anywhere online, and they will bill you $1,000 or more if the rights were never purchased or expired—that’s what you could be charged even if your original cost would have been $75. No one wants to have to come up with that kind of money five years after a project has been completed.

Two Additional Tips

Both Possessky and Butler were pretty clear that there are steps you can take to minimize the chance you’ll need a lawyer after your video is posted.

  1. Plan Ahead

Possessky says that getting your ducks all in a row at kick-off is probably the most cost-effective way to avoid legal issues. From the start, think very carefully about how you will use the material. Will it be shown at a conference? How many people will see it? Will you use footage provided by a third party and if so in what context? Will it be online and how long?

  1. Review Release Forms

Release forms are especially important for PR firms because our clients will often use footage many different ways, over a period of several years. With most releases, the more encompassing you are with your intended use, the better. In her book, The Permission Seeker’s Guide mentioned earlier, Butler includes rights clearance checklists and sample releases that cover people, location, music, company names, products and 3rd party footage. This sample release from her book, “The rights I grant to Producer are irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, and include the right to use the interview in any form, media, language or technology, now known or later developed,” would likely keep you covered for many years, and cover use in future mediums.

So it’s important that before you upload, you’ve clearly thought through how you are using the material as it relates to releases and rights. That will likely be your best shot in any video you make, and will keep you and your client’s beautifully produced video, online and out of court.

A longer version of this post will appear in the O’Dwyer’s Video & Social Media April issue.

Susan Stolov is a director, producer and writer with Washington Independent Productions in Washington, D.C. She currently authors the video tip series, Beyond Point and Shoot. Follow her @SueStolov and connect with her on LinkedIn.


“Taking it to the Tweets: How Digital Advocacy Will Shape Public Affairs in 2015” Covers Best Practices and Looking Ahead

By Robert Krueger, director of public relations and social media at the Urban Land Institute


From left to right: Anthony Shop, Adora Jenkins, Allie Walker, Phillip Lovell

Are Washington policymakers and staff actually paying attention to your social media posts? It may be surprisingly good news to public affairs offices that policymakers spend a considerable amount of time listening to rather than broadcasting their own messages. That was the panel consensus at a recent PRSA-NCC event entitled “Taking it to the Tweets: How Digital Advocacy Will Shape Public Affairs in 2015.”

The morning panel focused on what digital tools could reach decision makers on Capitol Hill and produce real results. Panel moderator and Co-Founder of Social Driver, Anthony Shop, shared the results of a recent Congressional study on what had more influence: email campaigns, a single Facebook comment, or a Twitter “thunderclap.” To attendees’ amazement, Congressional staff rated the individual Facebook comment as the most influential since they appear the most authentic and least manufactured.

Adora Jenkins, Vice President of External Affairs at the Information Technology Industry Council and Former Press Secretary to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, helped put this into context explaining that government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is limited in what it can broadcast since its social media posts automatically become official responses and part of government record. Because of this, government agencies will use social media platforms primarily as listening tools in order to analyze the sentiment of their constituents.

However, the ability of public affairs offices and lobbyists to take advantage of a social media-attentive Washington culture can be tricky. Panelist Allie Walker, communications specialist at Honda North America and former press secretary to Congressman Dave Camp and the Ways and Means Committee, stressed that the key is giving your public affairs audience the representation you intended. Speaking on reputation management through new digital tools, Walker said that her company focuses on creatively sharing what they have, what they do, and who they are through storytelling. She noted that this starts with listening at both the local and national level, building your image, and then acquiring a base of digital allies that will help communicate your message to policymakers.


From left to right: Susan Matthews Apgood, Allie Walker, Adora Jenkins, Phillip Lovell, Anthony Shop

Phillip Lovell, Vice President for Policy and Advocacy of the Comprehensive School Reform at Alliance for Excellent Education, provided the most detailed example of how a targeted digital campaign can get noticed by policymakers. Targeting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with his 99in5 campaign, his advocacy organization used visual technology to increase awareness to people outside the Washington Beltway. With the goal of getting over 99 percent of U.S. schools to adopt high speed broadband internet within a 5-year period of time, his organization asked students, teachers, and administrators to create and post online videos on why reliable and fast Wi-Fi is important to their school.

What made social media campaigns, like 99in5, such a success was its authentic nature. When digital advocacy campaigns ask constituents to be involved and help create content, a message becomes more genuine due to the fact that you have actual people advocating on behalf of your campaign. Panelists emphasized that whether it is an organically created video or a retweet, it is seen as mobilization by policymakers, and they will surely take notice.


Seeing Is Believing: How to Create Multimedia Content That Gets Seen // Take-aways from the Sept. 17 PRSA-NCC Professional Development Workshop

(Pictured from Left to Right) Justin Bank, Stephen Menick, Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga, John Walls, Drew Blais

(Panelists pictured from Left to Right) Justin Bank, Stephen Menick, Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga, John Walls, Drew Blais

Does your multimedia content have that “gotta see this!” factor? If not, then that’s just one thing you’re doing wrong when trying to get your multimedia content seen.   PRSA-NCC’s “Seeing Is Believing: How to Create Multimedia Content That Gets Seen” event gave valuable insight to attendees that was worth more than admission.

Panelists were:

  • Justin Bank, Director of Digital Audience, Washington Post
  • Stephen Menick, a producer and editor who also teaches Digital Storytelling at WVU’s Integrated Marketing Communications program
  • Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga, Office of Marine Corps Communications Digital Engagement Branch Chief at Headquarters Marine Corps
  • John Walls, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at CTIA, the Wireless Association
  • Drew Blais, Digital Communication Specialist, Van Eperen & Company
  • Moderator:  Meredith Williams, MPH, Principal Associate at Abt Associates

While he spoke last, Van Eperen & Company’s Digital Communications Specialist Drew Blais and his “six steps towards video success” finely encompasses much of what all the panelists advised.  You have to have a strategy in place. That includes knowing your objective, knowing your audience, defining your concept, making sure you have your “gotta see this!” factor, know how you’re going to deliver your content and, last but not least, you have to track your metrics.

(Pictured from Left to Right) Justin Bank, Drew Blais, Meredith Williams, Stephen Menick, Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga

(Pictured from Left to Right) Justin Bank, Drew Blais, Meredith Williams, Stephen Menick, Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga

When it comes to knowing your concept, both filmmaker and Professor Stephen Menek and Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga, gave real-life examples of the type of content people pay attention to and share. Menek shared with the audience that video is less it’s own multimedia content than it is really emotional content. And for Menek, having that “you gotta see this!” factor is big, real big. Take for example Staff Sgt. Fayloga’s short 30-second videos of Marines blowing up targets and military jets taking off from cruise ship carriers. Queuing up videos that get to the point and capture the attention are much more likely to get seen and shared than longer videos without attention-grabbing content.

But not all multimedia content has explosions. Menek’s example of Dove’s real beauty sketches videos (64 million views as of this writing) of a sketch artist capturing how women described themselves and then how others would describe them had nothing to do with selling soap, but had everything to do with connecting with the audience. Dove’s videos was a gift to audiences, sharing a story that captured their attention and earned their loyalty because it connected with viewers at an emotional level.

It’s something that the Washington Post’s Justin Bank, another expert panelist, would likely argue helps your content fight through the noise in a 21st century media environment.  These days there are multiple channels through which you can share your content. Organizations are being equipped with the tools they need to become their own publishers. And multimedia content “breaks the line of sight” according to the Post’s Bank, in a way that most other content won’t.

In general — besides having good content and good concept, whether your multimedia content gets seen or it doesn’t, learning by analyzing your results is key to helping to have your next multimedia content get seen. Don’t ignore Google Analytics or Facebook’s metrics reporting. Use these platforms to identify what works. Use both quantitative data and qualitative reporting to improve your future content and improve your results.

For this event, unveiling some of the secrets on how to get your multimedia content seen may have been the easy part.  The hard part? Putting this panel’s great advice to work and challenging yourself to get your multimedia content seen.


-Written by David Ward, American Wind Energy Association

Pitching Media in the Digital Age: Journalists from Huffington Post & USA Today Weigh In


Arin Greenwood of Huffington Post talks for a packed lunch crowd while Gwen Flanders of USA Today looks on.

The Independent Public Relations Alliance held a packed house lunchtime program in April called, “Secrets to Getting Ink in Traditional and Digital Media” with journalists from the Huffington Post and USA Today. There was plenty of practical advice on pitching that will ring true for PR pros.Gwen Flanders from USA Today covers breaking news. She said pitches should be succinct and to the point (include the 5Ws and the H – who, what, where, when, why, how) and that pitching multiple people in the newsroom is frowned upon. Arin Greenwood  from Huffington Post’s DC page said that pitching multiple people is fine for them, so there is some wiggle room on this point, based on the outlets  being targeted.

Both Flanders and Greenwood prefer pitches arrive via email. Faxes don’t make it onto news desks, so don’t fax anything unless requested. Both recommend including the topic in the subject line (no teasing or coy headlines, no beating around the bush).

It’s essential that PR pros check their work and avoid type-os if they want for a pitch to be taken seriously by journalists. Flanders noted one public relations firm in particular, is notorious for sending out terrible press releases loaded with errors – she ignores anything the firm sends out.

Researching who covers a topic on the outlet’s website, is critical to making a successful pitch. Thankfully, because of the internet, doing this footwork is easier now than its ever been. “It’s your credibility and you should check your work,” said Flanders. “Do your homework and find out who the right person is.”

It’s important to note the perspective of the outlet when putting together your pitch. USA Today is a national newspaper that wants unreported national trends and does not want stories that have already appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post or other competitors. They love exclusives. USA Today especially likes trends that are popping up here, there and everywhere, but have not quite bubbled to critical mass yet. The Huffington Post DC page where Greenwood works is focused on DC based stories, not national ones (although they are routinely pitched national ones).

Deadlines for editors and reporters are constant now in this space. “If I’m at work, I’m on deadline,” said Flanders. She observed that she has double the duties she used to have and edits twice the number of stories she did a few years ago.

The digital world also means story enhancements – graphs, videos, photos, slide shows and interactive elements are more important – so mention these elemental possibilities when pitching a story. Greenwood noted that trying to call journalists at the end of the day is almost always a bad idea – as they are tired, grumpy, and generally trying to get things wrapped up so they can get out of the office.

The digital and print worlds have been on a collision course for a long time. In addition to ratcheting up the deadline pressure to a feverish and never-ending hum, the online world is also opening up new avenues for readership. Flanders noted that USA Today has 1.3 million print readers each day, but has double that number of readers online for its website.

For Huffington Post, readership is a key factor in decision making about a story. “The ‘clicky-er’ it is, the more likely we will write it up,” says Greenwood. Having a DC angle with a story line that stands out is critical for Huffington Post’s D.C. page. Greenwood said, “If it’s saucy enough, we will go for it. The less work you can make me do to figure out if we want to do a story,  the better.”

When it comes to follow-ups, both journalists expressed frustration with public relations staffers who do multiple follow-ups that intrude on their limited time. “Follow up once, not four times,” said Greenwood. And don’t be pushy, advised Flanders.

“Twitter is one more place to look for good stories,” noted Greenwood, when asked by audience members about how they use social media for news gathering. Stories featuring real and living people still reign supreme, said Greenwood.  Flanders noted that her reporters watch Twitter for story ideas, and that attempting to drum up artificial hype in social media is also noticed  (but not in a positive way).

Greenwood said she appreciates the work public relations professionals do and that she wants to hear from them with relevant story pitches. She also reminded the audience that Huffington Post allows blog posts that focus on issues (don’t be overly self-promotional) and op-ed submissions.

PRSA-NCC member and IPRA founding member Ami Neiberger-Miller owns Steppingstone LLC, an independent public relations consultancy working with nonprofit and association clients, with a special focus on supporting organizations assisting trauma survivors. This post originally appeared on her blog.

Message Development: Thinking Inside the Box

To start thinking about message development, consider the following questions:
• Your friend wants to try a new Italian restaurant for dinner. You’re craving sushi. How do you convince her to pick up the chopsticks?

• A CEO doesn’t see the value of starting a company’s twitter feed. What’s the best way for the marketing department to show him that tweeting can bolster the bottom line?

• A government agency wants to reduce the number of teenagers texting while driving. How do they convince “invincible” teens that this behavior is dangerous?
What do these questions have in common? The answer is the need for message development. Whether your goal to enjoy a sushi dinner or promote teen driver safety, the secret to success is developing messages that resonate with the audiences’ values and opinions.
How can you do that? Try using a message box. This tool offers communicators a framework for producing carefully-crafted messages that both respond to a particular audience’s needs and preferences while reinforcing how “the ask,” or desired action, relates to their values.

The messages produced can be used separately or together to achieve a desired outcome. Sometimes, several message boxes need to be created for a particular audience based on themes or ideas that resonate with them. For example, one message box for the CEO could be focused on the business case for twitter while another could focus on how participating in twitter would reinforce company’s commitment to customer service.

The Message Box in Action

Let’s go back to the question about the government agency and their education campaign about texting while driving. The following chart defines each element of the message box and shows messages that could be used for convincing teens that texting while driving as a dangerous activity.

Type of Message Definition Example
The Ask The desired action for the target audience to take. Stop texting while driving.  
The Barrier Message This message counters an audience’s key misconceptions about the particular topic. There should be a message to refute each barrier the target audience(s) may present. Statistics, analogies and quotes are powerful tools for overcoming barriers. Barrier:
I only look at my phone for a few seconds when I text. I can still see what is going on.  Message to Overcome It:
Sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. That is the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field at 55 miles an hour while blind. Is that a risk you’re willing to take?
The Value Message This message is used to connect with a value the audience has about a topic. Not texting while driving doesn’t just mean you will stay safe. It means you will keep your license and others on the road will be safer.
The Vision Message This message reinforces the value message point. It highlights the benefits audience members reap if they take the action in “the ask.”  If  you stop texting while driving, you can  enjoy the privilege of driving and staying safe at the same time.

Do you think that the message box could help you create compelling more messages for you and your clients? Let me know what you think.

Sarah Vogel is a Senior Account Executive at TMNcorp, a full-service communications company in Silver Spring, MD.  Follow her on Twitter @TMNcorp or connect with her on LinkedIn.

What PR Agencies Must Do to Adjust to the Technology Convergence

Today, 82 percent of B2C companies are using social media to track and/or follow up with customers as opposed to 54 percent of B2B companies. Though it’s natural to expect these numbers to be a bit higher compared to the individual rate of social media adoption, these numbers tell us two things. One, B2B companies really didn’t ignore social networking as much as the PR industry may have initially believed. Two, there’s still room for the industry to readjust their capabilities to help clients make the most of social media, the consumer data it can yield and the unconventional paid media schemes Peter Himler talked about in his Forbes article, “PR Agencies’ Lost Year?”.

But before this can happen, PR agencies must move away from such a heavy focus on media placements and broaden their strategic horizons beyond traditional media to influence public perception.

“Social Media requires a PR person to think less about an intermediary—such as a journalist or blogger—and more about the end user, which results in catering for a broad spectrum of needs,” Pete Goold, managing director at Punch Communications, told London-based media and marketing magazine The Drum. “Rather than targeting a single individual with an idea, PRs that manage social media now need to think about the response of a broad demographic—which arguably forces the thinking to be more robust than ever before.”

“It used to be B2B and B2C but now it’s B2P, with P being people,” said Nigel Ferrier director of Optimise PR. “Social media cuts across channels and is all about engaging with individuals, holding conversations not relying on press releases and launches.”

A challenge in moving away from pushing messages to a journalist to initiating and sustaining conversations with the consumer will be the demands of the agency’s current client base. Early in his article, Himler points out that “big global firms certainly have invested in departments focused on brand-building and consumer engagement via the primary social channels (mostly prodded by their forward-thinking, marketing and measurement-driven clients at {consumer packaged goods} companies).” But in the next few paragraphs, he explains that the PR industry may be unable to alter their view of client success when “many clients still define PR success by an appearance on NBC Today, a feature in the Wall Street Journal, a hit in TechCrunch, or a photo layout in People magazine.”

As some clients continue to hold on to one-dimensional perceptions of PR success, while others push for a wider view of consumer data and engagement, does an agency move toward providing higher-level digital solutions or do they continue to give clients the placements they so desperately seek? Perhaps the answer lies in simultaneous change. PR agencies should embrace the pressure from more forward-thinking clients to diversify agency digital offerings. At the same time, the PR agency should educate current and future clients with a deeper dive into the wealth of data and carefully crafted results social media tools can yield.

This blog post is an excerpt from aiellejai’s newest white paper, Blindsided! Why the rapid pace of social media communication and measurement is leaving PR agencies behind.” Angie Jennings Sanders is the chief content architect at aiellejai, a boutique content creation consultancy specializing in marketing communications project management, social media engagement, writing instruction/tutoring and book writing/publishing strategy. Follow her on Twitter at @pronouncedALJ.

5 Ways to Transform Your Blog Post Into Endless Tweets

Click the presentation above to view the 41 examples below that form the heart of this post. 

You just finished a killer blog post. Reliving the process: first you had to pitch the idea to your editor. Then you reworked the angle to satisfy his feedback. Then it was research time, wherein you bumped up against facts that challenged your hypothesis. Finally, you penned the piece, sweating over decisions as light as commas, as lofty as conclusions.

Now, the post has been published. And you, like a wide-eyed kitten mesmerized by a shiny new object, sit in thrall to the whimsies of the web—watching, waiting, wishing for the big payoff.

Slowly, the clicks come trickling in. But why settle for a trickle when these numbers could be a raging torrent? As soon as your article goes live, it behooves you to SHOUT IT from the rafters. You labored so long and hard on the writing, shouldn’t you reward your efforts with a little promotion?

Indeed you should. In fact, every hack must now be his own flack.

Contrary to custom, a blogger’s job doesn’t end once you click “publish.” Far from it. In this Age of Big Data, where every blog, vlog, and broadcast lives and dies by metrics, your success depends on your page views. (At least if you’re writing for Forbes, Gawker, or Business Insider; if your pub is Mashable, the Times, or New York, you’re ranked on the number of times your story is shared, emailed, or commented on, respectively. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.)

And when eyeballs count, Twitter is your best friend. Quicker than placing a phone call, easier than drafting an email, and more trackable than Linking In, tweeting facilitates the Holy Grail of PR: one-on-one outreach en masse.

To wit: Twitter lets you repackage and repurpose your content. This is crucial: you can’t just tweet once, kitten, and expect to snag that ball of string. You must tweet and tweet again, baiting your tweet with various angles and hooks, casting it to segmented audiences.

Equally crucial: instead of publishing your tweets all at once, you need to unloose them over the next few days. (Since the first 24 hours are the most important, it’s best to frontload your tweets for the day of publication, then dribble the rest out over the next day or two.)

This is the playbook I followed for a post I wrote last year for Mashable, which has been shared more than 3,100 times. Here’s how you can achieve similar results for your next piece:

1. Tweet Summaries, Excerpts, and Teasers

Every digital native knows how to tweet the obvious “Check out my new post.” But when the half-life of a tweet is less than three hours, you must keep pushing. Like a politico on the campaign trail, you must say the same thing over and over, drawing on different words for different audiences.

To this end, go beyond the headline and review your text line by line. Identify the juiciest parts, then carve each one into 140 characters of catnip. If your post is meaty, you’ll be able to extract a plethora of summaries, excerpts, and teasers (facts and stats are invariably appetite-whetting). Here are the tweets I crafted to promote my post:

  1. My new post for @Mashable: How to Optimize Your Headlines for Google and Humans –
  2. Done right, a #headline will stop a mouse-moving, page-scrolling, attention-deprived user in his pixels –
  3. In addition to writing for eternity, or for one’s mother, today’s writer must also write for Google –
  4. With this foundation, you’ll be able to pull off one of the web’s hardest acts: you’ll be able to make Google laugh –
  5. New Blog Post: How to Make Google Laugh: SEO Your Headlines –
  6. RT @Mashable: How to Optimize Your #Headlines for Google and Humans – #SEO
  7. Algorithms don’t appreciate wit, irony, humor, or style –
  8. The secret of stellar #SEO is that you can have your cake and eat it, too –
  9. Why bother with a meta description? –
  10. Google, SEO and Writing a Great Headline –
  11. How the Mainstream Media Are Optimizing Their Headlines for Google –
  12. 3 Ways to Make Your Headlines Catnip for Search Engines – #SEO

2. Send Shout-Outs (aka Kiss-Ups)

No doubt, you quoted, mentioned, or linked to others in your post. Be sure to recognize them. Play on their vanity—flattery will get you everywhere. Your unspoken goal: get them to share your post with their network. Here are the shout-outs I circulated:

  1. @DeadlineDiaries Your post, “Google Doesn’t Laugh,” inspired me to write this for @Mashable –
  2. @SteveLohr Remember when you wrote, “This Boring Headline Is Written for Google”? At @Mashable, I offer a solution –
  3. @yoast Today on @Mashable, I link to and praise your WordPress plug-in for SEO –
  4. @SEOmoz @RandFish In a just-published post for Mashable, I quote heavily from your guidance on meta descriptions –
  5. @GeneWeingarten Remember “Gene Weingarten Column Mentions Lady Gaga”? In fact, you can have your cake and eat it too –

3. Give Thanks

If anyone helped you along the way, remember what your mother taught you: thank them. Here are my acknowledgments:

  1. @PardonMyFrench Thanks for helping me take this from an idea in an email to a 1,000-word post for @Mashable –
  2. @lyontef Thanks for helping me take this from an idea in an email to a 1,000-word post for @Mashable –
  3. @ChuckDefeo Thanks for helping me take this from an idea in an email to a 1,000-word post for @Mashable –

4. Push FYIs

Certainly, you can think of people whom your post will interest. Instead of guessing their email address, find their Twitter handle, which is publicly available even if their tweets are private, and tweet them your link.

The caveat: Be careful not to be seen as self-serving. Instead, ask for feedback, or tie your tweet to a subject near and dear to your acquaintance’s heart. Feel free to adapt the headline of your post as needed. Here are the FYI tweets I sent forth:

To the Media

  1. @JackShafer Some news organizations are optimizing their headlines for Google. Others are not. Curious? –
  2. @HowardKurtz This may interest you: How News Outlets Are Optimizing Their Headlines for Both Google and Humans –
  3. @poynter @abeaujon @juliemmoos Here’s an easy way that editors of news websites can SEO their headlines –
  4. @NiemanLab Which news organizations are optimizing their headlines for Google? The results may surprise you –
  5. @zseward If you have a few minutes, I’d love your thoughts on this: How News Outlets Are SEO-ing Their Headlines –
  6. @JeremyStahl @KGeee This may interest you: How News Outlets Are Optimizing Their Headlines for Both Google and Humans –
  7. @AntDeRosa Any thoughts on this? How News Outlets Are Optimizing Their Headlines for Both Google and Humans –
  8. @nxthompson Over at @Mashable, I offer some ideas on how the @NewYorker can better SEO its headlines –
  9. @lheron Over at @Mashable, I offer some ideas on how @WSJ and @NYTimes can better SEO their headlines. Whaddya think? –
  10. @pilhofer @sashak @lexinyt Over at @Mashable, I laud the @NYTimes’s SEO strategy –
  11. @rajunarisetti Over at @Mashable, I commend the @WSJ’s SEO strategy –
  12. @Ckanal The @HuffingtonPost’s SEO program was recently featured on Mashable –
  13. @ethanklapper No doubt, you could have written this in your sleep: How News Outlets Are SEO-ing Their Headlines –
  14. @JenNedeau I recently knocked @TIME’s SEO strategy—or lack thereof. Any thoughts? –

To the SEOers

  1. @JaredBKeller Do your @TheAtlanticWire responsibilities include SEO? If so, here’s some unsolicited advice –
  2. @MattCutts I’d love to know what you think of this: How to Optimize Your Headlines for Google and Humans –
  3. Hey @SEOSteve Is this Mashable post on SEO accurate? –

To the Wordsmiths

  1. @Plain_Language Where do plain languagers come down on the issue of writing for Google vs. writing for humans? –
  2. @JesseSheidlower Are you as troubled as others by the need today to write for Google rather than humans? –

5. Drop ICYMIs

In your regular use of Twitter, you’ll likely come across people discussing a subject that pertains to your post. If so, chime in and contribute to the conversation.

The caveat: Make sure the connection is significant. Just because someone links to a post about search engine optimization doesn’t make your post on this subject germane. Relevance requires more than scanning for hash tags. Again, tailor your tweet so that it flows into the dialogue, rather than intrudes on it.

Here are the in-case-you-missed-it opportunities I harnessed:

  1. @laureni @1bobcohn Here’s the counterargument on why writing to attract Google’s algorithms still matters –
  2. @cmoffett Why they should –


Of course, the above tweets constitute an aggressive thrust. At this rate, you’re tweeting once every 25 words. Isn’t that excessive? Isn’t this all just a cover for shameless self-promotion?

On one hand, it is. As such, consider warning your followers that over the next day or so, a spammer will be hijacking your Twitter feed.

On the other hand, in a digiverse that grows more crowded by the second, you owe it to yourself to wring every tweet, like, plus, pin, digg, comment, view, and email out of everything you create. Whether you’re a guest contributor or a staff writer, self-promotion is an inescapable part of today’s creative process. The more opportunities you can create and maximize, the more your hard work will receive the recognition it deserves.

Jonathan Rick is the president of the Jonathan Rick Group, a digital communications firm that helps brands use social media to shape and tell their story. Follow him on Twitter, circle him on Google+, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

A version of this blog post appeared in PR Daily.