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Archive for the ‘PR’ Category

A deeper look at the demographics of Social Media Users

February 19th, 2013

The Pew research Center has recently releases its U.S.- focused social networking report
which highlighted some interesting trends on who’s using social media most and which social networks are most popular.

You can download the full report here:

In summary: “The Demographics of Social Media Users 2012” study found that the most frequent social media users are women aged 18 to 29. Women have been significantly more likely to use social networking sites than men since 2009. In December 2012, 71 percent of women were users of social networking sites, compared with 62 percent of men.

Overall, 67 percent use Facebook, and 16 percent use Twitter, which is especially appealing to adults in the 18 to 29-year-old category. Key demographics are charted in the images at the bottom of this post.

Pinterest has practically caught up with Twitter, with 15 percent of adult U.S. Internet users.

Pinterest, which launched in 2009, has experienced explosive growth. Women are five times more likely to use Pinterest (5 percent vs. 25 percent) and almost twice as likely to be white and college-educated.

13 percent of U.S. online adults say they use Instagram, 6 percent say they use Tumblr, and 20 percent of U.S. online adults say they use LinkedIn as of August 2012.

40 percent of mobile phone owners use a social networking site on their phone, and 28 percent do so on a typical day.

The report also looked at Creators and curators, defining them as follows:

As of August 2012:
• 46 percent of U.S. adult internet users post original photos or videos online that they themselves have created. We call them creators.
• 41 percent of U.S. adult internet users take photos or videos that they have found online and re-post them on sites designed for sharing images with many people. We call them curators.

Overall, 56 percent of internet users do at least one of the creating or curating activities studied and 32 percent of internet users do both creating and curating activities.

Interestingly, not using social media may be an elite thing. Those with a college degree are slightly less likely than those with some college education to use social networks (69 percent vs. 65 percent).

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Retailers have survived the first digital coming, but what’s next?

January 25th, 2013

(This post was originally published on Mob76 Outlook as a guest post)

HMV’s recent demise was hardly a surprise. The writing has been on the wall for so long that it’s been painted over and graffitied many times since.

If we rewind ten years to 2003, the conversation around retail was focused on the importance of the web , and although not all major retailers had made the move to reinvent their web presence, it was on the agenda.

In many cases this move took some time to happen and latecomers lost market share and revenue opportunities… but those up against the online leaders such as Amazon (launched 1995) and (launched 1998) lost much more. They eventually lost a business.

To read the full post please click here Mob76 Outlook

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The dream of the connected economy

January 22nd, 2013

We proceed in fits and starts in this new age, which, despite our protestations, is a part of the continuum that regulates and defines our procession towards the goals we hold dear.

Nothing can illuminate this more clearly than our current passion for mobile connectivity. At a time when large areas of the landmasses that qualify as the British Isles do not have any connection capability to the internet, we laud the rise of mobile (myself among the crowd).

But when you step back, just half a step, you see quite clearly that this new age is built on a raft of dreams.

This is not to say that the connected economy will not be built, far from it. But it will be built with more dislocations and inequalities than any other age.

To take a broad and inexact sweep from history, the Victorians with capital understood the nature of communications much more precisely than us, I believe.

They knew that to build a communications facility, a major road or railway line for example, would add value to the wealth of the nation and to them because this construction would raise the speed of production and exchange.

It is less clear in our more complex present age how the construction of new connections can benefit both the wealth of the nation and the more hidden corporate structures, rather than individuals or small groups that seek profit from the risk enterprise.

The very fact that connectivity is an extant and growing social concern is witness to the unique problems we have in making distributable money from circuits and conduits.

An expert on Victorian history could provide comparative advice on whether this is a replication of the communications inequalities of that age but I cannot.

What I do see is the building of a highly fragmented series of networks that do two things. First, they always, without fail, promise more than they ever deliver. Second, the companies who are building these conduits ally with device manufacturers to deflect attention from the structural inadequacies of their offerings.

This uneven development “strategy” has no benefit apart from the enormous profits, often subsidised by the taxpayer, that accrue to the builders of the new connected economy.

No doubt, my great grandchildren might look at this post and laugh aloud. I do hope so.

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Mobile set to drive U.S. online ad spend beyond 25% of total ad budget

January 14th, 2013

According to J.P. Morgan, online advertising will pass a key milestone during 2013, accounting for one out of every four dollars spent by U.S. advertisers, as they increasingly follow consumers online.

Internet sector analyst Doug Anmuth has highlighted the importance of Internet-connected mobile devices, as well as the continuing momentum of social media platforms as a key part of online’s growing influence.

Writing in a report released to investors last week, Anmuth confirmed: “As consumer behaviour and time spent online rapidly shifts towards mobile, we expect advertising dollars to follow. We are projecting Internet advertising in the U.S. to grow to $43.5 billion in 2013.”

This represents a 17.4% growth on 2012 online ad spending levels and puts online media at 25% of all U.S. ad budgets.

To underline the influence of mobile, Anmuth estimates about half of the projected growth will be coming from mobile web ad spending. Without the mobile stimulus, online ad spending would grow by roughly 10% from 2012.

The importance of online is nothing new, but it’s continued solid growth and our demand to be connected everywhere is impacting all forms of media, and dictating the development of the advertising that we consume.

Ad funds will always follow the consumer, and the consumer is staying connected, no matter where they are.

Full story here.

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Notes from Social Media Marketing 2012 #SMM12

October 26th, 2012

Yesterday we attended Social Media Marketing 2012, which promised to take a more critical look at social media marketing by focusing on the realities, challenges and what we need to do better, not just the positive stories and back-slapping habits that have become the staple of social conferences.

I have summarised six of the presentations from the day’s discussion,but you can see the full programme here.

1. First up was Mat Morrison, head of social media, Starcom MediaVest Group, who told us: nearly Everything you thought you knew about Facebook is wrong.

Mat kicked off by making some very pertinent points about Facebook marketing, including: “It’s all about the newsfeed not the page.” And confirming that asking people to click the ‘button’ on the left or above, which is a common instruction when encouraging participation, is fine on the page, but doesn’t work in the newsfeed.

In other words, when you are talking to customers, don’t assume they are on your Facebook page, they are probably seeing it in their feeds.

He also reminded the crowd that Facebook apps can be difficult to use on mobile, and with such significant traffic coming mobile users, the potential wastage is significant. Therefore, always think

When he asked if everyone knew what Edgerank is, only one soul was brave enough to say no, to which Mat nailed the explanation with: “Facebook Edgerank is a gnome that decides what stories you see.

Mat proceeded to take us through a few examples of brand engagement with Cineworld and ASOS, who make mistakes early and fix fast, and are a great example of a consumer Facebook page. You can see these in his presentation (see title of his presentation in this post)

Mat asked us to remember:

1. A page isn’t a destination
2. It’s all about the newsfeed
3. A Page isn’t a community
4. Almost no one sees Fan posts
5. Think mobile first

2. We then moved onto our second presentation from Ruth Coates, marketing programme manager – Europe – Staples and Katy Howell, MD, Immediate Future, who gave us an insight into Social strategy in practise: How to meet the challenges of adopting a Social approach

Katy Howell made a good point in relation to strategy to kick-off, focused on where to start in social. She confirmed it’s not just about ‘listening’, it’s about understanding the organisational opportunity for social media.

This means an internal as well as external audit is important, looking at how the organisation uses and wants to work with social, and how social impacts many different elements.

She also suggested that an audit should look at 2-3 years of data, not just 2-3 months, which will not account for seasonal or event-based variations.

Ruth Coates from Staples identified the main internal challenges that she had experienced in relation to developing a social media strategy:

1 Change management & selling the concept

2. Business value: making social ROI-able, i.e. what does social mean to the organisation, not just metrics, but how does social impact organisational value?

3. Harnessing resource in a decentralised organisation, which was amplified by Staples’ huge challenges with multiple territories, multiple offices, multiple languages.

Katy then identified the four steps in establishing that there are enough conversations around the issues related to the brand to justify a social campaign:

1. Shouting out and asking questions – what are these conversations about? Are they just mentions or is there depth, are there questions? Understand this first, then roadmap.

2. Who is talking? Not just who has influence? But who are these people connected to, what are the communities?

3. Diving into the detail – how are they talking?

4. Social media is leaky – social now impacts what goes instore, online, direct mail, photos on Pinterest etc.

Katy summarised this by confirming that social media is data and spreadsheets, and that you need statistically-relevant samples, which confirm the tones of discussions, impressions and ideas, passion, points what are they saying, associations, what specifics are they looking for, behavioural trends.

You then need to create taxonomies to identify correlation and trends.

Strategy is a lot of heavy lifting on the data if you want to get to the goal of adding value to the business.

Once the strategy was ready to roll out, Staples then identified recommendations to move forward:

1. Pilots to validate – Set timeframes, set outcomes, lower investment to see how it works.

2. Phase your approach – in this case a multi-year phased approach, looking at this over time to develop at the pace of your business so that it can integrate with business communications and existing focuses.

3. Tiered implementation – don’t force people to get involved. Pick out pockets where there is eagerness and resource, and demonstrate learnings to the wider business to enable overall internal sell in.

Internal structure
1. Structure the programme and measurement – set up forums to discuss social on a monthly basis internally with teams, best practises, ideas, development.

2. Intensive training framework – ongoing training across the business to continually move forward.

3. Set out the polices and escalation - from guidelines to appearance of profiles and how to react to crisis.


- Cross functional groups – don’t miss out on ideas and opportunities for the business.

- Great communications – communicate the results of social and let people know how the social focuses are going.

- Ideas forum – cross-team and territories to develop ideas.

Since beginning the new social strategy in February 2012, Staples’ EU presence has grown by:
• 9 x FB profiles
• 5 x Twitter profiles
• 7 x G+ profiles
• 6 x YouTube channels

Staples closing comment: “It’s not about building 8 million fans, we would rather have 100,000 fans that deliver value”

3. The next session that I covered was on The Olympics: Big data meets Big event, presents Big challenges by Naomi Trickey, Sales Director for EMEA, Brandwatch

Naomi gave us an overview of data from recent events and news issues, e.g. U.S presidential election, superbowl, etc and confirmed that big data presents big challenges.

She also asked the question; What is Big Data? Suggesting size is not the only thing that matters, it’s also variety, volume and velocity.

She backed this up with a quote from Scott Thomson, head of research, Hypernaked: “Reality is easily accessible data, but you have to frame the right questions”

Naomi confirmed that Big = Relevant and data needs to be relevant. She also confirmed that greater social buzz does not result from a higher advertising spend, a recent example of which has been advertising around the Superbowl.

4. Jeremy Waite, Head of social strategy Adobe EMEA
What’s the Real Value of 1 million Fans?

Jeremy, who is always entertaining and informative in equal measure kicked off with a great quote on social media from Scott Stratten “Social media doesn’t fix anything. It just amplifies things. If your restaurant sucks, it just sucks harder in social media. IT doesn’t make your chicken fingers taste better or your beer taste bolder. social media is not a good place to go if you’re terrible at what you do.”

He also gave us an excellent example of useful content in the form of the recent 007 Skyfall ticket give away video by Coke Zero.

Jeremy suggested that Coke understand it’s all about content and achieved 4 million views in 4 days, probably with a hefty seeding budget.

Jeremy then moved onto the focus of his presentation, which was ROI, quoting both:

Forrester “90% of content marketers only track engagement metrics”


Michael Lebowitz, CEO of Skittles’ ad agency “Anyone who says they can track Facebook activity to sales is in a bubble and living on a spaceship.”

To make his point about the mismatch between traditional ROI and social metrics.

Traditionally the metrics that marketers have used to put a value on a relationship, (that don’t work):
- Fans, followers, subscribers
- Impressions and reach
- Change in sentiment
- Click through rates
- Share of voice
- Engagement
- Dwell time

Jeremy also used a trailer for the movie Money ball to illustrate the importance of ROI.

In brief, Moneyball is a film about the Oakland Athletics’ baseball team that followed a revolutionary way of buying a winning baseball team, with a tight budget, based on player analytics and a supporting algorythm

Jeremy confirmed this is basically a film about ROI

“This is getting everything down to one number. Using stats the way we read them, we will find value in things that nobody else can do.”

He made the point that we can compete in social with those on bigger budgets.

So what is ROI? Jeremy confirmed ROI in social media is the same as ROI in any other area of business.

“How much do I spend, how much do I make, what’s the difference?”

Jeremy confirmed we shouldn’t confuse social media measurement with ROI, the two are separate.

He recommended Olivier Blanchard‘s book: Social media ROI and ran us through an example of ROI on an Angry birds campaign.

5. Michael Litman, senior social strategist, AnalogFolk gave a great presentation on
Pinterest, what is it and why should you care?

He offered some great statistics, including 51% of interbrand top 100 have presence on it and Pinterest is growing, while Twitter, and other network growth is slowing.

He also highlighted that the usage of Pinterest differs from the UK to U.S, e.g
- U.S 83% female
- UK 56% male
- UK interest sectors – Venture capital, PR, content management
- U.S sectors – retail, creative
- 30% of UK users in the highest income bracket vs 5% in US
- Age group of users is mostly 25-44

- Pinterest first social network to reach 10m unique users
- Pinterest is in fact a power channel to build a strong social brand.
- Pinterest is taking traffic away from ‘traditional’ engines and delivering to retailers

6. Squeezing the social SEO value out of your social media campaign
Kelvin Newman, Strategy Director, SiteVisibility

You can see Kelvin’s full presentation here

In summary:

Google is trying to do something that we can all do instinctively – i.e. identify that this website is better than that website.

Google believes the way it is going to improve its algorithm is to understand the social web.

This is the future of what Kelvin referred to as off-site SEO, focusing on three key areas of Author rank, links and social shares.

He believes that G+ is essentially a tool to answer these focuses as it helps Google to find your content quicker and gave us a number of practical implementation points to make the most of Google+, which you can see on the presentation and include:

- Use chrome plugin – share to schedule updates

- Add Google+ sharing buttons to your website

- Use opengraph protocol

- Use Rel author mark up

Overall he suggested we Ignore the haters, because although Google+ isn’t as popular as other networks,  it is hugely relevant to your Google ranking and that is essential.

He believes Google+ is here to stay, will only become more important and is having a bigger influence than most of us realise.

Kelvin also believes that search marketers make good marketers because people that understand search, understand people, which makes them great marketers.

Social Media marketing 2012 was a great success, and everyone that we spoke to thought it had delivered on the objective of taking a harder look at social, so congratulations to the Our Social Times team.

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The Future of newspaper publishing – Orange County Register offers a different path

October 17th, 2012

As you may have seen in the excellent Greenslade blog on Media Guardian yesterday:  a U.S. newspaper has broken with the trend of staffing cuts, and instead hired dozens of reporters to focus on quality journalism and ultimately boost its print readership.

The title in question is the Orange County Register, published in Southern California, which has recently employed about 50 editorial staffers to add to its existing staff of 180.

As an example of this quality local focus, the paper recently sent 40 journalists and photographers to cover high school sporting events in one weekend.

That’s some serious investment in quality content, but why this change from the usual path of online first?

According to a report in NiemanLab the new focus is due to a change in strategy since the paper was acquired by investment group 2100 Trust.

The Orange County Register’s Editor, Ken Brusic said “Think about a Starbucks model. If each day you went into Starbucks and plunked down $4 for a latte, and the cups got smaller and the content got weaker, chances are you’d stop going to Starbucks. That’s basically what newspapers have been doing as a way to deal with decreases in advertising revenue. The new guys are attempting to reverse that trend, and are attempting in a variety of different ways.

“In the meantime, we are moving as fast as we can to increase the quality of the print edition, because that really is where so much of the revenue comes from.

“The new owners have decided that the way they want to proceed with a business model is to really move from solely an advertising-based newspaper model to a subscriber-based one, and in order to accomplish that – basically, what we need if we’re going to charge more – is more quality in the newspaper.”

The strategy includes increasing subscription prices and a paywall, which is likely to go up before the end of the year.

This move seems to make sense, and counters the failing of some traditional media that falter because they reduce quality to focus purely on web-based services. This approach fails to take into consideration why readers, or anyone for that matter, would access content online if the quality is reduced?

In the Niemanlab piece, Brusic confirmed that improving print first doesn’t mean abandoning digital. It does, however, mean cutting back on “things that seem to be distracting the staff from the basic mission, which is to increase quality first in print.”

“The staff still file breaking news to the web, still understands the importance of mobile and digital, but we really have pulled back from chasing empty pageviews and are focusing really on – whether you’re dealing with print or digital – the core mission should be to build quality in content and build a core audience.”

It maybe seen as a risky strategy in the longer term, but it’s a strong differentiator.

By investing in quality, the Orange County Register is giving its loyal and hungry audience exactly what it wants, focusing on the news that they can’t get elsewhere.

It is also adhering to the number one rule of content marketing, which is quality over quantity, and although the investment may not be rewarded in full, it shows a brave approach to solving the traditional vs. digital publishing question.

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The FT recognises a necessary evolution for the PR industry

October 8th, 2012

As you may have seen last week, the FT published a story titled ‘PR and news boundaries are being redrawn’ and it was refreshing to read a piece on the PR industry, written by someone outside of the sector, that focused on a future beyond media relations alone.

The piece by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson overviews the evolution of PR and highlights the development of press release distribution services such as PR Newswire and BusinessWire. These services have a reputation as a channel to reach journalists, but are now being re-born as content distribution platforms.

This change mirrors the way the PR industry is changing as a whole, and this is now beginning to be understood from a wider business perspective.

In my opinion, the media relations tag attached to PR, or should I say shackled to PR, has limited its growth and wider potential as a strategic communications advisor. The PR industry should never have been defined by one tactic alone, and in fairness PRs should not have been willing to go along with the hacks / flacks story. This single minded approach contributed to PR’s slow reaction to the digital and social opportunities of the past 10 years, partly because it had been guilty of misunderstanding the relevance.

The simple truth is that PR has the potential to build the story of a brand, and by story I don’t mean misleading the market in the time honoured tradition of ‘leading solutions provider of industry x’, nor do I mean developing stories in relevant media to convince audiences that brand x is the one they should choose.

I simply mean understanding a brand, its offering and its industry, and translating that understanding into conversations supported by useful content that can help it to communicate the brand’s true potential and vision.

The tactical implementation of that story telling is really where the industry has been hung up for too long, but the PR industry’s strength is that it can build and tell the story, regardless of the method in which it is delivered.

This isn’t a question of tactics, the story is the interesting element, it’s the story that builds interest in a brand, it’s the story that drives conversation and it’s the story that will bring results.

But I digress, back to the piece, which for me came to life in the final paragraph:

“Producing readable, watchable corporate content will not be easy. It will also require much closer integration of advertising, digital marketing, PR and investor relations. But search and social media trends suggest corporate content will only grow. Whether media outlets like it or not, every company will have to become a content company.”

Sweet words of wisdom.

Quality content delivered by the integration of so called ‘channels’ that can no longer live separate from each other. That for me is the future, don’t focus too heavily on the implementation but tell the story.

After all, isn’t that what the PR industry should have been doing all along?

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Defining a social media team

September 11th, 2012

As you may have seen earlier this week, Jeremiah Owyang published a post titled: Breakdown: Corporate social media team.

Jeremiah introduced the post as follows: “The purpose of this post is to be a living document and industry reference on the topic of social media teams, as part as my ongoing coverage of corporate social media programs. This perspective stems from industry research and deeper client engagements.”

He also offered the following definition of a corporate social media team: “The Corporate Social Media team is business program lead by a corporate social strategist that achieves business goals using social tools by coordinating with multiple business units across the enterprise.”

As you can see from the image below, Jeremiah has defined the average team size as 11. Now before you comment that a social media team of that size is very rare, please note in the definition above, and throughout the piece, that the team is rightly made up of the coordination with multiple business units across the organisation.

Definition of the corporate social media team, by Jeremiah Owyang

As he notes: “In most cases, we see this team as a centralized resource that’s often cross-functional working closely with a number of corporate functions as well as business units ranging from product teams, geographies, the field, and departments.”

This the reality of the social media team, and although current actual team size is not as big as it is likely to become, we need these cross-function and cross-discipline teams to pull together the disparate elements and departments affected by social.

Jeremiah’s breakdown of the corporate social media team is one of the better resources that I’ve seen, covering: strategy, anatomy, matrix breakdown by role, team characteristics and a selection of resources and further research.

This post equips any organisation to not only begin developing a social media team, but re-work an often shambolic internal communications process and introduce socially-motivated conversations and connections between teams that would otherwise repeat or contradict each other.

Our recent whitepaper on Social CRM touched on this issue and contains further useful information on the types of information that should be shared and which departments should be involved.

The reasons for this approach and the cultural change required are summarised in this post.

Furthermore, if you’re not part of a corporate and don’t have the capacity to put all of the recommendations into action, the social media for Start-ups post that I wrote recently for TechCrunch should also be helpful.

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Social Communications for Start-Ups – the Myths and Realities

August 28th, 2012

This article was originally published as a guest post on TechCrunch If you would like to view the full article please click here

Engaging with your target audience through social media is one of those actions often pushed to the bottom of the pile for Start-Ups, or even worse, it is assumed that social comms will be covered by the knowledge of existing team members. Unfortunately that rarely turns out to be the case.

If you haven’t developed a plan for social, you may be leaving the communication of your product, conversations with your customers/potential customers, and potential investors, to chance.

Let’s start by clearing up a few misconceptions about what social communications are. Brand communications in a social environment should be focused on customer need. This need is not motivated by being a fan or friend of your organisation but by deriving value from the customer’s engagement with the organisation.

Before you decide that you don’t have time, perhaps ask yourself what you are making time for.
Last year, the Harvard Business Review Analytics Services survey of 2,100 organisations discovered that 79% are currently using social media channels. They also asked them what they saw as the benefits of social media. Here are the top 5 results and feedback from the real world. You can see the full list here:

The major benefits of Social Media, include:
1. Increased awareness of the organisation
2. Increased traffic to website
3. Greater favourable perceptions of the brand
4. Able to monitor conversations about the organisation
5. Increase in new business

So assuming you’re ready to invest some time, what are the options for Start-Ups?

You can read the full post on TechCrunch

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SEOs will slaughter careless PRs – some thoughts

August 22nd, 2012

Image of ice cream with PR, SEO and links as a perfect solution

Chris Lee’s eConsultancy post – “SEOs will slaughter careless PRs” is a bit of a shocker. His Biblical reference is powerful and apposite. Old stories always work well.

We feel comfortable with these tales because they reinforce our collective sense of self and are very useful. But behind this agreed unity there is a less coherent argument.

Chris’s argument, as I understand it, centres on the fact that too many PR agencies do not see the point of integrating SEO into their campaigns. I’d take us out of that equation and would also expand Chris’s viewpoint. Believe it or not, there are many PR agencies that still don’t embrace social media, let alone SEO.

We’ve been integrating social media with ‘traditional’ PR and SEO at Liberate Media since 2006, working with partners and client agencies. That’s why colleague Lloyd Gofton founded the agency.

We’ve been doing what Chris suggests for six and more years:

· Link building from diverse and authoritative sites.

· Social media signals.

· Optimisation of on-page content.

· Optimisation of URLs.

· Universal search (pictures, video etc).

· Domain-level brand metrics (affinity towards the brand online).

But we’ve been doing much more than this – delivering integrated campaigns that mesh social with traditional PR so that the SEO element of marketing can maximise returns. We engage with media and influencers at every point, online and offline.

That said, my experience of SEO is that it is, at best, an inexact science. Measurement parameters are imprecise. This lack of detail is partly a function of the continual development of search engine algorithms, and the desire of Google to maximise its revenues.

But there is a certain easy acceptance of SEO data that does not push agencies to move forward. From my personal experience, there is only so far you can go with “secret sauce”.

Sure, we can deliver reports that have a range of good-looking figures but whether these correspond precisely to what is going on is not proven.

My intuition is that the current SEO play is under sustained pressure and is seeking partners who can add significant value, through knowledge, connections and expertise, to the proposition.

Partnership with PR agencies might be a way forward but the measurement tactics would need careful attention on both sides.

We’re neither smug nor careless about our business, which is growing rapidly against the grain. As Chris intimates, the skills and nous involved in successful SEO and PR are a rare commodity, one that we will continue to develop.

You can read Chris Lee’s post here.

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