GOT fans learn to speak High Valyrian in this week’s PR round up!

Last week saw White Walkers from HBO’s most popular TV series, Game of Thrones, descend upon London Bridge. As the show returned this week, even more brands launch GOT related campaigns and this week’s PR round up highlights a couple of our favourites, alongside creative PR from easyJet, Reebok and EE.

Learn High Valyrian with duolingo

The first of our Game of Thrones related campaigns comes from duolingo, the free language platform. Instead of using the app to learn French or Spanish, you can now use it to brush up on your High Valyrian skills, the fictional language spoken by the Targaryen family in GOT.

Huffington Post creator David J. Peterson said “You will be able to produce and understand some of the more famous lines like ‘a dragon is not a slave’ and a lot of Daenerys’ titles.”

“Not all of them, but a lot,”

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Tourism Ireland’s Game of Thrones Tapestry

Our second GOT campaign this week comes from Tourism Ireland. With Northern Ireland earning its title as GOT territory, the tourist board have created a giant tapestry which depicts in great detail, every single episode in the series.

The tapestry which has been created over the course of three months is set to grow, reaching 250ft in length by the end of the show as new episodes are added. You can view the tapestry for yourself on their website or visit the real version in the Ulster Museum in Belfast from the 22nd July.

easyJet’s launches “Flybaries”

As schools finish up for the Summer and families across the UK jet off on holiday, low cost airline easyJet have launch “Flybaries”. An initiative created after recent research suggested that children are reading fewer books on holiday than their parents did.

The campaign involves turning their planes into libraries, by hiding up to 7,000 classic children’s books in the aircrafts seat pockets. Onboard, children can also download further books, including an exclusive title from Dame Jaqueline Wilson.

Reebok’s reactive PR

When is it appropriate to say to someone “you’re in such good shape… beautiful”? Hint: not when you’re meeting the first lady of France in front of the worlds media.

During President Trump’s short visit to France recently, he managed to cause controversy for some inappropriate remarks made to first lady, Brigitte Macron. Spotting an opportunity to step in and correct the US president, Reebok quickly jumped on his controversial comments by creating an infographic about where and when this type of comment is appropriate.

The tweet has already had over 52,000 retweets and 88,000 likes!

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EE celebrate their 4GEE community cinema club

In a year where EE are celebrating their 20-year partnership with BAFTA and the fact that their 4G coverage reaches 80% of the UK, the mobile network is bringing outdoor cinema experiences to rural areas. The 4GEE Community Cinema Club film series will be hosted in various locations across the UK this summer proving the reliability of their 4G service.

The first event which took place this week gave climbers from Real Adventure Climbing Group stream movies at 500m above sea level in Cumbria. You can apply to be part of the campaign via the EE website.

Why microsites are bad for SEO

What is a microsite?

A microsite is a website owned by a brand but located on a separate domain to the brand’s homepage, usually on a subdomain or separate URL.

When SEO is a consideration, it’s always better to host new content in a subfolder/subdirectory (e.g. domain.com/content/) than a subdomain (content.domain.com) or separate microsite (content.com).

N.B. When SEO isn’t a consideration ask yourself: should it be? Talk to your team/agency before you launch multiple domains.

Do microsites have any SEO benefits?

Microsites are sometimes created on an exact match domain (EMD).

EMDs are websites registered with a target keyword in the URL (e.g. johnlewisforeigncurrency.com) with the intention of ranking for that keyword.

Does that work? Yes.

Should it work? Only if you’re John Lewis a huge brand.

In 2012 (between the first two Penguin updates) Google released an update creatively named the EMD update with the intention of counteracting the boost gained from having the target keyword in the domain name. It used to be as straightforward as throwing up an exact match domain to target a traffic driving keyword – but now it, like any legit SEO tactic, requires budget and effort… And without a lot of effort it will only ever rank for the one exact keyword.

John Lewis is also discovering the limitations of an exact match domain and is migrating the website onto johnlewisfinance.com with only moderate success so far. If your microsite strategy does work, you may have to manage the risk of moving it onto a more suitable (macro) website.

Microsites can be used to manage a brand’s reputation in branded searches.

As an example, Wonga.com used to own the website openwonga.com, hosting content about the measures the company is taking to become more responsible. The positive for Wonga was an additional positive listing on a branded SERP.

However, listings for Wonga.com, openwonga.com, social profiles etc. vs. a lot of negative reviews and a fresh brand mention in every payday loans horror story (regardless of the actual lender) made this an expensive drop in the ocean. (And I’d argue that if your reputation is really that bad you’d probably want people viewing your products to be able to access this content in the same place).

Branded keywords are one thing… It’s sometimes mentioned that since Google has started to show fewer results from the same domain (very few sites now get multiple listings in the same SERP), microsites are a potential way to dominate a results page and own multiple listings. In principle, this is hard to do and it’s usually a year before a new website ranks for pretty much anything.

Sometimes, something prevents your primary website from ranking.

Extreme technical limitations could be a reason to launch a microsite. For example, if there’s no realistic way to publish content on your brand’s primary website, you might want to launch a separate content site on WordPress or similar.

Penalties probably aren’t a good reason to launch a new website anymore. With nearly two years between Penguin updates (before Penguin 4.0 rolled out in October 2016) Google had been preventing some big brands from ranking, regardless of measures taken, and a separate content site could have fed some much-needed traffic – now the algorithm is real-time recoveries can happen whenever the work is done. In 2017 there should be no penalty so horrifying that it’s cheaper to start again with a new domain than to do the right things for your website.

You don’t want visitors to know who’s behind the campaign.

Fair enough.

Is it easier to build links to an unbranded microsite?

I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that suggests outreach gets a better response when bloggers and journalists are asked to link to an unbranded content site.

This is probably true for highly unpopular brands (Wonga.com) but not usually true for brands in unpopular industries (e.g. payday loans). We rarely experience any resistance when building links for betting sites such as Ladbrokes, forex traders like City Index our alternative credit companies like Provident Personal Credit.

We’re always upfront about the brands we’re working with (from the first email or immediately on a call) and experience suggests bloggers are more likely to work with better known brands – so you’d probably benefit from mentioning which brand owns your site in most cases anyway.

It does seem to be true that bloggers are more likely to ask for money when they’re asked to link to an iGaming site versus a retailer, for example – and back when paying for links was a thing, bloggers would frequently demand more money if asked to link to an iGaming site.

This should absolutely not factor into your thinking now – you should be turning down all requests to pay for backlinks and I’d recommend not working with a blogger at all if there’s a suggestion that they charge anyone in any industry to pay to place a link on their site.

The reasons why microsites are bad for SEO

  1. Duplicate content: You shouldn’t be using the same content on more than one website so you’ll have to create new content from scratch (although you can probably get away with videos). If your microsite is so similar to your homepage that slight rewording is enough, do you really need a separate domain at all?
    1. If your “microsite” is in fact a subfolder with a different look and feel (e.g. domain.com/content/ rather than content.com) you can utilise the same content and use canonical tags to prevent duplication – the microsite won’t rank but you’ll prevent any damage occurring to your primary domain.
  2. No links: It’s easy to forget how much effort went into getting the links your main site has (and how much easier it used to be). Your new website will have no links and won’t rank until you get some, which means cost for you.
    1. If you spent the same amount of time creating content for your primary website, which will benefit from the links you already have as well as other potential factors like domain age, you’ll start ranking much more quickly.
  3. Marketing it won’t benefit your main domain: Links you build to your microsite won’t benefit your brand’s homepage and products. Visitors to one site won’t easily be able to navigate to the other.
  4. Cross-domain tracking is a pain: Every visit that lands on your primary site from your microsite will be listed as a referral in Google Analytics and you won’t know how that visitor found you initially e.g. from search, social, or direct as a result of some campaign you’re running. You can hack something together to better track these referrals but that means spending (effort or money) on analytics.
  5. You’ll have to adopt things like HTTPS twice: Soon your websites will have to be HTTPS. All your websites. That means an extra certificate – and a potentially painful and undoubtedly expensive migration from HTTP to HTTPS.
    1. Imagine you were using both a primary and a secondary website in early 2015… And neither was mobile friendly – Google makes these changes from time to time and you’ll just have to do them twice.
  6. More things in your dev queue: I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have busy developers. One site is always going to be the poor cousin, or you’ll have to hire separate teams/agencies.
  7. Link too many microsites together and you start to look like a network: You lose trust and the links become worthless. Plus, penalties.
  8. It’s not as simple as redirecting the new site back in for the link authority: It can and does work but you run the risk of Google treating those redirects as soft 404s (Glenn Gabe’s analysis of this is all you need to read).
  9. Even with investment it will take a while to rank: 6 months seems a reasonable timeframe to start getting rankings for a brand new website with investment. If you’re not actively trying to build its authority (link acquisition/PR, content) you’ll be waiting a year or more.
  10. Even if you’re happy to rely on paid search to drive traffic, your account has no history: It will be more expensive to run PPC for your new site for a few months until you’ve built up your Quality Score (and maybe your primary account already has good Quality Score so you’d be paying less to market a subfolder).
  11. The poster boys for cool microsites haven’t got it right: When researching this topic, I found a lot of writers pointing to Coca Cola’s “Beverage Institute” as a really good example of this strategy. Well, they’ve redirected it and it’s vanished off the face of the earth.

A quick business case for dealing with your technical limitations

The most common reason I’ve encountered for launching a separate website is that it’s impossible to upload content to the current site.

Most marketers in most businesses will agree that there’s a need for content (if this doesn’t sound like your organisation: call us, we might be able to help).

Despite what you’ve read on Search Engine Land, good SEO isn’t cheap – and it’s likely going to take a year to get traffic – so try this:

Cost of adding functionality to current website – (cost of brand new website build + domain registration + hosting + SSL certificate + 12x monthly cost of SEO agency)

… And see if it comes out positive.

Bloggers: how to become brand ambassadors

Today, it seems like everyone and their dog has a blog. But believe it or not, the word blog wasn’t actually coined until 1999.

The first ever blog is claimed to be Links.net, created by American college student Justin Hall, who named it his ‘personal site’ back in 1994.

Since then, blogging has boomed; for many, it has resulted in the transition from a hobby to a career, turning passion in to profit.

In 2003, Google launched AdSense to connect bloggers and advertisers; Vlogging (video blogging) followed in 2006, thanks to the launch of YouTube; and by 2008, a new blog was created every single second of the day.

A study by Universal McCann reports more than three quarters of internet users now read blogs, with 900,000 blog posts going live daily in 81 languages.

Is it any surprise brands are seeking out bloggers to act as ambassadors?

Bloggers are now much more than just entertaining voices for the everyday – taking centre stage as they represent big industry names.

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What is a brand ambassador?

A brand ambassador is a person appointed by an organisation to positively represent its identity: raising awareness, increasing sales and driving traffic.

Traditionally, celebrities and high-profile figures were paid to hold the title, but the modern-day brand ambassador is somewhat different.

Brands today want ‘real life people’ – bloggers with passion, who can write engaging copy to showcase their brand, products or services.

They may be paid, offered commission, or given a complimentary product or service in return for a review. These are “influencers” in the purest sense of the word: content creators who can legitimately influence the preferences of their audiences.

Blogging at its best

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Teen vlogger Zoe Sugg launched Zoella in 2009: a fashion and beauty blog with a focus on photography. In less than a year, she’d gathered 1,000 followers, encouraging her to launch a sister YouTube channel, Zoella280390 (her birth date).

Seven years on, she has more than 10 million subscribers, with a total view count topping 700 million.

Her blogging success has led to big opportunities.

In 2014, she signed a two-book deal with Penguin Books. Her debut novel, Girl Online, achieved her the title of ‘highest first-week sales for a debut book’, selling 78,109 copies in seven days.

Zoella Beauty – a bath and beauty range – also launched the same year, exclusively stocked in Superdrug stores and online at Feel Unique.

Then in 2014, Zoe became the first digital ambassador for mental health charity Mind, with the goal of helping to stamp out the stigma around mental illness.

Bloggers: How to become brand ambassadors

Find your USP

What makes you stand out from the crowd? Analyse your blog stats and your social media interaction to see what posts are getting people talking. Once you’ve found your unique selling point, build on it.

Put yourself out there

Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you! Contact brands or PR agencies with suggestions for collaborations – what’s the worst that can happen? Be realistic, but have confidence!

Share your stats

Record the influence your brand has on site traffic and social media activity using Google Analytics. Speak to the brand beforehand to find out which stats they want you to share, so you know the expectations in advance.

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Be one step ahead

As well as maintaining your established brand relationships, continue to search for upcoming campaign launches and releases to establish new brand partnerships.

Stay true to you

As much as you’ll want to impress the brand you’re blogging about, remember the site should represent your personality – that’s why your readers follow you – so don’t let a brand dictate what you write.

Brands: appointing a blogger to be a brand ambassador

It’s a three-way thing

To be successful, the brand, the blogger and the audience need to gain value. To ensure your brand gets the best possible representation, find a blogger who can create content to influence and engage, who fits your company ethos with a readership aligned to your target audience.

Give direction not dictation

Guide bloggers in the direction you want to lead your brand, but don’t control the content. Let them do their own thing – it’s what they’re good at.

Trusted content

Brand ambassadors have the ability to expose your brand to various social circles. Those who follow a blog already have trust in the author.

People buy from people

A recent survey revealed that bloggers are trusted more than celebrities, journalists, brands and politicians. Thanks to their fair and balanced reviews, they are regarded as the third most trustworthy source of information – behind only friends and family.

Bloggers and brands: Make sure it’s believable

Above all, make sure your posts are authentic and believable!

We are seeing bloggers and influencers quite obviously just promoting product after product, as if they use these items every day when in fact they’ve probably never used it before.

Bloggers: Stay loyal to yourself and only choose brands and products that suit you, or ones that you’re already a fan of and would recommend to your readers. Pretending to like something and encouraging your readers to purchase it can damage your reputation. People can lose trust, and you may lose your following.

A good example of this is Jess Shears, one of the Love Island 2017 contestants. Since leaving the villa, her social following has reached a huge 1 million followers on Instagram, and many brands have offered her opportunities to promote their products. She has quite obviously accepted, and her fans have started to lose trust:

Jess promoted this post on her Instagram page stating: “As always, I start my day with my @convitsuk sachet”. Many didn’t believe this to be true and shared their frustration in the comments. Despite the backlash, she continues to post promoted products on her page daily, causing even more people to see behind the lies. OK magazine even covered her promotional activity in a recent issue.

Brands: It is important not to imitate this marketing tactic as it simply doesn’t work, and it can damage your reputation. People are looking for authenticity when following social influencers, ambassadors, or brands online. This sort of behaviour can only tarnish that.