OWC’s Williams named to ‘Who’s Who in LA Business’

Tracy Williams

Tracy Williams, president and CEO of Olmstead Williams Communications

Tracy Williams, president and CEO of Olmstead Williams Communications, is one of 13 public relations executives named to the annual special report “Who’s Who in Los Angeles Business” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

The list includes executives in LA’s biggest companies and organizations across a variety of industries from aerospace/defense to software.

Williams has helped clients build their reputations through PR for 25 years. She has represented industry leaders such as Hewlett Packard, Computer Science Corporation (CSC), Acer, California Energy Commission, Ernst & Young, Greenberg Traurig, Oberthur Technologies, Dimensional Fund Advisors and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

OWC is an award-winning public relations and social media agency serving clients nationally from offices in Los Angeles and Seattle. The firm works with technology and professional services companies to meet their sales and marketing objectives, raise their brand profile, and capture mind and market share.

The truth behind the Google penalty

By Tracy Williams

google_logoThere’s confusion today about the value of using links in the news releases you upload to the wire services, and as a result, the value of the releases themselves are being questioned. Amidst changes to Google’s link schemes, some companies fear press releases can do more harm than good.

Google now penalizes releases containing excessive links when it perceives those links are just there to drive search engine optimization (SEO). The primary offenders are anchor text links which highlight numerous words and phrases throughout the article. This is a tactic SEO tricksters of yore used dozens of times in a single release. The idea was that copies of each release appeared on hundreds of websites, and each link back to your website multiplied by the number of sites was one more inbound link, driving up your search engine rankings.

Google’s link schemes are now smart enough to see these links don’t add value, and they can either drop you lower in the search rankings or remove your site entirely until you come into compliance and request reconsideration. This new development does not, however, affect direct URLs, such as a link to www.olmsteadwilliams.com included in the boilerplate at the bottom of a release.

The take away: Forget the links, but don’t forget placing news releases on the wires entirely. News releases remain an efficient tool to communicate real company news — new products, services, employees, awards and trends.

Releases give discipline to company announcements by getting all the parties involved as they work together to draft the text. And putting releases on the wires makes them easy to access for journalists across the country and indexes the news online for everyone to see. Just make sure you have real news to communicate.

5 tips for more effective news releases

Here are five tips for writing news releases that will really make news:

  • Keep it short, two pages max if possible. In this era of 140-character tweets, one page gives discipline to your news story. You want to engage a reporter, but not give them everything so they reach out to you.
  • Quote the CEO or president but no one else. Everyone wants a piece of the action when news releases are being drafted, but multiple quotes simply do not add value and create confusion with reporters and editors. Never start your quote with “We are delighted” or “I’m excited.” That’s not news and is just puffery. You can be more informative than that (see No. 3).
  • Use data — the lifeblood of journalism — to make your points. Include key figures in your quotes to increase the odds a reporter will use them. Reporters like products much better than good ideas that have yet to come to fruition, and they like quantifiable facts much better than hyperbole.
  • Know that sometimes a pitch to a handful of reporters is more effective than a news release to the masses. Ask your PR counsel which is best for each situation.
  • Opportunity this month: Take advantage of the news cycle. Reporters are looking for end-of-year stories right now, so don’t wait to draft those 2014 company and industry outlook releases.

Williams is president and CEO of Olmstead Williams Communications.

OWC wins 2 PRisms: Gay inclusion campaign and inner city police program

Derek Houck and Stephanie Harnett of Olmstead Williams Communications

Olmstead Williams Communications won two PRisms at the 2013 PRSA-Los Angeles PRism Awards held Wednesday, Nov. 6, at The Beverly Hills Hotel

The firm was honored for helping the Western Los Angeles County Council of Boy Scouts support inclusion for all gay Scouts and troop leaders (Pro Bono Program category). OWC also was recognized for its work with the Police Orientation Preparation Program (POPP) which helps inner city kids join the middle class by preparing them for jobs in law enforcement (Non-Profit Campaign category).

Over the past three year, OWC has won seven PRisms. Last year, the firm was honored for Ongoing Product or Service Program, Reputation/Brand Management and Healthcare Programs.

The Los Angeles Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America annually recognizes outstanding programs and materials created by public relations professionals who work in the Greater Los Angeles area or have completed assignments for LA-based clients.

Content marketing should drive business, not create confusion

content marketing quiz_Olmstead Williams CommunicationsBy Tracy Williams

Many companies have a tendency to get caught up in tactics aimed at “overcoming” the latest Google algorithms. The key has always been relevant content — “news you can use,” counterintuitive research or new products that make everyone perk up. That’s what encourages the search engines to take notice.

New terminology like “content marketing,” an alternative to “integrated marketing,” creates a mystique, and that’s not effective communications. Whatever the name, customers and clients care about content and context. That means taking another look at your studies, surveys, news releases, photos, commentary and more — and reworking, shortening/ expanding or even illustrating with infographics. Then publish and share with the audiences most likely to move the needle for your business.

With that in mind, below are six critical content marketing tips to utilize the latest tools and more importantly, drive new business:

  • Get senior staff involved. Don’t leave everything up to the unskilled intern who knows more about the “Breaking Bad” finale than they do your business.
  • Embed links to social media platforms in everything you do. This one sounds so simple, but often companies don’t even have email signatures with contact information, especially among senior executives. Not only should every email that ever leaves your company include the name, title and phone number of the person sending it — so it’s super easy to contact them — it should have links to their LinkedIn, corporate Facebook page, Twitter handle and any other platforms the company is actively using.
  • Stop shooting videos of everything you do and thinking anyone cares. We all have video cameras on our smart phones. You don’t want to watch our videos either. Learn to use video smartly. Educate yourself by studying the most successful videos on YouTube. What did they do differently that works? And remember, the only time there should be a talking head is when the CEO has breaking news to report.
  • Crack the code on blogs. There are different kinds of blogs. Some just want free stuff. Others expect you to pay them for media coverage. And then there are blogs that are legitimate, independent news sources offering the same third-party credibility of other earned media such as newspapers and TV news. Not all blogs are created equal. Target the credible ones.
  • Make sure everything you do is repurposed across as many of your platforms as you can, and don’t forget SEO. That newspaper article about your latest product launch needs to be shared on all of your social media platforms. And, to assure maximum SEO benefits, make certain your website and blog are optimized to load quickly and take advantage of keywords in headlines, body copy, title tags, meta descriptions and permalinks. Consider creating an enewsletter announcing the news and send to your full database of clients and prospects through a tool like Constant Contact. (We used it for this email.)
  • Embrace the power to measure everything, from Google Analytics that track your website and blog, to insights from Facebook that tell you new likes, the number of people talking about you and your weekly total reach, to Net Promoter scores that help you zero in on only the most loyal customers. Even Cision, a popular database of reporters and editors, has an Influencer rating for all reporters and editors to help you target the most important contacts for your business.

So, what really matters for your business? What platforms are the best for you, and how should you be engaged?

That’s all part of your content marketing strategy. If you need help figuring that out, feel free to let us know. We can develop a comprehensive program or assist with an extremely specific project. See “Boosting a Post on Facebook” as an example that worked well for one client wanting to increase traffic at their tradeshow booth.

Forrester Research predicts U.S. marketers will spend $4.8 billion on social media tactics alone this year. Make sure you spend it on the right ones and take full advantage of leveraging your content throughout all relevant channels.

We’re easy to find. Just call, email or direct message us on Twitter.

Williams is president and CEO of Olmstead Williams Communications.

OWC finalists for two PRism Awards

0027674 PremiumMarket_aOlmstead Williams Communications has been named a finalist in two categories for the 2013 PRSA Los Angeles PRism Awards.

The firm is being honored for helping the Western Los Angeles County Council of Boy Scouts support inclusion for all gay Scouts and troop leaders (Pro Bono Program category).

OWC also is being recognized and for its work with the Police Orientation Preparation Program (POPP) which helps inner city kids join the middle class by preparing them for jobs in law enforcement (Non-Profit Campaign category).

The PRism Awards Dinner and Show will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at The Beverly Hills Hotel.

Olmstead Williams Communications signs four new clients


Tracy Williams, CEO and president of Olmstead Williams Communications, and Stephanie Harnett, senior associate

Olmstead Williams Communications, a public relations and social media agency, has signed four new clients: The Great Courses, DreamHammer, SmartMetric and UCLA’s Sustainable Technology & Policy Program.

Media coverage of announcement:

“There was no business slowdown this summer,” said Tracy Williams, CEO and president of Olmstead Williams Communications. “From command and control software for drones to secured healthcare data and lifelong learning, OWC is growing with exceptional technology businesses and elite brands.”

More about each new client:

  • Bill Gates is one of 10 million people who have downloaded, streamed, or purchased CD and DVD copies of college courses taught by the best professors in the country through The Great Courses. This isn’t about class credit. It’s about extremely bright people continuing to dress up their minds long after they are finished with school.
  • DreamHammer provides world-class open architecture control software for all unmanned military and industrial systems. Drones can be nearly any vehicle in the air, water or on land — from a John Deere tractor to a construction crane — and with DreamHammer’s software, one person can control an entire fleet from a single device.
  • SmartMetric‘s mobile medical records solution MedicalKeyring features unmatched security with the smallest biometric fingerprint reader ever developed. It’s self-powered, and it’s also compatible with all leading healthcare records systems and file formats.
  • UCLA’s Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (STPP) promotes public health and environmental protection by developing innovative chemical policies to spread safer manufacturing processes throughout the country. That includes green solutions like wet cleaning — the safer alternative to dry cleaning.

KFWB’s ‘Business Rockstars’ talks social media, PR with Williams

Business Rockstars is a weekly show on KFWB, NEWS TALK 980 for ENTREPRENEURS by entrepreneurs. Every Monday through Friday, 2-4pm Ken Rutkowski connects the listener to some of the biggest names in business to share their experience and knowledge of entrepreneurship.

Business Rockstars is a weekly show on KFWB, NEWS TALK 980 for ENTREPRENEURS by entrepreneurs. Every Monday through Friday, 2-4 p.m. Ken Rutkowski connects the listener to some of the biggest names in business to share their experience and knowledge of entrepreneurship.

Ken Rutkowski of “Business Rockstars” on KFWB interviewed Tracy Williams in the studio on Tuesday about ways to get your brand and messaging out to the public.

Williams, president and CEO of Olmstead Williams Communications, talks about all of the latest social media tools and public relations tips that can be executed even if you’re on a budget.

Each episode of “Business Rockstars” features two guests discussing their business failures and success stories in the world of entrepreneurship.

Tracy’s “Rockstar” profile 

Language and identity in public relations

obama mirror

President Obama’s speeches, written by PR professionals, reflect the identity he adopts at that moment.

By Marie Ebenezer

This semester I am taking an English Linguistics class at Freiburg University in Germany called “Language and Identity.” I chose this class because I have always wondered about the relationship between the language(s) you speak and how you identify yourself.

I am bilingual, and people ask me all the time: “Do you feel more German or more French?” “What language do you dream in?” or “What are you going to speak with your children?” Speaking several languages changes how people perceive you and consequently how you are identified.

In public relations, we write many different kinds of materials — press releases, blog posts, tweets, speeches and more. The format and the style change depending on the type of document/post and the audience. This also happens in everyday situations. You speak differently to your best friend from college than you do to your boss.

As an example, President Obama’s speeches, written by PR professionals, reflect the identity he adopts at that moment. Here is an excerpt from his inauguration speech in January:

“What makes us exceptional, what makes us America is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Obama is the solemn, composed head of state in that speech, and his words reflect the importance of the moment. In contrast, here is part of a speech he gave at Manor New Tech High School in Texas earlier this month:

“Hello, Texas!  Howdy, Manor.  Go Titans! I hear that there’s a rule that anyone who gives a presentation in front of the class has to dress up, so I made sure to wear a tie. I didn’t want to lose points.”

By using “howdy” and making reference to a popular sports team, Obama takes on a different identity – that of a cool and friendly president. It makes it easy for students to identify with him. The light and humorous tone stands in complete opposition to the graveness of the inaugural speech.

The relationship between language and identity is extremely relevant in PR because language is our main tool. All the aspects we need to consider when thinking of an audience – age, gender, cultural background – are what constitutes our identity.

In everyday life, most of this back and forth happens unconsciously. We don’t calculate how we talk to our friends or bosses because these processes are deeply ingrained. In public relations, however, we have to be aware of this difference.

Ebenezer is a former intern at Olmstead Williams Communications.

Agency’s Tracy Williams to serve as Morgan Stanley panelist

Tracy Williams, CEO and president of Olmstead Williams Communications

Tracy Williams, CEO and president of Olmstead Williams Communications

As part of The Nonprofit Breakfast Series presented by Morgan Stanley, Tracy Williams, president of Olmstead Williams Communications, will serve as a panelist at 7:30 a.m. this Friday at a seminar at the Luxe Sunset Hotel in Los Angeles titled “Driving Revenue: Tuning up Fundraising.”

Nonprofit board members and executives, please join Williams and the other panelists as they address the following questions: Are you using all available tools and methods to reach your community? Do you have a sustainable fundraising strategy? Are you just having events or are you engaging donors?

The seminar is free but requires registration.