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Two Instant-Notice Tools

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Two Instant-Notice Tools

by Bill Stoller

Back in the day, a good clipping service was all you needed to stay abreast of your company’s mentions in the media. But today, traditional newspapers, magazines, and TV news make up but a fraction of the media universe. For all you know, right now, your company is being praised (or maybe condemned) to the heavens across the Internet.

And what about all the information about happenings in your industry, or in your customers’ areas of interest? Keeping up can be a daunting job. Fortunately, it’s not so hard to stay instantly connected with news that matters. I rely primarily on two tools.

Bloglines (bloglines.com). Among the many RSS readers, this is my choice. Basically, Bloglines allows you to subscribe to any blog, site, or news service that offers RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. That’s pretty much every blog and a very large number of news sites. Now, rather than having to visit sites one at a time to see if anything of interest is being written, you can sign into Bloglines and scroll through each site to peruse new entries.

Whether you’re mentioned or not, responding in the comments section of a blog post is a great way to market to potential customers, and a comment such as “Excellent post. You’re absolutely right about Bonsai trees being so finicky. Here’s something that can help—we have a free e-book at our site (bonsai-trees-are-really-cool.com) about finding the right pH balance” can bring new business.

But there’s one problem. Most people don’t read beyond the first few comments of a blog post, and once a post loses the top spot in a blog, readership goes way down. So you need to be able to pounce on new posts as they appear.

Here’s a little-known, very cool technique to help with that: Bloglines offers a widget that, once installed, sits in the lower right hand tray of your browser. When any of your subscribed sites has a new post, a red dot pops up on the icon. (You can also add a sound to the notice.) Go to Bloglines and you’ll see which site has made the post. Go there and, if the post is appropriate, you’ll have first crack at it! Like I said, very cool. And it’s all free!

Google Alerts (google.com/alerts). One of my favorite Web tools ever. Google Alerts automatically sends you an email when there are new Google results for your search terms. It’s free to set up an alert, and you can create as many as you’d like.

There are a few different types of alerts: blogs, Web sites, traditional news outlets, video, and Google Groups. If you don’t have any alerts set up with your company name and the name of key executives, get over there right now and start setting them up! Google Alerts is also an outstanding way of keeping up with your industry, your competitors, and the areas that most interest your customers.

Bill Stoller, publisher of “The Publicity Insider,” shares his publicity expertise through his Web site, eZine, and subscription newsletter, Free Publicity: The Newsletter for PR-Hungry Businesses. For free articles, including “Press Release Secrets,” go to publicityInsider.com.



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