How PR Can Boost Lead Generation

Public relations isn’t just for publicity, awareness, and reputation management. A company’s sales and marketing teams should consider PR as a lead-generation tool that can work in tandem with business development and paid advertising. Here are some things to consider when planning your next campaign.

PR as a lead generation machine

Earned media boosts SEO

If a CEO offers expert commentary – or a byline or guest blog post in a key media outlet, that content can earn valuable visibility and leadership positioning for the organization. What’s more, if the piece contains a link back to the company, it will boost its search ranking. PR content should be optimized for SEO, complete with thoughtful keyword placement and inbound link accumulation. But it’s not just about links anymore. Prominent brand mentions that don’t contain links can also drive higher search placement because Google sees them as implied links. Effective PR campaigns that drive earned media visibility maximize the impact of all media placements in a variety of ways, resulting in a 1 + 1 = 3 boost in SEO rankings that encourage desirable referral traffic. If you’re a PR pro needing a refresher, check out our earlier post on what PR people should know about SEO.

PR aids business development

Big wins in earned media can help elevate a brand into the consideration set of a customer who’s in the market. A brand’s own content and that of retail partners certainly help here, but features and reviews offer a credibility that can move a customer closer to conversion. Earned media mentions not only build brand awareness and credibility, but can display a company’s differentiation — another way media placements can reinforce lead generation.

Sponsored events join online and offline PR

A well-attended public relations event such as a discussion panel can generate leads through digital traffic and in-person attendance. Key media, industry colleagues, experts, and prospective customers are all target attendees. The event – and the company – may be promoted through mentions in the event’s collateral, and panelists’ and moderator’s communications, like social media and company website news pages – setting up opportunities for referrals. Plus, a solid company sponsored panel event will yield PR/marketing content such as video, media coverage, blog posts, social posts; and its discussion can be repurposed as bylines or white papers.

Public speaking can generate leads

Industry awards and conference speaking engagements are plum opportunities for an executive to earn respect and visibility from powerful industry peers – and build leads. A prominent conference may have big brand sponsors, which increase its visibility and domain authority. But the real leads come from the fact that conferences are often giant multi-day networking events during which a company has a stage for displaying its offerings and its expertise. Sometimes a key brand client will join up with the thought leader to talk about the company’s innovative services, conferring an added degree of prestige to the speaking engagement. Building relationships with like-minded colleagues, big brands, industry legends, analysts, and media can be key to stimulating new business opportunities.

If you write it, leads will come

Today, it’s all about quality content in both marketing and PR. A company’s best thought leaders should be writing as much as possible for use on owned media. Churning out optimized press releases, blog posts, LinkedIn posts, videos, white papers, and even business books can contribute to search rankings — while also helping to position a company as a knowledgeable authority. But PR writers should take care not to get keyword-obsessed. Quality and relevance have never been more important, given the sheer volume of content out there. The results can prove exponential, given that this content can be reused, repurposed, promoted on social channels – and yes, parlayed into earned media wins.

Customers are the best salespeople

Once a lead has converted, you have another potent PR and marketing tool: success. Customer reviews become case studies, and satisfied customers tend to spread the good word. Especially for B2B companies, case study testimonials are another trusted third-party endorsement that can be a lead generator — and perhaps even a closer. Marquee clients will often be glad to write a glowing testimonial – which the PR team will publish on the website, in blog posts, and on social channels. Not only that, but a key client can be tapped for inclusion in most PR tactics, from earned media, to bylined content, to prospect education and speaking opportunities where big brands are featured and “vendors” are frowned upon.

What PR People Should Know About SEO

Public relations and SEO were once worlds apart, with no overlap between them. A PR team or agency would work to build brand credibility through news announcements and feature stories. SEO focused on getting backlinks and website-stuffed keywords to drive search rankings.

What changed? Now there’s a growing area of commonality as traditional public relations has gone digital and algorithm updates have changed SEO practice. What’s more, PR people are ideally suited to help clients advance their search ranking while driving visibility and reputation. All it takes is an understanding of recent changes in search and content marketing, Here’s how PR and SEO can work together.

PR’s earned media coverage is more important than ever

PR people hate to be seen as mere publicists. That’s one reason why PR agencies like to emphasize the range of what they offer. Yet publicity results, also known as earned media coverage, is still essential. And not just any coverage, but top-tier publications that are recognized. Stories in outlets like The New York Times and Business Insider not only confer credibility, but they have high domain values. That means the stories can turn up in search results for years and boost the page ranking for any brand that’s prominently featured. To be clear, PR is not really about link-building. A good public relations program builds visibility and credibility rather than lots of links. But the ones earned from top publications can definitely help boost page ranking over time.

Brand mentions are “implied links” – an SEO win

Website authority used to hinge on backlinks – until things got out of control with spurious link schemes by shady SEOs. Google changed its algorithm, then changed it again, until publishers started moving to nofollow links for fear of being penalized. Links from credible publishers are still important, and PR people will work hard to secure a link to a client’s website in the stories and profiles we arrange. Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we don’t. But here’s the important thing: even without follow links, brand mentions are now widely considered to be implied links. Google’s panda patent made the change, and the status of brand mentions has been confirmed by its own quality guidelines and webmaster analysts. This has been a slow evolution, and it may seem like a fine point, but it’s not. It’s another big reason why SEO and PR should work in tandem.

Contributed content can work hard for both PR and SEO

Guest blogs, op-eds and especially bylined articles are time-honored PR deliverables that can have a whole new life when PR and SEO work together. High-quality contributed content tends to combine a reasonably tight keyword focus with the authority of top domains, particularly then the content is developed for known B2B and trade media targets. Again, there’s likely to be reasonable domain authority for established trades. And an aggressive PR campaign will expand mentions – and SEO benefits – beyond trade and news sites to niche blogs, review platforms, and social forums. As a bonus, a good PR person can help promote onsite content, helping to obtain organic links.

PR creates fresh content

Fresh content means more content, and more content – in skilled hands – means the right keywords. Google loves frequent updates and will index a given website more often when new content is posted, giving it more chances to be indexed and optimized. But most importantly, fresh content means authority on a given topic. The more we post about productivity software for small business, for example, the greater our authority becomes. This is why blogging is so important for B2B programs, and why posting on forums like Quora can help build reputation and gain authority on relevant topics. The trick here is focus. Content built around niche topics represented by narrow keywords (“b2b tech PR agency” as opposed to “tech PR”) are apt to be most successful.

PR can use keywords – but wisely

This is where the PR practitioner mentality comes into play. PR people are trained to veer away from overly commercial messages or overt brand plugs in favor of more nuanced mentions that position our clients as experts. What some PRs don’t know and can learn from SEO professionals is that despite the blizzard of content around popular topics, there are still opportunities to own more “boring” keywords. In fact, if you’re in a niche industry or want to build expertise on a narrow topic, the search competition may be surprisingly light, as with the “b2b tech PR” example.

Align earned and owned messaging

PR and SEO can truly work together when paid messages and those conveyed in owned and earned media are aligned. For company-generated content, the key is making it relevant. Do readers find it useful? Does it answer common questions and offer solutions and insights that satisfy user intent? If so, bloggers, influencers, and regular users will share it and link to it. Over time, this will build visiblity, credibility, and all-important search position.

By working together more closely, SEO and PR can influence search ranking and even increase site traffic. But more importantly, the two build strong brand associations and drive market authority, helping reach customers at every point in the sales journey.

Pump Up Your Website’s PR Potential

As a consumer and tech PR agency, we sometimes field journalist questions on matters that should be on a client website, or we actually get media complaints about the site. So we have to ask, is your website helping your PR efforts? Are you getting the results you need? Have inbound inquiries steadily risen? Is content generating engagement?

Like fashion, websites become dated, and when that happens, it discourages interest. And just like home redesign, your site may just need a “fresh coat of paint” or a total “tear-down.”

Here’s what to consider when pondering a site refresh, reface or redesign. An industry rule of thumb is to redesign roughly every two years, but it’s wiser to look at what the site is delivering to determine what, and if, you need to change.

When to refresh. If the site is performing well, consider cost-effective ways for incremental improvement. Remove dated posts or promotional offers and ensure you constantly add fresh content. These could be new products or services, timely and provocative blog posts, or media coverage. If search engine optimization is your main concern, then a change or upgrade in technology on the back end will provide the update you need.
A good first step is to put yourself in the mind of a journalist or customer and go through the entire site to see how appealing it is aesthetically, how easy it is to navigate and whether there is any incorrect or outdated information. Often a refresh is as simple as adding fresh case studies, personnel bios and head shots, or upgrading your site photography – all information that will interest customers and help PR efforts.

When to reface. Start with an audit to see what works and what can be improved. A reface is recommended when the template for the site is considered sound but certain strategic and creative changes are necessary to make the site work harder for your marketing and PR. It’s smart to begin by partnering with your PR team to re-examine core messaging to develop the clearest and most accurate version.

Next a website designer will go page by page through the site to help edit or replace existing content, particularly with new images (original or royalty-free stock) and sometimes with navigation. Often the mission of your site has evolved and it may now be important to explore a shopping cart plug-in or other interactive sales or data-gathering tool.
Part of the design partner’s creative outline will be a vision for the restructured sitemap that will be more appealing to all audiences – customers, potential business partners and press. Once the creative and strategic recommendations are accepted, the programmer will make the necessary changes.

When to redesign. A complete website overhaul is necessary when your company’s mission has drastically evolved, you find your site is “out of touch” or is simply not performing by expected metrics. For example, how busy is your site? Have reporters contacted you in frustration looking for basic info? Are your SEO/SEM efforts just not working?
Start by mapping out the goals of your website – to generate more visitors, leads, customers, media attention, etc. Put all pertinent info into a business plan for the site. Once committed to the overhaul, look at websites you admire and seek out the design talent behind them. Talk to trusted advisors and other business partners. Discuss both budgets and timing frankly, since both can throw major curve balls at your day-to-day operations.

But go for quality! Resist the urge to hire “my nephew who’s home from college and very good with computers” or say “maybe we’ll just design it ourselves, how hard can it be?”
Remember, if your business is being judged by your website (as so many businesses are) and the site is giving the wrong impression about your company, this is a prime reason to talk redesign.

Want more tips on how to make your website more PR savvy? Download our tipsheet — it’s free!
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8 Painless Ways To Write For SEO (Without Sounding Like A Bot)

By now most PR agency professionals know that Google algorithm changes over recent years have been a boon for PR by rewarding content quality over keyword-stuffed news releases or shady backlink schemes.

That’s great, but the importance of SEO in PR and content marketing and the growth of branded content means that we must learn to write for SEO. The first time I sat down to write 30 pages of SEO-enhanced web copy for my own site, it felt like a straitjacket – restrictive, un-creative, even false – the opposite of what high-quality content should be. But as I gained experience and knowledge writing for SEO and working with a great team of experts, I picked up tips and skills that are now second nature.

Here are some ways to write blog copy and other digital content to maximize searchability without sounding like a machine.

Focus on relevance

Answer questions, solve problems, and offer truly useful information. If you focus on what type of information people are likely to look for online, the keywords will follow more naturally.

Write naturally, using synonyms and word variations

Repeating the same word too many times in the first paragraph of  your copy will not only cause you to be downgraded by search engines, it will probably turn off readers, because it sounds terrible. Use synonyms, related terms, and grammatical variations just as any good writer would. Don’t worry, the search engines have learned that “top PR agency” and “best public relations firm” are virtually interchangeable terms.

Write for the long tail

Writing to focus on the “fattest” or most general keywords is tempting, but it can be a tricky proposition. Those huge keywords are nearly impossible to own. Instead, try for the long tail by means of more specific phrases. It’s roughly the difference between a search term like “content marketing” and a phrase or question like “how should a B2B company get started in content marketing”?

Pay attention to headlines and subheads

This is still the toughest part for me, because I like wordplay and obscure titles that don’t contain obvious search terms. But for maximum clarity with search engines, your headline should contain your most important keyword, and you should have subheads for clarity and readability as well as SEO.

Make it shareable

The social sharing factor will only grow, so writing with an eye toward making it as shareable as possible is a worthy goal. What does that mean? There’s a great deal of good information about how to ensure your content is shareable, including my colleague Michelle’s recent post targeted to PR professionals.

Make the length appropriate to the topic

First we’re told to write short for the growing number of visitors who access content via mobile device. Then we hear that Google likes longer content (i.e., 1500+ words.) Here’s my rule: write what the topic demands, as long as it’s 300 words or more. Don’t pad, but don’t cut it short if you have valuable material to share.

Remember that images drive SEO

Images are more important than ever, mainly because they’re eye-catching. But don’t forget that alt text is a factor in searchability. Most SEO experts agreed it’s a good idea to rename the image file to include your keywords and to put them in your image title, alt text, and description.

Create new content regularly

This is probably the most important rule in writing for SEO, because even a killer post will eventually fall off the first page. The point is to show the search engine – and, more importantly, visitors to your site or  blog – that someone’s home.

An SEO Content Refresher For PR

It is more important than ever to integrate a rich content marketing program — one that focuses on search engine optimization — into public relations campaigns for companies and brands that want to grow. But as the strategy becomes more and more prevalent, the rules are changing, and communications pros need to constantly refresh themselves on what’s new, what’s still true, and what’s coming down the pipeline. Here are some recommendations to consider.

Remember the “Golden Rule.” SEO writing is becoming more of a science, but it’s still writing, and the golden rule of good writing is always about the reader. The golden rule of website optimization is to think about “the user first — NOT the search engine,” according to SEO copywriting guidelines from Vector Media Group.

Consider ROI, not just keyword rankings. Since its emergence and expansion over the past 10 or so years, SEO has focused on keyword rankings as a means of measuring how well your site is doing. Today some marketers are calling for more of a focus on return on investment and hard metrics, instead of page rankings, and the sophistication of today’s web technology makes pulling these kinds of metrics a snap. For example, a product placement in a major, top tier publication might win a company thousands of clicks, but no conversions, while a much smaller, niche blog might yield more actual leads because of its hugely engaged audience. Knowing which one is which helps focus precious resources and maximize results.

Design for the mobile user. The trend toward viewing pages on mobile devices only grew in 2014 into 2015. Smart phone  screens are getting larger and larger, further ingraining our habit of viewing sites on mobile, rather than at our desks. Most publishing platforms today include basic mobile optimization, making it easy to accomplish, but it’s still good to keep in mind during the content creation stage and make sure your site pages are optimized not just for SEO, but for mobile.

Write for the “long tail.” While web pages are typically optimized for up to three keywords, other key phrases can be included thoughout the copy to pick up on “long-tail variations,” which are the types of phrases users enter into search engines, according to our friends at Vector. For example, “affordable art” might be a main keyword, but people are more likely to search phrases such as, “the best place to buy affordable art,” as well other closely related terms.

Connect content creation to distribution. This piece of advice comes via Forrester analyst Ryan Skinner, who argues that the emphasis on high quality content as a content marketing strategy often leaves marketers with great content that nobody sees. Ramping up distribution, Skinner says, “improves content’s quality, as the feedback cycle accelerates.” He also pays homage to the now-famous quote from Buzzfeed’s Jonathan Perelman: “Content is king, distribution is queen, and she wears the pants.”

But high quality, original content still applies. All that said, high quality, fresh content still earns its keep in an SEO, mobile-ready world. Useful, well-written, relevant content is more likely to get read and shared than content that sacrifices quality.

Ask The PR Pro: How Does Your SEO Grow?

We have entered the age of sophisticated and strategic content marketing by savvy PR agencies. However, there are still marketers in the SEO “stone age” who rely on tweaking keywords and links in the hopes of landing higher search listings.

If you find yourself in the latter (and lacking) category, there are some important takeaways here. Read on for some news you can use to step up your content marketing and thus, your SEO. The trick is to help your prospects find you through high-quality, shareable material.

Whether they market ad tech, consumer products or anything in between, to be successful with online marketing, companies need to put themselves in the shoes of their target audience at each point on their journey, from awareness to engagement to relationship.

Here are three “idea-starters” for questions you can answer to fuel a more meaningful and results-oriented conversation.

Ask yourself this: what are your prospects’ pain points? Get creative in how you demonstrate understanding of your prospects’ needs.  Take them through a problem to a solution.  Research your typical prospect’s pain points and illustrate concrete PR solutions with case histories and proven communications counsel. Tell a story, even if it’s an amalgam of several anonymous clients. Consider crowdsourcing questions with your social networks and communities to provide more robust content.

What do existing clients need?  New client acquisition is more expensive than retention, so consider creating, optimizing and socializing content that will help, inform, and entertain your existing customers. Incorporate quotes or anecdotes from those with whom you have longstanding and successful relationships. This personal touch serves to promote the work you do together and can strengthen the relationship. You can start by surveying some existing clients to find topics of interest to them.

What does industry media want to know? PR pros know that nothing says credibility like the word of a  journalist. Media visibility is key to increasing awareness, differentiating a company, and establishing a leadership positioning. At times it can even help in lead development.  Journalists look for data: reports, surveys, analyses. Provide these in a compelling, visual way by including images and video to keep content such as this from being too dry. Be sure to provide links to corporate content and social media platforms.

Demonstrate a continuing understanding of your ideal client and what they need, and strive to create content that is both meaningful and intriguing.  That’s half the battle!

Google Hasn’t Killed The PR Industry

It’s good for any profession to have a few bomb-throwers, and PR is no exception. People who challenge, bait, or even criticize an industry can make it better. That’s why I’ve always been interested in Tom Foremski’s take. His 2006 post, “Die! Press Release! Die! Die! Die!” remains my favorite attack on the lowly press release, and, indirectly, on PR.

Foremski’s most recent post, Did Google Just Kill PR Agencies?’ is in the same hyperbolic vein. It comes in response to new rules that Google handed down regarding press releases. Essentially, Google has further tightened its policies in an effort to rid the industry of keyword-stuffed announcements of dubious quality. Google is now requiring that “anchor text” and URLs within press releases be converted to no-follow links, or links that don’t count towards page rank.

In other words, Google has just made it harder to spam the web through crappy content disguised as news.

So the problem with Foremski’s conclusion is that, while inflammatory and entertaining, it’s wrong, and any agency person can tell you that. The reports of our death are greatly exaggerated.

The majority of PR firms don’t spend time posting irrelevant press releases crammed with keywords for temporary search traction. That’s the purview of small businesses and bargain-basement practitioners who can’t really claim to be professionals.

The irony of Foremski’s latest is that Google’s new rules will probably strengthen the hands of legitimate practitioners. Here’s why:

PR is not about manipulating search results. Ninety percent of professionals spend their time identifying, shaping, and telling stories on behalf of clients. And most don’t have enough SEO knowledge to game the system even if they wanted to.

Press releases amount to a fraction of what we do. They’re a tool, and like any tool, they can be used well or poorly.

“Earned” media is still the heart of publicity results. That’s the opposite of paid, which is what the Google crackdown is all about.

Press releases should be written for….the press. Yes, PRs today interact directly with customers and others through social media, but there are still journalists out there, and releases should fill their needs.

Good clients don’t use press releases as an SEO tool.  Any business using enhanced releases for SEO or online marketing deserves to be downgraded by Google.

SEO isn’t the new PR. In fact, PR just may be the new SEO.

Should PR Own Social Media?

The rise of social media has been a boon to many communicators, from public relations professionals, to digital marketers, to SEO specialists. It’s also spawned countless land grabs and turf battles, since we all want a piece of the pie.

Successful social media campaigns can puff up reputations and fatten our bottom lines. But budget grabs and salesmanship aside, should PR own social? Should advertising? The debate continues.

The truth is, social media is a tool that works best being integrated across marketing communications and customer service lines, so technically, no entity should stake a proprietary claim. But a gatekeeper is necessary.

There are the ways in which PR professionals are best qualified to influence and manage social media.

Here’s the case for PRs:

PR pros are content creators. Storytelling is in our DNA. Most, if not all, PRs know instinctively how to craft a story or message so that it’s a conversation, not a one-way commercial pitch.

We listen. Every good PR program starts with monitoring. It’s the foundation of a social media outreach as well.

We’re relationship builders. This one has been given too much weight in recent conversations, but it holds true that relationship-building, traditionally with journalists and influencers, is a core PR skill. Translating this to direct customer/follower contact can be tricky, but many of the same principles apply.

PR owns reputation management. Clearly, social media crosses over from brand engagement to reputation, and not just when things go wrong.

Yet there are ways in which the typical PR practitioner’s skills and experience can fall short:

Direct customer contact.  We’re accustomed to communicating through the intermediaries of media or even bloggers. Crisis chops aside, direct contact is NOT familiar and may even be distasteful or overwhelming to many with traditional PR background.

Media production. Though there is wide variability among firms, many PR agencies lack direct experience in critical aspects of content development for social platforms, including video, images, and other content for sharing and syndication. Yet, most, if not all, is easily outsourced.

Measurement. This is typically the biggest weakness of our industry, and the only true concern that clients should have. But it’s a big one. To realize the power of social media, a full grasp of analytics and success metrics, and how they’re linked to specific campaign goals, is critical, and most PR pros haven’t “grown up” with the measurement sensibility.

We’re not there yet, but as a recent CARMA survey shows, we’re on the way. Our slice is getting larger, so save room for dessert.


7 Ways To Bridge The PR-SEO Gap

Public relations and SEO  have never been more compatible.

Ever since Google began its Panda and Penguin updates, links from sites with high domain authority, like mainstream media outlets and popular blogs, have taken on greater importance. Hundreds of questionable backlinks don’t matter as much as they once did.

In giving more importance to high-quality content, Google has highlighted skills like storytelling, content marketing, and third-party endorsement. That’s great news for PR pros.

Yet PR hasn’t quite fulfilled its potential to work with SEO. That’s in part because some PR’s don’t give enough consideration to SEO, or they view it as a bag of “black-hat” technology tricks. And SEO-ers sometimes reduce the practice of PR to dated tactics like keyword-stuffed press releases.

How can we bridge the gap? Here are a few ways.

Use search analytics to inform and develop PR programs, not just execute them.  PR pros routinely work to optimize content and share media results to support it, but the insights that search data provide can be helpful before a program is created. A search history gives us an idea of where competitors are showing up, which sites are linking to them, and which outlets and blogs exert the most influence in the category. Ongoing reviews of search analytics also offer insight into what types of media profiles drive traffic, and sometimes the results are counterintuitive. It’s not always the mega-blog that drives e-commerce conversions, for example.

Don’t overrely on press release enhancement. Many PR pros still think SEO means lots of links in news releases. This strategy is outdated, and spending on newswire distribution of link-loaded press releases can be a waste of money.  In fact, Google’s Matt Cutts has warned PRs not to expect news releases to have a positive impact on their search rankings. His remarks caused a stir in professional circles, but I think he was referring to what I can only call “news-free” releases, – those created simply to generate the now-downgraded website backlinks.

Offer unique content. This is a core PR skill, of course. But it’s not just in the writing or editing. If PR doesn’t own content marketing, it can still support SEO by refreshing the content calendar and dreaming up ideas for differentiated topics and materials, including white papers, articles, videos, and infographics.

Ask for high-quality links. PRs can be reticent to ask journalists and bloggers to include links to client sites, but it’s often perfectly legitimate to do so. In fact, it makes sense to factor in a given outlet’s link policy when planning media outreach.

Write press releases for media consumption. This one sounds like a no-brainer, because news releases are meant for press, yet often the target gets muddled. If PRs are pressed to toss in too many keywords, the announcements become like Christmas trees — everyone wants to hang something on them to help drive search by end-users. But remember, most journalists start story research with Google, so a journalist or blogger should always be the primary target.

Use social sharing. Most PR pros routinely use social sharing to extend the reach of earned media placements and drive direct engagement with customers and those who influence them. But we don’t always build the social following or online community in advance. Where possible, it’s good to have a community in place when the hits start coming.

Measure social influence. Metrics are the holy grail in PR, of course, so we need to give a high priority to the reach that social sharing brings. It can enhance the value of a single blog or media story exponentially, and we want to get credit for every single click, swipe, and share.

An earlier version of this post appeared on MENGBlend.

Naming Storms Is A PR Blowout For The Weather Channel

I found #Nemo!

This, and hundreds of other tweets about the blizzard bearing down on the East Coast helped propel it to the top of Twitter’s trending topics. And, barring a lawsuit brought by Disney, it’s a cool bit of PR bluster by The Weather Channel, who’s responsible for the nickname that’s been widely adopted by media and the public.

TWC was a longtime client of my first agency, and I’ve loved the brand since its inception. Yet, it was never a brand to take the marketing world by storm. And even weather nerds wondered a little when the network announced it would begin to name winter weather events last year. Some of the early monikers — Athena, Brutus, Caesar — were a bit, well, erudite for public consumption. “Snowmageddon” and “Frankenstorm” were surely more creative, if not very specific.

The naming scheme also caused some blowback from The National Weather Service, which pointed out that it doesn’t name winter storms because they vary from location to location “weaken and redevelop, making it difficult to define where one ends and another begins.” Archrival Accuweather accused it of “confusing science with spin,” and some fans claimed it had moved too far from its humble, pre-NBC springtime.

But the frosty response from the weather community didn’t dampen TWC’s enthusiasm for the storm naming strategy. And that’s a good thing, because it has enjoyed an excellent ratings season and a flurry of PR coverage around Nemo. The branding does make sense. Names make the storms easier to track, and for municipalities to communicate public safety information in a memorable and timely way.

“Snowicane” is hardly scientific, after all. Most importantly, Nemo is searchable, taggable, and tweetable. There’s both ratings and SEO gold in TWC’s naming protocol, and my bet is both the government meteorologists and the competition are just steamed because they didn’t get there first.

Good for you, TWC, for stealing the competition’s thunder and finally branding winter storms for the digital age. Winter storms Orka and Q have already been named; next up is Rocky. Are we ready?