This is a guest post by Writer and PR Consultant Brad Shannon of Shannon Marketing Communications.

Most every business has a website these days, but not many have undertaken a consistent, strategic public relations effort that ties together and leverages the work they have put into creating, optimizing and marketing their site. Used in the right way, a well-written news release with the right keywords and phrases can be a highly effective way to improve your search engine optimization.

This is significant as more and more newspapers struggle, go under (RIP Rocky Mountain News) or cut back to web-only operations (Seattle Post Intelligencer). Even as these traditional targets for public relations efforts get thinner and fewer, your online public relations efforts, and the work you do to promote your business through social media, is becoming more important than ever.

Anyone who knows the basics of SEO will tell you that content is king – creating fresh, original content for your website will help improve your search engine results and drive traffic to your site. Creating a consistent flow of news releases to post to your site is a start; but there’s more you can do.

When you write a news release, optimize it – incorporate the same keywords and key phrases in your release that you do on your website. Then, post your release wherever you can.

There are many free press release posting/distribution sites on the web, and while some are useful, many are not effective. I’ve had success with and

You can also use paid news distribution services like PRWeb, MarketWire or PRNewswire to get your news releases to interested editors and reporters; and these services also get your information into the web’s flow of news, and it can stay there for quite awhile – months, in some cases years.

Some of the newest services focus on “Social Media Releases,” or what some are calling a new generation of press release. These format and distribute news in a way that is more social-media friendly, and connect to and share news automatically via your (or your clients’) Facebook or Twitter accounts, blogs, or a variety of other social media networks. Two that are worth checking out are and, both of which offer some level of free service.

Finally, as more and more newspapers cut staff, yet still need to provide a certain volume of fresh, relevant local content, many are going with some variation of a citizen journalist model. This allows publications to connect to the local community and involve their readership. There are those who don’t appreciate some of what that means, and I have a lot of good friends who are journalists; but what it means to you is that you can register for an account at many publications, probably even your local newspaper, and post your own stories and news release, and maybe even set up a blog.

Then, leverage your website and other efforts by posting useful articles and news releases to these sites, using the keywords and phrases you use on your website. The result is that you increase the footprint you make on the web, and you have your keywords and phrases posted in a variety of places. All of this ties together and helps you get more mileage out of both your PR and your SEO efforts, improves your search engine results and brings you more traffic.

Brad Shannon, Writer and PR Consultant
Shannon Marketing Communications.

I’ve been using the free, old version of activeCollab for years and was pretty happy with it, except for one major problem – there’s no way to save a project template. So every time I created a new project, I would spend 1-2 hours setting up all the milestones and tasks.

That was getting very time-consuming, so I started looking for other solutions. Basecamp was pretty good but seemed expensive with its monthly payments – $24 to $49 per month depending on how busy things were. Then I looked at the paid version of activeCollab.

It looked good -very similar to what I had, but quite enhanced from that level. I bought a $10 hosted demo that was fully functional for 30 days, and used it for three projects. I loved the fact that I could now create a project template (or as many as I wanted) – that was the biggest thing for me.

So my demo expired and I was ready to buy. activeCollab comes in two versions – Small Biz ($199)  and Corporate ($399). Two of the main differences were that the Corp had both the calendar and time tracking. I could live without those, so I bought Small Biz.

Today they sent me my hosted demo database so I could import my projects into my new install. That worked flawlessly, but when I logged in and started working on one, I kept getting an error.

I went back to their site and discovered that managing tasks, which I would consider to be a crucial, default-level function in any project management applications, apparently  is not important for small business users.

I spent quite a lot of time researching my options, then actually using this software in the last month. I like AC a lot – but if I’d read the list of differences more carefully I would probably have not even considered this product.

Now I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  Should I fork over the additional $200? That really rubs me the wrong way, paying for something that IMO should be included as a very basic feature. But if I spend more time going out and looking for something else, would I just be better off giving in and buying this upgrade? Ack ack ack.

This week the Flip Ultra video camera went on sale for $79.95 at Woot. I’d been looking at them for a few months and ordered one immediately… it came Thursday afternoon.

Very cool; it’s the size of a long cigarette pack and very simple to operate – here’s a short sample from this morning with one of our English springer spaniels and her favorite toy.

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I always test my sites in the latest crop of browsers – FF, IE, Safari (Mac and Win), Opera. I’m still supporting IE6, unfortunately, but once IE8 comes out I may put a stop to that. Mostly I don’t find it too horrible; a few conditional comments usually take care of whatever issues pop up.

I was invited into a Fundable group for an annual Browsercam account and just got word that I was one of the last two that made it in. I find Browsercam to be really convenient for Mac testing since I don’t, at this point, own a Mac. (When my Dell laptop finally dies, it will be replaced with a Mac).

I know there are some pretty good free browser testing sites out there now, but when I only have to pay $25 as part of a large group and I get remote access to live machines, I can’t really pass that by.

Here are a few of the free browser testing URL’s:

More info on cross browser testing from Smashing Magazine.

Speaking of Fundable, that’s a pretty neat site in itself. You can set up a webpage to collect funding for anything, from trips to medical bills to group purchases like our Browsercam page.