News Alerts Make YOU The Expert

August 3, 2006

Did you know that the latest news on your industry, your competitors and your customers can land in your e-mail inbox, with absolutely no effort on your part? “News Alerts” are one of the most powerful search engine tools available, but very few people are using them. Big mistake. News alerts can be your competitive edge – not to mention help you find new customers, keep track of your competition and make you look like the most informed person in your industry – and all with little or no effort. In fact, every time your competitor burps, you’ll get an e-mail telling you about it. And, every time there’s a news story anywhere about your industry, you’ll be notified instantly.

It takes only a few minutes to set up one or two news alerts. We’ll use GoogleNews Alerts for our examples today – but Yahoo, Ask.com and many other search engines offer similar services.

The steps to setting up a news alert are at the end of this article, but first, let’s talk about how to choose the right terms for your news alerts. We’ll use our new friend, Jerry Rouleau, who we met at the recent National Speakers Association Convention. Jerry does sales training, marketing consulting and public relations for the new home market – www.jrouleau.com – and he’s an expert in the system-built home industry, also referred to as the modular home industry. These are not the annoying double-wides that block you on the highway. Nope, often you won’t be able to tell a system-built home from a regular home – they are that good. They are, however, manufactured indoors and then shipped in pieces to be assembled on location. It is a hot industry, with lots happening.

By choosing the right few phrases to place in a Google News Alert, Jerry will be instantly alerted to the latest news in his important industry. It takes only a few seconds to decide what phrases and combinations of words are the best – and you’ll want to do that in the “News Tab” of Google, not on Google’s main page.

Jerry’s industry can be referred to in several ways – “systems-built industry” – “systems-built homes“- “system built homes.” When we test search each of these phrases on the Google News page, the first phrase, “systems-built industry” turns up zero news articles, the second, “systems-built homes” turned up three articles (all about the same company) and the last,”system built homes,” turns up eight articles. What this means is that the press is most often referring to Jerry’s industry by using the phrase “system built homes.”

Who cares? If Jerry creates a news alert for this term, he will receive an e-mail alerting him that some newspaper (or even TV station) somewhere in the country (and even the world) has mentioned his exact phrase. He can choose to receive this information instantly (often before the paper version hits the streets), daily or weekly (although it’s not really news if he chooses weekly). Among our eight examples were articles from the Vancouver Sun, the Columbus Dispatch and even WBAY (the ABC television affiliate in Green Bay, Wisconsin). Whenever anyone writes “system built homes” in an article anywhere, Jerry will be on top of it. Do you think he’ll be seen as THE expert?! (Well, Jerry already is the expert, but you get the picture).

Here’s a homework assignment for you: Go to the News Tab on Google and enter these three phrases, checking the number of results for each – “modular homes” – “modular building systems” – “manufactured homes” – and then decide which would be the best news alert.

Here’s the more important homework assignment for you: Start testing phrases for your own industry, competitors and trade associations. Remember, when you do a news search on Google you are getting results for approximately the most recent 30 days of stories. Be aware that if you get thousands of results for your terms, you’ll get tons of news alerts landing in your e-mail inbox. That may not be efficient. The trick is to describe your industry in the terms that will provide a reasonable and manageable number of results.

And, in just a few minutes a week you will begin to be the smartest, most informed guru in your industry. Your competitors, peers and customers won’t believe how you are able to stay so informed.

The 3 steps to a Google News Alert (write or call us if you get stuck and we’ll help you through):

  1. Go to www.google.com and click on the News tab above the Google search box. You’ll see the latest news about corporate scandals and Middle East strife. Most people stop here because they don’t realize how important and how powerful targeted news can be to their business.
  2. Click on the News Alerts tab (it’s on the left side and has a little picture of an envelope next to it). If you are doing this for the first time – you’ll want to create a Google account (don’t worry, it won’t require you to get a Google e-mail account – you can use your own). To do this click on the words “sign in to manage your alerts.” On the next page, you’ll see the link to “create an account now.” You want one – it’s much easier to manage your news alerts if you have an account. So, what are you waiting for? Go fill all this out and get an account.
  3. Once you have an account, Google will know where to send your alerts – and you’re ready to start adding topics to your “Manage Your Alerts” page. Try a few just to test it and get your feet wet.

A Few More Google News Alert Tips:

Let’s stop for just a minute to consider the power and importance of using quotes (“any phrase”) around words that belong together. Sheryl and I find that consistently more than half of our workshop audiences do not realize how important quotes are to getting focused and effective search results. Putting quotes around “system built homes” tells Google that these three words must appear together in that order. If you leave out the quotes you get 2,100 results – and most of these are not at all what you are looking for. Here’s an example – “Bellow Valley homes are suffering because the irrigation system built decades ago is now failing.” This sentence contains all of the words – system and and builthomes – but it’s clearly not about Jerry’s topic. Be sure to use quotes around words only when those words belong together – names of people, company names, and phrases.

The Manufactured Housing Institute is one of the main trade associations for Jerry Rouleau’s industry. Another great news alert for him would be simply – “Manufactured Housing Institute.” In fact, this morning that alert netted a great article that I’m gonna’ guess would interest Jerry (and anyone in that industry). Direct from the Lakeland, Florida Journal (you always read that before breakfast, right?!) comes Len Bonnifield’s column, “Why Don’t Realtors Use MSL Resources?” In it he talks about the new MLS resources specific to Jerry’s industry: “I reasoned if there could be MLS for site-built, why not for manufactured homes?”

News Alerts results will also include press releases – and that’s a good thing. Jerry’s news alert for “modular homes” this morning returned this press release:
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Aug. 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Champion Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: CHB), a leader in factory-built construction, announced today that it has completed the acquisition of Maryland-based North American Housing. The debt-free transaction is valued at $32 million in cash and will be immediately accretive to Champion’s results.

Finally, our friend and expert sales training guru, Tom Buxton, needs to get news alerts on one of his customers, the office supply chain store, Staples. However, it won’t work to do a news alert just for Staples – yeah, think about it. If he just did a news alert for staples he’d get all sorts of news articles about those funny little twisty things. So, for Tom, he uses the power of quotation marks to target his news alert results to just the Staples stores, with “Staples Inc.” (By the way, Google ignores capitalization, commas, apostrophes and periods – so “staples inc” is the same as “Staples, Inc.”)

Take it to the Next Level – provide added value for your customers:
This Rouleau Guy is Scary

What we didn’t tell you above is that Jerry Rouleau has been using news alerts to stay up-to-date in his industry for over 2 years now. In fact, he takes the information he gathers one step further -gathers all the best alerts together and then post them on one of his separate websites called www.systembuiltnews.com. Yes, his main web page – www.jrouleau.com – links to this web site. Once or twice a month he posts recent news alerts to his systembuiltnews.com site and then he sends everyone in his e-mail database a note telling them to check out the website for new postings. Now that’s added value to his partners and customers. And, a bit of a threat to his competitors.


One comment

  1. […] around your terms and you are pretty much home free. (For an introduction to News Alerts, read “News Alerts Make YOU the Expert” […]

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