Using Google Alerts as a Business Tool

Google AlertsGoogle Alerts monitors both the web and the Google News database.  You then receive emails with news links when the items you’re interested in appear in their search results.

We create Google Alerts for all our clients and their main contacts, ABS staff and subjects that are important to our company and customers.

It’s an excellent tool to keep up with client milestones and news. For example, something that seems inconsequential to a client, might fit perfectly in that last section of the newsletter we may be writing for them.

I also like Google Alerts to monitor the latest trends in the industries in which we work. We’ve found business leads and sources to submit industry related articles… all delivered to our email box!

Need other ideas for using Google Alerts?  Check out Donna Gunter’s article entitled How to Use Google Alerts to Boost Your Business.

I joined Steve Harrison’s Reporter Connection email list. He recently sent the following excellent article:

“How To Use Google Alerts To Get More Publicity”

Google has a very helpful free ‘alerts’ service which can help you get more publicity.

It’s essentially an online clipping service which monitors both the web and Google News database, then sends you an email as soon as something you’re interested in appears in their search results.

For instance, let’s say you’re a big fan of actor Kiefer Sutherland. You can set up a Google Alert for his name. Then whenever Google finds him mentioned in a top news story or on the web, you’ll get an email including the web site address so you can go see where and how Kiefer is mentioned.

To set up your own Google Alerts for free, just go to (see tips further down for using the service and its paid alternative).

The exciting thing is you can use this service to grow your business in all sorts of ways.

Some of the obvious ways to use it include setting up alerts to see what others are saying about you online, ’spy’ on competitors, find out about new developments in your field of expertise and/or discover some other influential’s with whom you might want to align yourself
in some way.

This service is also one of the best publicity tools ever created and it’s FREE! Here are three ways to use Google Alerts to get media exposure:

Strategy #1 — Get publicity immediately by tying-in with breaking news stories.

One of the easiest ways to get publicity is to be able to comment on what’s already in the news. For instance, one of my Quantum Leap members, Harrison Forbes, is a dog training expert and author of DOG TALK.

While helping him craft his publicity strategy, we advised him, ‘Whenever a kid gets attacked by a dog somewhere in America, you need to contact newspapers and radio/TV shows in that city immediately and let them know you can comment on why it might have happened and how this attack could have been prevented.’

Harrison then asked, ‘But how will I know when a dog attack story hits the news?’

My answer: “Google Alerts.”

Within 90 days of beginning to use this strategy, Harrison told me he’d gotten publicity in over 40 different media outlets across the country using this method.

Strategy #2 — Get publicity year-round by building friendships with journalists who write about your topic.

Another of my clients, Mark Amtower, also uses Google Alerts service in a very systematic way to get publicity.

Here’s what Mark does: First he set up alerts to track stories written on his area of expertise, which is how small businesses can sell more to the government.

When he gets an alert email pointing him to a good story on that subject, he then sends the journalist who wrote the story a short email saying he enjoyed their article and offers a sincere compliment.

His email stands out because journalists don’t often hear from their readers and when they do it’s usually to complain.

Within his email Mark mentions his website to reinforce his credibility.

If the journalist writes him back and thanks him for his comments, Mark then offers to send them a free copy of his book and mentions he’s happy to be a resource for them on any future stories they might do on this or similar topics.

This simple technique has helped Mark get a lot of publicity in his niche because he’s systematically created relationships with many reporters who now look at him as a reliable source.

Strategy #3 — Get publicity easily by using proven headline formulas as “hooks.”

Authors who want more publicity often ask me what their ‘hook’ or angle should be when approaching the media. I’ll immediately ask them, ‘What hooks have others in your industry successfully used to get publicity?’

Usually they don’t know, but by using Google Alerts (or even just searching the Google News database at you can quickly find articles in which others with similar expertise are quoted.

For example, let’s say you’ve written a book about how to get the best mortgage. Suppose also that you’re based in Phoenix. One day you discover a story in the Chicago Tribune about new loan programs making it easier for self-employed people to get a mortgage.

Well, if it’s newsworthy in Chicago, it’s probably going to be considered newsworthy by the media in your city. So pitch your local media on doing the same story, only this time they’ll be interviewing YOU as the expert.

More Tips for Using Google Alerts

Here are a few words of advice on implementing this strategy:

* Consider the paid alternative. First, Google’s own alert service ( is free but there’s a paid alternative called
which isn’t affiliated with the search engine giant and costs $4.95 to $39.95/month.

My client Susan Joyce tells me this paid service is worth the money because Google’s free version presently only flags items mentioned in the top 10-50 results of a particular search, while goes up to 750 results per search.

* Beware of overly-broad searches. Whichever tool you use, be as specific as possible with the search criteria you select; otherwise, you’ll get a lot of junk. Sometimes it’s unavoidable if your search terms are very common or overly-broad.

For instance, I have an alert set up for ‘Steve Harrison’ and because I’m not the only person in the world with that name, I get a lot of off-target alerts. For this reason, you might want to have the alert emails first go to an assistant who screens them and passes along appropriate alerts. So get plugged in to this great service and start getting more publicity!

All the Best,

Steve Harrison
Bradley Communications Corp.
390 Reed Road, First Floor
PO Box 360
Broomall PA 19008
484-477-4235 (Cust Svc Voice Mail)

Karla Tillman Pollack is co-Founder and Principal of Association Business Solutions, Inc.  (ABS), an association management company headquartered in Trenton, NJ.  ABS provides association management, writing, marketing, nonprofit financials, social media communications, government affairs and PAC management services on a full-service or project basis.

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