More Bang for Your Trade Show Dollars

24 03 2014

(Guest post by Kayla Brown, Intern)

When it comes time for your company to take part in a trade show or an event just showing up isn’t enough and it won’t guarantee the media coverage you are looking for. So this time around shake it up and try something new.KB Headshot

Trade shows offer prime opportunities to showcase your newest products, as well as opportunities to extend and amplify your messages to a broader audience.

Your company has already spent thousands of dollars on a booth, developing messaging and creating a unique experience for your customers and prospects. Why not enhance that by inviting and interacting with the media?

Engaging reporters with interviews and demonstrations will help reinforce your message by earning media coverage, which can add to your credibility and also reach thousands of customers and prospects who could not attend the show.

Best of all, this can be easily achieved. Here are some simple tips:

1. Reach out to media several weeks before the show. Let them know what you’ll be offering such as new products, demonstrations and who will be available for interviews;

2. Set up interviews or demonstration appointments a week or two before the show;

3. Prepare press materials and brief your spokespeople;

4. Have a PR expert handy during the show to engage and pitch reporters on the spot; and

5. Conduct follow-up with the media after the show to answer any questions and make sure they have all the materials they need (press kit / images / etc.).

Of course, social media is another great way to generate extra buzz before, during and after a trade show. Here’s how:

Twitter

Create and promote a #hashtag for your show presence so users can find all related tweets. Also, tweet links that lead media and prospects to where they can find information, especially if they were unable to attend.

Facebook

Post coverage and links on your company’s Facebook page and encourage attendees to “like” your page, so they can post replies, share feedback and learn more.

YouTube

If you have any videos from the show or press conference, edit the footage into short, exciting segments then promote and link videos to your website and other social media sites.

Integrating traditional PR and social media with your trade show activities can maximize your reach, credibility and impact for enhanced marketing ROI.





Making Personal Connections on a Professional Level Can Lead to PR Success

17 03 2014

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, Vice President – Account Services)

Not that long ago, I had the opportunity to pitch “key” national and regional media in other parts of the U.S. for a client, which can be a challenge when you don’t already have solid, established relationships with target reporters in areas such as Washington, D.C.JK FB color

Rather than look at this task as daunting, I broke it down into manageable pieces and began my approach. When I pitch, I typically start with a high quality media list that is researched and developed internally at our firm. I research the reporter and study their previous stories. Then I work on drafting my pitch. Now it’s not a “one size fits all pitch,” I customize if for each reporter and, when possible, on a personal level.

Why personal? PR is very much a relationship-based business and when you can find a common personal denominator to break the ice … it simply WORKS!

For example, I needed to pitch a Pittsburgh, PA-based reporter from a major national newspaper. The reporter didn’t know me. However, one of my husband’s best friends works for the local NHL team there, the Pittsburgh Penguins. As a result, I once had an opportunity to visit the area to attend a game. Thus, my note to this particular reporter took on a conversational tone, mentioning the recent Penguins visit, with my pitch later being woven in. It worked. The reporter got back to me immediately. We chatted back and forth a bit and I was able to book a media meeting for our client’s executive with this key reporter. Thus, a very happy client.

So at the end of the day (I hate that phrase, but it works here), we are all just people and making connections on a personal level in our professional life can mean all the difference.





Want to be a successful marketing storyteller?

4 09 2013

Many marketers approach storytelling backwards.

They create their story based on the facts, features and benefits they want to convey to the audience … they focus on what they offer, what their expertise is, how their product or service works … they select or create a platform they’d like to use to tell that story … and they hope they’ll find and engage their audience.

Then they wonder why it falls flat.

Why?

The simple truth is: Your target audience really isn’t interested in you. They ARE interested in themselves.

So, the best way to be successful at storytelling is to start with listening to your audience. Identify who you really want to reach and what makes them different. Uncover what’s important, interesting and engaging to them. Explore and ask them:

  • What do they want and need?
  • What problems, issues or concerns do they have?
  • Who do they identify with or relate to?
  • Who do they believe or find most credible?
  • What point of view are they operating from?
  • Where do they get their information?
  • What will make an emotional connection with them?
  • What is their personal payoff from your story – that is, what’s in it for them?
  • What format, vehicle and media do they prefer to receive their stories in?

To be a successful storyteller, build your story around your audience’s preferences … not your own.

Tell it in a way that meets their wants, needs, desires and interestsnot your own.

And tell it in the form, format, media and channel that they prefer to view, listen to, read and/or follow … not your own.

Before you start creating your story, put yourself in their shoes. And remember, it’s NOT about you or your product, it’s about them.

To succeed, make their story yours.





Business Best Practices: Kudos, WOWs and All That Good Stuff

3 04 2013

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, Vice President – Account Services)

Meetings … love them or hate them, they are an essential part of doing business.

But what if meetings were something your team actually looked forward to or, at the very least, didn’t mind attending?

Yes, it can happen.

Hands Applauding

At Bianchi PR we have a standing (albeit flexible) Thursday morning staff meeting and toward the bottom of the agenda is always a bullet point titled “kudos.”

During the kudos portion of the meeting, our leader acknowledges each team member’s achievements for the past week.  Sometimes the achievement is a major media hit for a client in a key publication, sometimes it’s scoring a big media interview, and sometimes it’s just stepping up on those everyday tasks that keep things humming along for the firm and our clients.

The key point: giving positive recognition to each team member for “things gone right.” It encourages and reinforces positive behavior. And beyond that, it helps close the meeting on an upbeat, sometimes inspirational, note.

Now, above and beyond the kudos, we also celebrate “WOWs.” A WOW is an acknowledgement for those times when a staff member has figuratively “Walked On Water” for a client.

Although our clients are unaware of it (until perhaps they read this blog), WOWs actually come directly from them.

Any time a client takes the time to write an unsolicited email or note of thanks to the agency for a job well done, our agency CEO generates a WOW certificate for that staffer.

The certificate itself isn’t anything fancy.

It’s simply a piece of paper prominently featuring the acronym WOW along with a brief description how the staffer wow’ed the client.

It’s presented at the next weekly staff meeting, and the recipient posts it near their workspace, as a pleasant reminder of an appreciative client and a grateful employer.

Now, who wouldn’t want to attend a meeting that promises kudos, WOWs and all that good stuff?

When you end a staff meeting on a high note, it encourages your team to continue to do great work. And isn’t that what best business practices are really all about?

What have you done to make your meetings more enjoyable or to encourage great work among your staffers?





New Tools, Old Rules: Social Media Policy

5 03 2013

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, Vice President – Account Services)

When asked about social media policy, I once heard a PR executive sum it up in this way: “It’s just new tools, old rules.

Social media has indeed given professionals a new set of tools in our collective toolbox and with that comes the need for proper use guidelines. The key is developing a social media policy that will help regulate, but won’t smother, the personal and open nature of new media within your company.JK FB color

Here are five key points to keep in mind when establishing a social media policy:

  1. A policy with a purpose. Your social media policy should have a positive purpose behind it, focusing on the things that employees can do, rather than what they can’t do when it comes to posting.
  2. Identify roles for consistency. In any organization, certain individuals are responsible for certain tasks. Pick an administrator (or more than one depending on the size of your company) for your social media sites. The administrator will be responsible for making significant, consistent announcements on behalf of the organization, responding to questions or complaints, and resolving issues.
  3. Encourage good judgment. Social media sites provide a place to be professional and helpful, not an open forum to complain or insult. Employees should be encouraged to post, but to use common sense when doing so. And, if questionable, they can always run a potential post by the social media administrator for approval before posting.
  4. Respect copyrights. Giving proper credit where credit due is a must. Employees should be made aware that they must have permission to use others’ material (with attribution, if necessary) before it is posted.
  5. Prepare for problems. Just as with any policy, there should be basic steps to follow in order to recognize and fix problems to your social media sites in a timely fashion. Again, this is where having an administrator comes in handy.

Bonus tip: Make your policy a living document. Changes and additions should be made as more is learned and experienced. When updating or revising your guidelines, keep communication open between your administrator and employees to leverage feedback. See feedback as an opportunity for continuous improvement.

For some examples of social media guidelines from various companies, see the Social Media Governance website, which has an online database of more than 200 social media policies.





A Picture is Worth … 53% More Likes and 104% More Comments

29 01 2013

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, VP – Account Services)

We have said it before … “everyone reads pictures.”

And according to a recent study by HubSpot – which evaluated 8,800 Facebook posts from B2B and B2C companies – posts with photos on Facebook pages received 53 percent more likes than the average post. In addition, photo posts attracted 104 percent more comments than the average post. JK FB color

The findings of this social media engagement study emphasize a big opportunity for business.

Using photos to increase likes and comments, can increase a businesses’ EdgeRank – Facebook’s visibility algorithm – helping to boost page content to appear in the news feeds more often.

And increased visibility, in all forms, is key when it comes to marketing a business.

Here are five tips gathered from our staff and Inc. magazine on using photos to boost your company’s online engagement:

  1. Use the Right Stuff. Make sure the photo is interesting, good quality, pertinent to your business and customers, as well as appropriate for your audience. Also, if you use someone else’s photo, make sure you have permission and provide appropriate credit.
  2. Show Your Stuff. Use photos of your product or service to bring your words to life and provide a descriptive caption that will interest your audience and lead them to a link where they can find more information.
  3. Show Your Staff.  Using photos of your employees on the job or participating in community, charity or civic activities can help your customers and prospects connect on a more personal level with your company.
  4. Make it Tight and Bright. Make sure the photo’s subject is well lit and that the key subject fills the frame, so that the product or person is easy to see in the online thumbnail.
  5. Make it Searchable. Replace the image’s original, unspecific file name (i.e. IMG0123.jpg) with the name of your product or service and optimize it for online search algorithms, so the right people find the photo.

Do have any photo posting tips to add to this list? Come on, shoot …





Part 5: Creating Social Media Content and Process for the Business Professional

5 06 2012

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, Vice President – Account Services)

So you’ve created your professional social media accounts … now what?

Continuously creating content is one of the biggest challenges in successfully implementing social media tactics for the business world. In the final two parts of this six-part series, we’ll share some thoughts on content, what to promote, the process, consistency targets and social media measurement.

In order to create content, here is a list of questions you can look to as a guide to help you:

  • What kinds of topics or content would motivate customers / potential customers to engage in a conversation or get in touch with you?
  • What kinds of problems or issues are they tackling? Can you or your company offer tips or advice?
  • What articles, blogs or videos have you seen that might be newsworthy or helpful to share?
  • Are there any issues or topics that you would like other’s people input or insight about?

Mix those general topics and helpful information with content about your company, but be careful not to make it all about you. When promoting yourself and your company via social media, here are some suggestions on what you might want to consider posting, intermittently:

  • News releases / event announcements;
  • Videos / photos (as we often say to our clients “everyone ‘reads’ pictures”);
  • Community involvement stories or photos;
  • Positive media coverage about your company or your industry;
  • Start a discussion on industry trends and issues; and
  • Ask questions / solicit feedback / conduct a poll or survey. (One of our most popular posts is based on an annual survey of identifying the most-hated business buzzwords for communicators and marketers.)

To be consistent with your social media efforts, we recommend establishing a process that you’ll follow time and time again. First, when linking to another source (website, article news release, etc.) shorten the link’s URL by using one of the many URL shortening sites. We like www.bitly.com, as it offers real-time link tracking to measure your social media efforts. Then develop your actual post to accompany the link, writing something that’ll grab attention. And we recommend drafting the post in Word first, so you can do a spell check.

Now you’re ready to post the content to your social media pages. And, yes, post it to all of them. Although it may seem a bit redundant, your various contacts, followers, friends and fans have different preferences for the social media they use — some turn to Twitter, some follow Facebook, and others  like LinkedIn. By hitting all your outlets, even though you may customize the posta bit  to fit the unique qualities of each platform, you can ensure that your content isn’t missed.

  • For LinkedIn, we recommend posting to your personal account first, then to your company’s business page and finally to all appropriate groups you belong to.
  • For Twitter, remember to make sure your Tweet comes at 130 or fewer characters, so it can be easily re-tweeted by others and still meet the 140-character limit. Use a shortened URL to save space, and consider using a hashtag for increased searchability.
  • For Facebook, again use a catchy headline and shortened URL, as well as pictures and video.

Now, the big question is: as a professional, how much time should you dedicate to social media?

We’ll cover that in our final part of this series, as well as measurement and some closing thoughts on social media for business.





Part 4: Blogs for the Business Professional

30 05 2012

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, VP – Account Services)

A business-oriented blog can help you connect with new prospects, position you and/or your company as an expert in your field, and drive traffic to your content on other social media or digital properties.

The word “blog” is a contraction for “web log” — a term used to describe a website that maintains an ongoing chronicle of information. Many blogs focus on a particular topic. For example, our Bianchi Biz Blog focuses on useful information and perspective on PR and social media, especially for the business-to-business community.

The Basics: To set up a blog, you can select one of the many blogging sites out there. We use WordPress for its functionality and ease of use. To set up a WordPress account, go to www.wordpress.com and click the “Sign Up” button. You will then be directed to a page where you will need to choose an address for your blog, username and password. After you provide your email address, an email will be sent to you to activate your blog … and you’re in business!

So you’ve created a blog, now what? Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • Your blog is not a commercial about you or your company. You can draw upon your experience, but tie it to helpful, useful information to keep your readers coming back and perhaps even sharing your content with others;
  • People like bulleted lists, as they pack a lot of info into a small space. Some of our most popular posts are bulleted lists that offer tips, how-to info or facts.
  • Just as much as people like bulleted lists, they also like “reading” pictures. So offer up images, video, charts or infographics to supplement your words. For example, we used screen shots to explain how to use Facebook in part three of this blog series, Facebook for the Business Professional
  • Tie your topics to the latest trends and issues. For example, our Pinterest’ed In Today’s Hottest Social Media Site? was one of our most-read blogs to date;
  • Make your headlines catchy. We’ve found fun or sensational headlines like The Sneaky Seven: How to Avoid Media Interview Pitfalls, helped increase visits and solicit feedback from our readers;
  • Be sure to post regularly, perhaps every week or every other week. Consistency in frequency and quality is important to building and maintaining your blog audience;
  • Create and build a rolling list of potential blog topics, and write a few extra blog posts so you’ll have a few on the shelf and ready to go when you’re pressured for time or lacking inspiration;
  • Build community by checking out and subscribing to other blogs, linking to other blog posts that augment your post and inviting guests you respect to contribute a guest post;
  • Promote your blog via posts on your other social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, LinkedIn groups, etc.), as well as on your website, your email signature, advertising, enewsletter, etc. Invite your contacts to visit and follow; and
  • Have fun with it!

Now that we’ve covered the basics for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and blogging for professional use in the first four parts of this series, the next two parts of this series will focus on creating content, the process, consistency targets, measurement and more.





Part 2: Twitter for the Business Professional

15 05 2012

Created in March 2006, Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, informally known as “tweets.”

The Basics: To create a Twitter account go to www.twitter.com. Click on “Sign Up for Twitter.” Type in your name, email and password. Create a username (typically your name). Click “Create my Account.” Upload a photo. And finally, write a brief summary about yourself (up to 160 characters).

So you’ve created your professional Twitter account, now how do you leverage it? We suggest the following:

  • Begin following top influencers in your industry segment / field to learn about breaking or industry news and trends, in turn they may just start following you;
  • Keep your message to the 140 characters allotted (to enable a full re-tweet), use a URL shortener (like www.bitly.com) and consider using a hash tag for increased searchability. A hash tag is simply a way for people to search for tweets that have a common topic (i.e. #PR);
  • Steer followers to company or customer-posted news, blogs, sites, etc. by posting links or retweeting;
  • Generate media opportunities by following journalists and positioning you or your company as a possible expert source;
  • Get feedback on your products / services and review updates, view comments, questions and / or possible criticism;
  • Post video and image links tied to promotional campaigns and encourage users to follow along to receive exclusive information; and
  • Posting on-site, real-time updates and insights from conferences or trade shows you may be attending.

Here is an example of a profile and a series of Tweets:

After creating and leveraging your own Twitter account, if you’re interested in learning more about how to create a corporate account and how to best utilize it to build your business and its brand, check out our tipsheet, Think Before You Tweet – Writing Tweets Worth Sharing.  Also follow Bianchi PR on Twitter for an example of how we’re utilizing the site for our business.

Next week: Part 3 – Facebook for the Business Professional





Our Top 5 PR Blog Posts for 2011

5 01 2012

Although social media seemed to be the hottest subject in the PR world throughout 2011, it was interesting to note that four of our five most popular blog posts on the Bianchi Biz Blog last year were NOT about social media.

Our most-read posts were more about relationships, the practice of PR and, of course, those business buzzwords that drive all of us bonkers.

Our group of followers is limited generally to those interested in business-to-business PR topics and tips, so we were delighted that we had 7,126 visitors to our blog in 2011 — nearly doubling our monthly average from 2010. If one of those visits was yours, thanks!

And in case you missed them, here are our top five blog posts of 2011:

1 10 Habits of Successful PR Client-Agency Relationships

2 Top 10 Bits of PR Advice

3 20 Business Buzzwords You Want to Kill

4 Top 7 Unfriendable Offenses

5 PR Retainers Are Long Gone. Aren’t They?

What topics would YOU like us to explore in the Bianchi Biz Blog in 2012?








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