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.





Why Media Don’t Respond and How to Change That

10 03 2014

(Guest post by Chad Van De Wiele, Intern)

As an intern, I’ve gained an ample amount of experience and learned many important lessons in the professional world of public relations.

One lesson CV FBI found particularly valuable came from a senior executive here, following her interaction with the bureau chief of a major wire service: there’s a reason the media don’t always respond.

While media pitching is integral to the function of PR, it doesn’t always garner the desired results. In fact, countless emails and pitches go unanswered by reporters.

For PR folks, this is maddening, to say the least. Yet, it’s a common practice we’ve yet to truly understand. So, why do reporters ignore us?

After one of our senior staffers pitched an opportunity to meet with a visiting CEO to various national and regional outlets, the previously mentioned journalist, along with many others, declined. As a sign of good faith, our staffer replied, thanking this reporter for at least taking the time to respond.Why Media Don't Respond Image

In response, the reporter provided a reasonable explanation as to why some media don’t respond at all: they don’t have time. As he explained, he receives around 30 pitches and invitations per day. If each takes roughly three minutes to read and reply to, that’s 90 minutes spent reading and responding to pitches every day.

On top of that, as he stated, declining a media pitch or invitation often results in yet another pitch to reconsiderwhich wastes even more of the journalist’s precious time.

So, it’s hard to argue with the practice of ignoring an invitation, especially when saying “no” might result in additional pitches.

Once you understand this happens, here are three ways to help prevent it from happening to you:

1) Target your pitches: For many of us, this is a fairly common practice; however, it may be that you’re pitching to media that don’t cover your client’s industry. To avoid this, double-check each outlet to make sure they’re appropriate for your pitch.

2) Research the reporter: Before adding a reporter to your media list, do some background research on them. Find out what this reporter typically writes about, read his/her previous stories, and make sure your story is related to their beat. Otherwise it could lead to you being banished to their spam folder.

3) Customize your pitch: Instead of blasting a generic message to everyone on your media list, personalize the message for each recipient, based on his/her needs and preferences. While this may sound time-consuming, it makes a big difference.

And to enhance future pitches, take the time to build a relationship with the reporter — when they have some time. Don’t pitch … just ask them what they’re looking for, what they’re working on, and how you might help.





Does Your Content Have the X Factor?

5 02 2014

If you Google the term “Content Marketing” you get more than 1 billion hits. That’s 1,000,000,000+ … and the number continues to grow hourly.

CONTENT is the biggest thing in marketing today. Every company wants it. Every agency is selling it. And every person with a smartphone, tablet or laptop can create it.

Content is everywhere, partially because it is so easy to createanyone with an internet connection can be a content publisher — and partially because it’s a lot easier to be your own publisher than to convince another publisher to tell your story for you.  (And of course, for many agencies pushing self-published content, it’s become a low-risk cash cow.)

Unfortunately, most of the business content that is created never finds its target audience. Often, it’s lonelier than the Maytag repairman on Saturday night.

appliance-repair-man1

Not because it’s poorly constructed, has weak production values or is feeble at storytelling, but because the focus of the content is off … by just one letter.

People are so enamored with their capability to be “content producers” … so focused on the actual creation process that they forget WHY and WHO they should be creating the content for. The real business purpose behind the content is to attract and engage a specific audience.

The key to that attraction and engagement is conteXt. Webster defines conteXt as the environment, the surroundings or the setting.

To provide conteXt for your content, think about your target audience and ask: Who are they? What’s their situation? Where do they go for information? What are their problems? What do they need? What’s of interest to them? What are their beliefs? What do they value? Who do they believe?

If you let the X factor of conteXt drive your content … if you focus on your audience’s situation, instead of your own … you’ll have more success.





Bringing Credibility to Your Content Marketing

1 10 2013

In the last post (http://wp.me/ppqb5-sA), we discussed how Gartner’s Three Cs of Content Marketing – Creation, Curation and Cultivation – hinged upon what we see as the fourth, and most important, C – Credibility.

Ultimately, if your content is not credible, it could end up ineffective … and your effort wasted. But how do you gain credibility?

Because credibility is in the eye of the beholder and because it is earned, not manufactured, it can be HARD to come by.

But there are ways you can help your company earn it. Consider that credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise.

You or your company earn trust by proving your integrity and worth over time through your performance. You perform. You do what you say you’re going to do. You demonstrate you can be relied upon. And you keep at it. Every time. Every day.

As you start to win trust through your performance, there are ways you can enhance and extend it by demonstrating your expertise using some “traditional” PR and media relations approaches, such as:

  • Conducting research that will benefit your target audience and sharing the results with them, demonstrating your company is willing to go the extra mile to understand the environment in which your audience must operate;
  • Pro-actively reaching out to reporters, analysts and bloggers who follow your industry to volunteer as a source of information, insight and perspective;
  • Taking (and promoting) advocacy positions and offering perspectives on industry trends and issues that are bigger than your company;
  • Speaking at key industry forums and events – and focusing on your audience’s concerns, not your own key messages;
  • Working to generate media coverage in the outlets and platforms that your audience already uses and trusts. No need to reinvent the wheel — the implied third-party endorsement that comes with positive media coverage in trusted media is invaluable. (For example, one story in BusinessWeek magazine generated a C-level meeting and ultimately millions of dollars of new business for one of our clients.); and
  • Leveraging opportunities to secure and share endorsements, testimonials, likes and shares throughout the various media platforms that your audiences uses,  to harness the amazing power of endorsement.

Credibility doesn’t come quickly … or easily. And that’s exactly why it is invaluable to your content marketing and your customer relationships.





The Missing “C” of Content Marketing

24 09 2013

In a recent blog post (http://tinyurl.com/pnu7erq), Gartner research director Jake Sorofman – an expert in digital marketing strategy, trends and practices – introduced The Three Cs of Content Marketing:

  • Creation—is the collaborative, often distributed process of generating original ideas and creative output in the form of text, images, video, infographics and the like.
  • Curation—is when marketers find, filter, organize and annotate third-party content to advance their storyline by adding value to someone else’s point of view.
  • Cultivation—is the practice of inspiring your audience to contribute content back to your storytelling efforts, often in the form of comments, gamified or contest-driven contributions.Loose Diamonds

While these are all key to a successful content marketing campaign, think about a diamond. There are four factors that affect a diamond’s value: color, cut, clarity and carat weight.

Similarly, if you want your content to be highly valued, there’s a fourth C you should be focused on, as well: Credibility.

If your content – your message – doesn’t have credibility with your audience, all the blood, sweat and dollars you put into the creation, curation and cultivation of content won’t really matter.

In a world where we are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages and claims a day,  and where technology has turned anyone with a smartphone or a laptop into a publisher or “citizen journalist”, it’s harder than ever to know exactly WHOM to believe.

The philosopher Aristotle studied the credibility of speakers and found that an audience was more likely to be convinced if the speaker was seen as:

- Being competent – having a good knowledge of the subject

- Having sound character – being honest and trustworthy, and

- Having goodwill toward the audience – that is, having the audience’s interests in mind.

There’s the rub: Credibility originates with the receiver of the message because it is based on the receiver’s perceptions.

You can’t create it by yourself. You earn it, just like trust and reputation, over time.

As Gartner’s Sorofman said, content marketing is hard work. Make sure that while you’re working on the creation, curation and cultivation of content, you work even harder at earning the credibility needed to get your content seen and believed.

We’ll offer some thoughts on building credibility in our next post.





Networking Do’s and Don’ts for College Grads

26 08 2013

(Guest post by Intern Witney Withers)

One of the most valuable skills no matter what field you work in is the ability to network. In a world where, as the old saying goes, “it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know,” networking is vital for new opportunities and advancing your career. witney withers

Although public relations is a field that revolves around communication and making connections, networking can be intimidating even for experienced professionals. Yet, done correctly, networking will bring valuable connections for years to come.

Here are some tips to help you be a more effective networker:

  • Do research: If you are attending a specific networking event, research those attending. Find out if it will be new professionals in the field or more experienced people. Research some of the attendees and their companies. Find things that could be potential conversation starters.
  • Do set goals: Before attending any type of networking event or opportunity, decide what your goals are. Are you networking to find a job, build relationships with others in the PR world or just for fun? Setting simple goals will make networking more beneficial. 
  • Do follow-up: The single most important thing to do after a networking event is follow-up. The main purpose of networking is to build meaningful relationships. Exchange business cards, use social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn to stay connected. If you made a significant connection with someone, e-mail them and include a memorable point from the conversation. Following up also includes staying in touch on a periodic basis.
  • Don’t talk more than you listen: People love to talk about themselves and even more, they love someone who will listen. Take advantage of this by being an attentive listener and asking quality and open-ended questions. You never know what types of things you could find out, especially if you are surrounded by more experienced professionals.
  • Don’t cling to one person: The main purpose of a networking event is to meet new people. It’s okay to attend events with a colleague or close friend to reduce nervousness. However, it’s not okay to talk to them the entire time. You can miss out on valuable connections. Move around and work the room. 

What networking rules do you follow?





A Guide to Owning Your Career

26 07 2013

Do you “own” your career? Do you have a plan or are you taking it as it comes?

Whether you’re just about to start your career, trying to build your career, help someone grow their business or launch your own business, retired PR entrepreneur John J. Bailey has some great advice for you in his book, “The Power of Ownership: How to Build a Career and a Business.” (http://thepowerofownership.com/)  Ownership - Bailey

I have known and admired John Bailey, often referred to as “Mr. Ethics” in Detroit, for 20 years. He has been a competitor, a friend, and perhaps unknown to him, a role model.

Yet, even as someone who has practiced PR in Detroit for some 30 years and had some terrific mentors and clients, I found John’s book highly instructive as well as entertaining.

Finishing this book left me wishing two things:

1) That I would have had the opportunity to work directly with John sometime in my career; and

2) That I would have had access to this book 21 years ago when I first founded my own firm.

You can read the book in a couple of evenings … but you will want to keep it handy for regular reference. It provides valuable perspective and insight from a Midwest PR legend, a PRSA Hall of Famer and one of the most respected and successful business professionals in the Detroit community over the past 20 years.

Part Detroit PR history, part biography of one of Detroit’s business heroes, and part business success primer, John’s book chronicles the trials and successes in his career … and shows how his firm grew into one of the most respected PR firms in the country.

More importantly, it offers some simple, but profound, advice for anyone to looking to succeed in business … as John did it: with honor, honesty and integrity.

Do yourself and your career a favor: check this book out. 





Roll with the Changes: The New B2B PR Landscape

3 07 2013

(By Jaclyn Reardon, Assistant Account Executive)

The past recession and the digital revolution have turned the world of journalism upside down. Not just for general consumer media, but also for trade media, which serve as the arbiters of credibility within an industry segment … and that traditionally could make or break a B2B company’s PR efforts.Landscape

When the media landscape changes, PR has to adapt, or else we’ll be left behind. Here are just six of the changes B2B PR is faced with and how they can impact tactics and results:

We Must Do More with Less – Many companies and clients have not regained their full budgets from pre-recession levels, but are expected to spread their smaller budgets out over more options. Choosing where you focus your energy is imperative.

Media Relationships: Never More Important – Smaller newsroom staffs mean fewer experienced journalists onboard, and those that remain have less time. This means B2B PR staffs must build solid equity with key journalists in order to keep dialogue going.

Deliver the Goods, Fast – Many media outlets have replaced staff reporters with freelancers, who often focus on generating stories fast and don’t have the same kind of in-depth expertise as beat reporters do. This means we need to be able to package and convey our news for a story quickly.

In the Event of an Event – There appears to be more industry events, at least in the automotive industry, but fewer reporters have time to be onsite covering them. This means we have to make the most of it when reporters do attend and provide those offsite with materials they need to cover the news.

Platform Proliferation – The increased number of social media platforms, which can spread news globally and instantaneously, means it’s more difficult to control our messages. Preparation here is key, in the form of social media policies, key message development and crisis communication planning.

Bonus: We Get More Mileage – An upside to the multiple forms of media channels is that news content is more often repurposed across formats, such as print, digital, online, blog, etc.

How have you been affected by the changes in the media and PR world?





Great Bosses, Great Dads: Thanks!

12 06 2013

Great dads and great bosses share some of the same qualities. So, Father’s Day is the perfect time to thank your paternal parent … as well as any male mentor who has helped you in your personal or work life … for their guidance, counsel and support.

If yours is still alive, thank him this weekend. Dad 2

My dad, who passed away four years ago, wasn’t a businessman, but a blue-collar electrician at an automaker. Still, he taught me a great deal about people, business and life by his example. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.

Thanks, Dad …

… for spending your time with us, and showing interest in our interests, rather than forcing your own interests on us

… for trying to broaden our horizons by exposing us to a variety of places, things and activities that you never got to experience at our age

… for showing us what true commitment is, by honoring every commitment you made

… for always being there to support us, especially when it wasn’t fun or comfortable to do so

… for teaching us the importance of honesty, the power of faith, the steadfastness of loyalty and the grace in helping others

… for showing us the joy in nurturing growth in all things, whether it was vegetables, pets, colleagues … or our own friends and children

… for standing behind us unconditionally, no matter how we might have angered, offended, disappointed or ignored you

… for showing us the warmth and lift that a smile, a kind word or a pat on the back can bring someone else

… for laughing with us, not at us, and, more importantly, for teaching us how to laugh at ourselves

… for showing us the satisfaction of a job well done, for encouraging us to pursue our dreams and follow our hearts, and for teaching us to look at adversity as an adventure.

Thanks, too, to three of my former bosses and mentors – Wayne, Horst and Dick – for their lessons about taking care of details … being prepared … never giving up … being a team player … and thinking big … among other things.

I hope, as a dad and a boss/mentor, to pass your lessons on.








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