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.





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.





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?





Are You a Thought Leader?

29 04 2013

Since the term “thought leader” was coined in business circles some 20 years ago, many business-to-business companies and executives have yearned to be thought leaders in their industries.

By definition, a thought leader is a person (or entity) who is recognized by peers for having progressive and innovative ideas, and who shares these ideas and helps to effect change with those ideas.

Note the key words “recognized” and “share.” scarecrow-wizard-of-oz

It’s not enough to develop great ideas. To be a thought leader, you need to be recognized for having great ideas, and you need to share and champion these ideas through effective communication.

Of course, in today’s world, this communication includes a full range of earned and owned media activities – PR approaches such as publicity, social media, speaking and blogging, to name just a few. And ultimately, recognition of a thought leader builds and gains momentum as media coverage and visibility are generated and sustained.

Here are seven things that can help you (or your boss) to become recognized as a thought leader:

  1. Create a viewpoint – Thought leaders have a viewpoint that helps shape their story and puts the facts and numbers into context. They provide insight and perspective on key issues, they offer opinions, and they foster a discussion around an issue.
  2. Lead a movement – Thought leaders become advocates for a cause that can help a group, an industry or a country. They educate us on a problem or issue, shed some light for us on the pros and cons, and lead us to explore the possible solutions. They urge us to take action.
  3. Show us the future – Thought leaders show us their vision, offer a forecast or make a prediction … and they persuade other people to share it, embrace it and support it.
  4. Make it personal – Thoughts leaders build their viewpoint and vision around their personal beliefs and life philosophy. They are credible because they are authentic; they don’t just talk about someone else’s solution, they own it, they feel it, they live it. They are committed.
  5. Get yourself out there – Thought leaders are pro-active; they put themselves out there. Their PR teams can help them find opportunities to push their viewpoint – such as speaking engagements, op-ed placements, guest columns, articles, blogs and vlogs, news releases, media interviews, etc.
  6. Make yourself available to media – Thought leaders take on the mantel of experts; they make themselves accessible to journalists and analysts and are ever-ready to provide quotes, color, context, clarification and perspective.
  7. Capture their attention – Thought leaders use word devices to gain attention and stay top of mind. They prepare sound bites, use controversy and paint mental pictures. They employ plain language, analogies and anecdotes to bring their point to life. They create a buzzword or catchphrase that capsulizes their view in a memorable way.

Think of the executives you view as true thought leaders. Which of these tactics do they use? And which of these tactics could work best for you?





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.





It’s as Easy as ROPE: Social Media Plan Development

19 02 2013

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

In addition to my role at Bianchi PR, I also have the good fortune of teaching a social media course at Wayne State University in Detroit. The reason I say good fortune is, after many years in the PR business, it’s always refreshing to see PR through the eyes of students, eager to make their professional mark on the world.JK FB color

The key to the course is developing and implementing a social media plan. So one of my first questions for the students is this: “Do they still teach ROPE – research, objectives, program / plan and evaluation – as part of the core PR courses?

And, it’s always music to my ears, when I hear a resounding “yes” from the students. Why? Because, as with traditional PR plans, ROPE can also be applied to social media plan development.

If you find yourself being tasked with developing a social media plan for your organization, here are the steps I suggest:

  • Research. Provide a summary of what your company (or client) is currently doing in the social media space. More importantly, research what the competition is doing. Using a case-study, critical-eye approach as to who’s getting it right and who’s getting it wrong, will provide a road map for where you might want to take your efforts.
  • Objectives. Define the goals of your new media plan. Be specific in defining what success will be, so you know what you’re working to achieve at the onset. Tie some realistic measurements / metrics to your efforts – increase in “likes” or followers, amount of engagement, tone of feedback, issues being discussed, etc.
  • Program / Plan. Define who your target audiences are and where they are spending their time online. Define three or four consistent key messages that will be communicated throughout your social media efforts. Define your strategy and tactics, as well as your timeline. What social media application(s) will you be adopting for your organization (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, a blog, etc.)? What will your content be (product / service updates, news releases / announcements, media coverage, technical data / research, event involvement, community involvement, etc.)? What about consistency? How often will your post, blog, etc.?
  • Evaluation. Based on your objectives, how will you measure the success of your new media efforts? You can monitor and measure visitor statistics via your website, Facebook Insights, Word Press, bit.ly, etc. And how often will you measure? You need to be sure to analyze and measure data at set time intervals, so that implementation can be tweaked as necessary.

Have you developed a social media plan? If so, what are some the lessons you have learned? 





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 …





Maximum Exposure: Press Release Distribution 2.0

3 10 2012

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, VP- Account Service)

If your typical press release distribution process is like ours, it probably goes a little something like this:

  • Issue the press release on the newswire;
  • Email it to a carefully crafted, customized media distribution list;
  • Post the news to media sites that allow image / news sharing;
  • Post the news to social media sites; and
  • Monitor for coverage and share the results with our client.

Simple enough, right?

But no matter how many times we’ve successfully conducted this process over the years, we’re still asked every now and then: Do we really need to use the wire? Can’t we just email the release? If we’re using the wire, why do we need to email it too? You’re going to share our news via social media? Isn’t this all a bit redundant?

My response will typically begin with a question: Do you want maximum exposure of your good news?

The typical reply back: Well yes, of course we do.

When you’ve got good news to share and you’ve taken the time to carefully craft your message, gained executive approvals, etc., why wouldn’t you take the same amount of time and effort with the distribution process?

Let me address those “why we need to …” questions:

  • Newswire – The wire has become a standard for issuing most news, as you can select exactly which areas your news is released – a particular city, state, country, etc. The reason for using the wire is simple, it’s how our industry typically shares its news with the media and public at large. Another benefit of using the wire is the increased online search visibility it creates for your company and its products / services. This is due to the database links and news aggregator sites that pick up the release this way.
  • Direct Email to Media – Creating a customized media distribution list and emailing it directly to media is critical to making sure that your news it getting to the right publication, reporter / editor, instead of just hoping that they’ll catch your news on the wire.
  • Posting News Online – With the slimming down of editorial staffs, more publications are beginning to allow you to upload your own news and images to their sites. This is especially ideal if you have images to go along with your news, as it can allow for guaranteed online media exposure.
  • Posting to Social Media – Utilizing sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. will extend the reach of your news with your contacts, who (in many cases) are media covering your industry, as well as customers, potential customers, industry influentials, etc. My suggestion is to post your news release on your website, so that you can share a link to it on these social media platforms, thus increasing your company’s potential website traffic as well.

Over the years, we’ve continued to find ways to carefully hone and perfect a pretty basic – yet critically important – part of the PR process. The result: increased media hits; increased circulation; and, ultimately, increased client satisfaction.

Execution, as a legendary championship coach so aptly put it, does indeed win it.

How have you tweaked your release distribution process? And what were the results?








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