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.





Never Lose Your Keys: Tips for Developing Strong Key Messages

18 02 2014

Image(Guest post by Kayla Brown, Intern)

Good communicators don’t just wing it! When you have a concise, powerful idea of what you want to say about your company or product, your audiences are more likely to be engaged, more likely to understand you and more likely to remember you. In order for that to happen it is imperative to take the time to prepare and develop strong key messages.

What Are Key Messages?

Simply put, they describe how and why you exist as a company. The goal is to have your audiences understand the same basic message. Well-crafted messages should be tailored to the specific audience and also support your mission, explain what your company is aiming for and include a call to action.

One way to think of it is, what are the main points you want your audiences to remember?

To Be Effective, Key Messages Should Be:Image

  • Few in number, usually three or four;
  • Simple, short and concise;
  • Compelling and believable;
  • Focused on one idea each; and
  • Written down and practiced.

How to Create Strong Key Messages:

Remember the “Who”: Think about who you want to receive your message, and what’s important or of interest to them?

Do You Have Data on That?: Use brief, credible, easy-to-understand facts with figures and statistics to back them up.

Test It Out: Your key messages do not flow off the tongue easily, rework them.

In a nutshell, you should start any form of communication with your key messages, return to them throughout, and then summarize them at the end.

Key Message Examples:

Social Media Company:

  • Foursquare turns your life into a game.
  • Foursquare helps you discover new places.
  • Foursquare lets you make the most of where you are.

Technology Company:

  • 3M is a diversified technology company.
  • 3M applies innovation systematically to anticipate and respond to customer needs.
  • 3M is a global company with local presence throughout the world.




How PR Can Turn Data into Gold

27 12 2013

(Guest post by Chad Van De Wiele, Intern)

Many companies are unaware of the power of research as a professional communications tool and only use their findings for internal purposes. However, research can have a great effect on your public relations and communications strategies – if conducted and shared the right way.Image

In order to get the most out of your research, be sure to share the results both internally and externally.  Why? Sharing your research results:

  • Publicly positions your company as a thought leader and expert in the industry;
  • Helps your company develop a greater understanding of your customers, enhancing your knowledge as a supplier and increasing your value as a business partner;
  • Helps you identify new trends and issues, which will benefit you, your customers and the media; and
  • Underscores your  company’s commitment to your customers and industry.

Here are seven ways you can use your research as a part of you PR strategy:

AnnouncementsUse your research results as material for external communications, such as news releases.

EventsDepending on the quality and implications of your company’s research, a press conference may be in order.

SpeechesData from your company’s research may also be used for an executive speech or presentation at an industry venue.

SalesUtilize the findings from a research study to add value by sharing details with your best customers.

NewsroomPosting research findings to your company’s website can attract new attention. However, instead of posting all your data online, use only a few relevant points to create facts, figures, graphs, infographics or videos.

Social MediaShare selected highlights of your research findings on social media, to drive prospects to seek you out to learn more.

InterviewsShare your data during interviews with reporters. Not only will this build your reputation and credibility, but also provide the reporter with potential graphics for a news story.

For more tips on repurposing your company’s data for PR content, check out our past e-newsletter, The Hidden PR Goldmine.





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.





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.





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.





12 Things to Expect from Your PR Agency – Reprise

29 05 2013

In an earlier post, we outlined a list of seven things a client can do to make its PR agency great – our thoughts on how a client can make its PR firm more effective and a better partner ( here’s the link: http://wp.me/ppqb5-iF).

Based on our firm’s 20-year history – and a few client relationships that have lasted more than 16 years – we’ve learned there are also a number of things an agency should do to make its relationships with clients mutually beneficial.

Of course, results are ultimately the most important thing in the client-agency relationship.

Generating solid results, however, is just the start of a great relationship, according to many of the clients we’ve talked with over the years.

If you’re a client, your peers think you should also be able to expect your PR firm team to:

1)      Be attentive – they should be responsive, accessible and pro-active, and they should feed the relationship

2)      Think long-term and strategic – not just about short-term activities or easy billings

3)      Offer ideas and opportunities that are good for your business – even if they are outside of the PR realm and don’t add any revenue or work for the agency

4)      Be a good steward of your budget – they are prompt and fair with billing and are thrifty with your money

5)      Keep you informed – they strive for transparency and no surprises

6)      Anticipate your needs – and they work hard to meet them before you’ve asked them to

7)      Provide a realistic view of what you can expect – honest, accurate, puffery-free predictions about cost, timing, impact and/or results

8)      Demonstrate that they are always thinking about you and looking out for your best interests

9)      Make you the hero – and not seek or take credit for a program’s successes

10)   Know, and cater to, your preferences and priorities – instead of forcing you to accept theirs

11)   Communicate with you candidly, honestly and frequently – better too much than too little

12)   Make it pleasant, friendly and fun for you to work with them – everyone does better in a positive environment.

I’ve always believed that if we, the PR agency team, take care of the client, the client will take care of us. So far, in the majority of cases, that has proven true. It can for you, too.

Clients: What other expectations do you have for your PR agency?





You Don’t Need a PR Firm

21 05 2013

A few times a year, some former PR exec or recovering journalist writes an article or a blog post  with a title like “6 Reasons You’ll Regret Hiring a PR Firm.”

Very sensationalized. Very negative. And often, very bad advice.

In practicing PR for more than 30 years, I’ve seen how PR firms can deliver great results for their clients. I’ve also seen that, yes, there are instances where a client may regret hiring a PR firm … but usually, it’s due to one of three reasons:

1) The client didn’t really need a firm,Young Man with His Hand on His Forehead

2) The client hired the wrong firm, or

3) The client didn’t live up to its end of the relationship.

In this post, let’s look at Reason #1 – whether or not you really need a PR firm.

There are generally a few trigger points that may signal you need to hire a PR firm. These are times when you’re making a major change  … times when your PR dollars can help  ensure a significant return on investment and help your organization meet its immediate goals … times when your staff lacks the time, the manpower and/or the expertise to hit the mark … and times when you can’t afford mistakes or do-overs.

When might hiring a PR firm be a good idea?

You might need a PR firm when your company or organization is:

  • Launching a new product, service, pricing scenario, promotional campaign or social media presence
  • Changing your name, logo/identity, direction/strategy, mission/vision
  • Naming or promoting a new CEO or other high-level executive
  • Facing the prospects of some potential negative media coverage due to strikes, litigation, plant closings, layoffs, accidents, product recalls, environmental spills, etc.
  • Acquiring or merging with another company or organization
  • Breaking ground for, or opening, a new facility … or entering a new market
  • Exhibiting at a trade show or having a key executive speak at an important industry event
  • Missing major media opportunities because your communications department was downsized or  eliminated during the downturn
  • Reviewing or revamping your communications strategy, website, key messages, and/or social media approach
  • Finding that many of your target prospects don’t know much about your organization
  • Noticing that your competition is getting more than its fair share of positive media coverage and online buzz
  • Experiencing wins that are worthy of being shared … such as new contracts, expansions, community donations, awards, environmental achievements, equipment investments, employment increases, etc.

But what does a PR firm offer that your internal staff may not?

Here’s how a PR firm may help you:

  • Provide an objective viewpoint; act as a sounding board; offer strategic and/or tactical communications expertise that you won’t get from one of your employees
  • Apply broader experience/lessons-learned from other clients/industries
  • Leverage established credibility/knowledge/relationships with important reporters and bloggers
  • Provide additional experienced manpower and expertise when and where you need it
  • Tap into an established infrastructure for distribution of information and feedback
  • Train executives to maximize the benefits of media interviews or presentations
  • Stretch your marketing budget with stellar ROI.

So, if your situation fits any of those mentioned above, it may be time to start the hunt for the right PR firm.

Check out our “Finding a Perfect Agency Match” tipsheet on our PR & Social Media Resources webpage (http://www.bianchipr.com/pr-social-media-resources.html ) for help. We’ll tackle how to help your PR firm succeed in a future post.








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