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.





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? 





Part 6: Social Media Consistency Targets and Measurement for the Business Professional

12 06 2012

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

At this point in our six-part series, you may be wondering how much time you should dedicate to your social media efforts?

Well, it varies for every professional, but we typically recommend a total time commitment of two to three hours per week – which could include one hour of outreach on LinkedIn (via posing questions, answering questions, starting conversations, etc.), one tweet or re-tweet per day and three posts on Facebook per week.

However, keep in mind that these are general recommendations, no need to force a post if the content just isn’t there.

If measurement is important to you and your organization (as it is to most), here are a few thoughts on that topic.

  • Define specific goals at the onset so you know what you’re working to achieve;
  • Define how you will measure those goals – tone of feedback, issues being discussed, message tone, etc. – and what constitutes “success” for you and your company;
  • Monitor and measure visitor statistics via your website, www.bitly.com, Facebook’s View Insights, etc.;
  • Analyze and compare data at set intervals and tweak your posts as necessary; and
  • Incentivize people to learn how they found out about you and your organization.

Some final thoughts on this series: Your social media efforts are only as good as the contacts, followers, and friends you reach, so take the initiative to invite folks into your social media circle and follow those you want to follow you and your organization.

In order to maintain your level of contacts, have fun with it and don’t be afraid to show a little personality. Above all else: BE CONSISTENT!

I think social media guru Peter Shankman said it best in a Facebook post I once read: “Every time you tweet, post or blog, you’re producing content. Content is your legacy. Make it good.”

So, get out there and make some professional social media magic happen for you and your business … start the dialogue, engage the audience, build relationships and provide helpful, informative and appealing content. And let us know how it’s working for you!





Newbies’ B2B Guide to Google+

16 08 2011

Everyone is talking about Google+ … but what does it offer business-to-business communicators and marketers? In a word: POTENTIAL.

Google+ is a collection of social networking services we already use, all in one place and according to Google, made even better.

It allows you to link with friends, businesses, chat, organize your contacts, share your interests and much more. While currently only open to personal profiles, Google+ will include highly anticipated business profiles later this year. 

So, as a business professional, it’s worth catching the Google+ train now. Here are some of the key features:  

Stream: The easiest way to describe the Google+ Stream is to compare it to the Facebook News Feed but it’s so much more. You can view streams from specific Circles you belong to or all of them at once.

Circles: An easy way to sort your friends and connections. You are able to create as many Circles as you’d like and choose its name. When posting something, you are able to choose what Circles see that information. It could be all, just a few Circles, or even just one person. When you add someone to your circle, they don’t know what the circle is named or who else is in it. You don’t have to have permission to put someone in a Circle and no one has to in order to add you to one of their Circles.

 Profile & Posts: You have a lot of control over your posts. You are able to choose which Circles can see the information, whether a post can be re-shared and even edit or delete a post. Photos, videos and links can be shared in your posts easily by just dragging links directly to the ‘Share what’s new…’ box.

+1 Button: Similar purpose to Facebook’s “Like” button, +1 also helps make search results more relevant and is something Google would like to enhance in the future. You may have already noticed this feature incorporated to show up next to Google’s search results.

Hangouts: This is a video chat and can be utilized with multiple users, up to 10. When you are “hanging out” users in your Circles are able to see it in their streams and join you. There are controls so everyone or only certain Circles can see you in a Hangout or even just one person. Those in the Hangout can also share or watch YouTube videos simultaneously.

Sparks: This feature allows users to search topics and find relevant articles, videos and photos right on Google+ to keep up to date with your interests and share with your Circles. You are able to “pin” your favorite Spark topics for quick searches later on.  

Photos & Instant Upload: The photo capabilities developed on Google+ are one of its coolest aspects. Google+ has photo albums you are able to create to share photos with Circles of your choice. You can easily create new albums and upload photos by clicking “Upload New Photos,” dragging and dropping photos into your browser. Additional photo features allow you to edit your photos in Google+, tag yourself, and friends, but tags but be approved by those being tagged before it appears on Google+.

Taking the time to upload your photos from your phone can sometimes be a pain. Google+ has an option for photos and videos from your phone to be instantly uploaded as you take them to a private album for you to share whenever you’d like.

Huddle: Found in the Google+ phone app, a Huddle allows you to text multiple people at once. It becomes a group chat right on your phone.

Visit https://plus.google.com/up/start/?continue=https://plus.google.com/&type=st&gpcaz=78b254d to check it out.

What’s your take on Google+ as a business-to-business tool? Will you use it?





Top 7 Unfriendable Offenses

6 04 2011

Guest post from Jessica Killenberg Muzik, VP – Account Services, Bianchi PR

What behaviors will get someone kicked out of your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or other social networks?

That’s the question we recently posed on our Facebook page(http://www.facebook.com/bianchipr) and a variety of LinkedIn Groups. The responses were enlightening and, in some cases, entertaining to read.

And some even had us scratching our heads and thinking: “Do people really do that?”

At any rate, we boiled the responses down to a top seven list of unfriendable offenses.

 Here’s what will get you jettisoned from their social media outlets, according to our colleagues,  along with a bit of their commentary:

  1. Too many games, invites and spam-like behavior – “All the spam posts – games, etc. – are blockable … but seriously makes me have a lot less respect for them when it seems that’s all they do for hours on end.
  2. Profanity and gratuitous attacks – “I would say profanity and any other highly emotional or angry words are not cool.”  
  3. Inappropriate photos – “It goes without saying that any type of illegal or fraudulent conduct or activity, including the appearance of such, should get someone kicked off.” 
  4. Over-zealous self or corporate promotion – “Promotion is not bad, but there should be a balancing act.” 
  5. Inane updates – “About which restaurant / bar / coffee shop you’re sitting in, with no counter balance of newsworthy comments in other updates.” 
  6. The “connections collector” who doesn’t engage in two-way conversation (or has ever even met you) – Especially for LinkedIn, many professionals prefer to maintain a network of people they actually know and can vouch for. “Every connection I have is someone who I can pick up the phone and call, because we actually know each other.”  
  7. Excessive article link posts – “I haven’t unfriended them yet, but I certainly overlooked their posts 75 percent of the time.”

Each social networking platform has its purpose, and each end-user has their own preferences. But for general direction, the next time you decide to post or comment, you may want to keep this list in mind.

After all, you don’t want to be considered “that guy” or “that lady” within your own social networks … or suffer the indignity of being “unfriended.”

What unfriendable offenses would you add to the list?





Beyond Facebook and Twitter: Tumblr

10 11 2010

(Guest post by Account Supervisor & Social Media Maven Leslie Dagg.)

By now, you probably have some experience with the business-to-business marketing application of the more popular social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. So with this post, we wanted to focus on another social media site offering business-to-business marketing value that you may not know much about:

Tumblr.

Tumblr (http://www.tumblr.com) is a mini-blogging site that combines the follower/following concept of Twitter with the multimedia-sharing capability of Facebook or Flickr, along with traditional blogging formats and tools.

Here, you can create a free customized profile / blog (“tumblelog”) for your company to share text, quotes, photos, videos and audio clips with your community. Blogs can be public or private (password-protected). You can allow your followers to submit content, or you can reblog (think retweet) posts from blogs you follow.

 Long story short, Tumblr is:

  • Twitter beyond the character limit,
  • Facebook beyond status updates and links,
  • Flickr beyond just pictures and videos, and
  • A blog beyond paragraphs of text.

 Should you be using Tumblr?

Just as with all social media tools, Tumblr is not a “one size fits all” solution for all businesses; it’s something to consider adding to your marketing arsenal if it matches up with your organization’s situation and goals.

Tumblr is made for multimedia, so it’s most suitable for companies that have a great deal of photographic, video and/or audio material to share. For example, an automaker might user Tumblr for a new vehicle introduction, or a design firm might showcase its latest graphic work. 

Tumblr also works well as a platform requiring multiple authors, so if you have a number of different people collaborating and contributing content, creating a Tumblr page might be something to consider. If you haven’t already, Tumblr’s worth checking out.

Have you had any experience with Tumblr? How might you employ Tumblr in your B2B marketing efforts? What other new social media sites are you interested in for B2B marketing?





Social Media: A New Set of Corporate Legal Landmines?

14 10 2010

We often talk to clients about the use of social media in the business-to-business marketing realm. There’s no question, social media can be a powerful set of new tools to engage and build relationships with potential customers. The upside potential for connecting with customers is astronomical, but there is also some downside risk of the legal variety.

And even if your business has not yet jumped into using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the use of social media by your employees could already be creating unexpected legal issues for your company.

Considering that Facebook alone has more than 500 million users (if it were a country it would be the third most-populated in the world), and that it is only one of thousands of social networking sites, it’s a given that some of your employees are using social media. And if they’re using it on the job or talking about your company, they could cost your business big bucks without even trying!

How? Here are a few examples where social media can cause concerns:

  • If any of your employees are checking social media sites like Facebook to learn more about job candidates without their advance permission (HR issue)
  • If any of your employees are posting comments on social sites or blogs  and endorse your company or products without disclosing their relationship with your company (FTC issue)
  • If any of your employees are using social media to talk about work, to complain about other employees or customers, or to discuss internal company concerns or policies (confidentiality issue).

How do you minimize the risk of social media use to your company? According to Steve Pallazzolo, an attorney with Warner, Norcross & Judd (http://www.wnj.com) who recently spoke at the Marketing in the 21st Century 2.0 seminar, you start by putting a social media policy in place.

This policy doesn’t have to be 30 pages long, Steve says, but it should at least:

  • Be written, understandable, distributed to employees and implemented
  • Include standards of conduct (do’s and don’ts)
  • Require employees to disclose material connections when endorsing
  • Require employees to acknowledge they understand the policy
  • Provide for notification of any training or monitoring that will be conducted, and
  • Specify the consequences for violations of the policy.

Now, I’m no legal expert. For help, talk to your company’s labor and employment law counsel – or contact us for a referral to a qualified law firm.

But I do recognize that, as Steve noted in his talk, there is a whole generation of people who will reveal almost any detail of their private life (personal or business)  on the web without a second thought. And if you don’t think that poses a problem, think about the young Israeli serviceman who posted information on his Facebook page about a planned secret military raid (see the CNN story: http://tinyurl.com/25q4dl2). 

Most employees mean well. So most social media transgressions by employees are unintentional – but when all is said and done, the lack of intent does not reduce the potential damage to your company.

What will reduce your risk is the implementation of a corporate social media policy … one that will help your employees avoid such unintentional mistakes, protect confidential information and demonstrate your company’s commitment to abide by the law … while still enabling your company to harness the power of these popular new communication tools.

Fore-warned is fore-armed. For more info on social media policies, see our eNewsletter: “71 Percent of Companies Don’t! Should Your Company Have a Social Media Policy?” (http://r.hypercore.com/a/10125078/f/18930.pdf)





Gaga, Oh La La – What Lady Gaga Can Teach You About Social Media

20 09 2010

(Guest post from Bianchi PR Account Supervisor Leslie Dagg)

We know, we know. Your opinion of Lady Gaga might be one of love, hate or ambivalence. But no matter what … we all can learn a thing or two about maximizing social media potential from her.

No, seriously. And you don’t have to set a piano on fire or wear an outfit made out of raw meat to do it.

If any one person demonstrates the power of social media and viral marketing, it’s Gaga. Few marketers out there can compare when it comes to leveraging social media to sell product and engage.

She has built her career up from the bottom, performing in small clubs and gradually building a fan base – a community – and then harnessing the power of social media to catapult herself. As Madonna did with the music video and MTV in the 80s, Gaga does with YouTube, Twitter and Facebook today.  She oversees all aspects of her social media presence, controlling her own image and engaging in direct communication with her audience.  

The numbers don’t lie. Currently, Lady Gaga has:

  • More than 6 million followers on Twitter;
  • More than 17 million fans on Facebook;
  • Towering sales on iTunes; and
  • Has set records on YouTube for having her content viewed over a billion times.  

Not to mention, she has scored a number of award nominations (Grammys, MTV Music Video Awards, etc.) for her efforts and has even put together her own creative team that she manages –called the Haus of Gaga – to help create ideas and content.

And she centers it all around her official website, which serves as the portal for all things Gaga.  It is a constantly updated site, providing event updates, news, video, and more.

All of these social media outreach channels allow her to personally communicate with her customers and has made her easy to find, which in turn makes her product – CD, videos, DVDs and other merchandise – easy to find.  

By providing constant, new, helpful, interesting content and access, Gaga is always serving her customers. Her brand is easily accessible, allowing fans from around the globe to experience it at any time with ease. Gaga’s customers are not left wanting. They are never out of the loop or behind on related news. She’s made it easy for them and she has been rewarded in return.

Gaga’s grasp of all things digital have landed her on the cover of TIME magazine and her social media business acumen has been discussed in articles everywhere from The Wall Street Journal to Industry Week to AdAge. As writer Dirk Smillie said in his 2009 Forbes article about Gaga and business, “Lady Gaga isn’t the music industry’s new Madonna. She’s its new business model.”

Due to Gaga’s penchant for dressing outrageously and crafting over the top theatrical performances, “authentic” might not be a word you associate with her. But she has authenticity in spades when it comes to the time and effort she dedicates to branding herself and communicating directly with her fan base. 

Take away the shock value, the glitter, the flashing lights and you see what social media is supposed to provide and achieve for everyone – including your company: communication, access, information-sharing, transparency and convenience.

The top three things we can take away from the social media ‘Haus’ that Gaga built:

  • Make yourself easy to find online — for your potential customers, existing customers and other audiences. Have a presence. Be accessible.
  • Keep it fresh. If you have a blog, news room, YouTube channel or Twitter account, use them! Nobody is going to return for a repeat visit if you’re not offering them anything new.  
  • Be engaging, interesting and direct. Join conversations in related online communities, talk with people, respond to feedback and leave feedback of your own.




Marketing Catchphrases – Hurl Your URL?

14 10 2009

Catchphrases. We all see ‘em. We all hear ‘em. And some of us try to create ‘em. And we hope they’ll stick, especially in today’s world of 140-character messages.

Last week, while presenting at the Marketing in the 21st Century symposium, I had the pleasure of hearing Corey Perlman, president of eBoot Camp, Inc., speak to executives and business owners about getting the most marketing bang out of their web sites.

Corey was great! Real passion. Great content. Solid strategic and tactical advice.

And, most memorably, he tossed out a catchphrase – Hurl your URL – (he pronounced URL like “earl”). Of course, his intent was to remind everyone to advertise their web site addresses everywhere they can. Simple, but often overlooked, advice.

It got me thinking about the power of catchphrases.

What catchphrases have stuck with you lately?

Better yet, what catchphrases just didn’t quite work?

And what catchphrase would you nominate to the National Catchphrase Hall of Fame, if there were one?

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about Corey and his advice for marketers, visit www.TheEbootcamp.com or check out his book “eBoot Camp – Proven Internet Marketing Techniques To Grow Your Business.








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