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.





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.





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

3 04 2013

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

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

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

Yes, it can happen.

Hands Applauding

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

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

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

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

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

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

The certificate itself isn’t anything fancy.

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

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

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

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

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





Business Best Practices: High 5 – Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

12 03 2013

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

As communicators it’s easy to get wrapped up in the chaos that is often our day-to-day work life. In these times, I find it is more important than ever to acknowledge those that are making it just a bit easier to do what you do.

JK FB colorSuch acknowledgment is what I’d consider a key business best practice that will help motivate your team to continue to do well for your organization and its customers or clients.

Years ago, our firm implemented a program called “High 5.” Adapted from a similar program our president, Jim Bianchi, had heard about, it is a simple recognition program for all employees.

When someone within our organization goes above and beyond the “call of duty” … or just plain does a “rock star” job on a project, a colleague will send a bit of a “shout out” email to Jim and cc: the individual that is being acknowledged for their stellar work.

The email includes the following info in brief form: who is getting the High 5; for what client; and why.

Jim prints these emails, folds them in half and puts them in a manila envelope. About every six or eight weeks — or whenever there are 20 or more emails in the folder — we hold a drawing at one of our weekly staff meetings. Two of the recognition emails are drawn, the emails are read aloud to the entire team, and winners are awarded a gift card. The rest of the emails are filed away, and a new envelope for the next drawing is started.

It’s a small gesture, but one that our team has come to enjoy. And it’s not just about getting a gift card (although I’m sure the prizes are appreciated); it’s about receiving recognition — in the form of a virtual High 5 from a co-worker.

It’s the simple things in life that can sometimes have the most positive impact. And we have found if you acknowledge the good work of others, more good work is bound to follow.

What best business practices have you implemented within your organization to help motivate your team to excellence?





10 Business Buzzwords You Have Sentenced to Death

18 12 2012

You have spoken. The word “synergize” leads our annual list of business buzzwords that PR, communications and business professionals would like to eradicate from the lexicon before the start of the New Year.

That’s according to a couple hundred nominations from our colleagues and peers across about a dozen LinkedIn groups.

Based on our unscientific survey conducted over the past few weeks, here is the complete list of Top 10 Business Buzzwords to be Banned in 2012, with comments from some of the nominators:

Wordle: Biz Buzz

  1. Synergize – “Taking a bogus word like synergy and turning it into a verb just adds insult to injury.”
  2. Value add – “Along with its evil twin, added value, it has literally lost any value it might have ever had.”
  3. Leverage – “As a verb, as in ‘leverage our expertise’, it’s simply wrong.”
  4. Ask – “Used as a noun, as in ‘what’s your ask today?’  ask is plain awful. Just ask anyone. ”
  5. Optimize – “Another noun-turned-faux-verb with the addition of –ize. Please ‘demise-ize’ this one.”
  6. Out of the box – “ … and into the trash.”
  7. Engagement – “Unless we’re talking about getting married, forget it.”
  8. Iconic – “Unless you’re talking about a sacred image, it’s probably not really iconic … or epic, either.”
  9. Paradigm – “I thought we killed this buzzword two years ago?”
  10. Curate – “Can’t we just say ‘keep’?”

Thanks to all for their contributions.

And in closing, let me quote a contributor, Brooke Candelaris, who asked: “Can we have less ideation about dynamic content in a seamlessly contextual multi-channel environment?

Indeed.

What business buzzwords hit you like the sound of nails on a chalkboard?

(To see the 2011 and 2010 lists, go to http://wp.me/ppqb5-dA and http://wp.me/ppqb5-8v.)





50 Shades of Data: Media are Passionate about Numbers – Part II

11 09 2012

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

In part one of this blog (http://wp.me/ppqb5-lC), we discussed what data can do for an organization. In part two, we’re sharing the six ways your company can utilize data for a big PR punch:

  1. Get the Word Out: Having data to share gives you a reason to send out a press release to announce your findings, where you can tie the results back to your company’s products and services. This not only helps to position you as an expert source in the public eye, it also helps demonstrate to your customers that you’re dedicated to going above and beyond to understand the challenges and perceptions of your industry.
  2. The Big Event: If the study is large and groundbreaking enough, it may warrant a press conference to announce the findings to the media and other interested parties, which creates an atmosphere of excitement and importance.
  3. Speak On: Your data can also be used over time as the basis of speeches given by executive spokespeople and used during panel discussions at trade shows and conferences. It might even be the key to getting your foot in the door at certain conferences or being a keynote speaker at events or awards programs. Conference planners are always looking for speakers with new and newsworthy content.
  4. Equip The Sales Team: Relevant, more detailed findings that you’ve share publicly can be used by your company sales teams during customer meetings, to illustrate why your products or services help them to address the needs of their customers. Nothing speaks as strongly as empirical data when trying to make your point – especially detailed data that has been cut to meet their company’s interests and customer demographics.
  5. Take it to the Newsroom: Overall findings can be posted on your company website for visitors and media to check out. You don’t want to give everything away – but using a few relevant points to create some facts, figures, graphs, infographics, videos, etc. can go a long way in catching someone’s eye and inviting deeper engagement.
  6. And Take it Social: Same thing goes for social media – facts, figures and announcements related to your study can be used to create blog content, shared on Twitter, Facebook and discussed in online forums.

The media love data and numbers. Having good numbers that you’ve culled from a research study to share with reporters during interviews can make your spokesperson a star in their eyes.

It may seem simple, but sometimes simple is best. Percentages, comparisons, dollar values, any numerical facts that lend a sense of magnitude and credibility … if you have ’em, share ’em.





50 Shades of Data: Media are Passionate About Numbers – Part I

5 09 2012

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

As part of a recent PR project, we received a news release that a client drafted for our review. After proofreading, we suggested they add some data to the release. They took our counsel and added in some numbers to give the release further context.

Upon distributing the release, we received an immediate inquiry from a business reporter at a key major daily newspaper. The reporter inquired specifically about the data, which paved the way for an interview the following day.

This is just one of many examples that underscores the importance of research – and the resulting data – to PR efforts. Simply put, media love numbers.

If your organization is not doing research, it should be. And if you’re already doing it, the results shouldn’t be used only for internal purposes. Sharing portions of data publicly can be beneficial in a number of ways.

Consider these four things that research can do for your organization:

  1. Position your company and its people as thought leaders and experts that dig deeper and have special insight into industry issues;
  2. Help your company better understand your customer – or if you’re in the B2B world, your customers’ end customer (the public), therefore making you a more knowledgeable supplier of products and services, and a better business partner;
  3. Uncover new trends and issues that can help not only you, but also your customers, to better position yourselves; and
  4. Demonstrate what kind of messaging is working and what isn’t.

And once you’ve conducted research – whether it’s research on a specific industry issue, a survey of public perceptions on a topic or a partnered study with a relevant association or university, etc. – top line findings can be publicized in a number of ways to help your company.

We’ll talk more about that in part two of this blog post.





“There’s a biz app for that” – Smart Phone Apps for Business

17 10 2011

(Guest post from Account Coordinator Jaclyn Reardon)

Business-to-business communicators are continuously battling the increasingly fast-paced world of communication caused by growing technology and instant communication capabilities. With today’s smart phones and their seemingly never-ending offering of applications, users have access to almost anything, anywhere and at anytime.

So as a business communications professional, why not take advantage and utilize your smart phone to be more productive?

Here is a list of apps that are either top rated or are Bianchi PR staff favorites. We’ve included a sampling of business organization, networking / communication and social media smart phone apps for Android (A), BlackBerry (B) and iPhone (I):

Business Organization

  • CamScanner – Scans documents by taking a picture, and then allows you to crop and create a PDF. (A)
  • Genius Scan – Scans documents and allows you to e-mail as a JPEG or PDF. (I)
  • PDF Creator Ultimate Free – Edit photos to be converted into PDF’s. (B)
  • Dropbox – Have access to all your documents anywhere you go and easily share with others you’re connected to in Dropbox. (A, B, I)
  • Evernote – Stay organized by taking notes, capture photos, to-do lists, record voice reminders and Evernote allows you to search for content to find information faster. (A, B, I)
  • Expensify – Create and keep track of expense reports by scanning receipts and logging purchases. (A, B, I)
  • Pulse – Organizes your favorite news sites and allows you to mark and save stories to read later. (A, I)

Networking / Communication

  • Bump – Bump phones with someone else to transfer and share contact information, apps, photos and more. (A, I)
  • CamCardLite – Use to scan a business card and the information will be added to your phone’s contacts. (A)
  • Google Translate – Translate text in more than 50 languages and speech in 15. (A, I)
  • iSpeech Translator – Speak or type any phrase and listen to the corresponding translation in your choice of language (B)

Social Media

  • Blogger – Google’s blogging service for sharing text, photos and video. (A, I)
  • Facebook – General app for Facebook. (A, B, I)
  • LinkedIn – General app for LinkedIn. (A, B, I)
  • Google+ – General app for Google+. (A, I)
  • HootSuite – Manage multiple social media accounts, monitor keywords, schedule messages and track analytics. (A, B, I)
  • Tweetcaster – Top rated twitter app for Android, has multiple account support, notifications, and photo attachment capabilities. (A)
  • Echofon – Twitter app for iPhone, simple to share photos, videos, location and links, has notifications for mentions and messages.  (I)
  • UberSocial – Twitter app for BlackBerry, offers functionality, customized options and is user friendly. (B)
  • WordPress – A blogging tool that goes beyond the basics, it’s easy to use and includes many great features including an integrated stats system. (A, I)

And of course, if you’re stuck in an airport and need help to pass the time, you can always rely on the top-rated, best app ever created … Angry Birds.

 What business apps would you recommend?








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