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.





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?





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 …





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!





Part 5: Creating Social Media Content and Process for the Business Professional

5 06 2012

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

So you’ve created your professional social media accounts … now what?

Continuously creating content is one of the biggest challenges in successfully implementing social media tactics for the business world. In the final two parts of this six-part series, we’ll share some thoughts on content, what to promote, the process, consistency targets and social media measurement.

In order to create content, here is a list of questions you can look to as a guide to help you:

  • What kinds of topics or content would motivate customers / potential customers to engage in a conversation or get in touch with you?
  • What kinds of problems or issues are they tackling? Can you or your company offer tips or advice?
  • What articles, blogs or videos have you seen that might be newsworthy or helpful to share?
  • Are there any issues or topics that you would like other’s people input or insight about?

Mix those general topics and helpful information with content about your company, but be careful not to make it all about you. When promoting yourself and your company via social media, here are some suggestions on what you might want to consider posting, intermittently:

  • News releases / event announcements;
  • Videos / photos (as we often say to our clients “everyone ‘reads’ pictures”);
  • Community involvement stories or photos;
  • Positive media coverage about your company or your industry;
  • Start a discussion on industry trends and issues; and
  • Ask questions / solicit feedback / conduct a poll or survey. (One of our most popular posts is based on an annual survey of identifying the most-hated business buzzwords for communicators and marketers.)

To be consistent with your social media efforts, we recommend establishing a process that you’ll follow time and time again. First, when linking to another source (website, article news release, etc.) shorten the link’s URL by using one of the many URL shortening sites. We like www.bitly.com, as it offers real-time link tracking to measure your social media efforts. Then develop your actual post to accompany the link, writing something that’ll grab attention. And we recommend drafting the post in Word first, so you can do a spell check.

Now you’re ready to post the content to your social media pages. And, yes, post it to all of them. Although it may seem a bit redundant, your various contacts, followers, friends and fans have different preferences for the social media they use — some turn to Twitter, some follow Facebook, and others  like LinkedIn. By hitting all your outlets, even though you may customize the posta bit  to fit the unique qualities of each platform, you can ensure that your content isn’t missed.

  • For LinkedIn, we recommend posting to your personal account first, then to your company’s business page and finally to all appropriate groups you belong to.
  • For Twitter, remember to make sure your Tweet comes at 130 or fewer characters, so it can be easily re-tweeted by others and still meet the 140-character limit. Use a shortened URL to save space, and consider using a hashtag for increased searchability.
  • For Facebook, again use a catchy headline and shortened URL, as well as pictures and video.

Now, the big question is: as a professional, how much time should you dedicate to social media?

We’ll cover that in our final part of this series, as well as measurement and some closing thoughts on social media for business.





Part 4: Blogs for the Business Professional

30 05 2012

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

A business-oriented blog can help you connect with new prospects, position you and/or your company as an expert in your field, and drive traffic to your content on other social media or digital properties.

The word “blog” is a contraction for “web log” — a term used to describe a website that maintains an ongoing chronicle of information. Many blogs focus on a particular topic. For example, our Bianchi Biz Blog focuses on useful information and perspective on PR and social media, especially for the business-to-business community.

The Basics: To set up a blog, you can select one of the many blogging sites out there. We use WordPress for its functionality and ease of use. To set up a WordPress account, go to www.wordpress.com and click the “Sign Up” button. You will then be directed to a page where you will need to choose an address for your blog, username and password. After you provide your email address, an email will be sent to you to activate your blog … and you’re in business!

So you’ve created a blog, now what? Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • Your blog is not a commercial about you or your company. You can draw upon your experience, but tie it to helpful, useful information to keep your readers coming back and perhaps even sharing your content with others;
  • People like bulleted lists, as they pack a lot of info into a small space. Some of our most popular posts are bulleted lists that offer tips, how-to info or facts.
  • Just as much as people like bulleted lists, they also like “reading” pictures. So offer up images, video, charts or infographics to supplement your words. For example, we used screen shots to explain how to use Facebook in part three of this blog series, Facebook for the Business Professional
  • Tie your topics to the latest trends and issues. For example, our Pinterest’ed In Today’s Hottest Social Media Site? was one of our most-read blogs to date;
  • Make your headlines catchy. We’ve found fun or sensational headlines like The Sneaky Seven: How to Avoid Media Interview Pitfalls, helped increase visits and solicit feedback from our readers;
  • Be sure to post regularly, perhaps every week or every other week. Consistency in frequency and quality is important to building and maintaining your blog audience;
  • Create and build a rolling list of potential blog topics, and write a few extra blog posts so you’ll have a few on the shelf and ready to go when you’re pressured for time or lacking inspiration;
  • Build community by checking out and subscribing to other blogs, linking to other blog posts that augment your post and inviting guests you respect to contribute a guest post;
  • Promote your blog via posts on your other social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, LinkedIn groups, etc.), as well as on your website, your email signature, advertising, enewsletter, etc. Invite your contacts to visit and follow; and
  • Have fun with it!

Now that we’ve covered the basics for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and blogging for professional use in the first four parts of this series, the next two parts of this series will focus on creating content, the process, consistency targets, measurement and more.





Part 3: Facebook for the Business Professional

22 05 2012

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

Launched in 2004, Facebook users may create a personal profile, add other users as friends and exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their profile. Additionally, users may join common-interest user groups, organized by workplace, school or college or other characteristics.

The Basics: A Facebook page can be developed quite simply using your work email address. To establish your page, go to www.facebook.com and you’ll be directed to a page where you can set up an account. Find the box marked “Sign up for Facebook” and fill in the tabs. Choose a password and click the “Sign Up” button. Complete the form on the next page titled, “Sign Up and Start Using Facebook.” Click the “Sign Up” button once again.

You will receive a confirmation email at the address you provided during sign-up. Click the link in the email to activate and you’ll receive a message confirming that your account is ready. Sign in with your professional email and password.

Once your account is set up, I highly recommend establishing two “friend” lists – a personal list and a professional list. Why? I know the goal of social media is to be “transparent.” But let’s be honest, wouldn’t it be nice to keep our professional contacts separate from your personal contacts. (I’m quite certain that most of my professional contacts probably don’t care about the 101 images I have posted of the holidays, my baby, etc., but they probably do care about our firm’s latest PR insights, blogs, tipsheets, news, etc.)

So categorize each “friend” into one list or the other and then, each time you post, be sure to customize who you want to see the post – either your professional list or your friend list.

OK, you’ve created a Facebook account and established your two lists of friends – professional and personal – now how do you leverage it professionally? We suggest the following:

  • Fill out your profile with your professional information, as well as uploading a professional headshot.
  • Build your professional list inviting peers, customers, media and prospects to be “friends” – keeping in mind that not everyone will accept and that’s ok;
  • Post news stories, blog entries and questions to start conversations with your friends;
  • Post pictures and videos of events, products / services, news conferences, etc. tied to your professional work;
  • Create a viewable calendar of upcoming events that you and your company may be hosting and industry events that you’re attending;
  • Update your wall with current activities and projects so friends will have a sense of consistent action – although there is no need to post too many times in one day; and
  • “Like” your peers, customers, media and prospects’ corporate Facebook pages to keep track of their activities and comment when appropriate.

Here’s an example of my page:

After creating and leveraging you own professional Facebook page, if you’re interested in learning more about how to create a corporate page and how to best utilize it to build your business and its brand, check out our tipsheet, Build Your Business Using Facebook. Also “like” Bianchi PR on Facebook to see how we’re utilizing the site for our business.

Next up - Part 4: Blogs for the Business Professional








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