The Latest

Join us to hear Komen leader at the next AMA event!

Two cool things are happening at the Columbus AMA’s May 14th event–one, we have Miguel Perez, regional vice president of the Susan G. Komen Foundation speaking on leadership (and most likely a few other hot topics as well, with the Race for the Cure event coming up four days after his appearance), and two, the event is FREE for members and just $5 for non-members! This is a  great opportunity to come out to get inspired by a great speaker, network and learn more about the AMA–don’t miss it! Register and learn more today at http://eevent.com/cama-luncheons/0513

 

Happy anniversary to me!

This spring, I’m celebrating the 14th anniversary of my business, Garrett Public Relations.

As I celebrate another year of being self-employed, I look back on the years since I launched my business. Yes, the business climate has changed and PR is constantly changing, but I still get so excited whenever I remember that I work for myself!

I grew up in a household where neither parent went to work at an office or company every day. It never dawned on me how much this had affected my own view of the work world until the past few years. I started to wonder, where did my drive to work for myself come from?

My parents were both entrepreneurs, launching their own businesses. My father was well-known in our city for having his own produce business that he ran for 40+ years. Both my parents and all four of us kids worked there. That’s where my early lessons in customer service came from (and my ability to add without a calculator!). In addition to working at the market and taking of customers, I used to love to hang out with my parents in the evenings and help with the accounting side of things, counting money and adding up checks to be deposited. Later, my mother turned her love of antiques into a business, even opening a shop for a while, and she still buys and sells antiques all these years later.

This spirit of entrepreneurship was ingrained in me without me even realizing it. Even with all the headaches that come with being one’s own boss—the technology issues, the accounting challenges, the sales and marketing outreach, the stress of trying to take a vacation—there’s just something about hanging out your own shingle. The freedom that comes with that and the pride in knowing that you are controlling your own fate are priceless. I have to thank my mom and dad for teaching me these lessons. The interesting part is that I didn’t even know I was learning anything….it was just part of life at our house.

I wonder now what my kids will learn, as they watch their mom run her own business. I need to find ways to integrate them into the business so they get a sense of what it’s like. Maybe they’ll catch the entrepreneurial bug just like I did.

 

Spring is here—is it time to “freshen up” your ideas about PR?

Ah, the flowers are coming up, the weather is getting warmer and all thoughts turn to spring! With spring comes spring cleaning. Maybe it’s time to freshen up your PR initiatives, as well.

What are some fresh ideas you can bring to your public relations planning? Here are some thoughts:

 Have you tried a press release lately?  Yes, press releases are one of the best tools for PR, yet they’re often over-looked. Releases are great, because they’re cost-effective and can be leveraged in a number of different ways. You can issue a release via a paid or free service to create links to your site and get visibility. You can pitch the release directly to reporters who may be interested in covering the news. Your sales team could use the press release in their efforts. You can post the release to your site. You can share the release as in your content marketing efforts via social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. And those are just a few ideas to get you started.

Have you booked a speaking engagement? Speaking is one of the best ways to increase visibility and be seen as the “expert.” Many organizations need speakers for their meetings and conferences. While these are generally unpaid speaking gigs, the benefits you’ll reap in the form of visibility can really help your business, product or service get on the map. You can publicize the speaking engagement before, during and after the fact to get the most visibility from it. Again, using this as content on your social media platforms is a great idea. And those at the event may try to book you for another event or even purchase products or services from you.

Have you considered an award submission? Many industries and publications have awards programs that you can enter, some at no cost. What does this get you? If you win, you can publicize it with a press release and once again, blast it out via all your social media platforms. You can also post the win on your site (some awards come with an icon you can use). Awards create credibility that lasts forever. Think of the Oscars—Tom Hanks will forever be known as “Academy-Award Winner Tom Hanks.”

Have you started using social media? If you have yet to start leveraging this valuable yet free tool to reach out and drive traffic to your site, you should start today. Starting small and focused is OK. Pick one platform—I recommend LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook—to start and develop some ideas to post. Or re-tweet or share others’ content. See my blog post here about social media for small businesses for more ideas.

Those are just a few ideas to get you started on “freshening up” your PR as part of your spring cleaning this year. For more ideas, be sure to follow me on Twitter, @PRisUs, visit my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/GarrettPublicRelations , or watch the site for upcoming blog posts.

Working From Home a Problem? Start Your Own Business

When I saw the recent comments from Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, about employees working from home, I must admit I was at a loss: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/business&id=9006273

This is a hot button issue for me.

For years early on in my career, I struggled in my attempts to get my employers to see the value in allowing me to work from home. I achieved minor victories here and there, but it was always a sticking point. In my mind, I knew I could be productive and do a great job working from home—without all the office distractions.

Finally, I decided I’d take matters into my own hands and work toward launching my own business. I gathered information by talking to others who’d successfully gone out on their own and did my research, putting all the pieces in place. Then I planned my escape…er, I mean exit, from the 8-6 office life.

I started my business to get the freedom to work when and where I wanted. Funny how this topic is still relevant all these years later. The data is now there to support the concept that those working from home can be as productive–if not more so–than those who work in the office. The idea still seems to be slow to catch on with employers, but the hope is there that someday they’ll get it!

To those who still fight this battle, you can always start your own business like I did nearly 14 years ago. I still love working for myself–and of course, I no longer have to ask for permission to work from home.

Arbor Avenue Films Kickstarter Campaign Goes Over the Top!

Arbor Avenue Films Kickstarter Campaign Goes Over the Top!

The Star and the Snowman Kickstarter campaign met its goal $8,000 with two+ days to spare and went over $9,400 total! Now, the filmmakers will work to shoot the necessary winter scenes in Ohio and plan for the rest of the filming to take place in the first half of 2013. Follow the project at http://www.facebook.com/ArborAvenueFilms?fref=ts

Fun to be part of a successful Kickstarter campaign and gratifying to see so much support for this project! 

Crowdfunding campaign for “Star and the Snowman” in the news!

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I’m helping client Arbor Avenue Films promote its crowdfunding campaign for the team’s latest project, “Star and the Snowman.” Here are some of the news stories about this talented team of Columbus filmmakers. And if you want to help spread the word, you can follow the campaign on Kickstarter here and share it on Twitter and Facebook: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/230353252/star-and-the-snowman?ref=home_social

Crowdfund Insider:

http://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2013/01/ohio-filmmakers-crowdfunding-campaign-debuts/

ThisWeek:

http://www.thisweeknews.com/content/stories/clintonville/news/2013/01/29/local-investors-sought-to-bring-snowman-to-life.html

Columbus Underground:

http://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/central-ohio-filmmakers%25e2%2580%2599-crowdfunding-campaign-debuts-on-kickstarter

Of Small Businesses and Social Media…

 

It’s no secret that many are overwhelmed by social media. I recently saw a tip advising small businesses who’ve avoided social media to date to choose an outlet that fits their type of business/target market to focus on. Great advice, as it seems many small businesses (and larger ones, for that matter) are overwhelmed even by the idea of social media.

While I always go out of my way to explain to clients I’m not a social media expert or strategist (as many who claim they are unfortunately are not), I do see the value in incorporating social media in marketing and PR efforts and often help clients to do so. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when there are so many social media outlets out there to choose from. The bottom line is you probably can’t keep up with them all and do them all well—and you probably don’t need to.

Focus on one or two outlets: Picking one or two social media outlets where your target customers spend time IS a good investment of your time or dollars. Maybe your customers use Facebook a lot, so you’ll want to focus on that. Or maybe your customers are more of a LinkedIn crowd—put your time and effort there.

What do I post? Once you choose one or two outlets on which to focus, you need to update them consistently. I’ve had clients tell me, “But we don’t know what to post.” Not a valid excuse. There are no end to the sources where you can get content ideas. I’ve retweeted many articles about that very topic—do a Google search to find some. Here are a few examples:

This was a great article that appeared last week by Joan Stewart (@PublicityHound) on how to create blog content, for example: http://www.ragan.com/Main/Articles/46121.aspx#

And a couple of others:

7 Effortless Ways to Find New Ideas for Your Blog

6 ways to find relevant and valuable content ideas for your social media marketing

And those are just a few of many great articles on the topic of creating content.

Once you start, keep up with it: It’s a mistake to start and then not keep up with your social media channel(s) of choice. It only takes a few minutes a day to post something—even less to retweet/reuse something, if you don’t have any fresh content of your own.

PR feeds social media: Another point—use PR efforts to feed social media content. So every press release you issue, every article that results from your media outreach, every case study or success story on a customer, every speaking engagement, every award and so on should be issued via your social media channels.

So don’t be overwhelmed. As with any marketing effort, it’s fine to start small and grow from there. Just pick your poison and get started!

Excited to be part of AMA’s Achievement in Marketing Awards this Fri., Jan. 18!

So pleased to be part of the Columbus Chapter of the American Marketing Association! We have a record number of attendees registered for the AMA’s Achievement in Marketing Awards this Fri., Jan. 18 at 5:30 p.m. The keynote speaker is Paul Smith of P&G, author of Lead with a Story, http://www.leadwithastory.com/bio/. It’s sure to be an evening of great networking and fresh ideas for your next marketing effort! We on the programming committee have been hard at work to make this an unforgettable event. There’s still time to register, http://eevent.com/cama-luncheons/aim2013?e=u16265. Don’t miss it! Hope to see you there!

In Honor of Halloween: A “Scary” Week for PR

This week was an interesting one for PR pros, as we faced challenges due to a number of current events that came together to create a “perfect storm” for those of us who regularly pitch reporters on behalf of our clients.

Even last week, I had received feedback from reporters that this wasn’t a good time to pitch any news not related to the upcoming presidential election. So when the hurricane came into play this week, it pretty much put an end to any media outreach outside Sandy or how the candidates might be responding. Not exactly what clients want to hear, but to proceed poses the risk of alienating reporters. (Now that’s SCARY!)

With the election next week, it’s probably best for us PR folks to put our pitching efforts on the back burner and wait it out. Let’s hope the week of Nov. 12 is uneventful, because–EEK!–Thanksgiving is coming up the following week…!