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5 Reasons to Over-Communicate With Your Audiences Right Now – and What to Say


As we catch our breath from the past few weeks of dealing with the coronavirus quarantine, one thing has become apparent – companies are anxious to keep in touch with their audiences. They’re just not sure what to say to them.

With our daily routines as we know them on pause for now, brands are searching for ways to stay in contact with their employees, customers and other stakeholders.

And, some are in doubt about the best way to do this. Should we post on social media? Should we email? Should it be business as usual?

The answers to that question are differ from brand to brand. In this time of uncertainty, no one formula works for everyone.

The worst thing companies can do right now is to stop communicating. If anything, now is a time when you should over-communicate.

5 Reasons You Want to Over-Communicate With Your Audiences

Continue reading 5 Reasons to Over-Communicate With Your Audiences Right Now – and What to Say

My Favorite Posts of 2017

My favorite posts of 2017

As I look back on 2017, it’s been a banner year for my business. I’ve done more writing than ever and attracted some great new clients.

What I’ve learned is that when you do what you love, people notice. I love PR—but I’ve always loved writing. So writing about public relations and the disciplines it touches on—content marketing, social media, influencer marketing, email marketing and others—just makes sense. It’s when I’m at my happiest, delving deeper into topics that are of interest to me and my PR brethren.

So, in that spirit, I wanted to share a round-up of my favorite pieces I worked on this year. Continue reading My Favorite Posts of 2017

Put on your “news hat” when reaching out to media


I was meeting with a new client today to talk about what we might do regarding media outreach. They were interested in publicizing the anniversary of their business, which is perfectly worthy of a press release and some local media outreach.

Then, we started talking about other ideas and how we might tie those in to trends and topics that are currently hot. During that brainstorming session, we hit on a topic that has the potential to be a bigger story regarding industry trends and how the field is growing, etc. I got excited—and so did they—when we realized we’d tapped into a topic that goes beyond the fact that they’re celebrating an anniversary.

Sometimes, you have to put on your “news hat” when thinking about what the media might find appealing. Yes, there are always those stories that may be interesting from a local perspective, but uncovering topics that go beyond the local media to perhaps an even bigger audience can be a thrill.

Once you hit on a topic you think will capture a reporter’s attention, always consider:

  • What statistics might be beneficial to include
  • What images or video might be compelling
  • What third party sources might you provide

When you craft your email pitch, offer these additional resources to help round out the story. (Just be sure to have what you offer ready to provide, if they take you up on it.)

PR pros with a background in journalism are particularly skilled at uncovering these ideas. We’re trained to think like a reporter and tap into story ideas you may not have even thought of. So, take a cue from a journalist and what started as a routine effort may turn into something much bigger.

Labor Day is lurking–hold your PR activities until next week!

Don’t look now, but Labor Day is lurking just around the corner! While everyone looks forward to a long weekend–and this is summer’s last hurrah–it can throw a bit of a monkey wrench into your PR plans.

As I was thinking of my own clients and the timing of what they have coming up, I thought I’d share my tips for issuing news or contacting media around the holidays. Keep in mind:

  • The Friday before a holiday weekend can be a poor time to issue news or pitch reporters, as many take off early (or may even take the whole day off!)
  • Of course, the holiday is Monday–avoid contacting journalists then or issuing press releases
  • The Tuesday following the long holiday weekend should also be avoided, as many are coming back to inboxes filled with even more email than they’d normally have to slog through

So, bottom line: pitch before or after the holiday weekend, keeping these tips in mind! By the middle of next week, things should be getting back to normal and should be all clear for any media outreach you choose to do.

Enjoy the LONG weekend!


Need ideas for your next blog post? 5 free resources

If you’re like me, you have TOO many ideas for blog posts. I keep a running list whenever I come up with a topic that sounds like it might be a good fit. Sometimes, if I’m feeling really inspired, I’ll even start jotting down a few ideas that usually become part of the post.

But alas, I know many struggle to come up with ideas for content. If so, don’t despair! Here from Ragan’s and Entrepreneur is a piece to help:

5 free blog idea generators to liven up your content

These are useful and FREE resources that allow you to type in a keyword (or three) and come up with ideas for topics you can write about. And, they’re easy to use.

Some are content idea generators while others are blog topic generators. The only difference is that the former lets you fill in only one keyword per search while the latter allows you to enter three. I was familiar with HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator but hadn’t hear of some of the others. Might be worth checking them out to see which one you like best.

So, now that you have no excuses, get going on your next blog post!

PR: A Powerful Tool for Startups on a Budget

Is PR worth it for startups? I recently wrote a post asking if startups really need PR. Of course, my take is that they do. Having lived and worked for years in startup land, i.e. Silicon Valley, I have many stories of how the power of PR transformed a company’s visibility. PR can provide this visibility for a fraction of the cost of other marketing or advertising methods. Of course, if you have the budget, it’s great to do all three, but many startups are strapped for cash.

So I came across this piece in the Huffington Post, Why HR, PR and IT Are Worthy Startup Investments, which makes the case for spending the precious cash startups do have on PR. The article makes a couple of important points about PR:

“In the end, the content promoted by a PR professional is free, and the PR service may well be cheaper than a TV ad or banner.”

This is something I often cover in my speaking engagements because it needs explaining. Many don’t understand that all they pay for PR is the cost of the time of the person doing the work. There’s no cost for true PR placements. PR differs from advertising in that you don’t know where or when the article may appear or what it will say. It’s not like placing an ad and knowing exactly what page it will show up and how it will read. But, think of it like this: Are you more likely to believe in a product or service when you read about it an ad or in an article? A study by Nielsen (commissioned by inPowered) concluded that PR is almost 90% more effective than advertising in the consumer decision-making process[i]. These stats to back up the fact that more of us are partial to what we read in articles versus ads. So, not only is PR less expensive than advertising, but it’s actually more credible.

Leading me to the second point the article made:

“PR is subtle and effective, working to earn attention instead of grabbing it.”

PR doesn’t hit you over head the way an ad can. “Buy this product! Buy it now and save! Buy, buy, buy!!!” And this is if you even read the ad….how many of us actually stop to read the ads?! On the other hand, if an article is published about your product, service or company, it will probably give an example of the product is being used, quote an actual user or, if it’s a review, give the opinion of the reviewer. This provides immediate credibility with the reader.

Yes, PR may be quieter than advertising, but it leaves a more favorable, lasting impression at a lower price tag—something to consider the next time you look at your marketing budget.


Five Midyear Money-Saving Tips to Cut Your PR Costs

July marks the midpoint of the year, when many businesses assess budgets and begin forecasting expenditures for the remaining months as they start to plan for 2015. In the spirit of budgeting, today’s blog post focuses on tips to help you save money on your PR efforts.

You may not realize that there are free resources out there to take advantage of. Of course, there are some lower cost paid options, as well, if you have some budget but don’t want to break the bank.

Here are five categories of  helpful PR resources, many of them free, to assist you with your efforts:

1) For reporter queries: Here are three resources you can sign up for free that send out email daily with reporter queries (reporters looking for people to interview). Anyone may respond, as long as the guidelines are followed:

  • HARO: Everyone’s an expert at something. Sharing your expertise may land you that big media opportunity you’ve been looking for.
  • Pitchrate: Simply register as an expert, and then when you see a request that’s appropriate for your expertise, “make a pitch.” That will send your pitch to the journalist making the request.
  • SourceBottle: Exclusively focused on topics around women’s interests, including beauty, business, home and lifestyle, health, parenting and relationships.

2) For awards and speaking opportunities: IT Memos: This service provides a complimentary subset of award and speaking opportunities geared toward the IT industry (the paid service provides even more opportunities):

3) For research: Take advantage of Google. Use it to research to see which reporters and publications are writing about your competitors and your industry. Also use it to research publications that might be a fit and then check editorial calendars for opportunities.

4) Press release services: Issue press releases free via these wire services. There are many, but these are the two I use most often:

  •, This one gets the news on the search engines; note there’s a 24-36 hour lag time on the release actually being posted, so plan ahead.
  •, This one allows you to add a photo and/or video at no charge. You can choose to issue the release instantly or set a date/time.

And, if you have the budget, here are three services that charge to issue press releases:

5) For editorial calendar opportunities: To find editorial calendar opportunities, here’s a free resource:

You may also visit each publication’s site. Many list their editorial calendar online (sometimes it can be found under “Advertising” or “Media Kit”), so it’s possible to build your own calendar of opportunities that may be a fit for free. Paid services are also available such as MyEdCals,


Proof Positive That Reporters Actually DO Use Press Releases

These days, it’s not uncommon to read about the supposed death of the press release. Interesting how some seem to want to see it go away, as it’s still widely used by reporters to prepare stories, especially now when we see so many staff cuts and even witness entire publications folding.

But, Business Wire, a leading news wire service, just published a report stating that 89 percent of reporters had used a press release within the last week. Hmmm….something doesn’t add up here!

That’s a LARGE percentage, no matter how you slice it. For any naysayers out there, this should be yet another proof point that press releases still play an important role in our PR programs. (See more here on my thoughts on this topic, in this article published on Ragan’s PR Daily.) While there are certainly best practices that should be applied so that releases are actually providing value to reporters, if anyone tells you they’re not vital to an effective PR effort, they’re just plain wrong.

The report went on to say that 75 percent of reporters prefer graphics/infographics be included in a press release, while more than 70 percent like photos to be added. And, almost 80 percent say they turn to a company’s online newsroom when researching a company or organization. Many companies don’t even have an online newsroom–meaning it’s time to add one!

So, the bottom line is this: The press release is, in fact, alive and well, and absolutely has its place in today’s PR world. Don’t overlook this important tool in your marketing and PR arsenal!

Dr. Roger Blackwell: Three Lessons in Presenting

blackwellThe other day, I had the distinct honor of hearing Dr. Roger Blackwell speak at our Columbus AMA luncheon. Dr. Blackwell is a marketing legend—I won’t go into all his accolades, but you can visit his site and read his bio here: Suffice it to say that he’s written 25 books, The New York Times has described him as one of America’s top business speakers and there’s a building named after him at The Ohio State University. (!)

I’d been looking forward to this event since I invited him to present and, thankfully, he said yes. He’s a long-time AMA member and a big supporter of the organization. I may be one of the few who’ve never had the pleasure of hearing him speak, so I was stoked for our meeting yesterday. And, Dr. Blackwell did not disappoint!

Here are three lessons to take away from his brilliant presentation:

Lesson One: Have a Thread That Ties It All Together

Dr. Blackwell has written a brand new book, “Saving America: How Garage Entrepreneurs Grow Small Firms into Large Fortunes,” that talks about how to bootstrap the economy and how small startups are our salvation. I must admit, I’m not the biggest follower of economics, but his talk fascinated me. “If you don’t know the cause, you won’t know the cure,” is one of his favorite expressions. So, he proceeded to explain his theory regarding the cause of our economic woes.  The way he explained how our upper head strength (= brain) has become more important than our upper body strength (=brawn)—meaning  it now takes fewer workers to do the same job because of technology—by using statistics and examples we can all relate to had the crowd enthralled.

Lesson Two: Your Presentation Style Matters

Add to that his dynamic presentation style—there’s no doubt that this is a guy who CARES about what he’s saying!—and it was a tremendous presentation. Dr. Blackwell came out into the audience—he didn’t stand up on the stage or at the podium. There was an energy in the room.  Although he ran over the allotted time, no one got up to leave…everyone stayed to hear his entire talk. I think he would’ve kept going, had we had more time—and I really wanted him to keep going!

Lesson Three: Leave Them Wanting More

This got me to thinking, if you’re a passionate presenter, perhaps it doesn’t matter if every member of your audience is into your topic. If you CARE about what you’re saying, then the audience will follow your lead and care, too! So, the next time you present, try to inject some passion into your presentation. I’m still thinking about Dr. Blackwell’s talk and am sure it will stay with me for days. He definitely left his audience wanting more.