The Latest

See Michelle’s tip featured in this blog post on procrastination

October 1, 2012

 

Want to stop procrastinating? See my tip in this blog post (#23): 

Stop Procrastination: Slay This Business Beast Now

http://spirited-solutions.com/stop-procrastination-slay-this-business-beast-now/

23. Just Get Started!

My top tip to whip procrastination? Just get started. Whether it’s writing something or starting a new project, if you just force yourself to start somewhere (whether or not you really want to), you’ll find it much easier to keep going. The hardest part is often just getting started. So, dig in and do one task that will get you going. Often, you’ll feel much better knowing that you’ve at least made a dent in the project. And sometimes, you’ll even keep going until it’s done!

Thanks to Michelle Garrett of Garrett Public Relations

Handling Media Opportunities: Media Training 101

September 27, 2012

Everyone knows that media attention is usually a GOOD thing! But, what do you do if you’re lucky enough to get a reporter interested in your story? The truth is that many companies might not know how to handle a media opportunity if they were fortunate enough to land one.

Relationships with reporters require the utmost care. Here are some tips to help you make the most of any media attention that comes your way:

1)      RSVP! At the top of the list is a prompt response. If a reporter contacts you proactively or in response to something you’ve contacted them about, drop everything to respond. Even if you don’t have all the answers to their questions, at least let them know you’ve received the message and are working on their requests. If you wait, the opportunity may disappear because they’ll have moved on to the next source on their list.

2)      Provide what they need: Make sure you’re ready BEFORE reaching out to media by having your images, logos, customer references and any other information they may request ready.  

3)      Prepare for the interview: Do a little research on the reporter. Take a look at what the reporter’s written to get a sense of his style. Read his bio, if you have access to it. Think about what questions he may ask and what answers you’ll give. It doesn’t hurt to prepare a Q&A document to refer to, especially if more than one person at your company is speaking with the media.

4)      Listen more than you talk: During the interview, you want to make sure you don’t talk too much. I’ve been on media calls with clients who, despite coaching to the contrary, seem to do ALL the talking! OOPS! Not a good move, if you want to build a relationship with the reporter. Let the reporter drive the discussion. DO answer their questions and work in your nuggets (see next point), but don’t overdo it.

5)      Work in your “nuggets”: What are the top three things you want this reporter to take away from your interview? If they remember nothing else, what three pieces of information about your business—or nuggets!—do you want them to write about? Weave those in throughout the interview, as much as it makes sense.

6)      Wrapping up: When you wrap up the interview, make sure to ask if the reporter needs anything else—images, customer references, etc.  See #2 above so you’re prepared to send these over immediately after the interview. Also during wrap up, you should ask when the article might appear. You can then follow up to get copies, if it’s a print publication.

7)      Follow up: If the reporter did need something, make sure to get them the requested information as soon as possible. If they contact you with questions following the interview, get right back to them with the answers (or reply to say you’re working on getting them the answers).

8)      Promote Your PR: When the article appears, blast it out via social media, post it on your site and make sure to let your audiences know it’s out there!

Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to building a relationship with the reporter so that next time he needs an expert source, he’ll call you first.

And if you need help, consider hiring a professional to handle media outreach, requests and responses. Even if you can’t do it yourself, you can make sure someone is there to handle media relations with the care it deserves.

 

 

Passionate About PR

August 23, 2012

I was reflecting recently on what led me down the path to a career in PR. I started writing at an early age, just for fun, poems and journal entries, even short stories. That love of writing led me to a role working on my high school paper, where I reported and edited stories. My long-term career goal was to someday write a column for a magazine. I went on to study Journalism at The Ohio State University, where I wrote for The Lantern and learned so much about the news business. I elected to focus on PR as my area of concentration. At that time, I think I liked the way it sounded, more than anything. “Public Relations Practitioner” had a ring to my young ears!

Since then, I’ve come to truly embrace PR as a profession and have developed a real passion for getting my clients “ink.” To me, there’s no professional high like getting my client in a news story. I honestly get EXCITED about this, because I know what it can mean to a company. Many times, it gains momentum and leads to other media opportunities. It puts them on the map in a way that’s tangible. Once that story appears, it’s forever…and there’s no end to the ways it can be leveraged and the ways it can benefit the client company.

It can lead to more customers, more prospects, more funding, more exposure, more attention, more visibility, and a sense of pride for employees, vendors and current customers who love seeing the name of the company in the news. With social media, stories can go viral, meaning the snowball effect is amped up even further.

For those who have a passion for PR, like I do, it’s a way of life. One sees everything through the eyes of a reporter, which may be why I’m always trying to cut to the chase. What’s important about what you’re telling me? What information must one need to know? How can I say this so that anyone can understand what I’m trying to convey?

I guess at the end of the day, although PR always had a certain ring to it, I never knew I’d grow to love it as I do today. 

Everyone Could Use PR

August 1, 2012

In my work as a PR specialist, I often notice things perhaps others don’t.

For example, walking through a mall on my way to meet someone for a lunch appointment, I noticed a sign about an upcoming event that would appeal to parents in the area. I thought, “Hmmm, why haven’t I seen/read/heard about this before?” The event happened to be coming up that very weekend…and I’m just now seeing it. So how many others who’d be interested won’t see/read/hear about this before the weekend? This happens to me frequently, leaving me to wonder, “Why doesn’t everyone see the value of PR?”

There are many situations where I think a little PR could’ve helped an organization or event immensely. Here’s another example: I recently attended a local charitable event—a major undertaking to plan and prepare–that would’ve benefitted from better communications. Meaning that after folks signed up to participate, they should’ve heard regularly from the organizers. I signed up and received only one email confirmation. I never heard back before the event with any buzz-building messages or updates. Did it affect the turnout? Yes, unfortunately, the event suffered from a poor turnout, despite all the planning and preparation that went into it. Better communication would’ve yielded much better results and helped the organization reach its goals.

These are just a couple of examples of how better PR could help even the smallest of organizations. There are, in fact, many instances that take place in our day-to-day lives when I’m left wondering why someone didn’t do a better job of promoting this event/product/service? It’s plain to see that a lot of time and effort went into the initiative; why didn’t someone spend just a little more time getting the word out to the masses?

PR is getting the word out about your event, your service, your product, your customers, your new hires, and so on—it’s spreading the news about your company or organization. Oh, and here’s another key point: Other than the time it takes to create the message or content and contact those who publish the news (or self-publish it via social media channels and your site), PR is free. That’s right, FREE! If that doesn’t get your attention, than what will? Unlike paid advertising, you don’t pay for the space. PR also goes hand-in-hand with your marketing efforts, so that any content created can be tweaked and repurposed, meaning you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

So, if you’re taking the time to plan an event, launch a new product or service, hire someone, or do something else newsworthy, why hide your light under a bushel? Get the word out—shout it from the rooftops if you have to!–but make sure to include PR in your planning efforts.

Speaking tomorrow at the Worthington Chamber’s SOHO meeting

June 27, 2012

Putting the finishing touches on my presentation for the Worthington Chamber’s SOHO group meeting tomorrow: http://worthingtonohcoc.weblinkconnect.com/CWT/External/WCPages/WCEvents/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1481

Looking forward to sharing tips about how small businesses can do their own PR. It needn’t be expensive, and there are many initiatives SOHO folks can pursue on their own, if they have the know-how. Hoping they’ll leave empowered and inspired to score their own media “hits”! 

Michelle Garrett quoted in article on Carol Roth’s Business Unplugged site

June 20, 2012

 

Catch my advice here in the article,”Competition: Standing Out From the Crowd in Business” 

http://www.carolroth.com/blog/competition-standing-out-from-the-crowd-in-business/

Stay in Your Lane!

My top tip to make your business stand out–stay in your lane! This means don’t try to be all things to all potential clients or customers. If you have a specialty, make sure to make that your main focus. If you dilute your brand or message by trying to include everything you do and every industry you serve, you won’t attract more business–you’ll actually take the focus away from what you do best. In turn, you may not attract the type of clients you’d really prefer to work with.
Thanks to: Michelle Garrett of Garrett Public Relations.

Some good news for enterprise software startups in this article, “Enterprise Software Startups Make a Comeback”

June 18, 2012

Hooray for enterprise software startups, back in the funding spotlight and deservedly so! “Venture capitalists placed $2 billion with IT startups in the first quarter of this year, according to a survey by Dow Jones VentureSource, a 14% increase from the first quarter of 2011. Meanwhile, investors put 76% less investment in consumer internet companies. Software companies attracted the most funding, $1.3 billion, which is a 61% bump from 2011.”

These startups would be wise to invest some of this in communications, including writing and PR, to help gain visibility and draw customers their way. There are some cost-effective ways to do this, such as booking speaking engagements for C-level executives, participating in award programs for products and services, and leveraging customer success stories to win more business. These efforts can be driven internally or through an experienced pro, who can set up and/or manage initiatives. All these initiatives can be leveraged in numerous ways to build visibility and credibility, especially important for fledgling startups. 

Why PR is Key to a Startup’s Success

June 12, 2012

I read this blog piece today and while it may be common knowledge to some, it bears repeating–PR can help a startup succeed–or fail: http://bostinno.com/channels/why-pr-is-a-startups-key-to-success/

Here’s my favorite quote from the post: “When startup ventures first break ground in the business world, they lack exposure to potential customers or the media. This is where public relations steps in. While roles change from place to place, PR experts are generally responsible for communications efforts, maintaining the company’s positive image, and gaining exposure. This can include pitching to media – journalists, bloggers, etc. – to get a product or service recognized, creating brand recognition, or hosting publicity and networking events. It’s not just the old fashioned way of press releases in startup success. Ventures need exposure to all outlets, whether that be a client or customer. Good exposure can drive a company straight towards victory!”

Got content?

May 21, 2012

You have your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the list goes on. Now, you need content to push out through all those social media channels, as well as for your site, and perhaps even for your customer or employee communications—but where do you get this content? Who creates it? Where does it come from?

Leverage what you already have, such as company news—new hires, new partnerships, awards your company has won, speaking gigs your executives are participating in, new products or services, new customers, customer successes, events your company is participating in and so on. The stream of possibilities is endless, if you take the time to look for newsworthy items.

Then, you need someone to write the content. Think everyone’s a writer? Wrong! I’m so often amazed by the number of typos I see in business communications. Typos mean more than just a misspelled word or a missed punctuation mark. They make your company look unprofessional and weaken your credibility. Make sure to use a strong writer, if that isn’t among your talents.

If you commit an hour or two per week to plan and craft content to use in your various channels, you’ll be surprised at the results. If you don’t have the time or the ability to create the content yourself, consider hiring a professional business writer to craft the content for you. Once you have it, It can be repurposed in a number of ways, making your minimal investment of time well worth the effort.