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Why Small Businesses Need to Invest in Their Digital Presence

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For years, small businesses have asked the question – do we really need a digital presence? The answer is – yes.

Research shows that much of our audience was already online before the pandemic. Studies conducted before March 2020 reported that 70 to 80% of people research a small business online BEFORE visiting the business or making a purchase from it[i]. Yet, according to research conducted in 2019, 40% of small businesses still don’t have a website. Further, 28% say it’s likely they won’t build one in the future.

It’s time for that to change. Continue reading Why Small Businesses Need to Invest in Their Digital Presence

Why Clear Communication Matters Now More Than Ever

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If there’s one thing we can agree on right now, it’s that messaging and communication over the past few months regarding COVID-19 has been anything but consistent.

As a professional communicator, it can make you shake your head.

Let’s take the messaging regarding wearing a mask to prevent the spread of the virus as an example. When all this started back in March, we heard from the CDC that it wasn’t necessary to wear a mask.

Somewhere along the line, that message changed to, “Yes, you SHOULD be wearing a mask when you go out.”

Has this caused confusion? (Yes.) Does everyone understand what they’re supposed to do? (No.) And even if the directive has now changed, does that mean that everyone will adhere to the new guidelines? (Definitely not.) Have some people – because of the confusion and mixed messages – simply given up on even trying to figure out what they’re supposed to do? (Undoubtedly yes.)

What’s the point, you may ask? Continue reading Why Clear Communication Matters Now More Than Ever

14 of the Best Budget-Friendly Tools to Help You Master PR, Content and Social Media

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With the new year well underway, many small business owners and freelancers may be looking for ways to streamline projects and squeeze more productivity out of the workday.

As a public relations consultant and freelance writer who sometimes dons a reporter’s hat, I’m always interested in trying out tools that allow me to get more done — but as a solopreneur, I’m also cost-conscious.  I’m often asked what my favorite free or low-cost solutions are to accomplish communications-related tasks.

Here, I share 14 of my top picks. Continue reading 14 of the Best Budget-Friendly Tools to Help You Master PR, Content and Social Media

Caution Ahead: How a Good PR Pro Helps You Avoid Trouble

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The benefits of having an experienced PR pro on board – be they a team member or a hired hand like a consultant – are clear.

We help brands build, maintain and promote their reputations by sharing news and information via a variety of channels.

But, beyond the initiatives that skilled public relations practitioners generally handle, they bring something else to the table.

How a skilled PR consultant can help keep you out of trouble

 Whether they know it or not, companies without PR counsel are taking a risk. They could be one bad decision away from a crisis.

If you work with a public relations consultant on a regular basis, he or she can help advise you on any number of matters. And avoiding trouble is always better than trying to do damage control.

Here are some examples: Continue reading Caution Ahead: How a Good PR Pro Helps You Avoid Trouble

How Talking TOO Much Can Create a Crisis Where There is None

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Some people just don’t know when to STOP talking.

Lately, there seems to be no shortage of folks who seem hell-bent on creating a crisis for themselves, simply because they seem not to know when to be quiet.

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen several examples of public figures who would’ve benefitted from talking a little less.

Now they’re are embroiled in crises of their own making.

This phenomenon has many PR pros shaking their heads. A question some of us find ourselves asking: Why create a crisis for yourself? Continue reading How Talking TOO Much Can Create a Crisis Where There is None

What PR Pros Need to Know About AI: A Conversation with Christopher Penn

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While talk of artificial intelligence, or AI, permeates the public relations world, there’s little understanding of how it’s impacting what we do now – and what we’ll do in the future.

Christopher Penn, THE person you should follow to get smart about AI, and I had a chat recently about how PR pros can expect AI to improve their job functions, and what they can be doing right now to prepare for the future. Here’s a recap. Continue reading What PR Pros Need to Know About AI: A Conversation with Christopher Penn

7 Ways Manufacturing Companies Can Take Advantage of PR

Manufacturing companies need PR, too

If you have a company in the manufacturing or industrial markets, PR may be an element that’s missing from your marketing program. Many companies in these verticals overlook PR because they may feel it won’t be worthwhile for them. They may think, “What in the world do we have to talk to the media about?”

The truth is, a lot! The trick is figuring out the most effective way to leverage PR to make it work for you.

For example, I’ve worked with many companies in these markets who have interesting stories to tell. What they needed help with was unearthing these stories, then figuring out the best channels to use to get them out.

“You need to not only create great content, you need to make sure people see it,” says Jay Scheer of Thomasnet.com. “Too many manufacturing companies seem content waiting and waiting for those prospects to magically find their websites, pick up the phone, and sign on the dotted line.”

Traditionally, manufacturing companies have turned somewhat of a blind eye to marketing and PR. But, “As vendor loyalty erodes in the B2B market, manufacturers find ‘they’re almost having to resell their clients,’” said a recent article in Crain’s Chicago Business.

What PR approaches work for manufacturing businesses?

For manufacturers who want to take advantage of public relations, here are seven ways to get started: Continue reading 7 Ways Manufacturing Companies Can Take Advantage of PR

How to Time Your PR Efforts Over the Holidays

Timing your PR over the holidays

The holidays are indeed upon us.

While timing is always important in PR, trying to get media coverage at this time of year can be especially challenging.

In talking with clients about their imminent PR plans, the holidays have to be taken into consideration. Not only might our audience be tuned out to our news, but many reporters are also out of the office enjoying holiday time with their loved ones. And, adding yet another hurdle, one reporter I just spoke with mentioned that the holiday changes his newspaper’s production schedule.

Considering your schedule, the reporter or publication’s schedule and your target audience’s schedules, PR timing over the holidays can definitely present a conundrum.

So, if you have news you must pitch over the holidays, what’s a PR pro suggest you do? Continue reading How to Time Your PR Efforts Over the Holidays

Top 11 Things I Learned at Content Marketing World

Content Marketing World was this past week. I looked forward to it for months. I went. I learned a lot.

But the highlight for me is the people. Making those face-to-face connections is priceless.

Yes, we live in a digital world. In fact, I was marveling recently at how many people I “know”—but have never met in person, or even spoken to on the phone. While I value those relationships, there is just something about actually being able to make that personal connection with someone.

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TrackMaven had one of the best vendor booths at this year’s Content Marketing World with its “See What Sticks” marketing target, complete with spaghetti to throw.

Beyond that, here are my top 11 takeaways from my time at #CMWorld: Continue reading Top 11 Things I Learned at Content Marketing World