5 Evidences that You’re Not Ready for Press

newspapersThe simplest truth for business owners to remember is that they must invest in their brand (as well as their personal professional brand) before they invest time and money into gaining media attention. 1000% Guaranteed: If your product or service is amazing, unique, better than your competitors, and your followers and clients can’t stop telling the world about you….the media will come!

5 Evidences that your Brand is Not Ready for Press…

1. You don’t have a brand

You have an idea. You have created a product or service that none or few have yet to pay you for. It may be remarkable or even breathtaking, it could even be the beginning of a multi-million dollar enterprise! Unfortunately, it has not successfully hit the market yet and credible journalists do not report on potential.

2. You do not have any followers

You do not have to become a viral sensation to be successful! However, having at least a few hundred people who consistently rave about how awesome you are will build credibility within the eyes of the media and your target customer.

3. There is no revenue

Almost every journalist loves a good rags to riches story or to be able to boast a company’s soaring financials. Since 50% of all start-ups fail, reporting on the successful ones is a joy to the media. Your product may be perfectly brilliant but without revenue the media will view it as a hobby not an enterprise.

4. Your product is mediocre

There is a saying in media, “Dog bites man is not news, man bites dog is news”. If your product is common like your competitors with the same price and similar qualities, the media will not come running. If you have a scarf company that is not news. If a single mom created hand-woven scarfs in her home, using the rarest fabric on the earth, and donates 25% of revenue to cancer research…that is news! How are you unique?

5. You have not researched the media

If you are a serial dater of the media and sending broad, mass pitches to every and any journalist you are not ready for the media! Think of the single person who goes around a club or social setting handing his or her number out to EVERYONE. How ridiculous do they look? Approaching all media gets you no where because every journalist has a specific audience. You must first research the media and find out which outlet covers products similar to yours and how your offerings can specifically benefit a journalist from that outlet.

5 Solutions to get you press ready. (You did not think we would be so cruel to just tell you what you are doing wrong did you?)

1. Build a brand

Before you hire a PR firm (GASP), spend your dollars on your brand. Make sure your logo is spectacular, your website is superb, and your customer service is unbeatable. You may be a mom and pop but make sure you look like a cooperation. Give your company a dazzling personality and do not cut corners, hire professionals and the best of the best to transform your vision to reality.

2. Build a social media following

Interact and post thoughtful content on Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook. Re-post all that you see that is awesome, follow influential people, and share your company’s updates often. Also, kindly ask every client to give you a review on Yelp, and share your testimonials on your social media outlets. Do not simply “sell” on social media. For example, if you owned a dog food store your Facebook post should not read “Dog food on sale $12.99 buy now”. Your post should be an adorable photo of a dog that says, “Like this photo if you love dogs”, this is an example of engaging VS selling.

3. Make money

Invest and make sure your product is the highest quality and if need be, spend money on advertising (not to be confused with PR). 10 years ago advertising meant having a $50,000 budget but with today’s digital platforms and solutions you can advertise effectively for hundreds of dollars. If your budget will not allow for it seek referrals, look for places to sell your product online or what ever it takes. If you fail to make any real profit after 12 months of advertising and selling, go back to the drawing board and figure out why your product is not selling itself and redefine who your target customer is.

4. Make your product better than the rest

For this it is time to stalk your competitors. Evaluate what makes their products sell and examine your own product and ask yourself how can you create the same value they have but even more. What is your man bites dog story? Where can you not cut corners but be incredibly detailed? How can you use your product to tie and uplift your community?

press5. Marry the media

You read right. If you sell an organic household cleaner find yourself a journalist who is known for following and reporting on the dangers of toxins and the importance of healthy home care. Read their editorial calendar like the Bible, follow their social media, and pitch them as someone who is able to in the future provide value to their readers. Do not do the failed, traditional “Feature me please” pitch. Instead, try a, “I am a fan, nice to e-meet you, I have tons of material that your audience will find valuable so if I can ever be a resource for you please let me know” approach.

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Social Media ROI – it takes a village

Last year, I wrote an article for Jaffe–the legal industry’s full-service PR and marketing agency, entitled Come Out from Behind the Brand. I guess you can call me a traditionalist; I am a huge proponent of staying true to what social media actually means, and how it was originally developed toconnect people with people.  If you recall (or recall hearing), “the Facebook” was developed by a Harvard student (most of us know who he is) to help students connect with students about the happenings around the university. People connecting with people and, as we all know, the rest is history. My back to basics mantra: “Social media works best when people, not the brand entities that they work for, communicate with people about what and who they like and know of, the latest news and incredible stories, etc.”

Here’s the key: the more people in “the village” (i.e. company, or really any organization of any sort) who are “talking about” various things in the social media channels that either pertain or relate directly to their organization or company (brand), in representation of that organization or company, the more likely others (people) will follow, engage and talk about these people and more importantly, about the brand (company/organization) that person and their “village” represents or leads. In doing so , all of this can and will lead to increased online visibility (digital PR and publicity!) for the brand/organization which will naturally lead to or provide new opportunities (namely new business, sales, leads, further mainstream publicity, and so forth).

>>>Read my guest post on the Jaffe Blog.


Social media network broadcasting: No sales pitch please!

twitterbroadcaster
One of the advantages of using social media networks for creating new business opportunities is the ability to share great information without having to rely solely on the traditional sales pitch approach. Absent the hard sell, “social media network broadcasting” allows for the opportunity to engage with people on a number of levels, from personal interaction to thought leadership. Broadcasting includes sharing your own original content/information, re-sharing other information and content (via your colleagues, friends or media sources), or having a conversation about a specific topic.

So, rather than looking at using your posts in social media networks as just another overt sales pitch method, try deploying a personal “broadcasting” campaign to encourage the people in your networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and so forth) to look forward to hearing from you. That will only add to your new business development process. The more frequently the people in your networks (or your “audiences”) read about you and all the interesting things you have to say or share in their various social media network newsfeeds, the more “buzz” you can create for yourself and/or your law firm.

With the right strategy and a consistent tactical plan, your social and other online media (blogs, groups/forums) network audiences will eventually start to share, like and even comment on your broadcasted content (original articles, shared content, or back-and-forth conversations, etc.). During this process, audiences will also share your content with their audiences, who may also then share with their audiences and so on. It’s a viral process (and it doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time to build up) that will eventually add to your online public reputation and increase your online publicity, which in turn will support your traditional sales and business development processes.

That’s a win-win situation, no matter how you look at it. Rather than simply telling your public what you offer and how valuable it is, social media broadcasting allows you to demonstrate – over time and in a very direct way – why you and your product or service is of benefit and why people should believe the person (you) or the company behind it. Reading what is being shared by others in your social media network newsfeeds can also give you insight into what’s on the minds of your clients or potential clients: what they like, what they don’t like, and what they’re saying about you and your competitors.

Good information is the lifeblood of social media networking. While it’s important to create a robust profile in a variety of networks, these no longer can remain static. The more you broadcast (on any level), the better your reach-out to your audience will be. This generates publicity and enhances your public reputation, and develops web- or blogsite traffic, direct email inquiries or calls. Social media broadcasting success also benefits from the sharing of non-competitor information through your various channels, from featuring guest bloggers to recommending the products and/or services of others to your audiences.

You can easily measure the effectiveness of social media broadcast efforts to gauge the level of impact it’s having on your business. Here are some typical social media measures I look at:

-Number of new followers and connections, such as “new likes” on Facebook, followers on Twitter, connections on LinkedIn, etc.

-Traffic to your website or blog measurement from social media sources such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

-Number of new email (newsletter) list or blog subscriptions compared to your old rates before ramping up your social media efforts.

-The “reach” of your social media broadcasting efforts (how many people beyond your own network channels read/see your posts).

-Level of audience engagement (number of comments, questions, etc.).

-Number of people buying your product or service as a result of a social media network referral.

-Physical sales numbers before and after starting your social media campaign.

What else?

Know your audience: Your audience cares much less about you than about themselves, so stop making your content about you. Understand what motivates your audience, and cater to that.

Entertain: If you’re asking people to invest time into your content, the least you can do is make it worthwhile. Don’t be afraid to use humor or drama to make your message that much more interesting to read. Bonus: Being entertaining helps make you memorable.

Inform: The worst reaction you can get from your audience is a collective “So what?” Write about current events, give your opinion on trending issues or add insight to popular topics. Anything you can do to educate your audience will help show your value.

Inspire: Getting people to read a piece of content is one thing, but provoking your audience to take action is something else altogether. Great content can turn your efforts into real-world results. For example, charities often find ways to tell emotionally powerful stories of their constituents as a way to inspire viewers to donate.

Engage: What’s more interesting, a lecture or a group discussion? Most people would probably agree that the latter keeps their attention longer. Think about ways you can interweave the comments and feedback of your audience into your content. Hosting guest blogs and curating third-party and social media content can be a great way to turn your one-way channel into a two-way street.

The bottom line: If you want to get results (or ROI) out of your social media participation (investment) effort, you must you engage in social media network broadcasting. Just as traditional advertising and sales approaches remain critical components of your marketing and branding toolbox, social media network broadcasting is also becoming more and more necessary. Surprisingly, even with numerous social media networking success stories and case studies there are to learn from, many attorneys and law firms are quick to brush these off as “fluff” or gratuitous. If done well, strategically and tactically – with the right mix of solid information, social media channels, audience engagement and tangible measurements – social media network broadcasting is a proven publicity and lead-generation strategy that can get and keep you in front of your target markets and set you apart from the competition. Interestingly enough, everyone who is part of this pay-it-forward process will also benefit!

Originally published for the Jaffe Blog.


Is outsourcing social media right for you?

Originally published on the Jaffe PR Blog on Jan 22, 2014. Jaffe PR is a complete Public Reputation resource, devoted primarily to law firms, legal associations and vendors to the legal market. Legal Brand Journalism™, including media relations and content development, is at the heart of our work for clients.

Outsource social media activities

As we all know by now, a vast majority of today’s professionals are active on a multitude of social media networks — for personal and, with increasing frequency, business purposes. What was once considered a new phenomenon in the legal industry — being present and active on social (digital) media — is fast becoming a “must-do” for attorneys (and, I’d like to add, for just about every high-profile professional, executive leader or entrepreneur).

Yes! It’s important, if not more important, for law firm attorneys (again “the above mentioned” types of business professionals) to also “show up” online.

Read the article here (click over to): Jaffe PR Blog Continue reading “Is outsourcing social media right for you?” »


How to fashion a successful digital content strategy

Originally posted in Smart Blogs
By Sarah Lynch on January 21st, 2014

Choosing the right content to post on social media is a bit like picking the right outfit each morning. To be successful you need to have a strategy, shop around for the best quality pieces and accumulate a tidy collection.

Like matching a good shirt with the right pants, pairing the best piece of content with the most fitting social platform hangs on three important factors:

-Where you are headed as a brand
-What you want to achieve
-The needs of your audience

Shop around
Dressing your social channels with the right content necessitates careful planning and coordination. The ease and efficiency of sharing across multiple platforms has resulted in many brands slipping into the classic social fallacy: If it works well on one platform it will work well on every platform.

Repurposing content across all your social profiles is the fastest way for your brand to experience a plateau in customer engagement and a significant drop in conversion rates.

What to wear
Social platforms have been purpose-built to attract users for very different reasons. Content that is well-liked on Facebook, for example, could be a total disaster on Twitter. Tailoring the right content to the appropriate platform is essential to your brand’s success on social media.

Twitter
The little black dress of your marketing cache, Twitter is the most versatile item in your social wardrobe. Twitter audiences are notoriously fickle and demand targeted, varied and engaging branding. In order to keep your audience pinned to your brand’s page, it is critical to style tweets that are:

-Clear and concise
-Simple
-Varied
-Powerful
-Reflective of your brand identity

Combine fun business tweets with tips and tricks, links to interesting sites or articles, inspirational quotes, and links to original blogs posts.

Avoid posting the same tweets too often. You wouldn’t wear the same outfit two days in a row, so don’t expect your audience to be thrilled about seeing the same content recycled regularly.

Facebook
The eye-catching summer dress of your social ensemble, Facebook is an inherently visual tool. To delight Facebook audiences, cloak posts in high-resolution pictures and videos. Maintaining high audience engagement is as simple as:

-Raising the hemline on posts by keeping them between 100-250 characters long. This approach garners 60% more engagement from audiences than longer posts.

-Clothe images and videos with a clever tagline or hashtag

-Fold opinion-based questions and fill-in-the-blank updates into your daily strategy

Package posts with an interactive-fashion focus of fun-over-form. Competitions and giveaways are the main reasons why Facebook audiences follow brand pages, so keep your content light and entertaining.

Google+
The dress suit that rounds out your brand’s social media collection, Google+ audiences favor quality content over quantity. Where Twitter followers appreciate short-form instant gratification and Facebook fans enjoy visual stimulation, the Google+ community has shown a strong preference for informative and helpful content.

More than any other platform, keeping your Google+ community engaged requires:
Donning unique, novel and informative content to your brand page that avoids pushing a covert marketing agenda. Google+ users react strongly to brands they believe are inauthentic.
Adorning your brand’s Google+ page with 5-second GIFS as a snapshot of what your brand can do. Google+ is the only major social media channel that allows GIFS to be placed directly into your audience’s stream.

The perfect post
These days the biggest digital fashion faux pas is to repurpose the same content across other brand platforms. If your customers follow you on more than one channel, they will quickly tire of your content and, by proxy, the product or service your brand represents.

For dynamic businesses it is critical to tailor all online interaction to the personality of the audience who occupies each social space. This approach will not only gratify customers on multiple levels, but also leave them hanging out for more.

Sarah Lynch is a freelance writer and content manager based in Sydney, Australia. To hear more musings from Sarah, you can follow her on Twitter.


Social Media and ROI: What Should You Expect? It depends.

Gaining ground within social media and digital/Web channels has to do with content and thought leadership. The more quality content you can generate, the more you (or your company) will be seen, heard, and followed. Add to this a high “engagement factor” (the amount of responding, sharing, that you and your followers engage in) then you are most likely on your way to a good Return on Investment (“ROI”).

That said, if you were to outright ask me, “What’s my return on investment going to look like?” I would be hard pressed to give you a number. Every client and every situation is different, from the industry or niche you operate in, to your reasons for wanting to engage in social media, to how involved and active you can or want to be.

Many of my clients come to me because they . . .

• Have little experience in social media, other than the occasional Facebook post or like, and simply don’t know where or how to start
• Don’t feel they have the time necessary to dedicate to beefing up their social media and digital presence
• Don’t know what’s reasonable to expect in return for their efforts.

Getting started and making the time are easy to address. Social media (at least how we know it as today) has been around in a big way since 2007. There’s history, there’s precedent, and there are clear do’s and don’ts. As for what’s reasonable to expect for a return on your investment . . . it depends.

With Social Media, ROI doesn’t show up as easily it does with direct marketing or advertising, where there’s a clear target and a beginning, middle, and end to a campaign. Measuring Social Media ROI is more complex, especially when Social Media is done in concert with other, more-traditional marketing efforts.

While I can clearly measure the exposure my clients get through various Social Media and Web channels—such as the number of tweets, LinkedIn shares, or Facebook posts; the number of new followers or connections; or an uptick in likes, Web traffic, and new subscribes—I can’t for certain quantify if Social Media alone is generating more sales. It’s simply impossible for me to link every client’s sale/new client acquisition to what ultimately influenced a customer to buy (unless I do a customer survey, of course, but that’s a whole other topic!). Most likely, there is no one thing that made it happen. Most likely, it’s a combination of various efforts made by my clients, including Social Media.

Social Media can go a long way to getting customers interested and to the “table,” but sealing the deal also relies on your customer/prospect’s emotional connection to your product or service, together with pricing and delivery. Is your product or service what the prospect wants? Is it what the prospect thinks he or she needs? And are you the one to provide it?

Ultimately, TV, Radio, Print, Social Media, the Web, and what you get out of your efforts with each of these mediums, is all about communication and approach. Just as most people wouldn’t produce their own TV or radio spots to sell a product or service, Social Media really should be viewed no differently—especially by busy executives and business owners who are running their companies and don’t have the time, the inclination, or the experience to optimize Social Media as a branding and messaging tool.


PR success? It’s all about strategy

PR_luckAward-winning publicist, Kathy O’Brien brings nearly two decades of experience encompassing both corporate and agency work to Jaffe PR.  As both an in-house marketer and a publicist with agencies in New York and Connecticut, she appreciates both sides of the public reputation curve – as the client at the top, and the service provider helping customers get there. Kathy understands PR challenges (more than any veteran publicist I know!).

Her recent post on the Jaffe PR Blog brought up the issue of the common misconception that all PR folks face, and that is the fact that many people really do believe that public relations is a crap shoot – that publicists simply sit in front of their computers all day long, sending out press releases (and in my case, posting tweets, blogs, updates and comments on new digital and social media) in hopes that something will stick and end up in the New York Times.

“Here is a news flash – it really doesn’t work that way,” Kathy says, “PR is and always will be about building relationships with the press and telling a great story in a way that perfectly captures the value you provide. The only way to get there is with a proper PR strategy instead of a ‘shoot from the hip, fingers crossed’ approach.” Please read Kathy’s article here.


B2B Social Media PR/Marketing: It’s still about people connecting with people

Remember! If you are marketing your business to other businesses online (in social media channels especially):  A personal touch goes a long way when trying to make a connection with someone. Generic pick-up lines aren’t going to get you too many dates, and generic content won’t bring in many leads. To make an impression and start off on the right foot, whether at the bar or on your blog, you need to make sure the person you’re reaching out to understands that you’re right for them.  Read more.

After all, social media was invented “for people” to connect “with people.”  Right?

Loving this article in the OpenView (Marketing) Labs blog this week. OpenView Market Research Associate Brandon Hickie explains how to develop an “effective buyer persona” to take your (brand’s) content marketing to the next level.  I couldn’t have explained all this ANY better myself–something I have been preaching for YEARS!

Buyer Personas: The Key to Targeting Your Content Marketing for Real Results


The Staying Power and Flexibility of Social Media

How do you track results from your traditional direct mail or advertising campaigns? If you’re like most small business owners and entrepreneurs, you probably compare the number of phone or email inquiries you get before and after a particular PR or marketing activity, or you monitor traffic on your Web site or at your bricks-and-mortar establishment, or you track product orders online or in-person. You also know that while such measures are not exact science, unlike full-blown market surveys, they will at least give you a pretty good sense of whether your efforts are having an impact or not.

Of course, most of us have no idea what kind of increased activity we might see due to marketing, if any. We’re just hoping for some sort of spike in activity, some sense that our efforts are worthwhile.

Read the rest of my post contribution on Barrel Of Monkeyz Forum!