Tips to Make Your Corporate Blog Standout

Tips to Make Your Corporate Blog Standout

It’s an powerful tool to have your company’s corporate blog standout. Blogging can be a great opportunity for some organizations and brands to enter the social media world and put their best foot forward.  But before you jump into the blogosphere, it’s important to develop a strategy that helps present your company in the best light while also grabbing the attention of your target audience.  Here are a few helpful tips to start:

  1. Grab their attention. Nowadays it seems that everyone has taken to the Internet with an opinion, 10 tips, or guidelines. Make sure that you start off your blog with something that is relevant to your audience and will make them want to continue reading. You’ve only got a few sentences to grab their attention. Make it worth their while to stay.
  2. Use bullets or numbered lists. Everyone loves a list whether it is 10 tips, bullets or just visually pleasing in the layout.  You are competing for everyone’s time and attention spans are waning, so the setup of you blog is very important.
  3. Develop keywords.  For search engine optimization (SEO), keywords are extremely important to have in your title and in the body of the article itself.
  4. Use hyperlinks. The use of hyperlinks aids tremendously in spreading your blog post throughout the Internet.
  5. Write about what you know. Everyone is an expert in their field, so use this platform wisely. Learn how to teach others and how to arrange and present your thoughts in an organized fashion.
  6. Provide advice. Position yourself as the guru in your field. With experience comes knowledge and it is important to pass this knowledge along to others. Blogging offers a perfect outlet for this.
  7. Drive traffic. Blog through other social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.
  8. Posting Consistently. I try to post regularly on my blog so that followers will look at the site as a go-to place for insights on public relations.

Skills They Don’t Teach You as a Public Relations Major

Skills They Don’t Teach You as a Public Relations Major

You learn a lot while studying your college major. But once you leave your beloved alma mater behind, you may realize there are some very important life lessons that you never learned.
If you want to avoid that terrifying task of entering the real world without the skills you need to succeed, take the time to learn them before graduation day rolls around. Here are some skills they don’t teach you as a public relations major:
1. How to manage your money. So you land a job in a New York public relations agency right out of college and the company provides you with the option to join its 401K. Without a basic understanding of the stock market, which is almost never taught in school, you will be dead in the water.
4. Social skills. Some of  the best jobs require social skills. As a kid in kindergarten you learned to play well with others. Then, as you moved along in school, these skills were replaced by impersonal lecture-style teachings of hard skills and less peer interaction. In a field such as public relations, softer skills, like client interaction and counseling, motivating colleagues, and being a team player, are emphasized.
5. Leadership skills. A good leader’s job is to get work done through people. Skills such as how to hire the best people, how to provide mentoring, and how to successfully lead a team are often left for on-the-job learning.
7. How credit works. Just because you were able to secure a credit card doesn’t mean you should use it mindlessly. With some credit rates as high as 28%, it could take you years to pay off a $1,000 balance. So, don’t party hardy unless you can pay with cash.
8. How to find a job. Unfortunately, the very basics of how to go about researching and landing a job are skills that are often self-taught. Seek out professors, counselors, and career centers for assistance in this vital area.

How to Prepare for a Crisis

How to Prepare for a Crisis

A crisis can happen at any moment. Most often, it happens when you are least prepared.  And when it does happen, there is no such thing as a small crisis.  In today’s environment things can go wrong when least expected. Your CEO is accused of financial misconduct, your employee is accused of harassment, your product has a manufacturing glitch, your pharmaceutical has unforeseen side effects.  These, and more, can catch you off guard and make your life, and the life of your corporation, miserable.  The best laid plans are those that are penned in advance. Here are six tips on how to prepare for a crisis:

  1. Identify potential crisis situation(s) in advance. Identify your potential internal and external weaknesses. Start doing your research early to see where your weak links exist and how you might possibly shore them up ahead of an event.
  2. Do you have a crisis plan? If not, these are elements to be considered: Start researching and writing a crisis plan today.
    1. Identify your key response team.
      • Media train them early and often—ideally in front of video camera so they can get immediate feedback on their mock responses.
      • Have their contact information on hand for rapid access.
    2. Have written statements prepared for each potential weak area.
    3. Make sure that no one but the key response team members respond to any media calls.
      • Train your receptionists so they know whom to forward the calls to in case of a crisis.
    4. Alert staff as to whom are on the response team—explain that these are the only people authorized to speak to the media.
    5. Stage crisis readiness simulations.
  3. Key leadership role. Start preparing early to develop and fine-tune your corporate leadership. Make sure they are comfortable addressing the media and have them “practice” during off-crisis times, such as when they are releasing earnings or when a product’s sales is doing exceptionally well.
  4. Be prepared to respond to the immediacy of social media. Are you prepared to respond quickly to misinformation, accusations and distortions? Is your social team prepared or will they have to wait hours and days for “corporate” to sanction a social outreach? Is your management aware of the potential damage that waiting on social media can inflict?
  5. Review and update your crisis plan annually. Once developed, the team should meet quarterly to review their “action plan”.
  6. Hire a public relations agency. I have been involved in a number of crisis situations reaching from an ineffective birth control device to poor quality manufacturing practices to improper corporate practices. In each case, we’ve worked to develop a crisis plan, train the response team, prepare media responses, and act quickly and effectively on behalf of our clients.

Although a crisis is seldom averted, it can be dealt with quickly and efficiently once all your ducks are lined up in a row, so to speak. Remember, be calm when all hell is breaking out, be straightforward when the hordes are pounding at your door, be truthful, and be quick to respond when the media call.  You reputation depends on your planning for the worst, and being grateful that it has passed.

7 Ways to Define Public Relations

advertising vc pr
7 Ways to Define Public Relations

For an industry that does so much to help define its clients and industry, pills it is an unfortunate turn of events that public relations has such a vague understanding among many audiences. When I first told my parents I had entered into the field of public relations, they went around telling everyone that their daughter made it big in the Madison Avenue world of advertising—yup, advertising. Like so many others, they had no idea what public relations was. And who could blame them? Especially when our industry has continued to evolve over the decades and has never settled on just one basic definition. Here are seven ways to help define public relations:

  1.  Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. (PRSA)
  2. The activity or job of providing information about a particular person or organization to the public so that people will regard that person or organization in a favorable way. (Merriam-Webster)
  3. The profession or practice of creating and maintaining goodwill of an organization’s various publics (customers, employees, investors, suppliers, etc.), usually through publicity and other nonpaid forms of communication. These efforts may also include support of arts, charitable causes, education, sporting events, and other civic engagements. (BusinessDictionary.com)
  4. Public relations is the opposite of advertising. In advertising, you pay to have your message placed in a newspaper, TV or radio spot. In public relations, the article that features your company is not paid for. The reporter, whether broadcast or print, writes about or films your company as a result of information he or she received and researched. Publicity is more effective than advertising, for several reasons. First, publicity is far more cost-effective than advertising. Even if it is not free, your only expenses are generally phone calls and mailings to the media. Second, publicity has greater longevity than advertising. An article about your business will be remembered far longer than an ad. (Entrepreneur)
  5. Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public. Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. This differentiates it from advertising as a form of marketing communications. Public relations is the idea of creating coverage for clients for free, rather than marketing or advertising. (Wikipedia)
  6. Public relations is the art of managing the spread of information about an individual or company is disseminated to the public, and attempting to frame that information in a positive light. (Investopedia.com)
  7. A basic definition of public relations is to shape and maintain the image of a company, organization or individual in the eyes of the client’s various “publics.” What is a “public” exactly? A public, in PR terms, is anyone who ever has or ever will form an opinion about the client. (Money)

A Big Idea Can Come From Odd Places

mind_reading
A Big Idea Can Come From Odd Places

So, you are challenged with coming up with the proverbial Big Idea for a new public relations campaign. Where to start? How to begin? Well, I for one have always fallen upon a Big Idea in the most unremarkable places. Sometimes I find that if I leave the tumult of the office behind, and remove myself from the everyday commotion in a busy office, creativity soon follows.

Here are some of the most unremarkable creative venues in which I have come up with PR Big Ideas:
1. A Bathroom Break. For years, I have never gone to the bathroom whether in the office or at home without a pen placed firmly behind my ear. I’ve become good at coming up with either the lead sentence for a feature article, a tag line for a brand launch, or a Big Idea in this odd place. With relative ease, the roll of toilet paper becomes my writing surface.
2. The Shower. I guess it’s the sense-numbing sound of the water mixed with the penetrating heat that causes my mind to melt and allows freethinking to emerge. Now, if I could get my hands on the pad and pen that writes in the shower, my life would surely be easier.
3. The Dog. I am fortunate to have a large, black Labrador retriever who not only serves as my muse, but allows me to walk aimlessly around Manhattan, pen and note paper in tow, with creativity flowing. If I dare leave the house without pen and paper, there is always my cellphone where I either jot down or send myself an audio message full of Big Ideas.
4. The River. I live two blocks from the Hudson River and afford myself the glorious opportunity to walk along it almost everyday. During good weather, the paths are filled with bike riders, skaters, and joy-seekers. But during the colder months, I often feel alone along the river and its hidden pathways. Looking out at the sturdy tugboats pushing unwieldy barges through the current gives me peace of mind…and a peaceful mind often spawns Big Ideas. Again, make sure to record your Ideas by hand or via cell. Trust me when I say this, you’ll never remember them once you return home.

Life is a journey, and Big Ideas often lie in its path. Take the time to smell the roses, pet your pooch, take a shower, or meditate (always with a pen and paper handy). You’ll be surprised how easy it is to close one door of your mind and open the another to a creative moment.

6 Tips: How to Interview for a Public Relations Agency

helpful-pr-tips-pr
6 Tips: How to Interview for a Public Relations Agency

So, drug you got yourself that interview with a public relations agency. Here are some tips on how to prepare for your interview:

  1. Review their website. I can’t stress enough the importance of being familiar with the agency, viagra its philosophy, vialis 40mg client categories, client list, and work samples. This information will help you discern whether this is the shop for you.  Also, be familiar with their blog posts and what their point of view is on industry issues?
  2. Prepare 3 questions. At the end of an interview, I always ask a potential employee if they have any questions. To my surprise, the majority say “No thanks. You’ve covered everything.” Well, that’s not good enough. I don’t care what you ask, but as long as you ask something. This shows me that you can communicate and think on your feet.
  3. Due diligence. It is important for you to implement due diligence. This means becoming a detective and finding out everything you can about the firm’s reputation, working environment, and staff members. Do they have a good industry reputation? Have they won awards? what kind of work reputation does the president and top executives have? How happy or unhappy is the staff? Ask your friend if they know someone who currently or has worked there before. However, don’t ask current staffers because you never know.
  4. Google search. Atta girl. You know haw valuable an Internet search can be. Now’s the time to implement a search on the company itself. How does it hold up and compare to competitors? What is its reputation and how have they managed it?
  5. Decide on the appropriate attire. If you are interviewing for that fashion boutique, you better look the part. In addition to everything else, you will be judged on your style and presentation. Not that other public relations agency specialties don’t demand a good appearance, but make sure you dress the part.
  6. Arrive early.  It’s always wise to get to the destination earlier than needed. This way you’ll never be late for an interview, which can be a real turn-off. Go for coffee or take a walk around the block. Then get yourself together and go gettum!!

Reading a PR Client’s Mind

Mind Reader.PR
Reading a PR Client’s Mind

How many times have you wished you could read your client’s mind? Or even better, read the mind of the prospective client?

I remember pitching a cruise ship line several years ago. They called me because I had previously worked with another cruise ship company. After the preliminary niceties, it was decided that I would fly out to Seattle and present our initial public relations program. But first, I asked if they had a budget. Their response was the dreaded “zero-based budget”. Although they probably did have a budget, they refrained from telling us because they probably had the belief that we would ask for less, allowing them to “save money.” How foolish.

To remove the suspense, I didn’t get the piece of business. Why? Because when the client heard my proposed budget, he screamed, “On my goodness, this is much higher than our budget!” Now, if this potential client had only told me his budget, I would have been able to create the best public relations program suited to that number. But because I couldn’t read his mind, I came in too high and could never salvage the client.

So, what has this taught me? Here is some insight into what potential clients are thinking:

  1. Can I trust them? Remember, it’s the presenter, not the presentation that gets you hired. They want you to look them in the eye and make them believe that if they give you their business, that you can truly help to solve their problems, make them richer, and sell more products.
  2. Will they be there for me? Back in the day, I remember a notable PR firm mandated that their staff wear pagers even when they went to the bathroom. Today, with everyone’s mania about not going anywhere without their phones, the need for a mandate has been eliminated. Clients want to know that they can reach you anytime and anywhere. I know that can mean nights and weekends, but if your client has a sudden crises, like a cruise ship fire off the coast of Alaska, they want to make sure your team is there for them.
  3. Will they be the monitor of my money? So you developed a suggested budget, but things happen. During a public relations program you may need to spend additional monies. Never spend big money without getting client buy-in. I have never had a client tell me “no” to spending unanticipated money. I have only seen clients go ballistic when huge, unanticipated expenses come through.
  4. Will they make me look like a hero to my boss? Everyone has a boss. When you’re hired, it’s your job to make your boss look good. Make their superiors believe that hiring a PR firm was a meaningful corporate expenditure.

5 PR Skills My Cat Taught Me

business-cat
5 PR Skills My Cat Taught Me

I’ve been living with cats for most of my adult life and let me tell you, they are the leaders of the house and sometimes of my life. The first year that Johnny, my current 13-year-old cat, lived with me, I hardly knew he existed. He hid from me, played hard-to-get, and, quite frankly, I thought he hated me. At one point I actually said to my sister, “OK I’ll keep him, give him free room and board, but we’ll never bond.” Well, was I wrong. Thirteen years later he has gone on to show me some interesting public relations skills that can be used in the industry.
1. Be creative. I always thought the manufacturers of cat toys were not cat owners. Why else would they develop some of the least exciting toys ever? Just leave it to a cat to find creativity in a small piece of silver foil, ribbon, or fallen paperclip. Great leaders find creativity in areas that the rest of us mortals may never explore. They go off to turn a problem over and come up with a creative solution.
2. Be observant. It fascinates me to see Johnny staring off into space. There could be a multitude of reasons as to why he’s doing it. Trying to determine the scope of the universe? The distance between Earth and Mars? The square root of 16? Great leaders know how to observe, listen to other points of view, and to, thereby, help avert conflict. They can help solve marketing problems or just bring new perspective into an old marketing plan.
3. Be engaging. Whereas dogs have an in-your-face style of engagement, cats are far more subtle. They will quietly appear whenever you least expect them, bringing warmth and comfort. A good leader does likewise, often in the form of a fresh approach, problem-solving guidance, or just warm words of encouragement.
4. Be an explorer. Open a door or take out an empty shopping bag, and low and behold, faster than a speeding bullet, your cat will be inside exploring the new space. And if you use encouragement, you’ve got the beginning of a brand new game. A great PR leader does the same. They explore new ways of thinking about old problems, bring news challenges into your thought process, and help you to expand your own creative process.
5. Don’t be judgmental. A cat doesn’t judge you by your appearance. If you never put on makeup or shave your beard, your cat won’t care. A good leader doesn’t judge someone for trying out new ideas or new strategies, or for not knowing the next step. And they certainly never judges a book by its cover. Hiring someone who doesn’t seems to fit your traditional mold can often lead to new out-of-the-box thinking.

5 PR Tips My Dog Taught Me

106hThree years ago I rescued an eight year old black lab named Leo—and as the adage says, he rescued me right back.  He was a 65 pound anxious wrecking ball who, when briefly left alone, ate my desk chair, raided my walk-in closet, and brought out and destroyed all my stored paper products. After the first few weeks, we were able to sort things out and develop a truce whereby I would help him get his mojo back and he would show me the wonders that are a dog.  Through him, I’ve learned the merits of unconditional love. I’ve also picked up a few important life lessons that can easily be applied to the workplace.  Here are five PR tips my dog taught me:

  1. Be loyal. Boy, when it comes to loyalty, Leo certainly scores high marks. But historically, there have been quite a storied dogs including Japan’s Hachiko, an Akita who is remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner which continued for many years after his owner’s death and Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye Terrier who supposedly spent 14 years guarding the grave of his owner.

In business, loyalty is a huge asset. I have had both staffers and clients who have remained loyal to my company for many years. As part of the equation, I find myself rewarding their loyalty. For the staffers, the rewards manifest themselves in promotions and pay raises; for the clients, it manifests in extraordinary personal time and results.

  1. Trust your instincts. On a very basic level, Leo has an instinct that runs like clockwork.  If I am not out of bed by my usual 7AM, he gently jumps up and nuzzles me at exactly 7:30. He also reminds me daily that it is time for his 4PM walk, or Heaven forbid I am late for dinner, there is the nuzzle under my arm as I sit by my desk.

Just like Leo, trust your business instinct.  You’ll know if the client is asking too much, if the editor is really on a deadline, and if your colleague is drowning and needs some extra encouragement.

  1. Perseverance. Leo likes nothing more than the nearly empty jar of Skippy peanut butter as a treat. He holds it between his paws and uses him long, snake-like tongue to patiently lick every remaining drop. The process takes him several minutes but by the time he finally relinquishes the jar, it is clean enough to be plunked into the recycling bin.

Perseverance is a quality that all good public relations professionals must acquire.  As with any PR agency, you need the ability to go after that new business lead, follow-up with that elusive journalists, pursue that client for input, or mentor that less experienced colleague.

  1. Be enthusiastic. Leo’s enthusiasm sometime just makes me laugh. He’ll run for the ball with such gusto as to run right passed it. And when eating, he gulps each meal as if it were his last. Not to mention when I return from a brief outing without him, his jumps for joy make me love him even more.

Now I am not asking you to love your client, but I’ll tell you that a client will surely love you if you show enthusiasm for their company, product, ad campaign, and even children’s photos that are lined up on the desk. For a client’s birthday I once sent a humongous helium balloon with a small bucket dangling beneath filled with champagne and chocolate kisses. Everyone in the company wanted to know who their PR agency was.

  1. Go outside and play. Even though Leo spends most of his time curled under my desk on his comfy dog bed, at the end of our day, we are both ready to go out and play.

I tell my colleagues that working in public relations is not like operating in a hospital. No one dies as a result of our profession. Therefore, take a minute or two, unplug from your computer and cellphone, and go out and play. Have fun!

6 Ways PR Helps Drive Sales

Sales figures
A well executed public relations program can build brand awareness and help develop/increase sales.

A well developed and well executed public relations program can do wonders in helping to develop and drive sales. Here are six ways:

  1.  Earn credibility. The big difference between public relations and advertising is that PR takes a lot more effort. It is often referred to in the marketing industry as “earned media.” Nielsen’s 2015 Trust in Advertising report shows that people trust earned media (i.e. editorial articles and posts) and owned content (i.e. social media) more than any other formats. The dynamic partnership between these two elements plays an important role in understanding and realizing sales growth.
  2. Generate interest. A successful new product or service launch for your target audience will help develop and stimulate interest. It will also serve as a platform for introducing your brand to new audiences. Successfully breaking through the enormous clutter of available information to the average consumer is overwhelming and sometimes confusing.  Working with the media to convey your brand’s message and values so that interest in piqued, is the job of a good public relations agency.
  3. Educate prospects. A well executed public relations program can not only help to educate consumers about your products and services, but it can also influence potential shareholders and business partners. The more they read, see, and hear about your brand, the more engaged and excited they will become.
  4. Create a buzz.  What makes a good public relations campaign is its ability to create buzz through both traditional and new media outreach–earned, owned, and purchased outlets. By connecting them all, a client soon realizes the value of a well integrated marketing plan.
  5. Door opener. OK, which would you find more credible: Receiving a link to a sales pdf or a recent news article?  This should be a no-brainer. The more newsworthy a company or brand is, the more likely an audience will find it more believable,important, and credible. That’s the power of public relations.
  6. Good content is recyclable. Good content, whether it be for a blog, social media site, or a press release, should be recycled and reused time and time again. After all, what are you paying a good PR agency for, if not to have them create content you can recycle?  It’s not only time efficient, but also cost efficient. It’s a way of getting more bang for your buck.