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.

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 PR Tips That Help Build a Brand

Getting through the maze of sales tools
Here are some useful public relations tips for building brand and increasing sales.

Building your brand and maintaining its presence is a full-time job. Sometimes this job can be handled internally, but other times, the best solution can come from an external public relations agency.

Here are 6 PR tips that help build a brand:

  1. Public relations. As a demand-generation tool, nothing beats a well crafted and strategically implemented public relations program.  For developing credibility and garnering brand awareness, a PR campaign can hone messages, build brands, develop prospects and avert crises.  Talk to a public relations agency and learn what it has to offer.  Your brand will thank you…so will your bottom line.
  2. Social media outreach. Be careful not to discount millennials. Like it or not, they are the newest and most passionate group to jump onto the social media bandwagon. You can’t be late to dinner for this one. Your public relations agency can easily develop and maintain your social media pages, but so can your internal marketing department.  Bottom line is, make sure someone is minding the store.
  3. Blogging. Again, a good public relations agency can assist you in the development of your company blog. You should spend some time figuring out your point-of-view.  This will make it easier for you, your PR agency, or your marketing department to feel comfortable writing in your style and voice.
  4. Research. Before any outside agent can assist you with your branding, you better do your own initial research into your marketplace.  Who are your competitors? Pricing? Potential controversy, such as ingredients, pricing, sourcing? Know your audience and know it well. Consumers can be a fickle bunch.
  5. Reputation management. In the current climate, reputation matters more than some appreciate. Protecting, as well as enhancing, your reputation is important for your bottom line. Strong sales can be the result of strong leadership and an innovative sales department. But, it can also be the result of a strong reputation.  Make sure you take the time to not only create your reputation, but to learn to protect it.  One bad online review that goes unanswered can lead to a potential viral disaster and an end consumer confidence.
  6. Promotion. There is a fine line between enticing promotion and bombarding your customers with unwanted emails and promotional materials. Balance and timing is everything. Choose your targets and messages carefully. Realize that a well positioned promotional pieces or event, selectively placed and strategically developed, will do a lot for your brand sales and growth.

Tips for When You Interview at a PR Firm

Interview.PR
Tips for When You Interview at a PR Firm

OK, story so you got yourself that interview with a public relations agency. Now what do you do?
1. Review their website. I can’t stress enough the importance of becoming familiar with the agency, its philosophy, client categories, client list and work samples. From this you’ll be able to discern whether this is the shop for you. Also, if the agency is savvy, it routinely makes blog posts—read them—what is their point of view on industry issues?
2. Prepare 3 questions. At the end of an interview I always ask a potential employee if s/he has any questions—and 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 as long as you ask something; this shows me that you can communicate, think on your feet and that you’re capable
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? How happy or unhappy is the staff—ask your friends, someone is bound to know someone who has worked there—but don’t ask current staffers, you never know. And what kind of work reputation does the president and top executives have?
4. Google search. Atta girl. You know have valuable an Internet search can be whether ferreting out a potential new guy or restaurant. Well, 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 had better look the part because 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; like a business suit for the financial agencies and leggings or jeans and heels for the funky digital firm.
6. Arrive early. It’s always wise to get to the destination earlier than needed. In this way you’ll never be late for an interview—which can be a real turn-off. Go for coffee, take a walk around the block. Then get yourself together and go gettum!!

Tips for PR Pros on Pitching Journalists Via Social Media

Social Media.PR

Social media offers an opportunity for PR agencies to reach out to journalists in a more intimate space. But beware—not all channels offer appropriate outcomes.
There are right and wrong ways to use social media to query reporters, because you don’t want to come across as a stalker to a reporter. Here are a list of the Do’s and Don’ts of approaching reporters on social media.

Don’t:

1. Don’t pitch journalists through Facebook.
Facebook is a place for friends. Even though Facebook has become a place for business too, journalists consider Twitter a professional tool, not Facebook. Also, when you message someone you aren’t friends with on Facebook, it goes into their “other” folder, which often goes unchecked. Avoid posting on their wall or to pictures to get noticed– journalists want to maintain some privacy on their Facebook page.

2. Don’t mass pitch reporters on Twitter

Remember, when your tweet can be seen by everyone. Don’t try to get noticed by a lot of reporters at once by pitching multiple accounts at once through tweeting. As soon as you pitch a journalist, they will likely click on your Twitter profile to learn more. If the reporter sees that the last several tweets are copied and pasted to different multiple people, they will lose interest quickly.

3. Don’t contact another journalist to get his colleague’s information
It’s unprofessional to contact a reporter to get through to another one. Even though one reporter might have less followers than another, and it might be easier to see a @mention with that person, reporters are being pitched all the time—so they don’t need to be bothered with a PR person trying to reach their colleague through them.

4. Don’t follow up more than once
– The point of pitching on social media is to keep it short and sweet. If you follow up more than once, reporters will automatically mark you as spam and you won’t be able to contact them in the future.

Do:

1. Find out the reporter’s beat before you pitch them
It’s your job to do the research and theirs to determine your pitch’s relevance to the audience and publication. You can find this out by seeing what the reporter is tweeting or retweeting, and also by investigating their bio; it will usually say what topics they are interested in or what their beat is.

2. Use Twitter to pitch
Twitter forces PR pros to keep their pitches short and catchy. It is okay to pitch journalists through Twitter because they treat their accounts as an extension of their reporting, so they might be more willing to chat with you on Twitter about topics relating to their beats. When pitching reporters on Twitter, @mention the company you are working for and a link to some news–if they recognize the organization they maybe more likely to respond.

7 Tips for PR Pros: How to Write a Strong Press Release

Helpful PR Tips.PR

Press releases are essential in any public relations strategy.  They detail product launches, special events and other newsworthy activities that a company produces. Because media outlets are flooded with stories and pitches daily, it is imperative that you make yours stand out from the rest. Here are a few helpful tips to make your press release stand out, look professional, and attract reporters to your story.

  1. Grab their attention with a strong e-mail subject

A strong subject on an email will peek the reporters’ interest, and lead them to read your release. Keep a subject 5-7 words highlighting the most important takeaway from the release.

  1. Get right to the point

Assume that the reader won’t read more than the first paragraph. Get the message out quickly, every point should be addressed in the headline and first paragraph, with supportive information in the subsequent paragraphs.

  1. Always use quotes when possible

Including quotes from your client makes them an authority in their profession. It is important to have a source to attribute the information to so what you are saying is validated by a trusted source.  Quotes can also clarify any information that you have in the press release while attributing it to your client.

  1. Check your grammar, then check it again!

Always proof your press releases; if there is any grammatical errors, this can turn a reporter off. It is unprofessional and looks sloppy for anyone who works in PR to have spelling or grammatical errors in their press releases. Remember, the only thing that we produce as a profession is words on paper: They should therefore inform and impress.

  1. One Page is best

As with most good writing, shorter is usually better; limit yourself to one page. This will force you to condense your most significant information into a more readable document, which is something that journalists always appreciate.

  1. Provide access to more information

Just because your press release is limited to one page doesn’t mean that you have to leave out information. Provide relevant links to your client’s website where prospective writers can learn more about their mission and what they’ve accomplished. Don’t make writers search on their own for more information; it is important to guide them as quickly as possible to your website, and keep their interest in your message.

  1. Always provide your contact information

A common oversight that can render a press release ineffectual is a lack of contact information for reporters. Whether you or someone else at the company is the point of contact, don’t forget to include an email address and phone number on the release. Media people aren’t shy; if they have a question they will contact you.

7 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Public Relations Agency

7Questions

A successful PR campaign can help to grow your business and gain awareness of your company. When considering a PR agency to hire, ask there are a few questions you want to ask to make sure they are a fit for you. Here is a list of 7 questions that you should ask before choosing a PR agency.

  1. Have you worked on campaigns in my industry?

You will get the most out of an agency if they have experience with your sector of business. You can ask for references from previous clients, treat and to see results from past campaigns. This can give you an idea of their industry capabilities.

  1. Who is my direct contact/team member?

You should know who you will be directly working with on your campaign. Ask who your contact person at the agency will be and who will be working with them. It is important to know your team and be comfortable with them so they know what you want and what you expect from them.

  1. Which media outlets are best for me?

It is important for PR agencies to know who their client’s target audience are, and for an agency to have experience in traditional and new media. The agency you select knows the outlets that will reach your audience the best. This can range from traditional media placements, such as television and newspapers to online promotions as well as social media outlets.

  1. How will your agency measure success?

Before hiring a PR agency, it is important to know how they measure success. The most common ways that agencies measure success with a client is through media placements, and social media analytics. Social media analytics can be social media page “likes”, content reach, and follower interactivity. Another thing to consider when choosing how a firm will measure success is an increase in traffic to your website or increase in sales after a PR campaign.

  1. Will you provide media coaching?

See what is being offered in terms of media coaching or training; this can be a valuable lesson to anyone who will be interviewed by the media. If the agency doesn’t handle media coaching directly, ask if they refer you to for an experienced media coach.

  1. Are you experienced on social media?

Social media is an important tool to reach many of your stakeholders. It is essential that you find an agency that is well versed in social media, and the social media trends. You can ask to see results from social media campaigns or promotions from previous clients, to gage if the agency has success promoting a company in your field.

  1. How will you communicate with me?

It is important that your PR agency communicate with you on a regular basis. Usually agencies will send a monthly status report detailing what they have done and where they have placed your business, however it is still important for them to touch base with you on a regular basis in order to maintain a pulse on your campaign. You can ask how often you will be updated on campaigns for your company, and how often the staff will be available to you. You should also make yourself available to your PR agency, in case they need a quote, or approval in a pinch.