How To Handle The Media’s Tough Questions – And Come Out Smiling

How To Handle The Media’s Tough Questions – And Come Out Smiling

What makes for a good talk radio or TV show, or a captivating newspaper or magazine article? Often, it’s a little controversy – just the thing many people being interviewed by the media hope to avoid. They want a friendly chat, but they fear an inquisition. I confess to a mixed view here. I understand the value of a robust debate – and I also sympathize with the trepidation of our clients who are afraid they’ll be lobbed a live grenade instead of a polite question. But remember this: people go head-to-head with talk show hosts and print journalists every day and emerge smiling with their dignity and all their body parts intact. How? They’re prepared. You can be, too. Let me share a few tricks for holding your own during a media interview, regardless of whether the person asking the questions decides to stir things up or not: Make it a conversation. During the interview, don’t picture yourself on a stage or as a voice blaring from car stereo speakers. Instead, talk with the interviewer as if the two of you are having a conversation in your living room. I’ve had many clients tell me that once they understood this approach, interviews were much easier no matter what direction the journalist or talk show host tried to steer the interview. Boil down your thoughts to three to five bullet points. These will be the messages you want to get across, the information that will be the most valuable to the readers, listeners or viewers. (Note: I know the message most valuable to you is “buy my book/product/service,” but... read more
The Secret To Promoting Yourself Is That It’s NOT All About You

The Secret To Promoting Yourself Is That It’s NOT All About You

Sometimes the harshest truths are the most important ones. In public relations, one of the most important truisms revolves around the primary question members of the media ask themselves as they evaluate potential stories: Who really cares? They ask that not to be rude, but out of a genuine desire to serve their audiences. Now, as media consumers, we may argue with some of their story choices (personally, I never understood the endless fascination with the Kardashians), but we have to remember that the media’s revenue comes from the size and scope of their audiences. If they believe their audience wants to hear about a particular person or story, you can be assured they’ll cover it. For anyone seeking to promote themselves or their business, that “who really cares?” question is absolutely paramount because it reveals one of the most critical and common pitfalls in the PR business. That is, the idea that promoting yourself should be all about you. The hard fact is that if the media don’t already know who you are, they really don’t care about you. They don’t care about your book, your website, your company, your product or just about anything you’re selling. Of course, their advertising director would love to sell you time or space, but that’s advertising, not PR. So your key question becomes: How do I get the media to care about me? The answer is you must demonstrate to them that your expertise and your message will add value to the lives of their audiences. Now, many self-help authors will think that should be easy, but it’s not. It’s not... read more
Why Your Marketing Plan is like A New Year’s Resolution

Why Your Marketing Plan is like A New Year’s Resolution

If you sat down at your desk the first workday of the New Year, and vowed to do something bigger and better to market yourself or your business in 2017, you certainly were in good company. There’s nothing like the fresh start of a New Year for motivating us to tackle what seemed to be an overwhelming task last year. But, unfortunately, the odds may be stacked against your well-intentioned plan. The failure rate for strategic business plans is right on par with that for New Year’s resolutions, which is a discouraging 88 percent. That doesn’t mean your marketing plan, or my diet for that matter, is doomed. It simply means we both need to be more committed and disciplined! As with diet and exercise, consistency makes all the difference in marketing and public relations. A well-executed strategic plan of action builds credibility, image and brand, and keeps you relevant. It takes small steps every day. Sound familiar? Large organizations with dedicated marketing teams have an advantage: They have people whose only job is to make sure their name is out there in a favorable light. They are just like those movie stars with personal trainers and private chefs – they don’t have to drag themselves to the gym each day because the gym comes to them. They don’t have to come up with delicious low-cal recipes; their chef does it for them. The rest of us have to do it all ourselves. If you’re running a business, big or small, the daily fires that need to be put out – generating revenues, managing staff, getting vendors paid or... read more
Is Your Website Being All It Can Be?

Is Your Website Being All It Can Be?

What’s one of the first things you do when you want to learn more about a new store that opened in town or to research a financial professional a friend recommended? If you’re like me, you go in search of a website. Today of course most people realize that whether they’re running a business, operating a professional practice, selling their product, promoting their book or building their brand, they need an effective website. But, yes, even today I encounter people who don’t have a website, or confuse being on a website, e.g., Amazon.com or LinkedIn, with having their own. I find this as amazing as you probably do, but it’s what inspired me to broach that subject this week. A well-designed, well-organized website is essential and can accomplish a lot for you. It can build an incredibly valuable database of people who are interested in you, so you can interact with them directly and stay in front of them on an ongoing basis. It can help you tell people what sets you apart from your competitors. It can increase sales by making it convenient for people to buy when they’re ready. But to get a topnotch website that will reflect well on you and your brand, I recommend hiring a professional web developer/designer. An amateurish look will send potential clients or customers scurrying away, perhaps never to return. You should understand the components of a good website so you can evaluate the work of designers you’re considering, and so you can talk with your designer about what you want. With that in mind, let me share just a few... read more
Simple Tips To Make Design Work  For You And Your Brand

Simple Tips To Make Design Work For You And Your Brand

Like many of you, I’m excited about 2017 and the possibilities for another successful year. To achieve that success all of us need to be looking for ways we can improve, and over the years I’ve noticed that one extremely important area where people can improve is in the design on their websites and on their social media platforms. I’ve always felt that the content of your copy and the design that enhances that content are equally important. You can have great content on your website, for example, but if the design accompanying it is unprofessional, visitors will zip right past it in search of something more credible. At the same time, a captivating design can grab people’s attention, but if it turns out that you’re all flash without substance, they may leave and never return. Over the last several months it seems that I’ve shared a lot with you about the content side of things – what to say, how to say it and when to say it. I’ve been a lot less focused on design, but let’s remedy that right now. Quite some time ago we recognized just how essential graphic elements are in brand promotion and that’s why our team includes Becky Lofgren, our in-house graphic designer, who works solely with our social media clients. Becky shared with me a few simple things you can do to help get the most out of your design. Select the right color. Any color that appeals to you is a good one, right? Not exactly. Colors can evoke certain emotions so you want to choose a color that sends... read more
How Social Media Turns You Into A Valuable Media Commodity

How Social Media Turns You Into A Valuable Media Commodity

If you’re savvy enough to be using social media as part of your branding efforts – and I know that you are – then you’re also savvy enough to want to get the most out of those efforts. After all, when you’re using social media for personal or business branding, you’re not out to learn how many of your high school classmates have grandchildren, or “like” the photos of your niece’s wedding. Instead, your goal – or at least one of your goals – is to build a loyal following and then leverage that following to enhance your marketing and branding efforts as an authority in your field. Because here’s the thing: the greater your following, the more intriguing you’ll appear to the media gatekeepers you’re trying to attract to spread your message. Let’s face it, most people in the media are inundated with requests from people who have a story to tell, a product to sell or a service to promote. If you manage to cut through all that clutter and get on the media’s radar, one of the first things they will do is Google your name or your company’s name and check out your presence on social media. It gives your credibility a strong boost if the media find that you are widely followed on social media sites. Here are just a few ways your social media following can pay marketing dividends for you: A large, built-in following makes you an asset to the media. The bigger your following the more impressive you’ll look when the media take a peek into your online world. As a... read more
Plan Your 2017 Marketing And Reduce Your Tax Bill At the Same Time

Plan Your 2017 Marketing And Reduce Your Tax Bill At the Same Time

Have you ever noticed that often in life we fail to take advantage of all the opportunities available to us – even when we knew or should have known they were there for the plucking? Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about that’s relevant as the end of 2016 comes roaring into sight and soon will be nothing more than a fading memory in our rearview mirrors. Most of us know that when you spend marketing dollars before Dec. 31 you gain a 2016 tax write-off. But let’s face it, at this time of year we get caught up in last-minute shopping, decorating and other holiday activities that are mixed in with our already hectic day-to-day responsibilities. Thoughts about what we might be doing to score some down-to-the-wire tax savings can’t always find their way through all that clutter. Perhaps around the second week of January what we missed will dawn on us and we’ll smack ourselves in the head like those people in the old “I could have had a V-8” commercials! I don’t know about you, but I never like the feeling I get when I think I may have squandered opportunities for both promotions and tax savings. I mean, it’s a double whammy of woes and you never want to fall into that trap. So let me offer a few simple suggestions on how you can combine thinking about taxes with thinking about marketing and come out ahead on both. No need to delay. “But, Marsha,” you say, “I’m not releasing anything until a few months into the New Year. I’ve got... read more
How To Make The Most Out Of A Radio Interview

How To Make The Most Out Of A Radio Interview

If you’ve just landed an interview on talk radio, congratulations are in order because this is a great venue for giving a boost to your brand and to your credibility as an expert in your field. But maybe you’re a tad nervous and feeling the pressure. After all, you’re starting to realize that you’ll have a relatively short time to get your message out there and say what you have to say. Then the interview will end and the words you uttered will disappear silently into the airwaves – forever. Or will they? If you handle things the right way, a radio interview can live a lot longer than the 10 to 20 minutes you spend on the air chatting with a host. You can repurpose that interview so it continues to pay branding dividends for as long as you want it to. So just how do you get the most marketing mileage out of radio interviews? Your first step is to make sure you have an audio recording of the time you and the host spent conversing about and exploring your topic. The good news is an increasing number of talk radio stations post their guest interviews on their websites as podcasts and leave them there in the archives for a very long time after they’ve aired. Links to these podcasts are gold! However, if that’s not the case, you could ask the show host or producer to provide an Mp3 of the interview, but there’s no guarantee they’ll come through for you. They might be nice folks willing to do you a favor, but they really have... read more
No Need To Nibble Around The Edges! Marketing Is A Full-Course Meal

No Need To Nibble Around The Edges! Marketing Is A Full-Course Meal

Someone recently posed a question to me that is definitely worth sharing because it’s a subject that comes up from time to time and applies to everyone trying to promote their personal or business brand. This person knew that an array of marketing options exist – social media, radio shows, print media, a book, TV, public speaking – but he wanted to get right down to the nitty-gritty. Of those many possibilities, he asked, which is the one that would be best for his branding goals? After all, there must be one correct answer! Right? I can be a nitty-gritty kind of person at times myself, so I didn’t hesitate with my reply. You can’t choose just one marketing option and unequivocally claim that it alone can get the job done. Each works in its own way to help you build your brand, and whenever possible you should take advantage of as many of them as you can. We just celebrated Thanksgiving, filling our plates to overflowing and going back for seconds, so permit me to use a metaphor that involves food. You really shouldn’t look at marketing as an a la carte menu because in reality it’s a full-course meal – and a delicious one at that. Sure, you can put nothing but mashed potatoes on your plate if you choose, but why do that when other delightful dishes are available and can give you a more nutritious and balanced meal? So if you really want to feast on all the branding opportunities on the serving table these days, let me offer a few ideas on how to... read more
The Right – And Wrong – Times To Take Advantage Of News To Promote Your Brand

The Right – And Wrong – Times To Take Advantage Of News To Promote Your Brand

One of the things I encourage people to do – and which we at EMSI regularly do on behalf of our clients – is to tie their message to what’s happening in the news or what’s trending on social media. It’s a great strategy for promoting your personal or business brand and under the right circumstances can work extremely well. For example, if you’re a CPA, you could offer tips on how to take advantage of a new change in the tax code. A doctor could discuss a just-released study about the most effective ways for treating migraines. Such situations can make you and your message invaluable to the media, opening doors for potentially longstanding relationships with reporters, editors and producers. But with that said, I also think it prudent to warn you that not all news situations are equal. There are times when it might be better to back off from what’s topical, such as during a national tragedy, a serious social issue or a particularly intense political season like the one we’ve just experienced. In fact, USA Today just published an article about how some people are taking a break from Facebook because their nerves are frayed and their tempers are short from all the political bickering. You want to be careful about getting caught up in the backlash from moments like that. With that said, let me offer a few points to keep in mind as you ponder when to pounce on the news – and when to lay low: Beware the ease of social media. One of the great things about using social media as... read more

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