How Social Media Can – And Can’t – Help You Survive PR Calamities

How Social Media Can – And Can’t – Help You Survive PR Calamities

Everyone has a PR misstep every now and then, but few brands have experienced the kind of unmitigated publicity disaster that United Airlines has dealt with the last couple of weeks. Certainly, I hope you haven’t. By now I’m sure you and nearly everyone you know have seen that viral video of a United Airlines passenger getting yanked out of his seat by police, his face smashing into the armrest in the opposite row. Other passengers, clearly mortified, aimed their smartphone cameras at the ordeal. In seemingly no time, the video was shared online, news organizations reported on the PR disaster, and people on social media skewered the airline relentlessly. All because United Airlines needed to open up a few extra seats on the flight and couldn’t come up with a more delicate way of solving the problem. I often talk about what a great tool social media is for promoting yourself or your brand, and how in this day and age social media is an essential element in an overall publicity campaign. And that’s just as true as ever. But, as the United Airlines situation reveals, social media is a double-edged sword that can be used against you when the publicity tides turn and customers want to complain about your service. As I pondered that situation, I decided to ask Jay York, our senior social media strategist, to share a few tips about the role social media can and can’t play when your brand gets a black eye. Here’s what Jay had to say: Get ahead of the problem before social media is involved. While it’s great when... read more
You’ve Got Publicity, Now Where Are The Sales?

You’ve Got Publicity, Now Where Are The Sales?

After all these years of writing and speaking about the ROI of publicity, I still sometimes hear from people who say they had a great publicity campaign but “it didn’t work.” They were disappointed that they didn’t get the increased sales of their products, books or services they hoped for. If they really had a great publicity campaign, they would have gotten media coverage that boosted their visibility and added to their credibility. That’s the true ROI of publicity. What “didn’t work” is actually what occurred at their point of sale. Making sales is actually a two-step process.  Step one is getting broad recognition from a good publicity campaign.  Step two occurs at your point of sale. A good publicity campaign positions you as a thought leader and sets you above the crowd by the implied endorsement that comes with being quoted as an expert in the media. People learn your name and your message when they hear you on the radio, see you on TV or read about you in a host of publications. Consumers not only discover you, they’re also more willing to trust you because you’ve earned the confidence of journalists and talk show hosts who turn to you for your opinions or expertise.  They become interested in learning more and will typically check out your website. Visits to your site are part of the second step in the process.  Whether your point of sale is your website, a store, or Amazon.com, what potential customers find when they walk in the door (figuratively speaking, of course) may seal – or kill – the deal.  For this... read more
Media Exposure Is Marketing Gold – When You Know How To Use It

Media Exposure Is Marketing Gold – When You Know How To Use It

Recently I gave a talk to a room full of professional speakers, almost all of whom also have published books to promote their brands and build their credibility, and I brought with me a twofold message. First, I discussed steps they could take to get the media’s attention. Then I followed up with something just as critical: what to do with those newspaper articles, radio interviews and TV interviews once you’ve landed them. After all, you’ve made a great effort getting the media to notice you, and perhaps set aside time from your busy day to speak with a reporter. If it all ends there, you’ve wasted a lot of time and energy. And you definitely don’t want this to go to waste because when the media recognizes that you have something important to say, you gain credibility. It’s what I refer to as “marketing gold”: the endorsements from TV and radio show hosts, the editorial coverage in newspapers and magazines – and now, bloggers, news websites and followers on social media too. All these forms of recognition give others confidence you’re as good as you say you are. But you can’t just wish and hope the right people will see your great interview or notice your quote in a magazine. It’s up to you to use this “gold” as a critical part of your marketing to let people know these endorsements exist. So how do you do that? Here are a few ways: Your website should prominently display your endorsements: “As seen on CBS,” “featured in the Louisville Gazette,” “heard on WFLA radio.” Don’t forget to mention the... read more
How Can I Supercharge My Social Media Efforts?

How Can I Supercharge My Social Media Efforts?

Why You Should Use Social Media to Build Your Opt-In Email List! By now, everyone knows that social media is a key component to any marketing campaign. At least if you’ve been reading these newsletters you do. But aside from the obvious benefits of outreach and awareness, there is something else you can be doing with your social networking campaign that can supercharge all of your efforts: build an opt-in email list. I know from my own experience that social media marketing has enabled me to increase my email list by thousands, with those on the list continuously receiving my newsletters that carry my advice, my tips and my message. My newsletter helps my social media contacts remember me and what I do, not because I am actively selling and promoting myself. Like my social media strategy, I use these pieces to add value to the lives of the people on my list. My formula is simple – if some of you like what you read, when you have the need and the resources and are considering using a PR firm, you might consider my company. And that’s it. What’s more, I know it works, because I’ve used this formula to build a thriving 27-year-old business. Adding value for my clients is the real reward I have enjoyed by combining my email and social media marketing efforts. So how can you do this? Let me share a few actions that we find are successful. Join Targeted Discussions and Post Valuable Content. Within your social networks, stay abreast of trending topics and discussions that your target audience will find relevant.... read more
Seeing Your PR Campaign In 4-D

Seeing Your PR Campaign In 4-D

With movies such as “Logan,” “Alien: Covenant” and many others being filmed in 3-D these days, I started thinking about how a good PR campaign also has its own 3-D elements. Although since there are four types of media outlets – TV, radio, social media and print (offline and online) – what you really need is a 4-D strategy. (Yes, I’m sure those brilliant physicists Sheldon and Leonard from TV’s “Big Bang Theory” would take issue with my science.) In PR, unlike movies, 4-D is the only way to go. I mention this because people frequently ask me which of those four media options is better.  I try to explain that each is effective in its own right. But since the media feeds off itself, the most effective PR campaign will include using all elements in a strategy that leverages a 4-dimensional approach. Here are some ways the different elements of a 4-dimensional PR campaign fit together: Print/Online – I put print and online in the same category because they both encompass written articles, and just about everything that appears in print is repurposed online. That means written articles have a dual impact. Most importantly, every article or column that includes a mention of you, your book or your company eventually will appear online, meaning you’re just a Google search away from potential customers or clients. Also, an enterprising TV producer or radio show host who’s interested in interviewing you can find those articles, and that can help confirm for them that you’re a credible expert in your field. Those articles also are great fodder for social networks. Being... read more
5 Myths About Publicity: What It Does And Who Gets It

5 Myths About Publicity: What It Does And Who Gets It

Judging from the questions I’m asked by people from every walk of life, misconceptions about publicity – what it can do and who can get it – abound. By definition, publicity is media coverage you get because you’re deemed to be of interest to an audience. If a journalist or talk show host thinks you have something valuable to share, something that will keep their audiences reading, watching or listening, they may interview you for an article, ask you to write something for their publication, or invite you to be a guest on a radio or TV show. (Important note: None of the above should be considered an invitation to hawk a product, company or book.) The endorsement of traditional media is marketing gold to anyone trying to build a business, sell a product or get their book into more hands. Potential customers have more options than ever from which to choose, but that also means more scammers to worry about. What makes one business, product or book more trustworthy and appealing than another? The endorsements of TV and radio shows, newspapers and magazines – and now, bloggers, news websites, and followers on social media, too. When the media recognize that you have something important to say, you gain credibility. When you have hundreds or thousands of people following you on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, you have a stamp of approval from the general public. Both give others confidence you’re as good as you say you are. So, what can publicity do for you and who can get it? Let’s blow up a few myths. You have to be... read more
3 Signs Your PR Efforts Are Stalling Out

3 Signs Your PR Efforts Are Stalling Out

It’s usually easy to figure out when to call a plumber. You turn on the shower and there’s no hot water, or your basement suddenly looks like the kiddie pool at Busch Gardens. It’s the same with your car. If it doesn’t start in the morning, something clearly is amiss and you might want to check with your mechanic. Your public relations campaign, however, is a bit more art than science, so it’s not always as easy to tell whether it needs the eye of a pro. But here are a few tips that can help you determine when your own efforts have run their course: Sporadic Response from the Media: When you send out repeated press releases or pitches, and no one responds, that’s an obvious clue. However, some campaigns start with a smattering of response – a few nibbles in the first week or two – but a month later everything goes silent. When this occurs, it’s definitely time to regroup. Another red flag is when you get a few media inquiries, but most of them elect to pass on your story after your follow-up to their response. That could mean many things, but one reason might be a disconnect between your pitch and the information in your release or website. If you get more than one or two of these interrupted cycles, take a closer look at the information the media is viewing about you. Try to see it from their point of view so you can identify whether something might be chasing them away. It’s rare for anyone in the media to take the time... read more
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

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