Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
While press releases may no longer be the best tool for increasing your search engine rankings, they still play an important role in a successful PR and marketing strategy. With a smart press release distribution plan, you can get your story noticed by reporters and position yourself to get free media coverage in newspapers, blogs, and on radio and TV.
Of course, the problem is that most press releases suck. Seriously. Have you ever read the crap that companies put out in their press releases? It’s garbage. It’s either boring, not newsworthy, self-promotional, irrelevant to anyone’s interests, or all of the above.
How can you write press releases that get noticed?
- Find a creative news angle—Instead of writing the same old “XYZ Company Announces blab la bla” press release, try to find a compelling hook for your story that grabs the attention of reporters. You have to think like a reporter. What story would their audience find interesting? Rather than focusing on promoting yourself, shift your focus to finding a story angle that the general public would find interesting, such as a real story about a real person (e.g. an employee overcoming great odds).
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
As a business owner, you always have to be prepared for the worst. What’s the saying—hope for the best, but prepare for the worst?
In the unfortunate event that you find your company smack-dab in the center of a PR crisis, you need to already have a plan in place for how you’re going to respond and minimize the damage. Because if you don’t have a crisis communications plan, the media will be like sharks, smelling the blood in the water and preparing to sink their teeth into you.
So, how should you respond when you’re facing a PR crisis?
- Designate your company’s crisis management team—Who is going to respond when crisis hits? Who will be your company’s spokesperson? Who will be in charge of gathering the facts and developing a response strategy? You need to spend time thinking about the different types of crisis scenarios your company could wind up facing, and designate a team that makes sense to handle the issues.
- Get the facts—You can’t respond to a crisis without first knowing all the facts. If you respond without truly understanding the situation, you’ll make mistakes and make the situation worse. Take some time to gather the Who, What, When, Why, Where, and How details of the situation before crafting your response.
- Prepare your main message—Come up with some key bullet points of your response. Keep it concise, and make sure it is accurate. You don’t want to sound like a robot when you make your statement or interact with the media, but you do want to make sure you know your message and stay on point.
- Respond quickly—The longer you wait to respond, the worse things will get. You can’t hide your head in the sand and expect the problem to disappear; it will only escalate. Act quickly so you can manage the situation and try to keep it from getting out of control.
- Don’t lie to the media—Under no circumstances should you lie to the media. The truth ALWAYS comes out, and if you’re found out to be a liar, you may not be able to recover.
Have you ever faced a serious PR crisis? How did you respond? Share your best tips by commenting below.
Thursday, April 26th, 2012
We spend a lot of time on here talking about social networking, but what happened to real life, in-person networking? It still exists, and it’s still as important as ever. While social networking is an efficient way to build relationships, you still can’t beat the power of a bond forged with a good face-to-face meeting.
Networking events are still a great way to meet people who can help your business grow, whether that be potential clients, vendors, business partners…you name it. But you can’t just show up at one of these events and expect success. You have to have a good strategy in place to be successful at networking events. Here are some tips to help you out.
- Build connections before the event—In many cases, the events will have a list with contact info for everyone who has RSVP’d. Spend some time reaching out to the people on this list beforehand. Look them up on Twitter and Facebook, or shoot them an email if their email address is listed. Let them know you’ll be at the event and want to say hi.
- Show up early—Showing up early is a great way to mingle with the select few others who show up before the event starts. It also keeps you from showing up too late when everyone else is already engaged in conversations.
- Go alone—You might think it wise to go with a wingman, so you can help each other out. I advise against it. Why? Going alone forces you to get out there and mingle with others. If you go with a friend, you may wind up talking to each other the whole time and never branching out and meeting new people.
- Wear your nametag—At nearly every networking event you go to, nametags will be available. Wear yours. It lets people know who you are immediately. You could even write something creative on it under your name to really stand out (e.g.”Hire me!”).
- Quality, not quantity—You’re not there to see how many hands you can shake or business cards you can collect. You’re there to build relationships. You’re better off making a few truly meaningful connections than a dozen brief, forgettable encounters.
- Be a good listener—Too many people make networking about themselves. It’s not just about you. It’s about the other person, too. Don’t talk incessantly. Listen. And I really mean, listen. Take part in an actual conversation; don’t just wait for your turn to speak and deliver your pre-written pitch.
- Follow up—After you’ve made some good connections, you need to follow up with them. The following day, shoot an email, make a phone call, or do some adding on Twitter to those people you met. Doing this while you’re still fresh in their minds is essential to laying the foundation for a meaningful relationship.
Do you attend networking events? Why or why not?
Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
Nobody wants to lose clients, but from the way we act sometimes, you’d think we’re trying our darndest to drive clients away. Many of us are dummies when it comes to dealing with clients…so dumb, in fact, that when we lose clients, we have no idea why, despite all the mistakes we made.
Here are just some of the things you might be doing that are causing you to lose clients.
- Overpromising and under-delivering—Hands down, this is the worst mistake you can make. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. It’s that simple. If you say you’ll have the work completed by a certain date, you had better have it done by that date. If for any reason, you can’t deliver on a promise, communicate with the client to let them know in advance. Don’t fall silent. Broken promises will kill your credibility, and when a client can’t trust you, they won’t stick with you.
- Ignoring clients—Communication is at the heart of every relationship. Without it, relationships wither away. You must keep in touch with your clients. Speak to them regularly. Make sure their needs are always being met. Get their feedback. Find out how they’re doing on a personal level, too. Just be there for them. Never ignore a client.
- Being unavailable—Do clients hit a brick wall every time they try to call or email you? You must be available to your clients, because if you’re not, someone else will be. Respond to emails in a timely manner, and make sure there is someone available to pick up the phone. Never send your clients to voicemail.
- Offering no personal touch—There’s both a personal and professional side to your client relationships. Many are good at managing the professional aspect of these relationships, but they fail to make personal connections. The personal touch is what creates lifelong clients. Do good things for your clients like you would for a friend. Show an interest in their personal well-being. Find things that you share in common with them. You aren’t going to be best buds with them, but you need to have a personal connection.
- Not providing value—At the end of the day, what are your clients getting out of this relationship? Are your products and services really up to par? Are you providing value-added services to enhance the overall experience?
What are some of the biggest mistakes companies make that cost them clients?
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
In an episode of Mad Men, Don Draper and Roger Sterling both responded to the loss of a client by saying, “The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them.” While I don’t share their negative attitude about client retention, I also understanding that losing clients is an unavoidable part of running a business. Even if you’re always on you’re A-game and always going above and beyond to exceed expectations, you will still lose customers. It’s just the way it is.
So, the question then becomes, what do you do when you lose a client? Here are some tips to guide you through this challenging time.
- Speak with the client—If at all possible, get a meeting with the defecting client. Try to find out exactly why they are leaving you (this may take some digging; oftentimes, clients hide the truth) and if there is anything you can do to win them back, whether that’s right now or at some point in the future.
- Identify where you went wrong—You must see this as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and avoid them in the future. Take the client’s feedback and do your own analysis to figure out exactly where things went wrong in the relationship. When a client leaves you, it’s usually not a snap decision. It’s usually something that builds up over time, so if you can identify your mistakes, you can avoid them in the future and also watch for the warning signs of a client’s departure.
- Assess the financial impact—Not all clients are the same. Some losses will be great; others might not really matter all that much. You need to assess the financial impact of the client’s departure immediately. Will the loss have a major impact on profitability and cash flow?
- Find short-term fixes while creating long-term solutions—If the loss of a client creates a major impact on profitability and cash flow, you need to start finding solutions to reduce the fallout immediately. This may mean identifying some short-term fixes while you’re working on a better long-term solution. You may need to cut back spending temporarily, run a promotion to generate cash flow, or take on clients that aren’t necessarily your dream clients just so you can keep your business running.
- Contact other clients—Now is the time to make sure your relationships with your other clients are still okay. You can’t afford to lose another client at this precarious moment.
- Get new clients fast—You can’t afford to wait for new business to come rolling in. You have to generate it yourself, and you have to do it fast. Ask for referrals, pump up your PPC campaign, do some cold calling…do whatever it takes to get new business fast.
What are your tips for responding to the loss of a client?