Five Things You Can Do Now to Build a Better Website

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Your website is your most important marketing tool. It should always be a work in progress. Marketers should continually be looking for ways to improve engagement, conversion rates and the user experience.

Here are five simple steps to building a better website.

Add Calls to Action (CTA): A call to action is a button or link that you add to your website in order to let visitors know what you want them to do next. Calls to action should lead visitors to a landing page where they’re asked to fill out a form and provide contact information. Once you have their contact information, you can create and segment your database for future email marketing campaigns. Calls to action should use persuasive text, strong visuals and create a sense of urgency.

Calls to action may include:

  • Newsletter sign-up
  • Social media links-ask visitors to follow you on social media platforms
  • Exclusive content

Create a Blog: Blogging is a great way to build relationships and connect with your audience. According to Hubspot, organizations who blog get 76% more leads than those who don’t. Blogging also dramatically improves SEO and engenders trust.

Offer Live Chat: Live chat enables website visitors to instantly message back and forth with a representative from the organization. It’s affordable and the preferred method of communication among millennials.

Create a Press Room and Press Links: Press adds credibility, authority and affinity. Enough said!

Make Your Copy Scannable: No one has the time or energy to read lengthy web copy. Visitors want to skim your pages for relevant content. User headers, subheaders and bullet points to communicate clearly and succinctly.

 

 

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Why Good Photography Matters in Marketing

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and that’s because a good photo tells a story and conveys the essence of your brand more effectively than words. In fact, studies show that people remember 80% of what they see and just 20% of what they read.  KLINKO_GF250_1.4-720x437To make the case even stronger, Etsy, the e-commerce web giant that sells handmade items recently conducted a poll of its customers and found that image quality is the MOST important factor in a customer’s buying decision.

Needless to say, good photography can make or break your business. Amazing photos are essential for e-commerce sales, PR, and social media. And for most of us, capturing great shots means hiring a professional photographer who possess creativity and technical expertise.

And once you find the right resource/photographer, you’ll want to start thinking about your shot list. A shot list is a list of potential photos that you need for marketing/PR. It’s also a good way to organize your thoughts and maximize your time with the photographer.

Types of Shots You’ll Want for Marketing/PR

Studio Shot: Your product shot in a white/plain back drop.

Lifestyle Shot: Showcasing your product in its natural setting. For example, food brands may want to stylize a table setting featuring their product.

Detail Shot: A close up of your product from a variety of angles.

Packaging Shot: Images of your product’s packaging.

Group Shot: Photos of your complete product line.

Founders Shot: A photo of the founder with the product. Very important for PR purposes.

And before you hire a photographer, be sure to ask about usage rights and fees, how they price their jobs and turnaround time.

Did I miss anything? Please send your comments and suggestions.

Until next time, peace, love and powerful press.

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All Hail the Beauty of the Brief

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Oh creative brief, defender of the deadline, protector of the project, and crusader of clarity-you make projects seem seamless and goals getable.

A creative brief is a working document that outlines a specific marketing problem while inspiring solutions. It keeps creative teams focused and ensures that deliverables have a consistent voice and brand image.

Let’s say you’re launching a digital ad campaign to promote a new product. You would craft a creative brief to define your objectives, the target audience, the message you want to convey to that audience, the call to action, and the overall look and feel of the campaign.

So let’s look at the specific elements of the creative brief?

Contact Information: The brief should list the project name, key stakeholders and contact information for each team member.

Background: Why do you need this piece? What’s your goal? What do you hope it will achieve? How will it support your marketing objectives?

Audience: To whom are you speaking? Get specific here. List demographics and psychographics.

Objective: What do you want this piece to achieve? What is your call to action/CTA?

Messaging: What do you want to communicate to your audience? What key words and phrases will resonate with them?

Tone: What’s the personality of the piece? Is it fun and whimsical or serious and somber? Use adjectives to describe the personality of the piece.

Must Haves: What elements does the piece need to include? Think logos, taglines, photos, URL, contact info, etc.

Timeline: What are the deadlines for the project?

Format: What format do you need it in and what are the specifications?

So what say you? What’s in your brief? I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and suggestions.

Peace, love and powerful press.

PR Guy

CREATIVE BRIEF

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When to Write a Press Release and When to Switch to the Pitch

 

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I hate to be the bearer of bad news… but the press release is getting a little long in the tooth. The old gal is being put out to pasture, hanging up her heels, and retiring her dance card.

Let’s face it, she’s been misunderstood and misused for far too long. And to make matters worse… she’s losing credibility.

But don’t count her out of the game just yet. While she may be old school, the press release continues to serve a vital role in PR. She’s just not as relevant as she once was.

The key is to knowing when to write a release and when to switch to the pitch.

Let’s break this thing down.

The Problem with Press Releases

Bloggers, journalists, and producers receive hundreds of press releases a day. Most of them are poorly written, boring, and filled with irrelevant information. In fact, the majority are never even opened, due to sleepy subject lines and hokey headlines crammed with jargon.

Many members of the media simply see press releases as pure spam.

Think about it…media mavens want exclusives. They don’t want to be force-fed the same news that’s going out to hundreds if not thousands of recipients.

The sad truth is that businesses and nonprofits spend countless hours and resources crafting quotes and writing releases that will never be read.

When to Write a Press Release

While I may “dis” the release, there are times when it works like nobody’s business.  Here are a few examples of when to write a release:

  • To Make an Announcement: new product, new hire, new customer, new partnership, new research, new shoes (just making sure your paying attention), new numbers.
  • Reaching a Milestone: anniversary, number of customers served, etc.
  • Promoting an Event: performances, speakers, galas, rallies, and calendar listings
  • To Increase SEO: press releases are a great way for consumers to find you online. Whether you post it to your website or send it out through a wire service,  a press release infused with keywords helps you get discovered and increases your search engine ranking.

When to Switch to the Pitch

Rather than constantly bombarding the media with press releases why not spend the time creating a customized contact list? In the long run, its more effective and will help generate the type of press that moves a business forward.

Start by handpicking twenty journalists/ bloggers/influencers who cover your industry. Research their area of interest, their audience, and think about why they should care about your pitch/story idea. In other words, what’s in it for their readers/audience?

Journalist/bloggers are looking to be inspired. Give them something unique and tell them why and how your story idea will resonate with their readers/audience. In other words, think like a publisher.

Personalize your pitch as much as possible. Keep it short, simple and to the point. Bullet points, story angle, interviews, and potential resources should all be included. Make it memorable and unique.

Bottom line…..the press release still holds weight but it should be used sparingly and when appropriate. Otherwise, switch to the pitch and start engaging the media rather than enraging them with too many press releases.

So what say you? When do you think press releases work? Share your story and let me know what you think.

Peace, love and powerful press.

Sean Horrigan

 

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Ten Quotes on the Power of PR

“The right story told at the right time can bring valuable attention to your business, even during a downturn.”Business Week

“PR — even though it is underutilized — is extremely effective when properly leveraged.”Harvard Business School

“If I only had $2 left, I’d spend $1 on PR.”-Bill Gates

“72% of senior level marketers said PR is most valuable in supporting product marketing and product launches.”Advertising Age

“You pay for advertising but you pray for PR.”-Unknown

“PR builds brands and generates awareness-fast.”Inc.

“A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.”-Richard Branson

“Historically, PR, marketing and advertising budgets are the first to be cut; however, that could be one of the first mistakes a business makes in an economic crisis.”-CBS Market Watch

“In a downturn, an aggressive PR and communications strategy is key.”-Silicon Alley Insider

“There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.”-Brendan Behan

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Seven Steps to Creating an Effective PR Plan

I was never big on homework in junior high. Much to Sister Mary Ellen’s dismay, I avoided it like the plague. Hey, I had better things to do! Like eating Cheez Doodles, watching reruns of Sanford and Son and wreaking havoc on the neighborhood with my buddies. Homework was for the birds.

But that was then, this is now. Today, I’m all about homework and espousing the benefits of a good PR plan.

A solid PR plan is fundamental to the success of any PR or marketing campaign. After all, you have to do some proper planning before you dive in and start swimming with the sharks. And if your inner eighth grader tells you to resist and retreat, know that a well-written PR plan will give you the focus you need to reach your target audience and surpass your goals.

A good PR plans includes a situation overview, definition of target audiences, goals, objectives, goals, tactics, budget and timeline.

Situation Overview: Summarize your organization’s current communication situation in one or two paragraphs. What’s happening that make’s publicity a priority?

Are you looking to expand sales? Launching a new product line? Is your organization looking to secure VC funding? Expand your donor base?

Whatever the case may be, jot down what’s going on and why you need publicity.

Target Audiences: Define your stakeholders. Who are your customers? Clients? Donors? Prioritize the list by starting with the most important segment first.

Define what your stakeholders read, watch, listen to, attend and visit online. This will help you create a targeted media list.

Goals: Set and define some specific goals. What do you want to accomplish through PR?

Sample goals may include:

  • To generate awareness of our brand and direct consumers to retail distributors
  • To raise awareness of our cause, increase donations and secure corporate funding
  • Increase bookings with tourists from Philly and New Jersey

Objectives:

Now it’s time to set measurable objectives and define the following:

  • The anticipated accomplishments
  • Who’ll manage the tasks
  • The time frame

Your objective may read something like this:

By December 1, Bill will secure two newspaper mentions and one radio interview about launching a business in an economic down turn.

Tactics: Tactics are the things you’ll do to get publicity. This is your to-do list.

  • Write one press release per month
  • Pitch individual writers
  • Monitor editorial calendars
  • Conduct a survey
  • Organize a flash mob
  • Knock over a liquor store (I don’t recommend this one. Could generate negative publicity)

Budget: How much money can you allocate to PR? This will help you define your tactics and determine whether you’ll be able to hire an outside resource, subscribe to a database or use a press release distribution service.

Timeline: A timeline will help you manage the tasks and tactics included in your plan. If you plan to send out one release a month its best to plan when you’ll write and the release and when you’ll send it out.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Peace, love and powerful press.

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The One Rule Every Marketing Pro Needs to Know

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It’s no wonder we’re all suffering from information overload.

Emails, instant messages, likes, tweets and texts clog our mailboxes, mind and memory.

So what’s a marketer with a message to do? How do we break through the clutter, capture consumer attention and build business for our clients and customers?

Stick to the rule of one.

Engage one audience, deliver one message and craft one call to action.

One Audience

Marketers often cast too wide a net when choosing their target market. If you want your message to resonate–narrowcast (spreading an advertising message to a select demographic). Choose one audience, (the more focused the better), know their pain points and speak their language. Don’t just speak to teachers; speak to 5th grade history teachers from the Midwest.

One Message

In his seminal book, The New Positioning, Jack Trout notes that minds hate complexity. So what’s the best way to enter minds that hate complexity? Oversimplify the message. No need to tell your entire story. As Mr. Trout says, “focus on one powerful attribute and drive it into the minds of your audience.”

One Call to Action

Whether you’re crafting an email marketing campaign, designing a print ad, or producing a video, you want your target audience to make one decision. Otherwise, they become confused and we all know how minds feel about complexity and confusion. Stick with one call to action (one simple command). And make sure its easy to find and easy to comprehend.

The bottom line, resist the temptation to overcomplicate your messaging. Trust in the simplicity and power of one and your marketing campaigns will prove much more successful.

One more thing…if you have any questions shoot me an email at sean@prguyonline.com

Cheers,

Sean
PR Guy

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