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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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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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Three Steps to Better Branding

The other morning I woke up bright and early to attend a networking event modeled on the concept of speed dating.

After ample amounts of caffeine I was ready for the repartee. My first date was with an enthusiastic entrepreneur named Esther. After chatting about her business for a few minutes, Esther pulled out a copy of her new brochure like a proud pageant mom.

It didn’t take long to see that Esther’s brochure broke all the rules. There was too much text, the layout was busy, and the messaging was muddled.

How can you avoid Esther’s marketing mishap? Simplify your writing, keep your design clutter free and stay on message.

Simplify Your Writing

William Zinsser author of On Writing Well say’s “Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.”

Read a little Hemingway and you’ll immediately grasp the power of simplicity.

Considered one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway was famous for writing in short, declarative sentences.  In fact, when challenged to write a story in six words Hemingway wrote: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Zinsser’s advises writers to look for clutter and prune their writing ruthlessly.

Keep Your Design Clutter Free

Bang and Olufsen’s chief designer, David Lewis once said, “Truly elegant design incorporates top-notch functionality into a simple, uncluttered form.” Amen brother.

Good design is clean, simple and clutter free. It’s quiet, confident and commanding without trying too hard.

Need a visual? Check out the Eames Molded Plywood Chair. Recently hailed as the best design of the 20th century by Time Magazine, this modern masterpiece is timeless, sleek and simple.

Stay on Message

All of your marketing materials should articulate your brand’s positioning. A brand positioning statement defines what makes your business unique, why consumers would want to do business with you, and how you wish to be perceived. Your brand positioning statement should be unique, narrow, clear, and consistent.

Would love to hear from you on common marketing mishaps and ideas for better branding.

Peace, love and powerful press.

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The Social Cycle

I hate doing laundry. Don’t get me wrong. I dig clean clothes.  I just hate schlepping my duffel bag of dirty duds down the stairs of my third floor walk-up.  It’s a real drag. And that’s exactly what you’ll often see me doing, dragging my bag down the street.

While spending my Saturday at The Suds and Comfort is not my idea of a good time, it got me thinking.  A social media plan is a lot like a wash cycle. If you jump in without proper planning it’s going leave you feeling all wet.

Here are four steps to ensure social success:

Listen:  Before engaging anyone through social media you need to be a voyeur. Take some time to observe and understand the culture, vernacular, and behavior of the community you’re hoping to join. You don’t want to bust into a community, bombarding your new neighbors with your sales pitch. They’ll see you as a spammer and tune you out. Once they tune you out, it will take time to rebuild credibility.

Participate: Create content that stimulates conversation in your community. Think of yourself as publisher. Publishers create content with their readers in mind. Be a passionate thought leader that educates, engages and entertains. Know your audience and make media that resonates with them.

Implement Metrics:  A word of warning…social media is not just a numbers game. You can have a large number of Facebook followers but are they interested in what you’re saying? Are they returning to your page?  But that’s another story for another day.

Four quick ways to measure your social impact:

  • Traffic: Hits to site, followers, friends and fans.
  • Engagement:  Click-thru’s, repeat visits, blog comments, retweets, bookmarks, and subscribers to feeds.
  • Influence: Increased brand awareness, buzz, mentions, links shared, leads, and long tail traffic.
  • Sales Activity:  Map out a time line of social media activity and overlay it with a financial performance chart.

Change and Adapt:  Assess your social media strategy. Constantly evaluate what’s working and where you can implement change. Don’t be afraid to experiment and take chances. Learn from your mistakes, evolve and move forward.

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Four Steps to Makeover Your Media Room

I’ve been poking around a lot of online press rooms lately. Interestingly enough, they all seem to fall into one of three categories: bare bones, yesterday’s news or robust resource.

The bare bones media room is like a pizza box at a Weight Watchers convention—empty. If you’re lucky, you’ll find contact information for a media rep, but that’s usually about it.

The yesterday’s news media room is like a day old danish—stale. The news is outdated and the page feels frozen in time.

Now the robust media room, that’s a different story, the robust media room is like a Porsche 911—fully loaded.

So, “Gentlemen, start your engines” and check out these four steps to get your media room up to speed and on the right track.

Provide Comprehensive Contact Information

Journalists are always under deadlines and juggling multiple stories. They don’t have the time or the patience to be searching around your press page for contact information. Make sure to include the name, phone numbers (office and cell), and email address for an accessible PR contact. You should also provide a general contact option such as press@organization.com for less pressing issues.

Offer an Extensive Press Kit and Multimedia

Provide your company history, executive bios, board list, high-resolution logos, photos, head shots, awards, links to recent media coverage, videos and podcasts. The easier you make the journalist’s/blogger’s job, the more likely they are to write about you.

Share Information on Your Industry or Cause

Want your press room to become a destination for journalists and bloggers? Then offer more than just information on your company or nonprofit and provide information on your industry or cause. Use tip sheets, fact sheets, polls, and surveys to make your case.  For example, let’s say you’re a PR person for a major airline, you could compile a fact sheet of the latest consumer trends in flying: how often the average person flies, the percentage of passengers who do not check baggage, etc. Why not create a tip sheet on how to save on airfare? Go beyond the pale and provide journalists/bloggers with the all the ammunition they need to write a story.  They will soon start to see you as an industry resource rather than a PR rep for your organization.

Create a Calendar of Events and Speaking Gigs

Journalists and bloggers often attend trade shows, conferences and seminars. Why not create a calendar of executive public speaking appearances along with the conferences and trade shows you’ll be attending.  You never know…a journalist/blogger may decide to attend your session or swing by your trade show booth for a chat.

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Ten Steps to Better Brainstorms

A bad brainstorm session is like a bad date; it leaves you feeling a little unsettled. While I haven’t been on a bad date in sometime, I’ve been to my share of bad brainstorming sessions—chances are you have too.

But don’t give up hope kids! By following these ten suggestions you can run brainstorms that nurture new ideas and cultivate creative thinking.

  • Expand Your Guest List: Marketing and PR types don’t have a monopoly on creative thinking.  Invite the receptionist, the guy from the accounting and the intern—in other words, anyone who will add value and contribute to the conversation. Six to ten people is ideal.
  • You’re Invited: A good evite should not only provide background information on the challenge, but also immediately stimulate creative thinking, so participants arrive to the brainstorm with a preliminary list of ideas.
  • Location is Everything: Find a quiet, relaxing spot where you can arrange the seats in a circular fashion, so everyone can see one another.

  • Plan Your Menu: Snacks make people happy and help maintain energy levels.
  • Establish Ground Rules: A brainstorm is a judgment free zone—that means all participants need to need to check their attitude at the door. Creativity and radical ideas flow freely here.
  • Timing is Everything: Limit the length of the brainstorm to forty-five minutes.
  • The Write Stuff: Assign a scribe to write down every idea on a visible whiteboard.

  • What’s the Problem ?: Describe your central question/challenge to the team at the beginning of the session.
  • Go with the Flow: If the creative juices begin to run dry—navigate the team toward a new direction.
  • Wrap it Up: Once the session draws to a close build consensus around which ideas are worth pursuing.

One final word of advice, if you’re the boss you may want to assign someone from your team to facilitate the brainstorm. Your employees may be more comfortable sharing ideas with a colleague.  Did I miss anything? Send me your ideas and suggestions. prguyonline@gmail.com

 

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