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Use Social Media Regularly to Boost Your Business

By Stephanie Soldo

“Social media” is a term often used in conjunction with “millennials” and “memes.” The connotation surrounding it has largely been a juvenile one, from the time when college students posted goofy photos of their friends and wrote inside jokes on walls. But in the last five or six years, things have changed. Businesses began to see the potential of this medium, and today millions of companies are on social media, from the local grocery store to the manufacturer of your dog’s flea medication. But not all businesses post regularly.

Here are three reasons why not posting to social media could be a missed opportunity for your business:

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  1. Lack of presence: You will not be seen if you do not provide something to see! Yes, we get it: it’s hard to self-promote (unless you’re a Kardashian). There is a knee-jerk reaction when someone suggests posting five or six times a week. “Isn’t that too much?” people ask. “Won’t my friends unfollow me if I spam their feed?” And while there is a balance between too much and too little (i.e. posting every hour will likely cost your business a few connections), posting once every workday keeps people engaged without clobbering them with a barrage of information.
  2. Not showing you’re active: Seeing your posts not only reminds your friends and work connections of your business, it lets people know you’re active in it. Was there an award you won recently? Have you been promoted from associate to partner? Let the world know! In the era of selfies and glamor-shots, narcissism runs high, and you might not want to publicly pat yourself on the back. But in the business world, clients want to work with those who are dynamic and growing, and it is your job to show them.
  3. Limiting new connections: Posting regularly opens the door for new connections. The more you post, the more chances you have to be shared, liked, and followed by potential clients outside your current reach. It is a matter of statistics – people cannot connect with content they do not see. Just remember to keep your subject matter relevant and professional. Avoid posting about politics and fluffy personal stuff. Your fellow colleagues do not care how many new tricks your kitten can do.

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Reinventing State Street: Developing a Plan for the Future

By Amy Bentley on behalf of our client, World Business Academy

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On June 28, the World Business Academy hosted our second panel discussion about revitalizing State Street and Downtown Santa Barbara and the meeting yielded some very good news: Amy Cooper, owner of the Plum Goods store on State Street, announced she will head a new Santa Barbara Retail Task Force to help lead the revitalization effort. The World Business Academy remains dedicated to giving leadership and help with this effort. But let’s be clear: this is a COMMUNITY issue and the community needs to be a part of the solution!

Our latest meeting at the Belmond El Encanto resort, which was attended by over 100 people and covered heavily in the local media, was the second time in recent months that we have gathered retail representatives, thought leaders and city development experts to discuss how to stop State Street from dying on the vine.

No one in Santa Barbara can deny that something has to be done to breathe new life into the retail sector in Santa Barbara and particularly State Street. The State Street retail community has been hammered by recent local natural disasters, compounding the impact of e-commerce, neighborhood vacancies, difficult local regulations, aggressive panhandlers and high rents.

We are holding these meetings to give our community a vision and pathway for the Santa Barbara of tomorrow and to inspire citizens to participate in the shaping of their city and home. Our June 28 meeting was a follow-up to the World Business Academy’s Global Citizens Club meeting held on March 21, entitled, “Reviving Retail in Santa Barbara,” which started this important, ongoing conversation about revitalizing State Street and the Downtown retail picture, and making a visit to State Street an “experience.”

At the recent meeting, the infusion of fresh ideas from Jerry Ogburn, a downtown development advisor for the city of Palm Springs, provided wholesome food for thought. Ogburn shared his experiences in Palm Springs, which has successfully reinvented itself in recent years and is no longer seen as a city just for the elderly (“God’s waiting room”). Ogburn noted that more millennials, new downtown housing, additional street lighting, added outdoor dining and a vibrant gay community have all given Palm Springs new life; maybe they would help Santa Barbara’s Downtown, too. A Downtown park would be nice also, Ogburn added.

He said Palm Springs attracts thousands of locals, millennials, families and tourists alike with its lively weekly Village Fest held on Thursday nights, where live entertainment, craft booths, shopping and food bring the community to the downtown for a night of fun for everyone. Why isn’t Santa Barbara doing something like this?

Rinaldo S. Brutoco led the June 28 discussion that also included Amy Cooper; former Santa Barbara Mayor Hal Conklin, now president of USA Green Communities; and Ron Fox, a board member for People Assisting the Homeless. Fox rightfully noted that the solution to moving homeless folks off of State Street is finding them somewhere to live, and while that’s difficult, at least the homeless problem Downtown could be mitigated.

If Santa Barbarans want to rescue Downtown from becoming obsolete and help remake the area into a destination where locals and tourists flock, then we all have to join the effort. Read our blog and watch for our news in the local media as this effort and the workings of the new task force move forward. We hope everyone in the community pays attention and joins this important effort to make our city a vibrant destination that everyone can enjoy.

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How Tex-Cote Used Graffiti-Guard® To Protect The Hollywood Sign

By Jennifer Goddard Combs

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Textured Coatings of America’s products have covered some of the largest structures on Earth ─ from massive bridges to towering buildings ─ but it was its coverage of a simple sign on a hill that truly put the company on the map.

It didn’t hurt that the sign says “HOLLYWOOD” and is one of the most photographed and iconic symbols in the country.

The Hollywood sign may be a relatively small surface, but this was a big job.

The decision to cover it – for free – came from TCA President/CEO Stuart Haines, whose multinational, world-class company has its roots in Los Angeles, where it was founded in 1961. In the mid-1980s, Haines decided to repay his hometown with a unique, generous and much-appreciated gift to the city.

Working with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Haines arranged for TCA to donate the supplies and the labor force – including reformed L.A. gang members – to repaint the Hollywood sign’s 50-foot-high letters and coat them with TCA’s patented TEX•COTE Graffiti-Guard®, to protect the iconic landmark from vandalism. The project cost TCA more than $25,000 and took a week to complete.

The immediate accolades came straight from City Hall. In response and in gratitude, then-L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley proclaimed Aug. 1, 1985, to be TEX•COTE Day in L.A.; Bradley further created The Mayor’s Committee for Graffiti Removal and named Haines to chair the committee.

TCA’s generous gift also generated a media storm that included widespread public and broadcast recognition and countless articles in publications across the country and around the globe.

The now-57-year-old company may already have been on track for long-term success, but the creation of that inspiring, indelible moment of random kindness catapulted it. From that moment on, TCA could rightly present itself as a celebrated, world-renowned corporation.

The moral of TCA’s sign story is classic Hollywood: A simple kind act can reap invaluable rewards.

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Tips for Maintaining Healthy Business Relationships

By Mia Hays

We exercise, eat right and visit the doctor to keep ourselves healthy, and we spend time with our family and friends to keep ourselves happy. But what about our business relationships?

Without proper maintenance, our work alliances can grow feeble like any other relationship. Without care, they can become unhappy – and unsuccessful. But there are simple steps you can take to keep your professional bonds healthy and thriving.

1. Communicate. As it is in other life relationships, communication is vital in a business partnership. And like in any strong relationship, the best communication is honest and transparent. Be truthful always. It might be scary to let a client or other work partner know exactly how you feel (for example, if a certain deadline might not work for you), but it is far better than faking it and then potentially letting a person down. Be honest from the start. When you prepare a work outline, make sure your plans are clear and concise.

In PR specifically, running all publications by your client before any media distribution is an absolute must. Your work together is a collaborative effort. If your client doesn’t approve, you don’t publish.

2. Meet deadlines. Always create manageable deadlines, and strictly adhere to them. Big or small, influential or fledgling, every client and co-worker deserves that respect. Every one is your No. 1 priority. Treat them like it. Present your best work in the agreed-upon time frame.

3. Don’t over-promise. It’s common for people to zealously oversell themselves in business situations and make promises they cannot keep. We’re all eager to land proposals, and sometimes our default is to offer more than we can reasonably do or give. But the foundation for a happy business partnership is setting attainable goals and creating realistic expectations.

4. Never stop learning. You don’t need to be an expert in every field, but you should be familiar with your clients and associates and with their milieus and markets.

In PR, for example, if you’re helping a widget-maker sell his new Widget 2.0, you’ll want to bone up on the widget industry and then figure out what makes this new version stand out. Also, of course, know your audience. What’s your client’s target demographic? What’s the geographical market? The more you can put things in human terms, the greater your chance of success.

5. Ask for feedback. Are your clients happy with your services? Could you improve in one area or another? Some clients might hesitate to mention something until the question is brought to them. The answers might not always be fun, but they can strengthen your relationship as well as your business. Not only does this help you know your areas of growth, it demonstrates to your clients that you value their opinions.

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Strength of Opinion

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Strength of Opinion

By Stephanie Soldo

Opinions can be scary. There’s a reason we avoid them at Thanksgiving dinner (or on first dates). They can ostracize and provide us quick judgmental wands to decide who can be our friends and who can’t.

Well, if opinions are scary among friends and family, imagine how they must feel among businesses. When a corporate name is involved, suddenly it isn’t a friendship at stake, it’s a client. One wrongfully slipped comment and a long-standing business relationship can be severed.

For this reason, companies might not be eager to publish what is known as an Opinion Editorial (or an Op-Ed) for their PR needs. But if you are a business in this position, we want you to reconsider, and here are three reasons why:

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  1. Op-Eds are PERSONAL. When someone hears an intimate account from a business, they are invited inside their home. They will see where you live and catch a glimpse as to where you are coming from. With this invitation comes an increase of trust, and trust will strengthen any relationship, whether the two parties agree with each other or not.
  2. Op-Eds offer a CONNECTION that can be a jumping off point for new clients. Imagine Sarah, who has a year-old Beagle, is reading through the newspaper for a grooming service. She might see ten beautiful ads claiming their puppy-hair-care to be the best in the world and she might pick one at random. But if she stumbled into the Opinion section and found an article from Doggy Do-Good on how upset they are certain chemicals are used in canine shampoos, Sarah might suddenly feel a connection to Doggy Do-Good.
  3. Op-Eds can be a platform for a business’s STORY. And we have been building relationships through stories since we lived in caves. They are the deepest thread of the human experience, and they should celebrated and not be feared.

Next time you are wondering what kind of press would help give your company the extra edge you are looking for, consider writing an Opinion Editorial. At the very least, it will be better than having to listen to Aunt Linda talk about donkeys and elephants over apple pudding.

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Longevity of Radio Then & Now

By Mia Hays

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65.2 million people in the United States alone listen to the radio each day. Why is it then, lately, the attitude toward radio is that it’s a thing of the past? Too many people view the radio like a pager or VHS player, both having been replaced by newer, more advanced technologies. Looking at the statistics, however, one will find it is in fact the leading reach platform.

For people around the world, radio is available. Despite location or socioeconomic status, countries that go without Internet or cable are more likely to have radio. Amid disaster, radio is often the only line of communication and source of updates on the status of a situation when all phone lines, cable and electricity are gone. Moreover, online radio or podcasts have also brought traditional radio to an even larger demographic, increasing from 12% of Americans listening to 53% over the course of the past five years. One can tune it at anytime to find out what he or she has missed.

While watching TV, one can fast forward or pause, going straight to his or her desired viewing. The difference with radio is that many will turn on the radio to discover something new whether it be a song or a quick happening on the news. On the radio, people may hear a news update or a blerp of a talk show and get hooked! In a matter of minutes, they have learned about a new world or local event or company that they must further investigate! Moreover, radio is on in cars, buses, and offices, each place becoming a marketing opportunity.

In PR, radio is essential to spreading awareness about a client’s news. Much of the time we will work to find an available time slot for our clients to share about their accomplishments or new product. This is a prime opportunity for them to share their skills with the community and ultimately attract more business!

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The Power of Referrals

By Mia Hays

The other night I met with friends for dinner and one of the women would not stop gushing about how much she loved her new face scrub. It made her face so soft and her skin was never going to be the same and the website she ordered from was so easy to use and even sent samples of other products for free! What did I do the second I walked through my door? I went to my computer and ordered it. Referrals are key to promoting any business.

It’s all about the client experience.

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If location permits, get to know your client over coffee. A face-to-face meeting is much more personable and shows the client you are available and care.

Then, make it a point to answer their calls and personally return them if missed. If you can, have direct interactions between you and your client rather than handing them off to your assistant or secretary.

When you haven’t heard from the client in some time, send a summary email of your recent work for them and perhaps some ideas for future projects.

Meet new people and make connections.

Join groups and attend events! Get involved in the Rotary Club in your area or join ProVisors. Become an asset to your community. The more people you meet, the more referrals!

You have the referral. Now what?

Make sure to follow up. They’ve already heard about how wonderful you are. It’s why they reached out! Now give them their first taste of your talent by being a step ahead of the game. Send them a sample of your work before your first meeting. After your meeting, take the time to write an email to them thanking them for meeting with you and reminding them you are happy to answer any lingering questions. This also provides a great opportunity to lock down the next time you are going to meet or speak with them.

Spread the joy!

If your client is looking for a service outside of your area of expertise and you know the perfect person or company for the job, refer them! This not only adds to your credibility but also strengthens the relationship between you and your connection/source. Perhaps somewhere down the line your connection will return the favor, especially if you make sure to thank them. This can be done with a phone call and then later by following up with a handwritten thank you note.

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Speak with Confidence

By Mia Hays

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How do you feel about public speaking? Great? Fine? It’s not your favorite? If you can bear it, do it!

Public speaking engagements are an opportunity for you to share your expertise and allow potential clients to experience you and what you have to offer on a more personal level. For more persuasion, read our previous blog titled, “How Will a Speaking Engagement Benefit You?”

Are you convinced but the thought of speaking in front of people still makes you nervous? You’ll do great! Just follow these tips to become a more confident, effective public speaker.

  1. Prepare. This may sound obvious, but I cannot stress this enough. Know your presentation backwards and forwards. To help strengthen your muscle memory, do extra research and look over diagrams. Or, the next time you are speaking to a colleague, bring up your topics in conversation to grow more familiar. Feel like you have it down? Practice again! When the adrenaline kicks in you cannot be too familiar with your presentation.
  2. Watch and listen to yourself. Look in the mirror. Do you look anxious? Do you look like you’re thinking too hard about what you’re saying? Smooth out those thinking lines on your forehead and add a smile. It will go a long way. Then, record yourself. By listening to yourself ahead of time you can correct your verbal short comings. Practice that long awkward word and industry vocabulary. Make sure you vary the inflection in your voice and avoid maintaining the same vocal rhythm or tone or you will be sure to lose your audience’s attention.
  3. Remember to KISS. As the old but valuable cliché goes: Keep It Simple Stupid! Some in your audiences will not have a college degree and/or lifetime experience in the field. Therefore, they do not need, want or care about the intricate details of how your business works. You will put them to sleep or overwhelm them, causing them to absorb next to nothing. Rather, share the big picture and interesting, select statistics to convey your main points and demonstrate how invaluable you are.
  4. Connect with your audience. Make sure your listeners are engaged. Scan the room from time to time, making eye contact with different members of your audience. In addition, look for people nodding, smiling, or taking notes. If everyone looks like they’re dozing off or texting, it’s time to switch up your approach! Personal anecdotes can also make your message more memorable and enjoyable and make you more relatable. 

Now, go out there with confidence and show society that you a valuable community member with worthwhile skills to share!

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Be Your Best This 2018

By Mia Hays

In 2018, I am going to work out five times a week and never eat chocolate and read a recreational book every night before bed . . . If only! 

How often do we make these New Year’s resolutions and watch them slip away within days or, if we’re lucky, months? While much of the time these resolutions are farfetched, these following six tips are 100 percent doable and will set your business up for a more profitable new year. 

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  1. Write and send press releases. Keep your business in the public’s eye. The more press releases you write the more you will be published. The more publicity your company receives the more business you will have. Who doesn’t want that?! 
  2. Schedule public speaking engagements. Showcase your vast knowledge about your field, or speak about one of your hobbies, connecting with audiences on a personal level. 
  3. Attend events. These are networking opportunities! Make connections with other people in your field and potential clients. 
  4. Organize your office. A cleaner work area is more inviting to others and promotes clear thinking. 
  5. Blog. What better way is there to display your wealth of knowledge? Give people a taste of what you can do, and they are sure to come running! 
  6. Cleanup your social media image. New year, new you. Or at least new image. Delete poorly written articles on your company website, update your expansive bio and refocus on your target clients. 

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Be the PR Star on the Top of the Christmas Tree

By Mia Hays

During the holidays, our time overflows with gift buying and wrapping, holiday parties, family and friends and the revolving door of welcome and not so welcome guests. Our time and focus are split. Therefore, many competitors are “gone skiing,” so to speak, while potential clients are accessing the same material and sites as the rest of the year. This presents you with the perfect opportunity to end your year with a bang. Follow these tips and you’re sure to find more success and cheer this holiday season.

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  1. Don’t stop. The media is scavenging for stories, and now is the time when you may get a story published that may have been normally overlooked. Write an end of the year summary. Review the year with your bookkeeper and a few clients about the year. How did you do financially? How did your clients feel about your performance this past year? Type it up and send it off to an industry trade publication.
  2. If you can’t beat them, join them. Our holidays are flooded with festivities. You can’t avoid them, and if you try, you’re either ignored or deemed a scrooge. Think about it. When you pass a shop front, what grabs your attention? Is it the everyday display sets or those with holiday decorations and lights? The same is true for your business. Create articles, images or blogs that embrace the season. Potential clients and the media will take notice and remember.
  3. Use social media. Always. Everyone wants some vacation time over the holidays, us PR people included. However, that does not mean that we can stop with our social media presence. Plan your posts, pictures and captions in advance, freeing up some time at the peak of the merriment. If you don’t want to be doing the posting manually, then schedule the release by investing in an app like Hootsuite or Spoutsocial that will do it automatically while you are making merry!
  4. Expect to have to follow up with people. Both clients and the media have untraditional schedules and other distractions due to different vacations or abnormal time away from the phone or computer. An extra phone call or reminder email will often help.
  5. Send out New Year’s cards from your business. This not only sets your card apart from the flood of Christmas cards but also reminds people that you are still there when they are looking to start the new year strong.

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Journalism’s Style Monarch: the AP Stylebook

By Mia Hays

When referring to percentages in a press release, blog or article, do you write out p-e-r-c-e-n-t-or use the % symbol? How do you refer to military personnel by title? What about state names and their abbreviations? Is the “Deep South” capitalized in an article or is it “deep south”?

Why should you care, anyway?

All of this and much, much more is covered in the Associated Press Stylebook, a must-have work tool for professionals in the public relations and media industries. We can’t live without it. It sets our standard for consistency and plain old good writing.

 Picture courtesy of the Associated Press.

Picture courtesy of the Associated Press.

Associated Press style, or more informally known as AP style, is most commonly used by most print journalists and public relations professionals. Birthed from the need to relay news of the Mexican-American War, the Associated Press was created as an independent news organization when six New York City newspapers combined resources, developing a more efficient way to spread news. The Associated Press has since gained momentum and is now the biggest news organization globally, with its news reports and articles read by people all over the world, every day. Through its success, the Associated Press has created its own style of writing that dominates published media.

As editors, writers, and publishers each make their mark on a piece of work, AP style is essential to maintain consistency in writing. Guidelines for AP writing include capitalization, abbreviation, punctuation, spelling, and numerals. Such rules are made with the intent to ensure accuracy, neutrality, brevity, and clarity.

The first AP style guide was published in 1977. As the language we use and our culture change over time, and new words and phrases are introduced into everyday dialogue and writing, the AP style grows and evolves too. After all, we didn’t have words like “Internet” in 1977. The AP adapts.

Like fashion trends, correct names and ways to reference a group, person, place or thing continually change. Therefore, every so often AP guidelines are revised, and a new edition of the AP Stylebook is published annually in the spring.

My advice to you? Pick up a copy of the latest Associated Press manual from Barnes and Noble or order it online. With the interest of specializing in published media, one needs a copy at hand or, at the very least, to be prepared to thoroughly Google the correct AP grammar and style use before publishing.

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Happy 19th Birthday, Google!

By Mia Hays, Account Executive 

Who was the wife of the 18th president? Don’t know? Google it.

How often each day do we just google the answer for a nagging question? Nineteen years ago yesterday, two Stanford college students created Google in their dorm room. With the goal to organize the seemingly infinite information on the World Wide Web, creators Larry Page and Sergey Brin revolutionized the way the world accesses material.

Initially attracting the attention in academic circles, Google is now used by millions of people everyday. Want a phone number or email of the editor of the city’s most influential newspaper? There’s no more need to rifle through the Yellow Pages or call the office and ask around in hopes of coming across a friendly receptionist. Instead, we Google it. Moreover, if you need to know demographic of an area of a client’s business, there is no need to conduct your own field research before beginning your media campaign. Simply Google it.

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            Google’s influence in the media is undeniable. Each year Google has taken in more advertising dollars than American print media. This may be due to its discarding of stories from rival search engines and prioritizing its own material and paying customers. It may also be because almost 75 percent of the world uses it Google. Richard Gingas, Google director of News and Social Projects, depicted Google as a method “to connect the dots between a consumer’s interests and informational needs and the most relevant available knowledge from the best possible sources.” (1). All we as consumers need is a keyword in mind and Google does the rest, compiling all the most relevant and important sources for us.

            So, how can we freely attract publicity using Google? When it comes to social media, Google rather surprisingly states that it does not take into account a profile’s importance or influence. However, if you include links to a credible source in your posts, the links will then boost your search ranking within Google. In addition, when frequently searching brand names or companies, social media profiles are among the top results. Therefore, make yourself available on every social media platform you can properly and professionally maintain. Ensure that each profile is clean as it may very possibly be one of your respective client’s first impressions. Making an accurate profile description of your product or person, including keywords that people would use to search for you, is also crucial. Be sure to update your profile as well every few months, keeping it current. Google creates an opportunity for news and information to gain an amount of publicity that did not previously exist, so take advantage of it!

Thank you, Google, and happy 19th birthday!

(1) Jordan, Brooke. "Google's Impact on Journalism." UFSocial , 26 Oct. 2016. Accessed 27 Sept. 2017.

(2) Ratcliff, Christopher. "What are the top 10 most popular search engines?." Search Engine Watch, 8 Aug. 2016. Accessed 27 Sept. 2017.

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6 PR Tips for a More Effective Social Media Presence

By Sarah Glasco

If you want to grow your business and your brand, tackling the mammoth that is social media is essential. Your social media presence can do wonders for expanding your customer base as well as increasing brand confidence, as long as it is properly and carefully managed. The following tips can be applied to any business, large or small--implement them and watch your business grow!

1. Make sure you’re on as many networks as realistically possible. There are hundreds of social media platforms out there in the digital world--pick the ones that will benefit your company the most. Be selective, but not too frugal; the more networks you’re on, the more visibility and influence your business benefits from. Just make sure that you aren’t on so many platforms that you are incapable of consistently updating each of them. At the very least, make sure you have an active presence across the basic networks: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

2. Keep your posts simple. The most effective and widely read social media posts are the ones with clean, uncomplicated images and straightforward yet informative captions. It’s also better to use visuals instead of plain text--research shows that tweets including images are retweeted about 150 times more than “plaintext” tweets.

3. Adjust your format depending on the platform. You’re allowed 140 characters on Twitter--keep those broadcasts short. Videos work well on Facebook, visually pleasing photos are the most effective for Instagram, and LinkedIn is the best place to post a link to a website or write a long-winded opinion or appreciation piece. Even though the format is different across platforms, you should still be delivering the same content and the same message.

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4. Know your audience. Surely your business has a target audience in mind, and it is that audience that your social media presence should intend to deliver information to. For example, if your business caters to teens and young adults, it would be beneficial to be aware of common internet lingo and trends to utilize in your social media posts. Using #hashtags can also increase engagement in younger audiences. Also, it is essential to know when your audience is usually online, so that you can post information when your followers are most likely to see it. Tools like Tweriod, Google Analytics, and Insights for Facebook provide information about when the most of  your followers are online--this is your target posting time.

5. Be consistent. Once you identify when your audience is usually online, schedule regular posts. Know what you are going to post and when you are going to post it, and be sure to stick to your plan. You can’t expect the same audience engagement if you don’t post anything for months and then suddenly switch to multiple posts in a day--remaining consistent boosts customer engagement because your posts are now aligned with audience expectations. Ideally, you should be posting across all your networks at least a few times every week.

6. Actively respond to and engage with your followers. This can be difficult for large     businesses, but it really is the best way to increase brand confidence. Start by following back your customers. Post responses to their comments on your photo, and say something short and sweet on their posts every once in awhile. Thank them for “liking” your content. Not only does this show your customer base that you really do care--it increases your visibility to all of your followers’ followers, boosting the growth of your audience.

With these six simple tricks, your business’s social media presence will improve positive brand association and will increase visibility. Social media can be extremely intimidating, but with the right tools and these PR tips, you will be well on your way to conquering the challenges these platforms pose.

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Nothing Is "Off the Record"

We’ve all heard this term before: “Off the record.”

So, what does this mean when referring to a source that is being interviewed by a reporter, blogger or publicity writer?

Who knows! That’s the point.

“Off the record” isn’t defined universally. It doesn’t mean the same thing to different people. This is why it’s better to avoid trusting or publishing anything at all that is “off the record.”

In our publicity world, nothing is “off the record.” In the materials we write and publish, we seek and use information that can be verified by a trusted source. We don’t want rumors, we don’t want unverified information and we don’t want information from someone who isn’t willing to back it up with their name. We want facts. We want truth. We don’t deal in the business of “fake news.” Neither should you.

We often see people in the community - from politicians to actors to business leaders - facing a public relations nightmare and then being forced to seek crisis PR services because they said something they thought was “off the record” but wasn’t, and it wound up on the front page.

Here are four “best practices” interview tips:

1.      Don’t go “off the record.” If an interviewer asks you something that is “off the record,” respond by saying it’s your personal policy not to discuss anything “off the record.” Stick to this no matter how hard they may try to pry “off the record” material from you. And, don’t offer up any information that you want kept secret or that you think is “off the record.”

2.      Never say anything you don’t want published or you don’t want other people to hear or read. Remember that you are being interviewed for the media or a public relations company, and what you say is being written down with the intent that it’s fair game for publication. A blogger or reporter may not publish the information at all, they may publish the information and not use your name, or they might publish the information and find other sources to support it. Overall, for the source, it’s better to avoid the risk and steer clear of questionable material.

3.      Be prepared. Know the topic of the interview in advance and have at least five talking points ready before stepping into your interview. Keep in mind that you were invited for an interview because people want to learn about you, your skills and services, so be organized and share what’s important.  Don’t ramble off on tangents.

4.      Be conscious of your interviewer’s language. Pay attention to where your interviewer is leading a conversation and whether their language is controversial or a question is inviting a controversial response. It is common to want to please the interviewer and give a great interview, but make sure not to agree or repeat any negative statements, insults or controversial language that they use, because you could be trapped into being perceived as agreeing with it and saying it too. A great interview is about showcasing your talents and sharing the information that you want published – without wrecking your reputation.

 

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PR Tips for Every Business

By Kelly Carlson

Every entrepreneur and business owner needs to know the basics of public relations (PR). The following tips apply to all companies and organizations – large and small. Implement them and you will see your business benefit in a short time.

PR tips for every entrepreneur and business owner:

 PHOTO: www.projectpalermo.com

PHOTO: www.projectpalermo.com

1.   First you need to answer this question: Why do you want the publicity? There needs to be a direction before you embark on your PR journey. Reflect and see what kind of publicity you want for your company or product. Ask yourself – what value, feature, or expertise would I like to showcase? What is newsworthy about our company or product? Who is my target audience?

2.  Time to strategize: The goal is to build an esteemed reputation where, in your field, you are the expert and your company is viewed as the gold standard. Begin with research. Read, read, read! Look at daily newspapers, business journals, and trade publications.  Participate in industry-related social media, such as LinkedIn groups or special Facebook pages. Follow your clients’ social media – and your prospects’ social media. Take note of the comments and questions, and see what is trending within your industry. Gathering this information will allow you to see what could be compelling topics for your business as you begin to brainstorm what you would like to send to the media.

3.  Networking: Making connections is important. However, so is the adage “time is money.” So, when getting involved in your community, you want to make connections that last. Remember, networking is listening; networking isn’t about selling (1). Be sure to put on your listening ears because those conversations will build your reputation - "reputation is the new currency." (1)

4.   Create a media list: In what outlets, such as publications, television channels, and radio stations, do you want your news to appear? Research and gather contacts for these outlets. Make sure to keep a file on each contact with email, phone number, and any other vital information you feel is helpful. Once you have created your media list, update it regularly so you always have a current contact.

5.   Write a press release on your news item. (Refer back to #1.) You can find sample press releases with a simple Google search. Once your press release is prepped and ready, send it out to the media!

Sounds do-able, right? It also can be a lot of fun. Start your PR campaign today!

 

(1) Pollard, Catriona. "5 PR Tips For Entrepreneurs." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 21 June 2016. Web. 1 Apr. 2017.

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The Press Release: A Staple of Any Effective Publicity Strategy

By Jennifer Goddard Combs 

Those who have worked in publicity, marketing and the media for many years know that while the medium and the messages may change over time, one thing that has remained a constant - from the print era into the digital age – is the value of a press release.

A well-written press release remains an important publicity tool, even in the digital age. Here’s why:

It all starts with the basic information: What’s your news? A press release showcases what’s new at your company: your new service, your latest hire, your new product or your latest award - whatever you want to tell the public, business community, specific industry or targeted audience. You need to put it down, in writing, so others will know who you are, what you offer, what your news is, and how to contact you. Gathering the information and writing a press release is the starting point.

 Credit: Zerbor/Shutterstock 

Credit: Zerbor/Shutterstock 

What’s in your press release? A solid press release should have a catchy headline, state your news, include a quote from someone important such as the company president, and include contact information for a source that can provide more information. This contact person’s phone number and email also should be provided on the release. In addition, it helps to provide a website link and a professional image if possible, and if it’s for the Web, maybe a video or multiple images. For instance, if the release is announcing a new hire, a nice color headshot of the new employee in a jpeg format will help get attention.

How is a press release used? In the old days when newspapers and magazines and other print publications were the only media in town, a press release would be sent to the newspaper either by snail mail, fax or later, email. Today, press releases are sent mostly via email to a host of places, including newspapers, newsletters, businesses, city and other government officials, local business organizations, online news providers, television networks, industry trade publications in print and online, and news or talk radio stations. You can target your audience as well to reach a niche of customers.

Press releases in the digital age: Press releases can be posted on a company’s social media pages (such as Facebook) and cut down to 140 characters or less and sent out as a Tweet on Twitter. You can use it on LinkedIn as a news update and you can include the news from the release in your company newsletter or e-newsletter. In addition, you can post it to your website to make it more interesting, updated and visual. Your website can have a “news” link, and this is where you can post all those press releases. In some cases, websites of other news organizations will allow you to upload your press release to their site as well. You can blast the press release in an email to business colleagues and clients. A press release can go many places.

There’s no doubt about it: you get a lot of bang for your buck with a well written, interesting press release.

 

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What is the definition of free media?

By Kelly Carlson

Free media consists of traditional and social media. Traditional media includes television, radio, and print, such newspapers and magazines. Social media includes platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. Today the advantages of free media have been a hot topic because the current presidential candidates have been taking more advantage of free media than advertising. 

Free Media vs Advertising 

A company’s exposure is essential, and there are two options: free media and advertising. Both have benefits. However, free media helps control the message and has a further reach than advertisement. Free media is able to control a message through traditional media, and social media is the tool used to further the message’s reach [2]. Free media’s successfulness is evident in this year’s presidential election. Donald Trump generated up to $400 million in free media last month and has used up to $2 billion worth of media attention overall. He has had one of the smallest campaign budgets in this election [1].

The above charts reveal that free media works. Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders have spent the most on free media, and have been the most talked about candidates, with Clinton and Trump clinching their respective party’s nomination [1].

Comparing these results to the days of George W. Bush reveals further that the world is moving towards free media rather than advertising, which used to be the guarantee of a candidates’ core group of supporters voting for them [3].  There was more of a direct correlation between how much money was spent on advertising to how well one did in an election, however new data shows free media is more effective and with a further reach to bring out core and new supporters [3].

The obvious choice between free media and advertising is free media.

 

[1] Confessore, Nicholas, Yourish, Karen. "$2 Billion Worth of Free Media for Donald Trump." The New    York Times. The New York Times, 16 Mar. 2016. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.

[2] Vargas, Steven. "Panel Speaks about Social Media in Election | Daily Trojan." Daily Trojan RSS2. University of Southern California, 12 Oct. 2016. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.

[3] Spenkuch, Jjrg L., and David Toniatti. "Political Advertising and Election Outcomes." SSRN Electronic Journal SSRN Journal (n.d.): n. pag. Northwestern University, Apr. 2016. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.

 

 

 

 

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How Will a Speaking Engagement Benefit You?

By Amanda Clark

1.       It can act as a brainstorming session. By addressing potential clients, you will see what they respond to. This will allow you to figure out what is effective for your targeted audience.

2.       A speaking engagement gives you the chance to represent your company. You will have the opportunity to showcase your ability and demonstrate your expertise. This is not only beneficial for your company’s reputation, but also your own.

3.       You will be given the undivided attention of potential clients and may get referrals. The crowd will be comprised of people interested in your topic, and if you deliver an effective message they will be more interested in you and your company.

4.       It’s free! Your public relations representative can secure a speaking engagement on a topic of your interest and of interest to the community.

Your Public Relations Company Secured a Speaking Engagement for You, Now What?

1.       Come prepared with a simple, yet meaningful visual aid. You have been the given the unique chance to demonstrate your potential. The easiest way to make the most out of this chance is to create a visual aid that does not distract from your presentation, but adds to it.

2.       Practice your speech until you feel confident in your delivery. Competence leads to confidence, and the best way to ensure competence is through practice.

3.       Don’t sell… inform! Establishing credibility is best done by being knowledgeable. The audience won’t appreciate a heavy sales pitch. 

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The Importance of Newspapers in the Information Age

By Amanda Clark

There has been much talk about the death of newspapers, but does the public really understand the effects that would have on our world? Nowadays, we have become used to going to the Internet or TV for a quick update on the world around us. People are constantly sharing articles, and TV hosts like John Oliver and Trevor Noah make jokes about the political, social, or cultural climate of our world. News seems so much easier accessible than when we paid for a newspaper that showed up on our doorstep every morning.

The Media Food Chain

The truth of the matter is, newspapers are closing, and that creates a host of problems for ALL of us. The media is a food chain that goes a little something like this:

newspapers.jpg

Newspapers feed the media we so easily and hungrily consume. If we pay close attention, we will notice that many of the articles shared on social media, posted on various websites, and joked about by our favorite late night hosts cite newspapers as the original source of the information. Why? Because newspapers have dedicated journalists that have the time and energy to thoroughly investigate and report on pivotal news.

Digital Demands of Journalism

Journalists writing for online news sites have increased demands put on them that newspapers don’t. They are expected to produce much more content due to the nature of the Web. They write multiple blogs, comment on other blogs and posts, post on social media, and create video content. These demands cultivate mistakes and a lack of time for the journalists to make worthwhile content. They are expected to produce whatever gets the most “clicks”, which is never what is of importance, as we all would rather see a cute kitten than become aware of the atrocities of the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Because these journalists are so busy and have demands for popular content, our news is becoming less important, relevant, and fact driven.

With each closing of a newspaper we are seeing a decline in journalists, and a less informed public. Although we don’t realize it, newspapers put out the content we need to see, even if it is not what we want to see. They are much more pivotal to our world.

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The Power of TV

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The Power of TV

By Charlotte Cheek

Television is powerful, but what about television is so powerful? It gets you in front of a large audience quickly and engages them visually. Television gets people to focus on one screen and absorb everything on it. At the same time, less and less people pay attention to advertisements. With Netflix, Hulu, and DVRs, skipping over commercials is normal, so how does television remain so powerful? How can a business reach people on television without advertising?

Get into the Content People Watch

First, move away from paid advertisements into the content people are paying to see. People pay for Netflix, Hulu, Cable, etc. so that they can watch television shows, sports, and the news. Most businesses cannot afford product placements in viewer’s favorite shows or to sponsor sports teams, but businesses can afford publicity in the news (especially the local news). Anyways, advertising is expensive and it lacks third party validation that local cable stations have. People trust their favorite news stations and reporters to tell them the truth more than they trust a business’s 30-second commercial to tell them the gritty truth. Publicity is free and television is a powerful tool for business. The trick is finding the story and pitching it to the right news station in your area. 

Power of Placement

Being placed in a local news segment is just the beginning. It places you in front of a large audience and uses televisions strengths: sight, sound, and motion to make a lasting impression on the audience. More specifically, cable stations can reach local markets extremely fast. Speed is extremely important in today’s competitive market and one good segment on a local news station can lead to more opportunities for free placement on television, in newspapers, or on the radio by others interested in your story. So, if you want to captivate a large part of your target market visually, then remember how powerful television is.

 

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