Category Archives: Daum Weigle

Three Public Relations Resolutions for the New Year

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I’m not a big fan of resolutions. They are so easy to make and so hard to keep. Eat less, spend less, exercise more and get organized. They all seem to center around self-deprivation and denial.  I know it’s good for me, but sticking to it day-to-day isn’t a walk on the beach. Still the beginning of the year does get me thinking about what I can do better. How I can improve and what steps I need to take to do that.

It’s a time to look at yourself personally, but also professionally.  I work with a lot of clients on public relations and time and time again I see the same simple ways they could easily step up their public relations strategy with just a little bit of effort. I am talking about the low-hanging fruit that too many companies just don’t take the time to grab.  Here are three things I think you could do this year to get more recognition and attention in your industry and community.

#1 – K.I.S.S.
I have always thought that when Einstein said, “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough” he was referring to news (press) releases. I know he wasn’t. He was probably talking about some complex theorem, but it’s still the same concept. You should be able to write a news release about your products or services that the average person can understand. That means cutting the jargon, simplifying and saying it in plain English. Save the tech talk for the spec sheet or the white paper.  Making your releases complex doesn’t get you points. In fact, it loses you readers.  Of course, this means the people writing your releases also have to understand the products and service well enough to explain them simply.

#2 — A picture is worth a thousand words
Photos, graphics, videos aren’t just the icing on the cake anymore. They’re more like the baking soda that makes the cake rise. Instagram just announced it has more users than Twitter; Twitter posts with photos get retweeted more often; and selfies are more ubiquitous as the smart phones that take them. Photos for a news release, media kit and event or product announcement shouldn’t be an afterthought. They increase coverage of your public relations efforts to the point that they should be just an automatic part of the process. Put it on your PR checklist and try to think in terms of good photo opps. And take it beyond the standard product shot.

#3 – Stay on top of digital and social media efforts
Continuous content is the most crucial element for success in a digital or social media campaign. A steady flow of good blogs, Facebook or Twitter content really makes the difference between success and falling flat. The New Year is a great opportunity to put together a social/digital media calendar. Calendars should be flexible and subject to change, but there are some dates that you can map out in advance. Start with any holidays you want to acknowledge on your social platform. Then add in any industry event like tradeshows or seminars, conferences and training sessions. Next, fill in with upcoming announcements or rollouts. By developing a calendar in advance you have a plan to build on and that makes it easier to keep your momentum.

Done right these three things can really make a difference. They take a little time, but very little money and you should begin to notice a difference pretty quickly. 

Keep Tweeting During the Holidays

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Merry Christmahanakwanza…Twitter?

With the holidays in full swing it’s easy to put your business social media accounts on the back burner. However, understanding how to engage with your Twitter audience during the holidays can be of great use to your business.

Have fun with your posts 
Since it is the holidays you can have more fun with your tweets. Post pictures of your office holiday party or what you are excited about for the New Year. This helps show your followers your business’/ brand’s personality. Use the hashtag #happyholidays to promote your brand with a trending hashtag. A Crimson Hexagon study showed that twitter holiday influence continues to increase until Christmas Eve. Also, try to relate your industry to the holidays. Many businesses continue right on through the holidays. Tweeting about having a happy holiday season is a great opportunity to include a link about your products and services.

Fewer tweets means more attention.
It’s true that a lot of people take off the last couple weeks December, but not everyone. Many professionals continue to work and check their social media accounts throughout the holidays. Fewer people tweeting means that your posts will get more attention. Also, work tends to slow down giving people have more time to give their social media accounts the due diligence they deserve. 

Scheduling your posts
Even is you’re out of the office for the holidays you can still keep up with your social media accounts. Use a platform like HootSuite to schedule holiday tweets before you leave. It’s a great way to promote your business and/or brand while still being able to enjoy your holiday vacation. 

-NP

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Is Social Media Really Right for Businesses? You Bet It Is

Social media, begun for young adults to communicate with each other, has since been embraced in a big way by businesses – both large and small.

Each day, Daum Weigle maintains Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts, as well as blog sites, for our clients. As we keep on top of trends, the statistics clearly show that social media has become a vital tool in the business marketing toolbox.

Here’s a small sampling of those statistics in the form of an infographic.

– JDTwitter: @Jdaum

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How not to gain a million followers on Twitter

Twitter has proven itself to be a valuable tool in business-to-business communications. However, too often an account is deemed successful simply because it has a large number of followers.

It’s challenging work gaining new followers and engaging them in a conversation. I’m currently in charge of four accounts — three for clients and one of my own that I routinely ignore. The top account has followers numbering in the low thousands. It continues to gather new followers, add retweets and garner new mentions each month.  Of course I would like, but never expect, it to join top dogs like Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, President Obama and the New York Times — accounts with millions of followers.

Then today, I received an email offering 1 million Twitter followers for $2,950. Wow, that’s still short of cracking the top 1,000, but within potential range of Twitter middleweights such as Paul McCartney, Carrie Underwood, the MythBusters TV show and aged playboy, Hugh Heffner.

Wouldn’t almost any client be ecstatic to have more than 1 million followers? And it would cost them less than a third of a penny each. Unfortunately, the offer goes against good Twitter business practices and I can’t recommend the idea. Here’s why:

  • No doubt the vast majority of new followers would be egg heads — the fake accounts without a profile picture or bio that use the egg logo supplied by Twitter. These accounts follow many, but have few followers, if any, of their own. They largely exist to inflate the number of followers of legitimate accounts. In the summer of 2011, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was accused of buying too many of his 1.3 million followers. His large following backfired on him.
  • This type of follower, even if real, isn’t sincerely committed to a company, candidate or celebrity. Within a short time, they will go away or just sit without ever offering a retweet, mention or direct message. They will not help to attract legitimate followers or drive new business opportunities.
  • A Twitter account can’t be judged successful solely on how many followers it has. It should be attracting the best group of followers for your organization. You want people, real people, to be interested in what you have to say. You want to showcase your expertise. You want to engage in conversations. You want to create opportunities to expand your influence and gain business. If dedicated, a smaller band of followers is always preferable.

It would be nice to claim more than a million followers for each of my accounts. But for the vast majority of businesses, that’s not going to happen. Like just about everything in life, a successful Twitter presence takes hard work. You need to understand your market. You need to stay on top of industry events. You need to identify and follow major influencers. You need to tweet at times to best reach your followers. You need to tweet often enough, but not too much. And all that may win you only five to 10 new followers on a good day, but you’ll know you’re doing it the right way.

Remember Email? It’s Still a Great Marketing Tool

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and You Tube bring you the celebrity spats, videos of cute, one-eyed cats and cool infographics.

And email…well, its still good for sharing a document with a business associate, same as it’s been doing since last century. Lately, it’s better known for offers of knock-off pharmaceuticals.

Yet at the same time, email is more engrained into our society than any of the social media platforms. Do you know anyone from a teenager to a senior citizen that doesn’t have an email address?

Twitter has more than 100 million accounts in the U.S., but up to 25 percent of them are never used. Facebook just topped 1 billion users worldwide. Still, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail, together and alone, tops that number. And one study showed that 72 percent of people check their email more than six times per day.

This all means email is still a vibrant, effective means for reaching current and potential customers with tailored marketing messages. The key is having a quality list. Some companies keep their customer lists up-to-date and continually add leads from the sales staff. Most aren’t that conscientious about it. In that case you may need to buy a list from an email address provider. Count on your PR consultant to help you find the right list provider for your needs.

Next up is creating a message that will get recipients to pay attention. You can take a straight-forward or a more lighthearted approach. But one way to get people to read your message is to get them involved. Ask them questions. Are you getting what you need? Is your business all it can be? What problems do you need solved?

When you get replies, respond immediately. Use the information you get back from your questions to craft a tailored response for each. At that point your emails will stand out from the unsolicited clutter that jams many mailboxes.

Keep the campaign going. Offer your list something they need. Listen to your potential customers and respond accordingly.

Do this and you’ll be well on your way to a successful email campaign. Meantime, don’t forget the growing power of social media. Just don’t underestimate the value of email.

@JDaum

 

 

Everybody’s a Twitter expert (well, maybe)

 

Everyone’s jumping on Twitter these days with links to blogs offering advice about how business owners can use the platform to greatly increase profits.

Read them and you’ll know how many Tweets to post each day. Well, maybe you will. Some say three, others say six are better.

There are supporters of posting between 8 to 10 a.m. ET (a little early for anyone living west of Kansas), while others say 1 to 3 p.m. ET is the sweet spot. Longer or shorter tweets? They each have their supporters.  Is a single hash tag enough? Are four too many?

All this points out what I’m learning from running three Twitter accounts and helping out on another — there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.  Every business, every industry is different.

One tweet I read recently really hit home. A woman complained about an online job posting for marketing position that required a minimum of 10 years of social media experience. I assume that job will go unfilled for the next few years. Ten years ago there was no Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram or other major social media platform.

Anyone involved in social media is still a pioneer. Run from anyone who tells you he or she knows exactly what will work for your business. Instead be ready to work with someone willing to experiment and take reasonable chances to find the program that works best for you.

There is no doubt social media can be a huge PR and marketing boost. So go ahead and read these ‘experts.’ There is a little something to be learned from each blog — including this one.

Of course, that’s just my humble opinion.

— JD

Twitter: @jdaum

 

Small Businesses Say Social Media Helps Them Grow

Small business owners are catching on to social media in a big way. And many of them are reporting some impressive results.

A recent survey of 614 U.S. small business owners showed that 90 percent are actively engaged in social networking sites. And about three of four said those sites are as valuable — or more so — than in-person networking.

More than a third of the respondents said being found by new customers was the most valuable benefit of social media. Impressively, 78 percent said that over the past year they gained a quarter or more of their new customers through online or social media channels.

But the large number of available options — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Groupon and other channels — is overwhelming for many small business owners.

This is where an experienced social media consultant can help. Choosing the right channels and then keeping them filled with regularly updated, quality content can make the difference between social media success and failure. The same holds true of a company website, which one in four of the survey respondents said was an important business driver.

The time has come when a small business owner not engaging or properly using social media is at a competitive disadvantage.

Click here for more details on the recent survey sponsored by a small business online community.

-JD

Twitter: @jdaum

 

 

Stop the Madness: Spray and Pray


As a general rule, before I pick up the phone to pitch a media contact, I know their name, have researched the outlet, skimmed through recent stories the journalist has written and have an idea of why they would want to hear my pitch in the first place.  This ladies and gentlemen, is the art of romancing the media.

It’s surprising how many PR professionals still operate with the old “spray and pray” method, thinking that quantity pitching rules over quality pitching.

In fact, I just read a great white paper by Cision When in Doubt that outlines the very reasons why we PR pros shouldn’t do that.  The most important lesson you can learn in this industry is to research everything you possibly can about the outlet/beat of the person you’re pitching.  In all honesty, those that skip this huge step really do damage to themselves and the company they represent. They also do big disservice to industry as a whole.

It just gives PR a bad name. We want the media to see us as a valuable resource, not as annoying spammers.  I’m sure it would be maddening for a real estate reporter to continuously get pitched to cover the latest beauty product.

Researching the details is more time consuming, but the paybacks are better quality and even quantity coverage.

Aside from doing research before you send anything to or contact the media I have a couple of suggestions I’ve picked up from my experiences for when I pitch and follow up on the phone:

  • Check out editorial calendars.  These can be a gold mine.  Even if they aren’t interested in covering your news now, it could be perfect for them at a later date.  Follow up.
  • When you call to follow up, instead of going straight to your pitch, introduce yourself and ask what they are working on. It could be in connection to what you’re pitching. Use your discretion if they sound hurried. By being natural, conversational and not just pushing your pitch, you earn their ear and respect.
  • But be ready to deliver the main points of your pitch in less than 20 seconds.   More often than not you will run into an editor that has no time for nonsense.  Prepare for that.

Of course don’t leave out social media as another avenue for media outreach. It offers valuable insights into what journalists’ are writing about and their interests.

Above all, know that if you continue to spray and pray, it may take a few reporters giving you a piece of their minds before you never again forget to research before you reach out.

@saraalisia

Are You Guilty of the Intent to Distribute? (A press release without media?)

Like PB&J, press releases taste better with media

What’s Sonny without Cher? Tom without Jerry?  Or peanut butter without jelly?  Split any of these duos and you get only half their combined potential.  This is my thought process as I’m distributing a press release without accompanying media.  When pitching a news release I know I’ve got about 5 seconds to get the media’s attention.  Otherwise it quickly becomes digital trash.  But, if the release includes any picture/video/audio, it doubles my chances of getting it noticed.   Sometimes, these resources aren’t always available to me and it never fails:  I’ll send a release out by its lonesome and in come the requests for images. This is where any campaign can lose major momentum. Here’s why:

It’s all in the preparation, or lack thereof. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is not generating the appropriate visual/audio media for its PR efforts.  To fully do our job as PR professionals we need these tools.  The pitching landscape has changed too much; it’s not enough anymore to send out a traditional two-page press release.   Now, journalists are looking for these releases to be a resource full of information like audio files, links to pictures, videos, extra quotes and even previous, relative news releases.  It’s a refreshingly simpler format where bullet points and links to media are king; it’s not editorialized and gets right to the point.  This has been dubbed the social media press release (SMPR).

More and more PR pros are picking up on the value of SMPR’s.  But to create one is a two-way street between PR firm and its client.  As a client, make it a priority to get quality photos of every project/product you want to be pitched. Grab sound bites from your SME’s and take video of that groundbreaking.  Create official accounts on YouTube and Flickr in order to host the media.  Next step: hand it all over to your PR firm. I’ll breathe a sigh of relief and do the rest.

Follow me @SaraAlisia

Have A Great Idea That Can’t Wait? Maybe It Should

Most PR pros engage in endless meetings, phone calls and emails, sharing information with internal project managers, field representatives and others.

With luck, all of that communication occasionally presents you with a homerun, or as it’s sometimes called – a good idea.

Now the rush is on. This is your opportunity to get into the PR frenzy around National Scrapbooking Day, Rural Life Sunday or some other pseudo-celebratory occasion. Maybe it’s even your big trade show of the year.

But before rushing off to have your agency write a news release, check to see if the company brass is on board and supportive. Need a subject matter expert to handle interviews? Make sure you have someone knowledgeable and media-trained available as you announce your news. If you want to name any customers, confirm their participation first.

I don’t need to run down the entire checklist. But I do offer a word of caution:  Make sure all you’ve done all of your homework before loading up to launch a campaign. Sometimes it’s better to slow down – there will be another opportunity soon enough.

Act too fast, and that good idea may not lead to a great result.

– JD

Follow me on Twitter @jdaum