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Three Public Relations Rules to Live By

 

Try these public relations rules to live by.

Public relations is an essential part of any marketing plan. Good PR work can build brand awareness and a positive public image. Poor PR work can destroy all of that hard work almost instantly.

Successful public relations efforts are often the result of extensive planning, good research and producing quality work. These three public relations rules to live by will help your company achieve its marketing goals and establish your team as pros in the industry.

1. Plan Ahead and Be Prepared

Public relations requires much preparation and planning. Before you push forward with any ideas, you have to have a well-defined public relations strategy. That strategy becomes your plan — your roadmap — for how you plan to elevate your brand through public relations.

It’s also important for your company’s PR team to plan for various projects and to always expect the unexpected. Obstacles will always arise last minute, so you need to have a backup plan. For example, if you are sending out a press release about a new product and you learn that a competitor is doing the same, you need to be able to change the messaging and timing, as appropriate, to ensure that your message is heard and seen above all the others out there.

2. Do your Research

Good public relations requires a lot of research. You need to spend time getting to know the media and the reporters and researching relevant information about your business’s industry — third-party statistics or research that backs up your information. Without solid research, story pitches, press releases and other PR work can fall flat.

Proper research also includes learning about and getting to know the right reporters and contacts. Connect with reporters in your industry. Read their stories and engage with them. Building relationships with the media is one of the best things you can do to get a reporter to listen to you.

It is also important to stay up to date on what is happening in your industry and who is reporting about those topics. While doing research can be time-intensive, it is a crucial part of good PR and can result in more media placements and positive press.

3. Produce Quality, Not Quantity

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of PR and think that a thousand mentions are better than a few strategic placements. But believe it or not, your business will be more successful if you focus on quality, not quantity.

Identify 10 to 15 media contacts who write about your industry and who deliver news to audiences that your business cares about. This helps ensure your work and the media outlets are the right fit!

Public relations can be challenging, and GREENCREST can help! Let us create a comprehensive marketing and public relations plan for your company! Contact the GREENCREST experts today!

How to Choose the Right PR Agency for your Company

Choosing the right PR agency

Regardless of your business or brand, having the right Public Relations (PR) agency is the only way to make sure your successes are being shared throughout your industry.

You work hard to make your business successful — putting in long hours, taking on more work and making tough decisions. When the hard work pays off and your company achieves a new goal or level of success, it only makes sense that you want to share that excitement. However, to get your story told to the right audience, you have to find the right PR agency that knows how to do so.

Here are the most important things to look for in a PR agency to make sure you’re making the best decision for your company:

Agency Size

Whether you’re a small, family-owned business that is just starting out or a multi-departmental corporation, it’s best to find the right agency for your needs. Whether the agency is small or large, if they have a dedicated PR team with enough staff to handle your needs, you’ll be set. In the end, it all comes down to what your goal is and how intricate of a plan – and team – it will take to get you there.

Agency Approach

When looking for the right PR agency, you should consider the approach that the agency tends to take with its clients and its work. A good agency will approach each unique client with custom solutions that will help cut through the clutter of everyday news releases and pitches, to help get the company’s story heard. This will help you get a better understanding of the agency’s overall approach and help you determine if it will work for you and your business’ goals.

Agency Connections

In order to have your story heard by the right audience, it’s important that you choose an agency with a variety of media connections. This will ensure that no matter what your company’s area of expertise, the PR agency will have a reporter or contact that specializes in the same thing. If you are a B2B company trying to reach a market about a new industrial product you’re releasing, you want to work with an agency that is familiar with your trade and will be able to find media connections in your industry and geo-target.

Agency Price

While having the best representation is very important, so is your budget. Discuss all of your needs with the agency to determine if it can do everything you want within your budget. However, if the price doesn’t match immediately, don’t fret — most agencies are willing to work with their clients to create a plan that is both effective and budget-conscious. After all, a good agency will want what’s best for its clients and will do whatever it takes to achieve that for them.

The better the understanding and relationship you have with your agency, the more likely the agency will be able to fulfill your expectations. Consider these four points when seeking out an agency, and you’re bound to find the perfect fit.

Interested in seeing if the GREENCREST public relations team could be right for you? Contact us today with questions or to set up a meeting.

 

How to Catch the Attention of a Reporter

Business people in a meeting room

FREE FOOD!

Now that we have your attention, how can you grab the attention of a reporter?

 

Each day, an average reporter or editor receives anywhere from 100 to 300 press releases or pitches. Some reporters or editors with national outlets might receive thousands of releases a day. That’s on top of all of their own in-house email they have to sift through each day.

So you can imagine that if you want to spark the interest of a reporter or editor, you better do it fast, because you have mere seconds to grab their attention and let them know that what you are pitching is relevant to the news they cover. After all, reading releases and pitches is only part of their job; they still have stories to report and write.

 

Here are a few rules to follow when you are sending out releases or pitches to media, whether it’s print, electronic or broadcast.

Grab their attention

One TV producer has often joked that an easy way to get the attention of people in a newsroom is to put the words “FREE FOOD!” in the subject line of the email. While she’s not totally serious, she’s not far off the mark.

The subject line of the email has to inform the reader what your email is about, but it also has to be a little clever in order to get someone to open the email in the first place. Much like a good headline, an email subject line should summarize your idea and interest them enough to want to open the email.

Get to the point

Far too many writers waste two or three paragraphs of introduction before they ever get to the meat of their pitch or news release. Don’t treat your media pitch like a sales pitch, because that will turn reporters off and they are likely to refer you to advertising.

When writing a pitch to the media, treat it almost as if you were writing a news story: start with an interesting lead and then provide the facts about the story idea. You should also make sure that your news is timely, salient to the reporter’s beat and explains why their readers or viewers might be interested. If, for example, you have an interesting product you’re unveiling that will make it easier for an NFL team to track your geographic location to their stadium during a game and send social media posts to your phone that you can easily share on your own social media, then timeliness is of the essence because we are getting into the height of football season.

Provide interesting information

If a new software is producing outstanding results for your clients, create an infographic that you can share on your own company’s website. You can also share that infographic with the business media so they can better explain the facts and details about your product.

You also increase your chances of earning a media placement if you can share a real success story. If you have a client who is willing to share their success story and be interviewed by a reporter, then you have a source outside of your company who is willing to share evidence of why your product or service is working for them. All of the sudden, that makes the story more interesting to a reporter, who needs to have multiple sources for a story.

Know your audience

Finally, make sure you are sending your releases and pitches to the right reporters and editors. Before you send any news release or pitch to the media, you have to show that you know a little bit about that reporter and what beats they cover.

If an editor in Ohio receives a pitch from a company in the United Kingdom and there is no relation to any Ohio company at all, that pitch will end up in the trash can. If you send your pitch about your new cab company to a reporter who normally covers crime and not transportation or businesses, then it will go nowhere because the reporter will realize that you just picked a name off their directory and don’t really read or view their news.

By investing time in getting to know the reporters who cover your industry or service area, you can begin to build relationships with reporters who will come to know that you can be a dependable source for topics they cover for their outlets. It’s not quite as easy as offering free food, but a little homework and due diligence can pay off in the end.

 

Interested in getting some help with your reporter and editor outreach? Contact the team at GREENCREST for help and advice in media and public relations!

 

Public Relations Tools You Can’t Live Without

Business Strategy

 

Smart marketing plans include public relations, which requires a dedicated staff using the right public relations tools to get the job done. Public relations is a crucial component of marketing and, when done effectively, can change the game for your company’s overall marketing strategy. Today, there are many helpful tools to help you stay at the top of your game.

 

Traditional public relations — such as media relations, sending press releases and pitching story ideas — and public relations technology — such as website SEO and social media — are both important for a successful marketing campaign. These public relations “tools” will help with all aspects of public relations, from pitching stories to monitoring social media.

 

A Passion for News

If you don’t follow the news, your company could be missing out on some big coverage opportunities. Read or watch stories so if you see a story developing that could relate to your product or service, you can capitalize on that and share your own news. If you don’t know what’s going on in your community and in your industry, you can’t take advantage of relevant stories.

 

Relationship Building with the Media

Just as reporters have to know their sources, you have to get to know your reporters. If you have a good relationship with a reporter, they are more likely to reach out to you when they cover a story in your industry. Relationship building takes time, but has a big payout.

Start building these important relationships by calling publications to find out which reporter covers your industry and ask for their contact information. Although it takes a while to build a media list of contacts, it’s worth it. Once you’ve identified these reporters, read their stories, follow them on social media and keep in touch with them — even when you don’t need anything from them. That way, when you do pitch a story to them, they will know who you are — putting you one step closer to getting the story you want.

 

Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a tool Google offers that helps you monitor various topics, people, etc. For example, if you created a Google Alert about McDonald’s, you would receive an email notification anytime a story was posted about that company.

Google Alerts are helpful in media relations as well. Once you create the alert, you will receive emails when a story runs that mentions your company. This is not fool-proof — sometimes stories run in the media yet they won’t show up in a Google alert if the story isn’t posted on a website. However, using Google Alerts does lessen the need to scour the web for hours, searching for news mentions.

 

Social Media Management Tools

Social media greatly changed the marketing game, giving people unlimited access to companies. Customers can now interact with brands all day — whether that be at 2 a.m. or midnight — so it is important to monitor comments, likes, shares, etc., constantly to address any issues.

Social media management dashboards have grown over the years and can now provide comprehensive reports about your followers, their locations, their activity and more, for multiple social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These tools help identify which social media strategies are working and which aren’t. In order to stay on top of your social media efforts, your public relations team should have some form of social media management.

 

With these four public relations tools and more, you’re sure to find success in your marketing strategy. Take advantage of all of the tools available to ensure you’re doing the most for you company!

 

Does your company need help with public relations? GREENCREST has you covered! Let us create a comprehensive marketing and public relations plan for your company! Contact the GREENCREST experts today!

 

PR is Important, Even in Good Times

 

looking-for-business-trends

 

People don’t know what they don’t know.

 

Business might be booming with both returning and new customers, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore public relations. In fact, it’s when things are going well that you should invest in a public relations plan. Think of it as your own personal bullhorn, so to speak. Because believe it or not, for every customer you have, there is another one out there who doesn’t know about your company.

 

As Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Group, has said, “Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad.”

 

A well-placed story on a business page or the 6 p.m. newscast can be more effective than an ad because the story is a third-party lending credence to what you are saying about your business. A 2012 Nielsen study reported that 92 percent of consumers say they trust earned media, along with word of mouth or recommendations from family and friends. That statistic underscores the value of a story about your company, or a story you are quoted in that is shared across social media.

 

Still not convinced? Consider the five reasons why you need a great public relations plan, even in good times:

 

  1. To attract business. A good public relations plan can raise awareness of your company, perhaps even among business prospects that didn’t know about your product or service until they read a story in a business publication or saw your interview on the local news. The exposure can open up business opportunities you didn’t’ know existed.
  2. To establish yourself and the company as an expert in the field. Public relations raises your credibility. If potential customers or business contacts see you being quoted in the news or winning awards, you might find people sitting up and paying more attention the next time you sit across the desk from them and try to sell your product or service.
  3. To raise brand awareness. As you attract new business and increase your credibility, you are also raising awareness of your brand and what it stands for — whether its outstanding customer service, custom-made products or old-world quality craftsmanship. As you raise brand awareness, you increase the value of your company and its products.
  4. To attract and retain good employees. If your business is going great, you want to keep the momentum. One way to do that is by attracting — and retaining — great employees. Promoting your brand and company culture will keep current employees on track and attract the interest of future employees.
  5. To be prepared for anything. With a good public relations partner, you are able to respond more quickly to situations. Whether a reporter is looking for an expert source for a breaking story or if you need to discuss a recent company crisis, a good public relations partner can help you be prepared. Both a public relations plan and a crisis communications plan can outline exactly how to respond to any situation and will be very beneficial to your company in the end.

 

For some, public relations can be the least valued expense in a company budget, but wise company leaders know that public relations can be the most valuable resource in which to invest. It does, after all, help prepare a company for anything.

 

Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of public relations and how we can help!

 

Tips for a successful merger or acquisition

Business people in a seminar

communication during mergers and acquisitions

Communication Plans Are Key

A merger or acquisition is a sensitive process for all parties involved. Misinformation can abound, egos can be bruised and business relationships can be damaged. One major cause of problems for companies are rumors and misconceptions that can run rampant through all levels of employees and stakeholders, as well as communities surrounding the businesses. Preventing inaccurate information from spreading is vital to all parties involved. Communications planning should happen well in advance of an announcement, even though actual communication may occur a week, a few days or even hours before or proceeding a closed deal.

Implementing a transparent communications program ensures that employees and the marketplace understand exactly how the deal will affect them. Without transparency, employees and stakeholders begin to lose confidence in the new company. Both groups want all their questions answered, and they want them answered yesterday. Flawless response time and communication routes are crucial to effectively ease the concerns of employees, investors, vendors, customers and even the media.

Quick, Precise Response

Companies must prepare to beat fast-paced social media and text rumors as soon as a merger or acquisition seems imminent. Management should immediately identify “key messages” that contain useful and comprehensive information. Initiating a proactive strategy—including face-to-face meetings with those most affected by the deal, a schedule of updates and a plan for eleventh-hour changes—is essential to create a smooth transition process.

Nothing is worse than having your employees find out about a major change in the company from acquaintances. Why didn’t anyone at work inform them? Will they lose their jobs? Will their co-workers lose their jobs? What about benefits packages? These concerns should be addressed long before the rumor mill kicks into action.

Internal Communications

When announcing a merger or acquisition, it is imperative to provide accurate information and to avoid making promises that cannot be kept. If management takes the time to discuss the deal’s benefits and drawbacks, employees are more likely to respond positively instead of resisting change.

Employees expect straightforward and honest information about what the deal means for them. Anticipate questions that may arise and have a solid answer for each. Regular updates should be communicated through management, question-and-answer sessions, staff meetings and company newsletters and e-mails.

External Communications

Alerting employees should be the top priority, but other stakeholders—customers, vendors, community members and other key audiences—are equally important. Communicating with key media outlets allows a company to better control the message that is being communicated by providing information directly to the media, rather than allowing misinformed sources to speculate about the deal.

The perfect mix for internal and external communication plans involves early and comprehensive communications planning, implementing communications quickly when ready, utilizing all available communication routes and delivering clear and accurate messages. Companies that make communications plans a priority during a merger or acquisition will emerge from the process as an organization that stakeholders, employees and the media can trust.

From Smart Business

 

Crisis Communications: Plan for the unexpected

crisis communications for businesses

As CEOs, it is our responsibility to manage the unexpected. My industry labels this as crisis communications or reputation management.

Organizations can successfully plan how to respond to worst-case scenarios, and — in doing so — make us CEOs less reactive to situations where personal emotions and immediate response don’t allow us to think as clearly and rationally as we normally might.

I have counseled numerous companies through crisis situations — everything from illegal immigrants and negativity around organized labor contract negotiations to unfavorable actions of key executives to job-related deaths and injuries, including suicides. With the advent of social media and 24/7 news reporting, we’ve all witnessed stories about companies who have done a poor job (or a good job as in the case of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams) of handling communications during a crisis.

Most of us know we are not immune to a crisis, but few of us are prepared should an unexpected event happen.

When minutes turn into seconds

Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” This couldn’t be more relevant today. With access to social media, those five minutes are more like seconds.

Be prepared and have a plan

A good plan considers all possible crisis situations the company could encounter — anything from a disgruntled employee who uses social media as a platform to air complaints to a tragic occurrence — and everything in between.

Establish a company policy to guide employees on what to do should any of the potential situations arise. With easy access to a checklist or plan of action, employees can react and respond quickly.

Consider a company code of ethics as an additional guide in the event an employee should have to step in due to unforeseen circumstances.

A company’s first response is to attend to the safety and health of any employee, or any persons involved. Your plan and checklist should identify emergency response issues such as injury, death and how and when to contact family members.

A company’s second response is to dig into the cause of the problem or situation. Get the facts. This should be done with the company’s leadership and its legal and communications counsel.

A third response is to develop a communications strategy and to provide a statement to its public audiences — employees, customers, vendors, the media and whoever else needs to be informed.

Depending on the situation, this may all need to come together in a matter of a few hours — sometimes less. Having a plan will help you get the job done. It will also help if you maintain an updated company fact sheet and have good media relationships already in place.

In all cases, a company should determine at least two senior company representatives and arm them with facts about the situation and comments of how the company is responding to the situation. This doesn’t mean that they have to have all the answers, but it does mean they are available, responsive and working openly and honestly with everyone.

It is important to approach a crisis situation with genuine concern and the facts. Remember: The world is watching.

From Smart Business

 

Is Your Business Really Using Integrated Marketing?

 

integrated marketing communications

Marketers are always some of the first adopters to capitalize on new communication channels to promote organizations. Businesses benefit from constantly seeking new and improved ways to reach their target audiences. If you look at the history of communication and technology, you will also see the history and evolution of marketing.

Marketing has grown to include many types of communication.

  • The printing press led to print advertising.
  • Postal mail inspired direct mail.
  • The invention of the telephone made way for telemarketing.
  • Radio and television became new channels for advertising.
  • Email turned out to be a cost-effective way to promote business.
  • Blogs and websites turned into a great source for sponsored posts and online ads.
  • Mobile phones and text enabled marketers to reach people on-the-go.
  • Social media was a new frontier for marketers to connect with a new audience in a personal manner.

As technology and communication channels continue to evolve, marketing will always evolve with those changes.

An Integrated Approach

With so many communication channels available, it’s easy for businesses to start sending inconsistent, mixed messages across a variety of mediums. Integrated marketing, therefore, is critical to an organization’s success.

With an integrated marketing communication plan, a business is able to have a consistent brand message and corporate identity across all of its traditional and non-traditional marketing channels. Successful integrated marketers consciously use each medium to reinforce the other. For example, you may see a company website promotion on a magazine advertisement, and you can find a TV ad or news coverage on social media. Everything is consistent and interconnected.

A Potential Threat to Integrated Marketing

Because there are so many channels to use in promoting a business, many marketers have chosen to become specialists in a specific form of marketing. Furthermore, it’s becoming increasingly common for entire agencies to specialize in one marketing function. From specialized public relations agencies to video production agencies to social media agencies, there are a number of functional marketers from which businesses can choose. However, this trend poses a danger to an integrated marketing approach.

Whether it’s a specialized agency or someone in charge of one type of marketing in an organization, functional marketers often develop tunnel vision, focusing only on how their specialty can help a business. Integrated marketers, on the other hand, wear many hats and think more strategically and holistically. They consider all opportunities and determine which solutions will give the best results for a client’s overall goals and budget.

So whether you’re looking to hire a marketing professional or use an outside agency, make sure they have broad marketing knowledge and your best interests at heart.

If you’re looking to utilize integrated marketing communications for your organization, the experts at GREENCREST can help. Contact us today.

 

 

Top 5 Tips for Media Relations

 

Media Relations Tips

An ongoing media relations campaign is the best approach to secure repeated coverage in a variety of media outlets. The following five tips will help you make the most of your public relations efforts.

1. Establish A Message

Like any other marketing or promotional initiative, success begins with strategy. Establish a strong and consistent message that focuses on what makes your company unique. Position yourself as an industry expert and target the message to your prospective markets. Use this message in press releases, media pitches and as a talking point in interviews.

2. Know the Reporter

What kind of stories does the journalist typically cover? Who are the journalist’s readers, viewers or listeners? What is important to them? What do they like? Knowing the reporter’s style, beat and audience is a key component to successful media relations.

3. Provide a Quality News Angle

Think like a reporter. Journalists typically look for stories that have one or more of the following elements:

  • Timeliness. Does the story contain information that is new or relevant to current events?
  • Impact. Does the story resonate with and affect the reporter’s audience?
  • Uniqueness. Do you approach the story from a different and interesting perspective?
  • Conflict. Does the story cover a struggle or an encounter with danger?
  • Proximity. Is the story local and targeted to the reporter’s readers, viewers or listeners?
  • Celebrity. Does the story involve someone famous?

4. Know the Deadlines

Journalists are always on tight deadlines. It’s important to know the deadlines so that you provide them with the story on time. A story pitched a day or two before deadline will most likely not make it into the publication. Schedules vary depending on the media outlet. For example, magazines typically work three months ahead while weekly newspapers or news programs work just days ahead. Likewise, respect a reporter’s deadline. If a journalist on deadline calls, respond as soon as possible.

5. Interview Well

Reporters look for clear, simple quotes that help tell the story. Interview skills are critical in securing a positive, lively story. Before the interview, make sure you are well-informed on the subject matter of the interview. Prepare a few key messages that you will want to communicate. During the interview, listen to the questions and provide an answer while staying on message. Get to the point immediately and provide details later. Also, don’t feel rushed to respond. If you need to confirm details with someone, let the reporter know. But send them the information as soon as possible.

For further media relations assistance, contact the public relations experts at GREENCREST.

 

 

Use your digital media ecosystem to build brand loyalty

By Kelly Borth, Chief Strategy Officer at GREENCREST

Digital Media Ecosystem

It’s safe to say that as business owners one of our ultimate goals is to create customer loyalty. There is as much as a 90% cost reduction when selling to an existing customer compared to acquiring a new one. That’s why it’s important to intimately understand your customers and how your digital media ecosystem can generate leads and earn loyal customers.

Your digital media ecosystem is a complex combination of your online marketing channels that work together to deliver the ultimate customer experience and build brand loyalty. Understanding your business’s online ecosystem begins with asking questions and conducting research using online analytics. Some questions you might consider include:

  • How did your target audience find you?
  • What devices do they use?
  • What steps did customers take before purchasing or submitting their information?
  • What websites do customers visit?
  • What blogs do they read?
  • How do they search for information?
  • On which social networks are they active participants?

To be effective you need to constantly listen, engage, measure and adapt. As the digital landscape changes so does your online ecosystem. It’s always evolving and integrating. If you stay in-tune, you can adapt your marketing efforts to reflect the changes in your ecosystem.

View your digital ecosystem as three types of media: bought media, owned media, and earned media.

Bought

In today’s competitive digital landscape, you will probably have to pay to play. To grow your business, increase brand awareness and attract new customers, you may be targeting an audience that’s not yet familiar with you. If they’re not familiar with your business or owned media, you need find a way to reach out to them. Paid channels include search engine marketing (SEM), online display ads and PPC campaigns, social media advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), public relations, traditional advertising and promotion. Your bought media should reach a large target audience.

Owned

Not all of the people in your target audience will be interested in your products or services. If you were selective, a good portion should be somewhat intrigued and those prospects will visit your owned media. These include your online content, company website and blog, social media networks, mobile sites and apps, support forums and specialty communities. The goal is to always drive your bought and earned audiences back to your owned media—especially your website.

Earned

You can’t buy or own brand advocates and loyal customers. They’re earned. You earn your email list when people have a reason to provide it to you. You earn social media and offline word-of-mouth. Your earned channels are often user-created and user-generated. They’re collaborative and constantly evolving. This can include niche networks, social media engagement, fan discussion forums, online reviews, private networks, blogging communities, inbound marketing and offline praise.

Compare your digital media ecosystem to a car that is headed on a road towards brand loyalty. Your system of online content and owned channels work together like the parts of an engine and make your car go. Bought and earned channels are like the oil to your ecosystem—alone they can’t make your car go, but they can help make it go faster.

The post Use your digital media ecosystem to build brand loyalty appeared first on Brand Pro Blog.

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