Monday, April 28, 2008

The Ultimate PR Edge: Getting Reporters To Open Your E-Mails

Author: Bill Stoller

The Ultimate PR Edge: Getting Reporters To Open Your E-Mails

by Bill Stoller, Publisher Free Publicity, The Newsletter for PR-Hungry Businesses http://www.PublicityInsider.com/freepub.asp

You know that getting publicity is vital to the health of your business. You probably also know that e-mail is the way most publicity seekers get in touch with reporters to score that precious coverage. Here's what you don't know: The vast majority of e-mails sent to journalists never get read.

Bottom line: if your e-mails don't get read, you have no shot at getting the publicity you so desperately need.

Here's how to beat the odds:

Avoiding the Spam Trap

To a spam filter, your humble e-mail pitch may appear to contain an array of trigger words and suspicious phrases. A server that relayed your message may be on a blacklist - a ""do not open"" list of known spammers. Or perhaps the filter's having a tough day and has decided to start blocking things arbitrarily. You can't prevent every instance of spam blocking, but you can take some steps to help lessen the chances of your e-mail ending up in a black hole.

The most important step is learning how spam filters think, and creating e-mails that avoid the usual pitfalls. Fortunately, you'll find that -- once you can do this -- many spam triggers are easily avoided.

Rather than taking up space here with all the how-to's, allow me to simply direct you a terrific site on the subject: http://www.wordbiz.com/avoidspamfilters.html

Getting Your E-Mail Opened & Read

After beating the spam filter, next up is getting your e-mail opened and read. The key: the subject line. No matter how on- the-money your pitch, a subpar subject line will kill any chance of getting the reporter's attention. You've got one shot at getting your e-mail opened, make the most of it with a killer subject line.

Here's how to do it: 1) Place the word ""News"" or ""Press Info"" or ""Story Idea"" at the beginning of your e-mail subject line, in brackets e.g.: [Story Idea]:

2) Try to incorporate the reporter's first name also at the beginning of the subject line.

3) If you know the name of the reporter's column, for instance ""Cooking with Linda"", also try to incorporate that. One more thing -- if the reporter doesn't write a regular column, try to at least include their beat (e.g. Joe, re: your future pieces on the wi-fi industry).

With these three tips in mind, a successful e-mail subject line might read:

[Story Idea]: Linda, Here's a Tip for Your ""Cooking with Linda"" Column

That's a heading that will stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Here are a few more e-mail do's and don'ts: Do:

* Make the information you place in the subject line short and to the point. Often, reporter's e-mail software cuts off the subject at only a few words.

* Don't get cute or be too vague in your subject line. For example ""Here's a Great Story!"" is vague and sounds like spam; ""This Will Win You A Pulitzer!"" will make you look silly (unless you're delivering the scoop of the century, of course!).

* Try to make your most newsworthy points at the top of your e- mail message - don't expect a reporter to scroll down to find the news.

* Include your contact information, including cell phone, e-mail address, regular address, fax number & website URL at the beginning and end of the e-mail.

* Include a link to your website if you have additional information such as: photos, press releases, bios, surveys, etc.

Don't:

* Include more than a short pitch letter or press release in the body of your e-mail.

* Allow typos or grammatical errors.

* Include an attachment with your e-mail. In this day and age of sinister viruses, reporters automatically delete e-mail with attachments.

* Place the following words (by themselves) in the subject line: ""Hi"", ""Hello"" - the media's spam filters will pounce and destroy.

* Send an e-mail with a blank subject line.

A cool tip: Use Google News (www.news.google.com) to search for recent stories that have appeared relating to your industry or field of interest. Then, e-mail the reporter directly (use a subject line such as Re: Your July 5th piece on electric cars). Give positive feedback on the story and let him know that, next time he's working an electric car story, he should get in touch, as you're an expert with provocative things to say. Give a couple of supporting facts to back up the assertion, include your phone number and web link, and ask if he'd like to see a full press kit. This technique really works!

About the author: Bill Stoller, the ""Publicity Insider"", has spent two decades as one of America's top publicists. Now, through his website, eZine and subscription newsletter, Free Publicity: The Newsletter for PR-Hungry Businesses http://www.PublicityInsider.com/freepub.asp , he's sharing -- his secrets of scoring big publicity. For free articles, killer publicity tips , visit Bill's exclusive new site: http://www.publicityInsider.com

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Is This the PR You Thought You Were Getting?

Author: Robert A. Kelly

You know, where you do something positive about the behaviors of those outside audiences that MOST affect your organization? And where you do so by persuading those important external folks to your way of thinking, then move them to take actions that help your department, division or subsidiary succeed?

Yes, that's right, it's where you use the fundamental premise of public relations to produce external stakeholder behavior change – the kind that leads directly to achieving your managerial objectives.

What it boils down to is (1) your public relations effort must involve more than special events, brochures and news releases if you really want to get your money's worth, and (2), the right PR really CAN alter individual perception and lead to changed behaviors that help you succeed!

You can do it when you bring that fundamental premise of PR mentioned above, into play. It goes like this: people act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished.

What kind of results can you, as a business, non-profit or association manager, expect from such an approach? Well, for starters, improved relations with government agencies and legislative bodies, stronger relationships with the educational, labor, financial and healthcare communities; prospects starting to work with you; customers making repeat purchases; and even capital givers or specifying sources looking your way

And that's not all. You also could see progress in the form of membership applications on the rise; new proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures; rebounds in showroom visits; enhanced activist group relations, and expanded feedback channels; as well as community service and sponsorship opportunities; not to mention new thoughtleader and special event contacts.

Yes, that's promising quite a bit but that's what this approach to public relations is capable of delivering.

Of course the PR people supporting you as a manager – agency or staff – must be real team members and committed to you, as the senior project manager, to the PR blueprint and its implementation, starting with target audience perception monitoring.

Ask yourself how important it is that your most important outside audiences really perceive your operations, products or services in a positive light? Then assure yourself that your PR staff buys into that notion wholeheartedly. Be especially careful that they accept the reality that perceptions almost always lead to behaviors that can help or hurt your unit.

Review the PR blueprint in detail with your team, especially the plan for monitoring and gathering perceptions by questioning members of your most important outside audiences. Use questions like these: how much do you know about our organization? How much do you know about our services or products and employees? Have you had prior contact with us and were you pleased with the interchange? Have you experienced problems with our people or procedures?

The perception monitoring phases of your program obviously can be handled by professional survey people, IF the budget is available. But keep in mind that your PR people are also in the perception and behavior business and can pursue the same objective: identify untruths, false assumptions, unfounded rumors, inaccuracies, misconceptions and any other negative perception that might translate into hurtful behaviors.

Clearly, you will need a well-defined goal, one that responds to the aberrations that appeared during your key audience perception monitoring. As a flexible goal, it could call for straightening out that dangerous misconception, or correcting that gross inaccuracy, or doing something about that damaging rumor.

Inevitably, a goal needs a strategy to show you how to get there. And here, you have three strategic choices for handling a perception or opinion challenge: create perception where there may be none, change the perception, or reinforce it. Unfortunately, a bad strategy pick will taste like fudge sauce on your spareribs, so be sure the new strategy fits well with your new public relations goal. For instance, you don't want to select "change" when the facts dictate a "reinforce" strategy.

Changing people's minds to your way of thinking is a tough assignment, so your PR team must set down the needed corrective language. Words that are compelling, persuasive and believable AND clear and factual. You must do this if you are to correct a perception by shifting opinion towards your point of view, leading to the desired behaviors.

Sit down again with your communications specialists and review your message for impact and persuasiveness. Then, select the communications tactics most likely to carry your words to the attention of your target audience. You can pick from dozens that are available. From speeches, facility tours, emails and brochures to consumer briefings, media interviews, newsletters, personal meetings and many others. But be sure that the tactics you pick are known to reach folks just like your audience members.

Because the credibility of a message can occasionally depend on its delivery method, you might introduce it to smaller gatherings rather than using higher-profile tactics such as news releases or talk show appearances. One good thing about doing progress reports for clients or bosses is that they sound the alert for you and your PR folks to return to the field for a second perception monitoring session with members of your external audience. Using many of the same questions used in the first benchmark session, you must now stay alert for signs that the bad news perception is being altered in your direction.

If impatience shows up, you can always accelerate things with more communications tactics and increased frequencies.

It should be an irresistable premise for any manager! Do something positive about the behaviors of those outside audiences that MOST affect your organization. And do so by persuading those important external folks to your way of thinking, then move them to take actions that help your department, division or subsidiary succeed.

Wow!

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communi- cations, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Ultimate PR "Scam"

Author: Robert A. Kelly

The Ultimate PR "Scam"

It happens to business, non-profit and association managers when their public relations budget fails to deliver the crucial external audience behaviors they need to achieve their department, division or subsidiary objectives.

Behaviors they should have received leading directly to boosts in repeat purchases; growing community support; more tech firms specifying the manager's components; increased capital donations; stronger employee retention rates; new waves of prospects, or healthy membership increases.

If that rings your bell, you need to take two actions.

First, insist that your public relations activity is based on a fundamental premise like this: People act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished.

Second, as the manager for whom they labor, get personally involved with the professionals managing your PR effort. Tell those specialists that you must list, then prioritize those key external audiences whose behaviors effect your unit the most.

Identify that outside audience sitting at the top of your slate, and we'll work on it right now.

Nothing happens, of course, until you gather some pithy information. Namely, how do members of that key target audience, whose behaviors affect your unit's success or failure, actually perceive you?

You and/or your PR team must interact with members of that audience and monitor their perceptions by asking a number of questions: Do you know anything about us? What have you heard about our services or products? Have you ever had contact with our organization? Was it satisfactory?

The trick here is to stay vigilant for negative signs, in particular, untruths, exaggerations, inaccuracies, rumors or misconceptions.

By the time you complete this exercise, you will have gathered the raw material you need to establish a corrective public relations goal. It might aim to fix an inaccuracy, clear up a misconception or lay that rumor to rest.

How you get to that goal, however, is another question because you have just three strategy choices when it comes to perception/ opinion matters like this. Create perception/opinion where there isn't any, reinforce existing opinion, or change it. A warning: insure that your new strategy is an obvious match for your new public relations goal.

Now, alert your team to a real writing challenge – a message tasked with altering the offending perception. Which means your writer must produce a message that changes what many target audience members now believe. No easy job!

It must be clear about how the current perception is out of kilter. And it must not only be truthful, but persuasive, compelling and believable if it is to lead ultimately to the desired behavior. True heavy lifting!

By the way, messages like that best retain their credibility when delivered along with another news announcement or presentation, rather than a dedicated, high-profile press release.

Speaking of delivery, it's time for you and your PR team to select the communications tactics to carry that message of yours to members of a target audience that really needs to hear it. Fortunately, there are dozens of such tactics awaiting your pleasure – speeches, radio/newspaper interviews, brochures, op-eds, newsmaker events, newsletters and many, many more. Be careful that the tactics you use have a record of reaching folks just like those you're aiming at.

It won't be long before people around you begin asking about progress. Which, once again, will put your team back in the opinion monitoring mode out among the members of your target audience. And the questions they ask will be very similar to those used in the first perception monitoring session.

Difference this time around will be your close attention to just how much current perceptions are really undergoing the change for which you planned. You want solid signs that the offending perception is actually being altered.

You can always shovel more coal into the boiler by adding new communications tactics, then using them more frequently to achieve faster progress.

When you apply a comprehensive and workable plan like this, you have little to fear from "a PR scam." Instead, you are on-track to achieve those key audience behaviors you must have to reach your unit's operating objectives.

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com

Friday, April 25, 2008

Managers: Are You PR-Fit?

Author: Robert A. Kelly

Managers: Are You PR-Fit?

Can you honestly say that your business, non-profit or association's key outside audiences behave in ways that help lead to your success on-the-job?

Or, have you pretty much ignored the reality that target audience behaviors can help or hinder you in achieving your department, division or subsidiary's operating objectives?

Truth is, your unit's public relations effort can never be truly fit until the primary focus of the PR people assigned to you is shifted from tactical concerns to a more comprehensive public relations action blueprint like this: people act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving- to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished.

What such a foundation gives you is the ability to help persuade those important external stakeholders to your way of thinking. Which can cause them to take actions that lead to your success as a manager.

Any idea how to make that happen?

First, tell your public relations team that you're serious about nailing down what those outside audiences with the behaviors that affect your unit the most, really think about your organization. After you list the external stakeholders, prioritize them so we're certain we're working on one of your key target audiences.

Next, you and your PR team must interact with members of that audience by asking a number of questions aimed at finding out how you're perceived. Look for inaccurate beliefs, troublesome misconceptions, potentially dangerous rumors, and any other negativities that might translate into target audience behaviors that could hurt you.

Of course, you could hire a professional survey firm to interact with members of your target audience and gather the perception data you need. But that can get expensive indicating, at least to me, that the alternative use of your own PR staff to handle this chore, is the better choice.

Question now, how to achieve that public relations goal? Obviously, you need the right strategy to show you how to do it. Luckily, where opinion/perception is concerned, there are really only three strategy choices: create perception/opinion where none exists, change existing perception, or reinforce it. And be certain the strategic choice you made clearly fits your new public relations goal.

Now, remember that the message you use to communicate your corrective message to members of your target audience is not only crucially important to the program's success, but a real writing challenge for you and your public relations team. The message must be clearly written as to why the offending perception really needs to be clarified. Supporting facts must be above challenge and believable if your message is to be persuasive. And, it should be compelling.

Delivering your message, perhaps surprisingly, is not a complex assignment because you have a long list of communications tactics to help you do the job. They range from media interviews, emails, personal contacts and newsletters to facility tours, press releases, brochures, consumer meetings and many others. The only caution here is to check and double-check that those you choose are known to reach people like those who make up your target audience.

Sooner rather than later, you will need to determine how much progress you're making in altering the damaging perception and its equally damaging follow-on behavior. This is also not a complex challenge.

Here, you and your public relations people must once again interact with members of your target audience and ask questions similar to those used in the earlier benchmark monitoring drill.

The big difference this time around? You'll be alert to change. In other words, you want to see clear indications that the damaging perception is actually undergoing alteration in your direction.

You can always add more communications tactics, increase their frequencies and sharpen your message to move things along at a faster clip.

The result for you as a business, non-profit or association manager, will be a workable department, division or subsidiary public relations blueprint that succeeds in creating key outside audience behaviors that help lead you to success on-the-job.

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Same Time Next Year: Using Editorial Calendars as Part of your PR Efforts

Author: Shannon Cherry, APR, MA

It's the time of year when calendars crowd out the books and magazines in bookstores and are even on sale at reduced prices. But there's a special kind of calendar that all good public relations professionals use – the editorial calendar.

According to Shannon Cherry, using editorial calendars is one of the most effective, yet most overlooked tool in a publicist's toolkit. "Most people avoid using editorial calendars because it takes some time to research and compile," she says. "The top PR professionals do this every year and I've personally found that outcomes are well worth the time – especially when you end up getting featured in a key article in a major publication." Cherry is the president of Cherry Communications (www.cherrycommunications.com), a public relations and marketing firm which helps small businesses, consultants and entrepreneurs to be heard.

Except for the year and the names of the months, these calendars bear little resemblance to the glossy hang-up calendars in the stores. No swimsuit-clad models, lush scenery, puppies, kittens or cartoons of Dilbert. Editorial calendars are usually bare-bones lists of upcoming issue topics and major features – or at least the cover stories or special sections. Not much to look at – unless you're a PR pro trying to crack that market.

"That's because knowing what publications have in store allows you to tailor your pitches, news releases and articles to particular issues," says Cherry. "Helping editors and journalists by providing the stories they need earns you goodwill and increased attention."

Editorial calendars are basically telling you exactly what information they need for each issue. "If you can spin your own story to match what the media is looking for, then you have a great chance of being featured in that publication," she says.

A current editorial calendar can usually be found in the advertising section at the publication's website. If you can't find it there, contact the publications marketing/sales department and ask them to email/snail mail it to you.

Here are some examples of editorial calendars: •Choice: The Magazine for Professional Coaching - http://www.choice-online.com/calendar.html •Small Business Technology Magazine - http://www.sbtechnologymagazine.org/write/SBTM_Editorial_Calendar _2004_2005.pdf •Fortune Small Business - http://www.fortune.com/fortune/mediakit/editcal-targeted.html

Not all publications have editorial calendars. "Really small magazines – the many labor-of-love kind of magazines published by enthusiasts –usually don't." says Cherry. "Magazines, which don't accept ads, may have one but they don't publish it. Totally reader-contributed publications don't. New magazines generally don't because the content is so often changed and tweaked as the publication searches for its voice."

Even some large, national magazines don't have calendars. News weeklies like Time and Newsweek don't. Neither does People or US Weekly. "They are steered by what news hits that week and that is, of course, something you can't predict months in advance," she explains.

Cherry suggests, after reviewing the calendar, you can decide which stories you can offer to be a source or expert for, or, in the case of trade publications, which months you could offer a written expert-opinion piece.

"Remember that editorial calendars can and do change, so check for updates regularly," reminds Cherry. "Also, pay attention to deadlines. Article queries and pitches especially should be sent to the editors well ahead of time. And if they don't have deadlines, assume that the media need the information about four months out."

About the author: Shannon Cherry, APR, MA helps businesses & entrepreneurs to be heard. She's a marketing communications expert with more than 15 years experience and the owner of Cherry Communications. Subscribe today for Be Heard! a FREE biweekly ezine and get the FREE special report: ""Get Set For Success: Creative, Low-Cost Marketing Tips to Help You be Heard."" Go to: http://www.cherrycommunications.com/freereport.htm.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

PR tips - should we issue a press release?

Author: Jo Chipchase

Question: Why should your business issue a press release? Answer: because you have something to say, you want to say it in public and a press release encourages the press to say it for you. And because you want to show your business in a favourable light from the outset and begin the longer-term process of building awareness and understanding of your product or service.

There's plenty of research to show that young companies – weighed down by the business of simply running a new business – pay scant attention to PR, yet that's exactly what they should be doing from the very start to get their names and products known. For most businesses, PR isn't about spin or the abstract maintaining of "good relations" with the press and public; it's simply about telling people that you and your products or services are there and letting them know why they should be interested. It's about getting column inches in newspapers and magazines and fulfilling the adage that an inch of good editorial is worth a page of advertising. It's about making your sales easier.

Issuing press releases is a mainstay of basic PR. It's how you start the ball rolling with the press. The good news is, if approached in the right way (whether you do it yourself or use an affordable professional, this activity need not cost the earth).

But do remember that you're presenting your business to the public. A release that's poorly written, with grammatical or spelling mistakes, or full of jargon, or long-winded and unfocused, can do you more harm than good. Given the importance of PR, there's something to be said in favour of paying for professional writing skills. PR writers don't just turn out good English: they know how to structure a press release and present facts in a way that appeals to busy journalists and grabs their attention.

The next question is: "When should I issue a press release?" Certainly, issuing releases willy-nilly, at whim, is no good. The time to make a business announcement is when you have something topical and newsworthy to say (but remember: what you consider topical might not be of interest to the wider world or to journalists). All releases need a strong 'hook' – in other words, an angle that will appeal to editors and give your story a good chance of gaining coverage.

So, what would be considered newsworthy? For starters, perhaps you're launching a new product or service? Or opening a new branch? Or you're launching a spin-off venture from scratch? Whatever it is, it should be presented as offering something reasonably new and interesting, not just as a "me too".

Hopefully, your product or service has particular benefits and applications that will appeal to your market segment and generate interest. If whatever you're launching is technically innovative or it's being marketed in an unusual or high profile way, you could have the basis of a release. In this case, make sure you don't fill your release with unnecessary jargon or marketing-speak that could alienate journalists, such as "the cost effective, integrated, seamless, one-stop-shop solution to meet all your business needs." Tell people what it is you're actually offering. The above example is full of hype but what's the product? An accountancy service? A stationers? An abattoir?

Other company activities could be newsworthy. Have you appointed any new members of senior staff who have a reputation in your industry? Won a large contract or client? Become involved in a sponsorship deal? Have you received an accolade or won an industry award? If so, the trade press might be interested.

Forthcoming events can provide ideal material for announcements. Are you holding any open days, speakers' panels, rallies or debates? Charity events or donations from your organisation to good causes are worth highlighting, as are initiatives that benefit the wider community. If celebrities or public figures are involved, your newsworthiness will increase. The level of interest will relate to the stature of your company and the nature of your event. If a famous chocolate factory held an open day with lots of freebies, it would be of national press interest. If Bloggs the Grocers held a similar event, the local paper would be the main target.

When you're seeking newsworthy stories, don't forget one of your best assets – your personnel. Have any employees been recognised for outstanding achievements? Do they have unusual hobbies? Have they received any unusual requests or orders from customers that your company has fulfilled? The local press might opt for a quirky human-interest story.

Whatever the reason for your announcement, remember this rule of thumb: yet another pizzeria on a high street full of pizzerias will not gain many column inches, no matter how good the pizzas. But a pizzeria offering the hottest jalapenos in the UK, singing waiters, Italian cocktails with every meal or three for the price of two (or something!) just might. Sometimes it's even worth coming up with an offer of some sort (particularly in retailing) simply to garner press interest.

Remember to monitor the news for events to hook into. Can you associate your company with upcoming holidays, public projects, or fads? Statements that might seem controversial, such as stating your organisation's stance on a volatile public issue, might gain coverage. Have you conducted research that gives you statistics you could release?

Finally, if you're targeting different press sectors with the same story, write multiple releases rather than issuing one generic release. An announcement focusing on the metallurgy used to create your new range of stainless steel cooking pans would be of interest to the trade press. However, it wouldn't be considered too thrilling by the lifestyle press and women's magazines.

You need to think carefully about what you're announcing and who it's aimed at, rather than using the 'scattergun' approach and sending untargeted releases to whichever journalists you happen to find. Professional PR distributors retain up-to-date lists of all the journalists in each industrial sector and geographical region, and take a great deal of care to target the right journalists with the right releases. If you're distributing your release yourself, a few hours' homework can pay enormous dividends.

About the author: Editorial director Press Dispensary www.pressdispensary.co.uk

Monday, April 21, 2008

Make Your PR Budget Work Harder

Author: Robert A. Kelly

Make Your PR Budget Work Harder

Do it by restructuring your business, non-profit or association public relations program so that it delivers the stakeholder behavior changes you want. Changes that lead directly to achieving your objectives.

A good first step is to base the restructure on a reality like this: People act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired -action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished.

Then, if you haven't done so already, think about your important outside audiences and how their behaviors can help or hinder your organization. List them in order of damage severity, and let's talk about #1 on the roster.

Obviously, before you decide how to deal with external audience perceptions and, thus, behaviors, it makes sense to find out what members of that target audience really think about your organization.

If you are not equipped with a budget to pay for professional survey work, you and your colleagues,have little choice but to interact with audience members and that means using penetrating questions – "What do you think of us? How much do you know about us? Have you ever had contact with our people? If so, was it a positive experience?" Stay alert to negativities, and watch closely for inaccuracies, misconceptions, and exaggerations.

The data you gather from such monitoring activity let's you identify the most severe perception problem, then establish it as your corrective public relations goal. Which allows you to straighten out that misconception, correct that inaccuracy or deflate that exaggeration.

Your goal isn't worth much by itself. It needs a buddy, and that buddy is a strategy that shows you what you must do to achieve the goal. Luckily, there are only three strategies to choose from when it comes to perceptions and opinions. Reinforce existing opinion, change it, or create perception where none exists. Here, by the way, you must take care that your chosen strategy fits naturally with your new goal.

Writing the message – especially one burdened with the job of altering perception – is never an easy job. In other words, it must change the opinion of a key target audience and that can be a challenging writing assignment.

All at the same time, the message must be persuasive and compelling. And to do that, it must be clear about what is to be altered and why. It must be truthful, of course, and believable if it is to move target audience perception towards your view. On occasion, you may wish to avoid the showcase effect of a separate news release leading you to either piggyback your message on another operating announcement, or deliver it live at one of your newsmaker special events or media interviews.

Since the message will do very little simply looking back at you from the word processor, you must round up your "beasts of burden" to carry your message to the right eyes and ears among your target audience. These are communications tactics and there are scores of them ready to help. They range from emails, speeches, and press releases to radio/newspaper interviews, newsletters, facility tours and many more. Only caution here is, make certain any communications tactics you use come with proof that they reaches folks similar to those in your target audience.

Questions will soon be raised as to whether your public relations effort is succeeding. Which will send you and your colleagues back into the field to question your target audience members once again.

Only this time, you're on the lookout for change in the form of perceptions altered, and opinions modified in your direction, as you planned.

It's also comforting to know that a lagging effort can be accelerated, and its impact increased, by adding more communications tactics to the mix. Further, their frequencies can be bumped up as well.

All of which increases the chances you will succeed in changing the behaviors of your key external audiences. Behavior change that you want and need, and that leads directly to achieving your primary operating objectives.

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Managers Who Leave PR to Others

Author: Robert A. Kelly

Managers Who Leave PR to Others

You're a business, non-profit or association manager who needs to achieve your organizational objectives on schedule. Since public relations should be helping you do just that, why leave it wholly in the hands of others?

In your own best interest, get personally involved in your public relations effort and ask the PR team servicing your department, division or subsidiary a few questions.

Are they focused on a workable, comprehensive plan for producing those key external audience behaviors like customers coming back for repeat purchases; new prospects starting to sniff around; capital donors asking for more information, and others deciding to specify your services or products, and similar good stuff?

Ask the PR folks how they feel about using the fundamental premise of public relations as a guide to the PR work they are doing for you. For that matter, what do you think about these two sentences? People act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving- to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished.

The nice thing about that premise is that it shines the PR spotlight directly on those outside groups of people with a large say about how successful you're going to be – namely, on your key external target audiences.

Then ask your PR team how they feel about using these tools to capture the perceptions, and thus behaviors of your most important outside audiences.

For example, do you and your PR people really know how your organization is perceived by those target audiences, and are you all really aware of the behaviors that flow from those perceptions?

Because that's where the rubber meets the road – target audience behaviors that help or hinder you in achieving your operating objectives.

To find out what target audience members think about your organ- ization, you and your PR team must interact with them and ask a lot of questions. The alternative is to spend considerable money on professional survey work, but let's assume that's not really an alternative at this point in the budget cycle.

At any rate, we're talking about questions like "What do you think of us? Have you had dealings with us? Were they satisfactory?" Stay alert to negativities such as misconceptions, inaccuracies, false assumptions and rumors.

With such data in hand, you're ready to establish your public relations goal. Often, it can be expressed in a few words: clear up that misconception, correct that inaccuracy, or clarify that false assumption.

But no PR goal is ready for battle without a sound strategy to tell you how to reach it. In matters dealing with perception and opinion, there are just three strategies from which to choose: reinforce existing perception, create perception where there is none, or change it. A word here, make certain the strategy you choose is a good fit with your public relations goal.

Clearly, the most challenging aspect of the PR problem-solving sequence is preparing the message that will do the heavy lifting – altering individual perception within your target audience pop ulation. It can do so only if it's both persuasive and compelling. As the PR team's "client manager," you must also be involved in message preparation. Is it clear as to what perception needs to be altered, and is your rationale believable and persuasive?

Next, hitch up your "beasts of burden," the communications tactics you need to carry that message to the eyes and ears of your key target audience. Fortunately, you and your PR team have a long list of such tactics available ranging from press releases, media briefings, newsletters and facility tours to radio and newspaper interviews, brochures and face-to-face meetings. Just be sure that the tactics chosen have a record of actually reaching folks like those in your target audience, and that the budget can accommodate the type and frequency of communications tactics required to do the job.

Pretty quick-like, you will wonder just how much progress towards your public relations goal you are really making. Which is the signal to re-monitor perceptions of those members of your target audience. Same questions, but a new objective: watch closely for signs that perceptions are actually being altered.

You can always apply more pressure to the effort by adding new communications tactics to the battle, AND bumping up some of their frequencies.

By keeping a managerial eye on your public relations program – and satisfying yourself that it is focused on helping you achieve your operating objectives – you can be certain your PR dollars are being spent on that workable, comprehensive plan for producing those key audience behaviors that impact your operation the most.

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks about the fundamental premise of public relations. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com

Saturday, April 19, 2008

How to write more powerfully for PR, offline and online

Author: Suzan St Maur

Years ago when my Dad owned a group of local newspapers I spent my school and college vacations working in the editorial office. We used to amuse ourselves over our sandwiches at lunchtime looking through and trashing the endless press releases that would arrive in the mail each day, all beautifully produced with glossy photographs (this was in pre-internet days).

We trashed them because all but the odd one or two were ill-considered, highly subjective, barely camouflaged advertising copy that had about as much editorial news value as last week's shopping list.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because despite the fact that this happened many years ago, it's still happening today. Both offline and now online editors continue to laugh sardonically at the self-promoting garbage they receive from corporate sources exactly as my Dad and I laughed umpty-dump years ago. I salivate just thinking about how I could spend the fortunes wasted on those releases and photographs over so many years.

And why does this continue to happen? I believe it is because the organizations who send out this stuff – particularly their financial managers – just can't get their heads around the difference in culture between what they want to say, and what editors need to deliver to their audiences.

Good PR advisers try hard to compensate, but ultimately it's the client who pays their fees, and if the client insists on issuing garbage there's not much a PR adviser can do other than resign the business.

Time after time after time I'm called into companies and asked to comment on why the PR coverage they get in the media is so poor. 99 times out of a 100 it's because they've issued press releases that are only of interest to themselves and their bosses. And yet when I point this out to them they can't understand it.

"But our development team worked 14 hours a day for three years to win that contract!" they shout indignantly. "And the CEO had to cut short his vacation in Turks & Caicos just so he could sign the documents by the deadline! I mean, it's the most important thing to have happened to us in the history of the company!"

"I know," I croon soothingly, "but those points aren't of much interest to the readers of your regional business press, or your trade press for that matter."

"Well, maybe not," they reply. "But they are very relevant to us, and to our shareholders. That's why we made such an elaborate issue of those points in the press release."

Ah, I think to myself as I gaze out of the window to see if my creatively-parked car is going to attract the attention of passing traffic policepersons. Here is another problem we encounter with press releases.

It's called "when is a press release not a press release?" The answer is, when a press release is to be used to impress all sorts of people who are not members of the press. Only we want them to think that this is what the press will write about us, so we put it in a press release. That would be okay as long as that's as far as it goes.

But the awful truth is the same document (paper or electronic) really does get sent out to the press. And quite rightly they ignore it, once again because it is of no interest to the readership of the publication concerned.

For Heaven's sake, you folks who do this sort of thing, please grow up and face reality. If you want to promote your achievements to your share/stockholders or staff or suppliers or whoever, then just go ahead and do it and dress it up in "press release" costume if you must, although I don't think that fools anybody.

But whatever you do, don't send it to the press – and don't kid yourself or anyone else that to use the same document for both purposes is a way to economize. It's a sure way to shoot yourself through the foot and indirectly could cost you a fortune.

If you want to get coverage in the media then you must forget all elements of self-congratulation. Whatever information you send out has to have something "in it for them" (the audience) - something new, interesting and relevant. It doesn't have to be earth-shattering, just worth reading.

If your organisation has done something brilliant and you're proud of it, by all means say so; just be sure to emphasise what's great about it for the audience and/or the rest of the world, not merely for yourselves. Let the facts tell the story. If your organisation genuinely deserves to be congratulated, it will be.

And you don't simply have the audience to consider in this case, because unlike the forms of communication you control, with media coverage the decision of whether or not to transmit your message rests with someone else – usually the editor. Editors and journalists are either very busy or very lazy or both (and don't chastise me for admitting that, guys. I've been there, done it, got the T shirt and drank too much in the brasserie at lunchtime too.)

If you supply them with material they can see is relevant to their readers and preferably is usable with the minimum of editing, they will warm to it a lot faster than something that may hold a grain of interest but will take someone a whole evening to rewrite and several phone calls or e-mails to check for accuracy.

Try to match the style and writing approach of the publication. If you're sending a release out to several publications that circulate among the same readership, then one release should be relevant to all. But if you're aiming at different press groups – say the trade journals and the business pages of the regional dailies – you will need to rework the approach of your press release according to the different audiences.

You'll usually find that the basic core of a press release can remain pretty well the same across all media groups, because it consists (or should consist) of the pure facts – the old journalist's formula of who, what, how, where, when and why.

What changes is the angle, and particularly the lead-in. That means the headline, which should be short and attention-grabbing, and then the first two or three sentences that support the headline and set up the whole story. Often it's worth trying to work in a clever bit of word-play with headlines, but be very careful – a pun or play on the words that doesn't work is worse than writing the headline straight.

By far the best guidance you'll get, though, comes from studying the audience – the people who read the publications. What in your story is going to interest them?

·Readers of a trade journal will be interested in what's new and different about your new product and how it could improve the way they do business.

·Readers of local or regional business sections will be interested more in how your new product's manufacturing and distribution, say, will impact on the local business community and economy.

·Local general newspapers and other media will be interested in the human side, i.e. how many new jobs the factory producing the new product will create.

·…etc.

And one last tip on how to get the best from press releases – use "quotes" from the key people involved in the story.

Not those awful, meaningless corporate-babble quotes you so often see in company press releases … "We are delighted to be able to announce the new contract at this moment in time and we have every confidence that our latest investment will be of significant benefit to our…" you know the type of thing. These are usually the first elements that get chopped out by the editor.

It's perfectly OK to write quotes for your senior people, by the way. They very rarely give real quotes for anything other than TV or radio interviews but don't seem to mind quotes being written for them, provided they're given the opportunity to check them before they're issued.

So, write them quotes that – far from being beatific banalities – actually are telling important parts of the story. This is good for two reasons:

1.It makes your senior exec look intelligent and aware of what's going on in the organization, which is 100% more than the banality-quote will do for him/her.

2.Because it's an important part of the story and contains useful facts, the publication's staff will be far less likely to edit it out.

Possibly you're beginning to feel that in order to get press coverage you'll have to turn yourself, your product and your entire board inside out and upside down. You could be right, but that's PR. Remember that press coverage is not advertising**. Yes, it's free and that's wonderful, but as always there's no such thing as a free lunch.

Editors will only put your stuff in, for free, if it is genuinely good for their publication and their readers, not for you. They do not care about your sales figures. They care about their own sales figures. Successful PR people and writers of press releases always, always bear these points in mind; in fact that's why they're successful.

**An exception to this is what's known (in the UK at least) as "advertorial." In case you don't already know this is advertising copy written in editorial style, but the space it occupies is really an advertisement you pay for. If you're obliged to write it, please just try to make it as honest as you can. Not easy.

Online tips

Nearly all the theory pertaining to offline PR is relevant to the online equivalent – especially in terms of what content is of interest to publishers and what isn't.

Online publishing of relevance to organizations usually falls into one of two pretty obvious groups; one, websites, portals etc that are totally independent and uniquely on the web, and two, those which are the online alter egos of offline publications.

In either group if you want the publications to take your releases or submissions seriously, it's very important that you follow the format and structure of articles that appear on the websites concerned. Whatever you do don't make the mistake of submitting a general press release to these organizations, even though you do it by e-mail.

Check first how long the teaser paragraph is that appears on the home or section page, and check how they lay out the full articles. Then submit material that fits perfectly, both in style and in word counts. Here's why:

1.You will be saving them the trouble of reworking your piece which makes it attractive in the first place

2.Because it fits so perfectly you will discourage them from changing anything, which is also a huge advantage for you.

The other point I would make about online press work is don't assume that just because you submit a release to the offline publication (and even if they run it) it will be forwarded automatically to the publication's website. It won't. At least not necessarily. And I've found that one out the hard way, believe me.

Treat offline and online versions as entirely separate entities; find out who the movers and shakers are on each, and often you'll see that the online version is run by an entirely different group of people.

About the author: Canadian-born Suzan St Maur is an international business writer and author based in the United Kingdom. Read more - and check out her free biweekly business writing tips eZine, Tipz from Suze , - at her website, SuzanStMaur.com © Suzan St Maur 2003-2005

Friday, April 18, 2008

Writing a Powerful E-mail Press Release

Author: John Karnish

Press Releases are a great source of publicity for your business and often attract more buyers than traditional, paid advertising. However a lot of people are confused when it comes to sending out publicity releases, so here are some things you should know.

You should always remember that the main objective is to seek publicity for your business. You never should send out a sales letter. That's not what a release is for and you'll never get published. Always target the person to whom you send your release. Sending out releases isn't a numbers game. The more targeted a contact is to your release, the more likely they will publish it.

Once you find a media source that would be interested in your publicity release, then you want to find which editor is the best for your purpose. Don't send it to a managing editor, you want to send it to a contact that is related to your release.

When you send a release, always personalize it. ""Dear Editor's name,"". Use their title, ""Being the Sports Editor for..."" Also use their field of interest if it's known. ""Being the Sports Editor for the (New England Chronicle) and an avid soccer fan...""

There are two, general ways of sending out a press release by e-mail. Both have good and bad qualities. Some editors prefer that you send them a short e-mail, ""briefly"" describing your release and asking permission to send it. This will prevent an editor from asking to be removed, which would end any future contact with him.

The second way is to make absolutely sure he would be interested in your release and just send it out. The advantage of going this way is neither of you is wasting time by asking permission and granting it. It's up to you. I suggest you try and see how each one works for you and choose the better of the two. Whichever strategy you use always honor an editor's request to be ""removed.""

Try to keep you release short; e-mail releases are recommended to be only three paragraphs. Many editors will receive a hundred or more releases a day, so you have to get his attention in a very short amount of time.

Catch their attention in the first paragraph, the main focus of your release in the second and your contact information in the third.

You don't want to give your whole story in the press release, you want them to contact your for more information. The nice thing about the internet is that you can make this information directly available by using a webpage or an autoresponder.

List all of the information they'd be interested in. Think of some questions that an editor would probably ask you in an interview and provide the answers. Write down all of the specifics of your story. You might want to list your credentials or company history too. Whenever you list a contact number, always leave a number where you can be reached. Editors don't have a lot of time and they're not going to go out of their way to get in touch with you.

When thinking of ideas for a release, one good way of getting noticed is by tying yourself in with recent news stories. Another idea is just to make a bold claim, ""that you can live up to."" You'll find that lots of people will give you publicity, to try to prove you wrong. For example ""New York stock broker say he can make anyone a millionaire."" Just remember that you should be able to stand behind your claims.

Format of a Press Release

""FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE"" should be written in top, left corner. If your information needs to be printed on or before a certain date, you would write something like: ""FOR RELEASE AFTER MARCH 27"" or ""FOR RELEASE BEFORE CHRISTMAS."" These would also go in the upper, left-hand corner.

Skip two lines and type ""CONTACT:"" Then list your contact information. Skip two lines and type your headline. Make sure your spend some time here because this is what will determine if your release gets read or shred. (=

The first paragraph begins with the dateline. Here's an example: (New York, NY - October 9, 2000) - Then. skip a space after the dash and write your first sentence. The first paragraph of your release should be a few sentences that concisely summarize the content without much specific detail. Remember to answer the basic questions who, what, where, when, why and how. Pay special attention to the first paragraph because it's here that you have to convince the editor that your release is worth reading and printing. Be sure to make this clear. Why should her readers be interested? How will it affect their life? What are the benefits?

The second paragraph, you want to go into a little more detail and add some quotes. Remember to establish yourself as an expert. Don't say ""Tom Jones says,"" say ""Tom Jones, webmaster for Kidco.com and prominent author says...""

In the third paragraph, you want to persuade the editor to seek more information. You can have them visit your web site or a pre-made webpage, send a message to an autoresponder, call you etc. At the end of your press release, you want to skip a space and end with three, centered number signs. ""###""

About the author: John Karnish of the Internet Marketing Professional website. Visit his site for a QUICK And EASY Way To Build A Profitable Business On The Internet. Start Today! Visit: http://internet-marketingpro.com

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Successful Small Businesses Use PR

Author: Robert A. Kelly

Successful Small Businesses Use PR

It's obvious when a small business has accepted the fact that its most important outside audiences need lots of care and feeding. They do something about it.

There's a sense of urgency and a recognition that those "key target publics" have behaviors that really impact the business, and that they had BETTER do something about it!

What about you? Are you ready to follow the winners and get public relations working for your small business?

The payoff can be significant – key audience behaviors that directly support your business objectives and make the difference between failure and success.

But, as always, there's some work connected to reaching that pot of gold, but it's really worth the effort.

If you're willing, begin by listing those most important outsiders in a priority ranking. Probably, customers and prospects will take #1 and #2 positions. But others rate a spot on that list depending on how crucial they are to the success of your business. In fact, an audience only makes the list if, left unattended, its perceptions and behaviors actually can hurt your business.

You're at a disadvantage when you don't know what those important external audiences think of you and your small business. And the only affordable way to find out is for you and your colleagues to talk to members of that key audience by interacting with them. Ask questions about what they think of you, your business and its products or services. Especially watch for any negativity, misconceptions, inaccuracies, wrong-headed beliefs, or rumors. And monitor local print and broadcast media, especially local talk shows and newspaper pages, for similarly negative signs.

The responses you gather help you set your public relations goal. For instance, correct that wrong-headed belief; fix that inaccuracy; or straighten-out that misconception. The goal, by the way, will also become your behavior modification marker against which progress can be tracked.

But how do you get there? You select a strategy from the three available to you: create perception/opinion where none may exist, change existing perception/opinion, or reinforce it. The public relations goal you just set will lead you directly to the right choice of strategies.

The message you send to your target audience is crucial, and writing it can be hard work because it must alter the negativity you found when you interviewed audience members.

Above all, it must be persuasive while clearly presenting the facts. It must be credible, believable and timely as it explains truthfully what is at issue at that moment. In short, your message must be compelling.

Getting that finished message to the right eyes and ears is your next challenge. And that means selecting the right communi- cations tactics, and you have dozens of them available to you. Speeches, press releases, emails, meetings, radio and newspaper interviews, action alerts, brochures, newsletters and so many others.

Before long, you'll be looking for indications that your new public relations program is making progress.

After the communications effort has had six or eight weeks to take effect, it seems obvious that the best way to determine that is to go back to members of your key target audience, interact with them again and ask more questions. The difference this time, however, is that you are looking for signs that your carefully prepared message is really altering the negativity you discovered during your interviews with those target audience members. And once again, keep an eye and ear on local media for similar signs that your message has been heard.

If you're anxious to speed up the process, boost the number and variety of the communications tactics you're using, as well as their frequencies.

What you want is for your second monitoring go-around to show marked perception change which tells you clearly that the behaviors you really want are on the way.

In the PR business, that creates success.

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks about the fundamental premise of public relations. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit: http://www.prcommentary.com

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Underestimating the Power of In-house PR

Author: Carolyn Moncel

Underestimating the Power of In-house PR

by Carolyn Moncel Do small-business owners always have to rely on large PR agencies to get attention from the press? An entrepreneur recently asked me this question during a networking event for women business owners. Of course my answer was, ""No,"" but not for the reasons one might expect.

Ultimately, I do believe the time comes when a company needs professional guidance from a PR agency -- be it a large or small one -- to secure media coverage. But I also believe that a really media savvy small-business owner, or a two-person marketing team can do a fantastic job in promoting an organization. Here's how I know it can work.

A few years ago during the dot.com boom, I worked for a small online publishing company. We had a terrific technical team and staff, two great products, but no one knew the company existed. As a start-up, it was crucial for the company to gain awareness through media exposure because advertising was too expensive.

Since our marketing department only consisted of two people -- the marketing director and myself, there was a bit of concern within the organization as to whether we had enough in-house resources available to successfully get the company much-needed ink. So the company's executive team hatched an interesting plan. They offered our in-house marketing team the chance to bid on the company's PR project as if we were an outside agency.

My experience had always been in public relations, rather than product marketing. My boss' experience had always been the opposite. We seized the opportunity to combine our knowledge, skills and research.

Our tiny two-person team matched PR wits squarely against four established pros - including one former White House aide. Guess what? Our ideas prevailed, and the company decided to ditch the notion of hiring a big PR firm in favor of keeping the in-house team.

Before long we were generating some memorable press for our company. Over a two-year period we placed stories on our company in more than 100 media outlets - from MSNBC and Forbes to the Wall Street Journal and Wired News online. We did it by studying what the big PR agencies did well, and also by using our department's ""smallness"" to our advantage. Here's how you can do it, too.

Research your company.

Forget that you own or work within the organization. Really invest the time in understanding your company's structure, the executives and their backgrounds, the products and technology, the industry in which your company belongs, competitors and experts, and most of all the target audience -- the people who stand to benefit most from your product or service. If you know all of this information, then you'll be in a better position to brainstorm ideas on how to get the media's attention. Doing this also helps in flushing out your overall marketing plan -- which PR is only a part.

Research the reporters who cover your company's industry and study the types of stories that they like to write.

Learn their deadlines and how they prefer to be contacted. Introduce yourself by phone and make it a point to speak with them regularly -- not just to talk about your company, but also about the industry in general. Use those conversations to offer up source materials that will help reporters write terrific stories. If you are able to do this successfully, you will become a trusted source that reporters return to repeatedly, and you will significantly increase your chances of gaining coverage for your company.

Always Return Media Phone Calls Immediately.

Keep yourself and your organization at the ready to receive phone calls from the press. Make sure that reporters know how to reach you in a 24-hour cycle. This means they should have your office, cell, home, and pager numbers, as well as a contact e-mail address. If you still happen to miss the call, return it ASAP. Always prepare yourself or members from your organization to conduct interviews from anywhere, at any time.

Conduct proper follow up after the interview.

This is not a call to find out when a story will be published, but rather a call to make sure that the reporters have everything they need in order to write a favorable story on your organization.

Whenever our company executives were interviewed by reporters, one team member would always accompany them to the interview to take careful notes. Alternately, the other team member would remain in the office on standby. If, during the interview, the reporter indicated a need for specific information, an urgent message would be relayed back to the office so that the team member had time to gather the information. Without fail, we always had the requested information waiting in the reporter's e-mail inbox before they arrived back to the office. This may seem like a small task, but getting it right could really decide whether or not a reporter selects your story, or moves on to a new one.

The important point to remember here is this. Never underestimate the power and dedication of your in-house staff. Before you make the investment in retaining a PR agency, look at your internal talent first. What you find just might surprise you, and their drive to succeed will become contagious throughout your entire organization. And when the time comes to hire a PR firm, you will have a ready-made collaborative team in place to work with your outside agency. Your in-house team knows your company better than anyone and that's where you, as a small-business owner, have an advantage over the ""big boys"" at the large PR agencies in getting the media's attention.

About the author: Carolyn Davenport-Moncel is president and founder of Mondave Communications, a global marketing and communications firm based in Chicago and Paris, and a subsidiary of MotionTemps, LLC. Contact her at carolyn@motiontemps.com or by phone in the United States at 877.815.0167 or 011.331.4997.9059 in France.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Press Release

Author: Ajay Prasad

Global Marketing Resources , LLC launches turnkey package for Transcription Service Providers

- Global Marketing Resources, LLC is offering turnkey business opportunity to transcription service providers who want to significantly scale their business. - Its turnkey transcription-website and marketing program; combined with affordable setup and monthly fee enables any transcriptionist to convert their skill to a successful home-based business.

Irvine, CA, January 27, 2006...Global Marketing Resources, LLC (GMR), a Irvine, CA based website design, web management and website marketing company launched a turnkey website for transcription business. This is GMR's first vertical market product.

As part of the package, customers would get a turnkey transcription website that enables any digital file to be uploaded by transcription-service-provider's clients and downloaded by transcriptionists for transcribing the file. Transcriptionists can upload the transcribed files in client's area remotely. Given that most of transcriptionists operate from home, this transcription website allows a transcription company to manage transcriptionists spread anywhere in the world.

The transcription business package includes the website and proven marketing programs to kick start a new transcription business. This package of transcription website and marketing program is priced such that anyone can start home-based transcription service business with a very modest investment. It takes only few weeks to setup and start the business.

This is the first vertical market project from Global Marketing Resources, LLC.

Speaking about the development, Mr. Ajay Prasad , Founder and President, Global Marketing Resources, LLC said, ""I am pleased to offer an affordable business solution for the transcription service industry. We know that our website features and marketing support can help transcription service companies a mean to grow their business and add transcriptionists from any part of the world in its team. On the other hand, this package enables a transcriptionist to work from home, spend fewer hours, and still make the equivalent amount of money they are currently making.""

""Since we get transcription jobs from all over the world and our panel of transcriptionists are spread across from US, India, UK and Australia; the added features of the transcription website will dramatically help us manage our business. I am not a big fan of his low price turnkey option for transcriptionists because it will increase my competition, but I wish Ajay all the best for this new product,"" said Shreekant, VP Operations of Gmrtranscription.com, an established transcription business that uses GMR designed transcription website & marketing programs.

Global Marketing Resources, LLC would manage websites for a low monthly fee and keep on updating features of the transcription-website as required by the changing transcription business.

About Global Marketing Resources, LLC Global Marketing Resources, LLC is marketing-focused company, actively involved in website designing, web marketing, and website maintenance. Global Marketing Resources has been focused on helping small businesses market their products since its inception in 2001. The company started to focus on the website needs of small businesses in 2003 and designs turnkey websites, manages it, and offers web marketing support at lower rates that allows good returns on website presence investment by small companies.

Headquartered in Irvine, CA, Global Marketing Resources has a development & marketing team of over 40 employees based in Hyderabad, India.

For details or clarifications write to us at info@gmrwebteam.com or visit us at www.gmrwebteam.com

About the author: Ajay is the President of Global Marketing Resources , the marketing consulting and fulfillment firm in US. Prior to GMR, Ajay had over 17 years of marketing & business management experience at senior executive positions in marketing at large, medium size, and start-up companies. Ajay has been quoted in major newspapers (Dallas Morning News, San Jose Mercury News, The Wall Street Journal, etc.) about his views on car navigation.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Advertising Is Dead. Long Live PR.

Author: Harry Hoover

Although I still believe there is a place for advertising as a brand maintenance or brand affirmation tool, I am convinced that to build a brand today, you need PR. At one time advertising did build brands. But this was in a simpler America. That America, sadly, is no more.

I've been re-reading The Fall Of Advertising & The Rise Of PR, by Al and Laura Ries, and it is their book that has moved me from suspicion of advertising's demise as a brand-builder to conviction.

As the Ries' say, "Publicity is the nail, advertising is the hammer." What does this mean? It means that your PR effort helps make your message believable so that your advertising will have credibility when it hits.

Typically, companies want to hit the market hard and make a lot of noise. Advertising allows you to launch quickly, control the message, and have your message in as many media as you have the money for. However, that does not mean your message will be believed. The louder advertisers yell, the less likely I am to believe them. How about you?

PR takes time and does not necessarily work on your schedule. Planting new ideas or changing minds is a slow process. When your PR program rolls out over a longer period of time, prospects have time to adjust their attitudes. Brands that take this approach are longer lasting, too.

Chevrolet, for years the number one auto brand, was still number one in ad spending in 2001. It spent $819 million dollars – 39 percent more than Ford spent. That year, Ford outsoldevrolet by 33 percent. Since 1997, Chevrolet has outspent and undersold Ford. Chevrolet spends $314 per vehicle and Ford spends $170 per vehicle. Do you think advertising is working for Chevrolet?

Kmart, embroiled in financial difficulty for years, had revenues of $37 billion and spent $542 million on US advertising in 2001. Wal-Mart spent $498 million and garnered four times the revenue: $159 billion split between its Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores. The average Wal-Mart store does $46 million in sales each year while its Sam's Club average store sells $56 million. Sam's Club does almost no advertising.

Those are old brands, you're saying. What about some newer brands, Harry?

OK, let's look at Pets.com. Remember the dog sock puppet that starred in their commercials? It won awards, but not sales. In six months Pets.com had $22 million in revenues and spent four times that much on advertising. Off-base advertising creativity at work.

The Body Shop was built totally by publicity. No advertising at all. Starbucks, until recently, did virtually no advertising. It has built a brand through good PR efforts. Starbucks' annual sales are around $1.3 billion, while advertising expenditures over 10 years, have totaled less than $10 million.

Finally, what advertising agency do you know that has built its brand with ads? Things that make you go "hmm."

About the author: Harry Hoover is managing principal of Hoover ink PR, http://www.hoover-ink.com. He has 26 years of experience in crafting and delivering bottom line messages that ensure success for serious businesses like Brent Dees Financial Planning, Duke Energy, Levolor, New World Mortgage, North Carolina Tourism, VELUX and Verbatim.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

If Your PR Can't Do This, Bag It!

Author: Robert A. Kelly

If Your PR Can't Do This, Bag It!

As a business, non-profit or association manager, why continue a public relations effort that doesn't deliver the key external audience behaviors you need to achieve your department, division or subsidiary objectives?

Time for a change. One that will base your PR effort on a fundamental premise that makes sense. And one that actually leads to outside audience behaviors like these: new proposals for joint ventures or strategic alliances, prospective buyers browsing your services or products, specifying sources or major donors thinking about you, more frequent repeat purchases or a substantial boost in capital donations.

So, you need two things. One, a really personal involvement with the public relations people assigned to your department, division or subsidiary. And two, a new foundation for your PR effort.

A foundation like this: People act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished.

It will give you a blueprint that will help you persuade your key stakeholders to your way of thinking. In turn, that should move them to take actions that lead to your success as a business, non-profit or association manager.

First and foremost, you need to know how members of your most important external audiences perceive you because those perceptions usually lead to behaviors that can hurt you or help you in achieving your objectives.

So, you and your PR team must list those outside audiences whose behaviors affect your unit the most. Then put them in priority order. We'll use #1 on your list as our target in this article.

Now, you can spend some real money on professional survey counsel, or you and your PR team can do it yourself by interacting with your target audience. Use questions like these to identify opinion, perception problems. "What do you know about our organization? Have you had any kind of contact with us? Was it satis- factory? Do you like our products or services?"

Listen carefully to the responses you receive. Stay alert for evasive or hesitant answers, and be watchful for negativity – especially inaccuracies, exaggerations, misconceptions or rumor.

These answers are your red meat, the input you need to create the public relations goal. For example, clear up a misconception, kill that rumor once and for all, or fix that inaccuracy. Each of which can lead to target audience behaviors you won't like one little bit.

Reaching that goal is another story. You need a strategy to do it and you have just three choices as you deal with your opinion/perception challenge: create perception where there may be none, change existing opinion, or reinforce it. But take care when you identify your strategy that it compliments your goal.

The heavy lifting in your public relations problem solving sequence will be done by the message you prepare designed to correct the negative perception you identified during your perception monitoring session. You must be very clear about the offending perception, particularly why it is untrue. Remember that you want to change what people believe and, thus, their behaviors so that you can achieve your unit's objectives. Which is why the message must be both believable and compelling.

Getting the message from your organization to the attention of members of your target audience is your next challenge. Luckily, there is a long list of communications tactics standing ready to help you do just that. They range from media interviews, personal meetings and speeches to press releases, newsletters, facility tours and many more. But check carefully that the tactics you employ have a proven record of reaching people similar to those who make up your target audience.

Inevitably, questions will be asked as to whether all this smoke and flame is producing any results. A question that can only be answered back out in the field interacting once again with members of your key outside audience.

While you'll be using the same questions used during your first opinion monitoring drill, this time you're looking for indications that the hurtful perceptions are actually changing, as will the inevitable follow on behaviors.

Incidentally, you can always put the pedal to the metal with additional communications tactics, as well as using them more frequently.

What you have, finally, is the blueprint you need to help persuade your most important stakeholders to take actions that lead to your success as a business, a non-profit or an association manager.

And your cost was "bagging" a PR effort that simply couldn't deliver the key external audience behaviors you need to achieve your unit objectives.

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com

Friday, April 11, 2008

Using Marketing PR to Promote Your Business

Author: Michelle Payne-Gale

Public Relations is an important marketing tool, and should be considered carefully. It is a way of connecting with your customers, suppliers and distributors. The objectives of Marketing PR are to build awareness, raise your profile and build credibility, and encourage your staff. Here are five Marketing PR methods that you can use to promote your company.

News

It will be your responsibility to develop a concept for a story about your business, to research it fully and to write a press release (if you are not confident in your writing ability, consider passing this task to a copywriter). There needs to be a good relationship between your company, and the editors of your chosen publications. Unless you are trained in Public Relations, it may be wise to seek the services of a PR professional at this point. PR professionals are in the best position for encouraging the media to attend your press conferences and accept your editorials. They understand the needs of editors and reporters, and as a result will be able to sell you appropriately to them.

Publications

There are a number of different types of publication that fall under the umbrella of PR, and can be used separately or in conjunction with each other. Brochures advise customers about the product, its uses, how it works, its benefits, and any extra features. Newsletters and magazines help the build up the company's image, convey news and special offers, as well as marketing the company in a variety of ways. Articles in local newspapers help to advertise and draw attention to the company and its products. Multimedia methods are the most expensive of the publications, but have the greatest impact. Many companies choose to create videos about themselves and their products, and use them for presentation purposes. Blogs and the Internet are the cheapest of the publications, and have the greatest coverage, without needing a large budget.

Events

These include seminars, conferences, exhibitions and sponsored events, such as sports or charity. They give an opportunity to advertise your expertise in your field and display all that your company has to offer. Sponsoring events puts you in front of potential clients and can help you to get contacts via networking.

Public Speaking

Give speeches at trade association meetings and clubs. Consider speaking at or hosting a networking event for business professionals or customers. If your company is larger in scale, consider holding speaking events with media professionals. If public speaking is not your thing, consider using the services of a public speaking coach or speechwriter to help build your confidence.

Community Activities

Much the same as sponsoring events, consider contributing money and time to good causes. Remember that it is better to give than to receive, and it will be a great way of marketing yourself at the same time.

When you consider using Marketing PR, ensure that you are clear on your marketing objectives, your messages, your audience, your PR methods, and take care to implement them appropriately. Keep track of your results, to ensure continued success in the future.

About the author: Michelle Payne-Gale is the owner of Essence (Business & Admin Support Services), specialising in virtual administration, marketing, web design, research & creative support for start-ups and small businesses. Additional articles are available at: http//www.essence-services.co.uk.

She is also involved in the development of http//www.stay-in-antigua.com, a tourism information website for the Caribbean island of Antigua.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Is it News? A Manufacturing PR Checklist

Author: Thomas Cutler

Ranked as the nation's leading manufacturing journalist and an editor, TR Cutler (www.trcutlerinc.com) has issued a PR Checklist for manufacturers. Cutler tells the extraordinary stories of manufacturers. According to Cutler, "There are great companies making great products. There are too many manufacturers and companies serving the manufacturing sector that have simply neglected to tell their story. My goal is to tell these stories in an interesting, dynamic, understandable, and relevant way. My goal is to provide a checklist for manufacturers to determine what is and is not newsworthy."

Newsworthy Manufacturing Checklist The following Checklist should be reviewed weekly to determine the events and circumstances that might merit Media Coverage. I. New or Updated Product Information II. New Customer Information III. New Strategic Alliances/Partnership Information a. Software Vendors (ERP, CRM, SCM) b. Professional Services (Law Firms, CPA's, PR firms) c. Co-op Bundling Sales Program IV. New Facility or Manufacturing Operation V. Company Data Announcements a. Sales Data (Increased sales) b. Growth Announcements (by employees, sq. ft., revenue) c. Marketshare Announcements VI. Industry Sector News a. Competitive Analysis b. Comparison within the sector c. Leadership Position within the sector VII. Local/Regional News a. Jobs/Local Economic Impact b. Community Service/Goodwill c. Sponsorships/Participation VIII. Events, tradeshows, conferences, awards IX. Association/Organization Memberships a. Manufacturing Association b. Industrial Sector Association partnership c. Other key Organizations/Association d. Political Affiliation X. Cross-Reference Media a. Radio b. Television c. Photo Opportunity

Cutler's check list is used in conjunction with the proprietary Manufacturing Media Consortium of 2000 journalists writing about trends and data in the manufacturing sector.

TR Cutler 954-486-7562 www.trcutlerinc.com e-mail protected from spam bots

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About the author: None

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Is PR Right for You? 6 Questions to Ask

Author: Michele Pariza Wacek

When most people think about marketing, they think advertising. While advertising is a part of marketing, marketing is much bigger than advertising. There are lots of different marketing methods floating around out there, and the challenge as a business owner is figuring out when it's appropriate to use each one and the best way to use it.

Public relations, or PR, is the art of getting someone else to write or talk about you or your business. Preferably in a favorable manner. Traditionally, ""someone else"" was the media. In this day and age however, someone else can also be a blogger, a freelance writer, an e-zine publisher or even an owner of a big Web site. For purposes of this article, I'm using the word ""media"" to refer to all of those folks.

PR is also being able to get yourself on a big talk show to talk about yourself or your business, or writing your own article that's published in a desired outlet. (Not your own newsletter or Web site.)

PR is one of my favorite marketing methods, but it can also be one of the more frustrating ones. Even when you do everything right, you still might not get the publicity you want. Or for that matter, ANY publicity at all. When a PR campaign doesn't work, you can find yourself wanting to pull out all your hair in frustration.

Even with that in mind, I do believe most if not all businesses can benefit from some type of PR campaign. But before you launch into something that could end with you becoming hairless (and investing in a sizeable hat collection) ask yourself the following questions.

1. Do I need to see results right away? If you do, better pull out your wallet and pay for some advertising. PR takes time. And it's not guaranteed. You might not see your article for weeks, months or ever, and there isn't a darn thing you can do about it. If it's immediate gratification you want, don't look for it in a public relations campaign.

2. Do I have the time to consistently devote to a public relations campaign? We're back to the time issue. PR not only takes time to see results, but you also have to take time to make it happen. Either you have to do it or you have to pay someone else to do it. If you do it yourself, you'll have the potential of garnering the equivalent of thousands of dollars of advertising for little or no money. But it will cost you some time. If you pay someone else, you'll save time (which is a good thing, I'm a big believer in outsourcing) but it can get expensive. Worse yet, you STILL might not get any coverage for your money.

3. Do I have enough perseverance to run a PR campaign? PR is about follow-up. It's about sending story idea after story idea to the same reporter before one finally connects (and maybe it's the tenth one). It's about sending a little note or letter to the same editor for as long as several years before you get a bite. It's about reminding your contacts you're out there until one day they realize they need you.

If you're willing to court the media, develop relationships and do whatever you can to make their lives easier, the rewards can be huge.

4. Do I have newsworthy events happening at my business? (Newsworthy is something media personnel feel would interest their readers.) Or, if I don't, can I create them?

I'm not talking about making things up here. But there are things you can be doing to make your business more newsworthy. For example, you can do a survey and publish the results. You can tie a feature of your product or service to something that's currently happening in the news. You can hold an event. You can research a newly published study that relates to your product or service. There are countless ways you can transform aspects of your business into newsworthy story items -- the creativity exercise below can help you come up with your ideas.

5. Do I want to build my credibility? Develop my status as an expert? Then get that PR campaign off the ground. Nothing builds your credibility or expert status faster than having other people say you know what you're talking about.

6. Do I want to augment my other marketing efforts? Public relations definitely plays nicely with the other marketing methods. You can be building your long-term expert campaign with PR and building short-term customers with advertising. Or you can turn your community relations strategies into PR campaigns. It's a great way to get the most bang out of your marketing time and dollar.

Creativity Exercise -- How can you use PR in your business?

Grab some sheets of paper and pen (I like the fun gel pens myself) and get ready for some brainstorming.

Start by listing everything you do or sell. Then write out all the features or descriptions of your products or services. For instance, if you have a book, what is your book about? What does it offer people?

Now see if you can turn those features into something newsworthy. Is there a time of year when people are interested in your services? (Accounting and tax season). Are there any studies you can dig up? Is there something in the news that ties into your product? Can you turn an aspect of your business into a human interest story? (Something like fitness tips for busy people or parenting tips for single parents, etc.) Write everything down that comes into your head, even if it's silly. See if you can come up with 50 story ideas.

Now look at what you wrote. Can you find a few in there that you think would interest the media? Congratulations -- you just came up with a PR campaign.

About the author: Michele Pariza Wacek is the author of ""Got Ideas? Unleash Your Creativity and Make More Money."" She offers two free e-zines that help subscribers combine their creativity with hard-hitting marketing and copywriting principles to become more successful at attracting new clients, selling products and services and boosting business. She can be reached at http://www.TheArtistSoul.com. Copyright 2005 Michele Pariza Wacek

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Great Press Release Can Really Get Your Business Noticed

Author: Alvin Apple

Getting a new business off the ground is a daunting prospect. There are so many things to consider: office space, equipment, personnel, and the all important advertising. Money is always tight in the beginning, and quite often by the time that last dollar is spent getting things up and running, the advertising budget just isn't there. Not to worry. There are many great ways of getting the word out about your business without spending a fortune. In particular, press releases have long been an effective way of letting the public know that your business exists.

Now a press release is not an ad, and any press release structured like an ad will be deleted in a second. The job of a press release is simply to alert the media to something newsworthy about your business. It's a bit like fishing. Whether or not the editor takes your bait depends on how you present your business, or even what kind of day the editor is having. In the end, it is entirely up to the individual editors whether or not they use your story.

When writing your press release, make it sound newsy. Don't start off with sales language. You can save the blatant commercial stuff for the end of the release. Choose something interesting about your business and create a headline. ""New Innovations in Gardening Produce Beautiful Crop of Strawberries,"" is much more likely to be read than, ""Johnson's Nursery Grand Opening Special: 50% off on Strawberries."" Get the picture?

After you've got a great headline, fill out your story with interesting facts about your business. Give a brief history of what led you to what you're doing now. Mention how the needs of the market are changing and how your business is a result of those changes. Try using quotes. Whatever you do, make it interesting, and stay away from blatant sales language or specific offers.

Once you've got your release written, submit it to as many media outlets as possible. You can find media databases and lists of editors all over the web. One that I've had particularly great luck with is Gebbie.com., try them, and also do a search to see what you can come up with on your own. Submit to all of your local papers, radio stations and TV stations as well. Too often people doing business online forget about local media, and sometimes they can be your biggest champions.

Linking your release to a popular story in the news can also get an editor's attention. If a specific topic is already on the tips of people's tongues, a related release is much more likely to be picked up. Media people tend to think that a typical audience can only stay interested in a few topics at a time, so if you can tie your story in to something that's already getting buzz you'll have a much better chance. If you don't get picked up right away, keep trying. What an editor ignores today may sound like a great story next month. Don't give up.

The time at which you submit your release is crucial as well. You will always have a better chance of being noticed if the editor receives your story before 3pm. Late afternoon is deadline ""crunch"" time for newspapers, past the prime news times of radio, and getting into last minute preparation time for TV news. Keep that in mind and don't get lost in the shuffle.

If you do it right, submitting a press release can be a great way of getting the word out about your business. There's money to be made out there if you just know how to do it.

About the author: Alvin Apple helps everyday people start businesses they will enjoy. Then he teaches them how to succeed. Read all his helpful strategies, including his latest article ""How to Use Signature Files to Give Your E-mail The Personal Touch That SELLS,"" at http://AlvinApple.com Reach Alvin at 801-328-9006 or alvin@drnunley.com.