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Archive for Marketing’ Category

30

Sep
2013
Comments Off on PRGN Conferences

PRGN Conferences

This is an exciting year for the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN).  As a founding member 21 years ago, Stevens Strategic Communications has a special bond with PRGN, the fourth largest international network of public relations firms.

We are making plans for our meeting in Australia.  Just like all of our meetings, we will spend three full days addressing ways we can help our clients on a global basis.  We explore better methods of tapping the extraordinary talents within the network that are just a phone call or email away.  For our clients, it is like having a local agency that is global in scope.

In our recent gatherings, we spent quality time discussing best practices:  What is working and what is not working in terms of agency operation, customer service, staff retention and knowledge expansion.  The more we know, the better we can serve.

When we arrive in Sydney, we know we will see friends and professionals whom we have come to trust and learn from.  We meet twice every year.  One member said something very eloquently that I have adapted for my purposes here.  “When you hire Ed Stevens and Stevens Strategic Communications, you also get partners in Paris, Singapore, Warsaw, Montreal, New Delphi, Capetown and Dubai.  That is because PRGN members are on the same page when it comes to global communications and the best practices that drive the public relations industry today.”

Ed Stevens, APR — Stevens Strategic Chairman

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25

Sep
2013
Comments Off on Make Your Press Event the Star of the (Trade) Show

Make Your Press Event the Star of the (Trade) Show

Someone Entering Information from a Piece of Paper onto a Computer

A trade show is a perfect platform for unveiling new products and making company announcements.  Shows provide you with a built-in audience made up of customers, prospects and media personnel. What more could you ask for? Take advantage of this opportunity to generate buzz, increase press coverage and–ultimately–grow sales, by holding a press conference or media event.  When it comes to pulling off a flawless event, it’s all in the details. Hark back to lessons from journalism 101 and cover your bases with the 5 Ws.

What?

What are you announcing or unveiling? Don’t give the entire story away before the event. Rather, offer teasers with a promise of the full story at the event. The executives and product managers should be on hand to make statements and answer questions.  You want to give the media all of the information and resources they will need when—hopefully—writing up a feature for publication or posting. Pass out press kits with news releases and images on memory sticks or CDs.

When?

Don’t just pick a date and time spontaneously. Do some digging first. Ask the show organizers to send you a master list of all scheduled press conferences. You don’t want to compete for media attention.  Also check the show schedule for any show-sponsored activities or seminars that may conflict with your event.  Will your event take place during regular show hours or will it happen before or after the show opens for the day? There are pros and cons on both sides. If it is outside of show hours, check the hotel trolley/shuttle schedule to be sure transportation won’t be an issue for your invitees.  It’s almost never a good idea to host a press event prior to the start of the show on opening day. Your media audience needs time to check in and obtain their press credentials. If you go with a press conference during show hours, choose a time when traffic is typically low as to not interfere with potential selling opportunities.

Who?

Ask the show marketing department for a list of registered media. Narrow that list to those individuals representing publications and sites you are targeting. Quantity is better than quality. There is no use in inviting everyone on the media list if half of them cover categories that don’t match your focus. Send the initial invitation two weeks prior to the event.  Follow up seven days before the event. Finally, issue a reminder one day in advance. Personalize the correspondence for a better response rate.

Where?

Location, location, location. You have several options: your booth, a designated press conference room, a hotel suite or conference room off-site.  Unless there are some special circumstances, on-site is always preferable to an off-site location. The benefit of having a press conference in your booth is the ability to demonstrate equipment on the spot. The disadvantage is that it may hinder regular booth traffic or draw a crowd of nosy competitors rather than interested media. Weigh the options to decide what is best for your particular circumstances.

Why?

Why are you holding this special event? Why should the media come? Find the angle that is going to intrigue the desired audience and give them a reason to show up. Does the new product offer a solution to a previously unmet need? Will the announcement revolutionize the industry? Remember to give them a taste of what you will cover without giving away the whole story.  For early morning events, consider serving breakfast to provide motivation to get out of bed.  For evening soirees, the allure of appetizers and/or cocktails may draw in more guests.   After all, it doesn’t matter how you get them there, just that they come!

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3

Sep
2013
Comments Off on Five Quick Tips for Managing an Agency Blog

Five Quick Tips for Managing an Agency Blog

Editorial Calendar for August 2013

Are you the manager of your agency’s blog? Are you the one responsible for making sure all of the entries come in on time, are edited properly and posted in a timely fashion? We know your job may be tougher than it seems! Here are some tips to help make the process a little smoother for you.

1. Create an Editorial Calendar: Creating a schedule you can distribute to the staff is crucial. This will keep everyone aware of the deadlines for the blog entries, topics, authors, and posting dates. Here is an example of the editorial calendar we create for our team.

 

2. Choose Broad Topics: If the topics you assign to your team are too narrow, some on your staff may find it difficult to get their blog completed by the deadline due to heavy amounts of research and detail needed. Here is where you can allow some flexibility. In the editorial calendar above, we don’t pinpoint the five tips to offer to the audience. That is up to the author. And, if the topic doesn’t work for the author that month, let him/her know it’s OK to come to you to discuss alternative topics.

3. Never Steal Photos from Google: This is something you should never do. Saving photos from a Google images search can lead to your agency receiving a cease and desist letter from the company that owns the photo. And, that letter can come with a hefty bill. When searching for photos for your blog, first see if there is anything you can snap a picture of quickly in your office. If that doesn’t work, try visiting www.all-free-download.com to see if you can find a suitable, royalty-free photo there. But, BE CAREFUL! Not all of the resources are allowed for commercial use. If in doubt, contact the photo author for details.

4. Send Reminder Emails to Your Staff: You’re busy. Your team is busy. This is understandable. However, that doesn’t mean your agency’s blog should be put on the back burner. Blogging is a great way to spread the word about your agency’s services and products while showcasing your knowledgeable staff. Believe it or not, well-written blogs can lead to potential clients, equaling potential revenues. If a deadline for a blog entry is approaching or has passed, do not hesitate to send the author an email or have a quick conversation about the due date. You should be able to work something out so the schedule doesn’t go awry.

5. Don’t Bombard Yourself: An agency blog should be a team effort. Do not allow yourself to write a month’s worth of blogs with no help if your team has agreed to participate. As long as you keep up with your editorial calendars and reminders, everything else should fall into place.

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21

Aug
2013
Comments Off on Using Social Media for Business: Five Best Practices

Using Social Media for Business: Five Best Practices

SSC on Twitter

Though we are well interspersed in the “information overload age,” there is still a large population of individuals who do not understand the benefits social media can bring to a business. As PR professionals, marketing specialists and social media strategists, we need to be able to convey how having a presence on social channels can have great effects on brand awareness and showcase the knowledge of your business’ staff. Here are five ways you can show your clients you know exactly how to make their social media campaigns work for them.

1. Choose the Right Social Networks for Each Client

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and usually YouTube are the obvious choices to mention when a client asks, “What social media networks should I be using to boost my business?” However, there are several other social networks to consider for your clients that are specific to the industry they serve. For example, a furniture company should consider having a Pinterest account to showcase all of the pieces available. A Pinterest account may not work well for an insurance company that doesn’t produce much visual content, though Pinterest can be used to post white papers leading back to other websites with full text.

2. Show Results

The only way to demonstrate to your client that social media is helping their business is by providing analytics reports on a monthly/quarterly/yearly basis to show the return on investment (ROI).  This will also help you tweak campaigns along the way to improve results. Analytics programs are available through Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. Companies using Twitter Ads can also access a program that will offer support when compiling reports. There are also several third-party applications that can help with generating analytics reports for Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks. Once you have the report,  create a full assessment  of what is working and what  is not.

3. Be Prepared to React to Negative Comments

When dealing with negative comments, deleting a Facebook page or Twitter account will only cause more chaos. “Why was the page taken down? Can they not handle constructive criticism?” You don’t want people saying that, even if the criticism was not constructive. If someone posts something negative, hide the comment. DO NOT DELETE THE POSTS/COMMENTS. If you find individuals who don’t want to follow the rules for commenting on Facebook, ban the user from the page.

Negative comments are going to happen no matter what you do. Sometimes negative posts should stay un-hidden for transparency reasons, but you have to use your own judgment. Deleting posts and pages is almost never the answer, but hiding is a good alternative. In extenuating circumstances, such as cases where a page has become a location for hate/discrimination or if there is another Facebook page with more likes/engagement that is basically a duplicate, deleting the page may be the right move.

4. Social Media Advertising Works

If your client is looking to get results fast, consider allocating a small amount of dollars to social media advertising. For as little as $15, you can boost one of your Facebook posts. Boosting Facebook posts can triple the average reach you receive on posts, increase the level of engagement on your page and help your page gain more likes. And, of course, the more you spend, the better the results. With options to customize demographic targeting and performance optimization, many social networks make it possible for you to reach the right audience with your advertising. Try it once and you will see the benefits.

5. Remember: It Can Be Time Consuming; Get Organized

You don’t want to find yourself overwhelmed with too many accounts, having to remember too many passwords and not being able to keep up with all the engagement. Before this happens, invest in a scheduling service that can help you manage your social media accounts all in one location. There are a variety of these services available, some free and some paid. Hootsuite, TweetDeck and Buffer are just three reputable services you can choose from to manage your social media accounts. Do some research and find out what will work best for your company and clients.

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5

Aug
2013
Comments Off on Five Tips on Handling International PR

Five Tips on Handling International PR

globe

TIP #1: Before you start your international PR program, ask yourself, “What are your objectives?”  Is this a new product/service introduction?  What is your reputation on a country-by-country basis?  If you can provide measurable objectives, that is an excellent first step.

TIP #2: Which countries are you targeting?  Budget and distribution channels should guide the selection of the countries you seek to penetrate.  If you talk to public relations firms in the countries you want to reach, you can learn quickly what will be needed to obtain the coverage you desire.  You will find each country is different.  You will also find that each PR firm has different strengths—social media, media contacts, e-communications, direct mail capabilities, etc.

TIP #3:  Use their language, not yours.  Translations are the key to obtaining exposure.  Remember, some English words do not translate well into other languages.  Create news releases and press materials yourself, but have them translated by the PR firm that works in the country.

TIP #4:  Ask for clippings.  You need to track what appears in print and online.  While there are international services that track publicity, clippings are often lost on a worldwide basis.  You need to measure your success.  You will find out that some countries do better than others.

TIP #5: Use an International PR Network.  There are a number of PR networks that can take your story to the countries you target.  When you work with a network, you will typically have an account person near you.  This account person will engage the services of the network members at a budget that you approve.  I would be remiss not to mention our network:  the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN).  Visit our website at www.prgn.com .

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18

Jul
2013
Comments Off on YouTube: A Great Source for Brand Awareness

YouTube: A Great Source for Brand Awareness

YouTube Logo

Some companies, large or small, feel they don’t need a presence on YouTube. This could be because the product they sell is a necessity and not very intriguing, like insurance or accounting. Some may believe if you can’t create a video that will go viral, what’s the point? What these companies are failing to understand is that you don’t have to create a video that will get a million views in an hour to be successful on YouTube. And, there’s no set list of criteria on how to make a viral video. Sometimes, it’s just luck. There are other uses for YouTube; one of them is to increase brand awareness.

If your business is looking to spread the word about the services you offer, YouTube is a great place to make this happen. Creating a short, one to three minute corporate video will not only increase brand awareness, but also draw out potential clients and promote customer loyalty. Seeing the faces of the people behind the scenes at your company will make your current customers feel that there isn’t just a robot answering questions and collecting feedback. Your team can take the time to make a video that highlights your company’s mission and showcases your staff.

Another way to utilize YouTube is to create a video with some general tips to help your current and prospective customers. If you are an insurance company, obviously there are some pieces of information you can’t share with the public for liability reasons. However, creating a video on why you should contact an insurance company or how-to videos that demonstrate how to navigate a complex website could be useful (and harmless to your company). Also, consider creating a video that includes some helpful statistics, depending on the type of service you offer. For instance, if you offer auto insurance, provide some stats on how many accidents happen per year. This could even be a segue into how your insurance is better than others.

Remember to think outside the box when it comes to YouTube. You don’t have to be a musician or actor to make it work for your business. You don’t even need expensive equipment. If you are on a limited budget, short clips can be created with a webcam or even with a high-end smartphone camera. And, don’t forget to take your new YouTube clips and cross-share them with your other social channels such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word even further.

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19

Jun
2013
Comments Off on Best Practices for Web Monitoring: Don’t Just Google It

Best Practices for Web Monitoring: Don’t Just Google It

Google, Yahoo, or Bing?

In public relations, we all know there is more work to be done after a news release is distributed. For an agency to show its worth to a client, we need to track the news release and see what print publications, online news sources, blogs, wires, etc. pick it up.

Most PR firms use a news release distribution service such as Cision, Vocus, BusinessWire or PRNewswire to make sure the appropriate media outlets receive the information. These distribution services will usually send a report letting the agency know which outlets received the release. However, even though these reports are pretty good at letting you know where the release was picked up, they can miss a couple of key locations.

If you think a few good clips are missing from your pile, where should you look first? Of course just about anyone will tell you, “Google it.” And, they would be right. Checking Google for clips is a great place to start. You can either copy and paste the headline of your release into the Google Search bar, or you can search for specific keywords within your release. You will probably find the majority of the clips that came in with the report from your distribution service, but you may be surprised that you can find several other clips that the report missed.

OK. You “Googled it.” The search for clips doesn’t stop there. Though Google is still the world’s most popular search engine, there are other search engines to try if you want to be thorough in your clip search. Aside from the all mighty Google, Bing, Yahoo and Wolfram Alpha are some of the other top search engines to use.

Also, if you really want to stay on top of clips about your clients, consider signing up for Google Alerts, Bing Alerts, or both. That way, you can be notified about your client’s placements as they happen, once a day or once a week. The more methods you use to track your release, the more clips you will find.

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30

May
2013
Comments Off on Public Relations: Well-planned & Executed Product Publicity Programs Generate Valuable Sales Leads

Public Relations: Well-planned & Executed Product Publicity Programs Generate Valuable Sales Leads

Publicity is giving someone a reason to talk about you.

The purpose of product publicity is to support sales. A well-planned and executed product publicity program will generate valuable sales leads. It creates awareness in the marketplace of your company’s name, products, capabilities, personnel and expertise.

For the most part, news releases, feature articles and case studies are read and evaluated by the trade press. Editors rely heavily on publicity material to fill out their issues, especially in today’s new media where an editor must produce a print as well as an online edition.

Few, if any, B2B publications have editorial staffs large enough to cover everything that’s happening in a particular industry. Therefore, editors seek and welcome assistance from competent PR people, whether at the corporate or agency level.

A major benefit of product publicity, as compared to advertising, is believability. A product story that appears in the editorial pages has been evaluated by an editor. It is, in effect, a third party endorsement. Sometimes, an article will generate more sales leads than an ad for the same product.

Another important advantage of product publicity is the range of distribution. Few companies have advertising budgets large enough to permit scheduling a product ad in every trade publication in a particular industry. But the cost of producing a news release and distributing that release to 25, 50 or 200 publications gives you a much better return on investment.

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22

May
2013
Comments Off on Five Tips for Improving Your B2B Email Marketing Efforts

Five Tips for Improving Your B2B Email Marketing Efforts

An Email

B2B email overload is at an all time high, making it more challenging than ever to get noticed and get results. By following these five simple tried-and-true tips, you can achieve better open and click-through rates for your B2B e-blasts.

Build and Refine Your Lists

A relevant and accurate database is the primary key to email marketing success.  Use every opportunity you can to build your email list including trade shows, web registrations and orders. Gather pertinent information about each contact so you can create segmented, targeted lists.  Refresh your list after each mailing to delete bounces, update addresses and correct errors.

Strive for Preview Perfection

The sender’s name and the email subject line are the two elements recipients will evaluate to determine whether to open the message. Make sure the sender’s name and address will be easily recognizable, trustworthy and familiar to the recipient. Keep your email subject short and sweet—about 50 characters or less. Avoid all the “flash” including all caps, exclamation points and other symbols. Instead, focus on quickly conveying the value of content inside.

Craft Compelling Content

Your copy should be chock full of useful, timely information that leaves the recipient enlightened and excited for more. Use targeted copy designed specifically for the group you are reaching out to. Instead of producing one general blast, send out customized versions with a narrow copy focus that speaks directly to each targeted list. Pure and shameless self promotion is quickest way to turn recipients off and send them straight to the “unsubscribe” button. Finally, consider including a special offer, promotion code or incentive available only to recipients.

Remember, Timing is Everything

Reports indicate that the best time to send B2B email is Tuesday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to maximize your open rate potential. The worst is Monday between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. This rule of thumb should only be followed for B2B email blasts. Consumer emails oftentimes get the best results when sent during “off hours” (between 8 p.m. and 12 a.m.).

Pay Attention to What Works

Study the correspondence that wins you the best open and click-through rates. Look for a pattern.  Do incentives equal clicks? Are you getting the best open rates when you include certain keywords in the subject line? Once you get to know your audience and what makes them click, you can follow a template approach for all your future blasts.

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17

Apr
2013
Comments Off on Don’t Forget the #: The Value of Using a Hashtag on Twitter

Don’t Forget the #: The Value of Using a Hashtag on Twitter

Pound Sign

The hashtag is a commonly known symbol used when sending messages over Twitter. Placing the hashtag symbol (#) before a keyword in your tweet will make that keyword searchable by others on Twitter. Even using a hashtag during a Google search will bring up different results than searching for a keyword without a hashtag. (Did you know that? If not, you should go try it now.)

Oftentimes people don’t understand the value of using a hashtag in a tweet or why you would use so many hashtags in a tweet. We’ve sent out many tweets that were heavily loaded with hashtags, and we’ve been questioned as to why we include so many of them. There is a method to the “Twitter madness,” and it goes back to what I just mentioned about hashtags and Google.

Twitter is great for search engine optimization, and that is thanks to the hashtag. When you post a press release to Twitter with a few hashtags in your tweet, your release is going to pop up more often in a Google search. Furthermore, Topsy, a social insight tool used to track Twitter trends and offer analysis services, is going to show up with more of your tweets in a Google search if you use a hashtag.

Guess what? You could double or triple your reach just by remembering the #. So, if you want to reach a larger audience with that press release, use a hashtag when you tweet about it.

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