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Archive for Public Relations’ Category


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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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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Comments Off on Running a Public Relations Firm

Running a Public Relations Firm

Stevens Strategic Communications, Inc.

The debate rages on.  Just what is a public relations firm?  Over the years technology and our economy have caused the definition to change.  In many ways, when I think of the words public relations, the word Catholic or universal comes to mind.

In essence the public relations firm is one that deals with our relationships with all of our publics.  That means our customers.  Our employees.  Our communities.  Our world.

We create messages for audiences and determine the best ways to reach that audience.  Is it advertising?  Social media?  Videos?  Media relations?

Yes, we used to have advertising agencies, public relations firms, and specialty shops.  We even had agencies of record.  Now we provide the best we have to our clients.  Timing, messaging, quality and cost are critical.  Now that we have an understanding of what a public relations firm does—just about everything in terms of communications—then how do you staff?

In the military, I was always impressed with our Special Forces.  These were teams of soldiers with more than one refined skill.  They are linguists, mechanics, snipers, medics, demolition experts.  They are people who accomplish their mission.  In fact, in the military we learned the value of being resourceful even when we weren’t green berets.   So many of us were crossed-trained to do more than our primary military specialty.  That’s how I see the public relations firm of today.

We have social media people who are great account executives.  Crisis specialists who know advertising.  Video producers who know how to write.  Engineers who can create speeches.  Art directors with audio engineering expertise.  Research executives who can handle direct marketing.  Wow.  Our guys are talented.

Survival in the business world today requires that we have many skills, stay up to date on trends, and work hard to stay ahead of the pack.  We want to do all of this while we are having a good time helping our clients succeed.

(FLASH) That is my snapshot of running a PR firm today.  It’s providing the right climate for great, talented people—so they can do great things for great clients!

— Ed Stevens, APR
President, Stevens Strategic Communications

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Comments Off on Maintaining Ethics in Public Relations

Maintaining Ethics in Public Relations


The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) announced in March the release of its free Code of Ethics app. The Code, widely regarded as the industry standard, sets out principles and guidelines to help practitioners adhere to PRSA’s core ethics values. The development and release of this app should serve as a good reminder of just how important it is for public relations professionals to uphold ethical standards in all we do.

Let’s take a few minutes to review PRSA’s Member Statement of Professional Values: Advocacy, Honesty, Expertise, Independence, Loyalty and Fairness.  Do these statements accurately reflect your day-to-day practices?


We serve the public interest by acting as responsible advocates for those we represent. We provide a voice in the marketplace of ideas, facts, and viewpoints to aid informed public debate.


We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.


We acquire and responsibly use specialized knowledge and experience. We advance the profession through continued professional development, research, and education. We build mutual understanding, credibility, and relationships among a wide array of institutions and audiences.


We provide objective counsel to those we represent. We are accountable for our actions.


We are faithful to those we represent, while honoring our obligation to serve the public interest.


We deal fairly with clients, employers, competitors, peers, vendors, the media, and the general public. We respect all opinions and support the right of free expression.

Review these statements regularly and refer to the Code whenever you are facing an ethical dilemma at work. To keep the Code at your fingertips, download The PRSA Ethics app. It’s available free in Google’s Android Market and Apple’s App Store and can be accessed from iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

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Comments Off on Article Pitching: How to Make the Right Pitch to a Magazine Editor

Article Pitching: How to Make the Right Pitch to a Magazine Editor

Deleting Unwanted Emails

To get your client’s story published, you have to know how to pitch an article to the magazine’s editors. Since many publications today accept only online queries, you need to develop an effective email pitch that gets the editor to respond.

Use the subject line to clearly explain the query. If you are pitching a feature article on industrial safety glasses, you should write in the subject line, “Article query: Know which safety glasses are best for your workplace.”

The length of your query letter depends on the nature and scope of the article — but the bottom line is that you need to convey just the right amount of information to the editor. To pitch your article successfully, you need to find the balance between inciting the editor’s curiosity and writing too much.

Give the names, locations and credentials of the sources you’ll interview for your article. To successfully pitch your articles to magazines, don’t promise experts or sources that you can’t deliver. Then, briefly describe the scope and structure of the article. Is this a how-to article, case study (testimonial), round-up of latest equipment, or human interest?

Next, explain why the magazine’s readers would want to read the article. What benefit will the readers get? Will they learn how to minimize machinery downtime, increase productivity, create a safer workplace, or decrease product loss?

Finally, don’t forget to mention if you can provide photography or any other images. Editors today are busy trying to fill content for both print and online editions. If you can deliver what’s stated in your pitch letter, then you stand a great chance of getting published.

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Comments Off on What to Look Out for on Social Media During a Crisis

What to Look Out for on Social Media During a Crisis

A Screaming Bird

When you’re handling a crisis for a client, it’s important to keep the media informed and up to date at all times. Crisis management is essentially a 24/7 service. So, knowing that, have you started checking social media platforms for comments and news about your crisis?

You would be surprised to see how fast a crisis can spread across social media. On day one, maybe only a few people are talking about your predicament on Facebook and Twitter. But, by day two a hashtag has been created, thousands of people are talking about it and the word is spreading to corners of the world you never dreamed of reaching.

After checking for articles, editorials and rants written about your crisis, go on Facebook and look for pages created by both parties involved in the situation. See if others connected to the crisis indirectly have created Facebook pages. Check on these pages frequently, but do not LIKE them. If the page is private, see if you can find another page that is public. Liking these pages will simply add fuel to the fire.

Think of the possible hashtags that could be created around your crisis and search for them on Twitter. See if the parties involved have created specific Twitter handles to spread the word. And, think of keywords associated with your crisis and search for those without a hashtag. Depending on how long your crisis has been going on, you could find that there are just a few tweets about what’s going on—or maybe there is a large quantity.

Don’t forget about YouTube. If you think people aren’t going to take the time during a crisis to get their point across by setting up a webcam and videotaping their comments, you are wrong.  There may not be a lot of people doing this, but don’t be surprised if you come across one or two channels dedicated strictly to your crisis.

Remember, though, you are going to find comments with derogatory remarks, slander, bashing, etc. Use your best judgment in filtering the useful information from the trash talk.

Check social media accounts daily to see what updates have occurred. It is an essential tool for crisis management.

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Comments Off on Save Dollars with the Use of E-Learning

Save Dollars with the Use of E-Learning


Gasoline is hovering around $4 a gallon and does not appear to decrease in price soon.  With the consolidation of commercial airlines and the added cost of airport security tacked onto your ticket, traveling the friendly skies isn’t so friendly anymore.  So why keep running corporate training sessions on-location?

The cost of bringing people into town for meetings, education and marketing presentations can be avoided.  With e-learning, all the costs associated with travel and holding events in brick and mortar facilities are eliminated.  Vastly improved connection speed means virtually any organization can train both internal and external audiences with e-learning.  Plus, both software and cloud computing capabilities have made it much simpler to create your own customized e-learning programs (versus paying for off-the-shelf e-learning modules).

A few other great things about e-learning that make it the way to go include:

–          It can easily be updated as things change

–          It’s instantly scalable, meaning you can distribute it around the world with one click

–          You can take the training anywhere/anytime

–          You can track and audit who has taken the training

–          You eliminate printed materials that quickly become obsolete

The next time you need to train associates or customers, consider how much you could save by using e-learning.

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Comments Off on Crisis is Warfare in Action: Guidelines to Follow During Crises

Crisis is Warfare in Action: Guidelines to Follow During Crises

Tough Decisions Ahead Roadsign

When a crisis occurs, it resembles going to war. As a graduate of the Army War College, I learned how to handle crises simulate operations and win the battle at hand.

Much like the public relations profession, the military looks at the crisis at hand in terms of these specific guideposts:









We need to move from this crisis to a better place.


Define roles for your emergency response team.


Truth, integrity, responsiveness, empathy.


Where did the crisis occur? What is the safe area? Do we need a marshaling point for media?


Use time, numbers, metrics and analytics as much as you can.


These should have been established in advance in a crisis communications plan.


Safety, protection, acceptance, media coverage.


Better to be safe, not sorry. Err on the side of doing what is right no matter what it costs.


Can we do it ourselves? Do we need help? What will it cost to protect or save my reputation/business?

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Comments Off on E-mail Etiquette

E-mail Etiquette

Email on a Computer

The importance of E-mails in this digital age cannot be bargained. E-mails are used not only for personal communication but also for business or official correspondence. Over the years, the excessive use of E-mails as the primary means of communication has led to most people overlooking the etiquette that should be observed when composing emails. However, whether the E-mail is personal or official, there are some rules that need to be followed.

Subject Line

First and foremost, you must have a subject line. Many people receive hundreds if not thousands of E-mails on a daily basis and needless to say, they do not have the time to read all of them. Most people just skim through the unread E-mails checking for the ones that look important. This is usually done by reading the subject lines of the E-mails. In other words, if you do not have a subject line for your E-mail, your recipient might not even open it.


You should always have a salutation. This can be as simple as “Hi Pat,” A salutation shows that you care about the other party and as the saying goes, people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. It also helps the recipient to know from the onset that your E-mail is not spam since you have mentioned his or her name. This is especially true if you are doing some E-mail marketing.


Using humor in E-mails might be counterproductive. Sometimes, what you consider funny might be considered offensive by another person. So unless you are very sure that the joke is not ambiguous, it is best to avoid it altogether and just stick to the main point. The rule of thumb is, it is better to be safe than to be sorry.


You should also be careful about how long your E-mail is. Most people want to spend very little time reading through their E-mails. If you write a very lengthy one, your recipient might just read a few lines from the first paragraph and ignore the rest. Try as much as possible to be concise. If the information you want to share is available online, just share the links instead of rewriting the entire Web page in an E-mail.


Ensure proper use of BCC and CC fields. The CC (Carbon Copy) is for adding addresses of other recipients of the E-mail. The BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) works just as the CC. However, when you add addresses in BCC field, the different people that receive the E-mail in the BCC field will not know who else was listed there with them. It is important to note that some E-mail interfaces may allow the BCC list of E-mail recipients to “Reply To All” of the E-mail addresses listed within the To, CC and BCC fields, thereby disclosing all of the E-mail addresses as well as the specific way the E-mail addresses were categorized. For this reason, it is often most suitable to forward a distributed E-mail to a contact instead of using the BCC field.


Last but not least, you should always reply to your E-mails. A reply is an acknowledgement to the sender that you have received the E-mail. Of course there are some exceptions such as spam or E-mails that come to your inbox as a result of a subscription on a certain website.

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Comments Off on See the Bigger Picture: Social Media is a source for Free Advertising

See the Bigger Picture: Social Media is a source for Free Advertising

Button that Says: Free Online Advertising

In this digital age of information overload, you may look at social media and think “Well, why should I tweet or post on Facebook if there are going to be 1.2 billion other posts pushing mine to the bottom.” That may be true, but you need to see the bigger picture.

Social media is a way to advertise your company, its products and its services for free. There are several blogs that say using social media for self-promotion is wrong, and those blogs are somewhat right. Social media is more than just a way to advertise your company and it should be used to its full advantage. But, don’t put self-promotion to the wayside. There has to be a balance between posting promotional material and quality content. Share links to your website, post news releases, share internal information or what have you, but mix that in with some industry-related content, a few retweets and a couple shares.

If your company is thinking social media isn’t working because they aren’t gaining enough likes or followers, tell them there’s more to it than that. When we conduct social media management for clients, we tell them the main goal is to get that prospective customer back to your website. If you get five prospects to the website and sales are made, there’s the evidence of your ROI. Having 50,000 likes isn’t evidence of anything other than you doing a good job of getting people interested and engaging with your page. Likes and followers don’t necessarily equal revenue.

Use social media for all its worth. It really is a great tool for free advertising and just one more place to post your news releases, products, new ventures, etc. If you can stop worrying about likes and followers for a month, you may realize you didn’t need to worry about that aspect of social media so much in the first place.

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