When I was a reporter, I hated getting phone calls. In fact, I was very proactive about calling people who wanted or needed to hear from me, just so they wouldn’t call me. The reason I didn’t like receiving phone calls as a reporter is the same reason I don’t like calling reporters. But now, since I joined “the dark side,” (reporter to publicist) it’s my job to call reporters.
A nameless reporter from the Washington Post ripped me a new one recently when I called her to follow up on a pitch. I knew exactly who she was, what she has written about, followed her on Twitter, and why she’d be interested in what I had to tell her. Clearly, this wasn’t a random call. Still, she was extremely rude, showed no common courtesy, or phone etiquette… which is shocking from someone in the communications industry.
This experience led me to start a discussion with other PR professionals and reporters from across the country. While some say, “Don’t call a reporter. They hate that! Just send an e-mail,” others say, “I’ve built great relationships with reporters over the phone that have turned into great coverage for my client.” So, this isn’t a black or white/right or wrong issue… which makes my job even harder.
Why I didn’t like receiving phone calls as a reporter is exactly why I don’t like calling reporters
Phone calls can rarely be timed right.
I could be in the middle of an interview, in the groove writing my script, or about to go live when my phone rings. It’s not a good time to talk. Now, while this is of no fault to the person on the other line trying to reach me, it’s a risk you take when you call a reporter – catching him or her at a bad time. As a reporter, your schedule is different every day and it’s always changing, so even scheduling a call can be tough.
Phone calls can be unproductive.
If you’re calling about something that doesn’t interest the other person, you wasted your time and theirs. Then, if you’re calling about something that does interest the other person, they may want to write down some details… and things like that would be better over an e-mail.
Still, some things are easier to explain over a phone call. You don’t only get to hear someone’s voice, but you can talk through any confusion and cut the back and forth down to a minimum with a phone call. It’s hard to show emotion or emphasis in text, but not over the phone. While some phone calls are unproductive, some may work… depending.
Phone calls are time consuming.
In this business, we all have different styles on the phone, different styles in storytelling, and different styles in how we pitch. Plus, we are all busy. Most of us are over worked and under paid. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is today.
For this reason, I cut the small talk and get straight to the point. First, I’ll say “Hi, how are you…” and lead in with something that tells me the person on the other line has a minute to talk. If not, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Now isn’t a good time. Could you call me back later or just send me an e-mail?”
If I didn’t have time for a phone call, I wouldn’t take one. If I did, and the phone call was going too long, I’d say that… politely. But in my experience working with people in PR when I was a reporter, a few wanted to go on and on and on about their client (and the free commercial they wanted you to give them) until I said “yes.” It was almost impossible to get off the phone!
It can all be put in an e-mail.
I mentioned my focus group of 18,000+ in the media industry regarding this phone call I made and the negative response I got. Well, most people kept going back to e-mail… and I totally understand why.
When I was a reporter, I loved emails. I could read one whenever I wanted. I could respond to one whenever I wanted. It’s the most convenient form of communication – perfect for almost anyone in any industry!
I was on the receiving end of a lot of media pitches. Some I read, some I didn’t. (Yes, I judged by the subject line.) For this reason, it’s so easy to miss something in an e-mail. Our inboxes are jam packed, so skipping over something important is totally understandable.
But on the flip side, if I did see it and I liked it, I would’ve responded. If I didn’t respond, it’s because I didn’t like it. That’s the way a reporter thinks.
But a publicists thinks, “That person never responded. Maybe they missed it. If they didn’t like the story, all they had to do was tell me “no” and I’d stop following up.” Now, this is new to me. I didn’t get it before as a reporter. As a publicist, I like to pitch until I hear a “no.”
Why? Because someone is paying me to pitch their brand to the media.
The conversation may go like this:
Me: “I sent a lot of e-mails, but didn’t get many responses.”
Client: “Did you follow up?”
Me: “Yes, I followed up with an e-mail, but that was ignored too.”
Client: “Did you call?”
Me: “Oh no, I can’t call. Reporters hate that!”
How terrible is that?! You can’t tell a client that. That is why phone calls are necessary, even if nine times out of 10, you know the person on the other line doesn’t want to talk to you… and may be downright mean and call you names.
It’s okay, when I was a reporter, people were rude and called me names too. Now, instead of getting it from alleged criminals with a microphone I’m sticking in their face, I’m getting it from reporters… my former self. (Note: I was never rude to publicists when they called me. It’s just not necessary. Not then, not now.)
To reiterate, we are all busy. We all have things to do. Talking on the phone can be an inconvenience at times, but it’s something we need to do on both sides to do our job successfully. We also need to work together. After all, we are working towards the same goal – to tell a great story that educates and entertains our audience. Sometimes, that can start over e-mail and sometimes it can start over the phone.
If you are in business to business sales or marketing, you should be using LinkedIn to grow your business. Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are great to show potential customers and clients you have an online presence, but with B2B, you can start a conversation and close a deal on LinkedIn… if you use it right.
Here are seven FREE ways to use LinkedIn to Grow your Business
Creating an all-star profile
First things first… and that means your profile. Thankfully, LinkedIn tells you what’s working and what’s not working as you create your profile with the “profile strength” circle. What makes for a great profile? Well, a few things.
1. Pictures. You have two spots for pictures here. One is a professional picture of you. When I say professional, I mean don’t pose with your dog. (The only time that’s okay, is if you’re a vet.) I suggest a standard headshot that shows what you do professionally if you can show it. Then, there is the commonly forgotten cover photo. In mine, I placed my logo on either side. I did have another image in the middle, but it wasn’t compatible on mobile. Your cover photo will look different on a desktop vs. a mobile, so before deciding on one, make sure it looks centered on both devices.
2. Your professional headline. This is probably the most important part of your entire LinkedIn page. I suggest making your headline eye-catching and exciting. Many people have titles that sound complicated… or need further explanation. For example, if you’re an “account executive” or “support manager,” I’d elaborate a little more so when someone sees your headline, they can visualize you at work and how you can help them.
3. Summary. This shouldn’t be too short, but it also shouldn’t be too long either. Some people prefer bullet points while others like to write this section in sentence form. This is no right or wrong way, but I think of it as an elevator pitch. Here, you want to tell prospective clients you can solve their problems and this is how and why you are the person for the job.
4. Posts. The post section is like your blog… but it’s your blog on LinkedIn. While your LinkedIn profile exists for you to promote yourself as an expert in your industry, the post section lets you take it one step further by offering your expertise to help others who may stumble across your post.
How can someone find it? Well, after you write your post, spell check it and add a picture, you can add up to three tags. I usually use tags like “public relations,” “media relations,” and “public relations and communications.” Depending on the post, those tags may change. Just by using this method, I’ve earned public speaking opportunities and have been published in industry trade publications. 5. The rest. While it is time-consuming, you should not skimp on completing the rest of your profile. Some of it shows up at the top as an abbreviated version – like your current employment, work history, education, etc. Don’t forget to include your skills, organizations you’re involved with, volunteer work… the list goes on – and it is all important to creating an all-star profile.
Searching for leads
LinkedIn offers a great “advanced search” tool. It’s right at the top of the page, just to the right of the search bar. You don’t have to be a premium member to use this. As a premium member, you can really advance your search, but the free version works well too.
I think it’s best to start by clicking “2nd connections” under the “relationship” tab. This way, you aren’t only connecting to someone who knows a person you’re already connected to, but you are allowed to add them as a connection. When you make your way down the relationship tab, it’s more difficult to grow your connections.
On the left-hand side under “people,” you can narrow your criteria to exactly what you’re looking for by using keywords, the person’s title, company, or even someone in your zip code.
It’s not just people you can search. You can also look for leads for jobs, through companies, in groups, by industry, etc.
Discovering who’s interested in you
Just like you can view other people’s profile’s, LinkedIn shows you who’s viewed your profile as well. With the free version, you can only see so much of this information, but still, sometimes that little bit is all you need to make a connection.
You can find out who’s viewed your profile, who’s read your posts, and even how you rank for profile views among your connections.
The most useful part of this feature, in my opinion, is to see who’s viewed your profile. This is where creating an all-star profile comes into play. I look at the person’s picture and professional headline to decide if I want to click on their profile to learn more. If I do, I’ll take a look and see if he or she looks like an ideal client of mine. If so, I’ll send a message and open it with, “Hi. I noticed you stopped by my page this week. I was just looking at yours too and noticed…”
But beware! There are many lurkers on LinkedIn as well. I have clicked on a person’s profile after seeing they’ve viewed mine only to find a lot of my information copied and pasted to their page. It happens. If and when it does, you just have to take it as a compliment and continue doing business on LinkedIn, ethically.
Including a call to action
If you have created an all-star profile, your call to action should already be in place. If you want people to call you, is your phone number easy to find? What about your website? Or your email address?
There are a few ways to post this information. One is right at the top of your profile under “contact information.” You can also give connections another option in the “additional info” section in your profile. It can’t hurt to use both. After all, with websites, emails, phone numbers, and countless social media channels, we have lots of ways to drive people to a specific call to action.
Asking for recommendations
Recommendations on LinkedIn is just like your references on your resume, expect you don’t need to call them and ask questions. It’s all right there!
After you’ve created your all-star profile, you should have at least four to five different places of employment. Hopefully, you’re connected with some professionals you worked with at those businesses. If you are, you can click the button that says “ask to be recommended.” LinkedIn will prompt you to select how you know that person. Then, that person will get a notification you’re asking for a recommendation. After they write something nice (hopefully) it will be placed on your profile for all to see.
Using your news feed
Your news feed is what you see as soon as you log on. It’s the homepage and it’s news you choose to see based on who your connections are and the groups you follow. It’s no different from Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram… but it’s all business related (or should be). Just like on those social media platforms, it’s important to interact with your connections in your newsfeed. Like, comment, and share content you appreciate and is relevant to your business.
You may notice some posts from people you aren’t connected to or companies you don’t follow. These are sponsored posts that you may be interested in because the person behind the advertisement targeted you.
…and what I don’t do
When you’re using LinkedIn to grow your business, don’t try too hard. That’s when it doesn’t work for you. Some things I’ve noticed, that I don’t like…
Right after a connection is made, the person who requested the connection doesn’t wait longer than five minutes to send a message with a sales pitch. We’re not on LinkedIn to be pitched left and right. We’re on LinkedIn to build relationships with like-minded people, and if relationships develop through strategic interactions, then maybe a sale will be made… eventually.
Automated messages on any social media platform drive me nuts. Usually, it’s a person asking for a sale, but once it wasn’t. Yes, once.
Brandon Gaille with The Blog Millionaire is the only person I’ve seen automate messages perfectly. In his automated response after following him, he asks to help you, then he tells you how he can do it, and he actually does it. He is offering value by taking time out of his day to help you one on one. Guess what? That turned into a sale for him. About a month later, I shelled out $400 to him to help me with some business coaching.
I don’t have time read long messages on any social media platform, so I wouldn’t recommend opening a conversation with more than three to four sentences. Sometimes, I get messages that are so long, I don’t even start to read it.
Here is an example of all of these things wrapped up into one:
I’m not sure if this is an automated message, but to give this woman the benefit of the doubt, I’m going to assume it is. Not only did this message come right after a connection was made, but it’s too long, and this person is pitching me with a sale… to do exactly what I do! If she took three minutes to look at my profile, she would have seen that we would be great collaborators and possible referrers for one another. Maybe a message like, “Hey, I’m so happy to connect and see we do similar things so probably have the similar clientele. We should get together…” Instead, she’s trying to do too much at once, and by doing that, she isn’t really doing anything.
Just like any other job, but especially with public relations and social media, being strategic is vital. Yes, it takes more time, but you will have a lot more success when you take the time to do things personally, with meaning, and an end goal in mind.
If you aren’t using video and drones in real estate yet, you should start. While video should be used to market any business, the real estate industry has so much to gain because of its visual product.
My friend Renee Stoll with Big Red Media is an expert on this topic. Like me, she is a former TV reporter who is a great writer, producer and videographer. Now, she works in the real estate industry and is combining all of her skills to modernize the way agents market themselves, their expertise, and their business.
In real estate, pictures are a must… but it’s 2016. Not only is video more engaging, but it’s more popular. Now, it’s time to take it to the next level by using drone photography.This is something Renee is ahead of the game on and does very well.
Using a drone in real estate
There are so many benefits to droning in real estate.
It gives you the opportunity to show off a large or opulent home and its surroundings from a bird’s eye view.
You can set yourself apart when you post to real estate websites and social media.
Using still pictures from drones videos look amazing in mass flyer emails and pictures in MLS listings. (Don’t forget, you can also link to the drone video!)
Why you should be droning
Besides fashion, I can’t think of another industry that is more visual than real estate. If you’re going to showcase the beauty of something, you should really showcase it through droning. Need more convincing?
For homes priced above $400,000, it’s becoming standard to have drone images and/or videos that show the extra mile an agent is willing to go for quality.
Content with relevant images and videos, whether it be your website or an email blast, get 94% more views. That’s huge!
Having a video on the landing page of your real estate website can get you an 86% customer conversion rate.Hello! Those are new clients! For example, take a look at this drone photography business that recently started with just a video on a landing page video. The creator has already scored drone work for large commercial corporations because of it. It pulls you in, doesn’t it?!
When you want to show a large estate that sits on a gorgeous piece of land, probably waterfront, shooting a picture or video on the ground will never give you the same wow factor – no matter how great the photographer is. I don’t think a still picture can rely what this video does at :20 seconds.
What you need to know before you drone or hire someone to drone
1. The FAA issued new drone laws in June of 2016 that will be implemented mid-August. If you hire someone before then, make sure they have their Section 333 Exemption. You can look up their business or name at regulations.gov and see their exemption, but incase the website is not updated, a drone operator should have a letter issuing exemption.
This exemption is what the FAA is currently issuing to commercial drone operators, until August. Yes, anyone can drone for recreational purposes, however, Renee suggests using an experienced drone operator who understands air space. For real estate videos, you typically don’t have to go higher than 100 feet to get great drone shots. The maximum allowed by the FAA is 400 feet. To be safe, ask your drone operator how high he or she takes shots. If you’re trying to get pictures of 20 acres, than 400 feet may be necessary… but for a home, it’s probably not.
2. Under the rule to be implemented in August, the person flying a drone must be at least 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate.
To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, an individual must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate. If qualifying under the latter provision, a pilot must have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months and must take a UAS online training course provided by the FAA. The TSA will conduct a security background check of all remote pilot applications prior to issuance of a certificate. (Who knew droning was so serious?!)
What to ask a drone operator
What height levels do you take pictures?
Most drone pictures are taken at two different heights – a mid-level (30-50 feet) and then a higher level (50-100 feet). For video, you likely want the operator to shoot lifting from the ground up to get that wow factor.
2. What format will I get the video in?
WAV files are great, but they are very large files and will be hard to load and edit on your own. MP4 files are smaller and easier to load if you don’t have a fast computer.
3. Will you edit my video and add music or a voiceover?
This is an example of pictures and drone video with added music and VO for a multi-million dollar home.
4. What time of day will you take pictures or video?
Sometimes, an operator may need to do this in two separate shoots. If the large waterfront backyard is the selling point, you may want the drone operator to shoot when the sun is directly on that side of the house. Mid-day, the sun may cause shadows on the other side of the house… or maybe you want a sunset shot on the backyard to show potential buyers what it would be like to sit there and watch the amazing sunsets. Those are some things to keep in mind.
Final droning tips
Renee with Big Red Media says her biggest pet peeve is when a drone operator parks in the driveway and the car is in the shot! In the video Renee voiced and edited that is linked above, the drone operator parked his blue truck in front of a $7.9 million dollar house. She ended up finding ways to edit out most of that footage for that reason.
Most importantly, talk to who you hire and make sure he or she knows exactly what your expectations are… and you know exactly what he or she is capable of. Also, Be sure to make a list of things that are important, so you don’t forget to get your points across.
Regarding media exposure, I’ve had this conversation many times:
You: “I think I have a great product, but no one knows about it.”Me: “Do you have someone handling your public relations?”You: “We looked into it, but it’s so expensive. We’re just trying to do it ourselves for now.”Me: “Well, what are you doing?”You: “We post on social media and send out press releases, but it’s like people still don’t know we exist.”
Well, if you want to know why you’re not earning media exposure… maybe it’s because you’re not making yourself, your product, your service, your business, or even your brand newsworthy.
1. You’re not earning media exposure because you are sending a press release.
Before I start working with most clients, the words “press release” are usually spoken in the first 10 minutes… and not by me. I don’t like press releases, but many small business owners insist on me writing them and sending them out. If this is what you’re doing, this is why they may not be working for you:
Your press release is too long
Your press release is boring
Your press release is complicated
Your press release is not newsworthy
Your press release is too evergreen
2. You’re not earning media exposure because you are reaching out to the wrong people.
Earning media coverage is hard. Because it’s not only free, but much more effective than advertising, small business owners want it for their brand. Many times, this means pitching anyone and everyone in the media industry with an email address. This is not effective. When I was a TV reporter in Miami, I would receive pitches that included a topic in a different market, a topic I have never covered before, a topic that would never be covered by the TV station itself, and the list goes on.
3. You’re not earning media exposure because you are promoting your brand too much.
While some media coverage may end up being seen as a great commercial for a brand, it should never be pitched this way. Remember, the job of a journalist is to tell a story that will educate, entertain, and evoke some kind of emotion in the reader or viewer. If your brand isn’t doing that with a pitch, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
4. You’re not earning media exposure because you are not trying hard enough.
Very rarely does a member of the media come to you. If one does, consider yourself lucky and that a rare occasion. Journalists work 24/7 – at 2:00 am, on Christmas morning, and many times in a few different cities in just a couple of days. It’s not a 9-5 job, so you cannot treat your outreach like it is.
5. You’re not earning media exposure because you are not ready.
If your website is not up and running or if your product is not ready for distribution, then you are not ready to earn media exposure. Unless you have a solid business plan with something to see, people to talk to, and documents to share, then you need to do more on the business side before trying to earn exposure in the media.
Now that you know what’s not working, why not try some things that work? In this free e-mail course, I’ll teach how to right some of these wrongs.
Bloggers are tricky. I recently got a lot of heat for a blog post I wrote about bloggers and why I don’t pitch them. To be clear, I do pitch bloggers and/or influencers, but I am very selective.This is the deal with bloggers, nine times out of 10 you will need a budget to pay them. That’s not earning coverage. That’s paying for it. There is a difference between editorial and advertorial. Most public relations firms or publicists are hired to earn coverage and not pay for it. On one hand, journalists cannot accept payment for their work. That is unethical. However many journalists blog. I am a journalist, and I also accept payment for blogs. (Not here. On Mascara Maven.) The difference is noting a conflict of interest and/or disclosing when the coverage is paid for. If a blogger accepts a payment of any kind, it must be disclosed on the blog. This is a federal law… and it’s pretty new because of the way the blogosphere and social media influencing has blown up in the last few years. Some bloggers will throw you a bone and post something free of charge. This doesn’t happen a lot, but if the blogger and/or influencer is a friend or truly loves your brand, it could happen.
If a client has an extra budget for advertising, then the vetting process begins… and this gets even trickier. (Why vet? Because there are millions of bloggers and influencers online looking to make money because they are in a lucrative business.)
Usually, a blogger will respond to your pitch with a media kit that includes information about their reach on their site and on their social media channels as well at rates, etc. This is where I, as a blogger, get frustrated. Not with the rates, but with the reach. Growing an organic following of people who truly like your brand takes time – months, if not years. Too many bloggers fake their following, for lack of a better word. When I say fake, I mean a couple of things. Here’s one: Their following is paid for. Yes, there are quite a few places that offer the service of buying visits to your website, likes on your Facebook page, comments on Instagram, followers on Twitter, etc.
Look at this site. It’s slogan is Fastlane to Online Fame! (So embarrassing!) If you want to promote your brand online, you do not want to pay someone who claims to have a huge following, but in reality it’s this. It will do nothing for your brand. These fake numbers are not real people who will become customers. But how do you know if the following is real or paid for? I can tell who puts money into a service like this by looking at the comments onmy Instagram account. The comments are always so random and have nothing to do with the picture. (A downfall of automation.) How else do you tell? Well, there’s an app for that! Actually, there are a few apps for that. They aren’t 100% accurate because some count inactive accounts and in a few cases, it’s hard to tell who’s real and who’s fake. There is an app called Fakers that basically calls people out on a fake following. For example, I get terrible pitches from a woman at a PR firm that will remain unnamed. In her pitches, she starts by basically saying, “As a thank you for sharing this news on your outlet, we will share it with our 117,000 Twitter followers.” Being a social media manager, I wanted to check out this amazing Twitter account.Well, most of those followers are fake. Paid for. It’s a shame too because 21% of 117,000 is more than 23,000. That’s a great Twitter following. Why ruin it by buying fake followers?!There are also other ways to tell. Check outmy Twitter following. It is growing, but it is slow and steady. If one day you see numbers spike, someone just went viral (which is rare) or they bought their following.This is why bloggers are tricky. It can be hard to tell if a blogger really will have a positive impact on your brand or if you’re just throwing money away. (That’s the marketing industry in general.)There are also Facebook groups devoted to helping bloggers get more likes and comments. I actually used to participate in them when I started blogging. I thought it was great to have people read my blog, like my Facebook page, and comment on a post. Then, I remembered why they were doing it – because I would return the favor, whether or not I liked the content or not. In some groups, there are even rules that state you will get kicked out if you don’t like or comment in return. Keep in mind, these aren’t friends we’re talking about. Showing a friend or acquantance support online is completely different. These are complete strangers on the internet. I felt like it was a misrepresentation, not to mention very time consuming, so my participation in those groups was very short lived. (In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t care about how things look. I care about how things really are. I’m a principle person.)
Now, don’t get me wrong, as a blogger, it’s a great way to promote your blog and get it in front of others who may turn into true fans, but the majority just want the numbers to say, “Look at my numbers.” I’d rather have 100 real views, likes, followers, and comments than 10,000 fakes ones. If you’re paying for coverage, I’m sure you would agree you’d like to see real numbers.
Today, I read blogs, comment, like, and all that, but it’s because I want to, not because I’m getting something out of it in return.
With all of that said, this goes to show how influential bloggers are. Some operate their blogging business honestly and have a real following. Others want to get there too, but unfortunately, are taking short cuts.So, if you are looking to spend money on a blogger or influencer in exchange for publicity, make sure you know what you’re paying for.
For marketing your business online, Facebook is perfect because nine times out of 10, it’s where all your buyers are and the targeting that can be done is amazing. That’s why I love Facebook, but it has changed in the last year or so and has made things a little challenging for business owners, hence why I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.
As I explain, I’ll show you some examples with images from my own Facebook page.
Facebook limits your reach.
Before, you could post anything on a fan page, or business page – whatever you want to call it, and everyone would see it. Now, Facebook only shows certain posts to people who it thinks wants to see it. If it seems promotional, for example it includes a link to your website or has text like “buy,” it will limit your reach even more.
Take this post for example. I have more than 6,400 likes on my page, but Facebook has decided to show this post to just 184 people. It’s shared from a very popular page, features the star of a national TV show, includes four tags, and is getting lots of engagement on my page, but still, Facebook makes it visible to ONLY 184 people in my feed. This is the most frustrating part of Facebook as a small business owner and social media manager.
At the bottom of the post, you can see Facebook suggests I boost the post to get more results. That’s why Facebook is not a free platform for these kinds of pages. (And why it’s worth more than 18 billion dollars.) To reach people on Facebook, you need to boost posts and/or create ads. Facebook makes it very easy to target your audience this way. For example, I could choose to boost this post so only people who like the show I Am Jazz see it, to only people who care about LGBT issues see it, or only people in my geographical area see it. You can also choose a budget for as little as $1 a day to much more. When you choose your budget, Facebook gives you an estimate of how many people you will reach. You can play with these factors (audience and budget) to reach a higher amount of people.
In my experience, three kids of posts work best when it comes to the amount of people you reach – pinned to the top, videos, and Facebook live.
This is an example of Facebook live… well, more like a screen grab of it. It reminds me of when I would do live shots in news. It’s just a live recording of what you’re doing at that time. Like a post, you can still check in to a location, type some text, then hit record and create your live video. People who follow you and are on Facebook at that time will get a notification you are live, can watch, and even interact with you by commenting. When you’re done, the “live shot” just stays on your page like any other post.
Okay, now that I’ve described the basics regarding my love/hate relationship with Facebook, let’s get into a little social media management 101.
As I mentioned, it’s important to use tags on Facebook.
(Hashtags don’t work too well on Facebook. I’d save those for Twitter and Instagram.) When you check in or tag another page, it will get a notification and may respond which could also increase your reach. This is also why it’s important to react to every comment you receive on your page. (It’s called social media… so be social!)
It’s also important tohave a goal when you create an ad.
You will have a variety of call to action options when creating an ad. In my opinion, the most commonly used are the top four you see on this list. When you choose the option to increase conversions on your website, you can add something called a pixel to your website so when someone visits your site, it sends a message to the Facebook ad to target them again… because research shows that if you see the same thing 6, 7, or 8 times, you will buy it.
Speaking of call to actions, make sure your homepage has one.
You can create a button on your cover page to ask your audience to do something.
This is an example of mine. I want people to sign up for an online course. I also created my cover page photo to show this with an arrow. Many people see this image on a phone, so you will need to make sure it looks centered and works on a phone as well.
Finally, don’t focus on promoting your businesswhen you post.
Instead, focus on entertaining your audience. I use the 70/30 rule – 70% for my audience, 30% promotional… but it’s all brand appropriate. Take a look at this post. I’m not talking about me or what I do. Instead, I’m sharing some nice pictures of a meet-up I did with others in my industry.
And do you see the great engagement and little reach?! 52 people out of 6,400+. (Come on Mark Zuckerberg!)
…and just when I think I’ve got my finger on it, this one gets a higher than an average reach. It’s a video of Mr. Bean dancing for crying out loud!
Don’t get me wrong, I love stock photos. I could look at them all day long. One of my favorite things about blogging is choosing them, but I should focus on them less… and you should too.
It’s no secret using images in branding increases… just about everything – clicks, open-rates, sales, engagement – I could go on.
Photography is very important in branding. Images can say so much more than words. Plus, people are visual. We like to see things! Posts with images get more clicks for a reason. Whether it be for yourself or your business, you need to use images in branding… personal images, not stock photos.
I have some stock photos for branding on my website, social media, and blogs. But do you know what works better? Using your photos for branding.
I’m in the process of updating some of the images on my website, social media, and marketing materials to show my audience more of me and my brand. I recently teamed up with Sally Butanowicz of Timed Beauty in South Florida to get some more personal, branding pictures done. For these pictures, I chose a red dress (because the Media Maven color is red) and two graphic t-shirts (because I love graphic t-shirts) that basically spell out what I do – public relations and blog.
This is why I think you should start saying no to stock photos… not all of them, just some of them:
Your brand’s personality
Even though stock photos are beautiful, they are common. They tell the story of your industry, but not your brand because they don’t show you, your product, your service, your customers, your clients, etc. Pictures say a lot, but personal pictures showcasing your brand say more.
Your marketing materials
People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Because of that, you need to show them that person, whether it be the people behind the brand or the person who is the brand.
There is no competition. Anyone can use a stock photo, but no one can use a picture of you or your business. That’s your brand. It’s what sets yourself apart.
It’s all about the images and this infographic explains it perfectly. (It’s an image. Shocker.)
There are a lot of pains and a lot of gains in the public relations industry. Some things are understood, while others things are not… by both the clients and the media. The business is changing and so are the rules.
I operate my business very transparently. I’m not going to sugar coat things or send false promises your way, so if you want to know some things, sit back… here are eight things you didn’t know about the public relations industry.
It’s not about sending emails. It’s about building relationships. My contacts in the media don’t owe me anything, so I need to maintain good working relationships with them in order to do my job successfully. Luckily, I worked on that side of things for 10 years and have great relationships with people in the industry. True story: I have seen stories turned down because of the less than likability factor of the publicist handling the client, even though the client was a great fit for a story. Also, I have earned many clients publicity after sending a Facebook message to a friend.
Media relations take time. If you want to see results fast, buy an advertisement. If you want to see more meaningful results over time, hire a publicist. Timing is everything when it comes to earned media. Just because it’s not in print today, doesn’t mean it won’t be in three months. Be patient.
We can only lead a horse to water. If you want publicity, that’s on me as a PR professional. But if you are not doing your part as a business owner to get that horse to the drink the water I led them to, there is only so much I can do at that point. For example, if your website needs help, I will refer you to one of the website developers I work with. What you choose to do after that is out of my control. I once had a client who wanted me to promote her business, but her website wasn’t completed yet. If your online store isn’t open for business, what’s the point of media coverage?
Our work never stops. News is a never ending cycle. It’s just about impossible to take a day off. It could mean a missed opportunity. (That’s why when we reach out to you with a question or request for a certain picture, we need it ASAP.)
There is a level of skill and expertise to what we do. I am providing a service that has taken me years to learn through a variety of different experiences. Just because you have a Facebook page or Instagram account does not mean you know how to strategically promote a business via social media. If I had a dollar every time someone told me they didn’t need social media help because their nephew was doing it for them in their spare time…
What you pay for may not be what it seems. Don’t be fooled by the big, beautiful office and fancy website of a well known firm. Many times, the people running the firm won’t even send an email on your behalf. After you pay your retainer, your campaign is given to a low level staffer to do all the work. Make sure you know who is really working on your account.What is published or aired is usually out of our control. Remember, we don’t write the articles or direct the live TV interviews. Instead, we make you look good so other people want to tell the story we’re pitching them. Sometimes, you may not like the way something is written or the way a question is asked. That’s public relations – how someone in the public is perceiving you, your brand, or your business. I once represented a baby product and around National Reading Month. During that time, I used the product to promote reading to infants and included the benefits of doing so. Well, one writer I pitched happened to have a child who was deaf. She did not believe reading to infants was beneficial at all. Needless to say, she didn’t write an amazing review. Sometimes, these things happen.
No one wants to give you a free commercial. It’s your business and it’s your product, so of course you think it’s the best thing since sliced bread and makes a great story… but so does every other entrepreneur. It needs to be more than that to earn media coverage. For this reason, let your publicist guide the process of developing the newsworthy content for the media.
Interested in learning more about public relations? Well, you’re in the right place. Not only do I fill this blog with tons of PR information, but you may love my new online course, Master your PR. It teaches you exactly what to do to earn your brand media exposure without spending big bucks on public relations.
Because of my decade of experience working on-air, then in public relations – I know what works and what doesn’t… and I’m going to share it all with you! I’ve gotten clients featured on the Today Show, the Rachael Ray Show, in the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Men’s Fitness, Food & Wine, Entrepreneur, and much more.
I attribute my success to two things:
Maintaining great relations with colleagues in the media industry
Telling great, newsworthy stories
While, I can’t give you my relationships with media professionals, I can tell you how to start them, build them, and keep them. I can also direct you, so you’re able to find your brand’s story, craft it, and pitch it to the media.
I’ll teach you all of this, step-by-step. By the end of Master your PR, you will know:
How to find your brands story
How to find the correct media, then pitch them effectively
How to talk to the media so you and your brand shine
How to become a regular on TV as a panelist
How to earn yourself publicity as an expert in your industry, and much more
Making an appearance on the Today Show is a dream goal for almost any business or brand. Most of them tell me, “I want to be on the Today Show” within hours of beginning our work together. Then I say, “Yeah, you and everyone else.” (I am very honest with my clients… and I never promise coverage, especially coverage on Today.)
But, I have earned a couple of them coverage on Today and I’m going to tell you exactly how I did it, so you can do it too. Click here to see the story.
Remember, this isn’t advertising. This is public relations… media relations to be more specific. If you want earned media, you need to have a newsworthy story to tell. I like to use the three E’s to determine if a story is newsworthy:
When I started working with Heat Running, a fitness app, I knew I could earn the creators coverage because of the story behind it. It had all of my three E’s. That’s how I earned them coverage – not because of the app. It’s cool, don’t get me wrong, but so are thousands of other apps out there. The story behind the app is even better.
So, you have the three E’s… but let’s focus on that last one. Making something newsworthy also means having a “real person” to interview. Arya, one of the creators, is that “real person” the Today Show was interested in.
Here’s another example. An owner of a jewelry store in Boca Raton, where customers can come in and make their own jewelry, wants media attention for her business. After talking to her to find a story, we found one: Moms were coming in to make their own jewelry for fun, but some turned it into their own at-home business and became entrepreneurs. It all started at this store, so obviously the store would be mentioned and hopefully, the owner would be interviewed, but the story wouldn’t be about the jewelry store or the owner. It’d be about that “real person.” That “real person” is usually where the emotional aspect comes into the story… and it is much needed!
I earned Heat Running coverage on the ABC station in their local market of Washington DC. I also earned them coverage in Men’s Fitness, Women’s Running, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and others… all in three months.
From those media hits, came others – like Today. I also put the creators in touch with an interested writer at Runner’s World, so expect to see something there soon. Getting in this magazine was another big goal for my client, so it feels great to make it happen… even if it’s seven months after I originally pitched them. (Yes, PR takes time.)
To be honest, I never cared too much about National Small Business Week. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. But now I’m a small business owner, so FYI, it’s the first week of May.
I’m a big fan of small business news and WalletHub has just released the best small cities to start a business… and one is just a hop, skip, and a jump from where I started my public relations firm in Coral Springs. WalletHubs data set ranges from “average growth in number of small businesses” and “prevalence of investors” to “office-space affordability” and “corporate taxes.”
So, the top 10 best small cities to start a business are:
10. Deerfield Beach, FL (right by me!)
9. Cheyenne, WY
8. Dothan, AL
7. Clearfield, UT
6. Inver Grove, UT
5. La Vergne, TN
4. Jefferson City, MO
3. Brighton, NY
2. North Chicago, IL
1. Holland, MI
Another fun fact: I’m also very close to Miami Beach, that has the highest number of startups per 100,000 residents, 246. That is seven times higher than in Salisbury, Md., the city with the lowest, 35.