Archives for Public Relations

lead magnet ideas

7 Lead Magnet Ideas to Grow your Email List

Have you noticed how some blogs have emails pouring in, but emails are barely drizzling into your email database? The secret lies with using lead magnet tools.

Lead magnets are used to attract new business in fun and creative ways. Just like a magnet attracts metal, these lead magnets will draw potential clients your way. They allow an exchange of your knowledge for your customers’ personal contact information.

Lead magnets offer readers anything from a free download or a discount if they sign up to get on your email list. (Because no one really wants a newsletter.)

Why you Need a Lead Magnet

Most readers will visit your capture page and never return. You need to bait them into signing up for your email list. These are all potential clients that will disappear into thin air if you don’t tempt them with something.

So, readers are more likely to share their email if they receive something in exchange for it – something they consider to be of value and useful. This is why lead magnets are a vital aspect of website optimization.

People love freebies and they are attention grabbing. Sometimes, a reader won’t even realize he or she just gave you their email address because they’re so excited about what they will receive. So, the answer to the above question is obvious but how can you use lead magnets effectively?

How to Make a Lead Magnet

To create a great lead magnet, you need to understand your audience. Try to put yourself in their shoes: What are their needs? What will interest them?

You could check out the types of lead magnets your competitors are using. This will give you a better idea of how to create a lead magnet that is unique and catches your reader’s attention.

Make sure the signup process is both quick and easy. If it is too difficult to find or too complicated to fill out, the reader will decide that it isn’t worth the time.

what is a lead magnet

Lead Magnet Ideas & Types of Lead Magnets

Lead magnets don’t need to be complex or time-consuming to create. The key is to keep them short and sweet.

They simply need to solve a certain problem by offering a specific solution for the market you are targeting. Here are some examples of effective lead magnets:

1. Guide or a report: People love examples of how to do things, especially if it makes their workload lighter. It also helps your reader solve a problem. If they will receive something useful to them, they will readily give their email address.

2. A cheat sheet or a handout: This is one of the most popular types of lead magnets. It is normally a one-page sheet that offers valuable information. (See mine!)

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3. Video training: The reader will see your page and discover they can receive free training or more information via videos. (Videos are everything!)

4. Software download or free trial: This allows the reader to see your product in action. People love anything that’s free and hate wasting money on things that don’t work. Plus, people are more likely to buy something if they have previously tried it.

5. Survey, quiz or assessment: People enjoy giving their opinions. The key is to ask for their email after they have gone through the survey or assessment because they will want to get their results, and generally, will share their email address so they can see the outcome arrive in their inbox.

6. Discounts or contests: Many sites offer discounts or special deals. An email address is a small price to pay for saving money or winning something.

7. eBook: An eBook will offer practical help and can introduce someone to your company and services. Most are delivered automatically after sign up. (Have you read mine yet? If not, click here!)

Remember, it doesn’t need to be complex. Simplicity is the key.

As the saying goes “you have to spend money to make money.” This means by using a lead magnet, you might have to give something away—but, you may certainly increase your ROI.

It’s okay to have more than one lead magnet. You need to target different readers with different things in case one lead magnet didn’t grab their attention.

how to create lead magnet ideas

Successful Lead Magnets

When choosing lead magnets, take the following suggestions into account:

1. It must be specific and attractive to your audience. Does it solve a problem they might have? Does it intrigue your readers?

2. Just because it is free, it shouldn’t look cheap and poorly made. This lead magnet represents you and your company. Take the time to develop it correctly and make it look attractive.

3. Make sure it has actual value. Is it something somebody would have paid for? Is it worthwhile to the user? They have to feel comfortable exchanging their email for this, so make it worthwhile.

4. In addition, make it easy to use. No one will read a free 300-page eBook… simply because they haven’t got the time.

By creating meaningful and useful lead magnets you can increase engagement of your readers, which can turn them into paying customers.

If you are efficiently using the tools mentioned above, you will have emails pouring into your email database and a booming business.

Now, which lead magnet tools will you use?

This is a guest post from Katrina Manning of Leadpath.

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small business checklist

Small Business Checklist: My Resources

People are always asking me, “How do you have the time to do so much? You seem to be everywhere doing everything!”

My Small Business Checklist

I’m not going to lie. I am busy and I do have my hand in just about everything, but I have learned to make it easy on myself. How? With my small business checklist that is full of systems and automation.

Hootsuite

No, I’m not really tweeting dozens of times a day all day, every day. That is all scheduled – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Once a month, I spend time scheduling daily posts to last the entire month. After I write a blog post, I schedule the promotion a few times that week, then a couple times the rest of the month, and here or there for the rest of the year. Yes, the rest of the year.

It’s amazing because I do this once and it posts over and over again.

Tailwind

Tailwind is like a Hootsuite for Pinterest, but it does some other Pinterest specific things. I share my own pins to a variety of boards at a variety of times. I share content from others the same way.

tailwind marketing

Over time, this has slowly grown my following on Pinterest and traffic to my websites – both my business site and my lifestyle blog, Christina All Day.

Plus, it’s fun to play on Pinterest. Click here to give Tailwind a spin.

Teachable

When I started working with business owners to earn them visibility, I found that lots of people didn’t have the budget for the done for you services I provided. So, I started coaching or consulting them and sharing everything I would do for them, step-by-step, if they were my client so they could do it on their own.

Then, I created a couple of courses, so I didn’t have to be present all the time. On Teachable, you can buy my course, go through the curriculum, and start implementing what you learn… without me.

teachable com

Yes, I offer monthly group coaching calls to answer specific questions and I also receive emails from people in the course, but the majority of the work is already done and running – regardless of where I am or what I’m doing.

Thinking of earning passive income? Check out Teachable here.

ConvertKit

Whenever people tell me, “I got your email today” …I have no idea what email they are talking about. Those are all automated too – sometimes months in advance.

With ConvertKit, I send emails to my list every other week in what is called a nurture sequence. Every once in awhile I update the content or create a new email, but for the most part, I never write an email and send it.

I plan for in advance so I can focus on other things… to email about later! Bonus: It comes with landing pages too!

If you want to schedule emails for later, click here to see how I do it with ConvertKit.

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SEMRush

Don’t blog for the sake of blogging. I used to do that and no one read my stuff… because they couldn’t find it!

When I started using SEMRush to conduct SEO keyword research, I discovered what people were searching (word for word), how many people were searching for it, and how many results there were. Based on that information, I do this fun little math equation Brandon Gaille taught me and BOOM! More people were finding my content.

This is the only resource on my list that isn’t a time-saving tip, but it is a business saving tip if you do anything in the online world.

Click here to try SEMRush.

YouTube

Coming from TV news, you’d think YouTube would be my jam. Well, I was a little late to the game. Now, I post a video each week… but I Don’t shoot one each week.

When I plan my blog content, I try to shoot for three months ahead of schedule. I also try to theme each month. For example, April was email marketing. May was SEO. When I have an outline of what each week’s blog post will be about, I create a YouTube video to go along with it.

christina nicholson youtube

I shoot all of the videos in one sitting. I also don’t change my clothes, so it may look like I wear the same outfit and rock the exact same hair and makeup in the same spot. Shooting everything at once saves me so much time.

I do it once and I don’t need to think about it again for another month. Click here to visit my YouTube channel.

That’s how I’m saving time, automating work, appear to be on social media 24/7, and just running parts of my business in general. What systems do you have in place?

Some of the links in this small business checklist are affiliate links.

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boca raton seo company

21 Point Blog Post Checklist [Infographic]

If you’ve just started blogging about topics you’re really passionate about, there’s probably one big question in your mind right now:

“How do I drive blog traffic without spending money on ads?”

Blog Post Checklist

There are actually 21 ways you can do this for free. I’m going to break down the big three here, then scroll down to see the 21 Point Blog Post Checklist Infographic.

Email

In order to get blog traffic via email, you need to have people signing up for your newsletter, but don’t just pitch your newsletter. Instead, offer them something that makes them want to give their email address to you… like this:

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If you’re wondering how you can grow your email list, I’d recommend that you read Aaron Orendorff’s How to Build Your Email List: The (Better Than) Ultimate Guide published on Content Marketing Institute. It really is the ultimate guide.

Social Media

seo checker

Simply posting your blog posts on different social media platforms won’t instantly give your blog traffic – of course, I’m wrong if you already have a huge fanbase count on your platforms.

When sharing your blog posts on social media, strategize! Know who your target audience is, what time are they active on social media, and join groups that are related to your niche where you can engage and get your website more known.

There are plenty of groups you can join on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Scoop.it, and other sites. You just have to test the waters and see which will give you more traffic. But don’t be a spammer! I recommend that you read Garrett Moon’s How to Easily Double Your Traffic from Social Media published on Kissmetrics.

Search Engine Optimization

Okay, don’t panic! You don’t have to start being techy and all when doing your own SEO. Actually, it’s very advisable that bloggers know how to optimize their content.

There’s really no need for you to hire an SEO specialist or consult one, you simply have to research how you can optimize your blog posts on your own. For more on how to act as your SEO consultant, watch this.

You can do this! You just have to have a lot of patience and passion for learning SEO.

Read and save this checklist digital marketing expert, Barry Feldman, provided in this infographic made with Visme. Use this as your cheat sheet whenever you’re about to create a new blog post.

Blog Post Checklist

This is a guest post contributed by Belle Balace from Visme.co.

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SEMRush-pricing

Need an SEO Checker? See my SEMRush Review

This is the final blog post in my five-part series of SEO. I’ve already laid out the importance of SEO and how you can act as your own SEO consultant. Now, I’m going show you how I do it.

Why can’t I just use Google keyword finder? It’s free. That’s what I asked when I first found out about SEMRush.

SEMRush Review

Then, I learned about everything SEMRush offered… and it doesn’t even compare. 

When it comes to keyword research, Google keyword finder gives you results for Google ads, not what people are searching. SEMRush tells you not only what people are searching, but how many people are searching for it, and how many results there are for that keyword or keyword phrase.

SEMRush keyword tool

Most of my time on SEMRush is searching for the best keyword or keyword phrase to use in a blog post. To see how I do that, watch this video.

From time to time I’ll see how my already selected keywords are doing. SEMRush makes it easy to see how people are finding your site and certain pages in a search.

Click here for a FREE 2-week trial of SEMRush

I can also see what keywords my competition is ranking for. Some businesses use this information to try to “take” those keywords from their competitor.

If you want to know where your backlinks are, you can find that out here, in addition to creating reports and graphs to see and understand everything a little better. If you manage a blog on a client’s website, this is a GREAT tool.

Oh yeah, then there’s that thing it does that audits your entire website and tells you what’s not working and how to fix it. That’s kind of important, right?

SEMRush pricing

Like most online services, there are different levels of pricing. SEMRush is no different. When I started, I tried the free version, but it didn’t offer enough. I wanted more, so I paid $70 a month. Because I’m a sucker for a deal, I ended up paying for a full year with a discount. 

SEMRush pricing goes all the way up to $400 per month.

Yes, it can be pricey, but if you operate your business online and want to be found organically, it’s worth it. Click here to give SEMRush a try!

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seo-for-dummies

SEO for Dummies

Yes, SEO for Dummies is a book. (I love the “for Dummies” books.) I took a look at it when I was at the library the other day for the sake of this blog post… and it’s good! This one, in particular, is NINE books in one.

I’ve learned a lot about SEO from Ashley Faulkes at Mad Lemmings and Brandon Gaille at the Blog Millionaire. Brandon is the one who introduced me to SEMRush which increased the amount of traffic to both of my blogs.

SEO for Dummies is nine books in one, so I can only go over a small fraction of it here. Here are the five biggest takeaways and strategies you can put into action TODAY. (Yes, you can do it on your own. For more on acting as your own SEO consultant, click here.)

seo-for-dummies

1. Search Engine

This is the foundation of everything. The search engine. Google is one. (The biggest one.) YouTube is one. Even Pinterest is one. If you want to be found on a search engine, you need to let it know you are special and worthy of being found.

2. Optimization

If you want a site like Google to find you and tell others about you, you need to tell them what your site is about. You can do this by putting keywords on your page, in the right place. What’s the right place?

  • In the URL
  • In the headline
  • In the description
  • In the headings and subheadings
  • In the image and file names

3. Linking

So, you think your website and the pages on it are amazing but do other people? This matters! When other people link to your site, that sends a message to Google that you are in demand, so they should show your content to more people… aka, moving you up higher in search results.

My favorite way to get links on other sites is through media relations. This is where I thrive. As a former TV reporter and anchor, I know how the media works – that includes online media. I don’t only earn this kind of exposure for clients, but I do it for myself.

Click here for a FREE 2-week trial of SEMRush

Every time I earn a client or myself exposure, I’m getting better SEO. Even if something is on TV, in print, or on a podcast, nine times out of 10 it will end up online.

4. Local

If you’re a local business and are only focused on getting local leads online, Google will set you up for success via snail mail. Yes, it actually sends you a postcard to a physical address with a code. You put that code into Google and voila – you’re showing up locally!

5. Sitemap and Webmaster

Remember how I said you need other pages to link to yours to make you look good? Well, you need to tell Google how special you are yourself. You can’t only rely on others to do it for it. Sitemap and Webmaster is a little too techy for me to get into, but you need to link your website with these tools. Google will reward you.

Regardless of your SEO knowledge, I suggested checking out SEO for Dummies… or swinging by the library for a skim.

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yoast seo plugin

What is the Yoast SEO Plugin?

What is the Yoast SEO plugin (besides the leading SEO plugin on WordPress)? It basically keeps you on track for a certain keyword you select. If you select the right keyword, this is amazing.

BEFORE you use the Yoast SEO Plugin, do this!

I use SEMRush to ensure I’m using a keyword that people are searching and that there’s not a lot of competition for. If you’re not using a keyword that is searched a lot with little competition, this won’t work. Keyword research is step #1!

Click here for a FREE 2-week trial of SEMRush

For more on how you can use SEMRush and become your own SEO consultant, click here. I’ve been putting these strategies work for a few months now and have seen traffic to my websites, this one and my lifestyle blog, Christina All Day, skyrocket.

Yoast SEO Review

The plugin will tell you you’re on the wrong track with a red light, let you know you can fix some things with a yellow light, and when you’re green – you’re good to go! The goal is to get all the lights green and Yoast SEO tells you exactly what to do to get there. (Scroll down to see an example.)

For example, the plugin will tell you if you’ve used the keyword too much or not enough. It’ll tell you if you need to add headlines or more words to the blog post.

SEO Yoast

Remember, you pick the keyword for the blog post, so make sure you do your research. Many people use the Google keyword planner for this. I prefer SEMRush because it’s more accurate. Click here to read more about how I conduct my keyword research. 

If you want to see how I use the Yoast SEO plugin, go behind the scenes with me on my blog by watching the video above.

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seo checklist

To be found online, try these 7 SEO best practices

It’s not easy to be found in a Google search. I give it up to anyone who lands the first spot on page one. Bravo.

While that sounds like an incredible task, it can be done. I did with a post on my lifestyle blog, Mascara Maven. To find it, search “CPK butter cake recipe.” That’s it in the first spot. It didn’t start there. Many things helped get it there. (Yes, it is possible to act as your own SEO consultant.)

1. Headline

While catchy headlines are fun and make some people want to click, they are not SEO friendly. People don’t Google things in a creative way to find what they’re looking for. They Google the most simple, basic thing. They search for what they want. Your headline, at least part of it, should reflect that.

2. Meta description

What is a meta description? It’s the text under the headline that explains what the blog post or article is about. Everything I just mentioned about headlines, applies here too. You want to make sure the keyword or phrase you want to rank for is here, but in a bit more detail. You have enough room for one to two sentences. Here, you have more space to get creative and tease to get a click.

3. Headers to make your content easy to read

While keywords are important, there is more to SEO than just using words people are searching for. One factor includes making sure your content looks good and is easy to read. Because a lot of people skim blog posts and articles, headers and subheaders make a big difference. There are seven in this blog post!

4. Linking to your content and other content

It’s important to share other content within yours. You can do this by linking to both your other content or someone else’s content. You should link to your content because it keeps people on your website longer while you’re sharing more of your expertise. If you’re referencing other resources, it helps to link to them as well.

For example, in this blog post, I link to SEMRush because I’m writing about SEO and I use SEMRush for keyword research and more.

Click here for a FREE 2-week trial of SEMRush

5. Others linking to your content

You can post amazing things online every day, but Google will not recognize your website as an important one if no one else is linking to it. My favorite method of earning backlinks is media relations. (To learn how to start earning publicity online, click here and join my free course.)

By promoting yourself as an expert in your industry to various media outlets, you can earn mentions that will increase your domain authority and help your search engine optimization.

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What is domain authority? The title explains it – it’s how much authority your domain has. Is it new or old? Do you get a little bit of traffic or a lot of traffic? Is your site simple or complex? Sites that have a lot of traffic and a lot of backlinks have a higher domain authority than those that don’t.

6. Alt titles and filenames

What you name your images matter. Use those keywords you found in your research and title your images and files with them. But, you’re not done yet. Use other variation of those keywords as an “alt title” during your upload. Yes, these come up in a Google search too!

7. Using variations of targeted keywords

Just like I mentioned before, you want to use a variety of keywords. The main keyword you want to rank for should be in your headline, URL, meta description, and throughout your blog post or article. But in your research, you probably found other variations of the keywords as well. Use those to name images, files, and sprinkle throughout your written content.

Since five of these SEO best practices included keywords, it’s important to do keyword research. A keyword won’t do you any good if it’s the wrong one. To ensure the keywords I’m using are being searched online and have little competition, I use SEMRush. For more on SEMRush, click here.

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seo-consultant

4 ways you can successfully be your own SEO Consultant

SEO, or search engine optimization, is necessary for any business to attract traffic to its website. SEO keeps your business from getting lost in the billions of websites that pop up on search engines like Google and it helps put your business front and center.

SEO is constantly changing and updating, so it’s necessary to hire an SEO consultant… or act as your own SEO consultant!

Why you need an SEO Consultant… even if it’s you!

Search engine algorithms make it difficult to drive traffic to your website if you don’t understand them. Some businesses rely solely on having great content, but it isn’t always enough.

According to BrightEdge internal data, 83 percent of the traffic from search engines comes from SEO, and 17 percent from paid search.

Search engines are the main form of finding information, so it’s important to know how to make sure visitors can find your site.

1. Keywords

SEO research also helps you to understand what users are searching for, so you can use that information to your benefit when creating content. When I started using SEMRush to research keyword, traffic to both of my blogs increased.

Before doing actual research, my research consisted of me asking myself, “If I were searching for something like this, what would I Google?” While this is a good start and I have been lucky with a couple posts ranking on the first page of Google, it’s not very strategic.

With SEMRush, I’m about to see exactly what’s being searched, how many people are searching it, and how many results there are. I can also see what I’m currently ranking for on my website… and what my competitors are ranking for!

what is keyword prominence in seo

Keywords are necessary to gain traffic. Using keyword research tools, like SEMRush, help you to figure out which keywords and phrases to use. To attract your ideal audience

  • Use specific keyword or phrases in your blog title, URL, headline, and sub headlines.
  • Use specific keyword or phrases in the meta description of your website pages.
  • Use specific keyword or phrases that flow naturally on your website.
  • Use specific keyword or phrases to name the images on your site.
  • Use specific keyword or phrases to name the alt-text of the images on your site.

Based on my research, I use one keyword or phrase to focus on and include other, related keywords or phrases throughout the blog post and/or website.

Click here for a FREE 2-week trial of SEMRush

2. Quality Content

At the end of the day, SEO will not work for your business unless you are producing quality content. If your content satisfies the needs of users who find your website, this will improve your rankings on search engines. Yes, Google is smart and can figure that out.

Quality content, combined with great SEO, increases your chances of getting a higher ranking.

3. Earn Media Exposure Online

Obviously, this is my favorite one… because it’s all about earning exposure online! When other sites link back to yours, that tells Google your website is special and it should rank higher. The bigger and better the website that links to you, the better.

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If you want to learn how to earn media exposure and link backs online, click here and take my free email course designed to help you earn those backlinks online. Even if they media exposure isn’t online at first, say it’s on TV or in the local newspaper, it almost always ends up online… and that’s great for your SEO!

4. Take Advantage of New Trends

Google is always growing its use of certain trends. Educating yourself on them and executing what you learn is vital to gain some SEO clarity… especially in 2017.

The tech giant has increased its usage of snippets, a summary of an answer from a website displayed on top of the results page, for user searches. Using bullet points on your website increases the chances of your website being chosen to be used as a snippet on Google.

seo specialist job description

Another growing trend on Google is users opting for longer, more specific search queries when looking for something. This is beneficial for your business because it makes it easier for you to attract the users that you want. By optimizing your content and your keywords to fit those search queries, you’re more likely to gain traffic and boost your ranking.

There’s also a growing popularity of using voice command systems such as Siri or Ok Google. Create unique, specific content that is more complex than a simple snippet at the top of the results page to attract traffic to your page.

To learn more about SEMRush and how it can help you increase traffic to your website, click here.

Portions of this post were submitted by Farah Zamora, a journalism student at Florida Gulf Coast University.

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ConvertKit-Review

ConvertKit Review [VIDEO TUTORIAL]

Building an email list is a great way to reach current and potential customers and clients. Before really learning about the power of building a targeted list, I relied on social media. Bad idea.

Look at what Facebook did. If I want to reach my Facebook followers, I need to pay Facebook lots of money. Soon, it’ll be the same on Instagram. On Twitter, I have 20 minutes to reach my following. After that, I’m lost in the newsfeed.

Why ConvertKit?

If you’re going to build a house, you want it on your land – where you have control. That’s why I started building a targeted email list with ConvertKit.

In ConvertKit, I can automate everything. To see how I ensure my email list is targeted and use tags to track what people are interested in, click here.

After someone is tagged, I automatically send them to a nurture sequence. Depending on what you’re tagged with, you may get some emails and not others.

email marketing templates

For example, if I see you have already taken my free Get in the Local Newspaper Challenge, then I won’t send you an email teasing it. Yes, even that is automated.

ConvertKit Review

One action automatically prompts another, then another, and so on and so forth. Those actions are determined on how the person enters your email list and how you set up the automations.

ConvertKit does all the work so you don’t have to. The video tutorial I created taking you behind the scenes my ConvertKit account will show you better than I can tell you.

For more information about ConvertKit, click here.

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best subject lines for marketing emails

7 Email Marketing Best Practices

When it comes to email marketing, there is no right or wrong. Most businesses are like that. However, I do believe there are some strategies we should all be mindful of in order to ensure the people on our email list are consistently receiving content they signed up for. (If you want to get more people on your email list, read this.)

email marketing subject lines examples

Did you notice that word? Consistently. That’s important. You can’t just send your email list something once, then disappear for a few months. If you’re going to send out an email once a day, you need to be sure you’re doing it once a day, every day. If you’re going to take a week off, let your readers know.

I email my list every two weeks. Thanks to ConvertKit, it’s all automated and targeted.

What’s in those emails, Christina?

Well, I’m glad you asked. That’s what I’m going to break down here – the order I send my emails and why.

Email Marketing Best Practices

1. Introduce Yourself

First, I introduce myself. The person joining your email list may know a little bit about you, but that’s it. So, fill in the gaps! Tell them what you do and why you’re good at it.

2. Be Helpful

After my first email goes out in my nurture sequence, the rest will follow every two weeks, but only on weekdays. ConvertKit makes it super easy to set up a sequence like this. (See the image below.)

This is when I show people on my email list they’re in the right place. I start by answering the most commonly asked questions I get. I don’t do this in a Q and A format, although that would work too.

Instead, I share an episode of Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast. I was a guest on his show and gave listeners strategic actions to earn themselves media exposure and more visibility for their brand and business. Some even responded letting me know they ended up earning publicity after implementing what I said!

drip email marketing

Inside my nurture sequence in ConvertKit

Now, this isn’t just one email where I share my knowledge. Most of my emails are helpful. In these emails, I like to tell stories. As a former TV reporter and anchor, I’m a storyteller by nature… but I think it’s the best way to learn! So, if you want to teach someone something, try telling a success story to really drive a point home.

These helpful emails are scattered throughout my nurture sequence. I’d estimate they make up about 75% of my content. Just like Gary Vee says, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook!”

3. Offer a free product

By this point, your readers should know, like, and trust you. But just to be sure, give them something that’ll really blow their socks off – something you created just for them.

I like to offer my free email course that helps small business owners earn more visibility. I also have a free challenge that sets them up to earn coverage in their local newspaper.

I use my free course and challenge as an opt-in to build my email list.

free-media

4. Offer a low priced product or service

In a perfect world, your help and free resources will wow the people on your email list. They will want to buy anything you sell! We don’t live in a perfect world, so your free stuff won’t work for everyone, but it will wow some of them.

This is where you can start the process of monetizing your business through email marketing. I like to start small and work my way up.

5. Offer a higher priced product or service

If you have another, more expensive product, don’t be afraid to tell your readers about it. It may be exactly what they want and need. If you don’t have a high-priced product yet, this is a perfect time to…

6. Ask questions

I love this method of interacting with my email list. It’s the best way to find out what they like, what they don’t like, what they want, and what they need.

Unfortunately, many people are lurkers. They like your content, will skim it, then delete it. Only a few will take the time to reply and answer your questions. Those are the ones who you need to listen to because they are most likely to turn into customers or clients… so listen up, buttercup!

7. Repeat

When these emails are spaced out every couple of weeks like mine are, I think it’s a great to wash, rinse, and repeat.

Don’t copy and paste the exact same thing. Instead, share the same ideas. If I told a story about how I successfully earned a client on the Today Show the first go around, I’ll share a student’s success story of how he earned coverage in Entrepreneur Magazine… or if I teased my interview with Pat Flynn, then I’ll switch it up and share my appearance on EOFire with John Lee Dumas.

It’s okay to offer the same products to the same people at different times. Statistics prove people need to see the same offer multiple times before they decide to buy. Plus, you never know where your reader may be personally, professionally, or financially when your next offer lands in their inbox.

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opt in email lists

5 Methods of Building an Email List from Scratch

Building an email list from scratch sounds like a lot to take on… and it is. It’s work, but remember, everyone started with zero subscribers at one point.

First, you need to give someone a reason to join your email list, or opt-in. Teasing to your “newsletter” won’t cut it anymore. Have you ever received a newsletter that blew your socks off? Probably not.

So, back to the opt-in… it has to be something your readers and followers actually want and need. I’m going to tell you how I started building my email list from scratch.

Build a Foundation for your Email List

A.) First, I started using ConvertKit. Why ConvertKit?

It’s email marketing designed for bloggers, course creators, podcasters, and others. It’s extremely easy to use, ensures your email list is targeted, integrates with other software (like WordPress), and makes automation a breeze. (Automation is what makes being a solopreneur possible!)

B.) A subscription to ConvertKit also includes forms and landing pages to capture a person’s first name and their email address. It’s so nice to have it all in one place.

C.) The next step is creating a great offer for your audience so they choose to opt in. I have a few opt-in that include a free email course, 10-day challenge, media guide, planner PDFs, and others.

Now you’re ready to build your email list and put these opt-ins out into universe… or online in various places like:

1. In blog posts as a “content upgrade”

Because most of my blog posts focus on publicity and ways entrepreneurs can earn more visibility for their brands, my opt-ins do the same and serve as a bonus in the blog post. Here’s an example.

free-media

2. As social media posts

I am posting at least once a day on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Sometimes I link to a blog post that includes the content upgrade, but sometimes I will send people straight to a landing page.

3. As social media ads

This is just like a social media post, but with some money behind it. If you’re going to promote your opt-in through ads, targeting the correct audience is key. Then, tracking their behavior and your success with a pixel will determine if your money is well spent or if you need to make some ad tweaks.

4. As a “freebie” shared in a podcast interview

This is my favorite method of growing my email list because you don’t only see results right away, but the people opting in already know, like, and trust you… that’s why they are taking the second step to opt-in and accept your offer.

Building an Email List from Scratch

After I was on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast, a link to my free eBook was posted online. Shortly after the page went live, my email list saw a big jump. When I was on EOFire with John Lee Dumas, I told listeners where to go to get the free eBook with the same result.

5. Emailed to a potential customer or client

Many times a business owner will reach out to me through an email or a phone call to discuss my services and pricing. Because my audience is small business owners, solopreneurs, and bloggers, the conversation usually ends with me directing the person to a free course or challenge to achieve their goals.

While I haven’t built my email list by creating and promoting an online summit, my friend Lisa Simone Richards has and she has had amazing success with it. For more on how to create an online summit to grow your email list, click here.

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targeted opt in email lists

Why you should be creating Targeted Email Lists

Everyone online talks about a very important “list.” Having “a list” is vital to making money in online business, but what is it?

What is a list?

Well, “a list” is an email list. Ideally, it’s of your avatar – your ideal customer or client. Unfortunately, many people get caught up in vanity metrics and think it’s only the size of your list that matters. It’s not.I recently wrote an article for Inc. Magazine about an influencer’s social media following and how it means nothing if the people behind the numbers aren’t engaged. For your list, it’s the same. 

Targeted email lists

Targeted email lists are where the money is. If your email list is not targeted, then what’s the point of having one?I will get into how to build an email list soon, but first, let me get into why you should have and why I started one.In a word: ConvertKit.

ConvertKit

I’ve done email marketing before for my Media Maven clients, but when I learned about ConvertKit and how easy it is to not only build a targeted email list, but to also track how the person entered the list and set up automations based on that, I was sold.free-mediaNot too long ago, I created an online course. Through business development, I learned a lot of small business owners want and need public relations services, but they can’t afford it. That’s why I decided to charge a fraction of a monthly retainer and teach them how to handle PR themselves. (Click here to read more about that.) To market my new, online business, I needed an email list. To sell something online, you need an online presence. To communicate with those people, you need an email list.

It’s NOT social media

Yes, social media works… and it’s great. You should be on social media. The only problem? You don’t control social media. When your favorite platform makes changes, it usually hurts you.For example, Facebook has you digging into your pockets to reach your followers. Your posts used to appear in news feeds all the time. Today, you only reach 2% of the people who like your page. TWO PERCENT! If you want to reach more, you need to pay Facebook. It’s one reason I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.

You own your email list

You are in control of your email list. You own it. That’s the difference.Having an email list isn’t just for online business. It’s why mine is important, but if you have a local business, a targeted email list of current clients and customers and potential ones would also benefit you.

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Again, I like ConvertKit because,

a.) I’m not tech-savvy, so I need something easy to use.

b.) The tracking of who is signing up and where they’re coming from is amazing. It makes sending emails so much easier because I know exactly what the person is interested in.

For example, if you listened to my interview with Pat Flynn on the Smart Passive Income Podcast, you may have opted in to receive my eBook, Master your Media Relations for free. Because ConvertKit will automatically “tag” you as an SPI listener, I know what your interests are and how I can help you. Based on that, I can subscribe you to a certain email sequence and send certain email broadcasts to you in the future, while leaving others out that may not interest you.

opt in email lists

This is also a great way to track what strategies to grow your email list are working and which ones are not working.

c.) The automation takes a lot of work off my shoulders so I can focus on other things.

At the end of the day, you want to reach your clientele and customer base. A targeted email list is the best way to do it.
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virtual-summit

How to Create an Online Summit [VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Attending an online summit is a great opportunity to learn from experts. Whether you’re the host, a speaker, or an attendee, summits are beneficial for everyone involved.

Lisa Simone Richards is a visibility strategist for health, fitness, and wellness entrepreneurs. Not only has she landed some clients in notable online summits, but she’s also organizing one right now that she will host. It’s called the Audience Attraction Formula. For more on that, click here and watch the video below to see how she’s done it all, step by step.

What is an Online Summit?

Online summits begin with a host or an organizer. He or she will gather a variety of experts in a specific industry. The experts share information that could cost a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, but in online summits, experts are engaged in interviews and sharing insightful values for free.

Attending an online summit is a great opportunity to take away knowledge from a variety of different perspectives and gain some actionable tips to help get an individual to the next step of achieving a related goal.

What are the Benefits of Participating In a Summit?

Summits often operate under a model that centers around email list size. This is why:

Speakers are asked to share the event with their followers on their email list to help promote the event. If all these speakers do this and bring their audiences to the summit, everyone grows their audience and exposure.

Near the end of an interview, speakers may offer a free gift that is delivered by email. That’s where the email list growth comes into play for speakers.

What are the Benefits for Everyone Involved?

The host of the summit also gets an opportunity to build his or her own list; the speaker gets to gain more exposure and credibility; participants learn a lot of strategies to take back to their own business.

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how-to-create-a-virtual-summit

How do you Host a Summit?

1. Choosing the Topic

The first step in hosting a summit is to identify what your topic is going to be. This will most likely be your area of expertise and cater to your audience.

2. Finding the Experts

Then, you need to find the experts who align and resonate with that topic. This is where you need to do your homework and research some experts to learn what kind of knowledge and experience they are already offering.

If they can talk about content they already have, it’ll make them more likely to say “yes” because they won’t have to prepare too much for the summit. When a host approaches an industry expert, it showcases the host as a leader in his or her industry as well by creating an online event with so many influencers.

3. Promoting the Summit

While you’re finishing up interviews, the speakers will reach out to their email lists and let them know they are participating in an upcoming online summit that will blow their socks off.

It’s the host’s responsibility to:

  • create the marketing materials
  • put the summit content on his or her website
  • promote the summit by email, social media, etc.

It’s also important to constantly be mindful of an end goal. You want the online summit to align with that vision to get the most out of it.

How do you Distribute the Videos from the Summit?

When it comes to distributing the videos, many people will do one video a day for about 20 days, depending on how many experts there are.

To avoid the audience losing interest over a long period of time, it’s a good idea to post two or three videos a day to shorten the time span and make an offer sooner rather than later.

In the Audience Attraction Formula, each interview will be on its own page, along with a short bio of the expert and the free gift he or she is offering.

You can either keep the videos available permanently on your website, or if you want to monetize the summit, you can charge a fee for a lifetime membership after the videos are unpublished.

If you’re interested in being involved in a summit, keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your industry. Don’t be afraid to ask if you hear something going on that seems like a great fit. Maybe you can get in on it!

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how to be a publicist

How to be a Publicist

No, not everyone is a publicist… even if they think they are or want to be.Full disclosure: I did not go to school for public relations or marketing. My major was public affairs journalism.Everything I learned to get me where I am today didn’t come in the classroom, regardless of my major. I interned at a local TV station before working in TV both behind the camera and in front of it for more than 10 years. That is how I learned how to be a publicist.

How to be a Publicist

publicist job descriptionThe definition of a publicist is a person responsible for publicizing a product, person, or company. It’s a job many people think they can do… and try to do. How hard can it be? You just tell a bunch of people wonderful things about a client or yourself and that’s it, right?Wrong. Many think they know how to be a publicist, but really don’t know. At all.There are a lot of self-proclaimed experts who give hard working and smart working publicists a bad name. Two of these “experts” are bloggers and online influencers. Not all of them, but some of them. Here’s why.

Bloggers

publicist agreementIn a way, bloggers act as publicists. We help spread the word about whatever brand we’re working with on our platform. We make some media connections if we do a great job promoting ourselves as marketers… but that does not mean a blogger can act as a publicist for others.Don’t get me wrong, some bloggers do it and they do it well. It’s because they get it. Some don’t get it.One big difference between a blogger and the traditional media is paying for coverage and earning it. Some bloggers earn a living by promoting brands. The traditional media cannot promote anything. That’s not their job. Understanding the difference and how to approach the media with a pitch for editorial coverage is very different.

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As a publicist, I stopped pitching bloggers because many would refuse coverage unless they were paid. If they deserved payment, and my client had an additional advertising budget, then we’d talk… but unfortunately, many bloggers believe they are worthy of payment because they have a blog… just because they have a blog.On the flip side, sometimes being a blogger can help you be a publicist because you know how things in the blogosphere work – just like me working in TV helped me, but you need a little more than just that bit of experience.

Online Influencers

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of online influencers launch publicity products and courses… but they have no education or experience in publicity. They only experience is the said influencers earning media attention for themselves… but the media attention the influencer shares to bring in new followers is recent media attention – after that person became successful.To most people, all that media attention looks great. To someone who understands the business, it’s not that impressive.If Oprah made a few calls and got herself on the cover of Forbes today, we wouldn’t be too surprised. It’s expected. She is already a successful business woman. If Oprah made a few calls and got herself on the cover of Forbes 35 years ago when she was a radio reporter in Mississippi, that would be unexpected. That would be a big deal.That is not what some of these online influencers are doing. Instead, they are earning coverage after they’ve made it big and trying to sell you on that coverage. Earning coverage before you’re successful is not easy and I’m not sure influencers know how to do that, but that is what their followers need.free-mediaSo, to get back to the topic of “How to be a Publicist” there is no right or wrong answer. It’s not like math where 2 + 2 is always 4. Some things work for some people while different things work for others. We all have different methods of outreach, different relationships with people, different clients in different industries.There is one thing that will always work. It’s being strategic.I’ve seen so many publicists when I was in TV and when I worked at public relations firms throw a bunch of things at the wall and hoped a couple of them would stick – also known as pitching 500 people with the exact same thing and hoping a couple will run with it.That’s not strategic. Be strategic.
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create-an-online-course

Why I created an online course

When I left the news business and got into public relations, I learned a lot of people don’t really understand how editorial media works. Business owners didn’t get it and some publicists didn’t get it.

The problem of not knowing…

During business development, a lot of people will ask me:
How much do I pay you to get me in Forbes?If I hire you, when will I get in Forbes?
The answer:
You don’t pay me to get you in Forbes. You pay me to actively pitch you to Forbes.You’ll get in Forbes when a writer or editor thinks you’re worthy of it.
As you can image, those aren’t the answers potential clients want to hear, but that’s the truth. Many public relations firm or publicists will sugar coat it and maybe stretch the truth a bit. I think this why I also hear this when I talk to potential clients:
I don’t know if I want to hire PR. I just had a really bad experience of giving all my money to someone and I got nothing in return. Now, it’s not in the budget.
Media relations isn’t only a lot of work, but it’s a lot of work with no guarantee. I compare it to a doctor. Your doctor can’t guarantee you’ll feel better, but he or she can do everything known to get you there.free-media

The Solution: An Online Course

After seeing so many negative experiences and lack of budgets, I decided to teach people everything I know – from in front of the camera, to behind the camera, to working in PR. When you’ve been burned and/or don’t have money to outsource, you are left with no other choice but to learn how to handle some things on your own. (It’s why business owners wear so many hats!)I’ve done it many times – website development, SEO, etc., and quickly learned I wasn’t going to waste my time anymore. Instead of spending hours, days, or even months trying to get something right, I spent a little money and learned from someone who lives and breathes what I wanted to know.Then, it hit me: Why not do that with what I know? I have more than 10 years of experience in the media industry. I’ve seen a lot and I know a lot. The benefits of my knowledge to a small business owner can lead to big changes. That’s why I created an online course – to share that knowledge.
Christina, why are you giving everything away? Now, some people won’t hire you.
Many people have said that to me. I respond with,
They wouldn’t hire me anyway. People buying my course want to handle this themselves. They don’t have a budget to hire me. They don’t trust someone to outsource important work. Why not teach them how to succeed by sharing what I’ve experienced through an online course?
For more on my online courses, click here.Want to try out some free courses? Join my 10-day get in your local newspaper challenge or the mini version of Master your Media Relations here. Both of these resources have resulted in media coverage for small business owners who implement what they learn.  
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public-relations-retainer-fee

5 signs you’re not ready for a Public Relations retainer fee

I think it’s safe to say the most challenging part of my job is explaining how the industry works to my clients. Before I take on any client, I do my best to explain what I do, how I do it, and what the expected outcomes are – the good, bad, and the ugly.Basically, I do my best to under promise and over deliver due to the nature of the business.What’s the nature of the business? Well, let me break it down like this: Public relations can do wonders for your business. It can make your brand more credible and visible which leads to more business growth. But, it’s not what you want, when you want it.

You’re not ready for a Public Relations retainer fee if…

1. You don’t have a story to tell.

This is what’s going to earn you media coverage. Storytelling. It’s not how amazing your brand is or how much money you generate. It’s about the educational, entertaining, and emotional story you can share that will shed a light on your brand.Now, this light isn’t always a huge spotlight. Sometimes it’s a little flashlight that turns on for a split second, but it’s something.free-mediaI once worked with a client and I explained to him,
Me: “Everyone thinks their business is the greatest ever and should be featured in most media outlets. That’s not how journalists see things.”Client: “But Christina, our business really is the greatest ever.”
That = unrealistic expectations… with a mindset that you don’t need a great story to earn coverage.

2. You mistake marketing for sales.

I hate it when people say “sales and marketing” like they are the same thing. They’re not. In fact, they are very different.I don’t work in sales… not directly. Instead, I get someone to want to make the next step to sales.If you’re a local restaurant and I earn you a cooking segment on the local NBC station, I did my job. I earned you a three-minute segment on TV in your market in front of millions (depending on the market) of potential customers.The part that comes after that is the sales part.I lead the horse to water. You make the horse drink it.

3. You want instant media coverage. Like tomorrow.

If you want to earn media, you need to be patient. If you don’t want to be patient, then you can spend more money on an advertisement and get it right away.Convincing someone your brand has a great story takes time. It takes time to build a relationship with a journalist. It takes time to pitch journalists INDIVIDUALLY.Speaking of time, TIMING is one of the biggest factors when it comes to a journalist answering the question, “Why should I cover this right now?” Just because something isn’t a good fit now, doesn’t mean it won’t be in a month, three months, or even a year.

Join my 10-day “Get in the Local Newspaper” challenge by clicking here!

I could go on about this, but instead, I’ll share this response from a journalist at a popular, national magazine after he was asked, “Why not?” in response to a pitch he turned down:
“Because I get 200 pitches a week and can’t and don’t want to read them all. My job is not to sit on my derrière waiting for pitches. I create my own pipeline of stories and it is full for months ahead of time.”

4. You don’t want to be involved in the process.

Yes, a publicist will handle most of the work, but I need you to help me help you.When the media comes knocking, you need to drop everything. Like, right now.When I was in TV news, I was given an assignment at 9:30 am and I had to have it done by 4:45pm. Many times after I was pitched, I would call the number at the bottom of the email and the conversation would go like this:
Me: “Okay, we’re ready to talk to about this. Can we come by in 30 minutes?”Publicist/Person who wants media exposure: “Oh no. We’re not ready!”Me: “Well, you just sent me this information and my assignement editor would like for me to cover this for the 5pm newscast.”Publicist/Person who wants media exposure: “Okay, well can you just give us the questions now and call back next week?”
Do you see what’s wrong with this? When was the last time you watched the 5 o’clock news and saw something that was not relevant today, but instead looked like it was a week old? Yea… never.When a journalist wants something, nine times out of 10 they will go with whoever got them the information they needed the quickest. Journalists work on tight deadlines. If you want to earn media exposure, you need to work that way too.“But Christina, you told us in #3 is takes time.”Yes, it does, but when that time passes and an opportunity knocks, you run to the freaking door!

5. You’re a control freak.

When it comes to earning media, you have no control over the final product.Again, if you want that, spend all your marketing budget on an advertisement.It’s a journalist’s job to tell a story that will educate and entertain their audience. If all 10 of your quotes are boring, then a journalist may use three out of the 10… and they may not be your favorite three. It happens.Your goal is to earn media that looks like a “free commercial.” That is NOT the goal of the journalist. Remember that.So, the next time you’re considering hiring someone to handle your PR and are getting ready to shell out a public relations retainer fee, ask yourself, “Am I ready for this?”
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non-traditional-media

Exploiting your Career with Non-Traditional Media [VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Today, it’s vital to earn media attention to grow your brand – traditional media, non-traditional media, social media, etc.

Working in Traditional Media

Kristen Pope and I have similar stories of working for News 12. She was in Westchester. I was in the Bronx. We also worked in small Texas markets before moving to the bigger markets of Boston and Miami.

Watch the entire video interview with Kristen Pope here.

In TV, you start small and work your way up. Moving up the ladder could not be more competitive or cutthroat, but the experiences and relationships you build are life changing.

Creating Non-Traditional Media

Reporting is NOT an easy job and everything a reporter writes is gone over with a fine-toothed comb by producers, editors, and more people higher up the ladder. Wanting more freedom, Kristen started her own production company, Pope Productions. With Pope Productions came The Positive Controversy.you-tube-showsThis gave Kristen the opportunity to tell the stories she wanted to tell, the way she wanted to tell them. She was the news director, producer, reporter, and editor.

Click here to watch The Positive Controversy on YouTube

Everyone and everything has a story. You don’t need the traditional media to share it. You can create it like Kristen did, but like she says in the video interview, you’re not going to profit off of your story right away. It’s not that easy. (If it was, everyone would do it!)

Making Money with your Media

Monetizing takes time, but it can happen. Once you have the product perfected, it’s time to shop it around! Kristen has already had success and is ready for more in 2017:
  • Pitching her show

  • Securing advertising

  • Securing sponsorships

the-positive-controversy-with-kristen-popeIf you want to grow your brand in the media, outside of traditional media, Kristen advises two things (and they are good.)

1. Start Creating Content.

If you don’t know how to do it, you’ll learn how to do it. Trial and error is a good thing!People are digesting content everywhere online, so make it for them because they are looking for it!

2. Don’t Stop.

Finally, don’t quit. Stay the course, because you don’t know how close you are to making it, until you make it.For more about Kristen, Pope Productions, and her show The Positive Controversy, visit www.KristenLPope.com or click here.
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digital-marketing-trends

5 Digital Marketing Trends to watch for in 2017

The digital marketing field has truly taken its toll on the millennial generation. It’s a new year, so expect to see some of these digital marketing trends rule 2017.

1. Augmented Reality

People couldn’t fathom that Pokémon Go would take the world by storm. The revenues it garnered amounted to $10 million a day. A DAY! The footprint it has left in the augmented reality aspect of the digital domain is a force to be reckoned with.power-digital-marketingNow, the future is bright for augmented reality games. More developers will seek to capitalize on augmented reality to bring the best in gaming experience for die-hard gamers. Expect to see a plethora of augmented reality games, ads, apps and what not.

2. Niche Market Targeting

The more the online marketing domain grows, the more crowded it becomes. Because of that, marketers have come up with ways to direct their efforts towards niche markets.The advantage lies in creating tailored content for an audience, so clutter can be minimized and loyal reader or customer base can be generated. Leads can be converted via this method in a more cost-efficient manner as the marketer can ascertain the specific demographics, topics, and geographical location of the prospective buyers.Geofencing is a good example of how online marketers are using geographical information of their leads to send them lucrative offers about a new product or service.

3. Live Video Streaming

Social media users crave for live moments. The Facebook ‘Live’ feature, Instagram stories, and Snapchat are all about being in the moment. Now people can view their friends and family enjoying picnics, trips, dinner etc. from miles away, even births and weddings.digital-marketing-campaignCelebrities all over the world are resorting to live streaming. They broadcast what they are up to, where they are, and engage with their fans in real time and respond to their comments and questions. The US presidential debate is the classic example of live streaming which garnered in millions of viewers.free-media

4. Data Visualization

We have all learned at one time or another, that raw data can be shared and mapped onto a lot of things in classrooms, but we never really could do it without our teachers and textbooks. The data visualization is going to be the new trend that will shape our reality. It is not just going to be data interpretation or analysis, but instead the use of tools that will amplify the significance of data visualization. In other words, if you ignore this digital marketing trend in 2017, you’ll be at a disadvantage.

5. Immersive Content

This is also known as engaging content that works by complementing virtual reality and augmented reality campaigns. Engaging content generates the pull for your loyal customer base by way of videos, infographics, live webinars and what not.digital-marketing-for-dummies360-degree videos are already making waves in the digital marketing domain. In 2017, it will not merely be about creating content, but instead, delivering experiences. This is a guest post from Rayanne Dany. Rayanne is a digital marketing trends expert. She loves to blog to educate her audience about latest online marketing trends, social media marketing practices, and blogging. She is associated with an assignment writing firm in the UK.
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b2b-lead-generation

6 ways Blogging acts as MLM Lead Generation [INFOGRAPHIC]

MLM lead generation can be tough. I know because I did it for almost one year as a Younique presenter.I generated most of my leads online through social media, but if I had to do it all over again, I’d use video and a blog in addition to Facebook.

MLM lead generation

Don’t get me wrong, social media worked very well for me. I built a team of more than 200 under me, earned a free cruise, and made five-figures selling mascara, but if I knew then what I know now about the power of a blog and SEO research, I think those numbers would have been much higher.

Scroll down to see the infographic!

Younique was the first MLM business to operate on social media and have the “group parties.” Now, it’s more common. When things become the norm, you need to look at other ways to sell. Many network marketers aren’t using blogs to sell, but they should.The biggest reason?

Google search.

It’s how most people find what they’re looking for, but the competition is stiff. In fact, if you don’t know how to be found in a Google search, then you are probably wasting your time blogging… unless you have an insanely huge social media following with people who click on every bit of content you post on a daily basis.

Here’s an example.

I wanted to write a blog post titled Blogging for Lead Generation. But when I did SEO keyword research, which you should be doing before you post anything, I realized no one would ever find the blog post. Why? The exact keywords “lead generation” are Googled 6,600 times a month. That sounds great, right? Wrong.There are 20 million results for that phrase. 20 million! free-mediaSo after doing some more research, I found the best chance I had to rank high in a Google search about lead generation was to write about MLM lead generation. Now, my odds still aren’t great. MLM lead generation is searched 480 times a month with 530,000 results. But, since I know a thing or two about MLM, lead generation, and blogging – why not take a stab at it?Yes, it’s hard to show up on the first page of Google… but you can do it. I’m doing it with this post featured on my lifestyle blog. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that post is the most viewed post on Mascara Maven.

See? That’s the power of blogging. It drives traffic to your website!

Check out this infographic I created with statistics I pulled from a variety of marketing outlets. After gathering relevant data, I averaged them all to find the most accurate numbers.

Scroll down to see the infographic!

Due to the nature of the online world and business, I expect these numbers to increase in the coming months and years.

1. You will have more website visitors if your website has a blog.

2. Small businesses with blogs generate more leads.

3. Companies acquire customers via a blog.

4. Consumers trust advice and information posted on a blog.

5. Consumers learn about a company through articles, not ads. (It’s why you need media relations!)

6. Consumers make purchases based on blog posts.

 infographic-about-blogging
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catchy-headlines

7 ways to create Catchy Headlines and Catchy Titles [INFOGRAPHIC]

Because there is so much online today, internet marketing relies on quality content. To get to that quality content, you need catchy headlines and catchy titles.

To learn more about creating catchy headlines that will help increase clicks and conversion rates, scroll down and check out the infographic.

One of the oldest tricks in the book is to create catchy headlines. As with newspaper articles, the headline is the first thing that people see and read about your story. Headlines must be interesting, concise, and true.Headlines that are sensationalized intentionally just for people to click on the link are penalized by search engines and could seriously affect your ranking.There is a fine line between making the headlines grab your readers’ attention and staying true to what the story really is about.

7 ways to create Catchy Headlines and Catchy Titles

1. Focus on helping others.

People will not click on something if they feel like they will get nothing out of it. They want to learn something they don’t know, so teach them.

2. Show a sense of urgency.

If something is ending, people are more likely to act so they don’t miss it. It also sparks curiosity.attention-grabber-words

3. Create a “how to” post.

Again, people want to learn something. If you tell them right away what they can expect to learn, interested people will click right away. Here is an example of a how to post.free-media

4. Use keywords.

No one is going to see your catchy headline and read your article if they can’t find it. Social media only works for a day or two. SEO lasts a lot longer.attention-grabbing-words

5. Share your experience.

Is it just me, or is everyone an expert online? Most pretend to be, but few are. This is why it’s important to share your expertise to set yourself apart from the rest.

Click here to learn how to promote yourself as a subject matter expert in the media.

6. Use headline analyzer tools.

If you don’t think your headline is great and it could be better, go to a platform that specializes in catchy headlines, like Headline Analyzer. For this post, I got a B+.attention-grabbing-headlines

7. Use numbers in your headline.

Did you notice the headline in this post? Numbers work great because you can count on the post being skimmable. In a busy world, that’s exactly what many of us need.Now, check out this cool infographic my friends at Start Blogging Online sent me.

How To Create Headlines That Get More Clicks and Conversions

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boilerplate-press-release

Attract Journalists with this Press Release Template

When I was a reporter, I received a lot of press releases. To be honest, I didn’t read many. More on why here, but for the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to teach you how to write a press release and even share a sample press release.Before you even get started, remember journalists have no interest in giving you a free commercial. They need to tell a story, that means your press release
  1. Must be interesting and relevant to capture their attention and the attention of their audience
  2. Has to be different and include aspects that are new to the journalist and his or her audience

Press Release Template

1. Headline

When it comes to getting your press release read, this is a deal maker or a deal breaker. I compare it to the importance of an email subject line in a busy inbox.Keep your headline short, sweet, and interesting to focus people’s attention on your top line message and stand out.

2. Get to the point

Journalists are busy, so you need to tell them right away why they should care about your news.The first paragraph of your press release should cover the who, what, when, where, why, and how.

3. Add some color with a quote

You should add a quote or two for two reasons:
  1. It adds details to your story that can bring in the emotional element to the facts in the first paragraph.
  2. Some journalists will copy and paste the press release, so you want to be thorough and include everything a journalist needs to tell the story.
free-media

5. Provide Additional Newsworthy Information

As you finish, remember you’ve already outlined the most important information. Now, it’s time to offer unique, newsworthy details. You can also tease to the future if your press release warrants it.

6. The Boilerplate

This is the short “about me” section of the press release at the bottom. I like to keep it to two or three sentences.While I’m not a big fan of press releases, sometimes a journalist will ask for one after an initial pitch. Also, if you use a press release distribution service, it can help your SEO.

Sample Press Release

how-to-write-a-press-releasesample-press-release-format
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rebranding-strategy

How to create a restaurant rebranding strategy

Some restaurants open and don’t think twice about a rebranding strategy, but others open and need to switch things up in a matter of just a couple of months. 

Regardless of whether or not your business is booming, it’s important to evolve a brand over time to maintain the market’s interest and to keep the brand relevant.

Rebranding Definition

Rebranding is creating a new look and feel for an established product or company. The goal of rebranding is to influence customers perception about the business by revitalizing the brand, which in turn, makes it more modern and relevant to the customer’s needs.

Rebranding Strategy

Just like a business has a branding strategy before saying, “We’re open for business,” most will eventually need a rebranding strategy months, years, or decades later. Whether it be changing a logo, slogan, interior design, menu, etc., change can be good!free-mediaIf you change some things, either no one will notice or they won’t care. Sometimes, people will get angry. (Remember the new Instagram logo change?) Either way, you need to make those changes, no matter how minor, a big deal!

6 Rebranding Examples

Host a Media Dinner with Influencers

As a lifestyle blogger, I’ve been to a few media dinners. These are so much fun for local influencers and result in your restaurant earning exposure online and on social media. If your restaurant has a budget, you can hire major influencers to host an event at your restaurant or sponsor a blog post and social media shares.
rebranding-strategy

Media Dinner at Cafe Med in Deerfield Beach

Rename Existing Dishes during a Tasting Event

If you’re looking for something to do at an influencer event, a tasting event is one way to entertain guests. You could make it even more exciting by letting an influencer, or even a guest, rename some of the existing or new dishes and drinks.

Social Media Contest

A nice social media following can’t hurt a business, right? Try doing something to get your customers and potential customers involved by holding a contest on social media. Promote it with ads on social media, table tents in the restaurant, and props like a step and repeat for customers.

Feed the Newsrooms

As a former TV reporter, I have seen food disappear faster than it arrived in multiple newsrooms. You will score points with the media if you send free food!Tip: Reach out to the news anchors before you send your restaurant’s best and time it to arrive right before the end of the newscast when they have a couple of minutes to chit chat on-air.
restaurant-rebranding

Loving my Oreo milkshake from TGIFriday’s in Miami Beach… while pregnant (my #1 craving)

Guest Celebrity Chef or Bartender Night

If you want to bring in traffic, bring in someone who has traffic. This ties in with the first rebranding strategy I mentioned, but think one, big influencer instead of many local ones. For more on how this works in retail with a real housewife, click here.

Tell the Rebranding Story

Some people will notice your rebranding. Some won’t. Either way, you’re rebranding for a reason, so why not turn that into a story for a blog post, a video for your website or social media, a series of social media posts, a pitch for the media, a release for a press release distribution, etc.
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teleprompter

How to read a teleprompter

When the issue of reading a teleprompter or script comes up, I have heard, “How do I make it sound like I’m not reading?”The answer: teleprompter practice. If you’re not seen on camera, script practice. The same methods of perfecting your sound apply to both.reading-a-teleprompterWhen I started in the TV business, I had trouble sounding conversational when I would read a package script. When I started anchoring, I sounded like I was reading a Ron Burgundy teleprompter.

Teleprompter

Even if you’re not on TV, it’s important to know how to read in a conversational tone.For marketing purposes, you may need to:
  • record a radio advertisement
  • create a video or recording for your website or social media
  • create a video or recording for employee training purposes
  • read a teleprompter when appearing on TV
  • ignore a teleprompter when appearing on TV (yes, you’ll see words but won’t read them)

Teleprompter Practice

Looking back at old resume tapes makes me cringe. My voice was terrible! It was so obvious I was reading off a script. Changing my voice to sound more conversational was the most challenging part of growing as a TV reporter and anchor.diy-teleprompterIt’s hard to read and make it sound like you’re not reading. I was reading every sentence the same way and putting the same emphasis at the start, middle, and end. My old news director said the cadence in my voice was the same. I didn’t understand what he meant then, but now I do.Here are some things I did to help train my voice.

Write the Way you Talk

Sometimes, people try to write all sophisticated and use big words or lots of industry jargon. While it may make you sound super smart, it won’t help you sound conversational.Writing the way you talk on a daily basis will help you be more conversational because it’s the norm.

When I appear on WPTV presenting Steals and Deals each month, I ignore the teleprompter. Because I want to be conversational, I keep track of my main bullet points and just talk.

The Countdown

Before you start tracking, which is recording what you read, you should start with a countdown. This makes editing a lot easier, but for me, it held me back from sounding like I was having a normal conversation.free-mediaMost people start with “3, 2, 1,” then, start tracking. Instead of counting down, I would say, “Hey Jordan,” then, start tracking. Saying, “Hey Jordan,” (who is my best friend) before I read helped me set the tone of what I was about to say. It was like I was telling my friend a story like I would do outside of work.

DIY Teleprompter

Around the same time I was working on sounding more conversational, I was also working with a voice coach to bring my voice down. Apparently, it’s on the higher side and doesn’t sound authoritative, so I was coached to make it deeper. (Talk about a double whammy!)To help with both of these challenges, I would read a newspaper aloud like it was my DIY teleprompter. I would read it either online or while holding it in my hands and just listen to myself. I would read the same story a few times and focus on getting rid of that cadence.online-teleprompter

Record Yourself

Things sound so different when you hear them out of your mouth yourself, then recorded. For this reason, I suggest you record yourself using your DIY teleprompter. At first, you won’t like it. You may even think you sound stupid, but trust me, you don’t.Record yourself, listen, Then repeat this a few times. Take a break. Then, do it again. It’s a lot of work, but over time it’ll get better.

Act

Throughout this process, I would watch anchors I admired in my market and nationally. I would repeat what they said, the way they said it.After doing these things for weeks, then months, I learned to think less about how I was reading things and focused more on what I was reading.

iPad Teleprompter

Again, these tips work if you’re reading a script on or off a teleprompter.teleprompter-appIf you want to try an online teleprompter and practice with a teleprompter app, here are some to choose from:
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real-housewives

Behind the Scenes: Hosting an event with Real Housewives

The Real Housewives of New Jersey is a great show. It’s just the kind of entertainment I need after a long day of work and temper tantrums.When you think of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, the first housewife that comes to mind is most likely Teresa Giudice. She is by far the most polarizing cast members for a variety of reasons. With that, comes influence.

Real Housewives = Influence

Influencers are newer to the media relations game, but like bloggers, they come with a price… as they should.real-housewives-teresa-giudiceSince social media went from personal use to business use, Facebook wasn’t the only thing cashing in. Influencers caught on and started to charge for, well, their influence. It’s a recent form of advertising that brings brands a bigger ROI than any full page ad in a magazine would – if you do it right.

Influence = Business

When my client Tonia Ryan, the owner of Inance Women’s Clothing Boutique opened her store in Pompano Beach, she did what any other business owner with a budget should do – book an influencer who has the same audience to bring in customers.I haven’t seen the statistics, but I’m guessing most viewers of Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise are women. Inance is a women’s clothing boutique. If you like Teresa, and you like the way she dresses, you’ll like Inance. (I love it… I mean, look at those outfits!)real-housewives-of-new-jerseyTonia did an amazing job promoting the grand opening event to Real Housewives fans locally. In the store, fans could meet Teresa, talk to her, get her autograph on a picture or her new book, Turning the Tables: From Housewife to Prison and Back Again, and get their picture taken with her. She was even Facetiming with fans friends who couldn’t make it!

As soon as Teresa arrived, she looked around the store and did some shopping. She was even wearing a gorgeous white jumpsuit available at Inance. (Talk about marketing!)

While hundreds of people were waiting, they were checking out the store and shopping.It was my job to get the local media there, but not just any media. Remember, it all goes back to the brand’s audience. Influential lifestyle and fashion bloggers like April Golightly and 2 Fro Chicks were there. Gossip Extra and Lifestyle Magazine attended. That coverage and the pictures shared will last the store’s lifetime.christina-nicholson-mascara-mavenWhether you’re a fan of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, or the Real Housewives of Orange County – I could go on), there is no denying that all things real housewives entertains millions on a daily basis (thanks to re-runs.)free-mediaEven if you think it’s garbage reality TV, these women are influential. Influencers make money by bringing in the money. (You’ve heard of the Kardashians too, right?)Which housewife is your favorite? Do you think she’s the most influential?Currently, my favorite is Erika Girardi, also known as Erika Jayne. But after working with Teresa Giudice, and witnessing how nice she is, it’s a tight race.
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mommy-bloggers

5 reasons Mommy Bloggers are Influential

When I started blogging at Mascara Maven, it was just for fun. Then, I got into public relations and quickly learned how influential mommy bloggers could be.

What is a Mommy Blogger?

mommy-bloggerWell, a mommy blogger is a mom who blogs. (Shocker, right?)Personally, I don’t like that term. If you’re a mom and you’re a doctor or a lawyer, you’re not a mommy doctor or a mommy lawyer. (I refer to myself as a family blogger, lifestyle blogger, or local blogger.)Still, the term “mommy blogger” has power… and lots of influence. If you want to know what makes some of the “top mommy bloggers” or “best mommy bloggers” earn money as influencers, read on.

5 reasons Mommy Bloggers are influential

1. They are real.

If you’re not going to be yourself, you probably won’t succeed as a mommy blogger. The best bloggers, and the ones I look up to, are the ones who aren’t afraid to say (or blog) it like it is… or how they feel it is.No matter what you do, not everyone is going to agree with you. Someone will disagree, comment on your blog post, say something nasty on Facebook, tweet you some hate in 140 characters or less, and the list goes on. You cannot care about the negative things strangers on the internet say.When my post about piercing my daughter’s ears went viral on Facebook, I got a lot of hate. Maybe it’s because I don’t take too much personally, but I laughed at the hateful (or attempted to be hateful) comments. Honestly, it concerned me more that so many people were negatively affected by my daughter’s ears. Still, the negativity didn’t both me one bit because everything in my post was 100% real.

2. They are entertaining.

I tell my clients this all the time – there is so much crap on the internet today. This blog post is one of millions, yes millions, being posted online in a day. If you want people to take 10 seconds to even see what you’re sharing, you have to be entertaining.I’m not saying do a song and dance, but give your readers what they want. If you don’t know what they want, ask them, then deliver it.

3. They tell you something you don’t know.

I’m a nerd who loves learning new things, so I visit business blogs on a daily basis. Just like you need to entertain your audience, you need to keep them educated too. Offering value is the best way to do it.

4. They influence you.

Like a blogger can teach you something they know, they can also influence you. This is how mommy bloggers (and some other kinds) make their money. If they are viewed as an influencer, then they will work with brands to influence their readers to become customers of that brand.free-mediaTake this blog post I did for Walmart, for example. Walmart thought my Mascara Maven audience, young working moms, would be a great fit for this kind of promotion, so they paid me to promote it with a blog post and social media shares. Because I love video and think video use is so important today, I threw that in as well. Not to mention, this video really helps tell the #GroceryHero story.

PR Tip: Most bloggers charge for this kind of coverage. It is not earned media. It is paid media. If you want to reach a bloggers audience, you must have a budget to pay them before you pitch them. If not, there is no use pitching them.

5. They are there.

Yes, they are there – easily accessible and easy to find. If they’re not on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you can find their latest craft on Pinterest or in your inbox every week with an update or new blog post to share.how-to-become-a-mommy-loggerTop mommy bloggers don’t just blog every once in a while and hope you’ll catch it when you’re online. They run their blogging business like a well-oiled machine. Everything is scheduled and done for a strategic reason.Sure, some people blog for fun, some do it as a side hustle (like me), and others devote their time and energy to it like a 9 t0 5. It’s those 9 to 5er’s that are in that mommy bloggers club of influencers.

How to become a Mommy Blogger

That was your next question right? How to become a mommy blogger? Well, this post may help you with the how to become a blogger part, and if you want to throw the word “mommy” in front it, go for it.

How to create a blog or start a blog
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blogging-for-beginners

5 Blogging for Beginners tips

I recently had lunch with a friend who wanted to start blogging professionally. I gave her some of what I consider “blogging for beginners” advice, then thought, why not share those tips here on my blog to help others?!

Blogging for Beginners

So many people blog for different reasons – as part of their current job, to make money, and as a hobby are the three most common answers, I assume. Regardless of your why, these steps will help you get started and maintain your blog over time.

Where will your blog be?

Before you begin blogging, you need to know where you’re going to blog. My friend is planning on blogging professionally on a company’s website, but many people want their own space. In that case, you have a few options.I use WordPress. When it comes to the online world, WordPress is the most recognized and arguably the best platform to be on. The only problem? You’ll most likely need a website developer to help you get it up and running.wordpress vs squarespaceIf you want to try to take a stab at creating your site yourself, there are plenty of sites to choose from – Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and the list goes on. I created this entire site on Weebly in two hours. The drag and drop format is idiot proof. (If I can do it, anyone can.)about-me-templateIf you don’t want to commit to a website, check out a place like Medium or the post section on your LinkedIn page.

What’s your blog called?

When you decide where you want your blog to live, you may get a deal on a domain. If not, it’s no big deal. They are usually just $12 a year and you can buy them in a variety of places like GoDaddy, Bluehost, and Google.choosing-your-domainWhen it comes to choosing your domain, Brandon Gaille from the Blog Millionaire is an expert, but here are some quick tips:
  1. Apply SEO keyword research
  2. Try to go after a .com ending
  3. Avoid using – (dashes)
  4. Make sure it fits your niche
  5. Buy your name as a domain and redirect it (Have you tried ChristinaNicholson.com? Hi again.)

What’s your blog’s niche?

Since it’s #4 above, it makes sense to make this the next step. When I started Mascara Maven, I had no idea what I wanted to blog about it. Everything I posted was so random. (It can still appear that way.) Here on Media Maven, it’s all media focused.Don’t do what I do on my lifestyle blog. Do what I do here – be niched.I’ve heard the saying, “the riches are in the niches” and it’s very true. Again, whether or not this applies to you goes back to your why.If you are just blogging as a hobby, then you can post whatever your heart desires whenever you want to. If you are trying to make money or build clientele, I suggest focusing on what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about, and what your expertise is. That makes a perfect niche!

Get started!

Now, you have your website created. You have your domain. You have your niche. The only thing left to do is to get started. Write something and post it!Believe it or not, this is where the real work starts.other-bloggersWhen I got started, I learned a lot from other bloggers. Some were eager to help someone like me asking for beginner blogger tips. I also taught myself some technical stuff, social media strategies, SEO techniques, graphic design, etc. It all comes with time as you grow as a blogger.about-me-templateYou can find tons of advice online about how to monetize your blog, how to grow your following online, how to grow your email list, how to design the perfect about me page, and the list goes on. There is so much! If I only offered you one piece of advice, it’d be this – be consistent.

Be consistent.

Ask yourself this question, “How often can I research, write, and promote a blog post?” If the answer is three times a week, then you need to do this three times a week, every week. If the answer is once a month, then you need to do this once a month, every month.be consistentIn the process of blogging, you will build an audience and that audience will expect to see you online, with certain content, at certain times.Here, it’s always Monday. On Mascara Maven, it’s always Friday.So, now that you know what you need to do to get started blogging, what are you waiting for?
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Simple About Me Page Examples

8 Simple About Me Page Examples

Did you know the about page is the most looked at page on your website?

8 Simple About Me Page Examples

Many people who visit your about me page are first-time visitors wanting to know if they should invest more time in you. So what should your about me page include? Well, a few things. Downloading this guide will help too.

Visual About Me Page

When you see nothing but text, you get bored and probably think, “I don’t want to read all of that!” I think it’s important to show who you are visually – whether it be through bigger, more unique text or an interesting photo of you.I love this about me page because of the clear headline, sub-headline, picture, and my favorite part – the “that’s me” with the arrow.simple-about-me-page-examples

Clear About Me Page

I’ve read about me pages before and have thought, “I still don’t know what this person does or if I need their services.” Some read like a company’s very broad mission statement.Be clear. When your audience is able to see who you are and what you do right away, they are more likely to act.I love this about me page, which also makes a great home page, because the first sentence is so clear. Do you need a web designer or not? If so, you’ll keep reading. If not, you’re in the wrong place.about-me-pageI’m a big fan of this about me page too. Instead of explaining what the person does in the headline, it’s written as more of a tease. I love the skills bar graph and humor in it as well. I also got a kick out of the “Hire me. I’m really good.”examples-of-about-me-pages

Branded About Me Page

Make sure your about me page is on brand. Does it feature your brand’s colors? Your brand’s fonts? Everything should show your brand so when someone sees an image, they say, “Oh, that’s from (insert your name here).”about-me-templateThis one is so unique. It’s instantly recognizable and would be pretty difficult to confuse with another brand.how-to-write-an-about-me-page

Personal About Me Page

Yes, you’re probably looking at websites for professional business, not personal reasons. Still, it’s nice to see glimpses into people’s personal lives. I’m not just choosing Brandon Gaille’s about page because I’m a student of his, but because I really like his approach. The sub-headline hooks me. Yes, it’s a little longer than most, but his story is a little longer than most. It’s fitting.I also like that his about me page isn’t titled “about” or “about me.” Instead, it’s “read my story” and that title couldn’t be a better fit for him.about-me-pages-examplesI’m a big fan of Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income. Never mind his about page, I love his entire site! It’s so clean and easy to navigate… but back to about pages. His about page shows another great example of sharing some of his personal life successfully. He doesn’t only explain his brand (professional), but shares a family picture (personal). Side note: My favorite part of his podcast episodes are the fun facts in the opening. writing-an-about-me-page

Helpful About Me Page

I saved the best for last. The number one reason people are checking out your about me page is to see if you can help them – whether it be with a service you provide or product you sell.
The Femtrepreneur homepage acts as an about page and I think it’s brilliant. I’m also a student of Mariah Coz and have learned so much from her – including sharing value right away and she practices what she preaches. If you aren’t offering your audience help and telling them how you’re going to help them, they will leave. As soon as you visit Mariah’s site, you see “Tell me how I can help you!” followed by three options for solutions that fall under her expertise – growing an email list, conducting webinars, and creating, selling, and launching online courses.about-us-pageI’m also a big fan of Melyssa Griffin and she does the same thing on her about me page. Right away, she asks what you need help with. If growing your audience, monetizing your passion, or standing out online is what you’re looking for, she’s got you covered!about-us-page-templateWhile you’re here, visit my “about” page by clicking here. I include two things I didn’t mention above that I’m a big fan of:
  1. Video
  2. Call to action
Why video? Well, that’s kind of my thing. I’m a former on-air personality, so I feel comfortable in front of the camera and creating videos is something I do for clients. Plus, statistics show people are more likely to watch a video than reading text.I like to include a call to action as well… and that’s pretty common. You’re on my about page for a reason, so I want to make sure you act if you’re intrigued by what you see. By including a call to action there, you’re making things easier for the person visiting your site, which in turn, helps me out as well.about-me-templateOver on my lifestyle blog, Christina All Day, I use a picture of me blogging and start the page by saying, “Hi, I’m Christina.” Check it out here!So, what simple about me page examples did you like the best? 
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huffington-post-blog-submissions

Huffington Post Blog Submission Guidelines

If you read any of my other blog posts, you know there is a lot under the public relations umbrella. One of many things is blogging. Not only should every business have a website and that website have a blog (like this one), but you should also be blogging on other sites.When you write or blog for other outlets, you are introducing yourself and your brand to an entirely new audience. You are also increasing your chances of being found in a Google search as your SEO gets better and better with each post.Tens of millions of people visit the Huffington Post website every month. It also has one of the most engaged audiences on Facebook. Since Facebook has cut down on businesses reaching audiences organically, this is huge.To be featured in the Huffington Post, you’ll need to know some Huffington Post blog submission guidelines.

Email the Huffington Post

Yes, it sounds obvious… and it is. On the contact us page, there are a few options. Depending on your goal, you either want to submit a news tip to editors with the Huffington Post or pitch an idea for a blog post.Before Arianna Huffington resigned from her position as CEO, many would-be bloggers emailed her directly to submit their pitch. She earned quite a reputation for responding to emails, connecting editors with writers, and getting those new writers set up with an account to guest post.huffington-post-blog-submissionsOnce you are an official contributing blogger, you can submit as many blog posts as you’d like… as long as they fall within the guidelines of the Huffington Post blog. After you publish a post, it’s up to you to promote it to earn exposure. The Huffington Post has too much content to promote it all, so it’s on you!

Receive the Invite

The blogging platform has changed a bit since Arianna Huffington left her position as the editor-in-chief. Now, instead of being accepted as a blogger after a submission, you can also be invited to become a contributor. Today, more people are contributing for this reason. I guess you could say it’s easier to “get in.”

Acknowledge the Benefits

As I’ve mentioned, blogging on your own platform is very important. If you want to reach another audience, blogging elsewhere is a must. By becoming a Huffington Post blogger, you will earn recognition by others.Anyone can create a blog, but there is another feeling and sense of status or authority when your content is published elsewhere. Your standing is elevated when you’re published somewhere else, especially on a site like Huffington Post.At the end of the day, it’s all about earning publicity and getting more eyeballs on your brand. I hope these Huffington Post blog submission guidelines help you start blogging on the Huffington Post. If so, let me know here in the comments section.
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seo-strategy

3 Reasons you are NOT getting Traffic from Google (and what to do instead)

If you are running any sort of business online you need traffic. Otherwise, your website is really just a business card, right?When we talk about traffic, there are really only a few kinds that are reliable and consistent:
  • your mom
  • regular visitors (people who already know you and love your stuff)
  • visitors from ads (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.)
  • Google Search
The rest are up and down, or kinda hit and miss – like:
  • social media (Tweets last minutes, Facebook makes you pay, Instagram is heading that way)
  • your site being mentioned on a big blog (I got mentioned by Social Media Examiner last month – that meant 3,000 visitors in a few days, but now… zero!)
Google on the other hand sends me 60-70% of my traffic month over month, consistently (and often growing).seo-traffic

Mistakes That Are Hurting Your SEO (And Google)

Google is a little sensitive these days, so you have to be careful you don’t do anything that could upset them!But, once you know a few of the easy to avoid mistakes, things start to go a lot smoother.

1. You Have Put Up A Big Fat “No Visitors” Sign

This is a killer.It is unlikely that you are doing this, but, if you are – Google will totally ignore you.Don’t stop reading now though, thinking you won’t have made this mistake. I just started working with a client recently and they were doing it. And they are certainly not the first.Zero Google traffic.OUCH!Google takes their cues from what you do on your website. And if you accidentally put up a NO VISITORS (which in SEO is called NO INDEX) they WILL not come by and visit.This means you will not appear in search results at all.How do you check this?1. You can either head to this website and enter your URLOR2. Head over to Google and type in the following…

site:yourwebsite.com

(or site:www.yourwebsite.com) if you use the www.What you should see is this:seo-site-indexIgnore the first result, that is usually an ad from Google.But the rest should show your pages. And at the top, the number of pages/posts that Google is currently keeping in their index (showing in search results).If nothing comes up, then…YOU HAVE A BIG PROBLEM.Fixing it means getting someone technical involved to see what is stopping Google from indexing your site. If you use WordPress there is a checkbox you might have checked that does this. Or, it could be in your robots.txt (Don’t know what that is? Don’t worry, your tech guy/gal should.)

2. You Are Not Optimizing Your Content

Sounds kinda complicated, but it does not have to be.SEO optimization of your content (pages or posts) is quite a simple process. It involves putting your chosen “keywords” in the right places.That means:
  • The Title
  • The URL
  • The first 100 words
…and maybe a couple of other places in the content, maximum. Don’t do more. Because Google is crushing people for over-optimizing too – AKA too many keywords in your content.If you want to see what a little keyword optimization can do for you, check out a recent post I did on no follow SEO links.google-seoYou can see in this picture above that the main keywords (NoFollow Links SEO) are present in all the right places.As a result, this post is already on page 1 for a number of keywords on Google.Tip: Ensure you are keyword optimizing all your pages and posts.

3. Spraying And Praying

The last one is a doozy. I see most bloggers or content creators (including myself in the past) doing this. In fact, I just pulled up a friend of mine doing this the other day. So, chances are, you might be doing it too.Spraying and praying – what do I mean by that?You write content, based on what you think is a good idea (keyword), without any research into whether people are actually searching for the topic.Sure, sometimes you just have to get something off your chest. Or, answer a burning question all your followers have been asking.However, if you are aiming to be found on Google, and get significant traffic as a result…You have to check if anyone is searching for what you are about to write.There are a bunch of ways to do this, but the simplest is to get yourself a Google Adwords account and use the Keyword Planner.Then, you can jump in and see if there is any “volume” (ie. searchers per month) for the idea you are thinking of writing about.google-keywordThat is the first step in any decent keyword research.You also need to go a little deeper too (find related words, find out if you can even get to the top of Google, etc.) but that is way too much for one blog post.(You can read even more about creating the perfect SEO optimized content on my blog if you are adventurous!)

Putting It All Together

A lot of the big secrets of SEO are actually pretty simple.You just have to spend a little time doing some keyword research, optimizing your content, and making sure your website is on solid ground. This is a guest post by Ashley Faulkes of Mad Lemmings.
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costco conceirge services

Why Customer Service is the Best Form of Public Relations

When people think of public relations, they think of hiring someone to help them get on TV, write blog posts, or plan an event. Yes, all of that is great, but do you know what’s even better? Customer service.

Good Customer Service

Think about the way you react when you experience great customer service. You tell everyone about it, right? Word of mouth and referrals are what grow businesses. This is why it’s so important to treat every, single customer like he or she could make or break your business… because I believe one customer has the power to do that.Take a look at this example. A small fish and chips restaurant made international headlines without paying a dime. Instead, the owner of the restaurant gave one customer above and beyond customer service. In return, he posted one thing to his Facebook page, and now we all know about Whitbie’s Fish and Chips in Canada. Not to mention, within two days of this post, the owner of Whitbie’s saw about 1,000 customers.customer serviceWhile I love seeing stories like this one, you usually see more of the negative ones. Thanks to social media today, it’s so easy to hop online and complain about anything and everything. Sometimes a business will reply and try to make things right. Other times, it won’t.

Bad Customer Service

Let me give you a personal example of bad customer service… and the inspiration for this post. After I bought a laptop from Costco, it started running slowly – so slow, I stopped using it for months. Then, I remembered I was under a warranty with Costco, so I should try to get it taken care of. (Duh!) In the span of one month, I spent hours talking to people in Fort Myers who work with Costco Concierge Services in tech support. When I say hours, I mean I spoke with about 60 different people – Aaron, Justin, Mary, Aleah, Bret, Anthony… you get my drift. While they were all very nice (well, all of the except Bret), they couldn’t help me. In fact, they made my problem even worse.

I wanted a faster laptop. Instead, videos I created for clients were deleted. Still, I was denied a return. Then, tech support wanted to keep “troubleshooting.” Well, that troubleshooting led to me losing even more – my video editing software (which costs twice as much as the laptop) and Microsoft Office… which was supposed to come installed on the laptop. Yes, I lost that too!

You’d think after all of this, costing me time and money, they would apologize and let me return the laptop. A $500 HP Pavilion… to a huge company… like Costco.

Nope.

Guess what? They want to keep “troubleshooting.” (They like that word at Costco Concierge Services.) As you can imagine, after dozens of hours and thousands of dollars lost, I just didn’t have it in me.

The Case for Customer Service

 The Result of Bad Customer Service

Earlier this month, in the midst of all this troubleshooting, I got a $10 Costco gift card for referring my sister to become an executive member. It was the day after Dori in the Pompano Beach store took time out of her day to fight for good customer service. On the phone, I heard her say, “Can you please authorize a return to keep this member happy? You guys lost her data trying to fix something and it didn’t work. Can we just give her good customer service?”

Now, because of my experience with Costco, the concierge service, tech support, and the people in service dispatch, I will not refer people to Costco.

Costco doesn’t care one bit. Why would they? I’m one of 85 million members. That’s a pretty small fish in a gigantic ocean. The company does about 100 billion dollars in sales every year. Do you think they care about me losing something that pays my bills? No way… but with that kind of income, you kind wonder why they wouldn’t just let a woman in PR, with a big mouth, return her $500 laptop?!

free-media

UPDATE: Two days after this post was originally published, a local store manager called and asked, “When can you come in and return your laptop?”

Hence, why you should treat every customer like they have a big mouth.

Not to get too far into another bad customer service story, but LG refused to help me with a mold problem in my front load washer. The company insisted on blaming me taking poor care of it and using too much detergent, despite numerous class action lawsuits against makers of front load washers for this exact problem. But, as soon as a representative was contacted by one of my colleagues in the media to produce a follow-up story to a previous investigation, my washer was fixed in days.

So, the result of bad customer service cannot only end with the loss of a customer, but with many people knowing the details of why that customer is a former customer.

The Moral of the Story

If you are a small business owner, or you work with small business owners, practice good customer service. I’m not saying the customer is always right. I know there are some real pains in the you know what trying to wheel and deal business owners. I know no matter what you do, you can’t make everyone happy. But, at the end of the day, people do business with people they know, like, and trust.

Think of the people you serve first and the money you make second. If you do this, you’ll probably end up making more money.

Oh yeah, and I should’ve bought a Mac.

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Why I don’t like Calling Reporters

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.i don't like calling reportersThis 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.free-mediaBut 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.
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real-estate

Using Video and Drones in Real Estate

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.drones-and-real-estate

Using a drone in real estate

There are so many benefits to droning in real estate.
  1. It gives you the opportunity to show off a large or opulent home and its surroundings from a bird’s eye view.
  2. You can set yourself apart when you post to real estate websites and social media.
  3. 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?
    1. 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.
    2. Content with relevant images and videos, whether it be your website or an email blast, get 94% more views. That’s huge!
    3. 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?!
    4. 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.droning2. 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?!)real-estate-videos

What to ask a drone operator

  1. 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.free-media3. 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.drone-videos

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.
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bloggers are tricky

Why I think bloggers are tricky to pitch

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!) fake-twitter-followersIf 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 on my 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. bloggers-are-trickyThere 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 out my 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.bloggers-and-influencersThis 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.free-mediaSo, 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.
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Why I’m saying NO to Stock Photos… kinda

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.STOCK-PHOTOSIt’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.south-florida-public-relationsI 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.south-florida-bloggerThis 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.
free-mediaYour competition
  • 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.)   Branding is so much more than pictures. It’s font, colors, slogans, messaging, etc. When you figure out your brand and are ready to earn media exposure, use this guide. It’s what I use to earn clients publicity… and it works! When I started my business, I knew what my brand looked like in my head, but I didn’t carry it over to everything I created, posted, or printed. Now, I’m focusing on making everything look cohesive, so it’s recognizable. If not, what’s the point of having a brand?
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public-relations-industry

What you didn’t know about Public Relations

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.public-relationsIt’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.free-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.earned-publicity I attribute my success to two things:
  1. Maintaining great relations with colleagues in the media industry
  2. 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
Click here to sign up!
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The Best Small Cities to Start a Small Business

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.starting-a-small-businessI’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.”free-mediaSo, the top 10 best small cities to start a business are:10. Deerfield Beach, FL (right by me!)9. Cheyenne, WY8. Dothan, AL7. Clearfield, UT6. Inver Grove, UT5. La Vergne, TN4. Jefferson City, MO3. Brighton, NY2. North Chicago, IL1. Holland, MIAnother 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.Do you want to start your own business? I started by freelancing and things just kinda snowballed. Want to know how I started my business while working a full-time job? Click here.If you own your own business, you would love my 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, 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’ll teach you how to pitch the media, step-by-step.Click here to sign up!
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earn-media-exposure

Master your PR: How you can earn media exposure

I think any business owner, brand, or marketer would love to have a great publicist in their corner. The problem? It’s costly and many businesses just do not have the budget. So, what do you do when you can’t afford PR? You do it yourself, right? Well, there’s another problem.free-mediaHow can you master your PR if you don’t really know what to do? Sure, you know a thing or two. It can’t be too hard to make some phone calls or send an email here or there in-between other daily work tasks. Actually, there is a lot to it… good thing I’m here to help!how-to-earn-your-brand-media-exposureWhen I’m not acting as a publicist, I’m teaching business owners, brands, and marketers how to do their own PR. Now, I’m sharing my decade+ of experience in the media industry with all of you… well, everyone online at least. Check out Master your PR. This is an online course that covers everything! Want to try a bit for free first? Send me an email at Christina@MediaMavenAndMore.com.And I mean ev-er-y-thing. I get into how to find your brands story, who to pitch it to, how to handle a crisis situation, how to get a ROI by using social media, and I even tell you personal stories about how I’ve earned brands major media exposure. With that, comes some videos, worksheets, and checklists to help you along. 
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5 Tips on using Video to Market your Business

Video marketing is the new social media. If you are not using it, you are being left behind. It’s not only naturally engaging, but it tells a much better story than words or still pictures. (It’s why I was a TV reporter for 10 years and LOVED shooting and editing my stories!) Your business needs this! So take a stab at doing it yourself or hire a professional (like me) to tell your brands story.

Here are five tips on using video to market your business:

Consider your audience. You need to make sure the promotion is relevant to your audience. If it’s not, you’re wasting your time.Tell a story. This is a big one, because so many brands want to promote instead of telling a meaningful story. A great story will get you further and will make for an even better commercial. Take a look at this video I did for Doral Buick GMC. It was so much fun and I think it comes across onscreen.Promote it. It should hit your website first, then, social media! This is where social media is key. It’s the best platform to share your work with current and potential future customers. Depending on the outlet, you may get :15, :30, etc., so keep that in mind when posting. I’ve even created a series of videos just for those outlets because of time constraints. On Facebook, I posted this video to my fan page and pinned it to the top. That ensures a wider reach. (Click here to read more on the importance of social media.)free-mediaKeep it short. I don’t think anyone has the attention span to watch something longer than two to three minutes. There is just too much for us to see online. We are at the hands of information overload, so we need to tell stories with emotion while entertaining and educating fast. (It’s why video is the best!) Here is another video I did that includes all of those things in just 30 seconds.Sidenote: The only time a video entertained me for a long period of time recently (13 minutes) was this one. Watch it. It’s too funny.

Create a call to action. Someone just watched the recording you created, now what? Make sure your website, phone number, email address, coupon code, whatever is accessible when the video ends. If not, what was the point?In my online course, Master Your PR, there is an entire module on video creation. If you want to learn more, I hope to see you there.
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increase productivity

6 Ways to Increase Productivity

Let’s be honest, we all waste a lot of time. I’m sure many of you reading this hate meetings for this reason. If it’s an hour long, I’d bet about 10 minutes of it was productive. Then, there is the meeting to talk about the meeting. I could go on. If you haven’t noticed by now, I love finding ways to be more productive.be-more-productiveHere are my top six ways to increase productivity:

I stopped commuting.

To me, it makes no sense to spend time sitting in rush hour traffic, twice, to sit in front of a computer at work all day. Obviously, this pertains to me working at a public relations firm. When I was a TV reporter, commuting was essential. That’s not a job that can be done from home. But many jobs can be done from home in front of a computer. When I didn’t spend time getting presentable for public and commuting to work, I gained an additional 2-3 hours a day. Now, that’s productive! Want even more details? Click here to read my article in Fast Company.

I have a to-do list.

And it is detailed. I am very organized, so I actually have two to-do lists – one in general with no deadlines, and one more immediate with deadlines. I make sure it’s ready to go before I start working, so when I’m ready to begin no time is wasted. (Yes, that means you have to work a little bit on Sunday night, but it’s worth it Monday morning!)

I eliminate distractions.

I used to leave all the tabs on my computer open. When I would see an email flashing in one, I would stop what I was doing, open that email, and deal with it. It may have taken two minutes of my time, 20 minutes, or even more. Then, I would go back to what I was originally doing. Not only is this inefficient, but it’s also a great way to get off track. Instead, I give myself a task to do – with those tabs closed and my phone face down. I don’t want to see it light up with a notification! Unless it’s a life saving emergency, which I’m sure it’s not, it can wait.

I work when it works.

For some reason, I’m more productive at night. Some people are great in the morning. I’m good in the morning, but great at night. Around 3pm-7pm, I’m distracted and just in need of a break, so I work when it’s best for me. But some days, I’m great at that time. It really just depends on what’s going on in my life that day personally and professionally. I am a firm believer that not everyone needs 40 hours a week to do their job and not everyone needs to do it between the hours of 9am-5pm. If that were the case, what a coincidence that would be!productivity

I schedule everything.

Like, ev-er-y-thing. And I set reminders. This helps me plan out my day, week, and month. If you know what is happening, you will be more productive because you have a plan to follow. Use working out for example: If you say, “I’m going to the gym this week” you probably won’t go or you’ll put if off. If you say, “I’m going to the gym Tuesday morning at 9:30” you will probably go because it is a scheduled plan.

I get to the point.

I don’t want someone to take up my time by sugar coating and beating around the bush… and I’m impatient. I’d much rather prefer someone just get to the point, so that’s what I do. It’s also a great way to get rid of any confusion! When people know you are a straight shooter, they are more trust worthy and you know you won’t be playing a guessing game. In business, that is a must!free-mediaFinally, since I brought it up, my advice on getting out of a meeting: Take that list of things to do and devote the meeting time to getting it done. Tell your boss and ask someone to brief you on what was discussed. That = productivity!Do you want to promote your brand? You can! Sign up for my online course to learn how you can promote your brand by doing PR yourself. Click here to master your PR. Want to try a bit for free? E-mail me at Christina@MediaMavenAndMore.com.
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press-release

6 Reasons I Hate Press Releases

Yes, I own a public relations firm… and I hate press releases. Sounds crazy, right? Well, I spent almost a decade deleting them, so there’s that.When I was looking to leave the TV business and start working at a public relations firm, so many wouldn’t hire me because I didn’t have any PR agency experience. I would say, “No, I don’t, but I do have experience deleting just about everything you’ve ever sent me. Would you like to know why?”Honestly, not one of them wanted to know why… but they still continued to send me terrible press releases in an attempt to earn their clients publicity.So, here are 6 reasons I hate press releases:bad-press-releases

No one was putting themselves in my shoes.

I’m the reporter. I’m the one you want to cover the story, so put yourself in my shoes. Is it what I usually cover? No. Does it pertain to the area I cover? No. So you’re sending it to me why? Because it’s what you should do?

It wasn’t newsworthy.

Most press releases I received basically screamed, “Please, give my client a free commercial! There is nothing really newsworthy here, but I need to get this on TV!” Unless the news day is so, so, so very slow… local TV news doesn’t do free commercials. Instead, educate me. Entertain me. At least attempt to make it newsworthy! There’s gotta be a story in there somewhere. In addition, why should I do your story when I’m one of dozens, if not hundreds getting this exact same press release?

They are just too long.

Do you know how many press releases news outlets and journalists get in a single day?! It’s a lot. You’d be shocked! If you don’t keep it short and sweet and get to the point, all your time and energy writing that press release was wasted.

It said “Press Release” in the subject line.

That = automatic deletion. Seriously, you could have the solution to all of the worlds problems in that press release. With that subject line, no one will read it.

It said “Breaking News” in the subject line…

and was about an art show… the same day a mass shooting occurred. This not only gets you deleted, but shamed and embarrassed in the newsroom and in online industry groups. I’ve seen it. As a journalist, I laughed. As someone in the PR industry, please stop. You are embarrassing me.

It didn’t give me what I needed, when I needed it.

If I’m in TV, what would I do with high resolution pictures or quotes? Nothing. I need an interview… and not a Skype interview. An in person interview… and that person better be available from the second you send me that press release. If I ever responded to a press release, this was a follow up problem. In TV, we do things the day of. Unless it’s a special report, the story is started and finished within hours, so don’t send me something to cover, then tell me to wait because you aren’t ready. You just lost your chance.With that said, I don’t think all press releases are pointless. I bet everyone jumps at the chance to read one from Apple. I would. They put out some pretty good stuff. I still write press releases for clients. I definitely think they have a time and a place, but I do not believe press releases should be a go-to thing each and every time you want to reach out to the media. Many PR pros do. In my opinion, #1-#6 is how not to write a press release.free-mediaFor more on how I can help you grow your business, whether it be through a strategic press release or pitch, please e-mail me at Christina@MediaMavenAndMore.com… or you can check this out! Sign up for my online course to learn how you can by doing PR yourself. Click here to master your PR.
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business-blogs

3 Reasons your Business needs a Blog

If you have a business, you need a website… and your website should have a blog!blogging-for-businessesBlogging is one of the most valuable tools businesses have to engage with customers, make their lives easier, and promote themselves as experts in their industry. If you’re not blogging, it’s time to get started or get left behind. Here are 3 reasons your business needs a blog:

Visibility

Having a blog on your business website helps your search engine optimization, or SEO. If someone is searching for something related to a topic you’ve blogged about it, that person may stumble upon your website in a search. Let yourself be discovered!

Credibility

It makes you credible as an expert in your industry. It shows you don’t only know your industry, but are also familiar with the ins and outs of it. So many topics can be discussed! Take my blog on this website for example. I don’t only post about public relations in general, but I go into specifics and even discuss different current events and how they relate to my business. Credibility strengthens the image of your brand.

Social Media

A blog is a form of social media, and it is vital for businesses to be on social media. You don’t have to be on all forms of social media, just the ones that help your business and brand… and a blog is a must! It’s also a great way to interact with present and potential customers through likes, comments, and shares.free-mediaIs it time consuming, yes. Is it worth it, yes. When it comes to blogs for businesses, just say YES! Nothing in this world is guaranteed, so it’s hard to say whether or not you will get a ROI, but it’s something that is too useful and popular to pass up.Do you want to promote your brand? You can! Sign up for my online course to learn how you can by doing PR yourself. Click here to master your PR. For a free, mini-version, email me at Christina@MediaMavenAndMore.com.
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Steve Harvey and the Miss Universe Pageant

Besides declaring the wrong woman Miss Universe, I don’t put the blame on Steve Harvey, even though he takes it. From a professional stand point, this is why.

Live TV isn’t easy.

No matter how used to it you are, things happen. It’s why a lot of things are taped. I’ve done live TV hundreds of times. Once, I forgot my name. Another time, I forgot my sig out – the thing you say at the end of EVERY SINGLE live shot. We all have brain farts. We all make mistakes at work. For most people, they don’t happen in front of millions. For a few, they do… and then people attack. “How hard is it to read a card?” Well, sometimes it is hard. You’ve never misspoke while reading something?steve-harvey-and-miss-universe

It’s not a solo act.

Yes, he was the only host, but where was the Miss Universe organization? Hosting a live event with changing elements, like a beauty pageant, can’t be easy. Instead of just handing him a card, he should have been told who won. He should have been handed the card and told, this is the second runner up… this is the first runner up… this is Miss Universe. I do not think he was prepped, just handed a card… with very small font.

His social media team.

After the universal mistake, thousands (if not millions) took to Twitter. I think Steve Harvey broke Twitter that Sunday night. His first apology tweet had a couple of spelling mistakes. It was not a good time for this, considering what was misspelled. But I’m willing to bet Steve Harvey did not tweet this. Tweets were posted from his account all night. I don’t think he was hosting live and tweeting at the same time. He has a social media team… and I bet someone on that team was rushing to put something out in the Twitterverse ASAP and got lazy. I’ve said it before… this is why you cannot hire an intern to manage your social media accounts! Then, that tweet was deleted. (Note: DO NOT delete social media posts after tens of thousands of people share it.)steve-harvey

Voting.

Remember, Steve Harvey didn’t single handedly pick the winner and change his mind. Other people voted. He was the messenger. He didn’t take the crown from Miss Colombia. Miss Philippines had it all along (and rightfully so, in my opinion.) The saying “don’t kill the messenger” rings true in this circumstance. 100%.

Bigger fish to fry.

I’m not going to say “it’s just a beauty pageant” because some women work their entire lives for this one night. But, let’s remember what some of these women talked about during their final question… gun violence, terrorism, etc. So yes, while it is an important night for many women, there are bigger fish to fry.Miss Colombia shouldn’t be upset this happened. She should be thrilled! If Steve would’ve announced the correct winner as planned, no one would be talking about Miss Colombia today. They may have said, oh that contestant looked like Sofia Vergara… and that’s it. It’s like the girl from Miss Teen USA who thought we needed more maps in the world. She was better known than the girl who won Miss Teen USA! No one will forget the runner up this year! Plus, I bet Miss Philippines appreciates her win a little more now, after being a runner up first.free-mediaDo I think this is publicity stunt? No way! Whenever something big or unexpected happens, people who don’t know any better scream publicity stunt. I don’t think Steve Harvey wants this kind of publicity. In addition, I don’t think he needs it with a radio show, daytime TV show, Family Feud, best selling books, etc. If you want to see him explain what happened himself, click here. How can you not love a man like that?!
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public-relations-in-fort-lauderdale

Three Things to Keep in Mind BEFORE Hiring a Publicist

Thinking of hiring a public relations agency like Media Maven or a publicist like myself? Any business or brand wants exposure. If people aren’t aware of you, how are they going to find you and become a client or customer?! They won’t, but still, there is one big thing that holds people back from hiring a publicist: Knowledge of the business.Many people don’t understand how the business works and once you hire a firm or publicist, it can be a learning experience. Before you shell out any money, please keep these things in mind before hiring a publicist:free-media

1. Find out how they work.

When I say “they” I mean the person working on your account. The actual person. At many PR firms, the person selling you on hiring their firm, isn’t the person who will be working on your account. Make sure you know who you will be working with and what their experience and connections are. Don’t fall for the person making the sale. I once worked for a man who would over promise on the deliverables, then hand over the account to a new employee and say, “It’s my job to get them, now it’s your job to keep them.” You don’t want that.

2. Know your goals.

As a media specialist, that is what I base my work on – what the clients goals are. Why do you want publicity and where do you want it? The more specific you are, the better. Chances are, you want to be where your audience is. That’s a great starting point when deciding what your goals are. Also, have realistic expectations. That leads me to a red flag…

3. Have realistic expectations.

If it was easy to get you on Good Morning America or in Entrepreneur Magazine, then every PR firm would have bragging rights until the cows come home. You’re not going to get national media coverage every week. That’s just not the way it works. We wish it did just as much as you do. So listen, when someone at a PR firm starts talking like, “I can get you covered in this magazine or an appearance on that show,” make them put it in writing because chances are they are just selling you with great hopes and dreams.In the world of PR, we cannot control writers, producers, bookers, etc. We cannot guarantee coverage in anything just like a doctor can’t guarantee to cure your sickness, but like a doctor, we will use our time, experience, and expertise. If any PR firm starts making promises like this, either get it in writing… or run.Like any business, you want to vet who you hire. Hopefully these three things will help you when you’re shopping around the very saturated world of PR. There’s a lot of firms and there’s a lot of soloPReneurs. You have a lot to choose from… and now, you have homework before you make your decision.
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