May 2, 2013
One way to gain employee participation is by creating a ‘social associates’ program within the business.
A social associate is an employee who is willing (and able) to promote your business on their own social media sites.
When employees do participate in social media they can become your best advocates by saying great things about you online and recommending you to their friends.
PR News has provided some great tips to help you build a community of employee brand advocates.
Before nominating employees as social associates you need to provide them with social media training.
If employees are inexperienced in social media they may not be able to communicate your messages effectively or may not represent the business correctly.
Here are some tips for what to include in a social associate training session:
- Social media code of conduct: Make sure employees understand how to correctly represent the business on social media. Set down rules they must follow and inform them of the consequences of breaking these rules.
- Social media course: Enroll your employees into a social media course or conduct a training session with them on how to use each platform.
- Content: Prepare lots of approved content such as status updates, discussion topics and links to articles, which employees can post. It may be a good idea to include this information into a content calendar.
- When to post: Instruct employees on how often they can post about the business.
- Tone of voice: Inform employees of the correct tone of voice to use in their posts and how to respond to comments appropriately. This is especially important when employees need to respond to negative comments and resolve the issue effectively.
- Who to report to: It’s a good idea to have one social media manager within the business to organise the social associates and train them.
- Measurement: Instruct employees on how to record the success of their social media activity in order to determine if the social associates program is effective.
Social associates can help your business to reach a wider audience of potential customers and build your brand awareness.
When employees demonstrate their passion for the business online it can help to position you in a positive light and assist with the delivery of key messages to your target audience.
Read the full article here.
Need help training your employees to use social media? Download our free ebook Your Guide to Social Media Success.
April 23, 2013
Journalists are always looking for experts in a particular field to provide professional comments or quotes for their story.
If you have a good knowledge and understanding of your profession or industry then you have the opportunity to become an expert that a journalist will interview.
The first step is to use PR strategies to build up your status as an expert and understand how to offer your professional knowledge to a journalist.
Here are some PR strategies to help you position yourself as an expert.
Speak at conferences and events
You can share your industry knowledge with others by speaking at conferences and events that relate to your industry. Think about a particular topic that you know extremely well and create a presentation around it. Make sure the presentation is informative and interesting to other people.
If you’re not a confident speaker then make sure you get coaching before you start presenting.
You should adapt your presentation to suit your audience, for example do not use technical language when your audience has no knowledge of your topic. Start by attending small conferences and establish yourself as an authority on a particular topic.
Actively look for opportunities to provide expert comment in the media
Many magazines, newspapers and online publications plan in advance the special reports or features that they will write about for the entire year. You can look for a publication’s features list on their website or call them and ask for a copy of their media kit.
When you look at a features list you can find upcoming topics that relate to your business. You can then email that publication and suggest yourself as an expert to discuss this topic.
Make sure you include a media angle or story idea, and outline why you are an expert. Remember to send your information to a journalist with enough time for them to write the article before it needs to be published.
Write a blog
Blogs are a great way of sharing your expert knowledge and positioning yourself as an expert on a particular topic.
The key is to pick a topic, and stick to it. You should post regularly on your blog and aim to spark discussion and share experiences, ideas and relevant information.
To build traffic, read other blogs and comment so that it links back to your own blog. You can also offer to be a guest blogger on other websites to increase your exposure.
Write an article
You can write an article about an important issue in your industry or write about helpful tips and advice. You can then send this article to relevant publications in your industry and explain why it’s a great fit for their publication.
Make sure the article is useful, interesting and easy to understand by others. You should also make sure the article is written in the correct style and format for the publication.
By sharing your professional knowledge you can build up your status as an expert in your industry. This is a great strategy to build your brand, gain media coverage and increase your exposure to the people that matter.
April 18, 2013
Google can help you find new platforms for your business, and some of these are from knowing how to use Google effectively as a PR tool.
PR Daily has provided three effective ways to help boost PR using Google.
Use Google to identify where to submit press materials
It is worth investing a few hours searching for places on Google to manually post your press release or article. Post your news to free press release sites to connect your message to broader audiences and help drive traffic to your site.
Using variations of phrases such as ‘submit press release’ or ‘submit article’ in the search engine can create opportunities you were never aware of before. These searches may take some time to find the relevance to your business, however once you start, the overall process is easy.
Here’s one site to provide you with a few ideas for free press release sites.
Use Google’s ‘search news’ and ‘blog search’ feature
The use of Google’s ‘news’ tab at the top of their homepage to complete to bring up the latest news stories on your topic. By customising the time period, you will find news from the last month, last year, or last 24 hours depending on your specifics.
By using this search tool you can review your own news results, business’ competitors and their coverage, stay up to date on your industry, product or service and stay on track with opportunities to post opinions.
Google also has a ‘Blog search’ tab, where you can search for news in blogs only. This is useful to see if you have been featured in any blogs and to find opportunities to post in the future using your key words.
Use Google Alerts to identify coverage
Google alerts means you can receive news instantly once it hits the internet and helps with media monitoring.
This tool can also aid with news features where you can pitch to in the future and identifying the journalists who write about your specified areas of interest.
Do you have any PR tips for using Google?
Please read the full article here.
April 11, 2013
In the past 15 years the world of PR has changed dramatically, with more graduates in the field; the market has become greatly more competitive and at times, it can be bloodthirsty. Therefore standing out from the pack is crucial.
Journalistics has provided some skills on what most employers are looking for in public relations assistance today.
The ability to write in the world of PR is essential. Whether you studied Communications, Journalism or Public Relations, there are primarily four things that will likely be asked of you by your future employer to deliver: sample articles you wrote throughout your degree or diploma, a variety of writing samples such as press releases or a blog post, new media writing samples, and long form writing such as a research report.
These writing tools are likely to be requested by an employer so they can gain an understanding of your work and capabilities. It is important to be aware that a writing task may be part of the first or second interview, so having examples prepared is a good idea so you don’t feel so on the spot.
Showing you have previous work experience can be the difference of what gets your foot in the door. A clear demonstration of places you may have pitched ideas or gained experience working on clients can assist an employer and will make a stronger impression. This is particularly the case if you can use a case study as an example. The results generated should be the focal point rather than the press releases you wrote.
Social Media Experience
If throughout your university experience you developed a presence in social media, for example through a following on Facebook or Pinterest, this may help with securing your first role. Employers are looking for employees who can manage their brands across a range of different outlets. Being able to use and understand these tools is more fundamental than the content you have shared in the past. The ability to show you understand how to gain greater traffic to sites such as using analytical tools is also a bonus.
Be mindful, employers these days are likely to look you up on social media before finalising their decision. So therefore you should ensure your profiles are up to date, and when looking for a role in PR, it wouldn’t hurt to be on Linked In or Twitter.
Multimedia experience is a real bonus however hard to come by when just out of university. These are unique skills and most employers will not expect these from a recent graduate. However, if you have during your years studying gained skills such as managing a blog, using Photoshop, how to shoot, edit and post videos on social media platforms such as You Tube, or how to code, these skills would be extremely hard to pass up by an employer.
What skills do you look for when hiring a recent graduate? Are there any must-have essentials?
Read the full article here.
April 9, 2013
Public relations is a great way to build awareness for a charity, grow the brand, communicate to a target audience and encourage support.
As many charity organisations have a strict budget they may not be able to afford to invest much money in advertising or marketing. Charity organisations can then conduct their own PR activities to promote the business and stick to their budget.
Whether you are a charity organisation or running a charity event here are some tips on how to use PR to your advantage.
Case studies are short explanations of a project or issue your charity has worked on. They describe a problem, show how you achieved a solution and detail the results you achieved.
Case studies are a great way to showcase the great work the charity is doing as well as promote the charity. For example, a charity that assists suffers of multiple sclerosis may write a case study about how they have changed the life of one sufferer of the disease.
Case studies are also an effective tool to encourage people to donate or support the charity. Instead of telling people how much you need their support you can show them with a case study. Case studies also help to explain how the money from donations is used.
You can use case studies on your website, social media channels, in speaking presentations, in reports to gain new sponsors and by pitching them to the media.
Social media is a cost-effective way to communicate with supporters, sponsors and people who will benefit from the charity. For an organisation on a tight budget, it’s a very helpful tool to disperse messages, gain feedback, engage your target audience and promote the charity.
One way you can encourage donations or participation is by making it easy for people to share their support for the charity. If someone makes a donation via your website you can encourage them to tell their friends by including share buttons on the donation page. For example, if someone posts on their Facebook page that they just donated to your charity their friends will see it and it may encourage them to donate as well.
Many charities have an ambassador who embodies the charity’s values and helps to promote the charity’s cause. By using a celebrity as an ambassador you can use their fame to generate awareness for the charity and gain more interest from the media.
As celebrities have a large fan base you can also use them to communicate your message to their fans and reach a wider audience.
Your ambassador doesn’t always have to be a celebrity. The best ambassadors are people who embody the values, mission and brand of the charity to reinforce your message.
If you are on a tight budget you can ask the celebrity to be an ambassador for free to build their own profile as well as yours.
Pitch to the media
When you have an ambassador or a spokesperson you can pitch them into the media as an expert to interview. You can also consider having someone available for media interviews who the charity has helped.
Journalists will be more likely to write a story about the charity if they have someone to interview and quote in the story.
When pitching your spokesperson to the media you will need to develop a newsworthy angle that a particular journalist will be interested in. You will also need to describe why the journalist will be interested in the story and what the spokesperson can talk about.
Many charities are supporting people in need or conducting activities to change the world for the better. Most charities will then have media angles that appeal to people’s emotions, which you can draw on in your media pitches.
Start a blog
A charity organisation can start a blog to share its stories with its target audience. Blogging is a great way to communicate your messages, engage your audience and share your expertise.
You can blog about what the charity is doing, inspirational stories of people who have befitted from the charity, discuss upcoming events, encourage donations and more.
Start conducting PR activities today to communicate with your target audience and build their awareness. This can help you to gain support or more donations for the charity.
How do you use PR for your charity?
March 28, 2013
Brand advocates are great for your business as they help to build your brand, attract new customers and get people talking about your business.
True brand advocates usually occur naturally, however they are some things you can do to help your customers take the first steps to brand advocacy.
PR Daily has provided some great tips to help build your customers trust and loyalty to the brand.
Start with your employees
The best place to start when building brand advocates is to focus on your employees. If your employees don’t believe in the business or support the brand then you don’t have much hope for converting your customers.
Find ways to engage your employees in the business and help them to embody the company culture. Your employees’ enthusiasm and trust in the brand may then rub off on your customers.
Empower your employees
If a customer experiences an issue with the business’ service or products they are usually looking for a quick resolution or some kind of reimbursement. If employees are unable to resolve the issue straight away customers may feel like they have been neglected.
It’s then a good idea to empower your employees to take necessary means to make customers happy and resolve the issue quickly. This may involve offering a discount or refund on products or services.
Exceptional customer service leads to happy customers who are then more likely to tell their friends about their great experience or recommend your business.
Connect with customers on social media
Social media is an effective channel to build a relationship with your customers. You can keep your customers informed about the business, communicate with them and encourage them to engage with the brand.
Social media also encourages the sharing of content, which means customers may be more likely to share your content with their networks and effectively disperse your message to a wider audience. People are also more likely to read content that is recommended by a friend then content a business posted about itself.
It takes time
Creating brand advocates won’t happen overnight. It takes time to build a relationship with your customers and to grow their trust in the brand. Once you have a good relationship customers will be more willing to promote the business.
To build your customers’ trust you can offer exceptional customer service, provide them with relevant helpful information, answer their questions and always be friendly.
Offer them incentives
To encourage customers to promote your brand you can offer them an incentive. Don’t always assume they are looking for monetary incentives as many brand advocates may be looking for something more from the business. You could offer them a discount, exclusive product trials, a trip to the corporate headquarters or insider access to information.
Create a community
Connect your brand advocates with each other to create a community around your brand. This is a great way to create continued engagement and make advocates feel valued by the business.
Start building a relationship with your customers and provide them with exceptional customer service because you never know who may turn into your biggest advocate.
What are your tips for maintaining a relationship with your customers?
Read the full article here.
March 26, 2013
You can participate in public speaking at conferences, events or any time that you intend to inform, influence or entertain an audience.
The main purpose of public speaking is to communicate your message to your target audience in an engaging way to encourage them to remember it. Public speaking can also help to build your profile as an expert in your industry and increase your target audience’s brand awareness.
Here are some tips to help you improve your public speaking skills.
- Prepare and practice
Before a public speaking opportunity it is essential to do some research into the topic you want to discuss and the main points you will communicate. The more knowledge you have about your topic the more confident you will be.
You can then thoroughly prepare your speech and then practice, practice, practice. When you know what you are talking about there will be less room for error.
- Develop a relationship with the audience
Connecting with the audience is a fundamental part of successfully communicating your message. Whether it’s through a captivating introduction, using humor or incorporating hand gestures, your message will be more impactful if the audience is receptive to what you are saying.
- Relax and deliver
When speaking to an audience it’s important to relax and be yourself which can often be difficult if you are nervous.
You can use relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing to calm your nerves, make sure you are prepared, practice plenty of times (see first tip) and be strong in your delivery.
You are more likely to engage the audience if you speak clearly, stand tall and maintain good eye contact.
- Know your audience
Before the public speaking opportunity you should find out information about your audience. This will help you to tailor your speech to their needs. For example, if the audience has no knowledge about your area of expertise then you need to use language they will understand, which means no jargon.
You also need to think about the purpose of the speech and the main points you want the audience to take away. You can then structure your speech to make sure the audience will receive your messages.
- Become a regular public speaker
The more you practice public speaking, the more successful you will be. With practice you can also learn how to control your nerves and become more confident.
Start by speaking at small events and then build up to bigger conferences. Accept any opportunity possible to practice your public speaking and believe in what you are saying. The more practice you receive the better your public speaking will become and you will be more successful in delivering your message.
Successful public speaking involves preparation, the ability to connect with the audience, a strong delivery, practice and tailoring your speech to your target audience.
These tips will ensure that your audience will be informed, your messages will be clear and the purpose of your speech will be achieved.
March 21, 2013
Choosing to hire a public relations agency is a leap of faith for a business, you are trusting an external organisation to position you correctly in the public eye and liaise with the media on your behalf.
Not only are you trusting them with the profile of your business, each month you will receive an invoice from your agency, so how do you make the relationship worth your time and money?
Just like with everything else to do with business, communication and relationships are key. Once you hire an agency, you are part of their team; they can’t do their job without you.
Here are five top tips to making this relationship work:
Have the time available
The point of having a PR agency is to get you, or the businesses’, name in the media. While there are a number of ways to do this, being interviewed by a journalist is the main one. If you have agreed to be pitched to the media, ensure you have time to do the interview.
Most print interviews take about 20 minutes and are usually done via the phone, radio is also via phone but length will depend on whether the interview is live or pre-recorded and the type of program, whereas TV interviews will take a lot longer and may require you to travel to a studio, have your hair and make-up done, do the interview and then get back to the office.
This should all be factored in when deciding on which media opportunities you want to take part in.
Tell your agency if you’re going to be away
Are you going on holidays, or unable to be contacted for a period of time? Let your agency know ahead of time. Don’t wait until they are frantically trying to contact you with a fabulous PR opportunity, just to find out from your PA that you are in the depths of the Amazon and unable to be contacted.
Not being available could ruin your agencies relationship with a journalist, which in turn will ruin your companies’ relationship with the journalist as well.
Don’t let your agency be the last to know
Has something happened in your workplace? A new exciting award win or product development? Let your agency know. Knowledge is power and they can use this information to pitch to journalists for potential media opportunities.
Telling your agency a week after the fact is not going to help, PR is all about what is new and how that makes a story. Make sure your agency is treated like an employee and are kept up-to-date with what is happening at all times.
One suggestion is to put in your diary a time once a week to contact your agency and fill them in about what is happening.
Don’t expect them to be experts in your industry
Yes PR agencies usually have a certain type of client they work with, whether this is in a specific industry or they only work with B2B clients etc. But this does not mean they know everything about your business, products or services.
Great PR happens when your agency understands exactly what you do and why and how you do it. Take the time to send them materials and explain exactly what it is that makes your business stand out from others and what you offer your clients or customers. If a journalist asks, your agency should have enough information to be able to tell them exactly what it is you do.
The more your agency knows, the more media opportunities there will be.
Always adhere to deadlines
If your agency tells you a journalist has a deadline and needs to interview you by a certain time, or they need information before deadline and you tell your agency yes you can do it, don’t go back on your word (except in extenuating circumstances).
Journalists’ deadlines are tight, they are working to have the paper to print by a strict time, or to organise interviews to fill a radio time slot, and they don’t have the luxury to push deadlines back. Once the media opportunity is gone, it’s gone forever and potentially future media opportunities if you have let a journalist down.
These are simple tips, but small things can get lost in the bigger picture when working under pressure. Your PR agency understands you are busy, but if you want to make the most of hiring an agency to do your PR, make sure you stick to these tips above.
March 19, 2013
Catriona Pollard talks with Clinton Power, founder of Australia Counselling Directory, a free directory to find counsellors and psychologists in Australia. In the interview Catriona discusses how natural therapists, counsellors and coaches can use public relations to build their profile as experts and build their practice.
In this interview Catriona shares:
- What is PR and why should therapists care
- How small business owners like therapists benefit from understanding effective PR strategies
- The fundamentals of PR that counsellors need to consider as part of their marketing strategy
- The benefits of positioning yourself as an expert in the media
- The business benefits from building relationships with the media
- Beginning steps for the therapist that wants more media exposure but is not sure where to start
- How to write content that is journalist-friendly and will be published by the media
- How events build your profile in the media
To access the mp3 download and transcript click here.
March 12, 2013
Drafting an award submission might be time consuming but entering your business into an awards program is a great way to showcase your achievements, gain recognition for your hard work, and promote your business by telling its story.
You can also use your award win to attract new clients as an award from a reputable organisation gives your business instant credibility and allows you to be seen as a leader in your industry. Both of which are highly valued by prospective clients.
Even if you don’t win, it can be beneficial for your business. By answering questions about your business it can provide you with a better insight into your achievements and values or help you to create content about your business. You can even reuse some of your answers on your marketing material or for future award applications.
However, it’s impossible to win an award if you don’t first submit an award application!
Here are some tips to help you write a great submission for an award application.
Allocate enough time to complete it
Give yourself plenty of time to fill out the award submission to the best of your ability. You may need to start a few weeks in advance of the due date so you don’t have to rush to complete it the night before.
Often award applications will suggest the approximate amount of time it will take for you to fill out the application. It’s important to take note of this and make sure you give yourself enough time to complete the submission.
If you are unsure how long the application will take, have a quick look through the questions so you can determine how long it will take you to write the answers. This will also give you a good indication of what type of information you will need to complete the submission.
All awards have clear submission dates, and if you miss the due date you’ve missed the opportunity.
Type out the questions
Often when entering an award you’re required to fill out an online application form. If you type your answers straight into this form there is a chance you may lose your work before you can submit it.
A great tip is to copy all of the questions into a document and then use this to draft your answers. The document will allow you to proof read and spell-check your answers as well as provide you with a copy of your answers for future reference.
It also means that if you are filling out the award application over a few days you can keep coming back to it and you won’t lose your answers.
Once you have answered every question and proof read the document, you can then copy and paste your answers into the online form.
Answer all the questions
Make sure you answer all of the questions on the award application because an incomplete form may not be accepted by the award judges. Also, by answering every question you are also giving yourself a better chance of winning the award.
Stick to the word limit
Often award applications will provide you with a word limit for each answer. It’s important not to go over this limit because the online application will usually not allow you to write any more then they have suggested.
Your answers should be succinct, well phrased and provide the most important information to help you win the award.
Answer the questions correctly
Make sure you read every question carefully and understand how it should be answered before you start writing.
To help your answers to stay on track, write out the main dot points you want to cover in each of your answers. You can then add more information to each dot point.
Showcase your business
Most award judges won’t know how great your business is until you tell them. This means in all of your answers you need to explain why your business deserves to win the award, talk about your achievements and show the judges how great your business is.
You can do this by including information about key milestones your business has achieved, such as when you achieved a turnover goal or when you reached a significant anniversary.
Tell the truth
Never lie in your award application because the truth will always come out. If you are caught being untruthful in your award application it can cause considerable damage to your reputation and embarrassment if the award is taken off you. It’s best to avoid a potential PR disaster by always telling the truth in your award application.