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Social Media – the Small Business Owner’s Checklist [Infographic]


Social Media – the Small Business Owner’s Checklist [Infographic]

Social media can be confusing. You know you need to do it, often feel intimidated, sometimes get sucked in so it saps time from other valuable business actions. More worrying, how do you prove that it has an ROI (return on investment)?

There is much advice out there, and it's changing constantly. So, wouldn't it be nice if there was one place where you could stop, take a breath, and really have a clear view on how social media can help your business in today's world? Real help, in a practical manner.


Let’s POSE the question – what’s the most efficient marketing?


Let’s POSE the question – what’s the most efficient marketing?

ROI is only achieved and then improved if your marketing:

  1. has a clear goal
  2. is measured on real business value

To achieve a real ROI then, your business can’t rely on only one marketing tactic. OK, sure you can try – go ahead… we’ll hang out here and wait for you – but I’m 100% convinced it’s not going to get you anywhere. We’ve tried. The results are dismal.

It’s all about integration. But when we start integrating multiple marketing tactics, we come across some problems:

  1. it can cost more (not to be confused with return – ideally more cost means more return), and
  2. how do we effectively measure one tactic over another?

We need a clear strategy.




The number one thing to learn before a press interview!

We see a lot of interviews, as consumers of the media, by working in the industry and because we represent companies - speaking for them, or supporting, them. An interview is one of the most powerful PR tools available to us. But for it to be the most successful an interviewer needs to master the art of bridging.



The Secret Sauce to Exceptional PR Coverage... Framing

When corporate communication professionals (or their PR agency) propose a particular story (e.g. in the form of a press release) to a journalist, they engage in two separate but related processes. First, they are soliciting interest in the story. Second, they are making sure that the story is framed in a way that is consistent with the organization’s preferred framing (i.e. how the organization would like that story to be told). The secret is in the framing.



Seven solid press release ideas

All too often, when there is an annual PR program put in place, it dictates how many press releases have to go out.  That’s fine, but inevitably you get to about two months in and expected press releases are not ready to be released for unexpected reasons and now the whole team is determined to meet an (often irrelevant) KPI. 

Result: you are left with a burning desire to release something, with nothing to say.

Of course, all good PR pros will tell you not to waste your (and the media’s) time on anything unless it is 110% news worthy. 

Well, even when it looks like dire, consider that all companies have news – you just need to find it.  Now, some is going to be more relevant and news worthy than others. For example, when was the last time you saw an announcement of a company’s new web site?  Yeah, well that used to be page 5 business fodder 12 years ago!

Here (with a little help from PRWeb) are some of the most common release topics that might spark some ideas:

Announcing a new product or feature

Product launches are fundamental to fueling your company’s growth. Generate maximum visibility for your next product launch with preliminary PR support (to set the market) and at-launch PR support to stimulate interest.

Winning an award

Awards give your company credibility with your customers—and sending out a news release is a great way to get the attention your award deserves. Whether you are a local restaurant celebrating your Zagat Rating or your company has been voted best place to work—let the world know.

Hosting a fundraising dinner or technology summit

Successful events need publicity—and what better way than to announce your event online, where millions of people can learn how they can participate in or support your event. Whether you are hosting a fundraising dinner, or launching a technical summit, keep your prospects up to date while driving traffic to your web site by promoting your event.

Announcing an employee change

Employee promotions and new hires can be newsworthy. And sharing that news with the world shows that your business is growing and that you value your team.

Launching a new partnership

Sharing news about your business partnerships is one of the best ways to promote your success, highlight your company’s growth, build credibility for your company and your partner’s company, and potentially lead to new customers for both organizations.

Sharing survey results

Market research is an effective tool to build credibility and awareness for your key initiatives—especially when the information is broadly communicated. Whether you’re using survey data to identify industry trends or to build support for a key program, share that information.

International Expansion

The more successful your organization, the more news worthy.  And nothing says 'success' more than expansion into new international markets.  If you start hiring or setting up an office in a new country (or continent) then share that with both your target and home media - both have interests for slightly different reasons.

What other good ideas do you use for press releases?



Batman, the War Against Crime & Public Relations

There are possibly many learnings from the heavily armed gunman attacked an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater early Friday, that terrified audiences, killed 12 and wounded 38... but how will Warner Bros manage the inevitable PR before their $250 million project sales are effected?



PR Multiplying or Dividing?

There was an interesting story we tweeted about a few days ago originally written by our friends at PR Newswire that suggested there is some disagreement about the skill set PR pros need to succeed in today’s environment, and there are three points of view emerging:

  • The traditionalist, who values the ability to write, build relationships, isolate and convey key messages and build publicity strategy above all else.
  • The digital enthusiast, who values social media acuity, digital content production and editing and coding skills highly.
  • The quant, which focuses on data, analytics and how PR integrates with business processes.

At NettResults we like to think of it as multiplying and dividing.

If you have a list of 1,000 subscribers or 5,000 fans or 10,000 supporters in a social media world, you have a choice to make. You can create stories and options and benefits that naturally spread from this group to their friends, and your core group can multiply, with 5,000 growing to 10,000 and then 100,000.

Or you can put the group through a sales funnel, weed out the free riders and monetize the rest. A 5% conversion rate means you just turned 5,000 interested people into 250 paying customers.

Multiplying scales. Dividing helps you make this quarter's numbers.

So it is with PR.  You want to ever increase your sphere of influence, or put another way, you want to increase the number of journalist you can call up.  At the same time you want to concentrate your time on the 5% (or is it another 80/20 rule?) that don’t just passively receive your news stories, but actively read into them, converse with you and find the story they can report on.

This is why an intellectual rivalry between traditional PR pros and digital enthusiast PR pros is a loose/loose battle.  To be good at PR in today’s rapidly evolving media market, you need to be both a traditionalist and a digital enthusiast.  Gone are the days when having one Millennial digital evangelist in your PR agency’s office was enough – today each of your teams need to be made up digi-traditionalists.

Oh, and they better be able to measure that success. Results are king.



6 Surefire Signs of Good Public Relations

There is good public relations and there’s bad. 

Let’s face it, some organizations, people and agencies are good at it, and some are not. 

But when you are in the thick of it, when you’re spending the money, how do you know?

Oh, that’s quite simple, you wait five months and then look at the coverage you achieved.  Wait a minute, did someone in the back utter that they move quicker than that and they don’t want to wait five months?  What, you actually want to know now if you are spending time and money wisely?  OK, well in that case, there are six sure fire signs of good public relations.

1 – First up, you better have a strategy.  A clear, concise strategy.  Can you (or the person/agency in charge) define in half a page:
- the target market that needs to be reached
- the media used to reach it
- the message that needs to be communicated
- the desired action of the target market
- the media tools that will be used to achieve that
- and when they will be used?

If you can’t then you’re running your PR strategy in an ad-hoc manner, which is not going to give you the results you need.  The number one tell-tail signs is inconsistency… in regards to when coverage is achieved, who it reaches or the messages it conveys.

2 – How are your relationships? It doesn’t matter how great your strategy is if your PR team doesn’t have the best media relationships to get it delivered.  This is where larger teams have the advantage. I’ve yet to meet one person who gets on with everyone.  So it stands to reason that if you have a one-person team or freelancer on your PR they can’t have relationships with all the core media.  It takes a diverse team of people at various seniority and experience level to be able to hold all the core relationships.

This is doubly important if your target includes multiple social-economic targets or possibly more than one language.  Look at the make up of the journalists and editors you are trying to reach and make sure your team are similar.

3 – Responsiveness and consistency rules.  PR is not a tap you can just turn on or off as you feel.  It’s more like a snowball pushed down a hill - once started it will keep on rolling and growing if you treat it right (and if you don’t treat it right it’s like putting a tree in front of the snowball). To keep that snowball rolling and growing you need to be ever responsive to the media (never leave a man hanging) and you need to ensure you fuel the media machine with consistent, newsworthy and relevant information. 

Tell-tail signs - if your PR team can’t respond to you within a coupe of hours, then they are not responding to the media quickly either.  And if you don’t have a constant funnel of news and ideas being worked on, then it’s akin to your snowball rolling over concrete.

4 – Reporting and feedback. At NettResults we make it simple for all our team members: for a successful client/agency relationship there are two things that drive success – media results need to be obtained and there needs to be constant reporting with the client.  A campaign that has great results, but there is little client/agency interaction or lack of reporting, will fail. 

Media relations is a constant feedback loop.  Multiple minds need to plan it out and everyone needs to be watching what is working and what is successful. This is the only way that momentum can be gained and we can drive a higher return on investment.

5 – Business acumen.  Look at it this way - there’s this funnel.  At the bottom of the funnel is PR, above that is marketing and above that is ‘the business’.  While I’ve had bosses that have said to me they can write a press release about anything, irrespective of whether they understand the subject, you can’t play in the PR space successfully unless you understand business.

Much as we would like to think that media and PR teams are the bees-knees – there is always a higher being that is driving the business. The PR team needs to be aware of this and have a true understanding and respect for when PR plans need to be modified due to a business requirement.  Tell-tail signs – have a conversation with your PR team about your business, not the latest PR news, but about the actual business.  Do they talk sense?

6 – Is there a level of trust?  What this all comes down to is trust.  A client needs to be able to trust that their team/agency is proactively working on their behalf.  There has to be bilateral trust between the PR team/agency and the media. 

More than most industries I have witnessed, trust is central to PR success.  Like all professional service business, we’re talking about a professional’s time.  How it’s being used and how efficient it is.  We’re talking about abstract terms.  We’re talking about things that people get emotional about.  Wrap that all up and the lubricant that keeps the cogs turning is trust.

These six simple concepts will give you good insight into how successful your results will look in five months.



Power is nothing without Control

...according to the tire manufacturer Pirelli. And so it is with public relations. Gone are the days when an organization can fully control their corporate message to the media.

In days gone by, it was normal for an organization’s employee handbook to strictly dictate that no employee could speak to the media without prior approval and spokesperson media training. No problem.

Then a few years ago social media popped up. According to a recent piece of research by Altimeter, companies average an overwhelming number of corporate owned accounts – about 178. That is a bunch of people from different departments and around the globe that are speaking on social media platforms, that the media are seeing. And that’s before we count the personal SM accounts of employees who happen to mention their job. So what’s to be done?

NettResults recommends three levels of corporate communication development:

1 - Relinquish a mindset of control - instead ‘enable’. In business school we were taught to foster message control and encourage all corporate representatives to stay on message. Yet today, as multiple business units from support, sales, HR and beyond participate in social technologies, communication is spread to the edges of the company – not just from the PR department. As a result, PR groups have changed their mindset to safely enabling business units to communicate, based on pre-set parameters they put in place through governance, coordination, and workflow.

2 - Roll out enterprise workflows - education programs at four levels. We’ve found that savvy corporations have detailed workflows, including sample language in which employees should respond. Beyond creating these workflows, they must be distributed throughout the enterprise through education programs, and drilled. We’ve found savvy corporations have up to four types of education programs spanning: Executive team, social media team, business stakeholder teams, and finally all associates. Even if the mandate is for rank and file employees to not respond in social on behalf of the company, reinforcing education is still required.

3 - Run mock crises. Lastly, we’ve found a closer relationship with media relations, social media and crisis communications. Savvy corporations are working with agency partners such as NettResults to setup mock crisis drills where they approach a week-long crises in a number of hours in private. Not only does this test the mettle of the organization it provides useful training so companies can respond faster, in a more coordinated approach. We have already witnessed health organizations receiving ‘social-crises-ready’ compliance notices and we expect compliance programs to spread into other industries.

Get ready – take control.



Who are the key decision makers and are the spokes people media trained?

Every company has a organizational chart - a ladder of power, but how this structure functions during a crisis must be clarified with all the stakeholders in the company; particularly the communications department. A crisis can hit at any time, and the company needs to determine secondary command structures in case key decision-makers are unavailable at the time.

Not only is it important for those to know who need to spring to action (and how those people are contacted) - it is equally important that everyone else in the organization knows they can not speak on behalf of the company or to the press. Something that is best handled in a company employee handbook.

Organizations also need to decide which situations warrant which spokes person, and plan accordingly.

Most importantly, the spokes people need to be media trained in advance. Effective spokes people should receive professional media training and should be well versed on how to deal with the press. An organization's spokes person need not necessarily be the most senior staffers. For example, in some cases, the CEO is not the most efficient spokes person due to experience, knowledge or geographical location.



PR and the power of a story...

I just read with interest the article that Meg O'Leary wrote on PRNews Once Upon a Time There Lived a Plot: The Importance of Storytelling. I've long been an advocate of storytelling in marketing and public relations. It just makes so much sense.

It's worth understanding why storytelling works. It's in-build into our DNA. We grow up listening to stories and frankly they are a darn sight more interesting than 90% of PR copy-writing out there.

A good story is one that touches people in some way. As PR professionals (storytellers), our mission is to involve the audience, make them interact with us and the story, even if it is just in their thoughts or core. A really good story has a sense of truth and resonates with some basic universal aspects of being human.

But it does more than that. We have stories because they:
- Build credibility
- Unleash Emotion
- Permission to Explore
- Influence Group-Thinking
- Create Heroes
- Vocabulary of Change
- Order out of Chaos

There is a simple way to look at good stories. Back in my youth I was involved in a movie production company and was asked to read my fair share of movie scripts. It very quickly became apparent that stories fell into one of two camps - 'usual people in unusual situations', or 'unusual people in usual situations'. Think about it. Think about your favorite book. Think about the last movie you went to see.

I believe there are six tips to think about when creating a story for PR purposes:
- Know your audience
- Keep it simple
- Stay fresh
- Be honest
- Demonstrate credibility
- Spark interest

There are also eight elements that in essence make a good story, the:
- protagonist
- antagonist
- inciting incident
- call to action
- dreadful alternative
- conflict
- quest or progression
- other characters
- transformation
- moral

You also could look at it another way - the 'wow' factor. Forbes had a great article about this written by Brett Nelson in July.

Lastly, thanks to Professor Brian Sturm from UNC Chapel Hill whom in 2007 had the foresight to record one of his lectures. There is a lot of value in the 45 minutes, and the first 8 minutes are fabulous.

Why not write a story today?



How marketing messages change post revolution - lessons from Egypt

As the Wall Street Journal recently covered, there has been an increase in ad spending in certain sectors in Egypt, but perhaps more interesting is the anecdotal evidence in the change of messages that are resonating with consumers.

In the weeks since Egypt's uprising, the television airwaves and Cairo's streets have been filled with revolutionary slogans.

"Build your country!" shout billboards hovering over the city's congested roads. "Develop your country!" urges another over smaller text demanding that Egyptians "Don't stop!"

But the signs aren't the work of revolutionaries. They are advertisements for Snicker's, the candy brand owned by Mars Inc., the U.S.-based confectioner.

Since thousands of protesters ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in a nearly three-week revolt, the enthusiasm for revolution has been redirected and repackaged for television ads, billboards and jingles selling products including hair gel, soft drinks and candy.

A television spot for Coca-Cola Co.'s Coke, which looks similar to a Latin American commercial called "Sky," shows hundreds of kids dressed in trendy clothes climbing to the tops of buildings in downtown Cairo. There, they lasso the sun, pull it out from behind menacing storm clouds and bask in the radiant glory that is the new Egypt. "Make tomorrow better!" the slogan beseeches.

A Pepsi ad urges: 'Think, Participate, Dream, Express who you are.'

Local brands are not to be left behind. A restaurateur renamed his cafe "January 25 Cafe," after the starting date of the uprising. In the middle-class Cairo suburb of Agouza, a billboard for Mink brand hair gel shows a young man with a spiky hairdo. The background of the billboard is an Egyptian flag next to a slogan that reads, "I am Egyptian."

This re-messaging for the Egyptian market has helped to lift ad spending in Egypt for consumer products.

Ad spending in Egypt actually increased to about $329 million in May from $310 million in February, according to data from Ipsos, a regional advertising and marketing research firm.

The revolution was hard on high-end products and large investments. Expenditures on household appliances and real estate between February and May of this year were down 46% and 44%, respectively, from a year earlier.

But in the category of fast-moving consumer goods, Egyptian advertising has increased in 2011. Advertising of soft drinks and snacks and appetizers surged 30% over the same period.

How will the more subtle art of public relations re-package messages in Egypt? We think the answer is obvious.



How today’s media is changing Public Relations

The Huffington Post built a media empire from the digital zeitgeist.


 The Huff’s genius involved a nose for water-cooler conversation and an eye for resultant keyword searches. Its unreal ability to dominate the search by re-serving the public what it was already discussing allowed HuffPo to exit for a very real $300 million. 


 For the sake of comparison, Newsweek sold for $1. 


 Is Newsweek 300 million times worse than The Huffington Post? 


 Of course not. 


 But Newsweek never decoded that hidden strand of The Huffington Post’s DNA: Today’s winners no longer try to make news; they instead try to be nearby when news is made. 


 And here is the bedrock of where media is changing PR. For PR folks to be successful they shouldn’t try to be the news; they should try to participate in news.


Easy to understand, so how does that happen? We’ve represented many different types of client at NettResults – some have experienced spokespeople and some do not. Here’s what we have learned:


1 – if a company does not have a spokesperson then there needs to be a lot of news around new unique features or advanced product development that the user actually cares about.


2 – better (and less expensive for the company) to have a spokes person.


Next up – how do we get that spokes person to participate in the news?

Back to traditional PR – the ability of an agency to position that spokesperson with the media through introductions, interview and good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. Through this process, the spokes person gains the ‘credibility’ of the media. Yes, vital – credibility. It doesn’t happen overnight and it is a distinct and almost contradictory PR action than the daily KPI of gaining publicity.


Once credibility has been obtained, it is the job of the agency to keep the media informed on what subject matter the spokes person has preferential insight to – most probably because of their corporate experience. This is how the spokesperson becomes an ‘expert’ in their area of business.


Then, later on in time, when the news is looking like it is approaching the subject that the spokesperson has claimed insight and credibility, it is the job of the agency to showcase that spokesperson. This could be as simple as a one-to-one contact (picking up the phone) or it may be more appropriate to showcase the spokesperson in a one-to-many communication (for example a press release).


Before the spokesperson is ready to reach out to the media and fulfill their spokesperson duty, it is the agency that has to create and curate timely content around the news.


It’s not rocket science, but it does take some medium term planning to achieve success.




Social Media from adorable baby to angst filled adolescent

Is social media about to experience growing pains?

According to people at Unica this year, social media is no longer the adorable baby everyone wants to hold, but the angst filled adolescent – still immature yet no longer cute – who inspires mixed feelings. All things social continue to hold intense interest, with 53% of marketers currently applying it to their marketing efforts. But as tactics rise and fall, a more sophisticated approach is emerging.

Instead of thinking tactic by tactic, marketers are beginning to think strategically across three major areas of social content: owned (what they create), earned (what customers create) and paid (what marketers spend money for).

And as far as NettResults is concerned, social media can be a grumpy old man - so make sure your have an integrated PR and SM campaign in place. Not only can SM be your friend and help you reminisce about good stories (helping you get the word out), it can also turn around and bite you in the butt in a crisis.

What do you think?



Killer messaging for public relations

Following an outline written in Overpromise and Overdeliver, by Rick Barrera, NettResults uses the following questions to clearly define our client’s brand promise, and thus the message for the public relations we work on.

A winning overpromise — whether it’s brand-new or a rejuvenated version of a previous promise — isn’t born of a sudden flash of inspiration. If it is to truly differentiate you, it must be built piece by piece. Attention must be paid not only to the intricacies of products and services, manufacturing and marketing, but to all the constituencies that must be on board to achieve a break-through. That means current and potential customers, employees, shareholders, distributors and suppliers. After all, you will have to live with the overpromise for some time; align all TouchPoints with it; arrange the entire organization around it; and overdeliver on it. All stakeholders whose suggestions and support have an impact on your company’s success must be part of the conversation.

To begin the journey to a complete understanding of your existing brand promise, consider the questions that follow:

What is the essence of your business? Why was the company started? What was the founder’s vision? What did he or she plan to do better than anyone else? Are you fulfilling that vision now?
This first line of questioning is a way to get the coordinates, to zero in on the real reason so much of your life is being devoted to making the organization you work for work.

What are your brand’s most important attributes? What do customers think of when they hear your company’s name?
Customers’ attitudes have been influenced by word of mouth, by advertising and public relations, by their feelings toward the store where they bought the product or perhaps by a conversation with customer service personnel.

Why do customers buy your product or service? Why don’t they buy your competitor’s product or service?

Asking customers why they buy from you can help to identify the kinds of people who are best served by your product or service. Chances are, they won’t be the ones that were in mind when the brand promise was created.

Why don’t non-customers buy your product or service? Why do they buy your competitor’s?
Learning that some aspect of an overpromise, or of its supporting products and processes, is driving away a substantial number of potential customers should inspire some serious repair work.

What emotions do customers feel when they buy and use your product?

Pottery Barn’s overpromise is more laden with emotion than most because it sells products for the home, a place that people care about deeply. Pottery Barn’s overpromise acknowledges that furnishing and decorating a home can be stressful by presenting the company as a kind of home decorating mentor.

If your brand was a person, how would you describe him or her? In the same vein, how would you describe each of your competitors?
Think about the market in which you sell and your target customers.

How do your employees perceive your brand?
Nothing is more important to a company’s success than convincing employees to invest more rather than less, because what you are after is their discretionary efforts on behalf of your brand.

Putting It All Together
Here are the questions you really want the answers to:
What is your reputation?
What are you known for?
What one thing about your company most matters to customers?

Then build your overpromise around it.

If you don’t like the answers to these questions, you’ll need to think deeply about what you want to be known for in the future and how your overpromise will articulate that clearly to customers and potential customers. You’ll then be able to tackle the work of realigning each of your TouchPoints to overdeliver on your overpromise.

If you need to work on your message and your brand promise, then call us today.



Get your Mojo on with PR

In Mojo - How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It (by Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter, 2010, ISBN-13: 978-1401323271) the authors explain exactly what Mojo is (and we though it was not definable). Mojo comes from the moment we do something that is purposeful, powerful and positive, and the rest of the world recognizes it. Mojo is about that moment and how we can create it in our lives, maintain it and recapture it when we need it.

They go on to explain, how our professional and personal Mojo is impacted by four key factors and the questions they ask: identity (Who do you think you are?), achievement (What have you done lately?), reputation, (Who do other people think you are — and what have you done lately?) and acceptance (What can you change — and when do you need to just “let it go”?).

And hence the most obvious segue into public relations. Every corporate client we are work with need to look at:
* What is the company?
* What has the company done lately?
* What do other people (customers, fans, voters, staff, competitors etc) think of the company?
* And, ultimately, when reviewing the media around that organization, what do you need to accept and when do you need to call the crisis communications team in.

De facto, Mojo = PR.



Media Training 101

Why should you have media training?
What will it take to be a successful spokesperson?

All you need to know about media training in under 2 minutes...