One of the tried and tested ways to establish your business in your sector is to win an award. An industry accolade is an independent evaluation of your firm and a public recognition of your worth - and it's something that your customers are more likely to trust than your own marketing material.
Most business owners already know this - and yet many fail to take full advantage of a win and leverage it for the massive authority building that it provides.
Here are five ways to get more mileage out of an award:
Writing a press release can be one of the best ways to leverage an award. Not only does it increase your media exposure, but it also provides core content that you can adapt and use in a wide range of marketing materials – such as on your blog, on social media channels and to send in emails.
Potential clients often visit your website to look for proof of what you do, and the quality of what you do. An awards section will help this tremendously.
Convert your press release into a blog. Details of your win will persuade anyone that is sitting on the fence that you are credible and it will further reassure those who already believe in what you do.
Share links on your social media channels to your press release, any media coverage and your blog post. Share a snippet from your press release; something short, sweet and compelling, in line with the tone of your business.
Include a picture from the awards night. Social shares with photos tend to capture attention better than those without. Sharing to your social media is essential as many consumers look to social channels to find out more about you and gauge your quality.
Using your press release as a starting point, write a short announcement to those who have opted in to receive your emails. Upload any relevant photos to your Facebook or other social media platforms. Then place a link to the album within your email. This helps encourage readers to share via their own channels.
Gaining social shares contributes not only to your authority but to your "social signals" which is great for search engine optimisation (SEO).
Towards the end of the email mention how to get in touch, or flag up one of your latest offers, to encourage prospects to convert.
Take a break in your day-to-day activities and really celebrate this achievement.
This is an opportunity to build authority with the public and to foster a sense of achievement amongst your employees. It is their win as well and they need to see that you appreciate their contribution to the business.
This will allow you to get to know your team better and have a good time with them. Plus, it will contribute to motivating your team to keep your business on a trajectory of greatness.
Putting into action these five steps whenever you win an award may take some time out of your schedule. However, the time taken to leverage something like this is worth it for the authority building that has far reaching effects with your customers and with your team.
Copyright © 2015 Shweta Jhajharia, principal coach and founder of The London Coaching Group.
Driving awareness is a key challenge for any small business. As a budget-efficient channel, PR is often called upon to help achieve this objective and there are plenty of PR experts out there that can help. But I do think business owners can do much themselves, particularly in B2B or service sector. Many business owners shy away from PR — here is a step-by-step guide to getting some coverage for your business:
Christina Richardson is a business marketing specialist, mentor and founder of The Nurture Network. She is also co-founder of the Brand Gathering community, helping young businesses to grow by working together.
Every entrepreneur needs to focus on PR — as founder you are often at the centre of the PR story.
You have to make sure that as many people out there know about your product/service/company as possible and make this happen as cheaply as possible. PR is the answer. It’s cheap and its power immense. But the question is how do we do it? More to the point, what exactly are we “PRing”?
Image: Richard Branson, courtesy of Gulltagen on Flickr.
Many technology start-ups rush to appoint a PR bod or an agency to spread the word or to build the profile of the founder. I have heard many an expert tell me that for a start up to be successful the PR has to be great, even better than early revenues or a killer product. Get your company mentioned in Mashable, TechCrunch and VentureBeat and it’s job done.
But how? That’s the tricky bit. You love your company, in fact you live for it, that is why you are an entrepreneur. Chances are everyone you know will have heard the elevator pitch, even if you are nowhere near a lift. But to get PR your story needs to be different and relevant to your audience. What if you are whizz in developing a product, devising the strategy but don’t see yourself as a celebrity entrepreneur — then what?
Think carefully. Before you appoint someone, think about payment for results and how you will use the coverage they generate. Exactly who do you want to speak to, and what publications/titles/sites do you want to appear in/on. It’s all about the targets.
One final point, you might not think of your story as interesting but the fact that you have the guts to be an entrepreneur is, without bragging, an inspiration to others so always talk to journalists about what you are up to. You never know where it will lead.
Marc Duke is the founder of Marc Duke Consulting.
If you run your own business you need to juggle many balls — the financials, stock, display (online and offline), networking, social media management, staff… the list goes on.
But one thing that all entrepreneurs must try to keep on top of is brand awareness — so that new customers can discover you easily and so that your existing customers feel good about seeing your company getting mentioned in the press. This kind of visibility will encourage customers to pick up the phone and order your product or services again.
Press coverage is free editorial — not paid-for advertising. If you haven’t tried to get press coverage to date, here are 12 essential steps that will help you get your company some valuable media coverage in 2014.
You will need to roll your sleeves and go for it, because if you don’t employ a PR agent (either in-house or on a contractual basis), then no one is going to do it for you. The fact that you are passionate about your product or services is a great start.
So let’s dive straight in and get some press for 2014.
1. Have a thick skin and be persistent: you could get plenty of push backs, but keep on trying, don’t be put off by rejections from journalists, the next journalist you call may love your product.
2. Be creative: try and think outside of the box to come up with interesting angles for your media approaches.
3. Have confidence: pick up the phone. If you believe in your product and are passionate about it, that’s half the battle.
4. Good images, both high and low resolution, are essential.
5. Strong copy: make your words punchy and to the point in order to catch attention.
6. Prepare your website: add a new page with links to your images and the news you are promoting.
7. Buy the target magazines or newspapers or read them online to find out more about their approach and to get the key contacts details.
8. Follow journalists on Twitter: You will see up to date information on what they are covering. You can also check out these two hashtags: #journorequest #PRrequest.
9. Identify your story: Is it a product launch? Profile piece? Case study?
10. Come up with a grabbing headline and use this in your email subject box and as the title for the press release.
11. Use statistics where possible, this gives credibility to your story. Provide a quote and if possible get one from a satisfied customer as well.
12. Always say thank you to the journalists when they publish your story.
Good luck and go for it!
Amanda Ruiz is the founder of www.amandaruiz.co.uk, a marketing and PR agency.
It might seem like the right thing to do, but blowing one’s own trumpet can often lead to disenfranchised customers and uninterested prospects. After all, it’s not about you is it?
But therein lies the rub — we are taught in business that headline-grabbing figures of growth, size, and market domination are all good things. But too easily in this environment, companies can get caught up in the “me” and forget about the “you”.
Do your customers really want to be repeatedly told of your success — to be bludgeoned by unrelenting news of your size in the market and how many users or systems you have sold? Will they flock to your banner if you give them your latest profitability and revenue figures and tell them how really well you are doing enjoying the benefits of their custom?
Or do they really want to hear about how you are going to help them get to the next level; help them to grow and flourish in their particular market? And all the time you are monologuing, you could be missing out on having a dialogue over, say, social media.
This is where talking to your market about their market can set you apart from your competition and from those people who are determined to win the contest about who has the most users or systems sold, or for that matter, bells and whistles on their product or service.
Your customers want to hear that you understand their market — that you understand their problems. They will sit up and listen if you can identify with the issues and drivers in their space, but they’ll be positively ecstatic if you can demonstrate that you are proactively pursuing a programme of activity in your product or service that actively addresses the needs that you have shown you understand.
Talking to your market about their market — or thought leadership — is where you separate yourself from the gaggle of other suppliers in your space. Being prepared to stand up and be counted in recognising your customers’ issues and their market drivers and highlighting that you can do something to help, will elevate you to market leader status not based on size, but based on reputation.
Yes, there is a place for talking about your successes — of proof points with customer stories and case studies — but this should be the undertone, not the main thrust of your messaging machine.
A well-prepared and executed campaign of thought leadership will attract the attention of the commentators in your industry; the journalists and analysts whose job it is to talk to the market about the market. Give these valuable contacts the material they need, making it easy for them by giving it to them in a timely and consumable manner, and you’ll steal the lion’s share of their coverage, getting even more people pointing at you as the perceived market leader. Not because you are biggest — but because you demonstrate you truly understand the market.
Actually, it’s you, not me…
Ashley Carr is the managing director at Neo PR.
Attracting quality press attention for your start up business can be an uphill struggle. Here are our top tips for gaining media coverage.
Make it personal
Each and every approach must be personalised. Let’s face it — nobody likes to be nameless. Avoid sending bulk emails with hundreds of recipients under the BCC tag. Most servers are auto-configured to junk incoming emails when the BCC is active with multiple emails.
Spend the extra time researching every recipient. Yes, it’s time consuming, but it will deliver results. Your conversion in terms of responses will definitely increase.
Target specific media
If you’re not clear about your target audience, then how can you execute an effective public relations campaign?
First of all, focus on the niche publications — these are your heavy hitters. Think of them as little gold mines, waiting to be found and crying out for your news. Who views them? A high majority are people solely interested in that specific topic. They are also used as research hubs for journalists from national newspapers.
By contrast, the national media titles tend to cover a broad range of topics and finding the most relevant point of contact is often laborious. Use the website search function to find relevant articles similar to your news and check the author profile.
Another great media opportunity is niche blogs. Land of the free speech, make sure they are floating high on your research list.
Make a list of all the journalists you want to target and consider making a smaller list of the key journalists that you would like to build relationships with. Keep them in the loop, invite them to your events, schmooze them! Focus your main efforts on this select group of journalists every time you have a story to convey.
The way that journalists get their hands on news has changed dramatically over the past decade. Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms are real-time news hubs. Stories can go viral before they are even picked up by media sources.
The days of Ivy Lee, who created the first modern press release, have all but gone. Fax machines and snail mail are still a viable delivery method but they just aren’t used that often.
So why not use this to your advantage and go old school? Fax your press release and avoid the cluttered mailbox of a journalist. Traditional mail is another good option — you can use fancy paper, a nice envelope or even send a gift.
When you're pitching to the media, make sure you have all the assets a journalist might need, ready to send off at a moments notice. But don’t send these first time — send them to those that request them.
• A photo to go with your story;
• A screenshot of your product/website in multiple formats and sizes;
• Your company logo in multiple formats and sizes;
• What makes you different that your competitors;
• Additional quotes from relevant persons;
• A document with facts/figures about your business.
Matthew Lobas is account manager at Pressat.