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Is blogging the new PR?

May 25, 2011 by Fiona Humberstone

Blog

Ask anyone in the business of selling a product and they’ll evangelise about the benefits of having their wares featured in a magazine. Not only does a feature in a magazine — be it in the “What’s new” section, part of an article or a specific feature to drive traffic to your site — it’ll give your business much-welcomed kudos to be endorsed by a magazine title your customers look up to. It’s also a sneaky ego-boost.

But gaining PR in printed titles isn’t easy. Nor is it as cheap as it first seems. You either need to be on very good terms with the magazine editors, which takes time to foster, or you need to have an incredibly hard-working and focused PR company working on your behalf, which, let’s face it, ain’t cheap.

What many e-tailers seem to be overlooking is that the rise in the uber-bloggers provides just as precious PR as traditional printed literature channels. These blogs can provide just as much influence as the glossies and better still, these blogs often link direct to your website! I’m not just talking about you using your own blog to build relationships and generate awareness, I’m talking about you getting your products featured on top blogging sites just as you would an aspirational magazine.

So how do you get your products featured on an uber-blog?

Start by doing your homework. Read the bloggers in your niche and suss out which ones resonate with your brand and your clients. Draw up a hit list of five or so that you’d like to be featured on and start to build relationships with the writers. Network with them on social media sites such as Twitter and comment on their blogs. Ideally you want to maintain a buzz of regular exposure, so build long-term relationships if you can, rather than one-hit wonders.

Bloggers love good content! Great photos, news their clients will love, scoops, sneak peeks and so on are great for the bloggers. It adds richness to their site as well as making their lives easier. I love the ethics of bloggers such as Design*Sponge who only feature on merit rather than due to backhanders! It definitely makes the reading experience more authentic.

I’ve seen too many blogs recently that have clearly just cut and pasted badly written press releases on blogs. It doesn’t work for the blogger or the product and it looks transparent. Blogging is different to the printed media. Just as you wouldn’t want a journalist to print your press release in full (including contact information for your PR), so you don’t want bloggers to publish that info either. And whereas traditional PR may follow a very fixed format, blogging is more free and easy. When we’re reading a blog we want the inside scoop – and that means the blogger giving their opinions and hopefully endorsing your product in some way – so don’t write your usual style press release.

Make sure you send in great images and ask the blog owner what they’re looking for. Oh, and just as with printed media don’t forget to be grateful – a little thank you (I mean literally just thank you – no need to bribe…) goes a long way!

Fiona Humberstone is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and runs her own creative consultancy.

Find out more on how to write blogs:

Posted in PR | Tagged PR, Blogging | 1 comment

Don't let the trolls get you down

April 20, 2011 by Bryony Thomas

When we received a particularly vile piece of feedback via our feedback button, I have to admit that my smile did fall for a moment… well, about the time it takes to eat a chocolate brownie actually.

And, then I saw a tweet from a lawyer who is doing great things in social media, saying how he had received some vicious feedback in a LinkedIn discussion.

It put me in mind of Seth Godin’s excellent advice on dealing with trolls in which he says:

Lots of things about work are hard. Dealing with trolls is one of them. Trolls are critics who gain perverse pleasure in relentlessly tearing you and your ideas down. Here’s the thing(s):

1. Trolls will always be trolling
2. Critics rarely create
3. They live in a tiny echo chamber, ignored by everyone except the trolled and the other trolls
4. Professionals (that’s you) get paid to ignore them. It’s part of your job.

“Can’t please everyone,” isn’t just an aphorism, it’s the secret of being remarkable.

Separate cruelty from constructive criticism

It is, of course, important to distinguish between trolls and genuine and constructive feedback. We do, occasionally, get negative feedback (I know, I admit it… we’re human). Usually this is really useful, and gratefully received. We can always improve — and that is exactly why we have a feedback button on our website. But, when it is vicious and unhelpful you need to find the strength to hit delete and carry on.

Brace yourself — it will happen

The thing is, if you put yourself up to scrutiny — which is exactly what you’re doing by having a website or posting a blog — then you will at some point encounter nasty people. Even bullies grow up and get jobs. If you engage heavily in social media, then I’m afraid to say that you’ll find them.

If you’re not expecting it, then an ugly side-swipe can really knock your confidence. Surround yourself with a group of people who you trust, and whose opinion you value. Get them to regularly feedback on whether you’re doing good stuff. And, if you are, then hold your head up high and brace yourself… at some point a mean-spirited individual will try to burst your bubble. It is amazing how much nastier people feel able to be through a remote connection, and even more cruel when hiding behind the mask of anonymity.

When it does happen, tick it off as a social media right of passage and congratulate yourself at having generated an emotional reaction in someone you don’t even know — that’s an achievement.

Bryony Thomas is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and a marketing consultant, speaker, and author. Her first book – Watertight Marketing – is available Summer 2012

The importance of images in PR

April 18, 2011 by Ceri-Jane Hackling

The importance of images - pile of photos{{}}Many people think that PR is about press releases, text and words — which, to a certain extent it is. However, the importance of images cannot be underestimated.

Pick up a newspaper or magazine near you and have a flick through — what catches your eye? I would guess that the stories with accompanying images are the ones that get your attention, which should be telling you that good images are essential when trying to achieve press coverage.

As PR professionals, one of the biggest problems we face is clients who don’t understand the importance of images, so here some guidelines on images and how and why to use them.

  1. A picture says a thousand words — whether it’s a product image, an image of you and your team or images from an event. Including an image in your press release will grab a journalist’s attention and help you tell your story.
  2. Think about the different images you might need. It’s useful to have a variety of shots — from your product in action, to cut outs to your product on a plain white background. That way, your shots will be appropriate for most uses.
  3. It’s always a good idea to invest in a proper photo shoot. Never underestimate what a photographer can do for your brand. Outside of the business of actually taking the photos, a good photographer can advise on the kind of images you need to show your business to its best advantage, provide lighting and professional backdrops and develop creative ideas to really make you stand out from the crowd.
  4. Avoid amateur Photo-shopping – if you can’t afford a proper shoot, it’s best to avoid making the shots up. Badly Photo-shopped images are obvious and won’t do your brand any favours.
  5. Finally and most importantly, newspapers and magazines can only use high-res images, so it’s essential that any images you send have a resolution of over 300 dpi (dots per inch) and are at least 1MB.

 

Ceri-Jane Hackling is the managing director of Cerub PR.

Posted in PR | Tagged press releases, PR, photography | 7 comments

PR without wining

January 10, 2011 by Ceri-Jane Hackling

Just recently I read a question on a PR forum from a PR person asking whether it was still possible to achieve PR coverage without a big budget for wining and dining journalists. I was all set to reply until I realised that if she had worked in PR for a number of years and still thought that wining and dining was the way to achieve PR success, then maybe she shouldn’t even be in PR and especially not in the “age of austerity”.

Since I started Cerub PR in 2003, we have worked with a wide variety of clients, but in all that time, we have been working to tight budgets and have very rarely had the opportunity to take journalists out for dinner and drinks. Instead, our work is focused on what some people call the “donkey work” — coming up with story ideas, writing press releases and media alerts, telephoning journalists, responding to news stories and working on behalf of our clients. If we were to spend time taking journalists out for lunch, we’d probably get a lot less coverage for our clients.

The trouble with this attitude is that it gives the impression that PR really is all about wining and dining and maybe I’ve been doing it wrong all these years, but for me and my colleagues, it’s more about getting on with the work and achieving great coverage for our clients. To prove my point, we’ve recently had coverage for clients in The Financial Times, Sky News, CNBC, Something for The Weekend, Magic radio and Real People — all while sat in the office!

 

Ceri-Jane Hackling is the managing director of Cerub PR.

Why being a business celebrity is the best way to stand out in your market

October 13, 2010 by Lucy Whittington

Being a Business Celebrity is all about using YOU as the point of difference in your business. Instead of thinking up a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) I’m saying you use what you already have — a PSP (Personality Selling Proposition).

A successful business needs personality and visibility. Having a clear business personality means you will always stand out in a crowd.

The world is changing – people are buying from people and social media has blurred the boundaries of business and personal.

You need to tell and share your story. You need to BE your story. You are your business, and if your business is big enough you need to bring out ALL the personalities in your business and use them.

Once you understand and accept that you are what makes your business, you’re able to be bolder, less afraid to stand out in a crowd and you can create loyal fans.

I’ve set out six steps to being a business celebrity. You can follow these in order (and repeat four and five over and over!) and you’ll have a personality-led marketing plan.

  1. Know your personality, and realise it’s all you need to succeed. Know what is authentic to you and what sets you apart — and believe it!
  2. Find out exactly what makes you unique, what is going to set you apart from the competition. Look at your experience, approach, ideas, hobbies and loves.  Find out who you are and define the unique detail.
  3. Define what your business personality looks and feels like. What does your business personality look and feel like in words, colours, pictures, clothes and media.
  4. Tell everyone about you. Share your story. Convey and communicate your personality – whether you film it, blog it, write it, or present it — make it your way, authentic to who you are.
  5. Plug your personality into your business. This is the heart of the marketing plan. Use your website, online marketing, social media, networking, speaking, PR and more — to turn personality into business results.
  6. Use the power of celebrity to draw people to you. When you’re a celebrity it means you’re not a commodity any more. You aren’t the same as everyone else. YOU bring something different. So you can charge what you choose, work in the way you want to, and with the people you want to. You are known and sought after – that’s the “pull” of a celebrity, not the “push” of a promotional campaign.

If you want to know more about how to use the six steps to being a business celebrity – get the free download with more detail, examples and actions to take for each step here.

Lucy Whittington is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut.

35 things I have found to be almost always true

May 12, 2010 by Drayton Bird
  1. Relevance matters more than originality
  2. The most important element in any creative endeavour is the brief
  3. Most clients focus on the wrong things
  4. The urgent takes precedence over the important
  5. The customer you want is like the customer you’ve got
  6. The product and positioning matter more than any other element in marketing
  7. Who you are talking to matters more than what you sell
  8. Database is the heart of marketing
  9. The internet is just accelerated direct marketing
  10. Emotion matters more than logic
  11. The simple letter or email gives the best ROI
  12. Long copy beats short
  13. Incentives always pay
  14. Segmentation is almost invariably worth it
  15. Hardly anyone budgets for marketing intelligently
  16. The customer you’ve got is 4 – 5 times more likely to buy from you than someone identical who is not a customer.
  17. A previous enquirer is about twice as likely to buy
  18. A past customer is usually your next best bet.
  19. After that comes someone who’s recommended
  20. It pays to say thank you
  21. Marketers are suckers for magic bullets
  22. Marketing experts complicate things needlessly
  23. If you say why you are writing, response goes up
  24. Questionnaires almost always pay
  25. Making people choose increases response
  26. Few marketers use enough testimonials
  27. Almost all meetings waste time
  28. Flattery and greed are the two biggest draws
  29. All successful messages solve problems
  30. Sincerity always pays
  31. Few messages ask forcefully enough for action
  32. Repetition pays
  33. People’s faces raise response
  34. The more you communicate, the better you do
  35. Research rarely predicts results accurately

Drayton Bird is a renowned direct marketing teacher, speaker and author. Find out more about him on his profile.

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