As a public relations representative, I’ve arranged over 100 free (called “earned media”) television segments for small businesses and nonprofits. Free segments happen when a story is deemed newsworthy to a producer and is of interest to viewers.
Paid segments are usually taped in advance and can be edited - but they are also often very expensive. When you work with businesses (like I do) that typically don’t have huge budgets, earned media the way to go.
A lot of work goes into a TV segment behind the scenes. A press release and “pitch” with images are sent to a producer and IF their interest in piqued, a segment is coordinated – either at the media outlet’s studio or on location. A lot of things have to happen in order to get that 3.5 minutes worth of airtime, and it usually happens fast.
When a TV producer wants you on a show, it often happens within a few days. Hundreds of businesses are vying for that precious time. If a station is interested in your story, you need to jump on it or risk losing several thousand dollars worth of free exposure. You snooze, you lose.
Being on TV can be exciting, and a bit nerve wracking, but something often happens when a person sees themselves in a segment for the first time.
So, you’ve just been on your local network’s morning show talking about a product, service or event. What usually happens next:
“Wow, that was so much fun. When can I do it again???”
Then, you get to watch the clip:
“OMG, I was horrible!” Then, “Do I really look like that?” or “Oh, I forget to mention …” happens every time.
I always warn clients that they may be shocked the first time they see themselves on TV. It’s human nature. Let’s face it – we are ALL so hard on ourselves, especially women.
But what you see, or think you see, is not what OTHERS see. You are looking at the flaws - others don’t see the flaws that you may be imagining.
When I often tell clients is this:
This first time you see your segment you will probably hate it.
The second time you watch, you will think “hey, that wasn’t so bad.”
The third time, you will say, “you know, I was really pretty good.”
Like anything in life, the more you do it the better you get. I’ve found that even with experienced spokespeople, some key piece of information is forgotten. A few minutes goes by very quickly!
Hey, none of us are perfect. Always be sure to purchase your segment both for your archives and to rewatch it so you can critique your performance and see what you can do better next time.
I recently chatted with a very talented friend who owns a theatrical group that performs interactive murder mysteries at restaurants and corporate events.
“Suzanne,” he said, “I don’t understand it. I was getting lots of leads for my shows but everything just stopped.”
I asked him if he had tried the Facebook ads I had recommended.
“Yes, but those things don’t work and they’re expensive.”
I then asked when he stopped the ads. He said January.
Then I asked when the activity stopped. He said January.
Perception is a funny thing.
Another case in point: I was at a networking meeting a few years ago when a lady sat next to me. She began to discuss a community garden she was working on. I said I thought that was a wonderful idea and asked her if the media knew about it. She immediately said:
“Why, EVERYONE knows about it – it’s been all over the news.”
At that very moment (and you can call this marketing serendipity), another lady sat at the table and said:
“What’s happening with the community garden? I haven’t heard anything about it.”
Perception is a funny thing.
How can these business owners be so out of touch with the reality of their marketing? It’s because we are often so tied to our own filters and our perception of the world as it relates to us – or our businesses.
Perhaps your company is not on social media. You don’t like it. You think social media is stupid and that it’s a time waster. No one you know is on social media. For this reason, you don’t have a social media presence and yet you can’t understand why your competitors are doing well - and you are not.
Well, I hate to tell you this, but BILLIONS of people are on social media and every time the news says it’s on its way out more people get onboard. Every business needs to be on social media even if it’s on a limited scale. Period. This is especially true for B2C (business to consumer) entities but it's also fabulous for B2B operations.
Or, let’s say you don’t like email marketing. You hate sending emails and you hate receiving them. You say email marketing is dead. Because YOU feel this way, you never send e-newsletters. Did you know that email marketing still has one of the highest ROI’s? The ROI for email marketing is, on average, $43 for each dollar spent. Not too shabby and it’s inexpensive to do.
The KEY to all marketing is frequency and consistency. Traditional marketing research used to say that a consumer had to “see” you at least 12 times before they start to pay attention. I actually think that number is much higher now since we all barraged with so much information on a daily basis. Why do you think radio and TV commercials are played over and over and over again? Big advertisers know the all encompassing power of repetition to cut through the crowd.
If you are just sending out an occasional eblast, or doing a social media post every now and again, you are not gaining momentum for your marketing. When you are on various platforms frequently and consistently, what you may think is not working is – it’s in the building phase. This can take as little as two months if you are being very aggressive, but the average is around 6 months for campaigns to start to “gel” and for people for start paying attention.
Perception is a funny thing but you can challenge YOUR perceptions - and succeed.
bove photo by Everardo Keeme Photography of Murder Ink Productions
I was working with a theatrical group who was producing and performing hilarious interactive murder mystery shows in 2015. I needed high resolution images to submit with press releases and for use on social media to promote their business. Strangely enough, these amazingly talented actors only had grainy pics of their shows from the 1980’s!
I quickly scheduled a professional photo-shoot to get some publicity shots. The second I saw the resulting photos I knew we had a hit. Within weeks I was obtain to obtain 3 TV segments and two articles in local publications for the group - and their show at a local dinner theater venue sold-out.
It has NEVER been more important to have good images to promote your business! I’m not talking taking selfies with your iPhone (although the quality of cells phone cameras is much better these days) – you MUST have solid, high-resolution, well-lit, professional images to support the story of your business.
Why? Public Relations and Social Media are VISUAL mediums. Busy producers or editors often only have seconds to scan a press release. What can really “sell” your business is a photo that tells your story quickly.
FYI: If I submit a “bad” (blurry, low-res, poorly staged) photo to a media outlet, even if the story idea is about the most imaginative product or service in the world, it most likely won’t be “picked up.” They are going to take one look and say “Next!”
On Social Media images are equally – if not more – important. Great photos create engagement! With millions of posts being produced daily, your brand has to stand out with images that also support your overall message. You want people to see your post and stop scrolling. A cool image that supports your brand is powerful with a Capital P!
Tip: Cell phone cameras can be fine when you are taking photos at networking or other events to post on social media platforms. For images to accompany press releases, professional photos work best.
So start clicking! The more images you have the better. If you can’t afford a professional photo shoot, invest in a good camera. Let your images do the talking for you!
Remember during the 2014 Winter Olympics when skier Bode Miller became emotional when asked questions about the death of his brother? As he became distraught and tearful, the reporter kept asking more questions in an interview that was heartbreaking to watch.
Right after the interview aired it popped up in my browser. Many commented that the interview was inappropriate and were critical of the reporter. I couldn’t help but chime in:
“There was a time delay. The network could have chosen to not air the interview. They didn’t pull it because they knew it would boost the ratings and that it would blow up on social media.”
I believe (or want to believe), my response was more eloquent that this - but you get the drift. They COULD have pulled the interview. They had time to do so. They didn’t and it DID get a lot of attention on social media!
My post became a “featured comment,” drawing around 60 likes or so on MSNBC, and my website received over 200 hits in a short amount of time (which was a lot at the time for my teeny tiny site). I was astounded.
Controversy. Love it or hate it, it can be very effective tool in your marketing and communications arsenal.
Now, don’t get me wrong. When I posted my comment it was simply because I was honestly appalled by what I had seen and felt Miller (who after the fact was very supportive of the reporter) was exploited. I had no idea that it would draw any attention.
Why Controversy Works: With the seemingly “anonymity” of the internet people are becoming more vocal (even "snarky") online more than ever before. As marketers compete for whatever engagement they can get, controversial content is being used more frequently for shock value and to get a reaction.
Say Yes to the Dress! A great positive example of using controversial content to increase engagement was the “dress” debate in 2015 (see photo above). All over social media networks some saw the dress as blue and black - while others saw the dress as white and gold. It was EVERYWHERE! Why did it get so much media play? It created a viral buzz because people could comment and disagree.
In other situations I’ve discovered that controversy can even be used to right a wrong.
In 2016, the family of a very prominent (late) politician alerted me that their grandfather had been omitted from the cover of a popular magazine which highlighted the most influential individuals in Arizona history. I contacted the editor on their behalf and he agreed that it was a slight. This “complaint” resulted in a gorgeous full-length article and the family was very happy.
Caution: Just keep in mind that using controversy simply to get attention can be a dangerous thing. Yes, you may get more website or blog hits, but you also risk offending some (or all) of your followers.
Want to try “Controversy Marketing” to build your brand? Learn more in this Forbes article:
May the Marketing Gods be with you!
The other day I was speaking to a business owner and they told me, “I don’t know why I’m not getting any sales.”
I asked her how she was promoting her high-end services for professionals. She said, “Well, I’m on Facebook all the time and Twitter. I’m on Instagram. I’ve been publishing posts on LinkedIn but nothing is happening."
I’m writing this because I hear this all the time - business owners who spend all their precious time on Social Media. Results aren’t showing but they continue to pump out information day after day, month after month.
There is that OLD saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Yada, yada, yada.
If you are on Social Media constantly and nothing is working – stop. Take a break. I know it can be addictive, it can be fun, but it may also be a crutch stopping you from exploring other creative options to market your business.
Don’t get me wrong - Social Media is one of the most ingenious marketing tools invented. It’s a quick and free way to get information out in a short amount of time. It’s easy to use. Anybody can do it. It’s wonderful for small businesses with limited marketing budgets. It can be fabulous for event promotion. With compelling images and clever messaging it can be extremely effective.
For some B to C businesses it’s a perfect fit and since Social Media is so accessible and easy to use, everyone has also become an “expert.”
The problem is, the perfect client for your business may not even be “Social.”
I know many highly successful people who are not on Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social platform. They have lots of money to spend but if you are only on Social Media they aren’t going to spend it with you.
I also know droves of people getting off of Social Media. As the economy improves they are too busy making money to spend their days checking status updates. The wealthy CEO you may be trying to reach doesn’t have time to be constantly checking their Facebook account.
Are you curious about other available marketing tools? Reach out to us today for our free “Is Social Media the Best Fit for Me?” cheat sheet.
One of our clients, an award-winning Scottsdale children’s book author, was recently on a popular local TV show promoting a backpack special offer to include the book, puzzles and other items. Two weeks later she had not received a single backpack sale.
A lady in Mesa then contacted the author to let her know that she had been trying to buy her book from the website but kept getting an “internal server error" during check-out. What was going on?
We investigated further and discovered the backpack sales page had been visited 50+ times and there were also “abandoned” carts for other products! Working with the web designer we identified the issue, tested and retested the check-out process, and now online ordering is working properly on the site.
Problem is, those customers wanting to buy are long gone and this also begs the question: How long had this been going on? How many people had tried to purchase but gave up? If it wasn’t for this lady in Mesa we may not have discovered the issue for some time. (Note: The website had been recently optimized so something may have gone awry during that process.)
If you are selling a product from your website, make sure to check your “check-out” process for each product frequently. If you are implementing a marketing campaign and results are not showing, ask yourself the following:
Test the online sales process yourself and get feedback from friends and associates. Make sure everything is as streamlined as possible. If product check-out is cumbersome or confusing it can make customers abandon the buy.
We live in an Amazon world of seamless online buying - people are expecting an easy way to purchase.
Keep it simple and "check the check-out."
Questions? Call us today at (602) 466-3333 for a free consultation.
Earlier this year I was able to obtain a feature article for a client selling self-defense gadgets. She received just one call from the article. The call happened to be from a manager of a major Arizona utility who asked her to present her safety products to their employees.
Hmm. We discovered a need for organizations to keep their employees, especially women, safe in the workplace. However, this wasn’t saleable to TV stations because they felt this was too product driven.
We fine-tuned a new release to focus on low-cost home safety hacks for the summer months. With that angle were able to obtain two TV segments and expose her to yet another audience. Through the article, TV segments and employee presentation she began getting inquiries to present to other organizations. Her focus has now shifted from selling products to speaking engagements and is busier than she’s ever been.
Now, not all press has this type of result, but this strategy got her in front of, again, a brand NEW audience. Through her website and social media efforts she never would have been exposed to this one manager looking to find ways to keep her employees safe.
Was this magic? No. It took the time to finesse a press release to make it marketable, pitch it to targeted publications and another 6 weeks to line up the interview and photographer and for the article to appear. We then had to evaluate the response and change the angle on other efforts based on what the media would be receptive to. The basic message really didn’t change – just the “spin.”
We live in a society where the expectation is that one article or TV segment will go viral or generate thousands or millions in sales when the true “magic” is in the hard work of finding your audience and then adjusting your message to appeal to them.
Press is so effective because you have the opportunity to reach out to different markets and also test your message. It also gives businesses more credibility. It’s especially effective to send out monthly releases because it lends consistency to your marketing and PR efforts and allows interest to build. Press can also be shared on social media channels for even more impact and reach.
The moral of this story is that marketing is hard work and is fluid. You have to coordinate your efforts and constantly retool and adapt your message. The real magic happens when you realize there may be a perfect audience for your product or service that you never knew existed.
Would press work for your business? Call us at (602) 466-3333 for a free brain-storming session.
So you’ve posted about your business and someone makes a disparaging comment. Welcome to the Social Media “Bomb.”
Social Media is an amazing marketing tool. Businesses today can promote, sell, but more importantly, build relationships with consumers and other companies, on a wider scale than ever before. With the anonymity of the internet, however, businesses are also more vulnerable to the opinions of the masses.
The Social Media Bomb: So you’ve posted about your product or service and receive a negative comment. What do you do? While you may immediately feel anger, you now have the opportunity to defuse the situation and potentially turn a “negative into a positive” for your company.
The Usual Suspects
These “bombers” tend to fall into the following categories:
The Instigator: These types love to create controversy. It doesn’t matter that they know nothing about the subject at hand. They want attention and at your expense.
The Poacher: These are competitors that comment on your posts about THEIR business.
The Disgruntled Competitor: These types will discredit your products under the guise of a being a potential customer.
The “Glass is Half Empty” type: These posters always look for the negative in ANY product or service.
The Dissatisfied Customer: Perhaps the most dangerous of all, if a customer is unhappy and posts about it online you must make every effort possible to respond to their complaint quickly in order to shine a positive light on your company for other online readers.
How to “Defuse”
(Please note that each situation will be different and may require a unique approach.)
Stay calm: While your first reaction may be anger, and sometimes rightfully so, take a deep breath. You don’t want to fan the flames and turn something minor into an online wildfire!
Respond quickly: As soon as you receive notification of a comment it’s up to you to respond in a professional manner and in a timely fashion. A delayed response – or no response -may be perceived as a lack of concern.
Play nice: Acknowledge them by stating, “Thank you for commenting.” Even for an obvious instigator this can be disarming. In some cases, this is all you need to say to be responsive and politely end the conversation.
Make them feel important: Let the poster know their opinions are being heard by saying, “We value your feedback.” What if the negative statement is something you’ve heard before and need to address? The upside to a Social Media bomb is this can also be the perfect opportunity to address objections to price, quality, or any other issue you may be aware of, and set the record straight.
Be brief: The last thing you want is to get into a lengthy dialogue (unless the poster appears to have legitimate questions and you have the time to respond). If you have a prepared response to objections state them simply and briefly.
Taking it offline: If the poster appears to be a legitimate potential customer you can offer your telephone number, or other means for them to contact you directly, to respond to their comments.
When all else fails: If the person is being outright offensive, you can often delete their comments, hide their comments or even report them depending on the social media platform being used.
How have you handled a “Social Media Bomb?” Please post your comments and let others know what tactics you have used and the end result.
So, you’ve invested time and money in what you felt was a solid marketing strategy but results aren’t showing.
The phones are ringing, referrals keep coming in but sales aren’t converting. What do you do?
Two years ago I was working on an aggressive campaign for an engineering summer camp program for kids. With a great deal of press, outreach events and a creative Facebook contest, we were getting a ton of inquiries but registrations weren’t happening. It just didn’t add up. What was wrong?
After close investigation, we discovered that there were a high number of abandoned registrations on the website. We printed out the list and called the parents who said they were having “issues” when registering. People who still wanted to register their children were entered into the system manually until the problem was resolved. The camps sold out.
We recovered approximately 70% of the registrations, and getting a personal call was good “PR,” but money was still lost.
Sometimes the simplest things can be the reason that “results aren’t showing.” If you are experiencing a solid call volume but things aren’t “happening” something is wrong.
It could be as simple as a website glitch, or the person taking incoming calls is rude or worse – non responsive, or perhaps there is bad word of mouth for your product. (That’s a big one – you can have the best campaign in the world but if your customers aren’t happy with your product or service, well, that’s a whole other issue.)
Look at your data: Website hits and email open rates - anything you can think of as it pertains to your marketing. Test the online purchasing system and make sure it’s easy to use. There are a lot of other factors to consider, but check the basics first and then dig deep.
Your mom called. She wants to know why you are still using that old grainy photo as your profile picture on LinkedIn.
You know the one. The picture you took in the hallway of your office in 2007, under fluorescent lighting, wearing that rumpled green polo shirt that you gave to Goodwill 3 years ago. Remember?
OK, I am being facetious. Seriously, from a marketing standpoint your profile photo depicts who you are: Your image, your brand, your persona.
You know the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression?” This is especially true as it relates to Social Media.
If you are trying to represent yourself as a professional to other businesses and to potential employers you need to consider the image you are projecting. It also helps to use the same photo across different platforms to obtain more recognition.
The caveat here is that I believe the rules are a bit looser in terms of Facebook since it’s a more Social medium, although if you are in a very creative field you can have a bit more fun with your photos (although try to stay away from using a photo taken at your best friend’s bachelor party).
Here are a few tips for taking a good headshot:
By the way, she wants to know when you are going to call her.