Pay $10K for your news in Forbes, Fortune & Money?

Would you pay $10,000 to have your news story placed in Forbes, Fortune and Money magazines? That’s a question public relations and marketing professionals grapple with frequently and it’s an offer that I recently received on behalf of my client, a wealth management firm in Lincolnshire.

Welcome to the world of advertorials – paid content that appears objective and independent and often can’t be distinguished by an untrained reader from other “earned media” stories in a publication or broadcast report.

An outside content creation firm that partners with the publications is offering to interview my client for a 2014 story that will appear in issues sent to subscribers in the Chicago and north suburban areas. The story could be viewed by as many as 70,000 readers.

In addition to getting interviewed and providing his own images, my client has full rights to review the story to make sure it contains his key messages (which rarely ever occurs in an earned media placement). When it’s published, he owns the article, can place it in his online newsroom, email it to his clients, and mount on his web site a nicely formatted article with the banner line: As seen in Forbes, Fortune and Money Magazines.  It’s great credibility. But is it real and will readers value it? Continue reading

You’ve made the news! Are you capitalizing on it?

A client made my day last week.  He said his recent business’ news coverage in Crain’s Chicago Business is opening doors that his firm spent months knocking on to no avail. Now, armed with some powerful news about their agency, every team, from sales to creative, is actively spreading it. They’re emailing the link to prospects or clients, posting the article on their web site, and framing it at the office entrance to let people know that that Chicago’s top business outlet has showcased their leader’s expertise and their firm’s innovation.

Meetings they’ve been trying get on the calendar with at least two Fortune 500 corporate prospects were scheduled soon after the prospects read the Crain’s story! There’s a simple PR and marketing lesson here that unfortunately many companies don’t heed.

All your hard work at capturing the media spotlight is a waste of time unless you capitalize on it.

So what can you do to take advantage of that great story or compelling TV profile about your company or your expertise?

MassBroadcastAppCat.014

Email it. Target customers and prospects. Tell your mom and your friends about it — you never know who THEY know. Develop a list of those who’d benefit from learning about your news. Send them the link to your story along with the headline and a brief description of how you became a newsmaker.

For my client’s Crain’s story, the message might have been as simple as:

“Hi Bill, The head of my agency has a date with Princess Kate (yes THE Princess Kate) on June 13 and Crain’s Chicago Business just wrote about it. Check out this story: Kate Middleton’s untold link to Chicago that showcases our cool marketing work in the UK.” You can also visit Princess Cruises and see what we’re up to.

Make it social. Most firms require their employees to have a presence on LinkedIn, which is the best social network (in my opinion) for showcasing your business achievements and acknowledgements. Ask your colleagues to share your news on LinkedIn, as well as on Twitter and Facebook.

For news about business, LinkedIn and Twitter are my priorities, but some employees make Facebook their preferred social platform. Since you’ll want your entire team to be sharing your good news, give them flexibility in how they spread it. But also give them some guidance. Provide them with a cheat sheet about how they should present the news (casual vs. formal, including messages you might have already developed about your company). Suggest actual tweets, posts or updates. Encourage them to alter the content so it’s in their own voice. Explain that the suggested tweets are posts are aimed at ensuring they get their facts straight, and that your company messages are accurately positioned.

It’s often a challenge to toe the line between sounding like you’re bragging and being informative. Check out some of my tweets below and let me know if they sounded conceited or helpful.

Once you’ve made the news and emailed it to your key audiences, then what? Don’t stop after just one tweet or update.  How frequently should you be promoting your news on social networks? I’ll cover that topic in my next blog post, so please come back!

Here are some examples of the social network updates created to promote my recent news placement in Crain’s Chicago Business.

Twitter: 

‏@MichelleDamico The hottest Chicago shop for #ExperientialMarketing? @CrainsChicago says its @UTRExp News at http://bit.ly/169Qz72 

@MichelleDamico Cool first look-@UTRExp of Chicago scopes out #RoyalPrincess for big date w/ Princess Kate on June 13 http://bit.ly/10LCofl 

LinkedIn:

Michelle Damico Check out this great article by @CrainsChicago on #experiential #marketing highlighting @UTRExp  http://utrlink.to/CCB5-13

 

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Need PR for your App? Sorry, there’s NO App for that!

No app for that

In the last month, I’ve been approached by three different companies seeking help in generating news for their smart phone apps creations.  Currently, I’m working with a brother-sister team that developed BrainAttack App to help emergency room doctors and nurses save lives for stroke patients. Like my clients, all app creators are trying to rise above the noise being generated in an industry that’s growing at lightning speed.

Since 2008, when Apple launched its iTunes App store more than 800,000 apps have been downloaded. Google has quickly played catch up with just under 700,000 apps on Google Play as it marks its first birthday.

app-store-heart

If there’s a business problem, there’s probably an entrepreneur who’s created or working on an app solution. Unfortunately, there’s no app guaranteed to get news coverage for your new app. With the mix of traditional and social media required to generate awareness of your app, a one-size fits-all solution just won’t get you results.

There are so many target audiences that can make or break your efforts to generate awareness of your apps. With these hurdles in mind, I offer…

Top 10 tips to build media buzz for your App  Continue reading

Nespresso on Facebook: Brewing great customer service

IMG_0618Dear Nespresso, your brand page on Facebook showcases exactly how a consumer product company should be integrating social media into every part of the customer experience. Now I see why your page has nearly 2 million LIKES and thousands of people talking about you (in many languages). I have this real life example of wonderful customer service through social media.

You address complaints immediately and publicly — I have proof! Today you did so to my total surprise.

Yesterday, I complained on your page after twice calling your toll free number and twice having the system hang up on me when I tried to reach customer service. I left this note in frustration (I admit, I did it in haste and it was a bit snarky).

Grab image of complaint

I thought that would be the end of my Nespresso Facebook engagement and was quite shocked to get this email today. Apparently, someone on the Facebook team connected with customer service, or looked up my order history, noted that I had not yet requested my first scaling kit, and took the initiative to order it on my behalf. Continue reading

Find Rewards by Mining Your LinkedIn Profile


This post appeared originally on Carol Roth’s Business Unplugged Blog. 

If you noticed someone peeking through the front door of your business, would you ask “How can I help you?” You’d be silly not to make that personal connection; especially as businesspeople, we’re always looking for that next customer.

There are probably at least a half dozen people peeking through your business front door – your LinkedIn account – on a daily basis. Are you reaching out to them? Too shy? Don’t know what to say? Don’t want to give the impression that you’re spying on your visitors?

Today, I want to embolden you and arm you with the steps needed to make those valuable connections with potential customers, because I’ve learned this past summer that with the right approach, you CAN get meaningful business leads and valuable connections.

STEP 1. Start off with the front page of your LinkedIn profile. You’ll find a box that says “Your profile has been viewed (number) times in the past 14 days.” Check this page at least weekly and preferably daily. Most of the time, you will see the identities of your LinkedIn visitors. Members have the option to have their name displayed, have their title/industry displayed without their name, or remain anonymous. Many members choose not to hide their identity. With the paid membership, you can see all of the viewers of your profile, not just a select few.

I make this visit to my profile page a daily routine and it has been well worth the investment of my time.

Proof Point 1: This summer, I noticed a former client was on my page, someone I hadn’t spoken to in 10 years. I checked his recent job history, sent an email and started a conversation about what he’d been up to. I researched his new firm, checked recent news and sent him a message saying hello and congratulating him on his accomplishments. That led to a string of emails, lunch, and now, I am in conversations with his CEO for possible PR work. I landed a quality lead based on my relevant media relations work experience and didn’t have to make one annoying cold call! Pretty nice, huh? And SO easy.

STEP 2. If folks visiting your profile aren’t easily recognizable, check out their pages if you can and your connections to them. LinkedIn etiquette suggests that you request an introduction from a current member of your network. That works fine, but may take a while. However, I have found that new visitors to your profile don’t mind your direct outreach, as long as it’s not repeated and annoying. But DO be sure you do some homework before trying to connect. Also, remember to include the reason that you are reaching out and why they might want to connect with you. (See example below.)

Proof Point 2: A recent visitor to my LinkedIn page was the Director of Marketing from an MBA school at a major university. LinkedIn requires that you should have a business history with the person you’re messaging. In many cases, I haven’t done business with these people, but I have never been caught by a “LinkedIn cop” for violating the rule. And none of my InMail recipients has ever told me to stop messaging them. Hey, if I don’t get a response, I don’t bother them again. In nearly every instance, I have gotten a response. I’ve never heard of anyone being bounced from LinkedIn for the occasional InMail infraction against someone they don’t know. (If you know of someone who has been ejected, please do share!) So, when you see the LinkedIn prompt asking how you know this person, use your current firm as your reference and check we’ve done business together. If you are in a group with the person and don’t know them, you can use that option instead.

STEP 3. How to approach that visitor scoping out your profile? Here’s the gist of an InMessage I sent to that CMO of a major university:

“Hi NAME, I couldn’t help noticing that you visited my profile this week. Is there something that I can help you with or perhaps offer a recommendation for a candidate whose name we might have in common?”

I received a reply saying that he was looking for a communications person to elevate his school’s social media presence. He complimented my PR and social media credentials and indicated that he was looking for a more junior level candidate and so, I offered to aid in his search. I made a valuable connection and feel totally comfortable reaching out to him again, if needed, in the future.

What’s the lesson here? Do your LinkedIn homework every day and see who’s checking out your profile. Look for ways that you might help those people and do the research to ask intelligent, relevant questions. You just never know where that conversation will take you and your business.

Is this something that you have used successfully in your business? I would love to hear about your experiences or suggestions.

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Do You Have a Treasure Trove of Customer Relationships?

 This article originally appeared in the October 1, 2012 issue of the Daily Herald Business Ledger
When times are tough, knowing your customer can be your most treasured business asset. With belt-tightening the norm for businesses, that’s the message from CEOs, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs in the suburbs and Chicago who offered examples of how knowing their customers helped them survive and thrive.

 

“In the environmental engineering business, it’s relationship-driven; we don’t have long-term contracts, but we do have long-term clients,” said Bob Platt, CEO of Elmhurst-based Mostardi Platt, an environmental testing and consulting firm. Commercial and industrial businesses rely on Mostardi Platt to stay abreast of clean-air and water regulations or to design systems to comply with or audit compliance of environmental protections.

Platt says his business is primarily project-based, and as a result, his project managers have developed strong customer relationships over the years.

“Our mantra is if you think you haven’t talked to a client recently, than give them a call. We know they’re busy and don’t want to seem like we’re bugging them. Typically, we help them stay on top of regulatory changes facing their industries and that’s how we earn their trust and confidence,” said Platt.

Most clients lack deep knowledge of environmental regulations, and that’s where the trust plays a big role. “We’re like the surgeon treating the patient who lacks the training to find their own cure. Our customers trust that we’ll come up with the best possible compliance options without undue cost. That trust is the result of relationship building over time,” said Platt.

Building trust over time is a concept that applies to the not-for-profit world as well. In fact, “trust” is part of the name of the 40-year old Trust for Public Land, which relies on donors to achieve its mission of conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and other natural places. The Trust for Public Land played an instrumental role in helping earn federal authorization of the area’s first National Wildlife Refuge, The Hackmatack, stretching from northeastern Illinois into Wisconsin and within a 100-mile drive for Chicago- and Milwaukee-area residents.

Beth White, Director of The Trust for Public Land Chicago region office says securing federal conservation protections for Hackmatack involved six years of relationship building with community and conservation groups such as Friends of Hackmatack, Open Lands and Sierra Club, as well as elected officials, governments and donors.

“Donors give to The Trust for Public Land because they have an affinity for what we do and because we get high marks for accountability and for being among the most efficient charities in the U.S. Our donors often have personal interest and expertise related to our projects and become key partners, often for decades,” said White.

For more than two decades, Ambrosia Euro-American Patisserie in Barrington has served customers’ culinary tastes and curiosities in Lake, Kane and McHenry Counties and beyond. Deborah and Richard Rivera, 23-year owners of Ambrosia say regulars who visit weekly comprise 40 to 50 percent of their daily customer count.

“We know nearly half of our customers by name, so over the years they’ve become our de facto advisory board,” says Debby Rivera. “More than ever, we are listening to what they want – superior bakery items and beverages made with natural, high quality ingredients, served in a comfortable and welcoming café setting.”

Rivera says the recession has changed customers’ family and work lives. “Many have lost or left their jobs and work out of their homes, where they feel more isolated. They come here for a croissant and conversation.”

So when local acoustic, jazz and classical musicians pitched the idea of live performances at Ambrosia, the Riveras redesigned their café floor plan for concerts, presented at least twice each month.

“Our marketing approach has been tailored to what our customers need,” says Rivera. “They are much more stressed out and we try to be in tune to what they’re looking for. I think that’s a critical component that’s kept us going during the recession,” she added.

Deep relationships are what drive solopreneurs as well. Ask Catherine Morgan, transition and entrepreneur coach at Point A to Point B Transitions, Inc. She says 80 percent of leads come from client referrals.

“Building strong relationships is the best possible thing I can do for my business,” said Morgan. “I don’t think people actively search for my services. More likely, a colleague or friend will recognize that help is needed and make a referral suggestion. So it’s just as important to maintain relationships with past clients and have a good keep-in-touch strategy.”

Morgan says another benefit of great client relationships is getting testimonials on her web site and social network pages. “Business decisions are based on social proof – so if someone is evaluating my service, I want them to find great client success stories to help close the deal. Google and LinkedIn are the new background checks,” she added.

Michelle Damico provides media relations and communications services through Michelle Damico Communications and can be reached through http://www.michelledamico.com.

Post happily written by Michelle Damico

 

 

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Facebook’s Got a Bleeding Heart


May hearts & flowers © Michelle Damico

My garden’s bleeding hearts on this first day of May reminded me of Facebook, which has added a new page option for users who wish to sign up for their state’s organ registry.

As someone on the receiving end of an organ donation (my right knee’s ACL was replaced a few years ago when a snow boarder hit me while skiing) it was very humbling when the nurse offered me the chance to send a note to the donor’s family, telling them their loved one’s life goes on, thanks to the tissue donation that enables me to run, walk and have free movement.

Organ donation is not only about hearts, livers and kidneys. One body may have as many as 50 opportunities for transplantation, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Facebook is taking steps to be more socially responsible. I’m hoping that altruism is the main goal; the skeptic in me thinks Facebook wants to develop a softer public persona as well. Either way, I’ll be signing up (as I already have on my driver’s license). You should too. If you want to learn more, read about. It’s all over the web today. 

 

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The Press Release is NOT Dead!

Long Live the Press Release!

It’s a major weapon in your organization’s PR and media relations arsenal and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. They are effective (especially when search-optimized for Google and Yahoo!) in helping customers find your business, and for arming reporters with information about your product or service. I have proof, and it comes courtesy of my PR and marketing clients.

Here’s a press release that prompted executives from consumer warehouse retailers to call my client. Imagine having high-value prospective customers CALL YOU? It happened to Green Delete, which helps firms safely and responsibly delete data from electronic devices. If I hadn’t written and distributed this press release to the journalists who cover recycling, data protection and asset management, these giant companies would never have learned about Green Delete and its expertise in on-site digital asset disposal.

Or check out the release I wrote for Lloyd Bachrach, an amazing, inspiring motivational speaker who also runs Premier Showcasean annual entertainment event to help school administrators and volunteers see the talent before they book their school assemblies. This press release provided valuable, time-saving information that helps time-crunched reporters quickly get the information they need to not only decide on covering my client, but to write a factually correct story. Reporters are so stressed with multiple deadlines and demands, and a well-written press release helps them better do their jobs.  In fact, see the TV and print coverage that I secured for Lloyd who continually reminds me how those news reports helped grow his business and boost credibility among his business partners.

I have scores of other client news stories that appeared in major market media and started with a press release. Just go to my News section here and take a look. Or contact me to learn about why a compelling, helpful, well-written press release should be a key launching pad for your business’s PR efforts.

 

Kicking off December with Thanks to You

This is a great time to say thank you for following my blog and participating in great conversations that (I hope) have helped you realize your PR goals and your business dreams.

This year has been tough for nearly every organization seeking to boost sales or increase awareness through traditional media such as print and broadcast, or word-of-mouth platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

In 2011, professionals were faced with a double whammy: shrinking marketing budgets and trying to follow and adapt to an ever-changing media landscape. We’ve all had to learn a lot of new rules and tools to stay on top of social media marketing.

As my way of saying thanks, I’d like to share a few timesaving tools and resources that kept me on top of my game this year:

1.    PR Daily: A fantastic eNewsletter for PR and marketing professionals following traditional and social media trends and topics.

2.    LinkedIn’s Answers: Saves countless hours researching an infinite number of topics or challenges. Why start from scratch when you’ve got experts eager to help on any topic for any industry.

3.    Google Docs: Invaluable for collaborating on projects. Edit or create documents on a Google Doc and use Google’s chat tool for instantly discussing or improving upon your changes. It’s simple and elegant.

4.    Join.me: Share your computer desktop view with others remotely for presentations or collaboration. Others can view your desktop presentations or follow as you navigate web sites by simply clicking on a link to Join.me.

5.    Highrise Contact Management: Following-up with the reporters you pitch, or the prospects you’re trying to reach is easy with Highrise. It helps you track all emails and phone calls and sends reminders about the tasks related to those contacts. An easy way to create, organize and monitor all your customer info, emails and notes.

Give these free tools a try and tell me what you think. And if you would like to review your PR efforts this year, or want to discuss your 2012 strategy,  don’t hesitate to contact me through the form here on my blog or at michelle at michelledamico dot com.

Wishing you happiness in the Season of Giving and lasting prosperity in 2012.

Enjoy these photos as a gift from my personal collection. 

Gifts from an ice storm, by Michelle Damico

 

A visual feast is often the next best thing, by Michelle Damico

 

Your passion will take you there, by Michelle Damico

Phone calls DO matter for PR success

Telephone

Image by plenty.r. via Flickr

Texting, posting, tweeting, liking, commenting, following, emailing. Key verbs for interacting with reporters? Yes, but what about CALLING? I still believe in the power of the phone call to get reporters’ attention. They generally discourage it and I respect that, but I rarely get a complaint when I do phone them. I also am respectful of their time and deadlines when I call.

A call, even if it’s a voicemail, can point them to your email amid the hundreds they get all day. It can entice them to check out your business or client web site, and it’s part of your brand awareness to a key audience.

In fact, today, I credit my calls in helping earn major placements for my client in:

And since the Tribune covered my client’s story, the Tribune-owned WGN-TV aired photos  during the evening news!

Without making my calls these stories may not have happened.  An email alone would have probably gotten lost in the deep dark inbox hole at the those outlets.
I always follow some important rules when phoning reporters:

  1. Ask first if they’re on deadline and say you’ll call them back if they are
  2. Know what they write about and be knowledgeable about why your pitch is news
  3. Believe in your client. It’s easier to cold call a reporter when your gut says you’ve got great news to spread.

What’s been your experiences phoning the media? Leave a comment or let me know if I can help.

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