Thursday, February 21, 2013

PR Can and Should Co-Exist with Social Media

During the last three years since social media went mainstream, there have been countless epitaphs mourning the death of public relations, but that just isn’t the true state of affairs. If international brands have PR plans, why shouldn’t other businesses? In the current economy where budgets are slashed and employees perform more than one job (too often two or even three), PR is a cost-effective marketing strategy – especially for midsize businesses.

Here are five ways that PR can help promote your business:

[1] Create an online press room on your company’s main website featuring press releases, media alerts, fact sheets, newsletters, annual reports, virtual press kits, articles featuring your company in the news, logo style guides, and social media sites. This will be the place where the latest company news is highlighted. Refer back to this section of your site from your Facebook business page, LinkedIn company page, Pinterest company page, Google Plus company page, and more.

[2] Write and distribute press releases based on a strategic plan based on topics appropriate to your industry. Check the calendar and determine news that would be appropriate based on the time of year. For example, a florist may wish to share news about specific flowers in April and May leading up to the most popular wedding months of June and July.

[3] Build relationships with journalists that specialize in your industry on a national, state, and local level. Send introductory emails and share interesting details about your company. Follow up but don’t be a pest. Send content that has value, for example, an interview with your president or other expert. Over time, the journalists will remember you and possibly reach out if a story about your industry needs verification.

[4] Rally your employees. As a midsize business, take advantage of the tools at your disposal. Your employees are your best brand advocates, and many, if not all, have social media accounts and digital footprints. Create a social media policy that clearly explains the “do’s and don’ts” for commenting about the company – hold a few training sessions for employees so that they understand how important their feedback is. Then, invite them to participate in social media to promote your company. For example, they may comment on LinkedIn that your company is a great place to work. Or, they may comment on Facebook or Google Plus that your couches are the most comfortable and compare to others that are more expensive.

[5] Pay it forward. If you think you are challenged as a midsize business, think of non-profits. They do more with less people and smaller budgets. So pick a charity and become its partner. Empower your employees to volunteer. In fact, go one step further and set up a weekend day or a week-day afternoon for all employees to work at the charity. This can be a win-win, because the next step is to alert your local media. You never know who will hear the news, if a video broadcast will go viral, and if a billionaire hears the story and wants to invest in your business.

In the words of playwright and poet Oscar Wilde, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

To see what others have to say about public relations, visit my Pinterest PR board:

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Top 10 Marketing Terms for 2013

How well do you know marketing? While you may have a business plan with a section for marketing and a few employees focused on social media, are you up-to-date on the latest concepts in the marketing realm?

When you compete in the small business space, using the latest business terminology is not the most important priority. However, move up the ladder to where mid-size businesses compete, and suddenly, everyone uses language that small businesses don’t understand. To compete with the big brands, leaders in the midmarket space must understand and use the latest marketing and business lingo. Here are 10 marketing terms and definitions for 2013.

IMC: Integrated Marketing Communication
Sometimes, companies implement marketing campaigns in silos. The marketing concept known as Integrated Marketing Communication reinforces the importance of a cohesive marketing plan so that all messaging, branding, advertising, public relations, etc., displays the same theme to make sure that current and prospective customers are not confused by any marketing campaigns.

USP: Unique Selling Proposition
Years ago, people joked that if they had two minutes in an elevator with Bill Gates, they needed to be able to articulate their company’s competitive advantage or their personal brand in two minutes or less or what became known as an “elevator pitch.” The elevator pitch has gone the way of the Ford Edsel, and in its place, we now have the unique selling proposition. What makes a company unique? Why should a company stand apart from the competition? Why should a company be an industry leader?

P2P: Peer to Peer Marketing
Formerly known as word-of-mouth marketing, social media has changed the playing field. Now, many brands get new fans or interested leads when existing customers promote the brand to a friend or peer.

CLV: Customer Lifetime Value
How much does it cost a company to obtain a customer and keep a customer? This term represents how much each customer is worth in monetary terms, how much a marketing department should spend to woo a customer, and how much revenue received from an average customer during his/her relationship with a company.

BDI: Brand Development Index
This analysis is calculated for specific metropolitan areas and used to determine the potential of yet-to-be-developed areas for new product entries or promotions.

KPM: Key Performance Metrics
Every marketing campaign must be evaluated to determine the return on investment. How many click-thru’s to your main website or campaign-specific landing pages resulted from emails? How many leads came as a result of tradeshow attendance or telemarketing? How many likes appeared on your Facebook page? How many mentions and retweets appeared on Twitter? How many of your videos were uploaded on YouTube? How many sales resulted from your social media activity?

SMO: Social Media Optimization
Due to the popularity of social media, companies rely on social networks to generate publicity and increase brand awareness. SMO uses RSS feeds, news and bookmarking sites, video and blogging sites, etc. Similar to search engine optimization, the goal is to generate traffic for a website.

CCO: Chief Customer Officer
Welcome to the newest member of the C-level team: The Chief Customer Officer. According to the Chief Customer Officer Council, the CCO is “an executive who provides the comprehensive and authoritative view of the customer and creates corporate and customer strategy at the highest levels of the company to maximize customer acquisition, retention, and profitability.”

VLOG: Video Blog
The statistics show that video is the most widely consumed data on the Internet, so while your company may have a successful blog with content written and posted on a regular basis, have you considered adding video? Perhaps, the president should talk about company news every week for one or two minutes. Or, someone from research and development could talk, or someone from marketing. If you regularly write articles, then video isn’t much more difficult.

While not really a new term, everyone in a marketing capacity should always sing this tune and provide this reminder. For every campaign, initiative, strategy, you must always have a call to action to attract prospective customers. Subscribe now. Download this case study today. Complete this survey now. Sign up to receive a free gift today.

As a midmarket executive, do you have any favorite terms to share?

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Social Media Tips to be Engaging on Valentine’s Day and Everyday

Today, for Valentine’s Day, I’d like to share social media tips from some amazing members of the Twitterverse. Thanks to Twitter, I have met wonderful people who share their insights and converse on a daily basis. So, in the spirit of my favorite tweet from @ValaAfshar (“Don’t be social, be SOCIAL: sincere, open, collaborative, interested, authentic, and likeable), thanks to the following tweeps and please enjoy!

Anna Rydne (@CoSkills): Be the real you! Even if you’re promoting a brand, speak with an authentic voice. Forget corporate language. Build relationships by talking like a true person. Social media is not a channel where you place your ad and leave. You must interact with your audience.

Martin Jones (@martinjonesaz): The number of followers one has does not equate to social media success; the quality, relationship, and engagement of the followers you have equates with social media success.

Jennifer Kane (@JenKaneCo): Not listening is not an option. Even if you feel like communicating via social media isn’t a great fit for your company, it’s still wise to have a basic system set up for monitoring mentions of, and conversations, about your brand.

Keri Francek Jaehnig (@connectyou): Your social platforms are not a broadcasting channel. They are meant to create two-way dialogue and exchange. Take the opportunity to get a fresh view, look what’s going on around you, and participate in some new conversations. If all you’re doing is the same ole, or sticking to your own turf, you’ll inhibit attracting customers to you, which is one of the goals of social media.

Randy Bowden (@bowden2bowden): It’s not about trying to build a profile. Authenticity comes more from giving, not getting. True authentics are people who share with the world.

Robert Caruso (@fondalo): Content leads to conversations, conversations build relationships, and relationships result in ROI. Have a content strategy that draws your community to engage YOU.

Ray Hiltz (@newraycom): If you’re going to invest in social media, be sure that you have a business culture to support it. Social media platforms are not so much platforms as they are channels through which companies share, listen, and collaborate.

Michael Diamond (@michael_diamond): Social media is a “way” of interacting with others, but it works best when there is an underlying “why.” Worry more about the “why” than the “way.”

Jessica Ann (@itsjessicann): Invest the time to understand the social media space, and remember that it’s a tool for conversations. Think of it like learning how to program a new flat screen TV. One channel may be all you need in the beginning, but sooner or later, you’ll want to explore other channels. You’ll need the remote, and you’ll need to know how to use the remote to listen and explore the many channels.

Jeff Howell (@JeffHowell76): As with all relationships, social media relationships take time to cultivate. You wouldn’t get married a day after meeting someone, nor should you expect close social media relationships to be developed the same way. Take time to engage properly and let the relationships develop naturally.

Jason Coffee (@CoffeeCupNews): Every now and then ask for critical feedback from your core audience. Critical feedback will help you grow in a way that little else will. When you ask for the feedback, don’t just settle for “Great job!” Dig deeper. Some of the feedback might be a little painful to hear, but those are just growing pains. You’re either growing or shrinking – there is no static in social content.

David Schwartz (@brand_education): You need to give in order to receive. Be helpful, share, and support your followers. Build friendships and trust, and then good things will follow.

Phil Gerbyshak (@PhilGerb): Measure what really matters. Instead of likes, followers, engagement, Klout scores, PeerIndex points, or other meaningless numbers, focus on what really matters. What really matters? Leads and sales, and how everything else gets you leads and sales. Figure out how to connect what you do to the bottom line, and do more of what drives the bottom line and less of what doesn’t. This isn’t to say that engagement on social media isn’t important. It is – just not as important as your bottom line is.

Ross Simmonds (@thecoolestcool): Use reactive storytelling. It’s the combination of a top of mind idea, event, or audience relevant story combined with a marketing message to increase your chances of going viral on social media.

Do YOU have a social media tip to share?