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How Public Relations is Different than Marketing

how-public-relations-is-different-than-marketing

If you use public relations tactics and hope to get results that really only marketing can produce, you’re going to be frustrated and likely begin to doubt the effectiveness of using PR to grow your business. The same is true if you mistakenly use marketing tactics and hope to get results that are more PR-related.

So what do you need to know? Let’s cut to the chase and set the record straight on the biggest and most important differences between public relations and marketing. This is not to say there won’t be exceptions to the rule. There always are. But for the sake of drawing a clear line, take these statements with a grain of salt.

Marketing is proactive. Public relations is reactive.

Marketing is almost always planned and purchased well in advance. Whether that’s a direct mail piece or promotional materials. When needed, public relations can be reactive in an effort to solve a problem, address a concern or announce something newsworthy. As a PR professional, I would certainly advocate to not make your PR efforts solely reactive. That’s as silly as it is dangerous. Public relations can and should be both proactive and reactive; however, marketing is rarely if ever reactive.

Marketing is business. Public relations is communications.

Here me out on this one. At Penn State (and likely at many other colleges across the world), my major of public relations was housed in the College of Communications, along with other majors like advertising and journalism. Marketing, however, was in the College of Business. This may seem trivial, but really it can help you understand just how closely marketing is linked to business and public relations is linked to communications. From the time someone begins to formally study one of these industries, they are placed on one of two very different paths.

Marketing changes your bottom line. Public relations changes public perception.

If you want to know if you marketing tactics are working, look at your bottom line. How have they impacted sales? On the other hand, quantifying your public relations efforts isn’t so straightforward. A good PR strategy will help to positively change the public’s perception of your brand. This can be tracked in various ways including focus groups and customer surveys, but the data tends to be harder and more expensive to obtain than simply pulling last quarter’s sales numbers.

Marketing is focused on sales. Public relations is focused on relationships.

If you remember nothing else, remember that marketing is growing sales and public relations is growing relationships. By growing relationships, this often leads to greater sales – which is why marketing and PR work well to support one another – but this is not the main focus. This understanding is critical because all too often I run into clients who are disappointed that PR isn’t producing higher sales, when that’s not its number one objective! If your focus is sales, look to marketing and if your focus is increasing good will with your customers, look to PR. Both will work together to grow your brand, but in their own unique way.

Still struggling to differentiate when to use Public Relations and when to use Marketing to grow your business and brand? Ask a question and let us help you answer it!

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2016 in Business & Success

 

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Declutter Your Life by Asking These 5 Questions

Declutter Your Life by Asking These 5 Questions

I have shared the numerous differences between my husband and me. Though we are both passionate entrepreneurs and collaborate on many different levels, one area of our lives where we often run into conflict is over clutter.

I am the antithesis of clutter. It makes me anxious and unsettled when I am in a disorganized environment. Because I work from home, it’s imperative that we keep our house tidy so I can function at my peak level of efficiency. Even with small children in the house, organization is a daily routine that works for us. However, as my husband recently came into quite a few boxes of “storage” from his childhood home, we both struggled to find common ground as to what should be kept and what should be let go.

Though it required a couple tough conversations and some stress, particularly on my husband’s emotions, we ultimately came to an agreement. What we both learned from the experience is that there are a clear set of questions you have to ask yourself when addressing clutter. Also, everyone involved has to stick to the same standards.

Whether you’re the clutter bug in your family or the exterminator, consider these five questions the next time you’re faced with the dilemma of save or scrap.

Is it serving an immediate purpose?
We live in a culture that urges us to buy in bulk and store things away for a future time when we just might need it. Having excess is a security blanket that can also smother us if we are not careful. If something has no immediate purpose to us (i.e. will be likely used in the next 12 months – which is generous), why should it take up space in our home and in our lives?

If we can’t reasonably say we will use something within the next year, there’s simply no need to have it. There will be plenty of opportunities to find another one, should we need it. But I’m willing to bet that in 12 months you will have forgotten about this object altogether.

How does its current use bring you satisfaction?

This next question is important because it will likely address your concern about the first question. “What if it’s a collectible or irreplaceable?” First, rarely is something in life both irreplaceable and truly needed. Next, even the most valuable collectibles are merely dust collectors if they’re stowed away in storage, never to be seen or enjoyed.

Challenge yourself by asking “How is this object, as currently used, bringing me satisfaction?” Clutter in an attic does not constitute satisfaction. If it’s in storage because you don’t have a place for it in your home, you may want to carefully consider this next question…

Could someone else benefit more from having it?

If you struggle to get rid of something because you believe it has value, remember that selling or donating the item is a great way to pass its value on to someone else. Really, it’s pretty greedy to keep a collection of books packed away in storage because you enjoyed reading them once. Why not share the joy by passing them on to a friend?

Letting go of clutter gets a whole lot easier – and enjoyable – when you feel like you’re doing a good deed. Whether it’s clothes, a piece of furniture or a baseball card collection, think about how someone else might enjoy the use of this item far more than the “joy” it’s bringing you sitting in your basement.

Is the cost to replace it cheaper than the “cost” to keep it?

If there’s one area where even I struggle with clutter, it’s over the effort to save money. We tend to hold onto something because we believe we might one day need it. My husband and I both came to the agreement that if the cost to replace an item is cheaper than the “cost” (meaning the stress, clutter and risk of it getting damaged or going bad) to replace it in the future, then it’s got to go! I can’t tell you how many times this question has helped me to let go of something I never needed again – mostly because I can’t even remember what these items were!

Are you holding onto it for someone or something else?

Finally, this question hones in on the deep, emotional aspect of clutter. We tend to hold onto something not just for ourselves, but for someone or something else. In my husband’s case, many of his items from his childhood were emotionally connected to his father, who passed away. I don’t discount how hard it would be to let go of items that brought back good memories or someone who is no longer with you.

However, after an open and honest conversation about some of these items, my husband found closure with passing them on to family and friends who would appreciate and use them. Items that represent the past can hold you back from fully enjoying your present. Ask yourself why you really want to hang on to an object. If it’s in an effort to directly or indirectly keep a person “alive” in your life, remember that objects don’t accomplish that – but memories do. Getting rid of clutter doesn’t mean giving up the memories. In fact, with less physical clutter, you’re freeing up space for memories, both old and new, to fill its place.

Do you struggle with decluttering your life? What are your biggest hang ups? Share your obstacles and how you plan to overcome them in 2016 by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Business & Success, Life

 

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Want to Start a Blog in 2015? Read This First!

starting a new blog

The start of the New Year is the perfect time to dive into that bucket list and try new things. Among them might be starting your own blog. Whether this has been a postponed goal or something you just thought of this year, I encourage you to give it a shot! For me personally, it has had some incredible benefits and I’m proud of my commitment to keeping up with it every Monday.

Is it scary putting your personal thoughts out there? Absolutely. Is there the fear of criticism or apathy? Of course. But these hang-ups pale in comparison to the satisfaction and pride I get from publishing something that’s been seen by nearly 70,000 people to date. And you can too! Here are 6 expert tips for creating a successful blog in 2015…and beyond!

  1. Allow time to define the direction of your blog. When I first started my blog, I remember feeling the need to immediately define the topics/theme/niche it would center on. Ultimately, I realized I couldn’t make this decision just yet. Instead of letting it be an excuse to not move forward, I simply started writing about what was relevant and on my mind. It didn’t take long before I found a natural rhythm with the different topics I enjoyed writing about most often. Had I forced myself into a pigeon hole on day 1, I would have denied myself the freedom to write about topics beyond simply business and public relations.
  1. Do it well or don’t do it at all.

Yes, getting started is one major obstacle to overcome, but keeping your blog consistently fueled with quality content is arguably even more important. Before you start your blog, think about whether you can reasonably commit to it and at what frequency. You certainly don’t need to blog daily or even weekly, but I would suggest supplying fresh content at least on a monthly basis. Why? Because there are far too many abandoned blogs out there and we don’t need any more. What we do need is committed bloggers to join us with making the blogosphere a better (and more interesting place).  One of my favorite sayings is “Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing well.” Don’t bother investing any amount of time into something you can’t stick with.

  1. Don’t stop at hitting “publish.”

Okay, so you’ve vowed to publish a new post to your blog at least monthly. This takes time, energy and creativity – valuable resources that could certainly be applied elsewhere. Don’t sell yourself short by merely hitting the “publish” button and hoping that someone stumbles upon your content. Share your blog on social media like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin (here’s a great guide). Reference it in relevant discussions and link back to past blogs in new posts. If you want to grow your readership, you have to actively pursue them and make your content easily accessible on a multitude of different platforms. If you don’t take advantage of these opportunities you will likely be frustrated with how long it takes to gain momentum which could discourage you from keeping up with your blog.

  1. Be an active member of the community.

Starting a blog comes with the responsibility of being an active member of the blogging community. No matter the blogging platform you use, it’s important to visit other users’ blogs, leave meaningful comments and respond to comments that people make on your posts. It’s what makes the blogosphere go ‘round! From the beginning of my own blog, I made the commitment to comment on 5 other blogs every weekday morning. It quickly became a part of my morning routine that continues to drive a good amount of traffic back to my blog, not to mention the friends and followers I have made as a result of this simple gesture.

  1. Regularly evaluate your blog’s mission.

Just as over time you may decide that your blog’s theme or niche has taken a different path than what you originally thought, you must also anticipate your blog’s mission changing with time. This is why it’s critical to regularly evaluate your blog’s mission and how it aligns with its topics, readership and your business or personal mission. Be flexible and willing to change should it make sense to alter your mission to make it more relevant to your audience and goals.

  1. Be genuine.

Finally and most importantly, make sure your blog remains true to who you are and what you’re passionate writing about. One sure way to make your blog feel like work is to stray from what represents you. Yes, you want to write to capture an audience, but your ideal audience will appreciate posts that are genuine and personal. Make sure your blog pleases you first…and everyone else second.

Do you have other questions about starting your blog or have your own secrets for success? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2015 in Business & Success, Life

 

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Fear or Inspiration: The Two Motivators That Makes Us Move

running scaredWe see it in the news, read it in a magazine or hear it within our networks almost every day. There’s some new start-up that’s growing exponentially and breaking all kinds of projections. They’re on the fast track to becoming the “next big thing.” It’s enough to make any small business owner or entrepreneur want to throw the old adage of “slow and steady wins the race” out the window.  Who wouldn’t want their business to skyrocket to Facebook-like fame? From my own experiences and observations, I’ve found that for any business that’s progressing and expanding at warp speed, there is most commonly one of two causes for this type of growth. The differences between these causes are paramount to the ultimate success – or implosion – of the business.

Most simply defined, the two motivators for momentum are fear and inspiration. For most businesses, it’s easy to pick out which they’re experiencing. The difference can be seen in whether their actions to accommodate this growth are proactive or reactive. Not all speeds of growth are beneficial if it comes at the risk of ruining your business or losing your sanity.  The ultimate goal for any business experiencing a period of growth should be to run like you’re crossing the finish line, not like you’re being chased.

Running Scared

Especially seen in start-ups, where one good viral marketing campaign can create an insatiable consumer demand almost overnight, the momentum of business growth can make you run like you’re being chased. You’re reactionary. There’s no time to create a sensible growth plan when you’re barely able to keep up with the current demands of the business. You’re not running the business, the business is running you – or after you, rather. Sure it’s momentum and to the outside world it appears that you’re making significant progress, but in reality you’re shooting from the hip with every decision. My political experience has provided me with far too many examples of organizations who function out of fear. Jokingly we called it organized chaos, but this reactionary behavior to everything thrown at us resulted in frequent mistakes and missed opportunities. In retrospect, these situations would have greatly benefited from even just an hour or two of critical planning. This small investment of time in the short term would have given us a more proactive plan to turn to in the long term. For any business or organization that appears to be “running scared,” it’s never too late to pump the breaks and replace this fear with strategy.

Running Toward A Goal

In contrast to the first type of motivator – fear, the motivator of inspiration produces quite a different result within a business. To the outside world movement all appears the same, but inside you can clearly tell a business that functions off of a well thought out growth strategy. Unlike running scared, running toward a goal helps you to make even big decisions with less effort. Your strategy – or finish line – helps you to see the obvious answers. You’re calm, confident and collected because your focus is on anticipating the next step not reacting to the last hurdle. The inspired movers are the business owners who are able to appreciate the growth of their business, not come to curse it. Most importantly, when you have inspiration as your motivator, not fear, you are in complete control of the direction of growth. You’re able to pick and choose the opportunities that best align with your goals. When motivated by fear, you’re more likely to take on every opportunity that comes your way regardless of whether it’s the right fit. I once had someone give me the advice, “Pile as much on your plate as you can. You can always take it off later, but you can’t put it back on.” I was hesitant when I first heard this and have since learned that it’s very bad advice. Be strategic with your opportunities and don’t give into the fear that tells you another one may never come your way – with enough talent and inspiration, they always do!

In thinking about your own business – or even your personal life – which type of growth do you most familiarize yourself with? Are you running scared or are you running toward a goal? There’s no questioning the accuracy of the term “growing pains.” Growth means change and change is often uncomfortable. What’s important to remember is that between the two motivators that make us move – fear and inspiration – one drains us while the other fulfills us.  It’s important to seek out the latter to ensure that even during the most uncomfortable periods of growth that require us to stretch our limits, we have a finish line in sight and a strategy to get there feeling like a champion.

 

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The New Years Resolution of a Lifetime

For so long I've surrounded myself with my business and career. My New Years resolution is to find the meaning beyond all of that.

For so long I've surrounded myself with my business and career. My New Years resolution is to find the meaning beyond all of that.

I’ve never made a New Years resolution. Reflecting upon this single sentence, I’m amazed at how clearly it reflects the intricacies of my entire personality. First, I don’t like doing the easy, obvious or expected. In school, I would purposely choose to write a paper defending an opinion that was less supported and against common belief just to challenge myself to think outside the box. Second, I hate waiting around for anything, especially the first of the year to make a great life change that I could have started months ago.

Whether it’s because 2012 is my first year as a business owner or because it’s predicted to be the end of the world, for the first time I’ve found a clear and meaningful New Years resolution. I want to reconnect with God.

You may not have seen this as the type of resolution I was leading up to, neither did I at first. It’s been a goal of mine for quite some time that I’ve found a thousand other things to put before it. And so everything I initially disliked about creating New Years resolutions has now emerged as an opportunity to finally commit to this goal. I have much to be thankful for and many talents which I wish to use for a greater good. I want to develop a mature relationship with God that will allow me to keep a gracious heart and understand the world on a whole new spiritual level. Religion isn’t blindly believing, it’s actually questioning and challenging everything you know on a daily basis which is what I’ve been doing nearly my whole life without knowing what to call it.

Having now written it in words, I know this is a resolution to which I will commit. I have everything to gain from this goal—spirituality improves all other aspect of life—and have already taken my first step. I’ve found a church that resonates with exactly what I’ve been looking for. Lives Changed by Christ (LCBC) takes an intellectual and thought-provoking approach to religion. The hardest challenge will be making this a priority week after week and year after year. It’s a goal that can never be truly met. There is no end; it will take me a lifetime. Having never before made a New Years resolution I’m starting with what might be the most challenging one of all, but I’m not overwhelmed. I’m excited because I feel as though I’ve found the only New Years resolution I ever needed all along.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2012 in Life

 

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