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6 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Public Relations

6 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Public Relations

Public Relations can be a vast and confusing field – even to us professionals who work in this very industry each and every day. What is Public Relations, or more importantly, what isn’t? Rather than dig into the deep history, which you can Google online anyways, I thought I’d share six fun facts about things you likely didn’t know about Public Relations. In doing so, I hope you learn a little bit more about the industry and understand how communication is woven into quite literally everything we do.

The Public Relations industry is credited as being 100 years old, but public influence and communications management goes back as far as ancient civilizations.

Some of the most historical figures earned their success by being influential communicators. Really, even today’s current leaders – whether that be in government, business, nonprofit, entertainment or some other industry – have risen to the top through public influence. We are always using PR tactics to communicate with one another (and to essentially get what we want) in our daily lives, we just often don’t think about it that way.

There are 7,000 Public Relations firms in the United States alone.

I don’t know about you, but that number is a lot bigger than I expected. From PR powerhouses that occupy several floors in a skyscraper, to a sole proprietor working from home, Public Relations professionals are often right around your corner. This is all the more reason to seek out their expertise to make the most of your communication efforts!

Public Relations is not a 9-5 job; it’s 24/7.

Though we mostly try and set reasonable “office hours,” we really know that when a task needs done – even if that’s at 2am – we’re going to hop online and do the job. Especially when it comes to crisis management, certain things simply cannot wait until the next business day. The media never sleeps and neither do PR professionals (though we do nap, sometimes).

An estimated 275,200 are employed in PR, but 34% may retire in 4-7 years.

The Public Relations industry fuels a lot of jobs! Just as quickly as colleges and universities are pouring out fresh talent, older professionals are also looking to retire from the game. Furthermore, the growing importance of Public Relations in nearly everything we do, creates a growing need for even more qualified communicators. The bottom line is that PR can be a very rewarding (and lucrative) career to those with both passion and talent. Don’t be afraid to jump in!

Social media press releases didn’t exist until the early 2000’s.

The Public Relations industry has vastly changed as technology has evolved. Before there was Facebook (Was there ever such a time?!), there was no need for the social media press release. Before email, press releases were faxed and before fax machines, press releases were delivered by pony express (I’m kidding, but you get my point). With every new advancement of technology, us PR professionals have to keep close tabs on how this will impact our industry.

The FedEx logo has won 40 design awards and was ranked as one of the eight best logos in the last 35 years.

fedex logo

What this fun fact really tells us is that simplicity and consistency is the key to creating a successful brand. People make Public Relations (and marketing and advertising, for that matter) far more complicated and overwhelming than it needs to be. Stick with your gut reaction and go with what makes you feel good. After all, Public Relations is really about how you make your public feel.

Do you have some other fun facts to share about the Public Relations industry? Join in the conversation by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2016 in Business & Success

 

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7 Tips for Getting Quality Survey Responses

Don't let this be how your customers perceive your survey!

Don’t let this be how your customers perceive your survey!

Surveying your customers or network is one of the most powerful ways to quickly collect feedback on a multitude of specific topics. If you want to know what’s working – or not working effectively for your business, you should consider sending out a survey.

But simply compiling a few questions and blasting out an email won’t guarantee hundreds of responses with quality data. You must be strategic with how you craft your survey and the ways in which you incentivize your audience to care enough to provide you with answers. Check out these 7 tips for getting quality survey responses that will get you started in the right direction.

  1. Timing is everything.

If you want the most honest and detailed answers, you want to hit your audience as soon as a particular event or experience with you has ended. For example, maybe a customer just purchased a product from you. Your survey should reach them 1-2 days after that product hits their hands. This will have given them enough time to try the product and assess how it functions and the results it produces. This is the prime to capture this feedback while it’s fresh on their mind.

Also, if something happens to be less than acceptable, they will feel they have an easy way to reach you without having to look up your contact information and talk to customer service. You can then right any wrongs and improve your chances of saving that business relationship – maybe even earning a positive review to boot!

  1. Keep it short…really short.

The next key for quality survey results is to limit the number of questions you’re asking to five or less. You’re already asking for someone to take time from their day to complete your survey, if you then ask them to dedicate a half hour to this task, you’re far more likely to get people who simply click out before answering any question. Limiting your questions to only the most important will get you more responses and better answers as you’re not pushing people beyond a reasonable degree of patience.

  1. Make it utterly convenient.

Especially in today’s society of instant gratification and fast moving technology, we want everything quick and easy. If it takes even one click too many to access your survey, you’re likely to lose a large percentage of potential respondents. Send out your survey by email and include the direct link to the survey two or more times. Use big and color fonts for your survey link so people simply can’t miss it. Then be sure to use a survey platform, like SurveyMonkey.com, that is professional and trusted so you’re confident that the survey won’t crash or frustrate users in other ways.

  1. Ask interesting questions to inspire interesting answers.

Just because you should keep you survey short and easy, this doesn’t mean that you have to make it boring. Carefully craft the text of each question to ask for specific or helpful information you really care about. Sure, there are the obvious questions like “Overall, are you satisfied with our service?” but don’t feel obligated to ask this if it’s really not the most important information you are after. Make your questions fun, creative and reflective of your brand. Ultimately, aim to make your survey a fun experience for your customers.

  1. Offer (appealing) incentive.

Many different businesses will offer a free prize drawing or giveaway to one or a few lucky survey respondents. This is a great technique to get people to provide quality responses in exchange for a chance to win something cool. If you choose to only give away one item, make sure it’s a big enough prize that it incentivizes your hundreds or thousands of customers to care enough to respond. Another strategy is offering something smaller, but to everyone who responds. Maybe it’s a $5 credit to their account or a percentage off their next order. If this information is of enough value to you, don’t be afraid to pay a little for it!

  1. Make use of the intro message and closing message.

As I mentioned above, a quality survey platform such as surveymonkey.com will allow you to customize your survey with a brief intro and closing message to your audience. Be sure and take advantage of this opportunity to thank your respondents and let them know that you appreciate their input and exactly how you plan to use it to improve things for them in the future. This is also another great area to strengthen your branding through messaging. Are you a fun, hip and modern brand? Use similar language in your message.

  1. The best way to show appreciation is to put the information to use!

Finally, the best way to continue to encourage your audience to provide quality responses to your surveys is to let them see just how you put their data to use. Maybe one survey provided you with a great idea for a new product, be sure and use your social media, blog, newsletter and other marketing assets to express your thanks as well as inspire other customers to join in the conversation. A sincere showing of customer appreciate will always be one of your most powerful tools for building a community of advocates who want to help you better yourself.

Have you ever sent out a survey to your customers or networks? Share what you did right – or wrong and how it impacted your responses by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2014 in Business & Success

 

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The Things I Would Never Know Without Facebook

facebook loginFacebook – what was life ever like before this social networking phenomenon? Old flames and friendships have been rekindled, businesses have taken off and tanked and jobs have been found and lost all as a result of our publicly displayed interactions on this single web site. With more than 750,000,000 unique visitors estimated each month, you’re in the minority (at least within modern society) if you’ve chosen to stand strong and quit or resist the temptation of joining Facebook. Because of the nature of my business and my own curiosity with other people’s lives, I don’t think I’ll ever join the ranks of Facebook protestors, just as I don’t anticipate becoming Mennonite anytime soon. However, just entertaining this idea did lead me to ponder what would I be missing if I deleted Facebook and disconnected from the world of “likes” and “status updates.” What would I never know if it wasn’t for Facebook? So here is my comical, but insightful list of the knowledge and resources I’d lack without my daily logins to the world’s most popular social networking site:

Last Names

Without Facebook I’m fairly certain I would know as many of my acquaintances’ last names as I would their phone numbers without my cell phone contact list. Which means I would basically only know the last names of my family members…maybe. Facebook has become my flash card memory game for learning people’s full names and placing them with a face. I’m always proud when I can reference someone by their full name without stuttering or second guessing. What I don’t also reveal is that in addition to knowing their last name, I also likely know what they ate for lunch and the name of their family dog…

Birthdays

What better way to make someone feel special than to remember them on their birthday? Facebook has made this nearly fool proof so long as everyone chooses to list their birthday on their profile. I’m not a supporter of the cheesy and impersonal birthday wishes on someone’s Facebook wall (in fact, I think it’s been years since I’ve done this for anyone), but Facebook does help to prompt me to send them a more personal message or mention it in conversation if I see them that day or week. Is this a cheap shortcut to actually committing birthdays to memory? Absolutely. But I know I always appreciate a birthday wish and rarely accuse someone of only knowing this because of Facebook – particularly if the wish is accompanied by cake or an alcoholic beverage. I’ll take it!

Life Milestones

Even more useful than a birthday reminder is being cued in to the major life milestones of my contacts. Without Facebook I would have to rely on second-hand information or class reunions to tell me about my acquaintances marriages, children, new jobs and even the less happy parts of life. This instant news feed of pictures and posts allows me to stay in the know and offer support or congratulations where warranted. It’s safe to assume that with the volume of “friends” most of us have on Facebook, most people look, but don’t comment on such milestones. However, the pride and excitement we experience from announcing our news to the masses is well worth the couple of haters that might come along with it.

Insignificant and Trivial Facts

Life milestones are one thing – they’re newsworthy, interesting and I’m happy to be kept informed of them. On the flip side, there are far more insignificant and trivial items that are also shared on Facebook that I could manage without ever knowing. When I spend more than 5 minutes of my day reading about someone’s rant over a ref’s bad call, cliché quotes or a self-photo shoot taken in someone’s bathroom mirror – I know that is 5 minutes of my life I will never get back and I need to remove myself from my computer immediately. There’s no denying that Facebook can be a huge time waster, so we have to keep in check what type of information we’re consuming and know when to step away.

How to Reach Someone Without an Email

Back to the more useful elements of Facebook, I’ve found it to be an extremely reliable resource of reaching people who I don’t have an email for. Mostly these are friends or distant relatives, but in some cases Facebook has also helped me to connect with someone regarding something business related. They had a bad email address or were unresponsive, yet answered my Facebook message within minutes. It’s amazing! Without Facebook, my “Plan B” for reaching someone aside from email or phone would be reduced to smoke signals or a carrier pigeon. While both are creative, they yield far less reliable results.

My Husband

I could say I saved this as the last item on my list because it’s my most exciting and most life-changing thing I gained from Facebook, but in reality it’s because I really didn’t appreciate how impactful Facebook has been on my life until I started thinking a bit deeper. It wasn’t quite as awkward or painful as an online dating experience, but the story of how we met is a pretty entertaining one that you can read more about here. My husband Scott and I first connected on Facebook after being introduced by mutual friends. Without a platform for social networking, I’m not sure how we would have followed-up and communicated further since no numbers were initially exchanged. Chances are good that the excitement to see each other again would have faded and that little spark fizzled out. But thanks to Facebook, that wasn’t the case! Our story is far from unique and the accurate number of couples who have connected and ultimately married as a result of Facebook would be hard to quantify.

To wrap up with just a brief moment of shameless self-promotion – for those of you who are among the 750,000,000 monthly visitors to Facebook, you should also connect with Bennis Inc here: Facebook.com/BennisInc. I would love to soon have our number of “likes” reflect the number or loyal readers and followers of the Bennis Inc Blog. Don’t have Facebook? I still want you to connect! Instead, comment below and tell us why you made this choice.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2013 in Life, Social Media, Technology

 

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A Low-Information Diet – The Solution for Overwhelm and Overload?

fries wrapped in newspaperWhen I was in college I struggled with the perceived pressure to always be “in the know” with local and national media. As soon as I woke up I would turn my TV to the morning news as I checked emails and got ready for the day. On the way to class I would grab our Daily Collegian and a USA Today and scour the top headlines. During breaks I would sit with my phone and scroll through the feeds from various news apps. For all intents and purposes – I was completely wired. I self-prescribed this high-information diet so that I would never appear oblivious or ignorant to the outside world I was just learning to navigate. I was utterly convinced that absorbing as much media as I could was the only way to ensure I could hold a mature an intelligent conversation in the real world.

The building of this pressure was amplified by my communications professors’ preaching to always stay informed, to subscribe to at least 5 news sources a day and to read, read, read. It made sense. If I was going to excel in the field of communications, I needed to understand how people communicate and join in the conversation! I quickly allotted what little free time and free mental space I had remaining to becoming a media watch dog. Once out of college and in the midst of a hectic political campaign where information overload was the first line of the job description, I still tried to absorb the news from several different sources daily on top of everything else expected of me.  Every day was filled with overwhelm.

Then there came the critical moment in my life, the moment that if mapped out on a timeline would look something like a black hole, that I finally found the volume knob on my information feed and turned it completely off.

As you might imagine this was the time I spent re-evaluating what I really wanted to do with my life, what would make me most happy and what I had to do to get there. This was when I became an entrepreneur. It was during these critical weeks that I simply had no time or concern left for a high-information diet. All I knew was that what I was currently doing was making me miserable and I needed to stop it all in order to pinpoint the cause. So what happened when I stopped checking my phone and email, turned off the TV and closed the newspaper? Absolutely nothing. Nothing blew up, nothing burned down, I wasn’t accused of being ignorant and my career wasn’t the least bit affected. In fact, for the first time in a long time I found myself with some free time and free mental space to dedicate to things I actually cared about. The news feeds in my email no longer existed to serve as another to-do and I wasn’t under the same stress to absorb every piece of information around me and store it for later use.

I didn’t become blissfully ignorant, I became selectively ignorant.

So you might expect that with the start of my own business, I began to work this information back into my daily routine. You might even expect for me to brag about how many news sources I consume in a single day or how my finger is always on the pulse of the universe. This simply isn’t so. I still continue to enjoy a low-information diet to this day and I truly believe the benefits I receive from this are far more important and impactful than what I would receive returning to my old routine. My day begins by immediately getting to client work – not slogging through news headlines that may or may never be of any value. My inbox isn’t overloaded with unimportant emails that are basically self-inflicted spam. Most importantly, my mental focus has drastically improved from where it was years ago. I feel clear, calm and collected. This allows me to complete projects more efficiently which in return gives me even more free time. I turn this time into far more meaningful results than simply absorbing the chaos of the news world. Most enjoyable, I’ve found a fountain of focus to write and really dig deep into my thoughts. It’s this low-information diet that helps fuel the Bennis Inc Blog.

Ultimately, by exposing myself to far less information, I only expose myself to the right information. When I do choose to read or learn something, it is far more likely to be absorbed fully and used immediately. I‘m no longer in the business of seeking and storing information that can’t be of immediate value.  When I need information, I get it on demand. This has proven to be far more effective than reading, storing and trying to recall that same information through years and years of mental clutter. But most noteworthy is how moving away from a high-information diet has completely changed my mood, my sense of overwhelm and my amount of free time. I still fear becoming ignorant or oblivious to the outside world, but I now know this has no correlation to the amount of news I force feed myself in a day. As long as we remain hungry for knowledge and seek it out as we need it, we will stay as informed as we want to be –without the overwhelm or overload.

What type of information diet do you exist on? What do you think would change if you made the switch to a low-information diet? Share your personal experience with information overload or cutting it off completely!

 

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