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7 Ways to Use a Press Release Beyond Pitching to Media

reuse press release

When a business has an exciting announcement, one of the most popular reactions is to issue a press release. Sometimes the news is indeed press worthy and you will earn a feature story, but more commonly it’s something that will never get picked up by the media.

So now you have invested your time and resources into creating a quality press release, but are left feeling like it was a complete waste. The good news is there are still a variety of ways in which you can get a bang for your buck out of this content. Here are 7 ways in which I encourage clients to utilize their press releases in addition to simply pitching it to media.

  1. Dedicate a section of your website to news and announcements

Businesses that find themselves frequently issuing press releases or making announcements should consider adding a dedicated “news” section to their website to archive this content. Upload your press release to the top of this page and also include a link to download the PDF version. Not only will this create fresh content for your website, it will also increase your press release’s visibility and SEO.

  1. Pull quotes and use on social media

Next, get that press release out on your social media accounts! The best strategy is to pull a few of the most compelling excerpts from your announcement and use them as a “teaser” to then direct people to read the full announcement on your website (once you get that “news” section added). Pull different quotes and update your social media accounts multiple times over the course of several days to fully promote your press release to your social networks.

  1. Post it to your blog

In addition to having a “news” section on your website, I also highly recommend starting a blog. This is the personal arm to your business where you can post valuable content that helps your customers get to know the people behind the brand.

Once you’ve issued a press release, alter it to function more like an editorial piece and post it to your blog. This means get rid of all the odd formatting of a press release, add a more creative, less “newsy” headline and weave in fun and personal elements into the content of the announcement. Include photos and relevant tags to increase readers’ interest and SEO.

  1. Promote it on Linkedin as a long form post

We talked about promoting this as a social media status update, but don’t forget about Linkedin’s long form post feature that is very valuable for promoting articles and announcements in full form. Use the content you posted to your website’s blog so that it appears more like an article than like a press release. Simply add your title, content and some photos and you’re ready to publish!

  1. Email it to your marketing list

Next, take your announcement and format it into an email template (by using an email platform like ConstantContact or MailChimp). Send this out to your business contacts and client lists. They should already receive regular news and announcements from you, so it makes sense that they would also be informed of this announcement as well. Include a call to action, if relevant, and link back to your website’s blog and/or news section.

  1. Include it in your printed newsletter

Many businesses have moved away from sending printed newsletters or publications, but some still do. If you’re a business who uses this as a marketing tactic, be sure and also utilize this to further promote your press release. Edit down the press release content to be a concise paragraph or two and compliment it with a compelling title. Then include this, along with other articles and announcements, in your next printed newsletter.

  1. Make it part of your annual report

Finally, for businesses who produce a quarterly or annual report, this is a valuable opportunity to also promote your press release. Take a similar approach to what you did for your printed newsletter and create a brief and to-the-point version of your press release. Include this in your “news and announcements” section of your report to showcase the recent milestones you’ve achieved.

BONUS TIP: So your press release didn’t get picked up by the media the first time you sent it out, well then try, try again! I’ve found value in waiting a few days after an initial dissemination and then slightly changing the subject line of both the email and the press release. I re-send this to the same media list and include a photo or two from the event (if one took place).

You never know if your first pitch hit a reporter on a bad day, got lost in a spam folder or the subject didn’t resonate with them. Re-sending just one more time will increase your chances of getting a press hit without becoming spammy or annoying.

What other tips do you have for getting the most traction out of your press release? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 

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Why Your Blog is So Important for Adding a Human Element

blog personal touchHow would you describe the content on your website right now? Is it attention-grabbing, accurate, fun, outdated, stale or boring? I can’t stress enough the importance of quality content on your website. When trying to squeeze as much information as we can into the limited time and space we have to make a first impression, we often lose one of the most important aspects of any business – the human element.

Starting a blog is one of the best ways you can thoughtfully incorporate a human element into your business or brand. A blog is a valuable marketing tool for a variety of reasons, but the platform it creates to connect with your customers and clients on a personal level is among its best features. Let’s take a closer look at why blogging is a powerful way to personally connect with your audience.

It is ever-changing

Changing the content of your entire website week after week would not only be exhausting, it wouldn’t let you get much else done with your business! While much of the content on your website will remain unchanged (until it becomes outdated or inaccurate), your blog will pump fresh life into your website on a regular basis. Use your blog to highlight news, announcements and changes taking place within your business. Let it reflect the seasons, themes and trends. Be sure and link back to older blog posts when you can. Using these techniques will turn your blog into an SEO powerhouse.

It can get personal

Limited space and limited attention spans often prevent you from telling the full depth of the story behind your business on your homepage. I have had many clients struggle with feeling like they didn’t have a way to fully communicate their history, values and mission. A blog is an excellent way to highlight all of these things! Each post can be dedicated to telling a different piece of your story.

On my own blog, some posts are about Public Relations and Marketing-related topics, but others are my own ramblings about life lessons, favorite quotes and things that inspire me. Get personal on your blog so readers can connect with you on a whole new level.

It can have many different voices

The beauty of blogging is that there really are no rules, so feel free to mix things up! I like doing this by featuring guest bloggers every so often to help lend a different voice to my blog. For your own blog, let different employees share their thoughts or even feature a blog written by a customer. The key to making your blog really feel human is to help your readers get to know the author. Include a short bio and photos of your contributors to showcase the person behind the content.

It starts a conversation

Your blog is a great way to allow readers to share their own comments and questions. Be sure and encourage this – and respond! Unlike the static content on other areas of your website, your blog has this thing called a “comment box.” Maybe you’ve noticed by now that I always end my blogs with a call for comments. Explicitly ask your readers to join in the conversation and use a compelling question to get the wheels turning.

It doesn’t have to “sell” you something

Your blog is meant to be a free resource for your clients and customers; be generous with the information you choose to give away here. Share advice, lend your expertise, help solve a common problem in your industry or simply make people laugh. Shift your focus from “How will my blog earn me money?” to “How will my blog grow a relationship with my readers?”

It builds trust

Finally, your blog will help to build trust and loyalty with your readers. After reading a book, don’t you feel like you get to know the main character like a real-life friend? Consistently publishing new content to your blog, week after week, will have a similar affect. You will build a virtual friendship with your readers and they will look forward to hearing from you on a regular basis. Remember that consistency is critical here. Going radio silent with your readers will make them feel like they’ve been “stood up” and weaken this trust.

Ready to get started? First, learn the essentials for a successful blog. Then, learn how to promote it for even more impact. Happy blogging!

Does your business have a blog? Share how it has affected the way in which you connect with your customers and clients by commenting below!

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 13, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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Head in the Cloud: How to Use Cloud Technology in All Facets of Your Life

head in the cloudIt’s a hot technology, a buzzword and a phrase that gets misused in countless different ways – I’m talking about “the cloud.” Whether this concept inspires you, humors you or just plain confuses you, it’s one that is worth getting to know and ultimately embracing.

Cloud technology has already proven to be the present and the future of how we interact with each other on a daily basis. You may be using cloud technology without even noticing! Now I don’t claim to know much more than the Average Joe on the particular topic of a hosted private cloud; however, a topic I do write about frequently is time management. For me, better time management and working “in the cloud” are closely related.

In an infographic created by SingleHop.com, you can get an idea of just some of the ways in which people are using cloud technology to streamline work and take social life and entertainment on the go.

I now want to share with you six key ways in which I personally utilize cloud technology in both my social and professional life to increase efficiency and decrease costs. Let’s take a look…

  1. Access files on the go

This is likely one of the biggest and most common uses of cloud technology, so I would imagine many of you can already speak to this benefit. I store all of my client documents, personal documents, photos etc. on DropBox.com. I don’t require much space, so I still qualify for the freebie account, which is an added bonus (because I love a good deal).

By keeping my files in “the cloud,” I can access them anywhere, anytime on my phone or with other devices like my iPad. I can’t tell you how many times this has made me look like some uber sophisticated consultant in a client meeting when I can reference spreadsheets or pull up design proofs at a moment’s notice. It’s also been a great tool to improve efficiency because I can send (and re-send) a document to a client even when I’m out of the office all day.

  1. Replace the need to email myself notes, reminders, files, etc.

If you have ever emailed yourself a file or photo so that you could transfer it from one device to another, raise your hand. I’m going to assume you are all raising your hands. I’m guilty too! It wasn’t until I embraced cloud technology that I realized there’s a far better way to do this. If I want to take a photo from my phone and transfer it to my computer, I simply upload it into my cloud (there’s an app for that) and it appears in its proper folder in mere seconds.

  1. Share big files

Luckily, I don’t have to deal with sharing large files often, but I’ve learned that with cloud technology what was formerly a BIG inconvenience of a BIG file is now just one more step in the process.

After an event, I often have a slew of photos to share with a client. Even the highest resolution images can be plopped into a folder, put in my cloud and then shared with the client (who is enabled access to just that folder and not my whole computer). Even my least tech-savvy clients have no trouble clicking the link and accessing the materials. This has been a big headache reducer and time saver!

  1. Reduce physical file storage – and costs

Late last year, I upgraded my work laptop (which was as beneficial for workflow as it was for tax deductions). Like any new “toy,” I wanted to keep it as clean as possible for as long as possible without junking it down with old files and photos from my old computer. I’ve been able to selectively decide what I keep on my hard drive, because everything else can…you guessed it…go in my cloud.

Furthermore, the cost of purchasing more physical storage for your computer is a greater investment than paying for more cloud storage.

  1. Plan for growth

I’ve strategically built my business to be flexible so it can accommodate growth as well as slow seasons. The use of cloud technology is just one more way in which I accomplish this. I can quickly expand into more storage space if ever and whenever I need it. For now, that’s not a forefront issue, but in the future it might be. I like knowing that the possibility is always at my fingertips with a simple upgrade that doesn’t require a professional IT person installing pricey hardware.

  1. Gaining peace of mind

Finally and most importantly, cloud technology gives me the peace of mind that my files are stored somewhere other than physically on my computer. Heaven forbid a cup of coffee should make its way onto my keyboard or a small house fire should take place. But if Murphy’s Law proves true, I like knowing that I can hop on another device and access my insurance policy, among other documents…while pouring a new cup of coffee, of course.

Again, here is the infographic produced by SingleHop.com that I referenced above. If “life in the cloud” still seems like a far-fetched reality for you, take a closer look at some of the ways in which you can begin to use this technology for personal and professional benefit.

What are some other ways you keep your “head in the cloud” on a daily basis and use cloud technology to make your life easier? Share your ideas by commenting below!

SingleHop LITC

 
 

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The 4 Most Powerful Words You Can Ask Someone

helping hand clip art

Both in life and in business, we experience individual struggles that cause us stress, frustration, anger, embarrassment and overall contribute to one of those “really bad days.” What’s worse is that because these struggles are uniquely our own, we often feel like we are completely alone when it comes to overcoming them.

Feeling the need to internalize our bad days and the challenges they bring only feed the unhealthy cycle in which we forget to reach out to other people who appear to have hit a road bump. This brings me to the grand reveal of the four most powerful words we can ask someone today. And that is….

“How can I help?”

It’s deceptively simple and so obvious that it seems silly. When we see someone struggling or upset, we should ask how we can help. But, do we? I’ll be the first to admit I do not – at least not as often as I should. In 2015 I want that to change. I want to inspire you to also take the lead in transforming us back into a society who takes an interest in the health and well being of the people around us– not just an interest in their latest status update. Here is why this simple question is so powerful.

It forces us to let our guard down.

I know when I’m having a stressful day where I feel like my to-do list is a mile long and getting longer, I am too proud and too overwhelmed to stop and think of how someone else might help to lessen the load. From experience, when someone asks me “How can I help?” it’s such a welcome relief and feels just as good as a comforting hug.

I used to blow off this question because only I could perform many of my work related to-do’s, but I have since learned to think outside the box and find ways (like household chores, running an errand or offering a few hours of childcare) that people can help out regardless of their skill set or expertise.

It gives us a support system.

Asking this question is the most meaningful way in which you can express to someone that you’re there for them. It’s putting your money where your mouth is and actually offering to do something rather than simply saying “I’m here if you need something.”

No, take the initiative to ask someone what it is they need. By asking, not telling, you’re ready to assume the risk that they could need you to do something time consuming or undesirable. But it also makes us feel like we have a partner in all of this mess – and sometimes that is the only thing we really need.

It’s not condescending or judgmental.

The question “How can I help?” is simple, but perfectly phrased. Compare it to “Do you need help?” This variation can come across like a judgment that the person needs help for whatever it is they are going through. Give them the immediate acceptance of acknowledging it’s okay to need help and skip right to offering your hand. Especially if it’s an issue of pride, you won’t help the situation by first making them admit to needing help.

It eliminates our excuse to act like a martyr.

Most importantly, being asked “How can I help?” eliminates the temptation for us to feel sorry for ourselves and muddle in our own misery. Having someone standing in front of us with a hand to lift us up is the best way to make us grab a hold of our boot straps and pull them up high. Sometime we enjoy playing the martyr as a defense mechanism or because we want a reason to complain. This is neither healthy nor going to help us break the “bad day” cycle. Being asked “What can I do to help?” is a powerful way to make us stop feeling all alone and like no one cares – because someone does!

Who is someone you should ask “How can I help?” Reach out to them today and say these 4 simple words. Then share how the answer and the actions that resulted changed both of your lives!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Business & Success, Life

 

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How to Rebrand Your Business: Part 5

Welcome back to the fifth and final week of our 5-part series on how to rebrand your business. Each week we will cover a unique and important aspect of the rebranding process. Be sure and catch up on the previous weeks’ posts if you’re just joining us! And now for this week’s critical question…

What is my action plan for rebranding?

what is your plan

You’ve now reached the point in the rebranding process where you need to outline your plan for implementation. You’ve made the decision to rebrand, identified your current customers, revisited your mission and tied it all into your unique story. This is the exciting part where all these pieces come together to unveil your new brand and begin the process of introducing it to the world.

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet or big red button that will allow to you seamlessly insert your new brand where the old once was and have everyone recognize it, relate to it and build a positive relationship with it. That will take time – and most importantly – consistency. I emphasize consistency because time alone will not get the job done. You cannot sit on your hands and wait for your new brand to start driving sales. Rather, you need to take action immediately to build a strategic plan and follow through with that plan day after day.

So let’s talk more about this strategic plan of action and what you need to consider when laying it all out. While every part of the rebranding process we talked about leading up to this week is indeed important, your plan for implementation can be the make-it-or-break-it moment. Even the best brand will have little impact if it’s not strategically and consistently implemented. To help you confidently craft your own plan of action, here are 5 tips you should keep in mind.

  1. Think beyond the logo

Just as there is a lot more to a person than hair and clothes, there is a lot more to your business than its logo. Updating your website, social media profiles and email newsletter template with a new logo is only the surface of rebranding.

Remember to dig deeper when creating your plan of action. For example, change the content on your website to reflect your new mission, story and overall “vibe” that you want to create with your new brand. If you’re moving toward a modern and fresh brand, do away with that long and stale messaging that no longer resonates with your target audience. Another example is to apply your new brand to the voice you use on social media. Share content that will interest this newly identified target audience and spark discussion with things they care about.

  1. Include tactics across multiple platforms

In the point above, I mentioned some tactics pertaining to your website, email newsletter and social media. Don’t stop there! Identify all the ways in which you communicate with your customer base and be sure to apply this rebranding to each platform. Some examples include your automated emails (such as when a customer purchases a product or fills out a contact form), blog post topics and direct mail pieces.

Additionally, the rebranding process doesn’t end with your visual or written content. Depending on the situation, this may call for some media relations. Issue a press release emphasizing the newsworthiness of your new brand, host a party at your place of business or hold a press conference. The more reason you give your audience to celebrate with you, the more memorable you make your rebranding process.

  1. Emphasize in your communications why this is a positive and exciting change

Have you ever seen a business with a sign saying “Under new management!” hung in their window? I have and I always read this as “Sorry we failed. We fired the screw-up, so give us another chance!” You customers may question your motive behind rebranding; make it clear that this was a strategic decision and a positive change that has made your already successful business stronger than ever. You can communicate this in any way you choose to announce your new brand. Whether it’s on social media, on your website, in your newsletters or through a press release, take control of the speculation behind your new brand and align it with a sign of positive change and exciting things to come.

  1. Empower your employees to be advocates for the change

Your employees are a valuable part of the rebranding process, so be sure to empower them with the ability to share the word and get excited about it. Make them feel like they are on the “inside” and let them be among the first to know about your decision to rebrand before you go public with it. This is their company too, so make them feel a part of it! With the support of your employees, the unveiling of your new brand will be a much more powerful and positive experience for everyone.

  1. Scour every corner of your business for remains of the old brand

This final step is one that many companies fall short of completing. It’s taking the time to search every nook and cranny for remnants of your former brand. This could be anything from old letter head, coffee mugs, t-shirts, business cards and even email signatures for all your employees. All of this needs to be changed, pitched or donated to make room for your new brand. The danger of allowing these items to stay is that people within your company will inevitably use them and although it may be subconscious, it will send the message that the old brand is not really gone.

Just as you should clear the clutter of a past relationship before moving on to a new one, you should also clear the clutter of your old brand to set the tone that the new one is the only one that matters now!

And remember…rebranding alone won’t fix a poorly run business or a broken process any more than a bandage will fix a gaping wound. When venturing down the road to rebranding, be sure to reevaluate all aspects of your business to identify weak spots!

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the previous posts from this 5-part series:

Part 1: Do I need to rebrand?

Part 2: Who are my customers?

Part 3: What is my mission?

Part 4: What is my unique story?

Join in the conversation by commenting below!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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How to Rebrand Your Business: Part 4

Welcome back to the fourth week of our 5-part series on how to rebrand your business. Each week we will cover a unique and important aspect of the rebranding process. Be sure and catch up on the previous weeks’ posts if you’re just joining us! And now for this week’s critical question…

What is my unique story?

what is my story

Last week, I talked about the importance of establishing your current mission as part of the rebranding process. This week, I want to share with you how to take that “standard” mission statement and really make it stand out by strengthening it with a story.

When you took that fresh look at your mission statement, you may not have needed to change much. A few tweaks and word substitutions may have done the trick to bring it up to date with your business’s current brand and future goals. But making your mission relevant isn’t enough – you must also make it resonate. Simply stating “We strive to offer the highest quality of service at the best rates possible…” will quickly blend into the noise of every other company saying the same thing – unless you include a personal story to make it uniquely memorable.

I emphasize the power of storytelling frequently on both my blog and in my consulting business. I have always been captivated by stories, but I became an advocate for this art as I continued to see the impact it had on helping a message resonate with its audience.

Your own rebranding process is the perfect time to identify that story that best tells your customers about your passion, your innovative ideas and why you’re in it for so much more than just a paycheck. This is your chance to humanize your business in a way no competitor can completely replicate – by telling your personal story.

In a past blog post, I talked about how to incorporate this story into your branding efforts, but I want to take it back one step and give you some starting advice on how to first identify the perfect personal story to highlight. Let’s take a look:

  1. It doesn’t have to be about you.

Make it about your customers instead. A story can still be personal to your business even if it isn’t about you. Instead, tell a story about how you solve customers’ problems, make their lives more enjoyable or inspire them to do great things through your products and services. Use real life examples with which your audience can relate. Make them feel like you’re telling “their” story.

  1. Highlight a point of differentiation.

Tell a story no one else can. To really stand out from your competition, you want to highlight what makes you unique and unable to be replicated. This might be the relationships you’ve built or challenges you’ve overcome. Or maybe it’s about your level of education and experience that is more than what’s expected in your industry. All of these angles will showcase what makes you different and will attract customers to work with you.

  1. Let your customers tell the story.

A testimonial from your customer is a very powerful and compelling story. Let them be your megaphone. I love when a customer’s story takes you on a journey, relaying their struggles and positioning a company as the answer – so long as it feels genuine. This should be more in-depth than a traditional once sentence testimonial and should have a beginning, middle and end, just like any good story does.

  1. Recount your “Aha” moment.

Rather than telling the story about how you’re changing people’s lives with your business, talk about how your business is changing your life. Was there a definitive moment when you remember being inspired to start your business? Tell the story of the time you realized your calling to do what you’re doing now – and why you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Sharing this passion with your customers will make you feel human, trustworthy and likable.

And remember…rebranding alone won’t fix a poorly run business or a broken process any more than a bandage will fix a gaping wound. When venturing down the road to rebranding, be sure to reevaluate all aspects of your business to identify weak spots!

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the previous posts from this 5-part series:

Part 1: Do I need to rebrand?

Part 2: Who are my customers?

Part 3: What is my mission?

Join in the conversation by commenting below!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 9, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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How to Rebrand Your Business: Part 3

Welcome back to the third week of our 5-part series on how to rebrand your business. Each week we will cover a unique and important aspect of the rebranding process. Be sure and catch up on the previous weeks’ posts if you’re just joining us! And now for this week’s critical question…

What is my mission?

what is my mission

Once you’ve assessed and confirmed your need to rebrand your business and reevaluated your current target customer base, it’s time to determine your new mission.

While your mission will most obviously be described by your mission statement and placed on marketing materials such as your website, social media profiles and brochures, it must also be something you and your employees live and breathe every day. Most importantly, your mission must be demonstrated by your actions and it must also align with your vision for the future of your business. Yes, this will require a little critical thinking/soul searching, but is an important part of the rebranding process that many people overlook.

Mainly, I believe most people avoid updating their mission during the rebranding process because it can be a daunting task to fit everything your business stands for in a succinct sentence or two. But this exercise alone demonstrates your innate understanding of your business and its purpose. It’s not always fun, but it’s necessary – ah, such is life!

To help you get started with honing in on your new mission as part of your new brand, let’s think through these three questions together.

What benefit do you provide to your customers?

Whether you sell a product or a service, you should be ultimately selling a “benefit” to your customers. Common examples are expertise, efficiency, peace of mind, enjoyment, quality and comfort. Focus on your one or two most prevalent benefits and identify the key parts of your business that affect your ability to provide these benefits. For example, a restaurant that provides enjoyment and quality to its customers relies heavily upon its cooks and wait staff to produce these benefits. These should then be a main focus of your mission statement.

What makes it more desirable to work with you than a competitor (or no one at all)?

Let’s consider that restaurant example again. It provides enjoyment and quality to its customers – just as any other restaurant aims to do. Why should people patronize your establishment over the countless others nearby? This point of differentiation will become a very important part of your mission statement, so take note as to how you personally answer it! Price, atmosphere, convenience and professionalism are some good examples as to how you might fill in this blank.

What gets you out of bed and into the office every morning?

Finally, dig deep and honestly answer what gets you out of bed and into the office (or in front of your computer) each morning. Not only will this shed light on an important part of your mission, it will also identify any internal issues you might have with your business that need worked out with the rebranding process.

For example, if it’s only the thought of cash that gets you to work, that is a red flag that you may also need to focus some time on finding a passion for your business that isn’t solely financially focused. Rather, if it is the passion for helping people, collaborating with your employees, solving problems or telling someone’s story that “drives” you to work, you now know one more very important piece of your current mission!

And remember…rebranding alone won’t fix a poorly run business or a broken process any more than a bandage will fix a gaping wound. When venturing down the road to rebranding, be sure to reevaluate all aspects of your business to identify weak spots!

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the previous posts from this 5-part series:

Part 1: Do I need to rebrand?

Part 2: Who are my customers?

Join in the conversation by commenting below!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on March 2, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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