Walk into any store and you will be reminded that the holidays are just around the corner. Halloween, Thanksgiving and yes, even Christmas decorations abound.
For businesses, that means wrapping up the fourth quarter and setting your sites on a new year and hopefully new clients/customers.
If public relations and marketing have not been part of your business plan, now may be the time to consider adding it into your budget. The good news is, it doesn’t have to cost you a lot and some of it you can even do yourself.
If you don’t have a social media presence, what have you been waiting for? Start posting. Where you shine most brightly will depend on your business. Instagram is perfect for companies with a lot of photo opportunities. Facebook translates across the board, you can share photos and information. Twitter is a great place to communicate with customers or potential customers. Regardless of what kind of business you are in, you should be on LinkedIn. This is where you can tell people about you and your company. If you already have a personal LinkedIn page, create one for your business as well. Wherever you post, make sure it’s consistent and be responsive to those who communicate with you via social media.
Graphics are like eye candy, they make whatever you post standout and create a more engaging post. You don’t even have to be an artist to create some awesome graphics. There are a number of simple design programs such as Canva that make it easy and inexpensive. Infographics also are a great way to tell a story in pictures.
It’s one of the most powerful and effective ways to get your message across and you don’t need expensive equipment to do it. If you have a steady hand, you can even make a video using your IPhone. I have shot and edited videos using my IPhone and IMovie in under an hour for posting to Facebook and the hits just kept coming. The videos can be serious, funny, quirky and informative. It’s all up to you.
Although still a staple of the business, press releases are best used when you have something significant to announce. For example: Your company is launching a great new product, or your nonprofit just awarded a significant grant. Press releases can be overused, so consider whether what you have to say is worthy of one. This is where a PR professional comes in. They are the ones with the connections to get your message across.
This is a great way to reach out to existing customers/clients. You can use a newsletter to tell them what’s new with your company, what new products or services you are offering, what deals you may be offering. You can include coupons. If you are in a service industry, they also can be used to inform clients about developments that might impact them or their business. Newsletters are a great way to keep in touch, but don’t over use them, otherwise people will unsubscribe. To get new subscribers, add an opt-in option on your website.
As 2018 nears, now is a good time to consider what tools you will use to grow your business.
Susan R. Miller is founder of Garton-Miller Media, a full-service, South Florida based public relations firm. Susan is a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience. In addition to public relations, she provides web content writing, press releases, social media, photography and videography. She has two daughters, three golden retrievers, two cats and a chatty parakeet.
Being hired to handle an organization’s public relations is like getting married. PR pros often court a client for some time before landing the deal. But once the client “puts a ring on it,” some PR pros find the honeymoon can be short lived.
Just about every one of my public relations colleagues has a horror story (or two) they can tell about “the client from hell.” It’s difficult to turn down business, but sometimes it can be the best decision you ever make. I have done it and I am pretty sure I sleep better at night because I have.
Rather than rush to the alter, it’s best to take steps to spot what could become a troublesome client ahead of time and take steps to mitigate any potential problems that might pop up.
Get to know the early warning signs.
Ask the potential client ahead of time about their expectations. Are they realistic? Do they expect you to be at their beck and call 24/7? Do they expect to have their story told on CNN in the first few weeks of your engagement? Also, it’s best to make it clear upfront what they should expect from your efforts. Never over promise.
Much has been written about LinkedIn photos, so it simply amazes me when I start perusing potential LinkedIn contacts and see so many outright blunders. In the span of 10 minutes the other day I found more than a half dozen no-no photos. Let’s see if you can see yourself or others in these examples.
The anonymous silhouette: This is the default (your photo here) picture that really isn’t a picture at all. Let’s face it, many of us, myself included, may not like how we look through the lens, but if you are looking to network, then you are going to have to come out from the shadows. If you’re that concerned about how you look, spend a few bucks on a professional photographer, they can do wonders with good lighting and a nip and tuck via Photoshop.
The in-your-face shot: This is the person whose photo was either taken so close you can almost see their pores, or the photo was cropped so tight they look like they are being squeezed out of a ketchup bottle. Back it up folks, this photo is way too creepy, and it makes you look like you’re coming through my computer screen.
One of the challenges of being in the field of public relations is trying to explain to companies why they need your services. Many think PR is nothing more than another name for advertising, which could not be further from the truth. Others think public relations costs a lot of money. That, of course, depends on who you hire, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. When people ask me why their company or organization needs PR, here’s what I tell them:
Regardless of whether you are just starting out, or have an established business, hiring a public relations firm can help you to gain brand recognition and grow your business.
Susan R. Miller is founder of Garton-Miller Media, a full-service, South Florida based public relations firm. Susan is a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience. She has two daughters, two golden retrievers and two cats, but just one guinea pig who is happy not to have to share his cage or his daily stash of veggies with anyone.
Everyone talks about how, as summer heats up in South Florida, business cools down. Although it is true that many people hit the road on vacation, while others spend weeks or even months at a time at their summer home, for those of us in public relations, summer provides the perfect opportunity to reach out to the media.
Many reporters actually find it difficult to track down long-time sources. This provides those of us in public relations with the chance to offer up new ones. I know that when I was a reporter, I often went back to the same tried-and-true sources for their insights and comment. But I always kept a Rolodex (that's how long I was in the journalism profession) of possible alternatives. Many of them later became my go-to people, even after the summer months ended and my usual sources returned.
Summer is also the perfect time to take advantage of those days when your clients are gone. While you may be tempted to take an extra-long lunch, or just ditch the office and head to the beach, this is actually a great opportunity to do some planning. Why not go through your media lists and make necessary updates? While you are at it, give some reporters/editors a call and see if they can make time for lunch.
Look at those editorial calendars that may have been pushed off to the side gathering dust while you were busy putting out daily fires. What opportunities are coming up that you might be able to pitch? Take the time to craft pitches today that can be used in the future.
If you write blogs for your clients, topic shop and write a few evergreens that can be put into the mix when things start to get busy.
Look for opportunities to sharpen your existing skills or learn new ones. Have you ever wanted to learn iMovie, Photoshop WordPress? Now is the time to start.
Yes, summer is a time for everyone to get a little R & R, but it's also the perfect time to take advantage of some downtime by building your skills, relationships and business.
Susan R. Miller is founder of Garton-Miller Media, a full-service, South Florida based public relations firm. Susan is a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience.
Garton-Miller Media is a full-service, South Florida-based public relations firm. Founder Susan R. Miller has 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist and PR professional.