Walk into most stores today and you will see Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations vying for space on store shelves. It’s become a race to the finish line as one year comes to an end and a new one is right around the corner.
For companies, it’s a reminder that it’s time to start budgeting for the next year. Regardless of whether you are a small business or a large corporation, if you want to continue to reach your intended target audience then adding PR and marketing to your budget is essential.
Where to begin?
In a world filled with digital media, the opportunities continue to evolve, you just need to start taking advantage of them. The two biggest complaints I hear from small business owners is “I don’t have a budget for that” or “I don’t have time to engage in social media or public relations opportunities.” My response: “You can’t afford not to set aside even a small portion of your time and budget.”
If you have not even begun social media and PR outreach efforts, then you are already losing out to the competition. Google your competition, take a look at what they are doing. Are they on LinkedIn? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? YouTube? Yelp? Do they have a blog? Is their website fresh and up-to-date, while yours was created years ago?
So many options, so little time
Yes, there are a ton of social media options available today and you can’t be on all of them (well, you can, but it’s best to start small if you are just getting started). Pick one or two and go from there.
A recent report by Intuit suggests that by 2020 (that’s just a few years away folks) more than 40 percent of the American workforce – approximately 60 million people – will work as freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees.
With an increasing number of people jumping into the freelance talent pool, LinkedIn recently expanded its professional services marketplace dubbed ProFinder.
The service, which LinkedIn began piloting a year ago, but only recently made available nationwide, allows those who are looking to hire to cast a wide net by simply answering a few questions. It starts by asking “What service do you need?” Categories range from accountants to lawyers, graphic designers to public relations consultants. The questions further drill down into more specifics to help you find the right person. For example, if you’re looking for a writer do you want a technical writer, a grant writer or a blogger?
Once you narrow it down, click on the “Get Free Proposals” button and you’re off.
LinkedIn looks to find the best person suited for your request from area freelance professionals, like myself, and sends the recommendations to you.
For those who are looking to get hired, Profinder also helps you to get clients. Click here to get started.
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.
These days just about everyone – from your teenage daughter to your grandmother – is on social media. They think that posting photos to Facebook or messages on Twitter makes them an expert. But, it’s a totally different scenario when you are talking about managing social media for your business.
You would not hand over the keys to your office to someone who you just hired and whom you know nothing about. Why would you hand over your usernames and passwords and let them “have a go” at handling your company’s social media? Yet, it does happen.
Your company’s social media is its calling card. It presents its image or brand. Handing over your company’s social media responsibilities to someone who was not hired specifically to handle social media can (and often times has for many companies) become a recipe for disaster.
First and foremost, the person who you put in charge of your social media needs to understand your business and how you want it to be represented to the public. They need to know what products or services you provide, who your target audience is, who your competition is and how you want to deal with those who engage with your company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
Previously, I wrote an article for Expert Beacon about how to write a press release that will get your business noticed. I was also given the opportunity to write one on how to best use LinkedIn.
While some people see LinkedIn simply as a place to display their resume, today’s LinkedIn is much more than that. It’s a place to network, join groups, share information with those who have similar interests, meet new people, and publish posts to share your professional knowledge and expertise.
Click here to read more about the do's and don'ts of using LinkedIn.
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.