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Perfecting the Networking Encounter

587214_handsI know there’s already advice in the blogsphere on how to give your 15-second elevator speech or ways to maximize your networking events… but not all of it is practical or effective.

So here are some REAL tips to make an impact on the other professionals you meet during the next Chamber luncheon or mar comm event you attend.

  1. Make eye contact
  2. Be a listener first, then you can tailor the information you have to share to match their interests
  3. Remember specific detail from your conversation and write it down (on the back of their business card) for future conversations
  4. Turn your phone off and hand out business cards
  5. Ask questions that you actually wan to hear the answers to
  6. When introduced to someone, say their name out loud immediately so it sticks in your head
  7. Avoid annoying self-promotion
  8. Let them know you would like to hear from them again – and when you follow up use something from your conversation to help you stand out from the crowd

Marketing events and  conferences are adapting speed networking sessions in which you get 90-seconds to meet another professional, exchange cards, and mention communications challenges they’re facing… and then meet someone new. (It’s a trend that I expect will be growing.)

What’s the best networking tip you ever received?


PR Trends to Adapt Today

1254520_teamwork__1The Public Relations atmosphere is constantly changing due to the Internet and businesses demanding results. To communicate effectively, we need to share brand messages to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships build on trust and understanding. Success in today’s challenging field is communicating your message across multiple platforms, and these trends are gaining momentum. In order to stay relevant, we as professionals need to adapt and use these methods in our communications programs.

From PR News, here are five trends for 2014.

  1. Continued Push for ROI
    In order to justify today’s public relations campaigns, you need to get over the fear of relying on data and numbers to judge results. Technology is growing closer to accurately measuring the impact of PR, providing tools for gauging customer engagement, brand sentiment and actions directly attributed to income revenue. This data provides insight to adjusting your message and optimizing campaigns.
  2. Erasing Traditional Boundaries
    PR teams need to embrace and collaborate with complementary departments, such as marketing and sales, but also social consumers who are helping to shape opinions and brands. Social media, content marketing and SEO have evolved with traditional departments into one cohesive marketing strategy. Connecting with online fans can create some of your most effective spokespersons.
  3. Advanced Brand Journalism
    Traditional media is undergoing massive decline, leaving PR departments searching for more sustainable ways to disseminate their messages across audiences. Some businesses are expanding brand journalism capabilities by contracting freelancers or seasoned journalists and publishers in-house to enhance their ability to develop winning content strategies. At the same time, PR practitioners need to recognize social media and digital publishing are new preferred outlets for accessing news – and strategically deliver content to their audiences through them.
  4. Renewed Emphasis on Trust
    Building trust with the public is a fundamental element of every effective PR campaign. And because the Internet allows every opinion a voice, it’s even more important to send a message that instills confidence and trust. Position your brand as a leader in dealing with emerging digital threats by relating in real terms the progressive actions being taken to harbor a secure online environment.
  5. The Social Mission
    The success of philanthropic businesses  – those dedicated to supporting important human and environmental changes instead of investors – gives every business a new reason to have a philanthropic mission statement. The concept of tying a brand to a social cause that resonates with your core consumers is age old, and publicly taking action can be a powerful tool for winning over socially conscious consumers to build trust and deeper emotional connections.

While PR tactics are changing, its core purpose and objectives remain the same. PR professionals that adapt to these digital changes and use them effectively to achieve (and show) results will have greater relevance for years to come.

Timeless Content Marketing Lessons

A very interesting blog caught my attention in which a little history turned into some timeless lessons we could learn from none other than Mr. Benjamin Franklin – one of the best marketers of his time. Not only did he have access to a printing press to share his ideas and educate early America, but he inspired revolution and stamped his brand in history.

Earliest known content marketing examples are August Oetker’s cookbooks that were content marketing for his Backin baking powder (1891) or John Deere’s magazine The Furrow which served as content marketing for the company’s farm equipment (1895). BUT Mr. Franklin began publishing Poor Richard’s Almanack in 1732 (nearly 159 years earlier) and continued to  publish for 25 years, each time harnessing the power of print and influence of words.

So, what are these lessons?
First, Franklin’s focus was on creating the best content possible. If you publish just anything today, it blends into the sphere of endless information. However, if you create content that has personality, resonates with people and is entertaining… then you have their Attention and Interest.

Listen to Benjamin Franklin’s own explanation of the type of content he was determined to use:

In 1732 I first published my Almanack under the name of Richard Saunders; it was continued by me about twenty-five years, and commonly called Poor Richard’s Almanack. I endeavoured to make it both entertaining and useful, and it accordingly came to be in such demand, that I reaped considerable profit from it, vending annually near ten thousand.
(from article)

It wasn’t to self promote – it was to create entertaining and useful information.

Leading to the second lesson: produce content that our customers crave and value – especially if it isn’t focused on your business. Directly tied to generating GREAT content is generating DESIRED content.

The most powerful kind of content for you to create might actually be content that doesn’t focus on your business or industry at all. While he didn’t invent the concept of an almanac, he knew by popularity that his audience craved this type of content (best sellers second only to the Bible).

Discover the types of content your prospects and customers crave, and create it for them.

Third, Become an information connoisseur for your audience. Not only did Franklin include his own voice in the booklet, but he added the most basic elements of an almanac: calendar, weather info, poems and astrological info.

Even if you are recycling content or addressing the same topics of your competitor, you need to incorporate your Brand Voice.

Finally, don’t forget the power of serialization. One of the things that made Poor Richard’s Almanac valuable was it contained “news stories,” meaning that readers had to keep purchasing a new version to see what happened to the main news characters.

Even modern novelists and television show writers know that people love suspense and teasers. When you create content over a series of articles or blog posts and use teasers or cliff hangers at the end, your readers are compelled to find out more. It builds momentum as the story unfolds across article or posts.

It’s important we stay current with trends and tools that help reach our diverse audiences as technology advances, but don’t lose touch with the valued marketing lessons unchanged by time and across media.

What do you consider timeless marketing lessons?

Top LinkedIn Marketing Groups to Join NOW

Hubspot shares a lot of great info on the latest digital marketing trends. This recent article recommends 20 LinkedIn groups to join if you want to stay on top of content from the best and brightest industry experts. I’m only going to detail a few of these groups here but if you want the full list, check it out.

(Note: Some of these group are public, meaning any LinkedIn member is free to join, while other are private, meaning you can click to join them but will have to be approved by the group’s owner or moderator.)

Digital Marketing
427,420 members. As one of the largest groups on LinkedIn, this community is full of inspiration, intriguing discussions and detailed tips and best practices for improving your online marketing and more.

eMarketing Association Network
552,753 members. Managed by the eMarketing Association, the group serves anyone interested in marketing as it focuses on social media, email, search, mobile and general inbound marketing.

B2B Marketing
36,184 members. If you focus primarily on communicating with B2B companies, then you must join this niche group to strategize on ways to conquer your biggest marketing challenges.

Non-profit Marketing
30,914 members. If you’re a nonprofit marketer, this is the largest and most active nonprofit marketing group on LinkedIn.

Sales/Marketing Executives (CSO/CMO)
134,206 members. This group is a prime one to join if you want to get inspired by super-smart leaders)

SEO SEM Social Media
77,801 members. Join this group if you’re interested in participating in or listening to some of the most controversial topics on the web.

Creative Design Pros
152,059 members. Get new ideas from experienced designers sharing graphic design tips and best practices. You’ll also learn more about how to approach a good relationship with your agency or in-house design team.

Business Development
148,815 members. Like minded professionals in sales, busienss development, marketing, demand generation and inside sales functions who are all primarily in tech companies. A great spot to learn how to successfully turn those contacts into customers.

Adapt these habits if you seek high success in PR

Do you strive to do your best every day? Can you communicate your clients message with its most important audiences? Ever wonder what it takes to be highly successful in public relations?

Well, I have. This article from the PR News blog had tapped into the best public relations professionals and thousands of leaders to develop this list of 9 Habits of Highly Effective PR People.

Do you have some of these qualities already?

1. Listen hard: Focus on key conversations and jot down what you heard, because you think you’ll remember the key takeaways but you wont.

2. Speak the local language: understand the lingo of the communities and markers you serve and learn their language.The nuances can make a difference in your campaign.

3. Read until your eyes hurt: Reading stirs your imagination, helps you to become a better writer and keeps you well informed.

4. Embrace measurement: you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

5. Become a subject matter expert: Find a niche, study it, live it and become the go-to expert on that niche.

6. Practice your math: Knowing how to read a Profit/Loss statement, build and execute on a budget, how to calculate growth and decline will position your for leadership, and improve your PR initiatives.

7. Hone your writing skills: how you write is often how you’re perceived in the field of communications, if you can’t articulate our message in writing, you can’t go from Good to Great.

8. Master your Social: Social media is not a strategy, its a platform. Understand it and use it regularly, but don’t forget about communicating and networking in person and by phone – it holds more long-term value for you as a PR leader.

9. Be a PR advocate:

Public Relations often suffers from an image problem; PR is not just about pitching to the media or bitching about the media; it’s one of the most important disciplines within an organization. Advocate for your profession – and the best way to do that is by being a Great PR Person.

Some personal habit to add…

  • When a reporter bites get them whatever they want as fast as you can. Always be available to the press and follow up to thank them when they cover you.
  • Tell a story that moves people to act – share your ideas through words, written and spoken. Use visuals (share photos/video media when appropriate).
  • Build relationships with the media – when you need to tell your story, those relationships will get the job done.

I am always seeking new ways to improve how I communicate. What habits have made you a successful public relations agent?


Best Tip for 2014 – from the Marketing Pros

social_networkingRecently Social Fresh Insights polled top Marketing Pros for their advice in one simple question:

“If you could make just one recommendation to companies to power their marketing succes in 2014, what would it be?”

Some of the answers gave advice I read again and again such as consistently provide targeted (and valuable) content to  your audience, build a customer/brand experience, and respond back to your followers/customers (I can’t believe a company with a social presence would leave questions unanswered but they do)… A few of them I felt really hit the mark with tips worth trying in 2014. You can read the full story here but I just wanted to highlight these key points.

Ekaterina Walter (@Ekaterina), Co-founder and CMO of BRANDERATI; Author of WSJ Bestseller “Think Like Zuck”:

Nurture advocacy! And instead of creating marketing campaigns, build movements around your brand.

In the age of infobesity, advocacy becomes the most relevant brand marketing filter. And by advocacy, I mean the highest expression of brand love by a brand’s consumers, partners, and employees. What’s more, in the social era, the right form of advocacy becomes true influence.

True influence is not about numbers ; it’s about impacting  behavior through passion, relevance, and trust. And genuine, organic love for a brand impacts behavior much more than a paid recommendation.

Only brands that focus deeply on building and nurturing long-term relationships with their true advocates will see sustainable business results.

We are entering an Age of Advocacy in which consumers are no longer buying brands; they are investing in them. Marketers will move from marketing to their fans to marketing with and through them.

Aliza Sherman (@alizasherman), Award-winning Digital Strategist, Author:

Stop doing what you’re doing. Unplug, take a step back, take a breather. Think about what you’ve done online over the last few years and what you’re thinking of doing in the new year.

Change it up. Don’t do “business as usual.” Experiment. Find a way to shake up the status quo. Take time away to look back with fresh eyes and ideas.

Disconnect to reconnect to what is truly important to you and those whom you’re trying to reach and influence.

Hillel Fuld (@HilzFuld), Tech Blogger; Startup Advisor:

Value. That is my recommendation. Stop self-promoting and start providing value. Stop asking for likes and start giving me a reason to like your brand. Value can be in the form of a blog, video, or any other content, but your marketing strategy should be to provide value consistently.


Bad Content Marketing Habits You Should Stop

hand-over-keyboard-1377963-mThis really great article from Fast Company identified 5 bad content marketing habits and gave us ways to improve them.

1. Marketing needs an internal “crack team” to create and disseminate content. Marketing cannot support your online content alone – and shouldn’t have to when you have a team of experts on hand. Consider your sources including product marketing, analysts, external experts and authors, customers, customer support and sales. Using these resources together you can develop great content for numerous topics, while keeping your audience engaged.

2. Focus your marketing on a handful of tactics, and do those tactics well. Good advice, but you don’t need to limit yourself. Because of modern marketing methods and feedback models, marketers can experiment, measure and retool campaigns quickly. According to MarketingProf’s 2013 Content Marketing Trends, today’s B2B marketers average 12 marketing tactics. The most effective tactics include social media (other than blogs), articles, e-newsletters, blogs and case studies. To maximize your entire marketing toolbox, also consider short webcasts, executive breakfasts, e-Books and educational videos.

3. Webinars and other live streaming events should be broadcast. While this may have been the case a few years ago, conversations today should be facilitated. Being able to monitor and intervene if necessary during a webinar will keep customers focused on the current discussion and less likely to hijack a webinar agenda to critique a company or its products.

4. Content needs to reflect your point of view. While its important to take a stance and provide thought leadership in your area of expertise, these types of articles are not the only forms of communicating. The best marketing content engages its audience – consider live polling, contests, surveys or offering giveaways in exchange for input.

5. Content has a shelf life. Not always true… some of the best content can influence prospects for months, if not years. If you have a good response from a report, case study or series, consider making it part of your annual communications program – something your customers expect and want from you.

Do you agree with these bad habits? Have your own “bad habit” to add?