ARTICLES OF INTEREST FOR NEW CLIENTS

FIVE TYPES OF PR AGENCIES TO AVOID!

Just like any complex industry, public relations produces its share of bad actors who should be avoided at all costs. If you’re looking to hire a great PR firm, run far away from these jokers:

1.“You, my client, are ALWAYS right, and I ALWAYS agree with everything you say.” This is the absolute worst thing a PR pro can ever tell a client. The most derelict publicists are the ones who refuse to speak their minds and apply their actual experience to client needs. More often than not, the PR relationship is about managing expectations, and just like any other professional service, those expectations can at times be unrealistic. As the client, if your PR agency never questions your objectives or subjects them to rigorous examination, then you’re getting suckered out of your PR budget.

2. “Of course I can get your op-ed in The New York Times.” We can’t all get ice cream for every meal. As exciting as your opinion might be to you, it’s a tall order to get your op-ed in the Times. Sometimes not even this guy makes the cut. So beware the publicist who guarantees he’ll score that fancy media placement. No decent PR pro would make such a foolish promise.

3. “Our logistical paradigm is to incentivize positive optics for your verticals.” At some ugly point in the history of PR, a bunch of fools started spitting ridiculous, nonsensical mumbo jumbo to inflate their egos and intimidate clients. If you ever hear a PR business pitch that includes words you wouldn’t speak in casual conversation, tell the agency thanks, but no thanks. Steer clear from these jerks; they literally don’t speak your language.

4. “We no te powr oaf grate PEE r.” Amazing that in the era of spell check and search engine auto-complete, some PR firms still blast press releases with typos and narrative nightmares. Even worse are PR firms whose counsel and creative materials are littered with errors. If the agency can’t take care to ensure quality presentation on their own behalf, how do you think they treat clients?

5. “Good news—I told that reporter to go #^&* himself.” PR pros are supposed to respond artfully to media inquiries, and never lose their temper—doing so bites the hand that may offer the client positive publicity. Just as bad is arguing about a reporter’s legitimate characterizations of a news story. If the PR firm insists on becoming the story, stop paying them.

This was written by Babak Zafarnia, President of Praecere Public Relations. A version of this story first appeared on The Blog Aesthetic, a property of Praecere Public Relations.


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HOW TO NETWORK LIKE A PRO!

Networking groups have become the place to be seen and heard. Its where you can convert "cyberspace to, face to face". A great place to find new business, meet interesting people and spout your 30 second 'Elevator Speech'.

However, there are guidelines that you need to be aware of to make this experience the best it can be for you. When I first arrived in the US 10 years ago, I left behind my 20 year old network in South Africa and internationally, so had to re-create it from scratch. Networking groups became my lifeline to a new culture, new business environment and new friends. I hope you enjoy these tips I learned along the way.

Know what kind of people are going to be there before you show up - some networking groups may not be the right fit for your business

Networking groups fall into many different categories: B2B, consumer products and services, specific interest groups, women's groups etc

Know what you want to achieve before you go and why- if you are fishing for potential clients, know who you want to connect with and choose the group carefully

Do your homework as to how professionally the group is run and what caliber members it attracts. Good networking groups will have a website listing their members that you can peruse before you go.

The networking market is filled with every kind of demographic imaginable - just take a look at the long lists of groups on your local business journal pages or business section of your local paper. Research the groups online before you decide which are good fits for you.

Networking is a great way to meet folks if you are new to the area

Networking can become a full time job, so be careful before you commit yourself to too many groups that you can't maintain your attendance at. This shows lack of commitment and can damage your reputation.

Regularly assess what your expense is to attend these events, from both your time and financial perspectives, and if you are winning at the game. Be ruthless. Networking groups are not for your social entertainment, they need to be worthwhile and form part of your marketing strategy. Your time is expensive. Many are free with a food or drink charge.

When collecting business cards make sure you make a note of who they are, where you met them and why you need to contact them, on the card.

If its a contact you want to develop, enter this information in your database and work it from there.

Send an email or hand-written card after you meet someone to formalize the contact, if they are important to you.

Connect them to your social networking sites like LinkedIn, facebook, twitter or Plaxo.

90% of people who collect business cards at networking meetings never follow up on the contacts they make.

Move around the room fast . Don't be tempted to stand with the same person for more than a few minutes. You can always schedule a longer conversation with them later. You are there to make the contact - not develop it. That comes after.

Fine tune your 'elevator speech' so you can let people know immediately what you do when they ask, in less than 30 seconds. Ask first what the other person does - this will endear you to them immediately. Let them talk more. 


"How to read a Column' by the late William Safire
NYTimes
 


Tips for Building Better Websites

 

Whether you are looking to build a website or redesign an existing one, consider implementing these valuable tips:

Address client needs first. Determine what your customers want from your site. More information about products or services? The ability to book appointments online? Business location, hours and contact information? Make sure they can easily find what's important to them on the homepage. Experts say web visitors decide in eight seconds if you can help them.

Keep it simple. Website technology offers bells and whistles that can make your site look like a Las Vegas marquee. Don't let style upstage effectiveness. Make sure your logo is prominently placed in the upper left-hand corner (where visitors first look), along with a tagline that expounds your brand promise. Use a color-scheme throughout the site to keep a uniformed look. If you already have company colors, use them to design your website. Flashing copy or graphics, busy backgrounds that mask text, pop-up windows, and autoplay music are distracting and can have a negative impact on the user experience. Finally, make site navigation easy and engaging. If visitors get lost, more often than not, they will leave your site.

Maintain your site. Make sure content stays fresh and relevant by updating frequently. Avoid dead links, outdated content or "under construction" areas visible to your customers. Respond to email or online inquiries immediately. If not, you risk losing your credibility.

Capture visitor emails. Ask visitors to sign up for newsletters, contests or content updates. Pushing out value-driven content can create the tether that turns curious visitors into paying customers.
 


Blogging

Read our "Plog"  - a PR Blog! here

Blogging -- an online diary that lets you post commentary and photos -- continues to grow exponentially as a communications tool for personal and business use. According to Technorati.com, an authority on blogging practices, the "blogosphere" continues to double in size every six months, with 1.6 million posts each day. There are 175,000 new blogs created every day. Technorati estimates there are about 52.5 million blogs on the Internet.

Blogs have become integral marketing tools for companies. Blog users connect with customers, demonstrate their industry experience and build their business.

In just a few minutes, Blogging Systems' online instruction walks you through setting up your own realty blog, which is hosted and managed on its site. Once established, you can add discussions, a calendar, podcasts and a wiki (a collaborative website whose content can be edited by anyone who has access to it). Blogging Systems also monitors how many visitors and page views you receive.

Other options include purchasing blogging software and server space to host your blog. Popular blogging software titles include: eBlogger (blogger.com; free), TypePad (typepad.com; $4.95 to $14.95 per month), and Movable Type (sixapart.com; starting at $199).
 

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