How to Bring Good Energy to Your Brand.

From maximizing your marketing efforts, facilitating creativity, and achieving success, employing the ancient art of feng shui can help you build a better brand.

I recently spent some time doing some spring cleaning, de-cluttering really, and in the process, took a deep dive into the art of feng shui. While it’s widely known you can use feng shui to create a better quality of life, improve your health, attract more harmony and happiness to your relationships, even help build a more satisfying career, did you know that feng shui can also help you build a better brand, better marketing, and better communications for your business?

With all these potential improvements, is it time to Feng Shui your brand?

Feng-Shui-for-Business

“Feng shui is an ancient art and science developed over 3,000 years ago in China. In literal translation feng means “wind” and shui means water. In Chinese culture, wind and water are associated with good health, thus good feng shui came to mean good fortune.”

What I took from the experience of de-cluttering, a basic premise of the philosophy of feng shui is the importance of balance and harmony in your life; also the importance keeping things in your life that bring you joy and possessions that bring value. Along the same lines, I started thinking about the art of branding and how important it is that all your brand elements, platforms, tactics, messaging, etc. bring harmony, balance, and value to your business. Is your tagline in line with the key benefit of your business? Are your logo colors setting the right tone and evoking the right emotions? Do your logo shapes and symbols tell your story? Does your website provide an enjoyable online experience? Does your email marketing bring value to your prospects and customers? Does it bring value to your business in terms of results? Are you crafting the right message to the right audience and sending them to the right landing page? (That’s where the harmony comes in to play!) If you’re not sure, perhaps it’s time for a little digital marketing and branding feng shui.

Importance of Keeping Your Brand Clear and Simple. If by keeping your life simple, free of clutter, serenity will follow, does they same hold true of your brand? If you keep your brand clear and simple will success follow? Ultimately, there’s a lot more that goes into success than creating an awesome brand image, however, in my experience, your brand image represents and communicates the essence of who you are as a brand so if it is indeed clear and simple, brings value to your brand, and communicates the “joy” or key benefit of your service or product, then it goes to follow that applying feng shui principles to your brand can go a long way in helping to set you up for success.

From maximizing your marketing efforts, facilitating creativity, and achieving success, employing the ancient art of feng shui can help you build a better brand.


Stay tuned for our Feng Shui for Business series as we explore how it can be utilized and leveraged for all aspects of your brand and small business. Do you have a question about bringing balance, harmony, and value to your communications strategy and branding? We’d love to hear from you! Leave us a comment and we will try to answer your question in an upcoming post.

Top Reasons Why your SEO Plan is Failing.

Executing a search engine optimization strategy isn’t enough to get you on the front page of Google’s search results.

Even with an SEO plan in place, there’s a strong possibility it isn’t working the way you hoped and expected.

There are a number of reasons your SEO strategy is failing to get you prime real estate on the first page. Without an understanding of what you’re doing wrong, your content will most likely get lost in the middle of the pack.

Click here for three of the most common—and crippling—mistakes to avoid.

Feel Good PR Tips for the Holiday Season

BoostPRHolidayImageThis holiday season, if you’re looking for new ways to boost your brand exposure, drive sales, and garner media attention while also fostering a sense of goodwill, try mixing up your marketing strategy with feel good PR initiatives.

Below are some quick tips for boosting your PR during the holidays.

Campaign for a Cause

Increasing numbers of brands are mixing social good into their marketing and PR programs. Not only is it smart; it can reap big rewards as well!

Studies show that consumers are more prone to make purchases and seek out services from businesses and brands that give back and do good for the world. As a matter of fact, in a recent survey, 87 percent of consumers said they would switch brands based on a connection with a good cause.

As with any marketing initiative, holiday PR requires a clear, compelling message. It’s also important to target the proper audience with a relatable, easy to follow offer and mission. Potential customers need to know specifically what or who their purchase will benefit. So host a toy drive or a coat drive to benefit a local charity and attach it to an offer for your business! Not only will you boost your sales, garner media attention (don’t forget to send a press release to your local media announcing your campaign and one after reporting on results) but you’ll also be perceived as a company that cares.

You can also support a charity during the holidays with a campaign that doesn’t attach a specific offer to it. One of our favorite promotions of all time is Macy’s ‘Believe” Campaign that invites kids to mail letters to santa to benefit the Make-A-Wish foundation. What makes it awesome? While there is no purchase necessary, it drives traffic to their stores and keeps them top-of-mind with their customers. They also always get a lot of press during the holidays as well, which is important for any business trying to stand out in a crowded marketplace. This year, the department store is making their campaign even more interactive, giving their customers an experience outside of the store with a mobile app that takes pictures of Macy’s holiday characters to further promote their campaign. How cool is that!

Share Holiday Tips

Another great way to give back is by providing helpful holiday tips that help your potential customers solve problems they are facing during the holiday season. Get creative! You can write a blog post, send a tips-related press release, pitch and/or contributed article to your local media outlets, post an article on your LinkedIn page, or post on hyper local news sites. You can even host a free workshop! Not only will you establish your industry expertise, but you’ll be providing a valuable service to the community while potentially driving traffic to your business, website, or blog.

Whether you host a holiday outreach effort or craft seasonal tips to share, don’t miss out on a great opportunity to build your brand awareness while also celebrating the season of giving.

Chances are, you’ll boost your sales while also generating positivity and goodwill in the world.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Simple tips for improving your online newsroom.

OnlineNewsroom

With the growth of brand journalism and social media, there has never been a better time to build awareness and attract and build interest in your business and your work amongst journalists. A great way to do that is with the online newsroom that can act as a media hub for all your stories, videos, images, and other content you create to engage with your audiences. PR Daily recently shared eight ways to make sure your newsroom stands out:

  1. Optimize for mobile. Smartphone screens are one of the primary ways that users interact with content, so make sure your newsroom works on mobile devices. For help, download this free mobile social media press release template.
  1. Use visual storytelling. Press releases that contain images, videos, and downloadable files get nearly 10 times more views than those that use text alone, so put visuals center stage in your news releases. On your main page, use low-resolution images that load fast, and link them to high-resolution versions that can be downloaded in one click. Never hide your images behind password-protected image libraries.
  1. Make it shareable. Add social media sharing widgets to your newsroom so that it’s easy to share your content. Make sure your images and videos are automatically embedded in social posts via Facebook Open Graph and Twitter Cards. Facebook posts with images are proven to get more engagement, and tweets with pictures are 94 percent more likely to be retweeted.
  1. Make it easy to integrate into other web properties. Add an RSS or JSON feed, embed widgets, or even an API to your newsroom. This enables your media partners to integrate your content into their digital properties, giving you more visibility.
  1. Do your SEO homework. Drive more organic traffic to your newsroom by adding relevant header tags and relevant keywords, helping you get found by search engines. Check out Woorank’s SEO analyzer for a free analysis and tips to improve your SEO rank.
  1. Build it for speed. Google favors faster sites with faster load times, so take care that all your high-resolution visual content isn’t slowing you down. Pay extra for a fast server and make sure your content gets regularly cached. Aren’t sure how your load time stacks up? Use a free website speed test to analyze your load time and find any bottlenecks.
  1. Build once, use repeatedly. If you work at an agency, you’ll need to manage multiple newsrooms for clients, each with their own logos and brand guidelines. Rather than reinvent the wheel for each new client, build a reusable template that can easily be skinned for a custom look and feel.
  1. Integrate with a pitching tool. Building your newsroom is just the first step. You still have to pitch your stories to influencers, which is why you need to integrate your newsroom with a pitching tool. Choose a tool that includes automatic media previews so that you can tease your visual assets directly in your emails. Analytics and contact management are good to have, too.

All this may sound daunting, but launching an online newsroom isn’t all that complicated. With so many tools available to help you create newsrooms, setting it up is the easy part. Start small, use a good basic template, and most importantly, lead with great stories.

Source: PR DailyOriginally posted August 15th, 2014 by Frederik Vincx, co-founder at Prezly, a PR tool that helps you pitch stories to your media contacts that care.

Courtesy of April Neill Public Relations, a boutique PR firm serving small businesses and non-profits in Chicagoland. April Neill PR offers FREE 30 minute phone or in-house consultations. For more information, visit AprilNeillPR.com or email info@AprilNeillPR.com.

10 Online Personal Branding Mistakes You’re Making on Twitter

Check out this great little guide on personal branding for anyone who is new on Twitter, or anyone who is concerned about personal branding. Enjoy!

Courtesy of April Neill Public Relations. April Neill PR is a boutique public relations firm based in the Chicago area that specializes in increasing brand visibility and recognition for small businesses and non-profits. April Neilll PR offers FREE 30 minute phone or in-person consultations. For more information, call 815.651.0656 or visit AprilNeillPR.com.

[Infographic created by LinkingR]. Source: BIT REBELS

Personal Branding Mistakes
BIT REBELS shares this great little INFOGRAPHIC for online personal branding mistakes.

Quick and Simple Social Media Image Size Cheat-Sheet

The folks over at Constant Contact recently put together a handy little infographic that will help you better manage and properly ‘dress up’ and brand your growing collection of social media accounts.

The graphic lists the dimensions of all of the photos these social media sites want you to upload. From your Facebook Cover photo (851 x 315), to your Pinterest profile pic (600 x 600), to your YouTube channel art (2560 x 1224), just about every major player is listed.

Be sure to save the graphic in your archives. It will no doubt come in handy the next time you’re revamping one of your social networks! Courtesy of April Neill Public Relations.

Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet
Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet

(via Constant Contact via Reddit)

April Neill is a brand strategist, lifelong entrepreneur and founder/CEO at April Neill Public Relations, a boutique public relations firm serving small businesses and non-profits in Chicagoland. You can find April on Twitter and also connect with April Neill PR on Facebook.

April Neill Public Relations is passionate about helping small businesses position themselves as experts in their industry. We offer a complimentary 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. Email AprilNeill@gmail.com to make your appointment today or call 312.772.3832 for more information.

Crafting and Delivering Education-Based Marketing Messages

strategyBy April Neill, CEO/Founder April Neill Public Relations

In our last post, we talked about the value of Education-Based Marketing. You know it’s important, but how do you craft messages that reach and resonate with your best potential customers?

Have you ever wondered what the best content marketers do differently? How they create content that not only captures interest and engagement, but drives leads as well?

If you’d like to create content that’s powerful, relevant, informative and engaging to your target audience, you need to first match your marketing strategy and education-based messaging with buyer behavior.

There’s no content marketing success without strategy.

Imagine stepping into the minds of your future prospects and listening to their thoughts before they decide to begin shopping for a wedding photographer. What questions are they asking themselves? The secret to attracting qualified prospects early on in the sales cycle is to find out the answers to those questions and use them as the basis for your education-based marketing strategy.

For instance, if you were to offer your prospects the choice between two free special reports, one titled “Why Brand Z is the Best Wedding Photographer” and the other titled, “Seven Little-Known Secrets to Hiring the Best Wedding Photographer,” which do you think would get the most downloads?

Based on the latest statistics, the second report will out perform the first report by 10:1. Educational information that helps your prospects solve problems and make better buying decisions is the type of information that attracts prospects and drives leads and engagement.

How To Package Educational Marketing Messages to Generate Qualified Leads

Once you’ve developed your educational strategy and message, you need to package it and offer it for free in exchange for your prospect’s contact information. This is crucial. Effective education-based marketing isn’t just about getting your messages out and reaching your audience, but more importantly, it’s about getting a response back and building a list of interested prospects. You need to make this your goal.

Generate Qualified Leads & Build Your Email List By Giving Away Goodies

You can package your educational messages in formats your prospects will respond to such as FREE white papers, audiocassettes, videos, email courses, or even webinars. It’s a great way to attract customers to you!

Give Your Message an Exciting Title

An important aspect to making your educational message engaging is to give it an irresistible title. People love how-to articles, numbered lists, and getting information (secrets) that others don’t have.

Resist the urge to give a sales pitch.

The beauty behind Education-Based Marketing is that you give prospects what they want, information and advice, without the sales pitch — and you get what you want, their contact information which will help you kick your business revenue into high gear. By offering helpful advice, you establish yourself as an industry expert because prospects see you as a reliable source of information, making them more willing to receive your updates and offerings.

April Neill is a brand strategist, lifelong entrepreneur and founder/CEO at April Neill Public Relations, a boutique public relations firm serving small businesses and non-profits in Chicagoland. You can find April on Twitter and also connect with April Neill PR on Facebook.

April Neill Public Relations is passionate about helping small businesses position themselves as experts in their industry. We offer a complimentary 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. Email AprilNeill@gmail.com to make your appointment today or call 312.772.3832 for more information.

Tips for Leveraging Content Marketing for Success

content-marketingimage

With today’s constantly evolving digital landscape, you need to be ever ready to adapt your marketing strategy in order to stay competitive within your industry. PR experts have always known this and one of the most widely used examples relates to content marketing.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing involves creating and sharing relevant and valuable content in order to attract and engage specific consumers. The idea is not to sell, per se, to your target audience but instead, provide valuable information that makes your prospective customers more informed and engaged with your brand. The strategy is that if you deliver consistent, ongoing valuable and/or entertaining information to consumers, they will ultimately choose to do business with you.

Here are the basics to implementing a successful content marketing strategy:

▪                Create Your Authentic Brand Voice – you want your audience to get a sense and a feel for who you are as a brand and what you do from the content you create and push.

▪                Identify Your Target Audiences – it’s next to impossible to speak effectively to an audience if you don’t know who they are and/or you can’t identify with them. Start researching and get to know the prospects you are interested in. Then begin pushing out relevant content that provides value and appeal to these clients.

▪                Identify What Makes You Uniquely and Wonderfully You – Ask Yourself What Differentiates You From Your Competitors? – There may very well be a lot of companies that offer the same services that you do; that said, this is your chance to tell everyone what makes your services or offerings special and how you are better than your competitors.

▪                Craft and Push Content across the Web that Speaks to Your Target Audience. – Posting valuable content on your website, on a blog, on hyperlocal sites and on social media channels can be a great way to connect with your target audience and ultimately, a great way to attract customers to your brand.

For best results, Synergize Your Efforts!

Remember that content marketing works best when it’s synergized with your other marketing initiatives, so don’t stop doing what you’re currently doing. Leverage content marketing as one of the many strategies it takes to convert a “friend” to a client or customer.

April Neill is a brand strategist, lifelong entrepreneur and founder/CEO at April Neill Public Relations, a boutique public relations firm serving small businesses and non-profits in Chicagoland. You can find April on Twitter and also connect with April Neill PR on Facebook.

April Neill Public Relations is passionate about helping small businesses position themselves as experts in their industry. We offer a complimentary 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. Email AprilNeill@gmail.com to make your appointment today or call 312.772.3832 for more information.

Small Business Tips for Building a Powerful Brand Identity

By April Neill, CEO/Founder April Neill Public Relations

BrandImage3As a lifelong entrepreneur and business owner myself, I can confidently say that starting a business can be one of the most exciting and empowering moves you’ll ever make and absolutely doable, even in today’s highly competitive marketplace. It takes more than a great idea to sustain a business, though. To be successful, you’ll need to first focus on building a powerful brand identity. Here are some tips to guide you on your way.

Be Sure of Yourself.

It’s important to know what your brand stands for, what makes it special and its benefit. You also need to know who your target audience is and make that benefit clear and obvious to them.

Create a Distinctive Identity.

Branding is about perception and the most powerful brands are built from the inside out on differentiation. Creating a distinctive logo and tagline that captures the essence of your brand can increase your visibility. A quality website can also help differentiate your business while also introducing you to online customers and boosting credibility.

Get Connected and Be Memorable.

Creating a brand voice and social media strategy is essential, so it’s important to create a profile for your business on select social media platforms where your customers congregate. Next, create compelling communications that emotionally connect with and motivate your customers to love your brand and buy from it! Powerful brands are great at listening so be sure to respond to online comments and questions.

Be Consistent and Congruent.

Maintaining consistent, congruent messaging makes your business easier to remember and trust. Ask yourself: Does your website look like it belongs with your business card and your social media channels? Is your messaging consistent with your brand?

Consider Leveraging Cause Marketing.

Whether you support a homeless shelter or donate services to a local charity, giving back can increase your brand power. Take Dawn dishwashing liquid, a great example of effective cause marketing — its promise, to donate one million dollars this year for rescue efforts to save wildlife. Not surprising they’re the best-selling dishwashing liquid on the market. Who wouldn’t love, and buy from, a brand that rescues wildlife from oil spills?

Deliver on your promises.

Strong brands possess credible, relevant and distinctive brand promises. That said, create a brand promise, deliver on it and provide an exceptional customer experience. You’ll end up creating brand advocates who will sing your praises and help build your brand.

This post first appeared on NBC Chicago’s Inc. Well Blog on July 23rd, 2013.

April Neill is a brand strategist, lifelong entrepreneur and founder/CEO at April Neill Public Relations, a boutique public relations firm serving small businesses and non-profits in Chicagoland. You can find April on Twitter and also connect with April Neill PR on Facebook.

April Neill Public Relations is passionate about helping small businesses position themselves as experts in their industry. We offer a complimentary 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. Email AprilNeill@gmail.com to make your appointment today or call 312.772.3832 for more information.

Source: NBCChicagoIncWell

6 Tips for Branding Yourself as an Expert in your Field

Being recognized as an industry expert can be powerful and persuasive.
Being recognized as an industry expert can be powerful and persuasive.

In every buying decision, whether it’s hiring an accountant or finding a good mechanic, we all want an expert. We want to pay someone who has a real solution and we don’t want to waste our money or our time.

That said, you want prospects to look to your company for solutions when they are ready to buy or hire a consultant and a great way to gain market share is to position yourself as the go-to expert in your industry. Few things are as powerful or as persuasive in business.

Branding yourself as an expert has many benefits including standing out in a crowded marketplace, getting media attention, gaining partnerships that help your business grow and being able to charge higher fees due to your expert status.

Here are six tips to help brand yourself an expert in your industry:

  1. Define Your Expertise. One of the most effective ways to communicate your expert/authority status is to create an “expert” website. A professional headshot, professional design and highlights of your social influence (proof numbers of fans, followers, subscribers) along with a press room highlighting the places where your work has been featured will go a long way in positioning and defining your expert status.
  2. Deliver fresh, educational or informative content: Deliver regular content on the internet through article marketing and blogging that is informative and offers value and solutions to readers. Pay attention to hot topics that are trending and if they’re relevant to your industry, craft blog posts about those topics. In no time at all, you will be considered an expert in your field.
  3. Take part in online conversations: Post comments on other influential blogs and social media sites. Additionally, respond to comments left on your blog; it’s a great way to start a discussion and to showcase your expert knowledge.
  4. Position yourself as an expert source to the media. Pay attention to what’s going on in the news. Do you have a unique perspective to bring to a story that is trending or seasonal tips to share? Let the media know that you are available as an expert source in your industry. Also reach out to reporters and editors when there is a news story that you can weigh in on. Reporters are always looking for sources for stories and segments and this may be your chance to get your business on the 10 o’clock news!
  5. Post on YouTube: Post helpful and instructional videos on YouTube about your products or services. Soon enough, consumers will start to look to you for solutions.
  6. Seek Out Endorsements and Testimonials. Once in a while, you will get an unsolicited testimonial from a client, which will make your day. More often than not, you will have to ask. So ask! Send an email to your clients asking them to share their experience with working with you and how it has helped them. Reach out to colleagues to ask them for endorsements of your expertise. LinkinIn has a great platform for seeking out endorsements and is a great space to build your reputation.

April Neill Public Relations is passionate about helping small businesses position themselves as experts in their industry. We offer a complimentary 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. Email AprilNeill@gmail.com to make your appointment today or call (312) 772-3832 for more information. Visit us online at AprilNeillPR.com. Follow ANPR on Facebook at Facebook.com/AprilNeillPR.