15 Tips for Garnering Media Coverage for Your Business

Garnering media coverage is a great way to boost credibility.

Getting featured in the news is a great way to boost credibility, traffic, and sales and also a great way to build trust.

Family Features recently shared their 15 top tips to help you create content that is desirable to editors:

  1. Plan ahead. Some of our best placements have 60 – 90 day deadlines. The early bird here really does get the fattest worm!
  2. Be unique. Think beyond common sense advice or information.
  3. Catchy Headlines. If it catches the editor’s eye, they know it will engage their audience.
  4. Solve a problem/inform. Less fluff = More interest.
  5. Celebrity endorsements. Readers love them and therefore so do editors.
  6. High quality HD photography. If your photos include people, make them as culturally diverse as possible – or offer alternative photos featuring Latino, African-American, Asian (et al) subjects.
  7. Cast a wide net. Don’t limit yourself geographically or demographically. Craft your message to be relevant to the widest possible audience because not everyone gets snow in the winter.
  8. Pair a video with your story. We are getting more and more requests for video content that relates to/enhances print content.
  9. Include statistical info from credible sources. Pepper your message with back-up stats from 3rd party sources.
  10. Take advantage of trends. Aligning your brand with hot topics is a big win.
  11. One size does NOT fit all. Bite size content is a consistent request. Consider crafting tips that can be published in whole OR broken into minis that will run as a series over several days. Smaller chunks = Bigger nameplate placements.
  12. Consider tailoring your message to meet ongoing content gaps. Can you authentically tie your brand to things like automotive, career, seniors, families, home buying/selling, etc.? If not, consider sponsoring a series of articles that meet these gaps. You’ll have editors jumping for joy.
  13. Pursue a target demographic with strategically themed content. Consider targeting cultural or demographic groups by selecting culture or demo-specific themes with mass appeal, i.e. Hanukkah, Kwanza, Quinceañera or Changing Careers Late in Life.
  14. Consider infographics. Make sure they are designed in a resolution that will look as good in print as it does on your computer screen.
  15. Deadlines. Did we mention the real need to plan ahead? Many publishers would LOVE to print your message….but only if you can get it to them in time. Making content available 60-90 days in advance is hands-down the best way to get visibility.

Source: Family Features Blog. Written by Vickie Rocco. Published Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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. Visit AprilNeillPR.com to make your appointment today or call 312.772.3832 for more information.

15 Grammar Goofs that Make You Look Silly

Posted by April Neill, CEO/Founder April Neill Public Relations

With the rise of content marketing, being able to write effectively is hugely important. Avoid some common grammar errors with this really cool info-graphic. Enjoy!

We’re big advocates of conversational writing that’s engaging, persuasive, and fun. So that means it’s perfectly fine to fracture the occasional stuffy grammatical rule (and many times it’s preferable).

Grammar Goofs
Grammar Goofs from copyblogger

On the other hand, making some grammatical errors just makes you look bad, and hurts your effectiveness. Sometimes we even misuse words simply because we hear others use them incorrectly.

So, we’ve assembled the 15 most egregious grammar goofs into one helpful infographic. With this handy reference, you’ll never look silly again.

Via Brian Clark, copyblogger.

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.

Gain Trust and Attract Business with Education-Based Marketing

Marketing signThere is a common misconception amongst small businesses that your marketing’s most important function is to promote your products and services to prospects ready to buy. In fact, the most important function of your marketing strategy should be to establish that you’re an expert in your industry, that you have knowledge to share, and that you can be trusted.

It’s a given that consumers like to do business with people and brands they trust. That said, even if you have the lowest prices, if you’re not perceived to be trustworthy, it might be difficult to attract customers. This is the basis for Education-Based Marketing.

A powerful marketing strategy that establishes trust and credibility using strategic educational messaging, Education-Based Marketing is the direct opposite of traditional marketing, which leverages selling-based messaging.

People are tired of being bombarded with sales pitches. Alarm bells go off the moment you launch into your spiel. In comparison, consumers are more likely to listen when you offer value by sharing expert information and helpful tips and facts that not only help them live better but also help them make better buying decisions. And even if they are not ready to buy, you’re planting seeds and gaining consumer trust that will likely pay off when they are ready to purchase your product or service.

Stay tuned for our next post that will delve deeper into how to craft your educational message.

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.

Facebook’s Latest Newsfeed Algorithm a Game-Changer for Brands

FacebookAlgorithmImageBy April Neill, CEO/Founder April Neill Public Relations

For brands and small businesses who have put in the sweat equity over the last few years to build their Facebook following and gain consumer confidence and loyalty through intelligent, thoughtful brand publishing, Facebook’s latest newsfeed algorithm is going to be a game-changer.

In a recent article titled, The Great Facebook Swindle And What To Do About It published on Social Media Explorer, Jason Falls explains how the rules have changed and it doesn’t bode well for brands. First of all, with the changes, even though your audience “Likes” your page, there is a strong likelihood that Facebook won’t let most of them see your posts organically in their news stream. They can still visit your page to see it, however, unless you pay to promote it, many of your followers won’t see it. As a matter of fact, with the changes, Facebook is ratcheting down organic exposure of brand page content to 1-2% at best. This is not good!

Here are the highlights on how brands can still win.

  1. Direct people to your Facebook URL It’s no longer enough for to tell our audience to “Like” us on Facebook. Now we have to ensure they know that we offer great content there but Facebook won’t let them see it unless they go to the Facebook page just like they would come to our website and they are going to have to type in our brand name or URL to see our content. For traditional communications, stop using the “Like us on Facebook” call to action and start using the “Visit us on Facebook at facebook.com/yournamehere” one.
  2. “Share” is now the new “Like” When a user does find your content, intentionally or not, and uses the Facebook “Share” button, it places that content on their timeline as if posted by them. They are recommending that content to their friends and followers. This circumvents Facebook’s brand classification as it sees the post as being from the individual. It is content they are organically recommending. So every single call-to-action must be “Share with your friends.” By building a loyal group of advocates, readers, fans or customers who will go the extra mile to type in your URL or bookmark your Facebook page, plus who will Share rather than like, perhaps even writing a little lead in to tell their friends why they should go see this content, you can still organically reach a lot of people. The challenge is that your content has got to be dynamite and your audience has got to love you beyond their love of most other brands.
  3. Pay to play I know … this isn’t organic. But now you know that in order to achieve organic success you need a highly engaged audience willing to share. When you have content that will attract that kind of user or you can target to find that kind of user, take advantage of the fact you can offer up a little bit of money to get it in front of more of the kinds of people you want to collect. It’s a numbers game, in a way. For every 20 users, you’ll probably have one that really digs you enough to type in the ULR and/or “Share” your content. (Your traction here may vary from 1:20, but that’s a good starting point.) The more users you have the more advocates you’ll have to choose from.

So there you have it. It might also be a great time to spend more time promoting your brand on other social media platforms. Twitter is starting to look better and better! What do you think? Will you put in the extra effort and energy to reach your followers on Facebook or will you leverage other vehicles to get your message out?

April Neill, CEO/Founder April Neill Public Relations
April Neill, CEO of April Neill Public Relations

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.

PR Lessons Learned, Takeaways from High-Profile PR Blunders

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Garnering publicity for a startup can be a great way of generating buzz about your new business, but it can also be a tricky endeavor. That said, having a well thought-out communications plan can keep your emerging brand on track and can help you navigate the murky waters when you do find yourself in an “iffy” media situation.
We all remember when Chicago-based startup Groupon slipped up last year by saying “s**t happens, we’re a young company” in an interview with The Financial Times, a newspaper read by investors and business executives, in response to irregularities found in their financial statements. (Their shareholders were no doubt less than thrilled with their nonchalance.)
Like startups, celebrities are also concerned with protecting their “brand” and no one more so lately than Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones have felt the strain of being under the media spotlight and dealing with the consequences of a PR blunder; for them a very public recent split. There are some important PR takeaways and lessons we can learn from these high-profile media fiascos.
 
PR Lessons
Loose Lips Sink Ships. It’s doubtful that Douglas, currently promoting his role as flamboyant pianist Liberace in the HBO film ‘Behind the Candelabra’, gave any thought to how his gaffe (blurting out in an interview that his stage 4 throat cancer was the result of an HPV infection he got from oral sex) would affect his wife and ultimately, his marriage. (I can only imagine their strained conversation after he made this confession.) You’ve heard the old adage “loose lips sink ships” and in this case, the ship was their marriage.
 
Think Team. Even if you are a celebrity or CEO, it’s important to remember that you have partners, employees, spouses and/or stakeholders who are invested in what you say to the media. (In Douglas’ case, his wife had a huge stake in his admission.) It’s important to “think team” when you are putting your communications strategy together and to consider how your words will affect your stakeholders.
 
Don’t Miss a Chance to Redirect Your Story. In Douglas’ case, the greatest crime isn’t the potential cause of his cancer – he later retracted his statement – it’s that he missed out on the perfect PR opportunity to redirect his story to champion a celebrity cause. Up until his retraction, he was praised by health experts for raising awareness for HPV, largely considered an epidemic, yet often taboo topic, because it’s sexually transmitted. Having a celebrity share his personal experience could have prompted a much-needed national conversation about HPV prevention strategies; however, Douglas wasn’t willing to rise to the occasion and go there (or return there, such as it is).
 
PR Takeaways. We all need to embrace that we are human and that PR blunders happen. When they do, it’s important that we are honest and transparent with our reactions and communications.
Take Groupon former CEO Andrew Mason’s final goodbye memo when he was ousted as CEO – it was authentic and transparent and demonstrated a level of honesty that we should all strive for in our communications. Douglas’ awkward retraction, on the other hand, didn’t feel authentic and I doubt that it changed the public’s perception on what caused his cancer (and we’re not judging in the least!); he also missed out on the perfect PR opportunity to turn his PR blunder into a platform and to contribute to the public good.
April Neill is a brand strategist, lifelong entrepreneur and founder/CEO of April Neill Public Relations, a boutique public relations firm serving small businesses and non-profits in Chicagoland. You can find April online at www.AprilNeillPR.com or at www.Facebook.com/AprilNeillPR.
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.