7 Tips for Optimizing your Small Businesses’ Reputation Online

Building perfect reputation

A reputation can take years to build, and in today’s digital age, only seconds to tarnish. As a small business owner, your company’s brand reputation is one of its most important assets and keeping your brand’s profile spotless is important to your success. Try the following tactics to optimize your brand reputation online.

  1. You are your Brand. Online reputation management for small business owners involves maintaining a good name with your personal profile as well as your business profile so it’s important to note that you are your brand. As a business owner, your personal digital profile is more than likely linked to your business so it’s important to remember to think before you post. What are you saying about yourself that may reflect on your business image? Also be mindful of what your friends post on your social sites as well. You’ll want to monitor comments to make sure they don’t put you, or your business, in a bad light. If they do, hit delete. Your friends will understand.
  2. Monitor your search results at least once a week. Google your business at least once a week and keep an eye out for any negative content that needs addressed. And be sure to search past the first page on Google. It’s also a good idea to track what you find including the URL, the page title, your relationship to the page, (is it a social site that you have ownership or control/influence over?) and whether the comment is positive, negative or somewhere in between. You may want to keep a spreadsheet if there are numerous results and chart what action, if any, is needed.
  3. Be Authentic. It’s important to always be authentic in your responses to negativity online. If you made a mistake, be upfront about it and don’t try to “spin” the situation. Acknowledge what happened, apologize when/if appropriate, and outline your plan to make amends. Sincerity and humility speak volumes online and you will more than likely defuse the situation quickly by being upfront about it.
  4. Know when to Stand Up or Stand Down. It’s always okay to delete a comment that is abusive or one that uses offensive language and it’s important to know when to stand up to an online bully or when to stand down. If you have an unhappy customer who posts a negative comment online, your best bet is to immediately contact the person who wrote the comment and ask them if there is anything you can do to address their concerns and to give them a more positive customer experience. If that fails, if possible, leave a comment to explain what you’re doing to rectify the situation or your side of the story if there is nothing you can do to turn the situation around.
  5. Write to Boost Your Google Ranking. Writing a company blog helps connect your brand with your audience and can go a long way in boosting your page ranking on google. Using a blog can also be a great way to position yourself as a leader in your industry and to sway public opinion about your brand and create a positive fan base. That said, if a negative comment pops up on a search engine, you’ll have a better chance of dominating your ranking with positive content about your company.
  6. Diversify your Web Presence. In addition to writing a company blog, it’s important to establish a presence on social media sites. If you only have time for one, LinkedIn may be your best bet. Profiles on LinkedIn tend to rank higher on search engines and many business people search on LinkedIn for professional services. Once you establish your presence, be active. Providing new content on a regular basis and becoming interactive with your clients and prospective clients will boost your rankings and generate overall goodwill for your company.
  7. Boost Your Online Presence with PR. Sending out search-optimized press releases on a regular basis, on topics that interest your audience, can be very useful in boosting your online presence. Pay close attention to relevant keywords and phrases and infuse them into your press releases for the best results.

April Neill Public Relations is passionate about working with small businesses to increase their brand awareness and help them find their voice. 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.

Find Your Voice, Maximize Your Message: Five Tips for Finding Your Brand Voice

By April Neill, CEO/Founder April Neill Public Relations

As new social media platforms emerge on the web, creating a marketers paradise where businesses and brands strive to stand out and build their brand awareness in the social media realm, it’s more important than ever to find your voice.

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I’m an avid fan of American Idol and this season I’m rooting for Lazaro Arbos, a contestant who struggles to communicate while speaking. Often stuttering during interviews, Lazaro is able to overcome his speech impediment while he sings. His recent rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was spellbinding and in song, he finds his voice and a deep connection with the audience (as evidenced by his top ten ranking). Yay, go Lazaro!

Like Idol’s Lazaro, many businesses struggle to communicate their brand messages to their target audiences. Often stumbling over their words, especially in the social media realm where it can be tricky figuring out how to speak to your audience and how to find the right voice for your business, their messages tend to be mixed and confusing. Here are five top tips for finding your brand voice.

1. Know Yourself. If you’re a brand looking to promote your business or service on social media channels, it’s important to first consider who you are as a brand. Knowing who you are (what is at the heart of your brand and what your purpose and promise is) will greatly help you in developing your brand voice.

2. Know Your Audience. Be clear on who you are trying to connect with. If you’re looking to connect with diverse audiences, be sure to pair each social media platform with the audience that it best suits and plan your social media mix based on reaching the largest segments and optimizing your messages for each platform’s audience.

3. Establish Vibe, Tone. Your brand’s voice should be a clear representation of its personality and character and its vibe and tone should reflect that personality. Is your brand serious or quirky? Is your vibe professional or friendly and casual? Consistency is key and while it’s perfectly okay to establish a more serious tone with your brand messaging, coming across as human and approachable is essential. The language you use in your messaging sets the tone for your brand voice, so take the time to create a list of words, phrases, and adjectives that reflect your brand’s core and share this list with your social media manager or team. This tone may change across platforms (your tone on LinkedIn will more than likely differ from your Twitter tone), so you will need to evaluate each platform you engage on and set the tone for each.

4. Social Media Policy. A well thought-out and transparent social media policy that outlines your strategy, language and tone, and that specifies who is responsible for managing your posts will provide your business the structure to be consistent and effective with its messaging. If possible, appoint one person to be responsible for managing your social media posts, content creation, and curation. If you’re a large organization with multiple divisions engaging on your behalf, it’s even more important to establish your brand’s social media policy to outline who will be responding for what and your policies for responding to negative comments, customer service issues, and general questions. It’s important to note that it’s absolutely okay to delete a comment or block anyone leaving harassing messages or using foul language on your social sites and having a policy in place to address these issues will be a great guide for your team in dealing with them as they arise.

5. Credibility. By far, the most important concept to consider in finding your voice is building trust and credibility with your audience. Be authentic, honest and transparent; respond in real time to comments and post regularly with quality content that your audience will find interesting, entertaining, and helpful. Do this and it will go a long way in boosting your credibility. Remember, keeping your audience engaged is key so pay attention to what your audience is talking about, what they are interested in, and which posts get the most engagement.

April Neill Public Relations is passionate about working with small businesses to increase their brand awareness and help them find their voice. We offer a complimentary 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. Email AprilNeill@gmail.com to make your appointment today or call (815) 651-0656 for more information. Visit us online at AprilNeillPR.com.

7 Tips for Selecting a Publicist or PR Firm

By April Neill, CEO/Founder April Neill Public Relations

 

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Publicity can be a powerful tool for small business owners looking to build their brand image and increase their customer base, however, if PR isn’t in your wheelhouse, finding a publicist or PR firm that’s right for you can be a daunting task.

As niche experts in the professional services, healthcare and not-for-profit sectors, we know that there are certain aspects of a PR firm or publicist that will increase your success in obtaining your goals and make the journey more enjoyable and more importantly, more profitable. Here are seven tips to consider before hiring an agency or freelance publicist for your company.

  1. Passion. Find a publicist who is passionate about what they do. The best publicist or PR firm for you is one that is passionate about PR and loves, loves, LOVES the process!
  2. Belief. Find a publicist who believes in you and your brand. Don’t compromise on this point. It’s imperative that your publicist believes in you, your service, your product, and believes in your message.
  3. Creativity. Does the publicist you’re evaluating have a vision for your brand and innovative, strategic ideas for driving the outcomes that are important to you? Find a publicist who is not only innovative, but also one whose creativity and ideas you can trust and believe in.
  4. Experience/Expertise. You’re on a mission to increase your brand awareness and grow your business. For those reasons alone you’re hiring a professional publicist to leverage their experience so you can achieve bigger and better results for you business than you could envision on you own. Ask yourself the following: Do they have the experience and proven track record that demonstrates they can produce the results you want? Do they have experience/expertise working in your industry?  Don’t be shy about asking to see their portfolio and past campaigns they’ve managed. You really need to evaluate their capabilities.
  5. Media Relations. Often, small businesses need a publicist or PR firm to work the media on their behalf. If you need a publicist to pitch journalists or disseminate press releases to targeted media outlets for you, ask them how they build their media lists. Do they have access to journalists in your industry? It’s always good to find a publicist who has access to the most up-to-date media contact lists and who has well-established media contacts in your space.
  6. Writing Skills. Today’s public relations are becoming more and more “content-driven” and it’s imperative that a publicist or PR firm represents you with good writing. It’s a good idea to look at samples of their work and ask your self if they can adapt their writing style to fit your brand image, target market and business goals. Also, do they have published clips to show of contributed articles they’ve written for other companies? It’s one thing to be a skilled writer; it’s another to have your articles actually picked up by the media.
  7. Free Consultation. A good PR firm will offer a free no-obligation consultation that will give you the opportunity to access their capabilities and discover if they’re a good fit for your business and your budget.

Special Offer: April Neill Public Relations is passionate about working with small businesses to increase their brand awareness and name recognition. We offer a complimentary 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. Email AprilNeill@gmail.com to make your appointment today or call (815) 651-0656 for more information. Visit us online at AprilNeillPR.com.

Brand Story, Brand Power

iStock_000012811129_SmallBy April Neill, CEO/Founder April Neill Public Relations

Branding is about storytelling and a strong brand message has incredible power. Not just on how it is perceived in the world, but also how it positions a brand and connects it with consumers, key influencers, and stakeholders.

Whether you are launching a new brand or re-branding your existing business, it’s important to consider what’s at the heart of your brand and what your brand stands for. You really need to know yourself before you start sharing your brand’s story with the world.

In today’s technologically advanced world with the explosion of social media, it’s more important than ever to have a clear vision for your brand, authentic brand communications, and an integrated brand communications strategy.

Let me introduce myself. I’m April Neill, president of April Neill Public Relations (ANPR), a full-service marketing and public relations consulting firm specializing in meeting the needs of small businesses in the corporate, healthcare, and not-for-profit sectors. ANPR takes a strategic, holistic approach to developing brand-centered, results-driven communications and has worked with hundreds of businesses in promoting and publicizing their brand.

ANPR believes that publicity alone isn’t enough for small businesses to gain market share and drive sales. ANPR works hard to make sure that all components are covered and integrates a combination of branding, PR, social media and other marketing components to create successful PR and Marketing campaigns to tell your Brand’s story effectively and strategically.

Our goal for our Blog is to offer a platform for our readers to gain insights into the latest trends and best practices for Branding, Marketing, PR, Reputation Management and Social Media and to start a conversation about what’s working out in the real world.

Do you have a question for our communications experts? A real-life marketing success story to share? We want to hear from you! Join the conversation and tell us about it!

What’s your Brand’s Story and how are you telling it?

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

April Neill is the President & Founder of April Neill Public Relations, a subsidiary of April Neill & Associates, Inc. located in Plainfield, Illinois. April can be reached at (815) 651-0656 or via email at AprilNeill@gmail.com. Visit ANPR online at AprilNeillPR.com.