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.

Small Business Philanthropy: 4 Ways Your Small Business Can Be Charitable—And What You Will Gain

 Posted By: April Neill, President April Neill Public Relations

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I’m a big believer in giving back to your community by either donating your time or expertise to charities or organizations that you have an affinity for. As you may already know, volunteering has been shown to have a number of benefits –including boosting your health, longevity, and outlook, but did you know that it could also help your small business?

In a recent study by Ernst & Young and the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, 62% of small business owners say that giving back to their community has made their business more successful in the long run. Below are 4 ways to support local charities and the benefits you’ll gain:

1. Provide Your Expertise. As a small business owner, you can offer your knowledge and expertise to others by sitting on a nonprofit committee or by offering your services pro bono to a charity. By doing so, your charitable contribution will be your time, and not money out of your budget.

Benefit: For business owners just starting out, this can be the perfect way to develop new relationships while doing good work.

2. Host a fundraiser. People love to go to parties and events and hosting an event that requires a donation to a local charity as admission is a great way to align your business with charitable causes in your community.

Benefit: Hosting a fundraiser is the perfect opportunity to get media exposure for your event and to generate goodwill about the work your business is doing. Positive press is a also great way to build your reputation and increase your market exposure.

3. Volunteer and promote volunteerism. Volunteering your time to projects can make a huge impact in your community and getting your employees involved with organized volunteer days can be the perfect way to bring your company closer together.

Benefit: Giving back feels good and for most people, giving back makes them feel happy. Happy employees tend to be more productive and happy business owners, more successful.

4. Give a little bit to a lot. You don’t need to break the bank to make a cash donation to a charity. A great way to give back is to earmark a small percentage of your profits from each new client or project to a charity that you care about or better yet, a charity your client cares about.

Benefit: Clients are far more likely to do business with you if they know a portion of their fee is going to a good cause. You will also set yourself apart by being socially responsible.

At ANPR, we believe in giving back to our community and we are committed to working with clients that are socially responsible as well. If you’re a small business owner or executive who is looking to increase your social impact and global imprint, we’d love to help you tell your story!

Do you have a unique way of giving back to your community? Tell us about it!

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.

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.

8 Tips for Rebranding your Small Business

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By April Neill, CEO/Founder April Neill Public Relations

As a small business owner, your brand image is important and if you’re thinking of reinventing your brand –its identity and personality —it’s important to first ask yourself why you’re doing it.  Do you have specific reasons and goals for giving your brand an overhaul? Rebranding may involve significant changes to your logo, your website, and your social media presence as well as your marketing and public relations strategies. Consider the following key points before rebranding.

  1. Review your existing brand. What are you saying about yourself as a business? What promises does your brand make and to whom? Focusing on your brand’s attributes and values and how your stakeholders perceive your brand will help you to develop new strategies to reach new customers and to ensure your message resonates with your current customer base.
  2. Discover your “Why?” What can you achieve by rebranding? What do you want your customer to think or know about you and how will you deliver their highest values and needs? Build your rebrand with a direction in mind and with the customer experience in mind.
  3. Evaluate brand communications and factors that make up your brand. A brand is the sum total of perceptions that leap into a person’s head when your brand name is mentioned, so look beyond print collateral, logo, and signage and perform a thorough audit of all your brand communications and channels.
  4. Involve and Evolve your Brand’s Mission. As you consider how your company mission lives within your brand, it’s important to consider how it will exist in a rebrand. What makes your brand uniquely and wonderfully you and how can its core evolve to reflect your new strategy?
  5. Look internally and externally for buy-in. With branding and rebranding, it’s important to consider how your brand lives internally and externally. What do your employees think about your brand? What does the public think about your brand? As you create new perceptions of your brand, it’s important to consider how your stakeholders feel and the promises that you will make with your rebrand. When planning your rebranding strategy, it’s important to consider the impact a rebrand will make on all your stakeholders and to get their buy-in.
  6. Utilize Social Media. When you release your new brand into the social media “wild” it’s important to monitor social media posts and respond when appropriate. People tend to resist change, so be ready for some resistance. Remember that taste is subjective and if you do get resistance, this is your chance to connect, interact, and engage with your audience.
  7. Synchronize, and Be Consistent. When taking on a rebranding initiative, do it whole-heartedly. It’s important to synchronize your rebrand launch across multiple platforms and to ensure that you have an integrated visual communications strategy for your new brand. The last thing you want to do is to rebrand on one platform, and have your old brand logo on your other platforms. It will make you look disorganized. Remember, consistency is key so take the time and use your resources to plan a synchronized launch.
  8. Utilize Publicity in your rebranding launch. By all means, construct a press release to announce your new brand. Launching a rebranding PR campaign can help you multiply your reach and results quickly and if submitted to online news services, boost your ranking on search engines.

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.

April Neill Public Relations Selected as PR Firm of Record for Gear For Goals

April Neill Public Relations, a full-service public relations consulting firm located in Plainfield, IL, announces the addition of Gear for Goals, a global non-profit youth organization providing sports equipment and hope for underprivileged children, to its roster of clients.

April Neill Public Relations (ANPR) today announced the addition of Gear for Goals to its growing roster of clients. Gear for Goals is a youth-centered humanitarian outreach that serves children in need with sports equipment and instruction. Since Gear for Goals’ launch the summer of 2012, over 2,000 children’s lives have been impacted with sports equipment and uniforms in Kenya and the Dominican Republic. Armed with a global vision to bring hope and possibility through the love of sports to children in need, Gear for Goals’ 2013 plans include continued support to kids in the Dominican Republic, a pilot trip to Russia to touch the lives of children in summer camps and orphanages, and a local outreach to kids in need in Chicago.

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Dr. Warren Bruhl, Director of Dreamweaver International’s Gear for Goals project brings sports gear and hope to underprivileged children in Kenya.

“ANPR recognizes the importance of giving back and is passionate about helping non-profits gain social relevance and exposure for their cause,” says April A. Neill, President and Founder of April Neill Public Relations. “We’re thrilled to partner with Gear for Goals to increase visibility for their social impact initiatives and their global vision of impacting children’s lives.”

ANPR will support the organization’s brand building initiatives, programs, events and services, including an upcoming fund-raiser in June with the Schaumburg Boomers’ Baseball league with both traditional and new media publicity and marketing efforts.

“I have been incredibly thankful for the thoughtful wisdom, knowledge, and urgency April Neill applies to the art of media,” states Dr. Warren Bruhl, Director of Dreamweaver International’s Gear for Goals. “April has a comprehensive grasp on who makes news and how to get news for our organization. As a director for a rapidly growing charity, we rely on powerful leaders to help us create lasting impact on lives and April’s leadership and ability to share our message with media and gain access to a global audience has been tantamount to our success. We owe a great deal of thanks to April’s tireless work ethic and results.”

About April Neill Public Relations
April Neill Public Relations (ANPR) is a full-service PR consulting firm specializing in meeting the needs of today’s small businesses. Serving a variety of clients in the professional services, healthcare, nonprofit, and Christian marketplace, ANPR is passionate about helping small businesses and nonprofits build their brand awareness and tell their brand story. For more information, call 815.651.0656 or visit AprilNeillPR.com. Follow ANPR on Facebook at Facebook.com/AprilNeillPR.

About Gear for Goals (G4G)
Gear for Goals, a partner program of Dreamweaver International, is a successful youth-oriented project that serves underprivileged children with sports equipment and instruction. Gear for Goals’ Vision is to see every child in the world have the opportunity to play, compete, and enjoy sport through equal access to necessary equipment and instruction. Hope and possibility, flourishing community, transformed economies, inspired health, and lasting impact are the global imprint of their service. Gear for Goals’ Mission is to provide every child enjoyment, passion, and love of sport.

About Dreamweaver International
Dreamweaver International is a 501c(3) organization located in the United States that provides education, healthcare, and humanitarian aid to the people of the Rift Valley of Kenya. With the addition of partner program, Gear for Goals, Dreamweaver International’s scope and outreach of humanitarian care continues to grow globally. For more information, visit Dreamweaver911.org.

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.