Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Have a new PR job? Get to know your local media.

Well, it's been a while since I posted. Since August, I have been working on a huge, HUGE project that has diverted my attention from this blog. I have been handling the public relations for the closing of Business 40, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The 1.2-mile stretch of road was the first portion of Interstate 40 built in our state, in 1955. 

It's old and worn out and is being replaced. The Business 40 Improvement Project has truly been a community effort which started some 12 years ago. New bridges. New highway. New beautiful entrance into Winston-Salem, the city of arts and innovation.

So when I started, the first thing I did was to get in touch with my local media. I went to see them. I am surprised how many PR professionals have never been to a newspaper, TV station or radio station. They have never seen the people who work in a newsroom, except when they show up for an interview.

That is so very wrong. If you're in the PR business, you need to put the media first on your agenda and work with them. Give them story ideas. Help them get interviews and those necessary images. There is never a need to fear anyone in the press. Embrace them. Help them. Nurture your relationships. They are your friends and should be treated as such.

MARKETING TIP: If you want to succeed in your PR efforts, get out of the office and go meet your local news crews. That includes the assignment editors. And be sure to thank them all.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Please accept my apologies ....

Image result for uh oh meme
I really do apologize. Only half of this site works on mobile. If you are using your phone, chances are you cannot see the 100+ schools and universities - and companies - that have repeatedly visited. You cannot see a lot of the information I have on the right side of the screen. 

I apologize. I have set this blog to be mobile-friendly, but the design must not work.

I am working to fix it.


Saturday, August 18, 2018

Bad websites ...

Every now and then I find an incredibly bad website. Check this one out

The goal of a commerce website is to make money. The site needs to be something the viewer, or shopper, can use. Photos and text should  be easy to see. 

A website should be viewed by others before going live. Mistakes can be caught during that time.

I feel for the owner of this site. He is either clueless about how bad it is or doesn't care.

MARKETING TIP: Make sure your website is useful, has good content and can be read easily.

Friday, August 17, 2018

When a parade fails ...

I love a parade. I love the floats,  the clowns, the bands, the girls in their crowns, the antique cars and the positive energy that comes from such an event.

Successful parades need strong leadership, a pot of money to spend and a desire, backed by energy and community support.

I recently learned of a parade in a small town which fell apart this year. The 129-year old event lasted 15 minutes. Attendees madly posted their frustration on social media. 

City leadership said it wasn't their event, that the merchant's association was doing it. 

When things fall apart like this, it is time for new leadership. Either a grass roots effort by local volunteers or an organization that needs recognition should step to the plate.

MARKETING TIP: Everyone loves a great event. When it falls apart, negativity spreads like wildfire throughout a community. That puts a dark cloud over the entire city. To blow that cloud away, and foster a positive atmosphere, new leadership needs to be identified to carry on the event tradition. When that happens, people will return and the result will be the influx of more money locally.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Do you have an action plan for your business? Are you employees aware of it?

Do you have a plan of action for your event or small business? Some people may call this a business plan, but it's much more simple than that.

Event planners need to have a calendar of deadlines for activities, such as contacting potential sponsors, recruiting volunteers and training them and getting the advertising together.

Small business owners need a calender to share with employees about activities within the company. For example, if there is a deadline for a shipment to go out, employees need to know that. Many companies do provide that information, but not everyone does.

A plan of action helps everyone understand, and support, the mission. A published plan, to all employees, help them understand their roles. That is incredibly important. Too often leadership keep the calendar at the top of the corporate pyramid and underlings have to figure out their roles by themselves.

An action plan helps internal communication.

MARKETING TIP: People on the outside of an organization can see if it is running smoothly and that everyone is "in the know." Outside perception is critical to the success of non-profits, events and small businesses. Others want to support organizations that are strong, successful and have a well-oiled engine of supporting and knowledgeable employees. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018


If you are mobile, consider changing to your web browser to see all the information here.

Laugh a little!

I teach classes about how to write and distribute press releases. Along the way, I meet some fabulous people.

I recently met a laughter therapist. She is hired by companies and schools to help loosen the tension and help the work flow. She gave us a short class.

She told us to think outside the box. She made us make funny faces at each other and try to move our teeth, cheeks, tongue, nose and lips at the same time. Then we all raised our arms, shook them and laughed.

The tension slipped right away. None of us knew the other, so this was a great icebreaker.

MARKETING TIP: Have fun in life. Have fun with your promotional pieces. When you have fun with them, the person who sees them will have fun too! 

Make your print ad work for you!

Normally I don't make a post this BIG. But, with these two graphics, I had to show you the details, or lack thereof. 

Here is the tale of two ads for two events. The ads were published on the same day. They ran in a community newspaper which has won all kinds of awards for its layout, design, news and sales teams. 

Which one looks better to you? Which one was created by a real designer? Which one wasn't?

If you were wanting to participate or attend, which would catch your eye? Which one is compelling? Which ones provides you enough information to make a decision?

MARKETING TIP: When you are putting together an ad of any kind, lean upon the professionals to help you do it. Make sure it contains a compelling look, one that tells your story. Be sure to include contact information, a web site of some kind and an actual street address.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Bad grammar can hinder your bottom line

I recently received a newsletter from a real estate company. Do you see anything incorrect with the wording? 

I and my team at XXX in XXXX want to welcome the XXX family into our community

Can't find it? This line should read "My team and I..."

When you use poor grammar, it is a reflection upon you and your company. 

MARKETING TIP: Have someone eyeball your communication before you send it out. Make sure it is correct. Your income can depend upon it. Look at it this way. If you cannot write something correct for yourself, are you going to do it correctly for your client? 

Monday, June 4, 2018

What is your #1 sales tool? Your business card!

In my classes, I talk a lot about business cards. They are your #1 sales tool. It is what business people exchange and keep for reference. Your sales kit may go by the wayside, but information from your card will usually be kept.

So to reiterate what I have said before ...

  1. Keep your business card a standard shape of 2 inches x 3-1/2 inches. Odd sizes just don't work.
  2. Make your font large enough for people to read without having to squint or put on their glasses. 
  3. Keep your font legible. Oh, I could scream how many times I have seen an artsy-fartsy cursive font that no one can read.
  4. Put the basic facts - your name, phone, email, address. Yes, people want to know where you hang your coat.
  5. Use a heavy card stock. A flimsy one says you are not reputable and that you are a here-today, and may gone tomorrow person.
  6. Logos are nice, but not necessary.
  7. Keep the back available to jot a message on it.

MARKETING TIP: Your business card is your #1 sales tool. Put some thought into its design. Please.

Sending photos for print publication? Don't edit them.

I've had the pleasure of working with many fantastic photographers in my life. I enjoy getting all the necessary elements together for them to set up a fantastic shoot. Along the way, I've learned quite a bit.

One of those things is that when you're sending a photo for a newspaper publication, don't "fix" the photo first. One of my dearest friends was over the United Press International (UPI) bureau in Miami for years. I got to know him when he was the chief photographer for the Wilmington Star News.

He gave me a piece of advice I have always remembered - and that continues to be echoed by newspaper editors. Send the original photograph. Don't edit, fix or doctor it up. The paper will do that. Newspaper folks know when a photo has been doctored. They really don't like it, but will probably use it anyway. 

Photographers may or may not know the printing requirements that the paper follows. That is why it is best NOT to fix a photo before sending it. 

Make it easy. Send it as a jpg attachment with the story or the cutline.

MARKETING TIP: Keep your newspaper folks happy. That business isn't dead yet. People are still reading papers - online and hard copy.

Photographing an event? Know this basic rule ...

Have you been asked or hired to photograph an event? If so, congratulations! Do you know how the images are going to be used? If not, you need to ask.

Here is a basic rule ...

If the images are going to be used for publication, they need to be a minimum of 300 dpi and need to be sent as a jpg. If the event producer is sending it to a media outlet, the accompanying story, or press release, needs to be sent at the same time.


Photos can get lost and be separated from the story.

Newsrooms are small these days. They don't have the staff to hunt down a photo to go with a press release.

MARKETING TIP: Keep your client happy by sending images the correct size and through email. Attach the images to the email. A 1mg or 2 mg photo is large enough. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Writing a grant proposal? Tell your story ...

Writing a grant proposal? The best way is to tell your story.

For example, a food kitchen provides a daily meal to homeless people and needs funding to buy food and pay the utilities.

Would the grant start with the need for 25 cases of spaghetti sauce, 50 cases of pasta, 20 cases of canned mushrooms and 15 cases of dried Parmesan cheese? No. Granted, you're telling the need, but you can do it in a much more compelling way.

You can say... In winter, Harry R. lives in a homeless shelter. His employer closed the manufacturing plant three years ago and Harry has not been able to find work since. He suffers from disabling depression. In summer, he lives in a tented community nearby. He is just one of the people we serve a fresh, hot meal to each day.

Harry's ability to get a meal is in jeopardy because we are running low on funds. We have not received donations this year as we had expected because two other food kitchens have opened up in our county. They are 30 minutes from this one, but have tapped into our regular donors. So we need help.

Do you see the difference?

MARKETING TIP: When you're in the process of applying for a grant, tell the story, not only in the grant application, but to your local media. The goal is for the grant decision-makers to learn about your plight through various channels.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Buying a domain name

A domain name is one of the most important marketing tools any company or non-profit can ever have. It has to tell what your company/organization does or sells, be memorable and be short. Simple.

Yes, you can have more than one domain name. A marketing strategy is to use different domain names for various products. For example, a tourism promotional organization can use one domain for restaurants, hotels and attractions - and use another for events. It can use different domains for each of the attractions. Why? The answer is to be able to mine the website analytical data to increase sales. Bottom line.

So where do you go to buy a domain name? For me, there is only one place - Go Daddy. I use that company because it is located in the United States. There are people there who have lived in my state and know where my city is. They may speak with my dialect - and they're open 24/7. I'm not talking with anyone off shore. (And, this is an educational portal with no advertising.)

As you're setting up your company or organization, buy your domain name as fast as you can. There are really bad people in this world who monitor searches for domain names and will buy them up when they see one being frequently tested for ownership.

I just saw a $.99 special for a domain name. I waited 30 minutes and the special was gone, increasing from 99 cents (USD) to $11.99. I just lost $11.

MARKETING TIP: Your domain name is incredibly important. Delaying its purchase is not always wise. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Volunteers are golden. Treat them as such.

Keeping volunteers happy starts with the organization leadership
I'm flabbergasted. I recently heard about an organization that seemed to support chewing out volunteers. WHAT?

Non-profits typically have little money to hire employees. So volunteers fill in the gaps. A volunteer has the luxury of choosing the type of work that needs to be done, when, where and how often. A volunteer can sign up for a particular task and decline to do others.

That is the beauty of being a volunteer. (Here is a good guide sheet about how to work with volunteers.)

So when I heard that a non-profit had reprimanded volunteers, I was stunned. No, you just don't do that.

Volunteers are golden. They are precious. They will work harder than most paid staffers. They choose to be part of an organization; they don't have to do it. They can fill their time with other activities, yet they choose to donate their time to a cause they feel worthy.

So be kind and treat your volunteers well. If you don't, word will quickly get around and THAT will hurt your bottom line.

MARKETING TIP: When volunteers are happy campers, they can help you promote your organization more than you will ever know. They will help you succeed in your community. If they are unhappy and let it be known, you'll see it in your balance sheet.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Candidate Linda Coleman needs to learn about domain names

Folks, it's imperative that you purchase your own domain name. Why? Here's a classic example. A woman ran for a top government office. She bought the domain name for that election, but failed to keep it. Then before the next election, some Russian dude had it.

Is this woman fit for office? Maybe or maybe not. But she needs to ditch her advisors.

Here's another example. A woman farmer had the same name as a convicted felon more than 500 miles away. The convicted felon had the website. Do you think that could have caused a problem for the farmer? Yes, it could.

Buying a website is like purchasing an insurance policy. In this day when everything is online, it's absurd NOT to purchase your domain name. Go Daddy sells them for $10 or so a year. If your name isn't available, buy the next best selection. Go Daddy will show you options. Protect yourself.

MARKETING TIP: If you are self-employed, buy your domain name, regardless of the name of your company. If you are a student, a parent, a job seeker - be smart. Buy your own domain name. Potential voters, employers, creditors, neighbors, etc. will check you out. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Stop using your personal Facebook page for your business

Using Facebook personal pages for a business
Hey peeps! What on earth is it going to take to get you to understand that you cannot use a personal Facebook page for your business?

Here is what Facebook says about that:

"It's against the Facebook Terms to use your personal account to represent something other than yourself (example: your business), and you could permanently lose access to your account if you don't convert it to a Page."

Making your own Facebook business account is so simple. Chewing corn on the cob is more difficult!

MARKETING TIP: Please don't waste your time building your Facebook into a business when Facebook has the right to shut you down. You will lose your friends and all the time and money you spent creating your page. Do it correctly the first time!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What are the differences between how you operate a FOR and NOT for profit business?

Is a non-profit a business
I saw this in my IN box and had to share.

What is the difference between a FOR and NOT for profit business? Note I used the word "business."

Despite what many in the non-profit world think, a non-profit is a business. It is a corporation. It has to be, per IRS rules. To operate, it must have a viable, sustainable income stream.

But there are other factors too. I'm not going to post them here, but you need to read this article.

She talks about the corporate philosophy and community. I encourage you to subscribe to her online information and use it in your non-profit organization.

MARKETING TIP: A non-profit lives off other people's money. That's just the way it is. Non-profit board members and staff have to be accountable for it and be creative when it comes to sustainable operations. When the public sees that level of corporate responsibility, money will come easier.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fundraising? Are you a fish out of water?

Non-profit board diversity needed for fundraising
Fundraising? Don't be a fish out of water.

An organization of farmers wants to raise money for various projects. They send letters to a lot of corporations, but get no response. They wonder why.

They're fish out of water.

Their board is comprised of farmers. Their fundraising committee is comprised of farmers.

They need people from different industrial segments, like from medicine, banking, insurance, retail, education, food and transportation on their board. They need high profile people who can make connections within their own respective industries.

You don't send a farmer to talk with an insurance company. You send an insurance person to talk with the insurance company. They talk the same lingo. They may even know one another. They can connect because they're in the same industry.

So in your community, if you are with a non-profit, try to create a diverse board which can help you with your fundraising efforts.

MARKETING TIP: A diverse board, of people who are not afraid to ask for money on your organization's behalf, will help your coffers grow and help you provide more services within your community. 

Hey tourism offices, don't forget the community newspaper ...

I just spoke with the PR person at a convention and visitors bureau. She routinely used to send out press releases about fun, enticing events and activities in her city. No more. She relies upon social networking and her website.

Well, I hate to tell her, but there is a world of promotional opportunity that she just cut off.

Local newspapers like to write about local happenings, yes. However, some have arts and entertainment tabloids, or even regional magazines, where they sometimes like to show what is going on elsewhere.

And yes, people do still read. Some of those publications are available online.

But editors and reporters need the information.

MARKETING TIP: Continue to send out press releases with hi-res images to print media. That world isn't dead yet. And, reporters and editors don't have time to weed through social media and website portals to find your information.