Monthly Archives: September 2013

Public Relations – Successful Strategic Planning

Author: MJ Pedone – September 29, 2013Image

 

Strategic planning is at the heart of all public relations. Launching a PR campaign without a strategic plan is like embarking on a cross-country road trip without a map or GPS. In today’s business environment with limited resources and ramped up accountability, it’s not enough to head off in a general, vague direction. A GPS-like a strategic plan requires you to input your destination, which keeps you on track.

The ability to create and implement strategies is the key that enables professionals to advance from tactical PR practitioners to sought-after strategic planners. Today, effective PR communicators not only need to know how to execute but they also need to know how to evaluate the effectiveness of their strategic approach. The landscape of the profession is rapidly changing and new methods and tactics are emerging. It is shedding its past approach from disseminating information to a focus on promoting engagement, identifying influencers and developing brand advocates and ambassadors. But the basic principles for excellence in effective PR still remain the same: strategy, creativity, integrity and implementation.

The most successful way to develop a strategic PR plan is to break it down into four main components: analysis, research, execution and evaluation.

The first step toward a successful campaign is to perform an analysis of all aspects of the PR situation. This leads to identifying and establishing the communications objectives, which are different from the goals. Objectives are clear and measurable statements based on an organization’s goals. Goals, stated in general terms, articulate an organization’s mission or vision. The next important step is to determine all the relevant publics and key audiences. Once the objectives and audiences are identified, it’s time to make strategic choices from a multitude of tactical options.

Along with the analysis phase is the research phase. Think of research as the GPS of the planning stage. It will position your message and set you in the right direction. An important aspect of effective public relations is strategically crafting your message to build relationships and engage your audiences in conversations.

After the situation analysis, research and message development are complete, you can formulate the timeline of the plan and begin executing the tactical components. This would be a good time to establish metrics for measuring results and evaluating effectiveness of the program.

The final phase is to evaluate the campaign and report on its reach and results. It is important to be able to articulate quantitative and qualitative measurements of effectiveness.

We are all learners and doers and a big part of life is learning from one another. By critically evaluating real-world case studies of other PR campaigns, we can enhance our creativity and strategic thinking. We can benefit immensely from observing, understanding and emulating best practices as well as learning from not so good ones. With each successful PR campaign, we gain the opportunity to advance in our field and elevate the profession as a whole.

Do you have a strategy that you want to let us and other practitioners know about? Well, we’d love to hear and welcome your comments.

Need help with a PR strategy? At Indra Public Relations we love to create and execute all aspects of a PR campaign delivering the results our clients deserve.

http://www.indrapr.com

 

As always, if you like what you read, be social and share.

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Tips To Make The Most Out of the Next Networking Event

Author: Gina Mason – September 24, 2013

“It’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small, small world.”

Don’t let a huge metropolis like Manhattan fool you. Despite the fact that there are millions of people working and living here, it is amazing how small this big city really is. That is why I truly believe in the power of networking because you never truly know who knows who in this town. I am an advocate for networking events and have made some incredible connections that have helped both personally and in my career.

Whether you are looking for a job or just a new way to get the word out about your business, networking events can be extremely beneficial for all.  Although some may be put off by the idea of being forced into a room full of strangers, you may be surprised how these new connections can help you in one way or another. Below are some simple tips to help you get the most out of your next networking event.

1)    Always be on time

It is always better to arrive as close as you can to the start of a networking event. Once the event gets going, people form small groups and start conversing with one another. It is much more difficult to break into a circle of people in the middle of a conversation than it is to start one. Be sure to get there early, so you don’t miss a beat!

2)    Ditch the shyness at the door

I understand that networking events can be awkward and uncomfortable, but it is just as awkward and uncomfortable for everyone else in the room. Remember that everyone is in the same boat and majority of the people don’t know anyone either, so there is no reason to be shy.  If you don’t feel comfortable walking across the room to speak to someone right away, look to the people standing next to you to break the ice.   

3)    Don’t forget to smile

This seems like a silly rule, but you would be surprised just how far a simple smile can get you. Think about it. What is more inviting? A person that is smiling or a person that is frowning? Doing this will not only make the process easier, but it will also increase your chances of meeting more people.

4)    Play the name game

I don’t know about you, but I am the absolute worst when it comes to remembering names. I recently attended a networking event and a communication expert shared a fantastic tip with me. He told me that in order to remember someone’s name, simply play “the name game.” What is the “name game?” Well, when you meet someone new try to think of someone you already know with the same name. Envision that person’s face and make the name association with the new person.

5)    Build a relationship

Although most people have the same goal of expanding their business or their Rolodex at a networking event, don’t sell yourself or your company right off the bat.  Get to know the person that you are speaking to. Find out what their interests are, about their personal life, how many pets they have, etc. Make a personal connection first and the business will come later.  

6)    Don’t be a “Me-monster”

This one is a big one. We all have experienced Me-monsters at one point or another. You know, that person who is all about “me, me, me.” It is difficult when meeting new people to not talk about yourself, but try not to overdo it. If there are other people in the group make sure they have the opportunity to share their views or insight. People are turned off by those who only talk about themselves, so be sure to let others join in.

7)    Be sure to follow up and stay in touch

After the event is over, be sure to send a follow up email within the first couple days of the event. Finish up a conversation or tell your new connection how nice it was to meet them. Keep that door of communication open and check in frequently. Although, your new connection may not be able to help you now, they may be able to in the future.

As mentioned above, networking events can be a great way to meet new people. You never know who you may run into or how they can help you in the future, so get out there and network!

As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

Five Resume Mistakes

Five Resume Mistakes

By: MJ Pedone – September 23, 2013

Obsessing over every detail of your resume is a nightmare. Who knows what skills or accomplishments may catch someone’s eye knowing that HR manager receive a significant amount of resumes daily. Whatever you do to set yourself apart, make sure you’re not making these mistakes:

1.     Don’t give your resume document a generic title.

We all have that document on our computers titled “My Resume.”
But when you send it out, make sure the HR or hiring manager can find it, meaning it should contain your name and the word “resume” i.e. John Doe Resume.

Also, try not to give it a title that indicates it’s a resume skewed in favor of the position.  For example Entertainment PR Resume” indicates that you have aggregated your relevant Entertainment PR experience to make it appear stronger and in favor of the position. HR managers want the total picture of your career experience and may be put off by a resume that has obviously been doctored in a certain direction.

2.     Don’t put your name and contact information in the header.

This is one of those email/computer issues that can be killer. When formatting your resume, make sure that you do not put your contact information solely in the header. Often the header gets cut off or lost when sent via e-mail or to someone’s printer, and more importantly, resume filing software doesn’t pick up the information in the header. Make sure that if someone wants to contact you, they can.

Be sure and save your resume as a PDF file, which most people can open and view in its entirety and can’t be altered.

3.     Don’t use fancy fonts.

Probably the moral of this story is to PDF your resume, but if you are going to send it as a word document, don’t use fancy fonts. Although these types of scriptive fonts look beautiful, it isn’t very professional and the person receiving the resume may not have the same font on their computer, and it can look ugly on their end. It is always safe to use Times New Roman that is a clean professional font.

4.     Don’t go overboard with flowery, vague language.

Use specifics and the terms of the job description to which you are replying. Being overqualified can be just as bad as under qualified. If the job requires knowledge of Excel, make sure the HR manager is going to see Excel on your resume. You may describe “an award winning multiple screen high-end list,” but if you don’t say Excel, they may not get it.


5.     Don’t leave holes in your history.

People who look through a significant amount of resumes, like the timeline to be chronological order. It’s important not to leave holes because you never know what someone may assume why you weren’t working for that period of time. Often times, college grads leave the year of their graduation off their resumes because they don’t want to look too young.  But the work experience is often unrelated and for periods of less than a year which doesn’t look good. If you can see that a person was in school at that time, then it’s understandable.

It’s important for recruiters to be confident in the candidates they send out and that is why they need to have full disclosure. Even though resumes are marketing tools, people expect what is on your resume to be 100% accurate and not misleading. Build your resume with confidence and a complete chronological timeline that showcases your career progression from college to present.

As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

 

Seven Best Practices for Social Media Customer Support

Seven Best Practices for Social Media Customer Support

By: MJ Pedone – September 9, 2013

 

1. Respond timely

A quick response is very important to customers who contact a business via social media and that is usually within an hour. Even if you can’t deal with a query in that time, let the customer know you’ve heard them and will be getting back to them shortly.

 

2. Personalize

Customers like to know they are speaking to a real person. Staff members should sign off a tweet with their name even if they are sharing an account with other employees.

 

3. Focus on client retention 

Customer service is all about retaining current clients. This is extremely important, as it’s easy to keep a client than it is to find a new one. Make sure you pool your resources to ensure you keep your clients happy.

 

4. Don’t ignore

According to a Bluewolf infographic, 58% of those who have tweeted about a bad experience have not received a response from the company involved. Bluewolf believes that by 2014, ignoring tweets and Facebook messages will be as detrimental as ignoring emails or phone calls.

 

5. Use calls to action

It’s not always possible to deal with queries in a few sentences. Give your customers a direct email address of a customer service rep. This will help the customer to know their email is going to a real person.

 

6. Train your staff

In order to deal with the high volume of queries in an effective manner, numerous social media staff members should be handling the Twitter account. Ensure each staff member knows the correct procedure for responding to queries. The replies must be informative and should keep within your brand image.

 

7. Be proactive

If you have a known issue such as email downtime or product recalls let your customers know before the complaints start flooding in. If people are aware the website will be down for a few hours hours, you’ll get fewer tweets and messages asking what’s happened to it.

 

The factors used in judging whether social media customer service is good or not are: knowledgeable staff, timely responses, complaint resolution and a personal touch. Try and keep on top of each of these, and your customers will thank you for it.

 

Do you have any social media customer support practices that you would like to share?  I welcome all comments and thoughts and as always, if you like what you read, be social and share.

The Risks of Resisting Social Media

Author: MJ Pedone  | September 3, 2013

There are conversations taking place about brands 24 hours a day through social media. Are you a part of these conversations or are you hoping that this form of communication will come to a halt in a few more weeks?

Social media offers a variety of opportunities for brands to get involved by participating in those conversations. While participating in social media is not without risk, not participating might prove to be the greater risk — especially to reputations.

Here are three risks for resisting involvement in social media for companies, brands, business owners and service providers:

Having your reputation defined by others: People are talking about you; your company and your brand, and your stakeholders expect you to be paying attention in real time, especially when they have a customer service complaint or positive feedback to give. You decide whether to participate in this conversation or not, but at least you are aware of what is being said. This is the new frontier for reputation risk management. If you don’t tell your story, others will tell it for you.

Being invisible and less credible: The social Web is changing how people communicate and access information. With a smartphone, tablet or any handheld device, you can search the web and find just about any information you seek instantaneously from wherever you are. People are searching for you and want to read what they can. Not having a presence on the web means that you are not easy to find and can lead people to question whether you have a credible business or not. People are constantly turning to the different social sites as the easiest and most effective way to get their questions answered within seconds. Potential buyers are going online to research products or services before they purchase them and potential clients visit your different sites before they meet you. If people are looking for information about you or your business, what are they finding? A social page or profile even on a basic level enables you to provide accurate and helpful information about the services you or your company provides. Furthermore, social media pages typically appear with prominence in search results — without these online presences, relationship managers and organizations risk not being present in the search results when an interested prospect goes looking.

Being perceived as behind the curve: As consumers embrace new technologies, they expect businesses to do the same. Organizations and their team members that aren’t using social platforms will not be perceived as forward thinking and can risk losing potential clients who want business partners who speak their language. Would you open checking account with a bank that doesn’t have an online portal? Today, we depend upon online access for our data, so that seems inconceivable. Soon customers will feel this way about having a social connection with businesses.

Social media is perhaps best thought of as a set of new and innovative ways for businesses and customers to do what they have always done: build relationships, exchange information, read and write reviews and leverage trusted networks of friends and experts.

As you contemplate the risks and rewards of social media, I suggest that the key source for evaluation is simply to experience it for yourself. There are many low risk ways to do this, even if you work in a regulated industry. One of the best suggestions I have is to hire an experienced social media specialist who has the knowledge and experience with different companies.

Today’s real time social media world is challenging all businesses, brands, and professionals to adapt or at least make an informed decision not to. As you consider the many risks associated with being or not being in social media, it is important not to overlook the rewards and opportunities.

Have you reaped the rewards of social media? I welcome all comments.

As always, if you like what you read, be social and share.