I keep forgetting how easy it is to get free publicity.  If you know where to look and how to respond, it’s straightforward. But, you have to have discipline.

My favorite site for free PR is HelpAReporter.com, commonly known as HARO.

Last month, on December 20th I was featured in an article on kids, parents and gratitude  on CNBC.com, 5 Ways to Teach Your Kids the Art of Giving This Holiday Season.

A couple of weeks earlier, FS Local wrote a story, Picking the Brain of a PR Pro! Behind the Business with Brand Expert Robin Samora.

Do You Want Free Press? Follow these 7 Steps to Get Picked Up by HARO Reporters

  1. First, sign up for HARO and get daily emails from reporters and journalists.
  2. When you see a query that interests you, make sure there’s a fit.
  3. Make your pitch short, concise and be sure there are no misspellings or mistakes.
  4. Don’t deviate from the questions, stay on topic. Be light, bright and polite.
  5. In the subject line when you respond write: HARO: and copy the title of the query.
  6. Include your contact information, website, email and phone number. Be available 23/7.
  7. Don’t stalk the reporter or follow up, unless they ask. Do your best and become a resource.

The more practice you have pitching a story, the better you’ll be. And, once you start getting published, the more you’ll want to respond.

This is earned media and you’re showcasing your expertise.

Sure, responding to HARO and other sites takes time, but the rewards far outweigh the work.

Sign up this week, and get the visibility you deserve!

Sounds like an easy task – to write what you want. Most people start with a list of questions to answer which provides valuable insight, but I also like to add a visual component.

What does a wheel have to do with PR and marketing? This wheel, and the one you’ll draw, is a PR Vision Tool where you decide where you’d like to be seen. You can add spokes, identify opportunities and weight them according to your goals and desires. And, every few months you can reinvent the wheel based on your results and efforts.

Here’s a sketch of my Marketing & PR outline for 2017.

Remember, it’s a work in progress so you can tweak and recreate as you like. Think of it as a recipe for success. Take a look.

Simple? Maybe you think so, but the start of everything great begins by writing it on paper. This isn’t just about manifesting.  It’s about planning and thinking where you may get the biggest bang for your buck. [Free].

Giving comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to come from your heart, and because you want to – not because you have to.

  • Some give to their favorite charity that holds a special meaning
  • Others spend time with the elderly or friends that aren’t feeling well
  • Many donate to a local cause like Globe Santa or Toys for Tots
  • Friends meet up and give back anonymously and in fun ways, like paying off layaway charges at Walmart®
  • Some prefer to support Heifer International to end poverty and promote entrepreneurism around the world
  • Turkeys are bought, soup is served and presents are wrapped to warm the heart. Because we can.

Whatever your cause is, celebrate it.

After all, it gives Reason to the Season.

What’s the difference between being spontaneous and impromptu? Both are valuable skills when you’re at a conference – and especially shooting video.

Impromptu: Done without being planned, organized or rehearsed

Spontaneous: Having an open, natural and uninhibited manner

Sylvia Clare, Author of Trusting Your Intuition: Rediscover Your True Self to Achieve a Richer, More Rewarding Life says: “Being spontaneous is being able to respond with confidence; calmly trusting that, whatever the outcome, you will have a positive if challenging experience that will lead to greater self-awareness and success.”

I say, yup. I’m on board with that, especially if you’re trying to capture real time content at a conference and have an amazing videographer like Ellen Lacey from NewTV for only two hours!

It must have been my lucky day, because the booth in front of ours was empty. We didn’t have the nerve to take it over for the entire day, but we did manage to make it HQ for Robin’s Rainmakers videotaping.

The question to all attendees on the hot seat: What’s your biggest marketing challenge?

  • How can I get more engagement with my cause on a local level?
  • What do I have to do to grow my expert status as a scientist?
  • How do I become the go-to person at work?  (Hint: Candy works, but getting the job done rates higher)
  • What do I have to do to get my boss to notice me so I can get a raise?

The questions and answers were on the spot. Live on camera. I’ve never interviewed in this style before, but I liked that is was natural and almost the same as mentoring a client on the phone or in person. Ideas flow whether you catch them on paper in the middle of the night, in a conversation, get an intuitive hit or remember a fact or figure from years of study or experience. Being open to answers and trying new approaches is vital in video – being impromptu and spontaneous just like real engagement, live.

When you really think about it, what’s the big deal? You wave your hand in front of the camera when you make a mistake. You go with the flow. You have fun and stop being so serious.

Remember, we’re human and people are comfortable with like-minded souls who aren’t afraid of getting out there and learning from experts willing to share. Plus, when it comes down to it, we’re all really experts in training.

My hot seat advice as I write this? Let’s all learn from each other and have a good time doing it.

I haven’t met a smarty pants in years.

Last week I talked about Digital Marketing Trends for 2017. Becoming more instant, conversational in key words, voice activated, uber local and focused on niche target audiences. Hashtags. Data driven.

Not sure how to take advantage of these digital trends? Check out these 5 ways to build your brand:

  1. Turn your smartphone into your own media channel. Capture an event on Facebook Live, or better yet, “You Go Live.” Be transparent in the moment and let your audience, friends and followers see where you are and what you’re up to. Building a fan base is not about hiding. It’s about engaging. 80% sharing, 20% promoting. Don’t forget about a (CTA) call to action.
  2. #Hashtags. Hashtags connect like-minded audiences. They’re brilliantly used by big brands and little brands to inform, inspire, motivate and sell. Not convinced? Look at Instagram. It’s a wildly popular personal and business platform that’s hashtag crazy and instant. Same with Twitter. Share your photos, thoughts, quotes, videos and story behind the scenes – and in front of the camera.
  3. Get really local. For all that you may hate about Facebook, there’s a lot to love. Consider Facebook advertising to get leads, grow your list, create a funnel. Want to reach 25-40 year-old women who speak French and live thirty miles from Belmont, MA? Oh, and that have a combined household income of $100,000+? Invest 20 minutes and start a campaign. Spend as much or as little as you like. You will be amazed.
  4. Create keywords (and Adwords) as you would a conversation, especially with voice activated systems in place. Honda Dealership near here. Thai food in Boston. Christmas Tree Lighting this Saturday. Test to see what works and monitor often. Don’t be afraid to change things up. Tweak as you like, but make note of all your tweaks!
  5. It’s no surprise that digital marketing budgets are growing leaps and bounds. In fact, in the next few years corporate America may spend up to 25% of their marketing budget on digital marketing.  But, only if it’s working. How do you find out? Split tests. Consistency. Data. ROI. Numbers. Run yours and see what’s working, or not.

Today, I’m giving a talk on Digital Trends for 2017. As part of my preparation, I always like to research what other experts are forecasting and predicting. Their information usually validates my thoughts and offers more data on the why’s behind the findings.

What’s Trending:

  1. Millennials are moving away from public social networks to private ones. Think Facebook Messenger, What’s App, GroupMe. Micro-sharing information and links.
  2. Live video isn’t a maybe strategy. It’s a must have to boost engagement. Plus, there’s limited competition.
  3. Digital Assistants are here to stay. Have a question? Ask Siri, Alexa, OK Google or Cortana.
  4. Customers are using multiple devices to make up their minds to try products and services.
  5. Keywords are more conversational as voice dominates.
  6. Google’s new algorithms are putting more emphasis on local search.
  7. Native advertising is on the rise. More content-like but still sneaky.
  8. SEO and Paid Media spending will grow up to 24% of a marketing budget by 2022.
  9. Brands are creating an “immersive experience” to increase engagement.
  10. Becoming more instant is definitely the way to go.

These are top picks, but there’s always more.

And why are these trends important?

Dense marketing is yesterday’s news. Spend time and money where your target market is. Improve your video marketing and use it to grab attention. Repurpose content in ways it will be seen and shared. And finally, engage with your prospects and customers live. At workshops, events, on video.

Show the real you.

 

Special thanks to contributors Blair Nicole Nastasi, Corey Austin, Lindsay Hutter, Dave Chaffey and Jayson DeMers for their collective insights.

Ever since I was a kid, Thanksgiving reminded me of a happy time when families got together in the spirit of giving thanks.  It wasn’t a Hallmark® holiday, it was real life. We each were at a different place but connected wherever we were, and that happened to be at the kitchen table.
Life seems to be more complicated now, or maybe I see it through a different lens.  It’s still rosy if you choose that that color. I’m an eternal optimist.
I’d like to share a piece I wrote for my Gratitude Workshop, 50 Ways to Be Thankful and Show Random Acts of Kindness. It’s a reminder that being thankful begins at home.
When you think of having an Attitude of Gratitude, consider this. Being thankful comes from the head, being grateful comes from the soul.
May you enjoy holiday blessings today and always.

One of the questions I’m frequently asked is, “How do I market my blog?” There are hundreds of ways to promote a blog via PR and publicity, but I decided to ask Google the same question.  In less than 30 seconds, I found this article, How to Work with a Virtual Assistant to Market Your Blog. Hint: You don’t need a VA to do the work.  You can do it yourself or share the task. Heck, you can even ask your savvy teenager to help out!

In the post, Chris Ducker shares a list of almost 200 blog directories that you can submit your blog to. The list is a few years old, so I wanted to share a more recent resource by Harsh Agrawal who promises an epic collection of 131 verified blog directories. I’ll be curious to see what works and what doesn’t.  Information changes in a moment’s notice, so sometimes good enough is good enough. It’s the action that creates marketing momentum.

Lastly, I’d like to share HubSpot’s Guide to 50 Online Local Business Directories. You may find something new here to increase your visibility, brand awareness and exposure.

Oh, and sales.

I’ll confess.  As much as I’ve heard of Meetup groups to widen your outreach, I never realized its potential to reach a like-minded audience.

If you’re new to Meetups, they’re a great way to build your expertise, test new brand personas and prospect for clients or potential partnerships. They can also help build a list and extend your influence circle – especially if you’re traveling and speaking out of town. Let’s face it, if you’re already in a new city, why not maximize your time there and promote your business?

If you’re thinking of having an event, one way to test the waters is by creating a Meetup.

As a new Meetup leader, you have a free trial for a month and can start a group on almost any topic you like. I didn’t know what to expect and was willing to give it a try.

Hint #1: To promote your event, give everything you think might work a try.

I was surprised that within three days, I had about 15 people interested in my group and made it a point to email each and every person. You can’t be too salesy, though.  Meetups are meant to start a conversation.

You can imagine my delight when a producer from a local news station in Boston inquired and asked if she could interview me and videotape the event. All from Meetup! I responded quickly, which is appreciated by the press.

Hint: #2. Be quick to respond to a reporter’s request.

I joke that you should be available 23/7, making sure to get an hour of sleep. That’s me. Keep your phone handy and turn up the volume. I always forget to switch from silent to my favorite ring tone.

Hint #3:  Create a media package that explains your event.

A media package means information. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it needs to tell a story quickly. We had written a pitch, designed an event flyer, had a photo ready in several sizes and a working registration page via Constant Contact.

Hint #4:  Whether your event is free or paid, as the organizer, you are the voice of the event.  Always be clear and congruent. A mixed message never sells or gets press.

Hint #5: Learn what works and use it. Meetups is a platform that works depending on how you want to use it. If it doesn’t work for an event, it can lead to other opportunities, if you allow it.  So, set a good intention. Good juju will follow.

Lastly, you can’t just depend on one tactic to promote an event.  It’s a combination of trial and error, as well as proven tactics that have worked in the past.

We called the Mayor’s office for the Kids Gratitude Workshop, posted flyers, send pitches to the press, posted on calendars, invited sponsors, used email marketing from strong supporters and asked for help on social media.

One thing that was different here. The event was designed to teach kids the Attitude of Gratitude and how it opens doors to possibilities you can’t even imagine.

You’ll find that when you believe in your mission and have passion, you’ll have success.

Redefine it on your terms. Not someone else’s.

One of my clients, Lidia Kenig Scher is a transformational artist who heals through vibrational painting. Last month, a student and major collector of her art, offered to host a holiday party and silent auction in her honor to help Delibreen, an 18-month old boy who was badly burned in Iraq and flown to Shriner’s Hospital.

Lidia’s intention all along was to give a portion of the proceeds to help the little boy – but we added another layer. We decided to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise money, feature the cause and offer Lidia’s artwork as incentive for donors to give.

I’ve never created a GoFundMe campaign before, but I announced it at a presentation last week. Within minutes, Phill Naylor, a videographer from XtraLargeMedia offered to shoot the 2-minute introduction and Diane Debs from Arbonne made a pledge to donate healing baby products. I was touched and not surprised, at the same time.

What will this accomplish for Lidia, Shriners Hospital for Children, Baby Delibreen and all of the benefactors supporting the cause? Lots.

Lidia will paint from the heart and give away her artwork in return for donations to help Baby Delibreen. Shriners Hospital will benefit from the goodwill and publicity. Baby Delibreen and his family will receive funds, kindness and the generosity from others. Phill will have produced a meaningful video, Diane will have given healing products to a boy in need, and Lidia’s art collector and devoted student will know that her efforts to help were valued in contributions — far greater than her own circle, from strangers around the world.  Who knew this baby and why was he here in Boston?

You see, things happen and when faced with what we don’t know – the right people show up to help us.

There is a path to gratitude and goodness. Teach your children and the young that this is the way to heal the world.