“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 15 minutes to ruin it.  If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
– Warren Buffet

I just taught a PR class on Digital Marketing at Salem State University, so I wanted to share the lesson. It’s about How to Prepare for a PR Crisis – not if it happens, but when it happens. Most of us sail through life and business, but at some point you’ll be caught off guard and it’s not always your fault. Here’s my version of a crisis management plan. Put it in place now to protect what you’ve worked so hard for. Protect your ‘ass-ets’!

9 Steps to a PR Crisis Plan

  1. Put together a crisis management team before a crisis. You may not think you’ll ever have a PR crisis, but if you’re in business it’s not only possible, it’s probable. Include your CEO, legal, marketing, HR and yes – your PR person to be part of this influential life/business saving circle.
  2. We all know you’re busy, but you have to listen. What are your employees, community, customers, enemies and advocates saying? Pick up chatter early enough and you might save yourself time, upset and a major PR crisis. Oh, did I mention lots of money?
  3. As in any relationship, it’s wise to preview expectations. What works for your personal relationships can work in business too. If you say you’re going to call back a customer in 48 hours, do that. If your policy is to call them within 24 hours and don’t follow through, you’ve lost their trust. Here’s an easy rule. Under promise and over deliver.
  4. Being transparent isn’t a bad thing. If you’re a CEO you might see this as a sign of weakness, but being transparent shows that you bleed like everyone else and you’re human. People like, know and trust humans as well as brands. If you’re the leader of the pack and you’ve messed up, admit it and don’t fudge the details. Position them accordingly.
  5. Everyone has made mistakes so how will you respond? My suggestion is to be mindful and thoughtful in your responses to all who have been affected. Someone or a group has been offended or worse, and often there’s more than a BAND-AID® needed. To fix relationships, TLC is needed to build trust again.
  6. You might be angry but for heaven’s sake keep calm. It’s hard to keep your cool when you’ve been attacked and it takes some coaching to stay even keeled. It’s also difficult to not take everything personally. You’ll never be everyone’s best friend.  If you want a best friend, adopt a dog.
  7. Who has ‘keys’ to your social media accounts? A really frazzled fired employee who has your passwords to Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn might post something negative about you, your staff or business practices. Put a system in place and know who has the passwords to your social media accounts and online voice to the world. Hint: This is critical.
  8. Create social media guidelines that are simple to understand. Sure you can’t control what your employees post on their own social media accounts, but you can ask them to adhere to certain guidelines about your company without infringing on their freedom. Every employee, vendor or volunteer is a brand ambassador for your company. Make sure they share a voice that aligns with your brand, not one that fights it.
  9. Your mom gave you good advice. You’ll never be perfect or please everybody. As a leader every day you step up to the plate and take risks. Some work out and some don’t. My ask is that you think ahead to what might be problematic and plan for it, without being paranoid. Fear puts you in a paralysis state often enough – and you’ve got things to do, places to go and a brand to build.

Create a community and brand advocates that love you and will go to bat on your behalf when times are tough. Don’t hide from bad news. Take a deep breath and suck it up. It not only builds character, but it also builds a stronger brand.

When I was a Girl Scout, this was our motto – and I think it still is.

I’ve been promoting for most of my life. Ideas, interesting concepts, friends, schools, my kids, favorite consignment stores. You name it, I’ve always found a way to accentuate the positive. I learned it from my Dad, the ultimate promoter and influencer.

“When there’s a will there’s a way,” he would tell me.  By learning marketing, PR strategies and how to maximize ROI, he beckoned us to take advantage of every opportunity, live life – and live it up!

In How to Get Great Free Publicity from WikiHow.com, we get more than a few ideas to grab attention and get through to the media without spending a fortune.

  • I love the tip if a journalist “blows you off” tell them you’re new at this and ask for help.
  • Or, how about getting the right phone number for a journalist by researching Hoovers.com

 Click here to find other Free PR strategies.  

Lisa Furgison, from VerticalResponse.com shares 7 Tools to Get Free Publicity for Your Business for small business owners.  I’ve been a fan of  free online directories  for quite some time, but Lisa sweetens the pot adding these tips: 

  • Use a shortened version of your bio to create a resource box at the end of articles or guest blogs. Make every word count and include a call to action; Grab Your Free Report. Download this Checklist. Contribute to my trip to Bora Bora. (Why not?)
  • Sign up for a 7-day free trial to Contact A Celebrity and see for yourself how your brand or cause aligns with a potential 60,000 celebrities. See if they participate in a “gift program” where they’ll review your product. No guarantees of course, but why not try?  

 Find other Publicity Tips here that won’t cost you a dime.

I’ll add my name to the hat with a free report I’ve created called the ABC’s of Free Publicity. Discover how you can mix and match PR strategies with an alphabet of tips and tricks to choose from to maximize your visibility, credibility and expert status. Download the Report Now and Promote Your Business or Brand – Even Without a PR Budget.

Take advantage of all of these Free Publicity strategies and learn to market your business or brand on a dime.  Why not, Bora Bora might beckon you too!

Hopefully, wherever you are, it’s spring and a perfect time to clean out (or as my stylist says) edit your closet. Take advantage of this newfound energy and direct it to your online assets.

Online assets are properties you’ve created on social media platforms you’re using (or not).  My recommendation is that you’re always consistent with your branding, message and voice. That may seem like a given, but you’d be surprised at what we still have “out there” but may have forgotten!

 5 Tips to Refresh Your Online Presence

1)  Keep Your Website Current As You Grow Your Brand. Many entrepreneurs are ahead of their website by at least nine (9) months because change is a constant. Some have had websites from 2008 without even a refresh. Consider moving to a Word press format for updating copy, blogs, photos and simple SEO. Keep your look and feel current with where you are now. Change happens. You either go with it, or it goes without you.

2) Get a List of All Your Digital Assets and Passwords. Yes, you have a website, but what about your owned media (blog) and other social media channels? LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. Should I continue? Keep this list updated and handy and every once in a while, consider refreshing passwords. If you do, please tell your team!

3) Make Sure to Have Consistent Profile Information. When you look on LinkedIn or Google+ do you cringe when you read your old profile? It happens. Getting into the zone of writing about yourself takes time and effort. And your photo? Lose or gain 20 pounds? Sporting a shaved head or gone red? Now’s the time for a new headshot. And make it, high res, please. The media will love you and so will I.

4) Look at All Your Landing Pages and Autoresponders. If you work by yourself or on a small team, it’s almost impossible to keep track of everything you do. Look back at your marketing and PR calendars to see the projects you’ve worked on. Where do you have links? Are they all working or are some broken? Do your autoresponders need a rewrite? Now’s the time for spring cleaning!

5) Give Your Email Signature Permission to Work 24/7. I was just featured in Fit Small Business for contributing top ideas for email signatures. Since you’re always updating your image and work, your email signature should keep pace as well.  Are you a new author? Share a chapter. Have a freebie? Provide a link. Work globally? Include your time zone. Won an award? Tell the world. It’s easy peasy and free!

Refresh. Renew. Revitalize. And maybe even – Reinvent yourself.

I’m all for it!

PS. I’ll share some great news next week about a new partnership I have that can help with your marketing and provide even more tips, tricks and tools to engage your audience. Stay tuned for the announcement and keep promoting yourself and your brand!

Want More tips for Spring Cleaning Your Personal Brand?  Email me here! 

I’m a believer of press releases to get the biggest bang for the buck when there’s a major announcement, release of a book or breaking news.  But, you don’t always have to spend an arm and a leg for its distribution. There are cases when I advise clients to go national and get the widest exposure possible for all the media hits, and other times, the press release can simply be a PR tool for the media via a link on the client’s press page. Both work.

There are varying views on the press release and that’s always refreshing. Mike Butler, journalist and technology commentator shares his thoughts on The Press Release is Dead – Use this Instead. In this article, Butler spells out key information to send a reporter, not just an “OK, here it is” press release. His questions are spot on, his humor puts a smile on my face and I like his style. Read this and you’ll understand what the media is looking for, what they’re not looking for (ie, pdf’s, attachments) and how to pitch via Twitter, which by the way works.

Steve Cody’s article, published in Inc.com gives us 5 Reasons the Press Release Isn’t Dead Yet. I agree with his findings, and you might too. Press releases aren’t just an antiquated business tool, even if you think they are.  They offer legitimacy, a steady stream of news and they break through the clutter.  How is that?  Read more here.

And lastly, Julie Crabill posts a great piece at Mashable.com, 4 Alternatives to Your Next Press Release. First, are you telling a story or just sharing news? Consider producing a short video for Facebook, coming up with a customized #hashtag or designing visuals to share on relevant social media platforms. Then, there’s always going deep. Take a look at what she means.

You can think what you like, but keep in mind that there’s not always just one way to share news. I’ve always liked a mix of marketing, PR, promotion and media to tell a story, with more than a dash of visual, be it infographics, video, slide share, GIFS or graphics.

You can market yourself silly, but remember in PR, variety is the spice of life.

It’s not magic.  It’s resourceful PR strategy.

Last week, on the night before a big speaking gig, I created a checklist to giveaway as a brand reminder and resource for my audience.  Since my topic was ‘How to Use Free Publicity to Grow Your Business’, it seemed like the perfect fit.

How to Turn a 900 Word Article into 36 PR Opportunities

>>You can download this free PR resource here

I stayed up late racking my brain for marketing ideas and clever ways to repurpose copy.  My thoughts are always the same. You should be getting the biggest bang for your buck, especially when it comes to PR and promotion!

Yesterday, one of my favorite clients picked five ways she’ll promote her brand. She already has articles on LinkedIn, pitches, a few interviews and blogs galore. She’s knows exactly what to do to get more PR!

Why reinvent the wheel when you don’t have to?

Take Advantage of this Free PR Resource Now!

Then, write, tweet @RobinSamora or send a smoke signal on what you’ll use to reach new audiences and share great content. I’d love to hear from you!

PS – If you’re in the Greater Boston area, I’d like to invite you as my guest to an upcoming Boston Women Connect, Building Business Connections Networking Event. In fact, I’m speaking there on Tuesday, April 26 at the Marriott Courtyard in Woburn. My topic?  How to Market Your Business and Brand. For details and registration click here, and use the promotional code power for your complimentary ticket.

If you’ve ever walked into a room and sensed a tense energy, I’m sure you’ve also seen this body language; arms crossed, polite but stiff interaction and most probably, limited eye to eye communication. Most people look at others but not into their eyes.

Is it because our eyes are the window to the soul?

We can all improve our body language and the way we communicate, which eventually could change or influence certain outcomes.  It could also improve our sales and marketing!

Michael Michalowicz, author and business mentor who writes for American Express Open Forum, outlines best body language practices for selling in 7 Body Language Tips to Help You Sell. He says that body language can kill a deal, and 90% of our communication is non-verbal.  You knew that, right? Tips to show our more confident selves? Slow down, practice the 3 C’s (be cool, calm and collected) and for heaven’s sakes, don’t touch your face, scratch your ears or rub your eyes. It could be a sign that you’re lying.

In this PositivityBlog article by Henrick Edberg, 18 Ways to Improve Your Body Language the author gives, you guessed it, 18 ways to change up the way you present yourself to show more confidence and appear more agreeable, even if you don’t agree! Some suggestions? If you’re in a conversation, mirror each other’s actions but not to the point of being weird, sit with a wider stance to look more comfortable in your own skin, and lower your drink holding it below your heart to look less guarded!

And finally, in CareerOverview.com, we have a comprehensive list of 50 Body Language Secrets. I’ll list some of the don’ts to see if you’re at fault.

Avoid these Negative Body Language Actions

Don’t:

  • Scrunch your forehead
  • Walk away while you’re talking
  • Tap your feet
  • Yawn or cough (it shows you’re bored)
  • Or, clench your fist

I’ve been in more than a few sales calls, meetings and workshops where I’ve witnessed a collection of these actions, all during the sales process. No one’s perfect, but be mindful of your body. Love it and learn what its’ language means.

After all, the right body language not only influences people, but can help you attract the man/woman of your dreams.

PS – Lots of speaking gigs coming up for me this Spring and I’m excited to be presenting more. This week, I got a Direct Message on Twitter asking me to apply as a Speaker for a big social media convention in April. Social Media works but you have to be in it to win it!

This morning, I got up at 6:00 am to launch my Q2 PR and marketing strategy and attend a Boston University Alumni breakfast networking event.  It’s part of a heavily promoted month-long career month to bring alums and professional together – and connect recent grads with seasoned professionals. (Did you like how I said that)?

It was my first networking event sponsored by BU, other than going to cheer on the Terriers in hockey, and I’m glad I went. Why?

Networking Opens the Doors for Opportunities

  • First, how great to see someone who knows and respects your work. A genuine smile and hug in a room full of strangers is almost always welcome. I’m a hugger, but if you’re squeamish, keep in the comfort of your own boundaries.
  • Networking gives you a chance to hear what others are doing in the marketplace and notice opportunities to connect, partner, refer, work or collaborate together. There were quite a few COM (communications) grads there and possibilities are brewing!
  • Meeting face to face with a brand new circle extends your promotional reach in ways you can’t imagine. It also reinforces your expert status with a whole new group that may one day –become raving fans.
  • There are no rules to revising your elevator pitch. Modify your message according to what you need in the present moment, and the crowd. The elevator pitch police won’t have a warrant out for your arrest if you change it up.
  • Talk with people who may not be your target audience, because they might know someone who might be the perfect fit. Profiling isn’t always in your best interest.

My colleague, who I met while speaking at the Small Business Expo and at the Boston Business Journal enthusiastically endorsed me in front of a room full of strangers. Love that! Thank you, Joy! She’s involved with a new venture working with entrepreneurs and small business owners, and it happens that I’m speaking with her mentor on a national level this week.

From my meeting this morning, I already got invited to speak on a panel in early April and begin preliminary discussions of a potential world-wide tour.

If I didn’t get up at 6 am I would have missed this. Will other opportunities to increase my PR and marketing expertise show up?  Definitely.

Say yes more often than you say no and see what happens.

Oh, and set your alarm clock.

PS:  Sign up now for the Digital Marketing Weapons Event at  Sleek Marketing University on Saturday, 3/26. I’ll be speaking about How to Get Free Publicity for Your Business and Grow Your Brand. Use the code CONTACT for 50% off – since many of you were at the Constant Contact event where I spoke on March 1.

Want more info? Read these other articles on improving your online presence. 9 Cool Free Publicity Tools and Tactics,7 Easy Ways to Get Attention Without Selling Your Soul and How Do I Get More PR and Online Visibility  We’re all experts in training!

First, check out this awesome tool that analyzes and scores the headlines you’ve written.  It’s a free headline analyzer from Co-Schedule.com. If you’ve never used it before, definitely give it a try. The goal is to come up with a score as close to 100% as possible.  Mine rated a 72%.  What I should do (note to self) is write a page of headlines and in my free time, analyze them.  Better yet, I’ll invite a few friends to come over and we’ll come up with titles over a bottle of wine. I bet they’ll rock.

There’s also another tool that analyzes the emotional marketing value analysis of a title. This fascinates me (as many things do) and I’ve included the link here.  It’s another perspective on how your headline is viewed and it’s available online at the Advanced Marketing Institute.

Next up is an article on how to tweak your headline using specific words and punchy phrases.  Author, Tamsin Henderson gives her advice in this article which was featured yesterday in HARO (you gotta love HARO). Read How to Tweak Your Headlines for Success and see what changes you can make in your copy. And yes, we do recognize that character counts do count.

HubSpot always has great information and articles on a variety of marketing and public relations topics. Here are more guidelines on How to Write Catchy Headlines & Blog Titles Your Readers Can’t Resist from Corey Wainwright. Be clear, accurate, brainstorm with others – and don’t forget to be a little bit sexy.

Lastly, let’s look at Megan Marrs’ article 19 Headline Writing Tips for More Clickable, Shareable Blog Posts from Wordstream.com. She asks her readers to think about adding numbers, digits and lists, educating your audience, breaking convention – and also suggests writing about breeding distrust, indicating we’re a pretty cynical society!

There you have it.  A variety of sources on ‘How to Write a Kick Ass Headline to Market Your Brand’.

I’d add to this with the following advice.

Practice makes perfect. Go to a supermarket and look at the headlines on tabloids and magazine.  Think about eliciting a response from your reader. And, try to use key words that align with your brand. Vary it up though. You don’t want to build on boring.  Remember, you can’t always use the headline alone to drive traffic. It’s just part of the mix. Write great content, be relevant and use free SEO tools, tactics and plug ins to help as well.

We’re not trying to be perfect here – we’re all learning as we go.  We’re also building our brands in ways that express who we are and how we can help others.

 

PS – I’ll be speaking about ‘How to Get Free Publicity for Your Brand and Grow Your Business’ in Cambridge, MA on Saturday, March 26th at Sleek Marketing University.  The theme of the event is Digital Marketing For SkyRocketing Growth – What’s in Your Arsenal?  Join me and fellow speakers Christina Inge, Kai Chung, Jamie Bradley, Chuck Goldstone and Craig Carpenter as we dig deep into online marketing and how you can ramp up your business in a big way. Use the code SOCMED for 40% off.

Today I’ll be speaking at Constant Contact about PR Power on a Budget. There should be about 100+ people in the room and I’m on first. All good with me.  I sent in my presentation last week, practiced and decided on an outfit, with a backup just in case.

Does What You Wear Make an Impression on Your Audience?

If you said no, I’ll beg to differ. If you said yes, you’re right! I always tell audiences, “you are your brand wherever you go” and it’s no different on stage. There could be a roomful of prospects that are interested in what you have to say and perhaps wonder what you could do for them. In my case, they want to see me at my best, and I want to give them my best. The total package. I’m also speaking about my passion, “How to Market Yourself” or a variation of the PR theme.  Clothes do count so wear them well and smile for the camera!

Here are 5 Tips on Styling for the Stage or Giving a Presentation and Elevate Your Brand:

  1. Always dress a few steps above your audience. You are the expert and should dress like one. If you’re speaking from stage and are any good, the audience wants to aspire to be like you. Confident and successful. And if you’re selling, it’s even more important. Play the part with your dress, attitude and aura. You’re probably not selling a $49 service.
  2. Many years ago, I made the huge mistake of wearing a red jacket with a leopard collar to a blue chip law firm for a Ryder Cup Event meeting.  I thought I looked jazzy, but the client apparently didn’t think so.  I should have worn a more stylized ‘dress code’ selection, but I didn’t even think about it.  If you’re going to give a presentation to a conservative client or firm, don’t wear the leopard collar. Find something appropriate and accessorize gently. Learn from my 5 figure mistake.
  3. If the audience can smell your cologne, perfume or moth balls from the stage, that’s bad. I’ve been in elevators where I’ve held my breath and the ride to the 30th floor almost did me in. Everything you do has to be brand on, and that includes how you smell.  It seems foolish to even have to mention, but I’ve been at 2 events lately where it mattered.  I suppose I didn’t have to sit in the first row.
  4. Shoes count, especially with women. Women check out other women’s shoes. In fact, women check out everything.  And ask questions like, who cuts your hair and other sometimes personal questions you might think off limits.  My advice, answer at your own risk, or not. You were brought up to answer questions, but you don’t always have to.
  5. Tight dresses and short skirts. Men check out how tight dresses are and how short skirts are, but women take it all in too. Needless to say, refrain from daisy duke dresses and ladies, wear Spanx. Also walk in from the side of a room if you have the chance.  I talk about it in my upcoming book, why. Hmmm.

A few other suggestions.  Men, be sure that your pants are zipped because there’s nothing more horrifying than to have your fly open on stage.  No joke, not that I look, but I saved two speakers from a very embarrassing moment and let’s just say they were grateful.  And ladies, make sure that you have extra pantyhose, because runs really do look bad on stage. And the pink polish to stop the run, is so yesterday.

Wake up extra early too and get to your location well ahead of time. Have 3 copies of your presentation in different places or devices. As another piece of advice, just keep the most recent version. I once delivered a presentation to 300 people and it was a near final draft with notes I made to myself.  When I realized it on stage, I covered my mouth in horror then laughed. It was the most authentic presentation I ever gave and one of the most successful.

Go figure.

Style up your brand. Speak to build an audience. And have fun.

Life is short and you can’t be working all the time.

PS – Remember I gave 2 talks to University Students in Puerto Rico? The University of Puerto Rico had a television crew before my event and did a news segment on me, in Spanish and English.  I never expected it, but it was fun.  You can snag publicity while you’re on vacation! I’ll post the interview on Twitter. Follow me @RobinSamora.

Having a solid intention lights a fire of purpose and power.  And, in PR and marketing, it’s no different. How you do anything is how you do everything, so why not start strong at the get-go with PR that will help you build your brand and business, make a real difference in the way you’re presenting yourself and bring in results!

I love this article by Cheryl Conner, The 7 Keys for Purposeful Public Relations in 2016. She refers to her friend and colleague Val Hale, who’s written a book, “Living a Life that Matters” and uses his same principles as it applies to public relations. Here are a few that make total sense and are rules to live a life by: Be a doer not a spectator, make a difference in other’s lives and be a lifelong learner. The others are here. (worth a read)

Marijane Funess, gives us her recommendations for a masterful LinkedIn strategy in Top 10 PR Best Practices for LinkedIn. Even if you think you’re a superstar, you may want to skim the article. Are you telling journalists who you are? Are you asking questions and answering them for others? Are you seeking recommendations from others? According to the author, recommendations beget more recommendations.  Check out her other tips to get out there purposefully.

And finally, are you using your own team and employees to maximize your brand? How often do we all forget that communication leads to consistency – and ultimately more business! Read Maurizio Tiberi’s article for Online Branding Best Practices and check out your Brand Smarts.

PR on Purposes starts with making a decision to get involved.

It doesn’t have to be a chore, make it fun!

PS – Are you interested in learning in a group setting?  I’m thinking of starting a PR mastermind of six (6) entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to take their business and brand to the next level. Let me know if you’re interested or know of someone who is. Write me at Robin@RobinSamora.com or call (617) 921 – 3448. More details to come.