This is a story about an amazing 15-year old girl who wanted to go to private school. Almost everyone told her she couldn’t do it. She’d never get it in and it was way too much money. Impossible and unrealistic they told her. “What was she thinking?”

It was late July. Summer vacation was in full swing. She had no transcripts, notes from her teachers or experience in applying to a coveted school.

One thing she did have though – was a dream.

Two or three times a week, my niece took her boat to town and walked up a long hill to say hello to the Admissions department. Piece by piece she hand delivered her application and asked what she needed to do next. Day by day we talked about what she wanted to accomplish, not worrying about obstacles.  They were clear – lack of financing, tight deadlines and fear of the unknown. “Don’t worry about the how,” I’d tell her. “Anything is possible.”

Our next door neighbor had children attending the same school and offered to talk with Admissions on her behalf. My niece didn’t know this. She went on her merry way visiting, collecting letters from teachers and pursued her dream.  I went to visit the school, to say hello as an unofficial ambassador for the cause and it was clear, they were impressed with her initiative, determination and cheery can do attitude.

You know the “Little Engine that Could”?

It wasn’t a total surprise that “The Teenager Who Could” was funded last minute by an incredibly generous scholarship that made attending possible. Bright and bold, this 15-year old who had never slept away from home got accepted.  She knew she wanted something big for her life – and wasn’t afraid to go for it.

In her first semester as a sophomore, my niece made MVP in JV soccer. In the second, she was asked to join the Varsity Ski team.  She’s a part of a vibrant community and loving it.

PR and Marketing lessons from a 15-year old.

If there’s something you want, give it your best shot. Meet people in person. Get to know them. Just be you. Surround yourself with believers who will go to bat for you, because they want to, not because they have to. Freedom lies in bold actions. You never know what’s going to happen. The power of intention can be magical. Make your follow through rock.

On Spring break she’s going to meet Donald Trump in Florida.

Who are you going to meet?

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Save the Date: Tuesday, March 1 – Join me and #branding experts, Christina Inge, Jeannette O’Neil and Heather Jackson at a Mastermind Workshop on How to Develop and Manage Your Online Brand at #ConstantContact Headquarters, Waltham MA.  Here’s the link to register. It’s from 10a – 2p. Attend one session or all 4.  Let me know if you’re coming! PS – it’s also free.

Ah, the year in review! I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the Top 10 of a few categories in 2015.

The top 10 business lessons compiled by Fastcompany, top 10 leadership stories by Entrepreneur.com and for visual learners in the public relations and marketing world – a look at the top 10 infographics by Marketingprofs.

In this article from Fastcompany staff, top business lessons from 2015 are shared from a variety of leaders and entrepreneurs. What were they? Calling yourself a freelancer might not be such a good idea, world travel can teach you how to expand your comfort zone and stepping back from the CEO position may actually prove to be the best leadership move.  Other lessons? Alone time works, crisis can help your company and more.

Could you have improved your leadership this year? Entrepreneur.com’s Laura Entis shares top 10 leadership stories worthy of mention and each has a valuable lesson. What’s important to note is that successful entrepreneurship starts with successful leadership and we can all learn to be better communicators and more effective leaders.  Worth reading — 50 Rules to Be a Better Leader, 7 Toxic People to Avoid When Starting a Business, 10 Examples of Companies with Fantastic Cultures. All here.

And where would we be without visual stimulation? Marketing Prof’s Editor, Veronica Maria Jarski gives us insights of her company’s top 10 infographics of 2015. Take a look at 12 Secrets of Human Behavior to Use in Your Marketing, The Only 10 Slides You Need in a Pitch and Best Days and Times to Post Content  — and how could we forget the Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Social Media.  These are great infographics to post on the wall (if you like doing that sort of thing).

A year in review by observers, seasoned marketers and entrepreneurs.

All good for your business. All good to keep in mind for the New Year!

As a business owner, your website is your ‘hub’. It’s where you show off your goods, products and more importantly – yourself. The more people see your website, the more they know about your awesomeness!

Are you thirsty for web traffic? Let’s explore the concept of SEO juice, especially with 2016 just around the corner!

The first way to get more SEO juice is to squeeze more juice out of your current content.  That means you should always be linking back to the content you’ve written or shared before. It’s called internal linking and should be done deliberately and often.  KissMetrics wrote the Seven Commandments of Internal Linking.  According to the author, “It’s not overwhelming, complicated or difficult.”

So, what are you waiting for? Start learning the rules of internal linking and may the traffic begin!

Besides linking to previous content, there are several other tactics to rev up your SEO juice. Here’s an article by Hello Spark’s, 4 Important SEO Tips for Your Website. It’s easy to read, to the point and actionable.  Their tips are really call to actions and everyone who owns a site can benefit from these suggestions.

And, marketing veteran Carrie Morgan shares 3 Ways to Transform Your Blog Into a SEO Machine.  She talks about installing a great SEO plug-in like WordPress SEO by Yoast and using keywords efficiently. By choosing one keyword and including it in your post permalink, title and first sentence, you’re sure to get more juice. There’s more of course and you can read it here.

Lastly, what happens when you move or overhaul a site? SEO juice can and will spill all over, without a plan.  James Archer writes about the importance of the ‘301 redirect’ in this article on Forty.co. Read, bookmark and apply when needed!

Squeeze the SEO juice so traffic flows to you!

Talking with small business owners and entrepreneurs as often as I do, I’m interested in their plans to promote and market themselves.

There may be a vision for a year at a time – or what they’d like to accomplish in 2016, but it often grows to a stage of overwhelm. It’s easy to do – especially when you are in charge and want to “do it all.”

News flash. You can’t do it all and certainly not all at once.

My recommendation is that you map out a general strategy for 2016, where you want to go, where you want to be seen, heard and noticed, and where you see your business coming from. Then in 90 day increments, plan it out.

Sure, highlight important conferences, meetings, deadlines, speaking engagements on an annual calendar – but work on chunks at a time. Even if that means focusing on 10 items a day to get your work done to meet your short term goals. Short term goals don’t create as much overwhelm as long term goals and worrying how you’ll get there.

We choose to worry. We choose to dream. We choose to focus on the next step.

Your next step is Firing Up your 90 Day Marketing and PR Plan. I can help with that.

It’s the beginning of December. Where will you be on March 1? I’ll be speaking at Constant Contact headquarters with Jeannine O’Neil and Christina Inge.

Is your PR plan for 2016 all wings and bones or a comprehensive program built on certain key elements and well prepared strategies?

In Developing a PR Plan, Rachel Meranus of Entrepreneur.com explains the importance of assessing and planning a Public Relations plan – reaching out six months, but realistically looking at three with room for plenty of tweaking. She also recommends examining the tools and tactics you’ll be using — including editorial calendars, speaking opportunities, bylined articles, blogs and social media.  Are you following these same guidelines?   Compare yourself here.

John Jantsch, who writes a terrific blog at Duct Tape Marketing shares a 5 Step Small Business PR Plan for Today.  Why is this valuable?  Because it’s simple and makes sense. Listen. Network. Pitch Curves. Release and Amplify. Follow these guidelines for your 2016 public relations plans and tie it into targeted marketing for great success.  I’m all into roadmaps.

How about When Your PR Goes Really Right (Or Dead Wrong)? Contributor Cheryl Conner writes about innovative PR ideas – and in this Forbes.com article talks about creating Irish Stew Tacos and attracting traffic to a local animal shelter, with a not so friendly dog. What story can you position to get attention and use the media to promote your cause?

Finally, let’s look at Become a Press Magnet by Following this 5-Step Blueprint by Jonathan Long.  Again, solid advice to maximizie your media exposure. One of his points?  Be sure to answer HARO or other media requests often. This, and being active on social media, puts you in front of journalists.

With years of hard work to create a strong brand, marketing and visibility, why would you ever create a PR plan on wings and bones?

I love the phrase, “I’m an expert in training!” I heard it before I went on stage at Blogcamp Boston last weekend and asked to use it. Aren’t we all collaborators in the learning process?

Getting more online visibility and PR  is no different. We teach each other.

Here’s a short list to get more online visibility and a bigger bang for your buck!

  1. Be authentic in who you are and in your brand. Be consistent in your look, feel and marketing messaging. You are your brand wherever you go.
  2. Write a blog, share your expertise and do it often. I write a Robin’s Rainmaker once a week, but also write for PayItForwardRetreats.com, which is very important to me. Getting your name and brand out there for what you know and believe in will help raise your visibility.
  3. Share your content on all social media platforms. Don’t know the latest on Periscope? Don’t have a nervous breakdown about it. Use the tools you know and what works for your target audience. Are you in B2B? Then LinkedIn is a good choice and offers more than you can ever imagine. Does your crowd hang on Facebook? That’s the place to be.  Go where your market is.
  4. Create graphics and get them for free – or for a buck ($1.00) at www.Canva.com.  It doesn’t cost a fortune to be creative and compelling. It’s a must for marketing and PR, and honestly, Canva is easy to use.  Every business can benefit from this cool tool. Sit yourself down and try it.
  5. Reach out to influencers and align with their brands. Did your mother ever tell you, “Birds of a feather flock together?” Same thing here. Get noticed by influencers you admire by connecting with them and commenting on their work. Build relationships online, but in person too. It’s amazing who you can meet on twitter and how you can stay in touch.  A compliment goes a long way.
  6. Be a resource to reporters. OK. Don’t overthink this. If you’re writing about your expertise and reaching out to influencers, and doing it often enough, do you think you’ll go unnoticed? Only if you don’t do this! Use this super cool resource to find reporters in your target industry. If you pass this by, you’ve wasted an enormous tip!
  7. And lastly, Podcast Heaven. Use this cool tool to find podcasts in your industry and pitch yourself as a guest on one, several or tons. Get the recording, ask if you can transcribe it, and create multiple blogs. Don’t forget to use all of your keywords for SEO Juice! Check it out!

Start using these tips and you’re on your way to getting more visibility. Which will you implement today?

I get a ton of emails every day and they build to nearly a thousand a week.  There are newsletters, blogs, podcasts, free books and more. It’s no secret that I love to read and learn new things, especially about marketing and public relations. But, I don’t open every email – unless the subject line interests me – or persuades me to take the chance.

Yesterday, I opened an email and it was about the Art of Persuasion.  It got me thinking about how important persuasion is in business, PR and marketing, and of course, in life.

Do you know how to persuade to succeed?

In 9 Habits of Persuasive Business Leaders, Jacqueline Whitmore tells us that the ‘Art of Persuasion’ really starts with life skills.  Curiosity, honesty and confidence lay the corner stones for leadership and persuasiveness. But, it takes more than just being curious or honest to be an effective persuader. Read here for ways you can be more persuasive.

Naturally, communication is critical for any leader, so it’s no surprise that persuasive business communication is highly valued in the workplace.  Demand Media published this article about effective persuasion which talks about building and trusting business relationships through constant nurturing and a willingness to get feedback. Are you a leader who listens to other’s concerns or are you thinking of your next move (or what to have for lunch)? Be honest….

Lastly, if you’ve already applied persuasion tactics, but haven’t been so successful, check out this article from the Harvard Business Review. With a bold title, Change the Way You Persuade, you may think differently about how to persuade someone. The takeaway?  Determine a business leader’s decision making style and approach them in a way they understand. It’s a must read.

Are you a Charismatic, Thinker, Skeptic, Follower or Controller?

Let me know @RobinSamora. I’m a Charismatic. Always excited about new ideas and concepts!

I admit it. I was seduced by this promotion. One of my favorite restaurants in Cambridge, Bergamot, partnered with Ford Motor Company for #EdgeNightOut.

Here’s the skinny on the promotion:

The offer was sent to Bergamot’s list and you (or all of your friends) had to act fast.  The ask was to take a spin around the block in the Ford Edge. The reward was a complimentary three course meal and beverage for you and a guest at Foodie Favorite, Bergamot.

You didn’t have to protect yourself with promotional armor. The Brand Ambassadors wore handsome jackets, shirt and ties and were GQish. This was a classic example of local event marketing gone right with the hopes of reaching an upscale crowd.

Ford targeted Bergamot, a chic urban restaurant near Inman Square and gave it a Hollywood feel. Stanchions for guests waiting in line. Spotlights to attract attention. A logo’d backdrop like at the Grammy’s®.  Plus, you were treated like royalty.

Ford bought Bergamot for the night and made their patrons very happy.

Drinks and dinner were – ummm,  yummamazing.

What great inspiration for a promotional partnership! It showed how responsive and loyal a list can be when presented with a coveted and limited availability opportunity, and for Ford, a steady stream of willing drivers to check out a pretty cool SUV, possibly unenchanted with the brand of the past.

So there you have it. Food, Ford and Fun.

What are you cookin’ up for your next promotion?

One of my colleagues has some food trucks that are awesome…

 

The thought of creating a website to sell your products and services is exciting! From start to finish there may be a hundred steps, but the first is finding a domain name that you like — one that resonates with your brand. Picking the right name influences your overall PR, marketing and social media strategy – so it’s important to choose one that works!

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Domain Name:

  1. If you are the brand, consider buying YourName.com.  Already taken?  Look at YourName.org  or YourNameWhatYouDo.com, with a few variations.  Are you John Smith? Not so great for differentiating yourself on the web. But, if you add your middle initial or city that could help you stand out.

    Now, if you’re “John Smith the Elephant Handler”, I’d do a happy dance and buy JohnSmithElephantHandler.com. I’m certain John would have little competition in the jungle and still get noticed.  Note: I’d also suggest John buy ElephantHandler.com which, by the way, was available at the time I wrote this. John, here’s another tip, link both domains to each other!

  2. Is your domain name hard to spell or a play on words? I like to give everyone a free pass here. Some of us can spell and were spelling bee queens and others were math geniuses. Make your domain name easy to remember and spell. Buy misspelled versions of your domain name that point to your website(s) so you don’t miss any traffic. You might think it’s a waste of time or effort, but it’s an investment that pays off –especially if your name is a bit confusing!
  3. Does someone else have a domain name almost identical to yours? I’ve been asked if it’s worthwhile to buy a domain name similar to yours a hundred times. And my answer is always the same.  Yes, if it’s affordable and in your budget.  But no, if it’s just parked and you have other options. Well positioned PR and social media promotion can create oodles of visibility for your brand and traffic to your website.  All of your marketing tactics combined will make a difference to help meet your goals and objectives.  A consistent message, constant communication and inspired daily action are key!

Another tip about buying domain names?  Buy strategic keywords and string them together as a URL which lead to YOU. Research what works best for your industry before you buy.

All these tips are great, but creating a PR and visibility plan is the most important to get the biggest bang for your buck.

If you want to set up a 15 minute discovery session to see how to cut through the clutter, to sell more products and services – or build your brand, click hereI have a few more PR Summer Session Openings at a discounted price for the rest of August. 

After the longest winter I can remember, I’m thrilled to say summer is here! And, school is (almost) out.  Many business owners and entrepreneurs take time to relax and slow down a bit in June, July and August, but there are other smart and savvy pros who do the same, plus step up their game and create their own summer school to beef up on news, update their skills or take a class.

If you’d like to expand your horizon, here are several ideas to get you started – but as you know, the sky’s the limit!

1. Learn how to write

Yes, really!

In The Art of the Handwritten Note we’re reminded of how important a personal written note is in business. You might have grown up writing ‘thank you’ notes, but there’s a whole generation of younger people who feel challenged with this kind of writing. There’s no better time than now to get (re)started! What’s stopping you? If your handwriting is terrible, take a calligraphy class or better yet – slow down and write ‘like you mean it’. Your message will be heard loud and clear!

2. Learn video marketing/editing

You don’t have to become an expert and I’m certainly not suggesting that you have to edit your own videos. But, understanding the process of editing and learning about video marketing will help you plan better shoots and b-roll to create the best possible content to share with  your audience. It’s fun too, if the first subjects of your video class are your own family members!

Check out workshops in your local area to see if there’s a summer program you can attend or take classes or workshops online.

3. Learn how get the most out of your Smartphone

You think you know it all? You may be pretty app-savvy, but there’s so much more in the Smartphone world to learn!  I’ve read that most people use only 5% of their phone’s ability and just 10% of our brain! Ask a teenager in your life or neighbor to sit with you and show you the tricks they’ve learned on their phone. You can also take a class in most stores (Verizon, Sprint, AT&T) depending on what carrier you have. And of course, online learning about Smartphone is great, too.

Whatever new skill you decide to learn this summer, have fun!