“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.

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! 

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!

Goal setting is one of the most important steps to achieving your dreams and a must have when creating a PR Roadmap. Writing down what you want is the first step in making your goals come true and giving yourself permission to revise them as you go along.  There’s also a science behind it. Read what experts have to say in this article, The Science Behind Setting Goals and Achieving Them from Entrepreneur.com.

The author, Jane Porter from Help Scout shared some valuable insights from psychologists and experts and broke setting goals into 5 steps.

Let’s look at them one by one.

  1. Have a growth mindset. Do you have a go for it attitude, not worried so much about how smart you are or what other’s will think?  How about what a mistake will mean?  Psychologist and Stanford professor Carol Dweck believes that a “growth mindset” can be developed over time and that your abilities aren’t fixed.  She shares more information here in this article from Harvard Business Review.
  2. Set meaningful goals. Challenging yourself to grow on a daily basis to what’s meaningful for you and having your goals be measurable are key points in John Norcross’ book, Changeology. In his words, “small steps together equal a giant leap.”
  3. Build accountability into your life.  There’s accountability for everything you do. If you don’t go food shopping, you can’t cook. If you don’t pick up shirts at the dry cleaner, you may go shirtless. (Kidding, but you get the point). Typically, there’s a penalty you have to pay. How much pain are you willing to tolerate?
  4. Don’t fill yourself with false hope. As important as ambition is, it can also lead to unrealistic expectations.  If you don’t get something done, you can feel like a failure. And, no one wants to feel that way. Janet Polivy, psychologist at the University of Toronto, calls unrealistic goal setting, false hope syndrome.
  5. Never underestimate the power of positivity. Leadership coach Peter Bregman suggests thinking in terms of focus, not the end goal. If you were a sales person that would mean concentrating on outreach rather than the exact number of sales you closed in a week.  “A goal points to a future you intend to reach; an area of focus settles you into the present.”

No matter how you look at goal setting, it can be daunting if you give it power to rule you. Reframe your attitude, take small steps that build upon each other and focus on what’s in the present, not far down the road.

That way you’ll feel like you’re making progress which will propel you even further.

PS: Changing your viewpoint and attitude can make a big difference in your end goal and how you see yourself and your business.  Schedule a PR discovery session with me to talk about what you’d like to accomplish this year.  My calendar is here or feel free to email me at Robin@RobinSamora.com.  Entrepreneur hours. So anything goes.

Building a brand isn’t a paint by numbers project, and if it was, you probably wouldn’t be interested.  You can’t follow exact directions to create the perfect picture, but you can paint in your own style.  The same with PR and marketing.  You’re the artist.

To be a successful marketer, your mindset, attitudes and particular way of thinking have to be flexible, focused and free thinking. Imagination counts. Reeling it back in matters. It takes a certain creativity to blend your world with that of your target market. Plus, come up with ideas (and results) week after week.

To All the Marketers Out There – Is this Your PR Mindset?

  • You’re creative, positive, quick to connect the dots
  • A natural influencer, sales person and networker
  • You recognize opportunities in a flash
  • Know how to pitch as well as ditch (ideas, copy, stories)
  • Believe that consistency trumps random effort
  • You ask zillions of questions and just can’t help yourself
  • Don’t need others to be entertained
  • Appreciate a great campaign, laugh and pat on the back
  • And when things are tough – or not, wouldn’t mind a kiss or hug at the end of the day

I understand, as well as you, that mindset varies day to day. If your dog ate the only copy of your media contact list, your mindset might change.

It would also change if Publisher’s Clearinghouse knocked on your door with an oversized check or you won the Powerball jackpot Wednesday for an estimated 1.3 billion dollars.

Say that happened. You might quit your job, sell your business or get out of Dodge. But one thing I do know, you’re PR mindset won’t change. It’s who you are.

Buy a ticket and challenge me. And make a promise that if you win, you’ll give a big chunk of change to your favorite charity.

That, my friends, would make my day.

PS. I’ve only got 2 client spots left for January!  Let me help you skyrocket your brand, business or  speaking career with online and offline PR and promotional strategy. Woo! Last week I got 2 articles in USA Today!  Select a time on my calendar and let’s talk. Or email me at Robin@RobinSamora.com. It’s almost mid-January. How’s Q1 working for you?

Landing a story about your business in USA Today is what’s called a mega media kit.

But two in one week?  While you’re on vacation?

Almost unheard of.

One Pitch = Two Stories

Earlier this week, I was soaking up rays off the coast of Belize when I received an email that my pitch from November was picked up by USA Today.  Woo! The article featured an interview on responsible tourism and how my business, Pay It Forward Global Retreats, was helping women around the world.

In addition to my initial pitch, the editor took an interest in the company that I co-founded and asked to feature it again in another story on female-founded travel businesses. Another Piña colada, please!

Check out my two major media hits in USA Today (lots of other businesses paid thousands for ads but I got these stories for free):

Pay It Forward Global Retreats Blends Business Travel with Responsible Tourism and 6 Female Founded Companies that are Changing Travel for Women  

You Can Do It Too

You just have to know HOW!

Let me teach you this year in one-on-one or private groups training for your team.

What will more press do for your business? And how can you leverage it to the max?

Let’s find out! Rent My Brain for an hour and I’ll explain how you can do it. You can ask me anything else about how to capture thousands of dollars in publicity in online and offline media.

P.S – Publicity snowballs. Period. If editors of trade journals, daily newspapers, weeklies, blogs, and online magazines like covering you in one of their stories, they will sometimes love giving you a second story because you’re such a great source. I’ll take you by the hand and show you how. Rent My Brain for an hour and see for yourself!    

 

1. It’s OK not to know everything. There’s a learning curve to trying something new.  Scuba diving for the first time. Making the perfect crepe. Creating killer graphics with cool tools. Inspiring hundreds to take action when you speak. Some say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. But, when you embrace that we’re all really experts in training, you’ll find it easier to receive and share information. Viva the 80/20 rule.

2. Sometimes you don’t know what will happen. At the bottom of the ocean, you don’t know what you’ll see or what you might have to do. So, you have to be trained. Your mask might fill up with water. You push the wrong button and go flying to the top (don’t try that). When we’re in execution mode, the best PR and marketing plans might have to be tweaked at the last minute or even scrubbed. Being trained and knowing the options can be a dream come true.

3. Follow best practices. PR specialists and marketers in every stage of their growth learn from a variety of sources. The internet, coaches, books, You Tube, fellow colleagues and the list goes on. To save time and to be more effective, learn from the experience of others and follow established guidelines, hopefully not repeating their mistakes. Best practices in marketing can increase revenue, expert status and visibility, and showcase the star you really are.

4. Paying attention matters. There have been a number of instances where paying attention has been critical to my survival. Scuba diving is one example, hot air ballooning and surfing others.  I could say jumping out of a plane, but I haven’t done that yet. As influencers and marketers, we need to pay attention to what’s going on around us, and what’s really important to our brand, not just what would be nice. Paying attention can put you ahead of the crowd or keep you at rock bottom. It’s always your choice.

5. Listening = Watching. 
There isn’t one of us who couldn’t learn to listen better. When you’re underwater, listening means watching the signs – of your instructor and fellow divers. In business, learning to read the signs could include understanding body language or noticing office discord, without hearing a word. Watching for positive and negative signs of your team and key players could save you time, effort and a big HR mess. Keep your eyes and ears open. Your gut reaction is usually right.

Everyone in my family is back to work on Thursday. One of my daughters is prepping for a 3 week trip to Australia, another is head high in client work and training for a trek to Patagonia.  I’m excited about new business opportunities this month and upcoming speaking gigs at Constant Contact and Sleek Marketing University.

This New Year will bring us new adventures.

What ‘bout you?

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!

  1. Do you know your audience? It’s important to know who you’re pitching and what they want. Don’t sell ice to an Eskimo living in Hawaii unless they own an ice making business! What’s your big vision and does it fit with who’s buying?  Think it through on paper and make sure it works!
  2. Are you passionate about your idea? Passion makes a big difference in presenting a concept and often, enthusiasm is lost if there’s a publicist or hired gun doing the talking. If you’re the presenter, make sure you have positive energy and communicate with a high vibration. It shows not only in the voice, but also in the body. Twinkling eyes are a bonus!
  3. How professional are you? Professionalism is critical not just in writing, but in delivering. For Good Morning America, Tory needs to know without a doubt that the company presenting is totally operational and can deliver great customer service – even if the company is tiny! Talk the talk and believe it yourself!
  4. Are you prepared? Many entrepreneurs want ‘it’ to happen, but aren’t ready and launch discussions prematurely. If you’re overly excited and not ready with all the facts and figures, there’s a chance you may lose an opportunity and be passed over by someone who’s got their ducks in a row. When you speak up – be ready!
  5. Will you leave a positive or negative impression? Often negative impressions are longer lasting than positive ones. Make it a point to practice your pitch not only in front of a mirror, but test it with people who’ll give you honest feedback. If the feedback is similar from all parties – it doesn’t mean you’re bad, it just means that you need to tweak your pitch!
  6. Are you crystal clear? When it’s your moment to shine, be crystal clear about who you are and what you’re offering. A confused mind never buys and certainly won’t put you on Good Morning America. Again, clarity comes from practice.  At our last SBANE meeting (Smaller Business Association of New England), we talked about this article from Forbes on public speaking lessons from the world’s greatest Ted Talks. It’s worth reading.
  7. How about your confidence? Competence and confidence go hand in hand. Sometimes, we get nervous when there’s a big opportunity and ask for what we want. Frankly, it’s silly because we KNOW OUR STUFF. You might get lucky and who you pitch may be gentle and work it out of you, but that’s not always the case. Go for it. Be confident or you may lose the opportunity if you’re weak in your presentation.
  8. Are you concise and to the point? Tory told the audience she has three minutes on-air to sell five products. So, a thirty minute lunch for her with a prospective entrepreneur is out of the question. She suggests networking and practicing your elevator pitch for brevity – so others can repeat it in a sentence.

You might not know it, but you pitch on a daily basis. Keep it simple. Practice passionately. And, deliver from your heart.

Twinkling is a bonus, especially this time of year.