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.

I gave a talk yesterday at a Leadership CEO Forum and was excited to present PR and Social Media ideas to a room of executive women, who ran successful businesses – and invested in their growth.  (I love that).

After the meeting and comments from the group, I was thinking of ways that entrepreneurs and experts could get noticed, without all kinds of fuss, muss and time restraints.

  • Walk into a room with power. What I’m talking about here is exuding confidence.  Knowing you’re the expert when you walk in to a room full of strangers. You’re well dressed, ready for action and prepared to share your knowledge.
  • Spend time getting to know your group. Before any speaking gig or meeting, it’s always good to know the players. Ask for a list beforehand if it’s available and do some research on your own. That way, you have some background information and can ask intelligent questions and give thoughtful responses.
  • Give without expectation. I often speak without getting paid because it opens the door to new circles and there’s so much possibility for potential business.  Some might say, “Nah, you’re wasting your time.”  If you’re doing something that you believe is getting you towards your goal, then go for it.
  • Make time for Q + A privately, in person if possible. After a presentation, don’t schedule yourself so tightly that you don’t have room to breathe and have a chance to talk with attendees.  I’m all for clustering a day of activities in the area I’m visiting, but there are hidden opportunities in NOT rushing. It took me a while to figure that out.
  • See an opportunity? Act on it.  I was on a tour yesterday of NewTV for an upcoming TV series and saw beautiful artwork on the wall.  I commented on it and asked if they showcased artist’s work on a monthly basis.  The answer was yes and it was a perfect opportunity for my client, Lidia Kenig-Scher to feature her paintings.  Had I not popped my head in the Director of Marketing’s office and said hi, that never might have happened.

This list could go on with other PR and marketing opportunities to increase your brand awareness and visibility – with referral programs, highlighting influencers, news jacking, podcasting and more.

But we’re looking at easy tactics here, that don’t require hours of thought. They’re free publicity tactics that are worth their weight in gold.

Speaking is a great way to hear first-hand what entrepreneurs and business owners are thinking.  Last month, this question popped up a few times. “How can I do all the marketing and still do my work?  I feel overwhelmed!”

Well, that’s pretty easy to answer.

You can’t do all your work and sell, then take care of all the PR and marketing.  It’s just not possible.  Unless, you have at least an outsourced person or two to help with the workload, an intern or another member of your team who’s qualified to carry out your vision (and instructions).

But, you can do what’s important to grow your business and brand. You just have to select the promotional tactics and tasks that matter, and automation that fits.

So, how does a busy entrepreneur avoid marketing overwhelm?  

  • Stay focused and don’t try to do it all. I’m a recovering perfectionist and drove myself crazy trying to be everything and everywhere all at once. To start, identify your ideal client and where they hang out. Then be clear on your messaging and call to action, and build a strong consistent outreach program.
  • Find the best 2 – 3 platforms that will increase your visibility and learn how to use them to get your biggest bang for the buck. If your customers aren’t on Instagram, don’t waste your time. If the majority of your customers aren’t women, don’t bother with Pinterest.  If you’re in the B 2 B space, use LinkedIn. Write on Pulse, comment, engage, join groups.  If your audience is on Facebook, go for it and mix it up with video. Building credibility? Consider Twitter.  Build a foundation then add layers (platforms that make sense).
  • Remember the golden rule of promotion (yes rules are meant to be broken). Engage 80% of the time with your audience, prospects, customers and influencers.  Promote your products, services, events and special offers 20% of the time. This takes time and requires content marketing, but it builds a base of raving fans.
  • Find influencers in your industry and see what they’re doing. Yes, you can lurk anonymously on LinkedIn, but really, there’s no need.  See what others are up to, but don’t go into a tail spin if they’re one place and you’re another.  Try a platform to see if there’s a fit – and also, consider your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). What makes you different from your competitor. Are they really competitors anyway?  Isn’t there enough business for us all?
  • Test, try, then say goodbye. You aren’t being judged. Let it go if you made feel like you made a mistake or something didn’t work. Read up on what you think the best strategy is for your business, phone a friend or expert and test it out.  No babies are dying here.  Think of it like adding accessories or trying a new look. Lucky you, most promotional copy and ideas can be reworked or recycled.
  • Have your customers sell for you. What’s more powerful than a solid word of mouth referral? “Hello – yes, I’d love to – this is how we work – and here’s what we charge.  Awesome, when do you want to begin?  Your credit card?  Of course – give me a minute to grab a pen.” You can also ask for referrals on your email signature, at network meetings and when you talk with an event organizer. Bottom line, you have to ask. It’s as easy as “ketchup please?”  Know anyone else that might like my ABC?
  • Automate baby, automate. I’m an expert in training. I say it all the time.  My colleagues are located all around the country, but one thing is, we share tools, tricks and tips and we try them out.  I love Buffer.com, Feedly.com, Canva.com and a host of other websites that make my social media and design life easier. Work for 30 minutes, post for 1 week. I’m into easy and colorful sharing of PR, marketing and business insights.

Overwhelm is a choice and it’s not for me.  I’d prefer to be more spot-on, not compare myself to others and listen to my gut to tell me what’s write. (Oh, I meant right).  Either way, business is what you make it.

Explore your options and be your best self.  You can’t go wrong.

Are you tired of posting content to your social media news feed and having it fall flat in the insights?  Then you should think about adding some GIFs to your digital marketing. GIFs are probably the most under-utilized media that I’ve seen in the digital marketing space.

What’s a GIF?

Definition: GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is “a computer file format for the compression and storage of digital video images.”  Source:  Merriam Webster Dictionary

In general terms, GIFs are those fun little images or mini videos that play over and over.  They can easily be embedded into your digital marketing to add some movement to your content and bring a little flavor to your online branding.

The first thing you need to think about when it comes to GIFs, is if you want to find a GIF or create one of your own.

Finding a GIF

I use GIPHY.com as my source but you can also find them on TumblrTwitter or do a quick Google search.

Saving a GIF (that you found). 

Once you find a GIF, the next step is to save it to your system.  Believe it or not, you treat GIFs as images.  Simply right-click and select “Save Image As”.  Just make sure “GIF Image” is your “Save as type”.

Making a GIF

If you can’t find a GIF that drives the message home, you can make one of your own.  There are sites that let you do this such as  Giphy’s Make a GIF ToolMakeAGIF.com.  My personal tool of preference is the Ripl App(For iOS devices).

How to use GIFs in Social Media

You probably have figured out already that when it comes to social media marketing, images will always take preference over text, and videos will always receive more interaction than images.  However, sometimes we don’t have the time or interest to create a video for every post that we create.

Enter your new friend, the GIF

Find or create a GIF and voilà!  You’ve now made your social media marketing more interactive!  Rather than posting an image, you can make it dance across your news feed – and give your account some more attention and interaction online.

Here is an example of how I used a GIF in my social media.  It was Friday and I was personally feeling run down after a long week.  I thought my audience may feel the same.  So I sought out a fun GIF to lighten the mood – and groove into the weekend.

Looking at the reporting, this one post received a total of 33% of my entire reach for the week.  “Reach” in social media terms is defined by the amount of people that saw your post in their newsfeed.

GIFs Aren’t Limited to Your Social Media 

You can use them in your blog content, or add a little flavor to your email marketing.  This may depend on the email marketing program that you work with.  I use Constant Contact.  I have been able to use GIFs to spice up the material in a content heavy newsletter.

The best example I’ve seen of a GIF in an email marketing campaign is Olive Garden.  They were promoting their delivery service during a weekend that had both an awards show and football playoff game.  They used a creative subject line, “Cleats or Stilettos?” and when you opened the email, your eyes fell upon this gorgeous GIF.

As you can see, for 5 to 10 extra minutes of finding or creating a GIF, the payoff is worth it.  Go seek out a GIF or make your own – and watch as the content pops off the screen and your numbers skyrocket.


Jeannine O’Neil, (@Jeannine_Oneil) owner of JO Social Branding, is a digital media strategist who empowers and educates marketing professionals on how to make the best use of their social media and email marketing.  Through JO Social Branding, she has positioned herself as a thought leader in the digital marketing industry.  In addition to her work as a speaker and consultant, Jeannine has a weeklynewsletter and podcast titled, “Social Eyes”.

I’m a big believer in using events to grow your business. Events provide a forum for you to showcase your expertise, grow your database, make new contacts and attract new clients.  And, if you’re in the front of the room as the expert and love engaging with the audience, it’s also fun!

In this article  5 Ways to Grow Your Business with Events by Eventgenioso, you’ll find events other than tradeshows to increase your ROI. Some examples? Experiential events for brand activation or product launches which pique the media’s attention. Training or seminars with high profile speakers in your industry, that even the fussiest client can’t refuse. And, incentive travel for new prospects and to jazz up your sales team. Fuel prices are low, everyone loves to travel and you can mix and match programs to target your goals. Have the courage to make it a mystery trip? 

As an INBOUND Guest Blogger (blogging is a great way to get media mention BTW), Joel Comm talks about using live events to drive business. In his post Live Events: The Fastest Way to Grow Your Business, he discusses the importance of meeting new people and building rapport with your audience. First, there’s getting to the like, know and trust stage. Then comes the opportunity to do business. Yes, live events can be fun and should be – but don’t forget the value of finding out what’s new (and trending) from vendors and starting conversations with strangers, who may one day be your client! 

Lastly, Constant Contact’s UK blog lists 7 Events to Grow Your Business with content definitely worth mentioning. You may be thinking networking or throwing a party right off the bat, but what about an Open House? I’ve suggested this to hospitals to Meet the Doc. There are also events to Get a Taste of “your subject”, expert/customer panels where advice and testimonials can be shared openly (great PR) and of course, Breakfast n’ Learn, to start the day off right. Make your own waffles, anyone?

Events work to build business, expert status, reputation and credibility.

PASSION 

Passion ignites the fire of your brand. Without it, you’re just like everyone else. The press wants to highlight intriguing and passionate people, products and services that their readers will be interested in.

Ask yourself:

  • What’s your passion and why?
  • Do you include your passion in your “story” so others can get to know you, your products and services, and what you stand for?
  • Are you willing to be transparent and let the world know who you really are?

Remember: A passion for your work + life enhance your
brand and celebrate your uniqueness.

POSITIONING 

Positioning is a mindset for success. Combine it with a road map for where you want to go, be seen and heard. Determine where you want to go not just in your imagination, but on paper and as part of a PR/promotions plan.

Ask yourself:

  • What does your road map look like for media and audience attention?
  • Are you following the same highway as others in your industry, or are you willing to be bolder and combine traditional with non-traditional tactics?
  • Who will set the course for the journey, and who’ll read the map?

Remember: Welcome those who fortify, strengthen and evolve your positioning, and be willing to help others do the same.

PREPARATION 

Be prepared for success and consider yourself an expert, even if you don’t think you are. The road will come to meet you if you’re doing the work and course correction is part of the journey. You’ll find it easier to leverage publicity with every new press mention.

Ask yourself:

  • What is your competition advertising or promoting on and off line?
  • How is your competition utilizing PR in the media and in what formats? (e.g. feature stories, articles, interviews, quotes, podcasts, book jacket reviews, etc).
  • Who will support you to ensure success?

Remember: You can create a PR swipe file of what you like, resonate with,
and aspire to. Imagine yourself in the story, on TV, as a featured panelist. What makes you different? 

PERSONALITY 

Make yourself unique interesting to the press. Start with a BIO that’s full of personality and passion, and ensure that it tells your story in a way that holds the reader’s attention and makes a positive and memorable impression.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you have both a long and a short version of your BIO for different purposes? (e.g. media interviews, teleseminars, articles, email signatures, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, etc.)
  • Are you reviewing your BIO 3 months to keep up with your professional growth?
  • Is your BIO transparent and human, yet highlights your credentials and expert status?

Remember: Include at least 5 things others don’t know about you. They can be accomplishments, hobbies or interests that others may find fascinating. 

PRESENTATION

A professional presentation, photos and website get you past the gatekeeper for a longer look. Ensure that all of your on line and off line branding, photos, collateral and correspondence have a professional look and feel, and that you represent yourself as an expert – with all the bells and whistles expected of someone of your caliber. Look like a million dollar brand.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you maintaining a congruent look and presentation design with your website, newsletters, blogs, Facebook and Twitter pages?
  • Are you investing in professional headshots and lifestyle photos that portray you and your brand in your best light?
  • Are your promotional materials well written in a style and tone suitable for your industry?

Remember: Presentation is equally important for in-person meetings and media interactions. You are your brand wherever you go so dress the part at events, interviews, conferences, speaking engagements – even community gatherings. Be stylish and honor your brand!

PITCHABILITY 

Pitching an idea to the media takes some practice and perfecting, but once you understand how each media works, and how to get pitch ideas, the easier it becomes. Start by reading a reporter’s writing for insight on “how to pitch” them.

Plus, check out their Twitter, Facebook and website pages for insights on their writing style and preferences. You can also use pitch query services like HARO to reach reporters looking for your expertise, and check editorial calendars of magazines in which you’d like to be featured.

Ask yourself:

  • What story can I tell that highlights a new way of doing something, a product that will make life easier, an opinion that’s contrary to popular thinking, or a tie in to a movie or celebrity event?
  • What are some major trends right now, and what are the best ways to tie your pitch to them?
  • What are some national events that can be localized?

Remember: Don’t pitch stories already covered.
You can also try turning your pitch into a “top 10 tips” list. 

Take these 6 P’s and apply them to your business today!

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.

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!

Your business is growing, you’re taking on more clients and the responsibility that goes with it – and you’re swamped.  There’s no question, you need help.

But, you’re so busy, you don’t have time to think about interviewing or training someone new.

Sound familiar?

Luckily, there are ways to build your team without spending too much time away from your business. The key is to find qualified people who work independently and already know about your industry – and what needs to be done.

Ask many of the successful entrepreneurs you know and they’ll tell you. They’ve hired outsourced independent contractors for jobs like a VA (virtual assistant), social media manager, graphic designer, web master, editor, email marketer or PR specialist.

These professionals are business owners themselves and can help you become more productive by taking tasks off your plate so you can your spend time doing what you do best – and earning the most.

About 5 years ago, I hired Lisa, who is my right and left hand. Even though she works virtually and lives in New Mexico, I trust her to always look out for me and remind me of everything I forget. And sometimes, that’s a lot!

If you’re looking for a virtual assistant to help with your business so you can concentrate on your brilliance, read these articles…

In How To Choose A Virtual Assistant, Karyn Greenstreet shares her journey in moving away from a personal assistant and hiring a Virtual Assistant who lives 2,500 miles away.  Her valuable insights and excellent tips are noteworthy.  Remember, there’s a learning curve involved.  They’re not you (that’s why you hired them) and they’re not always in your time zone!

If you aren’t sure what types of tasks a Virtual Assistant can do for you and your business, Entrepreneur Magazine provides a list of 10 Tasks To Outsource To A Virtual Assistant. I am eternally grateful to my first VA who got my daughter out of New Orleans in her freshman year during the scare after Katrina. She kept close contact and guided Lauren off campus and to the airport – with an overnight in Chicago – and calmed me too, along the way.

Before you start the search for your own virtual assistant, check out this article ‘When is a Virtual Assistant not a Virtual Assistant…?!’ by guest blogger Michelle Dale.  She explains the virtual part in virtual assistant – just so we’re all on the same page – and part of the world.

Ready to be less stressed and more productive?

I thought so. Think about a VA.

Do you ever have an ‘off ‘ day? You can sure bet that I have!

How do you act when your day isn’t going as planned? Do you complain? Let everyone around you know how miserable you are? Do you feel compelled to share all your troubles with your coworkers, colleagues and – yikes, I hope not – your online audience?

Remember, whatever is said and done online stays there forever.

Let that sink in for a minute…I mean forever.

Unlike when you say something out of anger or frustration in person, when you say it online it’s there for the world to see and reread, over and over again. Long past the time that you were mad, hurt or filled with fury!

Your online presence says a lot about you. So, when you’re negative or in a ‘crazy space’ and share those feelings online, your audience will get a certain impression of you. Good, bad or ugly. I’m sure you don’t want to be remembered for that!

Now, what if someone says something bad about you?

For that, you’ll need to monitor your name and your brand’s name at all times. (Love Google Alerts!) Online customer service is expected and expected fast.  When something goes wrong, make it right!

Sproutsocial tells the tales of 5 PR disasters and also gives you some insights on what to do when disaster strikes.

Let’s look at a real case study of Amy’s Baking Company and their Facebook Page rants. After chef Gordon Ramsey walked off the set for the first time in his show’s history, the admin to Amy’s Baking Company’s Facebook Page went crazy. The bakery owners later claimed to have been hacked. They ended up having to hire a PR firm to help them clean up their mess, all because a bad day in a person’s life  turned into a very bad, horrible sort of day on the internet! Read more about this PR disaster story here.

If you want to know what to do in the case of a PR disaster, read this. Four cases, four companies handled it well.

Take notes! When the (bad) mood strikes, get off the grid for a day or so, but when disaster strikes, stay close, keep monitoring and respond!