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 don’t know if there’s a business person out there that doesn’t perk up when the word ‘free’ comes up. And, include me there!  I love to hear about new no-cost tools and tips that will like my life and business more productive – and help me stretch my marketing and PR budget.

So in the spirit of sharing and promoting your small business and brand, I’ll list 9 below:

9 Cool Free Publicity Tools and Tactics

  1. What about a Nighttime Silhouette? Find a large empty wall on a busy road near your business and project your logo on it at night. Think of it as a cool billboard without the cost. Though I’ve never done it, I imagine you need a timer too!
  2. Volunteer your boss or CEO! If you’re out and about, online and otherwise, you’re running into journalists and industry leaders who are looking for guests on podcasts, for interviews and possibly as speakers or panelists. See if they might like to feature your CEO as an expert. Your CEO will see you as a star and advocate for the company and rewards, my friend, come in many ways. Note: This also works for you!
  3. How about the risers on stairs? Last summer, I vacationed in Maine and noticed how shops on the second floor of buildings used advertising copy to influence customers to climb the stairs and see their store. I loved this idea. Would something like this work for you? What space do you have underutilized?
  4. Don’t underestimate the value of your email signature. Email Shmemail. It doesn’t have to be boring, you know. Add links or icons to your social media feeds or landing pages where you’re featuring new products or offers. Authors can give away chapters of their books. Experts, white papers. You get it. This is free promotional space that can change up as freely as you like and costs zippo.
  5. Use Twitter as a Focus Group. Want to test out a new idea, vote on a design or get some feedback? Look no further than Twitter. Use the audience you’ve built as a sounding board to ask questions, engage in conversation and increase your visibility and PR status at the same time. It’s free and targeted. Change up your tweets and test them out.  Ask and you will receive!
  6. Be an Expert columnist. I hope most of you are blogging. And if you are, it should be easy to tweak, copy and paste. The key word here is repurpose. You’ll get lots of eyeballs as an expert in your field when you have a column. This works for online and offline publications (or other blogs). If the publisher wants compensation for the promotional real estate, fine. Be open to Q + A from readers, consider speaking at an upcoming event or offer to be an online or offline joint venture partner.
  7. Hire an Artist for Sidewalk Graffiti. You don’t have to live near an art school to find an artist who’d like to draw on your sidewalk or side of the building! If you’re going big and using the side of an abandoned building, get fellow business owners to chip in. Perhaps this artist would be thrilled with a feature story or needs that just one, je ne sais quoi piece to go to the next level? You could be the answer to his/her prayers, and he/she to yours. Open space can be used in a number of ways. Be creative in your thinking!
  8. Create a video for your LinkedIn summary. I can hear you say, I didn’t know you could do that? Well, you can! It doesn’t have to be super fancy or long, but you can include a short video in that section if you want to stand out in a crowd. Don’t forget too to beef up your LinkedIn profile with rich key word marketing and PR copy – and use all the characters.
  9. Hire an Intern to who loves Pinterest. Many of you probably know what a goldmine Pinterest is, especially to attract a female audience. You also may know that including your URL on images can link back to your website, blog or special offer landing page. Have a strategy in mind to follow and pin – and of course, be colorful and relevant to your brand!

That’s it for today, for cool PR and marketing ideas. Shake it up. Be Bold. And, Rent my Brain if you need help creating a buzz for your business!

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…

 

Who doesn’t like free publicity?

Free publicity is one of my favorite subjects to talk about because it’s all about PR Power on a Budget. You can get the biggest bang for your buck when you utilize all of the tricks and tools that are available to promote yourself or your business.

I could go on for days about all of your options, but for today – let’s concentrate on 3 Ways to Get Free Publicity to put you on the right path!

First up, read one of my own articles called 7 Reasons to Give a Workshop. Technically, by giving a workshop you aren’t working for free – but there are countless publicity and marketing opportunities you can take advantage of by hosting and promoting your own events. Read the full article here on how events help you get free publicity to promote your brand, raise your expert status and of course – help you get noticed!

Next, let’s look at what promotion vehicles you have in place and how you can use them to your advantage.  If you have a blog and are writing as often as you should be, you have a great way to get free publicity for your own business. Write about your new product launch, where you’re speaking next or your own charity involvement.  Get permission to link to other businesses or influence leaders circles — and make sure to promote your blog articles on social media for that extra punch.

Lastly, I want to point out a tool I use all the time — HARO or Help A Reporter Out.  HARO is a secret weapon I recommend to all of my clients to build their media presence.  In basic terms, you answer queries from hungry journalists and by positioning your responses the right way, you can get quoted and interviewed in a variety of publications, tv, radio and blog sources. If you want to learn about how HARO works and how to use it to your advantage, read this article chockfull of good advice!

I write and speak often about free publicity tools and tricks, so be sure to follow me on Twitter @RobinSamora to learn more!

PR, Promotions and Publicity aren’t a one size fit all strategy to get you noticed.  And, that’s a good thing.  Variety is the spice of life! In creating a PR roadmap, you want to customize the outreach experience and connect the dots from where a client is now – to where they want to go to be seen, heard and remembered. So the road less traveled is not the journey of choice!

For a handful of our Fortune 500 corporate clients, Partner Promotions is the go-to source for Brand Ambassador work in Boston. Companies like Comcast and CBS hire our marketing teams to promote their brands and actively engage with prospects and customers — to showcase new services, demonstrate products and turn loyal followers into raving fans.

After 15 years of hiring Brand Ambassadors, I’ve concluded that for me, hiring is primarily intuition based. Is the Brand Ambassador believable or not? Do I trust him/her? Would I give them the keys to my car? Eye contact is important too, or lack thereof, and I can’t discount appearance.  If my gut tells me to move forward, I almost always do, followed by a reference check (gut usually wins).

So, how does an eager and responsible college student or professional of any age — who wants to make extra cash get into the Brand Ambassador business?

Here’s An Insider’s Look – How to Get a Brand Ambassador Job at Any Age  

  1. Google Brand Ambassador companies in your area and check Facebook Groups or Craig’s List for event/gig postings; Better yet, make a connection with other Brand Ambassadors and get WOM (word of mouth) referrals.  They’re worth their weight in gold.
  2. Apply online with a headshot and resume. If you don’t have a headshot, use an attractive and recent photo of yourself — with no arms or plants sticking out of your head. Please don’t be half naked unless you’re looking for a swimsuit model job. No experience? Highlight your sales, marketing and customer service skills.
  3. Score an interview by writing a clear, concise and friendly email. Use proper English and provide contact information. This is not the time to be lazy or sloppy in your writing or coy in your contact details. Impressions count to those reading your email and hundreds of others. Trust me. Delete is an easy key to reach.
  4. Meet in person ASAP.  Be early, well dressed and groomed. Bonus points for confirming your appointment by email and text. Remember to mention a personal referral if you have one and highlight that connection. You really could earn thousands of dollars from this one meeting.  Make it count!
  5. You are unique so accentuate the positive. Have an awesome smile? Flaunt it! But, you’re not on stage giving a one person show. Be mindful that if you’re hired, you’re representing not only the client who considers you a reflection of their brand — but the Brand Ambassador company too. It’s OK to stand out, but not like a sore thumb.
  6. Highlight your experience and own it. Why would a company want to pay you double minimum wage or more?  Not sure? Make a list. You’re outgoing, friendly, worked in sales and marketing, love people, sold credit card upgrades – plus you’re flexible. State the facts, show your resume, hold eye contact and be genuine. You can be sincere and still own your power.
  7. Don’t force a square peg in a round hole.  If there’s not a connection with the hiring manager or if you don’t like the brand, let it go. There are better opportunities out there. Follow your gut to see if the fit is right. If integrity is one of your core values, honor it. You’ll be a lousy Brand Ambassador if you’re not all in.
  8. When you’re hired, give thanks. Thank your hiring manager with an email. Read the study guides or marketing materials more than once. Follow directions. Check in frequently to show you’re interested, but not needy. Get more experience, rinse and repeat.
  9. Build a referral network so you can take a team with you. Want to make life easier for a hiring manager? Bring an established team with you to your next assignment. You’ll save your boss time and aggravation, plus be a shining star. There’s also negotiating power here as a manager, which is paid at a higher rate.
  10. Keep business business and personal personal. Don’t overlap the two. News travels fast and not always to the right places.

Side note: My kids, their friends, friends of friends, strangers and people from every walk of life have helped with the many clients and Brand Ambassador positions we’ve had over the last 20 years and counting. PR, Promotions and marketing isn’t just for entrepreneurs and small business owners – it’s for anyone with a message to share.

Share a message in your voice. That’s what makes it authentic.

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. 

As a Brand Ambassador and Promotions Expert who works with big and small brands, the question “what does branding really mean?” comes up often. Being on-brand, online branding, off line branding, brand awareness. One thing I’m very aware of is the money spent to see that it’s done right!

Brand it right or brand it wrong, being focused and on target with your messaging is important and key to establishing a look and feel — as well as a social identity for your product or service, and the revenue that it will generate.

This week, I’d like to share a few branding articles I hope you’ll find interesting;

First up, let’s look at 3 ways brands are marketing nostalgia in the age of throwback Thursday from Entrepreneur.com. “As millennials become increasingly important as customers, brands have started heaping on the nostalgia to woo them over.” If your target audience includes millennials, or any other older generation, take a look at this article on how to ‘reel them in’ using nostalgia!  (Remember Reading Rainbow?)

Next I’d like to share a video which is actually a Google Hangout On Air about ‘Branding for Small Businesses’. In this video, Lauren Zirilli, Vistaprint’s Director of Global Brand Strategy, talks about how small business can build their own brand. See what you think!

In Content Lessons From Three Brands That Kept Their Brand Promise (and Three That Didn’t) by Marketing Profs, we learn  that “content marketing has the power to help companies articulate and communicate the brand promise—which goes beyond a corporate mission statement. Marketers can craft content that shows what they really stand for.” One of the three brands highlighted is Subway, with their lifestyle campaign, ‘Eat Fresh.’

How is your brand standing out online and is your brand message consistent with your marketing message?