I’ve been speaking more than usual lately, and I love it.  Mostly, because I was scared to death of speaking for years and never thought I would never have the nerve to get up and talk about what I know best: PR, branding, small business marketing and being able to combine the core values of your business and personal brand to help you achieve your best version of success.

For some it could mean improving your expert status, credibility, reputation or visibility. For others, more speaking gigs, opportunities for joint ventures or sponsorships. And that all leads to sales of one kind of another. No sales, no business.

Confidence in sales is a must have.

Here are 7 Confidence Building Exercises to Increase Sales (and your Mojo)

  1. Begin with a pep talk every day. Make one up according to where you need to go, who you need to see, how you need to feel. Practice conversations in your head and in front of the mirror. Change it up frequently. Ask your partner, spouse, friend or dog to tell you how great you are.  Say thank you.
  2. Smile and say hello to at least 5 strangers and tell them what you do. Change up your approach and see which intro gets the best response. I’ve been at the copy desk at Staples and met prospects who turned into clients. Put yourself out there – then follow up!
  3. Learn how to tell at least 3 jokes, and get good at it. You’ll never know when you need one to break the ice! Make sure they’re appropriate for the crowd.  Remember, you’re representing your brand, even after hours and that second cocktail.
  4. Challenge yourself in some new way. Go to a new MeetUp or networking group and talk about your services. Join Toastmasters®. That’s where I started. Start small if you’re nervous about the big stage. Serve as a chair person of a volunteer group.  Acknowledge, accept and put yourself out there as someone everyone should know.  You are the expert in  _____(fill in the blank), right?
  5. Give yourself lots of chances. Throw a party! There are so many adjacent possibilities to trying something new. Just like marketing and PR, you don’t put one media pitch out there, you have a MIX. It’s the same way in building confidence. Revving up your energy creates new energy.
  6. Be a better receiver. Accept compliments, ask for testimonials, build a referral program.  Sometimes, we forget how good we are or don’t ask for the business.  Make a decision to reach out to happy clients. Ask for LinkedIn recommendations. Send surveys to get feedback. Use all of the good, and learn from the not so perfect. Isn’t that how we grow?
  7. Review your progress. How are you feeling on a day by day basis? What are you accomplishing in your career or in other parts of your life? Make note of your successes, sales and growing pains and take a look at the week’s end. See how small changes in your attitude, change you!

Confidence is a game changer even if you have to act as if, for just today.

PS – This is an updated version of a blog from 2014.  I made it more relevant to the Sales and PR process. I’m a bigger believer now more than ever. Confidence is a game changer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Networking Opens the Doors for Opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, and set your alarm clock.

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

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

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

Does What You Wear Make an Impression on Your Audience?

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

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

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

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

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

Go figure.

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

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

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

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.

I’m not the most active networker in the world, but I love to keep in touch with my colleagues and friends during the holidays. And, being a long standing member of a few groups, I especially like to reconnect and see a familiar face (or ten) when there’s no pressure – just to have a good time.

Last night, I had the pleasure of going to one of my Boston networking Holiday parties where I’ve been a member of years. Colleagues I haven’t seen in some time approached me saying things like:

“I read your newsletter all the time and want to talk the first week of January about a new project.”

“Your Cyber Monday promotion was a great idea and I should have taken advantage of it. Can I get feedback on a couple of ideas?

“I’m so glad you’re joining my group and your workshop idea is perfect for our members.  Maybe you can be on my advisory board?”

Not only was I having a great time, learning a couple of new dance steps (I’m rusty on that one), I also took the initiative and approached a new rum company with an amazing product and talked about representing his brand in the marketplace (after a sample or two).

The point is, business and pleasure can be mixed and when you’re not looking for the next ‘big thing’, doors open and conversations begin. Opportunities present themselves all the time, and it’s our attitude and openness that welcome them.

How will you welcome new business this Holiday Season?

I hope with a smile, handshake and for the chosen few, a meaningful hug.

PS – Lots going on in the Partner Promotions world. And so looking forward to a fun and prosperous 2015! How ‘bout you?  Share your thoughts and let me know why…

It was my birthday yesterday, and what a beautiful day it was!  I was whisked away on a mystery trip, the weather was unseasonably warm and there was a day of surprises planned — including dinner on Federal Hill. Delightful all the way around!

When I travel and am in relaxation mode, I can’t help but notice – and perhaps you do too – marketing messages that are simple, clever and well placed… and sometimes surprising. (Can you tell I like surprises?)

Kudos to the Marriot Courtyard in downtown Providence for setting an outstanding example. I’ve traveled all over the country (and many parts of the world) and haven’t seen an elevator pitch like this (yet).  Unexpected marketing and PR that made me smile. A full door ad for ‘Game On’ which featured the hotel’s football events at the bar – not to be seen till the door closed. Now that’s an elevator pitch!

There’s a learning lessons here. Wasted space is a matter of opinion and any marketer can take advantage of this opportunity. One printing company I was particularly fond of had advertising on the roofs of their delivery vehicles, so clients in tall buildings could be reminded of their brand. Heinz Ketchup uses space on their labels for cause related marketing and to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. Pockets of space in the right place can have promotional value, but we have to be willing to go beyond what we first see as possibilities.

There are hundreds of examples of clever and functional promotional space opportunities that go unnoticed every day. Up next, branded tissues with ads for cough drops? Something to sneeze at?

YOUR TURN

What have you seen as clever places for advertising?

Are you using non-traditional branding opportunities that work for your niche service or product?

Do you feel invaded by ‘spot promotional advertising’ or enjoy the clever approach?

Love that we can express ourselves through creativity.  In my world there’s no such thing as crazy. Sometimes a variation of that works!

Wishing you the best, and thanks for all the Birthday love,

Robin

I’m blessed to work with clients who want to increase their visibility and take their message to the next level.  They understand that public speaking – or speaking from the stage – allows them an opportunity to reach a bigger audience, have more impact and connect on a deeper and more personal level. 
 
That said, many speakers who haven’t had the privilege to work with Toastmasters, or practice with a private coach or mentor, may feel anxious in front of a room and stop themselves by not sharing their message because of fear of going blank, looking stupid or freezing on stage. I’ve had all those fears and  still take a deep breath and ground myself (as best as possible) before every presentation.  
 
Yes, it does get easier after every speech – and with practice – but it’s always helpful to learn speaker success secrets along the way.  Here are a few I’d like to share:
 
5 Speaker Tips to Take You to the Top

  1. Divide the room into three, and pick one person in each section to look at. This will allow you to connect eye to eye with at least 3 people in the audience, but also give you an opportunity to scan the room.  Think of each of these three people as your friends. They like you.  They want you to succeed. Let them feel that.
  2. Put some energy into your smile. Showcase your personality. Even if you feel like you’re ‘putting it on’,  overdeliver.  Audiences typically have chosen to hear you and want to see that you’re not only an expert, but also enjoy your topic, are informative and in some cases, entertaining. You can be a boring speaker, or an upbeat one. Ask me, I’ll tell you that upbeat trumps boring, any day of the week.
  3. Have a kick to your step. When you walk on stage, come in from the side of the room (so people aren’t looking at your backside, lovely as that may be). Let the audience know you’re enthusiastic about speaking to them. Movement, except jiggling change in pockets, helps a speaker relax and look more experienced as they address the audience from different angles of the room.
  4. Go with the flow.  I once spoke in front of 200 people and the wrong presentation came up on screen. At first I was horrified, then laughed and acknowledged my shock to the audience.  I’m grateful that they laughed too, seeing my vulnerability. The moment of truth came, I showed up fully and got 3 new clients.  Phew!
  5. Give to the audience. Offer to share your presentation. Promote a special offer to connect with them on social media.  Ask for their support  — you’ve got the stage!  This may be the first time you personally engage with them, but it doesn’t have to be the last. Remember that members  of your audience could one day be prospects or clients – and refer you to other revenue generating activities.

Above all, be grateful and appreciative for the opportunity to be in front of a willing audience who is there to hear your message. Practice does make perfect, but you’ll never  know your full potential and power  if you don’t put yourself out there.  

YOUR TURN:

Do you practice a ‘lucky’ routine before every speaking engagement? Care to share?
Who is your favorite at home audience? Your iPhone, kids, or BFF?  
How do you pamper yourself before and after a speech?  

Speak your truth, share your voice, and show up 100%.

RSI ElevatorI’ve been advising clients for years to write about what they know and then include that information – where appropriate and bit by bit – into articles and books. I’m in the process of writing my first book now and will be including content, like this article below, in some form. What I love about articles and writing, is that the material can be re-purposed in so many ways – for blog posts, press queries, white papers, social media content, quotes and the list goes on.

Take a sneak peek (from Peak’s Island) at a new article:

5 Tips to Keep Your Elevator Speech from Getting Stuck Between Floors

As a corporate professional, you’re often asked “What do you do?” by current and potential customers, clients, colleagues and partners. In fact, next to “How are you?” or “Has anyone seen my iPhone?”, it might be the most common question you hear!

However, despite how frequent this question is in the corporate world, I’m always surprised to discover that some professionals don’t have their personalized Elevator Speech down pat. That is, they don’t have a customized, clear, concise and compelling answer to what could be the most important question they’ll be asked all day, all month – or maybe, all year.

Fortunately, creating a winning elevator speech – one that ensures you don’t get “stuck between floors” — is easy, quick and extremely rewarding. Here are the 5 things to keep in mind:

1. Aim High

Trying to summarize “what you do” so that it can be conveyed in about 20-30 seconds is easier said than done. After all, there are many important aspects of your professional life. What do you hang onto, and what ends up on the proverbial cutting room floor? The key to answering this is to aim high. That is, focus on the principles and priorities of what you do instead of the specifics and details.

2. Be Different

While the corporate world can be a serious place, inject some fun and joy in your Elevator Speech (for example, sometimes I introduce myself as “Rockin Robin”!). The goal here is to help you stand out and be remembered. Plus, it helps you quickly demonstrate that while you take what you do seriously, you don’t take yourselftoo seriously. That’s an attractive trait that sets leaders apart, no matter the industry, field or sector.

3. Add Energy

Obviously, what you say in your Elevator Speech is vital, but so is how you say it. Use action words to make your message energized, upbeat and enthusiastic, and always smile – even when you’re writing your Elevator Speech in an email, or communicating it over the phone. Believe it or not, this will influence your attitude, which in turn will positively impact your delivery in ways that you can’t imagine!

4. Focus on Solutions

Yes, your Elevator Speech is in response to the question “What do you do?” (or some variation). Frankly, however, the real question being asked is: “What do you do, and why should I care?” As such, your answer should focus on solutions. How do you help people? What service do you provide? What problems do you solve? Wrap your answer around the person who is asking, and you’ll instantly make a connection that could prove valuable to you both.

5. Have a CTA

In my experience, the most common problem with Elevator Speeches is that they don’t have a CTA (“call to action”). Now, by this I don’t mean that you should try to sell something. I simply mean that you should invite whoever you’re speaking with to take the next logical step in the relationship. Perhaps you agree to connect on LinkedIn, or to set up a time to chat further, or grab a coffee — the specific CTA is up to you, and will change based on the context. Just make sure you have one. Awkward, confused post-Elevator Speech silences are the enemy!

The Bottom Line

Creating and consistently using your personalized Elevator Speech – in person, emails, social media, over the phone and everywhere else – can give you a distinct advantage, help you stand out from the crowd, and take your career to new heights. After all, you already know the meaningful and important work that you do. Isn’t it time you shared that information with allies and influencers who want to be a part of your story?

If you’re ever stuck, call me.

TV Commercial (1)It’s May Day – a day of celebration around the globe, often heralding spring – and I’m hopeful here in New England that we’ll see it soon!

I’ve always been a believer in celebrating. Some people reflect their accomplishments at the end of each day, others take stock at the end of each month, and some not at all. If you’re not a celebrator, you’re missing out on one of life’s greatest joys. Taking time for reflection and acknowledging accomplishment is powerful, and creates a visual smile line of where you’ve been so you can determine where you want to go!

This week, I celebrated a birthday with a dear friend at the White Barn Inn in Maine (yes, it was fantastic), and to top it off, we both had a part in a TV commercial for the Nova Star cruise line which is launching its new ferry service from Portland to Nova Scotia on May 15. We were extras with part of the Partner Promotions team, and even had a few wardrobe changes!

Going to Maine without enjoying lobster or the ocean isn’t celebrating in my mind, so we also shared love with Mabel’s Lobster Claw for their famous lobster roll, then walked the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, a beautiful ocean footpath that’s not to be missed.

Life’s journeys take us to places we’ve never been, and you can complain or celebrate. Small celebrations can be just as powerful as big ones. It’s the thought behind it.

In business, celebrations could be a sale you’ve just closed, a positive review of a book, program or workshop, a referral from a former client, a press mention (had a great one this week, thank you Monster) or getting a prospect to say yes to an appointment, after the 8th phone call.

Take a moment to celebrate something today. It’s an opportunity to reflect upon your attitude and interaction with life. A high five is always there – the question is, where’s your hand?

YOUR TURN

What has to ‘click’ in order for you to celebrate?

Did you grow up as a family celebrating small successes with a pat on the back, or something more?

What’s the most fun celebration you ever had – this year, last year, in your whole life?