Tag Archive: PR

Changing The Tone of Your Media Coverage Messages

Changing The Tone of Your Media Coverage Messages

The world of PR is benefiting from dramatic changes in the way media coverage is being delivered electronically to your computer desktop or PDA of choice. Perhaps the nuisance of ink on your fingers is being replaced by a bad case of “BlackBerry thumb” — but nevertheless getting your media coverage electronically has never been easier or more mobile.

These changes now drive the development of new tools from content providers, and new software programs to help better manage and analyze media coverage. The automation occurring at the database level and through the real-time delivery of organizational news, to internal and external stakeholders, is now almost taken for granted. And the holy grail of PR — to automate media analysis and measurement — is already under way; but where should software stop to make way for human analysis?.

Media analysis programs can save countless hours quantifying and sorting media coverage in an unlimited number of ways, including by circulation, region, ad equivalency, company programs and services, and competitive brands. However, do you really want a computer program qualifying how each story affects your organization? It’s a gamble with little upside.

Just Say No

The automation of tone and sentiment has already been incorporated into some software programs, but how accurate can it be? Every story, across every medium, will have a dramatically different meaning or impact for various organizations and their stakeholders. Behind the news emerge both winner and losers.

For instance, if a negative story breaks about a strike at one bottling plant it will be a boon for its competitors. The ability to determine which companies are negatively affected by the news is very limited. Furthermore, understanding the actual tone or possible ongoing bias of the reporter on an issue is impossible to automate. News is as much about delivering the facts, as it is provoking a reaction or emotion from the reader. Media analysis solutions can certainly help decipher the facts, but the rest should be left to a team of communications professionals.

Too Subjective?

The argument against toning media coverage has often been it is too subjective — if the news can be interpreted differently by each individual, won’t this skew the results in the end? True enough — but this can easily be solved with the introduction of a tone standardized ‘scorecard’ that is consistently applied to each story.

These scorecards can really vary, depending on the type of analysis you want to deliver in the end. Many organizations will chose to tone stories by ranking them as positive, neutral or negative.

The use of these 3 words alone is where subjectivity problems can creep in. Along with team brainstorming and training sessions on how tone can be applied, one quick fix is to use the C.B.S. Scorecard instead:

  1. Use Critical (in place of Negative.)
  2. Use Balanced (in place of Neutral)
  3. Use Supportive (in place Positive)

After reading an article, it is much easier to answer the question “Was that story critical, balanced, or supportive of our organization?” Instead of: “Was that story negative, neutral or positive?”

When it comes to tone it won’t always be black or white, but I’d rather leave the grey zones to a trained communications professional rather than to the guesswork of a software application.

When it comes to tone it won’t always be black or white, but I’d rather leave the grey zones to a trained communications professional rather than to the guesswork of a software application.

Beyond the ranking of articles by tone using the C.B.S. Scorecard, other metrics and meanings can be used in tandem to create and even stronger analysis. The following scorecard uses a scorecard range, from – 5 to + 5, to provide a more in depth analysis.

Rating Criteria
+5 Supportive Mention + four of the following: Key Message; Interview; Photo; Call To Action
+4 Supportive Mention + three of the following: Key Message; Interview; Photo; Call To Action
+3 Supportive Mention + two of the following: Key Message; Interview; Photo; Call To Action
+2 Supportive Mention + one of the following: Key Message; Interview; Photo; Call To Action
+1 Supportive
0 Balanced
-1 Critical
-2 Critical Mention + one of the following: Negative Executive Mention, Positive Competitor Mention; Consumer Direct Complaint; Ongoing Issue
-3 Critical Mention + two of the following: Negative Executive Mention, Positive Competitor Mention; Consumer Direct Complaint; Ongoing Issue
-4 Critical Mention + three of the following: Negative Executive Mention, Positive Competitor Mention; Consumer Direct Complaint; Ongoing Issue
-5 Critical Mention + four of the following: Negative Executive Mention, Positive Competitor Mention; Consumer Direct Complaint; Ongoing Issue

Once each story is toned, the rest of analysis can be automated by your software solution. The tone can be used independently to determine the success of the campaign by percentage of C.B.S. stories, but the tone can also be used alongside the rest of the analysis to identify possible media bias or problem areas by region or publication. The media is always analyzing your organization…why not return the favour?

New media monitoring and analysis technologies are certainly changing the face of media relations activities and provide immense return on investment, but determining the impact of a news story on your organization should be kept in human hands for the time being.

Google’s New Algorithm Search: How it can affect your business.

Hold on to your hats, small business owners. Everything you thought you knew about SEO and making sure your customers could find your business online may not be true anymore. That’s thanks to Google’s recent adoption of Hummingbird, its new, more dynamic method for improving search results.

“The Hummingbird algorithm is significant as it changes Google from being a search engine to an information engine,” says Mert Sahinoglu, a partner in Chicago’s Falcon Living Real Estate. He has been a digital marketing consultant for over a decade and says that for the small business owner, “This means that they will have to provide more information and multimedia content to their Google+ profile.”

“It’s important to state that Hummingbird is not just an algorithm update,” adds George Zlatin, director of operations at Digital Third Coast Internet Marketing, a Chicago-based SEO consulting and marketing firm. “It is a structural update to the algorithm that affects 90 percent of search queries. To put that in perspective, when Google releases a normal algorithm update, that usually affects anywhere from one to three percent of queries. So this is much, much larger.”

Widespread smartphone and tablet use led to Hummingbird

“In mobile search, thanks to technologies such as the iPhone’s Siri, customers are asking more questions rather than typing keywords,” Sahinoglu explains. Keyword-based searching is still practiced by the majority of desktop users, but Sahinoglu expects this to change. “As Google improves Hummingbird, questions will replace keywords as customer confidence in getting the right answer for the question increases.”
Hummingbird may already be helping your small business

“If you create a lot of good content on your website that is relevant to your business you are more likely to get more traffic from that than pre-Hummingbird,” says Zlatin. “Hummingbird does not mean that Google doesn’t use traditional ranking factors anymore, such as keywords, backlinks to your site, or content. It is just a new framework put on top of it.”

Best practices for small businesses

It’s very important to understand that Hummingbird places a high value on information from Google+ profiles and social media platforms. This means your business may have some more work to do besides the creation and sharing of keyword-rich, unique content on your website and social media platforms.

“You should provide as much detail as possible in your Google+ Local profile, including opening/closing hours,” Sahinoglu says. Images are also becoming increasingly important. Sahinoglu recommends that profile photos should always be selected with marketing in mind. “Photos are definitely becoming the first impression a new customer sees about a business in the new Google.”

Hummingbird will also push small businesses to network with their geographic area customers or with their niche group of customers more on Google+, according to Sahinoglu. Another key factor to consider is your Google + Authorship authority. Google + Authorship is a verification that links online content to the person who wrote it. The more published content you have out there, the more important you become in Hummingbird’s eyes. You will get a bigger boost from content that appears on sites you don’t actually control.
Content is still king

“The best advice I can give small business owners is to really focus on adding unique content to their websites.” Zlantin says. “Talk about what you know. Talk about what customers are asking you. This type of content is going to bring more traffic from Hummingbird.” He adds, “There is no way you can predict all of the search terms people will write, so it’s better to just focus on writing content that is important to them.”

“Start building an extensive Q&A library about your products or services,” Sahinoglu recommends. “This could be a brand-related Q&A or a non-brand product/service Q&A. Optimize a unique page for each Q&A.”

Going forward: Be prepared for change

Google is continually refining and adjusting all of the algorithms they use to determine search results. This upgrade to Hummingbird is sure to be followed by others in the future. As a small business owner, maintaining awareness of these changes and implementing recommended best practices is the best way to ensure favorable search engine rankings.

Getting Positive Reviews on Yelp

How can you get honest, positive feedback to appear on Yelp or review portions of Google, Facebook, or TripAdvisor? It may sound daunting, but some say all small businesses need to do is ask.

“If you don’t ask, the likelihood of it happening is almost zero,” says Adi Bittan, chief executive and cofounder of Palo Alto, California-based OwnerListens.com, a company with an online tool that gives customers a direct line to a business’s owners via an app or text messages. “People are actually much nicer than many people give them credit for.”

Where to start? Listen up the next time a customer pays a compliment for great service or expresses satisfaction about a mistake that was quickly fixed. Translating pleasant, in-person encounters into positive social media capital is a matter of reading the signals your customers are giving and being direct about a request for help, Bittan says. If clients praise an employee, service, or product, that’s a cue that they’re likely open to doing more.

Bittan points to a series of Stanford University studies that show people underestimate how likely others are to agree to requests for assistance. In one, researchers concluded those who are approached for a favor are under social pressure to be benevolent, because saying no might them look bad—to themselves or others. (After all, everyone is sensitive to reviews.)

It’s that perception of altruism that motivates some reviewers, and that’s some of the surprisingly good news that might make your own foray a bit easier than expected. Jon Hall, chief executive and founder of Bloomfield, New Jersey-based Grade.us, has written extensively on the topic of customer reviews and says the vast majority are positive, regardless of the product, service, industry or online community. “There is no need to ask for a ‘good’ or ‘positive’ review. Just ask for a review, ask for feedback,” he says.
Hall’s company, as well as Bittan’s, tries to steer customer reviews toward a company’s preferred online destination. Grade.us uses a platform that directs customers to a landing page, where a business owner can “funnel” their feedback to a review site they care about most, be it Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Google+, Yelp, or a dozen more. Bittan’s service provides a direct channel to the business owner, where compliments or complaints are acknowledged in real time. Both aim to take the steam out of the fieriest of missives from angry clients: first, by making the process of filing good reviews easier for happy customers and swelling those numbers; second, by giving unhappy clients the attention they need from those who can actually help them.

For businesses now, the stakes are particularly high on Yelp, in more ways than one. The site has more than 100-million unique visitors a month worldwide, via its website and apps, and a recent Nielsen survey reported four out of five of its users consult the site before they spend money. A 2011 Harvard Business School survey found that restaurants that boosted their rating by one full star on Yelp saw their annual revenue increase five to nine percent.

But there’s also a very delicate balance small businesses must maintain when soliciting glowing reports.

For its part, Yelp discourages businesses from asking customers for positive feedback on the site. In its FAQ, it says “These self-selected reviews tell only part of the story, and we don’t think that’s fair to consumers. We would much rather hear from members of the Yelp community who are inspired to talk about their experiences without a business owner’s encouragement.”

Any savvy Internet user can spot the obvious inside jobs. But along with filters that try to weed out phony reviews, Yelp has been active in pursuing those attempting to game the system. In late 2012, the site launched what it termed a sting operation, and exposed dozens of businesses that solicited positive reports from undercover “elite” Yelp users with offers of cash payments. In September, the New York state attorney general fined 19 reputation management companies for fake online reviews on several major sites, including Yelp, Google Local, and CitySearch.

All of which makes a genuine rave more meaningful. So what’s the right way to ask for a review?

Bittar says do it “in the moment,” when the goodwill is fresh and top-of-mind. Here is some advice from her and Hall on how to approach a customer:
1. Explain why you’re asking. Put it at the bottom of receipts or in signage in your shop, and say something like “Please let the rest of the world know that we did a good job. Online reviews are one of the most important drivers of our business.”

2. Link it to a customer’s identity as a local shopper, or just a good person. Use messages like “We’ve been serving the [town name] for more than two decades” or “Please show your kindness and support by letting your social media followers know.”

3. Have a tangible reminder, and try to stay unbiased. Hall’s clients hand their customers a postcard asking them to write a review. It reads: “Help us. Help others. You’re invited to review X.”

Social media has given everyone a voice, for better or worse, but for small businesses, it’s how you deal with it that matters, Bittar says. “It still all comes down to giving great service,” she says. “And the way the world is going, the bar has been raised for everyone. You have to wow them. And it’s that much harder.”

Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

3 Ways To Grow Your BusinessGoogle Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business Google “business networking” and you’ll see links to articles on how to increase your Facebook Likes and Twitter followers. Connecting with potential customers and business partners via social networking is, by now, an essential part of any company’s growth. Despite the skyrocketing impact of social media over the past decade, however, the importance of old-fashioned, face-to-face networking has not faded. Shaking hands at conferences and making chit chat at cocktail parties is still one of the best ways to expand your brand’s reach, build your business, and create vital partnerships. So, just how good are your networking skills? To turn that annual conference small talk into a critical company connection, look over this list of networking Dos and Don’ts.

 

DO research who is coming

If possible, look over the guest list for any conference or party and make a mental list of those folks you want to meet. Shawna Tregunna, founder and owner of ReSoMe.com, a social media company, explores who is coming online and uses social media to reach out to fellow attendees before the event. “I watch for mentions of [the event] on social media by hashtag or name. I also check out the guest list if it is public. If I see someone I want to connect with, I look for them on Twitter or LinkedIn and [send them a Tweet or message such as] ‘I see we are both headed to XYZ event! I would love to get a chance to say hi. Looking forward to connecting!’ Then, at the event, I have a list of people I know I will connect with,” says Tregunna. Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

 

DON’T be afraid to approach someone

“Take every advantage possible to meet new people,” says Lori Cheek, founder and CEO of Cheekd.com, a sort of reverse-engineered dating site that provides its members icebreakers they can use to introduce themselves to new people. “When attending networking events, I find that it’s most advantageous to go alone so that you’re forced to talk to new people,” suggests Cheek. “Understand everyone is there for a similar reason and, for the most part, want to make new connections, so don’t be shy—just walk up and introduce yourself. The only thing you have to lose is an opportunity.” Cheek also offers a reminder not to make quick judgments. “Efficiently communicate and never dismiss a single soul—you never know who you’re talking to, who they might know, or how they’d be able to contribute [to your company].” Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

 

DO listen…and listen and listen

“Listen more than you talk. People invariably like someone who listens to them and makes them feel interesting and appreciated,” says Lisa Thompson, L.P.C., director of professional services for Pearson Partners International, Inc., a full-service retained executive search firm. Thompson suggests keeping your own story to a minimum. “Avoid immediately going into too much detail about what you offer. Unless they indicate a real interest by asking direct questions, you will bore them and they will want to escape,” suggests Thompson. “Practice describing what you do in just a couple of sentences.” Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

 

DON’T stay in just your industry

Getting beyond the folks within your industry can benefit your company in surprising ways. New ideas for marketing partnerships, insight on fresh ways to approach sales, and more solid business opportunities may arise from chatting with someone in another field or specialty. “It pays dividends to diversify your connections. Raise your awareness of the circles you spend your time in and if the circles have become too narrow—one type of industry, one type of profession—make it a point to widen the circle from time-to-time,“ writes founder and CEO of Impact Instruction Group Amy Franko in her e-book 35 Tips to Build Lasting Strategic RelationshipsGoogle Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

 

SmallTalk_PQ.jpgDO take notes

Katie Shea, director of marketing at OrderGroove.com, a company that launches and manages subscription programs for major retailers, suggests taking a brief moment to take notes on people you meet. “If you are at a large networking event like a cocktail party
or fundraiser, it’s easy to collect dozens of cards, yet difficult to keep
track of all of the different two- to three-minute conversations,” says Shea. “After a few
conversations, take a break to write personal notes on the back of each
card you’ve received—[things like] ‘NYU alum, born in South Africa, avid traveler.’ Not only will this jog your memory of the conversation, but your new
contact is likely to be impressed that you remembered such a personal
detail about him or her during later conversations.”

 

DON’T get stuck in conversations

Having a few ideas on how to exit a conversation is just as important as having opening lines to start one. Being “trapped” with one person for too long means missed opportunities to connect with others. “Learn to handle networking vultures and elegantly get out of a conversation with someone who wants to stick with you,” suggests Thompson. “You might say there is someone across the room you just have to speak to, or introduce that person to another and move along, or have other possible strategies up your sleeve.”

 

DO follow up in person

Keep that brief conversation going after the event with another face-to-face meeting—even if you don’t see an immediate use for the relationship. “You’ve heard the saying that if you need a relationship, it’s usually too late to build it. It’s often why people end up feeling as though they’re being insincere, because continual relationship building isn’t a habit built into their everyday life,” notes Franko. “A quick conversation with a new contact is rarely a bad
thing, but where the deals happen is later down the road. Be sure to follow
up—offer to buy coffee, lunch, a drink—with those individuals that you
believe offer synergies to your business,” offers Shea. Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

DON’T have an out-of-date online presence

To cultivate and grow relationships, many go beyond “just touching base” periodic emails. They build on that face-to-face networking with social media, which means it is vital your LinkedIn account is always up-to-date, and you are active on at least one social media channel. “I will connect with everyone within 48 hours [of an event] on LinkedIn with a unique greeting and ask for their other social channels so we can stay in touch,” notes Tregunna. “I then try to do mentions of them on social media if they are active – ‘Great meeting at on ! If you haven’t connected with them here you should try!’” That virtual connection keeps the lines of communication open and ready for future business opportunities that happen in person. Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

Being Punctuality in Business: What it Says About You

Being Punctuality in Business: What it Says About You

Being Punctuality in BusinessBeing Punctuality in Business: What it Says About You. Nothing inspires confidence in a business man sooner than punctuality, nor is there any habit which sooner saps his reputation than that of being always behind time.”  (W. Mathews) Being Punctuality in Business

Being tardy can be a serious marketing blunder for today’s business owner.  From being late to meetings with a colleague or client, to not delivering your product or service on time, tardiness speaks volumes about who you are and how you do business.  If you want customers to choose to do business with you, you must meet their expectations for performance.  If you can’t meet deadlines for delivering products and services, customers will quickly find their way to your competitors.  Being Punctuality in Business

Being Punctuality in Business: What does being punctual say about you?

1.  You care.  Showing up and on time is one of the best ways to show someone that you care about them.  By keeping our commitments to others, we are acknowledging them and their needs.  Caring about our customers must be our number one priority since it is through our relationships that we build our business.  No one knows how much you care until you show them … by showing up. Being Punctuality in Business

2.  You respect others.  Horace Mann said, “Unfaithfulness in the keeping of an appointment is an act of clear dishonesty. You may as well borrow a person’s money as his time.”  Arriving on time for customer meetings, speaking engagements, meetings with vendors, or anything else you do in your business, shows that you respect others.  Respect is the foundation for creating great long-term relationships with your clients.  Being Punctuality in Business

3.  You are professional.  Thomas C. Haliburton said, “Punctuality is the soul of business.”   As a business professional, you have a toolkit of knowledge and behaviors that serve to create an aura of professionalism.  Being on time is a fundamental tool for anyone who wants to be perceived as being the very best. Being Punctuality in Business

4.  You are confident.  When you show up on time, it’s a sign that you are confident to take on whatever might lay before you.  Tardiness can imply that you aren’t confident, that you are hesitating to deal with a person or situation, possibly because you don’t have the skills, knowledge or tools to create a successful outcome.  Confidence is the companion of success, and by showing up on time, you’re putting yourself one step closer to achieving it. Being Punctuality in Business

5.  You are ready to receive others.  Punctuality says to others, “I’m ready”.  It implies that you are open to allowing more into your life.  You’re ready to meet with a client to discuss business.  You’re ready to deliver a presentation.  You’re ready to be involved with whatever is set before you.  People who “aren’t ready” tend to show up late or not at all. Being Punctuality in Business

6.  You have an edge.  Being punctual gives you an edge in business.  Undoubtedly you’ve heard the proverb, “The early bird gets the worm”, or in our case, the work.  In today’s competitive business climate, timing is everything.  With businesses moving at the speed of light thanks to the latest technologies, delay of any sort can cost you clients.  Being punctual is great; being early is even better! Being Punctuality in Business

7.  You’re in control.  Not only do people choose to do business with those who they like, know, and trust, they also like doing business with people who are in control. Business owners who always arrive early or on time to appointments give the impression that they manage things well.  It gives customers the impression that you are reliable in everything that you do.  People want to do business with people who are in control.Being Punctuality in Business

8.  You have a standard for excellence.  Punctuality is a standard for operating excellence.  Not only does it imply that you are in control of your business, it shows that you respect yourself and others.  Successful, well-liked business owners typically have punctuality as one of their highest values.  In a business world where rules are constantly changing, showing up on time will always be at the top of the list when it comes to standards of excellence.Being Punctuality in Business

9.  You keep things in flow.  When you are on time or when you deliver your products and services on time, you keep things in flow.  Other people and events are affected by what you do and don’t do.  If you don’t show up or if you don’t deliver as promised, you can adversely affect the plans of others.  By showing up on time, you allow other people and things to show up on time as well.  Everybody wins. Being Punctuality in Business

10.  Your habit is your brand.  Over time, if you deal with the same person or groups of people, you will become known as someone who is punctual.  You will be perceived as a business professional who respects others and who is confident and in control.  This natural way of being will take on a life of its own and become part of your business branding.  Being Punctuality in Business