Blog

Web Design

Every business needs a website. If you don’t have one, get one. While the free site services aren’t very good, they are better than having nothing.

For those of you with a website, make sure you keep up with it. Would you open your doors and then ignore your business? Your website needs to be maintained just like every other part of your business.

In fact, if your website is more than 4 years old, it is time to start thinking about a new site. Your business has changed and grown throughout the past 4 years and your website should reflect that.

There are some important things to remember when developing your website. The design is as important as the content and the design will help determine if someone uses your business or your competitor’s.

Readability
The website needs to be readable. Use a background and font color that not only go together but makes the words easy to read.

Simple Navigation
It should be quick and easy for people to find the information they want. Your navigation is extremely important. Try not to accidentally hide information or make it take multiple clicks to find it.

Images
Make sure your images are sharp, clear, and pertinent. Fuzzy cell phone photos don’t work.

These are important tips for developing a website. Your website is your company’s first impression. Make sure it is the impression you want to make.

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Posting on Social Media

The rules for posting on social media are constantly changing. There are no official rules, per se, but there is a general consensus on what is appropriate social media behavior for a business. Each different outlet has different rules so we will discuss some of the most popular below…

Facebook

For a number of years, Facebook was the most popular social media outlet for businesses. Facebook posts were viewed by many fans, allowing for extensive interaction. Then Facebook changed its algorithm. Once that happened, business pages found it much more difficult to garner attention. It is understandable as Facebook wants businesses to pay to “boost” posts, allowing more people to see them. We typically recommend that clients post to Facebook a number of times per week. This allows them the opportunity to have their posts appear to a variety of different consumers. If it is an important post, revolving around a marketing campaign, we recommend they boost the post, ensuring a larger audience.

Twitter

As Twitter has become more popular, posts are less likely to be seen. Because of this, we recommend that clients post to Twitter multiple times throughout the day. While this can be time consuming, it is the most effective method to reach the most followers on this outlet.

Google+

We recommend that clients also post on Google+. While it is not used by consumers as much as the other social media outlets, it can help with Google search. Ideally posts will include pertinent links to the client’s website, helping with search engine results.

For all outlets, social media is an interactive medium. If someone responds to one of your posts, you should immediately reply. This interaction will also allow your post to become more visible. The more visible your post, the more interaction you will have.

Finally, educate and entertain. Social media is not the place for the hard sell. People can choose to not see your posts and that wont get you anywhere.

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Using Social Media Effectively

Most businesses want to use social media because it is the hottest marketing tactic right now. Everybody has a Facebook page, most have a Twitter account, and some are hoping to use LinkedIn effectively.

The dilemma with social media is that it is time consuming so it must be used effectively to benefit your business (if it isn’t time consuming, you aren’t doing it right).

So how can you use social media to help grow your business? The first thing you need to do is figure out whom you are trying to reach. Do you want to increase purchases from existing customers or do you want to try to obtain new customers? The strategy for each is very different.

Once you know whom you want to reach, you need to determine which social media outlet is most popular with your target. Are they moms who spend hours on Facebook or teenagers who hang out on Instagram. This will help you focus your efforts on those outlets that will be most effective.

Now that you have identified whom you are trying to reach and how to reach them, you can start looking at what and when to post. We will cover the rules for social media posting in a future article.

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MEDIA RELATIONS FOR THE SMALL BUSINESS

Public relations (also referred to as media relations) is one of the most effective tools in a small business’s marketing arsenal.  Media relations provides small business owners with the opportunity to establish themselves as experts in their fields.  When potential customers or clients read an article, they recognize that the person quoted in the article is an expert.  Media relations also provides a third-party endorsement.  The only more effective marketing method for small business is referral from existing customers.

Along with providing credibility, media relations increases an organization’s visibility.  When customers are looking for a product or service, they will choose a name they recognize.  If they have read a business’s name in a local newspaper or magazine, they are more likely to choose that business or remember that organization when needed.

MEDIA RELATIONS TACTICS

While media relations is an extremely appropriate and effective method for marketing a business, time and effort are required to do it well.  If it isn’t done effectively, along with wasting a lot of time or money, poor media relations can actually alienate a reporter or editor rather than nurturing that relationship.  There are certain tactics that work very well for small businesses.

Press Releases

A press release is an extremely effective way to reach out to the media.  A press release is an announcement of interesting or important news.  If a business has news, a press release can be a successful way to disseminate that news.  The organization just needs to be judicious in its use of the press release.  Using press releases too frequently will cause reporters to ignore anything that comes from that business (often without even reading it).  Press releases should be reserved exclusively for big news.  News that is worthy of a press release includes new hires, new capabilities or new locations.

Press Kit

A press kit is an extremely effective method for spreading information about an organization.  This material can be beneficial for establishing expertise and credibility.  Press kits usually include a backgrounder on the organization, background information on specialized products or services and bios of the key personnel who will act as sources for the media.

Case Studies

An unusual or fascinating customer case is a wonderful way to get exposure through the media.  A case study discusses a specific client’s situation and the solution that solved the problem.  This information can be written up and provided to the media. As with testimonials, case studies need to be cleared with the customer before any work is done as well as once the study is completed.

Individual Pitches

Individual pitches are the most effective and most time consuming method of media relations.  This involves identifying individual media outlets, researching those outlets and then sending them information specifically developed for them.  This is effective because the pitch is crafted to appeal to a specific audience.  It incorporates information about the target, the individual reporter or editor and the business doing the pitches.  Effective pitches can include interesting news, case studies or unique information about the organization.

KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL MEDIA RELATIONS

Since media relations involves a lot of effort and time, a business needs to be effective with its resources.   Following are a few tips that can help organizations succeed in their efforts.

Be Helpful

Like most professionals, reporters and editors are very busy.  Anything a business can do to make their job easier will be appreciated.   Be available.  If a reporter calls the organization, someone should get back to him as quickly as possible.  Try to be as flexible as possible when arranging interviews.  Don’t send out a pitch or press release when the key source is going to be out of the office.

Do Research

Research is very important when pitching the media.  Research the outlets before contacting to determine if the story is a good fit.  For example, a sporting publication won’t be interested in a medical story unless it has a sporting angle.

Avoid Jargon

Many businesses tend to use a lot of industry-specific terms that the general public doesn’t understand.  Just like these terms can confuse customers, they will confuse the media.  Avoiding jargon and using language a general reporter is likely to understand will go a long way towards communicating a story.

Because of its ability to establish expertise and imply endorsement, media relations is an exceptionally effective marketing method for small businesses.  When media relations is done well, it is an extremely successful tactic for spreading the word about an organization’s expertise.

 

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The Difference Between Public Relations and Advertising

We often run into people who don’t understand the difference between public relations and advertising. While the outlet is the same, whether it be radio, television, newspapers, or online, advertising and public relations differ greatly.

Advertising is referred to as paid media. Your agency develops an advertisement and purchases space in a media outlet to promote your business. You can say whatever you want in an advertisement as long as you don’t violate any FTC regulations.

Public relations is referred to as earned media. Your marketing communications agency will work with the media outlet to place your story. This message is controlled by the media outlet so the story you are pitching must be realistic while providing valuable information for the media outlet’s audience.

So why worry about earned media when you can say whatever you want in paid media? It’s a matter of credibility. Many potential customers don’t believe advertisements. Since they are paid statements, consumers understand that the business decides what gets said. Earned media provides the business with an implied endorsement because it is presented by an unbiased source.

Both advertising and public relations should have a place in your marketing mix. Advertising allows you to explicitly state your message while public relations provides implied endorsement from an unbiased third party. If you would like more information on advertising vs public relations, please visit our site at www.albaneseconsultinggroup.com or contact me at anne@albaneseconsulting.com.

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Managing Your Online Reputation

When consumers are searching for new products or services, the first place they start is the internet. Whether they are researching information or searching for specific items, they can’t avoid online reviews. A company that carefully manages its brand can be undone by negative online reviews.
You might be tempted to take these reviews personally. After all, this is your baby being attacked. You can’t do this and you must handle any negative review as a diplomat. If you can’t do that, you need to find someone who can.
While you can’t get rid of negative reviews, you can handle them to keep your brand intact. The following steps will help you manage your reputation and brand the way you want it to represent.
  1. Apologize profusely (and mean it). Sometimes customers just want to be heard. This is your opportunity to make the reviewer feel that his opinion is important.
  2. Ask yourself, is the review true. This is an opportunity to really examine your business and make improvements. If a reviewer had a bad experience, make sure that isn’t the norm. If it is the norm, then fix it. If it isn’t the norm, apologize to the reviewer and explain why there was a difference in your normal business practice. If you do end up changing how you do business, let the reviewer know about his impact. Nothing makes people feel better than to believe that someone is listening to them.
  3. Try to make it better. If you are a restaurant, invite the consumer to come back and offer him free drinks or appetizer. If you operate a retail establishment, offer him a discount. This will bring the reviewer back into your business and allow you to prove yourself and change his mind.
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The above tips will help you win back the most negative reviewer as well as appealing to those consumers who read the negative review.
Finally, just remember, sometimes people can be jerks. Don’t be a jerk back!


Anne Young Albanese, MS, MBA

President: PRSA Westchester Fairfield
President

Albanese Consulting Group

Full Service Marketing Communications Firm
(203) 493-1490
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