Jan 20th Workshop on Publicity & Promotion to Grow Your Business

Joy

There will be a fire dance or two, as we celebrate your success!

So what’s in it for me? That’s the question you ask yourself when spending money on anything having to do with growing your business; you look for answers and want to make sure the expense fits the need you have. I get it. I ask the same questions when I learn about events that I want to attend, or feel I need to even if I don’t want to. It is hard to step out of your comfort zone for anyone, when it comes to learning something we are not real familiar with, like publicity and promotion for your business growth.

When you don’t know what you don’t know, but you do know attending a particular event may just solve that and make your business more prosperous, you think twice. The real crunch comes when you can’t seem to get enough information. Several other people say, “…oh, yes, I want to go, Lynette, or Sue, or Jan is great and you should go too.” The only problem is this does not answer the question lingering in your mind–what’s in it for me?

Public relations is uncharted water for most marketers who are seasoned, let along those entrepreneurs out there that have met different people saying different things about the topic. For Firetalker PR, under the public relations umbrella, we focus on publicity and promotion. This workshop (being held on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at Verity Credit Union at Northgate in Seattle from 5:30pm to 8:00pm) is designed to help you learn how to handle some of the publicity and promotion on your own that you are not aware of (or don’t know a lot about) that can help you grow your business.

You will walk away with tools you can use now through elements of social media that help you reach your end user (your customer) in a way that is not direct selling, but engaging that uses publicity on its own, through your efforts. You will learn how to create promotions you can leverage for publicity. Just as there are many ways to light a fire (match, lighter, flint and steel, lighting, rubbing two sticks together–you get the idea) there are many ways to manage your publicity and promotional efforts. If it is not done creatively for your personal business needs (with an open mind, being effective, efficient and consistent), you will more than likely not see results. In this workshop you are going to learn how to manage your expectations.

You will walk away knowing how to create what you need to attract the media. And this does not happen right away. However, it does set the stage for you to be chosen out of several people that are being considered. Why? You make the media’s job easier. You will learn how to research on your own, and what takes for you to get results on your own.

AND you will learn when you need to hire a PR pro, and how to budget for them through these actions as well.

The workbook you will be using during the workshop you will also take home with you to continue what we begin to get PR ready for 2015. There will be no PowerPoint, but interactive hands-on fun and engagement! The Firetalker PR team will be prepared with good cheer–champagne to toast to your success, wonderful appetizers provided by Kringle’s Bakery out of Redmond, and our host Verity Credit Union will take a bit of time to tell you about what they have going on to help you too. Swag bags will be there for everyone too, (and if you want to include anything in the swag, let me know!)

We are limiting the workshop to 45 people, as we want everyone to get as much attention as possible, including lots of  Q & A. The event will be videotaped and you are welcome to use your phone to record audio. This way when you are feeling overwhelmed, you will feel better knowing you have something to listen to again later! Be prepared to have fun, because there are things we are going to teach you to engage your creativity that are, well, different.

Can’t wait till January 20th! I really love giving workshops and I have never had anything but positive results. I look forward to providing you with useful information that you can use and share with others so you lift as you climb. I am here for you! This is a workshop you will be talking about all year. Our plan is to continue to possibly have this workshop every quarter, and you will need to come to the event and learn how that will work! It is an opportunity to build on what you are doing, and possibly even have a live check-in to see how you are doing…

Our blog next week will focus on FAQ; I encourage you to go our Facebook event page and post your questions there too.  Here again is the registration page, with the timeline and link to our Eventbrite page.

Till next time! If you need questions answered right away, please reach out to me personally at lynette@firetalkerpr.com, or call me directly on my cell at 415-694-3004 or call the firehouse at 206-455-9366.

 

Why a PR Plan Should be Part of your Business Plan

In August I gave a talk for the eWomenNetwork Accelerated Network Luncheon. I spoke about a few things that stood out in a survey taken with the group here in Seattle, Washington. The last topic addressed was on how to budget for working with a public relations professional (which will be addressed in a following blog, and I mention this primarily for the eWomen Seattle group). During the speech, I promised to blog about the topics I spoke on in more depth, as well as answer questions individually to those that asked. My plan ongoing, is to also to write about the questions in more detail. This post is the beginning of that journey, which should take us through the next several weeks. It will be a learning experience not only for the eWomenNetwork Seattle group, but for all interested in this topic. Here I will discuss why a public relations plan should be a part of the overall business plan. Strategic public relations planning is not just for large companies, and it does not require hiring a full on agency if your small business does not warrant it.

In my 20+ years, I have learned time and again that it all starts with learning about what public relations is, and for our purposes here I will be addressing publicity and promotion under the public relations umbrella and why a crisis management plan is important. From my survey taken with the eWomen Seattle group, getting the word out about what they do, who they are, why it matters and who benefits is critical. This is important to all entrepreneurs, whether they are in a service profession and work out of their home, work independently with a larger firm, have an online business, or a small-to-medium sized business with a storefront. It is easy to get confused, depending on who you listen to and the books you read. Here are three things you can sink your teeth into to start with, on the journey of understanding why you need public relations:

1.  Put your marketing plan in motion first, because your PR plan should ignite it. The marketing plan is built from the marketing mix, something most people know about from going to business college – if that was your path. It you did not, then pay close attention, as this will be a great help to you. The marketing mix is made up of four parts: your product (or service), the price you set for that product (s) or service (s), the place or location you choose to have your business–online, store front, home office (this also includes distribution), and promotion. How are you going to promote your business? There are a number of things you can do, including direct mail, in-store or online parties, partnering with non-profits, or as David Meerman Scott proposes in his book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR–do something brilliant that gets the attention of your customer and the media.

Publicity lights a fire and works with your overall marketing strategy to keep it burning

Publicity lights a fire and works with your overall marketing strategy to keep it burning

2.  Make a list of creative promotional ideas. Promotional campaigns, which are also called PR campaigns (because promotions are leveraged for publicity)  should be fun, relevant, and attract attention. This is the buzz effect. If your product or service is not necessarily exciting you have to create something exciting, or get involved with the latest craze to get noticed, like the current ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. You can either get on board and create your own (it is about over though, they have raised about 100 million) or take another route like these people Mashable wrote about “8 Bucket Challenges That Don’t Involve Any Ice“. You can make it funny, or more serious depending on the message you are trying to convey. The key is to consistently live outside your comfort zone brainstorming ideas. Using the latest craze can get you media attention and the attention of your customer. What sets good PR apart, is the approach taken to create buzz that gets you noticed instead of your competition.

3.  Decide who will take care of your clients in an emergency. Crisis management is a practice area under the public relations umbrella. We will touch on it briefly here, as it should be a part of your overall public relations plan which makes for a healthy business plan that not only makes it more attractive to loan institutions, (if you are thinking about going for a small-to-medium sized business loan) but it’s good business. Just over two years ago I had a health emergency that landed me in the emergency room (thinking I had food poisoning) and following emergency surgery, I was in the hospital for almost two weeks. I had no plan in motion to care for my clients, no one to call that could either jump in and make phone calls, or manage my clients in my absence. The lesson here, is even if you are a sole proprietor, it is your responsibility to make sure that someone knows who your clients are, what is in motion, and has all their contact information. The best plan has someone on call that you collaborate with that is familiar with your clients, and knows who to call to put the plan in action. From there, your emergency partner can either manage these clients with your direction until you can step back into your business, or find them someone else to work with in the event of your death. When my emergency happened, I lost two clients. It was my responsibility to make sure there was someone to call them and keep them informed and give them options. I did not have this plan in action. I do now! It is the right thing to do, and it shows your commitment and integrity to those you serve, in case of an emergency. Make sure your clients are aware of your plan, they will respect you for it.

The three things talked about here are great to get your mental engine going–getting a strong marketing plan in place so you can ignite it with public relations, brainstorm your promotional ideas and make sure to get that crisis management plan in place. I look forward to hearing your questions and comments here. Jump in! Let’s engage and have a conversation. There will be many blog posts to follow, and I look forward to giving you great content to continue to sink your teeth into!

Publicity Training Offered at Women’s Toolbox Annual Conference Now Available

USB Card PR Video Training

Public Relations Campaign Training USB Card
@ Copyright 2013 Firetalker PR

This year’s 2013 Annual Women’s Toolbox Conference sponsored by IBM and Endicott College held in Beverly Massachusetts was content filled, energizing, exciting, well–the normal Women’s Toolbox event! All the trees were in full color publicizing the time of year! Fall is a beautiful time in the Boston area. Friends re-united, new friends and colleagues made, and a place to grow as an entrepreneur. I had the privilege of exhibiting this year, and was asked by Janet Powers, CEO to make sure you all had a way to purchase the Public Relations Publicity Campaign Training – Creating a Lasting Controlled Burn that Keeps Your Customer and the Media Engaged after the event.

The card holds a video, with five chapters including the introduction. The beauty is, all elements of this video will touch your publicity and promotional efforts, no matter how you run your business as it all ties together! You will see, and you will love it! Here is the breakout: introduction, publicity for speakers, book publicity and promotion, how to go after putting together an online media kit and what small-to-medium businesses can do to get the word out about who they are and what they bring to the marketplace through publicity and promotional campaigns. If you think you do not need this video, think again. I am all about content here and opening doors to work with you and help you move forward.

It is a great video, all broken out into chapters so you can come back to it when you like. It’s on a 4GB card, so you can download and use the card to load things while you are on the run, and it fits in your wallet! That my friends, is publicity too. It will be handy and hidden until you break it out, and you will not be able to help telling your friends about what they too can do! AND I don’t do just a talking head. You get just a bit of my pretty mug talking, then the rest is hands on, so see you on the Internet!

If this starts off right and you all tell me how much more you want, it will begin a video series based on your needs. We here at Firetalker PR are truly excited to offer it, and hope you will indulge us! The price is $147 and you can buy it right here:





Please feel free to pose questions right here, for everyone to learn from or email me privately. This is my first little piece of gold, so I look forward to your feedback! Here’s to your firey success that keeps that controlled burn going.

Fielding media calls for attorneys

In my last post I talked about how confidentiality agreements with attorneys or other high level executives might affect your portfolio. There are many terms for everything in the PR world but here I will tell you what means to field the media for attorneys and how to make sure you are prepared for a crisis that may arise during a case. First a background check is done before you are hired to rule out anything in your background that may have a negative impact on the case being worked on.

That is mostly for life and death cases. For high profile cases that can affect the worth or protection of an estate, that may require less screening by an attorney (or law firm, but for our purposes here we will say attorney). After you are selected, the case is discussed only after you have signed a confidentiality agreement. Then you are brought up to speed and your name is listed on any documents submitted to the court that gives you permission to talk the press and for them to talk to you.

In any case it is imperative to have a script written out for you to use when the media calls looking for information. The script will have what you are allowed to discuss and what you can’t. The big picture here is to make sure you are as transparent as you can be to keep anything scandalous from being written and to keep your answers short and concise. It takes skill to answer the right way which is another reason for a script, as questions being asked are not always on your list. You have to remain open, calm and NEVER under any circumstances say “no comment” or “I can’t answer that” as those are negative connotations that can be taken as something is being hidden rather than protected. Cindy Rakowitz, co-author of Emergency Public Relations, Crisis Management in a 3.0 World goes into great detail in the book about phrases that are no longer an option to say to the press or public in general. One of those phrases is “no comment.”

SO, if you are asked to “field the media” and you are not a PR pro or have no training in crisis management be honest and upfront about that. Recommend someone you know and trust that has the experience to do it right. As for me, if it was a HUGE case that was extremely high profile and I was asked to field the media I would offer Cindy Rakowitz as a referral for the attorney I was working with and offer to assist her. No shame in constantly learning from those who know more that we do. Smaller cases I am comfortable with!

Can confidentiality agreements affect your portfolio?

I have been asked this question numerous times. There are two answers: yes and no. That is probably not what you wanted to hear, however it is often true. When working with the federal government, attorneys, accountants and high-level corporate executives, it can be an issue when trying to build a portfolio. Unfortunately it means you may not be able to mention your accomplishments for these clients in writing or on the internet.

So what can you do when a confidentiality agreement stands in your way?

The good news is you can be vague and that’s legal. Speak and write in generalities, describing your tasks and accomplishments. If  asked which company or case this work applied to specifically, just mention the industry instead. There is never a time when you are representing yourself to others — whether to the law or an individual trying to learn more about your expertise — that you should say “I can’t comment” or “I can’t talk about that.” The proper response would be , “I would love to describe that for you; please let me get back to you with the correct information.”

This allows you to reach out to the parties involved and learn more about what you can say, based on the questions you have been asked. If an attorney is looking to check your expertise in a certain area, don’t worry about it — chances are, you have already been checked out. The same is true with the federal government. If you are looking for additional work as a public relations professional in law (for example), your reputation will follow you.

Next time, I will talk about crisis management in working with law enforcement or attorneys and how to handle the media.

Why I chose PR as a career

When I was a kid, I was always bouncing off the ceiling. My dad made my mother take me to the doctor at the age of five because he thought I had a problem. Perhaps ADD, perhaps some other sort of hyper problem and I probably needed to be medicated. Well, thankfully my doctor knew better!

The doctor said I was a fine, happy, well adjusted, yet very energetic child and needed a lot of stimulation.  One of my mother’s favorite examples was my 6:00am daily waking of her saying, “what are we going to do today, mommy?”  Well, I can honestly tell you I am now up at all hours as my work in PR has me speaking to people all over the country — if not the world — and it is with excitement, just not quite that exuberant perhaps!  Truth be told, I can actually remember saying that to my mom, and she really did her best to show me the world and keep me going.

I tell you this because it takes a certain type of person to really enjoy this work. I bounced around from wanting to be an astronaut, to doctor, to singer, to actor, (was in love with Barbra Streisand, you should have seen me trying to imitate her—thank goodness there were no Flip cameras back then).

When I went to college, my persistence in wanting to help others, to make a difference was paramount. One of my professors pushed me toward public relations, telling me I had the personality for it and I could do all the things I desired in that profession, and be good at it. I took her direction. You have to love public relations in all its facets to be good at it and want to be really involved. So, if you are considering it, do a lot of informational interviews first. It is hard work and worth every second.