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!

Make it Up and Shout it Out for Great Publicity

Steaklet Chip22824In our New Economy, we can make up whatever name we want for anything, and turn it into something real. The key is to shout it out to the world and don’t stop. The tech industry is leading the way. For example, there have been several take-offs on the applet. From what I have researched, Apple does not own, nor has it trademarked this term used for plug-ins, (I may be wrong, if so I welcome the correction) but applet has opened the floodgates for others to capitalize on the ‘let’ portion of the name.

Take Shoutlet, Incorporated for example. On Wikipedia, here is their information: Shoutlet, Inc. is a leading provider of a software-as-a-service (SaaS), enterprise-level social media marketing platform that enables marketers to publish, engage, and measure social marketing campaigns and activities on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter,LinkedIn, and YouTube. (For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoutlet).

Shoutlet has branded themselves against something that is in almost everyone’s knowledge base—the applet. Simply brilliant. There is just something about the name that screams great publicity and recognition. If people are compelled to look up your company, that is great branding. I looked them up.

There is great publicity hidden in these gems, as a story is always there that can be generated to get attention. The fact that I am blogging about it is your proof in the pudding. Here are a few others: Piglet Pie—because someday she’s going to want to know why (a blog I found, and there is indeed a story there http://pigletpie.typepad.com/), Figlet or FIGlet which is a program for making large letters out of ordinary text (http://www.figlet.org/). I do not know how big the story may be here; just the fact that I thought it up, typed it into a search engine and it popped up is great! Perhaps the owner is fond of figs? Actually, they are listed on Wikipedia and you can find out more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIGlet. And no, nothing there about anyone liking figs. Here is the last one—steaklet. Now my question matches @pennyb: Is a steaklet like a washlet? (not my shopping) pic.twitter.com/FBAGEfNG. I agree with Penny, not my shopping either. Here is the definition of a washlet, according to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washlet. Wow.

There are stories everywhere. This is one of the ways I get my imagination going to create stories for my clients, as well as using their personal stories. It is a way of beating that creative block. Start with rhyming, looking up words that make absolutely no sense that you are curious about, or that rhyme with your brand. You will be amazed at how fast you start laughing and enjoying your creative process. Suddenly the story you tell the world that gets you noticed is right in front of you!

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.

How to Use Twitter to Promote Your Book

There are a million experts out there who will tell you the best use of social media to publicize and promote books. However, what really works are things that stand the test of time. One of these things is leveraging Twitter to tell the world about your book, whether it has been published yet or not. Generating excitement around what you are about to release into the world is huge in regards to your success. Small for post

One of the ways to do that, is arrange your tweets in such a fashion that it is easy for others to help you. Create “buzz” and leverage your own list through Twitter. Create your blog posts, newsletters and all correspondence that hits the Internet to include tweets people can simply click on which takes them to your account, where you can then have people follow you and retweet to their followers (hence creating buzz).

Chances are, if they are reading your blog or newsletter, they already follow you and they will love to retweet for you! You are making it easy for them to help you. Especially if you make your tweets about your book fun facts, or exciting news. Think “creative” story. Here is an example of this process from a start-up called Vooza, taken from their newsletter I subscribe to:

The @VoozaHQ Hot Five
We are twerking hard on Twitter…

“If you’re going to fail, then fail fast.” Alternatively, you could aim to not fail. But that’s, like, hard so forget about it. (Tweet)

Honest tech blog headline: “Is this the new Apple iPhone design? No. No, it’s not. But hey, page views!” (Tweet)

Hey Internet, nice job using Miley Cyrus to talk about whatever you wanted to talk about anyway. (Tweet)

The tech world is the only place people get congratulated for borrowing money. (Tweet)

#I’m #tagging #keywords #as #often #as #possible #and #it’s #not #annoying #at #all! #blessed (Tweet)

Get more like that: Follow @VoozaHQ at Twitter and/or “Like” us on Facebook.

Many people shy away from this, as they think it is more difficult than it seems. Don’t let that bug bite you! There are three ways to learn more about how to do this effectively:

    1. Do it yourself by going to your Twitter account, go to one of your Tweets you would like to share, click on “more” at the bottom of your tweet, (in order, it will read Reply, Retweet, Favorite, More, Assign to) click on ‘more’ and copy and paste the embedded code, and you can really personalize it like Vooza.
    2. Create a link from the free website, clicktotweet.com which works like bitly or Tiny Url only it converts your tweet to work like Vooza. It does not look as nice, but it works if you are on a tight budget. Here is an example:
      Don’t want to mess with embedding your tweet to get added exposure through retweets for your #book,  or #business visit clicktotweet.com (Tweet).
    3. Email me at Lynette@firetalkerpr.com for more information (best way!).

Join Firetalker PR on Facebook! We are going to be really starting fires with contests, free stuff and more, all aimed at helping you grow this fall, and want you there! Follow us on Twitter too. See you soon.

What You Can Do Right Now to Start Developing a Crisis Mindset for Your Comprehensive Emergency Plan

In my previous post I stated that I would take you through my own process of creating a plan for Firetalker PR. This post will get you started based on what I have done so far. According to Emergency Public Relations, Crisis Management in a 3.0 World, by Alan B. Bernstein and Cindy Rakowitz,  there are things to consider as you move toward developing your plan as I have.

It is important to know there is work to be done before jumping into creating your plan. Having a crisis mindset is critical to the process, whether you are a publicist, or a business coach. For the purposes of this post; I will come from being an entrepreneur, and what that mindset means so you can follow along and create your own plan too.

First, I thought through what it means to my clients to always think from a pro-active worst-case-scenario perspective (which is the best way to do it, even though it may sound strange to you at first). I looked at the possibility that if I was in the hospital and/or passed away, what that would look like for my clients.

It became an “if this, then that” equation as I thought it through. So, if something happens to me, then I have it in a legal document called an Advanced Healthcare Directive (as additional information provided) that a colleague I have chosen, (another PR professional) should be notified. She will take care of my clients; my business. I stipulated that she would do outreach and make sure everyone knew what had happened to me. Therefore, I made the commitment to her to always keep her up to speed on what is happening, and where she may need to keep things going. If I pass away, she will offer her services to my clients and/or assist them in finding someone to care for them if they wish. (Of course, it is recommended to get the buy-in of whomever you choose before putting all of this in writing, and make sure you trust them!)

I recommend using Google to research the type of directive you wish to have (free or through an attorney). I used Rocket Lawyer, which is highly recommended by many professionals (also by Forbes, Wall Street Journal and more). An Advanced Healthcare Directive is a great way to prepare for the worst-case-scenario and develop that crisis mindset you will need to follow me through my crisis plan production as an entrepreneur. How you ultimately decide to do this is up to you. I still recommend, and always will, that you buy Cindy Rakowitz’s book and get all the additional information you will need to make your own final decisions. You can also find her book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Next time I will take you through my process in considering other emergencies I feel would effect my business (brand attack, personal attack and rapid social media response).

Have a question or comment? Please ask away! Start a conversation so we can all learn from each other. Talk to you soon!

Do you have a plan in place for your business in case you end up in the ER?

In May of this year I became very ill and ended up having emergency surgery. For months prior to that, I had several other health issues that were annoying to me, and to everyone including my clients. All of it related to a compromised immune system (I never knew, until I ended up in the hospital ER May 19th as my body was busy fighting an infection going undetected). I was told I “dodged a bullet” by the surgeon. This entry is longer than the normal post; it is important to stay with me and read on.

The reason I am sharing this intimate experience with you is to use myself as the perfect example of, “it will never happen to me” that stays somewhere inside our minds (even if we deny it). It’s right up there with knowing you need to take better care of yourself and you don’t, because you can’t tear yourself away from the computer. We all procrastinate as we need to get one more thing done, right? So what happens if there is an emergency, a crisis in our life that affects our business?

Emergency being the key word. Did I have a crisis plan in place in case of a personal disaster? Did I work with colleagues I consider partners to put together a reciprocal plan?

No. I was blessed to have people that cared enough to help me out. I was too sick to even know to call anyone (including family and friends) and I was out of touch when I shouldn’t have been. However, within the last day I’d been in touch with a friend and colleague (that knew I did not feel well), Janet Powers who happened to call me at the hospital on my cell.

She is founder of Women’s Toolbox and was kind enough to make a call to one of my clients for me (Janet had a full plate—it was not her job to call my clients for me) and explain how sick I was. I can tell you in complete honesty, if Janet had not reached out I don’t think I would have had it together enough to do anything; I was so ill. Ironically, this client Janet called for me was Cindy Rakowitz, CEO of Blackman Rakowitz Public Relations, and author of Emergency Public Relations Crisis Management in a 3.0 World.

Imagine my embarrassment. This is hard for me to say, but can you also imagine what Cindy must have thought? She felt bad for me and wanted me to get well; however, I am sure she was saying, “Where is her crisis plan?” Cindy is a crisis management expert. Earlier this year I promoted Cindy’s book and I can tell you, I am reading it again. This time with a pen in my hand taking notes to build my plan. Her book lays it out step-by-step.

When a plan is in place you think about that plan and you have that mindset. Reading a book like Cindy has written and acting on it are two different things. I would have made calls before I went to the ER. My plan building starts with my next blog post and I am going to share my process with you. A crisis plan for an entrepreneur is emphasized in Cindy’s book and I have even blogged about it myself. I cannot tell you how hard it is to admit I was not prepared. Never again! Look for my next post and let me know what you think. In the meantime, buy Cindy’s book and take charge of your brand’s (business) crisis management. This should be an element of your overall marketing and PR plan.

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.

To entrepreneur or not to entrepreneur

In 2008, many people lost their jobs and were feeling helpless. Soon after, many ideas started to surface about what else we could do. Some joined meet-ups designed like networking groups for the unemployed to try and find work. Others joined groups that assisted them in moving into the 21st century so they could compete. Now, that made sense to me.

What else made sense?

Picking yourself up, and getting whatever education you needed to get better at what you do or transitioning into something else. More free stuff is still out there than you can imagine! What else still makes sense today is to make sure you are surrounding yourself with employed people: people that will know who is looking for work. If you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, this makes more sense than ever. I love the freedom I have — to create, to fall down without judgment, and to know that the resources and help I have are completely endless. It is a super-charger!

Attend Chamber of Commerce meetings in your area, see what is happening. Who is making money? How are we re-building our economy? Find association meetings that you are interested in. Whether it is marketing, finance, public relations, writing, you name it, the group for you is out there. Attend their networking monthly meetings and ask questions. Ask if they work for a company or if they are an entrepreneur. Once you warm up the conversation, ask if you can talk to them more, exchange cards and follow up. People like me — those that have decided to go off on their own — are all too excited to talk to you about how and why we did it. We are proud. We are relieved. It is not overnight success but there is so much help out there it is amazing. I can’t say this enough: There is enough work for everyone, if you are ready to go after it!

Do your homework. We are not out of hard times yet. Our new economy continues to emerge, but the struggle is far from over. Want to talk more? Contact me with your questions and I will do my best to send you in the right direction.