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What can PR do for a Startup?

Peta Ellis - Monday, March 11, 2013

The most important thing for a Startup business is EXPOSURE. A cost effective way to get exposure in the early days is though publicity and PR. 

PR campaigns can be costly  don't have to be. You can generate a Press Release or Product Release Announcement for minimal money. Distribution is also quite easy these days as there are a number of great and cheap or free distribution services available.

Share your story - how you started, why and who is involved.

Announce launch dates, new hires, new product features - be excited about your announcement. Telling the world about your business with passion opposed to sending out a few press releases is the difference between getting exposure and being  ignored.

Essentially a Startup is a business that is solving a problem that consumers will want to know about. Highlight the problem, talk about  the current solutions ( if any) and focus on why yours is better. Then announce your solution, add details, specifics, case studies, share stories of how your product/solution has helped someone, saved someone money, changed someone's life, made their job easier.

These are all great ways to generate publicity.

Listen to this video at 5:27 minutes in on how PR helped these Startup Businesses 




Imagine your rapidly growing business being attacked by critics.

Peta Ellis - Thursday, July 05, 2012

Picture launching your online business and  within the first 6 months  you have thousands of people signing up and buying your products. Cool? Absolutely!  What you had hoped and dreamed of? Absolutely!

Make sure you plan for the BIG PICTURE  though and along with your  SUCCESS prepare yourself for realistic outcomes. Know that with fans, come the critics and although it is just part of the journey  - it can get sticky. Unless of course what you are selling is not quite what customers are actually getting - then it could turn quite pear shaped.

Negative feedback online is not great for any brand as bad news spreads much faster than good. Integrity, professionalism and honesty in online business is essential as most  transactions are transparent and public.

Thousands of fans and LIKEs on Facebook is great, a responsive engaged audience is even better. All it takes however is a few disgruntled customers or critics to start  a smear campaign online aimed at tainting your reputation and brand. True or not, it will spread as the internet just loves opinionated content.

Gold Coast Business "Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge" is a great example of this. Ashy Bines' business has grown very rapidly in the last 6 months and maintained a busy online profile as well as her online business.   I found her as a result of seeing many of my own personal Facebook friends comment and LIKE her Facebook page.  I actually became a little bit addicted to looking at her customer's before and after photos. As I'm sure many others did. 

From what I saw, the Facebook Page grew very fast via  results-driven marketing ( before and after photos) and many positive customer testimonials. The engagement of the page is crazy good with many, many, shares and comments on almost every post, status update and comment.

Recently, I read this article and watched the Today Tonight Clip highlighting some disgruntled customers and an interview with Ashy. This was the first I had heard anything negative about her brand and 'package' ( Ashy Bines Clean Eating Plan selling for $69).

After Googling "Ashy BInes  Scam"  I found many more results return. Including the Anti-Ashy Bines Facebook Page and another TV piece aired on A Current Affair ( clip below) , this time without and interview of Ashy - more negative focussed with more disgruntled customers. 

Truth or not, the thing is that a few weeks ago Googling Ashy Bines may have returned her own website and Facebook pages - yet now with more negative content sitting on the web in the form of comments in Forums, Negative facebook groups and the TV coverage as clips posted on YouTube - a general Google search returns controversial results.

Their Brand has suffered some damage.

Only Ashy Bines and her team can rectify this from here. It seems to me that the two negative media pieces  were generated by critics and unhappy customers that were looking for quick fix and for her plan to work like 'magic' on them. Many were expecting 'more' for their money or something different that what they got, not necessarily unhappy with the product, just unhappy with the communication of what they thought they would get.  Some go further questioning the business ethics of the company - but really when you pay a one-time fee of $69 how much can you really expect to get??  I'm thinking they have over- promised and under delivered. Perhaps a communication breakdown?Perhaps poorly set up systems at Ashy Bines HQ?  

Whatever the case, someone needs to step up and address these issues before it snowballs out of control. It seemed to me ( from the outside looking in) that it was a really god business and concept. It might still be - but the unrest needs to be sorted out first. There is nothing worse in a crisis or brand sabotage than hiding. Speak up! I say.

However in saying this, it does highlight the fact that what you make 'promises' online the audience you intend it to be for might not be the  one that ends up reading it.  The internet is public - remember?

In Ashy's case, promising a 'lifetime of online support 24/7' is a massive ask for anyone. I think 'lifetime' needs to be defined as does '24/7' and 'support'. Clear up the grey areas, and don't promise what is clearly not possible.

It just goes to show though that even though you can be wildly 'successful' (like selling 20,000 diet plans at $69 each in 6 months) and still have negative press run in primetime TV about you! It is imperative that your Marketing Plan, Business Model and Public Profile are all backed up by strong Systems , policies and most of all a Crisis Management Plan including a Social Media Policy so all of your hard work isn't compromised in a few kicks. 

I hope these guys put out a  Press Release soon or better still an online video response to their customer issues with answers and solutions. They may be able to turn it around - maybe.

What is your verdict on this?

Peta


Are you at risk? One tweet, one status update or one tagged photo, it only takes ONE to come tumbling down.

Peta Ellis - Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Social Media Policy - It won't save you, but it will enable the right people to act and respond at a time of need with clear direction and if your policy is legally binding, you can be confident it will stand up in court in a crisis.


People and businesses spend lots of time and money on building strong Social Media profiles with great importance placed on building followers, likes and databases. What is often missed are the simple steps that can be taken to protect your growing online empire.

One misplaced tweet, one Facebook update tagging the wrong person or wrong photo, one personal post to a work profile, one private rant about your employee in your own time on your own Facebook profile, one politically incorrect statement shared on public forum, one small offensive comment that was 'intended' to be funny RT'd by millions, one disgruntled employee taking work Facebook logins to their next job, one contractor posting 'unapproved' content on a clients profile, one this, one that - it only takes ONE.

There are so many opportunities where Social Media can take your brand to a place you never wanted it to go. 

Need some examples? Browse though PRdisaster.com and type  "Social Media" into the search box. The case studies go on and on. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Large companies, celebrities, small businesses, sports personalities and even journalists are creating PR issues all over the world all due to miss-placed social media posts.

Social Media is social and public - more public than many people realise. My mind boggles at how much time people spend building their brand and reputation online yet take virtually no steps to protect that reputation.

In the Podcast below with Cat Matson and Suzi Dafnis from the Australian Businesswomen's Network, I discuss Social Media Policy and the benefits of having one. 

My Social Media Policy of choice  and one I proudly publicly endorse is MySocialPolicy.

Policies can range from $500 - $7000 depending on your needs and size of your company. Some good questions to ask yourself are these:

  • "How much is my reputation worth?" 
  • "How much would it cost me to rebuild my brand and loyal online following if I had to start over from scratch?"
  • Do I trust all of my employees 100% to do what I think is the "right thing" online and is their version of "common sense" the same as mine?

As I mention in the podcast , you can download free template  policies but they will not stand up in court, my suggestion is to do it right the first time and hand it over to the professionals. 

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST  

Please leave me a comment below with your thoughts on  Social Media Policy.

Thanks, 

Peta


Imagine if people started recognising YOU in the street!

Peta Ellis - Monday, April 02, 2012

Picture yourself walking down the street and being noticed by strangers.
They know YOU, know what YOU look like and what YOU do, they know YOUR story and are happy to see YOU in 'person'. 

We are not talking 'stalker-like' knowing you, more like ; "I think  I know her", "That's the lady from the Sunday Mail article about..." "That's that woman who started that company who ...' "He's the founder of that shoe company who ... "  Those kinds of comments.

Would you LIKE it?

Building a great public profile means putting yourself 'out there' to be noticed. Not so much the product or business - it's more about YOU, the person behind the business, the brains, the passion, the driver.

More so than ever, anyone who is anyone can have a 'public profile' with Social Media. Some people create HUGE profiles with hundreds of thousands of followers. This is a powerful tool to reach lots of people fast. It can also be deceiving realising the actual amount of real people who know about you. 

Articles printed in the media, radio interviews, TV interviews, pod casts and blog posts about you are all powerful tools to get noticed. Journalists use their craft to create articles and stories about you, providing priceless opportunities to have your message heard and to promote yourself.

The greatest disappointment to any fan, follower, or others following your progress is learning that the  public image portrayed of you is  nothing like the real person.  Are you who you say you are? Do you do what you say you do? 

The 3 key elements to creating a powerful public profile are
  1. Be Passionate
  2. Be Excited
  3. Be Authentic
There is so much opportunity out there for those willing to back themselves 10000% and start.
Stop planning, stop thinking, just start. Do what you do well and do it with passion.
If you have something to say -  tell everyone. If you are passionate about something show people, and if you have created something awesome,  announce it!

Then, just as you had imagined people recognising you in the street, imagine graciously acknowledging them and saying hello :)

How Job advertisements can affect your public profile and brand.

Peta Ellis - Monday, February 20, 2012

I read two job advertisements today and had to post about it. Once was totally awesome, the other not so great.

I also posted on Twitter that #yougetwhatyoupayfor when I was referring to the 'bad' job ad. I need to explain why. Although this is true to some extent, if you read the job advertisement and compare how these two companies go about it you will see why one of them will attract the right person for their brand and the other most likely, will not. 

Please note the jobs advertised are very different I am merely using them as example to highlight the  difference in style of advertising and attracting the right people for your brand.  Salaries are not advertised for both, only one of them -  one is part time, the other is full time.

Why am I interested in this as a Publicity/profile topic? I believe everything that you put online reflects on your brand. Job advertisements included. They  even appear in online search - depending on what content the advertisement has  included. It is all content and  it is a good reminder to make sure that it is in-line with your brand, your company ethos and are happy for it to be 'public'.

JOB 1 was a Marketing Role ( Digital Innovation Consultant - Marketing) 

The company had their brand visible so you know who you would be working for. You could google the company name to find out more about them,  see if the business appealed to you and if you had something to offer a company like theirs. My favorite part is they have a section with a link to it within the ad which advises how best you apply for a job with them and what they are looking for. They also have a video on what the place looks like , the people in it and essentially where you would be going to work each day. This information is all public for everyone to see at all times. 

The job ad stipulates the company is a leader in their field and  suggest that if you are of the right level your application should be a standout amount the 100's that come in. The company stands out already, they want great people to join the team  and if you are exceptional, there will be a desk for you.  Money is not mentioned - lifestyle is,  good work/life balance is,  along with support, mentoring and growth. All of these things reflect on the overall brand once again. Quality. They want quality people to create quality work for quality clients. This in turn should provide a challenge, rewards, job satisfaction and  a  well balanced lifestyle.

I would apply for that  that job if I was looking.  I may sweat out the daunting application process but once though I can imaging it would be a very rewarding place to grow.

Next...

Job 2 is a Marketing Role. ( Marketing Expert) 

This one lead with the headline:  Great Working Environment • Exciting Opportunity • Close to Transport • Thursday – Friday (apr. 20 hrs ) • alternatively part time-suit student. 

The role required the following; 
"Must be versatile and able to swing between sales, marketing and website development with a desire to succeed in anything and everything they do."  With the following Core Skills:
· Manage website and marketing campaign
· Link building
· Keyword research
· Keyword mapping & meta tag creation
· Proven experience in improving the website user experience in a commercial environment facilitating web transactions
· Experience in writing, developing and editing content for websites
· Experience in working with website content management systems
· Ability to demonstrate use of SEO and analytics to drive business results
· Experience in Word Press
· Experience with Photoshop or Dreamweaver
· Experience in Search Engine Optimisation SEO – ESSENTIAL
· Experience in Media Communications and Public Relations
· Good Level Of Graphic Design Abilities (Adobe CS5)
· Strong project management skills
· Exceptional attention to detail
· Strong communication skills
· Excellent writing skills
· Excellent command of the English language with expert writing skills, editing and proof reading abilities for websites
· Technical knowledge of web publishing (HTML, CSS, etc)
· Ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines
· Strong interpersonal skills
· An A1 understanding of search engines
· Ability to prioritise multi task
· Team player with excellent time management skills and an ability to multi task
· Provide feedback, reports & improvement analysis to the SEO Manager and clients.
· Performing SEO Health check reports for sales support
· Running & creating client keyword ranking reports
· Running & creating client analytics reports
· Effectively manage customer & staff relationships, promptly respond to queries, ensure promises are kept and manage expectations
· Blog writing, media releases
· Daily Updating Facebook / Twitter / +Google

All for $25 - $29.99 per hour for a  company with no website or general web presence yet.  I can only assume that the person who wrote the advertisement does not know what all of these different skills mean or require as only someone who has those skills knows that so many things can't successfully be mounted into one role?  They want a student but they also want experience. That is not fair - surely? 

Overall I am confused about the brand of the company and the job advertisement confuses the role. I think that would attract one confused applicant - right?


A google search of the company returns results of the same company name internationally and a local business directory listing. They do  need some marketing help and all the things they listed on the job description but not for the price they are asking. They could use a part time Marketing student for that price to manage the 'project' of finding a team of contractors who specialise in  various areas and get the work done to help their brand be more prominent online. That would work.

Job 1 and Job 2 are entirely different roles but  staff in general are a representation of your brand and can be your best brand ambassadors both online and  on the ground . It is essential to provide a good basis for them to start with. Practice what you preach, ask for what you need and let those who are able, over deliver and surprise you -  then reward them. 
Also, outsource specialist work to specialist people, not one person can be your SEO, SEM, Media, PR, Sales, Web, Telemarkeing, Admin, Marketing, Social Media Expert for $29/hr in only 20 hrs per week as a student. Seriously.

If I am way off the mark here - please tell me. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. ;) 

Peta

Rugby World Cup & Social Media

Peta Ellis - Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Here is an interesting summary of the online and public exposure surrounding the recent 2011 New Zealand Rugby World Cup 


TV

In Australia, Channel Nine’s coverage of the Australia-New Zealand semi-final and the New Zealand-France final attracted capital city audiences of 1.79m and 1.22m respectively and were the most watched programs in the history of pay TV, with national audiences of 719,000 and 648,000, respectively. 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media and social networks have had a major influence on the Rugby World CupOn Facebook the RWC 2011 page was receiving on average 2,700 comments or likes per post. They gained more than 25,000 new fans over the last 7 days and gained almost 100,000 fans over the last month. With 1,453,916 fans on 24 October, the RWC 2011 have a fantastic social space to hand over to England for RWC 2015. On Twitter, the competition final generated more than 150,000 tweets. Over the whole tournament tweets mentioning all RWC 2011 hashtags, the word 'Rugby' or any of the teams exceeded 4.1 million.!!!

What do they have in store for 2015?  

As far as #SocialMedia goes, four digital years is a LONG time online. There will most likely be a new #Facebook or #Twitter  - I can't wait to find out. How about you?

Thank you to Jason Greenhalgh, Director Major League Corporate Marketing  for this fabulous information!! www.majorleague.com.au     www.linkedin.com/in/jgreenhalgh   www.twitter.com/jasongreenhalgh

Social Media Policies & the potential implications of a 'harmless' tweet.

Peta Ellis - Monday, October 10, 2011

Social Media Policies are set to be as common as standard workplace agreements across all industries and will also become common  additions to existing  staff handbooks and induction procedures.

Here are some interesting articles on this topic which are worth making the time to read.

  1. Five rules to protect your online reputation
  2. Be careful what you post; social media can cause problems
  3. Enterprise: List of 40 Social Media Staff Guidelines
  4. COURSEWARE: social media and PR Crisis Communication  ( This one has an awesome free downloadable paper to go with it!) thanks to @Silkcharm ( Laurel Papworth)

PLUS - listen to  David Meerman Scott, Author of the #1 bestseller The New Rules of Marketing & PR , and the Wall Street Journal bestseller Real-Time Marketing & PR, talk about why companies need a social media policy.

Video interview conducted and posted by Vivienne Story, General Manager, Blands Law. (twitter @mysocialmediapolicy )


 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the way Social Media Policies are  currently being used or how you can see them being used in the future.

City Publicity in conjunction with BlandsLaw has available for purchase a Social Media Policy for $500.00, including GST. Can you afford not to have one?

 

Cheers, Peta. 

Charging Friends for work you do - what is the best way to go about it?

Peta Ellis - Monday, April 18, 2011

Charging anyone can be difficult when you first start out  in business.   Luckily it is something that does get easier and becomes part of everyday  business. Charging friends however, is one area that always remains a little tricky.
 It usually only becomes a problem when there is a breakdown in communication or it is not clearly discussed in the beginning.

It can go both ways, a friend may ask you to 'help them out' with something ( something you normally charge for) or a current paying client may become a friend of yours making charging them become more difficult.
 
All I can recommend is to talk about it first, MAKE IT CLEAR. Explain the costs to you (including time), the charges involved then move on. Business is business - you have to get paid for what you do to stay doing it.
Here is how I deal with this issue..


Thanks,
Peta

Human Brand Profile #1 Manu Feildel

Peta Ellis - Monday, March 14, 2011
 I have talked about humanising brands and 'human brands' before and today I want to share one person who does this well Manu Fieldel.

We see so many 'Celebrity Chefs' and reality TV show stars these days it is hard to know how they came to be in the limelight . Usually a hunger for fame, heavyweight contacts or an honest passion and natural talent are the culprits.   Here is one person who seems to me has  been driven by passion all the way and has successfully built a personal brand around it.  

Penguin Australia has released  a promo video for  Manu's French Kitchen ( Manu's latest Cook Book) and uses his Personal Brand to do all the work. I think it works brilliantly because;  
  • He talks about his passion - cooking/food
  • He gives us insight into his personal life and family, involving his love for his son
  • He is genuine and unpretentious
  • He talks about the book from a background aspect with no sales speak
  • He shows us he can play and have a laugh
  • He is real
    Well done Penguin I think the video rocks.

Online Media Rooms

Peta Ellis - Friday, February 11, 2011

(Tips I’d like to share from The New Rules of Marketing & PR)

Online Media

The online media room (sometimes called a press room or press page) is the part of your organisations website that you create specifically for the media. In some organisations this page is simply a list of news releases with contact information for the organisation’s PR person. But many companies and nonprofits have elaborate online media rooms with a great deal of information available in many different formats: audio, video, photos, new releases, background information, financial data and much more.

It is important to consider that all kinds of people visit a media room, not just journalists! Your buyers are snooping around your organisation by visiting media pages on your website. Your current customers, partners, investors, suppliers and employees all visit those pages.

Best Practices for Online Media Rooms

An online media room is an important part of any organisation’s website and a critical aspect of an effective media relations strategy. When done well, an online media room will turn journalists who are just browsing into interested writers who will highlight your organisation positively in their stories. More importantly, an online media room can move your buyers into and through the sales process, resulting in more business for your organisation and contributing to meeting your organisation’s real goals of revenues and customer retention.

Optimise Your News Releases for Searching and for Browsing

The best online media rooms are built with the understanding that some people need to search for content and others are browsing. Many people already know what they are looking for.
1. They need answers to specific questions and organisations must therefore optimise content so that it can be found, perhaps by including a search engine.
2. The second way people use content is to be told something that they do not already know and therefore couldn’t think to ask. This is why browsability is also important; it allows users to stumble across useful information they didn’t even know they were looking for.

While many web-savvy marketers understand the importance of search-engine optimisation, they often forget that sites must be designed for browsing too. Failing to do is particularly unfortunate because the high traffic on news release pages comes partly from the many people who browse these pages as they conduct research.

You should deploy a navigational design in a way that provides valuable information visitors might not have through to ask for. Consider including multiple browsing techniques. For example, you can create different links to targeted releases for different buyer personas (maybe by vertical market or some other demographic factor appropriate to your organisation). You might also organise the same releases by product (because some members of the media may be covering just one of your products in a review or story), by geography or by market served. Most organisations simply list news releases in reverse-chronological order (the newest release is at the top of the page and ones from last year are hidden away somewhere). While this is fine for the main news release page, you need to have additional navigation links so people can browse the releases. Don’t forget that people may also need to print out news releases, so consider providing printer-friendly formats (e.g. PDF format as well as HTML).

Include Multimedia Content

Innovative communicators make use of non-text content, such as photos, charts, graphs, audio feeds and video clips to inform site visitors and the media.
• Include executive photos, logo images, product photos and other content that is ready (and preapproved) to be published or linked to by journalists.
• You should offer audio and video clips (such as parts of executive speeches or product demonstrations), photos and logos in such a way that journalists can use them in their written stories as well as on TV and radio shows.


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