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PR pro: Don’t call us marketers

By Kevin Allen The original post can be found here
Earlier this year, I published a piece that may have suggested that PR is a “fallback” career for journalists. The piece garnered 50+ comments; clearly, some PR folks are easily offended.

List Brian Kilgore among the easily offended. He recently penned a piece for The Huffington Posttitled, “Don’t Insult PR People by Calling Them Marketers.”

The offending part is the Globe and Mail, which called CBC’s new boss a former “marketing and public relations executive.”

Marketing and public relations are different, Kilgore asserts.

The piece is actually more of a 101-level “This is what PR is and this is what marketing is—see, aren’t they different?”

I think Kilgore seriously mischaracterizes the approach of a modern brand. Social media has changed everything. The most successful brands don’t function within an old school model under which PR, marketing, and advertising function in their own silos and it’s up to PR to pitch journalists.
Sure, you can still function in that model, but a coordinated approach—with PR, marketing, and advertising functioning as fingers in a fist, with social media as the thumb—can spark much more influence than any department working on its own.

PR people shouldn’t be offended by being perceived as marketers any more than marketers should be offended by being seen as public relations pros. We should all recognize that the lines are blurred in the new paradigm—it’s only when the efforts are coordinated that the best things happen.

Tips for PR pros planning a 2014 editorial calendar

By Carrie Morgan  This post can originally be found here

If you’re the kind of uber-efficient PR pro who organizes Outlook into client-specific folders, keeps client folders for years after they’ve evaporated, and alphabetizes books and CDs, this post is for you.

If you’re a new PR professional still learning the ropes, this might help.

It’s October. If you aren’t thinking about 2014 editorial calendars, it’s time to shift into gear.

I’m talking not about creating editorial calendars for your blog or social content, but about the traditional PR tactic of using editorial calendars created by magazines, trade publications, and other media for securing placement opportunities. Newspapers and broadcast media generally don’t provide editorial calendars.

Editorial calendar searches are a basic PR skill, but one that way too many pros gloss over, only do annually, or forget entirely. That’s a mistake, given how aligning your pitches to an editorial calendar bumps your success rate way up.

It’s time to kick off the process for next year. If you wait much longer, it will be too late to pitch January/February issues. You don’t want a client calling to ask, “Why am I not in this issue? It’s a perfect fit for what we do.”

For newbies

Magazines and many other media outlets, as well as the larger blogs, publish an annual calendar of upcoming articles or topics they’ll be covering. It’s a smorgasbord of opportunity and a foundational public relations skill. It’s also an opportunity for you to let your PR skills shine, because most agencies and PR pros don’t spend enough time with them to gain maximum benefit.

1. If a team is handling the client, ask whether editorial calendars have been collected, and what agency or department procedures typically are for handling this part of PR. You don’t want to re-invent the wheel if someone is already on top of it, but you do want to show everyone that you are getting the foundation in place for fantastic results, that you are covering the basics.

2. Assuming you’ve already built your client media list and/or a list of publications you’ll be targeting, check their website first to see if it is available for download, then contact every outlet on that list and ask for a media kit. Generally this includes the editorial calendar, demographic information about readership, ad sizes and specs, and ad due dates. Why is this better than asking for just the editorial calendar? Because the ad due dates tell you when the publication goes to press. It helps you plan the timing of your pitch so it isn’t too late to be considered.

3. Keep a spreadsheet so you can easily track whom you’ve spoken with, which ones you have, and which ones you are still waiting on. It also gives you a tickler file to get started on the next year.

4. Print out the editorial calendars, put them in a clearly labeled folder and keep it on your desk. Plan on referring to it often. Tuck a copy of your spreadsheet in the folder, too.

5. If you don’t already have a relationship going, contact each publication individually to discuss their print schedule. When do they typically close out their issue? How far in advance should you pitch them? What is too late? Do they prefer to be pitched via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or phone? Do they have special issues with different print schedules? If it’s a blog or e-zine and not a print publication, look at their website to see if they prefer post submissions that are ready to publish. (It’s usually an obvious page.) Note all this information on your spreadsheet.

Next steps for advanced PR pros and newbies alike

6. Spend time going over each editorial calendar and writing down story ideas to pitch. Match the ideas to the issue, and then schedule each individual pitch in Outlook. Don’t assume you’ll remember; schedule it as an appointment using the timing determined in No. 4.

7. You’re not an Outlook user, or you want a secondary tool to be sure important dates don’t slip your mind? Create your own calendar that flags specific dates and publications you should pitch, and look at it every Monday so you know what’s coming up in the next week or two.  Print it out and pop it in that folder with the printed editorial calendars; make it a habit to review it frequently.

8. Every time an Outlook alert goes off and it is time to pitch a specific issue of a publication, glance over the entire folder anew to see what opportunities you have for that month. This might seem too often, but it helps you get intimately familiar with these magazines and their upcoming topics. It also helps inspire creativity, because you’ll notice something new or gain fresh inspiration with every review. Many pros look at their editorial calendars once or twice a year, which isn’t nearly often enough. It also forces you to plan far in advance.

9. If you supervise a team, sit down and review the editorial calendars together. Brainstorm or review their story ideas that the editorial calendar stimulates, then don’t forget to look at the actual pitches. It seems like far too many agencies don’t supervise the team or work with them to improve their tactics—an epic failure for everyone involved. Pitches and the processes we all use are not a big secret; they should be continually improved and fine-tuned for optimal results. Don’t hesitate to get involved.

 

10. Start collecting next year’s editorial calendars in early fall. This helps you to avoid missing out on great opportunities early in the year simply because your timing is off and you start too late. Magazines, trade publications, large blogs, and e-zines—round ’em up and get those opportunities scheduled.

Time to share. What tactics do you use for editorial calendar searches? Any fabulous tips?

Carrie Morgan is a 20-plus year public relations veteran based in Phoenix, specializing in digital PR. A version of this story first appeared on the Rock The Status Quo blog.

Pros and Cons of Keeping Your Personal and Business Social Media Life Separately

Posted by  to Social Media

Somewhat recently I have been seeing a trend developing with professional accounts on social media sites. They have been becoming more personal, and that line that was once so clear between personal and professional life is being blurred. People are even inviting their clients, bosses, coworkers and professional contacts onto their personal social media profiles. Something that was extremely rare in the past.

Does this signal a change in how we view those two part of ourselves on the web? Is it becoming more natural to combine the professional and personal into a single world? Or is it just a coincidence?

For the most part, I believe it is a personal choice. So let’s look at some of the pros and cons of keeping your social media professional and person lives separate.

Duplicate Original

Pro – You can be open without fear of offending a professional contact.

We are all more open with our views, likes, dislikes and opinions on our social media profiles when they are only personal. Some are a little too open, as a matter of fact. But that is your right, as it is your own space where you are free to discuss anything you find appropriate. When you allow people from your professional life to take part in that space, you are more limited.

You have to watch what you are saying and posting, and have to keep in mind that what you would say to your buddy isn’t the same as you say to a client. It also leaves you unable to rant, which is a good way of occasionally blowing off steam. After all, do you really want your boss knowing he made you angry when he spoke to you about proper image for having a crooked tie with a booger hanging out of his nose? Probably not.

Con – You have to have two accounts.

Let’s be real: maintaining more than one social media account takes a lot of time. Which doesn’t stop us, of course. I will bet you have a profile on several different platforms that you use on a regular basis. But that doesn’t stop it from being a bit of a hassle, and with a professional and private account each? Well, that just adds a secondary account to every social media site you sign up for. That means you will be twice as busy trying to keep track, unless you use a program like a social media dashboard. In which case, you have to be careful not to confuse.

Double

Pro – You won’t be held professionally accountable for your personal views.

Most of us like to be able to freely express ourselves on other sites. Sites which are generally signed into using social media of some kind. By having two separate accounts you can freely comment without it being linked back automatically to your professional persona. Of course, this isn’t always the case. We have seen many examples of people who have made offensive comments on the web under personal accounts and had it traced back to their professional one. But hopefully you won’t be trolling sites or saying anything outrageous or cruel anyway. As long as you are a rational human being, you will probably be fine.

Con – You are splitting your target audience.

I can’t tell you how many times I have had a personal friend or family member share out my content to their massive lists, with a personal recommendation. Which ended up bringing me much more visibility and a surge in visitors for the day. When you have two accounts, the likelihood of this happening is slimmer. Which means you are effectively cleaving your audience in half, and missing out on the opportunity for sharing through people you know face to face.

Meeting In The Middle

In my opinion, the best thing to do is meet in the middle – which is to say, I think you should choose what side works best for you, while recognizing the difference between social media sites. For examples, LinkedIn is for professional use rather than personal as well as Facebook is rather for your personal life (yes, many people won’t agree with me here). So sometimes you won’t have to figure if you need two accounts. YouTube is likewise a good one for professional use, as you are unlikely to need a personal account for commenting. Or Pinterest, which is a fantastic place to merge both the professional and personal with little risk.

How do you handle the separation between those two parts of your life on social media? Let us know in the comments!

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16 networking mistakes that can derail your career

By Jim Dryburgh This post can be found here

Networking is a skill that can help you develop long‐lasting business and social relationships.As with most skills, you can network well or poorly—perhaps to the detriment of your career.Here are the 16 most common networking mistakes to avoid:1. You think you don’t know anyone.

You are connected to more people than you realize.

Take 10 minutes and write a list of past and current work colleagues, industry contacts, friends, family and acquaintances. You will likely be surprised by how many people you know. Store these names in a file and add new people as you meet them.

Once a month, go through your list. Call at least one person, and email three. The key is to stay in touch. Find out what’s new with people personally or professionally, react to news in your industry or set up a lunch. Put a note in your files to remind yourself what you talked about.

Now check out some social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which are powerful ways to expand your network. If you have a blog or website, check out who’s been corresponding with you lately.

Continuously reach out to new people and you’ll see networking possibilities grow.

2. You wait for a reason to network.

A network is a social and business resource that you must cultivate and nurture.

Your network supports and sustains you in good times, but is the key to your survival in bad times. Too often people start networking only after they need something. Imagine a friend or relative who only calls when he needs money. Do you take his call? Do you look forward to hearing from him?

Effective networking means creating contacts and relationships now. Dig your well before you’re thirsty, as Harvey Mackay says.

3. You fail to create a networking script.

Avoid fumbling and stammering for the right words by practicing what you’re going to say about yourself, your job or another topic of interest.

Practice it. Practice smiling as you say it so people get a sense of excitement and energy about you. Then think about questions that might come up and how you’ll respond.

Whether you call someone or talk in person, consider what you want and what you can realistically expect from the person. Think about the purpose of your conversation—is it to find out information or seek other contacts? Being clear about what you want will be a more effective use of everyone’s time, and will create a better impression than a rambling speech. Be aware that the person may not be in a position to do much; be gracious if all he can offer are ideas, advice or experience.

Requesting a job isn’t appropriate at this stage, and may result in you losing the contact. For networking emails, be personable and upbeat, but make sure your tone is appropriate to the person you are contacting. For example, don’t go into networking mode if you are just reaching out to an old friend.

[RELATED: Ragan’s new distance-learning site houses the most comprehensive video training library for corporate communicators.]

4. You’re unprepared.

Thinking you know what you want is not the same as knowing it.

Treat networking the same way you would an appearance at Carnegie Hall. Practice your pitch as well as your answers to questions that might arise.

Knowing what you want to get out of a conversation will make the best use of everyone’s time. Do you want a new job? Sales contacts? Information about a competitor?

If you don’t know what you’re after, you’ll either embarrass yourself or walk away having accomplished nothing.

Do your homework and plan ahead to avoid arriving unprepared. If you’re meeting with someone or attending an event, know why you are going and the types of people who will be there. Research specific contacts who may be there and prepare some conversation topics ahead of time.

5. You talk about yourself too much.

When networking, listen to what everyone else is saying. People help by offering advice; they’re not interested in hearing how much you already know.

While a big part of networking is marketing yourself, it’s important to know where to draw the line. Give others some room to get a word in. Prompt them to tell you a little about themselves. This way, not only will they feel like they are part of the conversation, but you’ll learn a little about them. The more you know about them, the more you’ll know what they can do for you, and-brace yourself-what you can do for them.

6. You monopolize someone’s time.

At a networking event, everyone wants to mingle and meet different people. Although making a connection with someone and getting into an interesting discussion can be a great experience, you should keep conversations at networking events short and sweet.

If you’re networking over the phone or by email, remember that the person you’re speaking with has a life beyond you and your needs and interests. A good rule of thumb is that if the person is carrying less than half of the conversation, it’s time to move on.

7. You lack etiquette.

Etiquette can extend from table manners to punctuality to your approach to social networking. If you think people don’t notice, you’re wrong. Committing this blunder is self-destructive, so mind your manners!

There are a number of things that violate networking etiquette:

  • Showing up late.
  • Interrupting people when they are talking.
  • Talking for an extended period of time about yourself.
  • Not asking other people who they are and what they do.
  • Barging into a group when it is clear they don’t want to be disturbed.
  • Blatantly looking for the next person to talk to.
  • Drinking too much.
  • Talking with your mouth full.
  • Not keeping your emails and your social media profiles professional.
  • Sharing a person’s contact information without his permission. (This is a huge no-no that will quickly land you a top spot on the blacklist. Always check with people first, even if you’re doing them a favor.)

8. You forget to bring business cards.

In one of his books, Jeffrey Gitomer argues that the main purpose of a business card is to get the other person’s card. When you hand people a card, they usually want to do the same. The key is to get their cards so you can respond after the meeting with a note that connects you and the conversation you had.

Always carry business cards with you—especially if you’re attending a networking event. It’s unprofessional to give out your contact information on a scrap piece of paper or napkin. Doing so may discourage a contact from getting in touch with you in the future.

9. You have an unprofessional email address.

Your friends may know you as “Daddys1Girl,” “HotStud4U,” “Cougarlady” or “RumAndCoke47,” but when you’re building a network, use a serious email address—preferably one with your real name. And when you use this email address, make sure you have a complete signature at the bottom.

Make it easy for people to remember and contact you later. Your email, LinkedIn profile and standard messaging are key parts of your brand. Consider getting a website and using your email as the address. You can do this for the cost of one business book, and it’s another way to expand your brand.

10. You forget you only have one chance to make a first impression.

Dress sharply when you attend an event. Give firm handshakes, stand up straight, make good eye contact, repeat names back to the owners and show respect to everyone in the room. Never say anything negative about any person, event, company or organization, regardless of your personal views.

Remember that a networking event can be like a first interview for your next job, but no one will help you get your foot in the door if you put forth an unprofessional or negative attitude.

11. You don’t know how to work a room.

Men and women with contacts and power meet many people, but they only remember those who stand out from the crowd.

If you “just aren’t very social” or if networking “just isn’t in your personality,” then be someone else for the networking event. Be assertive and act like a leader you admire. How would your hero handle this situation? Communicate self‐assurance and confidence. Don’t let your introverted preferences get in the way of building the network or career you want.

The good news is you can learn how to network. The news you probably don’t want to hear is that in today’s communication‐driven world, just about everybody has to do it. There’s no sense trying to avoid it.

12. You don’t ask follow-up questions.

If you’re networking for a job opportunity and someone says, “I wish I could help you, but I don’t know of any openings right now,” take a minute or two to ask some follow-up questions:

  • What’s the outlook for the future?
  • Do you know anyone else in the industry who might have something?
  • Do you have any thoughts on what my next step should be?
  • Who would you contact if you were in my shoes?

Follow‐up questions show interest and may help the person you’re networking with come up with ideas he might otherwise have overlooked.

13. You lie.

Would you ever recommend someone who you knew stretched the truth?

A wise man once said, “Always tell the truth. That way you won’t ever have to remember what you said.”

It’s tempting to say, “So‐and‐so gave me your name and told me to call.” It might even get you a meeting. But eventually such‐and‐such will learn so-and‐so did not tell you to call, and you’ll have burned not one, but two, bridges.

Building relationships is all about building trust. If you don’t trust someone, you’ll hesitate to contact him when it’s time to make an important business decision. You don’t want someone to hesitate about you.

14. You don’t follow u p.

You’ve gone through all the trouble to make a contact, so why let it go to waste?

You need to follow up after every meeting or job interview to reiterate your interest and ensure you remain at the front of the person’s mind.

Remember, people are busy, and you probably aren’t their top priority. But they are your top priority. Make sure they know it.

Always thank a contact for her time and advice via a handwritten note or follow‐up email or call. Let your contact know whether her suggestions panned out. You may think your networking is over, but your paths may cross again.

Don’t be afraid to get back in touch with someone. Send her an article or notice of an event that might interest her. Keep in touch through social media or drop her an occasional email telling her how you are.

What goes around comes around. Follow up with contacts who helped you. Keep them up‐to‐date about the company you are now working for or whether the information or leads they provided you were helpful.

This will help you to maintain people as contacts in your network, and allow you to return the favor when they’re in need.

15. You don’t tie up loose ends.

Too often when people in your network help you and give you the opening you need to achieve your goal, you think “It’s finally over.”

Not quite.

After any business meeting, you should document what actions people committed to—particularly you. In most cases, sending a note regarding your commitments will make you look professional and competent. You will probably need those people again in the future.

Write the person a thank‐you note for her help, and let her know what you ended up doing. Don’t just do this for the person or people who helped you find a job or a client. Do it for everyone who offered to, as well.

16. You don’t pay it forward.

Networking is a two-way street.

If you reach out to your contacts every time you need a something—a job, sales lead or favor—without ever giving back, people will stop being so willing to help. A good networker is ready and willing to help their contacts whenever they can.

Did you meet someone who would be a great contact for your colleague? Introduce them! Do you know of a job lead that might be perfect for your contact’s unemployed son? Hook him up!

If people see you as a resource, they’ll be more inclined to nurture and maintain the mutually beneficial relationship.

If you know what not to do, you can network with purpose, add value to your network and become outstanding at the art of networking.

Jim Dryburgh is president and founder of The Balanced WorkLife Company. A version of this article originally appeared on Careertopia.

5 Ways PR Firms Impress New Clients

By  This Post can originally found here

We started working with a few new (and terrific!) clients in the past couple of months, and early reports indicate that all systems are go and we’re off and running positively. These same reports also indicate that our smart and savvy public relations and social media teams execute in a way that is a welcome change from the process, behavior and lack of results generated from the agencies previously supporting these companies. It’s important to show a new client that you are ready to roll, and here are a few ways for a new PR agency (and specifically, a new team!) to get things started on the right foot:

First, embrace the new client/business/category with gusto – and show the client that you are sincerely interested. You should pay close attention to the client’s business objectives – first and foremost – but also key care-abouts of the new client. They may covet one specific blog over a pack of others, and one key message over the organization’s larger story. In any case, taking tactical steps to let the client know you are paying close attention as you ramp-up and get started is key.

Second, be responsive. I’m unwavering in my belief that client service continues to be hugely important in our business. It’s essential to a successful working relationship, and equally important at the start of a project or an ongoing program. Be smart and strategic, but respond with enthusiasm so the new client “gets” that they are a priority in your day.

Third, be certain you are thoroughly prepared for all of your meetings/calls/etc. Give the new client confidence by being on your game. Have a game plan for the start of the program – in a logical order so the new client knows what to expect.

Fourth, work hard to land the big hit – or specific result – early in the working relationship. Identify what that result specifically is, and do what you can to make it happen. Once a new client sees first hand that you can generate results that make a real impact, you’ve strengthened a new relationship and provided a powerful shot of optimism about the team’s abilities!

Fifth, start the ball of enthusiasm rolling forward. I’ve seen it happen so many times in my career that partnering with an agency was the catalyst for positive things happening on both sides of the relationship. The communications and product teams were active, engaged and enthusiastic about partnering with the PR and social media team, and all parties worked together for joint success. Be positive in your approach and embrace the new client, category and task at hand, as the positive vibes will go a long way.