Category Archives: Public Relations

Are You Making These Press Release Mistakes?

You’ve done it. Gotten that press release written. Now you’re ready to send it out to your carefully chosen list of media contacts.

But before you hit that “send” button, take a moment and run your press release through this checklist. Remember, you only have a few seconds to catch the attention of busy journalists and editors — don’t blow it over an easily corrected mistake.

Some of these may seem painfully obvious. Alas, even the obvious gets overlooked from time to time (even from professionals – I know, I’ve made my share of mistakes) so it’s always a wise idea to take a few moments to double check that your release is up to snuff before sending it out into the world.

1. Is your release newsworthy? In other words, does it answer the question “Will this interest my readers?” Remember, media people are interested in one thing – keeping their readers happy. Make sure your idea is something that will do just that.

2. Is the headline compelling? Will it encourage media people to actually read the story? If the headline doesn’t interest them, chances are they aren’t going to take the time to read the rest of the release. And you’ve just missed your opportunity.

3. Is the first sentence (the lead) compelling? Like the headline, if the first sentence doesn’t grab their attention and persuade them to keep reading, chances are your release will be headed to that famous circular file. (Otherwise known as the trash can.)

4. Is it written in third person? In other words, use “he/she/they.” No “you” or “we.”

5. Is it less than a page? Media people don’t have time to read long press releases. Unless you have a darn good reason, keep it less than a page. For that matter, even if you do have a darn good reason, still keep it less than a page.

6. Are there grammatical or spelling errors in your release? Trust me, these are professionals. They’ll catch your errors. And those errors won’t leave a very good impression. At the very least use your word processing’s spell checker, but hiring a proofreader is an even better solution. Or you could simply have someone you trust read it. But definitely do something.

7. Do you have your contact information on the release? Media people are on deadline. They don’t have time to search for your contact info if they need clarification or a quote from you. Make it easy for them – put your contact info in a prominent place.

8. Do you have any sales copy in there? Reminder: Press releases don’t go to the advertising department – they’re for editorial. And editorial doesn’t look very kindly on sales pitches. Nix the promotional copy and just focus on content – if they use your story, they’ll put your contact info in there.

While there are no guarantees with publicity, making sure your release follows this checklist will go a long way to garnering you publicity.

When It’s Okay to Quit

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The other day when I was running/walking a 10K race, my knee started hurting. It had been troubling me off and on for about a month but I thought I had it under control.

My initial reaction was to grit my teeth and walk through the pain. That’s what I normally do, and it’s what I do when I walk marathons.

But then I reconsidered. I had just passed the 4K marker when it really started hurting so I had more than half the race ahead of me. And then I started thinking, why am I doing this?

Clearly I had an issue with my knee. And I could force the issue and hurt it worse. Or I could quit and work on healing it.

I opted to quit and live to walk another day (sooner rather than later).

So that got me thinking, when is it okay to quit and when should you muscle through it? How do you know if this is the time you should throw in the towel or is this just more of your demons popping up to torture you?

Here’s a little system you can follow to help you know the difference:

1. How important is this? Are you talking about the life of your business (i.e. quitting it all and getting a job) or are you talking about dumping a product that isn’t selling well (and to be honest, you never liked much anyway)? If it’s the product, then yeah — quitting might be the smart thing to do. If it’s your business, then it’s probably your demons doing a jig in your brain.

In my case, doing a 10K isn’t that big of a deal. I’ll do a 10K on a weekend. So to cut this race short wasn’t an issue. Not tearing my knee up was far more important than finishing the race. Which leads me to my next point:

2. How important is it for you to quit? Or what is the cost if you don’t quit? Is there someone you work with (like a customer or a vendor) who is toxic to you? (For example, they’re costing you tons of time and/or money and you’re getting very little in return. Or, worse yet, they’re involved in something unethical that could hurt your reputation, or worse, something illegal.) Depending on the severity of the issues, you probably want to dump that relationship. Or are you just feeling uncomfortable or discouraged or stuck with your business? Nope, not a good reason to quit your business.

In my case, not being able to walk for a month was way too high of a trade off then quitting the race early.

So, here’s how this works. When you’re faced with something you’re thinking about quitting, ask yourself both questions, then compare the answers. If the answer to number 1 is high, and the question to number 2 is low, then you shouldn’t be quitting. If the answer to number 1 is low and the question to number 2 is high, then you should be quitting.

Where it gets a little tough is if the answer to both questions is the same. Then, you need to dig a little deeper. One is got to be stronger than the other (for instance, if you’re looking at something that’s really important to you, is the cost not to quit as high as you’re really saying or are you just scared right now?)

My other rule of thumb is answer to the first question is probably the way you should go. If what you’re looking at is very important, then you probably shouldn’t be quitting. If what you’re looking at isn’t all that important then you probably should be quitting. (After all, why are you wasting your time with it if it isn’t that important?)

What Do You Do When PR Goes Horribly Wrong?

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Have you ever had done something you thought was a really good idea at the time and then it completely backfires on you?

Well, it happened to my good friend Nancy Marmolejo, Viva Visibility.

If you don’t know Nancy yet, you really need to. She is a social media rock star. However, sometimes even rock stars have days where the guitar is out of tune and the speakers catch fire and explode on stage.

Here’s the story in a nutshell. As you all know, social networking is pretty darn new and Twitter is the brand spanking new kid on that shiny new block. Because it’s so new, things like vocabulary and etiquette are still being hashed out.

It’s better coming from Nancy herself why she got so fixated on this, but she was busy telling people you “tweet” not “twitter” (including yours truly). She also decided to write a letter to Inc Magazine about this.

The result? Inc Magazine called her on it and, well, won.

Now I’m telling you about this for 2 reasons.

1. I’m quite excited I can now use “twitter” as a verb (I just hated saying “tweet” — I felt like I should put a chicken coop in my yard.)

2. Nancy handled the whole situation brilliantly. In fact, I would go as far to say this was actually a really good thing in the end.

So what did Nancy do? Well, to start she owned up to it. She didn’t try to hide her mistake or pretend it never happened (which is simply not possible to do in this day and age anyway.) She ‘fessed up.

Lesson #1 — if you make a mistake, and it’s a public mistake, just suck it up and admit it. It’s when you start lying and hiding that things get so out of control. Look at Bill and Monica. People lied, tried to hide things, and that just made everything worse.

By owning up to it, Nancy completely diffused any negative publicity around it. In fact, if you read the comments, most people didn’t think this was a big deal at all. (Which it isn’t — until you start hiding and lying about it. Then suddenly everyone wonders why you’re lying and hiding and it can blow up into a bigger deal.)

The second thing she did was write a very charming and witty blog post about it. Now, you might not be able to write a charming and witty blog post, but it might be worth it to find someone who can for you. She was entertaining about it, which again helped diffuse the situation and caused all her followers to rally around her.

Now, humor isn’t good for all situations. Remember the Tylenol and Cyanide scare? If the Tylenol CEO had come out with humor that would have been completely inappropriate. However, what he did do was immediately take responsibility, come up with a solution, and didn’t come across as defensive or trying to shift the blame.

Lesson #2 — if you’re going to take a stand, do it graciously. Don’t be defensive, don’t try and shift blame, and for heaven’s sake don’t be a baby about it. Do it with class and people will respect and admire you for it.

The result? Nancy’s post got TONS of comments, pretty much all of them supporting Nancy. She’s back on stage, bigger than ever, with her guitar all tuned up and brand spanking new speakers.

How Publicity Can Help You Hear Ka-Ching! In Your Biz

Running a business isn’t easy. There’s so much to do, so much to keep track of, so much to learn. Worse, who can you trust? With all the information and so-called “experts” floating around out there, how do you know if you’re listening to someone who actually knows what they’re talking about or not?

Well, that’s why I created the Ka-Ching Community Calls. Each month I’ll be hosting a teleclass where I’ll be sharing powerful, real-world information on running a successful business. (As you know, not only am I running a business but I also continue to work with clients so I see first hand what’s working and not working in the real world.) You’ll either hear from me or I’ll be interviewing an expert (a real expert, someone you can trust).

And the best part? These calls are FREE. Yep. The Ka-Ching Community Calls are free for you. Just sign up here.

This month I’m so excited to welcome Shannon Cherry, APR MA, The Power Publicist
“The Endless Publicity Formula Attracting more clients, making more money for free” on Thursday, June 25,12 pm Pacific/3 pm Eastern

Are you getting all the clients and customers you want?

Are you tired of spending tons of marketing that doesn’t pay the bills, let alone give you the credibility you need to make more money?

Tired of seeing you competition get more recognition and attract more business than you do?

Then you need the power of publicity.

When people see you in the media, you become familiar – even famous! And it gives you credibility. When you are written about in the newspaper, or interviewed on TV or radio, you are news; and that’s better than any advertising you can buy.

In this exclusive call for, you’ll leave:
* Thinking like a reporter to create newsworthy stories — even if don’t think you have anything to say
* Understanding the tricks to getting the media’s attention — and keeping it
* Armed with the tool to get publicity for yourself
* Discovering the secret to promoting your products and services, without feeling like a sleezy salesman
* And much more

Here’s that link again to sign up: http://www.kachingcalls.com

Recession Rescue — Lessons Learned from Dan Kennedy

In the book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” after Earth is blown up, Arthur (the main character) is presented with a small computer (not unlike an iPhone I’d imagine) with these words on the front — “Don’t panic.” Arthur finds this oddly comforting, even though Earth is gone and he is on a spaceship with a guy he really didn’t get along with too well when they were both on Earth.

Although no one said those words, that was the underlying theme of this past Dan Kennedy/Bill Glazer Superconference. Don’t panic. Yes we’re in a recession. Yes the government is doing crazy things. Yes we have pirates and pig flu and everything else. But you shouldn’t be panicking because it’s very possible for us to not just survive but thrive. (Hey, if Arthur can keep from panicking after watching the end of the world, we should have no problems.)

So what can we do? In a word — lots. Here are 3 things to get you started:

1. Don’t allow what’s going on to paralyze you. Over and over again we kept hearing stories about business owners who have just stopped doing anything. Whether it’s from fear or because they believe it’s not going to make a difference so why bother or they think this is smart to hunker down and do nothing while they wait things out, the end result is they’re frozen. And because they’re frozen, their businesses are dying.

Now is not the time to be doing nothing. Now is the time to be doing something. Lots of things. Like marketing. Lots of marketing. In fact, this is an excellent time to be marketing because your competition is probably panicking and frozen and hiding in a closet somewhere, so you have the chance to not only solidify YOUR position but take customers away from your competition.

2. Work harder. Ivanka Trump came and spoke to us, and the biggest thing I took from her is she works 16-hour days. Yes she’s rich. Yes she has a trust fund. Yes she’s in the family business. And she works her little tush off.

Now, I’m not necessarily advocating ignoring your family and your health and everything else and just focusing on your business. What I AM saying is if your business isn’t where you want it to be, rather than shutting down or doing less, try doing more. Whether that looks like hiring someone to do a marketing campaign for you or you get some systems in place to free up your time so you can focus on other things or you roll up your sleeves and do things you wouldn’t normally do, you might need to do more right now rather then less.

3. Fix any fundamental flaws. Dan said what’s really happening right now is the recession is exposing flaws in businesses that were always there, it’s just before the businesses were making money despite those flaws. So, again, don’t panic, don’t shut down, and look at this as an opportunity. You’re able to fix problems in your business so when we do come out of the recession, your business will be that much stronger.

And the most important thing to remember — don’t panic. You CAN not only survive this but thrive.

What’s YOUR favorite low-cost marketing technique?

As you probably know, if you want a successful business you need to market your business. And that’s never been more true than right now.

But, with all the different marketing tactics available to you, which one should you focus on? Well, one great tactic to take another look if you aren’t doing it is public relations.

PR can be cheap and very effective. After all, the whole point is to build credibility by getting the media to quote you, interview you, or write a story about you.

You probably know that, but did you also know that Continue reading

What the AZ Cardinals Can Teach You About Business

Brace yourself. The Arizona Cardinals, known as one of the most woeful franchises in all of professional sports (not just football), has done the near impossible and is now headed to the SuperBowl.

They’ve been the underdog in every single one of their playoff games (including their home games) — they’ve been disrespected, dismissed and disregarded. In fact, they’ve even been called the worst NFL team to make the playoffs in history. (And if they win, I suspect they’ll be called the worst NFL team to win the SuperBowl.)

Yet they’re now headed to Tampa and the SuperBowl (where again they’re the underdogs). And, they’ve done with this a head coach who is only in his second year of coaching, a bunch of no-name players and a 37-year-old quarterback everyone thought was washed up years ago.

This is just such an incredible story to begin with, but why I’m talking about it is because there is so much you can learn and apply to your business. And if there’s anything you can take away from this story, it’s that anything is possible. No matter what your business looks like right now, no matter what the economy is doing, you CAN turn your business around. This is a story of hope — no matter what your circumstances currently are, you can change them.

So, what are the Cardinals’ secrets? Let me share two I’ve noticed —

1. They don’t give up. Actually there’s a story within a story here. Kurt Warner, the quarterback, was initially cut from Green Bay, no other team would take him and he had to take a job bagging groceries. But he didn’t give up, he kept plugging away, finally got signed on by the St. Louis Rams, took the Rams to the SuperBowl twice (winning once), before being cut by the team, had a forgettable stint with the New York Giants and again looked like his career was over until Arizona gave him a one last shot (the only team willing to give him one more chance).

And look whose laughing now?

No matter what everyone was telling him, Warner kept believing in himself. Just like the Cardinals. No matter what the rest of the NFL and sports media was telling the Cardinals, they kept believing in themselves. Actually, they did more than believe in themselves, they used all the negativity as ammunition to prove everyone wrong.

The entire team refused to stop fighting. They refused to listen to what was being said about them. In essence, they refused to lose.

So what is your attitude with your business? Do you find yourself saying things like “well, the media is saying we’re in a recession so I can’t expect to make any money or grow my business now?” Or “all these other businesses are shutting their doors, I guess I better follow their lead and just hunker down until the economy improves?”

Think about it. If the Cardinals had listened to what everyone was saying about them, and had believed it, then I wouldn’t be writing this article right now because some other team would be headed to Tampa. Instead, the Cardinals decided to go down swinging. Shock the world. Prove them all wrong.

And they did.

2. They play to win. Boy, watch the playoff games and you see those AZ coaches take some pretty gutsy chances. Some of those other playoff teams, well, those teams were playing not to lose. They took no chances and played conservatively.

Those teams are all staying home. (The Pittsburg Steelers, the other team going to Tampa, also plays to win.)

You got to play to win. You got to take chances. You can’t play conservatively.

So what does play not to lose mean in business? I invite you to do this exercise for yourself, but here are a few ideas to get you started —

* Are you cutting your marketing budget to bare bones (or nothing at all)?
* Are you no longer investing in yourself (you’ll wait until the economy turns around)?
* Have you decided to start doing things yourself because you don’t want to pay someone else to do them?

If you answered yes to any of those, I would say you’re playing not to lose.

Now, I’m not advocating putting yourself in the poorhouse or running up a bunch of debt, but you have to be smart at what you’re cutting. Just doing an across-the-board slash of your marketing is not the answer. Strategically reviewing your marketing and cutting what isn’t working IS a smart thing to do (and you should do this all the time, not just when business is slow).

Deciding to do your bookkeeping right now because you want to save a few bucks is not smart. Should you really be spending hours struggling with something you’re not good at versus taking that time and focusing on your strengths and bringing more business in the door?

Yes it can feel scary. I’m sure it was scary for those Cardinal coaches when they chose plays that while could win them the game, it also could just as easily have blown up in their faces. But, I can pretty much guarantee they wouldn’t have won those games if they hadn’t taken those chances.

Remember, no one wins playing scared. Even if you fall on your face and the play completely backfires on you, you can’t stop playing to win. Because in the long haul, you WILL win more then you lose.

Will you see it as a big opportunity or will you throw in the towel?

I’m at the Dan Kennedy’s Info Marketing Summit, and the first presentation this morning was Dan talking about how info marketers should respond to this economy.

His view is the economy has changed…for the long haul. It’s not going back to what it used to be any time soon. We’re in a recession and it’s where we’re going to stay.

However, he also said this is the very best time to make money and find new opportunities. Because a lot of businesses are either going to give up or simply muddle along, not taking advantage of what this economy could give them. If you’re committed to being successful, this could be your time to shine.

It’s an interesting thought. A recession could be a gift. It could teach you how to be a better business person so not only you succeed during the recession but you’re then positioned for mega-success once the recession is over.

What are your thoughts? Are we really in a recession or will the economy bounce back quickly? And if we are in a recession, how do you think we should view it?

5 Secrets of a Successful Launch Campaign to Help You Sell More

Just wanted to give you a quick heads up that my last preview call, 5 Secrets of a Successful Launch Campaign to Help You Sell More, is this coming Wednesday, Oct 29, at 4 pm PST/7 pm EST.

Here’s the link to reserve your seat:

www.michelepw.com/launch

This is the call where I pull it all together. I started with getting the leads, then moved to converting the leads with psychological triggers and now I’m ending with how to put it all together and successfully launch your product or service.

You’ll learn:

* What a launch campaign is and why it’s so important when you’re introducing a new product or service to the marketplace

* What all successful launches have in common (so you know what you need to do to make yours a success)

* One BIG mistake entrepreneurs do when they create a launch plan, and how you can prevent it

* One BIG step that’s overlooked by many entrepreneurs (miss this and you could end up wasting a lot of time and have nothing to show for it)

* What you need to keep in mind during your launch so you get truly FABULOUS results

 

Here’s that link again to sign up:

www.michelepw.com/launch

If you’ve already signed up for either of my first 2 preview calls, you’re automatically signed up for this one as well. Watch your in-box for call-in info.

I know – Social networking is all the rage. But can I actually make money at it or is it just a big waste of time?

Great question. And it’s one that keep popping up over and over again.

The short answer is yes – it’s VERY possible to make money using social networking and Web 2.0 tactics. Both MaryPat and myself are doing it and we can show you how.

In fact, there are a number of ways you can make money from social networking and Web 2.0:

  1. Traffic. Most of these ways will lead to more traffic to your site one way or another. Some of that traffic is from direct links to your site, some of it is because you show up more in the search engines and some of it is because people will find you somewhere and decide they want to learn more about you and go to your site.
  2. Prospects or customers. Your prospects will read your articles, profile, comments, or maybe they’ll see your videos or hear your podcast, etc. and they’ll seek you out to become your customer.
  3. Referrals. In this case, someone find you, becomes a friend or fan, and refers other people to you.
  4. Joint venture or strategic partners. Many people are looking for experts to interview for their teleclasses or shows, or speakers for their events or for products to promote, etc. Again, many of these people will find you using social networking means.
  5. Sell products or services. You have to be careful how you do, but it’s also possible to promote yourself using social networking tactics. This truly is an art and if you don’t do it right, you can do quite a bit of damage to your reputation and your business.

That said, it is also possible to spend a lot of time and energy on this and make little to no money. The key is to know what’s the best use of your time, what can be outsourced and what you should never do.

Want to know more? Join MaryPat and I as we host a question and answer teleclass answering all your top questions on Web 2.0, social networking and traffic and then some. It’s called “Everything You Wanted To Know About Using Web 2.0 and Social Networking to Get Thousands of Warm, Hungry Visitors to Your Web Site” and here’s the link to sign up:http://www.kachingtraffic.com/teleclass

PW and The Half Marathon

Yes I did it again. Another marathon. Except this one was a half marathon in Phoenix (a mere 13.1 miles) versus the 26.2 mile jaunt I did last June in San Diego (and yes, I’m signed up to go again).

I don’t run the marathons, I walk or walk with a little running. This time was a success because I completed it in 3 hours and 6 minutes, averaging about a 13-minute mile or so, which was my goal. (Actually, my goal was a 15-minute mile so it was better than my goal). I also considered it a success Continue reading

The Number One Thing Your Web Site Needs (And It’s Not What You Think)

NOTE: If you would rather listen to this post, please click here.

I have a confession to make. I’ve made some mistakes over the past couple of years with a few of my clients.

This is what would happen. Every now and then a client would hire me to write copy for their Web site. I would do so. A few months later, they’d contact me.

“The site isn’t working. We haven’t gotten any sales or leads from it,” they’d say.

I’d get on the phone with them and we’d talk about it. And invariably, I would hit upon the problem.

Traffic. Or, more specifically, lack of traffic. (Traffic is defined as visitors coming to your site.)

Now, I KNOW how to drive traffic to a Web site Continue reading

How to Write Headlines that Get Read

Headlines are the most important part of a print ad.

In fact, David Ogilvy, famous ad man and author of Confessions of an Advertising Man, has said that four out of five people only read headlines. Nothing more.

And if people DO choose to read the rest of the ad, they make that decision based on the headline.

That’s a big job to put on the shoulders for what amounts to a few words.

But before you start despairing over your headline-writing skills, take heart. There are several “headline types” that have proven to sell products and services over and over again. Below are four of the most powerful and the easiest to implement. Continue reading

How to Use a Web Site to Market Yourself as a Writer

In my last column I talked about how the field of marketing is changing. Now more than ever, you need to develop a relationship with your customers.

So where should you start? With your Web site.

What? You say you don’t have a Web site? Well, if you’re serious about selling your books, products or other services, then write down “get myself a Web site” at the top of your to-do list.

Seriously. A Web site is really the foundation of your marketing strategy. Not only can you sell your books from your Web site 24/7, but it’s also where you can start building a relationship with your customers. Continue reading

5 Tips for Writing Articles That Sell

I want to share my secret for attracting tons of traffic, leads and customers to my site.

Ready? It’s writing and submitting articles online.

I can hear all the protesting already. But it’s easy for you, you’re a writer, that’s what you do, etc.

Now there is some truth to that — I am writer so writing articles does come easy for me. However, I also make my living as a writer. That means I do an awful lot of writing each and every day. Trust me — I know all about procrastination when it comes time to writing articles for myself.

But since writing articles is such a powerful method of self-promotion, I’ve taken the time to figure out a few shortcuts. This makes the process less painful so I do get them written on a regular basis. I’m sharing five to help get you started. Continue reading