Category Archives: Online PR

5 Rookie PR Mistakes I’ve Made

I’m not a professionally trained PR pro and like my entire career, I’m self taught. Along the way I’ve made mistakes and while sometimes embarrassing, they’ve taught me a lot. In fact, when I got a client on TV I had a lot of advice to share!

After you read mine, leave a comment with your own rookie mistakes (if you dare).

Rookie-pr-mistakesMistake #1: Getting my employer in the news but not finding a way to work them into the resulting conversation.

I was so nervous about the interview I didn’t even think about my employer. I was thinking about answering the question on live television. While I planned ways to get plenty of media mentions and social media coverage, I messed up the Fox 13 interview. Now I know that I could answer the question but preface it with something like, first I want to thank my employer [name of company] who sponsored this event.

Mistake #2: Believing a reporter who wanted to come to my house for an interview claiming, “it will only take a few minutes.”

He told me not to put on makeup or clean the house…famous last words. Always be ready and prepared because anything you say is fair game. He cast me as an internet addict on a daytime television show. I still cringe when I see how terrible I look. He taught me what it means to put someone in a bad light, he literally had me stand in bad lighting so it made me look even worse. Then he wanted me to share the story, which didn’t mention that being online is part of my career. Fortunately I can’t find the story anywhere online.

Mistake #3: Trying to be an expert on something I wasn’t an expert in.

If you’re not an expert, don’t try to be. Just be honest and say that you’re not an expert on the topic. Once I had a reporter call me to ask questions about dance moms. While I have a daughter and she’s in a class, I’m hardly the expert. Instead of realizing and admitting to that, I tried to answer. Not only that my toddler was screaming. So I was trying to answer while running around my house trying to escape her.

I also learned, get a babysitter for any interviews. Even if your child is usually an angel, they may embarrass you by demanding your attention at the worst possible time.

Mistake #4: Not getting to the point.

I got a call from a reporter, one of the first times I’d ever been called. Instead of getting to the point, I began rambling because I was nervous. As I like to say, land the plane! In hindsight I should have slowed down before answering and focus on just a few things instead of trying to cover every point.

Mistake #5: Not realizing my ‘off the cuff’ statements are still “on the record”

My best moment in the news is probably this story, except it got me in hot water with my sister who didn’t appreciate being mentioned. I was interviewed for over two hours and I was speaking a bit off the cuff about her family (and it’s on her public blog). Of course that’s what got covered. Instead I should’ve talked about my friend Scott‘s amazing life, he would’ve liked the publicity.
Also remember that you might say something that could get you in trouble with your employer or someone else.

“Good interviewers are always trying to get you to be more candid than you want to be.” – Brad Kincaid

Just remember the more you practice at PR, the better you get. I still prefer blogger over being on TV, but I’m glad I got the opportunities. My mistakes help me prepare clients and put me in their shoes. They helped me be a better at my job so I don’t regret them entirely, but they definitely make me cringe.

Please comment: What PR mistakes have you made and what did they teach you?

Book Review: The Burned-Out Blogger’s Guide to PR

Ever wonder why it’s so hard to get press for your tech startup? Jason Kincaid, author of The Burned -Out Blogger’s Guide to PR, can tell you. He’s been on both sides of the keyboard. He was part of the press as a blogger at TechCrunch where he lasted 4 years (until he couldn’t stand it any more), and a PR rep trying to get posts for his clients. I think I took most satisfaction in his experiences trying to get press because that’s the side I’m more often on.

If you’re a founder of a tech startup you should read this book, even if you have a PR firm. It’s just good to know how PR works so you can be a good judge of PR firms you may want to hire. You’ll also understand what’s reasonable to expect, and might even decide to pitch your own ideas.

This book has insider tips that I haven’t read anywhere else and most apply regardless of the industry you’re in.

The Burned -Out Blogger’s Guide to PR is available on Kindle for $7.99, and paperback for $9.99. It was written in 2014. Buy it here. This book is a quick and informative 158 page read. If you read it you’ll know more than most college grads in PR. In fact, I think it should be required reading for college level PR classes (mine was – and I feel like this is even more valuable).

Review BURNED-OUT BLOGGERS GUIDE TO PR

Here are some topics you will learn about in The Burned-Out Blogger’s Guide to PR:

  • Embargoes, what they are, when to use them and what not to do.
  • How to write a pitch email. What  I like most about the pitches is how conversational they are. They get to the point but give the necessary info. He shows you the exact pitch and the resulting post.
  • Planning a product launch with examples of how to plan and what to write to reporters, starting months before the launch.

What is Press Worthy and What should Be a Blog Post?
I get this question too. He said to blog about the press coverage you get and add details or additional background. Be sure to link to the article.

Blog about how customers are using your product, tell stories. I’d add to educate people on the product itself, introduce the team and generally give your startup an authentic voice.

You should use your blog to give updates or details about your company or product that reporters won’t care about but your impassioned followers will.

If you have several smaller updates you can combine them to create enough value to pitch to the media or bloggers. Whatever you pitch to a reporter that doesn’t get reported can be purposed and submitted to a site like Hacker News, Medium, or another site that takes submissions.

TIP: Put a link to press on your site and put screenshots, hi-res images of your logo, and contact info. I’d also link to stories you’ve placed and link to your press releases.

As far as press releases, Jason doesn’t like them and I agree for the world he’s in. There are times to use a press release though (more in a future post). Also when should you put your company name in the headline? When you have some recent press that uses your name. Besides that, and If the reporter has probably never heard of you, leave it out. I think that applies to blog post titles and press releases.

What to do When your Competitor Gets Media Coverage You Want
What is your competitor gets a big mention in the press? DO NOT email the reporter asking them to cover your company next, it’s been done before. Instead, give it some time and then email the reporter with “how you are better or different” type pitch. Don’t name the competitor specifically though (except to give context). Instead, talk about how you’re different than everyone else in your niche, not how you’re different from that particular competitor.

How to Newsjack Effectively
What about newsjacking, essentially taking a larger news story or one about a larger company (even if it’s not in your niche), and tying it into your company or product? You should center your pitch around a common theme.

For example, my client has a book about how to talk to your kids about sex. Josh Duggar of the reality show 19 and Counting, admitted to sexually abusing girls, including his own sisters. This is being talked about in the news. She could pitch stories to the press about how the scandal is a reminder about how parents of teens need to know the legal consequences of to perpetrators or victims of sex crime. Then she could talk about how you should already how to talk to your kids about sex and her book can help you do that.

Why you Must Build Relationships with Reporters
After a lot of practical advice there’s a few points that I believe are vital to understand. Relationships are important – it’ s tough to get a story when you don’t know anyone or have relationships with the media. If you don’t have them it’s going to be harder to get press.

Being likeable is important. While it won’t guarantee a story, it can help grease the wheels. “But reporters are human. The more we like you, the more likely we are to read you emails, to give you the benefit of the doubt when you need it. And,…we may like your product a bit better than we would have otherwise.” The opposite is true too.

If you don’t have relationships with reporters in your niche, I suggest subscribing to HARO because reporters will tell you what they are writing about. Read the tech section. Respond to pitches that are a good fit within the first 10 minutes of getting the email. If possible, the first three. Look at the type of stories people in your industry regularly cover and create a list of people you want to build relationships with.

PR’s Secret Weapon
You can’t learn everything about PR by reading a book, because after you know the practical side, a lot of your success depends on using your own creativity. I can give you examples but ultimately you have to think of your own campaigns and get the timing right. “If I’m a PR person, one of my knocks against this guide is that real PR can’t be captured in a book because it stems from opportunistic creativity.” This is the biggest secret of all. I can give someone tips, share my experiences, but whether created or a strong story, it’s all in the angle and using your creativity.

Rookie Mistakes
Jason points out mistakes PR people or founders make that can get them in trouble. Here are a few mistakes to avoid:

  • Letting the news get out before you pitch the story a reporter. “First, do not break your own news before a reporter does.” That includes on social media, on your blog or any other way.
  • Blogging about an article too soon after it’s been written. Give the media outlet the story first, then blog about it a few weeks later.
  • Lying to a reporter. Don’t do it. There are better options. Instead, “be vague, don’t respond, or decline to comment if you don’t have any other options.”

This reminds me of my own rookie mistakes.

Crisis on your hands?
Remember that creativity? While there are principles, there are times you just need a professional. If you want to read up on that I recommend reading Brad Phillips’ excellent book, The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need To Know Before Your Next Interview .

Interestingly Jason points out that there’s most likely going to be some sort of security breach, so you may as well be ready for it. Craft the response in advance. Know what to say about a layoff, consult the laws and prepare something for the press.

Be Honest about your Threats
Every product has issues and a good reporter are going to want to know about them. Don’t ignore them,  bring them up before the reporter asks, then put a good light. In other words, “point out the obvious obstacles you’ll need to overcome and how you’re going to do it.”

There’s a lot of practical advice packed into this short book. I’m looking forward to a part 2 with more from the PR pro’s perspective since that’s the side Jason is on now.

April Fools: 5 Social Media Campaigns That Failed

For my April’s Fools post I’m not going to play a joke on you. I won’t tell you the name of my business has been changed or make up new products for a laugh. Instead I’m going to point out the real fools who thought it would be a good idea to launch a social media campaign.

My favorite is when someone responds to a misguided social media campaign in a way that overtakes the original purpose of the campaign.

Here are my top 5 Fools of 2015. These are the social media campaigns that backfired this year so far:

1. Starbucks: for the #RaceTogether campaign.
The one-week campaign asked employees to write “Race Together” on coffee cups and try to engage people in a dialogue about race. I’m not sure why they didn’t try to hold dialogue between customers by bringing leaders to stores for informal discussion groups about local issues.

Why were they fools? For thinking their customers would be interested in launching into politically loaded conversations while getting a cup of coffee.

2. Hamas: for their #AskHamas campaign 
This was also a week long campaign and it was international (but in English). Hamas is the largest Palestinian militant Islamist groups. It has a PR problem and decided to encourage people to ask questions on social media. Just news of the campaign invited mockery.

Why were they fools? For blowing people up to reach ideological and religious differences then ask the world what they think (and expect it to turn out well).

3. Mall of America: for the#itsmymall campaign

If you have something that you’d rather not be exposed, go ahead and trumpet something that others criticize. The Mall of America asked people to share stories about the mall on Twitter for a chance to win $500 gift cards. I don’t think the tweets about racism won the cash. The hashtag #itsmymall trended on Twitter and there wasn’t a lot of brand love.

Why were they fools? For acting “confused” about the backlash that happened and being out of touch with how their customers are treated.

4. SeaWorld: for their#AskSeaWorld Twitter campaign

SeaWorld has been criticized about their treatment of killer whales after a documentary criticizing them came out in 2013. Feeling maligned, they hoped to educate the public about they are doing to protect whales. They touted some good and then asked people to join in by asking questions using the hashtage #AskSeaWorld. That’s like asking environmentalists what they think about fracking (don’t expect to get any love).

PETA took the bait, asking:

peta-tweet

Why they were fools: For thinking you can reverse years of bad PR by putting out some positive messages and asking what everyone thinks.

#5 Budweiser: for not thinking through their #UpForWhatever campaign.

Bud Light tweeted a picture of five smiling young women on St. Patrick’s Day. It said: “On #StPatricksDay you can pinch people who don’t wear green. You can also pinch people who aren’t #UpForWhatever.”

Why were they fools? The tweet was taken as giving an OK to sexual assault and was later deleted.

Lessons learned: when your brand is in trouble it’s probably a bad time to have public dialogue with the public. It’s too little too late. You can successfully address politically-loaded topics with advertising, but it’s more along the lines of rallying the troops than convincing naysayers.  One reason it’s probably a bad idea is because they expose just how out of touch the company is with public opinion.

Next up: a social media strategy (rather than a campaign) that is paying off well for a California doughnut shop I recently visited.

When Curiosity Kills the Brand

This morning I read a case study from Neil Patel on Quick Sprout: What Spending $57,000 on Instagram Taught Me. In a nutshell Neil bought an Instagram account with over 100,000 followers and then switched the brand to promote his brand. He lost a lot of followers but he kept a lot too.

We bought an existing lifestyle account that had roughly 131,000 followers and changed its name to @whoisneilpatel.

A social media consultant came up with the idea and Neil went for it. The paid sexy women with large followings on Instagram to give away big ticket item prizes in exchange for following Neil on Instagram. Classic marketing to men (GoDaddy is/was king of and Carl’s Jr. is giving it a shot). It didn’t go over well with everyone though.

Right away on the top of the post you can see the apology of sorts:

Instagram-marketing-Neil-Patel

When I checked, all the images except one have been removed and I’m not going to post it. The comments are telling. Men and women who know Neil’s brand and follow him saw the campaign and couldn’t believe it came from him. It didn’t fit what they expect from him and many were very turned off by it.

Example:

lost-business

First, I get it. As a PR person I recommend that people ride a wave rather than create one (especially since my followers are mostly small businesses). In other words, when something is being talked about or successful, see how you can leverage the attention or take part of the conversation if it fits your brand. In this case, Neil noted the success of Dan Bilzerian – a man who built a following of over 5 million Instagram followers by showing off his wealth (he reminds me of the Rich Jerk). The problem is that Dan’s style doesn’t work for Neil’s audience. While Neil might get some followers from this, it cost him more than money. It broke trust.

I used to blog a lot about the porn industry because they are pioneers in online marketing.  I stopped when I realized it attracted people who cared about the porn industry to my blog. It’s not an industry I want to be associated with or like, so I stopped. It doesn’t matter how interesting the tactics, it’s just not what I want to be part of my brand. So I talk about ideas or think about them but don’t reference the industry. Lesson learned.

On Facebook I’m part of a social media masterminds group. I usually want to ask how someone is doing something that is working well. Sometimes what they are doing is spammy or won’t work for my brand, but I’m so curious. I want to know if there’s a way to learn from what they are doing. Sometimes the effect is that instead of people deconstructing with me, as I hope, they call me out on the ethics of what I’m asking. Both sides are frustrated and I wonder if it’s bad for my brand to ask questions like that, even in a private forum.

When I first started in online marketing, I was a single mom with $217 a month child support. Having been a stay-at-home mom I needed to find a way to make money and spend time with my son. I was looking for answers and direction. I met a friend who was making a huge amount of money who offered to teach me what he was doing. First, I quickly realized what he was doing was way above my tech skills. Second, I realized what he was doing was working well but wasn’t sustainable or ethical. This was confirmed when I read an article in Wired Magazine that called him out by name as one of the top sploggers in the nation. Since then he’s gone on to do things that are more sustainable.

My point is: I love to experiment and learn. However, if I experiment with my own brand I have to be really careful not to risk my brand. That post I made on Facebook about an essential oil deal, didn’t work and it diluted my brand. It didn’t serve them. I never talk about health or essential oils so it was not congruent. I listened to a friend who really wanted me to do it. I’ve seen so many friends do so well on doTerra that I felt like I had to try. Mistake.

Nothing I’ve ever tried that was tricky in the slightest has ever paid off long term. It’s sad how many times I have had to learn this lesson. I’ve steered clear of partners who use methods that are unethical or who don’t fit my brand. I even try to avoid clients who don’t. I need to avoid anything that doesn’t fit my brand and the trust I’ve worked so many years to build.

Experimenting is powerful because you learn what works. It was brave of Neil to share what he did and how it went and to include numbers. I love it when bloggers share their income and lessons from their journey. I respect and love when someone is willing to be vulnerable and open up about what they’re doing. I learn so much from it.

The problem is, spammers and sleezy marketers are prevalent in our industry. You’ve got to stay far away from them or you risk being seen as one of them. Trust takes so long to build but can be gone so quickly. In this case Neil risked being hated by his loyal followers. If you’re not careful you can be perceived as one of the spammers. As marketers we know perception is everything. So here’s my advice to myself, Neil, and other marketers. Keep the curiosity — just don’t let it kill your brand.

2 Pinterest Case Studies for Gathering Email Addresses

Pinterest-case-studies-western-theme
Marketers and business owners should take Pinterest seriously as a way to drive qualified email signups. Hold on to your cowboy hats and check out how these Western-themed retailers used Pinterest to grow their email lists using Pinterest.

My first example is from a small retailer and involves no outside budget. The other is from a retailer with a large budget who could use it to reach influencers on Pinterest.

CASE STUDY: Rustic Artistry a retailer of handcrafted furniture and home decor

I interviewed owner Carole Rains about how she has grown her Pinterest page for Pinnable Business, but how did her marketing affect her email list?

Her secret to getting email signups starts with creating vertical pins that have pictures of her products and a call to action in the middle. Example: this pin, “How to rock cowhide” generated 112 email signups. Carole used PicMonkey, a free graphic design tool (I use the professional level which is quite affordable and has more options), to create this image.

email-pinterest

 

Then in the pin description she puts a link to a landing page to sign up for her email list:

Pin-description

 

 

 

Here’s a screenshot of her landing page:

email-signup

Rustic Artistry has almost 800 followers on Pinterest. She has now generated 172 email signups.

Here are some examples of pins she has used:

 

CASE STUDY: Bourbon & Boots online fashion retailer

Online store Bourbon & Boots worked with Pinterest marketing firm HelloSociety for a campaign to drive email signups. They paid approximately $95,000 for 2 campaigns which involved paying tastemakers that have anywhere from 200,000-10 million followers to pin products. Pinners got paid a certain dollar amount per e-mail address they got for the retailer.

My favorite takeaway is how revenue was affected. Notice that the second campaign increased over 3x from the first campaign. It looks like the second campaign had a huge impact and so when testing, be sure to do more than one push.

Results:

  • In 6 days they got 30,000 e-mail addresses.
  • Site traffic from Pinterest increased 10-fold when these campaigns were running.
  • Revenue from Pinterest went up 305% during the first campaign and 1,300% in the next campaign, compared to the days just prior running them.
  • Revenue from Pinterest usually represents 10% of total sales.
  • The campaigns got a better ROI for them than paid search campaigns or targeted ads on Facebook.
  • Shoppers who come to the site directly from Pinterest are 20% more valuable, “because they tend to spend more and buy more frequently.”

One such influencer is Holly Ledingham who is one of the top 250 pinners on Pinterest.

Bourbon & Boots moved 75% of their Facebook ad spend to this campaign. It paid off. Here’s the full case study on Internet Retailerhttp://buff.ly/10jbxqM. Today the retailer has over 14,000 followers on Pinterest.

I interviewed Carole for the press release below, about how Pinterest helped her go from being a chef who worked long hours, to living her dream of owing her own business.

Utah Kid Raises $1700 on Kickstarter – Launches His First Comic Book

Some kids mow lawns for a summer job. I sold tie dyed tshirts. Then there’s Luke. He’s my son’s friend who launched a Kickstarter campaign to make a comic book for his summer job and became an author at age 12. I told him it took me until I was in my 30s to do that!

Luke is a funny kid and he’s always drawing comics. So he had the idea to sell them – beats running a lemonade stand, right? Thanks to the genius of Kickstarter, many people can realize their dream of making money doing what they want to do most. That’s exactly what he did. He explains it here:

Here’s Luke’s Kickstarter page. His goal was to raise $1500 but he ended up with just over $1700, enough to publish and send out the book, which is now on Amazon. It’s called Stickman Symphonies.

stickman-comics

One of my favorite parts of his Kickstarter campaign besides the video, is how he drew comics to explain his funding goals.

stickman-kickstarter

Technically Luke isn’t old enough to do a Kickstarter campaign, but his dad Adam helped out. Adam is a talented graphic designer and has access to a green room to film video, plus the skills to do the book layout. So lesson one for kids: think about how you can leverage your parent’s skillset.

Since the campaign was so well done and authentic it got some attention. In fact, people from all over the world were pledging. Luke has even gotten fan mail from Norway. “We got a really nice letter from Kent Coleman’s sister that made us cry it was so nice,” he wrote.

They expected their family and friends to support their campaign but they were shocked to see just how many people they didn’t know joined in. Statistically, just less than half of the projects are funded.  “It gave us global exposure. More than half of those who supported us were strangers who found it on Kickstarter.”

At the time we talked he’d sold 75 copies and was busy packaging them up to mail off. He even started a Twitter profile @ComicsLucas. I heard the story while attending Comic Con in Salt Lake City, Utah (which set a record for the most attended and did it by leveraging Facebook). We all went to a panel about Kickstarter campaigns. Plus he’s good friends with my son (who has gotten a birthday card with Luke’s comics – maybe we should have it autographed).

The panel had some kick*$!& presenters. Some tips I learned from these Kickstarter pros are featured in this Forbes article below. Thanks to Cheryl who wrote it! I think I’ll print a copy for myself and highlight the part where she says I’m brilliant. I’ll carry it in my purse and pull it out when I need a boost of confidence. But back to the article.

Read on Forbes.com:  9 Secrets For A Successful Crowdfund Campaign

Luke says it wasn’t easy to take his drawings and turn them into a book. “It was a lot more work than we imagined, but it will be worth it.” I think what’s best is that he has a talent which will keep paying long after the summer is over. Plus, that’s a great thing to put on his college resume!

Congrats Luke and Adam on a entertaining and successful launch!

Utah’s Kickstarter Pros

After attending the panel I did some research on the speakers. I had no idea that in addition to YouTube celebs, we have Kickstarter celebs here in Utah. You should learn from the best and here are four examples:

Jake Parker of Provo had a $10,500 goal – got $63,483 in
pledges. See http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jakeparker/drawings/

Howard Tayler of Orem had a $1,800 goal -got $154,294 in pledges. See http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/692211058/schlock-mercenary-challenge-coins

Crabby Wallet of Ogden, Utah. Raised $308k. Had a goal of $10k. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1369622196/the-crabby-wallet-a-wallet-that-is-not-for-everyon
“Project Fedora” adventure game by Tex Murphyof Centerville, Utah. Goal of $450,000 but raised $598,104
This is just a sampling of the talent here. Utah is already known for YouTube talent and celebs. Looks like we’re not too shabby at Kickstarter celebs either! If you know any I missed, please note them in the comments.

3 Free Online Publicity Tips Every Local Business Should Use

My friend Staci runs a skin care business from her home recently asked me how she could promote her business better on Facebook. I talked to her about the various types of ads you can run and the advantage of each.

The big selling point for using Facebook ads is that you can target your ads very specifically and only show them to people who live nearby. The drawback is there is a learning curve and it’s always changing. Also, in addition to investing the time both to learn and manage an ad campaign, you will need a daily budget. If you have the budget, unless you enjoy doing it, I would just hire someone like Avalaunch Media to run them for you. They’ll create the ads and run the campaign for you.

There are many free ways to promote a local business online that are easy and don’t require as much maintenance that every small business should use and maximize. Here are my top 3:

1. Maximize your Facebook business page with custom tabs
This is obvious, you need a Facebook page for your business. But after that, then what do you do? I found this business page from a Facebook ad asking me to like their page. It’s not a local business (in other words, it’s not in Utah) and so normally I would gloss over it. This time I wanted to do some research so I went to the page and I liked it. I found it was a good example of effective Facebook marketing for a local business.

Besides having a decent level of engagement and following, her cover photo (the large photo) clearly  tells you what she does. The custom tabs give you more information.

Imaginary Jane is in a crowded space – she is a graphic designer who creates logos, business cards and other collateral for small businesses. Her page is at  www.facebook.com/imaginaryjane

Note how she has created tabs (where it says “services” “prices” “contact”) which link to corresponding sections of her website. They have a nice style, which I’d expect because she’s a designer. There’s a consistent design for each button that fit with the overall theme of her page (color, look, font, etc). If you don’t have a website you can simply put the information right on your Facebook tabl. I liked that she put her pricing because immediately I knew what to expect. She is priced right for a small business and I thought to myself: I’d hire her!

It’s a little tricky to learn how to make custom Facebook tabs but you can learn or pay someone to do it for you by using a site like Elance or Odesk, maybe even on the cheap at Fiverr.

Note: Here’s an online scheduling tool: http://www.timetrade.com/products?product=professional that you can use if you create appointments, so people can schedule online. I’m sure there are Facebook apps that do this too (please suggest one in the comments if you have one you like).

2. Create a free profile on Yelp
Yelp is a community that rates and recommends businesses and most people know it as a good place to find restaurant reviews. However, Yelp features many types of businesses. You can create a Yelp business profile so you come up in searches on the site.

This is how I found someone who does eyelash extensions, who also has a home business. I went to Yelp, typed in “eyelash extensions, Kaysville” and found this business: http://www.yelp.com/biz/truebeauty-professional-skin-care-kaysville

She was one of two businesses that came up but she had no reviews.  I needed someone immediately and she could fit me in so I took a chance on her anyway and was really happy.

3. Create a Google business profile.
If you type a type of service or business along with a city and/or state name, you will usually see a Google listing come up first. You should create a business profile on Google, which is now technically a Google + profile.

I searched on, “eyelash extensions Kaysville Utah” and the top result was for a business called Eyecing. They also has a Google business listing with the address and a map on the right hand side of the page. They have no competition for their business listing because they’re the only business shown, and they didn’t have to pay for any of it.  It’s really amazing how much real estate on the page you get free as a local business, simply by getting your business listed. People can also leave a review and Google will display them, adding further credibility to your business.

These are some of my favorite tools for a small business to get free publicity and rankings, free. There are tips and tricks you can apply to further enhance your listings, but this is a good start. Please let me know if you have any additional tips you want to share about free ways to promote your local business online, by leaving a comment below.

How General Mills Rewarded the Guy Who Ate 1 Million Cheerio’s

Here’s another great PR story that I just love. First, a little backstory. General Mills is taking the heat on Facebook for using GMO’s in Cheerio’s.

Examples:
PR Fail: Cheerio’s GMO Backlash Goes Social (MediaBistro)
Cheerio’s GMO Backlash Facebook Campaign Fail (CheeseSlave)

They haven’t deleted the complaints (at least not all of them) but the complaints continue to pour in, mixed in with cute babies enjoying their favorite breakfast cereal.

So not all is going grand for the brand right now.

However, they did something that I know will make Cheerio’s fans happy (and increase loyalty). It’s a great example of how to reward your best fans, plus a brilliant PR move.

This guy told General Mills that he ate his 10 Millionth Cheerio in November. Not only did they celebrate it on Facebook (not sure why they didn’t use the image of the poster, but still, they highlighted the post). They contracted an artist to make a picture of Chris and his history eating Cheerios.


Even though right now they have just created original artwork to commemorate the milestone, they could turn into an entire ad campaign (think of the way Subway incorporated Jared into their marketing after hearing how much weight he lost eating there). They could ask their fans: how many Cheerio’s have you eaten and where?

Chris posted about it on Reddit and it’s been going crazy since.

How did he count the # of Cheerio’s he ate?
“I estimated the number of Cheerios in a bowl and an average of how many I’ve had each day. The actual date was not really accurate, more that I just chose a date, emailed them with some funny ideas and they ran with it.”

Amazingly, Chris gave them the idea of using his story in their marketing. Here’s what he sent General Mills:

“Hi, I’m following up on my post regarding me about to eat my 10,000,000th cheerio. Just so you know how I came to this, I am guessing that I’ve eaten an average of 650 cheerios each day (1.2 average bowls) for 42.5 years (give or take). So the date may not be exact but it is very close.

Now, this can be done if a couple of funny ways. First we can do something for my “preparation” of the 10 millionth cheerio (preparing the dinner table with the good china, having it with nice wine/champagne. Wearing a tuxedo while I cross the threshold. Another way could be to have a “look back” at where I was when I ate my 1 millionth, 5 millionth, etc. We could have a little fun with this. Kind of like “The Onion” does, just “G” rated. Maybe on my 4 millionth I was getting ready for prom. 7 millionth I was really hung over after seeing my favorite hockey team lose in the playoffs the night before and I was drowning my sorrows. We could have milestones for my international cheerio moments when I had my first cheerios in London, Manila, San Juan, Toronto, etc. Maybe talk about the “purity” of the accomplishment as I have never eaten Honey Nut or other flavor cheerios including imitation brands (which are the Devil).

Anyway, this could be a funny/lighthearted marketing campaign (and it can be done by anyone, not just me).”

Someone from the company called him and discussed the possibilities and even though that was in November, they’re getting mileage out of it now.

Which brings me to my point.  Take a cue from General Mills! How can you creatively reward your biggest fans?

Newspapergrl’s 7 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2012

It’s that time of the year when everyone is either looking backwards (at 2012) or forward (to 2013). It’s also time to talk about old and new trends.

The trend for me in 2012 has been to blog and tweet less often on my own properties and do more writing for others or paying other bloggers to write. I was however, recognized in a local business magazine as one of Utah’s top business people on Twitter and I’ve done more blogger campaigns than ever. When it comes to content I write for my readers, I’m posting on Facebook the most. I never would’ve predicted this.

If there is a theme it was a year of Pinterest marketing. My friend Paul and I launched PinAlerts.com and started a blog PinnableBusiness.com (now you know where I’ve been blogging). This was to market my newest book about Pinterest marketing, which is still not done  (that is on my list for 2013!). Our biggest story was scooped on Venture Beat but we still made it on Mashable for a successful launch.

I did get a few clients on television this year, which is a first since most of my press releases are for traffic and usually get picked up by print media or blogs. That’s most often because I work with small businesses. The biggest challenge is to find something newsworthy that the media would care about. It’s having lower budgets that would go to pitch the media or do a lot more outreach.

I learn a lot by being on the TV set, but would rather watch in the wings than be on the air. Writing allows editing and time to think, but the exposure of being on TV is irresistible because of the reach. One of my favorite parts of my work is to see my clients succeed.

Enough reminiscing. Time to list my most popular posts.

Top Posts of 2012

7 Christmas Social Media Campaigns that Rock – this is going to become an annual tradition.

Why your Facebook Fans Aren’t Seeing your Posts – this is why small business owners have hired me to help…it’s a job to keep up with Facebook changes and maximize your exposure. I’m getting around 30-50% engagement rate.

5 Pinterest Tools I Love – I mentioned PicMonkey, even though there was an uproar when they started to charge for some of their premium features, it’s still one of my favorites.

How to Pin a Blog Post that Doesn’t Have an Image

Pinterest Case Study: A Designer who Gets Direct Sales

OrangeSoda Acquired by Deluxe Corp for $27.7 Million – Former CEO Jay Bean amazes me, he’s not a one-hit wonder, this is the second company he’s sold. He made work fun and coworkers were like family while the company grew dramatically and then got bought out, something I predicted in my interview almost 5 years earlier.

How GungHo Tapped the Power of Social Media for an Incredible Product Launch – I found the company via a press release on PRWeb, learned they were local, interviewed  them, and we were both on TV!

How News Coverage Helped Raise $3K in One Day for a Little Boy with Brittle Bone Disease

I love cause marketing. Not when it’s manipulative but when it’s authentic. This is one of those stories. One of my friends on Facebook asked me to do some PR for his grandson. I told him I was too busy and would like to help out, but had to decline. Then he sent me the story and having the hippie heart that I did, I couldn’t turn it down. I’m glad I didn’t because it illustrates how much a strong story can sell your cause, your business or your ideas.

This is what Les said: Thanks for willingness to help. Any help at all will be greatly appreciated. What I need most is publicity right now. We’ve had lots of volunteers for everything else. Here is the story.

Then he told me the story (condensed). It was too good to pass up!

My grandson Nathan has brittle bone decease. He is an amazing little guy with an incredible attitude in the face of averaging one break a month. He is a miracle because he wasn’t supposed to live past birth…Nathan proved all the doctors wrong and will turn 6 years old this November. In that time my daughter has set more broken bones that most doctors will in a lifetime. Through it all Nathan is one of the happiest boys you will ever meet. He has an excitement about life that is contagious. Everyone who meets him instantly falls in love with him.

We are trying to raise money to help make Nathans life a little easier and help him to gain more independence. The community has come together to help in the effort and we are holding a benefit concert/art show for him. 

He told me more about the event and gave me links to the Facebook page devoted to Nathan. He linked to past stories in the media about Nathan. Essentially he sent me a very effective story for a press release. I used it as the basis for one and sent it to media in Utah. That is all that I did –  just distribute the story to reporters. I didn’t make a phone call, email anyone, or do anything else, besides send a press release. That’s the last I heard of it until Les messaged me after the event.

He said:

The evening went very well. All of the acts were wonderful and the artists were great as well. We raised about $3,000 from the event and close to $6,000 from online donations due in large part to the news story. so all together it boosted our totals by close to $9,000 dollars. It also inspired someone to contact us about doing a golf tournament for Nathan.

One interesting note. Nathan broke his arm just before the event. He didn’t tell anyone because he didn’t want to ruin the fun. My daughter didn’t catch it until the KSL video. He did the video with KSL with a broken arm. I can’t even imagine that. the kid is amazing.

Thanks for your help. You made a difference in his life.

The story was picked up by KSL and the response was immediate. Before reading it, I admit to feeling guilty that I didn’t attend the event or do more to follow-up with the media. Still, it was gratifying to see that the little work that I did helped Nathan and his family. Also important to the story is the new opportunity that opened up – a golf tournament.

There isn’t a better feeling than helping kids out, especially since I became a parent. These stories tear my heart out. This  reminds me of the power of PR and what it can mean to businesses and people’s lives. It’s why I love what I do. Like I say in my book, the key to getting news coverage starts with a strong story, especially a story that resonates with people emotionally.

I’m so glad I said yes.