News That Means Business

December 23, 2014

No Matter What the Platform or Year, Well-Written Pieces Resonate With Target Audiences

When reflecting on the continued evolution of public relations in 2014, it is clear that as much as the menu of services has transformed and expanded, the core remains the same. Good, well-written pieces – be it news releases, blogs, newsletters or social media posts – resonate with target audiences, no matter what the year.

Forbes is the perfect example. It has boosted the readership of its magazine by nearly 30% since 2013, reaching 6.7 million and also has an impressive following for its digital platform. Forbes integrates and coordinates the print and digital versions, but does not employ a “one-size-fits-all” strategy. Instead, the magazine features longer articles with in-depth reporting while the website boasts up-to-the-minute commentary from industry experts. To learn more, read Mr. Magazine’s full interview with Randall Lane, the editor of Forbes.

 

 

Caryl Bixon-Gordon

As one of New Jersey’s top PR firms, Caryl Communications offers traditional and Internet marketing as well as strategic social media campaigns. The agency creates content with a purpose and delivers it in many forms and on a variety of platforms to cut through the clutter and leave a positive impression. Reach out to me at (201) 796-7788 or Caryl@Caryl.com to learn more.

July 30, 2014

Communicate with Confidence at Your Next Meeting

Words and Phrases to Make You and Your Messages More Powerful

“I think this new pricing strategy will double our sales by the end of the year.

“I believe this proposal represents our best course of action.

“I wonder if we should consider a new accounting firm.

You hear statements like the above in every business meeting you attend. You may likely be guilty of saying them yourself. The first two words in each sentence above cut the power from everything that follows them. Thinking and believing are fine, but they lack the sense of conviction needed to communicate with confidence. And “I wonder…” is the weakest of all. Ideal for brainstorming sessions, wondering is best to leave out of other meetings.

Substitute these opening phrases for “think,” “believe” and “wonder”:

“I’m confident…”

“I’m convinced…”

“I’m certain…”

Simply beginning your statement with a strong verb makes it more persuasive, enabling you to communicate your ideas with confidence. After all,  if you’re “confident,” “convinced” and “certain” about something, your audience will likely be as well.

Don’t Minimize

Here are more frequent comments regularly heard in the conference room:

“I just want to offer this alternative solution.

“We might not get another opportunity like this one.

“Let’s try to launch this campaign by December 1.

Inserting “just” into any sentence immediately minimizes the message. Instead say, “Here’s an alternative solution.” You’ll be much more likely to command the attention of the room, communicate with confidence and win adherents to your plan. “Might” and “try” also undercut the weight of your words because they scream uncertainty. “We won’t get another opportunity…” and “Let’s launch…” say that you’re proposing something people can count on.

Questionable Questions

Why do we do this: Make a bold statement and then throw cold water on it by raising a doubt at its conclusion?

“This is the best proposal we’ve received, isn’t it?

“March 3 is the optimum time for this e-mail blast, don’t you think?

Make a mid-year resolution now never to shut down the power in your statements with a weak, unnecessary question tagging along at the end. Prove it to yourself. Repeat the sentences above but leave off the final questions. Now you’re talking – and communicating with confidence!


Established in 1980, Caryl Communications is one of the most successful public relations firms in New Jersey. Services have evolved with the public relations industry, and today Caryl Communications provides traditional and social media, Internet and email marketing as well as event planning and marketing consulting. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter, and sign up for our blog to stay connected.

June 26, 2014

The Hardest Working 140 Characters in Social Media

10 Tips for Getting More Out of Twitter

You’re on Twitter… for all the right reasons… to engage your customers, find new ones, watch trends, make announcements, track your competitors, manage your reputation and create buzz.

And you’ve mastered the basic tweet formats, terminology, and tools. So your profile page is solid, and followers are growing.

To fly like a bird and soar even higher, following are some ways to gain altitude using this massively popular micro-blogging platform.

  1. The Top Tip

    Twitter is a community, not a billboard. Overtly promotional tweets are the equivalent of spam email. You can describe your products and services – that’s why you’re there – but use helpful, informative terms. Otherwise, advertise and pay for sponsored tweets.

  2. Get Re-Tweeted

    When followers re-tweet your posts, they engage with you and amplify your message to their followers (which can bring new followers to you). Make this happen with quality tweets. Use 120 characters, instead of 140 to make it easy for a re-tweeter to add a comment. Re-tweet others whenever you can, as well, and thank people who re-tweet you.

  3. Incorporate Images into Your Tweets

    Use infographics, photos, and video links to receive more re-tweets and click-throughs.

  4. Use Hot Words

    The most re-tweeted posts on Twitter contain the following 12 words/phrases: “you, please, retweet, free, help, great, 10, follow, how to, top, check out, and new.”

  5. Use Hashtags

    A hashmark (#) preceding a word or phrase will organize tweets into easy-to-find subject categories. People searching for information on a specific topic (like tax preparation or fitness bands) will find you more easily through a relevant or original tag. But limit them to no more than two per tweet.

  6. Get in on Conversations

    Twitter is all about conversations, so jump in, and reach beyond your current followers. You’ll reach new targeted audiences, get your name out there, and learn more about your market. Explore hashtagged topics or trending topics, and read to find out what others report and how you can contribute. You can start a conversation as well with a provocative question or a request for opinions.

  7. Timing Is Everything

    Tweet when your audience is engaged. In general, try Monday-Thursday from 1 to 3 PM – a known prime time, and avoid Friday after 3 PM. More specifically, consider the habits and time zones of your target users. Try a service such as Tweriod to identify your unique prime time slots. The cost is minimal and worth it. Other services such as Buffer, HootSuite, or Sip Social can pre-schedule your tweets so you don’t have to be on 24/7.

  8. Be Active but Not Too Active

    Three to seven tweets per day in 50-minute intervals is a suggested activity rate.  Tweet too much, especially with promotional messages, and you’ll quickly find yourself un-followed.

  9. Put Links in Your Tweets

    Provide links to other social media and your website. If you’re sharing news or an article, link to it. Shorten links with bit.ly or use the link shortening function at Twitter.com to keep it brief.

  10. Monitor Your Performance and Fine-Tune Your Tweets

    Monitor your Twitter activity (and all your social media) in real-time with Tweet Deck. Other popular, multi-featured monitoring services can be found on Sprout Social and Hootsuite. Study your Twitter performance regularly (just as you do your web analytics) with Twitter Analytics or with services like TweetReach, Buffer or Tweet Deck. Base your future tweets on past performance.

With its symbols, space limits and unique glossary, the Twitterverse is a world of its own. It may present a steeper learning curve than Facebook or LinkedIn, but it’s a must-have marketing tool. Take time to master it and put all its power to work for your business.

Reach out to us with any questions at (201) 796-7788 and be sure to follow us on Twitter at @CarylComm.

June 16, 2014

Tap the Power of LinkedIn: 7 Steps to Success in the World’s Largest Online Business Community

It’s a community of over 300 million professionals in 150 industries worldwide – many of whom make key decisions for their companies. And it offers unique tools for reaching the key people on your business radar. Invest a little time in mastering this leading B2B platform and you’ll reap some unique returns. Here are seven steps to help you get started on LinkedIn or enhance your current experience there.

  1. The Company Page
  2. If you own or manage a company, this page is your storefront, your business card. It communicates the essence of your brand and tells your corporate story. Through it, you can connect to your network of current and potential customers and keep your organization top of mind through updates to your page. Through LinkedIn’s search function, other members can find your products or services easily.

  3. Content is Key
  4. Your success depends on strong content that describes what you do and why you’re unique. This content should be succinct and share-able. Every time a visitor engages with your content by sharing it with followers, your message is amplified, your reach extended and your profile raised.

    What makes content share-able? Useful information – tips, trends, offers – will likely be shared. If that useful information is paired with an interesting visual, the likelihood of sharing increases. Include video demos, case studies, free downloads, white papers, e-books on your company page. What’s not likely to get shared are promotional posts (unless they are very entertaining ads). This doesn’t mean that you can never be self-promotional on your page. You will want to make new product announcements, for example, and include client endorsements or testimonials. Be guided by the 80/20 rule that says 80 percent of your content should be informational, and only 20 percent promotional.

  5. Update and Target
  6. You’ve created a great page, but now the work is just beginning. To keep it effective, you need to continue posting regularly, at least a couple of times a week. This keeps you and/or your company alive on the pages of your followers and keeps your own page looking active and current. Where will you get enough content? First, remember that quality of content is more important than quantity. One substantive post is better than five spammy ones. Consider a tip of the day or a comment on industry news, preferably in the morning when LinkedIn members are most engaged. Share a post from a follower or comment on an interesting article and include its link. Share relevant comments from your page or share a post from a thought leader. Pull in content from your company or personal blog or Twitter feed. Invite reviews of your products/services. Start conversations by replying to comments. Or post a provocative question to your followers (their answers might make great future posts). You’ve got more content resources than you think you have.

  7. Win the Search Game with Optimization
  8. Optimize your LinkedIn company or personal page just as you do your website, seeding keywords throughout your text. These keywords will point LinkedIn members searching those terms to your page. The Google search bots also scan LinkedIn pages. Select a word or phrase that describes your core offering: “copyright attorney,” “online security software,” “commercial real estate management.” Then add a few variants or use a few of the key words on your website. Incorporate keywords into your main description and repeat them frequently in the first paragraphs of the descriptive text and in sub-heads.

  9. Build a Following
  10. What’s a LinkedIn page without followers?  Expand yours by constantly reminding your contacts of your LinkedIn presence. Put the “Follow Me” button on all your outreach content: website, blog, all social media, corporate stationery and business cards, print ads and collateral, annual reports and in the email signature block of your entire staff. Mention your page via your social media accounts. Call attention to your latest LinkedIn posts on your blog. Invite your customers, partners and prospects to follow you. If you have a company page, encourage your staff to have personal LinkedIn pages. Personal pages have automatic links to the member’s company pages, giving you amplified exposure to the networks of your team.

  11. Use Metrics to Measure Your Company Page’s Performance
  12. If you use Google Analytics for your website, you know how useful performance metrics can be. LinkedIn’s analytic system will deliver the same type of data for your company page. Review these reports regularly and revise your content according to the keywords, visuals and topics commanding the most engagement. Among other valuable feedback, these stats will also give you a picture of visitor demographics and provide you with a comparison of your page vs. others in your industry or market.

  13. Get Known as an Expert
  14. LinkedIn is known for its discussion groups, where business people and professionals “meet” to exchange advice and share information and ideas. There are over 2 million of these, covering thousands of industries and special interests. Participation is limited to individuals, so you can’t join a group or comment as a company, but your executives can join and comment from their own pages. Encourage their participation in relevant groups to build your company’s name and reputation through the expertise of your management.

    Thought-leader status is earned by consistent participation and a helpful attitude. Answer questions, share experiences, but DON’T sell or promote your products/services overtly. Your expertise and attitude will drive customers your way, not your sales pitch.

Don’t miss out on LinkedIn. Get more active, using the seven tips above. Once you engage with this unique platform, you’ll find you can’t do without it.

June 10, 2014

Getting Started (or Re-Started): Your Social Media Primer

So you’re thinking of not just “getting into” social media, but of committing to it as a business communications tool? There are so many platforms to choose from – where do you start? Maybe you’ve already experimented with a few, maybe you’ve taken on everything that’s out there. And maybe the returns are not what you expected. Let’s step back for a moment and re-assess. First things first: Define your objective. What do you want to accomplish with social media? Do you want to raise brand awareness, enhance customer service, build your email list, drive traffic to your company’s website, build community? Maybe all of those or maybe a few?

What you want to do will determine the platforms you should choose. Unless you have a dedicated social media staffer or a specialized outside agency, choose a manageable number of platforms. The following “primer” will help guide you to the best ones for your needs and to the kinds of posts that “work” there.

Which Platforms Are Right for You?

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube all demand consistent and constant updating with valuable, share-worthy content. On the consistency front, that means posting regular updates, multiple times daily if possible, and responding quickly to comments and messages. Consider this time factor carefully when deciding how many platforms you want to use. Better to be great on one or two than mediocre on four or five. Here’s a look at the Big 5.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional online networking site, has more than 300 million members, including the decision-makers of many companies and industries. The site features both company and personal profile pages you can use to attract new clients, establish expertise, and build a valuable business network.

Deliverables:

  • Establish credibility as an industry expert
  • Connect with business prospects
  • Publicize company updates and industry news

Execution:

  • Build your network by continually finding and connecting with colleagues, business prospects, and industry leaders
  • Join industry Groups from your personal page and start/participate in discussions
  • Share company updates and industry news

Facebook

Companies large and small capitalize on Facebook – the most popular of the social networking sites – by communicating directly with their customers who flock there by the millions and share content they like with their friends and followers.

Deliverables:

  • Build awareness of and loyalty for your company and its brands
  • Showcase your company’s top-notch service through open dialogue
  • Publicize company news and industry happenings

Execution:

  • Respond quickly to customer inquiries and comments
  • Engage your audience with an open dialogue including questions and calls to action
  • Share company updates and industry news

Twitter

Twitter is a micro-blogging social platform known for its real-time information, connecting users to the latest stories, ideas and news.

Deliverables:

  • Build relationships with customers, prospects and the media
  • Get the word out on both company and industry happenings
  • Find “trending” news, ideas, products and events and leverage if possible

Execution:

  • Tweet frequently and consistently 140 (or fewer) characters
  • Retweet to build relationships
  • Use hashtags and keywords
  • Share company updates and industry news

Pinterest

Image-oriented and appealing to an audience (more than 70 million) dominated by affluent females in the 25-45 demographic, Pinterest is the perfect platform for any business producing products or services with eye-appeal. Fashion and beauty, home-related products, real estate, travel, personal services (catering, event planning), food and beverages are all naturals on Pinterest.

Deliverables:

  • Showcase for products with visual appeal
  • Strong driver of e-commerce traffic
  • Find trending products

Execution:

  • “Pin” (post) high-quality images
  • Freshen your page (called a Pinboard) with regular pins
  • Re-pin followers’ content to build relationships

YouTube

Don’t underestimate YouTube. True, it is the world’s biggest repository of funny pet videos, but it’s also the world’s second largest search engine (behind Google) with over 100 million views daily. Consider joining the top businesses and industry influencers who have YouTube channels.

Deliverables:

  • Build awareness of your company, its brands and its leadership
  • Establish credibility and expertise in your industry
  • Boost your search rankings via video content

Execution:

  • Post good-quality video
  • Use animation as well as live-action
  • Feature your management team as spokespersons
  • Create valuable content (how-to’s, tips, insights), NOT ads

Next steps? Explore each of the Big 5 above. Check out what businesses are there. Determine where you fit best. Weigh the time involved in managing each account. Once you have made your decision as to where you want to be, you’ll be ready to develop content, create a content calendar and launch an integrated online marketing campaign. We’ll have tips on how to do that here on our blog.

May 19, 2014

PR Measurement and Analytics: Behind the Scene

Filed under: communication,pr,public relations,public relations industry,social media — Caryl Communications @ 2:11 pm

Strategy is an integral part of every public relations campaign. From social media posts to feature articles, content drives results. Public relations encompasses a range of disciplines, including marketing, communication, press outreach, events, and social media.

How does all this information come together to meet a company’s business goals, and what does it mean for the bottom line?

A Sneak Peek into Web Analytics

A number of tools, like Google Analytics, are available to compile, analyze and synthesize data related to PR services. Google Analytics monitors results in real time, identifies trends and data correlations, and helps companies evaluate results to make informed, proactive decisions about current and future campaigns. Regularly using metrics helps reach and exceed expectations on a consistent basis.

Google Analytics compiles detailed website data, including:

  • visitor demographics
  • customer behavior
  • where visitors are coming from (search engines, social media, etc.)
  • which keywords are directing visitors to a company’s website
  • which internal website links get the most hits
  • visitors’ viewing devices (tablet, computer, mobile, etc.)

The synthesis of this information provides insights into actionable plans and initiatives, specific to a company’s desired results.

One of the ways to measure return on investment (ROI) is to analyze the number of visitors to a company’s website (web traffic) in correlation with its PR initiatives. Depending on the goals, the PR campaign and tactics utilized, different factors can influence visitor numbers. Every campaign is unique and therefore requires a distinctive set of metrics to measure results.

Case Study: Residential Development Company

In one example for a residential development company, we tracked press releases, articles, social media and advertisements to measure the effects on web traffic as well as another key metric – prospects walking into its sales office. The analysis consistently revealed jumps in web traffic as a result of articles and also in the number of prospects who visited the sales office.

The metrics further showed some of the best days and times to post on social media platforms to reach potential customers. The analysis of a few months of data like this helped create a unique social media content calendar, which paired the best posting times with strong content to produce top results.

#1 Tip to Achieve Maximum ROI

For any company, it is essential to determine quantifiable goals with the PR team for each campaign. For example, qualitative goals may include expectations for attendance at an event, increasing web traffic and gaining more prospects. Go one step further by turning goals into specific numbers and statistics: at least 300 event attendees, a 40% web traffic boost in one month, and a 20% increase in prospects in two months. Pinpointing quantitative objectives helps a company and its PR team focus the data needed to meet and exceed objectives.

Be sure to reach out to us with any questions you may have at (201) 796-7788 or Caryl@Caryl.com.

February 6, 2014

When the Media Call – Be Ready

Filed under: public relations,Uncategorized — Caryl Communications @ 8:54 pm
  • A reporter from a top business publication calls with a question on your new product or service
  • You’re scheduled for an interview with a major trade journal
  • You’re going to make a guest appearance on Bloomberg News

Opportunity is knocking – and so (maybe) are your knees. No need to worry, we have some proven tips for success every time you face the media.

Be Prepared
If you’ve got advanced notice of your interview, practice the Boy Scout motto and PREPARE. Choose a theme for your remarks and support it with at least 3 key points.  Rehearse—making sure you do the following:

-Bring your organization or brand to life
-Convey energy and emotion
-Use numbers and statistics to support your points
-Share trends and changes in your market

Then role-play with a colleague as the reporter. You can even video your performance and critique it. But DON’T memorize—you want to sound natural.

Seven Golden Rules for Media Success
Always:
-Be courteous and diplomatic
-Stick to facts
-Help the reporter—suggest sources if you don’t have all the info

Never:
-Lie
-Speculate
-Compromise the confidentiality of a client
-Say “no comment”

3 Tips for TV
1. Today’s microphones are super sensitive—speak at a normal level
2. Engage with your interviewer—have a conversation
3. RELAX!! It’ll help you seem confident and credible.

The Staying Power of The Press Release

Filed under: pr,public relations,Uncategorized — Caryl Communications @ 3:47 pm

The Staying Power of The Press Release
By Evelyn Weiss Francisco

Our commitment as PR professionals is not only to our clients but also to media. The press release has been the standardized method of delivering the full story of a client’s worthy news to media outlets. With the consistent structure of a well-written press release, it has been, and can continue to be, a tidy package with all the necessary components (who, what, when, where, why).  A reporter or editor can either publish the story as-is or re-package it. If a release includes the added bonus of background material, a reporter may even find a future concept or content that can be used to fit another trend or feature.

For example, we recently sent a press release announcing an executive promotion. Within an hour, a number of trade publications had published the release as it was written.  Another daily newspaper called for an interview and added “exclusive” quotes and printed their customized article the next day. Also, a great number of online news sites ran the press release as written.

However, in the age of social media, a high dose of snippets of information are all many reporters will endure, but readers may want to know more, especially readers of print publications. An updated version of the release uses a social media template with short bullets that summarize the key points as well as links or embedded images that include more. Social media actually becomes an additional delivery method for the release as PR firms like ours now reach an expanded audience of reporters as well as the public.

Ideally, a good PR firm with seasoned writers will include the key elements of a story in one package – a well-written, concise press release. At the same time, social media tools will expand the dissemination of the news, reaching media and the public at the same time.

May 18, 2012

Social Media for Event Promotion

Filed under: pr,public relations — Caryl Communications @ 3:18 pm
Tags: , , ,

Social media in advance of events is a great way to network before you are even there. This year is the most activity I’ve seen in advance of the ICSC Las Vegas conference. Between LinkedIn discussions for the ICSC and Tweets, we’ve been able to set up interviews for our clients with media who are attending. In addition, an ongoing dialogue of contacts is being made through the ICSC LinkedIn group. I have my settings so that I get emails for discussions in this group, and it really has worked well for us.

May 10, 2012

Grammar Note: Alls they need to do is drop the ‘s’

Filed under: communication,pr,public relations — Caryl Communications @ 4:41 pm
Tags: , , , ,

In a world dominated by texting, casual emails and social media, good grammar is not always the highest priority. But in working with media we need to respect good grammar, verbally, and of course, in writing. Because the better something is written, the better chance the writer has of seeing it published, somewhere.

Speaking to media also calls for good grammar and usage. So here’s a simple tip about a common verbal usage mistake: Alls we need to do is drop the ‘s.’ And that’s the tip.

I was driven to write this when I heard a sportscaster use the word “alls” this morning in speaking about yesterday’s NBA results. The “s” was soft and subtle, but it was there. Most listeners probably didn’t even hear it, but since good PR is built on good writing, it jumped out at me.

In fact, I hear it often. Some of the most educated people use it commonly in speaking. But you never see it in print. Unless it’s a contraction as William Shakespeare used it in his comedy All’s Well That Ends Well. Coincidentally, I also heard a broadcaster say this today while I was writing this blog. She said: “All’s good.” These two words demonstrate proper usage in a full sentence and are totally correct.

An interesting footnote: when I wrote “alls” for the first time ever, in this post, my grammar check in Microsoft Word didn’t pick it up. So I looked in Merriam Webster’s dictionary and in Word Central. There were no entries.

“Alls” is, however, in the Urban Dictionary. It is listed as “the coolest way to say all.”

I realize I don’t necessarily embody “cool,” and I also know when the next generation of texters and Facebook users are in the business world, grammar concerns will likely be considered archaic. But in the field of public relations, today, we need to practice good grammar every day.

So enough writing about this non-word, and hopefully, I don’t sound pompous. All I want to do is help!

Watch for more common writing and grammar errors in future posts.

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