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 18, 2012

Social Media for Event Promotion

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

March 11, 2010

PARAMUS SUNRISE ROTARY PUBLIC RELATIONS: THE FOUR-WAY TEST EMBODIES OUR MESSAGE

Filed under: communication,pr,public relations,public relations industry — Caryl Communications @ 1:03 am
Tags: , ,

At a recent Rotary District 7490 meeting, I was selected as secretary of the Paramus Sunrise Rotary club to speak with members of district clubs about public relations strategies to help spread the word about Rotary, its events and accomplishments. Because of the devotion of Rotary, and its principals, defined by the four-way test, publicizing Rotary activities is as natural as just about every project and the people who make it happen are newsworthy. For those who are not familiar with Rotary, the four-way test states: “Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” It was these simple statements, all too often forgotten in the pressure of daily life and work that drew me to Rotary.
As a result, my presentation was simple – I outlined the news releases and resulting news clips that we generated to highlight the activities of the Paramus Sunrise club and its members. The club is very involved in giving and in “living” the four-way test, so our job is simple: We use photos from all events with short copy since “a well-taken photograph” goes such a long way to encourage your story to be published.
The Paramus Sunrise Rotary club was chartered in June 2008. Since its inception, the group has donated to Theo’s Work, Children’s Aid and Family Services, Freedom Walk Kids of America, Turn a Frown Around Foundation, Pony Power and the Rotary Paul Harris Foundation. In addition, the group’s first annual fashion show in May 2009 raised more than $10,000 for Rotary’s Gift of Life, which afforded Lacy-Ann, a sick child from Jamaica, the opportunity to travel to the U.S. for life-saving heart surgery. It is a pleasure to be involved and do what we can to promote the valuable work of this group and the entire Rotary organization.

February 18, 2010

Active Networking is Encouraging Sign at Recent IOREBA and NAIOP Events

Filed under: communication,pr,public relations — Caryl Communications @ 8:47 pm
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Two annual real estate events in January provided encouraging signs of activity for the start of 2010. IOREBA’s Urban Developer’s Night in Newark and NAIOP New Jersey’s Real Estate Forecast in Short Hills both attracted record numbers of participants and an unusually high level of energy considering the woes of the past year. Brokers, developers, architects, attorneys, accountants and other commercial real estate professionals compared notes and shared stories as they networked and seemed thankful that 2009 had ended and they had survived.

While no panelist at either program predicted a robust turnaround this year, several highlighted some brightening signs. One IOREBA speaker may have said it best when he forecasted a “sideways year” but also described an increasing number of corporations starting to talk about long-term objectives and real estate for the future.

Simply put – participants at both events “worked the rooms” and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Their common professional thread was real estate as they confronted the economic realities of 2010 together.

While social networking has its place, there’s still nothing quite like being out with people, especially some you’ve known for decades. I guess it’s the human contact, the camaraderie and encouragement, that helps you move forward into an uncertain economy together and derive a feeling of optimism just from the energy of being there.

February 16, 2010

Public Relations: What you can expect from your agency in Today’s Environment

The public relations industry, which includes a broad category of marketing activities, has become even broader by today’s definitions. The growth of new media and the critical role of the Internet along with the worst economy in more than three decades have created challenges and opportunities for individual organizations looking for PR services, and for the professional PR practitioner.

Some firms that recognize the power of PR but want to cut costs in the current recession may decide to try to bring it in-house as their business has slowed. The mistake in this reasoning is it diverts the professionals from their first order of business and dilutes their effectiveness in their work and in their PR results.

Navigating the current ever-changing landscape of PR, incorporating strategic integrated activities, and achieving measurable results ultimately requires a tremendous time investment. It is far better to negotiate fees now with your current agency or look for a more reasonable firm that is willing to work in the recession to help you achieve exposure into the recovery and then grow from there.

The goal is to use a PR agency to provide expertise and creativity to refine and achieve your immediate and long-range business goals. PR integrates with other marketing disciplines and because of the credible nature of the news industry, media exposure is integral to any campaign. By highlighting a company’s core competencies, a well-planned PR program will distinguish your organization from the competition and increase credibility for your products or services.

The client’s primary responsibility is to work candidly and confidentially with the agency to define their goals, business activities, strengths, weaknesses and key people.

The agency’s job is to support its marketing goals and determine the real news, trends and activities that are appropriate for promotion through public relations. The agency then develops themes and story concepts and generates compelling copy in their work with the media. In essence, the public relations professionals is a reporter for clients, who is always ready to leverage real news and reach direct consumers and can prospect audiences, and help the client become a valuable resource for diverse media outlets.

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