Goodbye CardMunch, Hello CardFul

screen-shot-2011-11-14-at-10-27-41-pm evernote

This is an important blog for individual use user LinkedIn for networking and business development. It was only three years ago when LinkedIn first announced it would be offering the then-startup business, CardMunch, to its users (TechCrunch).  Now, LinkedIn is officially breaking its ties with CardMunch in order to “invest” in other developments.  A result of this decision is that CardMunch data will now be transferred to CardFul, a business card management app that extends from Evernote, an up-and-coming note-taking app. This transition from CardMunch to CardFul will take place Friday, July 11th (LinkedIn). photo 3 I have been a big advocate for CardMuch and have spoken often about its benefits and how it makes it easy to connect with people on LinkedIn.   Since most people struggle with ways to network better CardMunch is/was a good tool for making connections on LinkedIn, a good step in building relationships.   I am disappointed in the change but I do use and like Evernote. I have been using the application for note taking and now I am using it for card scanning.photo 2

Although there has been a mix of reactions between tech-savvy business professionals and existing Evernote users, each member of the LinkedIn community is left to decide how he or she would like to continue managing his or her professional contacts. LinkedIn has offered the following options:

1)      Sync existing business card data to Evernote. Users will be granted two years of free business card scanning. It is important to note that although this is a premium feature, this does not automatically give users a premium account. Additionally, it may take up to 24 hours for the information on a business card to fully process, so users are urged to have all cards fully processed and transferred by July 11, 2014.

2)      If a member of both LinkedIn and CardMunch, a user will be able to access existing CardMunch contacts data under the “Contacts” tab at www.linkedin.com/contacts. This data will also be available in the Contacts app, where contacts can be managed and deleted. Users who select this option will not be able to view business card images.

3)      If neither of these options is convenient, users can request to download their existing CardMunch data by July 11, 2014 (LinkedIn). More information about these steps can be found here.

Note: I have done this and it can be a little challenging.   Take your time but do it now.Cardful-Business-Card-Management-iPhone-app-icon

While this may seem like a hassle, it is worth it in the end due to certain notable changes on the CardFul app. By scanning business cards on Cardful, the process of connecting with individuals on LinkedIn is much easier and efficient. Users can write detailed notes about their contacts and add a geo-tag location to each business card they scan (Mashable).   I have found that the scanning easily integrates contacts into my outlook and it does make connecting easy.  Although there have been a few technical glitches along the way.

CardFul’s convenience and user-friendly interface is different but it is growing on me.   One problem I had was because I already have an Evernote account, some of my scanned cards became mixed with my existing notes. Also, CardFul doesn’t work as well with business cards that are glossy or with ones that have white lettering and a dark backgrounds.  Overall, however, CardFul is providing me with a relatively seamless way for me to store contacts and manage my business card information.  At this point its ease of use outweighs the app’s minor glitches.   I am sure that tech issues will diminish as updates are made

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for marketing, personal branding and networking.  Not matter how cards are scanned and connections are made user must have a system for using LinkedIn.  I am looking forward to additional changes and improvements.  It is hard to believe but I have had a LinkedIn account for over 10 years.

Citation Links:

TechCrunch: http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/26/linkedin-buys-business-card-converter-cardmunch-will-offer-its-services-for-free/

Mashable: http://mashable.com/2014/05/07/cardmunch-evernote-linkedin/

LinkedIn: http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/49554/ft/eng, http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/12035/kw/evernote

Hiring a Public Relations Firm for Media Relations: What Businesses Need to Know and Expect

By Bill Corbett, Jr.

Corbett Public Relations, Inc. 

Media coverage is a key element of many businesses’ marketing efforts and mix.  News coverage is invaluable in projecting a message to a large audience for branding and reputation-building purposes.  Securing media coverage requires time and an investment of resources.  The results generated by a PR firm must support branding, assist in building relationships and provide high-value marketing assets which will assist with sales and business development.  There also must be a strategy for using media relations assets to achieve business goals and objectives.

Many business owners and their teams lack the knowledge and the contacts to successfully launch PR and media relations efforts.  They do, however, recognize the importance and tremendous value, including SEO value, of media coverage.  For this reason, many business owners need to hire a PR firm.  Hiring a PR firm does, however, come with a cost.  Therefore decision makers need to be able to make informed choices in this area.  Before hiring a PR firm, it is important to understand what should be expected from a firm in terms of service and results.  It is also essential to recognize what type of commitment the client must make to ensure success.  Below are the important points to consider when hiring a PR firm.

Corbett Public Relations client David Antar, President of A+ Technology and Security Systems being interviewed by FiOS1 and Newsday at a forum on school security.

Corbett Public Relations client David Antar, President of A+ Technology and Security Systems being interviewed by FiOS1 and Newsday at a forum on school security.

Watch Out for Promises.  Media relations is an important marketing and business growth function   Working in media relations is challenging and requires creativity and the commitment of significant time.  There are many exceptional professionals in the media relations field, but as in any business sector, there are those who do not maintain high or ethical standards.  Media relations is a process and securing media coverage takes work.  Beware of any PR “professional” who promises or guarantees coverage.  Seek to work with those who can articulate messages, product information and competitive advantage and who will commit to spending the necessary time to develop and bring ideas to the media.  If they promise or guarantee coverage, start looking at other firms.

Like and Trust the PR Firm Team.  Business owners and marketing team members must feel relaxed speaking and interacting with PR firm staff.  Being comfortable with the team is essential because confidential information, proprietary strategies as well as personal business and financial information are often discussed.  Only individuals that can be trusted should be chosen for this important relationship.

Research the Track Record of the PR Firm and its Professionals.  Find out how long the firm has been in business, as well as what kind of relationships they have with target media outlets.  Ask to see print and video clips of clients in the news.  Also request testimonials from satisfied clients as these are a good source of feedback about the company and its team members.  Look for a firm that is well established and has a solid track record of success.  Search for their clients online and see how media coverage is supporting SEO and their brand.

Accessibility is Very Important.  A firm that is available any day and any time is ideal.  A client needs to know that their chosen PR firm can be reached if they need them, whether it is for positive communication with the media or if there is a crisis situation that requires immediate attention.  Today’s 24-hour news cycle and social media require constant and unwavering vigilance.  If a PR firm takes a 9-to-5 approach, look elsewhere.

Corbett Public Relations secured News 12 coverage  for Cruizin' for a Cure Volunteer and Prostate Cancer Survivor Vince Bucilli.

Corbett Public Relations secured News 12 coverage for Cruizin’ for a Cure Car Show Volunteer and Prostate Cancer Survivor Vince Bucilli.

Firm Proactivity is Key.  Quality PR firms are always monitoring the media, trends and events that can lead to positive coverage and interviews.  Taking a proactive approach demonstrates the firm’s desire to be an active partner and this will provide the greatest return on investment (ROI).  Make sure to select a firm that is proactive and not one that will only communicate when ideas for media coverage are presented to them.  PR firms should have a process for regularly generating ideas to pitch to the media and clients must agree to be involved.

Keep in Mind PR Firm Expertise and Creativity.  When choosing a PR firm, ask if the firm will come up with media pitches on their own or if it is a team effort.  Media relations professionals understand the media and should be able to quickly develop pitches based on the information provided.  Ask if the firm has any experience in specific industries or subject areas.  Sometimes it is helpful to have a firm that focuses in a niche or specific industry, while other times firms with a broad reach can serve a client better.  Also consider conflicts, if the firm represents more than one business in a sector this could be a problem or possibly a synergy.

Relationships and Approaches Matter.  Ask the firm about their relationships with members of the media.  Do they have contacts with the right media outlets?  If they don’t have contacts, ask how they work to get media coverage with new outlets.

Ask Who Will be Working on the Account.  A number of firms have developed bad reputations for putting inexperienced staff members or even interns in charge of new or small accounts.  Before engaging a PR firm, make sure to find out who will be working on the account and their expertise and industry knowledge.  Do not let the principal of a PR firm disappear after the engagement is signed.  Make sure that the team is experienced and monitor who is doing the work regularly.

Corbett Public Relations client Marty Lyons of the Marty Lyons Foundations was interviewed by FiOS1's Jessica Fragoso for the "Heroes On Our Island," segment.

 Marty Lyons of the Marty Lyons Foundation was interviewed by FiOS1’s Jessica Fragoso for the “Heroes On Our Island,” segment.

Ask About Sales Support and Leveraging Coverage.  The public relations and  media coverage that a business secures becomes a valuable marketing asset that can be used for years.  PR firms should provide strategies, approaches and support for the sales and business development team members of their clients.  The PR firm needs to use its media relations assets to help secure meetings, build relationships with prospects, start conversations and fill social media streams.  When selecting a PR firm, ask how they intend to help amplify the media coverage with social media and how they will help put coverage in front of decision makers, prospects and referral sources.

PR Firm Members Must Be Team Players.  Ask about the firm’s interest and ability to work with other members of the marketing team.  Media coverage is an important part of marketing and the PR firm must be engaged in the process.  Firms should recognize the value of media coverage from a social media perspective and explain how it will help with SEO.  PR team members should be part of the marketing strategy and relevant planning sessions.

Return on Investment and Reporting.  Ask what the fees will be up front as well as how they are to be paid.  Often firms require a monthly fee or retainer, while other firms will work on projects or for hourly rates.  Before hiring a PR firm, set the budget and determine how the firm’s service and PR goals can be achieved within these financial boundaries.  Public relations should be looked at as a long-term investment in a brand, product or business.

Retaining a PR firm is a decision that requires research and consideration.  Speak with people who work with media relations professionals and do research before beginning the search process.  Create a budget and select a PR firm that will secure diverse and quality media coverage.  The efforts of PR firm should support brand building, attract business and support sales team efforts.  Recognize also that PR efforts require time to work and it may take several months before results can be observed.  Consider PR firm engagements of six months or more when setting goals and budgets.

5 LinkedIn Resolutions You Need To Make for 2014

By Bill Corbett, President, Corbett Public Relations and Founder of Grow Your Personal Brand

As 2014 begins, it’s a good time to take a step back and reflect on your personal branding efforts in 2013.  Did you achieve your goals? How active have you been on LinkedIn?  Have you generated new business from LinkedIn?  If you aren’t satisfied with your answers to those questions then you need to change what you are doing and take a better look at your LinkedIn profile.  LinkedIn is the number one social networking website for business professionals and others looking to generate new opportunities.  The following are 5 LinkedIn Resolutions You Need To Make for 2014:

1.  Commit to investing 1 hour per week on LinkedIn activities - You need to create a schedule in advance and block out a certain time period for you to work on your LinkedIn activities.  Schedule posts ahead of time by using a social media aggregator such a Hootsuite to save time.  Once your posts are scheduled go into your groups and facilitate discussion and engage with other group members.  An investment of an hour a week will be beneficial to growing your personal brand.

2.  Connect with others - Make weekly or monthly goals of how many people you want to reach out and connect with.  Connections are valuable on LinkedIn.  The more you have and the better you know them the more valuable they are.  LinkedIn is a great way to increase the size of your network.

3.  Maximize you profile – Make sure to update and maximize your profile so that it is easier for prospects to find you and so it clearly identifies why someone would want to work with you.  A maximized profile is the strongest asset you can have on LinkedIn.  If you profile is poor or is missing information then you could be missing out on potential prospects.

4.  Be seen – Make sure you stay top of mind among your connections.  Use status updates several times each week.  In your updates discuss what you are doing, what projects you are working on and share relevant and interesting articles related to your industry.

5.  Facilitate recommendations – Recommendations are one of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile.  You should accumulate as many recommendations as you can.  One way to do this is by giving recommendations to others and then asking for one in return.  The more recommendations you have the better.

By implementing these LinkedIn resolutions you can be confident in your LinkedIn profile and this will lead to building stronger relationships and future business development.  LinkedIn is a power tool.  Make 2014 the year you get the most out of your LinkedIn profile.

Steps to Become a Successful and Powerful LinkedIn User – Part 2

Recently I wrote Part 1 of “Steps to Become a Successful and Powerful LinkedIn User,” in which I outlined some important strategies.  Creating a plan and strategy for using LinkedIn and creating a personal marketing plan are essential in growing a business and having a personal brand that will resonate.  Spending focused time and energy on LinkedIn will enhance relationships, build trust and create awareness that will assist you to achieve your promotional, business and career goals.

Here are five additional steps to take to become a power LinkedIn user:

Who to connect with? – You should consider connecting with almost everyone.  However, keep a sharp eye out for people who are not serious LinkedIn users or those who are likely to place you on a sales solicitation or an e-mail marketing list.  There are easy ways to determine if someone is a good connection or not.  Some of the immediate red flags are: no photo or one of poor quality; no status update activity; few endorsements; few contacts; no personal “who I am” details in the profile, and ambiguity about what it is the person actually does.  When reviewing a new potential contact, consider whether the person could be an ally or a competitor.  For example, some attorneys want to connect with other attorneys, but marketing professionals may not want to connect with their competitors located down the block.

When you are approached to connect with people you don’t know or with whom you are casually acquainted, you must ask them to provide you with more information. Questions should be posed to them.  Ask questions such as: Who do you want to meet? Whom do you network with? Whom are your ideal clients?  This process also gives you the opportunity to tell them who you are and who you want to meet.  We have found that those who are not serious LinkedIn users never respond to these requests.  This nonresponse is a good indication that they will not communicate in the future. If they will not engage, they are likely not interested in developing a relationship.  If the individual responds to the questions posed, move forward and connect or ask additional questions.  Whom you are connected with is important.  You will develop relationships with these individuals and connect them to others on LinkedIn.  Starting relationships the right way creates the right foundation of trust.

Bring real world networking into the LinkedIn cyber world – The process of networking, meeting people and developing business relationships, existed long before LinkedIn.  However, LinkedIn offers a platform that can be used strategically to enhance and facilitate real world networking.  LinkedIn can make networking and networking follow-up more effective.  Most importantly, when used strategically, LinkedIn can speed up the relationship development process.  Basically, LinkedIn will assist in building trust, which is essential in the business relationship growth process.  Without trust there is no relationship.  How do you use LinkedIn to build trust? Start by bringing your real world contacts into the online LinkedIn world.  Often the first step in the networking process is meeting and talking with new people at events or meetings in the real world.  You will collect business cards and begin communicating.

One easy way to bring the people you meet in the real world into your LinkedIn world is to use the mobile app produced by LinkedIn called CardMunch.  Use this app to scan the business cards you receive.  The app makes it easy to send a connection request and quickly connect with people.  This can all be done using your smartphone on the road or even during a networking event.

Groups – Strategically pick the groups you join.  If you have limited time, pick two or three groups where you can be very active.  Remember to join groups that offer a target-rich environment for business development and potential referral sources.  If you are an accountant and rarely get referrals from other accountants, limit your membership in groups that are geared toward accounting professionals.  Find groups where you can demonstrate your expertise and connect with individuals that fit your ideal client or ideal referral source profile.

Regionally focused groups should be considered.  Even if every person in the group is not an ideal direct prospect or referral source, relationships matter.  Having contacts and connections in different business sectors will allow you to connect to people looking for a wide variety of services or solutions.  Groups are where you can build a reputation as a giver and provider of information as well as share connections.  When you can assist individuals advance their career, help them solve a business issue or most importantly drive business to them, they will remember you and your efforts.  This strategy is one of the most effective business lead generators available to networkers.

Recommendations and Endorsements – LinkedIn users benefit from recommendations from individuals whom they have worked or whom they know. Recommendations help to reinforce the value of individual skills, abilities and services that can be provided.  We have suggested that to be effective on LinkedIn users should secure one to four recommendations each month.  This shows continuous activity and makes it known to your contacts that you are somebody that people like and respect working with.  Recommendations and endorsements of services assist in building brand awareness and are effective in demonstrating and reinforcing to others your stature and expertise in a given area.  These recognitions are particularly important for people who are just getting to know who you are and the areas in which you are a leader.  Recommendations are also a good way to get feedback on your personal marketing efforts.  If you receive a number of endorsements recognizing your expertise in a specialized area, then it is clear that those who are connected with you know what you do and what you do well.  If you are getting endorsements for services you do not provide, then you have to review how you are marketing and communicating with contacts.  If this is out of sync you need to work on how you are perceived in your market.

This article was provided by Bill Corbett, President of Corbett Public Relations based on Long Island in New York.  Mr. Corbett is a respected leader in public relations, media relations, personal branding and social media.  Over the past two decades Mr. Corbett has assisted thousands of clients to secure media coverage, build brands, attract attention and grow.  For more information visit www.corbettpr.com or contact him at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com Twitter @wjcorbett

This blog originally was originally posted on http://www.socialmediaclub.org

Sources:

http://marketingthink.com/social-branding-how-to-create-the-perfect-linkedin-profile-blueprint/

http://www.careerealism.com/optimize-linkedin-groups/

http://www.myinspiredmedia.com/five-linkedin-power-strategies/

http://jobsearch.about.com/od/linkedin/a/linkedin-recommendations.htm

Steps to Become a Successful and Powerful LinkedIn User – Part I

Looking for a magic formula to be more successful on LinkedIn?  The fact is you need to create your own strategy for success on LinkedIn.  The magic formula is understanding marketing, creating a system for developing trusting relationships, putting time in and having an understanding for the tools and opportunities LinkedIn offers.

Your success strategy must be part of an overall personal marketing plan and system.  LinkedIn can and must be an integral component in a personal marketing effort.  To be successful users must have a plan for leveraging what LinkedIn provides.  Using social media including LinkedIn cannot be set on “auto pilot.”  Just creating a profile and posting occasionally will only bring modest success.

These are three steps on the road to becoming a power LinkedIn user:

Plan – Create a personal marketing plan and include LinkedIn as a vehicle for building your reputation, connecting with the right people, enhancing relationships and making it easy for those you want to do business with find you.  A marketing plan that includes LinkedIn requires that the user spends time on the site, becomes familiar with each section and creates a strategy for using each part of LinkedIn.  This step is broad but before you ride a bike or drive a car you have to know how it works and how it will get you from Point A to Point B. Your plan, like any marketing plan should have goals and objectives. Certainly business secured and funds generated are great goals, but there are many objectives you will have to achieve first.  Set realistic and achievable goals, track when objectives are reached and what the results of activities were.  Create questions and milestones that will help you judge success.

Don’t be a bystander – According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, the average LinkedIn account/user checks in and uses the site for about 17 minutes per month. To be a power user you have to commit more time.  You must be active, seen and remembered.  This requires daily activity, attention and focus.  At first it may take more effort, but over time you will find the activities, groups and interactions that will yield the greatest results. In marketing, strategies need to change.  If an approach or tactic does not work, after time change it.  For example, when using status updates the key is to generate a response and create a buzz.  If your activities are not attracting attention look at the content of your posts, and compare them to the responses others are getting.  Don’t be afraid to change or implement several different approaches at the same time.

Spend time but don’t waste time – The goal of marketing is to develop a system that allows for growth and the development of relationships and business. Focus on those activities that work, to prevent the wasting of energy.  Create a schedule and time budget.  A schedule is what you will do each week and the time budget is how much time you will spend.  Do not exceed the amount of time you have allocated and don’t do less.  Monitor and track this time and refer back to records to see if you are keeping with your goals.  Time is money and must be spent in an efficient way.

Your profile, title and image-  Much has been written on this and I will start briefly with your photo, it must be professional and clear.  No image means fewer connections and only 1 in 7 will even look at your profile.  Also stay away from logos, caricatures, and other images.  These are frowned upon by users on LinkedIn and they don’t present you in a professional manner.   What your profile and title says about you is key, and will make the difference between people getting to know you or moving on to someone else. Let’s start with your title.  Here is an example of a big mistake, having President, CEO or account manager listed as your title.  No one searches for president, CEO or account manager.  If they do they will find thousands of people from all different sectors in no particular order. Be more specific with your title based on your industry and what you do.  My title is Public Relations, Personal Branding and Social Media Consultant. I do list president of my firm but at the end not the beginning.

Your profile text must be optimized the same way.  Include what you do, where you do it (geographic market) right at the beginning.  Make sure those different terms that describe what you do and your industry appear often.  To be the most effective and to connect with prospects your profile should be written in the first person, (I am the leading PR professional on Long Island…), should include some history, experience, accomplishments, success and some personal information about what you like to do when away from work.  How much you share is up to you.  However, we have found that in many cases this personal information is as important if not more important than business background and information. Why? This type of information allows you to offer and find common interests with others.  This information helps people understand who you are, what you’re interested in and offers a great way to start conversations that have nothing to do with business.  These easy conversations allow for relationships to start, grow and put you in a position to eventually do business with the other individuals.   Text that only talks about company services, products or benefits thereof is an instant turn off and limits the effectiveness of your post.  Your profile is where your personal brand will shine, take advantage of this opportunity.

This article was provided by Bill Corbett, President of Corbett Public Relations based on Long Island in New York.  Mr. Corbett is a respected leader in public relations, media relations, personal branding and social media.  Over the past two decades Mr. Corbett has assisted thousands of clients to secure media coverage, build brands, attract attention and grow.  For more information visit www.corbettpr.com or contact him at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com Twitter @wjcorbett

This blog was originally published on http://www.digitalethos.org.

Sources:

http://www.metznik.com/blog/bid/40710/How-To-Become-a-LinkedIn-Power-User-Manage-Keywords-and-Content\

http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/linkedin-optimization-tips/

http://socialmediatoday.com/anilbvalvi/1250941/4-linkedin-seo-tricks-help-your-profile-rank

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-57499645/what-should-your-linkedin-title-be/

http://marketingland.com/google-users-spend-3-minutes-per-month-there-6960

Going to Google – The Glass Introduction Experience

I had the pleasure and thrill of accompanying Basil Puglisi, social and digital media leader, to his special appointment at Google for a fitting for Google Glass.  Although we were not able to record video inside, I was able to document the experience.  It was quite remarkable.

Google’s Glass training and introductory area is located just above Chelsea Market, a trendy and popular setting in New York City.

After we entered a café-like setting, we were met by our Google training rep, Duyin Ha. She was fantastic and it was clear she had extensive training and knowledge of this amazing new device.

So what is Google Glass?  It’s a device worn like glasses; however, it possesses cutting edge technology which integrates an array of mobile applications and digital technology. If you have not read or heard about Google Glass you are behind the tech curve.  This incredible device takes video, connects with your online “life” and much more.  In the short training, Duyin explained features and walked Basil, a very tech, Google app and Android savvy individual, through the many functions, features and the set up for Glass.

From a marketing and social media perspective, Google Glass has tremendous potential.  The ability to quickly take, upload and share video content and images will make G+ an even more desirable and friendly social media platform than it already is.  Recent reports indicate that G+ has close to 350 million accounts and growing.  Glass interacts seamlessly with Google Chrome and other specific apps created for it.  Here is a prediction – with Google Glass, enhanced apps, services and integration, Google social media use will explode.  Watch out Facebook—with devices, apps and ease of use combined with search, it will be a challenge to keep up.

From the brief time I was involved with the demo and Basil’s first hours with Google Glass I was impressed and certainly liked what I’d seen.

From my public relations and marketing perspective, Google Glass will provide individuals and businesses with the ability to demonstrate, explore, educate and market products and people like never before.  Story telling from the first person perspective will be unmatched.

Glass is new and it was amazing to see how Basil became an instant “celebrity.”  After our session and following just seconds on the street in Manhattan, people were pointing, taking photos and asking questions.


People from all walks of life and ages wanted to know more about Glass.  Glass is a powerful personal branding tool which allows users to broadcast their experiences, demonstrate skills and expertise and show people a glimpse of their personal lives.

Information comes from the first person perspective and this allows users to share in a uniquely personal way.  We will be able to get to know people better and build relationships.  In terms of business, getting to know those that you work with or may work with will open up new opportunities as well as create new questions.

I can’t wait to get my Google Glass.  If you’re listening Google, I am a fan.  Can I get one?

More to come on this great device and technology.  We have not even scratched the surface of what Glass can do for business, brands, and to make life a little easier and more interesting. Here’s one final point. Google Glass enables its users to utilize Google maps. You can enter an address and the map and directions pop right up on the screen.  This technology is ideal for individuals walking in an urban-type setting but is not appropriate to use when driving.

If you have questions about Google Glass ask Basil Puglisi on twitter @basilpuglisi

To read about the story in Newsday please visit http://www.newsday.com/business/lier-test-drives-google-glass-1.5648381#disqus_thread 

For more images from the Google Glass experience please visit http://flic.kr/s/aHsjGrZ67V.

Follow me on social media to see additional posts, images and videos relating to glass and other marketing topics.  Feel free to email me any questions at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com.

April Fool’s Day – “Foolish” LinkedIn Mistakes to Avoid

Fool2The world of online marketing and personal branding is new for many people.  When getting involved in something that is unfamiliar mistakes are bound to happen.  LinkedIn is a marketing vehicle that is not new.  However, using LinkedIn as a marketing and branding tool is new to many.  To successfully use LinkedIn effectively requires planning and a strategy.  On this April “Fools Day” here are some LinkedIn marketing and profile building “foolish mistakes” to avoid and some easy to implement solutions.

Mistake: Connecting then immediately selling. LinkedIn is for relationship building and branding.  LinkedIn it is not a hard selling tool.  Hard or in-your-face selling strategies will lead to being ignored and possibly disconnected, the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish on LinkedIn.

Solution: Be genuine and make personal connections. Connect with others to build relationships and start business focused discussions.  Have conversations with people, ask questions and demonstrate expertise and knowledge.  This process builds awareness and when done properly, trust.  With trust will come opportunities and business.

Mistake: Using LinkedIn’s default message when connecting.  Impersonal requests do not carry the same weight as a personal note with more information.

Solution: Connecting to LinkedIn users in a personal way is the best approach.  If the person is someone you don’t know well, research them and tailor what you say in the connection request.  If you know the person, say somebody you met at a networking event, the same rule applies.  Find out more about them and create a personalized and memorable request.  Remind the person when and where you met and why you two should connect.  This will make you stand out and be remembered by the new potential contact. They will be more likely to accept your request as well. Building professional relationships is why you are on LinkedIn, and being personal and likeable from the first interaction is important.

Mistake: Not giving then asking for recommendations.  LinkedIn and the recommendation function is a two-way street; if you don’t give you will not receive.  If you do not have recommendations, your profile will not be as robust and effective as it should be.

Solution:  An effective approach for acquiring recommendations is to start by giving.  Your connections are much more likely to provide you with a recommendation back if you spend the time to write an effective one for them.  Doing a recommendation sends the message that you are taking your time and that you are interested in the relationship.  LinkedIn helps to facilitate this process by asking the recipient to do a recommendation in return.  If this does not prompt a response, contact the individual and see if they will reciprocate. Either way the likelihood of getting a recommendation is increased and you have a new reason to communicate with the contact.

Mistake: Skipping or infrequently providing status updates. LinkedIn users unfortunately don’t use the status feature as often as they should.  By not posting updates a user shows that they are not an active member or user Fool1of LinkedIn.  Simply being inactive is a mistake that must be avoided.

Solution: Update your contacts with LinkedIn status posts regularly.  This will allow you to show them what activities you are involved in, who you are getting to know professionally and what articles and information are of interest to you.  Users can also tout their accomplishments, authored articles and disseminate media coverage.  Update your profile daily or several times each week.  The more often you post updates and information the more your contacts will see you and can learn about who you are and what you do.

Mistake: Skipping the summary portion of your profile. Filling out the summary is crucial to being found in search results.  An incomplete profile, especially one that focuses only on what you do instead of who you are, can be a problem.

Solution:  Every word in your summary counts so make sure to fill out a detailed summary of yourself and what you want to achieve with your LinkedIn profile.  Some people choose to use bullet points to highlight activities and services.  The design and layout is up to you and may depend on your goals and the industry you are in.   Keywords in your profile and your title assist you to come up in internal LinkedIn searches.   Business owners, recruiters and consultants will search specific terms, and if you include these terms into your profile the likelihood of you being found by the right people will increase significantly.  You will get more views to your profile, and remember each view to your profile is a new business prospect.

Mistake: Not adding past jobs or volunteer work experience. It may not seem important, but adding these will present the best image of who you are.  These activities as well as involvement in real world groups and charities demonstrate that you are a person who is interesting and has connections.

Solution: Elaborate on past job history and volunteer work.  List as much information about what tasks you accomplished during each venture and what new skills you acquired.  For those with limited information or work experience, volunteer activities can help bolster a profile and give business contacts or even recruiters a better idea of who you are and what personal assets you possess.

Mistake: Failing to be active in groups. Not participating in groups hinders a person’s ability to make connections and demonstrate knowledge and leadership.

Solution: Take part in discussions in LinkedIn groups. This activity will help to get you noticed as a thought leader, job seeker or expert.  Discussions and sharing information keeps you relevant and visible.  Groups are a great place to ask questions, show expertise and enhance credibility.

Mistake: The final and worse mistake you can make is not having a photo or having an unflattering photo connected to your LinkedIn profile. 

Solution: Make sure to have a professional and clear picture of yourself on your LinkedIn profile.  You are seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have a photo.  A missing picture will lead to missed opportunities.  A good photo will also help you in real world networking.  People you meet will recognize you when you walk into a room.  Remember your photo is an important part of your image and your personal brand.  You must always present the best image possible in the real world and online.fool3

Take a few minutes to make sure that you never look like a fool on LinkedIn.

Sources:

http://newgradlife.blogspot.com/2009/10/13-linkedin-mistakes-you-should-avoid.html

http://www.thedailymuse.com/job-search/8-linkedin-mistakes-you-should-never-make/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+daily-muse/WQfD+%28The+Daily+Mu.se%29

http://www.recruitmentrevolution.com/news/2013/03/common-linkedin-mistakes-how-to-avoid-them

http://theundercoverrecruiter.com/four-linkedin-mistakes-could-hurt-your-career/

http://www.businessinsider.com/common-linkedin-mistakes-2012-8?op=1

 

“How am I doing?” a personal branding lesson from Mayor Ed Koch

Mayor

Ed Koch, three-term Mayor of New York City, passed away today. Mayor Koch developed, grew and maintained a personal brand that we can all take away many lessons from. I have written about politics and how it is the ultimate forum for personal branding before. When you look at politicians and public figures over the past half century Mayor Koch was certainly one of the standouts. His personality and brand resonated well beyond the boundaries of New York City.

I met and saw Mayor Koch several times and heard him speak in person on a few occasions. There was no doubt his presence in a room was felt by everyone. Whether you agreed with him or not you knew his point of view and he stuck to it. People knew where he stood on issues and his other interests, something that we could use more of today in both politics and business. His direct style angered some, but there is no disagreement that he will be remembered as one of the most straightforward Mayors in New York City’s long history.

From a PR and media relations perspective Koch didn’t shy away from the media and was comfortable in any media setting. From hosting radio shows to holding as many as 10 press conferences in just one day, he saw the power in the media and used it. We could all benefit from politicians who host more press conferences and provide candid answers to questions.St Pat's

What I always appreciate about Mayor Koch was his desire to get feedback about the job he was doing. The “How am I doing?” question that the catch phrase he uttered thousands, if not tens of thousands of times, is unforgettable in itself. Koch wanted approval and to find out what the “people” of New York truly felt about him. When was the last time you asked this question to your customers, clients, business contacts and those you work with? If it has been a while, start asking this question periodically. Small businesses can take it a step further, conduct a survey of clients and customers to find out what they think about how you are doing. You may be surprised at what you learn.

Social media allows businesses to constantly ask this question. Add surveys and questions about service to your social media activities and assess the responses. Be prepared for the responses you receive and listen to them. Let them help you to modify your customer service, marketing and sales approaches.

Be straightforward, stick to what you believe and your goals and get feedback from customers. All lessons that we can learn from looking at the life, politics and personality of Mayor Ed Koch.

PERSONAL BRAND TUNE UP FOR 2013

Your personal brand is how people perceive you, good or bad, in your market, industry, community and organization.  The beginning of the year is a good time to assess your brand and determine what’s working and what needs improvement.

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Start with the basics and ask yourself these questions.
How do I want people to perceive me?  Is what their impression of me what I want and what I expected?  There are several ways to determine the answers.  Start by looking at your social media.  Have you been picking up friends and followers consistently?  Are followers and friends liking your posts? Are they sharing and commenting?  Are you getting endorsements and recommendations on LinkedIn?  If the answer to each question is yes, your brand is resonating.

If you are not getting the desired response, look at what you are posting and examine if it is consistent with you brand goals and mission.  A direct way to find out if your brand’s message is effective is to personally ask contacts.  Ask people who you know will give you honest and straight answers.  Don’t ask yes men; the truth may hurt, but a little pain today will help you focus and reach your long term desired goals.

Assess you goals and mission.  Clarify them or if you don’t have a mission and passion statement create them.

No tune up would be complete without setting goals.  Goals for your brand can be diverse, but they should all focus on the spreading your message, attracting attention and building your follower base.  The larger and more involved your follower base the greater traction and amplification your brand will receive.   These are some examples of personal branding goals:
1) Post daily on social media content consistent with your brand.
2) Create interesting and engaging brand content (blog posts, video posts, social media posts).
3) Share information from others that is consistent with your brand.
4) Create a personal marketing time budget. (Ask yourself how much time will you spend marketing yourself in the real world and cyber world?)
5) Set weekly, monthly and yearly community growth goals.  (Ask yourself how many LinkedIn connections, twitter followers and Facebook fans do you need?)

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Your image matters.  Therefore a personal brand tune up should include new photos on social sites and profiles.  Change your Facebook page image and customize your backgrounds on twitter, YouTube and other sites.

Profiles get old fast. Review your profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and website. Update them with new or current activities.  Mention recent successes, accomplishments and affiliations. This keeps your information and personal brand fresh.

Perception is reality.  It’s up to you to take control of how your brand is viewed and how it is projected.  We live in a competitive world and failure to build and tune up your brand regularly will slow its growth allowing competitors and others to grab attention that should have been yours.

Do You Need a Blog? The Personal Branding Perspective

Why should I have a blog?  This is a question many of us in the marketing arena are often asked.  From the personal branding perspective the answer is absolutely.  A blog is where your personal brand is shaped.  Unlike a static website or social media profile, a blog is where an individual’s personal brand comes to life.  It’s where you can express your opinions and passions and demonstrate your experience.  It’s where people get to know you, what you are interested in and what you are about.  Your blog creates the narrative for your brand and allows you to express yourself how you want to in the way that you want to.

Image c/o kathybackus.files.wordpress.com/

From a business perspective, why should a person blog?  Besides creating a brand narrative, blogging helps to build relationships.  Writing timely, topical, fun and informative posts builds a following.  Have you seen Amy Adams and Meryl Streep in the movie Julie & Julia?  The film demonstrates the power of blogging, and how it can impact an individual’s life or business.  I won’t give away the plot, but the main character played by Amy Adams follows her cooking passion and writes about her struggles and successes.  Her creativity, writing ability, emotion and content slowly began to resonate and attract a following, media attention and much more.  Social media expert Seth Godin said, “It doesn’t matter who reads your blog.  What matters is the humility that comes from writing (a blog)….the meta-cognition of thinking about what you’re going to say.  How do you force yourself to describe in three paragraphs why you did something, how do you respond out loud?  [Blogging] forces you to make yourself part of the conversation.”

What Will You Blog About?

What should you blog about?  There are no rules here, but certainly something you’re interested in, an expert on or something you are passionate about.  If you have trouble coming up with blog post ideas then maybe you should look to another subject for inspiration.  A blog does not have to be all about business.  Watch Julie and Julia and you will see what I mean. If you are looking to grow your personal brand and build relationships with people, post what you are passionate about and interested in.  Readers will connect and engage with you.  If you build your following and readership with content that you enjoy creating, then blogging will be a joy instead of a chore.

Be Consistent

Consistency matters when blogging.  Some may find that once a day or once a week works, while others determine twice a month works for them.  No matter the schedule, stick to it.  Consistency is vital to maintain reader interest.  According to Jane Sheeba, author of Pro Blogging Success, “choosing a blogging frequency depends on various parameters for different people.”  She emphasizes that blogging frequency is dependent on many factors including the blogger’s goals and preferences, the type of blog, and how new the blog is.

Time Limitations

We are all pressed for time in our fast-paced world.  Many of us have limited time to read and research topics we are interested in.  We want information in a short and concise format.  Susan Gunelius, author of About.com’s Blogging Guide says, “Most people who read blogs don’t have a lot of time or patience to read thousands of words of content. They’re looking for quick access to information or entertainment. Therefore, you should try to write succinctly and use headings to break up long blocks of text.”  Blog posts should be a reasonable length that allows information and messages to be conveyed.  For blogs that provide how-to or do-it-yourself advice, the length may be longer, but consider using bullet points. This will allow you to get the same message out but with fewer words.

A personal brand focused blog needs to be promoted in order to attract followers, subscribers and readers.  Besides including keywords, tags and categories in and with the blog specifically, the following are several simple strategies for getting the word out:

  • Post a link to your blog on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (use a shortened link)
  • Use Facebook applications such as Networked Blogs to allow your blog to also reside on Facebook
  • Send your blog link to your contact list and ask people to subscribe
  • Ask friends to share and recommend your blog on social media and directly
  • Put the link to your latest blog in your email signature – highlight the topic
  • Each time you blog, ask 20, 30 or 50 or more people what they think of it? Share their comments and ask them to follow.

There are literally millions of blogs.  According to Hat Trick Associates there may be as many as 450 million English language blogs as of 2011 and possibly close to a billion if you count all languages.  Many of these blogs have virtually no readers.  These brands aren’t growing they are stagnant.  Become a successful blogger and create a brand that reflects you and your passions in life and business.  Start by determining what you will write about, find the platform that works for you and start posting.  Remember to be consistent and proactively promote your blog.  To grow your brand and blog you need to tend to it, nurture it, create content for it and build relationships with it.

Author:

This article is provided by Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations, Inc., a leading media relations, social media and personal branding consulting firm.  For more information, go to corbettpr.com or to his blog corbettprblog.com.  He can be reached at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com or @wjcorbett.

* Origionally published on www.digitalethos.com on May 2, 2012.

Tips to Extend Media Coverage

Media coverage is not easily obtained, but comes at a great cost and effort.  It is highly sought after because of the credibility and significant exposure derived from it.  Today’s media cycle is constantly moving, which gives many stories short-term relevance but a long-term shelf life.  When a company or an organization does get a story in the press, it must do everything it can to leverage its exposure quickly to secure a return on investment.  Below are several strategies for ways of extending the life and brand-building power of hard-earned media coverage.

Social Sharing

Use your social media infrastructure to promote press coverage.  Post links immediately on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest (photos) and/or others.  Social media is a direct conduit to an organization’s fans, followers and “likers.”  Social media allows you to get the message out quickly and efficiently, but remember, every social media platform is different and each message should be customized to each site.  All coverage must include the link to the story or video.  If the link is too long, use a tool like bit.ly to shorten it.  Post at different times of the day and week to maximize the reach of the post.

Don’t Forget Images

Images are important.  Select the best image to include with the post and make sure to stress key messages in posts describing what the story is about.  Photos and media outlet logos help attract attention, shares, likes and retweets.

Proper Crediting

Post the article or a link on your website and/or blog.  Keep in mind that you may need to get permission to reproduce a published article or video.  Post coverage links in the groups you belong to on Facebook and LinkedIn and in appropriate threads on sites like Digg and Reddit.

Teamwork is Vital

Teamwork is key.  Company employees, friends and contacts can share positive company news in the groups they belong to on social media.  A collaborative effort can help increase the exposure exponentially.

Debra Vilchis, Chief Operating Officer of Fishman Public Relations, proposes creating an e-mail message to send to “customers, coworkers, and friends, pretty much anyone you know.” Share with them the press coverage directly, or include a link to the video or print story.

Communications

Communicate the company’s success and media coverage internally to employees and vendors.  Include the coverage prominently in electronic or print company newsletters.  Every company should have a news area on its website.  Links to stories should be placed here.  Multiple story links demonstrate that the business and its principals are industry leaders and experts.  Positive media coverage can increase company morale and productivity, and enhances the company’s credibility and stability to outside partners and vendors.

PR pro John Lee said, “Depending on where your story lands on the media food chain, use it as a stepping stone to garner more coverage.  Compelling print and online stories can be the best way to generate TV coverage, especially when they include a compelling human interest story.  Use print coverage prominently in a pitch to TV, but emphasize the visual aspects to the story, and if possible, suggest a fresh angle or an interesting person who can be interviewed.”

Publicity trainer and speaker Nancy Juetten suggests “creating a custom signature for your outgoing emails [because it] makes it easy for clients and prospects to read about your good news and remark upon it.”

Media coverage is a vital part of branding, credibility enhancement and promotion.  It is    positive third-party content, which must be pushed out on social media streams.  Good coverage can and should be repurposed periodically to ensure key individuals and target audiences see it and learn important information about you and your business.  Media coverage offers unmatched credibility enhancement and promotion.  The value it provides cannot be easily measured, but it is worth many times more than advertising and other forms of marketing.  When you get the coverage use it.

*Previously posted on www.digitalbrandmarketing.com

Extending the Value of Trade Show Marketing with Social Media

This article originally appeared February 23, 2012 on Digital Brand Marketing Education & Interactives

Social media networking and marketing allows businesses to reach and provide tremendous amounts of information to clients, prospects and referral sources.  However, face-to-face marketing still has an important place.  Trade shows are one area where social media can provide significant support to face-to-face efforts and create opportunities for overall event marketing success.  Exhibitors can use all the help they can get; The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reports that 80 percent of exhibitors make no attempts to follow up on their leads from trade shows. Considering how much is spent on trade shows this is a shocking statistic.

c/o http://skgtechnologies.com/

Trade shows are typically face-to-face, relationship-based marketing events.  However, when in-person marketing activities are combined with social media, sales success can be improved, and the effectiveness and lifespan of marketing messages and branding can be extended well beyond the trade show itself.

According to marketing industry veteran David Clark, “Ratcheting up your social media marketing, before, during, and after a trade show is proving to be one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your booth and cement the relationships.”

Before the show a business must leverage its collective social media presence to promote its appearance and related activities.  Post information, pictures and/or videos (perhaps a preview of a new product or video invitation to visit the booth) about the event, the business’s participation and/or booth activities.  The goal is to let people/prospects know the who, what, where and when and most importantly the why they should visit the company’s booth.  Use social media to promote contests, giveaways or prizes that will be connected with a specific trade show appearance.  If the trade show has its own hashtag, include it in all posts.  Hashtags can be used to engage audiences, generate buzz and form relationships.  Promoting the show in general helps attendance and all exhibitors should work together to mutually support each other.  Often show producers can help lead a team of exhibitors and provide them content to help them promote their appearance as well the show.

Getting Connected

Connect with the show organizer/producer, show marketing firm and other exhibitors with whom there may be synergies.  Non-competing exhibitors can use this strategy to build relationships and find cross selling opportunities as well.  Exhibitors and show managers can and should share content via social media. Starting early and being proactive will allow exhibitors to reach more people and prospects with a variety of messages and images and get a jumpstart on creating a buzz which will attracts booth traffic.   From a media relations perspective it is essential to get to know and communicate with show managers and their marketing firms.  Here is a link to a short video I recently published with a few tips on trade show public relations strategies.

c/o http://www.diymarketers.com/

Post often to social media sites during shows.  Show people what is happening and what will be happening at the booth or the show.  Invite people to check-in on Facebook or Foursquare, perhaps for a drawing or other reward (show special) or simply to invite people to visit the booth in person to learn about something new.  Be sure to remind attendees of the contests, giveaways, and all the exciting and interesting products or demonstrations happening at the booth.  Post information about the show, pictures, video, or gems of information from seminars or workshops.

According to trade show marketing professional Timothy McClain, by “link[ing] your Foursquare account to your Twitter and Facebook accounts…you [can] check in, add a special note, and it will appear with your location link on Twitter and graphical map on Facebook and be shared across your channels.”

At the booth businesses can use smart phones and social media apps to grow their social media “followers” directly on site.  Give access to social media pages in the booth by setting up a designated computer or tablet to allow users to “Like” the business on Facebook or follow on Twitter.  Recruit booth visitors to “Like” the business using their smart phones as well a QR (Quick Response) code can be used or link visitors to Facebook on their phones.  After Facebook is mobile enabled, people can then text “Like” and the business’s Facebook page username to 32665 and they will automatically “Like” the page.

After the show, continue to post pictures and video from the event.  Post pictures and create albums to Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, etc. to show booth activity and interactions.  Be sure to post thank you messages to the event organizers and to key prospects and contacts.  Social media can assist with follow up.  It provides the opportunity to present images, messages, video and other branded content in such a way that will allow prospects learn about the company, but not be hit with hard sales messages.  Use LinkedIn and Facebook direct messages to start conversations, share information and continue relationship building.

Social media’s role in the trade show space is growing.  It can make trades shows more fun, support branding and assist in the relationship building process.  This is key to building trust and we all know that people want to do business with people that they trust, like and know are capable of doing the job.  Social media can help create a buzz before the show, make interactions at the show itself more interesting and extend the marketing value of a tradeshow appearance.

The Perfect Pitch: Getting Your Story Out to the Media

Previously published on http://digitalbrandmarketing.com on January 11, 2012.

Despite the fact that nearly 300 newspapers closed and social media has grown over the past few years, securing media coverage is still one of the best ways to create a buzz about your brand, your products and your services.

Carrie Lee from FIOS1-TV interviews Roger Kahn, President of Champion Office Suites

With the rise of blogs, online magazines and stable local television news programming (broadcast, cable and online), there are many outlets where businesses and individuals can get their stories told and reach tens of thousands, if not millions.

The key to securing media coverage is creating the right pitch with the appropriate information and sending it to the right media person.  No matter how much the media changes and no matter what outlet is being pitched these rules always apply.

Members of the media are not in the business of writing ads or commercials for you. They want news and information that is relevant to their readers and of interest to them. When pitching remember you want to get to know to whom you are pitching. Think like a reporter or editor. Research reporters and follow them on social media and build a relationship. According to Kara Sassone’s 5 Tips for Getting Media Coverage Using Social Media, on Hubspot.com blog, pay attention to what journalists are posting. If relevant get involved in the conversation.

What makes a good pitch? According to comments made by Douglas Fruehling, editor of the Washington Business Journal, in a blog by Christine Cube: Tips for Pitching Business Editors on PR Newswire’s Profnet Blog, the key is to know the organization and the news outlet before a pitch is even made. Pitching without knowing the outlet or the media person is a major problem that I often see non-media relations professionals making. It hurts their chances to get a story and limits the ability to build a relationship with a member of the media over the long term.

Do you want to get your story out to the media? Here are two sites that you can start with today:

Help A Reporter Out (HARO)

This site has been around for a number of years and there is no cost to sign up. After you create an account you receive regular e-mails with lists of queries from members of the media looking for sources. If you are an expert or have information in the subject matter they are asking about you can submit a pitch.

Advantage: Multiple opportunities are sent to you ever day and some come from major news outlets including The New York Times, USA Today and CNNMoney.com. You could get a major hit by using this service.

Disadvantage: Because this is free there are many subscribers. This means that if you submit a pitch you are probably competing with dozens, possibly hundreds of others. Reporters may stop looking at pitches once they have found one that they like. On this site you also do not communicate directly with reporters so you never know their e-mail address. This limits the ability to follow up on a pitch.

Reporter Connection:

This free site provides regular emails to subscribers seeking to pitch stories to the media. E-mails contain media pitch requests and users submit requests through an online portal.

Advantage: Free and easy to use online portal for submitting information. Fewer subscribers which make your chances of getting a story better.

Disadvantage: Fewer opportunities coming from fewer media outlets. This service does not have as many large media outlets, but they do have national radio programs and others who frequently ask for sources.

Pitching the media is an art form and it takes skill, creativity and knowledge of what the media is looking for. However, if you have a good story, are an expert source and have the time, utilize these free services and put your pitching skills to the test.

Author:

This article is provided by Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations, Inc., a leading media relations, social media and personal branding consulting firm. For more information go to corbettpr.com or to his blog corbettprblog.com.

He can be reached at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com. Twitter @wjcorbett

Sources:

Vocus: Sneak Peak: State of Social Media

5 Tips for Getting Media Coverage Using Social Media

Tips for Pitching the Business Media

Stop Using Social Media Now…If You Don’t Have A Plan

Your Social Media Plan: Why you need one and first steps

(This blog was origionally published on the Digital Brand Marketing Education Blog – www.digitalbrandmarketing.com )

Over the years I have conducted workshops and sat on panels discussing social media and marketing.  From these interactions it has become clear that many businesses and individuals struggle with understanding and using social media to market effectively.  However, social media is an important marketing tool for every business and an element that needs to be incorporated into every marketing plan.  According to an August 2011 survey Marketing in the Digital World conducted by Zoomerang.com, nearly half of the small businesses surveyed are utilizing social media to market to customers.  This survey noted that the most effective tactics for businesses to reach customers through social media is with wall posts and direct messages.  The survey stated that the most important reasons small businesses use social media are to connect with customers, enhance visibility and self-promote.

Social media strategies need to be tied together with a comprehensive marketing plan.  Without a plan, social media marketing can be a colossal waste of time. However, with the right approach it can reap tremendous branding and marketing rewards.  A social media marketing plan outlines the proper use of time, effort and money.  Unfortunately most small business owners are not marketing professionals and do not approach social media with a marketing perspective.

It is impossible to outline a complete plan in this blog, but I will discuss the first important steps needed to get started.  A successful plan does not have to be complex and it can be created and implemented quickly.

To successfully harness the power of social media for marketing, users need to understand it, understand how their customers and contacts are using it and how they are going to use it.  I purposely did not mention sales because one of the greatest misconceptions is that social media is a sales tool.  Social media is a branding and marketing tool used to build relationships and brand awareness, which can lead to referrals and sales.

The first step in the process of creating a plan is education.  Individuals and businesses must learn how their target audiences use social media and what sites they use.  It is essential to find out as much as possible about the behavior of clients and prospects.  Collecting and reviewing this information is an important part of the process.  For example, LinkedIn can be an ideal site for your business if you want to connect with other active business networkers.  According to a Lab42 survey of 500 Americans who were registered with LinkedIn, 35 percent check the site daily and 42 percent update their profiles regularly.  From this we can see that a large number of LinkedIn users are active on the site. These users are interested in keeping their profiles up-to-date for others to view.  Therefore LinkedIn’s business-focused online community is an ideal social media platform that should be included in a business’ social media marketing plan.

The research and information gathering phase will allow you to understand target audiences and choose the right social communities and sites to use.

Ask questions such as:

  • Where do clients, potential clients or referral sources interact online?
  • Where are my clients and prospects gathering, posting and commenting?
  • Who are the leaders in my sector and where can I find and listen to them online?
  • Where can I listen and participate in conversations online to grow my personal or business brand?

With this information in hand, strategies can be implemented and goals can be set directing where, how often and what messages should be posted.

Based on the research and information gathered about current and potential followers and customers, set up or expand your social media accounts.  This may mean creating a Facebook business page and/or group, a LinkedIn company page or group, a YouTube channel or a Flickr account for photos.  Twitter, Google+, Stumbleupon, Tumblr and other accounts may be part of this initial effort as well.   Each site has its advantages, and each has strategies for its use.  Currently, Facebook remains dominant in many categories including time spent on any U.S. website according to the NM Incite – Neilson State of Social Media: The Social Media Report Q3 2011.  The numbers are truly staggering to look at.  Facebook visitors spent over 53.5 billion total minutes on their site in 2010 according to the Neilson, Netview, Home and Work (May 2011) study of the Top 10 Web Brands.

Successful plans set realistic goals.  Goals should include consideration of ROI (return on investment), but must also consider the amount of time and effort put forth, what I call ROE (return on effort).  Social media marketing ROI is difficult to measure in terms of direct sales, but can be achieved when time and budgets are set.  At the beginning of a social media marketing campaign or program it may be difficult to judge how much time should be spent.  Start slow and allocate a specific number of hours necessary to achieve desired results.  Only add time when warranted.  Social media is not a waste of time, but it can be a tremendous time-waster.  You limit your exposure and potential losses by managing time wisely.

The investment of time and resources is worth it.  According to information published by CrowdSpring, 51 percent of Facebook friends and 64 percent of Twitter followers are more likely to buy the brands they follow or are a fan of.

This outlines the first steps in the process of creating and implementing a social media marketing plan.  Stay tuned for additional posts in which I will cover topics such as creating social media campaigns and marketing messages, personal branding, strategies for monitoring success, enhancing the power of media coverage with social media, online reputation management and protection, crisis management, business development strategies using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and others.

Don’t stop using social media – start using it now with a plan and goals.

Sources:

CrowdSpring
Lab42
Marketing in the Digital World
Neilson State of Social Media: The Social Media Report Q3 2011

13 Scary Social Media Mistakes to Avoid This Halloween

Nothing is scarier than watching people continuing to make social media mistakes.  It frightens me to think of all the time, money and effort wasted with ineffective and inefficient approaches to social media marketing.  Unfortunately many businesses and business people approach social media in a nonchalant way with no planning or goals.   At Corbett Public Relations we see this happening every day.

I offer many workshops: Grow Your Personal Brand and another on using social media to grow business are the most popular ones. Most attendees are eager to use social media, but almost all have no social media or marketing plan.  They are also overwhelmed in regards to where to start.  Whether you are already using social media, or just getting started, these are some common scary and time wasting mistakes you must avoid:

1) Don’t go in there! – Just like a group of unsuspecting teens who venture into a haunted house, remember you need to have a plan when approaching a social media marketing effort for yourself or your business.  Would Van Helsing go vampire hunting without a plan and wooden stakes for their hearts?  Start your planning with an assessment of what marketing you are doing now; research the social sites where your customers interact; completely set up your sites; link your social media sites, website and blog; and create goals with methods for measuring them (for a copy of my six week social media start up plan e-mail me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com).

2) Boo! –  Using social media to sell or, even worse hard sell, is a major mistake.  By doing this you will do the exact opposite of two of the major goals you want to accomplish with your social media activities – attract followers and start conversations.  If you try to sell you will scare many people away, probably forever.

3) What was that? –  This is a line often heard in scary movies.  Freaked out teens in an abandoned building are obviously scared, but what are they doing? They are hypersensitive to their environment and listening for danger. In the case of social media everyone needs to listen to customers, competition and other online influencers.   If you do not listen you will never understand your customers, the marketplace or know how to position your business and your messages.   Listen and you will avoid the danger of communicating messages nobody is interested in.

4) Scream – Social media is a two- way street with multiple intersections.  If you stand on the corner and shout your message at passing cars few will hear you and even fewer will care.   Your screaming (touting yourself, your

products or services) will eventually fall on deaf and uninterested ears.   People will listen to you if you speak with them and listen.  Answer their questions and give them a reason to pull over and listen to you.

5) The Swarm – There have been many scary movies about killer bees.  What we learn from these movies is that the saying, “never disturb a bees’ nest” is true.  The same goes for getting involved in cyber wars, arguments or discussions of religion and politics online.   As part of your social media activity you are seeking to show your expertise and build your brand.  Discussing these taboo topics can and will bring unwanted attacks and many negative comments.  This will drive people away and potentially hurt your brand and social media efforts.

6) Rotten Eggs – With Halloween comes mischief and unfortunately some destruction.   Throwing eggs is part of this tradition and is a practice that should be frowned upon by everyone.  Like an unwanted egg, an unwanted direct message or a poorly thought out,  error-filled post is equally undesirable.  Avoid sending direct messages asking for sales or with direct selling offers.   Build relationships before you ask for anything or even attempt to sell something.  The same goes for posting; if there is no purpose to it, don’t do it.  Posts should have interesting content, photos and videos whenever possible.    To build relationships and followers social media users need to be interesting, fun and informative.  You may only have one chance to make a good impression, make sure it’s the right one.

7) Trick – Don’t get tricked by high expectations for social media.  While social media can be very helpful and for some a strong business driver ROI (Return on Investment), for many, especially in the business to business world, this remains elusive.  Create a plan and look at social media as a long term investment in marketing and branding.   If you expect immediate gratification then you really have been tricked.

8) Trick or Treating – Did you ever plan out your trick or treating route when you were a kid?  Did you know the best blocks or houses for getting the most and best kinds of candy?  I bet many of you did.  For social media focus

on activities that work, spend time in communities (groups) where you can enhance your brand and attract followers.  Complete goals before moving on to new ones or developing new strategies.  Track your success with different social media sites and different communities and return to them.  Don’t go back or invest too much time on communities that proved to be more of a trick than a treat.

9) The Black Hole – Whether it’s a portal to another dimension or a black hole in space, it is important to avoid them.  Social media also has its own black hole – the black hole of time.  Social media can be a major time waster for many, like a vampire with a craving to suck blood social media sucks time away. Set specific “time budgets” for social media activities and only add time when you see efforts reap rewards or when they clearly demonstrate they are helping to achieve goals.

10) Your Costume – Have you ever won a costume contest?  Why do people win costume contests? The winners are usually creative, visually interesting, memorable and fun.  Your online image needs to have the same qualities.  Make sure you have a photo of yourself; one that makes you look good.  Spend the extra money to get a professional headshot done.  This image is important; studies show and social media experts report that without a photo people are less likely to connect with you or a business, follow you, comment on your posts or even read or look at what you post.

11) Zombies – What do zombies do?  They roam the earth looking to make a meal out of a live person.  In the social media world we also need to avoid zombies.  Zombies come to us in the way of viruses, spam and those engaged in fraud to get personal financial information.  Thankfully, viruses are less common via a social media but they do happen.  If you receive a direct message that looks strange, from someone you do not know or a message that suggests you check out a video or photo with you in it, delete this right away.  Knowing your enemy is important, but also be prepared.  If you use social media regularly make sure that you change your passwords from time to time, never share information that can be used by others to create accounts, make sure you back up your data remotely and often, and finally be prepared because you eventually will get a virus, malware attack or get hacked.  This is scary to think about.  Make sure your zombie (virus) protection plan is in place and software updated.  Protecting yourself will also help stop the virus from infecting others you are connected with on social media.  Spreading a virus is not a good way to attract friends, fans or followers.

12) Your Halloween Party – Who do you invite to your Halloween party?  Certainly friends, family and people you think will have a good time.  Would you invite people who you know would not wear a costume?  In social media you need to know who you have and who you want to have at your party.  The wrong people at the party could spoil it for everyone.  From people posting inappropriate content on your Facebook wall to LinkedIn “connections” who mine your client base for business, or worse steal your ideas (it’s happened to me), monitoring and carefully analyzing who follows you is important.   Take the time to review your followers on all social media sites; don’t let any questionable people into your community.  This does not mean preventing people you don’t know in, but do your best to vet them and watch what they are saying to members of your community.

13) Treats – A successful Halloween for me when I was young was all about having fun, maybe getting a little scared, collecting some great candy, and engaging in some harmless mischief.  A great costume attracted attention and some extra candy.  In addition, friends and family took photos and remembered the best costumes for years.   Social media can lead to treats or as I like to call them followers, referrals and business.  With a social media plan in place reputation and followers can be built on a growing basis.  By listening to followers and others, conversations can be started.  This will lead to relationships, real world meetings and eventually referrals and the best treat of all business.

Don’t be scared of social media.  For the new user it can be a little frightening but the rewards, both personal and business-related, can be significant.

What scares you about social media?  Let me know.

Communications Planning Before Natural Disasters

Have a plan and be prepared to use social media sites as a backup

This weekend the New York area is facing an impending hurricane, and recently experienced its first real earthquake

Hurricane Irene - 2011

in over 65 years. Today we should all be a little more aware of the potential natural disasters that can hit and disrupt business operations. As a public relations professional for over 20 years and President of Corbett Public Relations, I have seen all kinds of crisis situations, including natural and man-made disasters, impact clients. Natural disasters, including major snowstorm like those we experienced this last winter, are all reminders that we need to have a communications plan in place. The following are a few strategies to protect your business’ integrity, reputation and methods for communicating during and after a major weather event or any other disaster.

Today, more than ever, communication is a major priority for most businesses. We are all connected, possibly overconnected, and rely heavily on our technology. Natural disasters and technology don’t mix, and we must prepare for this.

It is vital to have a communications plan for keeping staff, clients and vendors informed about your business’ ability to function and meet their needs. If you plan to close before a big storm or if closing is contingent on the severity of the conditions, let everyone know immediately. Send e-mails, make phone calls, and change the message on your answering machine and cell phone.

We are lucky today: social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter offer additional vehicles for getting information out. Write updates on your own Facebook Wall and your Twitter feed about company plans, but also send direct messages to staff members and key clients and vendors. Let clients, contacts and staff know that you will be using social media sites for this purpose. Encourage them to check these sites and post information and/or questions. Post emergency contact numbers or temporary numbers as well as e-mail addresses where managers and company principals can be reached. Remember, keep your cell phone and laptop fully charged. Your proactive approach will demonstrate responsibility, and it will be appreciated by clients and staff alike.

Huricane Katrina Flooding

Should disaster strike and your office needs to close, and if power goes out or internet services go down, your office phones, e-mail server and office computer network will be out of commission. With your e-mail off line and website down, social media can be used as your backup. No matter how big the disaster Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will most likely all be up and running. These sites may become your only means of communicating with staff, customers and others. The beauty of social media is that updates can be done from your mobile device, laptop or home computer. Even if your power and home phone line are out, these updates can be made with your Smartphone. Remember, however, that cell phone towers have only an hour or so of battery backup so make sure if you have to post on your social media sites that you do so quickly.

Protect your data and have your contacts with you. The worst-case scenario resulting from a major weather incident would be the complete loss of proprietary data or even computers or servers. Take precautions and work with a credible information technology or remote backup company to protect your business’ most valuable asset. Keep a copy of your contact database on an external hard drive or thumb drive in case you have to operate from home and need your contacts’ e-mails and phone numbers. As I mentioned, social media sites may serve as vital communications for you and your business. Make sure you have all your passwords and e-mail accounts with you and a backup stored in a remote but accessible location.

Keeping a business communication flow open and working will show that you are a proactive and prepared operation. Clients need to know your status and how to contact you with their questions and possibly their emergencies. Failure to communicate properly with clients or not being able to provide service could damage your reputation and create issues. These issues could intensify and cause the loss of a client or, in extreme circumstances, businesses could shut down.

Although we can’t control the weather, we can control our own actions. So prepare your communications plan now for your business in order to minimize disruptions, reduce confusion and maintain the flow of information.

Boosting Trade Show Success

Bill Corbett Presents at Trade Show Seminar

Over the past month I have had the pleasure of offering several workshops on trade show marketing and strategies for success with Judy Fairbanks, VP of Sales & Marketing for Skyline New York and, Rob Fishman, Partner of Sandler Sales Training Institute.  Events events were held at Skyline New York’s modern facility in Hauppauge, New York.  

My firm Corbett Public Relations  has promoted many trade shows and we have assisted many clients who use trade shows to market their products and services.  The sessions that I am giving with Judy and Rob continue to help me find new strategies and look at the overall trade show experience from different perspectives.  It remains clear that exhibitors of any company need help in being more successful and securing ROI from trade show appearances. 

There are many benefits of being involved in trade shows.  Shows allow businesses to be directly in front of people, demonstrate products and services and start relationships.  We are in a day an age where online communication is dominant, it’s great to see people face to face and have real interactions.  This also means getting out from behind the desk to promote and selling a product or service.  Selling and promoting effectively takes skill, planning and a system.   

The following are five quick strategies that must be part of successful trade show appearances:  

  1. Plan- To be successful in any marketing effort you need to plan.  Start by working the calendar backwards. Set dates for materials to be ready, for publicity efforts and creating campaigns to invite prospects to your booth.  Remember 60 percent of people who attend trade shows go on a mission to see you specifically or to look for a specific product or service.  Don’t forget to contact the show producer, they want to help you promote your appearance and be successful.   
  2. Promote Appearance- Create your online trade show promotions and use social media. List your trade show appearances on your website, create a Facebook event page, create a special Twitter account or hashtag and certainly create your media kit with a press release.  Alert the media and the show producer if you have new products or services that you will be introducing at the show.   
  3. Training- Educate and train all booth/exhibit workers. Start this process early and make sure everyone knows what they need to know about the products and services offered.  Have them practice their elevator pitch but most importantly help them create questions to assist them to start conversations.  Remember it is as important to listen and ask questions, as it is to talk about the benefits of your products and services.  Hard selling will never get you leads, but conversations and solving problems will. 
  4. Exhibits and Booth- Take the advice of the professionals like those at Skyline New York. Create open and inviting booths that do not overload show attendees with too much information.  Create a booth that is open, inviting, branded clearly and interesting. 
  5. Next Steps and Following Up- Did you know that 80 percent of leads that are received at a trade show never receive a follow up? This is a tremendous loss of money and time.   In order to be successful, take the time to create a clear system for qualifying leads and procedures for following up.  As Judy Fairbanks says “the real trade show starts when the breakdown of the booth starts.”  Set up your system and even block off a day or two for specific follow up after the show.  Quick follow up is essential.   

These are just a few basic strategies to think about for enhancing trade show success.  The workshops we are offering at Skyline New York hit on these topics and many others. 

For Additional Trade Show Tips from Skyline:

 http://www.skylinenewyork.com/Seminars/Successful-Trade-Show-Marketing-Strategies/

http://www.skylinenewyork.com/Seminars/Trade-Show-Marketing-Strategies-For-Todays-Economy

A week in the life of a PR Pro with a little twist – test driving a BMW 750i

Checking out the 750i

People often wonder what it’s like to work in public relations, and although it is a lot of work, sometimes it has its perks.  This week I have the distinct pleasure of test driving a fully loaded 2011 BMW 750i on loan to me from BMW of Bayside.  During the test drive week I will be sharing my observations and comments about the 750i as I go through all the activities in my busy schedule.   I will not be compensated for these activities and my comments about the BMW 750i.

As a father of 20-month-old twins and president of Corbett Public Relations, I am constantly on the go and I thought it would be fun to write about my experiences.  I’m interested to see what the impact of driving a luxury vehicle like this is like.  Let me know what you think.  Send your questions and answer the trivia questions I will be posting along the way; you can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. (twitter @liprguy or @wjcorbett  and hashtag #corbettbmw)

 

Day 1 – Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It was a beautiful day in the New York metropolitan area with clear skies and a bit of humidity.  After a brief stop at my office to collect equipment and materials for a presentation on “How to Boost Your Trade Show Efforts,” I got a quick lift to BMW of Bayside located just a few miles from my office In Floral Park.  I was greeted by Peter Turano, General Sales Manager and Bill Finsilver, VP of Sales.  After a brief conversation they had me sign some paperwork and then it was off for a once over of the sleek black 2011 BMW 750i.

BMW 750i

The car is truly great to look at and is packed with technology and all that is needed to ride in luxury and comfort.  I have driven in BMW’s before and even test driven a few over the years.  I also did some research before picking up the car and was prepared.  However, upon sitting in the vehicle I was very impressed with the modern layout, computer display and automatic gear shifter, a feature that was new to me.

Once on the road I found out quickly that the acceleration was responsive when I had to merge quickly onto a busy late morning Northern Boulevard.  A few moments later I was on the highway heading to Hauppauge.  Traffic on the LIE was light, which was unusual as most of us from the area know.  I made my way quickly across Nassau County and along the way I tested the radio, navigation system and voice commands.  After some trial and error I felt comfortable with this high-tech system.

Bill with Judy and Rob at Skyline New York

I arrived at my first stop, the offices of Skyline New York a leading trade show and exhibit booth design and manufacturing company.  I was greeted by Judy Fairbanks from the company and Rob Fishman of Sander Training.  Together we provided an informative workshop for local business owners and executives seeking to get more out of their trade show appearances.  We discussed trade show planning and social media topics, subjects that are regularly part of my day to day life in public relations.  Judy and Rob were excellent and the venue featured a new showroom with some of the best looking trade show exhibits I have ever seen.  This was the first of a series of events we are offering every Wednesday this summer.  I was happy to have the 750i as my luxury ride to this event.

Following this program I used the navigation system to find my way to an IHOP on Motor Parkwaya few miles away.  I arrived on time for a meeting with artist and graphic designer Jan Guarino, owner of the Guarino Graphics and Studio.  I have known Jan for a number of years.  We share a number of clients and we are involved in a few networking groups together.  We had a late “lunch” and discussed some business synergies.

After our meeting I was off for home to meet my wife and pick up our twins.  On the way I was called by a few clients and did a 15 minute interview on crisis communications for a national trade magazine.  Yes, always working.  On the way home to Long Island’s south shore I tested the handling of the 750i.  Accelerating and maneuvering from lane to lane was a breeze.  The luxury setting made the ride very comfortable.  After the presentation, meetings and managing a few dozen calls and e-mails, it was quite a stressful day.  The comfort of the 750i helped me to relax.

Wrapped up the day with dinner including grilled bratwurst (actually weisswurst – “white wurst” a common food served in Munich the home of what automobile company?)

Stay tuned for day 2.

Bill Corbett – BMW Week Day 2

After a busy day July 7th, I started Thursday, July 8th with a breakfast meeting at the Sea Crest Diner in Old Westbury with Ira Kader of KW Graphics.  Ira is a member of LINX networking group which, I joined a few months ago.  We had a productive conversation and we both learned more about each other’s businesses. Ira is also a father of twins; he shared some of his parenting wisdom with me as well.

After breakfast I jumped into the 750i.  I tested the different ride settings including the two sports settings.  This feature is great you can really feel the steering and breaks tighten.

I spent the next few hours working on client media pitches, press releases and preparing for upcoming meetings.  In the early afternoon, I met with a number of business prospects and with Neil and Steve Levin of Webline Designs.  Neil is also a member of LINX, and I work with his other son Jon of Cardinal Trade Group on business to business trade shows and events.

After the meeting, I had a PR activities recap call with the marketing team at Teachers Federal Credit Union, New York State’s largest credit union and a Corbett Public Relations client for several years.  On the run again, I grabbed the “keys” to the BMW 750i and headed out.  The keyless entry is convenient because I am always carrying a bag, cameras and other materials.

The afternoon looked gloomy with a thunderstorm rapidly approaching. I was actually looking forward to testing the 750i in the rain.  I received my opportunity on the way to my last meeting of the day with Evan Bloom of Sir Speedy of Westbury.  Evan and I had a very productive meeting, discussing his company’s growth and planning a seminar that, we will be doing together later this month at the Brooklyn Library.  The seminar will be on mobile marketing and social media.  Evan and I regular offer workshops focusing on new marketing technology including QR codes, social media and personalized marketing.  I gave Evan a quick overview of the 750i.

The meeting with Evan was the last of the day, but the work day was not over.  Wet roads gave me the opportunity to test the handling of the 750i.  The road conditions did not matter the vehicle performed superbly, even in the 5 mile per hour traffic jam that I was stuck in for about an hour.

Day two ended with me pulling the 750i into the garage.  I was impressed that when the remote was pressed, the handles on the car illuminated brightly with LED lights.  It lookedimpressive and stylish.

Day 3-  BMW Week

Day three started off quickly.  I was hosting a meeting at my office for the Preferred Provider Network’s Advisory Board.  On the way I stopped a New York Bagels in Franklin Square.   I received two complements on the 750i when I was entering store.

Arriving at my office at 7:30 am, I was greeted by two long time friends Adam Schwam of Sandwire and Bruce Libman of Total Networking and Consulting.  The Advisory board meeting covered many topics.  We are always looking to enhance meetings and give members greater value and tools to grow their businesses. Some interesting new ideas were developed that will be implemented at the next meeting.  We had valuable input from CPA Gary Orkin and Attorney Glenn Franklin partner with the firm of Franklin Gringer and Cohen.

On a daily basis I work with clients to help them to improve events, promote events and create new ways to develop business and relationships.  I have worked with this group and the National Network of Accountants founder Joe Tucciarone for over 12 years.

Friday’s in the summer were once quite but now, I find that the firm is very busy managing multiple media relations programs and social media programs for over 25 clients.  After juggling a half dozen client calls and a few dozen e-mails, I quickly drafted a social media marketing program for a new project I am working on.  The remainder of the day included finishing up a proposal and working with a client to make sure information was ready for a Newsday story to be published in the next day or two.

This was a productive week, actually slower than a typical week for me.  I have a few small projects I want to take care of over the weekend but I also want to spend some time with my wife and twins as well as enjoy taking a few random spins in the BMW 750i around Long Islandfor pure pleasure.

Videos

 

Picking up BMW 750i

Video BMW Controls

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Overview with Adam Schwam

Donald Trump and Charlie Sheen – Personal Branding Winner and Loser

"The Donald"

You know that you’ve made it in the world of personal branding when you have a highly-recognized nickname and just the thought of you running for President of the United States creates a national buzz. Having a well-known tagline and distinguishing characteristics can also play an important role in attracting attention and followers.

My personal branding winner is Donald Trump…yes, “The Donald.”  Mr. Trump is considering running for President and is making some good points and some controversial ones along the way. Is this a “PR ploy” or is he serious?  No stranger to media stunts and controversy, Trump says he will give us his decision in June. From a publicity perspective, “The Donald” is handling this “campaign” with confidence and making his case on major media programs. Each appearance also provides opportunities for his businesses and TV shows to get extra plugs and promotion. Trump is no stranger to personal branding, from his shoot-from-the-hip persona and signature “hairstyle” to his many skyscrapers, casinos and other ventures that bear his name. Love him or hate him, “The Donald” is a personal branding winner.

Charlie Sheen

Sheen Video Rant

Speaking of “winning,” our personal branding loser of the week is Charlie Sheen.  It is almost impossible to avoid talking about Charlie Sheen, seeing him on TV and the web or reading about him. The enormity of Sheen’s media coverage is staggering, but personal branding is not all about getting the ink, airtime or Twitter followers. Media coverage for the wrong reasons does not help to grow a well-regarded brand. While having a tagline or catch phrase is great, when it is distorted or misunderstood it hurts a brand. Charlie’s “winning” and other wacky quips face such mockery that they point to a losing strategy.

With a career that spans from a brilliant performance in Platoon to recently being booed and jeered on stages from Detroit to New York, Charlie Sheen has seen many ups and downs. He may want to take a cue from fellow “Brat Packer” Rob Lowe who eased his own career roller-coaster ride after a sex tape scandal by keeping a low profile, refraining from reactive commentary and owning up to his mistakes. Lowe put his past behind him and maintained his career and the favor of the Hollywood elite.

I say “sorry Charlie,” because his confused, disturbing and even jarringly incoherent messages and rants make him a personal branding loser. However, based on Sheen’s resilient career, I would not be surprised if he transforms to become one of my “winners” in the future.

Who would you nominate as your personal branding winner and loser?

Personal Branding Winner and Loser – March – Chris Brown and Ralph Macchio

Bill Corbett’s Personal Branding Winner and Loser – March

Periodically I am going to include personal brand winners and losers on my blog. Two individuals stood out to me last month.

Video - Chris Brown on Good Morning America

For his Good Morning America (GMA) rant and chair-throwing incident Chris Brown is our personal branding loser of the week. We all heard about Mr. Brown’s antics following his interview with GMA’s Robin Roberts. Although Roberts clearly pushed the issue regarding Brown’s legal woes and tangles with former girlfriend Rihanna, Brown should have kept his cool. When trying to rehab a personal brand it is important to convey that the behaviors and issues in question have been resolved. In other interviews and statements Chris Brown has apologized and said that he will not behave “badly.” However, it is clear that following his GMA interview to promote his new album there continue to be issues he needs to overcome. From a personal branding perspective his behaviors last week place him in our loser category. Ironic as it seems, the latest upsurge in notoriety (even infamy) and expanded name recognition will probably enhance Brown’s album sales due to the massive media coverage that helped him regain a larger piece of America’s mindshare. We are happy that Brown apologized for his behavior because this is the first and most important step in personal brand rehab.

Our winner of the week is Ralph Macchio. Yes, the “Karate Kid” himself returned to the spotlight and captured the attention of millions. Ralph is competing on the popular television program “Dancing with the Stars.” Matched with professional dancer Karina Smirnoff, Ralph showed his dancing skills and charisma and wowed the judges and viewers. His first performance received the highest scores of the night proving that — just like his character “Danny” in the Karate Kid trilogy (yes, there were three films) — Ralph himself rises to the occasion. Ralph is our winner this week not only because he became a popular figure in the media, but because he resurrected his personal brand in a positive way. Fans, young and old, have been captivated by his return and are rooting for him. This

Video - Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnof

demonstrates that while Macchio experienced relative obscurity from the spotlight for many years, his fan base and personal brand remain strong. All of us on Long Island, where Ralph hails from, wish “Daniel son” the best as the competition continues. We hope that the fanfare around his new kicks and moves — this time on the dance floor instead of the gym floor — will help to reinvigorate his career.

Do you have a personal brand winner or loser to nominate? Let me know.
wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

New Year’s Social Media Resolutions Failing? How about a Groundhog Day Promise?

Most likely you have already forgotten or fallen short on your New Year’s resolutions. This means you are free to make a Groundhog Day Promise.  Starting on Groundhog Day, February 2nd, simply promise yourself and your business that you will create and implement a real social media marketing program for the remainder of the year.

On February 2nd, Groundhog Day, we know what is going to happen: Punxsutawney Phil, Malverne Mel and Staten Island Chuck are going to see their own shadows.  This means six more weeks of cold, snowy, wintery weather.

Unless you are a “powered hound” and you live to ski or snowboard, the thought of six more weeks of winter can be depressing.  Going to work in the dark and returning home after the sun sets for six weeks may sound gloomy, but it need not be unproductive for you and your business.  Without a shadow of doubt, the groundhog has set the stage for you.  You now have six weeks to tweak your social media marketing program.

New Year’s resolutions are for the procrastinators.  The six-week approach is much better.   Why not review, revamp and implement a real social media marketing program for your business. No more excuses and no more simply dabbling with social media: it’s time to make the commitment.  Most businesses and people think they have a social media marketing program in place already, but the truth is that most have little more than a basic presence in the social media world.

Let’s admit that by seeing his shadow, the groundhog has given us a gift — six weeks of winter to put plans in action.  We recommend you take on the following tasks over the next six weeks and predict that at the end you will have a real social media program in place.

  • Investigate what is new in social media marketing
  • Review 2010 social media marketing successes and failure
  • Determine the ROI of past social media marketing efforts
  • Establish social media marketing budgets, timelines and time allocations
  • Create a new plan for social media marketing with defined goals
  • Implement a new social media marketing plan
  • Establish ongoing systems to assess social media marketing successes and failures

If you are looking for an in-depth Six-Week Social Media Marketing Plan with a list of  tasks to undertake each week, e-mail me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com.  I will send you a link to a six-week program outline that you can use to implement a social media marketing program for your business or for your personal brand.

You have six weeks to keep your promise to get your social media program up and running.  The perfect target date is March 15.  This date’s easy to aim for – recall Shakespeare’s famous quote: Beware the Ides of March. The great author is referring to the date Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was assassinated at the hand of Brutus and others.   The only thing you need to fear is failure to start the process.  Social media results will to not happen overnight but by starting now you can reap rewards and real ROI in the months to come.

Like the groundhog there is no need to be afraid of your shadow and run and hide.  Make the promise that you will take the  necessary steps to implement a real and effective  social media program.  Failure to do so will see you fall behind your competition, fail to be part of the online conversation in your industry and, finally, fail to grow your business and your personal brand.   Six weeks is not a long time, but it is a long-enough time period to get the elements of a plan in place.  Make the effort, and it will pay off for months and years to come.

Let me know how you do and if you need some support along the way send me your questions.

Can a Man Be Cool Driving a Minivan?

An intriguing commercial for a 2011 Honda Odyssey recently caught my attention.  I thought to myself,  “Could  I actually be considering a minivan for a future purchase.” This thought was coming from a guy who has only driven trucks and a mustang convertible over the past 20 years.

The creative commercial jarred my preexisting perception of the minivan as a boring utility vehicle for “Soccer Moms.”  From a branding and marketing perspective the commercial was done well, capturing my attention from the start with exploding pyrotechnics and the flash and roar of a panther for no particular reason.  The ad’s imagery and soundtrack, a heavy-metal Judas Priest song, “Hellion,” were more reminiscent of rock concerts I attended in the 80’s (band names to be withheld) than a minivan ad.

A Minivan for Guys

The commercial entitled “Rock Van,” was created by the advertising firm RPA.  The commercial was part of its campaign, “Vantasies,” and clearly focused on targeting men, like me, from Generations X and Y.

As a former Mustang owner and Jeep driver, I never thought I would ever even consider driving a minivan, but this commercial made the minivan seem “cool” (the van in the commercial being black, of course, with all the tech gizmos).  The commercial smartly focused on the Odyssey’s technology package offerings: premium speakers (for the best of the 80’s heavy metal) dual-screen DVD players, GPS navigation and the ever- important remote control that gives a man the power to open and close the rear hatch and sliding doors with the press of a button.  The ad was successful and blatant in its appeal to a man’s obsession with technology, gadgets and gizmos.

Marketing professionals are often faced with the concept of branding or rebranding a product, person or service.  Can this be accomplished?  We have seen many examples of failure; remember Coca Cola’s change to its traditional recipe or the GAP’s recent attempt to launch a new logo?  In the case the minivan, the market for the product has changed. Generations X and Y are growing up, and are in search of more sensible, family-friendly vehicle options that meet domestic needs as well as “guy” needs.    

For years I said to my wife, “You will never get me in a minivan.”  However, over the holidays, I was forced to rent a minivan to help me cart around our 14-month old twins, my wife, my mother-in-law and our mountain of accessories and holiday gifts.   There were no waling, screaming heavy-metal vocals or guitar solos, but the experience was more pleasant than I thought it would be.  I guess I am susceptible to branding messages too, and although I don’t think the minivan is in my near future, the possibility is not out of the question.  Honda’s commercial is a rockin’ example of how creative branding and advertising can change perceptions and drive sales to a new target audience.

Honda Odyssey “Rock Van” as link:

http://www.youtube.com/user/Honda#p/c/1F2F88164C76470D/26/zDjEeFRzv6A

RPA “Vantasies” press release

http://www.rpa.com/subsections/press.html?section=2010&id=2010_09_Honda_Odyssey

Let me know if you would drive this minivan?

All I Want for Christmas is…More Visitors to My Website and Blog

Websites, blogs and social media pages make up the bulk of a business’s web identity and contribute significantly to the public perception of the company.  Everyone agrees that maintaining an interactive and informational web

Bill Corbett Jr.

William J. Corbett, Jr.

 presence is a marketing necessity.  Business websites let people find your business and learn about the products and/or services you offer, and a blog plays a similar but different role positioning you as an expert in your field.  As entrepreneurs, owners and professionals, we spend tremendous amounts of time, effort and money designing, maintaining and updating websites and blogs.  But if your sites are not attracting traffic, all of your hard work is for naught.  So after you just spent the entire holiday season trying to avoid traffic, please read below for a few SEO and others tips from Corbett Public Relations that you can use to drive traffic to your website or blog.  All these tips are free and easy to implement.

Tips to Increase Traffic to Your Website or Blog

1 – List your business website on specific search engines where you want to be.  Google, Yahoo and Bing cannot find your website unless its information is submitted directly to them on their site.  There are also free services that can be used to submit sites to multiple search engines; try Submit It! and Scrub The Web.

2 – Research Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques.  Search engines aggregate results pages based on certain criteria.  They search web pages for relevant keywords, titles, headings and meta tags; meta tags are unseen descriptions embedded into HTML code of a website that provide search engines with information about a particular site.  Optimizing your website is the single most important action you can take to drive traffic to your site.  For example, make sure every page, picture and file on your website is tagged individually with your unique keywords and phrases in the title, title tag, meta keywords, and meta description.

3 – Your blog entries should highlight your expertise on a specific topic or field.  Posts should be made regularly and comment on current trends and issues relating to that subject.  Blog entries should be full of keyword-rich content; useful or topical content is the number one reason people will visit.  Include pictures and links to add dimension and make the entry more appealing and likely to be read.

4 – Promote your website and blog.  Make sure your website and blog links are included in your e-mail signature, on your business card and on any marketing materials you produce.  Network locally and remind people to read your blog for timely, useful information.  Build an e-mail list from current customers, prospects and contacts and send them regular updates.

5 – Keep websites and blog formats simple and clean.  The page has to be appealing to the reader’s eye and the key information should be visible on the page without having to scroll down.  Don’t clutter the page with unneeded links, subscription buttons and RSS feed links.  When the page is well-organized, easy-to-follow and rich in content, it will be attractive to readers and web traffic will increase.

6 – Utilize free press release submission sites and other business listings sites to increase your web presence and increase traffic to your site.  You can submit your keyword-rich, back-linked press release directly on these sites for free.

7 – Incorporate a share button into your blog page.  You want interested readers to be able to share your fascinating, relevant and timely blog entries with all their friends and contacts on their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.  This function can increase the exposure of your blog exponentially.

The individuals who we know and work with that use these approaches and techniques are showing increased numbers of visitors to their websites and more subscribers to their blogs.   We welcome your comments and questions about SEO and online marketing.

Bill Corbett, Jr.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

LinkedIn – Good for business…If you use it effectively

 

Bill Corbett Jr.

William J. Corbett, Jr.

I have been intrigued by LinkedIn for several years. The site has grown steadily in popularity: as of July 2010 more than 70 million people have LinkedIn profiles. I know that many people are actively using the site, but far more are not using it effectively, and some are not using it at all. There have been numerous informative articles about LinkedIn and lots of tips given. I have posted several dozen tips over the past few months myself. I use LinkedIn regularly; I update my profile, add links and my blog is connected. I post updates and host a number of groups, including the Grow Your Personal Brand LinkedIn Group. All this activity has allowed me to meet new people and expand my list of contacts.

There I an ongoing debate about whom one should connect with. Should people connect with people they don’t know or don’t know well? I changed my tune on this subject earlier this year. In the past I tried to limit my connections to people that I “actually” knew in the real world. This limited my ability to grow my contact list and network. Several months ago I started to contact people with whom I had some connection with or who were members of groups of which I am part. (Note: If you are a member of a group, you can directly contact other members and request to connect.) This has enabled me to grow my contact list and create new relationships.

For me, creating and developing my own personal brand, growing my list of contacts and keeping in touch with people are my main goals for LinkedIn. The following are some tips and strategies for using LinkedIn for your business.

 

Growing your list: Your contact list can be grown in a number of ways. You can search LinkedIn for people you know and request that they connect with you (often you will need their e-mail address). You can even send bulk connection requests by cutting and pasting in lists of your own e-mail contacts. If the individuals you communicate with are LinkedIn members, you can quickly connect using this method. If they are not members, the message will ask them to join. If you know these people and they are in business, you are doing them a favor by suggesting they join LinkedIn.

Growing a list can also be done one person at a time. For example, you can go to the contact list of a friend and see to whom they are connected. You can directly connect to them or ask your contact to introduce you. This direct process comes from a referral and can help facilitate relationships. Remember, once you connect, keep the conversation going.

Caution: Often names of individuals are recommended to you by LinkedIn. These are people you may know or perhaps they are in the same industry or group. LinkedIn is aggressively seeking to prevent people from soliciting connections from people that they do not know (there has to be some mutual relationship, mutual group membership, school or employment connection). If you solicit people to connect with you who do not know you, I strongly suggest you send them a personal note asking them to connect and not simply use the standard request LinkedIn provides.  If you solicit people whom you do not know, they can report you, and your account could be limited or other actions taken. You have worked hard, so don’t risk losing your account.

Did you know that you can download your e-mail contacts from LinkedIn?

Follow this link for a brief demonstration video.

http://bit.ly/cprlinkincontacts

Join groups and show your expertise. LinkedIn gives you a tremendous opportunity to show your expertise and knowledge. Join groups and actively participate in conversations and discussions. Monitor the discussions; if someone replies to your comment keep, the conversation going or answer any questions that have been posed. Give thoughtful solutions and tactics they can adopt to overcome business challenges. Remember, showing your expertise and knowledge helps to grow your personal brand.

Bring the cyber world into the real world and vice versa. Armed with your list of contacts, you have a powerful tool to enhance your relationships. Review your contacts to see which people you would like to meet or get to know better. Invite them to meet for breakfast, lunch, a cup of coffee or simply a conference call. An invitation to a video conference would be something different, and if you both have the technology, go for it. On the flip side, if you meet someone in the real world, keep the relationship going through LinkedIn. Send them an e-mail to connect and exchange information. Communicate via internal InMail. Why communicate by InMail? People typically get fewer InMails even though the response rate is often better, and there is much less spam to deal with. However, most people tend to check InMail less often than regular e-mail.

Profiles and company description: We all have read boring corporate bios and company descriptions. Don’t let this happen to you; make your profile interesting, chock full of information, and try to tell a story. Remember, people recall stories more easily than a list of accomplishments. In your content on your LinkedIn site, use as many keywords as possible; this will help people find you when they go to Google, Bing, Yahoo or other search engines. If you do not have a website, or a bio on your company website your LinkedIn profile can fill this gap. And remember if you move on to a new position with a new company, your LinkedIn profile and site stays in place. Your valuable contacts will have a way to contact you should your telephone numbers or other contact information change. (Note: always keep control of your LinkedIn profile user ID and password. Remember to have profiles proofread; there is nothing more embarrassing and unprofessional than having errors in your profile or company description.)

Don’t sell or spam: Many nonmarketing people confuse the terms “communication” and “marketing.” If you are selling anything or hosting a self-promotional event (an event where you will be charging and making money as part of your business), don’t use LinkedIn to promote it. This is considered inappropriate behavior and could cause people to disconnect with you or simply ignore you moving forward, which is the opposite of what you want to accomplish. LinkedIn should be used professionally, for discussions and as a forum to promote your expertise. If you are hosting a free event, speaking at an event or hosting an educational event, these should be promoted and used to bolster your personal brand and reputation. This is all done to enhance your personal brand and attract more followers and contacts.

Research: Use LinkedIn to research the backgrounds of people you know and people you want to get to know. With more people on LinkedIn every day, you are likely to find information about a person or a company that interests you. You can get information about where a person lives, which school he or she attended school and the organizations he or she belongs to. This is excellent information to have when seeking to start a conversation and a relationship. Use this information. It is easily available to you.

Quick Tips

1. Grow your list constantly – add your own contacts regularly.

2. Connect with people who share your interests and members of the same groups.

3. Join groups to meet more people and become part of the discussion.

4. Show your expertise and knowledge through discussions; it will help you grow your personal brand and reputation.

5. Bring the cyber world into the real world and vice versa.

6. Never sell or spam with In-Mail or with posts.

7. Update profiles and keep control of user ID and password.

8. Use keywords in your profile for search engine optimization purposes.

9. Make sure profiles are error-free.

10. Don’t solicit people whom you do not know to connect without a proper introduction or well-written personal request.

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for all businesspersons interested in building relationships, growing their personal brands or simply communicating with contacts. I have found these tactics to be effective for me. Let me know if you have any other effective tips and tactics. I will include them in future blogs.

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