Beware of the Groundhog: Groundhog Day Lessons

Punxatawny PhilAs public relations officials, we are constantly on the lookout for media opportunities for clients; some even call them “PR stunts.”   February 2, aka “Groundhog Day,” is one that is often used by politicians.  Everyone wants an end to winter so why not?  The politician will get the photo op and even if the hog sees his shadow, it’s still a win right?  Well, ask New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio. In 2014, when doing the Groundhog Day event, he dropped Staten Island Chuck. Not a good move. Instead of seeing a shadow, Chuck saw stars. And unfortunately, did not recover. (See links below)

What do we take away from this? First, make sure when you do a special event or media event you are well prepared. Walk through what you have to do. Talk about contingencies and if you are not comfortable with picking up a groundhog, don’t do it. The negative press that will be short term and long term can be problematic.

From a marketing perspective, Groundhog Day is cute and there are certainly campaigns and social media comments that can be used to attract some attention.  Groundhog Day is Feb. 2. This year it falls on the first Tuesday of February. Groundhog Day can be a day to actually get your marketing on track. If you have stumbled and have failed with your marketing New Years resolutions, get started again and set your goals for February. You have six weeks till spring (despite what Punxsutawney Phil, Staten Island Chuck and Malverne Mel say).Groundhog

Need some inspiration and a laugh? Watch Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and directed by the late Harold Ramis.  The marketing and life lesson here? Just ask Einstein and his famous quote on the definition of insanity: continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  Bill Murray’s character in the movie – Phil Conners – is stuck in a day that he is forced to relive over and over and over again.  Unbeknownst to him, he is changing what he is doing every day. He may not know why at first, but eventually figures out that he has to change who he is to get the girl. After potentially living the same day over and over for years, he makes the changes and he wakes up on February 3. In marketing we have to adapt and change our messages until they resonate with target audiences. Look at what works and what does not. Make the changes and keep track.  Learn from Phil Conners and take Einstein’s advice.

http://nypost.com/2014/09/25/groundhog-dropped-by-de-blasio-died-of-internal-injuries/

http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2014/09/25/staten-island-zoo-may-stop-allowing-mayors-to-handle-groundhogs/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107048/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-phil/post-football-depression-_b_1251109.html

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Working with Children for Video Production and Media Interviews: Challenges and Considerations

OliviaW.C. Fields once said that you should never work with either animals or children.  I respectfully disagree, having worked with both in my professional career.  While I have covered aspects of working with animals previously, for this blog I want to focus on working with children– especially younger ones – in media relations and video production.

IMG_0348.jpgThis week I had the opportunity to assist a friend of mine – Adam Schwam, founder and President of Sandwire, a leading IT company on Long Island, after his company made a $10,000 donation in the form of computers and software to Commerce Plaza in Levittown, New York. Commerce Plaza is a program for fifth graders from across Long Island, New York who come to learn about business and basic finance in a hands-on environment. More than 40 students were at the school for the day when we visited.

Children are a wonderful subject for the news and videos. While they can offer spontaneity and an innocent perspective on the world, there are challenges that must be addressed. The goal of any video production or news piece is to tell a story. Getting children to express themselves effectively on camera takes special attention and consideration.

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Here are some of my tips for helping children feel more comfortable and effectively providing quality content for video productions and news pieces.

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Click here for a video of my tips for working with children in the media.

 

If you are the producer or interviewer, remember the following:

 

  1. As kids, they have probably never done professional video before. Though may already be familiar with smartphone or tablet videos and are savvy, the size and complexity of professional equipment and approaches can be overwhelming and disconcerting for them.
  2. When interacting with children always stay relaxed and show confidence.
  3. Make children feel special and help them to relax. Take your time and look them right in the eye. At the same token, ask them to look you right in the eye at all times.. We know that people will look up, down and all around when they are thinking. Looking directly in one another’s eyes helps to maintain focus and provide much better for video.
  4. Prepare your questions in advance. Write them down or use cue cards or index cards. If you are prepared, the children will respond more effectively.
  5. Know what to do when you get the “one-word answer.” Children frequently give one word or very short answers. Ask open ended questions that require more words for providing a complete answer.  Ask questions such as: Can you describe how you prepared for this program? Be ready for a follow up question if the answer you get is short. Questions that start with “how did this make you feel?” or “what did you think about that?” are two in particular that you should always be ready to use.
  6. Help the kids to help you. Talk with them and get them to give as much as they can. Speak with them in advance and practice. If you like what you hear tell them. However, sometimes talking in advance can hurt the genuineness of the answers so this is an area that you should use your own discretion and  judgment. You may want to speak with the child but not ask the specific questions in advance. Get a feel for how they speak and their energy first.
  7. Do a run through with kids and explain to them exactly what is going to happen.  This removes uncertainty.
  8. Remember to have fun. It is ok to joke with the kids, but keep it light hearted and fun. This helps them to feel comfortable, smile and have the right energy level. The more assistance and support that you can give children the better they will perform. They want to do well and you are in a position to help them achieve this. Help them to be proud of their efforts and you will be rewarded with quality content.No matter if you are a child or adult you must be prepared to be on video.   Practice and take the time to prepare. We suggest hiring a professional media trainer and video production crew to produce your videos. I have trained and prepared hundreds of people for interviews, video productions and commercials. The people we train or who receive professional training are much better on camera and feel more confident.

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Training and preparation are critical for the development of video content that properly and effectively presents your message to the media. Video production quality is important, but an unprepared subject cannot be corrected. Never agree to do an on-camera interview with the media without preparation and knowing what you will be asked about. Any subject or guest who is not confident and capable will delay the process, which will increase production costs and take much longer than it should.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Media Relations for Your Brand: Doing Live National TV Interviews

Fox Business News Host Neil Cavuto (l) with Rob Basso (second right).

Fox Business News Host Neil Cavuto (left) with Rob Basso (second right).

Media coverage is an important part of marketing and personal branding. Getting on television as an expert will bring your personal brand message to a large audience and create valuable content that you can use on social media. To succeed with a television media relations strategy you need to be prepared and committed. You need to present your ideas to the media and when they bite, be prepared to express your message and show your expertise live on TV. To present yourself properly, you need to practice and be well prepared. Corbett Public Relations has worked in this area for close to three decades.

Recently I asked longtime client entrepreneur, author of “The Everyday Entrepreneur” and president of Advantage Payroll Long Island, Rob Basso about his TV interview experiences and how he prepares for being on live national television programs. Rob is a regular guest on Fox Business, including Neil Cavuto’s primetime program; he has also appeared on Fox and Friends, MSNBC’s Your Business, Huffington Post and dozens of local TV news programs.

Rob Basso on Fox Business News.

Rob Basso on Fox Business News.

What was your first live TV experience like?

My first experience was very nerve racking. I had been preparing for that day for years by producing my own web series, but live television with hundreds of thousands of people watching was much different. I was more excited than nervous, mainly because I wanted to do a good job. It’s ok to have butterflies in your stomach, but you can’t let it show.

What do you do when you get the call?

It’s all about the preparation. I never go into a live spot without learning and understanding the topic completely. I also start thinking about how my personal business experiences can be brought into the discussion.

How do you prepare once the topics of the interview or panel discussion are provided?

As a small business advocate and author, most of the topics that I am asked to comment on are within my experience and knowledge base. However, when we are discussing breaking news, specific companies or governmental policies, I may need to do some research. My staff and I scour the web for details about the topic and I create a briefing document that has my opinion on the subject, as well as pertinent facts associated with the topic. I then spend time going over the notes and sometimes working with my publicist going over mock questions that may be asked. I also think about the specific messages which I want to convey.

Rob Basso during an appearance on Fox News Channel.

Rob Basso during an appearance on Fox News Channel.

How do you keep from getting nervous?

Being prepared is the best way to cut down on the nerves. Sometimes that’s not enough and many times on live television the unexpected happens. For example, I was on the air when Osama Bin Laden was killed and was asked to comment. Being up on current events is vital.

What is it like being on set with well-known members of the media?

It can be intimidating, but after a few times, you realize they are real people too. The good hosts are very gracious and make you feel comfortable.

How do these appearances help your brand?

Being associated with national news media raises your national presence and builds you strong credibility. When a national news network trusts your opinion, you should share with your clients, prospects and contacts.  Always share good media coverage on social media; this will enhance your brand and your reputation as an expert.

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

Revisited 2015 – July 4th Independence Day – Lessons from the Founding Fathers for Social Media and Personal Branding

I wrote this blog 5 years ago it is still relevant today.  However, the world has changed.  Today Americans have more ways to market and communicate.  With smartphone technology in our hands we have enormous power to broadcast our messages and engage with others. I call smartphones, PMD’s Personal marketing Devices they can also be seen as your own personal broadcast center. (More on this in a future blog)

The technology we have however is not being leveraged effectively by small business people.  Many don’t see the opportunity because they are overwhelmed with time pressures and lack of understanding of the power that they have. Understanding marketing and why and how it must be done is also a challenge.

It’s time for small business people from across America to take charge of their destiny and bring their brands and messages to target audiences.   Failure to utilize the marketing tools that are available (for free) today will see many smart and capable people struggle to succeed in the new economy and within the new marketing paradigm.

As we look back at the lessons of our Founding Fathers below, consider what they would do today.  I believe that they would be regularly leveraging social media, blogs and video to get their message to the masses. They would engage in conversations and share their vision for the future.  They would be making connections, building relationships and beating their competition.

The pursuit of happiness lies in our hands both literally and figuratively.  Use marketing technology today as a vehicle for achieving success and your American dream.

First Published 5 Years Ago 

Today we celebrate Independence Day, July 4.   Beyond the fireworks and BBQs, we all should think about the great nation that we have the pleasure to be part of, and the many people who gave up their lives to give us the freedoms we enjoy.

Exactly 234 years ago, a group of brave, brilliant and industrious individuals met in a steamy Philadelphia room and agreed to do something that had never been done before—start a revolution.  The risks were great; the price that was paid was high in terms of lives lost, lives destroyed and money, but in the end the reward was unmatched in human history.  The American Revolution gave us a country where freedom is sacred.

Today despite a challenging economy we have the freedom to express ourselves and pursue our business as well as our personal dreams.  For many the dream is being an entrepreneur or a small business owner or simply pursuing a career in a chosen profession or industry.  Having this choice is an integral part of our national character and a driver of the entrepreneurial spirit.  While entrepreneurs and small businesses are under attack from many directions, the American entrepreneurial spirit lives on.

The information age has brought with it new media vehicles which are allowing individuals to voice their opinions, develop creative ideas and start new businesses.  Like the minutemen of Lexington and Concord, individuals can stand up, and take control of their own destinies like never before.  Like the “shot heard around world” that started the American Revolution a simple Facebook post or Tweet can literally be seen around the world just in seconds.

Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Adams, Hancock and the other Founding Fathers all understood the importance of individuality and expression.  They were passionate individuals with a mission, and the creativity and drive to achieve their goal – a free and independent nation.

While the Founding Fathers did not have social media vehicles and platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Youtube, Flickr and Foursquare I am sure that they would have taken advantage of them as mediums for communicating with contacts, public, friends and others interested in “the cause.”  Social networking and marketing did not exist, but these individuals knew the importance of publicity, having a personal brand, word of mouth marketing, networking, effective writing, publishing and public speaking. Do these skills and approaches sound familiar?  These techniques and others are the same that individuals need to capitalize on today to build their own personal brands, the foundation for a success in life, in business and in any community.

Did Franklin and Madison have a Blog?  Not exactly, however they did have a printing press.  They were able to create a buzz using well written content, printed books, flyers and newspapers. Papers and printed materials were circulated in pubs and homes across the 13 colonies and beyond.  People held discussion sessions and analyzed the information they were provided.  They debated and came up with their own comments and then shared materials with others who they thought would be sympathetic to their dreams of an independent democratic nation.

Today’s social media and personal branding gurus like Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee)Dan Dchawbel (@DanSchawbel),  Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki), Peter Shankman (@skydiver), Seth Godin and others are taking similar approaches as the Founding Fathers.  The Founding Fathers published articles and spoke to small and large groups to educate, motivate and inspire individuals to become part of a movement that included the individual but also was much larger than any single person.

Let’s look at some of our Founding Fathers and how they relate to personal branding and communications.  There is much we that can learn from them and ways we can apply these lessons to social media marketing and personal branding efforts today.

George Washington – Founding Father and First President of the United States of America.  Washington is also

known for his leadership abilities, speaking skills, political savvy and ability to stand out in crowd.  Although he did not sign the Declaration of Independence his leadership of the Continental Army made him a front runner to lead the country after the war.

During the Revolutionary War era it took weeks or months to get information or important messages out to thousands of people, or just one letter from one colony to another.  Hand written copies of the Declaration of Independence were circulated by hand around the 13 Colonies and read in front of groups gathered in pubs and in front of churches and other community buildings.

Today we can disseminate messages and blog articles in seconds using social media sites and digital communications.  The speed of distribution may have changed but the goals of communicating ideas messages and attracting attention remain the same.

We can learn from George Washington an important lesson, humility.  When offered the opportunity to become king of the new nation, he turned it down.  He also turned down the opportunity to run for a third term as president; instead he retired.  In today’s world full of online and off line self promoters and overexposed celebrities seeking the lime light, humility is a trait that seems to be in short supply.  We could all benefit from more people following Washington’s example of humility and grace.

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, agonized for weeks to find the right language and consulted with other Founding Fathers to craft this historic document.   We learn from this example that writing passionately and choosing the right words is important.  On Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other writing quality has certainly suffered. Today it remains true that quality writing and compelling content will attract followers, and poor and uninteresting content will drive them away.

In our fast paced mobile technology society we are constantly on the move. A telling example of this is that on average there are more than 3,000 Tweets being placed every second.  Jefferson’s quote: No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing,” is apropos for today.  Many people are always “doing,” (communicating).  However, how much doing is actually wasting time? How much time is being spent on social media marketing with no measured results? Social media marketing programs must be planned and have goals. Without goals or a plan, the “doing” is nothing more than wasting time.

John Hancock – We know the name and we know the signature, he was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence and did so in large and bold script.   John Hancock knew the importance of standing out, making a statement and doing something different.  My favorite quote from Hancock is: “The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.” This statement is especially true today. To be successful in business relationships and trust need to be built.  To influence people to act, purchase products or services, information and proof of abilities need to be conveyed to the target audience.  Be bold, but also have objectives and consider how relationships are being forged.

Benjamin Franklin – Frequently clients ask what should be said or what information should be put out on social media streams?  This quote from Benjamin Franklin answers the question perfectly: Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about.”

Benjamin Franklin was truly an original and individual who understood celebrity and personal branding.  His exploits, scientific experiments and inventions as well as his larger than life personality made him a celebrity in France before he arrived to solicit their support for the “cause.”

We have much to learn from Franklin but for now, his grasp on being relevant and authentic can be our take away.  If something interesting or newsworthy is done write about it, don’t just write something for the sake or writing something.

John Quincy Adams – Are you a leader or do you aspire to be one in business, politics or in another field? If your answer is yes then this quote from John Quincy Adams is most appropriate:If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” To be a leader you need to be relevant and interesting.  Self-promotion and self-serving actions will not attract the right attention or inspire others.  Remember that being successful is not what inspires; what motivates and inspires others are the stories and examples of overcoming challenges and hardships to become successful.

There is much we can learn from studying our Founding Fathers.  From humility to creating relevant content their lessons can be applied to many facets of business and life today.

Every day of the year we should celebrate the precious gift of freedom we have been given.  We continue to enjoy this freedom because of the sacrifices of those who came before us and those who fight for us today in foreign lands and on other fronts.  We can honor them by embracing the American entrepreneurial spirit and following the examples set by our Founding Fathers.

All comments welcome, Happy 4th of July.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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