Personal Brand Actions to Take in 2016 – Start Today

hourglass 2016.jpgStrategies and Predictions

I recently wrote a blog about taking action steps to achieve goals. As we end 2015, let’s look at some specific action steps you can take to Grow Your Personal Brand in 2016, achieve your goals and attain long term success.

Make time, don’t waste time.

First, stop talking about not having enough time. Recognize that your time is valuable and you need to focus on what you need to get done. If you want be successful you may have to get up early, stay up late and work more. Do you know that billionaires typically get up three hours before the “work day” starts? Set your priorities and create real deadlines. Block off the time you need each day to move closer to your goals.

As part of time saving, examine social media activities. Are you getting the ROI (return on investment) or ROE (return on effort)? If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know,” then it is time to re-evaluate these activities. For most small business people and solo entrepreneurs your time is very valuable; Tweeting, Facebooking and posting images to Instagram is probably not the best use of your time. If it is not generating income or leads, delegate it or stop doing it. Focus on what works in terms of business development and sales.

Focus

archery[1].jpgWe live in a world where distractions are killing our productivity and sucking away our time. One way to save your valuable and precious time is to learn how to remove distractions. Distractions hurt us in many ways more than just stopping us from doing what we need to do – they make us lose focus and concentration. It takes 10 to 25 minutes to get back into our productivity zone again. What’s the solution?  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Put your cell phone in another room or turn it off (I personally need to have it in another room or I am tempted to check it every 5 minutes). Do whatever you can to get it out of your view and reach. I know you are afraid to go without your smartphone. What do I do? I go into settings and forward my calls to my office. My staff answers or it goes to voice mail. Give staff, colleagues, clients and friends the message that you can only be interrupted in the case of a real emergency.
  2. Remove distracting sounds. Sounds break up your flow and concentration. No surprise, this is a natural response to danger. What can you do? Try noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs. For some people it requires moving to another room and closing the door or even going to another building.  Create a distraction proof environment.
  3. Turn off all message notifications from social media, texts or email. This is hard to do, we want to be connected but these messages distract and even if you can avoid looking, you know you really want to. Your scheduled time should be sacred and this means email and other digital messages should not distract you.   Emails and texts can wait an hour or two.

Create that Plan

I always ask my LinkedIn or personal branding students if they have a plan for marketing with LinkedIn or a personal marketing plan. Only 5 percent have a plan. For this year make the commitment – not resolution – to create a plan. You need to have a road map and a plan to get to where you want to go. You may be successful without a plan but think about how much more successful you could be with one. I believe the average sales person, business owner or entrepreneur will be 20 to 50 percent or more effective and successful if they simply created a plan and modified this plan every quarter and annually. From a personal perspective, I have a plan with goals and multiple action steps. I regularly achieve goals when I have a plan, when I don’t those goals take longer or are never achieved. The plan is critical for achieving goals, staying focused and saving time.

Create Your Video(s)

If you don’t have a video for your brand today you’re falling farther and farther behind your competitors. This statement is true not matter what industry you are in. Why? In the mobile age people (a.k.a. customers and prospects) don’t have time and they want video content. If you are not providing it and a competitor is, guess what?  The competitor is winning the battle for attention. The other more long term problem with not having video content is the fact that you are falling behind in the content war. By not creating content and getting comfortable communicating it on video you do not appear to be up-to-date and ready for the challenges of the digital age. Communications is an art and a skill, it requires practice. While anyone can fire up a camera or smart phone and shoot a Periscope video or post a video to YouTube, it takes practice to learn how to speak and present a quality message on video.

If you don’t have a video you are not conveying your brand message to contacts, prospects and referral sources. These are the people who create your brand and reputation. Without your personal content to guide them, perceptions will be inaccurate, they will not know what you stand for and they certainly will be less likely to hire you or recommend you to others.

Two predictions about video in 2016

  1. Video on LinkedIn will be much more important and likely will be positioned higher in profiles. Making/having a personal video not only will be needed on LinkedIn, but required for optimal success. Those who are ahead here will dominate for at least a year.
  2. Live streaming video from Periscope, Facebook and others will become much more widely used. If you are not doing this you’re going to get beaten by competitors, lose market share and you will not project the right image to those seeking you or your services.

Be Consistent with your persona marketing and messages

Your message and personal brand must also be consistent in the real world and online. Make sure all of your profiles, images and videos are consistent with your current personal brand and what you are passionate about. Confusion in the marketplace is not something you want when people are looking at you and considering you for a referral, recommendation or to hire you.

To succeed in marketing and in business you must present your messages and content regularly to your audience. Make the commitment this year to be consistent with your marketing. Regularly create and post videos, write your own blogs, post on on social media, attend events, send email newsletters and content and execute your marketing plan. Examine what works and don’t be afraid to change. Remember that for your personal brand to resonate with audiences you must have a consistent message that is delivered often. Consistency and frequency build and maintain trust, a critical component to personal brand growth and business success.

Have a great 2016 and make the commitment today to Grow Your Personal Brand.

Visit www.growyourpersonalbrand.com to learn more about personal branding training programs, events and more.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Actions speak louder than words. Goal Setting for 2016

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I am always speaking and writing about the importance of planning particularly in terms of marketing. This is the time of year when we make our plans and personal resolutions.

Forget about New Year’s resolutions. Think about your goals and how you are going to achieve them. With goals in mind it is now time to take action. Create an action plan for the days remaining in 2015 and for the year ahead. This will be your road map for achieving your goals. Remember actions do speak louder than words.

We have all heard this axiom before. It comes to mind when I am planning and coordinating with clients who are working toward goals. It is wise to have goals but action is necessary to achieve them.

So how do you go about achieving your goals and creating action steps? After you have set your goals, ask yourself if they are realistic and achievable. You must recognize that it may take months, or even years to reach one or more of your major goals. Think of all of those people who appear to be overnight successes.  The fact is that for most it took years to reach their goals and dreams.

First, start with goals for different aspects of your life:

  • Personal
  • Business
  • Life
  • Family

Second, write (or type) down these goals – I am not the first person to recommend this. But it does work. Keep your goals top of mind. Your goals can be long, short or – like me – bullet pointed.

Remember, it is important to be reminded of your goals – post them where it is impossible to miss seeing them (or hearing them) regularly, such as:

  • Create a graphic and make it the opening screen of your Smartphone
  • Send yourself a daily pre-programmed text or email
  • Print a list of goals and tape it to the edge or top of you monitor or phone
  • Record your goals as a voice mail message or memo that you can play back on your phone, listen to on your way to work every day and on weekends

Again, your goals must be achievable. If not, use the divide and conquer method:

  • Take one day/step at a time – every step may involve multiple actions.
  • Write your goals down even if the list is very long.
  • Consider it a learning process that can be repeated when working on other actions or goals
  • Accept the fact that it could take years to achieve certain goals, take pride in smaller accomplishments on a weekly or monthly basis.

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How do you create an action plan?

Start by writing out the specific actions that must be taken to achieve each one of your goals. This could take considerable time and the list will likely be lengthy. The more detailed the list of actions, the better. Many small actions combined lead to major achievements. Think of this like a marathon runner. The runner practices for months, running a few miles, then further every day. They build up the stamina and endurance to run the full marathon. But even on marathon day, each mile completed is a step toward the ultimate goal.

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Click here for a video of my tips for creating an action plan for yourself for 2016.

 

An action plan takes thought and you need to ask yourself a number of questions:

Write down and determine the answers to these questions:

  • What do I need to achieve my goal?
  • How much time do I need?
  • How much money do I need?
  • Can I do it myself or do I need a team? (Who would be on the team?)
  • What support do I need?
  • What knowledge do I need to have or need to acquire?
  • Who can I ask for help or advice?
  • Where and when do I start?

Remember, just as actions need to be examined separately, you will want to treat each questions the same way.

Don’t be reluctant or afraid to ask for help from friends, family, mentors, and coaches. You might even post your questions online.

Go to free or paid resources such as podcasts, books, seminars, online webinars or courses/classes.

If you are asking yourself, “How can I complete each step or task and then move to the next?” Here is a helpful example:

A consultant determines his goal for 2016 is to increase his income by $50,000.

The consultant could use the following process:

1) Create a marketing plan

  • Identify the target market
  • Create a list
  • Create email blast and content
  • Create a letter or sell sheet
  • Create a schedule for sending marketing material out
  • Create a follow up process
  • Create online assets and web content

2) Create relevant promotional content

3) Develop a budget for how much money to spend

4) Decide a budget for how much time to devote

5) Develop a timeline or schedule for executing actions

6) Identify experts or friends who could review the plan and or provide advice

7) Create a tracking system for progress and assessment of efforts

Remember, each action contains a series of steps and involves work that must be completed in order to move ahead and continue on the pathway that will enable you to ultimately achieve your goals.

When you have completed your action plan, go over it again and ask others to review it before you take action. They may be able to spot something that you have missed or offer a more effective approach.

Many people wait until New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day or the first work day of the New Year to reflect on the past and make sincere and purposeful resolutions. Don’t procrastinate define your goals for the future today and start on your action plan now.  The head start is worth the effort.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

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

Giving Tuesday, a Much Better Tradition

Give today and share information regularly about the causes you support all year long.

We have now passed the big consumer shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These are two “holiday traditions” that I really wish would go away. Traffic at the malls and hyped up media coverage of people buying items really does not interest me. As a person who embraces capitalism and business I understand the drive for profit but when shopping starts on Thanksgiving and people act dangerously crazy just to save a few dollars it does not make sense to me.

A tradition that I do like that has grown in popularity is Giving Tuesday. This is a day were the focus is on giving and supporting charities. It is truly better to give than to receive and this day puts this into perspective and hopefully reminds people of the importance of the season and other. We thankfully live in a wealthy and giving nation full of the most generous people on earth.

Americans don’t just give on this one day but they give all year long and step up when adversity hits at home or abroad.

From a marketing perspective, this day offers an opportunity to think about what is important to us. What causes groups or institutions connect with us and empower us? I am on the executive boards of two not-for-profits: The Marty Lyons Foundation and the Theodore Roosevelt Council of Boy Scouts (Nassau County, New York).

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Marty Lyons is interviewed on FiOS 1’s “Heroes On Our Island”

 

The Marty Lyons Foundation was created by former New York Jets Star Marty Lyons. Marty, a member of the Legendary “New York Sack Exchange” from the 1980s, faced a period of tragedy and from this created the Foundation which would go on to grant over 7,100 wishes for children facing terminal and life threatening illnesses. The Foundation is going strong in its 35th year. Check out the Foundation at www.martylyonsfiundation.org.  Over the years my firm has helped to get the Foundation some very positive media coverage – this is a link to a Heroes on Long Island from FiOS1 News which tells the story of the Foundation and how it is helping families and children facing unimaginable situations.

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Marty Lyons is interviewed for FiOS 1’s “Heroes On Our Island”

 

Before the birth of my children I knew that I wanted to do more with organizations that empower young people. I volunteered to help with publicity for my local Boy Scouts organization. Today I am Vice President of Marketing for the Theodore Roosevelt Council of Boy Scouts. The council provides programs and services for over 10,000 local Nassau County Long Island young people. It has been a privilege to work with this group and support these programs. Young people today are faced with many complex challenges and need support to build confidence and leadership abilities. I am pleased that this tradition is alive and well on Long Island. This is the council’s website for information if you are interested: http://www.trcbsa.org/.

Scouts are always up for a challenge this is a video news coverage from News 12 Long Island of scouts at their studio last year.

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Boy Scouts of the Teddy Roosevelt Council at News 12 studios in Woodbury in 2014.

 

Why do I bring up these charities?  Giving Tuesday is a good day, like Thanksgiving and other holidays, to reflect on what we are and should be thankful for. Today think about those who are unfortunate and in need. Offer you help and support. If it can be a financial donation, great. If you can’t give, then share their message. Use your “influence” on social media to share information, stories and the mission and purpose of the organizations that you support. Tell people why you are a supporter and what role you play. Give the gift of awareness and attention. Not-for-profits struggle, to get their messages out to potential supporters and donors. Help them today. However, make supporting and promoting these worthy causes part of your regular marketing activities.   Give today, but support and share all year long.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

The Subway PR Crisis, What Should Franchisees Do?

A Subway franchise owner.

A Subway franchise owner.

Another Reason why Personal Branding Matters

I have written about the Subway Jarod Fogle spokesperson scandal and crisis PR recently. I understand what the management, marketing team and PR firm for Subway is doing this week. It has been a roller-coaster and certainly a challenge for them; this is truly a nightmare for a corporation. While I have discussed spokespeople before in blogs, I am not going to focus on the spokespeople for this blog. I have a different take and a marketing strategy that most franchises should take, both on how to market as well as how to weather a crisis.

Let me start by saying that I like Subway and give them great credit for building a brand and empowering so many entrepreneurs.  I have been to Subway shops many times and have been treated well.  Through Subway, many people around the word are experiencing the American dream of business ownership. They provide for their families, they create jobs as well as economic activity. They provide food at a reasonable cost and for the most part are a positive influence in communities; but, I feel quite sorry these days for the average Subway franchise owner. They have no control over who the corporate management chooses to use as a spokesperson and have little control, if any, over national marketing programs. However, there is no doubt that they do benefit from national marketing and branding efforts. The branding is part of the overall rationale behind franchising in the first place. I have worked with a number of franchises and understand the model from the franchisee as well as the franchisor perspective.

I hope that the marketing team at Subway is thinking about its franchise owners and local operators. The franchise was founded in Connecticut in 1974 and today has close to 70,000 units in over 100 countries. Interestingly the company does not own any units.

The damage of the current controversy will impact store sales, some more than others. Negative publicity for any reason will have an impact.  Most consumers also know that the crisis is not the individual franchisee’s fault, but it is their problem. Negative perceptions will hurt them.

If I was on the Subway marketing team, I would focus my attention on the franchisees and provide them with support, tools and a long term strategy for localized marketing which should include a personal branding and marketing plan for franchise owners. Subway shops are no different than any other local business. They are part of communities and rely on people for business. Franchises like Subway, unlike most other small businesses (restaurants in particular), have owners out front. What I mean by this is that in my market, Long Island, New York, it is not uncommon for you to walk into a diner, Italian restaurant or even a sushi place and be greeted warmly by an owner, chef or hostess. Many of the most successful local restaurants have owners who get to know their patrons, interact with them and treat them special. They make customers feel like family and this builds loyalty. This works with chefs and hostesses as well but not as effectively when you have an owner interacting directly with the customers. The key is the relationship. This relationship-focused approach is something that franchises, and in this case, Subway, need to embrace. When customers know the owners, they have a relationship with them, can compliment them or provide feedback. Even negative feedback is important for businesses and the owner is the best person to deliver it to.

A Subway franchise location.

A Subway franchise location.

Recognizing that franchises do not have this type of structure, for the most part, is a challenge but it can be turned into an advantage if done properly. Like me, many people like Subway, but they don’t know the owner. If they did, when a crisis hits, having a relationship will help the franchisee weather the storm. People will come back because they know the owner and like them. This personal connection is invaluable but must be cultivated. Here are a few personal branding strategies for franchise owners:

  1. Be present: Franchise models are designed so that owners don’t have to be there. While is true, this does not mean that they should not be there. Owners should spend time at their operations, greet people and speak with them.
  2. Be active in the community: Some Subway shops provide food, support and other items for charity or local groups. Owners need to be part of this and part of the engagement with community members.
  3. Local press: There is no reason that good work cannot be touted in the media. Owners, who have interesting stories to tell, should tell them and be available to the local media for stories. However, in the case of Jarod Fogle or crisis situations from corporate, it is best to not to get involved. All media inquiries should be forward to the regional or corporate office. However, local positive business stories or franchise stories are certainly fair game.
  4. Social media: Subway has a large and active social media presence and this helps local owners and operators with branding and promotions. However, local operators should also have a presence online and be part of the online/local online community. Social media should be used to allow the community to get to know who the owner is, what they stand for and what they are passionate about. Again, this is another way to make connections and build valuable relationships that matter when crisis situations occur.
  5. Join local organizations and business groups: This is simple marketing 101. Owners need to be out at groups and remain. Business people need to buy lunch. Do you think that they would frequent Subway shops more often if they know the owner? I do.
  6. Speak: People are interested in big brands and business owners. The branding of Subway or any international brand will open doors. Owners should create presentations for local groups and present the lessons learned as a Subway/business owner.
  7. Educate: Schools and camps are looking for activities for students. They also want to give them life lessons. I remember going to a Roy Rogers as a child. I still remember how they made the burgers and the fact that they placed a little butter on the hamburger buns. This is a memory that has stuck with me for over 40 years.
  8. Have a personal marketing plan: The steps outlined here are part of a personal marketing plan. The owner of a Subway or any franchise should have a personal marketing plan that will allow them to become better known in their community. With the right approach and commitment to the effort, a franchise owner can become a local rock star. We know rock stars attract attention and interest. Interest will lead to customers and will also blossom into relationships. These activities create good will. Through good will and relationships is an insurance policy in the event that a crisis should one day occur.

The Subway Jarod Fogle controversy presents an opportunity for all franchise owners to look at their marketing and their reputations in their communities. Franchisees leverage their brands to grow their businesses and this is an advantage in many ways. Branding and frequent messages builds awareness and a modest level of trust. However, personal relationships and direct interaction with customers build stronger trust and loyalty and can mean the difference in weathering a given crisis.

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Are Lifeguards Watching Out for Your Brand?

A lifeguard watching over a pool.

A lifeguard watching over a pool.

Tragically, Long Island beaches have experienced a number of rip currents this summer that have led to drownings. Rip currents drag swimmers out into deep water. Swimmers then drown as they become exhausted fighting to swim back to shore. Even non-swimmers can get swept away by a rip current when standing in shallow water. Rip currents, rip tides and undertows are powerful forces of the sea that are difficult for even the most experienced swimmers to contend with. To escape the rip, the person must swim parallel to shore and NEVER swim against the current.

Unfortunately, swimmers panic and tire out in a short period of time and/or they may not know what to do in this type of situation. As a former lifeguard, I know the challenges and pressures a lifeguard faces when watching water conditions.  Lifeguards use their eagle eyes to look out for the safety of swimmers. I never was a lifeguard at an ocean beach – only at pools and lakes – but I had to come to the aid of close to 50 swimmers in just two summers.

Jumping into the ocean when lifeguards are not on duty is a risk, one that no one should ever take. The same is true for your brand.  When you open your business and jump into marketing and promotion, once you put just one foot into the water you are exposed to threats and risks to your business, which could consist of angry customer reviews or comments on social media, negative word of mouth comments about your business or a product or a poor review in the media.

There are many ways a brand or business can get in trouble. Some problems are completely out of the control of the business owner or management: a fire, an unwarranted lawsuit, theft by an employee, an extended power outage or a computer virus. Any of these can cause a major disruption in business and will quickly have a negative impact on a brand.

Every business must have a crisis plan in place for the day when something unexpected happens. The crisis plan, like an insurance policy, will provide you with a process for reacting to the problem at hand. The plan is only part of your response. You also need a “lifeguard,” somebody who can help keep you away from danger and step in when something bad happens. In fact, you need more than one lifeguard to make up an effective support team.

Your professional business team.

Your professional business team.

Your business lifeguard team must be comprised of the following professionals:

Reputation Monitor 

We live in the digital age and social media is a key part of marketing and branding. A crisis for any business can start online or in the cyber world. Negative reviews, comments and articles can damage a brand or business. Failure to know that your brand is under attack is unacceptable. It’s imperative that you or your team monitor your brand online. If you don’t have the time or lack experience, have your digital marketing firm monitor and report to you regularly about your online reputation. They should also have a plan ready should your brand come under attack online or in the real world.

We regularly monitor online news, social media sites and websites to make sure that nothing negative is being said about our clients’ companies, their products, their services, their staff, or owners/management. Online reputations must be monitored and if there is a need to address an issue, it must be done in the right way. Negative reviews, comments or even videos can damage a company’s ability to attract and keep business.

Crisis Communication Expert / Public Relations – Media Relations Expert 

If a crisis situation impacts customers, business or a community, it is likely to become of interest to the media. Negative press can lead to loss of business, clients questioning their relationship with you and damage to your brand (personal or business). Having a communications plan and a crisis communications expert available to you is important. At Corbett Public Relations we work with clients on Long Island and across the nation to establish a procedure to follow during a crisis. We see ourselves as professionals who are promoters and protectors of brands. Reacting to a crisis situation in the media takes thought and consideration. Every incident is different and those with decades of experience, such as the individuals on my team, know how to manage communications in all kinds of situations. At a minimum the owner of a business should consult with a firm and have a plan for managing a crisis and know who to call if the situation escalates. Would you know what to do if the media calls or shows up with cameras at your office? If you don’t, you need a plan today and the help of a crisis communications expert.

Attorneys

Your attorneys protect you before, during and after an incident. Make sure to consult with them and discuss potential risks and know how to get in touch with them during nights and weekends should a crisis situation occur. Discuss your concerns with your attorneys so you know that they are prepared to handle the types of situations that could possible occur. Attorneys have different types of practices so make sure your attorney is experienced in handling crisis situations.

Accountant/CPA

Crisis situations can come from many directions. Bankruptcy, fraud, ID theft, tax issues and other financial issues require the assistance of accountants. Your accountant should act proactively to warn you about issues and potential problems that could occur from their perspective. Your accountants will also be part of your team to provide reports and financial information should you need to defend your business and brand in court or with authorities.

Insurance Professionals

Everyone and every business has insurance. In addition to knowing the coverage that your policies provide, it is critical that you also know and trust your insurance agent and local broker. These are the people who will fight for you if and when a crisis occurs.

Depending on the company that the policy is purchased from and the kind of policy, there are many details that you will need to know. Having a good relationship with your broker will help. We saw this play out on Long Island after Super Storm Sandy in 2012. Thousands of people and businesses were impacted by flooding and extended power outages. Local insurance professionals played an important part in helping clients submit property claims and get the funds they needed to rebuild and survive. Insurance companies will also assign attorneys to defend clients following incidents. Remember to look at this part of your policy to get an understanding of how it works and get the name of the firm that could potentially be defending you.

Often crisis situations occur without warning. Trying to manage them as they happen is a challenge. Take the time in advance to create a plan, put together a list of the critical actions that need to be taken and be sure that you have all necessary contact information at your fingertips. Keep copies of your plan at the office, at your home and in a place that is accessible online at all times.

Lifeguards are on duty to protect as well as to jump-in to save a swimmer in an emergency. Every business needs to have a team of “lifeguards” watching out for the management and the brand. The swimmer (the business owner or management) must also know what to do in case of a crisis and certainly never take risks when the lifeguards are not on duty.

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

The Lazy Days of Summer? The “No Crazy” Days of Summer

At the beginning of July, I committed to blog every day and to encourage you to engage in significantly more social media activity. This is my 31st blog in a row. The results, on a number of fronts, have been positive, interesting and rewarding. I have also learned quite a bit and I want to share the lessons learned and a few frustrations with you.

vacation-from-work[1]On the positive side, being more active with content creation has allowed me to re-ignite my passion for providing marketing, PR, personal branding and business strategies for entrepreneurs and businesspeople. By sharing my knowledge and experience, I have been able to engage in conversations with wonderful people from around the world and get feedback which has advanced my own knowledge base.

I have experimented with blog distribution and social media to provide new and more effective strategies for clients, friends and colleagues along the way. In the pursuit of understanding new marketing trends, I have read a variety of articles in respected business publications such as FastCompany, Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, Business Insider and others. This led me to follow some impressive writers and bloggers and pod casters and their fantastic podcasts. I have also discovered people who are equally passionate about the entrepreneurial spirit.

What did I learn?

Twitter

One blog I did was called “I love Twitter, I hate Twitter.” My explorations and research into Twitter has opened my eyes to the potential of this platform and the best ways to use it to engage with people and build a following.

use 022814twitter[1]The two most important lessons:

The first is to engage with people on a one-to-one basis but do so in public. Thank people for following, ask questions and start conversations. I did not hesitate to send messages or ask questions of thought leaders. I am pleased that a number of them responded and are now following me. Having some TV personalities connected with me has been fun and it is very cool.

The second lesson is to acknowledge that brand consistency matters. When I veered away from my core interest and brand engagement the results were not the same as when I was more focused. The outcome after a month of heightened activity on Twitter resulted in an increase of over 300 followers and hundreds of likes, retweets and favorites.

LinkedIn

I wrote a number of blogs about LinkedIn. Since LinkedIn is a community and platform that I encourage businesspeople to use, I want to know how to use it more effectively.

The two lessons I learned:

Bill Corbett's LinkedIn profile page.

Bill Corbett’s LinkedIn profile page.

First lesson: if you are not doing long form posts on LinkedIn’s publishing platform, you are missing out on one of the best ways to build your brand online. I shared some of my blogs from this past month via this platform and the response has been amazing. My profile views tripled, contact requests are way up and the number of followers on my business page has more than doubled.

Second lesson: share content in groups and join the conversations. Conversations in groups have not only enabled me to speak with and connect with amazing people in the small business world but also with thought leaders and top level executives with major corporations. LinkedIn is about relationship building, not selling, and in this month alone I have started many new relationships.

Social Media

socialmedia[1]By sharing blogs and being more active on Google Plus, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest I have been able to bring my message and expertise to more people. Using images and video has been critical. I made the commitment to share images more and learn more about Instagram and Facebook. On both of these platforms I have seen engagement and this has strengthened my brand. Interesting, this is where business and personal activities intersect. In fact, this will be a future blog topic for me – relationship building does not stop when the business day ends. Personal posts and images of activities of interest to me have helped me to engage with more people and to share my involvement in charities and interest in grilling/BBQ and photography. The lesson learned here: share your passions and interests and you will be rewarded with comments, likes and respect. People will more likely approach you at networking events because these posts are great conversation starters and business opportunity generators.

PR – My Core Business

Many people know me, but there are those with whom I have not personally worked with and therefore it’s understandable that they wonder what I do and what happens at a PR firm every day. Through blogging, social media activity and storytelling, I have been able to educate people about what I do, my expertise and what it is like to be a PR professional. Lesson learned: talk to people and tell stories about what you do and how you do it. Give examples, use images and video whenever possible to tell the story and you will advance your business goals and build stronger relationships. We all have competitors, to stand out you must tell stories and let people get a good glimpse of what you do and how you can help them.

Video

Build_Brand[1]Through my social interactions, experience writing blogs, research and observations of  what others are doing to succeed, it is very clear that video is going to be the most important part of personal and business marketing in the years to come. I have included many videos in my blogs and I have shared many videos across social platforms over the past month. Video tells your brand story and invites people to get to know you better or introduces you to people before they even have a chance to meet you in person. I shared my recent TV interviews and the feedback has been very positive and has led to meetings and opportunities.

Blogging

Active blogging and the process in creating a blog has been an enlightening and positive experience. I have shared information that I am passionate about and have had fun. At the same time, I’ve broadened my knowledge base. Blogging can be both frustrating and challenging. Developing new content takes time and pushing out content requires a system and a consistent effort. It is frustrating when a blog does not get the response expected. Nonetheless, you must learn from disappointments to ultimately find success. I know that good content with images and videos attracts the most attention. I learned that social media sharing of your own content builds respect, interest and engagement. I also learned that when it comes to blogging it is great to share blogs directly with friends and others who will share it with their networks.

podcastmikeheadset1[1]I have said repeatedly during my Grow Your Personal Branding program presentations that your blog is where your personal brand comes to life. My daily blogging over the past 30 + 1 days has proven this to me once again. I plan to continue to blog, just not every day. I definitely will integrate more videos and I am looking forward to launching a podcast in the fall.

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

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