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.

Does Santa have a branding problem? A PR Guy’s Perspective

santa needs a PR guyAfter seeing dozens of print and TV commercials over the past few months, actually years, which featured Santa Claus I thought it might be time old St. Nick got some branding assistance.  The image of Santa Claus,  jolly and beloved symbol of the importance of sharing  and giving during the Christmas holiday continues to be exploited.  Dressed in his red suit, black boots and with a long white beard; people all over the world recognize his image and its message.  From a personal branding perspective Santa’s a super star, bigger than Elvis or Lady Gaga will ever be.  It is for this exact reason why businesses offering all kinds of products and services have latched onto Santa, making him their seasonal spokesperson and product endorser. 

Departing from the North Pole on his sleigh driven by eight reindeer (not Mercedes automobiles or red trucks), Santa makes his way to homes around the world.  He dives down the chimneys and leaves presents under the Christmas tree for all good children.  His story image and message is simple and helps to motivate children to behave throughout the year.  Whether you “believe” or not the innocent and positive message of Santa is clear and recognizable to all.

According to Isabelle Albanese’s About.com page on How to Make Your Messages Memorable we see part of the reason why Santa’s image and message is so easily and often used.  “When a piece of communication is to the point, relevant, worthwhile, and compelling, it moves you — the listener or reader — to action.  Moving people is not magic — it’s all about effective communication. Anyone can achieve effective communication by using a simple tool that has an uncanny ability to pinpoint why any message works or doesn’t work, and how to improve it.”  

We can learn much from Santa and it is time we give him a little branding advice. We live in a mass communication and overly commercialized society.  The image of Santa Claus has become an image in countless marketing campaigns and commercials.  One of the first companies to prominently feature Santa in mass marketing was Coca Cola back in the 1920s.  Coke used the image of Santa in many ways and promoted his wholesome image and garb to market its products.  This resonated with the consumers and the iconic Coca Cola bottle and Santa are linked together as part of Americana.  Lesson to be learned Santa, from a personal branding and marketing perspective, protect your brand and your image.  Watch out for your reputation and don’t let others use your image for their purposes.  Recently Instagram (owned by Facebook) changed their user agreement, permitting them to use images people have uploaded online to their free service.  Images of individuals can now be used for promotion and marketing of Instagram.  The settings and policy may change but be careful where you post information and your image, once you let it go who knows how it will be used.  

We know Santa’s message but do we know the “real story.”  A Santa in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts or dressed in red leather for a motorcycle commercial is far from the legend.  

Let’s turn the page and a look back into the origin of Santa Claus, which is St. Nicholas.  Born in the third century in the village of Patara (which is now Demre, Turkey), Nicholas was recognized as a saint before the canonization process began by the Roman Catholic Church.  His first act of giving was when he gave away his inheritance from his wealthy parents to the needy, sick and suffering.  Nicholas became a Bishop, dedicated his life to God and became known for his generosity towards others.  Through folklore dating back centuries, the modern depiction of Santa was adopted as the man in the red suit and white beard.  He has evolved into what we see today.  Simply Google Santa and you will find countless images. 

The story of Santa Claus is rooted in the act of giving to others less fortunate, which is something that should be upheld and recognized.  While it is important for businesses to thrive, and a pathway to success can be marketing campaigns, a sense of history and morality should not lose its place in the equation.  The image and message of Santa Claus brings happiness to families, rewards to children who are “nice” instead of “naughty.” When Santa is portrayed without these attributes and values, the essence of what Santa represents is diminished.

We learn from his story and legend that it is important, for business people and for Santa, to stay on message.  Don’t let others control your message and how you want others to perceive you.  Your personal brand matters and it needs to be constantly tended to and monitored.  

Thankfully there are many real “Santas” around the world and across the United States who work hard and dedicate their time and efforts for good, charity and for children.  Let’s hope more of the these individuals continue to positively portray Santa Claus and his message of giving and good will towards others.  With the struggles and tragedies of 2012 this message needs to resonate more than ever.    

Sources:

About Bill Corbett Jr.

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.

Marketing Lessons from the 2012 Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates

Nationwide the “conversation” in October centered on the three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate.  From the perspective of a business person involved with public relations, media relations and social media, the debates were extraordinary spectacles.  When taking the time to analyze them from a marketing standpoint, each provided perfect examples of effective marketing, communication and branding techniques.  It is worthwhile revisiting the debates and look at the techniques that were validated by each of the candidates.

It was clear the candidates were, for the most part, well prepared for each debate with clear, concise and consistent messages created for the sole purpose of winning over voters.  For example, Gov. Romney’s five point plan was repeated in all the debates to reach his base and the pool of undecided voters.  This was an effective approach for the candidates and it can be effective for you too.  A business marketing plan with a well formulated message about your products and/or services when repeated by you enough will resonate with customers and prospects.

President Obama, as the incumbent, went into the first debate with the advantage of having been in office for nearly four years, but despite this, his performance in the debate allowed viewers to see how vulnerable he could be.  In the following debate he was prepared to deliver his message with conviction.  By his own admission, he was “awake,” enough to get credited with winning the 2nd debate.  In the business world, a CEO who appears to be a leader unwilling to face business challenges and competition could be branded as weak.  Many today consider the brand of a CEO a mirror of the business’s brand.  So if the CEO doesn’t recognize his/her shortcomings and is lackadaisical about taking action to improve it, his career and/or the business can suffer, perhaps even fail.

It was interesting that FOX News introduced the “Twitter Box” for its social media minded audience watching or listening to the debates and election results.  Seeing tweet numbers fluctuate with highs and lows indicating favorable and unfavorable answers to questions or reactions to candidate gestures during the debates was telling. The idea of following tweets was novel but reasonable considering the impact of social media on the presidential campaign and the outcomes as to who won or lost each debate.  In our everyday lives and in the business marketplace Twitter, LinkedIn, FaceBook and YouTube have earned their keep by proving they make an impact on our daily lives and businesses.  If you are in business and you’re ignoring or unwilling to adopt appropriate social media vehicles, your business growth and vitality can be stymied.

According to dailycaller.com, the first debate, on Oct. 3, 2012, set a Twitter record. 10.2 million Tweets were sent during the event, the most sent during a U.S. political event in Twitter’s short history.  7.2 million tweets were sent during the the second presidential debate on Oct. 16, according to Twitter’s official count.  The third and final presidential debate appeared to spark less interest among Twitter users than either of the previous two debates.

People who listened to the debates and did not see the candidates drew different opinions as to debate winners, on style and content.  As mentioned, messaging is extremely important.  Radio listeners didn’t see Vice President Biden’s smiles that were interpreted as rude and  inappropriate or Paul Ryan’s “nervousness” attributed to his “gulping water” from a glass ever so often.  Viewers interpreted their gestures and actions. Listeners did not have to deal with the gestures.  Their opinions of who won or lost was based on the substance of what they heard – the messages.

Following the vice presidential debate columnist Charles Krauthammer on FOX News gave his perspective on the candidates’ performances. Krauthammer said, “If you heard it on radio, Biden won. If you watched it on television, he lost.”

What does this tell us about marketing?  Presentations you make related to your business, professional practice or services and products or areas of expertise, must be well prepared.  The way you present yourself at all times must not be off-putting.  When conducting a seminar, making a speech or networking at a business event, it is essential to convey a sense of openness to others.  You want to be a “likeable” and “approachable” person.  Looking stern, hammering the podium, pointing at someone to make your point, interrupting or talking over someone will not come across very well in a business circle.  How to overcome these and other pitfalls to public speaking and interaction with business peers? Practice and practice again and again.  That’s precisely what the candidates did, but under pressure even they had moments when they fell short of their “likability” goals.

According to www.business2community.com “Your professional image can be greatly impacted by the way you interact with others. Portraying your best self is critical for preserving your reputation and establishing likability. Pay attention to the way you interact with others, no matter who they are—or how much you may disagree with them. Whether you’re a politician or an office worker, your personal brand matters if you want to maintain credibility. The presidential debates show that even the smallest elements, like articulation and body language, matter when it comes to promoting your best image.”

There is no question that business people can learn effective marketing, communications and branding techniques from the success and shortfalls from these debates.

Sources:

About Bill Corbett Jr.

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.

Stop Using Social Media Now….Without a Plan (Part 2)

I wrote “Stop Using Social Media Now…Without a Plan”  blog in February of 2012.   Since then it became very clear to me that many businesspeople do not have a marketing plan for themselves or their businesses.  They “wing it” in terms of social media marketing and they continue to market without a method to track effectiveness or cost (time and money).

In today’s competitive marketplace people need to use their time, energy and resources effectively.  The business and marketing paradigm has changed.  Without a plan you are at a competitive disadvantage right from the start.

It is not only the time to rethink your marketing efforts but the time to make sure you have a viable program in place. If you do have a marketing plan, it’s time to revisit it.  What’s been working? What has not been working? Social media marketing and the overall digital media marketing activities need to be examined and new strategies implemented.

If you have never had a marketing plan, it would be wise to create one.  In addition to Digital Ethos there are many free resources online that talk about marketing plans for businesses.  Check out the National Federation of Independent Business http://www.nifb.com and the United States Small Business Administration www.sba.gov for ideas and information.

Your time is precious. Don’t waste it. Whether your business has one employee, 50 employees or 500, you need a marketing plan to establish goals for business growth.  The plan should outline the strategies you want to implement and the vehicles you need to use to reach your target audiences.  Include social media, but don’t focus 100 percent on it.  A plan that includes traditional marketing methods that has a mix of direct mail, SEO, networking, website, public speaking, advertising, networking and/or trade shows along with select social media vehicles will be most effective.

A marketing plan should be based on specific short- term and long-  term goals for your business.  For example, a short- term goal to improve branding might be to update your logo or create a tagline for your website and other social media vehicles as well as print materials.  This refreshed look will attract the attention of prospects as well as current customers.

When analyzing your marketing efforts, determine if social media efforts are delivering an ROI.  If not, look to other digital media possibilities, such as email blasts, direct mail with QR codes or personalized URLs.  Know the mind-set of your target audiences and your clients when exploring these options and consider how they will react to your marketing methods.  Do you want to use a soft marketing or passive approach? Do you want to use a direct approach, one in which you seek a response to an offer of some type.  Regardless, you must have a plan in place to make the effort worthwhile.

Let’s look at three traditional forms of marketing, each still viable in today’s marketplace, that if combined with social media tools, can improve the effectiveness of your marketing effort.

1. Trade Shows

Trade shows offer an excellent forum for meeting face to face with contacts and prospects.  Within your marketing plan include a trade show program with these three basic sections recommended by Trade Show Advisor www.trade-show-advisor.com

  1. Pre-Show Marketing,
  2. During Show Marketing,
  3. Post-Show Marketing and follow up.

You’ve must aggressively market to prospects before they arrive, fully engage them during the show, and promptly follow-up with them after the show to generate additional sales.

It is important to note: 80% of exhibitors do not follow up on sales leads they collect at trade shows. Many do not have a self-working system in place to consistently and automatically follow up with prospects and stay in touch with customers on a regular basis. http://www.growingmybiz.com/images/Trade_Show_Follow_Up_Article.pdf

2. Direct Mail.  Everyone and every business still have mail boxes and people do look at their mail.  There are many new ways to generate sales leads today, but direct mail remains one of the most powerful lead-generation tools.

Even successful online businesses are discovering that direct mail is essential for growth, since newer marketing tactics, such as SEO, social media, and email marketing, often have limitations because of the rapidly changing rules and technical issues involved.

http://www.marketingprofs.com/8/cheap-direct-mail-tools-generate-sales-leads-fast-rieck.asp

Direct mail allows you to reach individuals, firms and the target audiences you identify.  If you place one of the ugly black QR Code boxes (quick response) on your marketing materials you may be able to get more mileage out of this tried and true effort.  Use QR Codes to drive people to videos, social media sites and websites – they can even dial your phone number.  Consider using QRs to make your print documents come alive and connect with mobile device users.  While QR codes have not been super popular, they are catching on with more and more smartphone users. Data shows that almost 50 percent of all American adults own a smartphone.  Study show that over 100 million Smartphone users are projected by 2013. This will no doubt increase the use of QR codes significantly http://www.foliomag.com/2012/study-over-100-million-smartphone-users-projected-2013

3. Networking – Face to face relationship building still works.  People prefer to do business with people they know, like and trust and they get to know you through networking.

According to the website Businessballs.com business networking is an effective low-cost marketing method for developing sales opportunities and contacts, based on referrals and introductions – either face-to-face at meetings and gatherings, or by other contact methods such as phone, email, and increasingly social and business networking websites. http://www.businessballs.com/business-networking.htm

Whether a CEO of a large company or a sole practitioner accountant, you are already networking to some degree. Networking events are meant to facilitate business and professional relationships.  In order to get the most out of these events it is best to have a networking plan within a marketing plan. You do need to devise how you are going to meet and interact with new business contacts and grow these relationships.

LinkedIn is an excellent digital means for business-minded people to network effectively and to foster relationships.  Small businesses or individuals can use LinkedIn to tell their story, gain exposure, and create or enhance their business or personal brand, and be connected with hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals.  Card Munch, a business card scanner app on smart phones produced by LinkedIn, is another way to immediately capture contact information and connect with people and begin business relationships.  

To develop an effective marketing plan the elements which are appropriate for you to include will largely depend on your particular industry and circumstances.  However, you must be eager to explore ideas and be willing to implement new approaches to create a marketing plan that will not end up wasting your time and energy but instead will generate the ROI that you expect.  Don’t procrastinate; begin to develop your business marketing plan today. Remember, many of your competitors have marketing plans and they are using them to go after your clients and business prospects.

Sources:

About Bill Corbett Jr.

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.

Abraham Lincoln – Pop Culture and Public Speaking

I was going through my Pinterest feed and saw the Gettysburg Address(1863). While I had not read it in some time, I remain impressed by its brevity, its language and its remarkable message.  I have made this document a part of my Pinterest personal “vision board” as an example of a document that has lasting impact on me. Vision boards on Pinterest are a topic I will cover in a future blog.  Briefly, they are a collection of images that reflect your personal vision and brand.

Soon after placing the Gettysburg Address on my vision board, I saw a commercial online for the movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Later in the week I saw another movie listed on Netflix for Abraham Lincoln vs Zombies. I also saw Lincoln’s likeness in a commercial for a scratch-off lottery the same week.  The biggest news on Lincoln is the Steven Spielberg movie slated for release on November 9, 2012 staring Daniel Day Lewis.  The trailer, one of the top on YouTube, is worth a watch.  The Civil War era is a period that is very interesting to me so this is a movie I will be checking out.

publicspeakingactivities.com/

Vampire and zombie hunting are formidable skills. I didn’t know that our 16th president had so many talents and curious attributes. It’s interesting how pop culture is presenting the image of Lincoln. I wonder how this will impact the younger generation’s perception of such an important historical figure?  Will Spielberg’s interpretation have an impact?

The way people and elected officials communicated during Lincoln’s time was different, but messaging and clarity remain as important today as it was in the 1800s. Without question, writing well is essential in communicating effectively and for developing marketing messages that resonate in the business world. According to James DeKoven of Brand Communications, it is a pity when a company has “spent a lot of time and money on their sales and marketing plans, but they didn’t value the importance of their communications. Somehow, they forgot the primary goal of marketing collateral: to generate immediate interest in their products or services.”

The way that messages are conveyed in writing or verbally, and how others interpret words is crucial.  Lincoln chose the words and phrases of the Gettysburg Address carefully. It was a short speech, but it contained all the points he wanted to convey and it evoked strong emotions. Lincoln was on and off the stage quickly, unlike Edward Everett who spoke for two hours before him, orators frequently spoke much longer than they do today.

Interestingly, “Edward Everett was quick to acknowledge the greatness of Lincoln’s brief speech. The day after the ceremony, he wrote to the president praising the ‘eloquent simplicity and appropriateness’ of his remarks. ‘I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.’ Lincoln sent an immediate and gracious response: ‘In our respective parts yesterday, you could not have been excused to make a short address, nor I a long one. I am pleased to know that, in your judgment, the little that I did say was not entirely a failure.’ ”

Lincoln’s speech was two minutes, and was 10 sentences (or 272 words) long. But it was powerful. The advice is to capture the key emotions and ideas you want to convey in as little time as possible. If you can deliver a short, concise speech your audience will listen, and appreciate your brevity. According to 10 Tips from Lincoln on Writing a Kick-ass Speech”

While the style of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and other speeches seem to fit the style of the short blogs and brief messages we see posted nowadays, most would agree that blogs today, as far as content and flow, fall short of Lincoln’s writings.

Speaking, in public and on video, has emerged as a key selling tool for businesses and personal branding. It seems everyone in marketing mode has a LinkedIn profile and is an expert speaker. They may be speakers, but are they true professionals or experts?  Most are not. Lincoln, from the time of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858 and throughout his presidency, was regarded as a great and eloquent speaker. The ability of a speaker to capture the attention of an audience and deliver a thoughtful, well prepared speech does count for something. The current presidential campaign and convention activities have been full of media commentary on content, quality and delivery of speeches.

It is wise to familiarize yourself with “The Basic Structure of a Speech.”  “Making an outline for a speech is a way to organize your ideas logically and clearly. Without making an outline your speech will probably lack structure, and so be difficult to understand. By using a presentation outline, you can “see” the structure of your speech. In addition, It can also serve as your speaking script.”

Everyone has their own approach for speaking and a system for picking topics. Speaking comes naturally to some people while others dread it.  Practice is invaluable and staying on message is important. When preparing to speak have a clear goal for your presentation, know your audience and be well prepared.

“Effective communication is based on trust, and if we don’t trust the speaker, we’re not going to listen to their words. Trust begins with eye contact because we need to see the person’s face to evaluate if they are being deceitful or not. In fact, when we are being watched, cooperation increases. When we are not being watched, people tend to act more selfishly, with greater dishonesty.”

Website Psychology Today: “Words Can Change Your Brain” article “The 8 Key Elements of Highly Effective Speech…and why your words barely matter!” Published on July 10, 2012 by Mark Waldman and Andrew Newberg, M.D. in the 8 key elements of effective speech.

Lincoln knew his audience and prepared for public debates and addresses, each were different in nature, but he set his goals.  He made an impression; he was liked, remembered and trusted. He won election to two- terms as president during our nation’s most difficult era. Would he have been able to create viral videos on YouTube, attract friends on Facebook and become an influencer on Twitter?  My answer is yes.  He understood his audience and had a clear goal.  The methods for getting messages across are different today, but Lincoln would have been able to adapt and without doubt achieve success.

Sources:

About Bill Corbett Jr.

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.

Growing Your Business and Brand on LinkedIn: Mistakes to Avoid

It doesn’t matter if you are upper management or simply seeking to advance your career, using LinkedIn is an important piece of an individual’s overall personal branding efforts, but only if done properly.   Every day I see many people making horrific personal branding and personal marketing mistakes on LinkedIn and in the real world.   Here are some of the more common mistakes that can hinder the effectiveness of LinkedIn and brand development.

LinkedIn Mistakes

One of the most significant mistakes LinkedIn users make is the failure to be active and interact with others.  According to ComScor Inc. LinkedIn users only spend 17 minutes per month on the site.  This demonstrates that most members are not using this free service to their advantage.  Be assured, however, savvy competitors in their markets are active users and attracting business.   To avoided this mistake be active, connect with others, communicate, reply to messages and create a schedule for when you will check in and participate.  A good way to demonstrate that you are active and to build brand recognition is to provide status updates regularly, comment on ongoing conversations, give recommendations and provide helpful information.

Hard selling on LinkedIn is a blatant social media faux pas that signals to others that you are either too inexperienced or don’t understand how to build relationships that lead to business. While LinkedIn isn’t the place to explicitly advertise your products and services, you can do so in a subtle and unobtrusive manner as noted in the Top 6 LinkedIn Mistakes.

Sales pitches, discount offers, and outright sales messages alienate the exact people you want to build trust and relationships with.  Trying to sell via LinkedIn, or social media in general, is akin to offering an expensive lobster dinner to a man who just finished a huge Thanksgiving dinner.  He may love lobster but there is no way he will even try it, especially at that exact moment.  Trying to force him to buy or eat in this case will simply drive him away and you will probably never have a shot to sell to him.   LinkedIn is about creating long-term relationships.  Aggressive selling will devalue the service you offer and hurt your brand.   More often than not these tactics are ineffective and only serve to anger other users and get you blocked and/or reported.

An incomplete or sloppy profile can give others the wrong idea.  Complete your LinkedIn profile to 100 percent to avoid being cast aside arbitrarily.  In addition, carefully proof the content in your profile to ensure it is factually accurate and grammatically correct.  LinkedIn is the social media site where people present themselves professionally; your profile should reflect your professionalism.

Failure to respond to LinkedIn requests or to participate in the conversation defeats the purpose of joining LinkedIn and actually works against you.  Sharon Gram  “Canada’s Career Strategist” reminds us all that LinkedIn is the only site on the entire Internet that offers business professionals insight and access to people, companies, industries, and jobs. Those who do not answer requests or In-mail are seen as flaky and aloof.  The goal is to appear professional and dependable.  The best way to get results from LinkedIn is to participate, respond to requests, answer In-mail, engage with others.  Be a part of the community and don’t go into social media hibernation.

 

Sources:

About Bill Corbett Jr.

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.

Personal Branding and Marketing Lessons from “The King” Elvis Presley

When an individual is known by one name or by an equally recognizable nickname, they have achieved the pinnacle of personal branding success. There is no question that Elvis Presley reached this level as his brand continues to resonate today.  I visited Graceland a few years ago and picked up some interesting facts about “The King” and his career that can be applied to personal branding for any individual.    There is no denying that when most people hear the name Elvis, they instantly have an image of a man in a white jumpsuit.  But why is it these icons live on in our culture long after the individual is gone? The answer is simple, personal branding. If there is anything we can learn from Elvis, it is that with the right personality, talent, image and marketing of a brand, individuals can become a household name.  This is especially true for Elvis, seeing as his estate racked up $55 million last year. By looking at Elvis’ style, passion, talent and diversity, we are provided with some helpful strategies we all can apply to our brands.

With a sound and style uniquely his own, Elvis Presley changed the face of the music industry and became one of the most important figures in 20th century music. Being identifiable around the world simply by your first name definitely takes a lot of marketing of your brand and a style unique enough to be unlike any other in the world. Elvis is known famously for his white jumpsuits and elaborate outfits during his performances that caught the attention of millions. It is estimated, by Graceland archives manager Angie Marchese, that there are about 120 jumpsuits that Elvis had custom designed for him over the years

His style, including side burns, hair and jumpsuits, is still being emulated by children on Halloween and by countless impersonators around the world. As a social media icon of today, Lady Gaga understands this concept since her style is a key part of her brand and why she has close to 27 million Twitter followers.  Elvis serves an example that marketing a personal brand or company requires a distinctive style that can be easily differentiated from the competition. Companies should make it a high priority to create a style or message that is memorable and worth following.

It is clear that Elvis was passionate about music.  Passion should carry over into your company and be reflected in your branding image. When you are passionate about what you do in your personal and business lives, clients, prospects and others will be drawn to you.   The first impression matters but continuing to provide content and information that is helpful, memorable and interesting keeps fans and followers coming back for more.   Elvis was able to completely captivate millions by being passionate about something that he loved. Performing brought joy to his life and the lives of many others. When creating a marketing plan for your company, demonstrate your passion, skills and unique approaches. No doubt, Elvis would stand out in a crowded room simply by the way he dressed, but his personality and talent completed the package.  All businesspeople seeking to create a buzz need to have a complete marketing plan for themselves and their businesses.  Success does not come overnight for most, having a plan will keep you on the right course.

Remaining committed to the goal at hand and letting your talents shine through is an aspect of Elvis’s life that can be translated into a relevant marketing tip in today’s world. “Elvis Presley was not a singer-songwriter. He had a unique talent for interpreting songs and injecting his own brand of emotion, energy, and feeling into them.” Elvis knew that he was a gifted singer and musician but did not have the knack for writing songs. Therefore, he focused on his talents and found others to provide the music and lyrics to complete the package. We all need to identify our weaknesses to play to our strengths. The best plan of action is admitting your limitations and working with what advantages you have. Rather than trying to take on everything, do what you excel at and allow others to help you fill in the gaps.

Differentiation is something that is sought after by many, but achieved by few. Elvis combined a diversity of musical influences, providing a new generation with a unique sound to call its own. By creating new music and communicating through different mediums, he was able to provide content that his fans craved. He was, and still is, able to attract millions and keep them interested.  This is an example that should be followed when trying to market a business or your personal brand. By adapting and offering different kinds of content, be it videos, blogs or special media posts, you are able to reach different audiences or sub groups.  This will allow you to connect with more people on a regular basis.  When marketing your business, remain open to all the different groups of people and plan to reach as many groups as possible in order to maximize results.

Elvis shared a connection with his fans unlike any other during his time. “In 1956 it took 9 secretaries at the fan club headquarters to open all of Elvis’s fan mail.” In today’s world, that enormous amount of fan mail would undoubtedly translate into millions of Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Elvis’ presence in the social media world would rival some of the top celebrities and stars of our time that have followers in the millions. Elvis was able to give his fans what they wanted when he was on the stage, but just imagine the kind of audience he could have connected to with tens of millions of followers on Twitter and Facebook.   Aside from his strong presence on radio and records, Elvis was also able to reach his fans through other mediums, such as television. “His 1973 special, Elvis – Aloha from Hawaii, was seen in 40 countries by 1 billion to 1.5 billion people, making television history.” He was an innovator by using the technology of his time to capture audiences around the world. By appearing in front of everyone on their televisions during these record breaking specials, he provided his fans with a feeling of a strong personal connection to him and his personal brand.  Few other performers have enjoyed such close and emotional connection with fans.  Having a presence in multiple media channels is an important aspect of a sound marketing plan. Using mediums such as television, radio, print and social media will allow you to market your brand more effectively than would be possible on only one of these media outlets.  In the end you may not be “The King,” but you can have tens of thousands of fans or more online and in the real world with the right approach, message, image and content.

Sources:

About Bill Corbett Jr.

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.

Growing Your Brand and Business: Using LinkedIn Groups

With LinkedIn operating the largest online professional network with some 160 million users across 200 countries, it is clear that being active on this site is essential to growing your brand and business. However, being successful at generating business on LinkedIn requires developing and following a plan of action to ensure that the optimal results are achieved.

Being part of LinkedIn groups is an important part of an individual marketing strategy.

According to the most recent statistics provided by LinkedIn, “members are sharing insights and knowledge in more than 1.25 million LinkedIn Groups.” By joining groups that pertain to your industry (or not – your niche or other area), you are able to interact with like-minded groups of people, regardless of your connection to them. “One major reason for me to be involved in a LinkedIn group… I can have access to other group members, whether I have a direct connection with them or not,” says Jason Alba, author of I’m on LinkedIn — Now What???: A Guide to Getting the Most OUT of LinkedIn.

Create Your Own Group

Creating your own LinkedIn group provides you with even more benefits and opportunities to interact with the right prospects. The added bonus of creating and managing your own group is that you have control over the group and its focus. By having your own group, you highlight your expertise in the topics being discussed and have more of a say in what topics are covered in the group.  As group manager, you are able to list your events, connect to members directly and can even choose who will be allowed in the group.  One of the most effective ways to connect with members is to welcome new additions to the group with a personalized message. “My experience is that few people acknowledge new connections with a personal reply, something that takes just a few seconds,” says Jeff Korhan, author of 10 LinkedIn Tips for Building Your Business. “This is why this strategy is so valuable for developing relationships and standing apart from others who are just collecting connections.”

Stay Active

LinkedIn users should remember that, like real world networking, to receive the greatest benefit you must put in the effort and remain an active participant in groups. One strategy is to become “very” active in three or four groups.  Being very active means checking in at least 3 to 5 times a week.  When you check in, get involved in discussion, post questions, share articles and look for ways to help people find solutions to their challenges.  Work to create a reputation as a giver and provider of expert information.   The more active you are on LinkedIn, the more you will get out of it. “LinkedIn Groups provide you with an audience of interested individuals who are there to learn and share,” says Susan Shapiro, Operations Strategist for Bralan Consulting. “By actively participating, you become an expert, a resource your listeners may turn to for themselves and/or their clients.”

The State of LinkedIn

c/o viralblog.com

LinkedIn and social media in general should primarily be used for networking, branding and relationship development.  If you use LinkedIn as a vehicle to push sales messages and sell aggressively, success will be hard to find.  Make your LinkedIn efforts part of your personal marketing and branding strategy.  Selling will push people away and, if you spam, might even get your account suspended.  People in the real world and on LinkedIn want to do business with people that they know, like and trust.  Use this site as a vehicle to advance your brand and to get people to know who you are, like you for the information that you provide and trust you as a person who provides good content and delivers.

LinkedIn Groups offer a tremendous opportunity to meet people and expose them to your expertise. Leverage the relationships you create in groups and make personal connections.  Begin conversations and demonstrate that you can offer value and support.   These efforts will lead to relationships which will grow your brand and build your business.

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.

Sources:

About Bill Corbett Jr.

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.

Networking in the Real World and Online

www.techipedia.com

Networking is a crucial aspect of a business marketing plan.  Relationships are essential in business and networking is one way to get the relationship-building process started.  Networking is a way for people to meet and get to know each other.  The use of effective social skills and a strategy is necessary to become a successful networker.   A savvy networker will use these skills both in their real world and online networking efforts.

Every individual who networks should have their own personal marketing plan, strategies and goals to create brand awareness and a buzz about individuals.  Networking should begin long before you print your business cards or step foot into a networking event.  Public relations and social media lay the groundwork for more effective real world networking.  How great would it be to have people who you have never met in person recognize you at an event?  By actively engaging target audiences on social media or by using a blog, you can build recognition and a positive reputation.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the ideal forum for professionals to gather online for business purposes.  Create a profile detailing your skills, accomplishments and personal interests.  The profile is not for you; it is for the people you want to get to know.  Include a professional headshot.  Make it easy for them to get a feel for your expertise, willingness to share and depth of your network.  Write your profile so people in the cyber world will want to connect to you and people in the real world will want to take the relationship to the next level.

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Although networking has evolved significantly with the advent of the internet, e-mail and social media, there is no substitute for meeting in-person and interacting face-to-face to build relationships.  Online networking should be used to reinforce relationships made in-person.  When networking in person the goal is to find common ground, which often has nothing to do with business.  Rob Fishman, Partner at Hauppauge based Sandler Training said, “When networking, you must resist the temptation to sell.  Networking is about creating a relationship for mutual gain.  The focus should be on meeting a person and creating a relationship.”  He suggested following the F-O-R-D acronym to avoid talking about business when networking.  “F is for Family; ask the person where they are from originally or if they have a family.  O is for Organization; ask the person about their company and who is a good prospective client for them.  R is for Recreation; ask what they do for fun, people like to talk about topics that are enjoyable.  D is for Dreams and Aspirations; ask what the person’s goals are and what they want to achieve.  The big picture is about creating a network of people in which there is a shared mutual level of trust,” added Mr. Fishman.

Bruce Libman, Author of It’s Just Breakfast and Total Networking, endorses the “give to get philosophy” when networking and building business relationships.   “Giving is key to relationship-building and you have to give much more than you should expect to receive.  Giving information, ideas or making introductions demonstrates that you care and that you have listened to the other person’s needs or interests.  This carries a lot of weight when building relationships,” said Libman.

Business Cards

After you’ve met people, swapping business cards remains important to swiftly exchange information.  Today, there are smart phone applications that allow users to exchange contact information by simply bumping their phones together; a cool app, but not common.  Business cards remain the staple.  There are several apps including one by LinkedIn called CardMunch that allows you to quickly scan business cards and import their information into your database and generate a connection request on LinkedIn at the same time.

c/o www.businesscardsforfree.net

Phil Capell from GoSchmooze, a networking facilitation system which randomly puts four individuals together for a business lunch or breakfast, suggests to, “Always be networking.  Every person you meet has the potential to introduce you to others in his or her network. Try to meet people every day.  Remember that networking is not prospecting.  Don’t treat all people as prospects. Develop relationships with people first and build upon this to see if business or referrals can be shared.”

After you have met someone, started a conversation and exchanged information, the real challenge begins – follow-up.  It is crucial to following up with each person you want to continue a relationship.  Making contact after the initial meeting is absolutely necessary if you want to build a relationship even if to simply touch base or have coffee,.  A personalized system for following up must be created and used.  If you do not follow-up, networking is a waste of time for you or the company you work for.  Failing to follow-up is a critical mistake that the majority of “networkers” make – don’t be one of them.

Networking is about meeting people and managing relationships.  Create a system to build awareness for yourself and your brand, network in the real world and online to strengthen relationships, and commit to following up.  Each of these steps offers their own challenges.  Even if you have been networking for years, take a look at what you are doing, create a plan or update your networking plan and make sure you have a clear follow up strategy.

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.

Sources:

About Bill Corbett Jr.

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.

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.

Sources:

About Bill Corbett Jr.

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.

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

c/o www.aismedia.com/

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.

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.

Sources:

About Bill Corbett Jr.

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.

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