Monthly Archives: December 2017

News media outlets are not dead, they’re just hyper-local

Much has been made about the demise of the news media in the age of the Internet and social media. Contrary to popular opinion, however, many media outlets are surviving, and some are even thriving. What’s their secret? A hyper-local focus on covering news.

Local media outlets that have done well in recent years tend to serve a small geographic area or cover niche topics for a community. They are far more interested ‘backyard issues’ affecting residents of their communities than covering stories with national scope.

That means small businesses in local communities still have a tremendous opportunity to get news coverage. Here are some ways that enterprising entrepreneurs can grab their share of the news to help build their brand and drive more business:

New location

Small businesses that add a new location are showing signs of growth, and that interests media with a hyper-local focus. Whether it’s a bakery expanding to an up-and-coming community or a nursery that opened its second location across town, the local media will want to let its audience know about the upcoming location openings.

Bought a business

Not every entrepreneur starts a business from the ground up. Yes, it’s a path that many do take, but many other successful entrepreneurs left careers at Fortune 500 companies in search of the American Dream on Main Street. Thousands of military personnel retire monthly and some look for franchises or existing businesses to buy rather than trying to find a job elsewhere. Even Millennials are getting in on the action. There are 75 million of them according to the Kauffman Foundation, and many took courses on entrepreneurship in high school or college and have the desire to control their own economic destiny.

Won an award

It’s not uncommon for small businesses to win awards for what they do. Some hyper-local media outlets hold annual fan favorite contests where readers vote for local businesses they prefer. Any consumer-facing business can enter these contests, but it takes a concerted effort to get customers to vote for the business. Still, it’s well worth the effort. Winners will get local media buzz, and the social validation that comes with the award will net even more loyal customers. Other awards can help establish the credibility of small businesses, including annual chamber of commerce awards, competitions and industry awards. A gelato shop that wins an annual national gelato competition will find it far easier to get the attention of a TV news anchor (especially one with a sweet tooth) than one that hasn’t done something nearly as remarkable.

Funding

Some small businesses grow through an influx of capital from investors, which is often a strong indicator that future expansion is afoot. For instance, a local snack foods company that sells in the community and its outlying areas may get a round of funding to begin expanding in grocery stores statewide, or even nationally. Media outlets will report on the funding event because it’s a clear signal that a home-grown company is doing well and planning an aggressive growth plan that could include hiring more employees and moving into a larger facility. Media outlets care a lot about jobs and real estate because the economic impact tends to be incredibly hyper-local, not to mention it happens to be a great way to measure the health of a local economy.

Special event benefiting a non-profit

Some creative small businesses find ways to get local media interested in them by running special events. For instance, a local restaurant might partner with a high-end chocolatier and offer a special menu in order to raise money for breast cancer awareness or another worthy cause. Local media, including TV news outlets, will often keep a certain amount of news open for local non-profit causes. Creativity can go a long way toward doing good for those in need while also helping build brand awareness in the community.

Health benefits

Last but not least, there are always opportunities for certain kinds of businesses to get hyper-local media coverage when it comes to helping shed light on health and wellness topics. Media outlets take their role as educators very seriously in the community, which means if a small business (e.g., a fitness studio or premium olive oil retailer) has a product or service that can help lower cholesterol, and it happens to be National Cholesterol Education month, then the media may be open to doing a story.

About Alyssa Bowholtz: Alyssa is a marketing and communications intern at Manzer Communications. She writes for the PR over Coffee blog and also helps with everything from managing social media activities to growing the company’s Austin Startup over Coffee map. Manzer Communications is an Austin marketing agency for tech companies seeking full sales funnel support from lead generation to sales enablement. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy, marketing automation, PPC, email marketing and media relations.

Don’t let your marketing head home for the holidays!

When the weather outside is frightful, your holiday vacations become so delightful! Whether it’s time for a little R&R in another city, state or country, it doesn’t mean your marketing should go on a two week hiatus as well. After all, people still open their smartphones and laptops, keep up with the occasional email, read their social media streams…well, you get the idea.

Here are 5 quick and easy tips to maintain your marketing presence even as you head out for the holidays.

 

Have your social calendar filled out BEFORE you take off

Social media calendars are extremely useful, even when you aren’t going on vacation. They help map out what, who, why, how, where and when you are going to post to each of your social media accounts. The internet is swimming with social media calendar templates that are easy to use! Fill out the information for the days you will be gone, including the message you are sharing, link you will use, image to be included and time to be posted. Don’t forget to specify which social media platform you will post the messages to.

 

Link your business Twitter from your personal cell phone

Assuming you already have the free app on your phone, you can link your personal and business account on your cell phone. To do this, pull up your Twitter account and tap on the profile image. There is a little blue arrow by your profile name, tap it and tap “Add an existing account.”

Once your accounts are linked, you can switch back and forth by tapping the profile image at the top of your screen. Send tweets, retweet an interesting article, or update followers with your experiences on vacation. Follow the calendar you created before you left, and your vacation will be a breeze.

Word to the wise: just be careful you’re in the right account before you tweet a personal opinion to your business account. It’s an easy, but avoidable mistake if you take the extra second to check which account you’re in.

 

Utilize Facebook’s “scheduled posts” feature

If you don’t subscribe to a social media distribution service that allows you to schedule social media posts, Facebook has a scheduling tool that is stress-free. Gather the content from your calendar and head to Facebook and enter each post, link and image into the post generator. Once you are ready, click the little arrow next to “Publish.”  A drop-down box will appear that has a few different options. You will select the “Schedule” option. From there, you can choose the time and date that the post will publish to your followers. It’s as easy as that!

 

Choose “topics” for Twitter

When inputting the information into your social calendar, coming up with specific Twitter posts is nearly impossible.  The goal is to deliver accurate information that happens at the drop of a dime. Instead of putting the exact message, image, and URL into the calendar, focus on selecting various topics instead.

Some examples would be:

  • Retweet an interesting, industry-relevant article
  • Share a new blog post
  • Tweet a picture of your travels
  • Share an old, but still relevant blog

Use your social media calendar to keep ideas for what you want to post and when. Additionally, the search feature on Twitter allows you to find articles or tweets on the topics you choose right from your cell phone since you now have linked accounts. The person you left in charge of the campaign will also be able to easily locate and publish tweets with a guide for what topics to cover and when.

 

Repurpose relevant blog posts

If you know you already have quality content that can be reused or repurposed while you are away, don’t be afraid to share it again! Be sure that if there is any data in the blog, it’s updated, and the topic of the original blog is relevant to today’s audience. What’s the point of having all that information if you only share it once? If a certain article really captivated your audience the first time, it may reach new followers that you’ve acquired over the recent weeks or months. Change the headline slightly or use a different message and photo when posting to social media. Even though you are using content you already have, make sure to tailor it slightly to match current wants and needs of your followers.

 

Those were our five easy tips to help you keep up with the campaign while you are on holiday. Vacation should be about relaxing and spending time with the ones you love. Don’t let the pressure of maintaining your holiday PR campaign stress you out. Plan ahead, make posting accessible, and share quality content you already have. Most importantly, enjoy your vacation!
About Alyssa Bowholtz: Alyssa is a marketing and communications intern at Manzer Communications. She writes for the PR over Coffee blog and also helps with everything from managing social media activities to helping grow the company’s Austin Startup over Coffee map. Manzer Communications is an Austin marketing agency for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and PPC, email marketing and media relations.

Speak Up: Building a Brand Voice For Your Business.

 

In any business venture you have many decisions to make. Type? Mission? Name? Hours of operation? Etc. The good news is that since you’ve decided to start a business or just want to improve an existing one, then you have overcome your first major hurdle.

So what’s the next step? Before you can start to market your services and dive head first into social media to let the world know how great you are, you first have to define your brand’s voice.

What do we mean by a brand voice? More than simply words and phrases, your ‘brand voice’ is the overall tone of your business and how you connect with your customers. It’s important that you craft a voice which clearly identifies with your business and its customers.

Here’s some good news: it’s time to get creative! Your voice can be whatever you want it to be. Formal? Humorous? Conversational?

So now the big question: how do you establish your own brand voice? Consider that it will impact all of your business communications, which means you will need to spend some time on it. Sounds daunting?

Not to worry! It’s easier than you may think, especially if you review the following.

 

Know Your Audience

What does your customer look like? What are their interests? You can’t begin to develop your brand voice if you don’t have a clear picture of your audience. More than simple demographics, you really need to take a deep dive into who they are, how they talk and what they believe. Customers have more options than ever these days to find products and services that align with their own values and interests. If you can’t define your customers and what they want, someone else will.

Say you own a store that sells clothing and gear for babies and toddlers. Your brand voice would naturally include a reassuring tone, friendly, even nurturing. You want new parents in your community to see you as a trusted resource for baby clothing, baby gear and other items to make the parenting experience easier.

 

Know Yourself

What is your brand? What are your company’s values? In order to successfully market your business and create a cohesive tone, you absolutely have to know everything about your business. Whether you’re a huge conglomerate or a small home-based startup with one employee, effective outward communication starts within. Consider this step your communication mission statement. What image do you want your business to reflect? Only you know.

Say you are a former Army Ranger or Marine and recently launched a CrossFit gym based on the kinds of day-to-day fitness challenges you experienced on deployments in Afghanistan.  Well then you might want to create a brand voice that has a rugged, never-say-die quality. The business is built on your identity, after all. The more your brand voice reflects that the truer it will be to your experience and the more it will resonate with customers.

 

Know Your Competition

The next step after identifying who you are and what your business represents is to know everything about your competitors. Unless you are creating an entirely new space, you will need to spend time researching the marketplace. Will you copy others or will you create unique content? Clear messaging is crucial but you must first decide what that messaging will be and if it will be presented differently from those who have come before.

For instance, say you are a custom software development company but instead of working with disruptive technology companies like your competition you tend to focus on older, more traditional companies in need of software modernization. In that case, your brand voice would skew toward a more mature, level-headed and even conservative tone and style designed to appeal to executives in traditional industries like manufacturing, distribution and financial services.

 

Be Flexible

The marketplace is dynamic. Businesses like yours have to be ready to adapt and change quickly. Maybe a new disruptive product is being launched or a new app is forcing you to create a new strategy as you currently only exist in brick and mortar. Whatever the change is, you must be prepared and that includes adjusting tone and style of your brand voice as needed. What worked yesterday may not work today and likely won’t work tomorrow.

For example, today we are seeing a steady push toward egalitarianism in the marketplace so adopting a male-centric voice may not work unless you happen to be selling athletic gear designed exclusively for men. Even The Home Depot’s brand voice, while still distinctly male, has softened to encompass the female DIYers that make up their customer base.

Bottom line: Your brand voice matters. To make yours stand out from the competition, be authentic to who you are and, most importantly, who your customers are and what they expect from you. A fine-tuned brand voice will allow you to speak much louder than your competitors and it will help you to resonate better with your customers, you just need to take the time to find it.

 

About Dave Bennett: Dave is a marketing and communications professional at Manzer Communications. He supports clients with social media, blogging and tech marketing and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications is a digital marketing agency in Austin for tech companies companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and PPC, email marketing, and media relations.

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