Author Archives for PR over Coffee

Mythbusters: Marketing Edition

b972ce7e359d54e2dd3b3e805a6a92214bd25d17As the marketing industry changes and develops, it’s only natural that misconceptions will come out of the woodworks.

Whether you’re an emerging brand or a veteran of the industry, it can sometimes be hard to determine which marketing myths should be taken with a grain of salt, and which should just be completely ignored.

Here are five myths busted, so you can be properly informed when going into your marketing planning.

Marketing is the same as advertising

If you go around believing that marketing and advertising are one and the same, keep reading. While the two go hand in hand, they are still very different. According to the American Marketing Association, “marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Marketing focuses more on the technical process of creating awareness and understanding your customers by getting inside of their head. It is much more overarching than advertising. Advertising is a component of marketing. It is focused on the creation of actual items to drive promotions through mediums such as print, radio, television, billboards, etc. If you use the terms marketing and advertising interchangeably, it’s time to stop.

I don’t need social media

Social media seems to touch every part of our lives, so neglecting it for your business is a mistake. Social media isn’t just a way to connect with friends, but is an asset for sharing your business’ content and information. Customers like to conduct online research about products before making a decision. 74% of people will consult social media to help decide which product to buy. Typically customers will see it as a red flag if your business does not have some sort of social media presence. Social media is a way to provide customer service and connect with your customers on a more personal level. Even if you feel like you’re not in an industry where social media is necessary, don’t neglect its importance.

Marketing is too expensive

While it’s true that you will eventually have to spend some money for an effective marketing campaign, you might not need as big of a budget as you may think. Depending on which area you want to spend your time and money (social media, paid media, inbound marketing, etc.), there are ways to cut expenses when needed. Take influencer marketing, for example. Many brands feel the need to shell out the big bucks for big-name influencers and celebrities to promote their product when there are plenty of smaller, niche influencers who will charge a lot less for a partnership. Some will even take non-monetary compensation! If you don’t have a hefty marketing budget, get creative with how and where you want to spend your money.

It worked for them, so it will work for us

While there are general strategies that should be implemented for most marketing campaigns, not everything will work for everyone. For example, a B2B tech company wouldn’t utilize an Instagram campaign like a consumer retail business would, because that’s not where their audience is. Their audience is most likely on LinkedIn, which means they’re better off focusing their time and energy there. To get the most out of marketing, your brand has to utilize the tactics that will reach the right audience, in the right way.

All you need is a good website

Your brand could have the best website in the world, but that doesn’t matter unless people know it exists. That’s where good marketing comes in. Through social media, content marketing, SEO and other tactics, your website can be seen by a much larger audience than if it just sits there on its own. To increase traffic to your website, start by feeding it into as many places as you can — social media, blog posts, contributed posts, etc. And even if you’re not an SEO expert, you should at least know the basic keywords related to your industry and utilize those to increase the chances that your brand will show up during Google searches.

 

How to prepare for an interview with a reporter

smiYou’ve reached an exciting point for your business! You’ve been approached by the media to participate in an interview about your company.

This can be both exciting and nerve wracking for you, especially if you’ve never been interviewed before. Make no mistake, an interview with a reporter can open a lot of doors for your company. Media coverage can transform your company exposure and brand awareness in your geographic or industry market, so you definitely want to be on your A-game for the interview.

Leave a positive impression of your business and dominate your upcoming interview with these tips.

Anticipate questions

Whether you’re being interviewed about company news, a product launch, or for thought leadership, you need to anticipate questions of all kinds. You never know what kind of curve balls could be thrown your way, so try your best to do enough preparation for the tough questions. Research previous interviews that have been done by the reporter you will be interviewing with to get an idea of their style. They may ask similar or even the same questions. Look up common interview questions online and prepare answers for the questions. The more preparation you do in advance the less anxious you will be about the interview.

Research industry trends

When being interviewed, you want to be seen as an authority figure in your field. One way to do that is by staying up to date on the current industry news and trends. Before your big interview, it’s a good idea to brush up on current events outside of your own company.  It is better to be over prepared, because the last thing you want is to be in the dark on an important current event. Spend the week leading up to your interview surfing the web for relevant articles about topics in your field. The more you know, the more confident and knowledgeable you’ll come across.

Outline a clear message

Before your interview, take the time to outline your key purpose. What do you want people to gain from watching your interview? Keep this question in mind throughout your interview to stay on track. It is always a good idea to organize your thoughts before anything, from writing a memo to giving a presentation, to being interviewed by the media. Understanding your message will make it easier for you to answer tough questions. It will also cause you to be less nervous and appear more confident. Outlining your central theme ahead of time will make you less likely to contradict yourself when under pressure.

Practice

Practice makes perfect! Interviews can be tough because all of the focus is placed on you, but it’s a great chance to get your name out there and create buzz for your business. The more comfortable you are during your interview, the smoother it will go. Ask your family, friends, or coworkers to run through some practice questions before the interview. You can also practice alone by talking in front of the mirror. Whatever you do, don’t jump head first into an interview without any sort of preparation. You can’t take back your words, so be sure to practice enough to choose them wisely.

 

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

Tips to increase inbound leads

wpid-curata__eb0b5ff031fbfea14c625c2a441907cbGrowing your inbound leads is necessary for a B2B business to be successful and profitable over time. Inbound lead generation refers to the process of creating ‘owned’ content on your website that attracts visitors and converts them into leads. Once you have leads, you can then nurture them into sales opportunities and close them over time.

So how do you increase your number of inbound leads? Here are our top tips.

Develop a buyer persona

If you don’t understand your audience, your marketing may end up completely off message. Connecting with your audience is key for increasing your number of inbound leads. The struggle most companies have with driving inbound leads is being able to deepen audience engagement. One way to get around this is by creating buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your client. It embodies their thoughts, feelings, and goals. This information is used as a guide for your team to better pinpoint who you’re trying to communicate with, paying special attention to what motivates them to buy.

Create more content

Having enough content is vital for your SEO (search engine optimization) efforts. Your content must be relevant to your audience and include keywords that will draw people in. If your content isn’t very good, your visitor bounce rate will be higher. The point of your website content is to drive people to your site, keep them there and convert them into leads. Having an active blog and creating a diverse variety of content will help drive more traffic to your website. By utilizing your buyer personas when brainstorming content topic ideas you will end up creating content that is of interest to your main customer base.

Promote your content

You’ve worked hard to create your content, so don’t neglect showing it off! Don’t let your blog posts sit idle on your site, waiting for someone to find them. Social media is highly effective in gaining visibility for your company. The more people who are aware of your company, the more leads you’re likely to snag. The more places and more often you share your content the more likely people will be to engage with that content. Don’t waste an opportunity by leaving your content unshared!

Improve your call-to-actions

Your call-to-action (CTA) is arguably one of the most important pieces to the puzzle when trying to generate inbound leads. This is the part that encourages people to act, rather than just observe. Make sure that the message of what you’re offering through your call-to-action is clear. Rather than simply saying “Download now”, be more specific and tell your audience exactly what benefits they would be gaining by downloading. Whether your call to action is on your website or in an email, use colors that contrast and make your CTA pop! You don’t want your message to be lost in the noise, so be sure to make it stand out. You should also include a call to action on every blog post and on the most relevant pages of your site to really drive it home.

Don’t become discouraged

Whatever you do, don’t become discouraged when chasing after inbound leads. Results will not happen overnight. The process takes time to build but as long as you create a solid foundation for attracting leads your hard work will ultimately pay off.

 

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

6 Ways to Avoid PR Blunders on Social Media

3-Lessons-To-Learn-From-Big-Brands-and-Their-Social-Media-MistakesNo matter how prepared you think you are, mistakes are bound to happen. As a business, you want to reduce the amount of negative attention you receive as much as possible.  

Whether you say something you regret in the heat of the moment or someone misinterprets your message, what you say can potentially lead you into hot water. PR blunders will happen, the important thing is how well you react to them.

To limit the amount of PR fires you are putting out, keep these tips in mind.

Be clever, not crude

In whatever message you are sending out, it’s important to remember your audience. Some companies, such as Wendy’s, have gone viral on social media by becoming known for their sarcastic responses to customers. Wendy’s has become successful in this strategy because they figured out a way to connect with millennials on Twitter in a playful, entertaining way. The secret behind Wendy’s Twitter success lies in the fact that they are clever with their responses and are in an industry where their behavior on Twitter is more acceptable. Keep in mind that this strategy has to be used very carefully as it can quickly become offensive or insulting. There is a fine line between being clever versus crude (or inappropriate), so it is important to pay attention to your word choice when crafting messages. Before you send out a message, ask yourself and your peers if a reasonable person in your industry would be offended by your words.

Avoid hashtag disasters

Hashtags can be a great asset to networking or gaining awareness for your business. They can also be a recipe for a PR mishap. A “bashtag” is when a hashtag becomes a platform for sharing negative information about a company. It starts with a well-intentioned social media campaign, but for some reason or another quickly backfires. An example of this is when McDonald’s launched a campaign using the hashtag “#McDStories”. The intention of the campaign was for customers to share lighthearted stories about their memories of McDonald’s. The impact of this campaign quickly went south, however, when people started sharing McDonald’s horror stories instead. Before you start a social media campaign, weigh your options for how things could go awry. A failed campaign can do much more harm to your business than a successful one can do good.

Create guidelines

Making sure everyone is on the same page about the tone and mission of the message your company is pushing is crucial. Consistency allows for your brand to build a reputation and become better established in your audience’s collective memory. Creating guidelines serves as a “cheat sheet” for employees to understand the game plan for how to react and how to craft messages. Writing out your strategy makes it easier to follow, and it makes your team more accountable for following it. Establishing rules early on helps avoid future disasters because you already have a plan in place.

Monitor activity

You never know what people will say on social media, so don’t forget to regularly monitor your accounts. Be on the lookout for negative comments on your posts so that you can react accordingly. You should also monitor what people are saying about your business through reviews sites like Yelp, or on their own personal accounts. Be sure that you have included a process for responding to negative messages in a professional manner.

Double check everything

It’s easy for mistakes to slip through the cracks, so make sure that multiple sets of eyes take a look at the content you’re putting out in social media. Double or triple check everything that you do to ensure that it is as close to perfect as possible. You don’t want to accidentally let a typo slip through. While typos normally just illustrate a careless mistake, you never know when your typo could accidentally turn a normal word into something offensive. You can’t completely erase a mistake, so it’s important to have a solid system in place for editing content.
About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

10 marketing buzzwords you should stop using immediately

5-actionable-word-of-mouth-marketing-strategiesIt’s easy to get caught up in the jargon of an industry. After all, the more you are exposed to certain words the more likely they are to creep their way into your vocabulary.

Before you know it, you’ve adopted dozens of new buzzwords into your life without even realizing it. Buzzwords are terms that become very popular and widely used in a short amount of time. Buzzwords initially spread because they add some sort of value to the conversation, but this value starts to fade with the overuse (and misuse!) of the words.

We’ve compiled a list of marketing buzzwords that you’ve probably heard a thousand times and are likely to make your skin crawl.

Synergy

What does this word even mean? Synergy has become a word that is almost impossible to escape, and is so overused that it almost feels like a joke. In business, synergy is when the combination of two groups becomes stronger than the sum of their parts. However, this definition doesn’t really seem to mean much anymore. The overuse of this word has turned it into more of a placeholder than something that adds value to a conversation.

Leverage

Leverage seems to be just an overly complicated way to say “use”. It shifts the tone to be more negative, like everything must be a negotiation. Perhaps the most annoying reason for leverage being a buzzword that needs to be laid to rest is the fact that it is not a verb. Everyone out there is throwing leverage around as a verb when it is actually a noun. This should be enough to put leverage into its grave.

Guru

Instead of being an expert, people have suddenly become gurus. Guru is a sanskrit term that means master, but it has developed into a go-to buzzword when pitching clients to the media. The overuse of guru causes one to seem less credible than if they were to just simply say that they are an expert. It implies a level of bragging about their skills, but does not actually put tangible value on said skills. The word becomes less valuable and more obnoxious with every use.

Viral

In today’s world, everyone seems to have an obsession with going viral. However, there is no perfect formula for achieving virality. It isn’t something that you can plan, and because you can’t predict the future, there is no way to know if your efforts will work. The term is extremely vague and overused, and it adds almost zero value to a conversation. Going viral is simply a daydream, not a concrete strategy or action.

Hack

Somewhere along the way the word hack transformed from your worst nightmare into something you strive towards. If you hear that your computer has been hacked you suddenly shift into panic mode. However, if you see the headline for an article for “The Best PR hacks for gaining leads” you’re suddenly filled with excitement. Hack is an annoying buzzword because it sounds like you are deceiving someone or circumventing a normal process to get your way. Instead of something being a valuable tip it has become a hack, and you have suddenly become a mastermind.

Passionate

This is a word that is often used in the wrong place at the wrong time. Passionate has become a word that people throw in to describe anything that they are interested in. This changes the tone of a situation to seem over the top and insincere. How many people are truly “passionate” about PPC or profit margins? Instead of saying passionate, use words like specialize, focus, or dedicated.

Groundbreaking

In a sea of words used to over exaggerate something, groundbreaking takes the cake. This word is the perfect example of hyperbole because there is very little a person can actually do to physically break the ground, yet people continue to use this word as if they are the Hulk. If you are someone that uses groundbreaking to describe any sort of exciting action, it’s important to realize that it loses all of its spark when you say it seven different times in one meeting.

Curate

When I hear the word curate, my mind immediately pictures a museum or an art gallery. However, curate has become a buzzword that people use instead of just simply saying that they created something. Buzzwords tend to overcomplicate things. They also seem to be used when people want to sound more intelligent or in an attempt to fit in. Curate is definitely the perfect example of a buzzword people use when they are trying to create an illusion for themselves.

Bandwidth

Here is another marketing buzzword that stemmed from a completely unrelated industry and found its way into the hearts of business professionals. As a buzzword, bandwidth refers to someone’s workload and availability. Traditionally, bandwidth is a computer term that refers to the amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time or range within a band of frequencies or wavelengths. Somewhere along the way bandwidth became adopted as a favorite term for business instead of a way to describe a range of data.

Disrupt

Disrupt is a word that overhypes a product to the point of it becoming overwhelming upon arrival. While it is possible that you have created a product that will change the direction of the world, it probably isn’t the most probable thing to happen. The word disrupt implies that something is revolutionary and is shaking up the industry, which adds a lot of pressure to previous expectations. When choosing your vocabulary, try to be realistic so that you can keep your audience’s expectations level within reality. Once you cut down your use of marketing buzzwords, your message will become clearer and more powerful.

 

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

 

When should your startup pitch TechCrunch?

techcrunch.opengraph.defaultTrying to gain awareness for your startup can seem like an overwhelming task at first. There are so many startups trying to get in the news in hopes of propelling their growth.

Getting featured in a popular tech blog like TechCrunch may seem like a pipe dream at first, but it’s possible if you follow a few tried-and-true steps:   

Your startup is newsworthy

If your startup has been in the news recently, congratulations! Being newsworthy is a sign that your startup might be ready to pitch to TechCrunch. Being newsworthy also means you have the kind of news that TechCrunch wants to share with its millions of readers. Funding announcements tend to make the flashiest announcements, but only if the capital raise is in the millions.

You’re at the front of a trend

If you are trying to pitch TechCrunch about something that happened four months ago, you’re way too late. An app that does something radically new and exciting may also get the attention of a busy TechCrunch blogger — but you have to be first-to-market or somehow radically better or different from the competition if you hope to succeed. If your startup is at the head of a new trend (think augmented reality apps for the new iPhone ecosystem) then you’re more likely to get a TechCrunch blogger’s attention.

You have something valuable to offer

Put yourself in TechCrunch’s shoes. What kind of content do you want to provide to your audience? You’re a blog with a lot of power and influence, so obviously you are holding your content to a high standard. As a startup, this means that what you provide with your pitch must be on your A-game. Make sure you pitch TechCrunch with news that will give them an edge on the competition. For example, you can negotiate an ‘exclusive’ with one of the TechCrunch bloggers to allow her to announce your latest funding round.

You’ve developed a strong pitch

It is better to take time and allow your idea to grow rather than impulsively throwing it at a journalist. TechCrunch receives thousands of pitches daily from companies around the world. If you want to get noticed, dedicate enough time and effort into creating something truly noteworthy. Practice your pitch. Share it with your team for their feedback. It may seem like a hassle to spend hours and hours working on one task, but the reward will be worth it in the end.

 

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

 

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