public relations http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7668/all en-US The 6 Companies With the Best Customer Service http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-companies-with-the-best-customer-service <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-6-companies-with-the-best-customer-service" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/customer-service-466197661-small.jpg" alt="customer service" title="customer service" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Nowadays, it seems like every single company is trying to cut corners.</p> <p>If companies are not <a href="http://www.challengergray.com/press/press-releases/2014-july-job-cut-report-46887-job-cuts-announced-boosted-microsoft">laying off several employees</a>, then they are forced to find <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/22/business/22layoffs.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">creative ways to cut labor costs</a>. Given the deadly combo of smaller budgets and fewer employees, it seems that great customer service is bound to disappear. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-get-exactly-what-you-want-from-customer-service?ref=seealso">9 Ways to Get Exactly What You Want From Customer Service</a>)</p> <p>Does this mean that great customer service is dead? Fortunately, there are several companies out there working very hand to consistently deliver outstanding customer service. Here are the six companies in which great customer service appears to be alive and well.</p> <h2>1. Amazon.com</h2> <p>The online retail giant takes the the mantra &quot;the customer is always right&quot; very seriously. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos often leaves a seat open, representing the customer, at conference tables. The &quot;empty chair&quot; is supposed to represent &quot;<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2012/04/04/inside-amazon/">the most important person in the room</a>.&quot;</p> <p>Bezos takes customer service so seriously that he welcomes messages from any client to his very public email <a href="mailto:jeff@amazon.com">jeff@amazon.com</a>. He is well known to read customer complaints and forward them to the relevant Amazon employee with just a single character addition: &quot;?&quot; Question-mark emails from Bezos are taken as top level action items by their recipients.</p> <p>The empty chair and question mark strategies from Bezos seem to be getting the point across and creating a culture of great customer service. The 2014 Customer Service Hall of Fame list puts <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/07/19/customer-service-hall-of-fame/12690983/">Amazon at the top for the fifth consecutive</a> time with 57.5% of survey respondents giving Amazon's service an &quot;excellent.&quot; Additionally, the American Customer Satisfaction Index has put <a href="http://www.theacsi.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=149&amp;catid=&amp;Itemid=214&amp;c=Amazon&amp;i=Internet+Retail">Amazon at the top of its online retailing category</a> since 2000 and within its overall top 10 for several years.</p> <p>Need further proof? An Amazon service rep didn't even blink in replacing <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/05/technology/05nocera.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">a $500 Playstation at no extra cost</a> that got stolen from a customer's doorstep.</p> <h2>2. Morton's Steakhouse</h2> <p>When I asked on Twitter (BTW you can find me at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/daviladamian">@DavilaDamian</a>!) for tips on companies with the best customer service, a follower, who prefers to stay anonymous replied via direct message: &quot;You have to check out <a href="http://shankman.com/the-best-customer-service-story-ever-told-starring-mortons-steakhouse/">Peter Shankman's Morton experience</a>.&quot;</p> <p>Shankman is a busy author and speaker and back in 2011 he was stuck in a rut. He knew that between 3:30 a.m. and about 9:00 p.m. he would only have time for a single meal, during a lunch meeting. Since he is steak lover, <a href="https://twitter.com/petershankman/status/103936299983060993">he jokingly tweeted to Morton's Steakhouses</a> if they would meet him at the Newark airport with a porterhouse. Turns out they did! Despite the 23.5 mile distance between the closest restaurant and the airport, the short three hour window to pull off the stunt, and the tweet meant to be a joke, Morton's came through with an outstanding example of customer service.</p> <h2>3. Nordstrom</h2> <p>The main source for Nordstrom employee's great customer service is empowerment. For several years, the company's Rule #1 in its employee handbook has been: &quot;Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.&quot; Employee autonomy has been <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2014/03/15/the-nordstrom-two-part-customer-experience-formula-lessons-for-your-business/">identified by several industry experts</a> as the source for Nordstrom's renowned customer service. This is why even housekeeping staff are able to help customers.</p> <p>What do Nordstrom employees identify as their key differentiator from other retailers? A Nordstrom employee that worked in the corporate offices and store #001 reveals that it is the <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2014/03/15/the-nordstrom-two-part-customer-experience-formula-lessons-for-your-business/">no-excuses return policy</a>. Ever heard of the <a href="http://www.snopes.com/business/consumer/nordstrom.asp">customer that returned tires to a Nordstrom in Alaska</a>? (Catch: Nordstrom doesn't even sell tires!) Nordstrom accepts returns even without receipts and no matter how worn out a piece of clothing might be. She also points out that everything is in small details such as:</p> <ul> <li>Answering the phone on no more than the second ring.</li> <li>Walking a customer to a location instead of pointing to it.</li> <li>Providing one-on-one service.</li> </ul> <h2>4. USAA</h2> <p>In the financial services industry, USAA often tops the best customer service lists. In the 2014 Temkin Customer Service Ratings survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers, <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/usaa-and-amazoncom-top-annual-customer-service-ratings-by-temkin-group-2014-05-21">USAA's banking business took the top spot</a>, and USAA's insurance business tied with Amazon.com for second place.</p> <p>A USAA customer for several years, Ligaya from Fort Rucker, Alabama, explains why she is loyal to the company: &quot;Consistently great customer service, always upgrading banking options and polite service reps. I also like that they take customer security very seriously. I've never been in one of their actual banks but have never had a problem in over 10 years.&quot;</p> <p>Founded in 1922 by a group of U.S. Army officers, USAA focuses on customers who are military members and their families. After reviewing <a href="https://www.creditkarma.com/reviews/banking/single/id/usaa-federal-savings">70 customer reviews</a> from this company, it seems that Ligaya is not the only one happy with USAA service. A remarkable 67% of those reviewers give 5 out of 5 stars to USAA.</p> <h2>5. Ritz-Carlton</h2> <p>Despite being a very large hotel chain with several locations in 21 countries, the Ritz-Carlton has been able to maintain a strong reputation for outstanding customer service for over a century.</p> <p>Take, for example, the story of Joshie the Giraffe. When a boy's beloved stuffed animal was left behind at a Ritz-Carlton in Florida, a father told him a white lie: Joshie decided to stay a bit longer at the resort. The same night, the staff from the Ritz-Carlton called the father and informed him that they had found Joshie. The father requested if they could take a picture of Joshie on a lounge chair by the pool. The staff did not only agree, but also carefully documented <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-hurn/stuffed-giraffe-shows-wha_b_1524038.html">Joshie's extended vacation</a> before sending him back along with some goodies.</p> <p>This and other &quot;wow&quot; stories are shared during the <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2007-02-13/how-ritz-carlton-maintains-its-mystiquebusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice">company's daily 15-minute meetings</a>. The same wow story is shared across all Ritz-Carlton hotels on the same day to congratulate staff that provided outstanding service and inspire everybody else. For example, employees are empowered to make decisions, such as providing freebies, to <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2012/04/10/how-the-ritz-carlton-inspired-the-apple-store-video/">minimize the perceived waiting time</a>.</p> <h2>6. Zappos</h2> <p>This list of companies with best customer service wouldn't be complete without including Zappos. This company has not one but several stories of <a href="http://about.zappos.com/our-unique-culture/zappos-core-values">legendary great customer service</a>.</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://consumerist.com/2011/05/19/zappos-saves-best-man-from-going-barefoot-at-wedding/">A best man for a wedding was saved from going barefoot</a> by intercepting a pair of shoes that were being delivered to the wrong address and providing an overnight replacement pair of shoes to the right destination.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Zappos sets the expectation for both customers and staff members that <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFe9nSlS894">everything can be returned</a>. No questions asked and at no charge to the customer.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A woman, whose feet had been damaged by harsh medical treatments, had to order six different pairs of shoes to see if one would provide her comfort. The rep that helped her process the return of the unwanted shoes via phone wowed her with <a href="http://www.divinecaroline.com/fashion/whats-hot/how-zappos-knocked-my-socks">a bouquet of lilies and roses</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The company offers <a href="http://www.zappos.com/vegan">over 1,060 pairs of vegan shoes</a>. No, that's not a typo. Zappos decided to take action and address the hundreds of requests for those that prefer non-leather shoes.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The company holds the record for one of the longest customer service calls: <a href="http://www.today.com/money/zappos-customer-service-call-lasts-10-hours-1C7711067">10 hours and 29 minutes</a>. The most amazing thing is that the rep remained friendly, even when most of the call was about providing advice on how to relocate to Las Vegas. The customer did buy a pair of Uggs boots.</li> </ul> <p>These stories go to show that there are still companies around in which the customer is king.</p> <p><em>What is your best customer service experience? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-companies-with-the-best-customer-service">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-key-to-free">The Key to Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-used-car-salesman-reveals-dirty-tricks-and-how-to-beat-them">A Used Car Salesman Reveals Dirty Tricks (and How to Beat Them)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-exercise-mats">The 5 Best Exercise Mats</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-americans-spent-their-money-in-the-1950s">This Is How Americans Spent Their Money in the 1950s</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/19-things-you-can-buy-that-make-the-world-a-better-place">19 Things You Can Buy That Make the World a Better Place</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping customer service public relations service shopping Mon, 08 Sep 2014 17:00:07 +0000 Damian Davila 1205245 at http://www.wisebread.com PR Blunders and How to Avoid Them http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/pr-blunders-and-how-to-avoid-them <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/pr-blunders-and-how-to-avoid-them" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/pr-blunders-and-how-t...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/pr-blunders-and-how-to-avoid-them" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000008849453Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Many small business owners think PR means sending out a news release with carefully chosen words to promote, say, a new product. But public relations covers a broad scope of activities. Done right, PR can help build awareness of your company, products, services, technologies, people and issues. Done wrong, PR will still do the same thing, but in ways you really don't want.</p> <h3>The Candy Bombers</h3> <p>Take, for example, the 1920s German candy company that thought it would be great public relations to drop confections from a biplane. The press all over Europe exploded with articles about the stunt &mdash; predominantly complaints from people who said they'd been bombed with chocolate.</p> <p>But years later, in another context, the same idea was a huge success. During the Russian Blockade of 1948-49, a major Cold War crisis, pilots flying food and fuel into isolated Berlin thrilled the city's children by dropping candy attached to little parachutes. Reported worldwide, the act of kindness had a huge positive impact on German-American relations in postwar Germany.</p> <p>Why was one candy drop a PR blunder and the other an international success? The former was self-serving, the other selfless. Sure, corporate communications is about getting the word out about your company, products, services, technologies, people and issues as we've said. But a real PR success goes beyond simple communications, and says something about the values of the organization too; it's about what you offer others.</p> <h3>Carrying a Spork without a License</h3> <p>PR isn't just about getting the word out. It's also about sending a message. Take, for example, the Delaware teacher and principal who suspended an enthusiastic six-year old for bringing a Cub Scout &quot;spork&quot; to school &mdash; a folding spoon, knife, and fork. The school board, in the wake of the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings, tried to send a message and rigidly sentenced the A-student to 45 days in reform school for violating their &quot;zero tolerance&quot; policy regarding &quot;weapons&quot;. Only after the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/12/education/12discipline.html?_r=1&amp;amp;scp=1&amp;amp;sq=delaware%20suspended%20fork&amp;amp;st=cse" target="_blank">New York Times</a> and the <a href="http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/33289924/ns/today-today_people/" target="_blank">NBC Today show</a> took them to task was the innocent tyke allowed back in school. Did their actions influence public relations? Oh, yeah.</p> <p>You can avoid such a blunder if you keep in mind that the message received is the message sent. Regardless of your intent, your relations with the public are the result of how they perceive what you said &mdash; and how you said it. Handled differently, with careful thought about the message they were really sending, the school district could have sent a very positive message to their audience and influencers. And the little boy, who said, &quot;...there's something wrong with the law not me...&quot; would have learned a much more beneficial lesson at school.</p> <h3>Airline Mangles Public Image</h3> <p>And then there's the famous case, a guitar case actually, that was thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers causing $1,900 damage to Dave Carroll's $3,500 Taylor guitar. Missing an opportunity for good PR, United initially refused to pay for the damage. Understanding the power of PR, Carroll and his country band, Sons of Maxwell, created a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo" target="_blank">YouTube video</a> that was viewed three million times in the first week. Apparently it struck a chord with United, who eventually agreed to pay for the damage.</p> <p>In a further demonstration of good PR, Carroll asked United to donate the money to a charity. United&rsquo;s response? Unbelievably, they lost Carroll's baggage while he was traveling to deliver a speech&hellip;you guessed it&hellip;about customer service.</p> <p>But the PR award in this episode goes to Taylor Guitars, who invited Carroll to their factory and <a href="http://www.taylorguitars.com/news/NewsDetail.aspx?id=109" target="_blank">presented</a> him with a new guitar to replace the one United's baggage handlers mangled.</p> <p>How could United have avoided the blunder? The same way you can, with old school public relations: care about your customers.</p> <p>Above all, remember that PR, good and bad, is sticky. Taylor is still a hero and United is still the goat, three years and 10,282,619 YouTube views later.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tom-harnish">Tom Harnish</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/pr-blunders-and-how-to-avoid-them">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-fund-your-business-without-touching-savings">3 Ways to Fund Your Business Without Touching Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-protect-your-business-during-a-divorce">5 Ways to Protect Your Business During a Divorce</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center pr disasters public relations small business Taylor Guitars United Airlines Fri, 29 Apr 2011 18:37:25 +0000 Tom Harnish 528194 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Get Free Publicity http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-get-free-publicity <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-get-free-publicity-heather-allard-wise-bread" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-get-free-publi...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/how-to-get-free-publicity" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000010862354Small_1.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everyone knows publicity is good for your business. After all, publicity:</p> <ul> <li>Creates buzz</li> <li>Positions you as an expert</li> <li>Brings traffic to your site</li> <li>Skyrockets subscriber sign-ups</li> <li>Launches the heck out of a new product</li> <li>Drives sales</li> <li>Increases brand awareness</li> <li>Establishes authority &amp; credibility</li> <li>Builds your platform</li> <li>And much more&hellip;</li> </ul> <p>But let's face it, professional publicists are an expense most small business owners can't afford. Wouldn&rsquo;t it be great if you could get great publicity &mdash; for free? Well, you can. All you need is a little time and a lot of desire.</p> <p>Here are six ways to get amazing publicity that won&rsquo;t cost you a penny.</p> <h3>Social Media</h3> <p>More and more, media outlets are using Twitter and Facebook to find great sources for the stories they&rsquo;re working on. Is there a magazine or TV news show you&rsquo;d like to be featured in? Chances are, they&rsquo;re on Twitter and Facebook, and once you &ldquo;follow&rdquo; them, you&rsquo;ll see awesome shout-outs for sources like you.</p> <h3>Help a Reporter Out</h3> <p>Like Match.com for reporters and sources, <a target="_blank" href="http://helpareporter.com/">HARO</a> provides publicity-hungry sources with hundreds of media opportunities each day. All you need to do is sign up, get your HAROs and start pitching.</p> <h3>Guest Posts</h3> <p>Get your business in front of a whole new audience by guest posting on other people&rsquo;s blogs. Check out Copyblogger for 10 tips on how to snag a guest post on an <a href="http://www.copyblogger.com/guest-posts/">A-list</a> blog.</p> <h3>Press Releases</h3> <p>Despite what some PR people say, the press release isn&rsquo;t dead. Writing and distributing a press release can announce news, launch products, tweak your SEO and help you reach the media. <a href="http://www.docstoc.com/documents/business/sales-and-marketing/press-releases/most-downloaded">DocStoc.com</a> has several free press release templates and Mashable.com lists <a href="http://mashable.com/2007/10/20/press-releases/">20+ free press release distribution sites</a>.</p> <h3>Editorial Calendars</h3> <p>An editorial calendar shows the major editorial features planned for forthcoming issues of a newspaper or a magazine. Editorial calendars are traditionally used by the advertising department to sell advertising, but you can use them to increase your chances of getting featured in a publication.</p> <p>Where can you find editorial calendars? Go to the publication&rsquo;s website and look for a link or tab that says &ldquo;Advertising&rdquo; &ndash; it&rsquo;s usually way down at the bottom of the website. Click on that and you&rsquo;ll likely find rate information, closing dates and a &ldquo;download editorial calendar&rdquo; link. Download the editorial calendar and start hunting for publicity opportunities in the features they have planned!</p> <h3>Product Placement</h3> <p>Have you ever seen your favorite products being used in movies or TV shows? That&rsquo;s called product placement and you can get your product placed, too! Sarah Shaw of Entreprenette has a genius free service called <a href="http://entreprenette.com/instantly-famous">Instantly Famous Products</a> that'll get your product on the big screen.</p> <p>Much like HARO, Instantly Famous Products broadcasts queries from TV and movie producers looking for certain products &ndash; clothes, accessories, green items, food, bags, shoes, whatever. All you need to do is pitch your product and cross your fingers.</p> <p>Publicity is a powerful way to boost your business. And as you can see, there are many fun and free ways to get it. So go get it!<i><br /> </i></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heather-allard">Heather Allard</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-get-free-publicity">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-ways-to-use-social-media-in-business">13 Ways to Use Social Media in Business</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/join-us-at-the-new-york-times-small-business-summit">Join Us at the New York Times Small Business Summit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center marketing product placement public relations publicist publicity small business social media Sun, 06 Mar 2011 22:39:40 +0000 Heather Allard 495256 at http://www.wisebread.com Free Advertising: The Magic of Getting Media Attention http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/free-advertising-the-magic-of-getting-media-attention <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/free-advertising-the-magic-of-getting-media-attention-kate-lister" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/free-advertising-the-...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/free-advertising-the-magic-of-getting-media-attention" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000008364500Smallcr.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whoever said there's no such thing as a free lunch obviously didn't know about PR. A single public relations stunt can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in free publicity. No, I'm not suggesting you <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2009-10-18/us/colorado.balloon.investigation_1_richard-heene-mayumi-heene-hoax?_s=PM:US">stash your son in a barn and send the National Guard on a wild balloon chase</a> &mdash; that's dishonest.</p> <p>But there are plenty of honest ways to garner media attention. I've run three&nbsp;businesses over the past 20 years. The first was a consulting firm that helped businesses find financing. The second was a vintage airplane &quot;flight-seeing&quot; operation (think Snoopy and the Red Baron). And the third is a telework research and consulting firm. Without the &quot;free ink&quot; in newspapers and magazines, none of those businesses would have survived, let alone prospered.</p> <p>Newspaper and magazine ads, direct mail campaigns, and other conventional marketing tactics, meanwhile, are expensive and risky. I know. I've tried them.&nbsp;One $5,000 magazine ad, or rather the total absence of calls from it, was particularly memorable. A pre-show ad at the local movie theater seemed like a good bet for the flight-seeing business; after all, it&rsquo;s a visual sell. Fortunately, a fire at the theatre allowed us to cut our losses on that contract. The aerial banner towed behind our biplane that read &quot;R-I-D-E-S &bull; 1-8-0-0-S-K-Y-L-O-O-P&quot; felt like a sure thing too. Sadly, the only call we received was a noise complaint.</p> <p>By contrast, PR efforts are cheap and effective.&nbsp;But your business is too boring to make headlines you say? I say &quot;horse puckey.&quot; Financial consulting and telework research aren't exactly Barnum and Bailey, but we've scored media hits in the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>, <em>Harvard Business Review</em>, <em>Washington Post</em>, and other publications. Any business, no matter how boring, can be newsworthy when a bit of creativity is added to the mix.</p> <p>Let&rsquo;s say you own a neighborhood shoe store. The latest wingtips aren&rsquo;t exactly headline material, but you can create your own with a bit of creativity. These ideas might get you a foot in the door at the local newspaper:</p> <ul> <li>For Valentine&rsquo;s Day, you could run a safe &quot;socks&quot; sale or joy of &quot;socks&quot; special.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Declare April (or May, or June, or...) Foot History Month and hold a contest for the best essay about feet that have made history. For example, did you know that Warren Harding, our 29<sup>th</sup> President, had size 14 doggies? How&rsquo;d you like to fill those shoes?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Speaking of presidents, wait for the next political slip of the tongue (you shouldn&rsquo;t have to wait long) and parlay that into a press release about famous foot-in-mouth moments.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Flip-flops can go on special when the local democrat turns republican.</li> </ul> <p>Of course, not all PR has to be funny or even quirky. The possibilities are endless. Just about any holiday, any headline, or any historical event holds the potential for a story about you, your business, your customers, or even your suppliers. Just find the angle and make the pitch.</p> <p>Best of all, PR isn't rocket science. It's something you can do on your own with very little training. You just need to find a hook that will reel the media in.</p> <p><em>How has PR helped your business succeed? Do tell!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kate-lister">Kate Lister</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/free-advertising-the-magic-of-getting-media-attention">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10+ Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/change-your-life-with-storytelling">Change Your Life with Storytelling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-helpful-tools-to-manage-your-small-business">6 Helpful Tools to Manage Your Small Business</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center advertising press releases public relations small business Fri, 04 Feb 2011 22:52:08 +0000 Kate Lister 486013 at http://www.wisebread.com Good Press: 6 Steps to Writing Killer Op-Eds and Commentaries http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/good-press-6-steps-to-writing-killer-op-eds-and-commentaries <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/good-press-6-steps-to-writing-killer-op-eds-and-commentaries-chris-birk" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/good-press-6-steps-to...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/good-press-6-steps-to-writing-killer-op-eds-and-commentaries" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000013702845XSmall.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Media commentators have pronounced the press release dead more times than Mel Gibson&rsquo;s career.</p> <p>Twitter, Facebook, and other social media avenues have no doubt altered the way business owners and entrepreneurs approach public relations and building buzz. There&rsquo;s certainly increasing value in social media releases, Facebook groups, and other evolving tactics.</p> <p>But that doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s lights out for more traditional media plays like basic press releases. The problem is those standard announcements become the static, default option.</p> <p>And that&rsquo;s why business owners should give serious consideration to the power of the op-ed.</p> <p>Developing top-notch opinion pieces and commentaries for traditional news outlets and online information hubs is a great way to boost your credibility, your brand, and potentially conversions.</p> <p>The phrase &ldquo;op-ed&rdquo; refers to the page opposite a newspaper&rsquo;s editorial page. Traditionally, the op-ed page has served as a public forum for various viewpoints and opinions on the news of the day, from political and social commentators to community members at large. Online publications may not have tangible editorial pages, but high-level sites certainly embrace compelling and timely commentary.</p> <p>Either way, this is prime real estate, which means it&rsquo;s tough to land a slot, especially at larger news outlets. Generating compelling and truly newsworthy opinion pieces that enhance your reputation and instill authority take significant time, investment, and nuance.</p> <p>But the rewards are usually handsome. Getting a guest commentary in a mainstream newspaper or on a high-traffic website can snowball into future gigs, steamrolling link love and more.</p> <p>For example, I put together a Veterans Day op-ed as part of my work for a national mortgage company that specializes in VA loans. The piece focused on how these loans and veterans themselves can serve as a model for redefining sustainable homeownership in America. It was published in <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10314/1101961-109.stm">newspapers across the country</a>, including three in the top 45.</p> <p>For us, timing was obviously everything. It&rsquo;s a bit more difficult to push a commentary about veterans and VA home loans in the middle of June. And that strikes at the heart of this &mdash; strategy is a major key to success when it comes to op-eds and commentaries.</p> <p>Whether you&rsquo;re looking for business exposure or you&rsquo;re simply a regular Joe trying to get your voice heard, there are some steps you can take to boost your chances of op-ed success. Here are six big ones.</p> <h3>Be Timely</h3> <p>This is the single most important aspect. There are some evergreen issues (health care, taxes, etc.), but having a solid time peg makes you instantly more attractive. News is, well, new. Business owners should look for ways to inject their opinion, product, or expertise into a current hot-button issue. Media outlets don&rsquo;t care about your latest innovation or a new product line &mdash; seek to latch onto a more generalized issue or trend.</p> <h3>Find a &quot;Nut Graf&quot;</h3> <p>This is a journalism phrase, one that undergraduates nationwide tend to abhor. The nut graf is basically the &ldquo;So what?&rdquo; paragraph. You need to show readers (not to mention editors) why they should care. What&rsquo;s the point? The impact? How will this affect their wallets, their grandchildren, or their future plans? Make sure this paragraph is up high in the piece. Once you finish writing, ask yourself: What&rsquo;s the point? If you can&rsquo;t provide a simple, one-sentence answer, you&rsquo;re not ready to start pitching.</p> <h3>Write Tight</h3> <p>Conciseness is especially key to a guest commentary. Most outlets have a ceiling around 800 words, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean you should aim for it. Editors love writers who can make the same point in a lean 500 words. Get to the point immediately and use short sentences with active verbs. Embrace economy of language.</p> <h3>Stick to One Issue</h3> <p>Reforming the welfare system or addressing prison recidivism are complex issues. Drill down into a core aspect of your topic and focus on that. You can&rsquo;t effectively cover an expansive current event or lingering social ailment in 750 words. Focus on clearly and concisely making a single point by using examples, anecdotes, and data.</p> <h3>Offer Specific Solutions</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s incredibly easy to sit back, take pot shots, and call for further research or an immediate halt to whatever police action you&rsquo;re protesting. That&rsquo;s not likely to inspire an opinion editor or readers. Instead, offer specific solutions to the problems or issues you&rsquo;ve raised.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Finish Strong</h3> <p>This is true for anything you write. Leave readers with an emotion, whether it&rsquo;s awe, hate, or indigestion. Avoid snarky and cliched finishing strokes. Consider circling back to your opening paragraph and bringing the piece full circle with a tie-back paragraph.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chris-birk">Chris Birk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/good-press-6-steps-to-writing-killer-op-eds-and-commentaries">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10+ Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-protect-your-business-during-a-divorce">5 Ways to Protect Your Business During a Divorce</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center commentary marketing press releases public relations small business Sat, 25 Dec 2010 21:08:07 +0000 Chris Birk 374828 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Create a PR Crisis Strategy Before You Need It http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-create-a-pr-crisis-strategy-before-you-need-it <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-create-a-pr-crisis-strategy-before-you-need-it-thursday-bram" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-create-a-pr-cr...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/how-to-create-a-pr-crisis-strategy-before-you-need-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000000894827XSmall.jpg" alt="microphone" title="microphone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The day you realize that you need a crisis strategy is usually the day you have a crisis. It's rare for small business owners to think about how to handle a crisis when they aren't in crisis mode. Having a strategy in place, especially when it comes to public relations, is absolutely necessary. With the help of the internet, a negative story can be widespread in a matter of minutes, leaving no time to formulate a response on the spot.</p> <p>If you already have a plan on how to respond to a problem, however, you have a better chance of making sure that your side is heard and reducing the impact of a negative situation.</p> <h3>Think Worst Case Scenario</h3> <p>It's not easy to think of every potential crisis ahead of time &mdash; there are just too many variables. But you can put a general plan into place and even draft a few 'fill in the blanks' statements that will let you get a head start on a crisis.</p> <p>Your strategies can typically go one of two ways: First, if a member of the media already has a piece of negative news, you'll need to respond to it quickly. Second, if it's more a matter of time until somebody gets negative information, you'll need to find a way to release that information yourself. When possible, it's useful to build in time in your response planning for investigation. You may not immediately know all the details of a situation and may need to find more information.</p> <p>Set up a list of resources for your crisis situations: who to call, which templates to use, and other information you're going to need close at hand. Don't count on being able to remember anything. After all, it may be a stressful situation where you can't take anything for granted.</p> <h3>Get It in Writing</h3> <p>Write out a generalized approach to how you want to handle a crisis: how you want to release information, who is responsible for talking to the press, and if there's a reporter who you would be willing to give a scoop about your crisis to. Have general policies on the sort of tone you want to set in your responses. If there are any particular weaknesses in your business with the potential to cause problems down the road, gather information about those weaknesses. Once you have a written plan, it's worthwhile to take it to a public relations consultant and get some feedback.</p> <p>It's usually better to create your own plan (and then get advice on it) than rely on something crafted by someone outside your company. The fact is that a consultant can't know all the details about your business. Just knowing the potential weak spots ahead of time can help you put together information that will be necessary during a response.</p> <p>You may also need to sit down with your employees and give them an overview of your crisis response plan. They need to know who to refer questions to, what constitutes a crisis in your view, and when to get you out of bed to handle problems. If you have a particular person in your organization tasked to keep track of what's being said about your company through tools like Google Alerts, she should have a way to communicate that information to you, as well as prioritize anything that could become a problem.</p> <h3>Go Looking for Trouble</h3> <p>You want to be the first person to know about any potential problem. Whether or not that's actually possible, you need to make sure that you're in the loop on everything and that potential problems are brought to your attention. Because something that doesn't look like an issue internally can suddenly turn into a big deal outside your company, it's important to stay aware of what's being said about your business on a regular basis.</p> <p>Monitoring discussions about your business, especially online, can help you create something of an early warning system &mdash; but it's important to make sure you can move quickly on anything you discover.</p> <h3>Build Relationships Ahead of Time</h3> <p>The more connections you have with the media, the more flexibility you can expect. While you can't ask a reporter not to run a story, having an already-established working relationship with a journalist can let you ask for a few minutes to make sure everything is clear before you start answering questions.</p> <p>One of the simplest approaches to building a working relationship with members of the media is to be a source for their current projects. That can mean pitching article ideas, connecting them to interview subjects, and otherwise being useful. Of course, such an approach is also useful for building awareness of your company and promoting yourself. Cast as wide a net as you can. Time can be a key limitation, but the better your connections to the local media, the more options you have in a time of crisis.</p> <h3>Train for Media Response</h3> <p>In most small businesses, the main point of contact for reporters is the owner. If you're the person that everyone wants to talk to, you need to be prepared. You won't be able to pass the matter along to a PR consultant brought in just for this particular situation. Since that's the case, it's important to be able to communicate well with the media.</p> <p>Typically, media training can cover a couple of different skill sets. One of the most important is simply being able to keep your cool when talking to a member of the media, whether it's a blogger or a television news anchor. It's also useful to learn how to formulate responses that will work well in an interview. You can get media training from many public relations or marketing firms, and it's a worthwhile investment in your plans for the future.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-create-a-pr-crisis-strategy-before-you-need-it">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-protect-your-business-during-a-divorce">5 Ways to Protect Your Business During a Divorce</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-fund-your-business-without-touching-savings">3 Ways to Fund Your Business Without Touching Savings</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center branding public relations small business Mon, 20 Sep 2010 22:46:49 +0000 Thursday Bram 218593 at http://www.wisebread.com 48 Guerrilla Marketing Tips From Top PR Pros http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/48-guerrilla-marketing-tips-from-top-pr-pros <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/48-guerrilla-marketing-tips-from-top-pr-pros-linsey-knerl" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/48-guerrilla-marketing-ti...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/48-guerrilla-marketing-tips-from-top-pr-pros" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/marketing-guy425.jpg" alt="Marketing" title="Marketing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your business is feeling the crunch this year &mdash; and your marketing <a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;218395199;41474888;e?http://www.plumcard.com/?eep=17460">budget</a> is dwindling as a result. We&rsquo;ve asked some of the most experienced public relations professionals to share their secrets on how to market a company on a small budget. Here are some of the best ways to use social media and word-of-mouth marketing to gain a competitive advantage in this tough economy.</p> <p><strong>1. Claudia Goffan, <a href="http://www.targetlatino.com/">Target Latino</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/targetlatino">@TargetLatino</a></strong></p> <p>Form relationships with other local businesses that cater to your customers. Ask them to offer a discount to their customers if they mention coming from their store when they purchase from you. Feel free to reciprocate.</p> <p><strong>2. Shannon Cortina, <a href="http://www.springboardpr.com/">Springboard Public Relations</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/scortina">@scortina</a></strong></p> <p>Make a <strong>realistic</strong> list of the top five targets (news/media outlets, blogs, or social media) that you feel your business would benefit most from being mentioned or featured on. Research and get to know each of these targets and their influencers by reading their articles, following them on Twitter, watching their segments, etc. Use a relevant article or blog post of theirs to reach out to them to introduce yourself via the comments section or through email. Taking the time to understand their coverage area, as it relates to your business, can help you position yourself as an expert resource for their next piece.</p> <p><strong>3. Molly Lynch, <a href="http://www.lynchgrouponline.com/">Lynch Communications Group</a> &mdash; <a href="http://www.twitter.com/mollylynch">@mollylynch</a> </strong></p> <p>The key to Twitter is thinking of it as a dinner date, rather than an opportunity to promote your product. A dinner date (or at least a good date) means a dialogue between two people, who share thoughts, ideas, and interests. Twitter is not a monologue or a place to simply post thoughts. Networking, engagement, and responses are required. While promoting your product or company is important, successful Tweeters do not simply post sales or information. Talk with your followers, engage them, and learn from them. Then, they&rsquo;re more likely to take an interest in your brand. Make it a two way street and make it a great Twitter-date!</p> <p><strong>4. Amy Mannarino, <a href="http://www.thewalters.org/">TheWalters Art Museum</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/walters_museum">@walters_museum</a></strong></p> <p>We have found that having multiple staff members &ldquo;co-tweet&rdquo; about our organization has increased our audience diversity on Twitter. Each person highlights different aspects of the museum. For example, a marketing professional might tweet factoids about an upcoming exhibition while a curator may add an artwork to Flickr and tweet about its meaning.</p> <p><strong>5. Kwesi Robertson, <a href="http://www.mm2pr.com/">MM2 Public Relations</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/kwesirobertson">@kwesirobertson</a></strong></p> <p>Use Twitter as a Social Media Newsroom. Twitter allows a brand to quickly release multimedia news or information about their company. To create more unified stories, I use a free-service called <a href="http://www.pitchengine.com/">Pitchengine</a> to create social media news releases that I upload via my/clients twitter account(s). Pitchengine allows me to track how many views my article has received.</p> <p><strong>6. Sarah Wilson, <a href="http://www.swbcommunications.com/">Sarah Wilson Business Communications</a> &mdash; <a href="http://www.twitter.com/SWBizCom">@SWBizCom</a></strong></p> <p>One of the primary complaints about social media is that it's time intensive, however, there's really no need for that. By using tools such as <a href="http://www.tweetdeck.com/">TweetDeck</a>, it's easy to take Twitter remarks that are appropriate for your Facebook and/or LinkedIn audiences and simultaneously post to those accounts as well, while omitting remarks that may not be a fit.</p> <p><strong>7. Paige Phelps, <a href="http://www.ntfb.org/">North Texas Food Bank</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/ntfb">@ntfb</a></strong></p> <p>We use games. Currently we&rsquo;re rolling out a Haiku contest for students and teachers. Our newest metaphor in use here at NTFB is that the number of hungry children in our 13-county, North Texas region would fill the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium two-and-a-half times. Using that, we&rsquo;re engaging our contacts at local public and private schools to get teachers on board with the theme &ldquo;Haikus for Hunger.&rdquo; We are using that as our hash tag too (#haikusforhunger). We think it&rsquo;s a fun way to open up the discussion of hunger in the community, teach kids a little something about poetry, and have fun. The numbers aren&rsquo;t in yet, but meme games like these are always a ton of fun to play, no matter the age.</p> <p><strong>8. Niccolinas Soto, <a href="http://www.prdepotchicago.com/">Public Relations Depot</a> &mdash; <a href="http://www.twitter.com/MamaPR">@MamaPR</a></strong></p> <p>My advice for marketing strategies: use it <strong>all</strong>, use it <strong>consistently</strong>, and use it properly. Don't just join Twitter or Facebook and only post about your products. Be a part of the online communities and really participate. Reply, comment, and give back...don't just take. Also, it&rsquo;s clear all you're doing is marketing when you join a site and only post your business info, and no profile photo as well as not a single blog written or comment given <strong>&mdash; </strong> this is the fastest way to be forgotten or bypassed by visitors. Fill out profiles completely, and post up some helpful blog posts.</p> <p><strong>9. Ronnie Manning, <a href="http://www.myntpr.com/">Mynt Public Relations</a> &mdash; <a href="http://www.twitter.com/RManning_Mynt">@RManning_Mynt</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/MyntPR">@MyntPR</a></strong></p> <p>Become a voice in your area of expertise, and utilize the comment posting sections of blogs and online publications. These comment boxes can allow you to link directly to your web site and boost traffic. Follow those writers who cover you space and offer opinion, personal experience, and complementary comments relative to their stories. Be transparent with who you are, put your name/title/business/website after your comment which will help get you and your business name out there. (However, it&rsquo;s very important that you do not do a straight product or services pitch, as these types of comments will often be removed by moderators as being too marketing-oriented.)</p> <p><strong>10. Rebecca Goldberg, <a href="http://www.dmdinsight.com/">DMD Insight</a> &mdash; <a href="http://www.twitter.com/RebeccaGoldberg">@RebeccaGoldberg</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/DMDInsight">@DMDInsight</a></strong></p> <p>Small businesses have an advantage over big businesses: a unique voice. That voice is the result of a tight-knit culture and typically one of a visionary leader who has an inherit brand strategy because her or she is the brand. To me, that's attractive. I think that small businesses should capitalize on who they are and what makes them special by letting the dreamers and do-ers share what&rsquo;s going on behind the scenes.</p> <p><strong>11. Kendra Schultz, <a href="http://www.prime-3.com/">PRIME 3</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/kendraschultz">@kendraschultz</a> </strong></p> <p>One huge marketing tactic that attains a lot of followers on Twitter or fans on Facebook, are giveaways. Whether it&rsquo;s for a free cupcake, free web-hosting for a year, free Mac book (or whatever product/service your company provides), creating a contest where fans/followers must tweet about your company in order for a chance to win something free not only expands your brand awareness via hundreds-thousands of people&rsquo;s Twitter or Facebook accounts to their fans/followers, but it also keeps these followers listening to what you have to say moving forward.</p> <p><strong>12. Marisa Puthoff, <a href="http://edelman.com/">Edelman</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/MarisaGPuthoff">@MarisaGPuthoff</a></strong></p> <p>Become familiar with Google Place Pages for local businesses. Google now provides in-depth information when available for local businesses and places, offering information from customer reviews, to menus and selection notes, to basic information like store hours and an image of the location. You can visit the <a href="http://www.google.com/local/add/analyticsSplashPage?service=lbc&amp;gl=us&amp;utm_source=%2Flbc&amp;utm_medium=van&amp;utm_campaign=en&amp;hl=en-US">local business center page</a> to make sure your business is represented with up-to-date information and to receive insights for how local users are finding your business&rsquo; listing. Other sites like <a href="http://yellowpages.com/">Yellowpages.com</a> and <a href="http://superpages.com/">Superpages.com</a> allow businesses to post free listings under industry headings that are searchable to consumers. You can also promote your listings on these free sites through your social media tools.</p> <p><strong>13. Branda Christensen, <a href="http://www.stellarpublicrelations.com/">Stellar Public Relations</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/brendachrist">@brendachrist</a></strong></p> <p>Be a name dropper &mdash; find out the most INFLUENTIAL influencer in your arena and impress them with your brand. Once you've won them over, shout it from the Twitter rooftops &mdash; employ Twitter lists and tweet like mad. It takes a human machine, but the branding will put you over the top.</p> <p><strong>14. Nick Lawhead, </strong><strong><a href="http://www.desautelhege.com/">Desautel Hege Communications</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/nlawhead">@nlawhead</a></strong></p> <p>Internet users are already talking about your product, service or industry with their social networks on Twitter. An active role in this conversation positions your company as an expert on the topic &mdash; whether you&rsquo;re selling vacuums or writing services. Twitter allows small business and consumer to connect and interact directly. Use <a href="http://www.search.twitter.com/">www.search.twitter.com</a> to find conversations about your industry or product using key words &mdash; then answer the questions your consumers have! Resolve the issues! Retweet the glowing reviews! All of this adds up to you participating in the social conversation.</p> <p><strong>15. Sally Falkow, <a href="http://www.press-feed.com/">PRESSfeed</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/sallyfalkow">@sallyfalkow</a></strong></p> <p>Use our free news optimizing toolbar to help you to make your content more visible and get it found in search engines and social sites. It has instructions and tools you can use to improve your online visibility. <a href="http://www.press-feed.com/toolbar">http://www.press-feed.com/toolbar</a>.</p> <p><strong>16. Menachem Wecker, <a href="http://www.gwu.edu/">George Washington Today</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/GWToday">@GWToday</a> </strong></p> <p>Social media tools are created for gregariouscommunity-building, and nobody likes the self-infatuated person at the bar who cannot stop talking about her/himself. Social media users should have to affirm a Hippocratic cyber-oath; first and foremost listen and understand the needs and pulse of the community, and only then start to think about how you can be of use to fellow members, and how they can be helpful to you. (And in case there is any confusion, turning your Twitter feed into an RSS feed of your news releases violates &quot;do no harm.&quot;)</p> <p><strong>17. Katie Elliott, <a href="http://www.quinnandco.com/">Quinn and Co</a> &mdash; </strong><strong><a href="http://twitter.com/Quinnandco">@Quinnandco</a> </strong></p> <p>Create a list of staff, clients, client-related people, and journalists on Twitter. This helps with generating #Follow Fridays and keeping up to speed on client efforts. Send personalized direct messages to people when they follow you. It&rsquo;s rare, and it helps you stand out from the crowd. We currently send an automated DM to all followers, but I follow up with a personalized message later.</p> <p><strong>18. Jessica Nunez, <a href="http://www.nunezprgroup.com/">Nunez PR Group</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/@NunezPR">@NunezPR</a> </strong></p> <p>Create brand ambassadors by hosting free events and providing special coupons and offers especially for your Facebook fans or the readers of your blog. This a fun way to show customer appreciation and show customers the value for them to interact with your brand online. When a customer posts positive comments to your Facebook page, blog or other social networking site, send them a coupon, discount, or even something as simple as a branded tchotchke. Consumers like to know that companies are listening to them and they love to be acknowledged for it.</p> <p><strong>19. Carin Galletta, <a href="http://www.inkfoundry.com/">Ink Foundry</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/inkfoundry">@InkFoundry</a></strong></p> <p>One of the items that we find missing from most small business marketing plans is analytics. A free tool for tracking site traffic is<a href="http://www.google.com/analytics/">Google Analytics</a>. Before any business can access a guerrilla marketing tactic they need to understand their baseline to gauge whether or not the effort is working. Analytics is free and easy - there is a great tutorial on the Google site and a bunch of YouTube &quot;how to&quot; videos that can help a small business owner understand how to use it.</p> <p><strong>20. Duane B. Thomas, <a href="http://edyoucation.info/">EdYouCation</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/edyoucation">@Edyoucation</a></strong></p> <p>You can gain great value from volunteering your small business for a University class as a &ldquo;working-study.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>21. Katja Presnal, <a href="http://www.collectivebias.com/">Collective Bias</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/katjapresnal">@katjapresnal</a></strong></p> <p>Always remember to engage your retail location customers in the conversation also on Twitter by displaying your twitter account proudly in your location &mdash; as simple as &ldquo;Follow us on Twitter&rdquo; and your Twitter handle printed in a piece of paper will do the trick. Same goes for online businesses; remember to make your Twitter account visible for your customers.</p> <p><strong>22. Chris Brown, <a href="http://www.resources-results.com/">Marketing Resources &amp; Results</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/chrisbrown330">@chrisbrown330</a></strong></p> <p>A twitter handle or screen name is one of the most important aspects and something that is in short supply. Get yours now!</p> <p><strong>23. Marisa Puthoff, <a href="http://edelman.com/">Edelman</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/MarisaGPuthoff">@MarisaGPuthoff</a></strong></p> <p>Post local events on <a href="http://meetup.com/">MeetUp.com</a><strong>. </strong>If your business is hosting an event or summit, post the information publicly on MeetUp, where users can browse for local meet-ups in a number of categories, both formal and just-for-fun.</p> <p><strong>24. </strong><strong>Marie Domingo, <a href="http://www.mariedomingo.com/">PR Professional</a> &mdash; <a href="http://www.twitter.com/mariedomingo">@MarieDomingo</a></strong></p> <p>Anything you share on Twitter must be authentic and should sound like your voice as opposed to and advertisement. The best Tweets have a call to action, or a link that includes an interesting Twitpic (photo), website (content). The objective is to have engaging conversations, not to drive more followers. Followers follow interesting dialogs.</p> <p><strong>25. Andrea Rizk, <a href="http://www.rizkpr.com/">Rizk Public Relations</a> </strong><strong>&mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/@andreahrizk">@andreahrizk</a></strong></p> <p>Do not follow more people than are following you on Twitter. Have a bio that is informational but shows personality.</p> <p><strong>26. Jennifer Batchelor, <a href="http://www.br-prmiami.com/">brpr</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/brprmiami">@brprmiami</a></strong></p> <p>We use Twitter to allow &ldquo;backstage access&rdquo; and a behind-the-scenes view to <i>show</i>, rather than tell, our followers and prospective clients what it is that we do so well and how it is that we put it all together for our branding efforts. This includes everything from photo shoots and runway shows, to exclusive interviews with our designers, editors, and publishers. We take it one step further by re-tweeting interesting articles as they relate to our industries, which in itself gives great tips to our readers, and also positions us as experts in our concentrations; however, we very rarely use our Twitter feed to directly promote our clients. They each have their own Twitter accounts (created and managed by us) which we use to shout each other out from time to time, and otherwise operate independently of each other.</p> <p><strong>27. </strong><strong>Kent Lewis, <a href="http://www.anvilmediainc.com/">Anvil Media, Inc.</a> &mdash; @<a href="http://twitter.com/kentjlewis">kentjlewis</a></strong></p> <p>I manage a host of profiles, so I can more accurately and effectively target audiences based on interest or point of initial contact. I syndicate my primary profiles to Facebook and my professional profile to LinkedIn, to extend the reach and value of my tweets. I utilize <a href="http://hootsuite.com/">HootSuite</a>, <a href="http://www.tweetdeck.com/">TweetDeck</a>, <a href="http://tweetbeep.com/">TweetBeep</a> and <a href="http://ping.fm/">Ping.FM</a> to streamline research, monitoring and tracking. From Twitter, I&rsquo;ve been able to generate prospective clients, partnerships, volunteers, sponsors and speaking engagements.</p> <p><strong>28. C. Renzi Stone, <a href="http://www.saxumpr.com/">Saxum PR</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/renzistone33">@renzistone33</a></strong></p> <p>Think before you post &mdash; only post what you would say at a cocktail party in front of a room of strangers. Ask yourself <strong>before</strong> posting, <i>is this relevant?</i> Sell <i>thought leadership</i>, not services or products.</p> <p><strong>29. Dee Stewart, <a href="http://www.deestewart.com/">DeeGospel PR</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/deegospel">@DeeGospel</a></strong></p> <p>Use words in your profile that will attract your ideal client to you. Treat each tweet received and given as if they&rsquo;re love notes. Use Ping.fm to cross promote your tweets through all your other SMS platforms (Facebook, Brightkite, etc,) and have DMs sync to your Smartphone so that you'll be available to nurture your relationships and respond as soon as they need you.</p> <p><strong>30. Marisa Puthoff, <a href="http://edelman.com/">Edelman</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/MarisaGPuthoff">@MarisaGPuthoff</a></strong></p> <p>Look out for opportunities to &ldquo;trend&rdquo; locally on Twitter. Twitter just launched an initial <a href="http://mashable.com/2010/01/22/twitter-local-trend/">version of local trends</a>, which will allow local brands the opportunity to run coupons through Twitter, or other campaigns that can drive discussion on Twitter and &ldquo;trend&rdquo; for that area.</p> <p><strong>31. Jonnice Slaughter, <a href="http://www.chatterboxpublicity.com/">Chatterbox Publicity</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/chatterboxpr">@chatterboxpr</a></strong></p> <p>One of the most unique ways that I&rsquo;ve benefited from Twitter in recent months is by saving my clients money. I scheduled an editorial visit for one of my clients to host a lunch and to do a presentation at a popular national magazine. To cut the cost, I sent out a tweet to other professionals who represented a local restaurant that might be interested in co-sponsoring the lunch. I used several key hash tags, retweeted a few times, and within 2 business days, I received a bite from a family-owned Italian restaurant. They agreed to comp half the value of their catering for the opportunity. My client was thrilled that I was able to save them money and found a credible restaurant willing to deliver more than pizza, sodas and sandwiches.</p> <p><strong>32. </strong><strong>Trip Kucera, <a href="http://www.logmein.com/">LogMeIn, Inc.</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/LogMeInNews">@LogMeInNews</a></strong></p> <p>We first started using Twitter early last year when we noticed that many of our users were posting unsolicited &ldquo;Tweets&rdquo; about LogMeIn. They would post things like &ldquo;I love LogMeIn&rdquo; or &ldquo;LogMeIn saved my bacon today&rdquo;. We knew we had to start engaging with our users, and the results have been great so far. Today we use the Twitter channel to really keep our users in the know by Tweeting exclusive product sales, answering product questions and sharing news as well as best practices and helpful tips for remote working.</p> <p><strong>33. Samantha McGarry, <a href="http://www.gomez.com/">Gomez</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/Gomez_Inc">@Gomez_Inc</a></strong></p> <p>Follow key reporters on Twitter to get a better sense of their personality and interests. Don&rsquo;t be afraid to pitch reporters &mdash; as long as your pitch is timely and on topic. Ask questions and get real-time feedback. Share useful information (plus your own perspective/personality.) Be an active part of the dialogue.</p> <p><strong>34. Lisa Bongiovanni, <a href="http://www.webroot.com/">Webroot Software, Inc.</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/webroot">@webroot</a></strong></p> <p>Through Twitter, we realized that many of the conversations about us were complaints about customer service wait times or issues with the product. We began reaching out to these people and changed their negative tweets into positive product affirmations. Recently, we created a second Twitter account solely for customer service. This provides our users an alternative to waiting on the phone, especially when they have easy to answer questions. By using Twitter to interact with customers, we have inserted our brand into the conversation and help shape customer attitudes towards our company and products rather than just sitting by and observing the conversation surrounding our brand.</p> <p><strong>35. Kwesi Robertson, <a href="http://www.mm2pr.com/">MM2 Public Relations</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/kwesirobertson">@kwesirobertson</a></strong></p> <p>When monitoring a particular brand or client &mdash; Twitter&rsquo;s search feature allows me to scan real-time feedback. Some innovative Twitter-supplemental services like <a href="http://topsy.com/">Topsy</a> have made the experience even more innovative.</p> <p><strong>36. Dick Knapinski, <a href="http://www.eaa.org/">Experimental Aircraft Association</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/eaaupdate">@eaaupdate</a></strong></p> <p>We use Twitter tips to discuss government issues to which our 160,000 EAA members can react, such as the FAA requesting comments to an aviation rule change; Aviation community building, such as a link to EAA members doing something cool or some new innovation in the flying world; and to generally build excitement for our association and its activities and programs. Use Twitter to respond to issues that are important to your followers!</p> <p><strong>37. Carin Galletta, <a href="http://www.inkfoundry.com/">Ink Foundry</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/inkfoundry">@InkFoundry</a></strong></p> <p>If you plan to distribute offers via Twitter and send out informational tweets, set up two accounts. And define what each account will be doing in the profile and through periodic tweets: One will only send offers and the other will provide category information, general &quot;behind the scenes&quot; info on your company, etc. You can use the second account, however, to drive traffic/interest to the offer account <strong>&mdash; </strong>but do it sparingly. Many people don't want relentless sales offers coming through. For the &quot;offer&quot; account, create offers that are specific just for the channel you are distributing them on. If you have a link back to a page, make sure the page addresses the offer immediately, don't make people search through your site for it. Make it special <strong>&mdash; </strong>only offer it to your Twitter followers, Facebook Fans, etc. This will increase conversions!</p> <p><strong>38. Kwesi Robertson, <a href="http://www.mm2pr.com/">MM2 Public Relations</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/kwesirobertson">@kwesirobertson</a></strong></p> <p>When targeting selected media or bloggers with a pitch letter or press release, be creative and find them on Twitter. Instead of a traditional letter or press release, create a social media news release/media advisory that gives a more vibrant perspective of your company&rsquo;s story and personally address them on Twitter.</p> <p><strong>39. Marisa Puthoff, <a href="http://edelman.com/">Edelman</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/MarisaGPuthoff">@MarisaGPuthoff</a></strong></p> <p>Look to &ldquo;linkshare&rdquo; with other local businesses<strong>. </strong>Work to build partnerships with other local businesses, who would agree to post a link to your site in exchange for promotion on your own.</p> <p><strong>40. Cindy Kurman, <a href="http://www.gotbuzzatkurman.com/">Kurman Communications, Inc.</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/kurmanstaff">@kurmanstaff </a></strong></p> <p>I've secured business via Twitter. It's been an awesome tool in reaching out. Recently, we saw a tweet from probably the most followed pr person on Twitter, and she was looking for someone to help her with a new product launch. It was an industry in which we are well known for: restaurant/food/hospitality. I responded, she responded. We tweeted. We talked. She hired us! We are also getting business through Facebook. All of our social networking sites are networked so my tweets appear multiple places.</p> <p><strong>41. </strong><strong>McKenzie Coco, <a href="http://www.fscinteractive.com/">FSC Inter@ctive</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/fscNOLA">@fscNOLA</a></strong></p> <p>Test your messaging. Social media and online marketing is the PERFECT place to test your outreach plan to observe the impact. Online is measurable. Is it A, B or C that people respond to and is the response what you wanted? Before moving into a big PR or marketing push with a huge expense, test the waters in a free space.</p> <p><strong>42. Merredith Branscombe, <a href="http://www.hoffman.com/">The Hoffman Agency</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/Merredith">@Merredith</a></strong></p> <p>Offer real value. I have hunted down and offered sources and links/articles for journalists even when it doesn&rsquo;t immediately benefit my clients.</p> <p><strong>43. Aaron Endré Quiñones, <a href="http://www.bhavacom.com/">Bhava Communications</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/AaronEndre">@AaronEndre</a></strong></p> <p>From our personal accounts, our employees retweet agency and client tweets and add further value <strong>&mdash;</strong> and personality <strong>&mdash;</strong> by offering reactions, personal opinions, anecdotes and humor.</p> <p><strong>44. Katie Elliott, <a href="http://www.quinnandco.com/">Quinn and Co</a> &mdash; </strong><strong><a href="http://twitter.com/Quinnandco">@Quinnandco</a></strong></p> <p>The most important way for small business owners to market their products and services for free is to track, monitor, and engage in conversations about your product or area of expertise on Twitter. For example, if your business makes wedding cakes in Wisconsin, you can monitor tweets from brides, wedding planners and other vendors in that area. You can set up alerts for people who include the words &quot;engaged&quot; or &quot;wedding planning&quot; in their tweets, and@reply with a &ldquo;congratulations!&rdquo; This is most effective when you engage and are genuine with people, as opposed to sending a generic message marketing your product.</p> <p><strong>45. Elisa Lippincott,<a href="http://www.tippingpoint.com/">TippingPoint</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/tippingpoint1">@tippingpoint1</a></strong></p> <p>The easiest way to monitor for Tweets related to our business is by using TweetDeck to set up search terms based on your business. If your business has a Facebook page or account, you can also set that up as a column, so that you can see if anyone posts to your page. We&rsquo;ve secured several sales leads based on Tweets we&rsquo;ve seen from setting up various search terms. Someone once Tweeted that their network was infected with a virus and they needed help. We were able to look at the person&rsquo;s profile, figure out who they were and get our appropriate sales person on it. TweetDeck is free, and there&rsquo;s even an iPhone version</p> <p><strong>46. Merredith Branscombe, <a href="http://www.hoffman.com/">The Hoffman Agency</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/Merredith">@Merredith</a></strong></p> <p>Keep your Twitter lists clean. I periodically use <a href="http://thetwitcleaner.com/">TwitCleaner</a> to weed out feeds and MLMers in disguise, so that I know I have real people.</p> <p><strong>47. Jenn Riggle, <a href="http://www.crt-tanaka.com/">CRT/Tanaka</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/Riggrl">@Riggrl</a></strong></p> <p>On using Twitter for the first time: Like exercise, walking your dog and drinking water, it takes time to add anything new to your already busy schedule. That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s important to make a concerted effort to tweet at least three times a day during the week. Add extra value to your tweets by using hashtags (a word preceded by a #). It&rsquo;s a little bit like using a zip code because it directs your tweet to people who are interested in a particular topic.</p> <p><strong>48. McKenzie Coco, <a href="http://www.fscinteractive.com/">FSC Inter@ctive</a> &mdash; <a href="http://twitter.com/fscNOLA">@fscNOLA</a></strong></p> <p>Online marketing and social media is real &mdash; no frills. Take the budget from a direct mail piece or TV spot with the media and put it back in your pocket. Or maybe you didn&rsquo;t have a budget to begin with <strong>&mdash; </strong>develop a plan and strategy (very important) and try going &ldquo;au natural&rdquo; with a flip cam video posted to You Tube, linking to Facebook, and then Tweet out the link. Then do it every week for 16 weeks and measure responses, traffic to the website, and whatever your actionable goal was to be accomplished.</p> <script type="text/javascript"> federated_media_section = "plum"; </script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/48-guerrilla-marketing-tips-from-top-pr-pros">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-fund-your-business-without-touching-savings">3 Ways to Fund Your Business Without Touching Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center guerrilla marketing marketing public relations small business Mon, 15 Feb 2010 04:33:47 +0000 Linsey Knerl 4974 at http://www.wisebread.com Want a Company to Hear You? Talk to Their “People.” http://www.wisebread.com/want-a-company-to-hear-you-talk-to-their-people <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/want-a-company-to-hear-you-talk-to-their-people" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/yes men.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="168" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Many of you were already following my <a href="../../../../../../what-do-you-and-a-credit-card-thief-have-in-common">recent credit card turmoil</a>, where I was blacklisted from using my own card. When <a href="../../../../../../product-feedback-is-worth-your-time">talks with the regular customer service</a>/fraud department left me unfulfilled and wanting to switch credit cards, I got a little creative in my communication efforts. I enlisted the PR department.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;"><b>What is PR? </b> Public relations companies may be internal to a large company, but usually there is some kind of outside entity representing a corporation's interests, looking out for any negative attention, and working very hard to get the good word out. Since perception is their business, they are usually very interested in any rumblings concerning their client, especially when those rumblings involve a bad experience.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;"><b>How do you reach a PR contact?</b> Sometimes it's easier than you think. You can start by going to the company's website, searching for a contact page, which may list a separate number or name for media inquiries or press. If you don't find one easily available, I would try looking for a site map. This will bring up all possible links on the website, and sometimes PR contacts are listed. If all of this doesn't work, I start googling for the company's name and &ldquo;press release.&rdquo; I follow any links within the last month (because PR reps change all the time), and read to the bottom of the press release, where there is usually a contact name and number. This is the person I want to talk to.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;"><b>What do you say?</b> You can start by introducing yourself. Don't say that you are just a guy that buys dish soap. Tell them who you are, how influential you are among your circle (not in a pompous way, mind you), and why your recent experience with the client has left you frustrated. You can say that you would love to know how your issue will be resolved, and that you're confident the PR rep can help get your complaint to the right person. Don't be arrogant, don't be demanding. Understand that the PR rep is doing a job, that they don't control how the company does business, and that they want you to be happy. Then sit back and wait.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;"><b>What happens next?</b> If the PR rep is doing their job (and you haven't been unreasonable in your feedback), they will address the matter. It may take some time for them to do some back-and-forth with the company. Eventually, someone will get back to you.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;"><b>What if you don't get any results?</b> This does happen. I haven't had it happen to me personally (although I've only had to resort to enlisting the PR rep once or twice, as of late.) If you don't get results, you can try looking for another PR company. Sometimes they switch reps, companies, or go through a period of transition. They may have simply dropped the ball. They may have deemed your complaint unimportant. If you feel that you've been wronged, however, don't give up. (Paul has some <a href="../../../../../../how-i-got-two-ceos-to-listen-to-my-complaints">great tips for going straight to the top</a>: The CEO.)</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">I can say that I've known some fabulous PR people who would go to the ends of the earth to straighten out a misunderstanding with a client. They want all to be well in their world, and their job depends on it. Treat them with dignity, the way you would want to be treated, and let them know your qualms. Not enough of them get this kind of feedback for free &ndash; they might be thankful to have it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-a-company-to-hear-you-talk-to-their-people">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-customer-service-phone-number-fast">How To Get A Customer Service Phone Number, Fast!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-own-soda-tidy-a-room-in-three-minutes-cure-a-hangover-and-become-a-movie-extra-phew">How To Make Your Own Soda, Tidy A Room In Three Minutes, Cure A Hangover And Become A Movie Extra. Phew!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ten-tenets-for-arranging-your-rich-part-1-rich-is-relative">Ten Tenets for &quot;Arranging Your Rich&quot; - Part 1: Rich is Relative</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-you-determine-someones-creditworthiness-by-his-or-her-looks">Could you determine someone&#039;s creditworthiness by his or her looks?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/regifting-a-simple-how-to-guide">Regifting: A Simple How-To Guide</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Life Hacks Consumer Affairs General Tips companies complaints product feedback public relations Sat, 13 Dec 2008 22:24:27 +0000 Linsey Knerl 2645 at http://www.wisebread.com The Letter Always Wins http://www.wisebread.com/the-letter-always-wins <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-letter-always-wins" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000004934185XSmall.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="245" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Somehow among our many ways to contact a company and complain about products: email, toll free numbers, in person—the old fashioned letter still seems to be the squeaky wheel getting the oil.</p> <p>Case in point. This week Smucker’s Jam agreed to replace two of my grandmother’s Pineapple Jams that she ordered. She talked to them on the phone and they apologized that the shoddy packaging caused the glass to break. But it was her letter that got her two free bottle replacements. (I’m not sure why they even make pineapple jam but grandma digs it and hardly anyone seems to stock it).</p> <p>The husband thinks all products made now should be made just like they were made sixty years ago. He holds companies—especially old companies to high standards. But he’s also a cheap bastard that predictably buys the same brand over and over again. He’s bought the same model of New Balance running shoes four times and they’ve all worn and cracked in the exact same place. He called and complained a few times, but his last letter earned him a pair of new New Balance shoes free.</p> <p>Okay. Two is a coincidence. But we’ll go with three being a rule of thumb. Playtex replaced not one but two nursing bras I had because the stitching around the underwire came undone and nearly poked my son in the eye (it did poke him in the back before I realized what was happening). I called their toll free number and they apologized but I got two free ones after my letter was sent.</p> <p>I have to credit my husband with all this. I am a product of our throw away culture and am apt to give up on a company or product and just move on, but Julian is another story. He insists that things should be of good quality and when things break down he believes it’s good for companies to be held accountable to his standard. I tend to believe that all wear and tear is my fault and so I should eat all cost. He, on the other hand, believes that a good product holds up with wear and tear. From the lowly toothbrush to my Toyota Corolla, he makes the inquiries, writes the letters, gets the answers—and many replacements, coupons and rebates along with it. I can’t complain.</p> <p>I’m not sure where he gets the extra energy to write the letters ---always pleasant and detailed and not rants—but I appreciate that we have at least one family member crazy enough to believe that good companies should stand behind their products. ANd I shouldn&#39;t doubt him. His letters always deliver.</p> <p>I’d tell you the stuff he got from Apple but I don’t want to jinx it.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/maggie-wells">Maggie Wells</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-letter-always-wins">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-companies-with-the-best-customer-service">The 6 Companies With the Best Customer Service</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-refund-when-something-is-non-refundable">How to Get a Refund When Something Is Non-Refundable</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-its-time-to-find-a-new-bank">5 Signs It&#039;s Time to Find a New Bank</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-complain-and-get-a-good-result">How to complain and get a good result.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tips-to-shrink-your-bills-every-year">6 Tips to Shrink Your Bills Every Year</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Freebies Compliants customer service public relations Thu, 03 Jul 2008 08:11:45 +0000 Maggie Wells 2216 at http://www.wisebread.com The Student Who Created a PR Nightmare Via Wikipedia http://www.wisebread.com/the-student-who-created-a-pr-nightmare-via-wikipedia <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-student-who-created-a-pr-nightmare-via-wikipedia" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/639784808_44d3f8e9a7_z.jpg" alt="wikipedia keychain" title="wikipedia keychain" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Virgil Griffith is someone I am proud to look up to. In a moment of inspiration, he created a program called Wikipedia Scanner that lets you know who has been editing articles on Wikipedia and what they've been removing. Not surprisingly, the revelations have left many giant corporations and even the White House staff in a tailspin. For those of you that know me and my &quot;power to the people&quot; philosophy, this is definitely 1-0 to the little guys. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/its-a-jungle-out-there-spotting-fake-reviews" title="It's a Jungle Out There: Spotting Fake Reviews">It's a Jungle Out There: Spotting Fake Reviews</a>)</p> <p>In a story by the MaltaStar, we learn just what prompted Virgil to act and the resulting chaos that ensued. He had &quot;heard about Congressmen being caught for white-washing their Wikipedia pages.&quot; (Why am I not surprised that a politician would do such a thing?) But then it hit Virgil that maybe there was a way to discover who had being doing edits in Wikipedia, and what they had done.</p> <p>The result is a laundry list of changes that makes Wikipedia look like an agent of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fbi-considered-its-a-wonderful-life-communist-propaganda" title="FBI Considered &quot;It's A Wonderful Life&quot; Communist Propaganda">propaganda</a> and a completely unreliable tool. You can see more of the list of revelations at the <a href="http://www.maltastar.com/pages/msFullArt.asp?an=14323">MaltaStar</a>, but some of my favorite edits include...</p> <blockquote><ul> <li>Microsoft tried to cover up the XBOX 360 failure rate</li> <li>In the 9/11 Wikipedia article, the NRA added that &quot;Iraq was involved in 9/11&quot;</li> <li>Exxon Mobil edits spillages and eco-system destruction from oil spillages article</li> <li>Scientology removes criticism and negatives article from Scientology page</li> <li>Dog breeding association deletes whole paragraphs about fatal attacks by dogs on humans</li> <li>Fox News removes all controversial topics against the network from the Fox News page</li> <li>Walmart removes criticism of outsourcing work. The retailer also changes negative paragraphs of underpaid workforce</li> <li>Someone at Reuters calls Bush &quot;a mass murderer&quot;</li> <li>Coca Cola removes negative content about its effects</li> <li>US University adds the &quot;prestigious&quot; adjective to its page</li> </ul> </blockquote> <p>Why is this important? Why should we care? Well, to many Wikipedia is a source of legitimate information. I'm not even sure how many people realize that Wikipedia can be edited by general users. Yup, anyone can write and submit an article. Comforting thought. But once again, this shows the two-faced nature of so many corporations. The X-Files was famous for saying &quot;The Truth Is Out There&quot; but these days, finding that truth is getting harder and harder.</p> <p>For those of you who'd like to see the darker side of many corporations for yourselves, I highly recommend a documentary called &quot;The Corporation&quot; by Mikela J. Mikael.</p> <p><img height="605" width="426" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/Corporation.DVD_.jpg" alt="The Corporation" /></p> <p><a title="The Corporation" href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0007DBJM8?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisebread07-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B0007DBJM8"><strong>The Corporation</strong></a><strong><img height="1" width="1" alt="" src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wisebread07-20&amp;l=as2&amp;o=1&amp;a=B0007DBJM8" /></strong></p> <p>It's available from most stores including the ever-reliable Amazon and probably your local library. I doubt we can lift the fog from these billion-dollar companies, but maybe we can all help other people see that the fog exists at all.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-student-who-created-a-pr-nightmare-via-wikipedia">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-a-company-to-hear-you-talk-to-their-people">Want a Company to Hear You? Talk to Their “People.”</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for">netSpend: The Story of the Visa Debit Card We Did Not Apply For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-do-immediately-after-losing-your-wallet">10 Things You Should Do Immediately After Losing Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/banks-manipulate-your-transactions-may-charge-you-1750-overdraft-fee">Banks Can Manipulate Your Transactions, Then Charge You 1750% Overdraft Fee</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs information internet resources public relations Wikipedia Wed, 22 Aug 2007 16:31:25 +0000 Paul Michael 1035 at http://www.wisebread.com