The official blog of Nancy Marshall Communications
offering tips, techniques, and thoughts from Maine's PR Maven, Nancy Marshall

 

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Public Relations: It’s a Mindset, Not a One-Time Activity

Nancy Marshall, CEO of Nancy Marshall Communications

Three Tips to Generate PR on an Ongoing Basis

I frequently talk with clients who say that they want to do “a little bit of PR.” When I hear that, I sometimes have to bite my tongue so as not to say “there’s no such thing as a little bit of PR.”

Public relations is a mindset. It’s something you need to be thinking about all the time. Well, maybe you don’t need to think about it as much as I do, because I really do think about it all the time (just ask my husband).  But  if you are always thinking about your relationship with the public, and your targeted publics in particular, then you are more likely to experience success with building your brand.

Here are three tips that will help you think like a PR professional:

1. Share helpful information with your targeted publics

Leverage social media—post on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter on how to accomplish something in your field of work.

Give a speech to the local Rotary explaining the latest trends in your industry.

Host an informational workshop for your clients and friends at a local community center in your area of business.

2. Watch the news of the day to see how you might be able to offer expertise.

Recently there was a train crash and oil explosion in Lac Megantic, Quebec, right over the border from Maine. Anyone with experience in how trains work, or the way oil is prone to burn uncontrollably, could speak with authority to the news about this tragedy. Or an expert in psychotherapy could talk about how you should talk to your children about tragic events.  Figuring out ways to adapt a national news story and leverage it for your own PR is called “newsjacking,” and it’s an amazingly effective public relations technique.

3. Look for opportunities to share the news of your business.

Have you hired a new employee?  Send out a press release with his or her head shot. Have you taken on a new client or customer? That’s a good reason for a press release, as well. How about an award or a published article? That’s newsworthy. A new invention, patent, or trademark? Yes, that’s also a reason to reach out to the news media. 

 

A little bit of PR will do just that:  get you a little bit of PR. But if you are always thinking about how to get your news out there to your targeted audiences and raise your profile with the public, then you are more likely to benefit from increased awareness in the marketplace.

Blogger with a Knack for Content Development and Innovative Marketing

Alex Steed of Bourbon. Portland. Beer. Politics.
Image courtesy of Zack Bowen, Knack-Factory

A recent study by Vocus shows that bloggers rank highly with consumers for trust, popularity, and influence, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven is a blogger who has gained popularity in Maine for his quips, anecdotal humor and overall blunt approach to even the most controversial topics. Alex Steed is the man behind the Bangor Daily News Bourbon. Portland. Beer. Politics. blog, where no topic is off-limits.

In a recent post, Steed took on the new Portland slogan, which sparked a Facebook frenzy of opinions and rants. You know it’s going to be great when he starts with a note: My bosses get bummed out if I don’t warn you when my posts contain swears, so there’s your warning.

In the article he states:

Speaking of Las Vegas, stop bringing up the Vegas slogan as an example of an awesome slogan….You know what else happens in Vegas and stays in Vegas more than anywhere else in the country? Suicide. Their rate is double the average, and that’s something that a snappy slogan just can’t solve because, again, slogans, good or bad, don’t really mean anything.”

Does Alex worry about scaring people off? No.  In fact, he embraces it saying, “A long time ago, because television shows were only shown on networks, the shows took fewer risks because they had to retain a large audience—as channels increased in number, shows were able to take more risks because they were reliant on a base of fewer viewers. For this reason, one of today’s most lauded television shows is about a meth kingpin who boils people in baths of acid.”

“Sometimes the posts write themselves in the forms of discussions or arguments. Then I go and write a sort of idealized version of my take on the argument, while trying as much as possible to illustrate the other side or sides.”
Image courtesy of his wife, Jaime Steed

No, Alex does not plan on using this method on anyone who disagrees with his opinions, but he has realized that he doesn’t have to appeal to everyone, and that understanding his audience and readers, and developing content that appeals to them, is the key to the success of his blog and business.

Steed says that what does worry him most is “do people see me as consistent, or willing to take risks, or bold, or thoughtful? I work hard, reading everything over and over to make sure that even the most questionable assertions can be backed up with facts. That way the only thing someone can disagree on is the point of view, and not with the content itself.”

Content is incredibly valuable and Alex says, “These days folks are expected to write for free—I think it’s important not to accept this. Good content creators bring traffic, and traffic equates to increased usage, or advertisers, or whatever the bottom line is for whoever is hosting the blogger.”

For Steed, it all began with curiosity. He says, “I was very excited about the prospect of seeing the world and I knew that I had a voice.” He encourages young writers to “Be open to being influenced and inspired—take in input at a significantly higher rate than you put out words, content or whatever you are creating. Live your life; read everything; watch everything; and learn how to listen, absorb and process.”

Alex adds that success comes from taking risks, and that “you have to be a consumer of content that is greater than what you are creating.”

” I love living in Maine, and I also love my peers in the creative community here. There is a lot of good work being done in Maine.”
Image courtesy of Zack Bowen, Knack-Factory

So what influences Alex’s work? Here’s his top 5 list:

Might & Main—“They do great work and are very cool without being pretentious. In a few short years, they have built an empire. Their impact on me and the work I do has been substantial.”

Change.org—“They’ve built a way of compounding digital influence and amplifying collective voices.”

The Feast—“I admire them because they’re working toward continuing conversations about how we approach business, culture and activism in a compelling way.”

Love + Radio—“It’s decidedly one of the most riveting and entertaining podcast series being produced today.”

POCKET BRUNCH—“They are blowing up the way we think of food, socializing, parties and everything in between…and they’re locals!”

To check out Alex’s work for yourself, you can read his latest posts at Bourbon. Portland. Beer. Politics. Like what you see? Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out his podcast here.

2010 Called – They Want Their Website Back

NMC Interactive Marketing Manager, Matt Rideout

Does it seem too soon to say something like that? It’s not. The truth is, mobile devices have completely changed the Web landscape over the last couple of years. Mobile searches have grown 4x since 2010. More people are ditching their laptops and are using smaller tablets or large smart phones for a lot of their Web browsing now.

Are you trying to drive traffic to your website using social media platforms like Facebook? Did you know that Facebook’s mobile users grew by 50% to over 500 million in 2012? It’s likely that any links you post to Facebook will be viewed on a mobile device.

So far in 2013, NMC’s clients have regularly received 25% – 30% of their traffic from mobile devices. In 2012 we were saying 15% – 20%. In 2011 it was less than 10%.

Full desktop for Summit Natural Gas of Maine.

The problem is, desktop websites just do not display properly on phones. People need to “pinch and zoom” just to read small areas of text. They have to pan when lines of text don’t break within the limits of the screen. Buttons are hard to click, drop down menus do not work, and visitors become frustrated.

If your website is not mobile friendly, your business is literally leaking money. Customers are hitting their phone’s back button and trying elsewhere because they can’t make it through your website without unnecessary effort (it’s like making the entrance to your store into an obstacle course).

This is why NMC is now making all new websites completely responsive. Responsive websites automatically resize and rearrange content and menus according to the size of the screen that the user is viewing the site on. This makes it so that on small touch screens, everything becomes navigable with just a thumb and content is organized much like a mobile app. On larger tablet screens, everything works perfectly through touch with more content filling the entire screen area, and on desktop screens, users get a view that is optimized for a keyboard, mouse, and large viewing area.

Tablet display for Summit Natural Gas of Maine.

To see a responsive website in action, head over to one of NMC’s latest creations at http://SummitNaturalGasMaine.com. Check it out on your smart phone, tablet, and desktop. All of the same information is accessible to everyone, but rearranged and presented differently depending on the screen size. Using Google Chrome, you can watch this transformation live by dragging your screen width from full screen to narrow to see how elements of the page reposition and resize themselves. Watch as it immediately responds to changes in screen size. This website was building using responsive (mobile friendly) technology on the Drupal platform. Our client can easily upload and add new content themselves once, and the system will automatically adapt it to any screen size without any extra work.

To learn more about what responsive Web technology can do for your business, feel free to come see NMC, the mobile marketing experts.

Article by NMC Interactive Marketing Manager, Matt Rideout

Social Media and Kids

KVYMCA Program Coordinator and Camp Director, Johanna King

The never ending debate on how old is old enough to participate in social media can be tricky, especially since it is now readily available to people of all ages, children in particular. This week’s Monday Maine Maven, KVYMCA program coordinator and Camp KV director, Johanna King, is well aware of the pressure and bullying that can be found on social media sites, but she believes many concerns can be resolved with open communication, education on social media etiquette and programs that instill positive self-esteem.

King has been working with children for a very long time. She started coaching soccer camps in high school, volunteered at her church’s summer Bible school and did a lot of babysitting. Since graduating from the University of Maine at Orono, she has worked part-time at Indian Elementary School as a tutor and, after receiving her ACE certification as a group exercise instructor, she landed a job working for the KVYMCA as their program coordinator and camp director.

Johanna gives a high-five to a camper last summer.

This role has been a perfect fit. Johanna says, “I went to so many camps growing up and have wonderful memories of camp. It is great to be on the other side of the experience and be able to help create those same great memories for kids today.” A part of this experience is using social media to share these memories with the parents of summer campers.

Johanna King has a firm grasp on social media needs for organizations like the KVYMCA. King adds, “People don’t want to sit down and read a long brochure, they want their information to be more succinct using images and less text; they want information from sites they’re already using such as Facebook and Twitter.” Johanna says that is why social media awareness is so important for not only children, but for communities as well. The information received is the information that is given, and so much of that information is found through the daily use of social media.

That is why King says, “This year, my goal is to update the YMCA Facebook page with a picture and short description each day for the parents to check out while they are at work or at home to see what their children are up to throughout the day.” Facebook and other social media sites are increasing awareness of the KVYMCA and their programs, but one new program is particularly popular due the Olympian namesake that hosts the session.

Johanna with Learning Center Director, Ranae L’Italien and Olympian, Julia Clukey during a recent camp program planning session.

That Olympian would be Julia Clukey. Johanna says, “Social media definitely plays a part in the need for programs like Julia Clukey’s Camp for Girls. It is incredibly important to teach kids that their self-worth isn’t correlated to how many Facebook friends they have or how many people have liked their status updates.”

During a recent planning meeting with Clukey and the KV Camp team, they were able to establish the curriculum of this summer’s program. The camp will feature themes such as “Be Healthy,” “Be Your Best,” and “Be Caring.” Kings says, “We received wonderful feedback from parents of Clukey campers and we know that we will be having a lot of repeat campers, so it is important that we present the information in a way that is new to the girls that attended last year.” Programs such as Julia Clukey’s Camp for Girls help promote positive reflections of oneself, resulting in confident young women.

To learn more about the summer programs offered by the KVYMCA and to connect with Johanna, you may email her at johanna@kvymca.org.

Eventbrite Changing the Way You Buy Tickets

NMC Account Assistant, Erika Bush

Hi, Erika here! It seems that every event I’ve been invited to in the past year has been linked to Eventbrite, and for good reason—it’s free! That’s right, completely free to create an online event.

Planning an event is stressful enough, without having to worry about ticketing, too. Another great feature of Eventbrite is that if your event is free than so is their service—they provide the perfect platform to promote it within your area without paying a thing.

The fees only begin when you start selling tickets, and what you pay for them to take all the stress out of online ticketing is minimal:

Eventbrite Fee

2.5%  plus $0.99 per ticket

*Cap fees at $9.95 per ticket for organizations

Processing Options

 

Standard Credit Card Processing Fee: 3% of ticket value

 

Paypal: 2.9% of ticket value + $0.30 per transaction

 

Google Checkout: 2.9% of ticket value + $0.30 per transaction

 

Authorize.net: rates vary

Kevin and Julia Hartz, husband and wife co-founders of Eventbrite

Since Eventbrite’s inception in 2006, the company has slowly been taking over the ticketing industry. They recently received a $50 million investment that makes some believe they could begin competing with larger sites such as TicketMaster and StubHub.

The first sign of them being ready to step it up comes from their recent partnership with Facebook’s “Buy Tickets” feature—a partnership that occurred within 48 hours of the new feature’s launch.  This seamless connection comes from the relationship that was already in place between Eventbrite and Facebook from their work together on Open Graph, which helps people tell stories about their lives through the apps they use.

The way the new “Buy Tickets” feature works is that when someone creates an event using Eventbrite, they will be given the option to “Publish to Facebook.” After this is done, the event will be on Facebook and they simply invite people to their event, or make the event public for the “Buy Tickets” button to appear.

The new feature will allow Eventbrite users to seamlessly link their events to Facebook.

Sharing events on Facebook happens every day; it’s coordinating where to send the money for these events that gets messy. You have to either be directed to another site to pay or you show up to the event and hope there are tickets left. Taking out the middle man makes sense. Kevin Stone of the New York Times quotes Eventbrite CEO Kevin Hartz saying, “Events are naturally social. You are certainly likely to share with others what conference you are attending, what club event you are going out to or what class you are going to take.”

Eventbrite has been growing steadily since its founding in a small one-room office in San Francisco back in 2006. It took off in 2010 and by 2012 it had more than tripled in size. Much like Pinterest, Eventbrite doesn’t show any signs of slowing down anytime soon, and is the one to watch when it come to online ticket sales.

How to Make the Most of your Blog

NMC Account Assistant, Erika Bush

Erika here, and I have a question for you. How many times have you visited a company’s website and thought: I want to know more? I know I feel this way a lot. Press and News pages are great, but if you are claiming to be an expert or giving advice as if you’re the best out there, then I want to know why. Why should I buy from you versus a competitor?

An easy answer: you have a killer blog. The entire team at NMC believes that the key to success is being someone your consumers “know, like and trust.” A blog lets people get to know you and like you, and as a result they trust you.

For me, writing about social media sites is fun and easy. I grew up in a generation that experienced the evolution of social media platforms firsthand. AOL, yeah, I had that and I had an AIM profile page complete with hearts and smiley faces that would later evolve into a customized MySpace page. Then, as soon as I was old enough to get a college email address, I was on Facebook and witnessed it become more public, to the point that the nine-year-old kid next door could have an account if he wanted.

Blogs are one thing that has stayed constant in this frenzy of change. They have existed in some way since the internet began, and while their role is changing, they aren’t going anywhere.

So how can you make the most of your blog? Let me share five best practices when it comes to influential blogging.

  • Create weekly features. If you want regular readers, then you must provide regular content.
  • Keep advertising to a minimum. Most people don’t mind ads down the sides of the content, in fact, we might not even notice it, but we do mind when we can’t scroll until we’ve watched a 30-second ad about something we don’t care about.
  • Engage your readers. Create contests, or link your posts to your social media pages or your business website. Your readers should feel like they are getting something out of reading your blog.
  • Link to previous posts. Not many readers are going to scroll back or search to find a previous post mentioned in a current article, so link to it for them. Keep your readership growing by making it easy for readers to find more relevant information.
  • Acknowledge other bloggers. Blogging is networking, and it isn’t necessarily a competition. Comment on other blogger’s posts and join the conversation. You will be surprised by who may reciprocate.

The key to a great blog is to develop a rapport with your readers and to offer them information that is relevant to what you can do for them. Now, I’m not saying that you should make it entirely about sales and the services you offer, but it should be about establishing yourself as a reputable source of information when it comes to the services you offer.

Finally, always remember that no matter what your topics include, blogging can be utilized as a fun way to enhance your brand.

 

The Difference Between Subscribers, Fans and Followers

I receive daily emails from Brian Solis, who is an expert on defining the convergence of media and influence. His recent post on “The Difference Between Friends, Fans and Followers” was very interesting and I recommend you read it.  One thing I learned from reading this post is that Twitter has a new website totally geared toward businesses that are trying to use Twitter for marketing. 

Brian describes the various roles of the audiences or participants in social networks. His post reinforced for me how important it is for us (as marketers) to have goals in mind when we enter into a dialogue with our social networks. The technique of message mapping which we use at Nancy Marshall Communications provides an excellent foundation to guide our conversations in social networks and to keep us on message, and on strategy. Otherwise we may be wasting our time in social networks without having any idea of what we are trying to accomplish. Here is my template for Developing a Strategic Communications Plan for your organization which includes setting goals for all your communications as well as creating a message map.

F-Commerce and the Power of Social Media

Anna

by Anna McDermott, NMC Account Executive

Thanks to Anna for contributing this article to the Maine PR Maven Blog as well as “The NMC Report,” the bi-weekly e-newsletter published by Nancy Marshall Communications. To sign up for a free subscription to this e-news, filled with information on the intersection of  social media and public relations, click here.

In case you thought Facebook was losing its staying power, think again. In a recent Brian Solis webinar called “Social Media in Small Business is Anything But Small,”  he made it abundantly clear that social media platforms like Facebook are getting more and more influential, especially for small businesses. Continue reading “F-Commerce and the Power of Social Media” »

Is Facebook dying?

A client recently said she thinks Facebook is dying. As a result, she didn’t think we should use it in any of our marketing and brand-building efforts.

I asked my 18 year old son Craig (who has a new blog that he launched just today), and who is attuned to the Facebook habits of his peers across the country and around the world and he said, “no way is Facebook dying.” Continue reading “Is Facebook dying?” »

“You like me! You really like me!” … Five Tips for Building your Facebook Community

By Katie Greenlaw, Account Coordinator at Nancy Marshall Communicationsfacebook-with-katie-004 (Katie is pictured at the computer, with NMC team members Juli Settlemire and Greg Glynn looking over her shoulder.)

Katie is a new member of the NMC team. She brings excellent credentials to her job, having worked as director of public relations at Thomas College where she also earned her M.B.A. with a 4.0 G.P.A.  Welcome Katie!  

Facebook is an important tool in today’s business world. Companies worldwide both large and small are increasingly seeing the relevance of having a Facebook page to share their news, special promotions and tips with current or potential customers. However, you can have a truly captivating, motivating, engaging and inspiring page, but what good does it do if no one is looking at it? Continue reading ““You like me! You really like me!” … Five Tips for Building your Facebook Community” »