About Public Relations Made Simple
David E. Johnson is the CEO and founder of Strategic Vision PR Group. With over 20 years of experience, he is a PR industry leader who specializes in media relations, crisis, communications, branding, and reputation management. He drives client strategy and has been integral in leading the firm forward since its founding in 2001 during the aftermath of 9/11. He has been described as a PR guru extraordinaire and the go to person for crisis communications by the news media.
Johnson’s public relations and communications experience developed with experience working for various trade associations and governmental agencies in Florida. In the late 1990s he was employed with one of Atlanta’s top public relations agencies where he oversaw a diverse client portfolio that included accounts in the architectural, legal hospitality, education, non-profit, lifestyle, sports, technology, real estate, and health care professions.
With the founding of Strategic Vision PR Group, Johnson developed a niche practice for the firm in book publicity. He works with new and established authors from both the self-publishing and traditional publishing realm.
Johnson is regularly sought out by the media for his intricate expertise and knowledge of the public relations industry. He has appeared on CNN, FOX News Channel, FOX Business Network, ESPN, CNBC, CBS This Morning, and the Today Show, as well as in publications such as People, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, PR Week, PR Daily, E-Commerce Times, Associated Press, Christian Science Monitor, Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Hollywood Life, and serves as a frequent contributor for Commpro.biz, Brilliant Results Magazine, Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog, and Alister & Paine. He was named as one of the top 500 Influencers by Campaigns & Elections Magazine for 2013.
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Businesses seek to attract attention to their newest brand, product or service. With about a quarter of a million new product and service launches globally each year, and countless established brands seeking coverage, it’s not always easy for a new company get the publicity it seeks. But, it’s possible to break through the clutter.
Here are a few ways to achieve it:
- Get key stakeholders involved early.
- Use several ways to get your message out.Media Relations
- Social Media
- Stakeholder Involvement
- Give the media various ways to cover your news.
- Know your story and what makes it unique.
- Utilize a variety of storytellers in getting your message out.
The challenge for any new business is getting the word out and attracting customers. That is why the roll out is so important. Without the proper public relations campaign, you may have the greatest product or service ever but nobody will know about it. Following these basic strategies will ensure that people do learn about it.
Speaking engagements are a critical part of any public relations campaign. They allow a person to get before their target audience and directly communicate with them. Authors find that after a speaking engagement, members of the audience will purchase copies of their book. Business leaders find that after a speaking engagement members of the audience will be interested in their products and services. In addition, speaking engagements assist in branding the speaker as an expert in their field. Despite all of these benefits many people find speaking engagements to be challenging and nerve wracking.
What are some tips to help when doing speaking engagements?
- Know your purpose for speaking. Are you looking to help in branding yourself as an expert? Are you looking for sales? Knowing what you hope to achieve from the speech helps in the development of the speech and developing key points to zero in on.
- Know the audience. It is critical that you know who will be in the audience; the level of understanding they have on your subject matter; and what they hope to learn and achieve by attending and listening to you. Knowing this will allow you to develop the key points in your delivery.
- Keep it simple. When crafting your speech have three main points that you want to get across. More than three will lose the attention of the audience.
- Use stories. A personal story with some humor and facts always is a hit with an audience. It is also a way to connect with attendees.
- Concentrate on the beginning and the ending. Audiences pay the most attention to a speaker’s opening and closing remarks. You want those parts of your speech to be memorable and have a call to action for the audience.
Speaking engagements are critical in any public relations program. Utilizing these tips will help any speaker achieve the results they are seeking.
The importance of a good television interview cannot be overstated. Everyone knows the power of television and that it often reaches far more people than other media forms. In addition, a television interview can be repurposed for online marketing and social media outlets. With advances in technology, more television interviews, especially on networks and affiliates in major cities are being conducted via Skype. For the television networks and stations this cuts down on production costs. For the interviewee it means more preparation for the interview.
Here are some things to consider when doing a Skype interview:
- Check Your Connection– Test your Wifi connection in advance. Make sure that it working and that signal is strong.
- Make Sure Your Video Is On – The worst thing that can happen on a Skype interview is for the video not to be working.
- Consider Your Background– Keep it simple and branded, if possible. A background with the company logo is perfect. Also blue and green backgrounds are ideal. Avoid red backgrounds.
- Avoid Bare Walls– Add visual interest, but be relevant to the topic at hand. Bookshelves are always a nice touch.
- Secure Your Location; Lock the Door– Make sure no one interrupts you during the interview.
- Wear Solid Colors– Busy patterns move and jump on camera. Dress just as you would if you were in studio.
- Look Into The Webcam– Look at the viewer; not yourself. This is critical as you want to come across to viewers as direct and as if you were in the studio.
- Create Space; Sit Back– Don’t get too close to the webcam.
- Center Yourself– Be sure you are in the center of the screen.
- Check Your Lighting– Make sure you are well-lit and not in shadow. At the same time don’t overdo it. Shut any blinds or curtains to avoid any sun glare.
- Turn Off All Notifications– You don’t want your inbox pinging you or sounds going off that will disrupt your flow and distract the audience.
- Use a Professional Skype Name– Remember this is how the television station or network will contact you. You want your name to reflect you and your brand. Avoid Skype names like Partyanimal or OnforaBuzz.
Skype interviews are the way all of television is headed. By following these simple rules you will guarantee yourself a successful interview that will reach potential customers and be able to be utilized on social media channels.
Business leaders know that their companies need public relations. It increases a company’s visibility, assists in marketing efforts to increase profits, and helps establish a strong brand identity in the market. Regardless of size or type of business, public relations is essential to any business.
The benefits of public relations for business success are immeasurable. Among the benefits are:
- Today’s consumer is more savvy than ever before. They start their search for a product or service online. Not only do they check a company’s website, but they search social media, reviews, and news stories about the business. With public relations, companies have a strong social media presence as well as credibility through media stories about the company and its products and services.
- Brand Identity. Public relations creates brand identity with the public. This is done through media relations, social media, community relations, and other public relations tools. This means that that the consumer is aware of the company and what its brand stands for in terms of values and service (and today many consumers search for brands that share their values).
- Public relations doesn’t equal sales. What it does is reinforce marketing efforts. Studies show that companies that use public relations see an increase in the success of their marketing efforts by 45%. Don’t just take our word for it though, recall what Bill Gates said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.”
Public relations is critical to business success and growth. Every company needs a public relations strategy and needs to keep it continuous to reap the benefits.
Authors know that broadcast interviews (radio and television) are a critical part of any book promotion campaign. These interviews allow an author to reach many people who would not hear about a book in any other way. The interviews help build both the author brand and the book identity. Yet many authors make one common mistake in interviews – they forget to mention the title of their book.
The whole purpose of the interviews is to get the book name out to potential buyers and get them to purchase the book. Yes, most interviewers will mention the title when introducing the author and sometimes at the conclusion of the interview. But authors need to mention the title in some of their answers. Rather many authors forget this and refer to the book as ‘it’ or ‘my book’. Listeners and viewers who might have missed the opening of the segment have no idea what book the author is referring to in the interview. Add to this that if the interviewer doesn’t mention the name of the book at the end of the interview, this part of the audience never learns the book’s name and the promotion was wasted.
At the same time, the author doesn’t want to answer every question by referring to the title of their book. A good rule of thumb is that for most interviews, the author should refer to the title two times.
Broadcast interviews are essential for successful book promotion. They reach far more potential buyers then a print interview. That is why by avoiding a common mistake, authors can maximize on their potential – mention the book title.
Our society is more polarized today than at any moment in recent memory. Our politics is divisive. Opinions have become more outspoken and outraged. Driving all of this is social media. Social media has allowed millions to have a voice and share their opinion. It is also a driving force in spreading disapproval of a brand when it takes a stand that someone disagrees with. The hashtag #Boycott followed by a brand’s name is one of the most popular ones on Twitter. Brands need to be prepared when this happens.
Here are a few examples.
A local Cracker Barrel in Indiana fired the wife of a man named Brad. Brad went on to social media to demand that Cracker Barrel explain why his wife was fired. His posts were picked up by people on social media with the hashtag #JusticeforBradsWife. The Cracker Barrel social media sites were inundated with comments and questions about Brad’s wife. Traditional media picked up the story which became a humorous running joke. Cracker Barrel ignored the posters and social media outcry. This led to a new hashtag #BoycottCrackerBarrel. The chain took a hit and its stock price went down.
Adidas made a tone-deaf move by sending out an email to Boston Marathon participants with the subject line, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” the day after this year’s marathon – just four years after the bombings at the 2013 marathon. The backlash was immediate. The hashtag #BoycottAddias started. Before it could gain traction and Adidas quickly issued a public apology saying, “We are incredibly sorry. There was no thought given to the insensitive email subject line we sent Tuesday. We deeply apologize for our mistake.”
The heartfelt public apology stopped #BoycottAddias in its tracks. It prevented the incident from turning into a negative three- to five-day story.
A result of #Boycott means that it is more important than ever to make sure that you are prepared with a statement supporting your decision if you are caught in the crosshairs of a boycott. Or if you feel like you’ve made a mistake, make sure the statement explains why you made the decision in the first place and what you are doing to fix the issue. Consumers want to know their voices are being heard and changes are being made.
Social media drives narratives. That cannot be emphasized enough. And it is particularly true during a crisis over customer service. More and more dissatisfied customers are taking to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to express their displeasure over poor customer service or what they view as poor quality products. A case in point happened with the Twitter war between conservative author, Ann Coulter and Delta Airlines.
Coulter’s problems with Delta began, after the exit-row seat she reserved on her flight from New York to West Palm Beach was given away to a fellow passenger without any “explanation, compensation or apology” she claimed on Twitter. Delta’s social media team reached out via Twitter apologizing to Coulter and offering to compensate her the extra money she had paid. But that wasn’t the end of the Twitter war heard around the world. Coulter took again to Twitter attacking Delta, its employees, and even the passenger who took her seat. Delta responded to her via Twitter defending its employees and passengers. The feud between Coulter and Delta was picked up by the news media and is still ongoing. Yet it raises the question in this social media driven age in which every tweet and post is analyzed, how should a company respond when under attack via social media?
These are some things a company should do and remember:
- Respond to the complaint. Ignoring it will only make the customer angrier and lead to others on social media joining in. Like Delta originally did, acknowledge a mistake if it was made, offer an apology, and finally offer a resolution. Always act as if your response will be viewed by the entire world because with the power of social media it probably will be.
- Stand up for the company if you are unfairly accused of something. In the case of Delta, the company stood up for its employees and passengers when Coulter’s tweets began attacking them. This showed a humanizing face for Delta and allowed the company also to stand up against false allegations. They also remembered that part of their brand identity is their employees and they defended that brand DNA that was under attack.
- Use humor and class in admitting a major mistake if possible. Social media can be abusive and snarky. If admitting a mistake, a company is always smart to use some self-depreciating humor in its response and take the high road. Anything else will make the social media crisis worse.
- Have a social media team that responds 24/7. Social media never rests and that why a company always needs to respond right away or else the social media firestorm will grow.
Social media complaints are never-ending. The key for companies is to respond to each in a way that it is one and gone. Failing to do so will ensure that the complaint becomes a full blown crisis on social media and then in the traditional media causing extreme brand damage.
Brands know that public relations is essential to success. It develops brand identity and reinforces ongoing marketing efforts. But to see strong success from public relations, certain elements must be in place.
What elements are critical and need to be in place for successful public relations?
- Effective Website: People need to be able to find you after they hear about you. Beyond that, when people land on your website, are they taking the action you want them? Your website needs to be designed for that. And this should go without saying, your website needs to be friendly on all devices.
- Powerful Call-To-Action: Your website needs to have a clear call-to-action allowing you to capture email addresses of those who come on it. It should offer an incentive that corresponds to your public relations message in exchange for that valuable contact information. Without effective lead capture, you’re missing out on all potential leads the public relations sends your way.
- Social Media Presence: The key to effectively using the public relations you have obtained is by promoting it. In this day and age, that means promoting the message on all social media platforms. You should have a strong, clear, and active social media platform with an engaged community when doing a public relations campaign.
Without these key elements in place when doing a public relations campaign, public relations is like striking it rich at the lottery. With these elements, public relations brings a strong return on investment not merely for brand identity but sales.
The major challenge for a business after a major crisis is regaining public trust. It has taken years for a business to build the trust and now that the crisis has hit, the business must begin rebuilding the trust again. It helps if the business had a reservoir of goodwill prior to the crisis and managed the crisis with a strong response. It cannot be emphasized enough that in having a strong crisis management plan in place during the crisis helps in the rebuilding.
So now moving forward what is to be done?
The first step is to explain now that the crisis has passed what steps the business is doing to ensure that it will never happen again. This message must be conveyed to the public, vendors, and internally to employees. This should be done in a strong way, outlining the specific steps that are being taken.
A greater emphasis on customer satisfaction and service is critical during this time period. Look at the steps United Airlines took after its disaster when a passenger was dragged off one of its flights.
The organization might want to look at developing a new mission statement as it emerges from the crisis. This should emphasize more than just profits. It should put a premium on customer service and making the world, the country, state, or city a better place.
Ethics and sensitivity training programs based upon the crisis should be instituted. This helps ensure that every employee knows the proper procedures and what is expected of them.
Also a greater emphasis should be placed on community outreach and charitable programs. This will help rebuild goodwill and also show that the company cares.
Rebuilding a reputation after a crisis doesn’t happen overnight but it can be done. Just as with the crisis, you need a strong plan for after the crisis to regain public trust.
Here are some useful tips for print interviews.
- Print interviews comprise of newspapers, magazines, and online news resources such as blogs.
- Are typically done over the telephone or via email.
- Unlike live radio interviews, if the interviewer stumbles or remembers something they want to add to the interview, they can go back to the answer.
- Always make sure you have a clear phone line.
- If you can’t hear a question ask them to repeat it.
- In print and online interviews, the more that you provide the better as your answers will be edited. So the more information that you provide, the greater the chance you make it into the story.
- Some print and online stories will be available the next day, some are for future stories that may not appear for several weeks or months.
- Never ask the reporter or blogger to read back your answers to you.
- Never demand to see the story beforehand.
- Always record the interview.