Internet Marketing Services, Wilmington NC

Posts Tagged ‘Public Relations Agency in N.C.’

Your Reputation is on the Line

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

shirtsThe reputation of corporate America is under siege. A cynical public, 24/7 news cycle, bloggers, activists and stricter standards of corporate governance have created a business landscape rife with reputation-shattering landmines. One wrong step and you could face revenue loss, lawsuits, disruption of operations or worse.

To maneuver this landscape with reputation intact, take a proactive approach to communications and community relations. Monitor emerging issues, industry trends and competitive activity. Mitigate threats before they turn into crisis. Learn how to work with the media, not against them. Publicize your good works. Get engaged in the community.

A good reputation provides:

  • competitive advantage
  • increased sales
  • strategic partnerships
  • ability to attract best talent
  • benefit of the doubt if crisis strikes
  • potential to raise capital and share price
  • option to charge premium prices
  • better relationships with regulators

It’s no longer a question of “if” you’re going to suffer reputation damage and its consequences, but “when.” Everyone is susceptible, no matter your size or industry. Building and safeguarding a reputation is easier, quicker and cheaper than repairing one. Your corporate reputation is your greatest asset. Protect it. Grow your business and increase profits through comprehensive reputation management.

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My second first day

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

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I’m nearing the end of my second first day working at Talk. Having been invited back as a summer intern after a week-long externship in March, I feel like I have returned home. Not only does Talk offer an incredible learning experience, friendly uber-talented co-workers and adorable top dog Camden but also the opportunity to completely submerge myself in a to-do list.

For the last four years I have lived my life carrying around my to-do list and savoring the enjoyment of checking items off. Post graduation, I enjoyed one whole week without homework and without a job. I enjoyed sleeping in and naps on the beach, hoping to offset my sleep deficit from late-night studying, but I can only handle so much of that. With no agenda, I have had way too much free time to ponder issues of unemployment, pending financial doom and my recently canceled health insurance.

Today, Kirsty mentioned writing for Intern Diaries and reminded me that I have a unique perspective. I am one of the many recent college grads who is interning after graduation regardless of previous internship experience, because of the economy.

It’s a frustrating time for young professionals such as myself. I worked relentlessly to make myself a strong candidate for jobs after graduation, having interned for the American Heart Association, worked at Pyramid Public Relations, been an active member and leader in PRSSA, volunteered in my community and graduated magna cum laude. I did everything I could to prepare for the job market only to find that there were no relevant positions available.

I hope that if you can identify with my situation or know someone who can, that you will follow my Intern Diaries this summer. As my internship and job search progresses, I’d like to share what I learn to help you out or maybe just to make you laugh.

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Talk’s favorite social media posts

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

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We’re hosting our first webinar tomorrow and in light of that we’re bringing you a short history of our favorite social media posts from TalkIncBlog.com. Enjoy! And in the meantime, be sure to sign up for our free webinar, “Talk Therapy: How the online conversation can grow your business,” by clicking here.

BLOGGING

Ten ways to build your blog readership

Building a blog is only half the battle. You have to keep content fresh and optimize it properly to attract a loyal audience. Here’s 10 simple steps anyone can take to build their blog readership.

FACEBOOK

How NOT to use a Facebook fan page

Facebook has a lot of priviliges available to businesses and organizations to promote their products, services or events. But everyday we essentially get “spammed,” because of their lack of Facebook fan page ettiquette. We offer a rundown of what not to do.

How to control your privacy on Facebook using Lists

The good news about Facebook’s recent redesign is that we finally have the capability to control which friends see what on our pages. Job hunting college students across the country rejoice! Here we tell you how to set up this vital function.

TWITTER

Principles of business networking applied to social networking

Let’s hope social networking won’t ever replace face-to-face networking, but let’s face it the two aren’t so different. In this post we highlight the key comparisons to help you be a better networker overall.

Can Twitter increase your business?

This simple answer is yes, if you know how to use it. With a little help from CopyBlogger.com, we point out the key ways you can get measurable returns from this social medium.

Five things I learned from my dog on Twitter

One of our most popular posts all year, our President Debbie writes about her experiences setting up Talk’s Top Dog Camden on Twitter and how it helped her to become a better Tweeter in the process!

Ten things every new Twitterer should know

New to Twitter and overwhelmed by what is seemingly a very strange language? We will help get you pointed in the right direction so that you can become an important part of the conversation in the Twittersphere.

PR, MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA

Outsmart your boss if he outlaws social media in the office

Here we outline the ways you can talk your boss into letting you sign into Facebook, Twitter and more in the office. Use our arguments and you will be building your business in the world of social media in no time!

PR pros have leadership role to play in social media

Good PR pros today are integrating social media into everything they do. It’s important to take on this role if they are responsible for the communications and reputation of their clients/company. We explain why you should take this responsiblity out of your IT department and into your marketing or communications department.

Be heard among all the online chatter

There’s no arguing that there’s a lot of noise online today. But, we’ll tell you some key ways that you can Find Your Voice online, and actually be heard by your audience.

An online marketer’s reading list

Need to get up to speed, or even better, get ahead in the world of online marketing? We offer a few of our favorite titles to get you started.

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PR lessons to be learned from Amazon.com crisis

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

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In the glitch heard round the world, Amazon.com is this week paying for its poorly handled cataloging error that marked all 57,310 gay and lesbian books as “adult content,” thereby excluding the authors from their rightful place on the site’s lucrative sales rankings. This set off your worst-nightmare-crisis-communication scenario and in its wake is an important reminder of some essential PR lessons.

1. Tell it all and tell it fast.

This is my hands-down favorite and truly the first commandment of crisis communication. It’s the first commandment and Amazon.com didn’t do it. They released this wish-washy statement late Sunday instead:

“We recently discovered a glitch to our Amazon sales rank feature that is in the process of being fixed. We’re working to correct the problem as quickly as possible.”

It doesn’t tell us what happened, doesn’t tell us it’s a priority to get fixed and it doesn’t show any empathy to the community it offended with the censorship error. If anything the statement just inspired greater anger, which has dominated the Web and the Twitterverse for the last two days. That brings me to point number two.

2. When you do something wrong, expect your customers to tell you - in force.

As if this technical glitch wasn’t enough of a challenge to fix, now Amazon had a full-fledged crisis on their hands. Thousands of Twitter users began tagging their posts with #amazonfail, making it one of the most popular searches on Twitter. In addition, some of the affected authors started a boycott petition online that has at this time attracted more than 22,000 signatures. In today’s online environment, you can barely afford to make such a mistake, let alone not be held accountable for it. This makes your initial statement ever more important.

3. Squash conspiracy theories.

By letting the Web run rampant with conspiracy theories, you are essentially prolonging the story and keeping it front and center in the news. Face the conspiracy theories head on. In this case, a hacker tried to get publicity take credit for the error. That is why it is so important to try to be as detailed as you can in your statement and answer any questions you expect up front, before they are asked of you. Otherwise you will have every disgruntled employee and competitor try to take control of the story from you.

Photo by: bronwynmaye

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70 story ideas that will get you publicity*

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

One bright mind

* Disclaimer: Please consider seeking the help of an experienced PR pro when pitching these story ideas. You should be aware of them all so you can alert these pros of newsworthy happenings at your company. So often, clients are surprised by just what may be of interest to the media. All of these ideas are tried and true, meaning that I’ve had ink from each and every one. Enjoy!

Operations

  1. You are moving locations
  2. You are adding a location
  3. Company name change
  4. Expansion plans are announced
  5. Company adds a new division/new services
  6. Cutting edge program no one else is offering
  7. Construction begins on a new project
  8. Announce first, best, only program
  9. Quarterly/yearly earnings
  10. Unusual office policies
  11. Announce expanded service area
  12. New clients, customers, contracts

Digital (the preponderance of health and lifestyle reporters have been replaced by tech reporters who are always looking for new stories!)

  1. Announce new website
  2. Announce website redesign
  3. New or redesigned blog
  4. Online promotion, like a Twitter scavenger hunt
  5. Announce a social media campaign
  6. Host and promote a webinar

HR

  1. You hired a new employee
  2. You promoted an employee
  3. Employee wins certification/award
  4. Employee appointed on a board
  5. Executive profile for business magazines
  6. Summer internship program

Marketing

  1. New logo/brand
  2. New ad campaign
  3. Promotion/giveaway
  4. Grand opening
  5. Story about company featured in national media outlet
  6. Announce new customer incentive
  7. Customer appreciation event
  8. Send photos into the social pages of local and regional magazines after a high-profile event

Industry

  1. Industry-specific trend story for trade publications
  2. Industry-related event promotion
  3. Announce staff attendance at an industry conference
  4. Announce speaking opportunity at industry event
  5. Announce membership/leadership in industry associations
  6. Byline article on best practices
  7. Company earns industry honors
  8. Ways you are leading the industry
  9. Sponsor an industry event
  10. Announce participation in trade show
  11. Make a magazine’s list of best, fastest-growing

Corporate Social Responsibility

  1. Announce employee-driven program like canned food drive or sending care packages to the troops
  2. Announce new corporate giving program
  3. Announce title sponsorship for charitable event
  4. Announce major donations to charitable organizations
  5. Anything that involves kids! Maybe you host the local Future Business Leaders of America for a day to teach them what you do.
  6. Announce a one-day promotion to donate your service/product to area non profits
  7. Challenge another business or organization to beat or match your fund raising goal

Human Interest

  1. Company anniversary
  2. Employee with unusual hobby
  3. Employee who overcame the odds
  4. Office weight loss challenge
  5. How is your office going green?
  6. “Good News” story to counteract all the “bad news”
  7. Random acts of kindness
  8. Random acts of randomness (I knew a business that got press because it saved a piece of pound cake in the company fridge because it had the image of the cartoon, ZIggy in it. I also knew a law firm who got press because its employees were taking care of a nest of baby geese in their backyard)
  9. New art installation in office
  10. Office interior design and how it relates to productivity

Problem-Solution

  1. Offer advice that solves readers/listeners/viewers problems
  2. Regular segment on TV news (great for chefs, landscapers, financial planners)
  3. Become a guest columnist for the newspaper or local magazine
  4. Make a list (best places to eat)

Trends

  1. Holiday-themed story
  2. Season-related story (think summer and dematologists)
  3. Pop Culture-related story
  4. Animal-related story
  5. Economy-related story
  6. Current events (like Wimbledon)

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Talk at the Walk

Monday, March 30th, 2009

talkteamOn Saturday, Talk participated in the Walk for Those Who Can’t, a fundraiser benefiting Carolina Canines for Service, and at the risk of sounding cheesy, it was a dog-gone good time! The Loop at Wrightsville Beach was packed with over 250 dogs and 360 participants, all gathered for a good cause. Dogs of all shapes and sizes came out to sniff, wander and play with their fellow canine companions, including Talk President Debbie Elliott’s Schnauzer-mix Camden and my Dachshund-mix Winnie. Winnie gave kisses at the Talk’s Smooch-A-Pooch kissing booth while wearing a bright pink dress and collar. Camden wore her stylish Carolina Canines for Therapy vest to encourage other dogs to participate in the program. Below is a photo of the Talk team and our adorable dogs!

We’re still waiting to hear how much was raised at the big event, but we’ll let you know when the grant total is revealed!

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Winnie waiting to get some love at the kissing booth.

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CCFS President Rick Hairston thanking Winnie for supporting the cause.

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Talk President Debbie Elliott and dog Camden pose for photo with Miss Wilmington.

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Principles of business networking applied to social networking

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

As much as I enjoy engaging and networking with other professionals on Twitter (@kpiper), I quietly wonder if social networking will ever replace face-to-face business networking. I certainly hope not because for those of you who are not yet hooked into the world of social networking, many of the same principles apply. Here’s just a few:

Talking

Whether you are blogging, tweeting or linking in it’s important to remember to only talk if you have something to say. Try to be useful and memorable. Be thoughtful and respect your audience. Be clever, be funny and be engaging.

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Giving

A common mistake people make is getting on social networks with the sole intent of selling a product or service. This is the same mistake a lot of business networkers make. When you’re on these social networks, definitely don’t be “pitchy.” But, don’t hesitate if you can deliver a solution to someone’s problem.

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Sharing

A network like Twitter is built around sharing information. And just like in face-to-face networking, sharing information about one of your contacts makes for great karma. Actively share and promote your friends and associates’ information and they will do the same for you.

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Connecting

Introducing or connecting your social network to contacts or resources is equally important as when you do it in business networking. Networking in general is about discovering opportunity and if you are known as a connector you too will become a powerful resource to your network.

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Listening

Listen to your audience to understand the information they like to get from you. When you figure that out, deliver it consistently.

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Outsmart your boss if he outlaws social media in the office

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

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I’ll preface this entry and tell you that I realize I’m probably not the norm.

I work in an office where it’s encouraged - even required on some level to explore and engage in social media networks. I’m convinced Debbie knows what she’s doing when she mandates this. She’s studied up and witnessed the benefits first hand. So, I can’t help but feel sorry for the folks I come across who say Facebook and the like are off-limits at the office. Perhaps their bosses don’t know what they’re missing.

Well, get ready to chant “Viva La Revolucion!” because I’m here to arm you the best arguments for allowing the use of social media in your office.

1. Make a sale.

True story - I asked a question on LinkedIn looking for recommended vendors for a project. Someone responded to me, gave me options but also encouraged me to check out his company. Days later we signed a $15,000 contract with the company to utilize their services. What a coup for that company, who I would not have known about if they hadn’t been on LinkedIn. When appealing to your boss to allow to use social media networks at work -try to emphasize how it can build your company’s bottom line. It’s the very best argument you can offer.

2. Network.

Simply, social media can help you optimize your networking. Do it right and you can do in 15 minutes what you can’t do in five hour-long Chamber After Hours socials. Relationship building on social media networks like Twitter are a prime place to find top talent in today’s market, where many accomplished professionals are looking for new work. This is a great HR reason for using social media in the workplace.

3. Get publicity.

Smart reporters today are demanding that PR pros “tweet” their pitches. That means 140 characters or less. That means one, you better get good at getting to the point quickly (as in under 140 characters) and two, you better familiarize yourself with the conversations on Twitter, so you can get a piece of the huge publicity pie to be had in the Twitterverse. And when you get publicity, social media networks are the best places to aggregate it. You can add your hit to your Facebook, Digg, Stumble Upon, Del.ici.ous and more. Tell your boss that user-generated news is the way of the future and your company’s latest announcement is no relegated to traditional media outlets.

Are you ready to make your case now? Don’t forget to register for Talk’s free social media webinar on Thursday, April 23. You’ll get resources and tools for using social media to grow your business. And why not invite your boss to sit in?

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Register for Social Media Webinar on April 23

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

smiconsThere’s a low hum moving quickly around the world that’s about to erupt into a loud roar.

It’s the online conversation.

If you’d like to learn more about how to harness the power of internet marketing and social media to grow your business, register for our free, 1-hour webinar.

TALK THERAPY - How The Online Conversation Can Grow Your Business.

DATE: Thursday, April 23, 2009

TIME: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EDT

Space is limited. REGISTER HERE.

Upon registering you will receive a confirmation email with details on how to join the webinar on April 23.

Millions of people are talking to each other online about everything from their favorite rock star to the type of car they like to drive. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, wikis and RSS, the balance of power has shifted away from business and into the hands and keyboards of consumers. Is this a threat or an opportunity? I think it’s an opportunity. But only if managed appropriately.

Online technologies are changing at lightning speed. Every day, we discover new, better and cheaper ways to market businesses online. A burgeoning industry of SEO, SEM and social media experts are scrambling to help you optimize your website, launch a blog, and build your social media campaign.

Business as usual no longer exists. Consumers have taken communications into their own hands and they are talking about your business, products and services online. You can either join the conversation or get left behind. Get started now, and you’ll have a jump on your competitors. Wait too long and you’ll be playing catch-up.

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PR pros have leadership role to play in social media

Monday, March 16th, 2009

social_media_strategiesTraditional PR and marketing agencies are going the way of the dinosaur. And when I say traditional, I mean ones that are not incorporating social media and internet marketing into their core services. Why is the traditional agency threatened? Because traditional media (TV, radio, print) is no longer the most relevant voice in the marketplace. Today’s conversation is online - and consumers are the ones doing all the talking.

Here are the stats to prove it (courtesy of Adam Singer, author of The Future Buzz):

• 1 trillion  - the unique # of URLs  in Google’s index

• 2 billion - number of searches Google does each day

• 684 million - the number of visitors to Wikipedia last year

• 70 million - the number of videos on YouTube

• 133 million - number of blogs indexed by Technorati since 2002

• 77% - percentage of active Internet users who read blogs

• 3 million - the number of tweets per day on Twitter

• 150 million - number of active Facebook users

• 236 million - number of visitors attracted annually to Digg

Lots of impressive numbers, but what do they mean?  These stats illustrate that millions of people around the world are online, talking to each other about everything from their favorite rock star to the type of car they like to drive. People have taken the conversation online and away from traditional media and businesses. Forrester researchers Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff call it the Groundswell in a book of the same name. The groundswell is “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.” In other words, people are looking to each other for information and are no longer relying solely on the marketing information provided to them by businesses.

Because of this, businesses have lost control over how their companies and brands are perceived by consumers. The balance of power has shifted, away from business and into the hands - and keyboards - of consumers. Is this a threat or an opportunity? Depends on your perspective. Businesses thrive on control, so this lack of control is discomfiting. But if you take the time to understand the groundswell and how you can participate, it presents an overwhelming opportunity to directly interact with your customers.

This phenonemon has many names: groundswell, social media, online conversation, etc. Call it what you will. But it all boils down to two primary components: technology and people. A mistake made by many business people is to focus on the technology. They jump into blogging and Facebook with great enthusiasm but with little strategic thinking. As Li and Bernoff point out, the successful way to engage your audiences online is to “concentrate on the relationships, not the technologies.”

So if the social media is about relationship-building first, technology second, shouldn’t you entrust your online marketing to your communications professional, not your IT department or website designer? The savvy PR practitioner is already engaged online and has both the technical and communication skills to help businesses master this new frontier. More and more PR agencies are incorporating internet marketing capabilities in-house so they can present their clients with an integrated approach to communications. One that marries traditional “offline” marketing with new online opportunities.

It’s a new world, and I’m thrilled to be in it.

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