7 Deadly Sins of Media Relations

Media relations can be so fun and rewarding, and also daunting. To gain successful buzz, you have to avoid the pitfalls–the seven deadly sins of media relations. Have you ever sent out a press release promoting an exciting and important event with high hopes of extensive coverage? Did you imagine a pre-event story, a reporter committing to attend and cover it, broadcast coverage, and a feature on a blog or two? Of course it’s possible to garner all that coverage, but that doesn’t happen all the time. If that did not happen, were you horribly demoralized and ready to quit? Then you probably need to re-evaluate your habits and expectations and make sure the substance of your pitch is as meaty as you think it is. The Good Book lists the seven deadly sins as the unflattering, nasty qualities: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. Rather than a new list, I have taken each sin and shown how it applies to media relations. Pride Maybe your press release had too much bragging. It’s great that you are proud of your organization or company and the upcoming event, but bragging is not a news story, it’s an advertisement. If you are truly and verifiably the first, only, largest, then state that with the facts that support that claim. If you are using descriptive words that are muddy and subjective (cutting edge, breakthrough, crowd-pleaser, favorite), you have some editing to do. Greed Of course you want all the stories and the buzz to be about you at all times—and so does your boss/client! Expecting a disproportionate amount of earned media to be about you and your business is greedy. These are news sources and if you are not announcing something that changes life on this planet, then it is extremely unrealistic to expect that much attention from media you don’t control yourself (your website, social media content). This attitude, which often leads to issuing useless, flat press releases too frequently, is a turn off to reporters and editors. Lust Lust is basically an intense desire for something. In media relations, lust leads you to measuring success by the number of news clippings instead of measuring by the objective of the event. Let me assure you, the coverage of your event is not as important as the outcomes of the event. Don’t worry that you don’t have a media entry...
read more

6 Weeks To Create Your Nonprofit Marketing Plan

Nonprofit Marketing is Largely Assigned to Novices Unlike for-profit businesses, nonprofit marketing is often an afterthought. Many nonprofit organizations assign marketing and promotion to the person who has one extra hour per week in their schedule. I wish I was kidding. Quite often the promotional duties fall to the fundraising personnel (development department). Their priority is raising money so that’s what the promotion talks about. This is fine for organizations whose mission is to raise money like a foundation, but even then there’s a story to tell. It’s practically epidemic! I have taught a six-week marketing certificate class with The Nonprofit Partnership five times and was amazed to learn that marketing was assigned to various positions in nonprofit organizations that were distantly or not at all related to promotions. From box office managers of performing arts organizations and administrative assistants to volunteers in charge of membership recruitment, and most peculiarly, therapists. Of course there was a healthy presence from executive directors (some founders of their respective organizations) and development directors. Occasionally, there was a marketing director. Your nonprofit organization needs a marketing plan I wish that every nonprofit could assign a decent salary to a marketing director or consultant, I really do. Unfortunately, nonprofits’ budgets typically don’t unfold that way. Program managers and practitioners take priority, as they should, but someone has to tell the story. If your nonprofit organization resembles what I have described above, fear not! The six-week class is back and starts September 6, 2018. I’m excited to teach this class again. We have not offered this class since 2014 and when it started in 2011-2012, one of the most common questions was, “Do we have to be on Facebook?” Things have changed quickly. Please plan to join me once a week for a three-hour session and DO YOUR HOMEWORK! If you are diligent, at the end of the six-weeks you will have a marketing plan for your organization to follow. Sign-up today to create your nonprofit marketing plan in six weeks Click here for more information and to reserve your spot....
read more

3 Ways Hiring a Facilitator Makes Meetings More Effective

Hiring a facilitator might be one of the best things you can do for your team of executives or volunteers. McCormick L.A. offers facilitation services to help you do something as basic as coordinating a brainstorming session to a project as advanced as creating your strategic plan. Here are three advantages you gain when you hire a facilitator: 1. Facilitation is inclusive When you hire a facilitator you are able to fully participate in the conversation. If you are the chair, the executive director, or the president, AND you plan to run the meeting, then you can’t partake at the same level as everyone else. The facilitator is truly neutral so everyone can share and develop a better product. 2. Facilitation provides a better process Sometimes stakeholders don’t feel equal. Facilitation creates an environment where everyone can share freely and openly. A facilitator values all participants for their contributions as she captures all expressed thoughts and records them for the collective group memory. Sometimes, the facilitator uncovers misunderstandings and is able to acknowledge and manage those issues. 3. Teams reach their goals Hiring a facilitator helps teams of volunteers, executives, planners–any team!–reach their goals. Even if there is conflict to resolve, a facilitator will identify those issues and help the group move forward. Progress is not always a straight line and a skilled facilitator will help build a foundation for future success. Hiring a facilitator starts with a call to McCormick L.A. Whether you need help with conflict resolution or a board training, McCormick L.A. can help.  Call today for a free assessment of your group’s needs. Leslie A.M. Smith has been a facilitator for almost 20 years working with various groups of stakeholders to help them achieve their goals. She is also a public relations and marketing consultant and seasoned workshop presenter. Visit her website today to see how she can help you....
read more

When Profiling Gets Out of Hand (I’m talking Twitter)

  When I first created an account on Twitter most of my docket was freelance writing so I used my name, my byline, as my Twitter handle: @LeslieAMSmith. Using simply your name allows a lot of latitude as far as your brand is concerned. I could post about most any topic and it was fine. As my business ticked back toward marketing and public relations, I started posting more about those things. I could see followers increase when I posted about certain topics (#leadership, #entrepreneurship, #business, #consultant). I also attracted followers when I used hashtags with much different descriptors (#humor #comedy #creative #arts), but whenever I did, the followers of the other tweets went away. Juggling Personalities Recently, I separated the two and put the PR and marketing squarely with a new identity: @McCormickLA_PR (my company name). Feel free to follow me on one side or the other, or both. Of course, as soon as I created @McCormickLA_PR I noticed individual PR consultants going by their names alone and experienced some dissonance. I also have inadvertently shared things on the thread I didn’t mean to simply because I was logged in to the wrong one. It’s no big deal, really, but that is one of the reasons I had kept to just one place for Tweets—personal and business. I limited some of the snark, though, knowing that clients and potential clients might be following me and be surprised by my sarcasm or turned off. However, so far, it’s more good than bad by splitting my interests. I’ve also started to read more people’s profiles with a critical eye. Tips for your Twitter Profile If you are trying too hard to fit in everything that might make someone inclined to follow you, it might just be too much. I recently saw a person’s profile include his business interests, and “preemie issues.” I read it twice to know if he was calling premature start-up businesses “preemies” or if he meant babies. He meant babies. Sure, those are things that he’s interested in a 360º view of his personality. But I don’t want to follow him if that’s what he posts about. I can’t relate and therefore that one incongruent fact stands out more than anything. I love knitting and crocheting and therefore follow people who are experts in those crafts, but I don’t list that in my profile because I don’t post about...
read more

Terms of Service: SEO and ROI

  SEO: Search Engine Optimization. According to the Google definition, SEO is: the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. In plain English—it’s important to increase traffic to your site by helping you be at the top of the list when people search for your industry or company name. More traffic is good when your website is not horribly dated and embarrassing. If it is, then you want to hide it until you can put your best foot forward with an attractive and effective site. ROI: Return on Investment Google offers this definition for ROI: ROI is usually expressed as a percentage and is typically used for personal financial decisions, to compare a company’s profitability or to compare the efficiency of different investments. The return on investment formula is: ROI = (Net Profit / Cost of Investment) x 100. Essentially, you want to make more money than you spend. For example, if you bought an ad for $50.00 and you made a sale from it for $250 (net profit is calculated by taking the money you made also called your revenue ($250), minus the $50 cost). Net profit is $200. Using the equation in the definition ($200/$50) X 100, then your ROI was 400%. Very good! The problem is that many times these two terms, SEO and ROI, get used together and insinuate a directly proportionate relationship. That’s not exactly true. There’s the potential for SEO to bring greater ROI, but more traffic does not automatically mean greater ROI. For instance, if your website is bad or has broken links or no way for people to contact you, then better SEO might even be detrimental to your bottom line. There might be something else in your marketing that makes it undesirable for the people you are attracting. Look at your four P’s (product, price, place, and promotion) and try to figure out why people are making a U-turn away from your site. If you can figure that out, then you might be able to convert the shoppers who are being driven to your site by your SEO into sales that increase your ROI. Why do it? As hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” It’s worth the effort to try to...
read more