eBusiness Blog

Is Your Business PR Ready?

Is Your Business PR Ready?

5 Ways to Build Public Relationships With Your Clients and Customers in the New Year

In the age of social media – which is here to stay if anyone was wondering – the traditional field of public relations has taken a shift online in many more ways than the PR gurus first predicted.

In addition to simply being another “vehicle” to “get your message out” it has become a whole forum and place to build relationships.

Public Relations has always been about relationships in one way or the other but never more than now. In fact one very well-respected company in Canada, formerly known as Argyle Public Relations, has recently renamed their company Argyle Public Relationships.

It’s the sign of the times that differentiates Public Relations from being a traditional PR company to more of what the field is really all about – building relationships.

And why is social media a gift to PR? Because now, more than ever, companies can build relationships with their clients and customers outside of lunches, client dinners and networking events.

Relationships can be formed, fostered and nurtured online.

When was the last time you met someone online outside of a dating chat room? I have many colleagues, clients and service providers who I have never actually met in person. We have developed relationships through online connections, social media conversations, and video meetings over Zoom and Skype.

In many ways, I am in closer contact with my virtual partners and clients than those business connections with whom I typically only meet face-to-face.

Virtual relationships are available at the flick of a button, the touch of a “thumbs up,” and the speed of a share.

So, when I ask if your business is “PR Ready,” I am asking are you ready, in 2018, to build relationships with your clients and customers? Are you ready to build Public Relationships?

Let’s take a look at 5 ways you can build public relationships with your clients and customers in 2018.

  1. Host an event

    This can be in-person or online. Holding regular client events for the people who keep your business, well, a business, is a good thing.
     
    These can even be annual events, but having a way that you connect with your clients regularly in a way that is meaningful to them will keep your business going for years to come.
     
    You could host an annual summer BBQ or holiday cocktail party, perhaps an event that’s tied to a local holiday (for us in Calgary, Calgary Stampede parties are de rigeuer for 10 days in July), or is there a speaker you could bring in who could elevate your company’s brand or serve your clients in some way?
     
    Creating a way to connect with your clients – in person or online – in a way that brings them together will help build your public relationships.

  2. Make news

    If you have something to announce, a patent you can boast about, a new program you have developed, a milestone you have achieved – these are all things you can make your own news about.
     
    News-making is also about building relationships.  
     
    Even though “announcing” news is “one-way” communications, which means your company is sending information out and not necessarily receiving it back, your clients and customers will relate to the news in some way.
     
    With social media, you can encourage interaction with your announcement, thereby encouraging the Holy Grail of public relationships: “two-way” communications.

  3. Create conversation

    Do you have anything interesting to say? Does anyone you know or respect have anything interesting to say?
     
    You don’t even have to be the one with the original thought, if you can create conversation, you are having a relationship with those with whom you engage in conversation.
     
    Identify those topics of conversation that interest your ideal customer or client group, and have those conversations online. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linked In are all great places to have those conversations in a daily, real-time way.

  4. Host a Training

    Would your customers or clients benefit from free or low-cost trainings? Hosting a meet-up or short workshop can bring your clients great value in addition to giving your company exposure.
     
    These meet-ups can be in-person or online with similar result – creating conversation, and building relationships with the people who matter most to you – your clients and your potential clients.

  5. Publish Content

    Publishing content is now as easy as a free WordPress template. And while in days gone by publishing content was a decidedly one-way activity, now when you hit “live” on your web content it’s instantly in the public domain and ready to invite conversation.
     
    Encourage relating to your audience by posing questions and perhaps even sparking controversy. What gets your ideal customer hot under the collar, or inspires them to sit up and take notice? Write about those things and you will be adding to the relationship you have with your customers.

About the Author, Susan Elford

Kathryn Wilking

Susan Elford, PR Strategist & Leadership Coach, works with start-ups and seasoned entrepreneurs to help them get real about their strengths and celebrate them so they get more of what they want; clients, exposure and success, while living a life of balance.

Visit Susan at www.elfordcommunications.com for traditional PR support and www.susanelford.com for a look into how she works with her coaching clients.


Customer Service Strategies in a Digital World

Customer Service and PR in the Digital World

How to get your social media presence set up right so you can deal with customer complaints like a Pro

With social media being so prevalent, users often take to their favourite channel with their complaints.

75% of users surveyed said they include social media when evaluating a purchase.

32% want a response within 30 minutes and 42% expect a response in under an hour!

When you set up your social media keep that in mind.

How to use social media for customer service

Using social media to manage customer complaints may seem like a burden but the payoff is repeat business and happy customers.

Users often take to the majors like Twitter and Facebook.  Don’t shy away from either even if you’ve received some nasty feedback in the past.

When you initially set up your accounts you entered an email to register and you’ve probably noticed unless you changed the settings you get an email every time someone is active on your page/profile.

If you find this bothersome try creating an email like customerservice@example.com that forwards to your own account or the account of an employee whose job it is to monitor your online presence.

If it’s directed to your own email create a folder or label specifically for customer service or PR that these emails automatically go to. Don’t let it get lost in your emails though or you’ll miss alerts.

*Depending on your email setup this will vary in execution*

These alerts will let you know when you have a new comment or message on your profile.

When you get one have a response protocol ready. You don’t want to jump on a complaint and then have to wait 2 days for a decision-maker to draft their response.

One single meeting with your team on customer service/PR protocol on social platforms can save you a lot of headaches.

Have canned responses ready

Use Social Media to make your customers happy. Learn how to use social for customer serviceClick To Tweet

Canned responses refer to an automatically generated response that is prompted by the user contacting you. You may have seen these in the past and wondered how they get set up; now you get to set them up for yourself:

Twitter

Twitter rolled out some great tools last year for users who operate their business online:

https://business.twitter.com/i/settings/support

That link allows you to upgrade your account with messages that will automatically send to anyone who messages you directly and will show users that you provide this option.

You account will show your support hours and users will see that you take their feedback seriously.

This is a great signal to Google too – that you’re serious about your business and helping customers.

If you want more help using Twitter try our section dedicated to using Twitter for business.

Facebook

Facebook also allows you to set up your account to help communicate with customers via instant messaging. To turn on instant replies to any instant message to your business’s page follow these instructions:

To turn on Instant Replies for your Page:

  1. Click Settings at the top of your Page
  2. Click Messaging in the left column
  3. Below Response Assistant, click to select Yes next to Send Instant Replies to anyone who messages your Page
  4. To change your instant reply message, click Change, update the message and click Save

To turn off Instant Replies:

  1. Click Settings at the top of your Page
  2. Click Messaging in the left column
  3. Below Response Assistant, click to select No next to Send Instant Replies to anyone who messages your Page

You can direct users in both instances towards a contact email or simply let them know you’ll review their message within the next 24 hours and respond.

Once you have these set up, how you use them is entirely up to you. Each were only available within the last 2 years so not all businesses have adapted yet but those that have done it have set user’s expectations.

For more tips on using Facebook look at our section all about using Facebook to grow your business.

Monitor your reviews

Whether it’s Yelp (who’s results are now actually trending in SERPs) Google reviews, or Facebook reviews (if you have them turned on) it’s very important to stay on top of your reviews. There could be even more players in your niche so be on the lookout for sites dedicated to reviewing your products or services.

If you get a bad one you don’t want to remove it. That would defeat the purposes of the reviews.

Instead use the platform’s response option to address the reviewer’s concerns.

By demonstrating to users you take their feedback and complaints seriously you show them they can trust they’ll be treated with the same respect should things go wrong between you and them.

The point of PR and customer feedback should not be to defend yourself outright.

While some users may be serial complainers or even thieves always assume the best in the customer.

Use their complaint or question as an opportunity to possibly address something within your business you should have paid attention to a long time ago.

Often you’ll find the customer has either made an error or there’s a genuine issue you need to address with your business.

Whatever the case, keep in mind what you post will be what users see when reading up on your company. Not only that but Google looks for signals of a bad business in online engagement and reviews as well.

Position yourself as a responsible business owner who will address their concerns, so whenever someone reads about your business they get the right impression.

Just because a lot of customer service has moved online doesn’t change the fact that your business needs to give a good impression to potential users/customers. Put a smile on people’s faces as much as possible and your social media can really help you grow.

To your ongoing success,
Susan Friesen

P.S. New to Social Media and online marketing or find it overwhelming and confusing? Check out Social Blast: eMarketing for Entrepreneurs. It’s a monthly group coaching program for those just starting out or wanting more advanced strategies to help with their online marketing and social media efforts.
>> CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

P.P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

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About the Author, Susan Friesen

Susan Friesen offering 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen, founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, is a Web Specialist, Business & Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor. She works with entrepreneurs who struggle with having the lack of knowledge, skill and support needed to create their online business presence.

As a result of working with Susan and her team, clients feel confident and relieved knowing their online marketing is in trustworthy and caring hands so they can focus on building their business with peace of mind at having a perfect support system in place to guide them every step of the way.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and download your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

A ‘How-to’ Guide for Earning Small Business Media Exposure

A 'How-to' Guide for Earning Small Business Media Exposure

You have dreams of being a guest on Oprah Winfrey. The Today Show is calling your name (they just don’t know it yet!)… Even a short media appearance on the local breakfast show would be great.

Ok. Can I just have a few lines in the business section of the city newspaper? Anyone??

What does it take to get that traditional media exposure you are coveting? If they only knew about you, you’d be busier than all get out! You just need one big break… right?

Right?

Wrong. (unfortunately)

Building a media presence for your small business takes time, consistency and the know-how to get yourself noticed in front of media audiences who are interested in what you have to say.

And notice I am using the word “earning” media exposure instead of “getting” or “securing” media exposure.

Yes, you have to earn it.

Unless you are paying for it (which is called advertising, by the way) it is not up to you if you will get covered, how much you will covered, or even what the media might say about you. That, my friend, is all up to the media outlet who is telling your story for you.

That’s not to say you can’t exercise some influence, however. You can absolutely doll yourself up (meaning, your business) and make what you have to say attractive to the potential media outlet.

It is important that you have something to say that people want to hear.

Here are nine steps to earning traditional media exposure for your small business:

  1. Know What You’re Selling

    This may seem obvious to you, but often this is the first stumbling block for my   clients. They know what they are selling, and what their services are, but can they explain it in a way that people will clearly understand?
     
    If you were called for that appearance on The Today Show, for example, what would you say? What is your story? Is it compelling?
     
    It is important to develop your key messages and be able to deliver them clearly, concisely, and with impact.

  2. Know Who You’re Selling To

    Who is your key audience or ideal customer? Who do you think would most benefit from what you are selling?
     
    Another way to think of it is why do you want people to know about you? What do you want them to do with the information?
     
    Once you know your ideal customer, you can better tailor your message and marketing and communications strategy to reach them.

  3. Know Where Your Customers Hang Out

    Now that you know what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to, where do they hang out? What online media do they use? What traditional media do they use?
     
    How can you reach them? What television shows do they watch? What do they read? Where do they consume their media?
     
    All these factors must be considered as you are developing your media relations strategy.

  4. Make a Media Outlet List of Contacts

    Now that you know what media you would like to appear in, who do you need to reach to earn that appearance? Do you have a relationship with them already?
     
    If not, depending on how big your media ambitions are, you would be wise to hire someone to help you who does know who to talk to and who has a relationship with the media, or you can introduce yourself and go from there.

  5. What Would Interest Them About Your Product/Business?

    Once you know who you want to reach, get familiar with their media outlet. What kind of stories do they like to tell? And how?
     
    Do they do on-camera interviews? Do they do 30-second clips at the end of a new cast? Do they publish in-depth interviews?
     
    How the message will appear can help you frame what and how you share your story with them.

  6. How Can You Tell An Effective Story?

    For example, if you are a sporting equipment company and you want to cover your new product line, there are a number of ways you could go about gaining interest in your product.
     
    You can simply share the factors that make your product great. Or, you could promote the person behind the idea who created the product.
     
    Another way could be to host an event that promotes your product and invite media to the event so they can see your product in action.
     
    There are many different ways to tell the same story.

  7. Pitch Your Idea

    Now that you have your plan together, it’s time to pitch your idea.
     
    Most news outlets prefer email. Make sure your email subject line is to the point and attention-getting. And be sure to include information about your story idea in the body of the email.
     
    You can attach it in a document as well, but the fewer “clicks” a media contact has to take to review what you have to say, the better the chance they will actually read it.
     
    And that’s the first step. You can follow up with another direct message or even a phone call to ensure they received your email, but it’s best not to start there.

  8. Tell The Story

    Once you are successful in gaining the attention of your media contact, it’s time for you to tell your story.
     
    The story may have already been in the body of the email; however, you may also have the opportunity for a media interview or to meet your media contact at a live event that you are appearing at.
     
    Be sure you are ready to answer those questions from the media and if you only have 30 seconds to tell your story, make sure those 30 seconds count!

  9. Repeat

    Whew! That was a lot of work. Great! You earned some media attention and scored a few interviews and some media coverage. Fantastic! Pat yourself on the back and be open for more opportunities to do that again.
     
    Depending on your product, you may have opportunity to develop relationships with key media and pitch ideas monthly. Other businesses may just go out twice a year or even annually. Still others may not go out at all. It’s up to you to decide what you can manage and how often media exposure would benefit your business.

About the Author, Susan Elford

Kathryn Wilking

Susan Elford, PR Strategist & Leadership Coach, works with start-ups and seasoned entrepreneurs to help them get real about their strengths and celebrate them so they get more of what they want; clients, exposure and success, while living a life of balance.

Visit Susan at www.elfordcommunications.com for traditional PR support and www.susanelford.com for a look into how she works with her coaching clients.