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Posts Tagged ‘marketing ROI’

Public Relations for Small Businesses: Interview with Robb Deigh

August 16th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen
Robb Deigh

Robb Deigh

Robb Deigh is President of RDC Communication, a strategic communication, marketing, and public relations firm located outside of Washington, DC.  He worked in journalism and PR at PBS, AOL, Blackboard, Inc., and a large PR agency before venturing out on his own 12 years ago.  He’s the author of How Come No One Knows About Us?, as well as numerous articles for trade journals and other publications.  In the following interview with Robb, he offers suggestions on how to get a PR program in place, what mistakes to avoid, and how to track the ROI of your PR efforts.
What are the biggest challenges small businesses face when it comes to planning and executing public relations?

Besides the obvious—budget—there are two.  First, their language and messages might be all over the place.  I take clients through a messaging exercise that helps create a strong, solid set of messages that can then be used on their website and in presentations, print materials, and other communications.  If everyone on the team uses the messages, it is a very powerful tool. 

The second challenge is knowing how to get attention using traditional and social media.  Make a list of stories you can pitch to the media and match those stories to the right publications and appropriate reporters.  Knowing how to pitch a story is THE most important PR skill to have.  In terms of social media, small businesses need to get their messages and website in order before deciding to start a blog, use Facebook, or even publish an e-newsletter.  Make sure that before you say something to the world, you have something to say.  If you use Twitter, you know that there is a lot of jibberish out there right alongside useful information.
What are some easy ways for small businesses to get going with PR?

Start out by creating your organizational messages.   Get your team together and brainstorm a list of all of your company’s attributes.  Use those attributes to build 5-6 great messages that tell prospects, “Here is what we can do for you.”  Update your website with those messages, since all of your communication is designed to steer prospects there first.  Then, try some press.  If budget is tight, build your own small press list.  What do you and your audiences read?  The reporters at those publications are your targets. Get their email addresses and send them announcements when you have real news.  Put yourself in their place and call them with great story ideas about your industry.  

What should small businesses avoid doing?

Three things immediately spring to mind:

  1. Don’t assign a non-communications person in your organization the task of doing PR.  It will end up taking a back seat to his/her real job.  Hire someone with applicable experience and, if needed, get some outside help.  
  2. When pitching stories, do not call reporters with non-news.  
  3. Don’t blog, use Facebook or Twitter, or publish an e-newsletter unless you have something useful and non-self-promotional to say.   Educate your audience and give them the advantage of your expertise.

How can you track the ROI of your public relations efforts?  Seeing a mention in the press is great, but figuring out if it’s generating leads is probably not so easy.

Absolutely!  A stack of clips with your company’s name in it is definitely not a measure of success.  But clips that include at least one of your 5-6 main messages are of immense value.  That’s part of your long-term public relations ROI.  Make sure that when you do an interview, publish an article, or make a presentation, you use your messages.  In time, you will hear them echo back to you in the news media and elsewhere.  That’s how you know it is working.  Of course, you’ll also know it’s working when your sales increase, because good PR leads to high visibility which leads to higher sales.     

Care to share a couple of success stories?

I’ve helped dozens of companies go from being virtually invisible to being strong brands, but I think my biggest PR/media successes over the years have occurred when I have found good story ideas within client organizations and packaged those stories with 2-3 good sources for the right reporters at the right time. 

When you have a great story pitch, make an initial phone call and then send details by email. If you are doing it correctly, you really are doing part of the reporter’s job—finding good stories and sources.   Make it easy for them to say “yes.”  It works the same whether you are pitching your community paper or CNN (although CNN will be harder to reach on the phone!).

Women in Business: Marketing Strategy For Everyone! Part 1

July 22nd, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

Emily RichardsEmily Richards is the smart, funny, and energetic owner of Drew Consulting, a full-service marketing consulting firm based in Falls Church, VA. We were introduced at a BNI meeting (neither of us belongs) by a mutual business associate last winter.  When we finally got together for lunch in May, we had such a good time that I realized I’d found not only a new partner and referral source (and vice versa), but a friend.  Nice when that happens.

Because of Emily’s deep experience in marketing, I thought she’d have some useful information on marketing strategy to pass along to all of us small business owners.  She had so much to say, I’m dividing this blog post into two. Enjoy!

Why did you decide to go into business for yourself?  How long have you been in business?

Owning my own business has always been my dream. I began consulting on a freelance basis while still in corporate America. It was something I enjoyed and decided to pursue full time. I’ve consulted for 4 years.

What areas of marketing strategy do you specialize in/most enjoy?

I specialize in the actual development of marketing strategies; business development strategies (companies either in start up phase or expansion of an existing company); and market research. Typically all of the above mentioned areas go hand in hand. In order to develop new business, a business strategy, marketing strategy and market research are all necessary components. Market Research provides quantifiable data that supports my recommendations for marketing strategies. Marketing strategies are a driver in the success in new business development and ultimately, positive impact to the bottom line.  These specialties are also what I enjoy most. It’s a nice perk in small business ownership to align your specialties with what you most enjoy.

What are the biggest marketing challenges your clients face?  How do you help them overcome those challenges?

The biggest challenges my clients face are depressed economic conditions and a rapidly changing marketing landscape. While these are cliché challenges, they present obstacles I have to overcome on a daily basis. In a recessive economy, it takes more time and creativity to achieve the same results that came much easier in a thriving economy. My clients don’t necessarily have the allocation in their budget for the additional time and efforts. They spent less and earned more in past years. It’s a difficult concept for them to overcome. Secondly, technology is evolving at lightning speed. There are times when I simply do not have the answer as to the impact of a rising social media or interactive trend. I don’t enjoy not having the answer any more than they do. The positive spin to both of these challenges is the benefits of our global communication. There are many opportunities to create a strategy with grassroots focus at a minimal cost thanks to existing social media platforms.

Proving the ROI of marketing is not always easy.  How do you help your clients quantify the effectiveness of their marketing programs?

As I mentioned before, I feel proving the ROI of many marketing efforts today are significantly more difficult to quantify. I am very adamant [with clients] that there be some form of capture method to measure the impact of our efforts. It helps tremendously when there is a database that can capture leads, lead sources and sales. But there are many creative metrics [apart from databases] to capture this information ranging from analyzing Google analytics (to determine if a marketing material with a unique URL generated traffic to a site) to analyzing the click-through of an e-blast to monitoring the number of fans to your facebook (before and after a month long posting campaign). I like to measure leads, number of sales and the lead conversion ratio. It provides us the ability to determine how many targeted leads we need to obtain in order to reach the desired lead conversion rate and ultimately revenue goals.

Read Part 2 here.