10 Ways to Improve Your Small Business Media Pitches

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 6.49.23 PM

Contacting the media and garnering coverage can be intimidating, and sometimes tricky business. Maybe you’ve tried it before with no results and don’t want to face the rejection (or being ignored) again. I’m here to tell you to do it again, and again, but in a more intentional, strategic way. Because attention means more visibility for your company.

The inBLOOM team has tons of experience pitching media and gaining great coverage, but we’ve also learned some lessons the hard way. Today I’ll share some of what we’ve learned on the job, with some bonus inside knowledge from the media trenches. (Some of us are even former journalists, so we’ve got some insight into why some pitches fall flat, while others get a quick call back.)

Here are 10 ways to make you and your business stand out through the barrage of emails media get on a daily basis:

1. Have a compelling story

Not every idea is newsworthy. Ask yourself what is unique and different about your story and make that your angle. Example of something not newsworthy, you’re moving your business to a new location. This is a fact you need to advertise, but it’s not a news story. Crafting a pitch around that is a waste of your time and a reporter’s. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a news nugget in that moving story. Does the new location have a unique history? Are you significantly changing your services? Are you being forced to move because of changes in the town or the industry?

2. Focus on people and narratives, not products

If your company founders have deeply rooted qualities that shape the organization – patriotism, innovation, risk taking – then there are stories to tell around their business decisions. Unique angles can come from anywhere. Think about tapping employees and customers to help determine the most newsworthy and creative story and ask them to help you tell that narrative. Like, why did you even start this business? Or why did you close your storefront and move your operation online?

Once you have an angle, it’s time to use narrative to tell your story. In Entrepreneur Magazine, Al Lautenslager uses Nike as an example of a company whose culture and marketing is shaped by stories. “Stories create buzz,” he says. “The more buzz about a product or service, obviously the more awareness there is about that brand.”

3. Offer up thought leaders

Members of the media love to talk to experts in whatever field you’re pitching them, and often won’t consider taking on a story without them. Thought leaders are people who have innovative ideas in their respective industries, and know how to talk about those innovative ideas. Figure out where your thought leadership lies by looking at your business experience. Is it software? Design? Manufacturing? Healthcare? Where ever you are invested through your business is an opportunity for you to be a thought leader. Use your blog or social media, or even your email newsletter, as a forum. Write about what’s bugging you in your industry or comment on the changes in the economy around your industry. If you can relate it to a current event you’ve given a reporter the news hook she needs to pay attention to your pitch.

4. Be a grammarphobe 

An email that comes through riddled with grammar mistakes is the first one tossed out. All the more reason to spell check, double check, and even triple check your pitch. As small as they may seem, mistakes using your and you’re, their, there, and they’re, and other common errors can make or break a pitch. The writers at inBLOOM have years of editing experience and are happy to create tailored pitches free of grammar errors for you and your small business.

5. Avoid over the top language  

Clichés are an everyday way of speaking, and sometimes they can even make their way into writing. But phrases like these — along with over-the-top language, such as world acclaimed, first of its kind, and cutting edge — can clutter a pitch. While these phrases may sound great, journalists can sniff out marketing buzzwords and chose not to pursue the story. It’s best to keep things short and succinct, and most of all, clear.

6. Consider a listicle 

What’s a listicle you say? Just what it sounds like. It’s a list of your main ideas, most commonly in bullet points (kind of like this blog you’re reading). Breaking out the pertinent information can be a great way of getting a reporter’s attention without losing relevant info in wordy paragraphs. If a busy member of the media can glance at your email pitch and pull out the necessary information, along with the unique aspects of your story, they’ll be more likely to pick it up and run with it.

7. Be responsive and available 

The last thing you want is an interested and ready reporter trying to contact you with no response. Just like you, reporters are busy and will move on to another story with someone who answered that phone call or email. Make sure to give the reporter the best means to contact you, whether that’s email, phone, or even Twitter. Once they contact you, be willing to answer their questions and provide any additional information they may ask for. (And don’t ask to review the story before it’s published. Just don’t.)

8. Target the right contacts

Your story isn’t a fit for every media outlet out there, which is why a good strategy is to research specific publications or broadcasts that deal with the topic of your pitch. Own a restaurant? It’s useless to pitch to a boating magazine. The same is true for a reporter. Before you pitch a media person, find out their area of expertise. Read their past stories so you don’t pitch something they’ve done. Your story should be one related to their past experience but focuses on a new idea.

9. Use visuals

Our society is a visual one, and our eyes are drawn to pictures or graphics that get our attention. Consider including an image with a pitch. If you have a great photo of your story in action, include a high-resolution image with the pitch. Don’t have a photo? Think outside the box. Maybe a graphic related to your idea will suffice. If your pitch is regarding a process or product, an attention-getting way to illustrate it might be using an infographic showing the method or development. Be sure to always include proper credit for images as well as a caption.

10. Follow up is key

Once your pitch is perfected and sent to the right contacts, your work still isn’t done. The key to media pick up is most always in the follow up. Emails get lost in the shuffle and voicemails sometimes get ignored. Following up ensures that you stay on a reporter’s radar, and a phone call can allow you to explain the idea in more detail, potentially sealing the deal.

Pitching the media isn’t complicated, but it does require attention to detail, thoughtful execution and time. A quick hit email once in a while isn’t going to garner the media attention you’re hoping for. When we pitch media on behalf of clients we start first with relationships. We nurture our media contacts by keeping in touch regularly on social and via email offering helpful connections, story ideas and feedback, even when it doesn’t benefit us directly. Nurturing those relationships today gives us the privilege of the media’s attention in the future.

If your business has a story to tell (and they all do) we can help you shape, pitch and promote it to the right media, so you can get back to business. Not sure if your story is newsworthy? Drop us a line and we’ll help you figure it out.

cover photo: ceBIT Australia

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email

Turn Employees Into Brand Ambassadors On Social Media

Turn Employees Into Brand Ambassadors On Social Media

“Employees are a company’s greatest asset…” – Anne M. Mulcahy, Former Chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation

Employees are an organization’s greatest asset, so why aren’t more companies tapping into their greatest resource? The lines between personal and professional social media accounts are becoming more and more blurred, making it possible and even ethical to promote organizational successes on personal pages.

Employee personal social media accounts can serve to enhance your brand, and more often than not those employees are proud of the work they, and their company are doing and they want to shout that pride from the rooftops. Just think, their reach can be your reach. So if you have that enthusiastic employee base, why not use it!

Here are some things to consider when turning employees into brand ambassadors:

1. Make a goal and communicate it

Think about what your organization’s overall goal is and how it can be satisfied by using employees as brand advocates. Is your goal to increase brand awareness? If so, give employees the tools necessary to introduce your brand to their audience. Is your goal to get more unique visitors to your website? Then give employees a way to share or retweet posts that link directly to your site. Goals come first, and they must be communicated to employees, especially if you want them to be an ambassador for your brand. These goals should be measurable and relate directly back to the organization’s business plan.

2. Give employees the training and tools they need to be successful

We all know posts on social media can turn ugly in the drop of a hat, but with the proper training and tools at their disposal, employees can become amateur social gurus in no time. The training needs to be face-to-face, the guidelines need to be in writing, and the tools need to be easily accessible and full of content. There are several online resources that can help organizations compile content for employees to share on social, such as Addvocate, Command Post, and Everyone Social. These tools can help guide you on your organizational social media journey. Also, it doesn’t hurt to make it clear that the organization encourages employees to use social media at work for organizational posting. Communicate the importance of sharing content on Facebook, posting blogs to LinkedIn, and using hashtags on Twitter. The more you teach them, the more excited they’ll be to become a brand ambassador, and good ones at that.

3. Encourage open conversation

Trusting your employees with organizational content can encourage open and honest dialogue on social media channels. This, in turn, can create confidence in your brand with a wider variety of audiences. Publics who see organizational content shared on personal accounts may view the brand as more authentic.

4. Measure, measure, measure

Understanding how employees are using social media is vital to understanding how successful an employee social media campaign is. And to do this it is absolutely necessary to measure everything. Make sure you’re using analytics to track social media activity. LinkedIn posts low? Facebook shares up only in the winter months? Analytics can help you pinpoint where your strengths and weaknesses are and allow you to make a plan based off real numbers. Hashtags are also a great way to measure employee activity on social media, and are an easy way for employees to keep track of what they’re posting. Once you have a few month’s worth of numbers to crunch, you’ll be able to see which employees are having success with their social media use. These staff members would make great social media champions for the company and can encourage other employees to promote the brand on social. Don’t forget to tout success stories with the entire company, it can be a boost for morale!

5. Monitor

While giving employees the training, tools, and trust to be brand ambassadors on social media is important, management should also monitor social media channels. This is true not only for employee posts, but for entire organizational social media accounts in general. Have a screening process in place to ensure quick action if something goes awry. This will allow you to get out ahead of a potential crisis quickly.

6. Don’t force employees to be brand ambassadors

No company should require employees to share posts on social media. This action should be voluntary, but there is no harm in providing incentives or rewards for those who feel comfortable using their personal social channels for professional posts. Check with your Human Resources department before you do anything.

Have questions about how you can turn your employees into brand ambassadors? Ready to take the plunge but not sure where to start? Contact us and we’ll help you navigate the waters of employee social media use.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email

8 Ways to Increase Engagement on LinkedIn Company Pages

8 Ways to Increase Engagement on LinkedIn Company Pages

With slower summer days at the office, now is the perfect time to revisit your marketing plan. Although your office may not be experiencing a flurry of activity, you don’t want the same to be happening with your social media pages. Use your downtime wisely by taking a look at how your pages are doing with engagement from your audience.

In this post, we’re focusing on LinkedIn. Your strategy may be holding you back from getting the most engagement on your Company Page. Here are eight ways to get more from your audience on LinkedIn, and take advantage of all of its features.

1. Post a variety of compelling content

Mix it up! Avoid posting the same kinds of content over and over on your Company Page. People will get bored if you’re only posting promotional material or solely industry news.

Types of content to post:

  • Articles that would interest your audience
  • Links to your company’s blog posts or articles
  • Visuals: graphics, photos, videos
  • News and exclusive content about your company
  • Industry news

2. Make your updates stand out in the mix

Here are some ways to make your updates stand out from the rest (this applies to both Company Pages and personal profiles):

  • Sum up whatever you are sharing with a concise intro and snappy headline, or share an interesting quote from the article as a way to spark interest.
  • Include a call to action with a link. Including a link will drive 2x the engagement.
  • Make sure the images or thumbnails posted with your updates are relevant to the content being shared since they further convey your message. Sometimes the wrong image pops up, and this could throw people off. No thumbnail image at all will take away value from the post.
  • Including an image or some rich media will help your updates stand out. Images result in a 98% higher comment rate.
  • Post videos from YouTube. Links to YouTube videos play directly in the LinkedIn feed and usually result in a 75% higher share rate.
  • Engage with people who comment on your posts. Keep the conversation going!

3. Post at optimal times of day

Increase engagement with your content by posting your updates at a time of day when most of your followers are on LinkedIn. Data from HubSpot shows the best days of the week to post updates on LinkedIn are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The best times to post are between 7 – 8 a.m. and 5 – 6 p.m. (beginning and end of a typical work day). Posts get the most clicks and shares on Tuesdays between 10 – 11 a.m. LinkedIn consists primarily of a B2B audience, which is most likely the reason the highest engagement rates are during weekdays and business hours.

However, you’ll also want to post updates throughout the day –even on the weekends – to increase post visibility and engagement with those logging in throughout the day. There are some professional who do engage all week long, so consider an always-on approach.

4. Sponsor important updates

Like other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn gives you the option to advertise updates to expand your reach. If you’re a business with a healthy budget moving from print to digital advertising, you may want to allocate some money towards sponsored updates.

With sponsored updates, you can reach your target audience beyond your followers and get your message out to the right people. Sponsored updates raise greater brand awareness, generate quality leads, and promote deeper relationships with your audience by extending the reach of your company’s updates. You’re able to define your audience using criteria such as location, company size, industry, job function, and seniority. You can monitor the performance of sponsored updates with LinkedIn’s detailed reporting tools.

Before you go through the process of sponsoring an update, know your audience. Are you speaking to colleagues or companies you might do business with? Remember, LinkedIn consists primarily of a B2B audience, so you may need to speak to them differently than you would speak to your customers. Make sure your message is appropriate for your audience.

LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates User Guide will show you step-by-step instructions on creating, managing and analyzing sponsored updates.

5. Create Showcase Pages

Showcase Pages are extensions of your Company Page, designed for spotlighting a brand, business unit, or initiative. They are niche pages. With this awesome feature, you can create a page for aspects of your business with their messages and audience segments to share with. All Showcase Pages link directly back to the Company Page, which means your pages are all centralized around your company.

LinkedIn users can follow singular Showcase Pages without following the business or their other Showcase Pages. This allows businesses to promote for and cater to the audience specific to the page.

As with a Company Page, you can share updates and sponsored updates with LinkedIn members who can now follow the aspects of your business they’re interested in. However, unlike a Company Page, there are no careers, products, or services tabs at the top of the page. And employee profiles cannot be associated with a Showcase Page.

You can create up to ten free Showcase Pages. To create Showcase Pages, click the “Edit” menu on your Company Page. Select “Create a Showcase Page.” For more information, review LinkedIn’s frequently asked questions about Showcase Pages.

6. Choose the right profile and banner images

As with your other social media pages, your company’s logo and a banner image will bring your LinkedIn page to life. Your logo appears when members search for your company as well as on your employees’ profiles, so be sure it’s the right size. Also, be sure your banner image is the right size as well.

Banner Image: minimum 646 x 220 pixels; PNG/JPEG/GIF format; maximum 2 MB; landscape layout (image should be wider rather than taller).

Standard Logo – 100 x 60 pixels (image will be resized to fit); PNG/JPEG/GIF format; maximum 2 MB; landscape layout (image should be wider rather than taller). LinkedIn will be supporting higher resolution logos up to 4 MB, which require a minimum size of 300 x 300. This change will be rolled out gradually and won’t impact the quality of the image currently being used.

Square Logo – 50 x 50 pixels (image will be resized to fit); PNG/JPEG/GIF format; maximum 2 MB.

7. Monitor and analyze through analytics

Leverage Company Page analytics to track engagement on posts, follower growth, and key metrics and trends. Use that valuable data to optimize, refine, and customize your content. Page admins can view rich data about their Company Page divided into specific sections: Updates, Followers, and Visitors.

The Company Updates section has three areas: Updates, Reach, and Engagement. The Followers section is divided into four areas and provides information on where followers are coming from, their demographics, trends, and competitive comparisons. The Visitors section contains information on visitors and viewers of your page. This information was previously available under Page Insights and was moved into the Analytics tab.

8. Link your Company Page to your personal profile

By linking your Company Page to your personal profile, you’ll create awareness for your business and the page. To do this, go to experience, click on your company name to edit the position, click “Change Company,” and then start typing the name and the page should pop up.

Get some inspiration for improving your Company Page from the brands that are on top of their game. LinkedIn has named these Company Pages as the best of 2014:

Dell
Evernote
Hootsuite
L’Oreal
Luxottica Group
Marketo
The Nature Conservancy
Procter & Gamble
Tesla Motors
Wells Fargo

If you’re overwhelmed by how much time and effort it takes to optimize your LinkedIn Company Page, feel free to contact us for assistance. inBLOOM offers a complimentary consultation for new clients. We’ll incorporate our ways to increase engagement on your LinkedIn page into a social media strategy tailored to your business.

Resources

15 Tips for Compelling Company Updates on LinkedIn –LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

Best Practices for Your Company Page –LinkedIn

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email