Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quick Non-Media Tips

Moving is one daunting task! My blogging has become thirdary lately after running my Vermont PR biz and moving to the Charlotte farmhouse. But...I have a few tips I wanted to share for those looking to beef up their presence to their various audiences.

~ Become an Expert - Not just in your field of work, but take a hobby or two and get active and involved in organizations and events surrounding your hobbies. Not only will it help with your association marketing, but you can find opportunities to get quoted by the press and included in media opportunities that help paint a more three dimensional picture of who you really are. Like my recent memory lane trip of my junior prom in this past Saturday's Burlington Free Press.

~ Be a Speaker - Volunteer to speak for a group you belong to or a group who could benefit from hearing some tips you have to share. Research conferences related to your field and contact organizers about sitting on panel discussion boards. Be sure to plan far in advance for this - as you should with everything in PR.

~ Write a Blog - Not only is a blog a great internet marketing vehicle, it's a fantastic opportunity to be in an editor's shoes.

~ Be an Author - Contact a local newspaper, magazine, or radio show and see if there is an opportunity for you to author a guest column, write an article, or have a radio segment. Remember, this is not a place for shameless self promotion, but rather to share your tips and expertise about a subject appropriate for that media outlet.

~ Don't Forget your Friends
- Keep your peeps up-to-date with your activities in business - you never know who knows who. Sometimes friends can make the best business contacts if you strike the right chord and let them know how they can help you.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

So, You Think You Have A Story Idea?

Great! That means you are starting to think like a PR pro! The first thing you have to do with your story idea is think about who it would be of interest to. And, please - ask a trusted colleague or two who would be interested in knowing about your story idea. (hint: Do not ask people who always tell you what you want to hear - they are good friends, but not good business consultants)

Next, once you have an idea about what audience is going to be interested in your story idea, think about how those audiences get information. And don't only think about media like daily newspapers and TV. What music do they listen to and will they get that from a radio station or satellite? What niche magazines might they read? What types of newsletters do they subscribe to? Where do they live and what local media outlets reach them? What organizations do they belong to and communicate with? What websites do they frequent? What important people do they take stock in?

Lots of questions to answer before you run off to share your story idea. Answer these questions and then research ways to reach the "gatekeepers" (as we called them in PR 101) who are the ones who communicate directly with your audiences.

STOP! Before you actually reach out (phone call, press release, pitch letter or email, press packet, e-blast, article, tips, etc.) you must do more research!!! The best way to get your story out there is to supply all of the background information that might be needed to help further develop your story idea. Find websites that coincide with thoughts you are expressing, find examples you are referring to, provide photos, offer collation between your story and current news and event items, offer background research and statistics...do the homework and never think "it's not my job" - ever.

Managing successful public relations is no different writing an A-worthy research paper!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tips on Setting Up a New Office

So, you have moved offices like me? It can be such a process! It's also a time to start fresh. Here are a few tips on some of the most useful things I have learned (and am still learning):

1.) Tell everyone! This way it's easier to schedule meetings farther away than normal because you simply cannot do it all!
2.) Google search yourself and change your address and phone number on all sites you are listed at. This is also a good time to update other business information and changes as well.
3.) Check prices and best solutions for your phone and internet. A move is a good time to get rid of stuff that didn't work so hot and go with something better! I found the cell phone as a business phone had run its course and was wayyyyy too expensive. So, I dropped my minutes to the lowest level and got a business line - tax deductible in toto baby! I also found that Champlain Valley Telecom rocks!!! Comcast was a rip-off with crappy service. I went through Kris Merchant and he actually came to my house and set it all up and waited for me because I was running late (one of my signature not-so-hot qualities). So glad I didn't have to spend 4 hours speaking to people who couldn't speak English telling me how to use a paper clip to poke at my equipment (no, I am not politically correct and yes, that was always super annoying). Anyway, Champlain Valley Telecom is Rachel Carter PR Approved and Recommended!
4.) Take the time to set up and reorganize your office - shut off the phone and don't check email. Your clients will appreciate it in the long run.
5.) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - GREAT opportunity to be green! Get stuff on Craig's List, sell stuff on Craig's List, get friendly with Recycle North, and find creative ways to recreate your office without dumping tons of money at Staples (I haven't gone once!).

And the NUMBER ONE thing to do when setting up a new office - CREATE A NEW SCHEDULE FOR YOURSELF. Right away. I am power walking in the beautiful Charlotte country-side every day after emailing and start my day with tea and rolling the Chinese balls in my hand to help with the creeping in carpal tunnel. Oh, and get a mouse to hook into your laptop if you don't have one. Staples might be worth it for that or find one used like I did!!!