Monday, June 30, 2008

PR Buzz in Vermont

For those into PR in Vermont, if you are not already a member of the Vermont Public Relations Google Group, you most certainly should be! Check it -
The group is informally headed by Claudia Renchy Morton, the Director of PR at Kelliher Samets Volk (KSV), which is one Vermont's leading full service marketing agencies.

Claudia has done a great job gathering PR professionals in Vermont and getting us together time and again for PR sharing and learning - something I could certainly use more of as meetings with my cats get a little uninspiring at times.

Most recently we enjoyed a luncheon meeting at KSV's retro lunch room and heard from the folks at Boston based company, Bzz Agent. Bzz Agent has created a corporate strategy for word-of-mouth marketing. Of course, unless you are Green Mountain Coffee Roasters or Seventh Generation, hiring Bzz Agent would be a bit out of the budget as the smallest contract is around $79,000 for six months. But, the client's for Bzz Agent are big companies, but that doesn't mean the ideas can't be put to use on a smaller, Green Mountain scale...

The concept is simple - people believe their friends and folks they chat with about products and activities way more than any form of advertising or public relations for that matter. So, Bzz Agent has thousands of volunteer "agents" who share info with the people they know - openly letting them know they are indeed a "bzz agent." This means - no sneakiness - yay!!

So, my Vermont business owner friends - you should do the same! Get a group of your supporters together, build that group through your networks, and get them to talk about you! Share with them - in a consistent way - the info you want to get out and ask them to help you spread the word with the people they communicate with! Provide them with the tools, wording, message, etc. and ask them to help share when appropriate! (this does not mean you ask them to spam people via email - that is NOT the point!)

I would also love to hear some success stories if you do indeed try this put - please share and happy bzzing!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Closing Paragraph

If you are a small business or venture and are starting to think about placing some advertising or attempting some PR, or if you have already done so and want to do it better - here is a great piece of advice:

Write yourself a boilerplate paragraph about your company. It should only be about 4-5 sentences and should read something like this:

Company is a type of blah blah blah organization offering blah blah blah to blah blah blah. Company is owned and operated by blah blah and has been providing blah blah blah since blah. Their mission is to blah blah blah and they are committed to blah blah blah. Company is located at address and more information is available at

That is what I call your closing paragraph. Use that paragraph anytime you send information to anyone - client, press, etc. (Obviously you fill out the blahs.) This will really help in your consistent messaging.

Now take said paragraph and made it into a 50 word blurb and then add information and make it into a 100 word blurb. Save all three of these paragraphs in one place and refer to them when sending information and posting all of those company descriptions on various websites. You will be amazed at how much time you save and the results you will see by using the same language in all of your communication. Especially if you use the same keywords that are in your paragraph in your google analytics and website keywords.

Good luck!! And for a nice visual, here is the view out of my new office window at the Rachel Carter PR headquarters in Charlotte, VT! (Ah - check out the keywords in that!)

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I continue to learn in my process of running a PR firm in Vermont. This week's lesson deals with over-delivering. This also ties in with honesty and not being a sales pitcher, but rather an idea pitcher. Successful public relations takes time and a lot of it. Well implemented PR programs start to self run themselves after a period of time and the fruits of the labor continue to sprout long after the work is over. Educating people on how this works is necessary prior to beginning work so expectations are clear between both parties.

Here are what I think are the major misconceptions about the practice of public relations:

1.) Public relations is not offered in a store therefore you can not try on everything, see if it fits, try on something else, and have a specific price tag on everything. It is a practice - like practicing the law and is paid for as a lawyer is.

2.) PR people do not have magic wands that affect the media. The media are immune to any magic you think PR people have. (hint - good PR people are just intuitive, there really is no magic)

3.) PR really does take a ton of time - really. Come job shadow or ask my current intern, Aislinn Wallace - she will tell you the truth!

4.) You do not need a degree in PR to be a good PR person and that should make no difference in pay. I happen to have a PR degree so I can say this without hidden agenda. (plus, my hidden agenda is to live in the country and work from home, which I am doing)

5.) PR does not in any way, shape, or form stand for press release. It stands for Public Relations which is relating to the public aka communicating with different audiences. This may or may not mean via the media.

I must race off to finish up the last of the move the Charlotte, VT. Any chance anyone knows anyone looking for a well priced apartment/house rental in Charlotte? Next door is open - fantastic opportunity for a couple needing lots of space and a home office!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Marketing Tips Courtesy of the North Star Lodge

I have written about the most unfortunate experience I have ever encountered regarding customer service and discrimination with the North Star Lodge in Killington, Vermont in several different ways. My other two popular blogs - Vermont Vibes and Vermont Music both share different angles of this terrible experience of entering a contest, being scammed for a timeshare ploy by the company using the entries as sales leads, falling for it, and then treated with rudeness, turned away from the actual tour, and discriminated against because of youthful appearance and casual dress - hey it's Vermont and I am a good Avon customer! Please check out these blogs for the story and my further investigation into the North Star Lodge owned in part by a previous timeshare fraud, under the subsidiary of RCI aka Endless Vacation Rentals - the Enron of timeshares, utilizing the elusive and untraceable Summit Vacation Corp. - a professional scam group based in Pittsfield, Mass. If someone knows more, please enlighten me!!

Here are my marketing tips of the hour - fresh from the disrespectful, rude, and intolerable behavior of the staff at the North Star Lodge/Inn/Resort in Killington, Vermont:

1.) When conducting business in small locales like Vermont, do not hire sneaky out-of-state entities to do your dirty laundry. Instead, just leave Vermont all together and go do your dirty business in other states.
2.) Do not judge a book by its cover. You never know who wears farmer clothes and is a millionaire, who wears business suits and is in credit card debt and just filed Chapter 11, who wears hippie clothes and owns a business, who dresses like a Nascar fanatic and is undercover, who looks like a soccer mom and is a drug dealer, who walks funny but invented the latest electronic gadget, or who is a bouncy sometimes frazzled looking 30-something and is really a publicist!
3.) Do onto others - do I really need to go there? After this weekend apparently I do. Treat others kindly, have compassion, and don't be a jerk.
4.) If you're running a marketing program and say it's to spread the word, be positive and let the positive word be spread. If you are running a marketing program to sell something directly - be open and honest about what you're selling and don't use asinine gimics.
5.) Never underestimate the power of PR, the power of the press, and the power of the internet.
6.) Always google search new people you are about to deal with and know who you are dealing with so you are not caught off guard.
7.) Understand your market, be in honest touch with your product, and don't try to be something you are not.
8.) Don't take out your own inadequacies or your failing marketing campaign on others, just stop and go at if from a different angle with a different approach.
9.) Do not inappropriately use contests to your advantage. One well run true and real contest will garner enough PR to pay for the sales you could cheaply get out of a potentially fraudulent operation.
10.) Do not ever go to the North Star Lodge or recommend a friend to go there, and if playing with timeshares, be very, very cautious with RCI - Endless Vacation Rentals.