Monday, September 28, 2009

Green, Organic, Local

There are so many trends getting everyone into frenzies! Even with the new opportunities social media creates, the PR bandwagon still gathers steam among those whose marketing follows a reactive rather than proactive tract.

(Insider Tip: Even some of the best businesses follow a reactive tract - it's my charge to anyone who reads this blog to try to find ways to alter reactive marketing tactics and make them proactive ones - you will reduce headaches, save money, and feel better - but it does require CHANGE!)

For a few years now, folks everywhere - especially in Vermont - have been all fired up about about being green, being organic, and being local.

Before I say anything else, I want you to remember one of the primary rules in marketing - "You can't be everything to everyone or you will be nothing to no one." (This is Rachel Carter PR language so it makes sense and isn't all confused my marketing mumbo jumbo.)

Think about this statement in lines with being green, organic, local.

Now chill out.

Pick ONE! What is most important to you and your clients/customers? Being green? Being organic? Or being local? Pick one and stick to it and focus on marketing and practices in line with the one you pick and don't get all sidetracked with everything else.

And when you see media stories about the others? Stop jumping on bandwagons and focus on the goals specific to your business instead of changing them because of what everyone else is doing. Listen to your customers for feedback, not what you read everywhere else.

For me I choose local. I do not have an organic garden and I do not buy organic specific food. I do not buy all green products and I am not building a green house. I do what I can - have a compost, recycle what I can and reuse a ton, buy recycled printer paper, and keep arts and crafts scraps to make my own.

But the local trend is one I have personally believed in long before it was cool and that is what I focus more and more on without jumping off the deep end. I garden and grow a lot of my own food and put it up for the rest of the year. I only work with Vermont businesses and organizations. I am having a locally themed wedding. I travel locally. I support local businesses and I make decisions based on supporting local businesses.


I am not a high fashion PR-ista. I am a corporate hippie. Driving into downtown Burlington to get my hair cut is completely ridiculous. So I found a hairdresser nearby. And one with a fabulous name - The Best Little Hair House in Hinesburg. Owned and operated by Andrea White the Hair House is in Andrea's home on Richmond Road and the salon encompasses two rooms that unite Vermont farmhouse charm with hair fashion and products. It's perfect! I got six inches chopped off and re-styled to my liking the last time I went in, making my hair a bit more manageable for the fall. Andrea's manageable prices have got me much more willing to consider being more adventurous with my long hair and her skills and personality have me quite comfortable to discuss style options and see where we might go!

If you live or work in the Charlotte, Hinesburg, Huntington, Monkton areas and are committed to buying local - walk your walk into The Best Little Hair House in Hinesburg! To make an appointment call 802-482-2948.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blog Promotion Case Study

How the Vermont Vibes Blog Got Famous...

Burlington Free Press (with syndication to outlets such as USA Today and, The Addison Eagle, The Charlotte Citizen, The Charlotte News, eight pages of Google hits, Pontiac Performance Magazine...

When I started my Vermont public relations business at the end of 2006, I did so in part because I wanted to freely explore the changing media landscape and see what I could do with it without the confines of working for an agency and having clients I did not personally chose on my own terms. So in the early spring of 2007, I started a few blogs - a Vermont music one which is now retired, this VT PR industry blog you are reading, and the Vermont Vibes Blog based on my already existent weekend jaunts around the state in my Pontiac Vibe - hence the name, although I was traversing the backroads of Vermont long before I had a Vibe. In fact friends of old will remember similar excursions in both high school and college.

I took the advice of other early bloggers and decided to write about my own personal interests - music, PR, and Vermont. I chose to do three because I was just starting my business so I had more time on my hands and because I wanted to test different blog/social media methods with the different blogs. Science experiment for the communication-minded.

The Vermont Vibes Blog - - has always been my favorite because it is so personal and as my life changed, it changed. I don't do quite as many traditional Vibing adventures as I did when I was single and first in a relationship. Now I am engaged and living at the "Charlotte Farmhouse" growing much of my own food and cooking like a chef. As my activities changed, so did those of the blog. As I head into Vermont wedding mode, the blog will evolve once again (get ready!).

It was interesting to get feedback (especially emails) from readers and learn how many people do indeed love the Vermont Vibes Blog. I learned that flatlanders who recently moved to Vermont found it an excellent way to connect with their new state and not feel so, well, flat. I learned as positive as I try to keep it, some of my friends really do not want to be on it. I learned my distant relatives use it as dinner conversation. I also learned (and continue to learn) the ins and outs of internet marketing and social media promotion and what applications have greatly increased the blog's internet presence.

As a PR professional, I know how powerful third party endorsements can be and spent a good year trying to connect with GM/Pontiac to get them to pay attention to what I was doing as it was a positive and free publicity effort to their benefit. Apparently they knew the Vibe was going down because they took quite a while to respond. But they finally did and hired local photographer, Andy Duback, to come out to Charlotte and do a photo shoot. The most recent Vermont Vibes post gives the insider's story to that photo shoot. I waited until the story came out in Pontiac Performance Magazine for a while and some of my favorite posts got passed by due to magazine deadlines and the LONG lead time of editorial. And when it came out I was wrapped up in one of my busiest Julys ever and decided to wait to promote the story until I could give it the attention it deserved.

At the end of August, I wrote and distributed a press release and a few weeks later, the stories started to come out. Between Burlington Free Press online syndications and the cover story on the Addison Eagle, not to mention hometown coverage in Charlotte, the Vermont Vibes Blog started to get quite a bit of traffic. And with that comes some trickle over traffic to this blog, especially from other interested marketing and PR folks, so I thought I'd let you all know how it came to be in my own version of a case study. Thankfully I don't have a boss to tell me I didn't do a case study right!

Thanks for reading both blogs and thank you everyone for your support. I really think social media is making the world a better place. Love and Light.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Presentation Tips

With all of the presentations I have been doing recently, I thought I would give some tips and insight into others doing presentations of their own. There are two reasons I love giving presentations and come across as a good presenter without too many flyaway nerves. The first is because I love what I am talking about. I love how social networking and media has revitalized public relations and I love sharing with folks in Vermont how they can more effectively market themselves. The second is because I was an honest drama queen in high school, trained singer and performer, and speech award winner back in my glory days. People who knew me then always wonder why I didn't continue with my singing and acting career - the truth is, I did. It's called owning and running a business and being in my own movie everyday. The presentations simply provide me with an outlet to perform.

That being said, I completely understand most people, unless they too were drama queens and kings in high school, find it completely frightening to give presentations. So, here are some tips to help try to calm your nerves:

1.) When speaking don't make eye contact until you are comfortable doing so, instead keep your gaze looking at the tops of people's heads - people will just think you are making eye contact with the person behind them and will pay attention more hoping that you will make eye contact with them.

2.) Have your technology set up well before and plan ahead so you are 100% sure it will be all set.

3.) Practice!!! Practice standing up, using hand gestures, moving your eyes and actually present and speak out load, not mumbling while looking over your notes around other people. If you are really brave, stand in front of a mirror.

4.) Pretend you are in a movie and everyone loves your character and is rooting for you to do a great job - I am not kidding - this works in all sorts of nerve-wracking situations!

5.) Add your personality into your presentation and plan an opener that shows your personality - it will help you relax and will help the audience relate to you and feel comfortable in your presence.

You Can Do It!!!