In today’s digital world there is no question how important your company’s website is. It is often the first time a prospective customer, partner or employee learns about your organization and either decides to engage further or move on. A quality website builds trust; it’s the vehicle that showcases your expertise, values and culture. It needs to accurately detail your products or services, and clearly communicates your brand promise. Whether you’re refreshing your current site or building a new one (or haven’t yet, but need to), here are seven tips to ensure your next website hits the mark.
1) Make Sure Messaging Reflects Your Company – Every page, paragraph and sentence of your website should reflect your company’s brand. Content should be a representation of your mission, goals and overall persona. Most important your site needs to resonate with your target audiences. Developing a website presents the perfect opportunity to assess your messaging by audience and make sure it is up to date. If you think it needs refreshing, it may be time to hold a messaging session to formulate concrete pillars before planning your new site.
2) Make It Easy to Navigate – How will your customers interact with your site? What are they looking for, and how can you make it easy for them to find it? This is another instance where it’s critical to understand customer needs. Look to personas you have built. Assess your Google Analytics for existing top visited pages. Look to resources like Answer the Public and Ubersuggest to see what people are searching on. Once on a company’s homepage, 86 percent of visitors want to see information about that company’s products/services, followed by that company’s contact information (64 percent) and “about us” information (52 percent) (Source: KoMarketing). Many people also visit a site’s “news” page to get a quick read on new developments at the company. So make sure it’s prominent. These insights will be critical in building out your navigation plan and wireframes based on customer needs. Also, SEO research is important to build up the list of key words that you will use in page titles and copy to help prospects find you on Google in the first place.
3) Make It Mobile – Between December 2013 and December 2015, tablet internet consumption grew by 30 percent, and smartphone internet consumption grew by 78 percent. (Source: comScore). Today, every company must have a site that is responsive. Google basically demands it, and so do your customers. Make sure your site works well across mobile devices and includes links to helpful information. And contact info such as an email or telephone number should be easy to access with the tap of a thumb.
4) Set a Realistic Timeline – While we all wish we could successfully build and launch a site within days, there is a lot of planning, programming, writing and testing that goes into it. Realistic development, from start to finish, planning to quality assurance, typically takes anywhere from three to six months. Plan your website launch date accordingly and give yourself a cushion in case you hit a few speedbumps along the way. It is always better to have more time to program and edit content as opposed to rushing these important steps, and risking mistakes, in order to meet an unrealistic deadline.
5) Ensure Great Aesthetics – Given 15 minutes to consume content, most (two-thirds of) people prefer to read something beautifully designed versus plain (Source: Adobe). The process of selecting images, color scheme, typeface can be fun, yet frustrating. Images – whether you decide to go with royalty-free, original art or photographs – add life to a site, can build a theme, and enable you to speak to your brand without words. But here’s the hard part – everybody likes something different. Be flexible, limit the number of decision-makers and lean on your website team to make recommendations.
6) Capture Leads or Information – Some companies spend countless resources driving prospective customers to their site, only to fail at capturing a lead. Odds are that prospects may never return to your site. This challenge can be solved by creating an opt-in offer that will appeal to your site visitors. It can be valuable content, a demo, newsletter subscription or special offer or discount. Or maybe it’s a short survey to gauge sentiment. The key, make sure you create ways to capture information from the visitors you worked so hard to drive to your site.
7) Choose the Right Team – The best team is often a combination of in-house and outsourced specialists. Partners might include a good PR team to develop messaging and content, a talented graphic artist, and an experienced web development team. You’ll be working closely, so it’s important to select members that understand your business/industry and have a clear idea of the type of brand image your company is trying to convey. Look for a team that has experience, asks a lot of questions and provides recommendations based on what is trending in your industry and the latest in styles and navigation schemes. Request samples of recently completed sites to see if their approach and aesthetics appeals to you and can translate for your business. But also keep in mind, the website examples will be of another business and they have personal likes/dislikes. So, look beyond color and image choices for the overall design expertise and solid content writing.
In creating your new web site, you want to make it easy for prospects to find and navigate your domain and understand your business. It’s often not a simple process to get there, but with the right planning, positioning, resources, knowledge and team, you can end up with an end product that achieves your goals and you are really proud of.
Check out these recent web sites Clearpoint has worked on for SynteractHCR, Interpreta, CUSO Financial Services/Sorrento Pacific Financial, CULA and contact us to learn how we can help you.
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When we get new business inquiries at Clearpoint Agency we often find the potential client is trying to decide between hiring a large agency or a smaller PR agency. We firmly believe that organizations get the best “bang for the buck” when using a small firm. Here’s why:
1) No Account Team Bait-and-Switch
This is a real pet peeve of mine. My business partner and I once worked together at a larger firm. The process there: land the client with the senior team, hand them off to an account executive after initial meetings, then pass them off to a junior team member to manage and put on auto pilot. We’ve even heard from people that work at larger firms that they are happy when they actually keep a client for more than a year with this churn and burn process. That’s their goal! It works because the senior team is skilled at catching the client and the junior team is inexpensive, all of which works for the agency’s profitability. At a boutique agency, there is no “hand off” – you work with the same dedicated team you met in initial meetings.
2) More Focus on Client Needs Rather Than “Feeding” the Large Agency Team
Here’s the truth: when you sit down with that large team from different departments at the large agency, they are there for a reason – finding ways to grow your account. And the crazy thing is, you probably are paying those agency team members in billable hours to ask you questions or listen in on meetings to find more agency programs to pitch to you.
At a boutique agency, the focus of meetings is to accomplish the agreed upon scope of work. Does the smaller agency want to grow the business over time? Of course. But it’s more of an organic approach to meet client needs rather than a mission to get the monthly fees higher and higher and feed the large agency staff. #truth
3) Small PR Agencies are Agile
If you are looking for an agency team that will respond quickly and creatively to a challenge or an opportunity, go with the smaller team. With larger agencies, clients will experience more layers of communication. Bigger teams typically mean more processes, layers and bottlenecks. This slows down projects, curtails creativity and limits results. We find clients are looking for agency teams that can quickly assess situations, recommend novel approaches and get it done! The flat management structure of smaller PR firms enable them to react quickly and effectively without the typical levels of bureaucracy that slow reaction times at larger agencies.
4) Be a Big Fish in a Small Pond
Boutique firms have fewer clients, which means they have a more concentrated focus on their clients and their clients’ goals. This is of tremendous value to companies that have complicated products and services, and need focused, thoughtful effort. Being one of 10 clients feels much different than being one of several dozen, especially if you are one of the smaller clients on a limited budget. Who do you think gets the A-team at a large agency – the big client or smaller client? At a boutique firm, the entire team is usually the A-team. The smaller agency has fewer clients, making each one very important to them.
5) A True Extension of Your Team
When you hire an agency, it should be an exercise of extending your marketing team’s talents and range of resources, not just hiring a vendor. An experienced smaller firm can provide the strategic counsel you need along with the talent to pitch stories, write content, plan promotions and more. Nothing beats picking up the phone to call your agency contact and hearing “We’re on it!” knowing the work will be done, and more importantly, done well. A smaller firm becomes an extension of your internal team and knows your goals hands-down.
6) Work with People You Like . . . and Trust
Finding the right agency is a little like dating. There’s plenty of chemistry involved. It’s important to ensure there is a good personality fit and that you will enjoy working with the team. A smaller firm gives you the ability to get to know part or most of the team in the pitch phase. Is there a sense of trust? Maybe even a few laughs in the initial meetings? That’s a good sign. And since you’ll most likely be working with the team that is pitching your business, you can gauge if there will be a good working chemistry that will foster a stellar work product. A genuine and favorable working relationship leads to a long lasting and trusting business relationship.
7) Value. Period.
Believe it or not, often the only difference between a large agency charging $15,000 a month and small agency charging $7,000 a month is the $8,000 (I know my friends in PR are nodding their heads after reading this.) Leadership at smaller firms is talented enough to run their own business, often starting their firms after learning the ropes at larger ones. They bring the same tactics, contacts and best practices to their agencies at much lower fees. This means you get experienced, senior talent at lower rates. And who doesn’t want that?
This blog was contributed by Clearpoint Agency President, Bonnie Shaw
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The start of a new year brings New Year’s resolutions, new beginnings and new goals. And the beginning of a new year is also an opportunity to reflect on the previous year’s public relations successes and missteps.
If you find that you were just shy of reaching your communications goals in 2016, either because they were not specific enough or too ambitious, check out our end-of-the-year PR checklist below. Use it to help guide your PR strategies for the upcoming year.
Evaluate Competitors – Have your PR team perform a competitor communications analysis to identify the various tactics your competitors use in their PR and communication programs. Take a deep dive to see if they are doing anything unique and analyze what seems to be working for them or not. Most importantly, look for areas of missed opportunities. By analyzing your competitors, you can find ways to differentiate and more effectively position your brand.
Review Messaging – Does your messaging still resonate with your audiences? Have your messages changed overtime? If you think your messaging needs refreshing, it may be time to hold a messaging session. As your company grows and changes, your messaging will as well. It is important that your messaging stays current to ensure that all PR deliverables – press releases, social media posts, website content, whitepapers, conference materials and more – are in sync and consistent with what you want to communicate to your publics. Look for your use of jargon and overused phrases. Work to develop messaging that clearly communicates the compelling benefits of working with you and how you solve challenges. Make sure your messaging is as unique as your organization is.
Analyze Social Media – Examine your social media channels to see what type of posts resonate with your audiences. Consider updating your social media strategy to coincide with your messaging.
Social media is constantly changing. What is trending one day may change the next. It’s critical that you understand which social media platforms your audience uses most and what content results in solid engagement. Once you have reviewed your social media, create a new social media plan and calendar for the new year. Focus on goals you want to accomplish with social moving forward.
Update Website – Similar to social media, website trends continually change – everything from navigation to design to mobile capability, and everything else in between. We recommend refreshing your website at least once every two years. It is also important to update your website content to be concise, well written, and on target with your messaging. Look at your images and headlines. Sometimes just changing out the images and adjusting headlines can freshen up your website between major revamps.
Set Goals – Work with your PR team to determine communications goals for the forthcoming year. What are the most important things you need to communicate to your publics? Is there a challenge or opportunity you must address? Are there more creative ways of telling your brand’s story? Did you land the kind of earned media you wanted to over the past year? Did your press releases tell a story over time? What kind of content do we need to create? Ask yourself these types of questions and develop a set of goals, and at by this time next year, you will have a way to measure your communications success.
From everyone at Clearpoint Agency, we wish you a happy and prosperous new year!
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When you hear the words pitching, hit and home run, the first thing that probably comes to mind is baseball. But after working for a PR firm and spending many of my summer nights and weekends at the ballpark, I have come to realize baseball and PR have many parallels.
Teamwork – Both Baseball and PR are team efforts. Whether you are bouncing ideas off each other during a brainstorming session, pooling talents to develop a winning PR strategy, or making a double play, baseball and PR heavily rely on good communication, camaraderie and collaboration.
Pitching – An experienced pitcher in baseball can determine the best pitch to strike the batter out or walk him to first. Similarly, effective media pitching can either make or break an effective PR program. Landing great media hits is a way to increase your client’s exposure and ensures their message is heard or seen by a broader audience. If you do not effectively pitch, the lack of media coverage gives competitors the opportunity to hit a “home run” by landing coverage and getting ahead in the game.
Home runs – A home run in the PR world can mean a number of things – securing a big media hit, winning an award or organizing a successful event. Just like a home run in baseball, home runs in PR take patience, skill and a bit of luck.
Every hit counts – In baseball, every hit matters, and that is also the case when it comes to media hits. Earning a media hit, no matter the size of the publication, gets your client’s name out to create awareness and inform target audiences. Having a strong foundation of media coverage builds credibility and leads to those big “home run” hits, too.
Pause and “stretch”– When you work on a PR project, pitch or proposal for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to pause before submitting the final version. Just like the “seventh inning stretch” in baseball, getting up from your desk to stretch your legs, going outside for some fresh air, and pausing to get a new perspective on your PR game all lead to better results. You will be amazed to see what a fresh pair of eyes and break from your screen can unveil in something you were staring at for hours.
Whether your home run takes place on a baseball field or in the PR world, one thing is certain: a good baseball player or PR pro can always knock it out of the park if they employ teamwork, patience, skill, and recognize a lucky break when they see it, too.
This blog was contributed by Clearpoint Agency Social Media and Digital Media Coordinator, Nikki Sachman.
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It is crazy to think that just one year ago I was preparing to graduate from college and embark on the scariest journey there is: adulthood.
Since I graduated, I have learned that your online presence is something that has tremendous impact on how potential employers and recruiters perceive you. It can either work in your favor when you are on the job hunt or potentially hurt you.
According to a 2015 Jobvite survey, 92 percent of recruiters use social media as a factor during the recruiting process. So even if you are the perfect candidate for the job on your resume, one misspelling in a Tweet or one inappropriate tagged Facebook photo can make the difference between an employer selecting you or the next candidate.
Below are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to your social media presence and recruitment:
- Do have a high-quality headshot on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network and your headshot is the first impression employers will have of you. Make sure to wear business attire and look polished. Some professional organizations hold headshot events where they will provide professional headshots at a discounted price. This is a great way to snap the perfect picture and network at the same
- Do engage in online conversation. Know what’s currently trending and appropriately join in the conversation. Whether you are tweeting with a trending hashtag or posting a news article on Facebook, showing you are up-to-date on current events or what’s on trend in your chosen field is seen as a positive among most recruiters.
- Do double check your grammar and spelling before posting anything on social media. Even though the majority of us use our mobile devices to manage our social networks, make sure you proofread your tweet or comment before sharing. According to Jobvite, 72 percent of recruiters viewed grammar and spelling errors negatively. And really who wouldn’t?
- Do make sure the information on all of your profiles is consistent. According to an April Entrepreneur article, inconsistencies in your social media profiles are the number one reason to be rejected from a job. Make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are exactly the same.
- Don’t forget to keep your LinkedIn profile updated. A 2015 Society of Human Resource Management study found that 57 percent of companies hired using LinkedIn. Try to keep it as up-to-date as possible. Include your work experience and a summary. Also, try and “vamp” up your profile and upload your resume and work samples, list organizations you are involved in and ask professionals to write recommendations for you.
- Don’t share posts involving alcohol, drug consumption or profanity. This may seem like a no brainer, but you would be surprised what some people will post. According to the Jobvite survey, more than half of recruiters viewed alcohol and drug consumption negatively. So you may want to make sure the camera stays away on the nights you feel like “letting loose.”
- Don’t post something you would not want your grandmother to see. This is just a personal rule of mine, but if you are having seconds thoughts about typing that angry status update or posting that picture from your Las Vegas trip, step back and ask yourself, “Do I want grandma seeing this?” If the answer is yes, feel free to post, but if you are even somewhat hesitate, it may be best to hit the delete button.
- Don’t ask a professional if there are any job openings on social channels. Instead of asking point blank for a job, try connecting with them on LinkedIn and message them to ask if they have time for an informational interview. This could lead to other networking opportunities and they may even keep you in mind when a position becomes available.
So go ahead, start posting, or in some cases deleting, posts on your social media profiles. Social media can help you make a good impression on those recruiters!
This blog was contributed by Clearpoint Agency Social Media and Digital Media Coordinator, Nikki Sachman.
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The expression “timing is everything” could not be more true when it comes to posting on social media. It’s one thing to create fresh and exciting content, but what’s the point of posting something if your audience is not seeing it? Posting content at the right time, on the right day, and on the right platform can make all the difference between comments, clicks and shares, to no engagement all.
However, the best days and times to post do vary across all social media platforms. Below, we created an infographic and listed some tips and guidelines when it comes to the best days and times to post on social media:
We’ve found the best days to post on Facebook are later in the week, with the highest engagement rates occurring on Thursday and Friday. The Huffington Post found the optimal time of the day to post is in the afternoon from 1 – 4 p.m.
According to Quick Sprout, content that is posted at 1 p.m. will get the most shares, while 3 p.m. will give you the most clicks. In general, if you post during the 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. time frame you will still receive higher engagement than posts posted before work or later in the evening.
- Best days to post: Thursday and Friday
- Best times to post: 1 – 4 p.m.
- Most shares: 1 p.m.
- Most clicks: 3 p.m.
- Broad timeframe to post: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Since LinkedIn’s audience is predominantly professionals, and used for networking and business status updates, the best days to post are during the core of the workweek – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. LinkedIn is the “professional” social network so it makes sense that an Elle & Co. study discovered optimal times to post can be from 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m., just before lunchtime, and 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. Just as people check LinkedIn before their workday begins, are getting ready to break for lunch, or as they wrap-up for the day.
According to the Huffington Post, posting on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. -11 a.m. can be the “sweet spot” for status updates, and will get a high number of clicks and shares. Avoid posting on LinkedIn from 10 p.m. – 6 a.m. and on weekends.
- Best days to post: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
- Best times to post: 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. – 11 a.m., and 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.
- Most engagement: Tuesdays from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Audience is key when it comes to timing your tweets. According to Buffer, B2B organizations get higher clicks and retweets on Twitter during the workweek, with Wednesday having the highest click-through rates. However, B2C related tweets seem to perform better on the weekends. To get a maximum number of retweets, the Huffington Post suggests to tweet from 12 – 5 p.m., with around 5 p.m. being the most optimal.
- Best day to tweet for B2B: Weekdays; Wednesdays have higher click-through rates
- Best day to tweet for B2C: Weekends
- Best time to tweet: 12 – 5 p.m.
So the next time you are planning your social strategy, give the day and time some thought. It just might make the difference between posting to an abyss or getting clicks, retweets and likes.
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It’s 2:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, and your public relations rep calls to let you know that she’s secured a local TV news segment for you to go on camera and promote your expertise. And the segment is in two days. Your head spins. What do you have to do? Is there a lot of prep work? How long will it take? Where are TV segments even filmed?
We get it. It can be a lot. But when you have a good PR agency, they’ll make the process easy and fun so that you can enjoy your time in the spotlight.
Let’s take a behind-the-scenes look at what you can expect during your time in the limelight.
- Your PR agency has already done a lot of the legwork for you. They’ve found the right producer or booker at the station and pitched the idea, and once they secured interest, they made sure that their contact has your accurate name, title, website, and a summary of your main talking points. That way, the TV production team can prepare in advance for how long the segment will be, how it will be shot, and where it fits into the program.
- Your briefing sheet will be your guide. Your PR agency should send you a briefing sheet with logistical information (arrival time, on-air time, directions, contact phone numbers), your main talking points and key messages, and background details about the reporter or anchor who will be interviewing you.
- The extra preparation on your appearance pays off. Attention to your overall appearance will pay off on camera and make you feel super confident. Dress conservatively. If you wear anything distracting on TV, people will remember that and not much of what you say. Dress in a simple, under-stated manner, unless you are a fashion designer, artist or trend setter. Avoid wearing white, black or red head to toe. White glows and becomes the most noticeable thing on the TV screen. Black is too harsh and can suck up all the light, and create a blob effect. Reds bleed on camera and are distracting. Television cameras love blue, making that color a good bet for your attire.
- Practice makes perfect! After you receive the briefing details, your PR rep will schedule a media training meeting or role-playing conference call with you. They’ll prepare you by providing you with potential questions and guiding you through the process of how to give concise, thoughtful answers. Since you only have a few minutes to convey your main points, it’s essential to have a plan for weaving your key messages into the conversation.
- The day you’re on air will be a breeze. All you have to do is share your expertise!Since you’ve prepared in advance, the “hard” part is over. On the day of your TV segment, you’ll be instructed to arrive about 45 minutes early. You’ll have time to meet the producer, chat with the reporter who will be interviewing you, and enjoy some downtime to relax and review your talking points one last time. Your PR agency contact will join you to make sure that everything runs smoothly and to coordinate any last-minute details, as well as to provide moral support!
- It will all be over in the blink of an eye! Most TV appearances last less than two hours from arrival time to the completion of filming. You’ll likely be on-camera anywhere from two to five minutes. In some instances, the TV crew will want to film multiple segments in one day and air them throughout the program, but each will last only a few minutes.
- Your TV appearance will lend you lasting credibility. Video clips featuring you and your company are great promotional tools. After the segment, the TV station will usually post the clip of it online so that you can share it with your customers, colleagues, family, and friends. Your PR agency can also purchase a video clip so that you have it for your records and can promote it for years to come on your website and with potential customers.
Being on TV can seem nerve wracking, but remember: you’re the expert. Talk to the reporter as if he or she is a friendly client. As long as you practice with your PR team and give concise, informative answers, you’ll be viewed as a reputable source, you’ll come away with a useful marketing tool, and hopefully, you’ll be invited back as a regular guest!
Have any additional questions about broadcast interviews? Leave a comment below and we’ll address your concerns.
This blog was contributed by Amanda Whitlock and updated by Clearpoint Agency staff.
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Public relations, social media and digital marketing agency has been recognized by PRSA, Health Care Communicators of San Diego County, and PR Daily over its 13-year history
SAN DIEGO – Oct. 27, 2015 – Clearpoint Agency, Inc., a public relations and digital marketing firm, received three awards at last week’s San Diego Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Edward L. Bernays Awards. The agency continues its winning streak, having received peer-reviewed Bernays awards for every year in which it has entered the competition. To date, the agency has earned a total of 32 industry awards since opening its offices in 2002.
“Bernays Awards are earned by organizations that performed exemplary public relations work during the past year,” said Amber Albrecht, APR, president of PRSA San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter. “The awards are challenging to win because the judges are not familiar with the nominees and must critique the work completely on its own merits against work completed by PR teams of all sizes and budgets. Year after year, Clearpoint Agency proves its ability to create exemplary communications programs, earning them awards.”
At this year’s Bernays event, the Silver Mark of Excellence award for integrated communications was presented to Clearpoint for the integrated program for AleSmith Brewing Company, an award-winning craft brewery based in San Diego. As the brewery celebrated 20 years and opened a new brewing facility, Clearpoint created messaging, generated public awareness with significant earned national media, assisted with fundraising concepts, created mascot themes, and ensured the entire strategy from media relations to events was integrated and on track. This is the third time Clearpoint has earned the Silver award for integrated communications programs.
The second award Clearpoint earned was a Bronze Mark of Excellence in speech writing for SynteractHCR. The award-winning speech, entitled “Tomorrow’s Treatments Today,” focused on the opportunities and challenges in bringing new drugs and therapies to the patients who need them and was delivered by a President Obama look-alike at the company’s Washington DC reception for clients and media. This is the fifth award Clearpoint has earned for its work with SynteractHCR. Past awards include business-to-business marketing, website writing and rebranding, overall public relations campaign for rebranding, and internal communications.
The third award was a Bronze Mark of Merit for social media campaign strategies for Zodiac Pool Systems, a global leader in pool and spa product manufacturing. Clearpoint took a fresh approach to Zodiac’s social media to present Zodiac as a fun, approachable and knowledgeable brand. Clearpoint created social campaigns including a 12 Days of Christmas campaign based on Zodiac Pool products, and a “Did you Know?” educational series to increase engagement, followers, “likes,” and fans. This is the fifth PRSA award Clearpoint has earned for its work with Zodiac. Clearpoint was previously awarded for research and evaluation, integrated communications, and social media strategy and management for the pool product manufacturer.
“Every year, the PRSA Bernays submission process challenges our team to examine our creativity, strategy and skills as PR professionals in an ever-changing industry,” said Clearpoint Agency President Bonnie Shaw. “To submit your work and have others in your profession say it’s award-worthy is extremely meaningful to our team. We are honored to be recognized by the PRSA year after year.”
The annual Bernays Awards are open to all agencies and organizations in San Diego and Imperial counties and recognize the finest in public relations campaigns, professionals and elements in a range of categories.
See a complete list of Clearpoint’s award-winning projects here: http://clearpointagency.com/index.php/awards/.
About Clearpoint Agency, Inc.
For more than 13 years, Clearpoint Agency has developed award-winning PR, social media and marketing communications programs for B2B and B2C clients in technology, consumer products, financial and professional services, manufacturing and biotech industries. From strategy and content development to media relations and social media, the experts at Clearpoint’s team have the experience to generate buzz for your brand and creatively communicate your message to target audiences.
Website: www.clearpointagency.com Twitter: @ClearpointPR Facebook: ClearpointPRAgency
LinkedIn: Clearpoint Agency Blog: Clear View
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When I was younger, I never really understood the point of public relations. The first time it was described to me, I thought it was a more upscale and esoteric version of advertising, with the occasional writing task and a lot of PowerPoint presentations. With that uninformed perspective, of course, I thought it sounded easy. But as I grew up and eventually started working at Clearpoint Agency, my prejudgment of the industry was replaced with immense respect for it. According to the Public Relations Society of America, “public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Although people say they understand it, I still hear people confusing public relations with other professions or dismissing it altogether. With that, I want to dispel a few misconceptions people often hold for public relations and hopefully give some perspective on what PR professionals do (I’ll tell you right now, it’s a lot more than just PowerPoint presentations).
Not just a cubicle job
There is always one question people ask when you tell them you work in an office: what do you actually do all day? Stereotypes from Office Space and The Office make people think every office job consists of sitting in a cubicle, endless memos, countless water cooler breaks, and more slow days than full work days. But working at a PR office is not a normal office job; actually, working in a PR office is hard to compare to any job. It’s like the beach: a wave of tasks come in, leaving you to dive into work, and as soon as you come up for air there’s another wave (and occasionally, a break between swells). Even if you go to shore, sometimes the tide is still high enough to reach you. Essentially, work at a PR agency is continuous and ever changing, which makes it varied and interesting. And if a client needs something completed, whether we are at the office or away, we get it done!
If you like sameness, PR is not for you
At a PR agency, day-to-day projects are never the same. You will spend some days pitching journalists, drafting social media posts, or creating media lists; however, most days you will spend doing all three, along with many more unique tasks. Unless you work at a specialized agency, most of your clients will have different expectations for your work. Sure, the process of writing a press release is similar every time, but the subject matter depends on your client’s audience and brand. Our job is to represent our clients, to build the reputation they want. Of course, we provide input when necessary, but we do not make decisions for our clients, as some might assume. PR pros carve the story, present compelling arguments and communicate to target publics.
“I’m a people person”
Along similar lines, prospective PR employees often qualify themselves for PR based on their people skills. After all, the term “public relations” ought to suggest a fair amount of relating to the public. However, PR is a grossly hybrid occupation. It involves social skills in addition to writing proficiency and time management among other things.
Social skills go beyond “being good with people.” At a PR agency especially, it means thinking strategically, handling criticism and being a diplomat. Every piece of original content is read at least twice and edited accordingly to ensure it matches the client’s brand and goals. People who cannot take criticism (or worse, cannot criticize constructively) do not last long in the PR business. Most accounts require work from multiple types of people, meaning there is a decent amount of teamwork involved with PR. We communicate with clients, journalists, other agencies, and coworkers on a regular basis, not just when we feel like talking, to maintain clarity between the many people involved with the business process.
PR practitioners are writers
Still, social competency does not alone make you good at public relations. Many of the services we provide our clients (press releases, website management, media relations, digital marketing, social media campaigns, etc.) require a strong writing ability. It’s not about being a clever writer who can use metaphors and rhetorical devices. It’s about clarity and making sure people understand our client’s message.
Time management is critical
While anyone can understand the merit of time management, most people do not recognize how much time creating relevant content takes. Contributed articles take hours of research, writing and editing. Even the process of creating a single Facebook post begins with a decent amount of research. PR agencies research trends and developments in their clients’ industries, which means looking at analytics from previous posts in addition to competitor and consumer posts. After finding the right content, it’s time to dress it up: proper wording, eye-catching imagery, hashtags, and buzzwords among others decide whether your post is seen at all (and even if it is, there is no guarantee).
The entire process for creating strong content often takes hours between research, writing, approvals and edits; and even then, most posts can’t gain a fraction of the attention generated by a single cat photo. In browsing sites like Facebook and Reddit every day, people have grown into “highlight snobs,” sometimes ignoring substantive posts and looking at content that has already generated volumes of attention based on a fad. Since PR firms create original content for their clients every day, they must adapt to this environment full of memes, trending topics, expectations and judgement in hopes of gaining exposure for their clients. Businesses sometimes hire PR agencies specifically for content generation and social media management because of strategic thought it requires and how time consuming it can be.
These are just a few of the many misconceptions about the public relations industry. It is not, as I once thought, a different form of advertising; nor is it a single-variable profession. Understanding the truth behind the myths will show you that public relations is an important element to communicating what an organization stands for and what it wants to communicate. I know my time at a PR firm has shown me the incredible value a good PR firm provides to its clients; a value not measured in dollars, but in sense.
This blog was contributed by Clearpoint Agency intern, Conner Shaw.
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Part 3: Develop an honest and meaningful image
When growing a business, the company’s image is one of the most important factors of its success. Many businesses might seem like copies of others, but each business has different members, products, or messages that make it unique. Twitter pages should project the image you visualize for your company.
In the world of business, presenting your image consistently equates to strong branding. If your business model suggests professionalism, do not try to be casual or overly humorous on your Twitter page. If you wouldn’t say something to a client or customer, then do not say it on Twitter. Ultimately, you decide on the message and brand you want to convey; unfortunately, getting that wrong can hurt your prestige as a business. You should know what your customers expect from you, and adjust your social media voice accordingly.
However, “business” does not mean “boring.” One advantage of Twitter is the natural liveliness that comes with using so few characters, and businesses should use that to their advantage. Even if you want to stay professional, posting fun articles and noting interesting events makes you look more personable. As long as your humor is not one-sided or insulting, it can be a powerful tool in gaining followers, and in turn, more business. Finding the right balance between professionalism and personality is like arranging a business-casual outfit: it gives you both a clean image and a sense of style.
Most importantly, though, make sure you respect other users and reciprocate. Twitter is a fun, fast moving tool that can lead you to more business and more contacts. If you re-tweet someone’s post, make sure to respectfully acknowledge them; they will appreciate the acknowledgement and might return the favor later. Respond professionally to direct messages and other comments, too. Don’t start debates with others or argue about issues unrelated to your business. These tips might seem self-explanatory, but so many people forget how public Twitter is. If you choose not to follow the above guidelines, people will notice, and they will mention it either publically or privately.
Hopefully, these tips for Twitter success leaves you more confident about managing a Twitter account for your business. Following these guidelines will help you grow your social media presence, and prevent you from becoming a Twitter stereotype.
These tips were inspired by the articles 50 Tweetable Twitter Tips You Wish You Knew Years Ago and Twitter Tips for Beginners.
This blog was contributed by Clearpoint Agency intern, Conner Shaw.
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