A Clear View: The Clearpoint Agency Blog

Clearpoint Agency Earns Three More Awards

Posted on October 27, 2015

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

Julie Willis


Posted in Branding, Marketing, Media Relations, News, Public Relations, Public Speaking, Social Media | Leave a comment

Misconceptions About Public Relations – An Insider’s Perspective

Posted on October 01, 2015

Hand drawn vector illustration icons set of digital marketing and media strategy doodles elements. Isolated on white background

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.

Posted in Public Relations, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Top 3 Tips to Make Your Company Twitter Account Sing: Part 3

Posted on July 23, 2015

Blue bird


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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Top 3 Tips to Make Your Company Twitter Account Sing: Part 2

Posted on July 15, 2015

Blue bird















Part 2: Attract followers with simple methods, but pay attention

Gaining Twitter followers takes time and effort. When first creating an account, the proportion streams you follow to followers is going to be high. If your page is six months old and that’s still the case, then you might need to make some strategic changes.


Your Twitter page should look up-to-date and clean. That means using a relevant profile picture, header image, and bio. To other businesses, you’ll look more professional; to consumers, you’ll look like a trustworthy brand. That’s really how you should look at your Twitter page: it’s your brand in the form of social media. Do not leave out the details people want to know about your business. Also, respond to other users when they mention you or comment on your posts. Just as you do with real-life business, sell yourself as credible on your Twitter page and back it up.


Once your page is ready, you want to follow other relevant Twitter accounts. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people follow accounts in seemingly random ways. The goal of following others on Twitter is to have them follow you back, not to look cultured or interested in everything. Look for relevant potential followers by searching keywords. Review what they are posting and how often they are posting to help determine if your company should follow them. Overly aggressive following strategies make businesses look desperate. Also, following too many people at once (around 100 in less than an hour is a good limit) makes Twitter think of you as a spam bot, meaning Twitter might block your page. That’s not good for business. Following new business leads is good for business, and the benefits range from growing your reputation to getting ahead of your competitors, according to Business 2 Community. A large commonality between social media and business is the need for connections.


After you follow these two steps, focus on the content of your tweets. Then, after a few weeks (two or three at most), check your progress. Hopefully, the pages you followed will return the favor. If not, then stop following them. As a business, chasing after people who are not interested in your brand is a waste of time. Social media is not about advertising to the general public, it is about connecting to specific people who want what you have to offer or want to hear what you have to say. In addition, unfollowing and refollowing pages makes you look like a stalker, and they will certainly notice. Just move on.

This blog was contributed by Clearpoint Agency intern, Conner Shaw. 

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Top 3 Tips to Make Your Company Twitter Account Sing: Part 1

Posted on July 08, 2015

If you’ve browsed personal Twitter feeds recently, you’ve likely encountered the stereotypical Twitter personas. Among others, there are those who tweet about seemingly every breath they take, those who never come up with anything original, those who try too hard to be funny or ironic, and those who treat their Twitter page like a neglected pile of clothes – something they’ll “get to when they feel like it.” Unsurprisingly, these personas also resemble common business personas found on Twitter; however, businesses following the above methods can encounter much more drastic effects. A sloppy social media stream can leave lasting detriments on a company’s image. Even worse, ignoring social media altogether might open the door for your competitors to build brand awareness where your brand is silent.

To help your business Twitter page build a positive persona and reputation, we are sharing a three-part series on our top tips to help your Twitter page sing a social media melody and compel more people to sing along. Here is Part 1:

Blue bird















Part 1: Create clean and effective tweets

Twitter gives users the tools to answer the question “What’s Happening?” as long as they follow the 140 character limitation. There are plenty of ways people can do this wrong, but let’s talk about what to do right:


First, use solid hashtags, but in moderation. Hashtags not only give your post some flair, but they also link your post to a nexus of other tweets posting about similar topics, therefore allowing more users to see your post when they search for the designated hashtag. Be careful though; #using #hashtags for #everything does not look #professional. Two to three effective hashtags (as in those that describe the purpose or content of your tweet) per post should be enough to get your message across without overwhelming other users. If you can, embed your hashtags within the body of the tweet to bring more attention to what you want users to see.


Next, include an image or video if you can. If you’re linking to an article or other news source, relevant images make your post stand out in a good way. Most of the time, articles will include an image that you can use for your own post. If you absolutely cannot fit an image into your tweet without taking away from the central message, then don’t include one. The goal of an image is to visually improve your message, and with Twitter’s limitation on words, the saying “pictures are worth a thousand words” applies and helps you say more in your tweet.


Finally, post often, but within reason. If you find yourself lacking the time to look for content on your own, re-tweet other posts relevant to your industry. As long as you credit the original poster, you’re engaging the community as if you found the content yourself (and you could potentially gain more exposure with the original poster’s followers). Use tools such as Hootsuite to help you schedule posts throughout your day rather than individually posting each tweet yourself. The worst Twitter page is a dead Twitter page; however, posting too much could leave your followers with overexposure effect. When you use Twitter for business, your followers are also your customers and peers within your industry. If those people grow tired of hearing about every new development every few minutes, you lose credibility. Just be smart about how often you post. The lifespan of a tweet is only a few hours, and the optimal number of tweets per day is about four to six.

This blog was contributed by Clearpoint Agency intern, Conner Shaw. 

Posted in Blog, Social Media | Leave a comment

How to Complain on Social Media to Get What You Want!

Posted on May 11, 2015

By Clearpoint Agency President, Bonnie Shaw


Our PR and digital marketing firm manages a number of brands on social media, and customer support has become an important part of good social media management. We respond to any negative comments and complaints posted on our clients’ social media channels, most often its on Facebook, Twitter and Yelp. Our goals: respond quickly, decipher the problem and propose a solution.

But it amazes me that some people just don’t know how to complain in a manner that actually gets them what they want faster. So here are some Do’s and Don’ts to effectively complain on social media and get what you want.

businessman yelling through a megaphone


  • Don’t post over the weekend, late at night or during a holiday expecting rapid response. The social media manager who is monitoring the account is human and most likely is not at work during off hours and weekends. Expect delays in response to your weekend comments.
  • Don’t post a general complaint like “this product stinks,” or “I’m disappointed,” etc. Give specifics calmly and politely for quickest results.
  • Don’t rant on and on. Be succinct. It’s tough for the human at the other end to read tons of text to decipher what the problem is and how they might be able to help. It might make you feel better to get it off your chest, but the truth is it makes is more difficult to interpret. Be concise and outline your general complaint and a possible way to resolve.
  • Don’t use expletives, put downs or sarcastic phrases. Most sites have a policy that any comments containing foul or abusive language will be flagged, reported or simply deleted. Most over the top comments will most likely be hidden on Facebook (meaning only you and your friends can see them), deleted from Twitter or possibly deleted from the main post stream by Yelp, which might deem it questionable.
  • Don’t be mean. Remember the person on the other end of the post or call is a human being who probably didn’t invent or manufacture the product, or create the service policies. They are charged with helping you. When you get an email or call back from them, state your complaint calmly and succinctly, and then provide them with an opportunity to suggest a solution.


  • Do use the sandwich technique when you state your complaint. Say something positive about the brand in general or thank them for responding to you quickly (establishes goodwill and trust), concisely state your experience or complaint, provide a possible solution, and then tell them you appreciate the opportunity to outline your complaint. Believe me, this is the best way to get your complaint heard and resolved quickly.
  • Do give the company the benefit of the doubt. The brands we work with are sincere in their desire to make customers happy. They take pride in their products and services, and want to resolve customer complaints. So give them a chance to make things right. If they can’t refund all your money or provide a full replacement, ask if there are any other discounts or ways they might be able to help. Again, they want to make customers happy, but they have limits, too.
  • Do ask for a manager if you don’t feel you are not communicating well with the representative. But be aware that most companies have trained their representatives to do the best job possible and just speaking with a manager most likely won’t get your challenge solved any faster or more to your benefit.
  • Do be reasonable. If you owned your product for many years and it’s been out of warranty for a time, you most likely will not get your money back, no matter how much you complain. Be reasonable and look at the reality of the situation. But what a lot of companies might do with a reasonable customer is offer some parts to fix the problem, provide a discount on a future purchase, send a free sample, or provide a credit or free service for next time.
  • Do spread the love. If a brand has treated you right after a negative comment or complaint. Do thank them via social media. We get all kinds of positive comments after we address a complaint – “Customer service is not dead.” “I love X brand – they are there to help when I need it.” “Spoke with so and so and they were terrific. Thank you!” Comments like these reinforce the brand’s decision to resolve customer complaints and address comments publicly via social media.

I’m confident that if you follow these Do’s and Don’ts for complaining on social media you will find a fair resolution.

This blog was contributed by Clearpoint Agency President, Bonnie Shaw

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Lights, Camera, Action: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Broadcast Interview

Posted on February 17, 2015

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.
  • 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.


Christina Gustin KUSI_CP Blog

  • 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, Account Executive at Clearpoint Agency.

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Substance Or Style? 10 Things to Consider When Hiring a PR Firm

Posted on January 13, 2015

Businessman Choosing The Right Door

Working with a public relations firm can help your company generate buzz and differentiate against your competition, creating awareness of products and services as well as improving brand identity. A good PR firm will create messaging, develop a customized communications strategy, manage your corporate reputation, communicate with your audiences, pitch the media on your behalf, and even build loyalty with your audiences via social media. But how do you know that you are choosing the right PR firm? What questions should you ask when interviewing agencies? Here are 10 tips that will help you to navigate the process:

  • Clearly identify your goals before you start interviewing. When you are clear on what you want to achieve, it will be easier for you to indicate goals and expectations to the prospective agencies. They will be better able to define strategies and assess if they are even the right agency to pitch your business. If you are concerned that you may need to tell them about upcoming products or services that are, as of yet, not released for broad review, ask them to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Reputable PR firms will not hesitate to sign it, and they will be prudent in keeping your secrets.


  • What experience do they have? Some agencies are focused on B2B or B2C clients; others have had a mix of both – which is right for you? Do you need local, regional, national or international exposure? Look for an agency that has handled clients with similar needs. An agency doesn’t have to have had clients in exactly your same industry but they do need to know how to get up to speed quickly. Ask what methods they use to get an in-depth understanding of your market and competitors.


  • Can they write? Content is king – as Bill Gates said way back in 1996! In nearly 20 years since then, almost every company has become its own publisher. An agency that focuses only on media relations or social media won’t meet all your needs today. Ask to see samples of press releases, articles, websites, blogs and posts they have written. Do they follow AP-style guidelines? If they don’t know what that means, beware!


  • How current are they on social media and digital marketing? The world of communications evolves daily. An agency should be able to explain to you the various methods they use to develop relationships with your audiences and how they integrate all of those techniques to gain the most exposure. Integration and re-use of marketing and PR materials will get you the best bang for your buck, as the saying goes.


  • How do they pursue media coverage? Gaining media coverage, especially in print publications, is challenging. Your company must have the stories that will appeal to the editorial community and your agency must be persistent in pitching those stories. Ask them about their responsiveness and how they keep abreast of topics that the media might like to cover. Can they offer media training to your executives? What does it consist of? How does your PR team support your interviews? Can they handle a crisis? Look for a team that cares about your reputation just about as much as you do.


  • Is the chemistry good? This is a tricky one. Make sure that the primary contacts who will be working on your account are the ones you meet in the pitch. Then focus on substance over style – you’re not looking for the flashiest agency but one that understands your business, has a proven track-record, and cares about your success. We also think it’s important to have a team with a range of ages on your account – the senior members have strategic experience and business acumen, the younger ones have current technical skills and creative passion – when you get a mix of the two, you’ll have a more complete range of perspectives on your account.


  • Are collaboration and communication important to you? Assess what type of agency you want to work with – one that is very collaborative and becomes a close member of your marketing team or one that just takes your lead and executes it. Communicate that to the prospective team. Find out if their style matches yours. Ask how long their clients typically stay with them and look for an agency that has longer-term clients to know that they play well with others.


  • Do they have systems in place to maximize efficiency? Even a boutique firm needs to have enough established procedures to ensure efficiency. Ask about what they do to track your competitors, what tools they use for identifying appropriate reporters and for handling social media posts. What planning do they engage to ensure your budget is well-utilized? The directness and honesty with which they handle these types of questions will help you to know if you can work with them.


  • Is your budget realistic? Recognize that what an agency has to sell is its time and expertise. When you find an agency that has the contacts, the writing skills and the philosophy that provides what you need, ask what their typical client budgets are. You want to be running in the same ballpark with their other clients so you will get the time and attention your account deserves. While boutique agencies are often specialists at getting quite a bit done on modest budgets, they still need enough hours to think, plan and strategize so that the writing and pitching they do makes sense for your company – so give them a large enough budget to meet your goals.


  • How do they measure success? How much reporting is done often depends on the size of your budget because that is time spent on your account, too. Sending you clips of media coverage is only one measure and it is pretty typical. Some agencies do extensive activity reports; others keep those status reports short and put more time into the actual implementation of your activities. So check to see what reports they do as a standard matter of procedure. Then if you want additional reporting, plan the budget to accommodate it.


By assessing both “hard” and “soft” skills you will have a better chance of working with an agency that meets both your substance needs and style of operation. Remember that most agencies, even though they may require an annual contract, have a 30-60 day cancellation clause. The reason for this is twofold: one, it allows you to get out of a contract if you’re really not happy, and two, it gives the agency time to fix issues before you drop the relationship. Public relations success takes time and persistence to achieve, so, while you should see a flurry of activity pretty rapidly, expect results to increase over time. PR is a long term strategy that builds momentum over the course of months, not weeks.

This blog was contributed by Beth Walsh, Vice President at Clearpoint Agency.

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The Five Easiest Things You’re NOT Doing for Better SEO

Posted on November 26, 2014

Business Strategy With Seo Concept

Those in the know, know two things about search engine optimization (SEO) – 1) it’s critical to any business that wants more website traffic, and 2) it is constantly evolving. With Google rolling out new algorithms and consistently updating versions of those algorithms, understanding what to do and what not to do is challenging.

What is the first thing you do when searching for a service or product? You Google it and see what comes up with organic search first. So does everyone else. A strong SEO strategy will increase your chances of showing up in the first few pages of results.

Here are a few basic steps you can take to ensure your content is optimized and your audience is finding your site –

1. Keywords: Research what keywords are best to attract the readers you want. There is a lot of competition for certain keywords, so it’s wise to spend some time doing keyword research. Once you have identified keywords that are relevant to your brand, use them originally and naturally. Search engines look for engaging, well-written and authoritative content. Any content written specifically to use a high volume of keywords will actually be punished in search – so don’t just stuff your content with keywords! It’s also important to be consistent with these keywords whenever you are sharing that piece of content on social channels and to always link back to your website.

2. Images! Images! Images! Compelling images appeal to readers, and because images drive more traffic to your website, the time you spend creating or finding the right image is time well spent. Include original images or pics in blogs, Facebook posts and tweets whenever you can. If you don’t have great original images, use a stock image site for easy access to images.

3. Use SEO Plugins: Most content management systems offer free or inexpensive SEO plugins. Don’t ignore them. Here are a variety of plugins for the popular WordPress platform. When used correctly, these SEO tools will guide you towards the best search strategies. Keep an eye out for using your keywords in META tags, title tags and on your webpages, too. This is an area where SEO tools really help beginners!

4. Leverage Social Media: Share your content on all of your social channels. Search engines favor social content. Using multiple social media platforms expands the reach of your content, and when that is paired with an engaging message and image, it encourages sharing. When yourcontent gets shared it drives more traffic to your site. When you get more traffic to your site, search engines reward you with a higher SEO ranking; it’s that simple. Just be sure to customize for each social channel. Expand that 140 character tweet for Facebook and Google – but not too much. Wordy posts can seem daunting for busy social audiences.

5. Talk to a PR pro – We have covered just the basics of SEO here. For a more in-depth explanation and approach to SEO, seek advice from a PR firm that understands the nuances of digital marketing. The good firms are adept at telling your story AND developing content that will drive the right traffic to your website.

SEO is tricky, but the tips above are a good way to at least get started improving the search engine ranking of your website. There are many other ways to boost your SEO. Understanding search is critical to your digital marketing mix, and ignoring it could mean losing customers to your competitors. Paying attention to SEO will most certainly pay off with more clicks, customers and currency!

This blog was contributed by Ryan Sabatini, Account Coordinator at Clearpoint Agency.

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#CRISIS: How social media can save the reputation of your business

Posted on October 08, 2014

Social media has fundamentally changed the way we do business by giving voice to millions of consumers in instantaneous, global (and very public) communications networks that operate around the clock. The speed and intimacy characteristic of new communications models like Facebook and Twitter have forced reputation from the number three to the number one ranked strategic risk currently facing large companies  And with good reason.

Fifty percent of the public now cites the Internet as a main source for national and international news (Pew Research Center, 2013) far outpacing traditional sources like newspaper and radio. Businesses no longer have the luxury of time to prepare their responses to criticism or crisis. Simply put: today’s public relations practitioners must be prepared to put out a fire in 140 very crafty characters to proactively mitigate reputational damage.

The good news is that there are ways to prepare  and proactively control a crisis using social media. Here’s how:

  1. Don’t hide. Digital silence is conspicuous. Social media offers a unique opportunity to publically address consumers in real time – use it meaningfully.
  2.  Plan for crisis. There’s no need to pre-script tweets and status updates, but the tone and timing of your online strategy should be discussed and integrated into your existing crisis communications plan ahead of time. Bonus: Advance planning gives you the luxury of being able to run your ideas by your legal team, making it even easier to determine exactly what your response can and cannot say.
  3.  Be quick, but don’t rush. Benjamin Franklin must have been dreaming of the Twitterverse when he said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”  Don’t allow the speed of social media to force an ill-crafted or rushed response you’ll regret. You can’t take it back.
  4. Be human. Digiorno’s new media team, lauded in the past for their savvy, apologized with a personal tweet to each and every user who noticed that they had mistakenly weighed in on the anti-domestic violence hashtag #WhyIStayed with an inappropriate tweet (AdWeek, 2013). Although it must have taken the company hours to respond to each individual user, it made the brand appear human, which made the mistake easier to understand.
  5. Use your newfound #ALSIceBucketChallenge prowess. Among the many takeaways from the now famous #ALSIceBucketChallenge, one is that it is possible for even the largest of companies to capitalize on a 24-hour turnaround. Crisis plans are bogged down with cumbersome top-down approval processes that just don’t make sense in social media. Develop a process for getting your tweets and status updates approved in the quickest way possible, while keeping in mind who needs to see each message.
  6. Assign a social media gatekeeper who can pivot gracefully. Most crisis management plans outline not just what but who is assigned to handle each step. It is critical that you have a social media gatekeeper who can quickly implement the plan and pivot to accommodate changes to the situation. When rumblings began about #ALSicebucketchallenge participants were spending more on bagged ice than ALS research, social media teams evolved their strategy to include a significant donations from the company along with their CEO’s ice bath . One savvy company, Zodiac Pool Systems, even added a social element to their donation strategy by increasing their donation by one dollar every time a Facebook user liked or shared their video.

In short, recognize both the opportunities and the challenges that social media affords in handling crisis communications, and develop a plan that includes social media for when the inevitable crisis hits.

This blog post was contributed by Sam Peterson, Account Executive at Clearpoint Agency, Inc.


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