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Monday, 1 June 2015

How to create a social media strategy for your business

Social media doesn’t work if it’s ad hoc and undirected. Hard selling and spamming won’t work on social media either.  It can however, be hugely powerful in your business marketing if it’s planned and strategic. It will also help you manage your messages in the event of a PR crisis where you need to respond to your customers quickly and effectively.

Here are E=MC2 PR’s top tips on creating a great social media strategy.

  • Identify your customers and the media channels they listen to.
    For example LinkedIn is good for B2B sales and marketing. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are great for community. A key strategy for these three would be to find active communities that are related to your business or product and interact with them in an interesting way. The idea is to always give something to people because participation in communities is all about giving.

    Don’t forget to engage with good bloggers too who can be great influencers.

  • Target the right people with the right message: one-size fits all messaging doesn’t work. Identify your customer groups, understand them and create a profile for each. Once you know who they are and what they want, you can customise your social messaging for each.

  • Know your goals: be clear on what you want to achieve and stick to one or two measurable and realistic goals which can be achieved within a set time period (e.g. raise awareness, increase sales leads, reward customers).

  • Be clear on how you want your customers / target audience to react and respond: ask yourself ‘What exactly do I want my audience to do?’

  • Look and learn from your competitors: find out what they are doing and learn from their successes and their mistakes.
  • Create a content plan that will engage your audience. This should really be a mix of interesting comment, conversation, video, advice, infographics and blogs that attract attention and interest. Most importantly, keep your content fresh!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Freddie Starr ate my hamster: how to write a perfect press release

By Felicity Fox, E=MC2 Public Relations

If your press releases aren’t cutting the mustard, here are some tips to help you improve:

Is it news?

Before you even start writing your story, ask yourself is it newsworthy and will people find it interesting?

Use short, attention-grabbing headlines that tell a story

You have about seven seconds to hook your editor so cut to the chase. A good press release should summarise the key points of your subject in the headline and the opening sentence. Keep it concise and cover ‘who?’, ‘what?’, ‘where?’, ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ Keep in mind that editors will cut the story from the bottom up.

Write in the present

You don’t want your story to sound like old news. That includes quoting people in the present so write ‘says Jane Smith’ rather than ‘said’.

Use good ‘search’ words

Press releases can provide significant content to news search engines and can rank well in standard search engines like Google or Yahoo. The importance of using words that people will search the internet for can never be underestimated. With online and the internet becoming more vast and powerful than traditional media, it’s vital that your stories can be found easily.

A great image is worth a 1,000 words

This can be a compelling photograph, computer generated image or an artist’s impression which visually tells your story. As the image is often the first thing that people see, it’s vital that it promotes a good initial impression that complements the information that is given in the text.

Double check your facts and stick to them!

Check your facts, dates, figures and your sources and references. Check your spelling and grammar too and get another professional in your team to proof it for you. The slightest mistake undermines your professionalism, your client’s credibility and the media’s confidence in your story.

Don’t forget your contact details

Make sure you provide your name, phone number and email details at the bottom of the release so journalists can get in touch with you.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

10 reasons why most press releases get binned…

By Liz Coyle-Camp, managing director, E=MC2 Public Relations

As both a PR agency and a publisher, we receive external press releases, many of which go straight into the bin because they don’t pass muster and this is why:

  1. Irrelevance.  One size fits all press releases go in the one-size fits all bin.  Shape your story for the publication you are sending it to – print, online or broadcast. What interests you may not interest your target audience so make sure your story is ‘customer-focused’ which means making it relevant to readers, interesting and helpful.
  2. Spelling and grammatical mistakes.   The fastest way to lose credibility is to send out your press release without spell-checking it for spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes and making sure it also makes sense!  Silly things like ‘to’ and ‘too’, ‘it’s’ and ‘its’ used incorrectly are an instant turn-off.
  3. Verbosity. Cut to the chase – you have just a few seconds to grab the editor’s attention. If your story isn’t in plain English in the headline and the first paragraph of your press release, it’s in the bin! Lay-off the acronyms, corporate speak and product jargon too – they will just irritate and alienate your journalist.
  4. Pomposity.  References to I, we, us, or ours don’t belong in a press release unless they are quoted speech. So, if they’re not inside quotation marks, rewrite your sentence. Report the story and don’t taint it with your own subjective spin. Keep your opinions and comments in the quotes – that’s what they are there for.
  5. Puff and fluff.  There is no place for self-serving sales and marketing puff and fluff in a press release. If you want this, buy an advertisement.
  6. Factually incorrect.  Check that your facts are correct and quote your sources. Check your dates too – if you are inviting press to a photocall, make sure the date, time and location of the event is consistent and correct.
  7. No media contact. Make sure you provide your correct phone and email details so the media can reach you.
  8. No boilerplate or website address. This is a short description or an ‘about us’ paragraph about your organisation with your website address so the media know you are for real and can look you up.
  9. Format.  Stick to a press-friendly simple presentation format: 1.5 spacing, Arial or Helvetica sans serif typeface, 11 or 12 point size. Bold your headline, don’t indent and keep your text black.
  10. No images or poor ones. Support your story with a high quality, engaging photo, graphic or artist’s impression which visually tells your story.
If you can avoid these top 10 press release-writing mistakes and follow up your story with a phone call to the journalist (to make sure they have everything they need from you) your story has a very good chance of being used.

Have questions for Liz? Contact her at: E=MC2 Public Relations 01747 871752

Friday, 21 February 2014

The art of hyphenation

by Liz Coyle-Camp

To hyphenate or not to hyphenate? This is the question so many nervous writers deliberate. How can such a little dash cause such a dither and so much angst when all it wants to do is bring a little clarity to your communique?

And where would we be without the humble hyphen? We’d never tell difference between a man-eating snake and a man eating snake with possible fatal consequences!

You can beat the hyphenation blues by remembering this:

Hyphens connect words, prefixes, and suffixes and bring clarity to the meaning of a word.

And following these simple rules….

Hyphenate when:
  • Using a two-word adjective: her decision-making skills, work-related stress 
  • Creating a compound noun: added-value, get-together, an add-on 
  • In prefixes: where a hyphen avoids awkward wording such as anti-inflammatory, re-enter, re-adjust, or a word has different meanings like re-formation and reformation, re-sign and resign 
  • Explaining a word spelling: H-Y-P-H-E-N

When to make a ‘dash’ for it

The hyphen has two similar-looking cousins - the en dash and the em dash. This is what they do…

Em dash (—)
  • Use instead of brackets to indicate a separate thought or additional information: She worked out in the gym — at least that’s what she told me — every day 
En dash (-)
  • Use to indicate values or ranges: 10-15 staff, 2004-2007, May-June 
  • To contrast values or illustrate the relationship between two things 

Happy hyphenating!

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Our 14 top PR and marketing tips for 2014

by Liz Coyle-Camp, Managing Director, E=MC2 Public Relations

Sell something, you make a customer; help someone, you make a customer for life!

Great marketing is all about ‘helping’ and not ‘hyping’ your customer and that’s what truly customer-centric organisations will be doing in 2014 to gain competitive advantage. The new digital marketing culture is about making yourself useful and invaluable to the customer. So in 2014, think ‘altruism’ - you should be shaping your marketing efforts around the watchwords ‘how can I help?’ - from the content and design of your website to how you listen and respond to customers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other communications channels.

So what else should you be doing on the PR and marketing front to build business sales in 2014? These are our top 14 recommendations.
  1. Website: long gone are the days of adding a few tags to a website and having it rank on the first page. Google continues to make search ‘think’ more like a human being and less like a machine. That means your website rankings are going to be driven by genuinely useful and well-written content, user friendly design and solid coding. You will need to be creating compelling and textually rich content that includes images, video, and audio, and that fully explores what attracts new customers and keeps them coming back. In other words, if you take care of your customers, Google will take care of you. You can out-position your competition by simply having a better, more helpful/useful website that delivers a better user experience.
  2. Link content: cross-pollinate your content with teaser links across all media which includes linking to your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and other social media pages from your e-newsletter, blog and website.
  3. Search visibility: online press releases, features and blogs – these are now essential for internet ‘visibility’ and you want your business, products and services to be found quickly and high ranking in internet searches. Google’s desire, of course, is to give search engine users great results.
  4. Images matter! You should be using eye-catching, high resolution images on your website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and in other online communications. This will lead to higher engagement, more click-throughs, and better response rates to your marketing efforts.
  5. Personalisation: will continue to grow in 2014 making relevant content and precise marketing more important than ever and not just on Facebook. We can see this trend taking hold on personalised search engines, hyper-relevant e-commerce and even traditional news feeds.
  6. Short and sharp messaging: consumers are overloaded with digital information so you need to be making your marketing messages short and to the point (the average person’s digital attention span is four seconds!). We'll be seeing a lot more of this type of messaging in 2014.
  7. Social listening: in the digital world, two-way dialogue mandatory so make sure your Tweeting, LinkedIn and Facebook communications aren't ‘all about you’! Listen, respond and learn from your customers and critics. It’s the only way to build long-term and meaningful relationships with your customers. In fact, you should now be listening to and learning from your customers and critics. Social listening is vital now to product innovation, sideways marketing and sales.
  8. Leverage your YouTube channel. Add calls-to-action and email links at the end of the videos you upload to encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter and include links to your website landing pages in your videos’ text descriptions.
  9. Social advertising: social media now accounts for the majority of time consumers spend on the internet with 60% on mobile devices. The primary format for engaging on these social networks is the news feed. Your PR and advertising needs to be highly relevant and newsworthy to the audience you’re targeting and not ‘one-size fits all’.
  10. Think ‘local’: expect to see much more location-based marketing which uses GPS technology to enable local advertising and marketing promotions to be sent directly to a mobile phone in a specific geographic location. This again ties in with the growing ‘personalisation’ trend in marketing strategies enabling organisations to zoom in on customer needs unique to a specific area and moment in time. Already there are social apps including, Path, and Foursquare that provide vital consumer data.
  11. Mobile phones: 91% of mobile phone owners now have their devices within arm's reach all the time and location-based marketing could exploit this massively. Tools such as Google Wallet are being perfected which will enable people to buy with their credit card right from their smart phone so make sure to integrate the mobile users experience into all your marketing campaigns – from responsive design to compelling images that look great on mobile screens.
  12. The rising importance of Google+ is something really worth watching. Although it hasn't got to the level of Facebook, it’s being embraced by more and more marketers and consumers.
  13. Empowering employees and fans: this is about enabling (not mandating!) your best employees and fans to tell your brand story in the digital world. Providing creative content marketing and product innovation through social listening, and giving your brand advocates the means to share stories about your brand.
  14. Don’t forget email!  Last but certainly not least of our recommendations for 2014 is email which continues to be one of the biggest drivers of sales conversions for businesses. So make sure you exploit your email contact list - one of your most valuable marketing assets.

Wishing you a very happy and successful 2014.

Monday, 7 October 2013

How to create marketing emails that get opened

By Liz Coyle-Camp 

We all enjoy and look forward to opening emails from our friends and that’s the secret of good email marketing copy – it should behave like a friend.
If you want people to open your business emails, make your message feel and look personal – a corporate looking email that reads like it’s been put together by the marketing department in a ‘one size fits all’ address will – I guarantee - go straight into the ‘deleted’ folder.

Here are E=MC2 PR’s top 10 tips for creating emails that get noticed and opened:
  1. Make your subject headline compelling: Customers will be asking “what’s in it for me?” and your headline should tell them.
  2. Behave and write like a real friend: Be useful and helpful and email only when you have something important or valuable to tell them.
  3. Write like you speak: Don’t get caught up in corporate or marketing speak, tell your story in your own words, in your conversation style.
  4. Make your ‘From’ heading personal: Use your own name, to personalise who the communication is from.
  5. Reward your readers: Share useful information or some helpful tips or advice with them.
  6. Be short and to the point: Edit your text on the basis that you have 4 seconds to grab their attention.
  7. Create multiple links in your message: Multiple links to the same page will increase the chances of your readers clicking to where you want them to go.
  8. Have a call to action: Tell your readers what action they need to take and give them a deadline.
  9. Don’t forget the ‘PS’: This is a powerful way to reinforce a ‘personal’ message
  10. Proof your copy: Get someone to proofread your copy and correct any mistakes before you send your email.
Hope this helps!

Monday, 3 June 2013

How to write for business – five simple secrets

By Liz Coyle-Camp

Good business writing takes practice and the best writers are short, sharp and to the point. I've seen many talented writers enter the corporate world and lose their ability to write and communicate clearly and intelligibly.  This is because they get ‘jargonised’ and sucked into a corporate vortex of company management speak – that ‘linguistic gunge’ of uncommon and pretentious vocabulary, convoluted syntax and vague, meaningless words.

Here are a few examples:

  • “We need to maximize our earnings potential and ensure high ROI with best-in-class scalability levels.” Plain English: We need to grow the business and make more money.
  • “With this collaborative agreement, our companies have a great opportunity to utilise partnering synergies.”  Plain English:  By working together we can make a better product.

So, the next time you’re asked to pen a memo, write a speech, scribble-off some marketing literature or submit a monthly report, here are a few tips to keep your audience engaged if not riveted!

  1. Write the way you normally speak 
  2. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
  3. Don’t use jargon – ever! It’s pompous, alienating and irritating!
  4. Don’t write more than two pages on any subject.
  5. Write as if you were the reader