The Endless Referral System: cultivating new prospects and referrals (pt.3)

In part two of this series, we discussed meeting with new prospects to build referrals. But how do we go about looking for those referrals?

As mentioned before, it’s important not to come off as desperate. It takes time for prospects to get to know you and be comfortable with you. According to Bob, you can sense if people like you and it’s possible that you may not get that delightful feeling for a while. He describes the relationship building as a funnel.

The AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action) funnel acts as good representation for this scenario. The first step, of course, is to get the prospect to acknowledge you (i.e. Hello, my name is…). The second step is to get their interest by making conversation, which we mentioned in part one. The third step is to create ‘desire’ in to do business with you or help you in some fashion, which I touched lightly on and will now expand.

After a few lunch meetings and some generous phone calls, lets say you and your prospect have bonded. It is now time to ask for a referral. Whether you meet with them in person or call them, here’s how you could  “pop the question”:

“[Name], I’m in the process of expanding my business/referrals. I find it helpful to partner with colleagues, such as yourself. Can we take a few minutes to run past names of people I might be able to help?”

It is likely that if your prospect knows you, likes you, trusts you and wants to see you succeed. If this happens, then you have yourself a “walking ambassador” for you and your business. Note, initially this may be an overwhelming process for them, so be sure to help “funnel down their world” to narrow down their group of people to ask. You can frame your questions by creating visuals for your colleague. For example, have them think about who they socialize with, play golf or associations they participate in such as Rotary, professional groups or even their children’s’ activities.  Your newly acquired prospects are absolutely important during this stage, so be sure to guide them into finding potential referrals. They don’t have to do this favor for you though, so remember to always give them an out. You can always preface, “John, as long as you are comfortable, can we run through a few groups that you are involved in?” A variation of this approach that we at Felber PR & Marketing have found helpful is to create lists of companies you would like an introduction.

Once they trust and like you, you can provide a short list of companies in your target market. This works especially well, since the company names trigger your colleague’s memory on who they may know at that company. Simply providing a “type of company” without a specific name often draws a blank. How many people can come up with names of contacts when you say “know anyone at a 10-100 million dollar, privately held business-to-business manufacturer?” We know, sounds precise, but it just does not generate referrals.

After you and your partner have finished the list, it is then time to contact these potential clients and/or new set of influencers! So in the next section, I will explain how to effectively communicate with this new group by emphasizing what value you can provide for to them.

The Power of Storytelling

Felber PR & Marketing, “Adventures in Marketing” –
Storytelling is a powerful tool that all manufacturing companies should adopt in order to engage its audience. Rather than presenting news and facts, a leader or a representative of the company can “present important organizational information in a way that resonates with people, engages their imagination and stimulates commitment and enthusiasm.” Do you have a story to share? Check out this story’s seven rules for telling good stories.

Miguel Ferrer – Manufacturing Executive member

Storytelling is the art of creating or delivering a narrative—a description of events that people can relate to, learn from, and remember. Stories are powerful tools because they do more than merely convey information: They are a meaningful and enjoyable way to share ideas, lessons, and values. Good stories are persuasive, appealing, and a good way to shape an organization’s culture. Leaders throughout history have relied on storytelling as an effective means of motivating others, especially during times of uncertainty and rapid change. Stories are far more persuasive and effective than abstract concepts.

Rather than presenting sterile, mundane data, a manager or leader can present important organizational information in a way that resonates with people, that engages their imagination and stimulates commitment and enthusiasm. This is because emotional content is inherent in stories, which adds another dimension to the communication process. Stories capture our imaginations. They evoke sights, sounds, smells, and other sensory experiences that the presentation of abstract concepts or data simply cannot. Storytelling is one of the ways to handle the principal—and most difficult—challenges of leadership: sparking action, getting people to work together, and leading people into the future.

The right story at the right time can help an organization get ready for a new idea and course of action. Storytelling doesn’t replace analytical thinking; it supplements it by enabling us to imagine new perspectives and new worlds.
But just how does one tell a good story? Here is a list of some basic rules that any storyteller can follow to achieve maximum effect with his or her story:

1. The story should be about a real person. Using a real person makes the story more credible to your audience.

2. The story should have a strong sense of time and place. This puts the story into a context that people can relate to and will remember: “Two years ago when I was manager of Snuffy’s Restaurant in Toledo, Ohio. . . .”

3. The story should be focused, simple, and clear. Too much detail and rambling will cause your audience to lose interest.

4. The story should be told in colorful and animated language. This engages the audience’s imagination and captures interest.

5. A good story uses emotions carefully and powerfully. Empathy, surprise, meaningful insight, compassion and even tactful and controlled outrage will engage your audience’s attention. It is emotional content that separates raw, boring data from a good illustration of the story’s point.

6. Along with emotions, you can also use gestures to add emphasis and a touch of theatre. After all, storytelling is a performance art.

7. Be yourself. Be authentic and sincere. You want people to believe you.

Storytelling, when done right, is truly one of the most powerful and effective tools for engaging and inspiring people to get behind a vision or mission. Stories help create the culture that becomes the heart and soul of the organization.

The Power of Storytelling‘ was originally posted in the Manufacturing Executive community page.

Lean To Green: Manufacturing’s Biggest Innovation Opportunity?

Felber PR & Marketing, “Adventures in Marketing” –
Sustainability is an important and cost-saving practice. This popular trend is about “developing and deploying innovative new ideas for products and processes that help improve performance, maximize efficiency, reduce costs, slash waste and increase the bottom line.” Public relations and marketing is an effective tactic that can promote sustainability for organizations, their projects and perhaps on the recruitment of the next generation of employees.

Paul Tate – Research Director and Executive Editor for the Manufacturing Leadership Council

Still think sustainability doesn’t pay? Try telling that to Robert McDonald, chairman, president, and CEO of Procter & Gamble.

In P&G’s latest annual Sustainability Report, released last month, McDonald reveals that his company has saved nearly $1 billion in costs over the last 10 years directly due to its sustainability efforts, even as sales increased by $10 billion in the same period.

It’s an impressive record. Between 2002 and 2012, P&G’s energy use dropped by 52%, C02 emissions went down by 54%, water usage fell by 58%, and waste decreased by 74%. Today the company says that 99.2% of all the materials that come into its manufacturing plants are either used or recycled.

More goods with fewer resources? That’s an impressive Lean achievement in anyone’s book.

And this strategy is not just designed to give P&G’s consumers a warm and fuzzy feeling of environmental worthiness as they buy the company’s products around the world. Like the critical cost-saving Lean initiatives that kept many companies competitive in decades gone by, it’s all about developing and deploying innovative new ideas for products and processes that help improve performance, maximize efficiency, reduce costs, slash waste, and increase the bottom line.

“We believe most of the sustainability challenges the world faces can be solved with innovation,” says McDonald in the report’s opening statement, “and that this innovation can have a positive business impact.”

Manufacturing industry innovation, of course, often starts with the front-line engineers and designers who develop the next wave of products and manufacturing processes. So it’s interesting to note that a new survey by the ASME (formerly the American Society of Mechanical Engineers) and design-software company Autodesk found that 75% of professional engineers say they now work for companies involved in, or extremely involved in, sustainability in some way. That’s a significant rise from 66% last year.

The majority of the 4,500 professional engineers who responded to the “Sustainable Design Trend Watch Survey” said designs that use less energy or reduce emissions, followed by manufacturing processes that use fewer natural resources, are the two most important types of sustainability projects they work on. Well over 60% expect their company’s involvement in sustainable design specifications to increase in the next year.

Of course, money remains a key driver in many of these innovation efforts. About 27% of respondents said the organizations they work for invest in sustainable design practices only if these increase throughput and cut costs of existing products. A quarter of respondents said their organization will actively spend extra money to incorporate sustainable design specifications in most new products.

Those numbers may well change dramatically as the next generation of product designers and engineers enters the workforce. The survey asked 1,900 undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. engineering students for their views, and found that over 70% of new engineering students say they are already involved in studying or developing more sustainable technologies. They also believe that designs that use less energy or reduce emissions; that require less packaging; use renewable, recyclable, or recycled materials; and are supported by manufacturing processes that use less energy and natural resources are by far the most important to them and their future careers.

Perhaps most importantly for the manufacturing industry as a whole, over 90% of the next generation of young engineers surveyed firmly believes that designing sustainable and green products results in greater product innovation.

The message seems to be clear: Gone are the days when sustainability in manufacturing was simply about corporate tree-hugging and turning out the factory lights at night. It is now about the future of the business—from innovative product and process developments, to corporate-wide Lean operational efficiencies, to high-potential improvements in bottom-line financial performance.

Sustainability is probably the biggest innovation opportunity out there right now. And whether you’re already involved or not, it seems like your next generation of skilled employees, and your future customers, will certainly expect you to do things differently.

Manufacturing Executives: Victims of Groupthink

Felber PR & Marketing, “Adventures in Marketing” –
Over 20 years ago, many manufacturing executives contracted with oversea production believing offshoring was the new trend focusing mainly on the cost of labor. Little did they realize that they settled for the price of poor quality, the loss of intellectual property and the overnight competitors that sprang up as a result, the extension of lead times, the exposure supply of chains to new types of natural disasters and more. Are you a victim of groupthink?

Chris Chiappinelli – Manufacturing Executive member

Apple is the latest company to join the U.S. reshoring parade, with CEO Tim Cook announcing that the technology titan will manufacture one of its Mac computers in the country in 2013. It’s another small indication that the reshoring trend—which some people consider a PR ploy born of patriotic fervor and others call an unstoppable force in global manufacturing—has legs.

To understand what is happening today, we need to consider what happened more than 20 years ago, when manufacturing executives, almost en masse in some sectors, closed up shop and contracted with overseas production shops—the dawn of the offshoring boom. There’s a good line in a recent Atlantic article on the manufacturing reshoring trend that sums up why this might not have been the right medicine for manufacturers. Charles Fishman, the article’s author, writes that decades ago:

“Many offshoring decisions were based on a single preoccupation—cheap labor. The labor was so cheap, in fact, that it covered a multitude of sins in other areas. The [recent] approach to bringing jobs back has been much more thoughtful.”

As Fishman notes, manufacturing executives seem to be making more holistic calculations these days—assessing not just the individual components of the cost equation, but the totality of those line items. This interest in a more comprehensive view of manufacturing strategy might explain why a discussion from mid-2011, titled “What Are the Real Costs of Outsourcing,” remains one of the most visited pieces of content on the Manufacturing Executive website.

But what does this say about manufacturing executives? Were the corporate leaders of the 1990s prone to tunnel vision—focusing obsessively on the cost of labor—that today’s leaders aren’t? Not necessarily. But I do think that manufacturing executives, like the rest of us, can be susceptible to groupthink. Think about it: At the pinnacle of the corporate pyramid, the fear of a strategic misstep can be overwhelming. At public companies, activist investors and corporate boards are primed to depose wayward executives. At smaller companies, there’s little margin for misdirection when competitors are clambering to steal your lunch.

In the 1990s, executives who watched their competitors move production to China and other offshore locales felt compelled to chase the trend, lest they lose competitive advantage. And yet even then, with the price of contract labor so low, the holistic cost equation may have favored domestic manufacturing, had U.S. executives truly accounted for a myriad of other items: the price of poor quality, the loss of intellectual property and the overnight competitors that sprang up as a result, the extension of lead times as products steamed slowly across the ocean, the price to send personnel around the globe to manage far-flung operations, the exposure of supply chains to new types of natural disasters, and the loss of a beneficial exchange of ideas between the production floor and the design department.

At the time, some executives must have understood that those “other” elements would wipe out any cost savings on labor. But few had the courage to buck the trend and make their own destiny.

These days, we hear a similar charge of weakness leveled at our elected leaders, as the country faces ominous signs of a troubled future. But I believe the lack of courage we see in some lawmakers stems primarily from their self-interest—many are more interested in positioning themselves for reelection than in making tough decisions. I think manufacturing executives, by contrast, are desperately concerned with the future of their businesses, and fearful of making choices that contravene conventional wisdom, fearful of repercussions.

There’s no inoculation against group think. But choosing to perform a holistic evaluation of the business wisdom du jour is one way to reduce the symptoms. Exhibiting the courage necessary to chart an alternate course might just put this disease into remission.

Manufacturing Executives: Victims of Group Think‘ was originally posted in the Manufacturing Executive community page.

The Endless Referral System: cultivating new prospects and referrals (pt.2)

 

In part one of this series, I mentioned that we should always seek and build more relationships with potential prospects in order to increase our business. And when we do, we should never seek in desperation.

We live an increasingly connected world, so there’s always a chance in finding that one special prospect who would be willing to help out.

When you meet potential prospects, briefly introduce yourself. Ask them “feel good” questions such as, “How did you get started in your business/field?” or “What do you enjoy most about your job?” Questions such as these bring value to his or her life and give them the opportunity to shine. You want “F.O.R.M.” questions that revolve around family, occupation, recreation and message in order to seal the deal with this prospect. But do not be pushy about it and always give them an “out” by saying, for example, “If you can’t do it, I understand.” As Bob puts it, giving them an out is “a way of letting a person feel comfortable with you and the situation by providing them an ‘emotional escape route’”, which removes any pressure they may feel whether from you or themselves. You have limitless opportunities out there. One less prospect will not hurt.

When you have connected with this prospect, send them a nice letter on a notecard (see Bob’s examples at that link, as well as ours below this paragraph) and perhaps, a small gift such as a scratch pad, pen and/or a information booklet on a business topic. Alternatively, you could include an article they might be interested in or a topic related to your conversation.  Doing this will absolutely make them feel valued. Since you have just built this relationship, be patient. Contact them when you are ready, not desperate, to ask for a referral. Lastly, don’t forget to include your new contact on your newsletter database. This increases familiarly with you and your organization and is yet another positive “touch” in the relationship. Want to receive our newsletter, Manufacturing Matters? Click here.

Do you have some favorite networking tips? Share your thoughts and insights in the comment box below!

The Endless Referral System: cultivating new prospects and referrals (pt.1)

Rob Felber, president of Felber PR & Marketing, has been following Bob’s principles for over two decades. Rob may be one of the most networked guys in Cleveland and has cultivated over 1900 connections, as well as endless referrals…

Run out of prospects? It’s time to find new connections

"Each of us has a personal sphere of influence of about 250 people. People will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like and trust." - Bob Burg

Bob Burg, speaker and bestselling author of The Go-Giver and Endless Referrals, spoke in Cleveland about how to “build a prospecting and referral ‘machine’ to continuously create more sales than you ever dreamed possible.”

Who do I talk to now that my list of prospects has run out? Whether or not you have any existing contacts, it is always best to search for new prospects to help increase business, and make those lasting business and personal relationships. Bob said when we try to find someone new, we tend to seek in “desperation.” We lose our posture, which is interpreted as “we care [about our new prospects], but not that much.” So, how do we go about having good posture?

 

  • As long as you do your best then you can let go and begin to find new prospects.
    • Your existing clients are satisfied with the way things are going. So, it’s probably time to find new prospects. Why? Well, why not? This gives you more reason to expand your business.
  • Go to the people who want help – don’t branch out.
    • Not everyone needs help. In the meantime, just make conversation and eventually someone will turn to you. Getting a new prospect does not need to be done immediately, it’s all about the building relationship first in order for them to want to do business with you, which I couldn’t agree more.
  • Know that you’re responsible to the people, but not for the people in making decisions.
    • As a businessman or businesswoman, you’re responsible for pitching yourself to the potential prospects, but not to force them to make a decision. I will further discuss this in the next paragraph.

When we network for connections, we want win-win relationships that are generally caring for their wants and desires. They do not always have to like us in order to do business, but we want prospects who can say “yes” and are qualified to do business with you. Bob introduced president of Influence At Work (IAW) Robert Cialdini’s Six Principles of Influence to explain why people take certain actions. Most of us can agree that we live in a low trust society. But if you can communicate well with your prospects, you will gain their trust.

We live in an increasingly connected world. With apps on our phones that allow instant access to our entire sphere of influence. With every new person we meet or we have increased our connection to 250 people or more. OK, 249 if you discount Kevin Bacon. That right there is your ticket to a network of endless referral business.

In my next post, we’ll discuss additional strategies for building a relationship from the very first meeting.

YOU’VE SENT THE PRESS RELEASE – NOW WHAT?

press, media, wire service, marketing, manufacturers, prweb, prenewswire, advertising,

To get the attention of the media, think like them. Where their hat for a while

Are you resigned to just sit back and wait for the onslaught of reporters, eager to speak with you?

Here’s what most reporters will tell you: “If we’re interested, we’ll call you.” Here’s what they have told me off the record. “Seriously, I get hundreds of emails a day. If I don’t expect the email, I may not read it. If the subject is boring or off topic, I may delete it. If you really want my attention, you better follow up via phone.”

So, editor and reporter generalizations aside, simply posting your release to an online service is not enough. Yes, you may get search engine optimization (SEO) benefit from the online services. They do a great job with their website affiliates. They report several website postings within the first hour. But, if there is no one looking at that forest when your tree falls, you are out of luck. Like website traffic, it’s all about conversion. Campaign effectiveness can and should, ultimately be measured by conversion. Conversion is anything from inbound phone calls, requests for information, actually sales, etc. The measurements are the same for tradeshows, SEO, direct mail marketing and yes, even sales calls in person.

Let’s rewind and discuss goals. If you are trying to influence a target market and you have identified the publications they read, visit and engage with, then you are 25% there. Start with the publication’s media kit, editorial calendar and audit statement. Study the research and see if your news, product or story fits their editorial guidelines. Each publication has a certain style, editorial direction and differentiating factors. Not sure what they are? Call the editor and they will be happy to explain. See, no one takes the time to ask them. This alone will separate you from the pack. We’ll dive deeper into publication research in a subsequent post. You are closer now, 50% of the way there.

But, you now need to present that news in a way that they will both understand its importance AND see a fit with their readers. This is a tough hurdle but will get you 75% of the way to your goal. You’ve studied the editorial direction. Look closely at the stories the magazine has run over the last two years. Make special note of specific writers and their style and try to align your story with one that is closest to your topic. Not every writer covers the same beat. Consider using graphics, videos, social media infographics; anything that will simply and succinctly convey your message.

What’s the final push needed to move your project to 100% acceptance? It’s the relationship. If the editor has never heard of your company, met anyone at a trade conference or even received news in the past, you have a tough final step. Not insurmountably, just tough. Like sales, the media/company interaction is all about relationships. Remember the professional call asking about their editorial guidelines? That is the step in the right direction. Be a resource and selfless supporter first.

In my next post, I’ll discuss the top five ways to build closer media relations and become their go-to person.

WHAT SKYPE, GO-TO-MEETING AND CONFERECE CALLS CANNOT SEE

 

micro molding, Makuta, Felber PR, marketing, publicity, manufacturing

Stu Kaplan (Makuta) and Michelle Willmott (Felber PR) enjoy hands on learning

We need to be reminded, from time to time, that we’re humans. Every one of our five senses is important. As one of our favorite clients, Makuta Technics reminds us, there is nothing like “eyes on.” Michelle and I just returned from a two day trip to visit with them in their Indiana factory. When you meet in person, there is a tremendous benefit.

Skype and conference calls are great, but think about what you are missing. Your sense of hearing and sight is much more in tune when you sit across the table, face to face. Add sharing a meal or actually touching product and your firsthand knowledge of how your client manufactures their product is dramatically improved. Now, you are well on your way to deeper relationships through better understanding.

Admittedly, I have been at this for a while, but here’s a short bit of advice:

Next time you start to send an e-mail, reach for the phone.

When reaching for the phone, consider setting up a meeting in person.

Technology is great, but we’re too easily distracted during conference calls, “windshield time” chats to save precious time and video meetings that can be sabotaged by one errant glance away from the camera….connect in person. You will be rewarded.

Rob Felber (Call me and let’s do lunch!)

The Facebook Background Check: Using Social Media to Vet Candidates

Jonathan T. Hyman, Esq.
Kohrman Jackson & Krantz P.L.L.

Would you believe that an astonishing 91 percent of employers use social media to aid in their decisions of who, and who not, to hire? Indeed, there exists myriad information an employer can learn about a prospective employee from information that is publicly available via social media and other websites. For example, an employer can learn that a candidate lied about his or her qualifications, posted inappropriate comments, trashed a former employer, divulges corporate confidential information, or demonstrates poor communications skills, any one of which could legitimately disqualify a candidate from further consideration. Conversely, an employer can discover that a candidate is creative, demonstrates solid communication skills, received awards or accolades, or is well regarded or recommended by his or her peers.

Despite the legitimate information an employer can discover, these informal background checks are subject to much debate. For one, there is a justified fear that information on the Internet is unreliable and unverifiable. Yet, there exists a deeper problem with employers “willy-nilly” performing Internet searches on job applicants—a genuine risk that such a search will disclose protected information such as age, sex, race, religion, or medical information.

Consider the following example. Jane Doe submits a job application to ABC Corp. The hiring manager types her name into the Facebook search bar. What happens if the search reveals that Ms. Doe belongs to a breast-cancer-survivor group? If ABC declines to interview Ms. Doe, or hires another candidate, it is opening itself up to a claim that it failed to hire her because it regarded her as disabled or because of her genetic information. Now the company is placed in the unenviable position of having to defend its decision not to hire Ms. Doe despite its discovery of her medical information.

Even worse, some are reporting on the apparent trend of employers requiring job applicants to turn over their Facebook passwords as part of the hiring process. Media coverage of this issue has been so thick and the outrage so great that United States Senators are calling for action to outlaw this supposed practice. Maryland became first state that has banned this practice. Illinois and California have followed suit. Many others (Ohio included) are considering similar legislative prohibitions. Indeed, Facebook itself officially weighed in on this issue via blog post by its Chief Privacy Officer:

“If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends…. That’s why we’ve made it a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password. We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords….”

If you believe all of this coverage, you would think that this practice is rampant. In reality, I would be surprised if one-percent of all employers have even considered asking a job applicant for access to his or her Facebook account, let alone carried on the thought by making it a hiring requirement. Simply, this problem does not need fixing.

These issues raise another, more fundamental, question—what type of employer do you want to be? Do you want to be viewed as Big Brother? Do you want a paranoid workforce? Do you want your employees to feel invaded and victimized as soon as they walk in the door with no sense of personal space or privacy? Or do you value transparency? Do you want HR practices that engender honesty and openness, and recognize that employees are entitled to a life outside of work?

Despite all of these risks, Internet searches on job candidates hold real value for employers. Here are some tips with certain built-in protections that employers may follow:

  1. Consult with your employment attorney to develop policies, procedures, and guidelines for the gathering and use of Internet-based information without conflicting with discrimination and other laws.
  2. Print a clear disclaimer on the job application that you may conduct an Internet search, including sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and general searches using search engines such as Google and Bing.
  3. Only conduct the search after you have made the candidate a conditional job offer.
  4. Consider using a third party to do the searching, with instructions that any sensitive, protected, or EEO information not be disclosed back to you. This third party can either be a trained employee insulated from the hiring process, or an outside vendor specializing in these types of background searches.
  5. Do not limit yourself to Internet searches as the only form of background screening. Use this information as part of a larger, more comprehensive background-screening program.

Following these simple steps will enable you to search for useful information on candidates, while limiting your risk.

Jonathan Hyman, a partner at Cleveland’s Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, provides proactive and results-driven solutions to employers’ workforce problems. Hyman concentrates in the representation of companies in employment disputes. He is the author of the nationally recognized and award winning Ohio Employer’s Law Blog (www.ohioemployerlawblog.com), which the ABA Journal nominated as one of the top 100 legal blogs for 2010 and 2011, and which LexisNexis named as one of the top 25 Labor & Employment Blogs for 2011. He has also shared his experience as an early adopter of social media in his book: Think Before You Click: Strategies for Managing Social Media in the Workplace. Hyman is also a Super Lawyers Ohio Rising Star in Employment Law five out of the last six years. For further information or questions, contact Hyman directly at jth@kjk.com or by phone at 216.408.4455.

How to Get the Media to Pay Attention and What to Do Once They Do

I recently got the opportunity to see president Rob Felber speak at the Urban League of Greater Cleveland on how to get the media to pay attention and what to do once they do.

Every business should be transparent and showcase any newsworthy content to its key publics. But deciding what is newsworthy can be hard to determine, as well as deciding whether or not you need PR help.

So, ask yourself. Does your business need PR help? Felber makes some points and tips that can help your business make a wise decision.

Recognizing the need for PR

Recognizing the need for PR should always be the first step for anyone looking into getting his or her business out to the public. Needs include, but are not limited to:

  • Being transparent
  • Removing any rumors that might exist
  • How your product is unique/different

Felber defines PR as “a company announcement, an attempt to mitigate a problem (crisis), activities to improve an image, a recruitment tool, a method to drive sales inquiries, etc.”  PR is also the best tool to keep long-term relationships with clients and potentially gaining more.

Newsworthiness

What is considered newsworthy for your audience? Some things you should think about are “why should the editors care” and “what do I want to happen when the public reads our news?” In the following entries, decide which are newsworthy content:

  1. Company A nominated as 2013 top Fortune 500 company
  2. Company A revamps website into modern look
  3. Company A gives back to the community
  4. Company A President and CEO steps down after 55 years

Hopefully you did not pick the second headline. Why? Here are some of my explanations for each one of them:

  1. When a business is nominated as a Fortune 500 company, that’s good PR. What business does not want to be ranked as one of the top 500 corporations in America? Not only should your company be proud of that, but also the employees and consumers will feel special and continue to support your business.
  2. It’s not news when your company revamps its website. It could have been just a basic HTML format turned into this modern sleek look, but no one else will care for it as much as you and maybe some of your employees. It’s cool, sure, but when it comes to catering news to your key publics, make sure you consider what all of your stakeholders want to know.
  3. When a company gives back to the community, the community acknowledges your transparency and sincerity. This is the type of news that will touch people’s hearts and can influence them to respect your company.
  4. In August 2011, Steve Jobs stepped down from his CEO position due to health complications. He was always transparent before and after his health issues and still managed to do as much as he could. Besides the fact that he has a long legacy with Apple, he was the face of Apple and everyone – both stakeholders and shareholders – was updated on a regular basis.

And sometimes even the smallest news, such as a spotlight on an employee, may be much bigger than you think. Ellen Burts-Cooper, Senior Managing Partner of Improve, said she never would have thought the media, specifically by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, would pick up a story about a high school girl, whose book is sold on Amazon. She began to think about what else may be newsworthy for her organization.

Think about it. What news do you have for your audience that they will care about?

What to do now?

What’s nice about PR is that there are many ways to grab the media’s attention. Your business could pitch letters, send out make media alerts and/or hold a press conference. Although press releases seem to be the most popular tool, Felber likes to describe it as the “least sexiest way” because the format does not allow for “colorful language” and sticks more to the facts.

And when the media is ready to listen, make sure you’re confident and ready to pitch your story. Michael Obi, president & CEO of Spectrum Global Solutions, said to always keep up with what is going on in the news because one story that you may have on file could be significant around an event that may be happening.

Felber added to make sure your company has something ready to go for when the media is looking for some content. Have some of your staff seek media training in order to have graphics or video on file, as well as keeping your internal communications up to date about the story.

There are many things that PR can offer to help your business reach out to your key publics. So, ask yourself again. Does your business need PR help?

Cindy Deng is a PR & marketing intern at Felber PR & Marketing and a public relations student at Kent State University. She is also the Intercampus Liaison for the Public Relations Student Society of America, KSU chapter and a mentor for the Provost’s Leadership Academy.