25 Tips to Bolster Your Brand: No. 2

As part of Celebrating our 25th Year, our crew created this blog series to help you build your brand to benefit your business.

Each pointer, whether big or small, plays a vital role in telling your story. We hope you find this information helpful for your organization’s growth.

No. 2: Know Your Compelling Competitive Advantage (CCA)

Your CCA simply defines what makes you different. Regardless of your industry, you’re competing against others, sometimes thousands, to earn business, receive referrals or raise awareness or money.

Before you begin promoting your organization, you must know how your offering differentiates from competition. And no, “we put clients first” or “we always do what’s best” isn’t the answer—everyone says that.

When a prospect asks “why should we hire you?” your answer should include your CCA. No matter how small or large your business or organization is, you must know—and state clearly—your CCA.

For example, at SJK·PR, we’ll out-write and out-create any of our competitors—and we’ll do it as part of a client’s team. We fully invest ourselves in our clients’ success.

If you’re reading this blog and realizing you’re not sure what your CCA is, re-visit your business model and discover—or create—a niche for your company. Then, the real brand-building begins.

As we continue updating this blog series, feel free to contact our team for more marketing, branding and public relations insights: (904) 388-7447 or Tyler@SJKPR.com.

25 Tips to Bolster Your Brand: No. 1

As part of Celebrating our 25th Year, our crew created this blog series to help you build your brand to benefit your business.

Each pointer, whether big or small, plays a vital role in telling your story. We hope you find this information helpful for your organization’s growth.

We’ll kick off this year-long blog series with a tip relating to our company anniversary (April Fool’s Day) that includes a special meaning to us:

No. 1: Say Thank You—No Foolin’!

Whether to your clients, vendors, team, business partner, or even your Mom, find a way to say thank you to those who help you every day and get to where you are now.

So here’s our daily example: starting our 25th year today, we’re offering many thanks to everyone who’s helped us grow and trusted us with their brands over the last quarter century. Just like every small business, we’ve certainly experienced our ups-and-downs, but we’re still here today… and we owe it to you.

We’ll update this series a couple times each month, so please check back for the rest of our marketing, branding and public relations insights. If we can help tell your story to those that need to hear it, contact us at (904) 388-7447 or results@SJKPR.com.

Don’t Forget Social Media During a Crisis

We often hear about the promotional advantages social media brought to the marketing arena, too. Social media is no longer just for teens, tweens and young adults. In the event of a serious company crisis or event,  social media has proven itself an effective tool for crisis communication.

Every company should have a crisis communications plan, in which social media should be incorporated. Let’s review the basics of crisis management, then tie in how you can use social media in the process.

Be timely.

You reaction to a crisis should be immediate, especially when injury, illness, ethics or death is involved. The quicker you can gain control of the situation, and more importantly the perception of the situation, the better able you are at maintaining your image. Bad news never gets better with age, so act quickly.

Be honest.

In the long-term, “spin” or doctored facts never restore a respected reputation. Honesty proves to both the media and consumers that you’re able to take responsibility for the issue at hand and you intend to fix it.

Work with the media.

In the midst of your crisis, you must keep information flow to the media at the top of your priority list. Reporters have an important job to do too, and you benefit most when they receive the most current information about your situation and how you’re handling it. Think (quickly, though) before you speak and the way that you phrase ideas. In today’s age, social media allows a different approach to informing the media, which we’ll address in a minute.

Prepare for the future.

Often forgotten but extremely important are your lessons learned. No crisis communications plan is perfect, and you’ll definitely gain new insights into how you, your organization and your target audiences respond to the actions you took. Do an honest evaluation—ask a colleague from another firm to help—and use the crisis as a learning experience.

Social media can be an important tool in achieving these basics of crisis communications. Use social media to:

  • Control the flow of inquiries toward the correct, unfiltered information;>
  • Provide immediate updates on any progress that’s being made;
  • Open a channel for transparent communication between your target audiences and your company;
  • Allow respected leaders within the company to reach out directly to the public to explain details of what happened and the firm’s response;
  • Gauge and manage consumer perception of the issue and your handling; and
  • Gain insight into the situation based on the viewpoint of who matters most: your customers.

A crisis can pose a significant threat to your company, which is why implementing a crisis communications plan—and understanding the tools available to you—is so important. But social media can be intimidating, especially with something as sensitive as a crisis, so if you’re having trouble or just need some guidance, contact SJK•PR at 904-388-7447 or results@SJKPR.com.

Secrets of a Master Networker: Networking Can Lead to Long-term Relationships

You’ve seen throughout SJK•PR.com that we talk about the three R’s of PR, right? That second R—relationships—often starts with getting involved with an industry, business or civic group by networking. This blog is the first of two posts to help you maximize your ROI of networking.

So what if you’re the type of person who gets shy around people you don’t know and dreads attending business breakfasts, luncheons and happy hours? First, relax, you’re not alone. Know that many of us overcame this fear and proved it’s possible for even the most introverted to come out of his or her shell to form new relationships.

And it’s worth it. SJK•PR has been in business for almost two decades because Steve & his team “do lunch for a living.” Simply stated, these relationships help expand and secure the longevity of your business.

… And you can start by following these simple pointers:

Pick a group you’re interested in. You’ll find every excuse available NOT to attend a group’s networking event if you’re really not interested in its mission or membership. Business contacts are made in every type of organization, not just “chamber” groups, so if you’re really not interested in the more business-focused gatherings, consider charitable, religious or civic involvement. Selecting a group you’re interested in makes the networking more personally rewarding while you’re still building your relationship network.

Prepare yourself. Think of ice-breaker questions and points you might get asked before the event, so you can prepare your delivery. Consider topics, recent events, or industry news you’d like to highlight when talking to a prospect. These few guides will help fill the inevitable, sometimes awkward, silences.

Spread out. Don’t sit with close friends or colleagues. While this advice might sound scary, keep in mind many people at these events don’t know anyone either and will be happy to make conversation with you. Besides, think of it as giving your business the chance to “divide and conquer.”

Adjust your body language. When you’re talking to someone, don’t face them directly. Face them at an angle so you’re able to see the rest of the room. This welcoming body language allows others to join in on the conversation if they want.

Never discuss private matters. Private and specific business discussions should be conducted outside of networking events. Including these areas in your conversation prevents people from joining in, and quite frankly, it’s not appropriate. If you’re caught in the situation where someone is trying to start a private conversation with you, the best idea is just to let them know you’d certainly like to discuss it in more depth at another time and politely give the person your card.

In our next post we’ll discuss the finer points of the actual networking conversations and business card exchange.

As you can probably see, networking (and relationship-building, in general) takes time, but when it’s done correctly, it’s time well-spent. Contact the professionals at SJK?PR for more information on secrets of successful networking and other marketing tips. You can Email us at results@SJKPR.com or give us a call at 904-388-7447.

In fact, call us and let’s do lunch!

Beware of Social Networking’s Unintended Consequences

Social networking’s popularity has skyrocketed during the last few years and many businesses are finding that a presence on these sites can be beneficial to them. After all, it’s cheap,easy, and convenient. It’s definitely a proven method to enhance your search engine optimization (SEO), and stay better connected to your clients and referral sources.

So what’s the catch? Here are a few things to beware of when using social networking to promote your business:

Unintentionally offending someone.

Separating your business’s social networking presence from your personal presence can be challenging. Be careful to keep personal opinions that could offend somebody off your page. Employees should keep their pages private so their personal opinions and lifestyles aren’t affiliated with the company.

Spending too much time on it.

Social networking can be dangerously time consuming and addictive. Spending too much valuable time updating statuses, tweeting, posting photos and commenting can be detrimental to the productivity of your business if it interferes with time that could be better spent doing something directly for or with a customer. In the corporate world, there’s no room for wasted time because time spent equates to money spent.

Scams, phishing, spam and malware.

Recent studies show a 70% rise in security risks on social networks. Individuals and businesses are spending more time on social networks and putting more private information on the Web, creating unnecessary security risks. Precautions can be taken to lessen the risks but hackers will always find a way to breech security, which is why this issue is extremely difficult for social networks to patrol.

Social networks can be fun and useful tools for promotions, transparent communication between company and consumer, and driving people to visit your website, but they don’t come risk-free. Be sure you and your employees are in agreement when it comes to being a part of social networks and take the necessary precautions to avoid complications that could be harmful to your business.