I was recently hired by conference organizers from another city to help promote a conference they are bringing to Philadelphia, PA. They had sourced a local press list, and had sent an initial release out, but had gotten no stories. Through word of mouth and social media connections, they contacted me. One way to answer the question of how an out-of-town small business or organization can get local publicity is to hire a local PR or media relations professional. Look for someone who has local contacts and knows the best publications for your event. Continue reading How Can a Small Business Get Local Publicity for an Event, Even if They Don’t Live There?
Press Releases for Small Business:
First, a guest post on Melinda Emerson’s Succeed As Your Own Boss blog on press releases: What is a Press Release and How Can a Small Business Use Them? Part 1
Twitter for Business:
An interview of me by Julie Diaz Asper on Gig Coin: How to use Twitter for Business: Expert tips from Cathy Larkin:
Do you think before you link (or retweet a link on Twitter)? Commenting before you post a link to any social site can be a great online PR tactic
This is a part of my how to series on Twitter.com: #WebSavvyPRTip 4: Think B4 U Link: Commenting on a post B4 you link 2 it can be a good PR strategy. http://websavvypr.com/category/pr-tips/ 4 more
Before posting the link of someone else’s good blog post to a social networking or social bookmarking site (like Twitter, Digg, Delicious, Facebook, LinkedIn or other such sites) – think. If it is a post that fits the interest of your audience (readers, customers, clients, friends) consider commenting on the post before you link to it. Then your audience gets to see your POV, hence expanding the reach of your brand or company. This also shows that you know what they are interested in by exposing your followers/friends to a great blog post that may be of interest to them.
Now, this strategy will have it’s detractors, and can be misused. Hence my “think before you link.”
First – be sure it is a topic you are interested in, your readers are interested in, and be sure that your comment can add something to the conversation on that blog (not just be looked at as spammy by the post’s author or that site’s readers). Feel free to comment on any blog you want, but if you are looking to expand the reach of your brand – by using this technique: by commenting, then posting the link on a social networking site in which you have built a community – choose wisely. Be thoughtful/selective about the posts to comment on and link to. Is it in your area of expertise? Will it help find new readers/clients? Will it look like you are trying to horn in on someone else’s territory. This commenng idea may sound cold, or calculating, but done right, it is a four way win/win situation: for you & your audience, and for the blogger and his or her readers.
The Pros of commenting on the right post before lining to it:
- It creates opportunities for conversation – or engaging with people – and that’s the foundation of social networking.
- It builds your brand (when you fill out the comment form on the blog – fill in your name or social media username and your website/blog URL).
- It also establishes your credibility – allowing you to share your expertise briefly, and exposes that blog’s readers to your point of view, as well as your own audience. Think share info, not show-off.
- It shares the love – the interactivity of comments are the solar power that makes this “social media electricity” work. It’s a part of what separates a static website from a dynamic blog. It’s also a way to “pay it forward” as they say. The last time I commented on a blog, I had several readers of that blog head over to my site and comment on a post there.
- It can help build a connection with another blogger, be they big-wig, newbie or just another blogger like us, or even with another person who commented on the post too.
- Many folks have said that social networking sites are killing blogs – that people comment on Twitter and Digg, and not on the blog itself. Sure it happens, but why not do both – I have seen them act synergistically or work well together to move a client’s brand forward.
- Everyone likes good comments on their blogs, it. But be sure it is a “good comment.” I suggest not writing a throw away comment like “great post” (although I enjoy getting these on my blog too, and they are fine for the new or shy person commenting early on, but that is under-utilizing the potential power of comments ). Good comments add value to the conversation; they move it forward. That is, they provide useful information that either expands on the original post, provides additional info on the idea, confirms the original post with additional info, or provides a different POV on the subject among other things. Think – would you like to see a comment like this on your own blog, might it get more people to engage here, on this blog? If so, then make it.
- If more folks did this, it might increase the interactivity on many blogs. If you have gotten used to the 140-160 character limits on Twitter (and Facebook/Linked in Status updates), it gives you a chance to briefly expand on an idea.
The Cons of commenting on a post before linking:
- You can be seen as a Comment SPAMMER That is – don’t comment something bland and put a link to your own site – that’s the basic definition of “Comment SPAM.”
- Your comments are “searchable” via Google & Yahoo– your comments can show up when a prospective client searches for your name/company– make them count. If you tear into a blogger with a different POV than yours, it can come back to haunt you. That client seeing your venting may decide they don’t want to work with someone like that; or by being taken out of context; or by starting a “flame war,” a series of comments back and forth that begins to remind you of the schoolyard when you were ten. Intelligent healthy debate – builds your brand integrity, peeing matches are just that.
- Think – would you like to see a comment like this on your own blog? Or is it the equivalent of the guy who comes to the party and talks so loudly about his own “stuff,” that people start avoiding him. Don’t be the blow hard.
- Read the other comments on the blog post, be sure you are not duplicating what others have said already, or if you are weighing in – reference other comments above – to show you read them, and are not a spammer.
- As your brand’s audience grows, if you ONLY comment on blogs where it is sure to drive traffic back to your site – that is a kind of link bait or comment SPAM- and can diminish the quality of your brand in your own audience’s eyes, or in that of a prospective customer, and that blogger.
So – Think before you Link, and Comment First if Appropriate:
- Comment on appropriate blog posts in ways that expand your brand, and add value to the conversation;
- Then post the link to your favorite social media or social networking site (How to do this effectively may be fodder for another post);
- Don’t forget to check the blog’s comment stream later (many allow you to sign up to receive e-mail when more comments are made). Someone may be trying to engage you in further conversation – that’s when you know you’ve hit the right note. Don’t be a hit-and-run commenter.
Feel free to share your @twitter name or Twitter link when commenting on my blog. That does not equal spam for me; It helps further opportunities to connect.
By Cathy Larkin, www.WebSavvyPR.com, find me on Twitter; I am an online and traditional PR consultant, with many years of Public Relations experience, and a social media guide. I help individuals and small businesses find the right strategies and tools for their business to help expand the reach of their brand. I can help you: create a blog or add one to your existing website; learn to use social media tools and social networking software to get the word out about what you do; and help you reach out to traditional media outlets to tell your story. 484-802-7576, See my blog sidebar for other social media sites I am on and how to contact me.
I’ve been helping several clients answer the question: what is branding and how do I decide on a company brand or domain name especially online? Good domain names can be hard to find, do I use my own name, help?!Â Many factors come into play in choosing a name or establishing a brand –
- Your industry/area of expertise
- how established your business is already
- do you want to sell it later
- and what is the central “IT”, the core take away you want your customers to get about your brand.
Branding is a balance of several factors.Â How your audience, or current and potential customers, perceive your brand, and what their POV brings to the table is a factor that is becoming more important. Many American big-name brands became household names in the days when there were three TV channels that most of America watched.Â Newer household brand names have taken advantage of the new playing field, finding creative ways to reach the audience through the internet and new social media tools.
But how does a small business owner, entrepreneur, or solopreneur go about leveraging the power of the internet? Guy Kawasaki referenced this in aÂ recent teleseminar for his new book Reality Check, that it is easier now that ever for the little guy. The open source, Web 2.0 tools can make you look as good as the businesses with millions behind them.Â I add that, the small business owner might be able to do it better, as he is actually closer to his customer.Â The small business can change course and integrate (or discard) new tools faster than the fortune 500’s can.
Back toÂ the practicalities of selecting a name.Â If you are established, of course I hope you registered your company name long ago.Â But sometimes a catch phrase or buzz word can work as well, as long as you can own, or live up to it.Â A colleague and client of mine, John Reddish, a business consultant for over 30 years named his company name is Advent Management International, Ltd many years ago; his website is www.GetResults.com; his new business succession blog to help small business owners craft exit strategies and sell their companies is www.thesuccessionplanner.com.Â In search engines – the name John Reddish leads you to each of his online “outposts.” For social media sites, his website name, which he builds into his tag line on everything he does, will work much better than his company name.Â It intrigues you – may make you think, “yes, I want toÂ Get Results…I think I’ll check him out.” But using his own name, which has some internet cache as he has authored many articles and been quoted in on-line magazines, would also have been a good choice as well.
One advantage for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, who are creating an new website on blogging platforms like WordPress, your own name can become your brand. One way it can help you, is that when people search for you by name, after meeting you for example, it gives you automatic “Google juice,” that is having a keyword or search term in a website name does still help with search engine rankings; although it is not the complete picture.Â It would also become a part of every blog page title, which also helps with rankings as well.Â However, you can also set up your blog to include your name in every page title by working with the Permalinks structure of post titles. The down side of using your own name, is unless you are well known, your name is an unknown. To a prospective client or customer, I gives no clues to your business niche, or identity.Â It doesn’t help me pick you out from the crowd, unless someone else introduced me to you.
Two other difficulties with using your name as your brand or online identity include:
1) It may already be taken; I waited several years before a domain name re-seller released the .com version of my own name back into the internet names pool. I had to buy it through an auction, but was lucky and it only cost $10.
2) It will take time and work to become known for your name and niche.Â It will take time either way, but perhaps more time with just your name, unless you are well-known in your industry, are an author, or the like.
3) If your business lends itself to resale, you should seriously consider not using your name as your website or as your social media handle, for somewhat obvious reasons. If you sell your company, the online branding becomes a part of the business valuation.Â Your social media accounts can become part of the deal…if you’ve set them up that way.Â This may be controversial, as the social media cityscape is built mainly on the strength of relationships.Â I know of one blogger who was recently approached to purchase his domain, site and following for a hamdsome sum.Â He turned it down.Â It would have seriously hurt his credibility, and he would have had to start building all over again, not from scratch, but from much further down the lane than where his is today.
For my website, blog and new company name, I went with a dynamic phrase that was still available:Â WebSavvyPR.com. This proves that there are still some good website names out there; it did take me a while to come up with a combination that I felt worked for me.Â I also registered my own name, but have yet to set it up; at this point I will probably do a redirect, or set up a basic page with contact info, which will link to this site.Â Also I felt that in the social networking world of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and with the hundreds of new media tools, a dynamic name would give me a hook.Â I watched myself read a LinkedIn comment by someone who used their tagline/company name as their handle and I was intrigued enough to click through to her website.Â I remembered that lesson. This is not always accepted practice on all sites, you have to learn the culture of each site or be branded a newbie, or a spammer.Â My social media handle is CathyWebSavvyPR.Â I’m trying to capture the best of both worlds, and keep my brand from feeling like a faceless company.Â Although recently I have begun to use my brand without my first name, lest someone else grab it on various sites.
What do you think? Company name, brand/identity/hook, or personal name as brand. There is no perfect solution; and there are pros and cons on all sides of the question.
My post here was sparked by one Chris Brogan wrote today and got me thinking about it in a new way, and I’m headed there to add a comment to his site on one aspect of the question – Customer POV and branding.Â I hope this post helps you find the sweet spot for creating your on-line brand identy.
You can find me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/cathylarkin
on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CathyWebSavvyPR (no caps needed, it just makes it easier to read)
or e-mail me at Cathy [dot] Larkin [at] WebSavvyPR [Dot] Com ( to proect against spam) or use my comment form.