Top 10 Things Reporters Hate

  1. Pitches (story ideas) not appropriate for the targeted publication.

  2. Calling on deadline.

  3. Failure to respond to a reporter’s query in a timely manner.

  4. Unsolicited email attachments.

  5. Jargon and buzzwords.

  6. Refusing to accept "no."

  7. Calling the reporter to ask, "Did you get my release?"

  8. Not knowing answers to basic questions when reporters call.

  9. Not having sources available to speak with reporters the day you disseminate a news release.

  10. Asking to see the reporter’s article prior to publication.

Top 10 Reasons Your Press Release Landed in the Trash Can

  1. You sent it to the wrong publication, or the wrong reporter at the right publication.

  2. The newsworthy part of the release is buried at the end.

  3. There is no newsworthy part.

  4. The release is full of hype, not facts.

  5. If emailed, information in the memo field is too long, too vague, or reads like an ad.

  6. It was sent as an attachment rather than with the email message.

  7. You didn’t include any contact information.

  8. You deliberately left out important information (i.e. how much does that new software cost?) in a bid to make reporters call you.

  9. The release is full of grammatical errors and misspellings.

  10. It was handwritten, typed in all capital letters, or displayed in some hard-to-read format.


Top 10 Tips for Annual Reports

  1. Don’t wait until the last minute — a good annual report is a collaborative effort that takes many months to plan and implement.

  2. Determine theme, direction and tone of the report before you get started. Your budget will dictate the parameters but you can be creative and professional within any guidelines.

  3. Develop a compelling cover that will encourage readers to open it — one that complements your corporate identity.

  4. Assuming you are not a start-up, review your last three or four annual reports to get a good idea of where your company has been and how it has progressed. Do you want to continue building on the same image or introduce something new this year?

  5. Review your competitors’ annual reports before creating your own.

  6. Don’t just report on the financial condition of the company; analyze and interpret those results for your audiences. Put information into context.

  7. Make sure your financial highlights are immediately accessible. Analysts and brokers turn to this section first. Incorporate graphs and charts to give readers a swift understanding.

  8. Use descriptive headings and subheads in the narrative section to communicate key points for readers who only skim the report.

  9. Candidly review the company’s highlights — and lowlights — for the preceding year. Provide a good, clear description of your firm, summarize key events, new products or services, and major achievements, and lay out plans for the future.

  10. As always, avoid industry or company jargon.

Top 10 Tips for Turning an Unknown CEO Into a Headline Grabber

1. Cultivate personality. Think of the CEOs who grab the most media attention; they have charisma. They educate reporters without delivering a hard sales pitch.

2. Have something newsworthy to say. CEOs who are good interviewees tout their company's strong financials, technology differentiation or another notable (and quotable) facet – and make reporters care.

3. Be opinionated and bold. The media loves to quote CEOs who are willing to make predictions about their industry, assume positions on controversial issues, take risks and exude confidence.

4. Speak up. Top CEOs cultivate a reputation of authority, in part, by being a voice of their industry and speaking at trade conferences and other business forums.

5. Craft a position of thought leadership. CEOs become thought leaders in their field by sharing their knowledge with the media. Reporters gain access to all-important experts to quote, and CEOs achieve credible exposure.

6. Interpret news events. Headline-worthy CEOs think macro and speak micro. They issue press releases, write letters to editors or otherwise contact trade and business media to lend insight into business and economic developments. For example, how will the lowered interest rates affect your industry or specialization?

7. Be available. A reporter can't postpone deadlines, which means CEOs who want media attention must work around editorial schedules and be willing to respond after hours or even on vacation.

8. Display good business etiquette. Oft-quoted CEOs treat reporters with courtesy. They are on time for interviews, return phone calls and e-mails quickly and thank reporters for their time.

9. Build relationships and credibility. Media-savvy CEOs establish rapport with the top business and trade reporters just as they do with their most-important customers. They meet and talk with them frequently to determine what they need – and then deliver

10. Think before speaking. Although it is essential to build relationships with reporters, top CEOs know they must scrutinize every word said. A damaging quote is worse than no quote at all.

Top 10 tips for surviving sensitive interviews

  1. Whenever you face an interview – whether on a sensitive topic or not –decide your key messages in advance.

  2. Make sure your message is simple. Practice until you can say it without sounding rehearsed.

  3. Repeat your key message several times during the course of the interview if the interview is of substantial length.

  4. Prepare two or three sub-messages you want to get across. Don’t wait for the reporter to ask the appropriate question – find ways to weave your messages into your answers.

  5. If you work in an organization in which several people talk to the media, make sure everyone is consistent.

  6. Don’t respond to a tough, angry or hostile question with a "no comment." Use the opportunity to refer back to your key message, by saying, "I don't know the answer to that question, but I CAN tell you that..."

  7. If you don’t know the answer to a question, be honest and say so. Untruths will come back to haunt you.

  8. Anticipate the worst question the reporter could ask, then craft a response to it -- and make sure you rehearse it.

  9. Ask a colleague to play the role of the reporter in a mock interview and ask you a variety of tough questions.

  10. Tape-record the interview, so you can hear how you sound. Work on the rough spots for next time.

Top 10 Ways To Damage Your PR efforts

  1. Buzz word-itis – If your claim to fame is "being first to move with robust, turn-key, best-of-breed, next-generation, leading edge, scalable, seamless, end-to-end solutions," you’re doomed. Rather than differentiate your venture, it makes your business sound like every other high-tech company vying for coverage in a crowded marketplace. To succeed, explain – in plain English – what you do, how it benefits customers, and why it is different from what’s already out there.

  2. Failure to establish a target market – You can't be all things to all people. Decide whom you want to reach, and craft a plan to reach customers in a distinct market segment.

  3. Failure to develop a consistent corporate identity – If everyone has his or her own ideas about what the company stands for, this inhibits your ability to build your brand among clients, contacts and members of the media. Develop three or four strong messaging points and use them consistently for all collateral materials and all public contacts/appearances.

  4. Unrealistic budgeting – Match expectations to budgets. Regional coverage costs less than national or global coverage, for example. Be prepared to pay for what you get. Results are based on the time and creativity devoted to your campaign on a consistent, continuous basis.

  5. Failure to face reality – Don’t insist on Fortune 500 coverage just because you’ve opened your doors and your product is ready to sell. Assess your operation in terms of the world around you. Is your new venture the harbinger of a new trend or development, or just another start-up?

  6. The atom crusher – Companies today have to be flexible, but you can’t expect to change course every time you hit an obstacle. Aim for an integrated, strategic program that ramps up to support your business, marketing and capital plans.

  7. Writing it right – Don’t let the lawyers or engineers be the final arbiters of the writing produced. Read the finished piece to a colleague or friend. If their eyes glaze over, it’s time to rewrite. And beware of those buzz words mentioned above. Engineers can make the wording accurate and attorneys can keep you out of trouble. But neither may know how to communicate to your audience(s), so your PR team better stay in the loop until the end.

  8. Failure to produce ‘the beef’ – A hot new idea isn’t enough anymore. The media and your investors will want proof. You’ll need data to demonstrate that you are sticking with your plan and making progress against your competition and in the market.

  9. The boredom factor – Members of the media receive dozens of releases every day. Strive to add personality and energy so yours will stand out from the pack. Aim for great sound bites and quotes – don’t settle for self-serving statements no one would ever say out loud.

  10. Ignoring the new world – Still using the marketing models you used 20 years ago? It’s time to update. Employ interactive models that help you connect with your customers on an ongoing basis, while mining data to get to know them better.

Top 10 Tips for Media Corrections

  1. Determine if the "error" is truly an error. Journalists often are asked for corrections based simply on the tone or slant of a story — not on obvious factual mistakes. Only ask for corrections for factual mistakes.

  2. Choose your battles wisely. If a mistake doesn’t cause any damage to a brand or cause you to lose customers, consider letting it slide. Asking a reporter for too many corrections undermines your company’s credibility in the newsroom.

  3. Check to see if the publication has a regular department for corrections. Such a department may spell out procedures for alerting the publication to errors.

  4. Begin the process with the person who made the mistake. Going straight to the publisher will completely destroy any credibility you have in the newsroom. Let the reporter himself or herself bring the mistake to the editor.

  5. Don’t call or e-mail until you can prove your point. Gather proof that the error was indeed an error.

  6. Remain calm and courteous. The age old adage of getting more flies with honey than vinegar rings true when requesting a correction.

  7. Go over the reporter’s head only for the most serious corrections. If you don’t get satisfaction from the reporter, and you believe the correction is worth fighting for, go to the editor, but make sure you tell the reporter what you’re up to. When possible, ask the reporter to take the dispute to the editor.

  8. If the dispute involves more than a misspelled name, consider writing a letter to the editor to state your case. This action is appropriate when you didn’t get to have your say in the original story, leaving your viewpoint out of the finished piece.

  9. Do your part to help the reporter avoid mistakes in the first place. Always provide the media with backgrounders or fact sheets to help ensure accuracy.

  10. Ask the reporter for an opportunity to fact check the piece before it goes to print. Most reporters will deny this request, but with large or complicated stories, it may be worth the effort to ask.

Top 10 Tips for Writing Bylined Articles

  1. Get one or two issues of the magazine and read the bylined articles to give you a feel for the magazine’s requirements and writing style.

  2. Contact the editor of the publication to ask about your deadline and your word count.

  3. Find out whether the publication wants photos or graphics to accompany the story. If so, ask whether prints, slides or emailed photos are preferred. If emailed, ask what dpi or resolution is needed.

  4. Some publications will want a photo of the author. If you don’t have one, consider getting a professional "head shot."

  5. A bylined article is not an advertisement; it’s an opportunity to demonstrate your company’s expertise. In many cases, your company won’t even be mentioned in the story — you and your company will be identified in a short paragraph at the end.

  6. Your document should include a headline, your byline, and a "tag line" at the end that identifies you and gives a brief summary of your company. Double-space the copy for easy editing, and include contact information in case the editor has questions.

  7. Double-check all spelling and all facts. If you quote someone, make certain he or she approves the quote before you submit the article.

  8. Your company may want to invest in an Associated Press Style Guide. Journalists use certain writing conventions (such as writing out all numbers below "10"). An editor will appreciate clean copy that adheres to journalistic style.

  9. Find out the anticipated publication date, but realize it could change. Although many publications automatically send a copy to contributors, check back with the editor around the anticipated date.

  10. Carefully look at the edited article before it goes to press. Don’t worry about "cosmetic" changes in wording unless they introduce inaccuracies, but do look for dropped words or partial sentences, typos and misidentifications. Be certain, too, that your company’s information is correctly stated.

Top 10 Tips to Decrease PR Costs

    1. When sending a press release on a fee-based wire service, don’t assume you always need the more costly national circuits. Local circuits can reduce costs and still provide exposure to both local media and national financial outlets.

    2. Create an electronic media kit to minimize print and mailing costs. Reporters increasingly prefer to view kits online.

    3. Don’t spend money on trinkets to tempt reporters; offer substantive news instead.

    4. Limit the number of trade shows where you exhibit — just walking the floor can be effective in some cases.

    5. Skip the trade show press conference unless you have big news to report; instead, schedule and meet with reporters one-on-one.

    6. Introduce one or more key company executives to reporters as expert sources — inclusion in news articles can boost company credibility and be less expensive than advertising.

    7. When you need to reach business-to-business audiences, focus on coverage in trade publications. It takes much less time to produce trade media hits and therefore the labor cost to you is reduced.

    8. When you do get a media hit, email the Web link to strategic business contacts and prospects as part of your marketing program. Hard copy reprints are also valuable to pass along.

    9. Contribute bylined "expert" articles to trade and online publications.

    10. Seek out speaking engagements; they offer great opportunities for targeted exposure and building credibility.

Top 10 Marketing Mistakes

  1. Placing the emphasis on your company, not your customer

  2. Selling features, not customer benefits

  3. Not finding out your customer’s needs

  4. Not differentiating your product from the pack

  5. Failure to include a call to action

  6. Relying on a one-shot ad campaign, instead of continuous, coordinated exposure in a variety of media

  7. Not testing headlines, price points, packages, pitches to determine what’s selling and what isn’t

  8. Failure to communicate key messages

  9. Eliminating marketing efforts when times get tough

  10. Dropping a marketing strategy that is working well

Top 10 Tips for Effective Direct Mail  

  1. Have complete understanding of your target audience BEFORE you begin your campaign.

  2. Create your direct mail campaign with your target audience in mind — write your copy and design your piece specifically for this audience.

  3. Acquire a mailing list only after careful research. Make certain that this list represents ONLY your target audience. A smaller, more tightly focused list can reduce costs and increase your campaign success.

  4. Realize that your headline (s) is critical. Write and re-write the headline until it is truly an attention-grabber.

  5. Always include a prominent "call to action" so your potential buyers will know how to purchase your product or service.

  6. From a strictly nuts-and-bolts angle, make sure you know all of the post office’s regulations. Many great direct mail pieces have gone astray at the PO and had to be redone at great expense.

  7. Use a "merge/purge" program if you are utilizing more than one list. This will remove multiple mailings to the same person, saving you money and reducing annoyance to the potential customer.

  8. Once your direct mail piece is written, designed and printed, don’t send out all at once. Try several smaller test mailings, perhaps with each one testing a different element, such as different wordings, or headlines.

  9. Carefully analyze where your responses are coming from, i.e. which test mailings, which lists, etc. Patterns will emerge if you are looking for them and these can help make future mailings more productive and less costly.

  10. BE CREATIVE. You will be competing for the customer’s attention along with numerous other direct mail pieces. If your piece is boring and dull, you’ll probably end up in the circular file. If your headline or design grabs attention quickly, chances are your message will be read.


Top 10 Tips for Items in a Media Kit

1. corporate backgrounder

2. industry backgrounder

3. corporate fact sheet

4. frequently asked questions (FAQs)

5. executive bios

6. recent press releases

7. company brochure

8. product data sheets

9. annual report

10. photos

Top 10 Tips for Trade Show Success  

1. Unless you have a large in-house creative/production department, outsource the design and production of your trade show exhibit.

2. Communicate with show management early to uncover all possible PR, advertising and promotion opportunities pre-, during and post-show.

3. Plan far enough ahead to take advantage of all promotional opportunities and provide a strong, positive image of your company at the show.

4. Determine in the planning stages whom EXACTLY you wish to attract to your booth and devise strategies to get them there.

5. Learn how simple or sophisticated the other attendees’ booths will be and then plan yours accordingly. When appropriate, make other exhibitors aware of your product. In some shows, both attendees and exhibitors should be targeted for double efficiency.

6. Don’t forget that trade shows can be excellent media opportunities, particularly for trade press.

7. Take advantage of show dailies and set up trade press appointments in advance when possible.When you know your trade show schedule, make good use of all marketing vehicles to let your target audiences know this schedule, i.e. Web site, ads, press releases, sales collateral, etc.

8. Target the look and message of your booth to the show you are attending.

9. Don’t assume that one booth-one look is appropriate for all shows, although sometimes it is.

10. FOLLOW UP. A great show with lots of quality leads will be disastrous unless there is careful and quick follow up on all leads.

Top 10 Rules for Successful Strategic Selling

  1. Know thyself – Be able to define your company and its products or services succinctly.

  2. Know thy customers – Define specific targets to go after and study their buying decisions and patterns. When you market to these targets, tailor your communications to their needs.

  3. Know thy competitors – Find out what you are selling against and learn how your competitors rank against your products, services, customer support, etc.

  4. Plan ahead – Analyze your market, what is happening and why it is happening. Create a plan to stay ahead of market changes.

  5. Build relationships – Forge long-term relationships with customers by listening to them. Determine their needs, understand what they value and how they measure customer satisfaction.

  6. Foresee the future – Study your customers’ businesses and anticipate what they will need before they do. Be innovative and creative in suggesting solutions. Add value to the relationship at every opportunity.

  7. Marshal resources – Ask for assistance from your colleagues outside of sales to help you communicate with customers and provide the solutions that they need. Create a financial plan of how to adequately develop business and nourish customer accounts.

  8. Close the sale – Pursue a sale aggressively but know when to hold back. Offer solutions that yield long-term advantages for you and your customers.

  9. Follow the sale – Deliver what you have promised after the sale – stay on strategy, time and money.

  10. Be honest – Remember that your personal integrity is at stake.

Top10Tips on Selecting a Domain Name for your Company

    Your domain name, or URL, is extremely important to the success of your site. Your online marketing efforts will be either helped or hindered by the name you select and register. Now is the time — BEFORE you register your name — to consider the guidelines. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you go through this process:

    1. Avoid words that can be spelled in a variety of ways. When your potential visitor misspells your name, and can’t find you, potential business may be lost. If this can’t be avoided, register the common misspellings so they link to the actual URL.

    2. Even if you select a domain name different than your company name, go ahead and register your company name, too. This name can be linked to your URL which will help people find you if they do not know your actual URL.

    3. Keep your name as short as possible. The more characters, the more chances for mistakes and therefore, lost visitors.

    4. Try for a memorable name if possible. If the name is spoken in conversation, will the listener recall it later? A memorable name can tremendously assist an ad campaign.

    5. The best domain names are ones that mirror the business’ actual name or give an impression of what the business does.

    6. Try to avoid numerals in your name. People often can’t recall if they should be numerical or spelled out in letters.

    7. Don’t use trademarked names that do not belong to your company in your URL.

    8. Designate one central person as the keeper of the domain name(s) registration material and account numbers, passwords and renewal dates.

    9. Carefully consider your top level domain (TLD) -- the suffix at the end of your name following the period. Com (.com) is the most common and the best if your name is available. Otherwise, try to select another suffix that is well-known, such as .net.

    10. Register variations of your name. For example, if you have a .com address, add .net and .org for the same URL. This will protect you in the future.

Top 10 Tips for Telemarketing Success

    1. Select Quality Lists. Have a good understanding of your ideal customer so you can uncover a list with the right characteristics. Look at your current customers to gain this understanding.

    2. Track Results Carefully. Some lists work better than others; some scripts do better, and, of course, some callers are superstars. Track all results to make sure you know which lists, scripts and callers are doing the job you need.

    3. Develop an Effective Script. This is especially important when the caller is green. Your own situation will dictate whether you need a script with just key points or something more elaborate with a variety of answers to anticipated responses.

    4. Be Prepared. Make certain you are ready to make the call — keep in mind that when you sound focused and relaxed, your chances of conveying your message effectively increase.

    5. Be Courteous Always. Most telemarketers know to be courteous while matching their pitch. But some fall victim to getting rattled when confronted by rude people. Your ultimate success depends on you "keeping your cool" at all times.

    6. Set Goals. You have a much greater chance of success if you have clearly defined your goals prior to starting the campaign. Set targets for each individual and each activity under taken. Keep an eye on these throughout.

    7. Training is Key. Don’t expect to turn a great employee into a great telemarketer without training. Persons who specialize in telemarketing also need training, but when you need to convert existing employees into callers, make certain they understand the campaign objectives. Use role-playing to maximize their skills.

    8. Motivate Your Workers. Motivation can take many forms — everything from a verbal compliment to a monthly or annual trophy. Holding actual contests can provide great incentive for excellence; contestants can be individuals or teams, depending on your work situation.

    9. Use Coaching to Improve Performance. First, each employee should be monitored and evaluated regularly. Next, compliment strengths and point out weaknesses (with suggestions for improvement). Make each employee feel better, not worse, after coaching — this helps counterbalance frequent rejection.

    10. Create a System for Follow-up. One of the worst mistakes you can make is doing a good job on the telemarketing, but falling down on the follow-up. Set up a complete follow-up system BEFORE you start. Know exactly what you will do in each instance, i.e. send company materials, follow-up call later (know exactly when), follow-up letter, etc.

Top 10 Tips for Web Content

  1. Integrate. Approach your Web site with the goal of integrating design and writing to communicate your messages. The most effective content gives site visitors text, databases and graphics that are integrated to accurately communicate your messages.

  2. Plan. Consider what you want your Web site to accomplish long term before taking action. Many organizations approach Web site content with the simple goal of "getting up information." But without knowing your organization’s long-term plan for the site (education, e-commerce, marketing), your content will fall short of succeeding in its objective.

  3. Approve. Get senior managers to buy into site objectives and content before going live. This will ensure that planning precedes action.

  4. Maximize. Look at your existing marketing and sales materials and repurpose content when appropriate. You could post presentations as downloadable PDFs or recast brochure content to be more Web-friendly.

  5. Interact. Give site visitors an easy way to interact with you. You can accomplish this by including an e-mail hyperlink or an automated response form.

  6. Engage. Look throughout your organization for suitable content. For example, your sales organization could have customer testimonials to include online. The executive team could contribute messages to customers and partners.

  7. Respond. Reply to inquiries from site visitors within 24 hours – the same day, if possible. This shows that your organization is committed to its online presence and values interaction with its stakeholders.

  8. Standardize. Strive for content consistency and accuracy. You should develop a style for content that complies with online standards. Site visitors will comprehend more of your content if it is crisp and clear. Keep paragraphs short and use bullet points to communicate benefits or other information in lists.

  9. Restrain. Don’t make your site a homage to the latest Web design innovations. Technology, such as flash, can help your organization communicate effectively and differentiate itself from competitors. But technology used without restraint can overwhelm visitors and reduce reading comprehension.

  10. Own. Designate one person within your organization as the content keeper. This individual should be responsible for ensuring that content adheres to these tips and owns the project – from integrating messages to responding to visitor inquiries.

Top 10 Ways to Use Customer Testimonials

  1. Sales collateral. The most traditional use of a case study or testimonial is to include it among your company’s sales collateral given to prospective customers. It could be a stand-alone piece or incorporated into a brochure.

  2. New business solicitation. Go one step further in your sales solicitations by mailing or e-mailing prospective customers directly with testimonials. This often is perceived as a "softer" sales approach, as a customer testimonial is viewed more objectively than a company’s own marketing pitch.

  3. Corporate positioning. Many companies, wishing to be viewed as customer-centric, use customer testimonials as the basis of their ad campaigns.

  4. Web site content. Make use of your corporate Web site by including a section on customer testimonials. It adds examples of real-world applications that site visitors will appreciate.

  5. Customer recognition. You can reward your most important customers by soliciting feedback from them about your products and services — and then use the testimonial to promote your company and theirs.

  6. Press or analyst references. The media and analysts scramble for objective, third-party views of your company. Although business and financial reporters and financial and industry analysts won’t use a case study provided word for word, they often will use it as springboard for covering your company or follow up with the customer for an interview.

  7. Employee communications. Employees crave good-news stories about the success of their company — especially early wins for startups. Company leaders should send customer testimonials to all employees and recognize the employees who were instrumental in gaining the customer’s favorable response.

  8. Speeches. You can weave testimonials into speeches to show how end users have used you your product or service successfully.

  9. Trade shows. There are multiple uses for testimonials at trade shows. Companies can include testimonials in their presentations, speeches, marketing collateral and even booth graphics. Many also include customers in their in-booth demonstrations.

  10. Bylined articles. Some trade publications will publish case studies with a byline from either a company or customer representative.

Top 10 Tips for a Cause-Related Marketing Campaign

  1. Be careful about what you promote. Your company should align itself only with a cause that reflects the ideals of the company and meets the needs of the charity.

  2. Define the benefits. Only partner with charitable causes that will derive real benefits, such as in-kind or monetary donations or employee volunteers.

  3. Think size appropriate. Although larger companies can conduct grand-scale cause-related marketing campaigns, such as a national ISP donating a portion of monthly service fees to a non-profit, even small companies can have big impacts by conducting a grass-roots campaign for a local charity.

  4. Target based on demographics. Cause-related marketing should be targeted at groups that share the same values as your company, ensuring demographic similarity between the types of donors to that charity and buyers or users of your product or service.

  5. Don’t exploit your good deed. Although cause-related marketing isn’t completely altruistic – you should seek some positive exposure for your involvement – publicity should be conducted with respect to both the corporate and non-profit entities.

  6. Think long term. You should strive to create programs that yield long-term value for the non-profit, not short-term hype for you.

  7. Look beyond the trends. Look beyond the philantropic trends to identify charities that truly need your assistance, not merely have current name recognition.

  8. Commit resources. Before agreeing to a cause, ensure that your organization can handle its request.

  9. Do due diligence. Look at their operations as you would any strategic partner. Talk with the executive director, the development director and members of the board to get an idea of financial situation, resources, management, etc.

  10. Maximize the PR value. Explore how you can be included in their marketing vehicles to help promote your company and build a tie in with their organization.

Top 10 Ways to Use E-mail More Effectively

  1. Select your audience. Think about who should receive your message. Use the "cc" – carbon copy – function for those who should be informed about your message but don’t need to take action. Don’t send every message to every individual working on a project if it isn’t pertinent to them.

  2. Control your replies. If you receive an e-mail asking you for information that also was sent to others, don’t automatically use the "reply all" feature. Chances are, only the author needs the information.

  3. Consider your image. Refrain from sending jokes and other trivial e-mails as broadcast messages from your company e-mail account. It lessens the impact of legitimate e-mails you do send.

  4. Don’t spam. If you regularly send e-mails to a distribution list, give recipients the option to opt out – and respect their requests.

  5. Know your purpose. Treat e-mail as any of form of business communications. Although your writing tone can be looser than in a formal memo or report, you still should have a well-defined purpose in mind before sending any e-mail.

  6. Define the subject. Treat the subject line as editors treat a headline. It should be provocative and informative.

  7. Clearly ask for what you want. Let recipients know what is expected of them. Don’t bury a task or information request in the body of the e-mail. Call it out, using bullets or other devices, so recipients can quickly scan the e-mail and understand what to do.

  8. Sign it. Make use of the auto-signature function most e-mail systems offer. Include your name, company name, brief company description (no more than five words) and contact information.

  9. Consider in box limitations. Don’t send e-mail attachments 1kb or larger.

  10. Pick up the phone. Although e-mail is a time-saving and effective communication vehicle, it can’t replace actually speaking with another individual. Sometimes, the best way to communicate information that can easily be misconstrued – or when you need to make a personal connection with someone – is to have a good old-fashioned conversation with them.

Top 10 Tips for Using Co-Op Advertising

1. Obey the rules. Every manufacturer or supplier that offers co-op advertising establishes its own programs, so learn all the rules before conducting any advertising – and follow them exactly so you get paid.

Verify your work. When submitting a claim for co-op advertising, make sure to include a copy of a print or online ad or transcripts of a broadcast ad plus affidavits of dates and times aired.

Follow the money trail. Always include copies of invoices from the publication, Web site or station that ran the ad.

4. Count your pennies. Your company earns co-op dollars based on the amount of purchases made from a manufacturer or supplier. Keep careful records so you know exactly how much you purchased – and how much you are entitled to for your advertising program.

5. Outsmart the competition. Look for creative ways to use your co-op funding that your competitors aren't, such as sales videos or promotional contests. However, check with your manufacturer first to get prior approval before launching.

6. Be bold. About your company name, that is. Viewers of your ad should remember your company's name primarily, not your supplier's. Your goal is to increase your sales, not simply your supplier's.

Think like the manufacturer. Try to fashion your ads after their campaigns. This will increase the likelihood they will fund it.

8. Ask for it.
If your preferred vendor doesn't offer co-op advertising, prepare a proposal and pitch the idea. They may fund the idea even if an established program isn't in place.

9. Switch allegiances. If another vendor does offer co-op advertising and your preferred vendor doesn't, consider switching (assuming all other aspects of the business relationship is comparable).

10. Claim it. You'd be surprised how many companies don't get their slice of the co-op pie because they fail to submit claims. Don't make the same mistake.

Top 10 Ways to Boost Marketing Effectiveness

1. Go back to basics. Perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of your current marketing efforts before incorporating any new strategies or tactics. Look at whether your efforts are in line with your company's overall business strategy and reach all of your audiences. Also examine your company's messages to audiences. An effective marketing program will have a mix of tactics, such as public relations, advertising, online marketing, investor relations and trade show involvement.

Define what you want to achieve. Before embarking on any marketing project – where PR, advertising, online marketing or others – decide what you want to achieve with it. Perhaps you want to increase sales by 10 percent over a 30-day period or introduce a new CEO to the investment community and secure four briefings with venture capitalists. Describe it as precisely as you can.

Understand your targets. Learn what will motivate your target audience to buy your products, visit your Web site – in short, take the action you want them to – before you communicate with them. Your marketing efforts will be more successful, and your measurement will be more revealing. See if your sales department or other internal groups have any data on your audience.

4. Communicate appropriately. For most business-to-business or business-to-consumer communications, your writing should target a reading level of sixth to ninth grade. Many word processing software programs provide readability statistics for you, including Microsoft Word. If your audience doesn't fully grasp your message, it won't respond.

5. Conduct informal testing. In many instances – especially when your marketing investment is small or project is informal – you can track your effectiveness by spot polling your target audience. Call customers to conduct random interviews. When making sales calls, ask prospects what they think of your communications. Look for other informal and inexpensive ways to gather feedback.

6. Pretest before committing. If your marketing campaign is sizable in terms of expense and reach, test the waters before launching it. Conduct a focus group of your target audience to gauge their reaction to it. You'll have some confidence before committing to buying advertising space, introducing a service or product, or conducting a significant project.

Perform formal testing. Also for large marketing campaigns, such as direct mail, invest in formal research after their launch. Employ surveys and establish online tracking mechanisms to determine response rate and effectiveness. Consider using a market research expert or statistician to help you quantify your results.

8. Offer incentives.
Encourage people to provide informal or formal feedback by giving them an incentive for helping you, such as discounts on a future purchases or free consultation.

9. Audit annually. Conduct target audience research every year to learn how their needs and relationship to your company has evolved.

10. Fine tune. Measurement is a process. As you gather informal and formal feedback, use the information to fine tune your marketing efforts. Little changes can yield big results, such as revising the subject line in an e-mail campaign to garner higher response rates.


Top 10 Tips for Speaking to Industry Groups

1. Research your audience. Your speech should reflect the needs of the group you are addressing. Tailor your talk to make it relevant. For example, if your expertise is online security, you could give a group of business leaders advice on creating a privacy program for their customers. This same talk could be tailored to a technology group if you recommend hardware, software and services.

Engage them. As part of your research, get to know some of the key players from the industry group who will attend your talk. Work their names – either individuals or companies – into your presentation. You'll boost the audiences' attentiveness.

Offer solutions. One of the best ways to earn a good reputation with industry groups is to propose solutions to their problems – not a sales pitch for your company. If you've done a thorough job of researching your audience, you understand their challenges. Let them know that by offering ideas for them to try.

4. Deliver a call to action. Engage your audience further by moving them to act on your message after the presentation. Give them resources to continue their learning experience, such as the titles of books to read or addresses of Web sites to visit. Offer some free consulting time to answer their questions one-on-one without a sales presentation for your services.

5. Let them get to know you. If you connect with your audience, they will listen to you better. Reveal something about yourself that your industry peers could relate to, such as your own business problems and how you addressed them.

6. Use humor. Levity is a powerful and effective tool. Used effectively, humor makes your material more memorable and you more likable. Plus, it gives your audience time to comprehend heavy material. You don't need to tell jokes – just relate a funny story or project an entertaining cartoon that relates to your subject matter.

Illustrate with props. People understand material better when they can make a visual connection to your point. Bring props that relate to your presentation.

8. Know the logistics.
Before your presentation, learn how the room will be configured, how many people will be in attendance, if food will be served while you are speaking, lighting effects in use and more. Pay attention to these details because they can affect your performance and listeners' comprehension.

9. Practice. You might present the most critical information but no one will remember it – or have a favorable impression of you – if you don't project a polished image. Don't rely on PowerPoint to make you a dynamic speaker. Practice what you will say and how you will say it before you present. You should appear confident during your presentation, not searching for the "right" words.

10. Allow for Q&A. Build into your allotted speaking time for a short question-and-answer session. This will further show your willingness to offer solutions and help audience members gain knowledge.

Top 10 Ways to Create a Press-Friendly Web Site

1. Develop a media section. Press will appreciate having media resources online. You should post all news releases, company backgrounders, white papers, product and service specification sheets, executive bios, photos, etc.

Link to media section. By providing a hyperlink to the media section on every page, journalists can easily navigate through the site, glean the information most useful to them and contact you easily.

Publish a complete list of press contacts. Include the name, direct e-mail, phone, fax and areas of responsibility for each media contact at your company. And keep the list current.

4. Include a Web-based form. In addition to providing contact information for all company representatives authorized to speak with the media, include a Web-based form the press can use to request more information or an interview. Respond to these inquiries the same day as received.

5. Publish press releases on your own site quickly. You should publish news releases on your site simultaneously to distributing via a wire service or sending to the media. This shows the media that your site is an up-to-the-minute source of company news and information.

6. Make it easy to ask questions. Most journalists will view your press releases as news leads. If you succeed in grabbing their attention, they will have questions and want to follow up with you. You'll run the risk losing their interest if they have to hunt for contact information. Put the name, telephone number and e-mail address of a media representative for your company on every news release posted online.

Link easy. Journalists whose work appears in online media often link directly to news releases or corporate Web sites. If the press release section of your Web site uses dynamically generated HTML, make sure the URL for each release includes no session information. This way, the same URL will work for any user. Also, don't let the URL get unreasonably long.

8. Let the press opt in.
Within the media section of your site, include a way for journalists to join a company e-mail list. This makes it easy for journalists to keep track of your organization without having to visit yourself regularly – which most reporters wonÕt do anyway.

9. Learn e-mail etiquette. To effectively use and manage your opt-in list, transmit e-mail releases and other announcements only when you have hard news to share. You will alienate the media if you inundate them with fluff.

10. Do your homework. You should ask your media contacts if they find your Web site valuable. Solicit feedback and perform evaluations regularly – just as you would seek feedback from customers on whether your products and services meet their needs.

Top 10 Tips for Selecting a PR Agency

. Define objectives. Before meeting with any agencies, determine what you want out of the relationship. What do you hope to achieve for your company? For example, do you want to increase sales, enter a new market space or launch a product? Do you need to have a presence on Wall Street or among the local business community to raise additional funds? Do you have a poor image or no image that has to be dealt with.

Seek referrals. Ask industry colleagues you trust for recommendations. Attend professional and trade associations and ask members which agencies they use. Professional service providers, such as attorneys, CPAs, investment bankers and others can provide good tips as well. Share your objectives with these sources so they can point you in the right direction.

Develop a list. Compile a list of about a dozen agencies to consider based on your referrals. Now, conduct secondary research about these agencies. Read the business journals in your area to find information about each agency, such as new clients, staff hires and awards. Go to each Web site and see how they present themselves. Look for work that impresses you. Not all PR firms focus on agency promotion, however, so don't discount a recommendation simply because there is a lot written about that firm.

4. Set the criteria. Before approaching any agency, develop criteria to evaluate their knowledge, services, results, fees and "fit" with your company. You want to make an "apples to apples" comparison of each agency, so write a list of questions to glean the answers that are important to you. Some questions that should appear in your criteria: Do they have experience working in your industry? If not, how can they demonstrate that they can bridge the learning curve quickly? How is their work creative and original enough to separate you from your competitors? Are the people who will work on your account experienced? Are they budget conscious and results-oriented?

5. Screen agencies by phone. An agency review can be a lengthy process, so look for ways to save time. One recommendation: Conduct the first round of evaluation by telephone. Request that each agency comment on the criteria you have developed.

6. Interview the finalists. After conducting telephone interviews, arrange in-person interviews with three of four PR firms that met your criteria and you felt you could work with to meet your business objectives. Ask agencies to present their firm capabilities and preliminary analysis of your industry, business and PR recommendations. However, don't be wowed by razzle-dazzle performances. Try to evaluate what they say, rather than just how they say it. Good new business presentations may have little to do with the ability to conduct good work.

Value chemistry. The agency you select must not only commit to helping you achieve your objectives and meet your criteria, it also must be able to integrate into your company and become part of the team. Ask yourself, "Do I feel comfortable working with these professionals?" Do you feel that you will have full access to not only your account manager but the heads of the agency as well?

8. Ask to speak with current and former clients.
Just as you would interview a job candidate's former employees, talk with agencies' clients. You will be able to learn if the agency is easy to work with and delivers on promises.

9. Know the players. Many agencies will send their top executives and business development managers to meet with you and get your business. Often, these individuals will have no to little activity on your account. Before signing a contract, try to meet the professionals who will work on your account day to day. The purpose of this step is to ensure that the agencyÕs most junior members won't staff your account entirely. Look for a good balance between established professionals and young talent working on your account.

10. Give the agency time to perform. Although you will be eager to see your PR dollars generate media coverage and other forms of publicity, any PR campaign takes some time to realize results. Opt to sign a six-month contact with your agency. This time frame is long enough to evaluate your agency's performance and determine whether the agency you selected is a long-term fit for your company.

Top 10 Tips for Crisis Management

1. Develop a crisis management plan before your company needs one. Decide ahead of time who will be authorized to speak for the company in case of a disaster.

Build up a bank of good will by cultivating a positive public image during the good times. The public will be more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt

When a crisis hits, respond immediately and openly. (In Internet time, "immediately" means within 24 hours. Don't give special interest groups time to seize the Web initiative.)

4. Admit your responsibility, and apologize. Announce that you are investigating the situation and will report back as additional information becomes available.

5. Explain how you're going to rectify the problem. Then do it.

6. Don't forget the Internet: Address the issue on your company Web site and update the information often. Some companies create a dummy Internet site that can go live for the public and the media in an emergency.

Be available to reporters, return all media calls promptly, and answer questions openly and honestly.

Make sure your company has one unified, resonating message.

9. Provide new information to the media and the public as soon as it becomes available.

10. Be responsive to people's needs. That includes victims and their families, employees and their families, and the surrounding community.


10 Tips for Creating Corporate Identities

1. Keep in mind your company's industry, its positioning within its industry and its target audience(s) when you decide the look and feel of your corporate identity (logo). Corporate, tech and consumer logos all can be very different.

Strive for future flexibility when you design the logo. Make sure the image will look good both small (business card size) and large (truck size). You may not need a top-of-building sign now, but all successful companies eventually find new uses for their logos.

Not all companies require icons, also referred to as marks, symbols,or the company's brand. Sometimes, a distinctive type font for the company name can be sufficient. Be open to all possibilities during the corporate identity process.

4. Think carefully about the size relationship between the company name and logo icon. In some cases, a small icon and larger company name is appropriate. In others, it is essential for people to remember the icon and therefore it should have a memorable look and sufficient size. Whatever you select, try to keep the icon the same size on all pieces of the stationery package.

5. When selecting the type font, avoid fonts that are too trendy or are difficult to read. A trendy font will grow tiresome before long and look dated. A difficult-to-read font will cause even worse problems. Some of the oldest fonts can appear both contemporary and timeless and look good with most icons.

6. Select your corporate color(s) carefully. Choose colors you – and your customers – will still like in future years. For printed materials, two colors are a good choice. One color can be boring and appear too inexpensive; three or four-colors can be expensive to print. Logos used on the Internet require a different approach. Many companies today – often emerging tech companies – use 4-color logos for maximum Web impact. It is not unusual to have a subdued print version and a splashier Web version.

Corporate logos should be relatively small to communicate a professional look. In most cases, the larger the company, the smaller the logo. Some exceptions: Logos for consumer products and logos for design-oriented enterprises usually are larger.

When you are designing the logo, think about any specialty printing you might want to include, such as regular or blind embossing, foil stamping, "bleeds" off the edge of the paper, etc. If you know at the start you want embossing or foil, the design must lend itself to that treatment.

9. Once the logo is selected, use it on all communications from the company. Even new ventures should set up corporate design standards that dictate how and when the logo is to be used. This will help a company avoid the mismatched look that often appears when companies expand rapidly.

10. Obtain the original art boards and electronic/digital files so you can modify the artwork in the future.

Top 10 Tips for Writing White Papers

1. Your white paper should make a case for a single technology or service. Written properly, it will build credibility for that product or service.

2. Write for the appropriate audience: people with a technical background in a targeted industry. You'll find the document will also be a valuable PR tool for use with the press.

3. Write the white paper, not as a sales piece, but as an informational document that provides broad technical explanations of a technology or its implementation. Remember that you are trying to attract prospects with a problem your product or service can solve.

4. Judge the length by what you have to say. A white paper can be as short as three pages, or as long as 20 pages.

5. For maximum outreach, produce the white paper as a downloadable PDF file, as well as on paper or posted on a Web site

6. Set the stage for the product you are discussing by sharing trend, historical or background information up front.

7. Don't just explain design features. Explain design decisions, too – in other words, not only what the feature does, but why it exists and what makes it valuable.

8. It is often helpful to create multiple white papers that address different audiences, such as developer, user, or administrator.

9. If your product has an obvious weakness, don't be afraid to acknowledge it – as long as the product's positive features outweigh the negative. It gives you an opportunity to respond to anticipated objections, and the admission can boost your credibility.

10. Try using the following format:

• Introduce a condition or situation that needs a solution

• Present the technology or service that provides a solution

• Explain what the new technology or service does and how it works

• Illustrate the benefits of the product or service

• Explain why your company is taking a leading role in development and implementation of this product or service

• Provide a look at the future for this product or service.

Top 10 Tips for Maximizing the Paid Wire Services

1. Keep press releases short whenever possible. There is an extra charge for excessive length.

2. Use the more costly national distribution circuits only when your story is newsworthy enough to warrant them - - this will save significant dollars in the long run.

3. If not a national story, use the smallest appropriate circuit to save money. Target your local region; if the press release is a joint effort by two companies, i.e. one in Chicago and another in San Diego, release the news in both areas.

4. Take advantage of the trade publication lists included, at no extra cost, with all releases. Both BusinessWire and PR Newswire offer distribution to industry trade publications, i.e. high-technology, medical, manufacturing, etc.

5. Release news early in the morning East Coast time. That way, reporters on both coasts have access to the news when they get into the office in the morning.

6. Supplement your wire distribution with your own media list - - not everyone will see your release over the wire. Fax, email or call your own media contacts. Also, fax, e-mail or call analysts and key customers you have relationships with.

7. Make sure your news is worthy of wire release. For example, if you are announcing the hiring of a new marketing manager, this may not be worth the expense. Companies that issue too many "soft-news" wire releases are not taken seriously when real news is released.

8. Release news early in the week whenever possible. Many weekly publications close their issues by end-of-day Wednesday.

9. Always include contact names. Make it easy for reporters, customers or others to inquire about the news by including company and PR agency names, phone numbers and e-mails at the beginning or end of the press release.

10. Make the headline of your press release compelling. The main headline, and sub-headline, are what reporters see in their queues. If they find them interesting, they will be likely to open the release and read more.

Top 10 Tips for Visibility For Private Companies

  1. Develop a consistent corporate identity with professional logo, press kit, Web site and collateral materials.

  2. Develop three or four strong messaging points about your company. Ensure that executives, marketing and other key staff know these messaging points, and use them consistently for all public contacts/appearances.

  3. Create informative, non-commercial press releases for news stories about your company. Look for ways to differentiate from your competitors.

  4. Create and maintain a current list of media contacts in the business, consumer and trade press. Cultivate media "friendships."

  5. Send a news release once a month or as appropriate.

  6. Try to speak at industry conferences (without compensation) to build credibility, but focus on your expertise, not your product or service.

  7. Assist in sponsoring a non-profit event, such as a science fair, seminar or physical activity such as a walk, run or bicycle ride.

  8. Update your Web site often and provide interesting, value-added information to ensure repeat visits that can be tracked.

  9. Exhibit or at least attend trade shows important to your industry. While there, meet as many key people, including the media, as possible.

  10. Sponsor a seminar or other educational event related to your industry. Then invite professionals who can benefit from the information. Mention your product or service, yet avoid strong commercialization.





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