How to Organize a Virtual Event

Thanks to the pandemic, we as a society have figured out ways to make nearly everything virtual: school, doctor’s appointments, business meetings, even fashion shows. You name it, there’s a Zoom link for it.

Shifting into the online world, virtual events have become more popular than ever. But here’s the question: how do you plan one?

No matter the occasion, here’s our 8-step guide on organizing the perfect virtual event.

Step #1: Create Your Guest List

Like any party, start by creating a guest list. How many people would you like to invite? Will it be a small gathering or a larger one? Formulate a rough list, and if you’re unsure about the size, err on the upper end of your estimate.

Step #2: Gather Attendee Contact Information

Will you be sending a physical invitation, an evite, or both? Once you’ve established how you’re going to invite people to your event, make sure you have attendee email addresses and/or home addresses. Organization is key.

Step #3: Flesh Out the Details

This portion of your party planning can be time-consuming, but incredibly important. When is the event going to happen? What time? Will there be any special guests? Swag bags? Speeches? Make sure you know how you want everything to run as it will inform what goes on the actual invitation.

Step #4: Design an Invitation

As mentioned above, this could be an evite, a physical invite, and/or a simple email. Be sure to outline the date, timing, and exactly what you’re going to do in that amount of time. For example:

Step #5: Generate a Running List of RSVPs

Be sure to document who will be in attendance, their email addresses (so you can send the Zoom link), and/or home addresses if you’re sending physical invitations and swag bags. Once again, staying organized is the best way to ensure everything runs smoothly. 

Step #6: Select a Hosting Platform

At this point, you’ve solidified a date, a time, and a guest list. Now it’s time to select a hosting platform so you can generate a link for attendees to tune into the day of the event. Whether it’s Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, Zoho, or any of the other video conferencing platforms currently out there, be sure to do your research as you may need to purchase a specific plan depending on the number of people who will be in attendance.

Step #7: Send the Link

The key here is to not send the event link out too early as your email can get lost in your attendees’ inboxes. We recommend sending it out a day or two before the event.

Step #8: Enjoy the Party!

Although most of us wish we could be hosting people in person, a virtual event is still a great excuse to get dressed up, open a bottle of wine, and enjoy catching up with friends and family. Have fun!

For more tips and tricks, check out more of our latest blogs.

Our 6-Step Guide to Earning Local Media Coverage

If you recently launched a new product or service and do not have the slightest idea where to begin with your promotional efforts, look no further than your very own backyard.

Whether you’re looking to raise awareness about yourself, your book, your business, and/or your brand, local media coverage can be the most successful form of publicity that can offer the greatest amount of impact. And guess what? You don’t have to spend a penny on advertisements. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Streamline Your Story

Streamlining the story you want to present to the press is essential when it comes to landing local coverage. Why should they cover it? Is it compelling? What value does it provide? Keep these questions in mind as you develop your story.

Step 2: Do Your Research

This may come as no surprise, but one of the most crucial parts to securing an interview, review, or feature stems from the amount of initial research you put in. Start by making a list using the 5 W’s:

  • Who is the best person(s) to pitch?
    • THINK: Editor in Chief, News & Program Directors, topic-specific reporters
  • What segment of the outlet would be the best fit?
    • THINK: News, Sports, Art & Entertainment, Politics, Opinion sections
  • Where can you find journalist contact information?
    • THINK: Contact sections of the outlets’ websites and Twitter handles for direct messages
  • When is the best time to pitch them?
    • THINK: Trend stories and news cycles
  • Why should the outlet be interested?

Step 3: Formulate a Pitch

At this point, you’ve established a story and figured out where and whom you want to go after. Naturally, it’s time to sit down and actually write the pitch. The key here is to share who you are and your story in the most concise way possible – ideally in one or two short paragraphs. If you’re looking for an interview, it might be in your best interest to include a press release and talking points in the body of the email (after your signature) so the receiver doesn’t have to click on multiple attachments. It’s also imperative to highlight the fact that you are local and any noteworthy contributions you have made to the community. This can be done in both the subject line and the body of the email in your introduction. For example:

SUBJECT LINE:
Portland local takes action against homelessness through new initiative

INTRODUCTION:
Dear Journalist,

My name is John Doe, a local Portland businessman and philanthropist…

Step 4: Connect with Your Contacts

Now, you’ve sent your pitches out and are awaiting responses. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to follow them on social media and engage with their posts. Sometimes all it takes is seeing a familiar name to evoke a response.

Step 5: Follow Up

Another vital step toward earning local media coverage is your follow up. If the contact you pitched hasn’t responded to your email, ping them again. Give them a call. Shoot them a message on Twitter explaining who you are and what you’re looking for. It’s okay to be relentless in your pursuit as it can take multiple follow-up messages to elicit a response.

Step 6: Stay in Touch

Whether your inquiry is accepted or denied, don’t be afraid to ask about the types of stories your media contact typically covers so you know for the future and keep in touch with them over email and/or social media. It’s always advantageous to maintain a good rapport.

For more publicity tips, check out our Publicity 101 series.

Why is Your Digital Personal Brand Important in 2021?

Why should you care about your digital personal brand?  It’s not just your reputation, it is also the 21st century platform that enables you to work, socialize, sell a product, and plan and achieve goals. I was speaking with an author recently who publishes a book every year.  Prior to 2017 he says his books would sell 2,000 + copies in paperback.  Since then, he is lucky if he sells 200.  What happened?  Did his fans abruptly change their minds about his books?  Was he blackballed from Facebook? Since he is a self-published author, his primary means of selling was online, but somehow it was as if he had disappeared from cyberspace.

How do you disappear in cyberspace?

Sometime in the last five years between changing algorithms, and a critical mass of over three billion people on social media, the rules changed.  When once you could post a few times a week on a platform, build a reasonable audience, and become more popular, now you have to have a brand and a plan.  Enter CoVid, the constant stream of bad news and politics, stores shut down, and more people online than ever before, doing everything from work to school to entertainment.   Do you think this is temporary? Nope.  Even when more of us venture outside of our homes,  experts say the move to digital was fast-tracked by necessity, and much of it is here to stay.

How does a digital personal brand work?

Imagine that you are a high school science teacher by day and host a podcast on sci fi entertainment by night (or any other time).  As a teacher you go to school, see students, engage with colleagues and parents, and have a reputation as an effective educator.  You tell people about your podcast and you gain a few downloads from your connections, but nothing that will justify the time it takes to put your shows together.  How can you solve this problem and make your podcast successful?

If you had a digital personal brand with a presence on social media platforms and a business page for your podcast, you would have a base from which to start growing an audience.  You could utilize Instagram and Facebook to post your audio and link to iTunes and other streaming services.  You could research people interested in your topic and connect with them to get listeners as well as potential guests and topics for your show.  As you build your audience you could offer promotions and incentives for them to provide content for you to repost, tagging the original user.  Then you will show up in that user’s network with exposure to all of their friends and followers, and so on, and so on.(Anyone remember that Faberge commercial for shampoo?)

Why do you need to put YOU first to get noticed?

The science teacher may think creating her podcast is the hard part, but it isn’t.  The first step is having the content.  Then she needs to plan on how she is going to be in front of people who are spending time in the digital space.   Brian Solis says that we have become a society of digital narcissists.  To make that premise work to your advantage, you will need to figure out who you are; who you want to be; what you are promoting; and how you are going to communicate all of this in a consistent, branded manner on digital media.

 

How to Rebrand Your Business in the Digital Age

Rebranding your business is an exciting time to flex your design muscles while also breathing new life into your business. The digital age also means that there are lots of avenues for you when it comes to getting the word out and building your online presence.

That said, rebranding your business isn’t always a walk in the park — and the task becomes twice as difficult when it comes to figuring out how to do so digitally. There are lots of potential avenues you could go down, so the key is creating a digital branding strategy that works best for you.

Build your website

The first step to rebranding in the digital age is starting with a website. While you may already have your business’ social media platforms operational, you still need a website to serve as a digital home base. Marketing director Michael Kava states that working with a reputable web hosting site is of utmost importance, as this prevents your site from crashing or getting hacked. Furthermore, you should also make navigation menus easily readable. After all, a beautiful site isn’t worth much if people have a hard time finding the information that they need.

Engage your existing audience

You should involve your current target audience throughout your rebranding process. Failing to do so might alienate your old customers, which is definitely not the effect you want to have. Posting teasers of your new look and sharing the story behind your rebranding strategy generates a bit of buzz surrounding the new reveal while also allowing your customers to be part of your business’ story.

Solidify your aesthetic across all platforms

It’s important to ensure consistency across all platforms to build better brand awareness amongst your audience. From adjusting banner sizes to sticking to making your website mobile-friendly, such guidelines will help enhance brand recall and attract more clients. The effectiveness of these techniques is why they are drilled into students on university design courses. This is why digital media degree professor John Fahnestock of Maryville University emphasizes the importance of focusing on the aesthetic, technical, and theoretical aspects of design across a variety of mediums and specialties. Following these principles will help designers shape their visual storytelling. Keeping those principles in mind, and asking yourself whether your design is both functional and beautiful, will help you create engaging content that works either as an Instagram story or a Facebook post.

Replace your targeted ads

No digital rebrand strategy is complete without ads. If you already have digital ads in place, remember to edit them to match your brand’s new visual strategy. You can also use this opportunity to explore other advertising options. Partnering with influencers on Instagram posts and stories is a great way to get the word out, as is creating sponsored Twitter posts. The beauty of digital ads is that you can also track their performance through analytics, which can then help you further refine your campaigns.

Choose the right payment gateways

Of course, a digital rebrand isn’t just about aesthetics: it’s about positioning your business as a fully accessible online service. As such, partnering with the right payment gateways helps establish your business as a trusted vendor. PayPal continues to be a popular payment service for online businesses, making it an obvious choice for SMEs who want to mitigate risk. Stripe is another payment gateway that you can use, and both services let you create payment buttons that you can then embed clearly on your site. Potential customers who go to your site will then see these buttons and know that you offer flexible payment options.

Our previous Social Media 101 post maintains that going digital is one of the best growth strategies you can take as a business owner. With that in mind, the tips mentioned above can guide you towards a successful digital rebrand.

 

Article made for clairemckinneypr.com

By Annie Lawson

What Does it Cost to Hire a Publicist or Digital Marketing Consultant?


If you are an individual or a small business, the question of what does it cost to hire a publicist or digital marketing consultant is an important one.  If you are just looking for an intern to post for you on Facebook and Instagram and you aren’t in need of a professional strategist, plan, campaign, etc., then this may be more than you need.  If you are investing in your business, career, product launch, or all of the above, then read on.

Several years ago I wrote a blog about hiring a publicist and it continues to generate traffic and interest.  Although the goals of these jobs are the same, the tools we use and the way we go about getting the job done has changed.  Instead of becoming less demanding as a result of a shrinking traditional media landscape, our jobs have grown.  In order to be successful we have to grow communities, sell to target audiences, conduct events virtually and in person, and get press attention every time we hit a goal.   The cost to hire a publicist or marketing consultant is going to be based on the level of experience of the person/team and the amount of time your project is going to take.  The more experience, skills, and services you want, the larger the budget.

What Does it Cost to Hire a Digital Marketing Consultant

I specialize in individualized brands, which include authors, experts, academics, thought leaders, and specialists of any kind.  Most of these people develop their images on social media in order to gain the credibility they need to sell something or be featured in the mainstream media.  The best way to do this these days is through social media.  There are so many firms out there offering social media services it is very difficult to know what to pay or what you should get.  Here are a few services to look at when you are deciding who to hire:

Plan and Strategy: Whether you are already on social media and are not getting the results you want, or you are completely new to this world, a strategy and plan are important.  A lot of people will worry about posting more and creating cool content without understanding how much their efforts are achieving.  You need to know that in order to make a difference and accomplish your goals.  Firms that offer these services should be spending at least four to six weeks working on your plan and strategy and additional time teaching you how to implement it.  The cost: $10,000 – 20,000.

Monthly Content Development and Posting:  This job requires a range of things from writing blogs to designing graphics and composing posts on multiple platforms.  It will require materials from you including photos, boilerplate copy for your business, and any slogans you use.  Video content can come from you directly in the form of single, in-person commentary, or be developed further by your marketing team.  This may also include running ads.  Posting will include a content calendar, scheduling, and analysis.  The range of costs: $600/month for a single campaign on one platform – $2,500+/month on multiple platforms.  The cost is dependent on the number of platforms and the amount of content that needs to be produced and scheduled.

What Does it Cost to Hire a Publicist?

I’m sure if you are Lady Gaga you are spending many thousands a month to have a PR team run your brand.  At that level you have someone listening and monitoring your brand on social media, planning, posting, blocking press and news stories, granting interviews, and more.

For our purposes, we are going to stick with a more general level of service and cost.  Again, there are many service options and people who offer them.  I differentiate them in a couple of ways “plug n’ play” and “customized campaigns”.

“Plug n’ Play”: These services are usually very reasonable, but they are limited.  If you are looking for someone to accomplish a part of the job for you, like offering a list of media contacts or pitching a set number of outlets, this would work for you.  The costs: For a limited campaign or service: $hundreds to purchase lists; $5000+ to be pitched to a specific list of contacts and scheduled for reviews or interviews over a short period of time (6 – 14 weeks).

Customized Campaigns: A campaign like this could involve regional and national media, bloggers, influencer targetting, event planning, national media, and speaking engagements.  Depending on whoever else is on your team it could also involve social media and brand management and marketing.  If you are looking for long term public relations for yourself and your brand the costs are usually set monthly for a contracted period.  If you are planning a single product launch or book launch then the campaign is usually set up as a “project” and charged accordingly.  The costs: $3,500 – 5,000/month for a retainer/contract, $20,000+/project.

Whether you are looking to grow your brand, business, or product, it is important to have a plan and a way to execute it.  Hiring an expert is an investment.  Being informed about the services and costs will help you determine what you will pay to have done and what you will do on your own.