Pork Chops with a side of Thanks

This is good! Smart, clever and fodder for (hopefully) a quick-and-easy blog post.

Two Words. And a Gift in Return.

It’s so simple right, “Thank You.”

Maybe it’s a little note card or an email, could be a DM or LinkedIn message — when someone does something for me, I try to say “thank you.” I’ve got some cute ‘coffee cup’ note cards, even add Starbucks gift cards to them on occasion.

It’s marketing. It’s social. It’s good PR. It’s etiquette, good customer service. And how often we forget that a simple “Thank You” could be even more.

someecards.com - Thank you for the gift, party, dinner, or other gesture that required significantly more consideration than this ecard

Daily deals being not quite dead yet, I ordered a Groupon a few weeks ago. It was a 6-pack of Cameron Hughes wines, a label I’d seen before and knew this to be a nice bargain for some drinkable vino.

Treat every customer, online and in person, as though he or she is the most important customer in the world.” – Gary Vaynerchuck, The Thank You Economy

Opened my box and inside was a great little “Thank You” postcard. On the back was a recipe for Chinese Spiced Pork Chops which would pair nicely with the wine, bringing the VALUE we so often speak of in hushed and reverent tones.

You bet I’ll keep it, remember this label for years to come. It was a simple, cost-effective way to bring their brand to a whole new level.

Small Business, Take Note!

This wasn’t an accident. This wasn’t dumb luck. Someone developed a strategy for business success.

This wasn’t a last minute whim, someone executed on a thought out plan with the customer in mind. This was professionally designed and printed, communicating a strong, positive brand image. Rather than just talking value, this brand delivered.

Think of the touch points you have with your customers – connecting doesn’t end when the credit card runs through. What comes next matters.

This is why I reply to almost every comment, why I thank people for RTs – I truly appreciate what others do for me and want to make sure they know it.

Tell me: When has a brand or business surprised you with their service after the sale?

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DIY vs. Hiring a Professional: Ye Olde Debate, Revisited

“Where to invest?”

A recent NY Times post asked that, a small business owner debating Google ads or maybe DIY social media for their marketing dollar investment. My response: invest in Help, Professional Help. Sigh.. here I go again.

Rewiring your house. Fixing your transmission. A decent hair cut. Taxes. We hire pros to do so many things for ourselves and our businesses. So many things we wouldn’t even consider doing on our own.

DIY Communications? With professional results?

  • Do we think, because we’ve seen SuperBowl ads, that we understand the complexities of marketing and advertising, branding and media buying?
  • Because we’ve got PowerPoint, that we’re graphic designers who can develop ads and websites? [deletes profanity laced Clients From Hell tirade]
  • A keyboard, Google and a reporter’s email address does not a publicist make; certainly not when your pitch is ‘We have a store. And sell stuff.’ To the healthcare writer.
  • Skipping a ‘have Twitter and a feedbot, instant social media guru’ joke.

ExpensiveAdairDIY or Go Pro

So much to consider when deciding when to hire a public relations pro, an agency or consultant.

For many small businesses the Director of HR is also the head of the company; the MarComm team is also the minds behind the software, the gadget, the service. Sometimes they’re not always good storytellers or don’t have the branding eye. Often it’s a case of time vs. money, not knowing costing more.

DIY: You save money.

Pro: Really? To do it – anything – right, you will spend a lot of time and energy learning how. Then doing the work itself. Time is money.

DIY: You do it your way.

Pro: That could work – if it’s the right way. If it’s the wrong way, you’ll waste a lot of time (and more money) on the wrong things. If you can’t afford to get it right the first time, how will you afford to do it over? Or hire someone to fix it?

DIY: You do what you want.

Pro: What you want may not be what you need; a pro will tell you.

DIY: You’ll spend less money.

Pro: Actually professionals work very hard to save clients money, are good at getting them more bang for their buck.

DIY: You can’t pay someone.

Pro: You already are! What there’s no one – on salary, drawing benefits – responsible for HR, PR, CRM, IR, MR and a million other things? How much of your job is doing all these other jobs?

DIY at your own risk

Communications is everything in my opinion. It’s connective, it’s productive, it’s as close to a silver bullet you’ll ever find. I’m still writing that post, but the gist is that if you’re business isn’t communicating, then you’re not doing business.

Sometimes businesses need ideas and advice, guidance and training; other times they just need to get things done. It’s why I’ve learned Adobe CS and WordPress, how to research and write, constantly learn more about PR and social media strategy – so they don’t have to.

DIY: You can’t afford a professional.

ME: Can you afford NOT to?

Results requires more than an amateur effort; it takes a professional, even if it’s not me. What’s your experience? Do the Pros really know?

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My Brain Hurts: SoloPR Summit Recap, Day 2

“My brain hurts. In a good way.”

Think I wasn’t the only one feeling that after the LOADED second day of the Solo PR Summit.

Author, speaker, {Grow} blogger and former super model Mark W. Schaefer kicked off the morning with a compelling keynote on the Web, Social and Influence.

  • Ah the dread pirate Klout, but he makes you think about the social web in a different way.
  • Moving content is action, influence realized.
  • Mark “hits the nail on the head – it’s not about ‘more’ content; it’s about ‘better’ content.” – Jodi Echakowitz

someecards.com - If we can't solve it via email, IM, texting, faxing, or phone calls, let's resort to meeting in person Tom Martin told us how-to Painlessly Prospect for Customers, no cold-calling required and generally rocked the shiznitz outta the place. IIRC he snagged a couple marriage proposals too.

  • Cornerstones and Cobblestones. Brilliant content mapping, maximizing opportunities for content, ways to share it across different media and networks. Tips:
    •  Thank you page doesn’t end there, redirect them back to blog or home page.
    • Record presentations, convert to long and short vids for #2 search engine, YouTube.
    • Forget ‘vanity’ plug ins for ‘popular’ posts; recommend related content, targeted to reader.
  • Holy inbound content marketing, Batman! Your website (and its blog, papers, contact forms) are the Terminator – a 24/7 365 machine designed to help you lure, hook and ulitmately reel in top prospects by driving them through the filter system. And give you a valid email address.
  • Hails from New Orleans, land of food, drink and Mardi Gras so win.

Food for body and mind. We had a working lunch as we had our choice of guided discussion.

Karen Swim talked Client Management with her group; Profitable Media relations was hosted by Monique Caradine. Alas I couldn’t clone myself to be in three places at once, I joined the Specialist or Generalist panel, an interesting talk on both niche industries as well as skills led by Daria Steigman.

someecards.com - Let's discuss my freelance rateSetting Fees with Jenny Schmitt and Greg Brooks.

  • As I  hinted in the Solo PR Summit Day 1 recap, I outted myself as a cheap hooker (Greg’s joke/analogy). Bad me! We spend a lot of time, work very hard to develop our talents and skills, build our expertise and hone our creativity – we should be paid for it damnit!
  • Different ways to run the math, but it all added up the same: get paid what you’re worth. Pick the lifestyle, business you want and structure accordingly.
  • On hourly rates – Client: “My lawyer doesn’t cost that much?!” Greg: “Get a better lawyer.”

If you’re not measuring..  A highlight was Kami Huyse on the much needed Measurement for Solo PR, how to show value and success.

  • More than 400 measurement tools – some of the Solo PR (non-existant) budget friendly variety.
  • Real-time analysis of the SeaWorld Harlem Shake video.
  • Not one wisp of AVEs!

Adaption vs. Extinction. Bad Pitch Blog’s Kevin Dugan on how PR pros can ID trends and changes in the market – and capitalize on them.

  • If you’re worried about making Bad Pitch Blog, you probably won’t. Interesting: most pitches aren’t exactly bad, they’re irrelevant, off-target.
  • Stop fighting to hold on to old models that no longer work; evolve and adapt.
  • “One Size Fits (No One At) All.” ITA!

someecards.com - I need a time billing code for not doing shitMore Done, Less Time. In this case, time with Sarah Evans. As a multi-tasking efficiando, I say word.

  • Finally found some IFTTT shortcuts I’m comfortable trying. I can’t automate reading, vetting content – but the filtering and gathering, that will give it a go.
  • Workflows sans email and 27 different browser windows (it’s like she’s seen my desktop). She’s a Tracky champion but project management tool of choice will do. The idea is to stop bouncing emails around cyberspace; instead put all the tasks, deadlines, supporting files in one place where everyone can see, monitor, send.

From the trenches. Success stories from Kristie Aylett, Kellye Crane, Kelly Davis and Heather Whaling. Always nice to learn from the pros first hand what they are doing, what is and isn’t working. Everyone’s doing this their own ways, for their own reasons.

  • Age, experience, location don’t matter as much as expertise, skill, know-how and ability to get it done.
  • Different strokes – solo, subcontracting, virtual agency, boutique firm, group consortium – for different folks; find what works best for you.

Woefully incomplete. If you were there, let me know what you thought. If you weren’t and want more, just ask.

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Big Ideas, Small Package: Solo PR Summit Recap, Day 1

Table for One. Or a Hundred.

The quality and calibre of the content at the 2013 Solo PR Summit – Second. To. None.

One standout for this event for me was relevance: this wasn’t pie-in-the-sky luxury available only to global brands, these concepts are scalable to many of the small and medium businesses we advise. Even more, much of what was presented – the need to be nimble, flexible, adaptable; the focus and human touch – cuts both ways.

Wish You Had Been There

After fearless leader Kellye Crane kicked things off, we got two days of smart, insightful and best of all, take-this-home-and-actually-USE-it! presentations.

Personal Branding. Even though I’m not a big fan of the term, Amanda Littlejohn and Mary Ellen Miller brought it home. Key takeaways:

  • Professional means just that. Think professional – doesn’t mean boring, stuck-in-the-mud stiff! – headshot, social profiles, brand image.
  • Website, blogs and branded, professional business email address.
  • ” Waiting to build your personal brand until you need it is like waiting until you’re cold to build a fire.” – Kevin Dugan


Online meets Offline. Great collab with Arik Hanson and Heather Whaling, showing how this is works together. Key takeaways:

  • It’s not about traditional vs. digital; it’s about how those can layer, build and support each other – creating value.
  • Solve clients biggest problem: no time to keep up. Be resource, share info.
  • “Don’t tell, beg, or ask people to follow you/engage with your content, show them why they should.” – Lucas Miller

Proposal Secrets: Revealed. Love when I get a chance to know people better, this time it was Natalie Ghidotti. Key takeaways:

  • Creativity Works. It’s not about the boilerplate and formula; use visuals, match presentation and format to the client.
  • Start at the right place by asking the right questions – H/T to Mary Barber for great list of questions – in order to give them what they need (not just want they want).
  • I need to start watching Mad Men DVDs.

Learning from Biggest, Brightest, Bestest. Jeremy Porter, Definition 6/Journalistics; Aimee Ertley, Sage North America; Ashley Callahan, Coca-Cola; Candace McCaffery, Independent Consultant. Key takeaways:

  • Interesting case studies on the use of social, the rethinking of web, traditional and new media, convergence of content, CRM and more.
  • Solo or Independent isn’t limiting; much of this is scaleable, adaptable at the SMB level.
  • Think Different. There’s more than one way to tackle issue or position a client. “Any business can be interesting.” – Aimee Ertley

And that was just a half-day! So much was shared, this barely scratched the surface.. and one of the days I’ll get a handle on embedding these awesome tweets.

For a first-of-its-kind event, the Solo PR Summit really hit a home run. Big time all caps bold KUDOS to Kellye Crane for making this happen. Look for Solo PR Summit Day 2: Electric Boogaloo next week when we do the Harlem Shake and expose someone as a cheap hooker. Stay tuned.

What did you think of Day 1? Please share.

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Blogging: Fortune Cookie Wisdom Style

“Do not wait for others to open the right doors for you.”

Not much of a fortune – don’t ya hate that?! – but certainty good advice, even if from a cookie.

Stop Waiting

Yes there are nice, courteous people everywhere but one thing I’ve always loved about The South, the manners. More than a few times a nice gentleman has waited – a long bit – for me to get to a door so he can hold it open for me. If only everything was like that.

If you want to open some doors, here’s what you do:


  1. Stop waiting.
  2. Develop a plan for success.
  3. Work hard, find your right doors.
  4. Open the doors your damn self.

That’s what good public relations and content marketing and social media are about. It’s why the myths about blogging are b.s.

YOU have to do it.  

No one else will do it for you. You open the doors by doing the work. You hire the right team, talk to the right experts. You research and plan, you study data and numbers, you find your doors. And find ways to open them.

You open the right doors by doing your homework. Research, targeting, relationships with strategic stakeholders. You know your story better than anyone, what you can do for others; so tell it.

You open those doors by creating content. It takes a team, so you get leaders and management involved to write blogs and post videos, produce content of value that people – your audiences – can actually use.

You open those doors being genuinely social and find the right doors getting out of your own house. And sometimes, out of your own way.

Here’s to not waiting, finding inspiration anywhere, shorter posts (personal victory!). Here’s to doing the WORK and opening doors for ourselves.

Photo courtesy: Humorsharing.com.

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