Friday, December 08, 2006

Easy PowerPoint Slide Navigation for More Effective Presentations

There are a lot of things that can make or break a PowerPoint presentation. To make sure that the technical side of things runs smoothly, it is important to familiarize yourself with the basic commands and keyboard shortcuts. If you feel confident and in control of your presentation, your audience will undoubtedly notice.

Before my tips, please let me impress upon you NOT to use PowePoint templates for your background (or master slide). Please personalize it. Brand it. Make it your own. There is always more impact when you do.

Now, here are some navigation tips to help you glide through your next PowerPoint presentation seamlessly:

• Use your own personal computer so that you’re not turning your back to the audience, to move through slides easily and to deal with unexpected technical glitches.

• Use the space bar to jump to the next slide. (Because it’s a big target, you can easily find it if nervous and flustered.) Likewise, use the backspace key to return to the previous slide.

• If you’re faced with a nonlinear presentation, jump to your slide of choice by first hitting the Alt key, followed by the number of your desired slide, and then press Enter. Undetectable to your audience AND looks much better than hitting the space bar a dozen times. With that said, it is important that you memorize the slide numbers. If you forget the number of the slide, simply right click on the mouse. Under the GoTo slide heading you’ll find a complete slide list including each slides title and respective number.

• If you’re running out of time but you want to skip to your last slide which sums up your presentation, simply hit the End key to jump to it. Hitting the Home key will instantly get you to the first slide of the sequence. This is helpful if you are referring to a summary or outline throughout the presentation.

• To prevent your laptop from shutting down or going to a screensaver in the middle of your performance, turn off or disable all power management features. To do this, click on Start to access your Control Panel. Then click on Power Options, then Power Schemes and be sure to select Always On.

• If your screen goes blank after hooking your laptop up to a projector it’s because your computer thinks you want to use another monitor. Notice that on the function keys there are markings other than F1, F2, etc. on them. One of these markings will be a little square or rectangle representing a monitor. By pressing the Fn key and this monitor key, you can turn the laptop screen and the projected image on and off. Repeatedly hit the keys to cycle through until both the laptop screen and the projected image are on.

Last but not least, remember to use PowerPoint wisely. Not all audiences are receptive and some presentations are more effective without the visuals. Visuals are meant to enhance and illustrate your story – not tell it word for word. Regardless, be prepared for a computer malfunction, missing extension cord or any glitch that would cause you to have to present without visuals. Now that’s the sign of a good presenter!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Benefits of Personnel News Releases

The development and distribution of a personnel news release to announce the promotion or hiring of a professional is standard practice in public relations. It is part of the process of notifying targeted media and your audiences on company developments, and it serves several purposes. The announcement of the person’s career advancement creates internal good will and indicated that your company continues to flourish. It is not meant to land the cover of the New York Times – it is meant to generate local and industry awareness.

Personnel news releases help keep the company name in front of its publics, including potential recruits, prospective customers and other influentials. Here is what should be included in the release:

-The person’s name and new title
-If the person is new to your company, include the previous place of employment, his or her title, and the city and state where the company is located
-A brief description of the person’s new responsibilities
-Prior work experience and educational background (if not included in bullet one)
-Community and professional association involvement
-Any industry awards received or publications written by this person
-If desired, martial and family status as well as place of residence
-A quote from the subject’s supervisor or company leader commenting on the expectation for his or her future performance as it benefits your clients and customers

Issue the press release on company letterhead and include a brief description or your business’ mission, headquarters and contact information.

It is essential to send personnel news releases to all the media contracts who normally receive news from your company along with a 5 X 7 headshot in 300 dpi. The use of color or black and white photography will depend on the target media.

To expand coverage, personnel news releases can also be distributed to:

-The employee’s hometown newspapers
-The employee’s alumni publications
-Community associations (in which the company or the employees are members)
-Professional, church or nonprofit organizations (in which the company or the employees are members)
-Company clients and prospects as a direct mailing

Personnel news releases are extremely useful marketing communications tools in the quest for top-of-mind awareness. They subtly promote a company’s success, help make the most of frequency and timing and expose initiating companies to other publicity opportunities.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Preparing Your Spokesperson

Here are six techniques your spokesperson can use to convey positive messages, even when questions get difficult:

- Use key messages as a base to generate fresh answers to questions. Use conversational language. Support your assertions with data and stories to illustrate why your service is newsworthy.
- Don’t introduce controversy unprompted. Avoid going off on the needless tangent by keeping answers short. When your spokesperson has finished answering, he or she should stop talking and await the next questions. Also remember to focus replies around one theme or key message.
- Good planning is vital to avoid divulging too much information. Pausing to collect thoughts is a good way to avoid confusion or raising a negative subject. Think of an answer as an essay. You need an introduction, a body and a conclusion.
- Facial expression is very important. Much credibility is judged this way. To look more engaged and professional, sit upright in the chair, make eye contact and smile. Hand gestures can convey passion for the topic and emphasize messages.
- Speaker credibility is also judged on the way you talk. It is important to be aware of tone. Make sure the topic being discussed matches the emotional quality you project in your voice.
- Building bridges is an effective way to handle negative questions. First acknowledge the topic the journalist raised. Mention the subject so the journalist knows you’ve heard the question. The second step is to use a phrase that builds a bridge from the journalist’s topic to one of your key messages. Use phrases such as “actually” or “I’d characterize that differently.” The final step is to provide a message with critical supporting data points or stories.

These tips will help to expand your spokesperson’s talents and capabilities. Following this advice will greater your chances that newsworthy, positive information is conveyed to the masses.

Friday, October 13, 2006

E-mail Signatures

Signatures blocks are useful for providing important contact information for the people you communicate with on the Internet. And they can also be effective ways of marketing. Use them wisely.

· Provide your email address. Don't assume that just because your email address can be found in the header of the message, it will be found.

· Provide your Web address in link form. This makes it effortless for your correspondents to connect directly to your site.

· Provide a mailing address and appropriate phone numbers for alternative forms of communication.

· Provide a brief marketing message. Set up your signature so that it conveys a glimpse of what your company is all about. Slogans or catch phrases that touch upon your company branding will undoubtedly make your signature memorable. Think of your e-mail signature as your virtual business card.

· Include a link to recent articles that you’ve written or news coverage about your organization. Keep it simple.

· Don’t include a signature in every e-mail reply in a chain of messages. . . .

While attempting to include the most relevant and useful information, try to keep your signature to eight lines or less. If it’s too verbose, e-mail readers will avoid it. E-mail signatures are a great way to take advantage of subtle, free marketing opportunities.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Philadelphia Bench Bar Conference – Underlying Media Theme

I attended the Philadelphia Bar Association Bench-Bar Conference last weekend in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and found it quite interesting that in many of the panels – it was publicity and the law that was a recurring theme.

Some of the myriad topics included:

o The need of the Judiciary to be more public
o The affect of blogging on Judicial elections
o The need to use the media to educate the public about the roles of the Court
o The need to control/respect the power of the media
o The role the media plays in disseminating information about cases
o The need to train the Judiciary about the media and vice versa
o The need for attorneys and judges to understand and utilize the media
o Law school does not teach students how to promote or communicate via mass media
o The cost of judicial elections tried in the media
o The ethics of dealing with the media
o The need to embrace the media
o The issues of fair and impartial trials that are “tried in the media”
o The need for attorneys to be media trained
o How not to be a jerk when dealing with the media
o The opportunities surrounding the media

I left the conference energized and excited about being a strategic communications expert in the legal industry.

It’s a growing field and there’s a lot of ground we need to make up for the last century of “no comment” answers, however, we’re well on our way to a more enlightened industry!

Friday, September 22, 2006

RSS and Atom Feeds for Outlook

Simple Syndication (RSS) and Atom feeds provide us an easy way to monitor multiple sources of news, blogs, and other content that is updated frequently. And since, I’m a big PC fan, we use Outlook to manage much of our data. That said, I’ve been interested in subscribing to an RSS aggregator but don’t want to check yet another devise or program on my computer. It’s bad enough that there are more than 100 actionable emails in my in-bin per day. So, why do I want RSS anyway? I know – I guess it’s because I’m a news junkie and I need to stay on the pulse of several industries and reporters.

So I found that Outlook does not directly access or display RSS or Atom content. However, there are add-ons by third-party companies that incorporate RSS and Atom viewing in Outlook. On the Microsoft website, this is what I found:

intraVnews is a state-of-the-art news aggregator that turns Microsoft® Outlook® into an RSS and Atom feed reader. With intraVnews you can subscribe to any of thousands of syndicated feeds from personal weblogs (blogs) to mainstream news sources to specialist publications. You never have to leave Outlook again to keep up with changes on the Web or your intranet. Supports the 2007 Office system. (http://www.intravnews.com/indexoffice.htm)

NewsGator is a news aggregator that runs in Microsoft Outlook®. It allows you to subscribe to various syndicated news feeds (such as Web logs, news sites, etc.) and have news from these sites be delivered right into your Outlook folders. There are thousands of sites that syndicate their content in RSS format, with more being added every day. (www.newsgator.com)

Attensa for Outlook RSS Reader for Microsoft® Outlook® is the smart way to bring up-to-the-minute RSS news and information from Web sites and blogs to Outlook folders. Automatically find and preview RSS feeds. Pick from more than 1000 RSS feeds, and get started fast. Stay on top of news with powerful search tools. Automatically download podcasts. Keep organized with categories and tagging. Import/export OPML files. (http://www.attensa.com/products/outlook/?cp=1)

Newspoint: RSS is the format used to communicate and automate news articles over the Internet. You can set up an unlimited number of RSS feeds, and specify which RSS news feed should be monitored and in which database to insert the information. When the NEWSPOINT tool is running in background on your PC, you can use this news to display it in your Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentations in combination with our DATAPOINT tool. Supports the 2007 Office system. (http://www.presentationpoint.com/microsoft/newspoint.htm)

I settled on NewsGator for $29.95. . . . . .

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Easy PowerPoint Slide Navigation for More Effective Presentations

There are a lot of things that can make or break a PowerPoint presentation. To make sure that the technical side of things runs smoothly, it is important to familiarize yourself with the basic commands and keyboard shortcuts. If you feel confident and in control of your presentation, your audience will undoubtedly notice.

Here are some navigation tips to help you glide through your next PowerPoint presentation seamlessly:

· Use your own personal computer so that you’re not turning your back to the audience, to move through slides easily and to deal with unexpected technical glitches.

· Use the space bar to jump to the next slide. (Because it’s a big target, you can easily find it if nervous and flustered.) Likewise, use the backspace key to return to the previous slide.

· If you’re faced with a nonlinear presentation, jump to your slide of choice by first hitting the Alt key, followed by the number of your desired slide, and then press Enter. Undetectable to your audience AND looks much better than hitting the space bar a dozen times. With that said, it is important that you memorize the slide numbers. If you forget the number of the slide, simply right click on the mouse. Under the Go to Slide heading you’ll find a complete slide list including each slides title and respective number.

· If you’re running out of time but you want to skip to your last slide which sums up your presentation, simply hit the End key to jump to it. Hitting the Home key will instantly get you to the first slide of the sequence. This is helpful if you are referring to a summary or outline throughout the presentation.

· To prevent your laptop from shutting down or going to a screensaver in the middle of your performance, turn off or disable all power management features. To do this, click on Start to access your Control Panel. Then click on Power Options, then Power Schemes and be sure to select Always On.

· If your screen goes blank after hooking your laptop up to a projector it’s because your computer thinks you want to use another monitor. Notice that on the function keys there are markings other than F1, F2, etc. on them. One of these markings will be a little square or rectangle representing a monitor. By pressing the Fn key and this monitor key, you can turn the laptop screen and the projected image on and off. Repeatedly hit the keys to cycle through until both the laptop screen and the projected image are on.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Case Studies: An Effective Promotional Tool

Next to White Papers, case studies are the second most popular device used to endorse the benefits of your product or service. A case study demonstrates how a specific situation was initially identified, which solution was selected to resolve the issue, and a summary of the final results. Case studies usually take a “soft-sell” approach. With that in mind, graphics and other relevant pictures create impact.

The definition of the problem should be communicated in a way that the reader can relate to. Be sure to demonstrate how your product or service resolved a critical business issue in the past. The more specific the case study, the better the chance you will be taken seriously. Avoid making your case study too technical or overloading it with excessive jargon. The ultimate goal is to persuade the reader that they too can resolve their similar business issues using your product or service.

Don’t dilute the case study by addressing more the one issue – stick to one area and explain how you can solve the problem in measurable and quantifiable terms. For example:

- Support your case study with statistics, figures and tables.

- Use return on investment numbers to explain how the investment in your product/service pays for itself. Be sure to demonstrate how you can apply these results to future business; otherwise, your argument loses credibility.

- Mention how using your product or service will help contain costs. This area is very important as budgets are always a sensitive issue. If you can illustrate how a similar company saved a certain amount of money by adopting your product, you'll certainly capture the reader's attention.

The long term rewards of your case study efforts will be extensive. Well written, impressive case studies stand out and decision-makers will use them as a source of reference. These promotional tools also help establish your reputation as an organization performing successful business. Making these case studies available via your Web Site will increase visibility and demonstrate to prospective clients that you are credible, effective and successful.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

On Search Engine Optimization

According to Peter T. Boyd, Esq. of PaperStreet Web Design, “Search engine optimization is not exactly rocket science. It simply takes hard work. A better title tag is a great start to optimization, but it should not be viewed as the end all method. The basics of optimization are:

- Research: It all starts with research. You need to know what people are searching for before starting an optimization campaign. Targeting the wrong keywords will just be a waste of time an effort. Finding keywords that are popular and not really targeted by competitors can be link finding gold.
- Title Tags: Specific title tags need to be created for each page of content. Title tags should include the keyword phrases you are targeting. Having your firm name is not necessary, but helps with identifying your firm when a search is done.
- Headlines & Content: Most importantly, you cannot simply stuff the title tags. Headlines & page content to match up with what you are targeting. Good content needs to contain the keyword phrases you are targeting.
- Keyword & Description Meta Tags: Although a very small part of today's search algorithm's these still can be used to help target your keywords and most important be used as your description in the search results. Having a better description that your competitors can draw more clicks to your link on the search results page.
- Proper internal linking structure: Your site should have main links from the home page and internal links from various pages of the web site. This will give better internal weight to various pages on your site.
- Proper site architecture: Your site should be coded so that it allows for a complete index of your site. While no one really uses frames anymore, certain menu systems can hinder indexing of the site, along with certain technologies such as sessions.
- Older Trusted Sites: Quite simply older sites generally do better in Google. MSN and Yahoo do not penalize new sites, but Google sometimes does not allow new domains/sites into its index for several months to over a year. Optimizing an old site can sometimes prove to be an easy, almost instant turn-around. Patience is the key for new sites, as almost always the domain is eventually released from the "sandbox." This is probably due to the age of the domain, age of the site and the fact that older sites typically have better link quality. Which brings us to the most important point...
- Link Popularity: Your site must have links to it from other sites. Period. No matter how good your title tags and content are, if your site does not have links from other sites, it will not rank high. Today's search algorithms place a priority on popularity, and popularity is based on who is linking to whom. In general the more links you have the better, but targeted links from related sites are even better. Targeted links from other sites that are related, and themselves highly ranked, are the best.
- Analyzing: Finally, you should pick a goal and use metrics to analyze whether your campaign is successful. Whether it is simply gaining the vanity of obtaining top rankings, increasing site traffic, or better yet increasing the number of inquiries. Whatever, the goal everything should be tracked to prove the effectiveness of the campaign.
There are of course other factors that can positively and negatively effect your rankings, at last count over a 100, but this is a brief overview.

Peter Boyd’s blog can be read at: http://paperstreet.com/blog/index.php/archives/293

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Clear & Concise Copy

Improving the overall comprehension and appearance of your copy can undoubtedly boost exposure, message recall and overall efficiency of your business endeavors. Here are some quick tips for crafting copy that’s clear and concise:


· Define technical jargon in easy-to-understand language. Google can help by getting you a list of definitions for your term on the Web. Simply type “define:term” into a search. Add a practical image to your definition and you can easily paint a picture in your readers’ mind.


· Your readers would rather read a short, to-the-point piece than a long, drawn-out piece. One good way to reduce the length of your copy is to focus each piece on a single message point. In addition to your main story, you might repackage your piece into:
- Sidebars
- Boxes
- Lists
- Web sidebars
- Freestanding vignettes
- Fun facts or trivia


· Paragraph length is among the most important signals you send to readers about how easy and interesting your copy will be to read. If your paragraphs are too thick, the story looks slow and uninviting. If they’re all the same length, the story can feel boring. Vary their length to create a sound rhythm for your piece.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Being Productive During Summer: How to Continually Grow Your Business
By: Neen James

Why is it that when summer arrives business slows down, networks stop meeting, work attendance decreases, business development activities grind to a halt – and yet we still have budgets, goals and targets to achieve? How do you handle the ‘unproductive’ attitude that summer brings? How can you juggle vacation schedules? Historically, summer may have been a time for you to take it easy, do the minimum amount of activity while you focus on what you will achieve when fall comes around…not this year. Decide to make this your most productive summer ever, here are some strategies that will help you do that and continually grow your business all year round.

Take advantage of the weather. Use the longer hours of daylight savings to conduct meetings later in the day, take advantage of warmer conditions and meet people at outdoor venues and cafes, meet clients for lunch where you will enjoy lighter food and warm sunshine.

Review your business plan. Make a two-hour appointment with yourself to review all the actions in your business plan – including your cash flows and targets – and spend time determining what you need to achieve your goals for this financial year. Your business plan should not be hiding in your bottom draw or collecting dust on a shelf, it is a living document that can be reviewed regularly – make summer your time to determine your next steps.

Revisit your marketing plan. What plan you ask? If you don’t have one, now is the time to sit and write one. If you need help there is an abundance of talented consultants who can assist you build a customised plan for your business. If you already have one, review your progress, determine what actions need to be taken and schedule time during the summer to complete those tasks.

Conduct a six-month business review. Spend two hours reviewing your business achievements for the past six months. Ask yourself these 11 questions:
1. How would I rate the past six months’ business performance (1-10 with 10 being the highest)?
2. Did I achieve my financial goals each month?
3. If not, why not?
4. If not, what do I need to do differently in the next six months to meet my annual budget or plan?
5. If I did meet these targets (congratulations to you), were they big enough?
6. Have I conducted staff reviews with my team? If not, why not? And when?
7. If so, have I rewarded my team adequately?
8. Do I need to invest more in my team or personal development?
9. Is my marketing plan on track? If not, why not?
10. If not, what activities do I need to conduct to implement more marketing strategies?
11. Have I done sufficient networking to grow my business or my connections? If not, why not?

When you have completed these questions, create a series of tasks, actions or projects to implement some of your strategies to help you really achieve all your targets for the next six months.

Invest in your personal development. Have you been meaning to read the latest business book? Is there a summit you could attend? Is there an online program you have wanted to complete? Is there a web seminar that you’ve wanted to register for? This is a great time of year to invest in yourself, refresh your memory and learn a new skill. Summer is conducive to learning.

Conduct a summer clean. Just like a spring clean, but during the summer months. Your summer clean could include:
- Clearing, deleting or filing those read emails in your inbox.
- Unsubscribing from all those newsletters that you don’t read.
- Allocating one hour to get your paper filing up to date (if you have more than one hour’s worth, do one hour per week until it is all complete).
- Throwing out unwanted, unread journals that you have been ‘meaning’ to read, but haven’t and won’t.
- Reviewing your ‘tasks’ on your to-do list or in your Outlook file and removing those tasks that simply won’t be completed.
- Spending 15 minutes cleaning the top of your desk, removing unnecessary stationery, putting away files, cleaning the dust off your family photo, throwing away empty water bottles and wiping down your computer keyboard and screen. A clean and clear desk will help you be more productive any time of year!
- Entering details into your contact management system of the business card pile that is gathering dust on your desk.

Hold a team development activity. If you manage a team of people, allocate some time to meet for lunch at an outdoor café; take three hours and visit the local zoo as a team (work out which animal best represents each member of your team...only joking!); meet early for a game of golf or tennis before work; bring food to share for lunch and conduct a meeting in your local park. Spend time listening to your team, their challenges and achievements. Plan your next six months and how you will achieve the targets for the whole team. Use the warmer weather to conduct outdoor versions of activities you normally conduct indoors.

Conduct focus groups. Invite a select number of key clients to your office and ask them about your business, their expectations and experiences, and how you can better serve them. Collate the results and seek your team’s input on how to action them.

Implement a product or service trial. This is the perfect time of year to try a new product or introduce a new service to your customers. Map a plan, seek team involvement and watch your customers’ reactions.

Create a list of new business development targets. Once you have made your list, sort it into three groups: ‘spheres of influence’, those that are able to make decisions about your products or services; ‘centres of influence’, those that are already your advocates; and ‘strategic alliances’, those that you can refer business to and that can also refer business to you. Once you have your list completed, book appointments with these people to include lunch, breakfast or even a ‘tele-coffee’. Create a plan within your schedule to contact them regularly. Contact could include a phone call, email, sending them an interesting article you’ve found, inviting them to a networking event with you, sending a parcel of products or a face-to-face meeting.

Book a ‘tele-coffee’ with your customers. What is a ‘tele-coffee’? It is where you both make a coffee and meet by teleconference. It is a more productive way of meeting (and avoids time wasted in travel).

Visit a new networking group. Many networking groups don’t meet during the summer, but those who are serious about building their businesses are still networking and still making valuable connections. Find out which groups are meeting and plan to attend at least two new groups this summer. This is the perfect time to develop new relationships and valuable connections.

To continually grow your business you do need to be mindful of the seasons but don’t slow down in summer – get more productive. Use this time to get a head start on all those fall meetings you can conduct when people return from vacation, ensure plans are in place to achieve your annual results, tidy your work environment so you are not distracted by clutter, and experiment with new products, focus groups and new networking opportunities. Embrace the warmer weather for outdoor meetings and events and enjoy all that summer brings for your business growth.

Neen is an International Productivity Expert: by looking at how they spend their time and energy – and where they focus their attention – Neen helps people to rocket-charge their productivity and performance. A dynamic speaker, author and corporate trainer, Neen demonstrates how boosting your productivity can help you achieve amazing things. With her unique voice (Aussie accent), sense of fun and uncommon common-sense, Neen delivers a powerful lesson in productivity. Subscribe to Neen’s free monthly ezine at http://neenjames.com/

Monday, July 10, 2006

Creating a Media List

With a media relations campaign, you don’t control the final message the way you do with a paid ad. However, when a media outlet runs a story on your business or community, you get the benefit of an apparently objective third-party endorsement. The public tends to give greater weight to the information than they do to an ad.

Use these tips to help maximize your success with publicity campaigns:

- Determine your primary geographic market. This could be a particular city or geographic region.

- Put together a list of newspapers, television and radio stations, newsletters and magazines that reach those markets. There are publications available for purchase that includes listings of media contacts at newspapers, magazines, and television and radio stations.

- Verify your list of contact names, addresses and phone numbers and make sure they cover your topic or industry.

- Become familiar with the publications, programs and media on your list. Read the publications, watch the television programs, listen to the radio shows, and get to know the content and style.

- Update your list at least quarterly or any time that you make media calls and find out that someone new is covering your industry. Job changes are common in journalism.

Once you’ve assembled your media list, you can use it to send news about your business, story ideas and trends to the media who cover your industry.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Working with the Media

When the opportunity to work with the media arises, follow these guidelines in order for your experience to run smoothly and effectively.

- Expect the development of relationships with the media to be long-range efforts. With this in mind, have a designated spokesperson. This provides media representatives with a consistent point of contact and a basis upon which to build a working relationship.

- Your primary mode of communication should be face-to-face or telephone contact. When speaking with representatives of the media, be honest and accessible. Also familiarize yourself with the publication, show or style of the individual reporter.

- When the media contacts you, be sure to return calls promptly and be sensitive to their deadlines. If you’re not prepared when the media approaches you, offer to call the reporter back before deadline.

- When you contact the media, accept that they’re busy. Be concise, get to the point and use plain English. Never patronize, but at the same time never assume that they have in-depth knowledge about your issue. Leave concise and specific voice mail messages and give them plenty of lead time

- Maintain control of the conversation. Ask questions, assume that nothing is ever “off the record” and don’t let the reporter put words into your mouth.

- Interactions with the media need to be a strategically planned effort. Think before you speak and know in advance the points you want to make. "No comment" is a comment; "I don't know" is not a sin.

- You can ask to see a story before it's published, but don’t expect the answer to be yes. It depends on the outlet and their policies.

- Be sure to follow up and thank the reporter if the story is even remotely good. Complain only if the story is factually wrong but remember to always act professionally. It’s seldom worth it to fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Publishing a Good Newsletter

Newsletters, done correctly, can be an effective part of your marketing efforts. Not only do newsletters display skills, talents and timely stories, they also can create buzz, open opportunities and bring in new business. No matter what type of newsletter you are producing, meaningful content is essential if you want it to be read. Here are some important things to consider:

- Since a newsletter is a niche publication, be sure to use a narrow focus and keep them specialized.
- Use timely, well written stories about developments important to your clients.
- Write stories from your clients’ perspective using appropriate jargon or explanations.
- Publish newsletters regularly.
- Humanize your stories. Stories about people are usually the most interesting.
- Customize your newsletter to make it stand out.
- E-mail is the fastest and cheapest way to get a newsletter out to your clients. However, e-mails can be mistaken for spam, so give the option of sending a hard copy through the mail.
- Pick your mailing lists with thought.

Sticking to these guidelines, newsletters can demonstrate expertise, establish credibility and create reader loyalty. These three aspects lead to trust and a trusted company has power. The next time you’re searching for an inexpensive way to boost your marketing efforts, consider a specialized client newsletter.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Understanding the Attorney You’re Trying to Market

By Gina F. Rubel, Esq.

When an attorney in your firm wants to know how to be more successful, it’s important that you give her the tools to succeed. However, in order to provide tools, you first have to know what she’s trying to build.

Business development, marketing and public relations tactics works for attorneys and can be done ethically and professionally – but it’s first important to gather a bit more information about the individual. Engage her in an initial dialogue to find out what she might enjoy getting involved in based on who she is in life and in business? Get her to answer:

-What are your personal goals and objectives regarding your book of business?

-What industries do you most enjoy working with?

-What are your business goals for the coming year?

-Have you reached out to your referral base and network of colleagues recently? If so, how? If not, are you interested in reaching out to these thought leaders with X? [X being whatever your firm does to nurture the low hanging fruit.]

-Do you enjoy writing articles for trade, news and industry publications? If so, what are some of the topics you’re most passionate about? Where would you like to see your articles published?

-Do you enjoy presenting / speaking at trade, news and industry forums and/or seminars? If so, what are some of the topics you’re most passionate about? Are there any venues you’d be interested in attending as a speaker? Is there anyone you’ve been trying to meet? What industry associations does he/she participate in?

-Do you currently participate in pro bono or volunteer work? [Depending on the answer and how full her bucket is:] Would you be interested in taking on additional pro bono / volunteer work?

-Are you involved in any industry / trade associations? Then find out to what extent she’s involved and what else she can be doing [especially with Young Lawyers groups] to network herself among colleagues and peers.

People are most successful when they participate in business development, marketing and public relations tactics that fit within their personal likes and dislikes. There’s always an opportunity lurking around the corner – especially when one is passionate about what they do.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Why Aren’t You Blogging?

Blogs aren’t just for personal journals anymore. A blog is a useful way to present thoughts and ideas to a wide audience, exercise a passion for writing, market a law firm or practice, network, gain press, provide a great public service, boost your presence on the Web and/or communicate your expertise and services.

Law-related blogs emerged around 2002 and now more than 1,500 have been created since. At least 80 percent of those sites are still publishing daily, weekly and monthly commentary. Law firms of all shapes and sizes, law professors, law students, librarians, legal technologists, and paralegals all take part in blogging.

Blogging can be an inexpensive and effective way to target your desired audience. Therefore, it is important to first establish who you intend to reach. Most lawyer blogs either attempt to update present clients, establish a relationship with prospective clients, share timely information with other lawyers in the same practice area or expose themselves to the general lawyer population as a whole.

It’s important to realize that blogging is indeed a time commitment. Devoted bloggers should be prepared to post as often as possible. Thus, if writing is not an enjoyable task for you, blogging can be trying. Realize that infrequent or poorly written posts can reflect badly on you and your establishment.

Before you embark on your blogging journey, ask yourself a few crucial questions:
- Are you willing to take your writing and marketing efforts to a new level?
- Do you have the time and commitment to keep up with blog entries?
- Are you interesting in providing valuable, meaningful content for Web users?
- Would you like to boost revenue while increasing your search engine visibility?

Useful Blogging Software:
- TypePad (http://www.typepad.com/)
- Movable Type (http://www.movabletype.com/)
- LexBlog (http://www.lexblog.com/)
- BlogJet (http://www.blogjet.com/)
- FeedBlitz (http://www.feedblitz.com/)
- Feedburner (http://www.feedburner.com/)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Importance of a Professional Headshot and How to Prepare

Headshots are used frequently today on Web sites and in brochures to place a face with a name in business. Public relations practitioners often send them to television media when pitching clients for an appearance and we always include them with news articles about individuals. A great headshot for your business can be very beneficial. It can say; “I ’m approachable, I’m trustworthy and I’m a good person to work with.” A bad headshot can say, “I don’t care what you think of me or I’m too cheap to invest in myself or my firm.” So, the first piece of advice is to put your own digital camera away and invest in yourself. Good up-to-date headshots are important to have and have a shelf-life of four to eight years (depending on how often you change the color of your hair . . . ).

A photo shoot can be a fruitless venture if you’re not properly prepared. Here are some easy steps to follow in order to guarantee your photo shoot runs smoothly and to ensure you receive a desirable result:

• Show expression. Let your eyes do the talking. Smile if appropriate.
• Be versatile. Your headshot needs to appeal to many different audiences.
• The focus is on you, not what you’re wearing. Wear simple, solid-colored clothing. Avoid patterns or wearing all one color. Layering with a collared shirt or jacket allows you to look professional and vary your look easily from shot to shot. Refrain from wearing bulky jewelry or accessories that will take the spotlight off of your face.
• Show your “everyday” self. Wear your hair and make-up as you typically would any day of the week.
• Practice your facial expressions (smile, no smile, teeth showing, serious, etc) in a mirror.
• Have several color shirt and jacket options and bring them all with you on the day of the shoot.
• Get plenty of sleep the night before the photo shoot.
• Expect that the shoot will take one to two hours. Allow plenty of time so that you are not rushed or stressed.
• Remember that the photographer is a professional. He or she will use their skills and experience to best create a photo for you.
• Engage a hair stylist and make up professional so that you can look your best.
• Relax and have fun! Your picture will reflect that.

When it comes time for you to get your headshot taken, remember that it doesn’t have to be a stressful undertaking. All you can do is come prepared and be yourself. If you do your part, the professionals involved can easily create a pleasing visual for you.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

New Technologies in PR: Audio Blogs

I've been doing PR now for more than 15 years and the tides are changing quickly! I recently got an iPod and am learning how to use it and I'm realizing that podcasting and audio blogs are really the wave of the future. I just learned of audioblog.com where you can go an pay a nominal fee to create your own audio blog. Now the question remains, how do we create audio blogs and make sure our target audiences are hearing them? There's already a lot of clutter so it really needs to be impactful. If you're going to create an audio blog, make sure you employ a strong marketing and public relations plan to get your target audience listening!

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