Monthly Archives: August 2015

Social Media and PR

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Social media has blurred the lines between public relations (PR) and online marketing. It also created a powerful tool for business owners, professionals and authors to reach global audiences and create “viral” buzz in ways that could only be dreamed about by the large advertising agencies of past decades.

While there are some ways in which PR and social media can reinforce each other, there are also distinct differences, and a wise self-promoter will respect the distinctions.

A quick PR primer

Public relations is the art of getting free publicity, usually through coverage in traditional media such as newspapers/magazines, TV and radio. With the growth of the Internet, that field of possibilities has expanded to include the online versions of newspapers and magazines, video sites like YouTube, and both podcasts and online radio shows like those offered by Blog Talk Radio.

The workhorse of traditional PR is the press release, which even in the Internet age remains much the same. The standard format looks like this:


CONTACT:             (Your name and email or phone here)

Catchy Headline With Good Keywords

City, State: Compelling first sentence with top keywords and action verbs and one or two more short sentences that cover who, what, when, where, and why we should care.

Second short paragraph (one to three sentences) that provide background and context.

Third short paragraph (one to three sentences) that includes a one-line recap of your company and what it does and for whom, plus email, web site and phone.

That’s it—nothing mysterious or esoteric about it, but that deceptively little document will showcase your skill in making editors and readers care about what you’re offering.

One of the biggest changes the Internet has made to public relations is the ability for regular folks who aren’t reporters to find their own news online without the media middlemen. Most people today will run a Google search on a topic rather than wait for tomorrow’s newspaper, next month’s magazine or the 6 o’clock evening news. Online news sites operate 24/7, creating an insatiable demand for news that relies on a steady stream of good story leads from publicists and press releases.

On one hand, that means your news has never been needed as much by news sites as it is today. On the other hand, it means there is an incredible amount of clutter your release must rise above in order to be noticed.

The many new faces of news

Pre-Internet, it was easy to find reporters because they worked for newspapers, magazines, TV or radio. Today, blogs and social media sites have created the rise of the citizen journalist, people who report or comment on topics without formal training or a job with a media outlet. Some sites are private rants, while others show good reportorial skill and a true newshound’s nose for a story. In recent years, bloggers have broken major stories ahead of big newspapers.

News reporting has begun to embrace and cultivate the citizen journalist by providing ways for people to upload their own on-the-scene videos, cell phone photos and reports (for example, CNN). The ability to text, Tweet and photograph via cell phone from a scene with breaking news means that the average person who is in the right place at the right time stands a good chance of being the lead story on the news.

The rise of the citizen journalist coupled with decreasing ad revenue and declining subscriptions has led to the surviving newspapers and magazines cutting back on some sections of coverage. Book reviews are a good example of this trend, and a place where social media sites have more than filled the gap, providing more outlets for coverage than ever before.

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6 MORE Ways to Brand Your Big Change

by Gail Z. Martin

We live in a time when most ‘full-time’ jobs last less than two years and when an increasing number of professionals work on a freelance/contract/on-demand basis. It’s called the ‘Gig Economy’ and while I know the term draws from musicians, the reality can feel more like frogs. Key to keeping your head above water is career agility, the ability to gain new skills, constantly learn new things, and reinvent yourself to remain relevant. Here are five more tips to help you make sure the world sees the ‘real’ and ever-changing you.

  1. Once you have a name and logo, print up business cards that do you proud. Here’s a tip: have a professional create the layout for your card, then save on printing with online sites like Your business card is your first impression and you want to make a good one, so don’t skimp on quality.
  2. Print up at least 500 cards and give them to everyone you meet. And I do mean everyone. It’s going to take you a while to get comfortable with introducing yourself and your new business using your 30-second introduction, so practice, practice, practice. Strike up conversations in the grocery store, at social events, or when you’re waiting in line. The more you use your introduction, the more comfortable and natural it will become. Always have your cards with you, and ask people to pass on your cards to interested friends and family.
  3. Expand your personal network, but don’t jettison your old colleagues. Use social media to let your former colleagues know what you’re doing and how they can help you make the transition. You might be surprised about how the friends from your ‘old life’ can make connections, referrals and recommendations that will help you create a successful reinvention. Use your business name and tagline frequently, and repeat your 30-second introduction often enough that the people in your network can use it to tell others about you.
  4. Post photos of every step along your journey. Taking a class for certification? Post photos of the classroom, you with classmates, and you with your certificate/diploma. Snap selfies when you travel for work and get clients to pose with you. If you create a tangible product, take plenty of photos. The internet loves before/after photos, so if your work helps people, places or things look better, snap and post! Every photo is part of your branding. Facebook and Pinterest are great for this.
  5. Ask for testimonials and recommendations. Ask your former colleagues to endorse and recommend you on LinkedIn. Ask every client, no matter how small the project, for a testimonial you can share. Testimonials and recommendations are an important part of your branding.
  6. Tell stories about what you’re doing. Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn are great places to post short (paragraph) stories about the funny things you encounter, the challenges you overcome and the outcomes you produce. YouTube is great for this too. Remember, stories sell!

Changing careers, starting a new business or reinventing yourself takes courage and effort, but you can have fun with your fresh start and enjoy the journey. By making personal branding a conscious investment of your time and focus, you’ll be ahead of the game in rallying friends to your cause and reaching new customers in record time.

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4 Personal Branding Tips For Making A Big Change

by Gail Z. Martin

We’ve all laughed about how someone’s driver’s license, passport photo or employee ID snapshot doesn’t look at all like that person. Maybe it’s the bad lighting, or our state of mind when we go to get an ‘official’ photo taken, but there is usually little resemblance between the lively person we know and the somber person in the photo. Likewise, we’ve also chuckled at certain professionals whose photos on their business cards is at least twenty years younger than they are!

We laugh because the picture is out of sync with the reality. And while that can be funny with individual photos, it’s no laughing matter when it comes to having your brand match your business.

What happens when you go from being an established, well-known professional in one field to creating a new company in a very different type of business? How do you take the best of one world and carry over those benefits to a new identity? And how do you get people who know you in one role to see and trust your proficiency when you decide to change what you do?

I recently caught up with a former marketing colleague of mine who is now a personal chef. She and I both had worked for large corporations, been downsized, and started our own consulting firms. My mental picture of her (branding) was of a polished corporate professional, someone with whom I had collaborated with on PR projects for an organization to which we used to belong. As it turned out, cooking had always been her passion, but she had relegated it to a hobby. When the recession reduced the budgets of her client base, my friend found herself spending more and more time in the kitchen and realized that she had a new opportunity to pursue. The trick was, how to get people to make the switch from ‘PR pro’ to ‘pro chef’.

I’ve been interviewing dozens of people for a new book I’m working on about reinvention. In each case, highly experienced people with plenty of degrees and corporate experience ended up making a big career switch in mid-life. On one hand, they were well known in the community—as what they used to be. And for every one of the people I interviewed, part of making a successful transition required strategizing how to get the people who knew them in their ‘past life’ to see them differently now.

It’s a topic that’s dear to my heart, since I reinvented myself from corporate marketer to entrepreneur/marketing maven, to social media expert, to bestselling author. I knew what had worked for me, and I was eager to find out what others making a similar switch had done.

So what have I learned about reinvention branding from over fifty interviews with people who have successfully made the switch? Here are some of the personal branding secrets of successful career-changers:

  1. Clearly communicate the change you’re making through social media and your web page. Even before you have a logo or a tagline, use photos, Facebook and LinkedIn posts, and Twitter tweets to help your current network of friends, family, neighbors and colleagues understand what you’re doing and cheer you on. The more they understand what you’re trying to do, the better they can help you succeed.
  2. Create a company name and a tagline that explains what you do, so you can position yourself in the minds of the people you meet. This also helps to re-define you to the people who knew you ‘before’ and makes it clear that you’re pursuing a new career, not indulging a hobby. (Hint: This step involves filing official paperwork and getting a business license, so pick a company name that give you room to grow.)
  3. Don’t put off having a professional logo and website created. The keyword here is ‘professional’. Unless you’re a graphic design whiz, this means investing some cash to have it done right. Remember, people will judge your professionalism by how you look online, so create a logo and website worthy of pride that represents you well.
  4. Come up with a one or two sentence introduction for yourself that focuses on who you serve, what you do, and what benefit/result you create for your customers. Practice it and refine it until you can give people a clear impression of you and your business in less than thirty seconds.

Stay tuned for more ideas on how to get the world to see who you are and what you do in a whole new way!

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