Inkandescent PR president & founder Hope Gibbs to speak at WBIS event

Save the date: Thursday, October 15, 2009
Time: Noon to 1:30 pm
Location: The Vantage Point Rooftop Restaurant
1900 North Fort Myer Drive
Arlington, VA 22209
Phone: 703-807-2000

Topic: 12 Tips for Effective PR

Journalist Hope Katz Gibbs, owner of the PR / publications / media relations / marketing & design firm Inkandescent PR, will talk to the businesswomen of WBISWomen Building & Investing in Success — about how they can get more attention for their firms by using 12 simple strategies. She breaks her approach down into three bite-sized concepts that are fun to consider and easy to execute.

The method behind the madness: Have a strategy

Inkandescent Public Relations is PR / publications / media relations / marketing & design firm made up of creative professionals who are eager to help their clients get the visibility they need. Our staff of journalists, PR professionals, designers, photographers, videographers and web developers, all bring expertise to each account.

Before we dive in, however, we are quick to explain that for us to be effective there needs to be a goal, a strong plan, and a strategy as to how we’re going to accomplish our mission. In essence, we see ourselves as business strategists with a communications focus. That’s why Step 1 of my 12-Tip methodology begins with the strategy piece of the puzzle.

Step 1: Have a strategy. Know what you do, and be able to explain it.

1. As the owner of your firm, you are the keeper of the dream. So be organized, clear, and focused about what you do, what you are trying to sell, to whom you are trying to sell it, and why. It may seem obvious, but for many entrepreneurs their vision is complex and complicated. It shouldn’t be — at least, not when you are talking to anyone besides yourself. Write down your ideas and pick out the ones that will keep you in business. Then refine them. Keep your speech short (30 seconds is the rule). Read it aloud to your kids, spouse, friends, yourself. When you are happy with it you’ll have your elevator speech. Every business owner needs one.

2. Elaborate on that simple speech and in, say 3 minutes or less, tell a longer but equally pithy story about the founding and mission of your firm. Just as everyone likes to know how a couple met, they want to know what inspired you to create your company. Make your speech as passionate as possible about what you do — and others will care, too.

3. Write down your goals for this year on a piece of pretty paper to keep in your purse. Break down the list into the things that are both easy and difficult to accomplish. Then come up with a separate list for each that outlines how you are going to make them happen. Pull out the list on the same day each month and revise it. Remember, your business is a work in progress.

Step 2: Get the word out — constantly

4. Write, write, write about what you do and how you do it — in the form of press releases, monthly e-newsletters, blog entries, and social media outlets. This will let your customers know what you do that makes you unique, and it will also give you stories to pitch reporters (see more on that below).

5. Hire a copyeditor. It’s the best money you will ever spend. No one — well, very few of us — can see the mistakes once they are written down. You see what you wrote … but everyone else will see your mistakes. Get it as close to perfect as possible.

6. Be sure you have a simple but consistent strategy in place, and regularly add content to the spots you are targeting (the blog, or monthly e-blast, for instance). If you are short on time, pick one target area to focus on and stick to it.

7. Know your ultimate goal. Do you want to get into the news, make new contacts and clients, and / or make more money? Know which one is most important then keep your eye on that ball.

8. Create a media plan, but be realistic. Sure, it’s great to make friends with reporters (I’ve been one for 25 years and love to find terrific people to profile), but don’t count on the traditional press to get the word out for you. With publications going out of business daily and media holes shrinking constantly, having your name in a publication might not be the best way to get the word out. A better goal is to have a well-balanced PR / marketing strategy where you are in control of your brand and reputation. Media mentions are the icing on the cake.

Step 3: View your brand — logo, website, marketing materials — like a little black dress. Keep it simple, elegant, and filled with good stuff in all the right places

9. Although nearly everyone has a website, or wants one, take the time to be sure yours is stellar. This is the first impression you’ll make on people, and it needs to be effective, intriguing, and filled with essential information. You don’t want your potential clients scratching their heads looking for info on what you do or how to contact you.

10. Keep your website up-to-date. Whereas websites used to be online brochures, today the technology exists to fill them with much more information and details. Flash websites are beloved by some, and music on a website is exciting to others — but keep it simple. I, for one, never watch the Flash video and immediately turn off the songs. Instead, opt for rich content, a podcast of your recent event, and great pictures that are sized right so they load quickly.

11. Social media is the new new thing. But, again, have a strategy. Before creating accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, know why you are doing it. What will you say on each page? Who do you want to attract? How often will you realistically be able to update your status? Once you are clear on your methods and have a plan in place, go for it!

Last but not least: Remember the Golden Rule of PR

12. Always tell the truth. Reporters can smell a tall tale a mile away. Ditto for customers. No-spin wins. Just be honest and the press, and your growing clientele, will care — and they’ll keep coming back for more.

As my dear friend and client Perry Pidgeon Hooks, owner of Hooks Book Events says — “Keep calm and carry on!” And have a heck of a good time doing it.