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You Already Know Your Best Brand Ambassadors

ambassador_newsYou may know exactly what your brand stands for. But does your team? As the people who interact with your customers every day, your employees must be fully aware of your brand message and how to represent it.

This encompasses everything you do and everyone you touch: from the pitch, to customer service, to email communications, to the way we dress when meeting with customers and prospects.

Creating a culture of brand immersion may seem simple. But many companies — good companies with great products, services and people – often miss the mark. To help your team understand, embrace and convey your value:

  • Capture in writing what your brand equals and put it in the hands of everyone on your staff
  • Train them how to deliver your message
  • Give them cues to discover opportunities to inject your brand
  • Empower them to help each other monitor and manage their performance
  • Reward them for supporting and promoting it

There are a variety of ways to keep employees engaged and motivated to accomplish goals with your brand in mind, including communicating those goals clearly, continuing education, providing a comfortable and exciting workspace, and celebrating successes.

Take a pulse check now. Ask your team: What is our brand value and what do we stand for? When they answer correctly, treat them to lunch!

Here are some additional resources about creating strong brand ambassadors

Virgin: How to Create a Brand Ambassador 

Forbes: Three Steps for Transforming Employees into Brand Ambassadors

Forbes: Want to Find Brand Ambassadors? Start with your Employees

Entrepreneur: Treat Your Employees Well – They are your Best Brand Ambassadors

Tampa Bay public relations

Highlights of the 2015 Changes to the Associated Press Stylebook

ap2015_newsThe Associated Press Stylebook is celebrating its 50-year anniversary this year, and while the updates to the book are not as drastic as last year’s updates, there are some additions and revisions that are of particular interest.

As bacon-lovers, we would like to start off with the expansion of the food chapter to include BLT for bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on first reference. Not surprising, as the sandwich has already appeared as such on stacks of lunch menus across the United States for decades.

While on the topic of food and drink, it is noteworthy that craft brewery should stand in for microbrewery (being that our region is becoming well-known for our breweries), and we are no longer “pre-heating” the oven. It is now: Heat the oven to 350 F.

An update that is close to our marketing hearts is the addition of meme and favorite (as in a Tweet). This year, all vocabulary pertaining to online has been moved to the A-Z section.  Previously, these terms were found in the Social Media Guidelines. Thus, online vocabulary has officially been assimilated into our lexicon.

Sports Guidelines are a major focus, with more than 60 new or revised entries. Much of this section is devoted to sports clichés and slang. For example, the text states that, in baseball, “Home runs are homers, not ‘dingers,’ ‘jacks’ or ‘bombs.’”

More sensitive topics have also been addressed.

“While none of the changes are as momentous as last year’s ‘over/more than’ proclamation, they reflected an increased sensitivity to how language can be polarizing,” said Merrill Perlman, president of the American Copy Editors Society Education Fund.

This includes the phrase “animal welfare activist” to be used instead of “animal rights activist.” There is no doubt these activists are advocating for the animals’ “welfare,” but some would argue that the term “rights” should be reserved for people, not animals.

Suicide is also addressed, and a tactful approach is suggested when writing stories about the subject. It states that suicide stories, when written, should not go into detail on methods used. Also, avoid using the phrase, committed suicide, unless the phrase is a direct quote from authorities. The word committed implies a crime, and laws against suicide in the United States and many other places have been repealed. Instead, use killed himself, took her own life, or died by suicide.

There is also a section that refers to the Affordable Care Act. Because the formal name Affordable Care Act is not as widely known as Obamacare, using it may cause confusion. It is best to use ”President Barack Obama’s health care law” or “health care law” on first reference, and Obamacare in quotation marks thereafter. Be wary of this term, however. Its initial intent was derogatory to the Affordable Care Act.

Many of the rules of this 600-page guide are subtle, nuanced versions of popular language use. They are often not instinctual, so refer to the Stylebook frequently in your endeavor to write universally consistent, coherent, and comprehensible journalistic pieces. We keep the newest version on our desk at all times, as should every writer.

If you haven’t purchased your 2015 copy yet, you can buy a print copy or sign up for an AP Stylebook Online account

Tampa Bay public relations

INBOUND 2015 – one of the biggest and best marketing conferences

INBOUND features inspiring keynotes, innovative talks, educational breakout sessions, hands-on lessons and tons of networking. Join us (and 10,000+ new friends) in Boston from September 8th through the 11th to get inspired by Seth Godin, Daniel Pink, Brene Brown, and dozens more, including comedians Aziz Ansari and Amy Schumer.

The event includes more than 170 education sessions (if only we could be cloned!) designed to help us master our skills in:

  • designing content strategies
  • creative storytelling
  • personalizing modular content
  • building collaborative teams
  • nurturing inbound leads
  • tapping into big data
  • aligning sales and marketing
  • discovering client insights
  • using research to drive strategies
  • driving client engagement
  • unleashing better creative
  • developing successful video strategies
  • crafting compelling email campaigns
  • leveraging LinkedIn groups
  • generating traffic from Facebook
  • measuring online activities with Google Analytics
  • building relationships with the media
  • creating world-class company culture
  • adopting new marketing technology
  • forecasting customer activities
  • the art of social selling
  • hosting badass events
  • with more sessions being added daily!

We are so excited about participating in this conference and are working on scheduling a breakfast or happy hour with friends and colleagues from across the country while we’re there. Let us know if you’ll be attending and we’ll add you to the list!

Register for INBOUND 2015!


The Positive Side of Negative Comments

negative_newsEven the best businesses receive negative comments on social media. Sometimes it’s downright painful to read them, but remember: It isn’t personal. And there IS a bright side!
Just as positive comments help us understand what we’re doing well, negative feedback can offer insights into areas for improvement. Social media platforms provide a forum for us to learn things we may never hear about otherwise, or may not learn until after we’ve lost a customer. For gleaning no-holds-barred information, online commentary can be much more candid than face-to-face conversations and customer surveys.

Here are a few ways NOT to address negative comments:

  • Delete it – The customer is already angry, don’t make them angrier. The moment a comment is deleted, they will tell everyone they know about the experience that prompted the comment plus your horrible (and immature) response.
  • Ignore it – You wouldn’t ignore someone in your store or office, don’t ignore them online.
  • Fight back – We know the customer isn’t always right, but social media isn’t the place to make your point. Responding with the things the customer may have done wrong will only escalate the issue.
  • Be insincere – Nobody likes to receive a hollow apology in an attempt to placate an unhappy client.

To manage negative comments properly, ensure there is a method to address them within your organization. Empower the social media managers to respond and encourage the customer to call or private message to get direct contact. If the issue is something they can resolve on their own, it will go faster and you have the opportunity to gain a raving fan if done correctly. If the issue must be escalated, make the response and resolution a priority and close the loop on the comment.

In this light, look at these comments as valuable consumer research. Make note of all feedback, and use it to your best advantage. You may discover tips and trends that ultimately lead to better outcomes for your customers and your business.

Tampa Bay public relations

Social Media: What’s Your Strategy?

Tampa Bay social media managementSocial media is a key component of effective branding strategy. More than just “social,” these communications must be backed by a sound marketing plan.

As with every marketing plan, you must determine what you want to accomplish via social platforms and who exactly you’re trying to reach. It’s not just about “Likes.” In fact, your target audience may not even be on Facebook.

You have to know where your customers and prospects are: Twitter? LinkedIn? Reddit? A combination? Your primary goals, after all, are lead generation and best positioning.

Once you’ve identified the best platforms for your message, you’re tasked to engage your audience regularly and consistently. One way to achieve this by establishing yourself as a thought leader. By doing so, you satisfy readers’ needs for insights to overcome their toughest challenges.

Shape these conversations through real-world, relatable experiences. How has your business helped others tackle problems? How have your customers benefited from your product, service or solution? How can you provide what no one else can?

This will go a long way toward generating potential leads and developing existing relationships. It’s a long-term commitment that’s vital to your overall marketing strategy.

Tampa Bay public relations