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Why You Might Not Want to Take Business Advice from Twitter

July 20, 2011

This article is re-posted via:  Carol Roth

Well intentioned folks like to put forth inspirational quotes and sayings on Twitter, sometimes masquerading as business advice.  Here is one that I came across because it was re-tweeted several times by folks that I know:

Be grateful for every sale. Rather than focus on what’s not working in your business, be grateful and celebrate what is.

While I like the spirit of this, I think there is the possibility for some misguided business advice.  Here’s how I would tweak it (albeit it’s not in 140 characters…)

Be grateful for every customerThe focus should be on the importance of the customers, not the sale.  If you treat those who purchase from you well and make them feel important, that engenders loyalty and long-term business for you.

Do focus on what’s not working in your business: You know Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.  If something isn’t working, then change it,especially if that something is costing you money (or a significant opportunity cost).  You can draw inspiration from what is working, but don’t put your head in the sand about what isn’t.

Celebrate the victories, but not for too long: It is important to take a moment to reflect on good work.  But if you spend too much time throwing yourself a ticker-tape parade, you will be at a disadvantage.  Success in business requires consistency of execution, as well as quick adaptation as the competitive landscape changes.  Reward yourself for, but don’t over-indulge yourself in, the success.

It’s quite difficult to get across sound advice in 140 characters, so be a little wary of what is being touted as business advice on Twitter.

Carol Roth is a business strategist, deal maker and author of the New York Times bestselling book,The Entrepreneur Equation. She has helped her clients, ranging from solopreneurs to multinational corporations, raise more than $1 billion in capital, completemore than $750 million worth of M&A transactions, secure high-profile licensing and partnership deals and create million dollar brand loyalty programs.

Carol is a frequent radio, television and print media contributor on the topics of business and entrepreneurship, appearing regularly on Fox News, MSNBC, Fox Business, WGNTV Chicago and more. Additionally, Carol’s Unsolicited Business Advice blog at was recently named as one of the Top 10 small business blogs online and she is a contributing blogger tooutlets like The Huffington Post and Crain’s Chicago Business/Enterprise City


PR People Behaving Badly

July 16, 2011

Public Relations, We Are the World, USA For Africa, EmergingMedia

A critique of the Central West Coast Chapter of the Florida PR Association’s attempt to “remake” “We Are the World”

PR People Behaving Badly

For some unknown reason the Central West Coast Chapter of the Florida PR Association made this horrendous video that has since leaked out onto YouTube. (perhaps one of them will see this post and shed some light on the inspiration for it)

This is my first attempt at calling out bad moves by the people who should know better. Please note that in order to write this blog post I actually had to force myself to sit through this entire video – when I first saw it I had to turn it off after 30 seconds from complete disgust – so hopefully my sacrifice will spare you the pain of having to watch the full video if you choose.

Where should I start?

1. Don’t mess with a song written to help relieve famine in Africa! Sampling is one thing, even comical parodies are ok most of the time, but taking a song like “We Are the World” and using it for such shallow means is pop-culture blasphemy. What’s next, BP remakes “Feed the World” to show that seafood from the gulf isn’t contaminated with oil?

2. Don’t make yourself the center of attention: I got the distinct impression that these people would be happier as celebrity publicists than working for corporations. Ironic that they would make a video about corporate PR that depicts themselves such a vapid way.

3. Would you trust these people with your PR? As a PR professionals, (I assume they are since this video was made for the Florida PR Association) they should be acutely aware that perception is critical. Show up late and unorganized to an analyst or reporter call and you risk leaving that impression with the person, no matter how powerful your message may be. As a potential client, I would have reason to pause.

4. Really?? Central West Coast Chapter of the FPRA, Really?? (Credit to SNL’s Really, Really with Seth and Amy for that one) Did you really think this wouldn’t get out on YouTube? At least give me something and tell me you posted it!

Perhaps I am a little over the top in my criticism of these “PR professionals”, (it could be fueled by the fact that they ripped off a song that is near and dear to my heart) – but I really (really) feel that our industry as a whole should be putting forward better examples of the positive work we can do. Be an asset to your clients, not a liability, do good work and you will be rewarded!

One last comment: why didn’t the CWC give credit to Quincy Jones or USA For Africa for use of the song?? hmmmm….

Spam: A Scourge for PR Professionals, A Morning Lesson For Some

July 1, 2011

One of the hardest jobs we have as PR professionals is writing catchy, effective headlines for pitches, press releases, etc. Let’s face it, there is a lot of pressure on us to capture the essence of something complex and then write a short, pithy, one-line sound byte that will grab the attention of a reporter. A drawback to the Public Relations profession is that as a group, we receive more spam than most other people. (I am a sorry to say, reporters aren’t alone in the spam wars). As I embarked on my morning ritual of cleaning out the overnight junk from my email the other day it struck me that we could learn a lesson or two from our not-so-friendly neighborhood spammer.

1. Know your audience!

I have always been curious of the type of profiling spammers use for their maniacal endeavors. Occasionally now you see the carpet-bombing approach (an example would be the acai berry flavored spammers) but most of the time the message is very targeted. Spammers obviously have some proprietary research that says every male over the age of 30 fears having some sort of sexual dysfunction, and are using it against us! Think about this when you write your next pitch, one size doesn’t fit all and there is no rule that says your email headline has to be exactly what is written in the press release. Get to know the reporters and the publications you are pitching so you can tailor your communication to them. A press release is a mass-communication device; it is our job is to make it personal for the reporter. Spammers seem to get this, I never seem to get any drug spam for women’s issues.

2. Get the message through!

Recently an effective technique employed by spammers (and I refer to them as a single living breathing entity, much like an evil blob) is to use your own email address as an alias to trick your filters into delivering the message. The lesson here is simple: do what it takes to get your message through. Ditch the fancy signature line with the embedded logo, this only serves your ego and is annoying to most people that receive it! Reduce the number of live links in your email and use plain text rather than html. These techniques will increase the chance of your message getting through. If your pitch is good and compelling it will get noticed with out the fancy formatting or graphics.

3. Be direct, entertaining and funny if possible!

Embolden, perhaps by their newfound success, spammers have become very direct in their messaging. Gone are the days of creative misspelled words such as V!@gra. Today spammer pitches are creative, entertaining and funny. I think even the Copy Editors at the New York Post would approve! Here are some of my favorites:

Don’t let flaccidity spoil fun

TNT to your nights!

Be a tank, not a minivan!

Double the fun of amour!

Power up your meat cigar

Heat in your pants

Get a spirit of Don Juan!

Never stay undersized!

Meat cigar instead of cigarette

When was the last time you wrote a headline as creative or catchy as these?

We all can take a lesson from the pages of the spammer. Be creative and personalize your pitches, the results may vary but may very well surprise you!

5 Rules of Thumb to finding Reporters, Following Up, and Establishing Relationships

June 27, 2011

Finding the right journalists to target for your news may be a challenge to some, but it is one of the most vital elements in PR. Pitching journalists stories that aren’t relevant to their beat shows a few things: lack of research, laziness, and missing effort. Of course it’s bound to happen in your career, especially with journalists being replaced, switching departments or being laid off. You can score big with journalists when you take the time to do the groundwork and by following a few simple rules you can ensure you are always pitching the right reporter.

RULE 1: Do not depend solely on Media Atlas, Cision, Vocus, etc. With the turnover in newsrooms these days, I cannot stress enough how important it is to go to the outlets Web site and check out recent stories. If the past five stories aren’t relevant to your news, don’t bother!

RULE 2: Consider the readers. Yes, journalists rely on us to give them stories, and it is key to consider their audience. First, focus on the outlets and their readers and then move on the journalist and their beat. If all pieces of the puzzle fit you have yourself a great reporter to target, and your story is more likely to gain their attention.

RULE 3: Do the legwork and start with a good foundation. Making a well-organized and easy to follow media list is vital. This will avoid double pitching, and will help capture the reporter feedback and stay organized for your follow-ups. If you don’t take notes when you pitch, you are likely to make mistakes and potentially ruin relationships.

RULE 4: Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. Follow-up is key to obtaining coverage around your story and establishing relationships. By doing so, you show journalist you really care about the story and what you’re pitching. Send your press release in the body of the e-mail with your pitch, not as an attachment and follow-up. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, it shows you are making an effort on behalf of your client/story.

RULE 5: Drill the well before you need the water. The key word in PR is RELATIONS; so don’t reach out to journalists only when you want them to cover a story. Take the time to establish relationships before you have a story; this will help in the long run. You can do this by following and reading what reporters write and sending them an e-mail here and there saying key, I just saw your story on, Relationship building is a two-way street. Do yourself (and journalist) a favor and show that you value the relationship, not just when you want them to cover your story.

Media list building and targeting journalists is the most important foundational element in effective media outreach. Find the right reporter and follow-up, but don’t follow-up just for the sake of saying you did so. Know your material inside and out and be ready to answer any question that comes your way. Offer something of value and it’s easier to get your news covered.

The pressures on reporters are greater today than ever before. They received hundreds of pitches and press releases a day, are constantly inundated with stories they wouldn’t cover and have to produce more than ever before. Make your story relevant/valuable and I guarantee a reporter will look to you as a valuable resource, a good step in building a strong relationship.

Social Media, and the rule of thirds

June 23, 2011

Cision, Rule of Thirds, Social MediaInformative post about applying the rule of thirds to social media.Social Media, and the rule of thirds

After having the opportunity to listen to a great Cision webinar last week, I learned a little something called The Rule of Thirds. This great little tip is as easy to remember as it is to apply.


Simply stated, one-third of all social media content should be promotional, one-third should be sharing orientated and one-third should be social.

1/3- Our work, clients, our genius: “Check out our client in …”

1/3- Share the love (and the smarts): “Check out this article we found in …”

1/3- Our lives –get to know us: “I had breakfast next to …”

As with everything else in life, it’s best to find a balance. By giving followers and friends a chance to know you, your company and your vision, you’ll be offering your community everything they need to stay updated, informed and interested.

What’s the most personal thing you’ve posted on Twitter/FB to your business audience?

Too Cool for Shcool!

June 20, 2011
ypos, misspelling, atttention to detail, cringe inducing typoToo Cool for Shcool!The Attenshun to Detail (Or Lack Thereof)Two news stories about “bad editing” caught my eye last week.

The first involved the NHL and a major typo on the Prince of Wales Trophy given to the winner of the NHL’s Eastern Conference each season. One stunned hockey fan thought he was going crazy when he saw the name of the Washington Capitals etched into the trophy for the 2009-10 season when in fact the Philadelphia Fliers had won the division!!! I think his reaction was justified. (Click the image to get the full story from Puck Daddy on Yahoo! Sports)


The second lulu appeared on a school crosswalk outside of Greensboro, NC. Is this a bad day at work or a fitting, visual critique of the educational system in North Carolina?


Photo is courtesy of Joe Rodriguez of the Greensboro News & Record

How did these two things go unnoticed? Not by one person, but by many! I am sure there were at least several highway workers on the scene the day the crosswalk was painted (these guys never work alone!). Where is an editor when you need one?

One of the most troubling patterns in the work force today is a definite lack of attention to detail. We see it all the time in the form of typos on resumes, poor grammar and sentence structure, and misspelled words (the later seems to indicate that we have become overly reliant on spell check).

I am not going to spend time harping on the education system or about how the use of text and instant messaging for human communication is eroding our finer language skills. To quote a famous adage, “It is better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you are a fool than to open it and remove any lingering doubt.” The same goes today for written communication. The next time you go to send that email, text or instant message from your computer, iPhone, Blackberry or Android, be sure to proof read it before you let it fly through the ether. Remember that your written word says something about you, your intelligence and your character. Apologizing upfront for potential typos and errors (as many people do in their signature on their mobile devices) is just plain lazy! Be professional and proof read your stuff!

I am certainly not without sin when it comes to typos and, along with my colleagues, have provided a few laughs with some bad ones over the years. I thought it would be fun to share some of the better ones with you in hope that you could return the favor and post some of your own in the comments. Here’s a primer:

“Have you shit the flat panel tv’s?”

– sent to the CEO of a client company by a colleague in reference to some equipment that needed to be shipped to an important trade show we were attending.

Oh, and I am not going to let the highway department in Greenboro, NC off the hook either, here is the story from WYFF4 News:
Vodpod videos no longer available.

D’oh! Crew Misspells ‘School’ On Road, posted with vodpod

Top 5 PR Mistakes of Start-Up Companies

June 19, 2011

I recently answered a question posted on LinkedIn by Karyn Martin about the biggest PR mistake made by start-up companies. I gave two quick answers to Karyn and upon further thought, decided to expand it to a Top 5 list.

Mistake 1: Not clarifying / specifying the message

Can you and your employees answer the simple question, “What do you do?” in a way that the average person could understand? Messaging is critical to all aspects of PR and marketing, if YOU can’t answer this question how can you expect anyone else to understand what you do or buy your product or service?

Mistake 2: Lack of specialization

imageRecently, when I asked the head of a tech start-up what they did best he said, “Everything! There is nothing we can’t do.”

Wrong answer!

As a start-up, you want to demonstrate your expertise in a single area before you move to another. Prove that you are an expert in a particular field and you open yourself to a world of opportunity in the media. The more specific your expertise the better; without it, you risk being one of a thousand others self-proclaimed experts.

Mistake 3: Everything is connected!

imageThink you are not involved in social media because your company doesn’t have a Facebook page? Think again! You and your employees’ Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles are as important as your website. Provide a standard company boilerplate and job descriptions to use in your profiles and the search engine gods will thank you.

Mistake 4: Launching before you are ready You only get one chance to launch your company and make no mistake, launch before you’re ready and you could be dead faster than you think. Better to take that extra week to cross the T’s and dot the I’s. Missing information, product features, web content are inexcusable and you will spend more time chasing down errors to correct them after the fact than you would before.

Mistake 5: No follow up news

Don’t be a one-trick pony. To gain momentum you need to continuously stay in front of the media with new information. Use these tips to keep the news flowing:

  • Set up an internal “news bureau” of upcoming news announcement that can convert into press releases, or for less critical news, blog posts and tweets. These can include new customers, partners, products, hires, offices, and more.
  • Monitor the news so you can comment on relevant stories. (Be a subject matter expert!)

Over the last 8 years, Emerging Media has worked with dozens of start-up companies in the technology, financial services and gaming industries. We have seen plenty of good and great companies try to gain a foothold in their respective industries. Whether you are boot-strapping or backed by venture capital, there is no clear-cut formula for success, but steer clear of these 5 PR mistakes ( Or in fact – do the opposite) and you and your company will be in good shape.